<![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 Tue, 01 Sep 2015 11:23:28 -0700 Tue, 01 Sep 2015 11:23:28 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[New: Deep-Fried Guacamole at LA County Fair]]> Tue, 01 Sep 2015 09:25:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lacountyfairfriedguacchickencharlie.jpg

Guacamole, like fondue and omelets and salsa, boasts a thousand different iterations, depending upon who is wielding the mortar and pestle.

You like extra onions? Throw 'em in. No onions? Okay, a tad strange, but whatever floats your boat. Should your guac be mostly sour cream? Perhaps a touch bland, but we're intrigued. But one thing remains forever unchanged: Rarely, if ever, do we toss our finished bowl of guacamole into the deep fryer before serving. 

That's all out the window -- literally, as in the food pick-up window at the Chicken Charlie's booth -- at the 2015 Los Angeles County Fair. The guacamole shall, in fact, meet the deep fryer at Chicken Charlie's, and avocado aficionados shall experience a gooey ball of greenness that's enswathed in a crispy battery crust.

We're fairly sure that no tortilla chips will be required, unlike 99% of the guacamole-eating experiences out there. What will accompany this LA County Fair exclusive, though? Ranch dressing.

As in, a dip for what is essentially a dip. 

The answer is "yes!" to the question that should be asked right here: "Is this a great country or what?" We mean... dip for your dip. Food pairings clearly have just leveled up.

Chicken Charlie's deep-fried guacamole isn't the only debuting, exclusive-to-the-fair treat of the Pomona-based extravaganza. The famous fry-'em-up booth is also doing a Spicy P&J Burger -- contemplate that for a few minutes, if you must -- and a chicken & waffles dished that arrives enswathed in bacon.

Yes, good eye, we did use "enswathed" twice, because that is exactly how many edibles arrive upon your paper plate at what's called "the largest county fair in the country." The food is often fully enswathed in meat or batter or cookie crumbs or some combo of the three or sky's the limit.

And we don't experience a lot of elaborate enswathing in our day-to-day dining, as a rule. 

If you're intrigued, and ready to go guac in a way you never dreamed, get ready: The LA County Fair is on from Sept. 3 through 27, most days of the week.

Here's your schedule and portal to all of this year's snacks.

Photo Credit: LA County Fair]]>
<![CDATA[AFI FEST Opener: Buzzy Pitt + Jolie Pitt Film]]> Mon, 31 Aug 2015 17:48:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/bytheseaafi1.jpg

Everyone knows there are times of the year when Hollywood looks especially Hollywood-y, in all of its mythic, flashbulbs-a-poppin', star-perfect glamour. 

Oscar time qualifies here, for sure, but we may go out on a limb — or perhaps cinema balcony is more apt — and say that AFI FEST also brings a notable Hollywood-ness to Hollywood, and for a longer period of time, too.

This isn't to say that the dear Academy Awards aren't downright opulent and storied, but the November AFI FEST presented by Audi runs for well over a week and those flashbulbs are poppin' each and every night, and the red carpet is doing its iconic, shoe-cushioning thing, and the whole stretch of the boulevard feels as starry as the sky above the TCL Chinese Theatre's famous green rooftop.

Thursday, Nov. 5 will get a whole lot starrier when the Opening Night Gala film of the 2015 festival has its world premiere at the most famous movie theatre in the world. It's the just-announced "By the Sea," and if you think you know it, you know it, because its screenwriter and director is Angelina Jolie Pitt.

Ms. Pitt also stars in the film, alongside her husband Brad Pitt. 

It is, thus far, the only announced film on the 2015 schedule, but more'll tumble down the Tinseltown turnpike in the weeks ahead. And then, that most magical day of all arrives, Monday, Oct. 26, when the free general seating tickets open up for all films playing during AFI FEST.

Ah yes; every seat is free, to every movie, if you are lucky and nab one, thanks to the festival's Audi partnership. It's tradition, it's anticipated like all get-out, and it is a nicety that infuses a sense of come-one-come-all hometown-a-tude into the movie business's hometown.

Of course, there are passes available now, for purchase, which give the pass holder a buffet of excellent extras.

What other movies will have their premieres? What other movies will get the buzz? And is there a more red-carpet-y time of year on Hollywood Boulevard? 

Okay, Oscars, for sure, you rule in that corner. But AFI FEST truly kicks off that award season run, and with some mondo star power under its Hollywood hood.

The 29th AFI FEST unfurls from Nov. 5 through 12. 

Photo Credit: By the Sea]]>
<![CDATA[Blue Bell: Texas Icon Returns (and Soon to LA)]]> Mon, 31 Aug 2015 16:31:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/BlueBell-returns.jpg

Regional foodstuffs occupy a special place in many hearts. Not just the hearts of those who have call the region home, of course, but also those who once called the area home and miss the distinctive flavors and sweets they came to know and love.

Even those who never lived in a place can love a particular libation or treat. Look at the popularity of Faygo pop (Michigan) or Blue Sky soda (New Mexico) or the beloved Blue Bell Ice Cream, as much as staple of a Lone Star childhood as learning all the lyrics to "Deep in the Heart of Texas."

But Blue Bell buffs got some hard news last springtime: All of the Brenham-based company's cold treats were to be pulled from the shelves, due to listeria concerns.

Fans took to social media to wish Blue Bell well, to bemoan facing the heat of summer without the popular brand in the freezer, and to see when it would return.

The much-anticipated return came at the very close of August, at least around Texas and into Alabama, where Blue Bell is back for sale. Which means that those people who dig digging into a carton of ice cream in the dog days can still get their Blue Bell summer experience for 2015, as least for a few days more.

There's a handy map, in fact, helping people track the treat's return.

As for where to find it, and when, around Los Angeles? Blue Bell wasn't available in Southern California until fairly recently (there was, in fact, a now-inactive Facebook page rallying for the Texas treat to make its way West to the Golden State).

Whipp'd, which has a Huntington Beach location and one in West Hollywood, serves a wide assortment of Blue Bell flavors, but it'll be "a couple of weeks" yet, per management at the Huntington Beach location, before they'll be back scooping the good stuff.

The OC shop also revealed that the restaurant has been fielding "calls all day" for a number of weeks now. On the other end? People wanting to know when their Blue Bell would be back.

Fans will also want to keep an eager eye on L.B. Cool Treats, which is located inside Randolph's Smoke House on Central Avenue. The ice cream shop also serves Blue Bell, but a message says it is closed, temporarily, due to the springtime recall.

Few regional snacks have achieved the superstardom that Blue Bell has built for itself over the last century-plus. Thank goodness we can find it around California, and thank goodness those people who once called Texas home, or Alabama or Mississippi or one of the areas where Blue Bell is a favorite, will soon find the flavorful goodie once again.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[The Srirachelada: Angel City's Spicy New Sip]]> Mon, 31 Aug 2015 13:53:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/229*120/sriracheladaangelcity1.jpg

Part of moving in with a roommate, or falling in love with someone and deciding to share an address, is nervously revealing the strange food combos you regularly consume behind the closed kitchen door.

And while a lot of people might cock an eyebrow over ketchup paired with oatmeal — or, hmm, maybe not — nobody, anywhere, has any valid complaints to make about how Sriracha is used and how much of it gets used in a single go.

It's the unscathable squeeze bottle, beloved and fiercely fan-protected, and people have even been known to pour the iconic condiment right into their suds.

Angel City Brewery, recognizing a good duo when they taste it, is helping out Sriracha + suds people with a new limited release now on store shelves.

It's the Srirachelada, and if you're wondering if this libation is a lot like a Michelada, complete with Worcestershire sauce, well, we'll unhand our Sriracha bottle and give a big ol' spicy-fingered high-five. Michelada, you're a smooth summer sip, but you've got a flavorful cousin that's ready to compete.

There's lime juice, too, in the Srirachelada, and agave, and other piquant additions, like pickled banana pepper juice. (Oh, ear squelch. Is there anything more potent than reading the words "pickled banana pepper juice" for summoning an instant tickling of your taste buds and the area around your ears?)

You can now find the bottled brew at the Angel City Public House, or around town on various shelves.

But will you add even *more* Sriracha to your Srirachelada? Look, no judgment. We all like what we like, in the food and beverage department of life. And a whole lot of people dig the green-and-red bottles made in Irwindale (and what's inside them, of course).

The fact, though, that the pepper-packed condiment is now showing up in other edible, drinkable products should bolster any Sriracha buff's love of their favorite squeeze, as if devoted Sriracha love could be pushed any further.

Here's how Angel City's doing it:

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Angel City/Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[$1.31 Scoop: Baskin-Robbins Deal]]> Mon, 31 Aug 2015 10:32:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/march31baskin123.jpg

If you spent the final weekend of August hiding in a cool, dark cave -- or, perhaps, on your couch with Netflix, which is similar in spirit -- then you were practicing a time-honored Southern California tradition, the tradition of waiting out the predictable and uncomfortable blast of heat that comes near the close of summer.

Or at least the traditional summer season, which wraps with Labor Day. And we can wave a fiery farewell to the heat wave, on Aug. 31, with an ice cream cone in each of our hands. Make that an ice cream cone that was procured for not a lot of cash. 

That it's Aug. 31 should be a hint to the company behind this deal. You're right, it is Baskin-Robbins, and the famous 31-Flavors-a-torium is honoring Aug. 31 and summer and hotness and ice cream's ability to make us feel chillier with a $1.31 per scoop deal. 

The Massachusetts-based chain has several Southern California outlets, spots sure to see a few queues on Monday, Aug. 31, because of the heat and because it is a Monday, and Mondays=dessert enjoyment. 

It's true. Look it up in any book about staving on the Monday blues. You're bound to see recommendations involving ice cream.

The deal will continue on every 31st day of the month for the remainder of the year, which just happens to be the ice-creamery's 70th anniversary. That means you have Halloween and New Year's Eve to score your $1.31 scoop, though candy and bubbly, if you're a grown-up, may take precedence on those dates.

Of course, there is tax atop that $1.31, so stash a few extra coins. Good? Good.

So better get your dessert-y deal in on Aug. 31, when the heat is still high and Monday is still Mondaying. Want to find a shop near you? Follow the scent of Rocky Road or Mint Chocolate Chip this way.

Photo Credit: Baskin-Robbins]]>
<![CDATA[Happy 60th, Gumby! Citrus College Fetes an Icon]]> Sun, 30 Aug 2015 11:09:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/gumbyGettyImages-74017329.jpg

The middle of the last century saw a plethora of playthings that could bend and twist and easily amble down a staircase, one stair at a time. A trio of toy titans, all ending in the letter -y, whimsically enough, went on to become classics of a child's playroom.

And while we adore Slinky and Silly Putty, only Gumby has got a smile, a horsey pal named Pokey, and a complete mythology that, in many ways, resembles and satirizes and pays homage to our human world.

Citrus College in Glendora, recognizing, as many of us do, his sheer superstardom, will pay homage to Gumby in honor of his 60th anniversary. 

That's right: Gumby is going full museum, as in the Hayden Memorial Library Art Gallery, for a month-plus run.

The dates are Tuesday, Sept. 1 through Friday, Oct. 16, and the icon-awesome show will include a wealth of Gumbyology, including "original stop-motion puppets, sets, props, and archive photos," images that "cover the rich 60-year history of Clokey Productions/Premavision," the company behind the green dream that is Gumby.

Joe and Joan Clokey are the benefactors behind the sweet exhibit. Art Clokey, Joe Clokey's dad, the man who brought Gumby to a grateful world, also created the kid's classic "Davey and Goliath." 

If strolling the aisles of the gallery leaves you greedy for more Gumbying, get back to Citrus College from Friday, Sept. 18 through Sunday, Sept. 20. The Citrus College Gumby Fest Stop Motion Festival will include screenings, a 60th birthday bash for Gumby at 4 p.m. on Saturday, emerald-hued collectibles, and a number of free panels featuring speakers knowledgeable in the art of stop motion as well as kidly television.

Joe Clokey will also be on the grounds, presenting "Gumby Through the Years."

And, yes, you know your TV history: Gumby and Pokey were, at first, small-screen superstars before they made their successful way to the toy aisles of the nation. So to cast them as toys, among the other bendy favorites of the 1950s, isn't the full story. 

But, like Slinky and Silly Putty and the mid-century marvels that we still not only recognize but treasure today, Gumby made the perfect plaything for the age of optimism. We think of his big grin, and we picture him having adventures with Pokey at his side, and in general serving as a sweet ambassador of another more innocent age, one that still possesses clay-cool cred.

Any person anywhere who doesn't immediately shout out his name, complete with exclamation point on the end, upon encountering his image, whether it is on a toy shelf or on a movie screen or at a festival or in a gallery, might need to reconnect with their childhood spirit.

Wait, though. Does such a person exist? The person who doesn't shout Gumby's name, gladfully and gleefully? Regardless if they're currently a kid, or were a kid when the pliant-of-limb legend made his "Howdy Doody" debut? We're dubious. 

Happy 60th, Gumby. We'll never not greet you with the fizzy excitement you have long earned as one of the cutest characters on the shelf.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fifth Sunday: $1 Sips at 1933 Bars]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 00:29:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/BigfootLodgeDarkandStormy1933Group.jpg

Some of us prefer mustard on our burgers, while some like spicy relish. Others are avowed night people, and some of us get up with the first songbird of the day. And everyone, everywhere, takes their fancy coffee drink just a little bit more individually than the next guy in line.

But here's a truth: When a strange date rolls around on the calendar, one where the numbers line up sequentially (date, month, year, all in order), or dates can be written backward and frontward, palindrome-style, or numbers repeat within the date, well, you can set your clock by it: Social media goes completely calendar-mad.

Which just may happen, again, on Saturday, Aug. 29 and Sunday, Aug. 30. You don't get a lot of months boasting a fifth weekend, and the semi-rarity of this has inspired the people at the 1933 Group, the company behind character-filled bars like Bigfoot Lodge and Sassafras, to toast the fifth weekend with a drink special.

To be clear on the date and time, the one-dollar drink deal — that's right, one buck on particular beverages — is reserved for the close of the weekend. It's on from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 30 at nearly all of the 1933 locations around town, including Oldfield's, Thirsty Crow, La Cuevita, Sassafras, both Bigfoot Lodges (original and West), and Harlowe.

The libations have been hand-picked ahead of time, so if you land at Oldfield's you'll enjoy an Old-Fashioned and if you head for La Cuevita you sip a Mas Mula.

And, we imagine, you and your deal-appreciating pals will sip your fancy cocktails while you discuss anomalies of the calendar and phases of the moon and how we all go wild when we see a digital clock showing 12:34:56 as the time of day.

Don't we all love that though? It's one of life's most simple pleasures, a surprise 12:34:56 sighting.

As for August 2015 boasting a fifth Monday, which it does, well, what can we say? Except social media may not go as bonkers over the prospect of an unusual Monday vs. an unusual weekend.

Oh, Monday. What can we do to raise your profile? We know you try. Keep on being you.

Photo Credit: 1933 Group]]>
<![CDATA[Bathtub Girl Meets Luke Bryan: 'I Love Him']]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 17:42:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Ava_Finley_Luke_Bryan.png

A little girl struggles to say who she loves and her dad couldn't make out the words. 

The two-year-old professed her love to country singer Luke Bryan during bath time. The video of the father-daughter episode went viral, followed by an in person meeting with the superstar. 

As Ava Finley took a bath last year, the toddler began babbling with her dad Jonathan Finley and he started shooting video of her chatter. At first, he didn't know exactly what she was talking about. 

"A little bunny? You look funny?" he asked. 

What the little girl from Calera, Ala. was trying to tell her father was — Luke Bryan! Her pronunciation was a little tough to make out.

"I love him!" she exclaimed.

Ava became a Bryan fan after listening to his music with her aunts. "Play It Again" is her favorite song. 

Ava's mom first shared the video on her personal Facebook page last year. After being nudged by friends, she posted it to Twitter in April of this year and tagged Bryan, who eventually saw the video and retweeted it. His record label got in contact with the Finleys and invited them to a concert and meet-and-greet this year.

"She is really shy around people she doesn’t know. I was kind of afraid she would chicken out," said Ava's mom Adrian Finley. 

Dressed up in her cowboy boots and a white bow, Ava finally met Bryan before his concert in Atlanta on Aug. 23. Upon seeing her, Bryan scooped up Ava and gave her a big hug. He shared the moment on his Facebook page. 

"She was even cuter in person," Bryan wrote.

Photo Credit: Adrian Finley
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<![CDATA[Tinseltown Tastes: Sunset & Dine]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 11:29:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/sunsetanddinemelodiesimond.jpg

People who don't call Southern California home require at least three seconds, perhaps four, before they give the outrageously surprising opinion that Angelenos rather like their automobiles.

True that; we're kind of crazy over cars here. And of the many offshoots of this auto-obsessiveness is an obsessiveness over particular streets and intersections, the places where our beloved wheels roll.

Sunset & Vine is one of our best-known local street meet-up spots, thanks to two iconic thoroughfares, some landmarks within hollering distance (hello, Cineramadome), and a bustling food and bar scene.

That bustling food and bar scene thrums each day of the year, pretty much, but the chefs and mixologists and people who help make the district so vibrant pause each September to salute their iconic intersection, and the eats found nearby, at Sunset & Dine.

The yearly gourmand gathering isn't just exclusive to the food-makers in the area, however. The public can buy tickets, to see what the toque-wearing food artists of the area are up to in their kitchens.

The date and time? The evening of Thursday, Sept. 24. The price of a ticket? Twenty five bucks. The place? Well, it isn't exactly on Sunset & Vine, but a stroll that's just a couple of minutes to the south: Buzzfeed Motion Pictures at De Longpre Avenue and Vine Street. 

The participants? Beso, Urban Masala, Los Balcones, Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop, and Ciabatta Bar will be on the grounds, doing the food-on-plates, chatting-with-people thing. Yep, even McDonald's will be in the house (it's located just a pinch south of Sunset & Vine). The live tunes and goings-on will be hand-picked by Amoeba Music -- also a Sunset & Vine neighbor -- and Buzzfeed.

Beverages will be a part of the bash as well.

How well do you know one of Southern California's most storied intersections? A famous meeting of two famous streets? And, while you adore your auto, do you ever pull over and park, the better to enjoy a bowl of past or kebob or salad or sandwich?

This is your moment to get a full sense of the full swath of meals, and their makers, right in that busy Hollywood hub.

Photo Credit: Melodie Simond]]>
<![CDATA[A La Carte Good Times: LA Food & Wine]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 08:08:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_113265007.jpg

When you're sitting at a friend's house, at the dining room table, and you've got your napkin tucked into your collar, like a proper and considerate guest, is your feeling total excited anticipation?

Of course it is, though you may feel a pinch of nerves about being overwhelmed by too many dishes, too many flavors, and too much need to please your pal by finishing every last bite, down to the dessert. 

The Fifth Annual Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival understands the total excitement and that pinch of "am I in over my stomach"-ness that ever foodie can feel. In that spirit, the annual late-summer savor-it-up party goes a la carte, which just means that you can have your dessert and eat it too and skip everything else, if that's your desire.

Or you can have the whole varied meal that is the festival, is you so choose. It runs for several days, through Sunday, Aug. 30, it spotlights several star chefs, like Neal Fraser and Freddy Vargas, and it sets up shop in three areas of Southern California, downtown, Beverly Hills, and Hollywood.

So you only want to do the Beers & Bites Seminar on Saturday, Aug. 29? That's more than fine. Or you want to call upon the Lexus Grand Avenue Night Market on Friday, Aug. 28? The world is your oyster, or the bivalve of your choice.

If a la carte-ing doesn't quite sate all of your Food & Wine longings, hang tight; The Taste, the annual food bash from the LA Times, is coming up over Labor Day Weekend, in Hollywood.

Truly late August and early September is a boon time for those people who look forward to meeting chefs and sampling sparkling wines and dining on dim sum, all in a festival setting, all around Southern California.

It's all excited anticipation, and very few worries about being overwhelmed. Though whether you tuck your napkin into your collar, as you dig into various gourmet treats, is your choice. That's totally etiquette, surely? If not, it feels like a fine accessory at a festival, which can involve so many eager tastes that your shirt can sometimes look a bit worse for wear (read: splotchy) at the end. 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Draw Your Portrait on a Lemon, Get Lemonade]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 12:15:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/219*120/lemonadefallenfruit.jpg

Sketching and painting fruit is a time-honored discipline, one that shows up again and again throughout the history of art. Fruit on the vine and fruit in bowls and people snacking upon various peelable foodstuffs have served as principal subjects for watercolorists for centuries.

Then there's actually drawing upon fruit, as in taking a ballpoint pen and pressing it to a banana peel. Studies, if such studies were done, would likely show that anyone who has sat at a table with a pen and a peel-thick fruit within reach has likely gotten up to some artistic mischief involving both.

That peel-as-canvas whimsy will be out in full fruitastic force on Saturday, Aug. 29 when Fallen Fruit calls upon the Central Library. You know Fallen Fruit -- this is the art-minded, community-sweet organization that plans happenings around things that grow on trees, fruit tours, vines that hang over public property, and such -- and you know, like other Fallen Fruit events, this one will be tart.

Very tart: The lemon is the star. As are you. Visit the Central Library's Maguire Gardens, chat with the Fallen Fruit people, choose a lovely sunny-bright lemon, and draw a portrait.

Not any portrait, mind you, but your own. As in your beautiful face. On a lemon. Complete with your freckles or the mole below your nose or your thick eyelashes or your chin dimple.

Lemonade Stand is "a public participatory artwork" and there's a sweet payment at the end for your portrait: A glass of organic lemonade.

Will all the lemon portraits be presented together? Indeed, as a way of "illustrating some of the archetypes that construct community." In addition to drawing portraits on lemons, and sipping lemonade, attendees can add to the larger story of the day by offering advice on what to do "when life gives you lemons."

Make lemonade, of course, but not before drawing your own fabulous face on the bumpily, knobby, sunshine-pretty peel of the famously tart fruit.

Photo Credit: Fallen Fruit]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend: LA Craft Beer Crawl]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 10:16:49 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/labeercrawl221221.jpg

LA Craft Beer Crawl: Los Angeles has a knack for topping particular "best of" and "most famous" lists, but we've spent a few years watching our nearest/dearest state siblings get a lot of the country's fancy beer love (full marks, San Francisco and San Diego). Things are a-changin', though, and LA is climbing the craft beer charts, with gusto. Look to The Beer Chicks and 213 Nightlife's annual craft beer celebration, which takes place at seven well-heeled bars and includes dozens upon dozens of breweries and beers. It's all downtown, meaning you can walk between locations and catch Metro home. Saturday, Aug. 29

Final Dance Downtown: Labor Day Weekend must be on the horizon -- and so it is, in like a week, spoiler alert and so forth -- because a lot of the summer series are starting to back up their proverbial cars and load up the trunks with all the stuff they brought. Dance Downtown, that free every-other-Friday dance night at Music Center Plaza, is calling it a year on Friday, Aug. 28. The theme is samba, there shall be lessons, and the fun of shaking it outdoors. Everyone loves it, or a whole lot of people do, and that's the truth. 

16th Annual Elvis Festival: Tribute artists that pay loving and heartfelt tribute to The King will forever amaze and astound, not just in terms of their silky vocals but also their commitment to rocking Presley-style jumpsuits and pompadours. Admire a whole caboodle of these guys and ladies in Costa Mesa when the Orange County Market Place hosts a full day of "Jailhouse Rock"-y treats. Do you do Elvis well, too? Best don his iconic pinky rings and fabulous look before pulling up in your customized Caddie. Sunday, Aug. 30

Lemonade Stand: Squeeze yourself -- or pour, if you like -- into your favorite sunny yellow outfit and make for the Central Library for a day of sunshine-good sippability. Fallen Fruit is the host of this fun confab, which involves you drawing "a self-portrait onto a lemon" and then being handed a glass of lemonade. Is it organic? You betcha. Is this all highly whimsical? For sure. Are there some storytelling aspects to it and a caboodle of community? Oh so much. Saturday, Aug. 29

Outdoor Movies: No one is nudging you in this direction, but considering that Labor Day Weekend is on the horizon -- as was mentioned earlier -- one must also consider that the alfresco film scene will say adieu sooner than later. The big series keep on keepin' on, though, with Street Food Cinema presenting three films in three locales -- "Cruel Intentions," "Jurassic Park," and "Beetlejuice" -- and Eat|See|Hear will visit "Reservoir Dogs" via Griffith Park. Has your favorite blanket or chair not met a lawn yet this summer? Have you not enjoyed a taco while watching a classic? There's still time, cinephiles. Saturday, Aug. 29

Sunday Funday: People can bet a mite brunchy come Sunday, or make that majorly brunchy, 'round Southern California, thanks to the oodles of eateries that do up omelets and bacon and mimosas and more. dineLA, the Restaurant Week foodies, and FXX are pairing up on a big brunch push on Sunday, Aug. 30, all in honor of the season premiere for "You're the Worst." Seven bruncheries will offer sumptuous brunch deals for twenty five bucks a pop (think Love & Salt, The Church Key, Wildcraft, and more). Is this your jam? Find your brunch. 

Photo Credit: LA Beer Crawl]]>
<![CDATA[Mesmerizing: Pelagic Red Crabs at San Miguel]]> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 18:02:27 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/pelagiccrabs_jeffharris.jpg

Many a Californian regularly heads out to Channel Islands National Park to enjoy some fine weather, savor a quiet beach, watch the sea birds, and admire a nearly unchanged landscape of soft hills and chaparral and sand and oak.

Sometimes, though, the visitors to the Ventura-close islands are a bit more unexpected than a backpacker out for a day-long hike. Take, for example, the many pelagic red crabs spied near San Miguel, the most westerly of the five islands in the national park.

Jeff Harris, a researcher for the National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Washington State, captured, via camera, a whole profusion of the exquisite crustaceans just beneath the waves.

In a word? It's mesmerizing.

Though wait: Is "profusion" a big enough word for what we see in the video? A group of crabs is called "a cast," if you want to use official terms, though "a caboodle" or "a boatload" or "a beachful" could easily apply here.

Mr. Harris revealed that he filmed the crabs "two weeks ago" and that they've been in the area "all summer."

Pause your marveling, though, to marvel at this: The cast of crabs wasn't merely on a holiday to San Miguel Island, the sort of vacation many outdoors enthusiasts try and fit in every year. No less than El Niño-type conditions may have been their ticket up to the Channel Islands.

The U.S. National Weather Service Los Angeles/Oxnard posted that the pelagic red crabs "have ventured north to our waters due to warmer ocean water," a major El Niño sign. The Channel Islands Facebook page also made mention of the El Niño and both organization noted that the crabs typically call the waters off Mexico home.

Want to make like a crab and visit San Miguel? There aren't daily boats out to the far island, like there are with Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands, but Island Packers, a Ventura-based company, does plan occasional boat trips to the rarely visited burg.

Pelagic Red Crabs

Researcher Jeff Harris from the National Marine Mammal Laboratory shot this video of pelagic red crabs (Pleuroncodes planipes) off San Miguel Island. These crabs are usually found in Mexico. However, during warmer water periods like El Nino they venture up to the Channel Islands. Learn more at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleuroncodes_planipes

Posted by Channel Islands National Park on Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Photo Credit: Jeff Harris]]>
<![CDATA[Broad Museum: Advance (Free) Tickets Announced]]> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 13:59:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/broadnightiwanbaan.jpg

Museum openings, especially the debuts of those institutions that forgo admission, can be funny things, at least 'round Southern California.

In short: Everyone wants to go right away, seemingly, the moment the doors are unlocked for the first time.

Surely that free entry is an attractive, crowd-drawing bonus, but when the museum's construction has been in the news for months and even years, the anticipation, and the gotta-see-it-now-ness, is definitely ratcheted up among all museum mavens.

Look to The Getty Center, which saw a wave of visitors during its early days back in '97 and 1998. We could all see it up on the hill there; now we had to get inside it. 

It's a good thing to take into consideration as you approach visiting The Broad Museum for the first time. Also free -- save parking, like The Getty Center, but more on that in a moment -- and it is readying for its Sept. 20th opening with an early way to secure tickets.

Starting on Monday, Aug. 31, advance reservations may be made online at the contemporary art museum's web site. Again, this is a free ticket, but you'll need a ticket to go, and simply showing up any time in late September, and probably well into the fall, may mean disappointment.

Timed tickets are set to every half hour, so perhaps have a specific time in mind, and day, before pursuing.

The Broad also announced hours and what days it'll be open. A six-day weekly run is the plan, with Mondays off. As for parking? It's twelve bucks for three hours on weekdays, and twelve bucks on weeknights and weekends (all evening long and all day long, respectively). Find the lot below the museum.

As for what's to see inside the much-buzzed-over institution founded by lauded collectors Eli and Edythe Broad? The behind-the-scenes on-view vault is piquing lots of interest, and the extraordinary pieces that'll dot the front of the house are full of acclaimed artists and wowza pieces. Yayoi Kusama's "Infinity Mirrored Room," a surreal space filled with reflections and lights, is one artwork making headlines.

Ready to book, eager, art-loving SoCalers? Sign onto The Broad's site on Monday, Aug. 31 after 10 o'clock in the morning and book that free admission to LA's newest cultural wonderland.

Will the happy visitor logjam slow? Probably eventually, as it does for all places. But look to The Getty Center, which experienced its own mega crowds back in '97. Some eighteen (!) years on, it still thrums busily with first-timers, repeat fans, and members who visit weekly.

Call it the eternal staying power of great art and great ideas.

Photo Credit: Iwan Baan]]>
<![CDATA[National Dog Day: Californians Heart Their Canines]]> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 15:58:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/poochshutterstock123.jpg

A major sign that National Dog Day has romped into view, as it does each and every Aug. 26, is that you'll see a lot of cuddly, kissable photos of puppies on whatever social media sites you regularly visit. 

That's how you'll know. Er... wait. Isn't approximately 87% of social media comprised of kissable photos of puppies every single day of the year?

Is that percentage too low? Maybe 90%?

So, upon reflection, that is absolutely not how one remembers that National Dog Day has arrived.

And, let's be even more honest: Every day is National Dog Day to your dog, because that's how pups operate. Life is good and worth celebrating, around the clock, for her. (Don't you ever dare explain what a clock is to your dog, because we suspect that not being beholden to a schedule is, in part, what makes pups so blissful.)

There are a few ways to mark the day, however (yes, we said "mark," which has a different meaning in the world of dogs, so thank you for noticing). You can buy your barker an extra special treat or new leash or toy; Southern California is rife with big dog stores and indie dog stores, too. Needless to say, the breadth of what's available for dogs nowadays goes well beyond the beef-flavored jerky treat.

You can adopt a dog, if you've been thinking about it. How great would your adoption story be, for years to come, if you could reveal that you and your furry one met on National Dog Day?

You can mark -- there, we went and did it again, using "mark," heh -- dog events on your calendar. The Surf Dog Surf-a-thon in Del Mar and Strut Your Mutt in Exposition Park are both galloping this way, as fast and as charmingly as a golden retriever with a slobbery tennis ball in his mouth.

And you can peruse surveys like the one just released by treat maker Milo's Kitchen. California was determined to be the most "Dog Happy" state in the union, surprise surprise (read: no surprise). The methodology included asking dog people about "grateful behaviors" and "loving behaviors" and such.

How will you celebrate with your canine? Cuddly lap time? Will you scroll together through the many puppy photos currently puppying-up social media? 

Currently and every day, of course. Truly, is the internet comprised mostly of baby dogs sitting in wicker baskets and wearing bows? Someone lift the lid on this technology, look inside, and find out for sure.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[A Caboodle of Elvises: Kingly OC Fest]]> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 21:58:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ocelvis2014ElviandElvisina.jpg Tribute artists and swooning fans'll love on the croon, in Costa Mesa.

Photo Credit: OC Market Place]]>
<![CDATA[New: The Banana Pudding Cupcake]]> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 17:52:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/magnoliabananapudding12345.jpg

How popular is the banana? Spectacularly popular, which is no shocker, considering that the sunshine-hued fruit has true a-peel to one and all.

Fact: You can't write about the banana without slipping an "a-peel" joke in somewhere. You've also got to use the word "slipping" as well, because slipping and bananas=comedy gold.

We don't make the rules.

Nor do the shops and eateries that serve banana-flavored goodies. The popular fruit has multiple national food holidays each year -- April 15 for Banana Day, Aug. 25 for Banana Split Day, and Aug. 27 for Banana Lovers Day -- and places that do a lot of mashing for their meals like to celebrate the kitchen's most famously dangle-able fruit. (Truly -- bowls and bananas are seen more rarely in these days of pre-made banana hangers.)

Magnolia Bakery will pause to mark the Aug. 27 banana bash with a special cupcake spin: The Banana Pudding Cupcake, a creation that comes complete with a Nilla wafer, sweet banana curd, and something on top called "banana pudding cream," which might actually be the three most soothing words to ever appear in a row.

Wait, did we lose you? Are you already queued outside the West Third Street pastry shop? Because the siren call of "banana pudding cream" is too difficult to resist?

Well hang tight -- as tight as a banana bunch dangling from a pre-made banana hanger. The dates for The Banana Pudding Cupcake availability are Aug. 27 through 30.

There's some hashtagging and Instagramming and potential contest winning to be done, too, and an Aug. 27 deal with UberEats (it involves a free treat), so make your way to the Magnolia site to learn all.

Or just be there on National Banana Lovers Day, for a fruitastic spin on the traditional gooey cupcake. We're not sure if banana pudding is the very favorite food of many people, but for those who count it as their #1 must-eat, the last weekend in August will absolutely brim with a-peel.

We said it again. Shrug? Smiley face. 

Photo Credit: Magnolia Bakery]]>
<![CDATA[Free: Rooftop Cinema in Pasadena]]> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 09:06:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/pasrooftopcinema123.jpg

September can play out in many ways in the larger popular culture, from backpacks embroidered with kids' names to new lunchbox designs to apple cutouts decorating classroom windows.

Free alfresco films, however, are rarely part of the September scene. The whole watch-a-movie-outdoors series began to wrap and bid their fans adieu, if they haven't totally ended, by the time the ninth month of the year trundles into view. And few film series, if any at all, officially kick off when the temperatures begin to cool.

There is an asterisk, however: It's the free Rooftop Cinema series, in Pasadena, and the whole South Lake shebang doesn't even get going before the middle of September. It isn't a long deal -- just two Saturdays, in all -- and it isn't an expensive deal, being free.

"Free" is pretty inexpensive, yes? We can all agree there.

As for the movies? They're both a-ok'd for families, so haul the whole caboodle to the South Lake Avenue for "Avatar" on Saturday, Sept. 12 and "Tron: Legacy" on Saturday, Sept. 26.

It may give the back-in-school kids one final taste of summer's later nights spent playing in the out-of-doors. Remember when you were a kid and "a month ago" was basically equal to "ten years ago," time-wise? 

And we can stay outside later, even later into September, around Southern California, yes? Push summer stuff into early fall? True, the days start to get notably shorter, but the temperatures doesn't quite say "winter's coming" yet.

Still, arrive with a jacket or blanket. "A reclining beach chair" is fine for sitting, too, if you've got one.

"Avatar" plays at Pasadena Towers while "Tron: Legacy" alights at the Corporate Center. On-the-site artists, glitter tattoos, and more pre-movie merriment awaits.

And while Rooftop Cinema is notable for starting in September, keep in mind that other outdoor movie experiences keep on truckin' 'round these parts, straight into the heart of autumn. Look to Street Food Cinema and Cinespia and Eat|See|Hear for more September-screen, under-the-sky film goodness (admission does apply).

Photo Credit: Akiko Whalen]]>
<![CDATA[Happy 90th, Alex Theatre]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 18:43:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/221*120/alextheatreglendale90.jpg

Even the most casual scholar of the 1920s can confidently state a few true things about the year 1925.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" made its rather dazzling debut. Sears, Roebuck, and Company cut the proverbial ribbon on its very first brick-and-mortar location. And a starry spate of cinemas and theatrical venues opened in Southern California with a flourish and fanfare to spare.

The Highland Theatre unlocked its doors for the first time in March of that year, and The Fox Fullerton Theatre followed just a few weeks later. And then, in late summer? It was the Alex Theatre's turn, and the glorious Art Deco structure soon became synonymous with Glendale's cultural life.

The Highland and The Fox Fullerton both hosted springtime whoop-di-dos, in honor of their 90ths, and, The Alex is set to do the same. The stately theater is throwing a bash, complete with the vintage touches, to mark its first nine decades.

That means that attendees at the Friday, Sept. 4 gala gathering are invited to dress in bygone styles, but from the decade of their choice (so, no, you don't need to run out and grab a flapper dress).  

A silent auction is a staple of these sort of anniversary shindigs, and The Alex will host one, in addition to a raffle. 

There shall be a red carpet, there shall be dancing, there shall be vittles from local food-making specialists Anoush Catering, and there shall be the grand relighting of The Alex's iconic neon spire.

Random but honest question: Is The Alex's spire one of the go-to sights you pick out as a sign that you're in Glendale proper? Perhaps along with the hills and The Americana at Brand's retro tower? You can see that spire from a good distance away.

Tickets are $150 each and the money supports the Alex90 Fundraising Campaign. For sure, this campaign helps keep the theater rolling, and those in the community that love it play a vital role, too.

Perhaps some SoCalers remember when The Alex and The Fox Fullerton and The Highland all debuted back in '25. But for those of us who didn't see our first film there back in the middle of the 1920s, well, we can play at time travel for a night. 

Photo Credit: Alex Theatre]]>
<![CDATA[Treasures of the Waves: Surf Auction]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 12:55:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/217*120/boardsurfauction1.jpg

Every wave rider has her stories, from the day when the swells were 10- (or 20- or 50-) feet high to the that one time a dolphin swam up close to that one afternoon they bested a barrel.

And every wave rider knows that boards come with stories, too. Surfboards have seen some action, even newer boards that have only ever touched water on a dozen occasions. 

But what of those treasures made of balsa wood or fiberglass and resin, the ones that have seen the decades and hundreds if not thousands of occasions out on the ocean? The tales to tell almost vibe off these boardly beauties. And many such gems will go up for auction at the Vintage Surf Auction on Saturday, Sept. 26.

The scene is not the sand, but rather a few miles inland, in Culver City. And while surfboards'll surely be some of the stars of the day, there shall be items and memorabilia associated with surfing and La Vida Beach on the block as well. 

The theme? "California Gold," so count on the auction-ready goodies to reflect that, in spirit. 

As for the aforementioned "stars" of the auction? About 40 to 50 surfboards'll go to the highest bidders, boards that had their foam-awesome heyday decades ago (the auction'll cover the 1920s to the '80s, generally, so, for sure, you're going to see boards with a ton of wayback-a-tude).

The auction supports to organizations, The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and The Surfing Heritage & Cultural Center. Griff's Grooming & Barbering is the day's host.

And no stress if you don't nab a big board; a silent auction will cover hundreds of items, so you may leave with something that has a few memories of being on, near, or about the Pacific.

Not that surfboards or surf memorabilia can actually tell stories, in the way we can hear them, but if you put your ear to a board, and listen very carefully, you might imagine the long-gone barrels and breakers of yore.

Photo Credit: Griff's Grooming & Barbering]]>
<![CDATA[Mexican Curly Fries: LA Fair's Yummy Eats]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 10:23:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/rsz_juicys_mexican_curly_frieslafair.jpg

Fair food regret is a real and powerful force, one experienced by dozens, if not hundreds, of fair goers each county fair season. 

We don't speak of the regret of eating that third hot dog -- really, now, should you have ordered it, and with extra fried onions on top, too? -- but rather the feeling one gets as they exit the fair. Did they try all of the strange snacks? Were they adventurous enough, in the eating department?

Stow those regrets, if you had them at the recently wrapped OC Fair. You've got another chance to devour deep-fried everything, and a few highly weird 'n whimsical treats, when the Los Angeles County Fair debuts in Pomona on Friday, Sept. 4.

Yep, The Funnel Cake Burger will also pop up in Pomona, as it did in Costa Mesa -- think of two disc-shaped funnel cakes in the place where a bun would be -- and the Fried Peanut Butter Pickle will be gooey-ing up the sticky hands of fair foodies, too. And a Pig Trough option appeals to pork fans who like pork and a lot of it.

As for that much-talked-about Cinnamon Fireball Texas Donut? Which indeed contains whiskey and bananas and whipped cream? If you missed it on the midway at the OC Fair & Event Center, the dough-tastic creation will be for sale at the three-week September extravaganza, a party that's often called "the nation's largest county fair."

French fry fanatics, however, will likely skip the more dessert-centered snackage in favor of Juicy's Mexican Curly Fries, a ball-ish shape of fries topped with cheese and jalapenos and beans. 

Attendees will have hundreds of booth choices to choose from, with about 300 in all, but look for the lines at Chicken Charlie's and Juicy's and the places that coat vegetables and cookies and fruits in batter and throw 'em in bubbling oil.

If the beverage landscape is more your jam, take heart: Wine, beer, and spirit tasting shall also make a sippable stand, over in the Corks & Pints area.

What are your food regrets from Ventura and OC and San Diego? Even if you went to all of the local county fairs this summer, you probably left out one or two luscious treats. Time to make good, in Pomona.

The LA County Fair is on from Sept. 4 through 27, 2015. 

Photo Credit: LA Fair]]>
<![CDATA[Cop Dances to Cheer Up Sick Child ]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 03:47:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/173*120/breakdance.PNG

Officer Joe Marte knows how to put a smile on your face.

The San Francisco Police Department officer busted some serious moves to cheer up Colren Guerra, a cancer patient at UC Benioff Children's Hospital in San Francisco.

Marte's uniform didn't stop him from taking on the break dance challenge, right after Guerra showed off his skills. He came in on his day off to entertain Colten, who's a huge Incredible Hulk fan.

The 5-year-old from Brentwood has a 2.75 inch tumor in his kidney and doctors at UCSF diagnosed him with Stage 4 Neurblastoma Cancer that has spread to his hips, one leg, spine, kidney, some ribs, and shoulders.

Doctors started agressive chemotherapy on Feb. 14 and are hopeful of beating the cancer.

A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help Colten "Hulk" Guerra and his family with "medical expenses, daily expenses, and just love."

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<![CDATA[3,000 Spheres to Float at MacArthur Park Lake]]> Sat, 22 Aug 2015 08:20:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/floatingspheresmacarthur.JPG

Many things can float upon the surface of a lake. Boats, most famously, and swimmers, if they position themselves to keep prone and stare up at the sky, and the occasional piece of driftwood, too.

But seeing 3,000 enormous, inflatable, and eye-catching spheres take over an urban body of water is a tad more unusual. Unusual, though not entirely unlikely, for that's just what will officially launch on Saturday, Aug. 22.

That's the date that kicks off the four-week, highly visual run of The Spheres at MacArthur Park. There's nothing small about this art project, from the 10,000 volunteers who've spent the last few months dabbing colorful hues to the floating balls to the reason behind it.

And that reason? Giving youth an opportunity to "transform a cityscape."

The spheres have size, for sure -- they're 4-to-6 feet, so, yep, large-ish -- and 3,000 of them, give or take, will nicely fill the lake, which is about 8.39 acres.

This isn't a question from the SAT; the spheres'll fit nicely (though if you want to do the math in your head, go for it.)

Portraits of Hope, an organization which "conceives and develops one-of-a-kind motivational art projects," projects that serve as "creative therapy for hospitalized children and and civic education for all students." Several hospital patients were among the thousands of volunteers who gave their time to transform the vinyl balls into works of art.

If you're thinking you know Projects of Hope, and their beautiful and very on-the-street displays, you do: Tower of Hope, where Beverly Hills meets Century City, is a well-known work helmed by the group. (It's the flower-covered oil well that stands prominently alongside Olympic Boulevard.

The MacArthur Park spheres, given the nature and changeability of water, weather, and vinyl, won't last the same amount of time as The Tower of Hope, but the four-week presentation means a whole lot of people will get to see it, including many of the volunteers that did the painting.

As for the spheres? They'll be changed out, for fresh orbs, "every five days or so." After all the balls have done their spirit-raising, inspiring duty, they'll be donated to "schools, hospitals, and other organizations."

Which means that SoCalers may see the bright floatable artworks for years to come, starting in MacArthur Park and then, perhaps, in their own neighborhood. 

It's a come-together testament to communitiy, to long hours, and to the idea that some surprise pizzazz, via public art, can enhance our city, not just visually, but that-is-so-awesome-ly, too.

It's set to be a stunner of a sight, with the stark, tall lines of downtown's skyscrapers in the background contrasting with the color-pow roundness of the balls.

True, we called the spheres "enormous" earlier, but just to drive home the fact that these aren't the size of golf balls or even basketballs. They'll load up a large lake, easily.

MacArthur Park is at 2230 W. Sixth St.

bottom photo: illustration, Projects of Hope

Photo Credit: Portraits of Hope]]>
<![CDATA[FYF Fest: Get Fashion-Inspired]]> Fri, 21 Aug 2015 12:21:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/fyfGettyImages-177675680.jpg What's the look at the mondo alt-indie music weekend? Peek at past ideas before making for the LA Memorial Sports Arena and Exposition Park party.

Photo Credit: Matt Cowan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tickets on Sale: Clifton's Opening to Help LA Conservancy]]> Fri, 21 Aug 2015 08:00:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/cliftonssignsept.jpg

Fundraisers for major local organizations are often painted as lofty, grandiose affairs, the kind of soirees that come complete with violins and fancy ball gowns and canapés presented upon gleaming silver carts.

Rarely does a person picture queuing up with a cafeteria tray in such a setting. But that's about to change on Monday, Sept. 21, when Clifton's Cafeteria throws an opening night party that's set to double as a fundraiser for preservation organization the LA Conservancy.

The historic Broadway-based cafeteria has been shuttered for the better part of four years, undergoing extensive renovations, a full-scale refurbishment overseen by owner Andrew Meieran (he owns the sumptuously steampunky The Edison bar, located a few blocks away).

Those "extensive renovations" very much kept the woodland theme inside the '30s-era cafeteria. And, yes, it is still very much a cafeteria, complete with trays and the ability to see and select your own dishes before purchasing.

Dishes that will be lined up for tray wielders on Sept. 21, when Conservancy supporters and Clifton's fans and those excited to poke around for themselves will be in the house.

Tickets are $125, and a few VIP tickets remain.

A VIP ticket scores you a further peek at what's happening on the building's upper floors alongside Mr. Meieran. (The cafeteria's third and fourth floors will open a bit down the road.) Cost? Two hundred and fifty bucks, which also help out the LA Conservancy's programs and the organization's many help-our-history causes.

It's a big sign, as big as Clifton's iconic neon sign, that the Conservancy is so chuffed about this re-opening, and that the dynamic duo have teamed up for one big blowout of an opening night fundraiser. 

Not every refurbishment of every older building is met with joy and fanfare, of course, but the time, capital, and consideration that went into the spiffying up of Clifton's Cafeteria is meeting with a chorus of approval from those who closely watch what happens to our storied structures.

It turns out, too, that a cafeteria is a fine spot to host a fundraiser, no fancy ball gowns or tired tropes required. Of course, you can ball gown it up, if you choose, but considering that Clifton's Cafeteria's design style is Upscale Woodsy, a flannel dress or lumberjack boots might be more in theme.

Photo Credit: Clifton's Cafeteria]]>
<![CDATA[Apple-Up, LA: Mondo Cider Fest]]> Fri, 21 Aug 2015 13:02:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/applesciderGettyImages-129214286.jpg

Is it gauche or totally acceptable to jump-start autumn a few days ahead of the season's official debut?

It's a tricky question. We don't like to seeing holiday shows too early and we don't want springtime to arrive on Valentine's Day. But if there is a beverage involved, one that has a lot of history and hue and lovely, lovely depth, well, we'll call it fall a few days early.

And so shall be the crisp-flavored case on Saturday, Sept. 19 when LA Cider Fest rolls out the apples at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood. Well, proverbially, of course, as the apples will already be inside the libations flowing from the taps and jugs and bottles, vessels all brimming with cider-y goodness.

Is this the "adult" cider vs. the kind that comes alcohol-free, in a cozy, cream-topped cup? It is indeed, so feel free to call it "hard cider" if you wish. And please be 21 or over if you'd like to buy a ticket and attend.

Cider is on the up-and-up -- and-up-and-up-and-up -- in the beverage world, and the purveyors on the Raleigh Studios grounds, some 50 or so in all, will reflect the juicy breadth of the fruit-luscious form.

Eaglemount Homestead Cider, Julian CiderWorks, and Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse are just a trio of the top cider-makers that'll have their sippable wares out that day.

There are a few "Tasting Experiences," too, to select from, so if you're looking to have a more unique libation sensation, visit the area that puts the spotlight on the sweet ciders or perhaps the pavilion that's all about cider in the raw.

As for the organizers? Lauded local cider expert Mark McTavish of Half Pint Ciders is the honcho behind the gathering along with Hand Crafted Tasting Co., so count on true-blue cider aficionados to be in attendance. (Question: Are cider aficionados "true-blue" or more "true-golden," given the cider's typical warm character?)

As for the food? There shall be vittles there, the kind that lend oomph to apple-y flavors.

While we're dallying a bit with the calendar here, jump-starting fall a few days ahead of its actual Sept. 23 debut, ciderians should not dally when it comes to purchasing a ticket. The Early Bird entrances are already sold out, and other fans of the autumn-lovely beverage will snap up cider admissions faster than an apple falls from a tree.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rude Restaurant Server on Video]]> Thu, 20 Aug 2015 14:17:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/11137110_10152876011048299_1762192408383809822_n.jpg

Most Chicagoans know that when you go to the restaurant Ed Debevic’s you shouldn’t expect the nicest servers. In fact, you should prepare for incredibly rude ones.

But it appears that one exceptionally rude server at the restaurant has reached Internet stardom in a viral video posted to social media last week.

According to the video’s caption, a group of people in town for the Younique Convention decided to dine at the “interesting” restaurant, which they knew was known for its rudeness.

In the video, posted on Aug. 10 by LaNetta Limb Maxfield, a server is heard telling the group that she’d likely get fired if she was nice to them and called the patrons cheap.

“You know what grandpa, if I was nice to you, I’d get canned,” she said. “If you want good service, you go somewhere else. I know Hooters is probably more your speed, but you came here on purpose.”

The server is also heard telling a woman who ordered a Diet Coke, “I’d love to get you one, if it’ll shut you up.”

While the scene is a common one at the Chicago staple, the video has since been shared more than 82,600 times and received more than 4.4 million views.

Photo Credit: Ed Debevic's
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<![CDATA[Weekend: FYF Fest]]> Fri, 21 Aug 2015 13:11:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/fyfGettyImages-178139761+%281%29.jpg

FYF Fest: A certain desert-based music festival may garner the limelight in the springtime, but this growing-ever-bigger -- like really bigger -- in-town August extravaganza has the goods. Indie and alt artists and bands are at the LA Memorial Sports Arena and Exposition Park doing their song-filled, crowd-stoking thing. Dates: Saturday, Aug. 22 and Sunday, Aug. 23. Headliners? Kanye West, Morrissey, and Belle & Sebastian'll be on the main stage, along with more biggies. Way to get there? A) Metro, B) Metro, and C) walk (if you live within a few blocks). 

Frank Ocean was scheduled to be Saturday's headliner until FYF announced on Thursday that he chose to cancel his appearance "on his own terms," and Kanye West would be replacing him.

Nisei Week: The Little Tokyo celebration turned 75 this year, with martial arts demos, taiko drumming, and more. Two of the major happenings of this week-plus party are still to come over its final weekend, with the Day-Lee Foods World Gyoza-eating competition taking place on Saturday, Aug. 22 and the everyone-join-in Ondo dance, in the street, on Sunday, Aug. 23. It's part of the tradition-filled closing ceremony. Want to dance or make kid crafts or just see the revelries? There's so much going on, all weekend long.

LA Taco Festival: A cavalcade of food trucks are revving for an afternoon-long tortilla-tacular, complete with a bevy of different bites and a great beneficiary, too. The Saturday, Aug. 22 fundraiser helps out Jovenes, Inc. of Boyle Heights, an organization that helps homeless youths. It's free to get into the Grand Park to-do, but bring cash for your foodstuffs. Is there live music? Yes. Should we mention one more time this is in Grand Park, which is a newer location for the five-year-old fest? We shall.

Silent Disco: It's been a trend for a few months now, but the quiet-quirky dance movement looks like it is here to stay. A free dance night at the Music Center Plaza -- part of its Bring Your Own Dance Moves summertime dance series -- will unfurl on Friday, Aug. 21. Unfurl quirkily, let's add. Why? On-site DJs will send tunes directly to the headphones worn by dancers, meaning that no "aloud" music shall be played. Yep, you're intrigued. If you're really intrigued, arrive early to rent your headphones for five bucks.

Roaring Nights: The last of the summertime fun times are doing their final laps, and the LA Zoo's 18-and-over music evenings are no exception. The final Roaring Nights roars on Friday, Aug. 21, and the 1980s is the theme. That means you should come with your big hair and neon bracelets and you should be ready to play Galaga and dance to The Pac Men, the night's band. Will there be animal presentation and keeper talks? Oh, you bet: Beastie knowledge awaits. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Silent Disco Downtown: Quiet(ish) Dancing]]> Thu, 20 Aug 2015 12:59:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/silentdisco292382.jpg

Trends come, go, return, slip away again, pop back up, and typically charm we trend-laggers with the new and the novel and the now.

The trend-tastic notion of the "silent disco" has been thrumming, noiselessly, for a few months, but seeing it, and being a part of it, and actually shaking your stuff, still sparkles with cool cachet.

If you're brave enough to try it, that is. You essentially dance to the beat inside your own headphones, which will look, to headphone-less onlookers, as though you're swaying in silence.

Call it "polite partying" if you will -- there's almost no noise to speak of at the silent disco, save people talking -- and call it happening at The Music Center Plaza on Friday, Aug. 21.

The evening is free, but headphone rental is five bucks, and it is a first-come deal, so be among the first-comers, if you want to snag a pair. (You'll need to rent the headphones there, so the on-site DJ tunes can be pumped into your kit.)

It's the last evening in The Music Center's Bring Your Own Dance Moves summer series, by the by, at least the last for 2015. And definitely the most unusual. All the other Bring Your Own Dance Moves nights actually had the sort of music played aloud for a crowd, as has been tradition for, well, since people have danced to music in public.

A very long time, in short.

This won't be that scene in the slightest. Things'll get quite quiet on the Plaza, music-wise, while the crowd sways and dips to the sounds of onsite DJs. DJs Anthony Valadez, Platurn, Lefto, and Donaldson will be in the (roofless) house.

And, yes, you might have heard about this trend at various hotels, where some guests like to tuck into bed early on and not hear the club sounds thumping from the pool area or ballroom. The Hyatt Palm Springs ran a few "silent DJ" nights over the summer, and they're popping up elsewhere with more frequency/fun.

Is this the wave of the future? Dancers dancing without sound -- save the sound between their ears -- as headphone-free people in the vicinity hear not a note? It definitely can look like something from a sci-fi, from-the-future film, which only lends it cooler cred.

Photo Credit: Music Center]]>
<![CDATA[Zany Zoo Night: Games, Eats, '80s Tunes]]> Thu, 20 Aug 2015 08:22:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GL-RoaringNights15-Jenga.jpg

Many of us might have visited a zoo or animal preserve for the various first time in the 1980s. 

If you were a tot back in the Neon Decade, you also likely A) loved animal films (think "The Fox and the Hound") and B) wore Garanimals and C) dreamed of being a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle or Big Bird or maybe both.

So the fact that the 1980s are calling upon the LA Zoo, for a night of era-lively music and games and fashion, will make sense to anybody who grew up around then and is now a card-carrying adult (though maybe an adult who misses wearing Garanimals, of course).

It's '80s night at the Griffith Park-based animal park, on Friday, Aug. 21, which is officially the last of the summertime "Roaring Nights" events. These parties are 18-and-over, and there's a host of fun to be had even if many of the resident beasties are tucked up in bed.

The Pac Men shall provide the live tunes -- "big songs, big hair, and big fun" is the band's catchphrase -- and a "vintage game zone" will keep revelers busy (think Space Invaders, Galaga, Asteroids, Donkey Kong Jr., and such). Food trucks'll be in the (outdoor) house -- hello, Dogtown Dogs, India Jones, and Lobsta Truck (and moremoremore) -- and a full-service bar is ready for the over-21s in the crowd.

As for the furry ones who keep an address at the zoo? There shall be "up-close animal encounters," keeper talks, and a chance to visit various habitats, including the new jaguar area. Just keep in mind that many zoo animals catch some shut-eye once the sun goes down, though seeing some sweet faces is very much a possibility.

Last thing: Can you crimp your hair? Do the full-on bright blue eye shadow? Maybe break out a leg warmer, if it isn't too toasty? Eighties-style dress is the name of the game.

Call the night a fine chance to combine some childhood loves -- animals, and anything to do with animals -- with a decade you either grew up in or wished you had. 

Because let's be honest: The '80s kind of ruled. How else to explain the enduring popularity of the tunes and the styles and the neon and the hair out to there? Never go away, Neon Decade, please, not ever.

Photo Credit: Jamie Pham]]>
<![CDATA['Desirable' List: LA's #7 (out of 3,111 Counties)]]> Thu, 20 Aug 2015 08:38:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/labeachGettyImages-2778314.jpg

Crowing over the stunning natural beauty of your hometown or region, in a friendly and charming way, is the Californian's birthright.

Nobody wants to be humble about living in Humboldt County, among the redwoods, and there isn't a person on the Central Coast who would shrug, mildly, when asked about the gorgeousness of the pristine beaches.

No less than the Washington Post, with no less than the research-heavy backing by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has now officially condoned our charming, oh-so-California-style crowing. (Condoned with maps and figures, which, really, is the best way to condone anything.)

Washington Post reporter Christopher Ingraham published a mouse-able map plus article on Aug. 17, which is now making the viral rounds, about the natural amenities of every county in the United States. (A recent study looking at religion in nature-rich areas inspired Mr. Ingraham.)

"The natural amenities index," culled from data produced by the USDA, looks at "natural aspects of attractiveness" of a place, aspects that should be "constant and relatively immutable." The physical place itself was the crux of the study, and not changeable aspects, such as plant life or human occupants.

Factors were examined like "low humidity" and "topographic variation" and "mild, sunny winters" and more.

Ranked number one out of 3,111 counties? That would be Ventura County, right here in the Golden State. 

California, let it be said — or, let it be crowed, if you prefer — kind of took the cake home on this one: Mono County and Inyo County and Mendocino County all ranked near the top with "extremely high natural amenities," and every county performed average to extremely high.

As for Los Angeles County? We're #7 on the 3,111-county roster. San Diego County stands at #8, and San Francisco County? Big high-fives, you're #6.

A bevy of visitors bureaus and chamber of commerces, all representing various California counties, have taken to social media to do their own excited happy dance. Mono County Tourism posted its ranking -- #16 — on Facebook, with the suggestion that "(y)ou should seriously think about moving here... Like now!"

It's nice to be reminded of the good things that you've got where you live, as if Golden Staters needed more fodder to boast about. Boast charmingly, of course, and in a way that speaks to the gratitude of living among hill-framed sunsets and silky-sand deserts and sequoia trees.

How'd your county rank? Your best friend's county? Your ex? Your college town? You know you want to know.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Landmark Makes Lonely Planet Ultimate List]]> Wed, 19 Aug 2015 09:38:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/griffith1234GettyImages-72370591+%281%29.jpg

SoCalers can get a mite indignant, and even a touch huffy and/or puffy, when it comes to local lists that cover hot topics, from the best cupcakes to the best movie theaters to the best dog parks to the best anything.

But when it comes to a wider roster, one that covers the entirety of stunning sites located upon this vast Blue Marble, our huffy attitude dials down a bit as far as the inclusion of LA locales and their rankings go. We get proud and we get glad, glad to be standing among sights such as The Great Barrier Reef in Australia and Spain's Alhambra. 

Lonely Planet, those adventurous everywhere-on-earth explorers, has chosen a beloved local landmark for its Ultimate Travel list, a rundown that covers 500 must-see spots of great beauty and importance. 

That Los Angeles landmark? Griffith Observatory, as the photo above reveals. It came in at 466 on the list. (The LA Times kindly apologized to the Hollywood Sign for not making the cut, which seems a polite thing to do.)

The number one pick by the Lonely Planetists: The Temples of Angkor in Cambodia. 

The closest top-ranking pick to California: Grand Canyon National Park, which made the top ten cut at #6 (the only U.S. location to do so.) 

Yosemite National Park, Golden Gate Bridge, and Big Sur are also on the list, which includes man-made treasures in addition to natural wonders.

"Lonely Planet's Ultimate Travel" book from Lonely Planet debuts in October, but is available for pre-release. Want to go in-depth on the top five picks? There's a way to do that, via Lonely Planet's online pre-peek at the book.

Travel quietly in your armchair via the pages or debate with local friends other LA places that could have been contenders. It's good to have local pride, but local pride extends, of course, to our home planet as well.

Yay earth -- you're home to all 500 picks on the list.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Taco Festival Heads to Grand Park]]> Tue, 18 Aug 2015 17:40:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tacoaugust1234shutterstock.jpg

If the song of the taco, 'round about late August, has continually drawn you to Boyle Heights for a summer Saturday chowdown, turn your ear to downtown. Hear it? The LA Taco Festival is drawing you from a different direction, to its new location, a location that's in the very shadow of City Hall.

Well, there shall be no building-cast shadows from City Hall at high noon in Grand Park, the location of the mega taco party's fifth outing. Long a Boyle Heights shebang, the free-to-get-in LA Taco Festival is going Grand Park, and bringing a host of stuffed tortilla specialists along for the ride.

High noon arrives on Saturday, Aug. 22, the date of the festival, and the last tortilla shall be served at 7 p.m. The price to get in? It's free. The cost to eat tacos? Whatever the individual vendors charge.

Those vendors include La Barca Grill & Cantina, Danny's Tacos, Kogi, Chano's Tacos, and several more. And, yes, there shall be sweet-makers on the grounds, too, in case you need to end your taco consumption on a cupcake-y note. (Mmm... cupcake tacos could work, like everything to do with cupcakes and/or tacos works.)

There shall be live music, and there shall be ways to not have to park (think Metro).

And there shall be a beneficiary, as in years past. The festival raises funds for Jovenes, Inc. of Boyle Heights, a non-profit "that provides housing and support services to homeless youth between the ages of 18-25."

"(D)onations and awareness" are the twin engines of hope behind the community-big, neighborly-fun get-together.

Half a decade in, LA Taco Festival is still doing the unusual (and classic) taco thing well, and the helping-out-of-others thing very well, too. You support both? Be at Grand Park on Aug. 22. Again, that's Grand Park, the savory happening's new digs for 2015.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[On Sale Now: Halloween Horror Nights Tickets]]> Tue, 18 Aug 2015 21:59:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/mmyershalloweenhhn.jpg

Countdowns, as a concept, are very important in many horror movie plots. Think of the fright films where a strange voice on the telephone hisses at the main character, warning that our hero/heroine has 24 hours to solve the mystery/defeat the monster/find the treasure... or else.

Universal Studios Hollywood gets the important of timing and countdowns for building anticipation, so it is no surprise that the on-sale for Halloween Horror Nights tickets landed a month ahead of the opening date.

Tickets went on sale on Tuesday, Aug. 18. And the opening night of the scare spectacle on the hill? Friday, Sept. 18.

True, some people might count a month as four weeks, but this is the sort of plot point that might get you into trouble in a horror film. Miscalculation is very big in macabre stories, and something villains rely on, so beware.

As for what's ahead in the theme park-big extravaganza of shrieks and eeks? New mazes include Guillermo del Toro's Crimson Peak and a 3D maze experience hailing comedy-horror flick "This is the End." Fan favorites like "Halloween," "Alien vs. Predator," and "The Walking Dead" all will occupy a fearsome footprint during the nighttime maze-a-rama.

Hip-hop dance group Jabbawockeez, a Krampus-themed Christmas scare zone, the ever-popular Terror Tram, and the "hideous hybrid creatures" of the Exterminatorz scare zone are some of the non-maze-y treats that guests can call upon, should they be brave enough.

Plus? There's still more movie-quality mazes and spooky scenes and heart-pounding themes and foggy passages and "scareactors" to admire/run from/return to/run from again. 

Ready to start your horror movie-style countdown to opening? Find your ticket here and watch the calendar in full teeth-chattering mode. 

Photo Credit: Halloween Horror Nights]]>
<![CDATA[Starbucks to Offer Wine, Macaroni and Cheese ]]> Wed, 19 Aug 2015 05:54:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/starbucks.jpg

Starbucks will now include an "evening menu" in addition to the breakfast and snack options that made it famous.

The menu will feature craft beer, wine, truffle macaroni and cheese and flatbread among other items.

Starbucks said its customers are twice as likely to prefer craft beer. Also, 70 percent of Starbucks customers drink wine as opposed to 30 percent of the general population, according to Mintel Insights for Wine, January 2014 and Mintel Insights for Craft Beer, June 2014.

Starbucks first launched the evening menu in a Seattle location five years ago, and will expand to 70 stores this week.

The menu varies region to region to reflect local tastes and traditions.

Click here to find out which stores will have the evening menu.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/National Geographic]]>
<![CDATA[Baby Penguin Dives Into Life at the Aquarium]]> Wed, 19 Aug 2015 08:56:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/197*120/08-18-2015-penguin-chick-long-beach-2.JPG

Southern California's newest feathered friend made its debut Tuesday morning at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.

Lily, a Magellanic penguin chick, was born at the aquarium on June 5 and joined the other penguins in the June Keyes Penguin Habitat after spending about two months in a nursery.

"She was a little reluctant to go swimming, but in the end she did and she seems to be enjoying herself," said Adrian Samora, a media relations coordinator at the aquarium.

Magellanic penguins, which are native to the coasts of Argentina and Chile, are not born with plumage suitable for water, so they are removed from their nests after 25 days and taken to a nursery until their watertight feathers come in. While they are in the nursery, they learn to swim and eat hand-fed fish, aquarium representatives said.

Lily, who represents the third generation of Aquarium-born penguins, is the seventh penguin to be born at the aquarium since 2013 and the 20th penguin to join the exhibit. Samora said she is slightly large for a baby and is eating whole fish.

Community members can support the new chick through the Adopt an Animal program.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[19,700 Hot Dogs: OC Fair, by the Numbers]]> Tue, 18 Aug 2015 12:43:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/bamdog9292932.jpg

Classic county fair food has a knack for falling into one of two categories, in terms of public reaction. An edible item can either come under the "I've GOT to try that immediately!" header or be relegated to the "Who on earth would eat that?" file.

And while fair regulars regularly sample just about every quirky comestible found among the food booths, there are some clear winners each year, in terms of what dishes and treats went big.

The OC Fair traditionally releases some of its huge numbers, in the days that fall the fair's final wrap-up. The last day of the 2015 spectacular was Aug. 16, which means we now get to pry behind the scenes and see what snacks soared. 

Nosey people? Queue up here.

Those deep-fried Starbucks coffee balls tempted fair goers, who downed 15,000 of the caffeine-rich orbs. Some 5,000 eaters had to know what deep-fried Slim Fast tasted like, and about 11,000 Krispy Kreme Triple Donut Cheeseburgers crossed the counter at Chicken Charlie's during the fair's month-long run.

Chicken Charlie's also sold over 10,000 deep-fried Oreos, which, let's be honest, remains a tasty titan of the fried fair food line-up. New headline-grabbers may come and go, but something about the melty cream in the middle, and the way the cookies get soft with applied heat, makes the deep-fried Oreo the grand dame of the fair fryer.

As for the pickle wieners on a stick? Pickle O'Pete's sold 800 of 'em. Because pickle wieners on a stick, right? You're gonna.

Pink's Hot Dogs sold nearly 20k frankfurters. About a third of 'em, give or take, was The Bam Dog, which was chosen as the 2015 fair's winning food. 

Lastly, and most buzzily, was the ballyhoo'd Caviar Twinkie, which came with a price point of $125 (with all proceeds going directly to The Children's Hospital of Orange County). Available at Chicken Charlie's, the fish egg-topped sponge cake went to 26 adventurous and generous eaters during the course of the midway-and-more bash.

You know many, many photos were taken by curious bystanders as the brave eater chomped down.

So what's to be gleaned from the stats -- thousands of pieces of bacon fried, tons of cinnamon sugar used -- that simmer up from the OC Fair each mid-August? That people will try the new, but the stuff that worked from years past tends to last.

May fair time always bring the weird edibles, the try-it-oncers, and may those deep-fried Oreos continue to keep their moist, golden-brown crown.

Photo Credit: OC Fair]]>
<![CDATA[At Auction: California Concert Poster Icon]]> Tue, 18 Aug 2015 16:42:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/byrdfollies1.jpg Artist David Byrd gave the famous Fillmore East style much of its '60s oomph.

Photo Credit: David Edward Byrd]]>
<![CDATA[Fall Foreshadow: Pumpkin Treat Time Arrives]]> Tue, 18 Aug 2015 09:41:04 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/SEXYAROMAS78.jpg

It just doesn't seem like August if you're not out stocking up on binders and rulers and new shoes and backpacks. Add a few potent heat waves to the back-to-school scene, and you've got a classic recipe for the eighth month of the year.

But that classic August recipe has become tinged with pumpkin in recent years. It's not a shock to any coffee-loving patron of a fast casual restaurant chain that pumpkin-flavored drinks and pumpkin-flavored cookies and pumpkin-flavored pastas have grown exponentially more popular over the last decade or so, but what may surprise, a tad, is that the gourd-gourmet madness starts earlier each year.

Starbucks announced at the end August of 2014 that its incredibly well-selling pumpkin spice latte, a seasonal drink, would debut even earlier than before, in September. The 2015 announcement arrived even earlier, on Aug. 7, when The Pumpkin Spice Latte's Twitter account — yep, it has one — revealed that it would be "back from vacay" in "18 days."

Oh yeah, there's actual pumpkin in it as of this year. Same with Panera Bread's take on the fall beverage, which makes its annual return on Sept. 9.

And at Dunkin' Donuts? The Massachusetts purveyor of all things pastry, which recently started its sweet stand here in Southern California with a host of stand-alone shops, is visiting the pop culture pumpkin patch even earlier, with an early-morning reveal on Aug. 18 of this fall's upcoming pumpkin coffee. (The reveal happened at select shops.)

If you weren't one of the early guests on Aug. 18, take heart, pumpkin-flavored anything fans; the stores are starting to stock up on the many items that now come with a hint of autumn.

Pumpkin candles, pumpkin cider, pumpkin lotion, pumpkin muffins are all on approach, even, yes, in August.

So when do they start getting the jump on July? A watermelon-pumpkin matchup? Stay tuned.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock ]]>
<![CDATA[World Premiere: 'Mummies' Exhibit at NHM]]> Mon, 17 Aug 2015 16:09:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/nhmmummies8.jpg The show, which opens on Sept. 18, is "an unprecedented look at North America's largest collection of mummies."

Photo Credit: The Field Museum/photo by John Weinstein]]>
<![CDATA['Frozen' Sing-Along Returns to Hollywood]]> Fri, 14 Aug 2015 10:02:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/frozendisneyelsaanna123.jpg

There may be actual magic inside "Frozen," Disney's joyful juggernaut to end all other joyful juggernauts, the animated films that would happily make a grab for its cold and glittering crown. 

Exhibit A: The song-filled flick is returning to El Capitan for a four-week sing-along engagement starting on Aug. 20, just days after the heat really kicked in around Southern California and people are longing for some refreshing A/C and some wintry world-building.

"Frozen," as always, your timing is impeccable. 

Not just with your return date, but your timing works on another front, too. Consider Exhibit B: Word is running rampant 'round the web about a particular plot point. Were the parents of Anna and Elsa, the couple lost at sea, expecting a baby as they ventured out onto the ocean? And would that baby grow up to be "Tarzan"?

This is happening, "Frozen" fans, and no less than the film's co-director, Chris Buck, has theorized in this direction. That the girls' parents did not sink but rather were shipwrecked with their baby boy (or that baby boy came along later, on the island they landed upon).

If you need to see the movie again, on the big screen, in a grand theatre, to ponder how the "Tarzan" storyline weaves into the tale of two royal girls and their forever bond, your chance is just ahead.

And, yes, there are multiple other Disney worlds bumping up against "Frozen," in the fan theory forums, from "Tangled" to "The Little Mermaid," so keep that all in mind as you figure out where The Kingdom of Arendelle fits the larger picture.

If you need to brush up on your "Frozen" lyrics ahead of the sing-along, best do that. Surely it has been months since your little tyke, or, for that matter, you, has warbled "Let It Go" or "Do You Want to Build a Snowman"?

Oh we jest. Everyone everywhere knows all the lyrics, even those 37 remaining people who've never seen the film. The words to all the songs linger above us, in the atmosphere, like oxygen.

So to sit among other mavens of the movie, and warble your heart out, on a hot summer day, will be a fun and easy thing to do. Ferreting out the mystery and undercurrents surrounding the "Tarzan" theory, and the other movie mythos that have fans obsessed, might require a bit more engagement.

It's your choice how you watch this go-around, Olaf aficionados. Songfully or Sherlock-like? 

Photo Credit: Disney]]>
<![CDATA[Winter in Summer: Rose Parade Float Testing]]> Fri, 14 Aug 2015 13:52:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/floatrunphoenixdecoco.jpg

No doubt about it, all SoCalers will be searching for a serious cool-off in the days ahead, whether that's an icy treat from the freezer or a dip in the neighbor's pool.

Of course, you could just visualize winter, and the most famous of winter sights, at least 'round Southern California: Grand Rose Parade floats moving majestically along the streets of Pasadena. 

But here's a twist: You can behold an actual slice of New Year's Day during the mid-August heat wave of 2015. Rose Parade floats shall be on the roll, courtesy of a test run by the floats' build outfit, Phoenix Decorating Company.

Granted, the floats will not appear in their full Friday, Jan. 1, 2016 regalia. The famous flowers that cover the giant vehicles are a last-minute, very-late-December addition.

But seeing the big wheels of the floats, and some of the fascinating structure -- the "bones," if you will -- is a treat for many fans of the venerable procession and lovers of all things traditional and grand-of-scale. The designs and themes will also be visible, less those buds and petals.

The date of the test run? Saturday, Aug. 15.

The time? Early early: 7 in the morning to 9 a.m. outside the Phoenix Decorating Company's Pasadena HQ, at 835 S. Raymond Avenue. Just to be clear, the floats will not be on the usual parade route, but rather a few blocks to the south.

The floats queued up for their test run? South Dakota Tourism, Destination Irvine/Irvine Chamber of Commerce, Trader Joe's, City of Hope, and West Virginia University Children's Hospital/Children's Miracle Network.

If you think that the Rose Parade builders are starting this a bit on the too-soon side, given that it is still August, trust, they're right on schedule. This is, in fact, the company's fourth test run of the summer, with more to come down as the holidays grow close.

Figure, though, when millions of people are attending your party -- some via television, some in person -- you want things to be totally perfecto.

It is one thing to hurriedly throw together a recipe an hour before some friends show for dinner, but if you're putting together one of the planet's most famous spectacles, you can bet those all-important test runs start a half year, or more, ahead.

So, are we thinking wintry thoughts, sweaty SoCalers? Can the notion of the Rose Parade cool us all down a pinch? Perhaps a little, but be sure to find that icy treat or swimming pool after you depart the Raymond Avenue float show.

<![CDATA[Sweetgreen Santa Monica's Give Back Opening Day]]> Fri, 14 Aug 2015 12:17:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/sweetgreensm.jpg

Stories spotlighting clean and healthy eating have a tradition of peaking around the spring, along about the time when we're heading into summer and lighter fare is on the minds of many.

Fresh choices of the leafier, fruitier variety don't disappear from our desires, though, when autumn's on the way, and stories about heartier meals rev up. This fact makes the imminent opening of the Sweetgreen in Santa Monica especially timely, especially since the Southern California summer trucks on into late October, temperature-wise.

Salads, in short, are year-round food 'round here.

If you've eaten around our nation's capital or Maryland or Virginia, you know the Sweetgreen bowls, the ones brimming with ingredients like kale and spicy broccoli and roasted organic tofu and quinoa and carrot chili vinaigrette. Actually, if you've been to the first Southern California Sweetgreen, the one that opened on West Third earlier this year, you know the company's locally sourced salads and grain-based bites.

The Santa Monica Sweetgreen, to celebrate its opening day -- that's Tuesday, Aug. 18 -- will honor both its garden-y spirit and the back-to-school time we're in by donating 100% of the opening day proceeds to the Garden School Foundation. 

It's an organization that supports "an interdisciplinary program of education through garden-based learning in outdoor living classrooms." Kids learn about growing and tending to edible plants, in short, and all of the good lessons that sprout from the act of caring for a verdant plot.

Eager to dig into a Rad Thai or Kale Caesar or OMG Omega bowl at 1343 4th Street in Santa Monica? Make a date to do so on Aug. 18 and see all of the money you plunk down assist this alfresco-aspiring foundation and the many students it serves.

And there's nothing to knock about the season of heavier stews, by the by. It's just a funny thing that salads have their day in the press come spring and taper off near August. Because, of course, August is really just the start of the warmer months, for SoCalers, so salads are still in order through Halloween.

And, really, as stated, all year long. More arugula for us, please.

Photo Credit: Sweetgreen]]>
<![CDATA[Free Lemonade Fundraiser: Hot Dog on a Stick]]> Fri, 14 Aug 2015 12:02:48 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/hotdoglemonadeaug.jpg

National Lemonade Day is well-timed in 2015, as it is most every year, falling, as it does, just after the middle of August (read: extreme heat possible) and just before loads of parents start moving loads of students back to loads of universities (read: refreshing beverages are key after a day hauling boxes).

But making the beverage-based holiday even more urgent, calendar-wise, is when a famous chain rallies to support a big cause with a fun fundraiser, one that's surpassed a million dollars thus far.

Aug. 20 is the day for lemonade, across the country, and across the country Hot Dog on a Stick locations will present a free lemonade to any customer who says "Lemonade for LLS" at the window or counter.

LLS is, of course, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, an organization that has performed countless good works in the name of raising awareness about diagnosis, research, and help, and raising money to assist those living with cancer as well, in a host of ways.

The free lemonade -- and this is the "hand-stomped" lemonade that all Hot Dog on a Stick devotees have seen in mid-hand-stomp, from their ordering spot at the counter -- will handle the spreading awareness part.

As for the fundraising? "Customers can also upgrade to souvenir cup for $3, and $1 from each upgrade will be donated to support LLS's investment in research to advance lifesaving new treatments for blood cancer patients."

Over a million dollars has been raised for LLS by Hot Dog on a Stick in the past (along with Global Franchise Group, its parent company).

Will you make for the fabled Muscle Beach location on Aug. 20, for your free lemonade, or your upgrade dollar lemonade? Hot Dog on a Stick has long ties to Los Angeles, so for LA to give back, and back LLS, is the right thing to do.

Let's raise a glass of hand-stomped lemonade to the notion of neighborly niceness.

Photo Credit: Hot Dog on a Stick]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend: Nisei Week Japanese Festival]]> Thu, 13 Aug 2015 23:36:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/NiseiWeekLA2234.jpg

Nisei Week Japanese Festival: Where to look first, dance first, eat first when it comes to this beautiful, multi-day Little Tokyo celebration? The days brim with martial arts demonstrations, Ondo street dancing, the Rubik's Cube open, a grand coronation, flower arranging, Taiko drumming, and the Gyoza-eating competition on the final Saturday of the party. It's the 75th year of Nisei Week, by the by, so join in the Ondo street dance -- everyone is welcome -- and lift your hands and heart in homage, respect, and joy. Aug. 15-23

Heat Wave Cool-Downs: Okay, summer, we get it. You heard all of us talking about El Niño, and the chilly winter storms we're hoping for, what with the moisture they'll bring, and then you thought "hey, maybe it is time to show my hot stuff." True, it is still August, and temperatures will top out, in the way they do, 90s and triple-digit-style. That's way a dip in a pool, a pirouette at an indoor ice-skating rink, or a trip deep into the cold cosmos is in order. Summer, we hear you. Welcome back. Now can you crank down the mercury just a pinch?

Great Sand Sculpture Contest: Talk about timing. What with the toasty thermometer readings and such, everyone but everyone will be thinking about the beach over the coming weekend, and many people will pack up the umbrellas and hats and go. If you're going Granada Beach, well, lucky you: This 82nd annual competition will be in full flower, and castle turrets made of small particles of beach grit are just the start of the wonder. Magical creatures? Strange buildings? The sky, or rather the shoreline, is the limit. Aug. 15 and 16

D23 Expo: Disneyland is open every day of the year, but the "largest fan event" in the Disney universe only comes around every other year, and just for three days. That makes it extra special, and Big D devotees travel from all over for the movie clips, star sightings, product booths, creative panels, and everything else under the Disney sun. "Star Wars" and "Marvel" make strong showings, too, in addition to the classic characters. Don your mouse ears and head for the Anaheim Convention Center from Aug. 14 through 16. 

Tillamook Food Foraging Workshop: When you think of Tillamook, you probably think of Oregon, the dairy titan's home state. But the Tillamookians just launched a co-op downthisaway, and a food foraging workshop in the hills of Malibu, near One Gun Ranch, is an activity free to co-op members (you'll be learning about food pairings and munching granola yogurt parfaits and sipping fresh herb-nice sodas). If you've been looking for the get-up-and-go to connect to the land more, or even your own garden, starting here could be step one.

Photo Credit: Nisei Week]]>
<![CDATA[Swelter No More: Cool To-Dos Around SoCal]]> Thu, 13 Aug 2015 09:59:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_236774899pareja_patina.jpg

We'd gotten a few telegrams, and emails, and alerts, over the last few weeks, that summer, actual summer, was thinking of paying Southern California an honest-to-heat-wave visit.

Nothing really took, temperature-wise, and those El Niño-like July rains made some wonder -- or hope -- if we wouldn't casually slip on into fall. 

But summer's message service was on point; it is actually going to show up this year, and, with it, lots of sweltering and high temperatures from Orange County to the desert to the far reaches of the upper Valley.

So where can you go to stave off the predictable sweat and three-digit-y hotness? Try...

The Indoor Ice Rinks: Nope, they don't shutter for summer, a season when the frosty fun places see some great, gotta-cool-down business. Ice Land Ice Skating Rink in Van Nuys has public sessions throughout the weekend, and, for sure, you can rent your blade-bearing footwear there. Pasadena Ice Skating Center also has public skating sessions during mid-August, but check the times before digging out the mittens. And Anaheim Ice? You can twirl where some serious hockey action goes down.

A Grown-Up Pool Night: Swimmin' holes throughout LA County will stay brisk 'n busy throughout the heat wave, but if you're looking for a strictly adult experience, complete with a beachy sunset and ukulele lounge, make for the 10-buck, 18-and-over Sunset Swim night at the Annenberg Community Beach House. There's coconut bowling, too, and DJ tunes, on Friday, Aug. 14.

Outer Space: We wish we could tell you that rides on the Space Shuttle Endeavour were a thing -- they're not, at this juncture -- but you can go to the coldest cosmos, via the planetarium shows at The Griffith Observatory. There are three in rotation, and the topics shall instantly melt your inner core. "Centered in the Universe" is "a journey of cosmic exploration and discovery," "Water Is Life" is about H2O, and the northern lights is the subject of "The Light of the Valkyries." Tickets are $3 to $7 bucks, but visiting the observatory itself? That's free, and also like a trip to space.

Photo Credit: SHUTTERSTOCK]]>