<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Dining, shopping and nightlife]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/entertainment/the-scene http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Fri, 09 Oct 2015 02:01:13 -0700 Fri, 09 Oct 2015 02:01:13 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Squirrel-tastic Cocktail Night at Natural History]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 16:58:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/squirrelGettyImages-73510665.jpg

We've haven't yet been to a cocktail party hosted by a squirrel, but we're fairly sure such an event would involve us moving between branches, and even trees, at a great rate. Which means, of course, that we'd splash our wine on the sidewalk below as we attempted to keep up with our high-energy host.

And let's not even ponder the perfect host gift: acorns? Nuts? Thank goodness the Natural History Museum is throwing the squirrel-themed cocktail party of our nature-loving dreams.

There's no call for us to dress as squirrels to attend the Thursday, Oct. 15 soiree — bushy-tail costumes have a way of going scarce during the weeks leading up to Halloween — but we should arrive with a desire to learn more about Southern California's squirrel population.

A desire to learn and, perhaps, take a role in a squirrel-observing Citizen Science project, one of many surveys overseen by the Exposition Park institution's Urban Nature Research Center.

Though there are a few components to getting involved, here's the lowdown: If you already find yourself watching squirrels prance about your yard, or along your street, you possess knowledge that could be helpful to researchers studying the scamperers of our region.

The Oct. 15 happening will feature a conversation between Citizen Science coordinator Miguel Ordeñana and Jim Dines, the mammalogy collections manager at the institution. Attendees will learn about the "interesting history of Eastern fox squirrels in Los Angeles" and how the Citizen Science programs, which cover a wide range of wildlife around LA, work.

It's free to attend, the appetizers are gratis, and the cash bar opens at 6 o'clock.

If you choose to volunteer your sightings with the squirrel survey or any of the Citizen Science programs, you'll be a participant in furthering wildlife knowledge. And serving as an active player among researchers and naturalists and locals who love the outdoors is quite the invigorating thing.

Of course, it isn't nearly as invigorating as a cocktail party thrown by a squirrel, an affair that would surely leap from branch to branch hundreds of times throughout the evening. The Oct. 15 learn 'n sip gathering is definitely organized by humans, we're pretty sure, though all things squirrel will be the lively topic of the night.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chuck E. Cheese's: Beer, No Lattes]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 13:10:37 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/chuck-e-cheese-GettyImages-463023705.jpg

Chuck E. Cheese's is expanding its food and beverage options in an effort to win over millennial parents, but the new offerings may be a little different than you thought.

The Irving, Texas-based chain became privately owned last year and brought in a chef with a fine-dining background, according to Chuck E. Cheese's spokesperson Alexis Linn.

As a result, the kitchen began serving up limited-time offers, including a "Mac-Cheesy" pizza available from Sept. 28 through the end of the year. The chain has already revamped its menu by adding gluten-free pizza and thin crust to help lure in young parents with their children.

Chuck E. Cheese's is now also offering up seasonal beers and local or craft brews, which will vary by location based on guest feedback, Linn said. Several wine options are also available.

Linn said some stores have sold beer and wine since Chuck E. Cheese's conception about 40 years ago.

Stores in the Dallas area tested cappuccinos and lattes, but Linn said the specialty coffee beverages did not sell as well as the company had hoped and will be scrapped. Most locations have Keurig machines that offer five varieties of coffee.

According to the company, the average child wants to visit Chuck E. Cheese once a month, but parents are only interested in taking them there about three times a year, NBC News reported.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tips for Spooky Halloween Bash]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 11:43:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-458092794.jpg

Planning a haunted Halloween bash could be overwhelming, but there are plenty of DIY tips out there for decorations that will spook your guests and fun party treats that will satisfy hungry kids and adults. 

Martha Stewart's tips will help you transform your home into a haunted house. Stewart shows how to make ghostly figures for your table, decorate your windows with silhouettes and create a glowing "mad scientist lab." She even has ideas on how to make specimen jars that are sure to freak out your guests. 

Some new tech gadgets can make your Halloween party much more thrilling. Steve Greenberg, author of "Gadget Nation," says adding "chomping skulls," scary animations to run on your TV and portable MP3 devices to play bone-chilling music will leave your guests trembling.

No costume? No problem! "Today" style editor Bobbie Thomas shows makeup-based costume ideas that are timeless and easy enough to do at the last minute. Thomas shows how to achieve a "doll-like" look inspired by Margaret Keane's large-eyed painting subjects. She also demonstrates how to paint an elaborate skeleton face using white face paint, black eyeshadow or pencil liner.

There will be plenty of Halloween store-bought candy around, but don't forget to prepare some homemade treats for your guests, too. Chef Giada de Laurentiis' Halloween spice cake with cinnamon and ginger notes is a perfect treat for adults.

Candy apples are a classic Halloween treat. De Laurentiis also shows how to make gooey caramel apples  decorated with streaks of chocolate and topped with tiny pumpkins, ghosts and bats.

For scary and whimsical Halloween treats, check out these YouTube videos, including how to make vampire teeth with pieces of apples and marshmallows.

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<![CDATA[Free and Mind-Filling: ArtNight Pasadena]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 11:24:27 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ArtNightPasadenaExhibit.jpg

Students frequently hear that art and science are forever entwined, and the theories and characteristics of one very often represent a different dimension in the other discipline.

We'll let the people of Pasadena, and those calling upon the Crown City over the upcoming weekend, discuss this age-old topic as they wander among the many museums and cultural institutions on Friday night, Oct. 9.

That's ArtNight Pasadena, a large-scale, hugely free event that has seen thousands of art mavens -- 28,000 at the last go-around -- show up to wander about, admire brain-goosing things, and talk about matters of import or lightness. 

Twenty one locations are on the shuttle bus route, meaning you can hop on and/or hop off at the Armory Center for the Arts, the south campus for ArtCenter College of Design, the Jackie Robinson Community Center, the Norton Simon Museum, and the Pasadena Conservatory of Music. Basically if it is a place, occupying space within Pasadena's borders, and it offers some bounty of cultural goodness, chances are high that it is part of the ArtNight scene.

The scene goes beyond what's displayed on various walls. Music, dance, and performance festoon the city-big celebration, too, making it easy and pleasurable to get a variety of things in your cultural diet for the night.

If you're looking for actual edibles, they're around, too. Several food trucks will make cuisine-y cameos, from Kogi to Rodney's Ribs and beyond. And ten percent of the the food trucks' take for the night will cycle back into ArtNights still to come (consider this a successful staple that's here to stay).

The science end of the discussion, that we hinted at earlier, comes when you and your ArtNight-loving pals decide if you'll visit the JPL Open House, which shall Rover-up imaginations aplenty only a few miles from the area of ArtNight. The inventively awesome experience is on Oct. 10 and 11, meaning your full Pasadena weekend could include hefty doses of both art and science of the highest order.

And both ArtNight and the JPL visit are free. 

Question: How much bigger will your brain be on Monday? "Much" is an appropriate and accurate answer.

Photo Credit: ArtNight Pasadena]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend: Politicon Los Angeles]]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 09:07:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/politiconGettyImages-490454818-horz.jpg

Politicon Los Angeles: A big-name caboodle of journalists and politicians and writers and thinkers will discuss, dissect, and maybe (probably) heat things up at this two-day "non-partisan comic-con style political event." The line-up is as headline-y as any political convention, with comedians and surprises thrown in for good measure: Trevor Noah, Newt Gingrich, James Carville, and plenty of people who have lots to say about the upcoming elections and the current issues. Hoo boy -- are you ready, politico people? This is serious stuff with a strong streak of satire. Head downtown on Oct. 9 and 10.

AIDS Walk Los Angeles: Have you got your team together? And donations on the rise? Then don your tank and shorts and make for Santa Monica Boulevard where one of SoCal's biggest fundraisers will unfold on Sunday, Oct. 11. The 10k walk helps a host of HIV/AIDS service organizations, and has raised over $1,600,000 days ahead of the event. Can you push that number even higher? Join fellow Angelenos in supporting our community.

JPL Open House: Will there be more people at this look-around-and-learn lovefest in Pasadena than there are in the famous The Asteroid Belt? Following news of water on Mars, and the debut of the hit flick "The Martian" -- which (spoiler) spotlights the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, we can only imagine the Oct. 10 and 11 event will bustle. Don't let that deter you, space watchers; just arrive early. You don't need a ticket to discover what goes on at one of the brainiest, big-think-iest outposts in all the land.

Highland Park Independent Film Festival: Don't call it little -- it's not --  but do love upon this fest's localness, its dedication to indie filmmakers (both of the neighborhood and larger Los Angeles), and its great slate of films, which will all roll out from Thursday, Oct. 8 through Sunday, Oct. 11. "After School" with Carlos Melendez opens up the four-day film party, which lands both at Occidental and the Highland Theatre on Figueroa. Bonus: There's a sci-fi/suspense short program, if that's your bag.

Free Happenings: If you're out and about in Pasadena on Oct. 10, and you happen to see about 15,000 or so people making for Lake Avenue, then you're probably at The Taste of South Lake, an Oct. 10 fest with lots of gratis nibbles (and some food and drinks for purchase). If you're out and about in Santa Monica on Oct. 9, at the pier, and you see a giant movie screen, you've walked into the free Front Porch Cinema series. "Big Hero 6" starts off the Pacific-close movie good times.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Politicon]]>
<![CDATA[LAPD Remembers Martin Milner of 'Adam-12']]> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 08:28:04 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/140804510-Martin-Milner.jpg

You only need to flick the switch on your television to see that a handful of professions are portrayed again and again on the small screen: Teacher. Doctor. Lawyer. Police officer.

But very few fictional characters are written to represent actual organizations, and those that are can become legendary. Look to actor Martin Milner's oft-praised portrayal of Peter Malloy, a senior officer with Los Angeles Police Department on "Adam-12."

Mr. Milner passed away in early September at the age of 83, and many of the articles, online tributes, and fan posts revealed that, for legions of "Adam-12" viewers, Mr. Milner's Officer Malloy became, in some ways, the face and character of the real LAPD.

With this in mind, LAPD paused to pay its respects to the actor on Wednesday, Oct. 7. Many current officers on the force were just kids when "Adam-12" was first on the air on NBC from 1968-1975, so the memorial was a moving way to remember an early inspiration.

Jorge A. Villegas, Assistant Chief, Office of Operations at LAPD, shared on Twitter that the tribute was "touching" and that Martin Milner had "inspired many to become #LAPD officers." Capt. Paul Vernon tweeted about how the character "was an influence on me" to work towards a career at LAPD.

A display of "Adam-12" memorabilia, a vintage-style TV set, props from the series, a Plymouth Belevedere, and the live-playing of bagpipes were other tender touches from the morning affair, which took place at 1st street-based LAPD Headquarters.

It's a fine reminder of how some stand-out fictional characters can come to represent an actual organization. If a television show's main setting, be it a hospital or school or department, bears a real name, the characters, and their ideals and goals, are frequently associated with the real-world organization.

Memory-laden food for thought as LAPD police officers bid a seen-weekly friend and inspiration farewell.

Photo Credit: NBC via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[#WesternSelfie Day Trots for The Autry]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 10:35:37 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/westernselfieday12345.jpg

It must have been pretty darn tricky to snap a selfie back in the time of the Old West.

After all, it wasn't a matter of simply holding the small rectangle in the palm of your hand so much as slowly setting up your daguerreotype field view camera, complete with its various plates and accordion-type body and wooden box and the sheet the photographer threw over his head, the better to see.

But you can selfie to your history-loving heart's content, or just have someone snap an old-school, you-pose-they-take-it photograph, among the items and images of the Old West on Sunday, Oct. 11. That's #WesternSelfie Day at the Autry National Center in Griffith Park, a time for cameras and cowboys to come together in a vintage symphony of snapshots made to be shared and/or framed.

You don't need to arrive in chaps and a 10-gallon topper, but you should be prepared to A) pay museum admission (that's all that's required to participate) and B) have a camera handy. Staffers shall be on hand to find the most winning, yippee-ki-yay backdrops for your straight-from-the-1800s photo.

Further, pro shutterbug Jennifer Manley will be on hand to give tips and guidance on getting that perfect pose/framing/end result.

And you won't just find appealing, corral-cool backdrops for your pic; there shall be costumes to choose from, just in case your kerchief and overall dungarees are in the wash.

As the lad on the horse in the photo above shows, you don't need to go just the selfie route on #WesternSelfie Day. After all, selfies weren't a thing in the Old West, due, we're sure, to the cumbersome cameras of the time and the newness of the technology. 

Or maybe we just haven't yet discovered the ye olde selfie craze of the 1800s? Photo trends were popular then, too, as now. So bring your sternest-of-eye cowpoke look or your trick rider stance and find your photo setting at the Old-West-iest place in all of Southern California territory.

Photo Credit: Autry National Center]]>
<![CDATA[Kitty Cause: Feral Cat Day Art Show]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 23:10:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kittybungalowfundraiser.jpg

If you've ever heard a plaintive "meow" floating from below your front steps, or up near your rafters, or an empty lot down the street, and you've felt the strong tug it gave your heart, you can consider yourself a sympathetic supporter of the feral feline.

The Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats absolutely is, but founder Shawn Simons couldn't simply let her involvement stop at the heart-tugging, poor-kitty stage. When she heard meowing from a shed near her home, she was inspired to work towards spaying and neutering kittens without a home as well as readying her "students" for forever families through socialization, loving contact, and sweet tending-to.

Her fetchingly named organization has done a lot of good in the realm of helping kitties not have more kitties, as well as become acclimated to human care. And that good continues on Friday, Oct. 16 at the Art District Photo Collective when the Fourth National Feral Cat Day Art Exhibit debuts.

The show, which will feature works from artists like Fubirai (you may know his stunning "Cat Island" snapshots) and photographer of beasties Susan Weingartner, will raise money for Kitty Bungalow's work with the feral cat population of South LA as well as awareness about the issues.

Bonus: There's a "Formerly Feral" amateur photo contest, with a top price of five hundred bucks, so if you have a bewitching picture of your furry little pumpkin, post-rescue, looking comfy and snug on her favorite chair, submit it.

Another bonus: The reception is free.

Another bonus: Kitty Bungalow will "announce the details of their new feral cat initiative, unveiling Trade Tech/Working Cat Program for 2016." 

Another bonus: There will be, at this art reception, "live kitten cuddling." Do we need to type that again, with italics? Live kitten cuddling. These cuddlers will be adoptable, too, if you fall in love. And let's be frank: You'll be halfway to love before you even get your paws on one of these beauties and they put their paws on you for the first time. 

Truth? Let's not play games here. You're already a little in love with these cats you haven't yet met.

Although games (of the honest sort) and a raffle and other spirited doings will lend the night whiskery whimsy.

If you can't make it, and you don't have a photograph to submit to the "Formerly Feral" contest, you can always get involved in helping the feral cat population of SoCal via spaying, neutering, and forever-home-ing. Kitty Bungalow loves volunteers who can spend time socializing kitties ahead of adoption.

Where's that heart-tugging meowing coming from? Why right over here.

Photo Credit: Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats]]>
<![CDATA[Historic USC-Close Fire Station Hits the Road]]> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 10:01:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/uscfirestation12345.jpg

Changing things around at a university is pretty standard everyday stuff.

A student wants swap a drama class for a seminar on dance, a couple of professors want to trade offices, and the student union's busy coffeehouse will head to another building in search of larger digs.

To take the entire 250-ton concrete façade of a decades-old fire station and truck it over to a new location is a bit more unusual, however, even in the annals of the ever-changing, always evolving college campus.

But the University of Southern California did just that, on Monday, Oct. 5, when historic Fire Station No. 15 beat a path over to its next home at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

The 1950s façade will "become part of a sound studio" at the 32nd Street-located school, says a USC representative. The school is three blocks away from the fire house's longtime home.

And, of course, "beat a path" sounds as if dozens upon dozens of people weren't involved in the challenging move, which required "a custom rig atop three 12-wheeled trailers" for the 24-by-51-foot concrete structure.

How fast does such a get-up go? There was not pedal-to-the-metal-ing happening in West Adams; speeds topped at a three miles an hour.

As for what happens to the firefighting company that serves the West Adams neighborhood and what comes next? A new station was built "at USC's expense," at Hoover Street and 30th Avenue, and "the firefighters are already settled into their new digs," which are described as a "state-of-the-art facility."

The preserving of the historic façade is a part of the USC Village master plan. And, yes, just the facade, or a third of the original building, made the move (the remainder "will be demolished to make room for a pedestrian walkway").

Though it was moved in the middle of the night, Fire Station No. 15 will have its day in the sun on Saturday, Oct. 10, when a grand opening ceremony is held at the new fire station's Hoover location. (update)

bottom photo: LAFD Photo Album Collection 

Photo Credit: USC/Gus Ruelas]]>
<![CDATA[LA Kid Classic: Kip's Toyland Turns 70]]> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 15:37:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kips70th.jpg

Where'd you get your first hula hoop? Your first Slinky? The little toy elephant, the one on wheels with the pully string, that you dragged around the house for most of the early 1970s?

Chances are if you grew up in Los Angeles, and had a parent who frequented our city's longtime meet 'n hang spot -- that would be the Original Farmers Market at Third & Fairfax, natch -- you found a game or doll you loved at Kip's Toyland, one of our city's most venerable toy shops.

And as storefronts cycle through the decades and too often shutter, Kip's, which is called "LA's oldest toy store," has kept on keepin' on through seven decades. The friendly, crowded-with-cuteness spot has sold truckloads of puppets and magic tricks and wooden animals and the sweet stuff of childhood all from its not-too-huge spot on the northside of the famous public market. 

Founded by Irvin Kipper and still run by the Kipper family, Kip's remains a neighborhood favorite, one that's weathered changing toy trends and bigger stores opening nearby and the fun found in the games of the digital age, too. 

And as with any classic that caters to childhood fun, there's a birthday party in the works, on Sunday, Oct. 11. Look for carnival booths on the Farmers Market Plaza, and games and toys, and "a three-member toy soldier band," and, of course, cake in honor of Kip's 70th.

It's a cute twist: Of all the times you've visited a toy shop ahead of a birthday party, can you ever recall attending a birthday party for a toy shop? 

The party is on from noon to 3 o'clock, and, no, you do not have to arrive with a gift for Kip's Toyland, but here's another twist, of the nice kind: Buy a toy to donate to Children's Hospital Los Angeles and get ten-percent off your donation purchase. (Oh, and "a goodie bag," too, a staple of every birthday party.)

In short, the party isn't just a party but a giveback toy drive, too. And that, right there, is how a sweet shop becomes a city classic, beyond selling jacks and balls and stuffed bears.

Of course, if you also want to pick up a Slinky for yourself, because it brings back memories of visiting Farmers Market with your mom, back in 1963, as she met a friend for coffee, and you played with your coiled new treasure around the patios of the landmark, well, you can take that happy walk down memory lane, too.

Photo Credit: Alysia Gray Painter]]>
<![CDATA[Star Wars Reads Day: May the Written Word Be with You]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 22:03:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/StarWarsReadsRiverside.jpg

It's a line that's often spoken, and pretty earnest, and sometimes satirized, and probably doesn't apply at all when it comes to the vast "Star Wars" universe of stories. 

We speak of "oh, I didn't see the movie, but I read the book." Please. Everyone has seen the movie, and those people who haven't could probably do a convincing Yoda, or Darth Vader's breathing, just from seeing so many other people do it so often.

But here's the thing about the book-movie paradigm with "Star Wars" and its many galactic offshoots: The novels and comic books and kid books only further the thrilling, pew-pew-pew tales we've come to know so very well on the big screen.

Enter Star Wars Reads Day, which celebrates its fourth Force-filled outing on Saturday, Oct. 10. Libraries and bookstores and straight-up merch stores across this sector of the cosmos will put the focus on author-cool panels and read-alouds and special signings and workshops.

"Star Wars" characters, in costume, will read books to kids at Woodcrest Library in Riverside, and there shall be "Star Wars" arts and crafts, costume contests, panels, and more. At the Brentwood Branch Library, "Star Wars" refrigerator magnets are the project of the day.

There's a bunch of stuff happening, here in California and in New York, too.

Best of all, it's a reminder that the world of Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca and C-3PO isn't simply one restricted to celluloid. Many a fan first got interested, as a young'un, in chapter books thanks to their knowledge and affection for the characters they knew from the movies, and many a lifelong maven has stayed true to "Star Wars" by regularly supporting those authors and artists who create the graphic novels and ongoing tales told on pages and tablets.

Of course, you can always stay at home on Star Wars Reads Day, the better to curl up with "Star Wars: A Journey to the Past: A Princess Leia Adventure" or "Ultimate Star Wars." One can zoom around inside the Millennium Falcon via printed words as thrillingly as traveling by image and sound.

Photo Credit: Woodcrest Library]]>
<![CDATA[October Tradition: Free Movies at Santa Monica Pier]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 12:04:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/FrontPorchCinemaSMonica.jpg

When you settle in to catch a flick at home, you typically like things just so: Your couch and your pillows and your treats and the socks you always wear when you watch a film and your go-to beverage. And you always check the thermostat to make sure your experience is not too chilly and not too warm.

There is no thermostat on the Pacific Ocean, the kind we can walk up to and fiddle with, so joining the fun at the Front Porch Cinema series is all about planning ahead. In other words, layering or at least packing a jacket.

The series is now firmly in the must-do, annual-sweet tradition category at Santa Monica Pier, a capper to the all of the summer cinema series that pop up around town. And our Southern California summer, of course, pretty much keeps on keepin' on, right through Halloween.

On the four-night, free-free-free docket for 2015? "Big Hero 6" opens up the outdoor movie watching good timez on Friday, Oct. 9, and "Ghostbusters" rounds it out on Friday, Oct. 30. "The Imitation Game" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" round out the middle part of the month.

Eat|See|Hear, that summertime alfresco movie outfit, and Fandango, that indoor movie ticketing-plus outfit, are pairing up to make this all happen, for you, for no cash. Did you miss the "free-free-free" part in the last paragraph? Three frees in a row is what we dealt ya, to drive the point home. You'll only need to pay for parking or the bus or treats.

And speaking of treats, there are pre-show cocktails to buy, and "small bites," at the Cinema Lounge, so arrive a bit early.

There's one extra evening, on Oct. 15, and its Lunafest, a night of short films "by, for, and about women." Details? They're here.

We weren't joshing in the whole "wee throw blanket" or "extra jacket" department. LA's summer may still be trucking -- weekend one of Front Porch Cinema will see temps again nudging the 90s -- but the Pacific has a knack for taking the edge of even the toastiest of days come nightfall.

The screen, by the by, is inflatable, so watching "Big Hero 6," with its inflatable hero (♥Baymax♥) feels right. 

Photo Credit: Front Porch Cinema]]>
<![CDATA[Nearly Here: 'Back to the Future' Future Date]]> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 10:00:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/backtothefuture3still1.jpg

Important days happen inside the world of movies, just like they happen beyond the silver screen. No spoiler alert required: Characters pin their hopes, fears, and special occasions on particular dates and years.

Look to Oct. 3, which has significance to "Mean Girls" fans, as that's when a cute boy asks our heroine the day. "Blade Runner" mavens hold 2019 dear to their dystopian hearts, "Empire Records" fans know April 8 is Rex Manning Day, and as for Oct. 21, 2015?

Well, call it the Internet's most revisited, incorrectly shared, and obsessed-over movie date. That's the day that Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled to the future in the second installment of "Back to the Future," the date seen on the digital read-out inside Doc's souped-up DeLorean.

It's a digital read-out that's been meme'd and remixed a bunch in recent years, with various proclamations stating, regardless of the actual date on the calendar, that "this is the day Marty McFly went to the future!"

Consider Oct. 21, 2015 the one true and correct date. Done. Finito. Final.

And consider the ways you can celebrate the auspicious -- or at least highly dramatic -- date with other "Back to the Future" fans: ArcLight Hollywood is screening all three films in the Dome on Wednesday, Oct. 21, and a full-on fan gathering called We're Going Back shall set its DeLorean gently down in the City of Angels from Oct. 21 through Oct. 25 in honor of the film's 30th anniversary.

Visits to the Universal Studios Hollywood backlot -- also known as Hill Valley's town square -- and other flux capicator-powered happenings shall dominate the multi-day super fan happening.

No spoilers about what happens to Marty and Doc in the future -- and, as of this typing, Oct. 21, 2015 is still the future, for all of us -- but let's just say that things went kerplooey all around, thanks to Biff's shenanigans, a statistics-laden sports almanac, and Marty encountering his grown-up self.

Just know, the next time you get a photo of the DeLorean digital display with the assertion that today, whenever "today" might be, is the day that Marty McFly travels to the future, that Oct. 21, 2015 is the only right date.

And in the "Back to the Future" universe, being correct about the date, and even the exact minute -- clock tower lightening strike, anyone? -- is essential to its fan-pleasing, intricately looped plot lines.

Please, though, Doc Brown: Do be careful where you discard that sports almanac on Oct. 21. The future -- er, the past -- depends on it.

Photo Credit: Universal]]>
<![CDATA[LA Ballet Fetes the 'World's Most Romantic Ballets']]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 17:58:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/gisellelaballet1.jpg

While cinematic romcoms regularly tell of two people meeting, separating, then comically working the whole thing out, and romantic books delve into the quieter spaces of a relationship, a romantic ballet takes a different, and sometimes fuller, tack: The romance told through movement is all about lushness and beauty and dramatic emotions expressed by a longing look or a coquettish pirouette.

The Los Angeles Ballet will present four of the "world's most romantic ballets" during its highly atmospheric, tulle-soft, grand-of-theme 2015-2016 season, a season that opens with one of the most quintessential and influential of the heart-stirring ballets, "Giselle."

"Giselle" opens the acclaimed troupe's 10th season on Saturday, Oct. 3 in Redondo Beach. 

There is intense love, there are supernatural elements, there are painful partings and necessary forgivings and the full stew of heightened flirtation, all played out by sublime dancers in painting-worthy costumes against museum-ready settings.

Such is the romantic way, in ballet.

And, like a ballerina executing some astounding leaps, "Giselle" will bound across the city, from the ocean to Glendale to Westwood in the course of a few weeks.

More deeply detailed and prettily presented stories are to come over the season. "The Nutcracker" follows "Giselle" -- you've not only heard of it, you now likely have "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" in your head for the remainder of the day, after reading this -- and "Don Quixote" and "Romeo and Juliet" are the fanciful fare come 2016.

It's true that movies and books can dominate the arena of amour, at least in fiction, but ballet can go one better than both of those: Dance is the narrator, and music, costuming, performance, and design provide the chorus. It's a fresh (if venerable) way to enjoy tales that the cinema and novels revisit often.

Photo Credit: LA Ballet]]>
<![CDATA[Olvera Street Receives Big Accolade]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 15:34:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/98873337+%281%29.jpg

What constitutes a "Great Place" is in the eye, and heart, of a beholder, of course. But the American Planning Association has both the knowledge and the knack for naming those come-together, often-visited-or-traveled spots that hold importance for the immediate neighborhood, the larger community, and the wider world.

The APA, which is the "independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities," just released its fifteen picks for the "Great Places in America." Some are public spaces, or "gathering spaces," where people come together for celebrations and day-to-day events. Some are streets and some are neighborhoods.

And one is Olvera Street, one of our city's most storied, and historic, thoroughfares. The Plaza-close landmark received a 2015 American Planning Association accolade in the "Great Streets" category, along with Laura Street in Jacksonville, Florida; Lexington Avenue in Asheville, North Carolina; Fifth Street in Dayton, Ohio; and Third Street in McMinnville, Oregon.

It's beyond a worthy choice. Not only does the history of Olvera stretch back centuries — the Avila Adobe, which sits near its center, is often billed as "the oldest standing residence in Los Angeles" -- but people enjoy it today. A lot of people, of course; head for Olvera at 10 o'clock in the morning or for a quick enchilada after sundown and the walkable stretch hums with tourists, locals, musicians playing accordions and guitars, artists, and cooks creating comida sabrosa just steps from the booths that line the center. 

The criteria used in picking all of the "Great Places" includes "architectural features, accessibility, functionality, and community involvement."

Olvera Street stands for all those things, from the Blessing of the Animals on Easter Saturday to the solemn and candlelit Las Posadas in December to all of its day-to-day vibrancy.

As for other closer-to-us picks on the list? California had another entry: Beautiful Balboa Park, in San Diego, was a choice in the "Great Public Spaces" column.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Boo at the Zoo Roars All October]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 11:46:27 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GL-BooRhino-JamiePham.jpg

If you dressed up for Halloween as a kid, chances are, along the way, you donned a pair of dog ears or cat whiskers or tiger stripes or a monkey's tail.

Animals and October fit together as snugly as a bug in a rug, or a koala in a eucalyptus tree, or a bear cub in a den. It isn't a stretch to say that beasties play as major a role in our Halloween-themed inspirations as ghosts and monsters do.

But beasties are rather easier to see, on any given day of the week, and definitely at the Los Angeles Zoo. The Griffith Park animal park's annual Boo at the Zoo, a one-weekend happening that paired up kids and spooky 'n educational animal facts, has gone even bigger in 2015.

This doesn't mean that every zoo resident is now getting hourly pumpkins to nosh upon -- we wouldn't eat candy bars every hour of the day, either, though we might want to -- but it does mean Boo at the Zoo is lasting all month long.

As in, the entirety of October. For sure, the weekends will be pumped up a bit, activities-wise, so if you want to make spidery crafts or admire cool pumpkin carving demos or watch some of the animals enjoying squash and such, then be at the LA Zoo on a Saturday or Sunday.

Weekdays, though, will have their frightful fun times, too, during October; you'll have the opportunity to "(e)xplore the Zoo's darkest caves and learn about the 'super natural' powers of animals and how they adapt at night through the use of their senses."

Also, if you make for the Animals & You stations, and stick a hand out, bravely and gently, you'll get to "(t)ouch scaly and crawly creatures..." Do you have a light case of the pre-willies? You'll get over that, as you admire the fascinating skin of the fascinating critter you're getting to know.

Maybe you'll even choose the critter you pet as inspiration for your Oct. 31 trick-or-treat get-up. You may have been a kitty cat through grade school, but have you ever gone as a regal reptile? Complete with scales and a tail?

Letting beasties be the inspirational engine for our creative costumes is a tradition that stretches back well before pre-packaged costumes lined our store shelves. The zoo is a fine place to start your spooky-creative journey.

Photo Credit: Jamie Pham]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend: LA Paella Festival]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 14:25:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/219*120/paella11.jpg

Mmm, Socarrat: Every paella is a bit different from the next, even among those family recipes made regularly by the same person. Some extra shrimp, a little less chorizo, spicier rice, and the flavors work together in a new way. The traditional dish, with its large (large large) pans and crusty-delish socarrat -- that's what's on the bottom of the pan -- is the star at LA Paella & Wine Fest, a Saturday, Oct. 3 La Plaza party that'll see over 40 paella-making teams show off their saffron-wielding skills.

Los Angeles Ballet's Season Opener: The fashion experts might be saying that October is the time for boots, but fans of our city's acclaimed troupe know that toe shoes are all the rage right now, at least where the performers of the LA Ballet are concerned. Giselle, which leaps into Redondo Beach, Glendale, and UCLA staring over the first weekend of the month, is "a heartfelt tale of love and redemption." We'll awww over that.

Dark Harbor Opens: The theme park-centered, attraction-focused fright fests are now in full pre-Halloween swing with the Queen Mary's eerie entry. Yep, there shall be mazes, and, definitely, dastardly characters, including a maritime-themed captain, will be wandering the grounds. And next to it all stands the beautiful boat, which is said to be one of the most haunted -- for real? -- places in all the land. And sea, too, of course. In Long Beach through Nov. 1.

Vegan Oktoberfest: Look up the mountain, to our lake-close villages, and look to Huntington Beach, and Anaheim, too, and you can see Southern California's classic Oktoberfests in full, oompah-tastic swing over the first weekend of October. But this downtown gathering has a twist: There's no meat on the plates, only plant-based, dairy-free goodies. Oh, and beer, from a bevy of regional makers and beyond. It's pretty dang popular, and you need tickets in advance, if you're attending either the Oct. 3 or 4 celebration.

Shopping Extravaganza at Citadel Outlets: The start of October is, in some plan-ahead quarters, the early start of the holiday shopping season, and the 5 Freeway-close outlets is gearing up in a giveback way: To raise several thousand dollars for a host of charities. Saturday, Oct. 3 is the day, tickets are $35, and twenty five bucks goes "directly to the purchaser's charity of choice." Lots of discounts, a catered lunch, and special happenings will be afoot for ticket holders throughout Saturday, Oct. 3. 

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[$5 Classic: Pizza Deal at Grand Central Market]]> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 18:49:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/196*120/oliogcmoctdeal.jpg

If you want to turn a tried-and-true dish into a new classic in a big, millions-strong city like Los Angeles, how do you go about making your savory or sweet stand out in a vast sea of eats?

Maybe you start by asking Philippe's the Original why its hot mustard has become one of the iconic condiments of our region. Or toodle by Alhambra and find out how Fosselman's creates stand-out malts in a major metropolis flooded with malt-tasty goodness.

Or check in with Olio Pizzeria, the wood-fired haven of all that is gooey and saucy, and see how its now-famous margherita pizza has become a local go-to in the gooey, cheesy pie realm. 

It's a notable accomplishment. Olio has been around for just a half decade — first on West Third Street, then at Grand Central Market — but Brad Kent, a much-hailed dean of dough, has created a monolithic margherita, which is nothing to sniff at, since a margherita is famously composed of just a handful of quality ingredients.

Or, better yet, sniff it all in, oregano and cheese and more, when you score your $5 margherita pizza at the Olio inside Grand Central Market throughout October. You got it: This is a month-long deal, not a narrow-window, get-it-now-or-miss-it discount.

Here's the asterisk: You can buy one five-buck pizza a day. One a day, per person, and all that. Totally fair, and a fine way to pay pizza-scented homage to Olio's 5th birthday (which is what the restaurant is kindly doing, in honor of its loyal, margherita-loving mavens).

Again, this is at the Grand Central location, so make for downtown for the deal-focus deliciousness. Or make for the Olio on West Third, too, if you don't care about the deal — it's the place that started it all, the spot that's garnered accolades from Zagat to lots of other publications that obsess over a well-made, non-fussy margherita pizza.

Which is really simply basil and dough and sauce and mozzarella composed in flavorful concert. Truly, how does an eatery in busy, crowded LA take a popular menu staple and make it something special? 

Chew on that topic, downtown, as you eat your five-buck Olio pie in honor of its big 5th.

Photo Credit: Olio]]>
<![CDATA[Vegan Oktoberfest: Beer and (Vege) Brats Reign]]> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 08:58:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/veganoktoberfest14.jpg

There are many ways to hit the big time in our multi-channel, multi-everything world, but one of the truest signs you've arrived is when no less than The Onion turns its sweetly satirical light your way.

And you love it. In fact, you put it on your web site as a badge of honor. The Vegan Oktoberfest did just that when, in 2014, one of the best humor outfits around posted a funny piece about the Southern California-based festival.

Joke and josh and rib Vegan Oktoberfest all you like, however: It's a winner, and it is back for another big bash on Saturday, Oct. 3 and Sunday, Oct. 4.

And why wouldn't it work? Many people adore the annual autumnal rite but not the meatier, non-plant-based bites that traditionally come with it (think bratwurst, wiener schnitzel, brisket, and several other savory dishes).

Or, rather, they're looking for a fresh twist on that menu, with beer on the flow, and oompah music, and the wearing of Tyrolean hats, and the joys of bidding summer adieu with an accordion- and edible-packed party.

The party rolls at LA Center Studios, and there shall be a few dozen food trucks, some serving vegan-ready sausages and such, some serving a bevy of foodstuffs not necessarily Oktoberfest-y in nature. As for the suds end of the deal? Look for Bootlegger's Brewery, Sea Dog Brewing Co., Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, and several other foam makers, to the tune of 50+, to be on the grounds.

The Munich Boomsteiners shall transport the crowd, via songs and notes, to the beautiful base of the Alps.

But don't plan on buying that ticket at the door: You'll need to nab yours ahead of doing the chicken dance on your way downtown. Feeling the fun of the season but longing for a vegan version? Here it is, Oktoberfestians.

Photo Credit: Vegan Oktoberfest]]>
<![CDATA[One Night Only: Historic Beatles Shows Recreated in Full]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 17:35:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/239*120/fabfauxconcert123.jpg

Attend any tribute show staged by a cadre of professional and polished performers and you know you'll hear a host of big hits produced by the beloved band receiving the tribute.

But in what order those hits are typically played, by the group on stage, is up to the group on stage and how they're feeling that night. Will the tribute artists go with the band's early stuff? Or novelty songs? Deeper cuts? Later surprises? You'll have to wait and see.

If you know your Beatles though -- and we're just betting you do, through and through -- and you're specifically a scholar of the quartet's Southern California shows, then you'll know exactly what will be played when The Fab Faux strap on their guitars and grab their drumsticks in Northridge on Saturday, Oct. 17.

The supertribute group -- guitarist Jimmy Vivino fronts Conan O'Brien's house band and bassist Will Lee has rocked with all four Beatles -- are riding the Magical Mystery Tour Bus straight for the Valley Performing Arts Center to rock, in full, the Fab Four's set lists from their much-written-about Dodger Stadium and Hollywood Bowl shows.

You know all the lore, surely, so we'll wait patiently as you fill us in. What? Oh, you're so right, dear Beatles buff: The Dodger Stadium show was the band's penultimate live concert, an event forever tied to Aug. 28, 1966. The Hollywood Bowl set list is from a couple of years before. Tell us the date. Again, you're correct: It was Aug. 23, 1964.

If you don't know all the songs, in order, from those concerts, a minute spent with Google will surely fill you in. If you want to see the Oct. 17 gig without Googling first, consider the first guitar strum to each new ditty as something fresh. 

There is, in short, no right or wrong way to enjoy an accomplished tribute to an iconic band, and there's no set way to enjoy a show where the set lists are established from the get-go.

And there is, unfortunately, no way to jet back to 1964 or 1966 to watch those historic concerts all over again. But thanks to The Fab Faux and a one-night-only, "Yesterday"-summoning show, you can be at both SoCal venues again for a few hours.

Of course, if you actually were there, you'll need to puff your chest and wear any memorabilia you kept, just to make everyone in the audience a mite jealous, in the best sense.

Who wouldn't brag that they saw the Beatles live back in the day? It's practically required and joyfully expected.

Photo Credit: The Fab Faux]]>
<![CDATA[Bugs + Ice Cream: Salt & Straw's October Flavors]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 17:54:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/saltandstrawoctflavors.jpg

We don't know when the last time you got double-dog-dared was -- it could have been three decades ago or three days -- but we're pretty sure you're due to be dared.

Or to dare someone. And here's your flavorful and fanciful and frightastic opportunity: Salt & Straw, the creative-minded ice-creamery born in Portland and now on Larchmont Boulevard in LA, is going all out on the eerie front in terms of its October-only seasonal offerings.

Let's start with the one most likely to encourage the double-dog-daring among friends as they stand at the order counter: Creepy Crawly Critters. Described as a "fresh green-grass ice cream," your treat will come studded with several several-legged bugs, all trapped in "amber" (make that "fragments of hard candy").

Ants and grasshoppers and other ground-scurrying insectia will be found embedded in your ice cream.

And you thought bugs only got mixed up with ice cream when you accidentally dropped your scoop on the sidewalk. 

The other choices are just as mischief-merry and rife with dastardly deliciousness. The Great Candycopia dumps the plastic pumpkin bucket, the one full of candy on Halloween night, into a scoop of ice cream. Look for "big chunks of Snickers, Whoppers, and Peanut Butter Cups" in this goodie.

Candy Corn goes all white-orange-and-yellow-striped on ya, flavor-wise, while A Potion of Malicious Delight remains a Jekyll-inspired mystery. No, really: Salt & Straw isn't saying much, though fruit tones and spice play straight-from-the-doctor's-basement-lab roles.

Finally, there's Essence of Ghost, "a chilling cold flavor that will make you think you've tasted an apparition." Intriguing, truly, to think of a flavor not as chocolate or strawberry but as a temperature, and a chilly one at that.

Shivers and so forth. So, are you in a full state of pre-double dog dare? The spooky flavors shall pass through the walls of the Salt & Straw shop, and into cups ready for eating, on Friday, Oct. 2.

Photo Credit: Salt & Straw]]>
<![CDATA[Queen Mary's 'Dark Harbor' Creeeeaks Open]]> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 12:29:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/darkharborqm2015.jpg

"Did you feel/see/hear/smell that?" is a common question at many fabled, built-long-ago spots around Southern California. Two pals'll be in a hallway, or bathroom, and one thinks that maybe -- just maybe -- a third being has joined the party, unannounced and uninvited.

The Queen Mary is a legendary place for this, as it is legendarily called one of California's most haunted destinations. But the big boat piles on a few more shivers each October to its already spirit-packed status with Dark Harbor, the multi-night, maze-laden, theme-heavy Halloween event.

The 2015 Dark Harbor debuts on Thursday, Oct. 1 and skips, sinisterly, right through to Sunday, Nov. 1.

If you attended last year -- and made it out, body and soul -- then you'll remember favorite mazes like Deadrise: The Depths of Darkness and Circus: Big Top Terror. Oh, don't worry, they'll be back, in full form. Or maybe you should worry? After all, these are places built to bring about the willies in anyone who dares step inside.

There are several new treats joining the big boat-adjacent brigade this year, including The Lullaby Maze, which tells of the "ship's youngest soul." There's also a Big Top Bar, for those 21-and-over, and there shall be absinthe on the menu, to lend an eerie green glow to the night.

Through it all, and the many characters that show up on the Dark Harbor roster -- The Captain among them, paying haunted homage to the near-the-ocean setting -- there is the Queen Mary, standing dramatically and silently to the side of the spooky scene. 

Can't bear the thought of driving home after some many scream-eliciting mazes? There are packages available, so you can sleep tight aboard the ship.

Or will you sleep tight? When you know that the First-Class Swimming Pool, alleged to be among the most ghosty spots on the ghosty ship, is so close to your cabin? And that over 200 monsters lurk within the mazes outside?

It must be October, near the dark-waved Pacific, at one of the Golden State's most supernatural settings.

Photo Credit: Dark Harbor]]>
<![CDATA[Largetooth Sawfish: Farewell to Long Beach]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 21:27:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/sawtoothaquariumpacific.jpg

How long would the scope need to be for you to look back 56 million years, into a prehistoric world of vibrant animalia, some on land, some in the sea?

It would need to be one very, very long scope, with powerful lenses able to see through time. Of course, you could just go to the Aquarium of the Pacific, in Long Beach, to the tank with the larger sharks, and admire the largetooth sawfish.

But go soon: The female Pristis pristis will wrap up her decade-long residency at the aquarium in either November or December, when she's transported to another aquarium "to become a part of a breeding program."

The aquarium has not revealed where exactly the critically endangered fish will head next. Largetooth sawfish "are a part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP) managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums." (Nope, no largetooth sawfish may be taken from their ocean home by any zoo or aquarium. That's finito.)

As for the 56 million years bit? That's when the sawfish "evolved from rays," or thereabouts, says the aquarium. You can see the ray-like lines in the aquarium's largetooth sawfish, but no, that is not an actual saw on the front of her face.

It's a rostrum, and what look like saw edges are teeth, which aid the sawfish in scrubbing about for dinner on the ocean floor. The aquarium says the rostrum grows to be about a fourth or fifth of the length of the fish, which is found in "shallow areas of Indo-Pacific from eastern Africa to Australia."

Want to revisit a favorite before she makes her move? Go now. And be sure to also wave at the big sharks, too, the ones who share her capacious tank. It's truly a testament to the sawfish's amazing appendage that, though she swims among several big predators, visitors often comment on the sawfish first, even before the sharks gain their attention.

Is it prehistory here today? Can any animal that retains tusks and shells that hearken back millions of years match the largetooth sawfish in sheer "wow" factor?

Of course. But, let's be honest: When you rock a giant saw — er, rostrum — on the front of your noggin, you pretty much automatically win the "most spectacular" ribbon.

Photo Credit: Aquarium of the Pacific]]>
<![CDATA[George Carlin: New Grammy Museum Exhibit]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 13:38:55 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/carlinGettyImages-2573207.jpg

There are performers who live comfortably within the confines of an envelope, and performers who gently nudge at the envelope, and there are those artists who push vigorously at the envelope, seeking to change and uproot stale societal norms.

Then there's George Carlin, an icon who not only had nothing to do with the envelope that confines many comedy-makers, but who wouldn't even drive by the envelope store if he had a map. Mr. Carlin, in short, went well beyond the envelope-pushing boundaries into idol- and institution-tweaking territory, the kind of comedy that ripples into the acts of a thousand other comedians over decades to come.

The Grammy Museum wants to celebrate his one-of-a-kind legacy, and so it shall, with a new exhibit called "A Place for My Stuff." The show runs at the LA Live-based music-and-performance repository from Wednesday, Sept. 30 through March 2016.

The name of the exhibit recalls one of the comedian's best-known bits, which takes on our obsession with material goods ("your house is just a place for your stuff"). But the stuff found within the Grammy Museum show isn't made up of mere knickknacks for your shelf but rather the seeds and inspirations that went into Mr. Carlin's long career in comedy.

Scrapbooks from his youth will be on display and a script, too, from the film "Dogma," and set lists from his televised performances. His public arrest record is in the mix, too.

It has been over a half decade since Mr. Carlin passed away at the age of 71, but his forceful viewpoints and refusal to toe any lines presented to him by the rule-makers continues to galvanize those going into the mic-and-brick-wall business of making laughs.

George Carlin is the third comedian honored at the Grammy Museum with a show; Rodney Dangerfield and Joan Rivers each had their own exhibits, too. It's no surprise, and comedy fans should expect more, as the Grammys reward spoken word albums as well as music, and all comedians honored so far have been in the Grammy spotlight.

Surely having an exhibit in a big institution full of learning and displays would have tickled the iconoclastic comedian, just a little? Few envelope-pushers have been as skilled or legendary, and that surely deserves some love from a lofty museum. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ghost Hunting (with Your Nose)]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 13:13:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tlmd_tlmd_091112_ghost.jpg

The sense of sight is typically invoked when it comes to searching for ethereal beings from beyond the veil, as in "so, did you see any ghosts?" 

Less referenced is our sense of smell. No one asks "did you smell any ghosts?" but consider that those buildings believed to be haunted are often described as bearing a trace of old perfume or the scent of candlewax or wine or some other odoriferous substance favored by the being now long gone.

Your sniffer, and not your eyes or your ears, will be called into action at an unusual self-guided ghost-hunting tour on Saturday, Oct. 3. Well, not totally self-guided; aficionados of apparitions'll first gather at The Institute for Art and Olfaction to discuss how our ability to sense odor may lead us to supernatural findings of the phantomiest sort.

It's free to join the fun at the institute, but if you want a special Phantosmia map for your self-guided explorations at several Los Angeles ghost spots, you'll need to show with a fiver.

After the gathering, ghost hunterers are welcome to set off on their own in search of "13 SMELLY GHOSTS" around Southern California. No surprise that "13" is the number of the night, and no surprise that you may be searching out some celebrities from the great beyond ("the phantom smell of Rudolph Valentino's horse" is one scent your sniffer will want to watch, er, sniff for).

There's also a Phantosmia Kit for sale, created by a fragrance-mad group of fans from the Smelly Vials Perfume Club, "a punk rock perfume-making society." The kit is priced at sixty bucks and will pay homage to the spirited scents you're looking for.

Yep, the kit also comes with the map you'll need on your nose-forward adventure.

We live in a region that's flush with phantom stories, both involving ye olde Tinseltown and some newer night-eerie icons as well. But to search for them in a fresh way, involving the appendage in the middle of your face, is a twist that's time has come.

Was that a trace of lilac perfume you just smelled in that back room of that one bar? Or was it rose perfume? Sometimes the nose knows that something strange is among us, before the other senses have come to their senses.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Where to Get a Free Cup on National Coffee Day]]> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 06:17:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Latte-Generic.jpg

Waking up will be a little easier for caffeine fiends Tuesday.

Several coffee shops and chains across the country are offering free cups of joe or special promotions to celebrate National Coffee Day.

Here’s where you can get your fix:

Starbucks: Celebrate National Coffee Day with the launch of “Starbucks One Tree for Every Bag Commitment” which honors the families and farmers behind your cup of morning coffee. Over the next year, every time someone buys a bag of coffee in a Starbucks store, a tree will be planted in a community that needs one on their behalf. Starbucks is also planting 1 million coffee trees in farming communities that need help.

The Coffee Bean: The chain is offering half-off ice coffee, flavored ice coffee and iced Americano drinks.

Peet's Coffee and Tea: Celebrate with a free small cup of Major Dickason's Blend.

Dunkin Donuts: Free medium hot or iced dark roast coffee.

Krispy Kreme: Free small coffee and original glazed donut.

Tim Hortons: Enter for a chance to win Tim Cards.

Whole Foods: Stores nationwide are offering 12-ounce cups of coffee for $0.25 through September.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Tour Kick-Off: 'The Sound of Music' at The Ahmanson]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 22:56:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/07.TheSoundOfMusic.DTracyPSilvester.jpg

It's a show of staying power, and loyalty, and gotta-go-back-ness, that many SoCal people, when they hear the name "The Sound of Music," immediately follow that up with "oh, the sing-along"?

They're referring to the annual everyone-sing party at the Hollywood Bowl, a night that's as popular as an Alp slope is laden with snow. But the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic isn't simply the movie, nor an audience warbling along with Maria: It's a lederhosen-lovely, climb-every-mountain-major stage musical as well.

And the newest iteration celebrating the adventures of the drapery-donning Von Trapp kids, their whistle-wielding father, the divine Baroness, her BFF Max, and "a lady who... will never be a nun" -- Maria, of course -- is kicking off its big tour right here in Los Angeles.

Rodgers & Hammerstein's "The Sound of Music" is on the big stage, at The Ahmanson Theatre, through the final day in October, and with that big stage comes the bigness of the vibrant love story well-told and well-sung.

Nope, you are not singing along to this one but rather enjoying the inestimable talents of Ashley Brown as the Mother Abbess (Ms. Brown played Mary Poppins on Broadway), Paige Silvester, Ben Davis, and Kerstin Anderson as the can-do and can-do-re-mi governess.

Ms. Anderson and the word "newcomer" are getting paired up a lot these days, given that she's on break from her college studies to travel in this plum production in a plum role. It fits, sweetly, when one considers the character Maria, and her newness to Captain Von Trapp's large home and family, so let's call this casting a delightful dovetailing of real-world and Austria-fable.

Of course, the story is based on true stories and people who weathered the coming of World War II. This fact has a way of heightening the pathos found within what is normally deemed a pretty plucky presentation.

Adding to the charm of this run, beyond Los Angeles serving as the tour's numero uno stop? Kendall's Brasserie, located below the Music Center Plaza, has a special group of "Sound" dishes made just for young theater goers. Schnitzel and such? You'll find it on the menu. For more info, and a peek at Alpsian edibles, throw your arms wide and twirl this way.

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy]]>
<![CDATA[Night Show Aglow: RISE of the Jack o'Lanterns]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 13:20:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/risejack15.jpg The popular pumpkin event is landing at a few SoCal locations. Ready to see 1000s of faux gourds glowing bright?

Photo Credit: RISE of the Jack O'Lanterns]]>
<![CDATA[Clifton's Cafeteria: New Opening Date Revealed]]> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 08:20:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/cliftonssignsept.jpg

October, much like December, is a month that opens with a lot of particular rites and must-dos attached to it.

Some people vow to visit a pumpkin patch on the first day of the spookiest month. Others have their first pumpkin spice latte, if they've been able to stave off the urge all September.

And lovers of historic restaurants, cool cafeterias, woodsy-themed interiors, and true slices of LA? They'll likely spend October 1 wandering around Clifton's Cafeteria, which now has an official and real and let's-do-this opening date.

Yep, Oct. 1 is the square to circle on that calendar, Cliftonites. You've been patient, waiting over four years to see the newly refurbished inside of the 1935 downtown gem. And just when you thought you'd get that longed-for peek around the Broadway bastion of gelatin and turkey sandwiches, the original re-opening date of Sept. 22 got canned so a few final touches could be placed around the place.

But the people behind Clifton's Cafeteria, which is owned by eatery impresario Andrew Meieran, are promising to draw back the curtain -- aka welcome customers for white cake and coleslaw and other cafeteria staples -- on the first day of the tenth month.

And take heart, dear loyalists, if you're concerned that the redwoods-and-deer delights have vamoosed from the property during the refurbishment; a giant tree stands at the center of the mural-laden landmark, a space that's received the approval of no less than the preservation-minded LA Conservancy.

And if you want to see the door unlocked and pushed open for the first arrivees -- which might include you -- then be out front at 648 S. Broadway by 11 o'clock in the morning on Oct. 1.

We're not sure if any trumpets will sound, but perhaps they will, in spirit, within the hearts of those who've missed the Jell-O and cabin-like interior and hearty steam trays full of hearty old-school vittles.

Photo Credit: Clifton's Cafeteria]]>
<![CDATA[Museum Party: Mooncakes for the Supermoon]]> Sat, 26 Sep 2015 10:22:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/mooncakesuscpacasia-horz.jpg

How the moon came to be made of cheese is up for debate, but the whimsical tall tale has shown some staying power throughout the ages.

Of course, cheese isn't the only foodstuff to be associated with our planet's majestic lunar satellite. Mooncakes are also a popular traditional edible that are enjoyed, in China and several parts of the world, during the fall, when people gather to celebrate harvest and the Mid-Autumn Festival.

And mooncakes are on the menu, while they last, at the USC Pacific Asia Museum's Harvest Moon Festival. The festivities coincide with the full moon, a supermoon and a blood moon, on Sunday, Sept. 27, which will also see a total lunar eclipse. 

So count on the afternoon party stretching into early evening, and twilight, where the moon will be at its beautiful round brightness, quite the sight to see while one snacks upon a mooncake.

Other lovely happenings are on the schedule throughout the late afternoon, from the making of lanterns and fans to a screening of "The Tale of Princess Kaguya" (a Japanese flick with English subtitles).

Dance, storytelling, and museum tours complement the mooncake-eating and lantern-building.

As far as looking up at our nearest neighbor goes on one of its big, most-ballyhooed nights of the year? Sidewalk astronomers will be outside the institution, ready to talk craters and phases and all matters of the moon.

The cost? Just pay museum admission and you are ready to moon it up, majorly.

And if you want a tasty, dough-nice symbol of the night, the mooncake tasting starts up at 6 o'clock. Best arrive early, because, like the heavenly body it is named for, the mooncakes, too, shall go away after awhile.

Of course, the moon goes away come the daytime but has a knack for returning, on schedule, rather predictably, so no worries there. Likewise, even if mooncakes go away, as they're eaten by mooncake mavens, they always return the following fall.

Photo Credit: USC Pacific Asia Museum/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Spooky Nighttime Dramas Head Outdoors]]> Fri, 25 Sep 2015 17:51:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dramaafterdark918282.jpg

Endless hallways, shadowy parlors, velvet-curtained salons, and foreboding galleries have long served as the spooky settings for some of the most famous gothic tales ever told.

But what was beyond the front door of the tale's intimidating mansion also bore a scary feel, too. Think of trees and shrubs and deep valleys and fog sitting in a dell. Ghosts are drawn to the outdoors, too, or so said the fabled fear writers of old.

Both Drama After Dark and Wicked Lit embrace the outdoorsy side of eerie storytelling. The autumntime events, which both take place under the sky and among the trees, don't solely focus on fictions set in an alfresco landscape, but placing actors beneath the moon and sky lend the tales told a timeless and eternal feel.

Drama After Dark: A Night of the Macabre with Poe and Gorey is a one-night-only affair, and typically a sell-out, thanks to its crack cast of actors and its unusual setting: The Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens. The Huntington is typically closed by sundown, so the chance to wander among its roses and by statuary, as thespians summon the spirits of the author of "The Raven" and the iconic illustrator, is a terrifying treat, indeed. 

The date is Saturday, Oct. 24, and, yes, this is a return to The Huntington for the event, which went on landed in Rancho Cucamonga in 2014. Tickets? Draw your cape close and head this way.

Wicked Lit runs for several nights throughout October at one very atmospheric, history-filled setting: The Mountain View Mausoleum & Cemetery in Altadena. The playlets chosen for 2015 include "The Grove of Rashomen," "The Fall of the House of Usher," and "The System."

Produced by Unbound Productions, Wicked Lit roams the cemetery by dark, and attendees know they'll be changing locations during the course of the evening.

Consider how often we watch a fright flick indoors or take in a dread-filled play in the safety of a theater. Nature reminds us of the unpredictability of life, and the vast beauty, too, and it makes for a rather intoxicating, and offbeat, setting for a scary tale brought to life.

Photo Credit: Drama After Dark]]>
<![CDATA[The Observatory + Lunar Eclipse + Live Classical Music]]> Fri, 25 Sep 2015 13:35:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GriffithmoonGettyImages-72370567.jpg

What do you hear, inside your head, when you gaze upon a rare and lovely lunar eclipse?

Maybe you experience the inner silence of outer space. Maybe you summon, within your brain, the theme to "Star Trek" or "Star Wars" or one of the hundreds of movies that have used our moon as part of the plotline. Or perhaps you hear some bleeps 'n bloops, as though you were boarding an alien spacecraft.

If you're standing at Griffith Observatory, though, on the evening of Sunday, Sept. 27, staring up into the sky through a powerful telescope at the total lunar supermoon eclipse, you may hear the lilting piano tunes of one Ludwig van Beethoven, seemingly played live before your very ears.

But there's no "seemingly" about it: The LA Phil has teamed up with Steinway & Sons and pianist Ray Ushikubo of the Colburn School to lend some uplifting musical loveliness to the grand lunar event.

And, yep, that's right, this is a total lunar eclipse, and "total" has a knack for amping up any cosmic event that people want to experience (as does "supermoon," too). Pair the totalness of the earth casting its shadow across the moon -- with a little help from the sun, natch -- with the live classical music and you have one very popular event in the works.

As in, the good people of Griffith Observatory are already advising attendees to use public transit. "Don't Get Eclipsed by Traffic!," advises the page, which seems like a solid word of warning ahead of a joyous gathering of the galactic sort.

Did we mention this whole amazing moon-meets-music shebang is free? Oh yeah: You'll be wanting to look up some get-up-the-hill vehicle alternatives right about now.

We mean, really: Would you fly to the moon without a breathing apparatus and some freeze-dried astronaut food? No. Would you enjoy a live concert of Beethoven sonatas without knowing you'll be deeply moved? No.

Would you go to Griffith Observatory on the evening of a total lunar eclipse, with piano accompaniment, that's free to see, without planning a sensible, low-stress route to the landmark ahead of time? No.

Let's, however, not end this on a "no" when there's so much "yes" here to be had. Yes to free happenings, yes to our Art Deco space museum up on the hill, yes to Beethoven, yes to the moon.

Can't be there from 6:30 to 9:45 in the evening on Sept. 27? The whole lunar lark'll be live on the internet. Yes to that, as well. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Star Wars at Disneyland: Some Classics to Close (for a Time)]]> Fri, 25 Sep 2015 19:19:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/6_09_DLR_103014fantasmic.jpg

When The Happiest Place on Earth welcomes a fresh attraction, a few standard physical changes are seen, though nothing too major. Some walls go up around the future ride's spot while a friendly cast member redirects guests to other diversions.

But when new planets are forming inside Disneyland, and whole swaths of the universe are in the works, larger actions must be taken.

Word on the comlink is that a 14-acre "Star Wars" land is headed for the world's most famous theme park -- perhaps you've heard the scuttlebutt, which has now reached into all corners of deep space -- and construction is set to impact a few favorites around the Anaheim destination.

An announcement arrived on Sept. 24, 2015 regarding the temporary closures of some attractions and a couple of permanent closures, as well.

The permanent farewells will be of no surprise to anyone who knows that the "Star Wars" area is headed for Big Thunder Ranch's neck of the woods. Circle D Ranch and the petting zoo will make way for cinema's most famous space cowboys, and the fiddles-and-vittles restaurant, Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue, will trot off into the sunset as well, along with its downhome stage show.

The temporary farewells includes a caboodle of classics around the Rivers of America as well as The Disneyland Railroad. All stations will be shuttered, for several months, as construction kicks in on the "Star Wars" rides.

The Rivers of America closures mean both the Mark Twain Riverboat and the Sailing Ship Columbia will head for port for an expected time of a year or so, and Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer's Island and the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes will run aground for a time, too.

Fans will guess that "Fantasmic!," the nighttime water-plus-Mickey-plus-dragon extravaganza, will be put on hold along with the Columbia, which is part of the spectacular, and they'd be correct. The Press Enterprise reveals that cast members assigned to these attractions and the others around the area "will be offered other roles" during the construction.

As far as timelines go? Get to Big Thunder Ranch by Jan. 10, 2016 if you want to bid it goodbye and enjoy your last bucket of Big Thunder barbecue.

Jan. 10 is also the date when the temporary closures of the Disneyland Railroad, the Rivers of America attractions, and "Fantasmic!" take effect.

These are not the only "Star Wars"-related changes revealed: "Season of the Force," which will present meet-and-photo opportunities with characters from the films, as well as a temporary re-theming of Space Mountain, opens on Nov. 16.

Photo Credit: Paul Hiffmeyer]]>
<![CDATA[Cackle Confab: Knott's Scary Farm Opens]]> Thu, 24 Sep 2015 14:41:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/greenknottsscary1.jpg

For many Halloween devotees, the haunted houses or scare mazes they knew as kids, wherever they grew up, consisted solely of a few enthusiastic neighbors in rubber masks, some wet spaghetti in a bowl, and, if things were super tricked-out, a strobelight and fog machine.

How far, and fearful, these things have come. Look to one of the theme park classics, a seasonal treat so big we're quite sure a Halloween-themed resort should be built nearby, so fans can take time with each maze over a couple of days.

It's Knott's Scary Farm, and you're 100% correct, it is a Knott's Berry Farm, in Buena Park (the name is a dead giveaway). Opening date: Thursday, Sept. 24. 

Baddies of every stripe and ghosts and witches and fictional characters of a gruesome nature fill out the multiple mazes on the spooky slate for 2015. "Forevermore" visits the twisty-turny brain of a certain Mr. Edgar Allan Poe, while "Pinocchio Unstrung" makes any of our puppet-based fears burble to the surface. Several others charm and alarm simply from their names: "Special Ops: Infected -- Patient Zero," "My Bloody Clementine," and, yes, "The Tooth Fairy."

The. Tooth. Fairy. We're fairly sure there won't be any delighted peeking beneath one's pillow in hopes of a nice surprise in that particular maze.

But Knott's goes beyond the maze concept to celebrate other seasonal favorites, including shows like "Elvira's Asylum" and various areas teeming with terrifying monsters. "Carnevil" is on the docket -- prepare yourself for an onslaught of clowns, coulrophobes -- as is "Ghost Town Streets," which is described as "the largest scare zone in Scary Farm history..."

Well, that'll give anyone the willies.

Knott's Scary Farm sends shivers through Buena Park on select nights through Halloween.

Photo Credit: Knott's Scary Farm]]>
<![CDATA[A Live Dance Telenovela, in Four Parts]]> Thu, 24 Sep 2015 11:18:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/heididucklertelenovella.jpg

We know that certain savory foods can sometimes show up during dessert -- ice cream pizza, for example -- and we know that sledding down grass, rather than snow, is an activity pursued by some outdoors enthusiasts. 

A tried-and-true thing in an unexpected place is something that doesn't rattle us, in short.

But we tend to box in our forms of entertainment a little too tightly. Telenovelas are always on television, given that "tele" is in their very name, and dance presentations always happen on a stage over the course of a single evening. 

Done and done.

The Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, that sprightly, bright-of-mind dance troupe, is once again playing with various paradigms with the company's newest work, "Sophie & Charlie."

Nope, this is not an evening of dance in a real laundromat, as Ms. Ducker's dancers have taken on in the past. Nor is this a presentation in the Linda Vista hospital, another offbeat venue the troupe has visited.

It is, however, presented over four different nights, spread apart, in the way a thrilling, cliffhanger-rich telenovela might be on television.

Night one is Saturday, Sept. 26, and the further episodes follow on Oct. 1, Oct. 11, and Oct. 18. The dance presentation's locations are spread across the city, from Venice to West Hollywood, in the way that a real courtship might actually unfold.

And the episode titles? "At the Funeral," "First Date," "Intensive Care," and "Garden Bout." Viewers -- er, audience members -- will watch the relationship between Sophie and Charlie progress in real time, through movement, leaps, emotive expressions, and the always important passion.

If you're worried that the Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre has left the hospital scene fully behind, fear not; "Intensive Care" takes place in a "semi-vacant hospital" in Crenshaw. 

Live music, courtesy of local musicians, will give the romance-before-your-eyes oomph and flair.

Are you ready to watch a telenovela? That's not on television? And that's portrayed through dance? And that's taking place at four distinct locations around Southern California? Over the better part of a month?

Enjoying a known thing presented in a fresh way has a way of giving us fresh eyes.

Photo Credit: Andrei Andreev]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend: Lobster Fests x Two]]> Fri, 25 Sep 2015 11:38:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lobsterfestredondo1234567.jpg

Redondo and Pedro Lobster Traditions: Southern California has enjoyed a mayonnaise-scented, butter-drippy lobster roll renaissance in recent years, with many seafood restaurants vying to serve the best Maine-style sandwich. But lobster lovers still seek out the big September whole lobster parties that pop up close to the coast, bashes that come complete with live tunes. Both Redondo Beach and the Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festivals roll simultaneously -- Sept. 25 through 27 -- and both come with sides that lend the meaty oceany crustacean oomph. Doing both? You, sir or madam, are serious about matters of lobster.

Feast of San Gennaro: It's a rather stirring sight, all of those twinkling small light bulbs by night and flapping red, green, and white banners by day, and it all signals this: One of SoCal's sauce-iest, cheese-iest, most traditional Italian street festivities. Galbani's the host -- hello, cheese goodness -- and while food is the centerpiece of the Hollywood bash, music, bingo, bocce, and charity giving-back fill out the three-day weekend. And that weekend? Friday, Sept. 25 through Sunday, Sept. 27.

Day of the Drum Festival: Rhythms, percussive joy, and a celebration of the Watts Towers Art Center merge into a day brimming with tunes and tradition.  The 34th Day of the Drum will feature the Afro Cuban Folkloric beats of Nclave and an appearance by Luis Rodriguez, our city's poet laureate, as well as a host of other acts, on Saturday, Sept. 26. On Sunday, Sept. 27, the jazzy notes reign at the 39th Annual Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival. Look for Art Webb's tribute to Johnny Polanco and Carmen Lundy on the stage. 

Knott's Scary Farm Opens: Dare you enter a maze called "The Tooth Fairy"? If you're attending this Halloweened-out extravaganza at Knott's Berry Farm, we'll guess yes. Knott's Scary Farm is one of the long-timers in the theme park Halloween biz, and its large number of themed mazes, its scare zones, and the spooky shows reflect its decades of dastardly haunting. Opening date: Sept. 24. Closing date: Oct. 31. You clutching a friend at "Carneval," while cowering from clowns? Yeah, that's probably happening, regardless of date.

Museum Day Live! You've looked longingly at a particular institution as you've driven or strolled passed, numerous times, vowing to enter on day and see what's beyond the door. Here's your chance to take a chance: The Smithsonian magazine is hosting free admission at a swath of great cultural and art destinations across the country, including several in SoCal (Grammy Museum, Craft and Folk Art Museum...). You do need a ticket, but that ticket is free, and that ticket can be found here.

TARFEST: Free live tunes, over several afternoon hours, at an all-ages show, adjacent to one of the best-known ice age fossil sites in the world? It must be time for this early fall favorite, which also brings the craft beers, the wines, the kid-fun to-dos, and live painting before your eyes. Did we mention this is a pay-nothing, see-lots kind of thing? We did? Cool, but we didn't say the date: Saturday, Sept. 26 (the place, of course, is the La Brea Tar Pits).

Photo Credit: Redondo Beach Lobster Festival]]>
<![CDATA[Feast of San Gennaro: Food, Community, Tradition]]> Wed, 23 Sep 2015 13:55:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/KMD06SanGennaro2_13453442.jpg

It would be completely accurate to say that Southern California has polished and perfected the art of the street festival.

What with our sunshine -- check -- and our ocean breezes -- check again -- and our love of hobnobbing and people-watching -- check and check -- we've kind of got the whole thing down pat in the close-off-the-avenue, cook-up-some-food-and-fun department.

A few cities far to our north and east, though, got an earlier start on the traditional Italian street festival, the kind of beautiful bash that's scented by calzones and filled with the strains of accordions.

Some might have doubted LA could have its own, since the festivals of the East Coast have taken decades to build, but the doubters are changed: The Galbani Cheese Italian Feast of San Gennaro has become a true classic of the form in its own right, with nothing but rightful pride on its side.

It should feel chuffed: After nearly a decade-and-a-half and a location change, San Gennaro is much-attended, much-loved, and the ultimate place to score your early autumn cannoli. And play bingo and play bocce and ride a ride and watch chef demos and devour a scoop of gelato, as a dessert to your cannoli.

Or is the cannoli actually a better follow-up to a gelato? The hard questions, what should be the dessert to your dessert.

The 2015 dates are Friday, Sept. 25 through Sunday, Sept. 27. You'll make for Hollywood and Highland, but go a block south, near Hollywood High School. Will you miss the red, green, and white banners and the twinkly lights and the crooners crooning ballads from the stage? 

You will not. As is tradition, there is a bigness to the heart of San Gennaro, one that can draw revelers from a block away.

And hewing to the spirit of this style of community-close festival, there shall be charity goodness to participate in, from a blood drive to a marrow match program to a tour that makes sure kids fighting cancer get to see some Major League Baseball games (fans of Jimmy Kimmel, who has long been a part of the festival, will recognize this as the organization "established in the honor" of Mr. Kimmel's beloved Uncle Frank).

Of course, as with any boisterous, sights-aplenty street scene, it can be tempting to simply try pasta after pasta and call it a night. But paying it forward is also woven into what the Feast of San Gennaro is all about.

Photo Credit: Kayte Deioma/Feast of San Gennaro]]>
<![CDATA[Free: La Brea Tar Pits Music and Art Fest ]]> Thu, 24 Sep 2015 08:53:57 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tarfesthulahoop1235.jpg

Count on some sort of liquid being present at most any concert venue you enter, whether it is the craft beer on tap at the bar or the sodas sold in the lobby or even the H2O you use to lather up, over the bathroom sink, after pumping your sweaty hand in the air, over and over, to your favorite ditties.

It's a rare day, however, when the liquid involved is sticky tar with prehistoric cred. Unless, of course, the concert you're attending happens to be TARFEST, the annual early fall free party located at the world-famous La Brea Tar Pits.

Well, located at Hancock Park, more accurately -- we suspected holding any sort of show directly at or in the tar pits would get sticky pretty darn quick.

The annual shindig from 88.5 FM and Launch LA is all ages and a daytime thing, or mostly: Hours run from 1 o'clock in the afternoon right through into sundown, so about 8 at night. Date? Make mammoth plans for Saturday, Sept. 26. 

Yes, we said "mammoth," and there it shall stay, like fossils deep in tar, for all internet eternity.

Gavin Turek is one of the many headliners, a bevy of bands'll also rock out, and seeing painters paint before your eyes is one of the treats of the day. TARFEST is, after all, billed as a Music & Culture Festival, and the things to look upon and ponder, outside of the sound show, are plentiful and meaningful and whimsical.

As for the "all ages" part? Look for kid-nice to-dos around the grounds, too, sponsored by the Japanese Foundation of Los Angeles, as well as Orchard Hardware and the Petersen Automotive Museum just down the street. (Check out its BIG exterior changes if you haven't seen them yet.)

And, yes, there shall be beverages for sale. Just because the tar is the most famous liquid stuff at this particular concert venue doesn't mean there won't be refreshing libations: Lagunitas Brewery is setting up a biergarten and there shall be wine and other non-spirited drinks for sale, too.

Update: Saint Motel was a headliner in 2014.

Photo Credit: Tarfest]]>
<![CDATA[Fidos 'N Foam: Surf Dogs Make for Surf City]]> Tue, 22 Sep 2015 18:07:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/surfdoghuntington1_julsmegill_888.jpg The Petco-hosted event raises funds for a host of organizations.

Photo Credit: Juls Megill]]>
<![CDATA[Free Tickets: Smithsonian's Museum Day Live!]]> Tue, 22 Sep 2015 11:37:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/artshutterstock_67355314.jpg

Let's cut right to the nub of the situation, in no uncertain terms: The final Saturday of September 2015 will be hot in Southern California, as in pushing-into-the-90s hot, as in "is it really the first weekend of fall?" hot.

If ever a weary "what the what?" was in order, it might be now.

Thank goodness that there are museums full of ideas that we can retreat to, to both grow our minds and cool our heels. We're saying, in short, that the Smithsonian magazine's Museum Day Live! is once again well timed for our region, though simply saying you'd like to visit a local institution to escape the toasty temps surely isn't the whole picture.

You'd like to grow your mind, and, for a day, you'd like to forego paying for the privilege. As is tradition, Smithsonian magazine, in partnership with hundreds of museums across the nation, is waiving get-in fees for cultural and historic and art and craft and music institutions from here to a lot of theres around the United States.

It's very nice, very Smithsonian, and easy to get on board with. The kicker? You'll need a ticket, even though there's no admission price to these museums, but you can line that up online.

As for participating SoCal spots? The Museum of Latin American Art, the Grammy Museum, the Fowler Museum at UCLA, the Chinese American Museum, and several more spots within LA and to the south and north of us are on the most excellent and diverse roster.

And that's the long and the short of it. Enjoy the museum of your choice, for free, by procuring a ticket ahead of time, and plan to be there on Saturday, Sept. 26.

We were being only a bit cheeky, of course, by tying the warm weather to the temperate-indoors event. But consider just how often weather shows up as a major player in paintings -- swirling clouds and such -- and historical happenings and cultural traditions. (Answer: a bunch.)

Drawing in our late-September heat to the museum-nice fold doesn't feel all that awkward. In this big human experience, everything touches in the end, as the Smithsonian itself has so aptly illustrated, via its many outlets and institutions, throughout the decades.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Clifton's Eve: Cafeteria Re-Open Delayed (Slightly)]]> Sun, 27 Sep 2015 10:36:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Cliftons2015-09-16+16.17.37.jpg

Roam into most any forest and you're bound to see a fir sapling reaching for the sunlight and spreading its branches and having some good days, water- and weather-wise, and some that shake it to its very earthbound roots.

The picture we paint is woodsy for two reasons. One? A sapling illustrates the usual growing pains towards becoming something great quite well. And two? We're about to talk about Clifton's Cafeteria, the opened-in-1935, closed-in-2011, set-to-open-again-in-2015 eatery that's lush with forest themes.

Yes, it has been under refurbishment for years now. Yes, fans have been as agitated as aspens in a windstorm over getting inside the gussied-up restaurant. And, yes, the big public opening date was originally announced as Tuesday, Sept. 22. 

But remember the sapling we mentioned? Having a few stops and starts on its way to big-of-trunk, wide-of-branch greatness? We'll apply that now, to Clifton's, which announced that opening date will be delayed.

Not by much, though, or so the Facebook announcement suggests. "The dream of Clifton's journey back to Broadway is nearly complete... but we may need a day or two extra!," says the post. 

That doesn't sound too long before the throngs of Jell-O-lovin' fans can walk inside the wood-tastic space, a space overseen by entrepreneur Andrew Meieran, the theme-forward visionary behind The Edison.

No specific reason was given, but the Clifton's representative took time to speak to many mavens' questions on the thread.

Perhaps that famous Jell-O needs a few extra days to set? Perhaps the white cake batter was a bit too creamy? Or are some last touches being added to re-forest the tree-lovely landmark?

Stay tuned for that soon-to-come new opening day announcement, Clifton's Cafeteria regulars-from-before and regulars-to-be. Like a sapling in the forest, a change of wind or a sprinkle of rain can do wonders to push a growing thing to the next robust stage.

Photo Credit: Clifton's Cafeteria]]>
<![CDATA[The Broad: Peek Inside]]> Mon, 21 Sep 2015 11:33:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/broad2392brucedamonte.jpg The contemporary art museum is now open. What's behind that honeycomb exterior?

Photo Credit: Bruce Damonte]]>
<![CDATA[Hit the Pool on the First Day of Autumn]]> Mon, 21 Sep 2015 09:27:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/swimmingettty12.jpg

While people in other cities and counties and states welcome the first day of autumn by jumping into piles of colorful leaves and sipping cider and skipping through pumpkin patches, we here in Southern California will don our goggles and water wings and jump into the deep end, as is tradition.

The start of fall, of course, officially, on the calendar, is really the signal that, at least locally, we're about 4/5 the way through our LA-style summer. Drink all the pumpkin lattes you like; that still won't change the fact that it'll hit the mid-80s around the region, and maybe higher, on Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Which is why we must remove the fuzzy sweaters we've only just donned and step back into our swimsuits on fall's opening day. The Annenberg Community Beach House, pre-sensing people's desire to cool off with autumn's arrival, is throwing a Bonus Pool Day, one that coincides with the equinox.

Now, now, people elsewhere: Be not jealous or condescending or weird about it. SoCal's September is usually fairly hot and we don't jumpstart fall, truly, before Halloween. But then, our summer temps don't really arrive before the Fourth of July, what with June Gloom and all.

The Bonus Pool Day at the Santa Monica-based, beach-close landmark starts at 10 o'clock in the morning and backstrokes right through 5 in the afternoon. But passes are available an hour before opening, so if you're super-keen to snap those selfies of you in the shallow end on fall's first day, for the enjoyment of relatives back east, well, be there early.

By the by, the extra pool days hosted by the beach house tend to taper off after September, though a warm January day has a way of inspiring staffers to stick another pool day on the calendar.

What we're saying is this: If you're going to swim, swim now. If you're going to drink your pumpkin latte in honor of autumn, well, you can do that, too. Just make sure you have a rotating fan or AC unit nearby, at least if you're sipping it on our toasty first day of fall 2015.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Blend Images]]>
<![CDATA[Universal Shrieks: Halloween Horror Nights Opens]]> Fri, 18 Sep 2015 16:04:25 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/hhnnicoterokirkmanhardwick.jpg

The truly fun part of a horror movie is when, after the credits roll, you explain to your friends how you would have run from the baddie, and not walked down that dark hallway, and not entered the cabin that said "Do Not Enter."

Of course, Monday morning quarterbacking, horror movie-style, flies right out the cracked, dusty window when Halloween Horror Nights opens at Universal Studios Hollywood. Because you actually enter the horror flick when you enter one of the many mazes.

You're peeking around corners, unsure and hesitant. You're jumping when the monster pops out of a closet. You're right there, in breathing distance of the ghoul, and not nicely distanced by a screen from the thrills and eeks and stomach-churning moments.

And Halloween Horror Nights will again deliver on hundreds of those this year, thanks to mazes like "The Walking Dead" (now with twice the undead!) and "Halloween" (it's early on in the life of Michael Myers and the dread in the '60s-era air is thick) and "Insidious" (the veil between worlds shall not only be lifted in this maze but firmly yanked away).

"Crimson Peak," the new not-yet-released Guillermo del Toro film, has a place in the 2015 mazes, as does horror-comedy "This Is the End" and the interplanetary "Alien vs. Predator," a way-popular fan favorite making its return.

Jabbawockeez are dancing on the show front, the Terror Tram is whisking people into the peril-everywhere world of "The Purge," and the Scare Zones run the ghoulish gamut (yes, there's one that's Christmas-themed, though these roasted chestnuts have definitely gone bad).

What once ran for a few nights now reaches into three months: Opening night is Friday, Sept. 18, closing is Sunday, Nov. 1, and with the exception of a few shuttered days each week, this machine thrums at high velocity and deep dread.

It's a wonder of planning and creativity, but let us also high five the weird streak that runs through Creative Director John Murdy's heart, and the minds of the members on his team. Actually drawing fans into the world of a horror film is absolutely a mean feat, in the different sense of the word (and it is also no mean feat, in the common sense, as we suspect putting it all together is quite hard).

Hard but effective. If you dare enter a Halloween Horror Nights maze, will you later be Monday morning quarterbacking in the way that you do following a fright flick? Will the brave boasting at how you would have escaped the baddie be absent?

For once you're on the inside of the horror experience, the spooky dark hallway takes on quite the realistic, heart-thumping dimension.

Universal Studios is owned by NBCUniversal, the same parent company as NBC4.

<![CDATA[Elfman at the Bowl: A 'Nightmare' in Hollywood]]> Fri, 18 Sep 2015 12:38:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/203*120/de106921920.jpg

To say that composer/performer Danny Elfman's surprise 2013 tour of Tim Burton's "A Nightmare Before Christmas" was popular with "Nightmare" fans is like saying Jack Skellington is long of leg or that Sally is sweet of heart. 

It was way popular, to the moon-and-back-and-on-to-Halloween-Town popular, it was so talked-about that people not even familiar with the 1993 stop-motion classic were all abuzz over it.

We josh: There's practically no one who doesn't know this film, nor the timeless work of Mr. Elfman, who provided both the music and the singing voice of the curious and empathetic skeleton who serves as the movie's charming and heroic lead. 

It's a voice the former Oingo Boingo frontman took on the road, along with the film, a couple of years back, and now Mr. Elfman will be crooning "What's this? What's this?" before 17,000+ Burton buffs at the Hollywood Bowl on Halloween night.

Yes, it might be a tad cold up in the Bowl stands, as suits the story; Snow and Sandy Claws both play chill-making roles in the film.

Yes, it will be outrageously costume-y; fans are invited to dress up as Jack or his paramour Sally or Zero, the floaty dog, or Lock, Shock, and Barrel, a trio of evil little mischievians.

There shall be so much "Nightmare"-y goodness -- or badness? -- at the Bowl that the serious fan may feel overwhelmed. Best arrive when doors first open, well ahead of the 8 o'clock start time, to soak in all of the sights and wonders.

And best put your claws on a ticket sooner than later. Tickets go on sale via Ticketmaster -- this is a lease event at the Hollywood Bowl, do note -- on Friday, Sept. 18 at noon o'clock.

High noon is not a very Halloween Town-type time, it is true, but figure that even Jack Skellington longed to try new things beyond his dreary sphere.

And if you've never seen Danny Elfman warble live, with orchestra, to one of the most dearly loved and obsessed-over holiday films, well, be like Jack and get with the fresh experience.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clifton's Cafeteria Re-Opening: Then and Now]]> Fri, 18 Sep 2015 11:53:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/cliftons9.jpg The beloved downtown eatery is set to re-debut after a major gussy-up. Peek back at the historic space through the years, and see what's to come.

Photo Credit: Clifton's Cafeteria]]>
<![CDATA[N.Y. Fashion Week: Spring/Summer 2016]]> Thu, 17 Sep 2015 18:21:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-487625078.jpg The twice-annual fashion affair known as New York Fashion Week ended Thursday after a week's worth of runway shows previewing style trends for spring and summer 2016. Click through to see some of the best trends you'll be wearing next year.]]> <![CDATA[Parking Spaces Become Gardens (for a Day)]]> Fri, 18 Sep 2015 06:35:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/rebar_parkingday_031.jpg

When you and your friend talk about metered parking spaces, what's the conversation about?

We've broken it down for you, unscientifically but accurately. You and your pal A) spend 90% of the time searching for possible parking spaces and B) spend 7% of the time discussing how other people have parked their cars and C) spend 2% of the time asking each other for quarters, dimes, anything.

Rarely do you admire the lawns and flowers filling a metered parking space. But 1% of the time you do, on the third Friday in September, which just happens to be PARK(ing) Day, everywhere and anywhere, but very much around Southern California.

What started as a bit of public art-meets-nature activism in San Francisco has spread far and wide, and at little cost but much cheer. The meat of the matter is this: People, be they artists or gardeners or just those who like to mix up the urban scene, merrily, arrive at an empty parking space, feed the meter, and proceed to decorate it with plants, lawn chairs, and anything else that subverts the park-here paradigm.

"The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat... until the meter runs out!"

Until the meter runs out, indeed. 

Where to find the "parklets" of PARK(ing) Day, which is Friday, Sept. 18? There's a spot on Melrose listed, though the nature of these for-the-moment installations is they can, and do, pop up anywhere. 

Some parks exist for decades, and even centuries, and some for an hour, or two, if you've got enough nickels in your pocket.

Photo Credit: Rebar]]>