<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Dining, shopping and nightlife]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbclosangeles.com/entertainment/the-scene http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.comen-usFri, 09 Dec 2016 01:49:56 -0800Fri, 09 Dec 2016 01:49:56 -0800NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Santa Diver Visits Long Beach]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 18:53:43 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/SantaDiveraquariumlbc.jpg

If you wanted to see Santa, where would you look?

A) On a snowy rooftop on Christmas Eve or B) in the sky, near the horizon, in the general direction of the North Pole or C) on television, during an animated holiday special or D) at the local mall or shopping center or E) inside the Honda Blue Cavern at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach?

All of these answers hold water, for sure, but there's only one go-to 'round these parts where Santa Diver is concerned: The mega exhibit, found at the far end of the aquarium's Great Hall, holds 142,000 gallons all year long, as well as a host of oceanic denizens (leopard sharks and giant sea bass included). 

But come December? Mr. Kris Kringle arrives in full, water-ready regalia and takes the plunge inside the three-story tank, to the delight of onlookers on the non-wet side of the glass.

Spying Santa Diver is only one ornament on the larger Aquarium Holidays tree, however. You can admire gingerbread structures fashioned by staffers, take snapshots with costume-rocking characters (they're in seasonal wear, yep), and catch a pay-nothing screening of "Sleigh Ride 3D."

Holiday tunes, "snowfall" not far from the Honda Blue Cavern, and special Decembertime bites in Café Scuba are also part of the special end-of-the-year doings. (Ah yes, there's that large gift shop and allll of those potential presents for your people who adore the ocean and everything in it.)

The upcoming weekends both have some special to-dos, including a Spark of Love Toy Drive on Dec. 10 and 11 and Breakfast with Santa the following weekend. Make sure you time your Long Beach adventure with just the thing you want to participate in.

And keep your eyes peeled for Santa Diver, too. We don't always get a glimpse of the Jolly Ol' Elf as he lands his sleigh on various rooftops, nor can we always pick out Rudolph's red nose in the sky.

But coming across a scuba-cool Kris Kringle in Long Beach just might happen. Surely those leopard sharks and sea turtles who call the colossal cavern home are pretty chuffed to host Mr. Claus, too?

He may not have a traditional chimney to come down, but he can grab an oxygen tank and take a photo-ready plunge, aquarium-style.



Photo Credit: Aquarium of the Pacific]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend: Snow Time in Southern California]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 12:35:09 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/shutterstock_26768641.jpg

It's Snow Time in SoCal: While flakes won't fall from the sky in the days ahead, Southern Californians craving a little cold funtime can find the frosty stuff in some offbeat spots. Look to Studio City, where 70 tons of snow will serve as the shivery centerpiece of the Winter Family Festival on Dec. 11 or Snow Wonder in Marina del Rey on Dec. 10. SNOW DAY LA has the cooler to-dos, and cocktails, near Dodger Stadium, while a Culver City-based dance performance will incorporate snow. And is there a bit of snow on the ground up at the newly re-opened SkyPark at Santa's Village? Photos say this is so.

Holiday Boat Parades: Newport Beach's century-plus parade arrives on Dec. 14, but there are other sparkly charmers to be found just off our shores. The King Harbor Boat Parade sails on Saturday, Dec. 10 in Redondo Beach, the very same night that the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade takes to the waves. Other boat parades up the coast, from Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard to Morro Bay, will also run boat parades on Saturday, Dec. 10. Toot toot and so forth!

Christmas Tree Lane Opens: Does your great-grandma have tales of visiting the famous deodar cedars of Altadena, the ones that go all twinkly around the middle of December? The tree-terrific light display has been around for nearly a century now, making it a centerpiece of seasonal to-dos for many Southern Californians. Night #1 is Saturday, Dec. 10, and there's a craft festival earlier in the day, too, to get the merry fest going.

Van Gogh's "Bedroom" Opens: It isn't too often that a famous painting hits the road, and for it to be a masterpiece, one known well beyond the doors of The Art Institute of Chicago, is a wondrous thing. If you're a fan of the iconic painter, and know he painted three versions of his bedroom, you'll want to see this particular take at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. Opening date of the three-month exhibit? Friday, Dec. 9

Renegade Craft Fair: Okay, no more putting things off, or hemming, or hawing, or doing whatever you do to avoid holiday shopping. The time is nigh, the place is Grand Park, and a caboodle of regional artisans will be out with very handmade-y high quality goods that are ripe for the buying and even more ripe for the gifting. A belt, some earrings, a tee, a mug? Done, done, done, and done. It's on both weekend days, Dec. 10 and 11, so make your way to Metro at once and do up your holiday shopping, Grand-Park-ly.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Snow Dance in Culver City]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 09:11:40 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Heidi_Duckler_Snowed_Under1.jpg

Back in the day, when Helms Bakery was busily churning out loaf after lovely loaf of bread, it wasn't too surprising to see a flurry of small white particles drifting in a shaft of sunlight, much like wee flakes of snow.

Of course, it doesn't actually snow inside bakeries or even in Culver City, the longtime home of the historic building (which, another "of course," is no longer a bakery but a bustling center for chic home design).

But the holidays have a pinch of magic to them, much like the pinch of salt that's often added to a bowl of bread dough, which all leads to this sweet surprise: Snow is headed for Helms Bakery, or at least outside of Helms Bakery, on Saturday, Dec. 10.

The Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, the local troupe famous for presenting engaging performances at offbeat locations around the region (a laundromat, a shuttered hospital), will bring a wintry evening to the Helms Bakery District via a one-night-only show called "Snowed Under."

Yes, there shall be some snow, as well as "live music and projections," all of which investigates "how we look at 'the other.'"

Fact: When the second third of December arrives, the stage-style spectaculars really kick into high, holiday-ish gear. If you're longing for something cultural, a little quirky, and rife with interesting, stick-with-you ideas, but want something a tad different from the traditional fare of the season, best follow the snowflakes for Culver City.

Bread isn't baking at Helms Bakery these days, but this site-specific dance, along with some snow and the call to know/understand those in our community, will be as aromatic and tempting as any just-out-of-the-oven loaf.



Photo Credit: Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre]]>
<![CDATA[Photo of Fake 'Happy Hour Playset' Sparks Online Outrage]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 20:30:08 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/fisher-price-photo2_blurred-faces-2.jpg

An online backlash over a supposed “happy hour playset” for kids has proven to be misplaced since the item in question doesn’t exist.

After a Facebook user posted a photo Tuesday that showed the set –  complete with bar stools, plastic bottles and featuring what appeared to be the Fisher-Price logo – people began to post messages on the company’s social media pages condemning the product.

The box featured three toddlers, two holding bottles while a third appearing behind the bar.

The hoax debunker website Snopes.com investigated the item and found that it isn’t real.

Fisher-Price also responded with a statement saying the set is “not endorsed, produced or approved.”

]]>
<![CDATA[Altadena Awe: Christmas Tree Lane]]> Wed, 07 Dec 2016 21:31:14 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ChristmasTreeLane2010.jpg

Anyone who would claim to be, like, seriously into shrubs, or a bush buff, or a fan of flowery branches of all sorts, probably can name their favorite tree in town.

It might be the Japanese maple in their own front yard, or a Coast Live Oak they came across that one year on a hike down by the river. But thousands of locals, even if they do have a favorite tree, keep a special corner of their affections open to a certain stretch of street in Altadena.

Christmas Tree Lane is that fabled thoroughfare, and for nearly a century the avenue's tall and noble deodar cedars have provided some holiday shine for neighbors, locals, and those who travel from around Southern California to see the seasonal sparkler of a sight.

And that sight will once again do its tall-of-tree twinkling on Santa Rosa Avenue in Altadena starting on Saturday, Dec. 10.

Visitors to the nightly sight may be even more in tender touch with the treely spirit in 2016, given that the famous deodar cedars have not been weathering the drought well. A commendable undertaking to help the trees arose in the summer, with several people pitching in to dig dry wells and run hoses, revealed Pasadena Star-News.

It's a reminder that though this is the 96th go-around for the glow show, trees, even long-lived and typically hearty trees, could use some TLC during challenging times.

Consider joining (and donating) to the Christmas Tree Lane Association to give these stately symbols of both the season and Altadena a little extra oomph. 

And consider, on Dec. 10, arriving well before sundown to peruse the Winter Arts & Crafts Festival, which begins at 2. As for the flipping of the switch? That happens at 6 o'clock, a bit after the sun says farewell and the thousands of lights wending through the trees can really do their thing.

While we may have our favorite trees around the region, be they in front of our own houses, the library down the street, or a few zip codes away, Christmas Tree Lane is a shared tree-love experience for many Southern Californians of multiple generations.

Here's to the lovely line-up of deodar cedars staying strong, robust, and full of festive light for many holiday seasons to come.



Photo Credit: Christmas Tree Lane]]>
<![CDATA[Free: Music Center's Leonard Cohen Night]]> Wed, 07 Dec 2016 12:16:04 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Leonard-Cohen-EFE.jpg

Remembering a musician and his work in the days following his passing can take on many forms, depending on the fandom and how those fans want to pay tribute.

If the artist contributed to a soundtrack, a local theater might screen the film. If a cover band regularly plays the artist's hits, they might pop up at the local bar.

And if the communal experience of listening to a legend's work is what draws devotees together, then a famous place with "music" in its very name will simply put on the legend's songs and invite fans to enjoy the classic catalog, together, simply, in a beautiful space.

That enjoyment will go down to the sounds of Leonard Cohen at The Music Center Plaza on Thursday evening, Dec. 8.

There isn't a lot of frills or doodads to add to this one, an approach that serves Mr. Cohen's lean and poetically powerful oeuvre well. It's simply a night of people coming together to dig deep into some iconic music, and remember the musician who passed away on Nov. 7 at the age of 82.

It's free. Again, there are no frills, no tickets to order or reserve, no presentations to arrive for or live songs on a stage. Just show up and find an old friend, or make a new buddy, and turn your ears upward to the speakers as you find a step to sit on or bench or chair.

Food, too, will be nearby (and for sale), as well as drinks.

As for what Cohen classics you'll hear? It's a four-hour event, so the flow could easily encompass everything from "Hallelujah" to "You Want It Darker" to "First We Take Manhattan" to "Chelsea Hotel No. 2."

Start time? Find your place on the plaza starting at 5 o'clock and settle in for memory, music, and a man who moved millions with his straight-to-the-stark-center-of-it songcraft.



Photo Credit: EFE]]>
<![CDATA[Target Reissues Menorah Recall Over Fire Hazard Concerns]]> Wed, 07 Dec 2016 09:55:26 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/menorah11.jpg

With Hanukkah several weeks away, Target is reminding customers it has recalled thousands of menorahs because they post a fire hazard.

The clear acrylic menorahs, sold in Target stores nationwide from October 2015 through December 2015 for about $20, can melt when the candles burn, Target says. The company said it has received eight reports of the menorahs melting, including three reports of fire. No property damage or injuries were reported.

The 2,600 menorahs were originally recalled in May, but if customers still have them, they should toss them before the holiday or return them to Target for a full refund. 



Photo Credit: Target]]>
<![CDATA[Luminaria Walks: Glowing SoCal Strolls]]> Wed, 07 Dec 2016 09:48:38 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ranchosantaanaluminaria.jpg

Stop by Santa Fe on Christmas Eve, or Albuquerque, or Taos, or another New Mexican city, and you're apt to find driveways and walkways and even roads lined in hundreds of paper lunch bags.

These bags do not contain sandwiches nor apples, however; they hold a scoop of sand or dirt and, at the center of the sand, a votive candle.

It's a luminaria, or farolito, if you prefer, and while the simple and spectacular lanterns aren't seen quite as often around California, there are places that forgo the strings of blinking bulbs and LED lights for the quieter, on-the-ground display of paper, sand, candle, and pure magic.

If you adore this Southwestern tradition, which has extended beyond the Land of Enchantment to Texas, Phoenix, and points beyond, schedule a trip to the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont or Fullerton Arboretum for a different sort of seasonal illumination experience.

The illumination is obviously not electrical, like so many holiday displays, but rather solely relies on a small flame, and how that flame dances within the confines of the bag, creating shadows and fanciful forms.

The Rancho Santa Ana luminarias will be out and flickering over four December evenings: the 9th, 10th, 16th, and 17th (so, yes, two Fridays and two Saturdays).

Expect to see about one thousand lanters aglow, a truly terrific sight. Live music from Windsong Canyon as well as other acts and seasonal treats (hello, hand-warming hot cider) complement the half-mile stroll.

And at the Fullerton Arboretum? Sand + candles will make low-lit magic on Friday, Dec. 16 and Saturday, Dec. 17 at the annual Holiday Luminaria Stroll.

Lanterns play an important role in cultures around the planet in myriad ways and on many occasions.

The luminaria, in its present and pleasing form, is very much symbolic of the Southwest, and the promise that bizcochito cookies and posole and champurrado and the other treats of a New Mexican Christmas await luminaria lookers at the end of the trail.

Scooping sand into lunch bags, and adding votives, is a time-honored way for New Mexicans to socialize with family and friends while enjoying the outdoors on Christmas Eve day. But in New Mexico, and elsewhere, luminarias are popping up earlier in the month these days, at gardens and museums and other public spheres.

Whether you call the paper bags farolitos — a term more apt to be used in the northern part of New Mexico — or luminarias, you can find this different sort of holiday light sight in Southern California.



Photo Credit: Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden]]>
<![CDATA[70 Tons of Snow Expected in Studio City]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 23:35:44 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/shutterstocksnoworna.jpg

Obviously there's been snow in Studio City before, and lots of it. After all, the city's sound stages have famously played home to a television version of Minneapolis (hello, "The Mary Tyler Moore" show) and New York City (hey there, "Seinfeld") and Pawnee, Indiana (high five, "Parks and Recreation").

Those are all chilly locales, including fictional Pawnee, but for the actual Studio City, a place renown for abiding sunshine and overall pleasantness, to receive the fluffy cold white stuff requires an extraordinary event.

Just such a magical event will arrive in the form of the Winter Family Festival, a yearly community to-do that is all about music, seasonal sweetness, and a whole bunch of snow.

Some 70 tons of snow, in fact, which is less than New York City or Minneapolis or even Pawnee might receive over a wintry day, but is, in fact, a heck of a lot for Beeman Park.

That snow will be played with in all sorts of sweet ways on Sunday, Dec. 11. Snowball fights and the making of snow people and the reveling in the unusual and welcome sight is at the top of the schedule for the free afternoon-long celebration.

Well, not quite at the top. The sweet, help-each-other-out day also serves as a food drive, and clothing drive, too, so be sure show with wearables to donate, and canned edibles, as well as "boxes of books, toys, and pet items" (some of the goods that were donated last year). 

And "free samples from local restaurants," places like Chin Chin and Pizza Rev, will keep those frolicking in the snow well-snacked.

So how to get to Beeman Park, or the Studio City Recreation Center, if that's what you prefer to call it? Lookie here: There's parking, and a shuttle to catch, at no less than CBS Studio Center.

You're right: That's the very place that has seen so many "snowy" days over the decades, on a host of series set in far brisker climes.

Kind of perfect, right? The chance to await your shuttle to play in the snow at the very location where some of TV's best-known snow cities were caught on film before a live studio audience?

Bundle up, but not too much: The actual, in-Studio-City, and-not-on-TV high will hover in the low 70s on Dec. 11.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Hobbit Hoedown: 'Fellowship' 15th Anniversary Party]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 12:15:45 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP070620047103.jpg

Take a moment and trundle through your Hobbit-hole, walking past the cozy fireplace and wooden dining room table as you whistle along. Then find the ancient trunk where you store your old day-planners, the ones you used back in 2001.

If you turn the parchment pages to December, you may see that you spent the 19th day of that month inside a magical movie space, a space that held an enchanted screening of "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring." 

This was the first of the three-film phenomenon from director Peter Jackson, a hugely successful, hugely loved, and hugely Hobbit-y series that would go on to spur three more films about one Bilbo Baggins ("The Hobbit" flicks, yes).

But "Fellowship" first launched the grand and Gollum-y journey to Mordor, an adventure that shall be remembered and celebrated at Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas Westlake Village on Wednesday, Dec. 7.

The film will screen, yes, in all of its Frodo-fantastical, Aragorn-awesome majesty, but there shall be other doings worthy of a Shire-style soiree. Plan for "a LOTR-themed reception, photo ops, concession specials, surprise giveaways and a limited edition event poster" to be a part of the precioussss party.

The credits flicker on-screen beginning at 8 o'clock, but arrive an hour earlier to jump into the elfin event (and don't forget your Hobbit cloak or Gandalf hat, if you own one). 

Just don't forget to jot down the date and time info in your parchment-paper planner, the one you keep inside the ancient trunk in the den of your cozy and adorable Hobbit-hole.



Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS]]>
<![CDATA[Feline Fundraiser: Charity Art Pop-Up]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 16:48:31 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kittypopupdec1234.jpg

'Tis the season of the cheerful pop-up, the oh-so-brief, snazzily imagined shop or gallery or fundraiser that plugs into both our longing for holiday cheer as well as our desire to connect with community and/or a positive idea.

Pop-ups arrive in all stripes and flavors, but sometimes, if they're a little magical, and a little meowy, and definitely furry, they focus on our favorite feline friends. That's exactly what will occur at Green Screen Downtown on Sunday, Dec. 11 when "Facets of Felines," a cat-themed art show, pops up to benefit the Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats.

Do you need a painting of a playful roly-poly fellow in the kitchen? How about an artwork depicting a two sweet whisker faces curled up together in a bed?

This could be your chance to either fill an empty space on the hall wall or find a feline-y present for your cat-loving BFF. For sale? Prepare to browse "fine art, photography, and artisan works from around the world exploring the feline spirit, as well as celeb-decorated trees for auction."

And you can tell your cat-loving BFF that all the money you spent to buy his artwork will help out the Kitty Bungalow, which is "the only 100% feral cat socialization facility in Southern California."

The cocktail reception? It's gratis. The on-site furry ones needing a family? They're eagerly awaiting the chance to check out the comfiness of your lap during the event.

So is this a pop-up or a purr-up? You know the answer, and you know you want some cat art, maybe to gift to a friend, but probably for cat-obsessed self.



Photo Credit: Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats]]>
<![CDATA[Ballerina Misty Copeland Launches Dancewear Line ÉGAL]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 06:15:08 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-527358950.jpg

Ballerina Misty Copeland, who is known for breaking body stereotypes in the dance world, has launched her line of dancewear apparel.

The prima ballerina has often spoken publicly about her career-long struggle to find dancewear designed for women who have busts, hips and thighs. It from that void that Copeland says ÉGAL Dance was born.

ÉGAL Dance features designs inspired by Copeland's personal style and a desire to provide dancewear that is "truly supportive, appealing and flattering to a variety of body types."

"The ÉGAL woman is looking for high-performance, functional dancewear that is fashionable, durable and most importantly, helps them to achieve their movement goals," says Copeland. "We have shared our garments with both professional and recreational dancers, and early feedback has shown that dancers from dance forms including ballet, modern, contemporary, jazz, and Broadway, have an overwhelming need for this type of leotard."

ÉGAL Dance's initial launch is comprised of the brand's capsule collection including leotards, crop tops, a skirt and a warm-up tunic. Copeland's dancewear line is available exclusively online at www.egaldance.com.

Copeland made history last year as the first African-American woman promoted to principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre.

Reaching the pinnacle of success as a dancer was only the beginning. The world-renowned ballerina has been able to forge a career outside the dance world with her trailblazing accomplishments, a rare feat for someone from the dance world. In addition to various endorsement deals and TV appearances, the 33-year-old has published two New York Times best-selling books, was the subject of a documentary, appeared on Broadway, named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people and was recently honored with her own Barbie doll.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[A Van Gogh Masterpiece to Visit Pasadena]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 21:22:08 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Van-Gogh_The-Bedroom_1889_Art-Institutedetail.jpg

If someone were to suddenly hand you a paintbrush, and a palette, and guide you to an easel, would you be able to accurately portray your private world in a detailed way, specifically the place you place your head at night?

Capturing our bedroom from memory is trickier than it sounds. (What, indeed, is on our nightstand?) But art lovers, museum mavens, and those immersed in pop culture history could very likely describe Van Gogh's "Bedroom" in astoundingly complete fashion.

There's that red blanket, and a window, and blue walls. Some chairs, too, placed askew.

But you won't need to summon your memory to piece the iconic painting together: The masterpiece is calling upon Southern California for a short, and sure to be quite popular, stay.

The 1889 painting, which normally may be viewed at The Art Institute of Chicago, will be on loan to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena from Friday, Dec. 9 through Monday, March 6.

Emblematic of the artist's "elusive search for repose," the work, both melancholy and cozy in turn, is in the pantheon of widely known paintings that represent the notion of home.

And while this painting hails from Chicago, you're correct if you recall seeing "Bedroom" at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam or the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. The painter created three takes on "Bedroom" in all, and this is The Art Institute's version first Southern California visit.

Van Gogh, though, didn't paint this particular work while actually standing in his bedroom, but while in an asylum in Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, the place where he went to heal following his breakdown in the city of Arles.

It's a painting that has quietly connected with, then profoundly moved, millions over the years.

Viewers are touched by what they see as well as what it means, responding to the painting's deep hues, slightly discombobulating perspective, and homey subject matter while also staying aware of the history of the man who created it.

And, of course, where he was on his journey when he chose to again depict this small space. The Norton Simon describes it as "a meditation on friendship, hope, and crushing disappointment," reminding us that even a simple room, one without people or clutter or the usual visual cues that guide a viewer, can tell a many-layered story that packs a wallop of emotion.



Photo Credit: The Art Institute of Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[Main Street Electrical Parade: January Return]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 11:49:35 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/693-DLC-37msep.jpg

No Disneyland devotee would truly and seriously pit two iconic park-based attractions against each other in The Battle of Best. But over a churro or Dole whip? It can be fun to lightly ponder such matters.

Which has the eekier drops: Pirates of the Caribbean or Space Mountain? Which ride gives the best castle vantage point, Dumbo the Flying Elephant or the Astro Orbiter?

And is the theme to It's a Small World or the Main Street Electrical Parade more likely to stick in your noggin for a full week?

You're about to put this final question to the test, once again, dear Mickey mavens: The beloved nighttime, bulb-bright parade is wending its way back into the park starting on Jan. 20, 2017.

If you recall seeing the Main Street Electrical Parade when it first opened 'round about the early '70s, you're correct: The sparkly, on-the-move show became a favorite at the Anaheim theme park soon after its debut in the summer of '72.

And, you're also right if you remember seeing it elsewhere in the vicinity: It was at Disney California Adventure for a time, though that run wrapped in 2010.

Disneyland revealed in August that the parade's Magic Kingdom engagement was wrapping up, and the Main Street Electrical Parade would soon return to Disneyland "for a limited time."

For fans, this announcement was as major as scoring the front seat on the Matterhorn Bobsleds.

That limited time begins on Jan. 20, it was revealed on Dec. 5, 2016, so let the calendars be thusly marked. And the closing date? It's June 18, which happens to be 45 years to the day the Main Street Electrical Parade first debuted.

That means you have about five months to find some curb for the merry after-dark parade, so dally not.

Sweetening the nostalgic-sweet deal for longtime fans is the fact that "special merchandise and food offerings inspired by the Main Street Electrical Parade" will be available during the event's much-anticipated return.

A ticketed kick-off event is slated for Jan. 19, with annual passholders getting a first crack at tickets on Dec. 6 (general public tickets will be available on Dec. 13).

Do you have the Main Street Electrical Parade theme song in your head now? Have you never stopped having it in your head, since you first saw the parade in 1977 or 1989 or 1992?

Did you know its name is "Baroque Hoedown," or that's the ditty that inspired it?

Of course you do. Disneyland fans do charmingly obsess over their historical references, and when a major, from-the-past happening blooms again in the middle of Main Street, bet those same fans shall pay a visit to see what is surely the best-known after-dark parade in theme park history.



Photo Credit: Disney Enterprises, Inc.]]>
<![CDATA[Special Sips: It's Repeal Day]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 07:45:28 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/185*120/IMG_2392repeal.jpg

Where were you on Dec. 5, 1933?

Wherever you happened to be, chances are you slipped into your finest threads, a party-ready get-up with some swinging fringe and sparkly dash, and hopped a street car for a club downtown, all to raise a glass to Repeal Day.

The books were closed on Prohibition on that very date, and, each fifth of December, even over 80 years later, taverns and bars and restaurants across the nation pull out all the stops, or at least some fancy swizzle sticks and expertly made cocktails, to honor the libation-centered occasion.

So bone up on the background of the Eighteenth and Twenty-First Amendments — the amendments that stopped the sale of alcohol in the United States and, about 13 years later, reinstated it — and hop a street car for...

Eureka! This company has a few Southern California outposts (Woodland Hills, Huntington Beach, and more) and a ice-filled goal on Dec. 5: To make some very top-notch Old Fashioneds with Templeton Rye, all in honor of Repeal Day. The special price? They're five bucks each.

The 1933 Group Restaurants: The name of this local boutique chain, which is all about the swanky sip spot stylings, recalls the end of Prohibition, yep. And, yep, the bars that are part of the group, from Oldfield's to Thirsty Crow to Bigfoot Lodge, will nod to Repeal day from 5 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 5. Find $1 Old Fashioneds at several of the 1933 bars, with $1 Tequila Presses at La Cuevita.

Paley: This Hollywood eatery will start the Repeal Day doings at 2:30 p.m. with "five featured classic cocktails priced at $5." The Bee's Knees and Penicillin are two of the charmingly monikered refreshments on the special occasion menu.

Tart: If you're catching up on some holiday shopping at The Grove, consider swinging by this Farmer's Daughter restaurant for a classic Mule. They're five bucks beginning at 4 p.m, and you can request the liquor you'd like the bartender to use, from a trio of standards. How long is this deal on? Throug close on Dec. 5.



Photo Credit: Eureka!]]>
<![CDATA[Free TV Classics: It's Holidaytime in PaleyLand]]> Fri, 02 Dec 2016 18:03:56 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/holidaytimeinpaleyland1.jpg

If you see a film at the cinema nowadays, and you love it, and you tell everyone about it, and you plan to go back to see it again, chances are pretty strong that one day, in the near future, you'll eagerly revisit this movie on the small screen, when it makes its broadcast or streaming debut. 

But the opposite isn't true for television shows, especially those of the past. They start on the small screen, and there they firmly stay, forever, while we're consigned to watch them, again and again, from our homes.

This isn't a bad thing, of course, as we're usually while wearing feetie pajamas and eating pizza.

The Paley Center for Media is about to turn that paradigm on its head, though, and send a few television classics to the bigger screen for a short time, breaking these treasures out of the only format they, and we, know. It's Holiday Time in PaleyLand, and a stocking's worth of classic Christmas TV specials are airing in a theater setting in Beverly Hills every Wednesday through Sunday.

That is, through Sunday, Jan. 8, so make for the television institution as fast as Rudolph flies in order to enjoy "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town," "Frosty the Snowman," "A Rugrats Kwanzaa," and several other favorites played large.

For sure, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is on the fa-la-la'd roster, and "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" will screen, too.

Other surprises are in store, like Santa visits (on select days, so review his schedule) and "special holiday activities" like "ornament making, puppet making, and FREE hot cocoa!"

Oh yeah, three nice words in row. Consider, for a moment, how often you sipped hot cocoa at home, while enjoying The Grinch or a Rankin-Bass special, specials you've only seen on television.

Isn't it time you take in these ultimate classics in an expansive format? 

After all, movies have the ability, nowadays, to jump from theater to home. Why shouldn't some of those TV shows we all know by heart, every word, every snowflake, every hug, make a similarly grand jump to big-screen greatness?

Most importantly, will the Bumble be even scarier when he's so much bigger? And if you do make for The Paley Center, and you cheer on Rudolph and his pals as they square off with the famous snow monster, and you're actually not wearing your feetie pajamas while doing so, will it be a first?



Photo Credit: Paley Center for Media]]>
<![CDATA[Free: Holidays in Space Doughnut Party]]> Fri, 02 Dec 2016 13:04:21 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/IMG_9876cp.jpg

The most festive of seasons wears a number of different styles, styles that all depend upon the individual reveler's tastes.

In fact, if you were to tell someone you like to lavishly decorate for Christmas, the person might just ask if you go with a rustic-woodsy theme, or a beachy look, or if you approach your home with an elf-adorable North Pole aesthetic.

One of the most enduring themes of seasonal decorating is, of course, space, or at least a mid-century moxie that merrily incorporates the touchstones of the yuletide with a tech-cool vibe. Think the old-school color wheels that turned a tinsel wheel into a modern work of art, and picture tin toy robots under the tree.

Charles Phoenix, that joyful gem of a history-loving showman, digs that aspirational, the-cosmos-meets-Christmas theme, and will celebrate it on Saturday, Dec. 3 with an informal gathering at the Apollo Space Capsule in Downey.

The iconic capsule, which is located outside of the Columbia Memorial Space Center, is the meet-up spot for the free afternoon-to-evening get-together, one that will include a holiday-bright lighting of the capsule and the warbling of carols.

Everyone's invited to bring doughnuts, so pick up a dozen on your way to Downey to share. And please, this is Downey we speak of, a food-fantastic place that is famous for its delicious, hole-in-the-middle pastries.

Also? Gratis coffee at the event, and pay-nothing hot chocolate, will make those doughnuts you arrive with extra dippable.

And let's get down to your cosmic attire: "Festive outer space holiday dress is encouraged," recommends Mr. Phoenix, who hatched the offbeat party plan with the help of Ben Dickow, the center's director.

The time? Lift-off is at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 3, and everything'll be off the launchpad — read: done and over — at 6:30.

Dig space? Dig zany, non-traditional ways to celebrate the season? Like doughnuts? How about singing carols? Several of your favorite pursuits are dovetailing, delightfully, in Downey.

Many a brave astronaut has marked many a holiday while high above our planet. Bringing that holiday spirit down to earth, with some seasonal stratosphere-o-sity and oomph, feels like a festive way to honor our love of space exploration and our beloved coming-together occasions.



Photo Credit: Charles Phoenix]]>
<![CDATA[Grand Central Market's Holiday Market]]> Fri, 02 Dec 2016 09:38:56 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Bombocookies3gcm.jpg

Find the crystal ball that's nearest you right now, the one on your desk or shelf. Say the special words, wave your hands over the top, and gaze upon what will be happening in three or so weeks: You'll be searching out some festive cookies or cakes or host giftables, the kind that lend cheer to your table or the home you're visiting.

But the pre-Hanukkah, pre-Christmas rush is called a "rush" for a reason: Most people have far too much to do. Ponder, then, if you will, the early-in-December holiday markets, those pop-up parties that give people a gentle prod on the shoulder as if to say "square all those sweets purchases away now, before the rush commences."

Grand Central Market has one of the grandest of the bunch. After all, it is already a food emporium, on a lavish and lively scale, so adding in some seasonal-type tidbits of the munchiest sort is a snap.

The 2016 dates are Saturday, Dec. 3 and Sunday, Dec. 4, and a bevy of "retail and culinary pop-ups" will dot the spacious Broadway landmark. The Los Angeles Country Store will be in the house, selling those oh-so-local items they're famous for, and a number of other gift-ready shops.

But the edible end of things'll make a show, so prepare to shop for potato knishes from Wexler's Deli, Bombo's iced sugar cookies, and fruit cakes from Valerie Confections.

Yes, fruit cakes. Don't you know they're delicious, and not just a punchline? 

It's all free to browse, with free entertainment adding the tinsel and tunes. The California Feetwarmers bring their retro-flavored goodness to the vast space, but listen also for klezmer songs, steel drums, and traditional carols.

Has your crystal ball finished conveying its message from the future? Then best start stocking up on all of the snacky, ready-to-wrap stuff you'll be frantically searching for just ahead of the holidays (when you have 118 other things to accomplish).



Photo Credit: Grand Central Market]]>
<![CDATA['Grinchmas' Ho, Ho, Hos at Universal]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 22:09:16 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/grinchmax1GettyImages-107499076.jpg

The season that encircles the final month of the year like a big, bright ribbon is rife with pivotal moments, the kind of merry/magical moments that seem to tie the whole to-do together.

There's the moment when the tree topper is placed atop the Douglas fir in the middle of the den, and the moment when the first carol is sung, and the moment when the first package is opened, and the moment when The Grinch ponders "I must stop Christmas from coming — but how?!"

Bevies of Dr. Seuss devotees know that that's the linchpin of "How The Grinch Stole Christmas," but we typically only experience it through the book and animated classic. But make for Universal Studios Hollywood over any number of select December dates and you'll spy the furry, Santa hat-rocking peak dweller holding court, grandly, cheekily, and with his pup Max at his side.

It's Grinchmas, of course, the theme park's yearly yuletide bon bon of a bash. No Grinchian gala would be complete without some Who-sweet singing, and that the singing is hailing from a backlot set seen in the live-action film only ups the "you're-on-a-studio-tour" specialness.

There shall be storytime with Cindy Lou Who, and photos with the formerly grouchy Big G himself by his oh-so-Grinchy tree. Well, the height, at 60 feet, isn't Grinch-like in the least, but is rather generous and sparkly.

Two things The Grinch eventually becomes, yes (and no spoiler alert is required, as many people know both the book and show by their heart).

Speaking of hearts, will you ask The Grinch how it felt to have his heart grow three sizes in a single day? That is quite the feat, especially since he then had the strength of ten Grinches (plus two).

Opening day for these Who-larious high jinks is Saturday, Dec. 3, while New Year's Day is when The Grinch will board his bag-packed sleigh and bid his fans adieu. It's not Grinchmas every day at the theme park, but things'll get quite Grinchly over the final two weeks in December (so check the full calendar).

Universal Parks & Resorts is owned by NBCUniversal, the parent company of this site.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend: Santa's Village Re-Opens]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 15:36:37 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/santasvillage029382323.jpg

Santa's Village Re-Opens: If you were a SoCal tot with road-tripping parents back in the 1950s through the '90s, chances are good you paid a visit to this Lake Arrowhead-adjacent attraction. The attaction shuttered in the 1990s, but word arrived in 2014 that it would return, an announcement met with much regional glee. Now Mr. Claus and company are back with bells on, and several cocoa-cute pursuits, at their mountain-high retreat. Do note advance reservations are as important as a certain reindeer's red nose. Opening date? Listen for the "ho, ho, ho-ing" on Friday, Dec. 2.

Downtown Gifty Marketplaces: Those famously named post-Thanksgiving shopping days have wrapped up, but the neighborhood-specific, handmade-happy happenings are setting up the booths and tables over the next couple of weekends. Two biggies are blooming around downtown on Dec. 3 and 4, including the Go Little Tokyo Holiday Marketplace (Shogun Santa will appear) and Unique LA at the California Marketplace.

It's Holiday Time in PaleyLand: You'll probably find some of the festive classics you enjoying watching each December on the TV schedule, but you can make for The Paley Center for Media and see several of them on the big screen, for free. Something else seasonal and sparkly? The Wooden Soldier costumes famously worn by The Rockettes will be on display if you can make the NYC Paley (though Beverly Hills has its festive touches, too). (Note that the center is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.)

Lamplight Holiday: The Victorian abodes that sit just to the side of the 110 Freeway at Heritage Square have long been a spyglass to the past, one that modern Angelenos might use to observe how people lived in the way back when. Visit on Dec. 3 or 4 and discover how the holidays were celebrated at the end of the 1800s, in 1915, and in the 1940s. Period dress isn't required, but a ticket should be secured.

The Can-Tree Forest: Call it one of the most offbeat displays of giving-back-ness the season has to offer, and call it an Oxnard staple, one that appears in early December. Head for The Collection at RiverPark through Sunday, Dec. 4 to see trees made from donated canned goods, a bevy of them, and bring a few cans of your own to donate to the FOOD Share fundraiser. The building of the trees comes first, but they should be in full form by the final two days.



Photo Credit: Santa's Village at SkyPark
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<![CDATA[Rose Parade: 2017 Floats Revealed]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 09:20:39 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/07-roseparade.jpg

If it is the first day of December, then you can state, with almost near-certainty, that the Rose Parade Presented by Honda is exactly a month away.

But wait.

Except you can't do that this year, for the first of January in 2017 is a Sunday, and, as watchers of the venerable procession know, the started-in-1890 parade never, ever happens on that particular day of the week.

Ever.

Thus we're just about a month out from the Monday, Jan. 2, 2017 Pasadena party, which means this: The time to brush up on your floats has arrived.

And The Pasadena Tournament of Roses is facilitating that by giving flower fans an early look at what floats will appear in the 2017 spectacular. The list, revealed on Nov. 30, includes a bouquet of local places and groups, a number of companies, some educational representation, and the National Hockey League.

Indeed, the NHL will run a blossom-bedecked float in the parade, as will "The Bachelor," Miracle-Gro, Trader Joe's, Shriners Hospitals for Children, City of Hope, City of Los Angeles, Cal Poly Universities, and the California Milk Advisory Board.

Even Netflix will have an episode — er, float — out on Colorado Boulevard.

And, you bet: The two teams that'll square off in the Rose Bowl will also have floats in the parade but that is, of course, TBD as of early December. And will the royal court ride grandly on a petal-amazing chariot? It's a parade highlight, and airtight tradition, so you bet.

The sizable roster, published at the organization's site, includes what builders will be behind what floats, with some of the longtime classic float pros making the scene, from Fiesta to Phoenix (with a few "self-built" making a showing as well).

But what will we see on each float, design-wise? Those looks will flower, literally, near the end of the December, thanks to the hours put in by volunteers and staffers who'll place each seed pod and bud just so, in order to give this iconic event its bloom-big character.

Want to be surprised at what the 128th annual Rose Parade will hold? Don't peek at the list, but do know that if you're playing around Pas ahead of the New Year, coming across a hard-to-miss float or float team by surprise is, if not assured, one of the charms of the holidays in the historic city.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Santa's North Pole Home Listed on Zillow]]> Wed, 30 Nov 2016 18:31:27 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/p_f_Outside_024.jpg Popular real estate marketplace company Zillow added a new property listing to their website just in time for the holidays -- Santa Claus' North Pole house. Maison Krin is described as a "toy-lover's paradise nestled on 25 idyllic acres at the North Pole -- perfect for spirited reindeer games." The company priced the home using "comparable homes in remote locations" and "applying a Santa premium," they said in a press release.

Photo Credit: Zillow]]>
<![CDATA[Napoleon Dynamite and Pedro Reunite for Burger King Ad]]> Wed, 30 Nov 2016 16:25:46 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/nd51120735.jpg

Napoleon Dynamite and Pedro are back…for Burger King, that is.

Jon Heder and Efren Ramirez reunited for a commercial for Burger King’s limited-time offering of cheesy tots.

The commerical plays off of Napoleon's love for the cafeteria side dish in the movie. 

"Whoa, are those cheesy tots?” Heder as Napoleon asks Ramirez, before requesting to try one.

He then takes a handful of tots, including one out of Ramirez’s hand, for himself.

“Dang it, those are good,” Heder says.

“Fans have been craving the return of Cheesy Tots for some time now,” Burger King president, North America Alex Macedo said in a statement. “So we wanted to give loyalists a holiday surprise after we heard so many of their requests. Now they’ll be able to warm up to these cozy cheese and potato bites this holiday season.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Will Ferrell-Lovin' Pop-Up Bar Headed for LA]]> Wed, 30 Nov 2016 17:27:09 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ronburgundy.jpg

There comes a time in each person's day when something small goes awry, whether it is a coffeemaker leak, or a misunderstanding over the last doughnut and who should eat it, or whether you truly actually 100 percent called dibs first on a particular seat of your friend's car.

And the only thing you need to decide in the moment is this: Will you think up a fresh bon mot to lighten the situation or will you quote "Anchorman"?

If you lean toward B), best don your polyester mix cherise-red blazer, find some pressed slacks and loafers, and groom your mustache, for you're about to sip a Chablis or Scotch in a bar inspired by the comical stylings of one Will Ferrell.

The name of the pop-up bar, which hails from New York City, will be recognizable to anyone who knows the KVWN-TV Channel 4 Evening News team from the 2004 mainstream-gone-cult movie: Stay Classy Bar.

That the venue will only be in town for 10 days may elicit you to exclaim "I'm in a glass case of emotion!," though perhaps you'll hold your burbling feelings in check and start planning a visit.

Opening date? It's the headline of this half hour: Dec. 5, a Monday. Dec. 15, a Thursday, is the closing date. The place is the TCL Chinese Theatre 6. And all of that should be read, in your head, in a Ron Burgundy-style staccato.

Eater Los Angeles reveals that Stay Classy, which opened in 2015 on the Lower East Side of New York, "became an immediate hit with the kitsch crowd." Of course, Stay Classy is festooned with a number of Ferrell-esque details, including beverages that recall his role in 2008's "Step Brothers."

Which may remind Southern Californians that there was another recent Will Ferrell-inspired drink-related to-do on our shores in recent months, the Catalina Wine Mixer which was, yes, actually on Catalina Island in September 2016.

Perhaps we Will see more taverns homaging the comic around town? Who's up for an "Elf"-themed hot cocoa cart in the heart of Hollywood?

Ferrell fans, "don't act like you're not impressed" with that notion. And don't be surprised that it is pretty impossible to wrap-up an "Anchorman"-related post with an "Anchorman" quote, which is, as anyone knows, the only classy way to end it. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[CHILL: Queen Mary's Winter-tacular Debuts]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 12:26:00 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/chillqmd9a.jpg

While "Alice in Wonderland" is plum-packed with delirious delights aplenty, we readers never learn the exact temperature of the rabbit hole that our heroine gamely enters at the story's start, nor do we know if the caterpillar's mushroom cap is hot or cold.

And what is the exact humidity and dew point at the royal croquet game? Forever a mystery, as is the general weather of Wonderland.

But fans of the timeless classic might generally agree that the merry mood of the book dovetails nicely with wintertime and our real-world holidays.

Which means this: "Alice in Wonderland" has easily transformed into "Alice in Winterland" at CHILL, the Queen Mary's annual seasonal spectacular, an event that's very much built around the concepts of whimsy and wonder.

Update: Do note that CHILL's famous "ice" concept is found on the rink and not among the "Alice" elements, which are beautiful, over-sized, glow-cool lanterns.

However, there's quite a bit of ice at the Long Beach landmark from Wednesday, Nov. 23 through Sunday, Jan. 8, but none of it is offshore, in the form of frozen floating water. This is Southern California, after all, and ocean ice is a bit too whimsical.

Ice, though, is front-and-centered at CHILL via the massive ice rink, which keeps the iconic ocean-liner in view, and The Glacier Glide, the six-lane ice tubing area.

As for the "Alice"-themed lanterns? Look for a glowing rabbit, and caterpillar, and other book-sweet touchstones inside the "interactive, immersive 14,000-square-foot experience." This imagination-rich space includes the Mad Hatter's Workshop, the Hedge Maze, and more rabbit-y destinations straight from the pages of the tail (er, tale, we do mean).

Special enchanting enticements continue to abound, from a lit-up carousel to a martini bar, so eye the extras before turning your own ship, or caterpillar, or preferred mode of transport, for Long Beach.

And there's a CHILL-related Queen Mary hotel package, too, should you want to curl up in one of the ship's historic rooms with your treasured copy of "Alice" following an evening of twirls on the rink and Chesire Cat sightings.

Keep in mind that if a December day turns out to be especially toasty, the ice'll still be frosty down by the fabled ocean-liner, so prepare to weather any summery weather at one of SoCal's brrr-iest spots.



Photo Credit: Queen Mary]]>
<![CDATA[Ginormous Gingerbread Room Downtown]]> Wed, 30 Nov 2016 13:00:10 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/jwmarriottgingerbread1.jpg

Whether something is ginormous, or gargantuan, or gigantic, or any other "g"-starting word that signifies something sizable, is truly up the beholder's singular perspective.

But "ginormous" (or its other g-big neighbors) seems especially apt when talking about Mrs. Claus' Gingerbread Kitchen, a spicy-scented sight seen each holiday season in the lobby of the JW Marriott Los Angeles at LA Live.

After all, most at-home gingerbread house bakers only go through a few pounds of dough while fashioning walls, roofs, and chimneys. But this out-sized decoration? Those amounts amount to a sliver of what it requires.

Count 'em up: The gingerbread kitchen is made of 1,300 pounds of gingerbread. Stand close enough and you can smell it. Stand close enough and you can see that, yes, this is honest-to-icing real gingerbread.

But the edible isn't the only star attraction of the snapshot-ready attraction: Snackable details festoon the foyer-sized treat, which includes picture frames made from sugar and lights that have some candy cane cred.

This should inspire any aspiring at-home gingerbreadist to even better baking heights, one hopes. True even creating a small square of cookie dough that can stand on its own is a feat, but maybe, this year, you'll go a new frosting route, or incorporate a weirder candy, after seeing the gingerbread wonder inside the JW Marriott.

Good to know? It's on view through Dec. 31, 2016, and, being in the hotel lobby, is free to visit. There are other doings about the downtown destination, like Holly Jolly Day at The Mixing Room on Saturday, Dec. 17. A Santa Claus cameo, private access to the LA Live ice rink, spiked hot cocoa for the grown-ups, and treats aplenty are the bow atop this particular package.

Or perhaps you just want to eye what a whole bunch of gingerbread, expertly baked into something that's a bit smaller than a room but larger than a walk-in closet, looks like. Here's your chance to see what ginormous means when it comes to this Christmas-classic cookie.



Photo Credit: JW Marriott]]>
<![CDATA[Free Ice Cream: McConnell's Los Feliz Debut]]> Wed, 30 Nov 2016 09:39:41 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/mcconnells3323.jpg

December isn't necessarily the freebie-est month on the calendar, though the little unexpected add-ons and we-like-yous do charmingly pop up, from time to time.

We may find a coupon in our holiday shopping bag, one that saves us a buck or two if we return to shop some more. And we're sometimes handed candy canes at various seasonal soirees, the kind we vow to eat (but then find on the bottom of our purse next summer).

But a whole free scoop of ice cream, one that comes with oodles of Santa Barbara lore, one that's well-made and widely beloved around the American Riviera and beyond, seems like a December daydream.

Be bold and dream, though, for McConnell's Fine Ice Creams has brought the frosty fun eats to Los Feliz, and a lickable first-day-of-December deal, too.

And the deal is this: Stop by the new shop at 4630 Hollywood Boulevard on Thursday, Dec. 1 from 5 to 10 in the evening and score a pay-nothing scoop of pumpkin pie ice cream, or eggnog ice cream, or burnt apple ice cream, or another flavor on offer.

How artisanal-y are these eats? And how local, or at least regional? McConnell's peppermint stick ice cream includes milk from grass-chompin' cows who call our own Central Coast home, as well as R.R. Lochhead vanilla (just a dash for zing).

If you know your Santa Barbara-based bites, you know that McConnell's got its start on the locally famous-y corner of State and Mission Streets back in 1950. And if you really really know your Santa Barbara stuff, you know that the shop opened in December, making this well-timed Los Feliz debut perfectly in line with the company's history.

True, we're not having one of our surprise late-fall "it's December?" heat waves at the moment, so you'll just need to bundle up to get your free scoop on, or at least wear a light jacket, LA's official heading-into-winter wearable.

After all, we don't stop eating ice cream in Southern California just because it is December, and anyone who says otherwise should be guffawed at (or, better yet, invited along for a scoop of free peppermint stick ice cream in Los Feliz).



Photo Credit: McConnell's Ice Cream]]>
<![CDATA[Mission Inn Hotel & Spa's Tremendous Twinkle]]> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 19:33:38 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/xmasnutcrackersmission1921.jpg The holiday-tacular is underway nightly at the castle-esque Riverside landmark.

Photo Credit: Mission Inn Hotel & Spa]]>
<![CDATA[Go Little Tokyo Holiday Marketplace]]> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 17:51:08 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/golittletokyoholiday123.jpg

While most of the big-name shop days cluster around Thanksgiving Weekend, from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, you can confidently count on the weekend that follows to be especially shoppable in its own regional right.

Yes, we pulled out "regional" there on purpose, for while there is no catchy handle for the shopping events that pop up over the first weekend in December, they tend to be pretty local at heart. And funky. And handmade-oriented, or artisanally focused, or they elevate a specific theme or district.

One of the stand-outs is the Go Little Tokyo Holiday Marketplace, a two-day celebration of the downtown neighborhood, an area rife with shops and eateries and the Japanese American National Museum (as well as a host of cool galleries).

You can find Japanese toys and straight-from-Ginza fashions any time of the year around the general nexus of E. 1st and S. San Pedro Streets, but on Saturday, Dec. 3 and Sunday, Dec. 4 a flurry of extra-fun, seasonal-shiny gewgaws and goings-on and cameos will make the second annual Holiday Marketplace even merrier.

Shogun Santa will be in the house, or rather Japanese Village Plaza, for photographs, while a Green Tea & Matcha Fair will give strollers a chance to sip some lovely brews at Little Tokyo Market Place.

Other happenings dotting the weekend calendar include a class devoted to floral arrangement, a holiday nail art demonstration, a ukulele jam session (carols and seasonal songs will be the theme), a cocktail demo, and all sorts of entertainment.

Guided tours will also give visitors a deeper understanding of this vibrant, delicious-foodstuff-filled, oh-so-historic neighborhood.

Want to make sure you arrive at the right time to meet Shogun Santa or try out the Furoshiki cloth-wrapping workshop? Peruse the whole schedule before legging it for Little Tokyo.

And keep those same eyes peeled for more local holiday fairs over the first weekend in December (and even the second). The Thanksgiving shop days are done, but the craft-nice, demo-cool, neighborhood-y festivals are just revving up.



Photo Credit: Go Little Tokyo]]>
<![CDATA[New in 2017: Annenberg PetSpace]]> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 12:40:22 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/petannenberg203202.jpg

"Annenberg" is a name seen throughout Southern Californian, from the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills to the Annenberg Space for Photography in Culver City. 

And while Sunnylands, the fabled Rancho Mirage estate, doesn't have "Annenberg" in its name, it is an architectural gem belonging to the philanthropic family (a gem that can be visited, thanks to oversight by the Annenberg Foundation).

Next up for the foundation? The Wallis Annenberg PetSpace, "a unique new community center" devoted to animals, the humans who adore them, and a number of programs that lend love and knowledge to how we share our lives, and this world, with our pets.

Is it a pet store? No. Is it an adoption center? Adoptions will be a key feature, but thinking of PetSpace as a course-rich, play-centered meet-place for people and their pets is a solid initial outlook.

Wallis Annenberg reveals that "the new initiative couldn't be closer to my heart," as the destination will help to "save animals' lives through education and adoption..." as well as "...help make our communities more animal-friendly." 

Opening in the first part of 2017 near Silicon Beach in Playa Vista, the community center will boast several components, from the already-mentioned adoptions to training classes to talks about policies that focus on animals, nature, and "the science and origins of the human-animal bond."

Human Animal Studies will be one of the main engines of PetSpace, and a number of regional nature and science organizations will work in partnership with the Annenberg Foundation to enhance PetSpace's myriad programs and offerings.

The breadth of the expected programs is impressive, with many spotlighting pets in the workplace, pets as assistants and helpers, and other issues that boast a gravitas not often seen in how we approach thinking about pets, their needs, and how the world views them.

It's a place of play, of course, and study, and hanging out with your hound. Not every community center allows dogs, but the Wallis Annenberg PetSpace is a community center where the canine is both invited and welcomed.

In fact, they're the star guests, and we people are there to learn, serve as trustworthy companions, and know better where our tail-boasting buddies stand.



Photo Credit: Wallis Annenberg Pet Space]]>
<![CDATA[Giving Tuesday]]> Tue, 29 Nov 2016 09:51:48 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/holdinghands123.jpg

If the longest day of the year, sunlight-wise, is the summer solstice, and the spookiest day of the year is Oct. 31, and the small-animal-seeing-his-shadow-iest day of the year is Feb. 2, then the kindest day of the year is..?

Well, let's call the spirit of such a day a daily pursuit, of the most important sort, for every square on the calendar should possess a heaping share of good will and joy to all. But if you're looking for sheer give-back-a-tude, and let's-help-each-other-out-ness, then look to the Tuesday following Thanksgiving.

That's Giving Tuesday, and, you're right, it does come at the tail-end of all of those Something Weekday Name shopping days that hover around turkey time. And after we've shopped the Black Friday sales, and our local small businesses on the post-Thanksgiving Saturday, and hit the cyber deals on Monday, it is the moment to consider donating to our favorite charities and non-profits.

Your donation does not have to be local, but if you regularly visit an aquarium, or you love what a neighborhood group is doing to improve community relations and understanding, those are excellent places to start.

Many organizations match donations on Giving Tuesday, which is Nov. 29 in 2016, or offer another incentive to make all of those kind-hearted funds as fulsome as can be.

"The Global Day of Giving" is on, and Southern California organizations like Children's Hospital of Los AngelesLos Angeles Mission, Women in Film, and spcaLA all have special ways to give and get involved during the day (just check out their respective web sites for info on how to start).

But the giving truly is global, with Californians reaching out to people across the planet via monetary donations, involvement, activism, and hope.

Some $116,000,000 was raised in 2015, says Giving Tuesday, a notable sum that can go even further this year. After all, it is always a good day to be kind, and the Tuesday that follows Thanksgiving is a big-hearted reminder of just that bond-building, we're-all-in-this-together sentiment.



Photo Credit: Hands]]>
<![CDATA[Hanjip: All-You-Can-Eat Contest Gives Back]]> Mon, 28 Nov 2016 17:24:08 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Hanjip3_PhotoCreditRickPoon.jpg

Digging your spoon into a dish, over and over, as your pals cheer you on, is a singular experience.

It's the all-you-can-eat experience, a piquant, lip-smacking pursuit that's typically undertaken in a contest-type setting, one that challenges the diner to go the belt-expanding distance. 

But Hanjip, the Culver City Korean barbecue joint, is putting a sweet spin on all-you-can-eating with big-hearted give-back reason: Guests who attempt to take on the $29.99 All You Can Eat menu will help out No Kid Hungry, an important Share Your Strength "non-profit initiative aimed at ending childhood hunger through education, connecting kids in need with nutritious food, and helping families prepare healthy, affordable meals at home."

Call upon the stylish spot through Sunday, Dec. 4, request the All You Can Eat meal, and go to town on the marinated short rib, traditional Bulgogi, shrimp, and more.

There are 20 meats in all, so come in knowing what you'll be facing, food-wise.

For every $29.99 all-you-can-eat meal sold, Hanjip will donate five dollars to No Kid Hungry.

Moreover, a dozen of the grand-prizers are scoring a "VIP card that allows winners to eat for free with a guest all year long." Good stuff, and with a celebratory reason connected to the conviviality: Hanjip is marking its first anniversary, and wanted to do it up, in a guest-pleasing, give-back kind of way.

There are some specific breakdowns to know, about how winners are crowned (it depends on the number of people at the table, and more), so check out all of the rules before digging into that Bulgogi and shrimp.

And depart knowing that you've helped Hanjip help an important program, one that addresses the most fundamental of issues at the basis of a healthy childhood.

To donate directly to No Kid Hungry, start here. 



Photo Credit: Rick Poon]]>
<![CDATA[Happy 50th, Los Angeles Zoo]]> Mon, 28 Nov 2016 10:21:17 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GL-ZooEntrance-TMotoyama.jpg

True story: You're as likely nowadays to see photographs from a koala's birthday party as you are to see online snaps from a friend's splashy celebration.

Thank social media's you-are-there-ness for making us all guests at everyone's birthdays, including those denizens who prefer their cakes to be made of vegetables or ice or some yummy, not-really-a-human-treat dessert that's shaped like a cake.

But how does a big birthday go down for the actual place where all of those koalas and orangutans and lizards live? It happens like this: The LA Zoo is welcoming guests on Monday, Nov. 28 with a special birthday-nice half-off deal in honor of its 50th anniversary.

That "50" bit means you'll only need to pay 50 percent of the usual admission on Nov. 28 to slip in and join the soiree. It's a soiree that includes cakey sweets for the people paying a visit and the aforementioned animal-style goodies for the furry, scaly, and feathery residents of the Griffith Park preserve.

Another bonus? Snack and sip (sans alcohol) for 50 percent off, too.

And if a birthday isn't complete without some card-signing action, well, take heart, for there shall be a card to sign. (If you want to wish the LA Zoo "Happy 50th" in koala- or tortoise-speak, well, go for it, though a human-type language is a-okay, as well.)

Other "ZooLAbration" happenings, like presentations, are on the day's calendar.

If you can't make the actual day, you can peruse 50 important milestones on the founded-in-1966 zoo's special 50th birthday web site.

Happy 50th, LA Zoo. Here's to several more decades of cooing and chirping and roaring and wonder and Zoo Lights and ice cream cones and learning about the beasties who also call this marvel of a planet home.



Photo Credit: Tad Motoyama]]>
<![CDATA[Downtown Dazzle: Music Center Tree ]]> Mon, 28 Nov 2016 09:32:22 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/holidaydecoratthemusiccenter1.jpg

You're on the bus, you're in a car, you're pedaling by on your bike, when suddenly: light.

Not a traffic light, though those are important to heed (of course). And not a street light, though such illumination does help us make our way around the city after sundown.

Rather, you notice a new and different light up some stairs you pass nearly every day, stairs that lead to a plaza, in a spot that is already known for a good amount of year-round sparkle: the Music Center Plaza.

Indeed, we speak of the place where free dancing nights shimmy all summer long, and the 280-jet fountain keeps things ooh-and-aah-y throughout the calendar.

And come late November? The Music Center Plaza becomes the temporary home of one very tall and notable tree.

That tree will be grandly lit on the evening of Monday, Nov. 28, as is tradition (well, the actual date can vary, but count on it happening right after Thanksgiving weekend). 

The "grandly" part is enhanced by live chamber music from the Brass Pacifica and a performance by the Antelope Valley Master Chorale.

Nearby Grand Park will also get in on the "grandly" end of things, lending illumination and beauty via its freshly placed holiday decoration.

And does the 45-foot tree have a tall neighbor in City Hall, which it shall face all December long? While the historic civic building is notably taller than the Christmas tree, both have a majestic verticality and both mirror each other nicely in wide-shot photographs.

So if you catch a blur of new lights while cycling/driving/riding by Music Center Plaza after Nov. 28, just know it is one of the region's most regal and area-apt trees, a symbol that fits well with the visual wonders of the cultural destination.

The free-to-see lighting starts at 5 o'clock on the 28th, and "(h)ot chocolate for everyone!" is the jubilant final invitation to anyone who wants to attend.

Grand Park, free cocoa, and a sparkly tree next to those glittery-of-droplet fountains, all with the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and City Hall and the Department of Water & Power starring as the iconic backdrops?

It's as if local LA cheer got multiplied by some merry calculator, by like 100.



Photo Credit: Music Center/Mario de Lopez]]>
<![CDATA[4,500,000 Lights to Brighten Mission Inn]]> Thu, 17 Nov 2016 10:40:19 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/missioninnpool2938923212.jpg

If you consider yourself something of an authority regarding the unofficial Brightest Locations in California, then you probably already possess a list of those supremely illuminated spots that dazzle with their bulb-based brilliance.

Any of our working lighthouses would make such a list, as would Dodger Stadium at night. And Disneyland's It's a Small World, come the holidays, might be the most radiant thing in all of Orange County.

But your list of mega-radiant destinations wouldn't be complete without The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, Riverside's block-filler of a castle-like hotel. Of course, the historic building keeps the elegant, palm-highlighting lamps turned on throughout the calendar, but come the Friday after Thanksgiving the whole shimmery structure becomes visible from space.

Well, that might be hyperbole, so let's qualify that with "just about seeable from space." Thank the 4,500,000 lights that begin to sparkle at The Mission Inn, bulbs that cover the Spanish-elegant archways and patios and palms during the hotel's annual Festival of Lights.

Add to that the 400-plus figures that are animated (italics necessary, because 400 moving figures are impressive), and the strolling Victorian-attired carolers, and the gingerbread villages, and the yuletide-sweet treats and touches, and you have not only an official Brightest Location in California but one of the Merriest Locations in California, too.

You don't need to be present in Riverside for the festive switch-flipping on Friday, Nov. 25, but keep in mind that that's when this whole bulb-bigness gets glowing. And the four point five million lights will stay on at the hotel nightly through Saturday, Jan. 7. (Spelling out "four point five million lights" was necessary, because it is an astounding number.)

It's all free to swing by and see, though people do plan an overnight stay at The Mission Inn just to have more time to bask in the daylight-like after-sundown incandescence.



Photo Credit: Mission Inn]]>
<![CDATA[Enchanted: Forest of Light Opens]]> Sun, 27 Nov 2016 11:24:23 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/enchanteddescansopeople9232.jpg

If you've ever grabbed a flashlight and ventured into the backyard, not with any real purpose in mind save for shining the beam up through various branches and inside leaf-lovely shrubs, you know the stirring feeling found at the visually interesting intersection of nature and illumination.

It's an intersection people regularly explore by pointing green and blue and pink lights at their own yard-based Bird-of-paradise or Queen Anne palm. And it is a marvelous meeting point that will be merrily celebrated, with drama and beauty, at Descanso Gardens over the next several weeks.

The glowful happening is called Enchanted: Forest of Light, a ticketed, multi-night, straight-into-2017 spectacular that casts a literal light on the towering Coast Live Oaks of the stately La Cañada Flintridge spread. 

But the oaks aren't the only garden features that'll take centerstage during the incandescent affair; look for ten displays in all, including the Lightwave Lake, the "Flower Power" of dozens of lit-up tulips, and "The Pool" by artist Jen Lewin (a mysterious, dot-laden expanse that holds a few surprises for those walking atop the dots).

How far will you stroll to admire everything? About a mile. And do remember that this is all happening after the sun makes its exit for the day, so dressing for a walk in the woods is the right choice (so: layers).

Tickets? They're here, and they're timed, and you can bet that dates closer to the holidays may bustle, so ponder a weeknight in early December (though, truly, this could just be popular every night, so call it a bonding experience with other people who like nature and light in play).

Is Maple, the new restaurant at Descanso Gardens, doing dinner service during the Enchanted: Forest of Light run? It is, so find your stylish sustenance before heading out onto the oakly, redwoodish path of prettiness.



Photo Credit: Enchanted Forest]]>
<![CDATA[Operation Santa Paws: Donate + Volunteer]]> Fri, 25 Nov 2016 06:36:48 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/operationsantapaws22322.jpg

Animal care centers and shelters require a lengthy list of items to keep the day-to-day doings of tending to dogs, cats, and other furry/scaly residents operating in an efficient, well-oiled, and compassionate manner.

It absolutely begins with food, yes, but consider all of the blankets, and bowls, and carriers, and cleaning suppies, and office supplies that lend needed back-up to the process of caring for someone's future lovebug. ("Future lovebug" meaning that the animals in question are awaiting forever homes.)

That's where Operation Santa Paws comes in each December. The Long Beach-based drive, which serves centers and shelters in both Long Beach and Orange County, sends out the call for a bevy of beastie-related items.

Thousands of such items have been collected since the program's start in 2001, and the goods range from the first things you think a dog or cat might need to those more unusual but helpful things that lend a critter comfort or specialized help.

Like, say, heating pads for baby animals, or cat scratchers (think the cardboard ones). There's a full roster of needs, from toys to treats to aprons/smocks for staffers, but if you can't give a bag of food or some blankets, consider a gift card to a local store that carries pet supplies.

Or a cash donation earmarked for an animal's medical issues.

As for the "Santa" part of Operation Santa Paws? A group of volunteers will round up all of the cans of kibble and towels and supplies and make the drop-offs at a few shelters around Long Beach and Orange County. That's happening on Saturday, Dec. 17, if you want to jump in and join.

As far as the drop-off locations go, and the dates? Operation Santa Paws opens to donations on Thursday, Dec. 1, and stays open through noontime on Friday, Dec. 16.

There are a few dozen locations around Los Angeles, Orange County, and Long Beach, from feed stores to grooming businesses to schools to the Aquarium of the Pacific.

Eye the needs now, or dig out your Santa hat and prepare to make a few joyful, bark-worthy, meow-happy deliveries on the Saturday before Christmas.



Photo Credit: Justin Rudd]]>
<![CDATA[Bevy of Ballets: It's 'Nutcracker' Season]]> Sat, 26 Nov 2016 09:55:52 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/The-Party-Scene-from-The-Nutcracker-Photo-by-Gene-Schiavone.jpg

Digging down and discovering the pure magic of the season can be as simple as looking deep within our hearts, and that statement honestly isn't meant to elicit any "awwws" or such.

Though, you know. "Awww" if you want.

But there is a caveat: We humans do like our nostalgic touchstones when it comes to Christmas, the time-proven carols and shows and movies we practically know by, well, heart, the very same heart we should be gazing inside as the yuletide draws near.

And at the tippiest top of the touchstones? Well, "Rudolph" is up there, and the "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel," too. And dancing its way to centerstage in terms of nostalgic stories? It's "The Nutcracker," a colorful, costume-terrific, music-soaring staple of the last month on the calendar.

The great thing about tried-and-true traditions is this: They tend to pop up in a few places, with a few variations, meaning a fan can take in a swath of them, or at least one or two, and feel as though they've truly reveled in something that will disappear again for eleven months.

Or "melt again," if you prefer, since snowflakes figure largely in this lark.

So don't let "The Nutcracker," with its da-danana-nuh-nuh Tchaikovsky score and its Sugar Plum Fairy and its mice and its Christmas tree dance off into 2017; secure your seat now at a Southern California theater.

The Los Angeles Ballet will once again flit from venue to venue, fetchingly, from Dec. 10 through the 24th. The Dolby Theatre is up first, Royce Hall follows, and the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center rounds it all out just ahead of Christmas.

One lovely bonus? Shop at the Roberto Cavalli store in Beverly Hills from Dec. 1 through 9 and know that 15% of the proceeds will go to supporting this excellent ballet company.

Feeling the enchantment around Orange County? Look to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, in Costa Mesa, where the American Ballet Theatre will perform the beautiful ballet over select nights beginning on Dec. 9. And the snowflakes shall spin when the Long Beach Ballet's take on the whimsical tale leaps into the Long Beach Terrace Theater beginning on Dec. 10.

And if you're in Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, or Claremont in the coming weeks, and have a hankering to see magical toys come to life (complete with impressive leaps and twirls), seek out the Inland Pacific Ballet's schedule.

There is, surely, a Nutcrackian fantasy in your neck of the forest, and it will be, surely, either traditional or a modern play on the story.

Just follow the Tchiakovsky-like tunes to the stage near you, to find frolicksome mice and toys and fairies and all-out, cheer-glow magic, the kind of magic that just might encourage a person to do that whole looking-into-their-heart thing more regularly.



Photo Credit: Gene Schiavone]]>
<![CDATA[A Trio of Tamale Festivals]]> Sat, 26 Nov 2016 05:06:34 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tamales.jpg

The closing days of November are dominated by dining articles, and cuisine tips, and a thousand (or maybe a million) ways to cook sweet potatoes.

But the two T-starting icons do dominate that particular space (Thanksgiving, we tip our hat to you, and you as well, turkey). Still, though, when it comes to delicious foodstuffs and November's final adieu, another T-themed icon begins to make the savory scene: the tamale.

True, tamales tend to be a superstar staple of the Christmas and Christmas Eve tables, but around California we refuse to wait to dive into all of that masa-amazing, husk-holding goodness.

We get that particular party started in early December, and, in some cases, late November, because, fact: It is always the perfect time for a tamale. Wait, that's semi-incorrect: We meant two tamales (because tamales are best enjoyed in pairs, or even trios).

If you and your pals still are a few weeks out from your tamale-making get-together, you can find tamale tastiness now at an area tamale-terrific to-do. Dream masa dreams and leg it for...

La Habra: The annual happening follows Thanksgiving by a couple of days, so look for a Christmas-is-coming tree lighting at the Sunday, Nov. 27 festivity. Live music from a sizable line-up of bands, dance presentations, and more fair-like larks add flavor to all of the tamale eating that flavorfully serves as the celebration's centerpiece.

Oxnard: If you're near the downtown area on the first Saturday in December — that's Dec. 3 — look for the line-up of booths and all of the yummy zucchini-packed, carnitas-packed, cotija-laden goodies (the kind of filling goodies that fortify one out for an early December shop-and-stroll).

Indio: The Coachella Valley has roots in the early 1990s, and it has blossomed ever since, popping up on foodie-cool cable shows and in gourmet publications alike. It's so big it covers two days, and those two days in 2016 are Saturday, Dec. 3 and Sunday, Dec. 4.

Plus, the desert in late fall? It's just about the prettiest of places. To savor something corn-luscious and handmade and hearty in such a place only adds to the experience.

Wherever you find your tamale joy, though, dig in. There's no need to wait for Christmas to connect with the ultimate anticipation that comes with unfolding that first warm husk and seeing the first puff of steam release.



Photo Credit: Tamales]]>
<![CDATA[Walt Disney Concert Hall's Big Holiday Shows]]> Thu, 24 Nov 2016 12:28:58 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/chanticleerchristmas928932.jpg

Hanging ornaments from the branches of our Christmas trees, or shiny baubles along a front railing, or glittery balls from a chandelier? People who like doing it up in December, as far as over-the-top decorating goes, will find all sorts of festive and whimsical ways to display ornaments.

But there's only one sort-of-actual ornament you can walk inside in Southern California, a glittery, silver-pretty, shiny-in-the-sun landmark that looks as though it would easily be the ultimate adornment on any seasonal fir.

Of course, you'd have to shrink Walt Disney Concert Hall down about 1,000 times for it to fit upon the typical Douglas fir branch, but we don't want that to happen, for the downtown cultural venue is the ultimate spot for splashy seasonal song-tastic shows.

The LA Phil's annual "Deck the Hall" program is, in fact, full of pretty ornaments, if you will. There's a Chanticleer concert, a show sure to brim with classics and other raise-the-spirit goodies, and there's the sing-along day, too, a popular event that invites the audience to give big voice to the carols they practically know by heart.

The acclaimed a cappella stylings of Sweet Honey in the Rock brighten the night of the winter solstice, while Handel's "Messiah," the Arturo Sandoval Big Band, Pink Martini, and a "White Christmas" Sing-along add some extra whipped cream to the holiday-flavored pastry that is the "Deck the Hall" schedule.

All the cheer-bringing concerts unfold over the second half of December, on select nights, so don't schedule too much, if possible, should you want to spend the final fortnight of the year inside a giant ornament feeling the magic of music.

Because, truly, isn't the 13-year-old concert hall as exquisite as a perfectly made ornament, with its silvery swoops and pretty pockets and distinctive lines?

The setting, with its famous acoustics, is an ideal place to greet the season of peace, of song, and of togetherness.



Photo Credit: Chanticleer]]>
<![CDATA[Home for the Pawlidayz Adoption Drive]]> Fri, 25 Nov 2016 20:58:49 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NatuHoliday3960sak.jpg

You might already be planning on getting some shopping done, online, on Cyber Monday.

You might already have all of your favorite sites bookmarked, and lined up, and you've boned up on all of the promised sales, the better to decide what exactly you'll purchase during the savingest weekend of the year.

But what if you had a cat to cuddle as you clicked? And what if there was a pup on your knee, lending some quiet love as you decided shopped for your aunt or sister or son? 

The joy of that is this: That cat and/or pup will be there when you've closed the final window, and they'll continue to be there for always, any time you need some true-hearted companionship (or they need a scratch behind the ear).

The Zappos Home for the Pawlidayz adoption event, which coincides with the mega, post-Thanksgiving sales weekend, is not about deals but rather the delightful connection between we humans and those we commit to caring for (for the rest of their lives).

Best Friends Animal Society partnered with Zappos on this four-day happening, which will help "9,000 pets find forever homes this holiday season." The first date is Friday, Nov. 25, and it rounds out on Monday, Nov. 28. (So, yep, Black Friday to Cyber Monday is your window.)

The nice bit? "Zappos will be covering all adoption fees at all of Best Friends' participating network and coalition partners across the country."

There you have it: You're so much closer to bonding with your new furry lovebug, and you don't even have to pay an adoption fee to do so.

It's a poignant call to animal-sweet action on what can often be, for many people, a hectic weekend of travel and shopping.

Consider, then, making at least some of your shopping choices about welcoming your new BFF home. Might a fresh bed, a cozy blanket, a shiny bowl or squeaky toy bring cheer to your new bestie?

With that adoption fee waived, courtesy of the Home for the Pawlidayz event, finding a few extra dollars for a squeaky might be your next move. And your next click? It might be on a sale you've eyed, or you might click with a dog who needs to find a human to call their own.



Photo Credit: Best Friends Animal Society]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend: Hollywood Christmas Parade]]> Fri, 25 Nov 2016 14:10:27 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/hcpGettyImages-51800837.jpg

Hollywood Christmas Parade: So many starry spectacles of the cinematic sort show up on Hollywood Boulevard, in front of the TCL Chinese Theatre, but this venerable procession has a knack for outshining them all. A cheery cameo by Santa Claus is a big reason, as are all the stars who wave from convertibles. Horses, floats, balloons, more stars, and Ms. Olivia Newton-John, the 2016 Grand Marshal, bring the gingerbread-cute razzmatazz to Tinseltown. Be on Hollywood, or Sunset Boulevard, on the afternoon/evening of Sunday, Nov. 27. Street Closure information.

Festival of Lights: Will people on the Mars — scratch that, Jupiter — be able to see Riverside from way across the solar system starting on Friday night, Nov. 25? That's when 4,500,000 bulbs begin to do their holidaytime twinkling thing at the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa. There's some ceremony to the switch-flipping, but if you can't make opening night, know that the brilliant light display will remain on, each evening, through the holidays. Adding to the spirit: Hundreds of animatronic figures, carolers, and more merriment throughout the landmark.

Enchanted: Forest of Light: Southern California is a center of art, but not all pieces are found on museum walls. Our amazing flora, and how plants are often lit after sundown, give LA much of its texture, and Descanso Gardens is about to go the full (and festive) distance on this topic. There are "10 distinct lighting displays" lending color and illumination to the old oaks and fresh flowers of the La Cañada Flintridge garden, displays that will be on view from Nov. 25 through Jan. 8. 

Three Stooges Saturday: If you're sitting at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, and it is two days after Thanksgiving, chances are you're laughing along with some classic old-timey vaudeville slapstick. The Alex Film Society is behind this annual event, which offers a matinee and evening program. Is it not the holidays without some Curly and Moe and Larry in your life? Ticket-up now for the Nov. 26 nyuk-nyuk-tacular.

Small Business Saturday: So you're looking for something sparkly and/or warm and/or humorous and/or yummy for your boss and/or mom and/or cousin and/or neighbor. Go local on Saturday, Nov. 26 by calling upon a store in your neighborhood, the one that's been there forever and knows customers by name. A number of brick-and-mortars'll have special to-dos on, but even if your go-to does not, lending some local love to a longtime business of the area helps strengthen your neighborhood's neighborliness over time.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lamplight Holiday at Heritage Square]]> Wed, 23 Nov 2016 18:34:59 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lamplight_outsidehs.jpg

Some of our favorite time travel stories don't simply focus upon a single year or date as the ultimate destination of the brave time traveler at the lead; rather, the daring adventurer leaps from decade to decade, updating how they're attired as soon as they learn where exactly they've landed.

Where and when, that is.

But you don't need to star in a blockbuster or novel to have this thrill. You, too, can experience a bit of this space-time folding, all without A) a costly, knob-whirly machine and B) leaving Los Angeles.

Gaze upon, if you will, Heritage Square, the 110-adjacent spread that's so Victorian-perfect it looks as though it sprung fully formed, and fully dry, from a snow globe. The handsome stand of home and structures, all saved from demolishment and moved to a spot near the Arroyo Seco, is an enchanted portal back to an earlier LA.

And that time travel portal will come decked in holly over the first weekend of December, when the Lamplight Celebration Tours return for two evenings spotlighting yuletides gone by.

Well, not "spotlighting" so much as "candlelighting." Visitors will call upon a trio of festive gatherings filling a trio of Heritage Square homes over the course of the tour. What shall they see? A Thanksgiving affair circa 1892, a 1915 Christmas gathering filled with early filmmakers, and a New Year's Eve party with bells on (oh, and 1945 clothing, as that's the year it shall represent).

To bop around these three bygone years will provide a charming peek into how people of the past partied. But that's not where the revelery ends, for guests will also get a chance to join in (for example, there shall be period dancing at the New Year's Eve shindig).

It's $30 for an adult, which is, quite frankly, way, way less than a time travel device, or some madcap invention that would send you straight into the world of a snow globe.

We mean, just. WAY less.

As for picking what you'll wear to either the Dec. 3 or 4 whoop-di-do? Well, fashion changed rather wildly from the late 1800s to the mid-1940s, and picking a bustle, or a knee-length frock made for swing dancing, could be vexing.

But be not vexed beyond that. The happy side of things is Heritage Square is always here in Los Angeles, near the 110, north-ish of downtown, and the beloved landmark does not recede into the mists of time each evening, as some mythical, from-another-era destination might. 

Visit the bastion of vintage-o-sity for its holiday jamboree, or see Heritage Square any other time of the year, all while leaving your time-travel gloves and goggles at home. (Your portal is the 110.)

]]>
<![CDATA[Small Business Saturday: Shop SoCal]]> Sat, 26 Nov 2016 18:27:47 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/biz98282332.jpg

While we generally wait for our birthday to celebrate our birthday, and the Fourth of July happens on the fourth day in July, the spirit of Small Business Saturday shines throughout the calendar year.

Because it is local at heart, and our lives are generally lived locally. Which means any day of any month, just about, we can stroll into the record store on the corner, or that one place that makes the roasted walnuts we like, and support an area business owner.

Showing that support, though, has become the annual and cheerful theme of the Saturday that follows Thanksgiving. Small Business Saturday, which began in 2010 (and has a backer in American Express), has grown as a complement to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the two other after-Thanksgiving shop days.

What to expect? Area mom-and-pops, and boutique companies with a regional base, sometimes offer specials, deals, and the occasional "come in and have a cocoa" invitation, but even if your favorite shop isn't doing it up, consider Saturday, Nov. 26 a nice chance to show them your support.

So, where to head? Anywhere there's a cluster of brick-and-mortars with a funky or individual vibe seems a fine starting point. Look to...

Magnolia Park: The Burbank-based route of one-of-a-kind shops (think thrift, vintage, home goods, and offbeat themes, like Halloween Town) is pretty darn lengthy, so much so you should ponder donning sneakers. The sizable swath just speaks to Magnolia Boulevard's plethora of choices, store-wise.

Downtown Santa Ana: From artwalks to alfresco, community-big breakfast events, to dine-arounds, the ever-effervescent DTSA has it all going on. Make sure to spend time at the great restaurants as you shop hop, and should you spend the whole weekend there, past Small Business Saturday? There's a weekly farmers' market every Sunday.

Montana Avenue: Some of these stores are swanky, some homey, and the walkability factor is favorable (thank, in part, those ocean breezes sweeping down the Santa Monica avenue from but a few blocks away). Nest Bedding, Ten Women Gallery, and several other stores line the strollable stretch.

Arts District LA: Finding a beautiful book about contemporary painting, or a handmade vase, or funky necklaces made from keys (jewelry that helps the community) is made easier in the district. The area has blossomed with excellent shops in recent years, places that stay true to the character of the district.

West Third Street: It's about as plunk in the middle of the city as places can get, and it is anchored by The Grove/Farmers Market at one end and the Beverly Center at the other. Between the two? You've got Vintageweave Interiors, Plastica, New Stone Age, and other stalwarts of local shopping. 

Surely your own neighborhood has a block or several streets where businesses continue to connect with the community. Stop in on Small Business Saturday, just to say hey, and, yes, pick up some stationery or a scarf or a book.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Thanksgiving Tradition: Turkey Trot Time]]> Tue, 22 Nov 2016 12:17:38 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/turkeytrottimelbcjustinrudd.jpg

Holidays that thrive on family-sweet, friend-fun togetherness don't tend to boast a lot of outside-the-house pursuits. People want to be home, or at a pal's place, snacking on leftover potatoes and pie, and the thought of heading out from a comfy spot on the couch holds little appeal.

That's why Thanksgiving's best-known outside-of-the-house happening occurs well before families have gathered and friends have texted asking if they really need to show with dinner rolls (because they accidentally burned the dinner rolls). It's the Turkey Trot, a still semi-recent tradition that's gained traction in recent years.

Real traction, as the name of the game is all about hoofing it along city streets or park paths to have a good time, bond with fellow runners, and, quite often, raise money for important causes.

Have the morning of Thanksgiving free? Want to take on a 5K, perhaps dressed as a turkey or a bowl of cranberries? Then look to...

Los Angeles: Yep, there's a Turkey Trot trucker's hat, if you don't want to put together a costume that looks like a bowl of stuffing. And there is the 5K or 10K route to choose from, but bet you'll see a lot of downtown sights as you hoof it along either. Sign up now and here.

Long Beach: Granada Boat Launch is your destination for this annual 5K or 10K. The beneficiary of the Nov. 24 run? The Community Action Team, which is involved in a host of LBC giveback happenings.

Pasadena: The Rose Bowl is the picturesque location for the yearly "Tofurky Trot," a 5K that advises participants to "chase compassion." The run supports "both the health and vitality of local communities" while raising money for "local animal rescue and championing plant-based diets." 

Burbank: The YMCA Turkey Trot will welcome "casual joggers, elite athletes, families and costumed revelers" early in the day on Thanksgiving. Start spot? The community YMCA on Magnolia Boulevard (with a map that wends through downtown Burbank).

Dana Point: "Run the race BEFORE you STUFF your face!" is the call to come out and enjoy the Thanksgiving morning exercise. And should you save time to swing by the Health and Wellness Expo at the harbor, too? For sure: browse a bit before heading home.

A bevy of other trots are running on Thursday, Nov. 24, from Oceanside to Topanga to the Central Coast and San Jose. Are you near one? Want to get some fresh air, endorphins, and runner-to-runner bonding in before the big meal? Check out if the town you're landing in for the holiday has a Turkey Trot afoot for 2016.



Photo Credit: Justin Rudd]]>