<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Dining, shopping and nightlife]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/entertainment/the-scene http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Tue, 02 Sep 2014 19:30:10 -0700 Tue, 02 Sep 2014 19:30:10 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Flapper Party: Happy 90th, Culver Hotel]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 15:34:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/221*120/CulverHotel_.jpg

Many of our modern fantasy references stem from "The Wizard of Oz,"  from famous lines ("I'll get you, my pretty") to ruby slippers to flying monkeys to the whimsical names and titles of the characters.

And if someone mentioned "Nonagintennial" in relation to the story we might, at first glance, believe it to be a witch or fairyland. But it is, of course, a 90th anniversary, which is what one of the most famous landmarks associated with Dorothy and friends is marking this year.

Make that Saturday, Sept. 6, in fact. The Culver Hotel, that studio-adjacent, triangle-shaped, fable-and-lore-filled '20s pile that sits grandly along Washington Boulevard is throwing a Prohibition Ball to mark its 1924 beginnings. Sept. 4, 1924 was that exact beginning, to be pinpoint specific, so call it a 90th birthday party, plus two days, for the Culver City gem.

An open bar, hor d'oeuvres, blackjack, stogies, and burlesque round out the flapper-fantastic evening. And should you dress for the era? Well the invite says 1920s fashion is "a must." That sounds pretty firm to us. Find your flapper fringe or feathered sparkly headband at once.

And the cost? This is an easy one: It's $90 a ticket, with 10 percent of each ticket helping out the Culver City Historical Society.

Which fits, as historical societies are so often the organizations that assist landmark structures in reaching their nonagintennial. Without these past-protective societies, fewer beautiful buildings would even see a half century.

As for "The Wizard of Oz" connections? Those came, for the Culver Hotel, more than a decade after its opening. Many actors from the film, including the thespians who portrayed the Munchkins, called the Culver home during the making of the movie at nearby MGM Studios.

So, yes, you should dress in your flapper-y best for the Prohibition Ball, but, look: If you show up as the Mayor of Munchkin City, or the Scarecrow, or Toto, aren't you bringing a little history back to the hotel?

And did the red brick road, the one intertwined with the yellow brick road, actually lead to the Culver Hotel?

Photo Credit: Culver Hotel]]>
<![CDATA[Queue the Excitement: Fans Line Up for First Dunkin' Donuts ]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 11:53:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/dunkinlinesm.jpg

Remember way back, lo about 1999, when fans formed a campsite queue outside the Chinese Theatre in anticipation of "The Phantom Menace"? And those "Star Wars" diehards proceeded to live in the line for over a month, solely to buy a ticket to the first screening?

Dunkin' Donuts devotees just gave those lightsaber lovers a run for their fan-style commitment. The "first full expression" of the Massachusetts-based breakfast titan debuted in Santa Monica on Tuesday, Sept. 2, and throngs of people hopped into the queue well before the store's 5 a.m. opening.

We're not horsing around in the "well before" department, either: The first gentleman to line up on the proverbial red carpet arrived a full 37 hours before the Dunkin' Donuts employee slipped the key into the deadbolt and welcomed Munchkin mavens inside the store.

Oh yeah: That guy will be getting free coffee for a year, as was foretold by Dunkin' Donuts HQ.

But the red carpet leading to the door at 1132 Wilshire Boulevard wasn't actually red at all: It was that classic Dunkin' Donuts pink. And were fans jumping, skipping, and high-fiving as they first entered the restaurant?

Seriously. You have to ask?

Transplanted New Englanders and lifelong donut connoisseurs have been pleading for the chain to make a full-scale return to California, in the form of those so-named "full expression" shops (rather than a kiosk or stand, which have made Golden State cameos in the past).

Dreams come true, buffs of breakfast sandwiches and Boston Kremes. And Modesto, Whittier, Long Beach, and Downey? You now know that the first guy in line in Santa Monica capped off at 37 hours.

The gauntlet -- or, rather, a napkin boasting the company's pink-and-orange logo -- has been thrown.

Who is set to break those records as those four still-to-come stores roll out in the coming months?

Photo Credit: Dunkin' Donuts]]>
<![CDATA[Grand Central Market, Draped in Yarn]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 09:14:27 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/grandcentral23456.jpg

If you're strolling down most any street, you're likely to see parking meters, some cars, a few storefronts, a fire hydrant, and a whimsical bit of colorful knitted yarn twirled around a lamppost.

Well, that last sight is rarer, but yarn bombing, or the act of adding crochet or knitting to an object where yarnwork typically does not appear, grows ever more common since its initial appearances in the flash-mob-y days of the early aughts.

Yep. Even The Smithsonian was recently yarn-bombed.

Now a downtown LA landmark is up next for the crafty honor. Yarn Bombing LA has its gaze, and knitting needles, set upon Grand Central Market, but, nope, there won't be some single strands of colorful fiber twirled around a couple of chairs. "(A) Greek-inspired 'yarn-opolis'" is on the way this November, with "an installation that looks at the coming together of crafters, pedestrians, and downtown Los Angeles districts in the space of the open-air market."

What does this mean, exactly? A "floor-to-ceiling artwork" will be installed later this fall.

If you know Grand Central, you know those ceilings are high. Which means a lot of needles need to click-clack to make this slice of community-minded whimsy happen. 

Want to jump into the yarn-bombery, knitters of Southern California? Join a session on Saturday, Sept. 27 and Saturday, Oct. 11. You'll "knit, crochet, or sew portions of the hundreds of individual fabric pieces" that will soon comprise the whole.

And comprising the whole, theme-wise, is absolutely what this all-together-now artwork is considering. Plus, figure that if you participate you're only steps away from Olio and Horse Thief Barbecue and other foodie stands inside the ye-olde-LA public market.

It will, in fact, mark its centennial in a few years. Why not participate in a large-scale art piece as a way to highlight its ability to draw downtowners, and everyone, together?

Photo Credit: Jakob N. Layman]]>
<![CDATA[Offbeat Fashion Show: Dress Like the Original Farmers Market]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 12:33:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/200*120/fmfashionfruitstand1.jpg

If you were called up on to dress in the style of a famous Southern California destination, say, a Universal Studios or the beach, would you first think to grab a pair of shorts or a bikini?

Good thinking. But what if you were asked to dress in homage to the place itself? How would such an outfit look if, say, it had to represent Universal's Tram Tour or Santa Monica Pier?

The Original Farmers Market at Third & Fairfax is stepping up to this sartorial challenge with its typical homespun flair and apple-sweet aplomb. Fashion Week is strutting up the runway at a clip 'round LA, and the Grove-close landmark will celebrate with a Farmers Market-themed fashion show on Friday evening, Sept. 12.

Nope, the models won't be dressed in the casual wear oft seen among the market's historic stalls. Rather, local designers will cast an eye on the clocktowered structure for clothing inspiration.

So, for sure, you might see a skirt that summons the pastry-sweet hues of Bob's Donuts or the coleslaw at Bryan's Pit Barbecue or perhaps a pair of slacks covered in walnut shells (we imagine they'd pay tribute to Magee's House of Nuts).

"Inventive, creative Farmers Market"-cool outfits are the order of the day, and the designers? They all hail from SoCal. Viewers of the show can vote and the winning designer? They'll pocket a hundred-buck gift certificate to the market.

As with all Farmers Market to-dos, this one is free, so be by the trolley tracks at 6 p.m. on Sept. 12. But the models, in full glorious fashion, will strut about the market starting a couple of hours early, so arrive for a coffee and see if you can guess what their dress or suit is echoing.

And, please. Someone is going as the famous Farmers Market clocktower, right? Complete with a weather vane atop their head? Maybe even a cassette playing chimes? We can't wait to see the agog-making togs that come out of this one.

Photo Credit: Original Farmers Market]]>
<![CDATA[Salty Air, Chalky Ground: Draw on Redondo Beach Pier]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 05:10:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/chalk+festival+agp.jpg

When you learned to write the first few letters of the alphabet, where did you first try them out, outside of a book of lined paper?

Maybe the dining room wall, sure, with permanent markers. But if you live in Southern California you likely participated in the time-honored tradition of writing letters in the sand. Using wet beach as a blackboard is a-ok, as is moving to the sidewalk with chalk.

Those two whimsical favorites of youth merge at Redondo Beach Pier every late summer when the pieces of chalk -- many, many pieces -- are shaken from boxes for the annual Back-to-School Chalk Festival on the Pier.

It's free, it's colorful, and, yep, a lot of the pictures summon the spirit of the sea. And while it isn't sand writing, you're not far from the sand, meaning you can walk down to the water's edge and create a "rough draft" of your illustration, of sorts, in the sand, before you try it, for realsies, up on the pier in chalk.

And if you don't love your first try, on the beach canvas? The Pacific'll erase it in minutes.

Date? Saturday, Sept. 6. Time? Noon to 4 p.m. For families? For sure. Shall there be prizes? There shall be. And get there early: The first 150 artists nab free chalk.

But call the biggest prize hanging out on a pier drawing whales on the concrete. Redondo Beach has gotten a rep for supporting some of the most vibrant pay-nothing events around -- hello, gigantico Festival of the Kite -- and the September chalk-it-up taps into that breezy, sunny spirit.

Seriously: Why not use the sand to plot out what you'll draw on the pier? There's a reason beaches have served as temporary canvases throughout time.

Photo Credit: Redondo Beach Pier Chalk Festival]]>
<![CDATA[Last-Minute Labor Day: Clambake for Heal the Bay]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 08:25:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/wrhealthebay.jpg

Memorial Day Weekend may prove a bit June-Gloom-y, and Fourth of July is all about the pyrotechnics.

But Labor Day? It's typically the most mellow of the summer season holidays, and one that sets us into a nostalgic mood (maybe it is the coming of fall and school starting).

So going beyond the usual barbecue to a supper that's briny with atmosphere and old-time-y charms suits the early September party, and even more so when there's an important something to help out.

That important something, on Monday, Sept. 1, is our own oceanic waters, and the place to do it? Whiskey Red's in Marina del Rey. The restaurant is hosting an all-the-trimmings clambake with a good goal in mind: Help out Heal the Bay, which will receive a portion of the proceeds.

On tap? An "all-you-can-eat clams and seafood buffet, BBQ, drink specials, whiskey tastings, live music, DJ and more." Hours are 1 to 8 p.m., so that's a lot clammage.

Which means if you haven't engaged in a round of briny-scented shucking in awhile, that will all change on the Whiskey Red's patio, which is, in fact, billed as "the largest waterfront patio in the Marina."

Yeah, eating clams, on a waterside patio, is pretty much Labor Day (tm).

Though, true, we're not the clambakers that other parts of the country are. Meaning this: The barbecue can wait, but clambakes don't roll around as often as they should here in the SoCal.

Forty five bucks gets you entry and a clambake ticket, but if you want to show just to enjoy the sunshine and scene, a tenner'll get you in.

Can't make it? You can still love on Heal the Bay, donation- and volunteering-wise.

Photo Credit: Whiskey Red's]]>
<![CDATA[Music Ends, Cleanup Begins at Grand Park]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 09:15:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/grand+park+made+in+america+cleanup+monday.jpg

Cleanup crews moved into Grand Park early Monday after tens of thousands of music fans packed the downtown Los Angeles venue over the weekend during a two-day concert that featured John Mayer, Kanye West, Weezer, Iggy Azalea, Kendrick Lamar and Cypress Hill.

The Budweiser Made in America event, which featured about 30 solo  performers and bands, was touted by Mayor Eric Garcetti as a way to show it's  possible to throw a "great party right here in the heart of the city." Sunday's crowd of ticket holders was placed at 37,419, up from 34,374  Saturday, said Los Angeles police Officer J. Kim.

A total of 80 arrests or citations were reported Sunday, the concert's  second day, Kim said. There were three felony arrests, 10 involving misdemeanors and 67 citations that included 35 alcohol and traffic violations. Also Sunday, several people were treated for illness or injuries as temperatures climbed into the 90s.

Twenty-nine arrests were reported on Saturday, the first day of the  concert. In all, six people were arrested on Saturday for alleged felonies that were narcotics-related, according to Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Andy  Neiman. The other 23 were arrested for misdemeanors, primarily alcohol  offenses, according to Neiman.

Grand Park, the venue for the Made in America music festival, will  remain closed to the public until Tuesday while it is cleaned, authorities  said. Workers were taking down stages and equipment early Monday.

Philadelphia was the site of a sister festival that featured some of the  same performers. revious Made in America events held in Philadelphia generated about $10 million in local spending, according to event organizers, and would likely be  a $12 million boon to the Los Angeles economy, Garcetti said.

"We showed L.A. can do big things for our economy and people's  enjoyment," Garcetti said in a statement. "We want leading companies and event organizers to  know we're changing LA so it's not longer a place where red tape is allowed  to stand in the way of jobs, innovation and entertainment."

To reimburse costs to taxpayers, Live Nation agreed to pay $500,000 to  the city to cover policing and related services for the concert. Live Nation  also agreed to pay for any damage to public property. Live Nation also will pay $600,000 for the use of the county-owned Grand  Park, which is run by The Music Center.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[LA County Fair: Outlandish Eats Aplenty]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 16:50:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/chickencharliesfair1.JPG

Make no bones about it, when it comes to headline-making county fair foods: Fried is tried-and-true.

If something edible is rolled in batter then thrown in hot oil, it is a fancy-capturer, but there's another trend at work on the county fair scene, a tasty one if not an especially outlandish-freaky-foodie one: Gourmet bites, posh sips, and bites that are unfried, unsugared, unstuffed with another food product.

The Los Angeles County Fair, being a biggin' -- that's totally an official term, by the way -- covers all parts of the supping spectrum over its month-long run (which, by the by, runs through Sunday, Sept. 28.

Let's not lead with the fried stuff, as lusciously moist though it is, and instead begin with the wine and beer tasting scene. It's robust at the Pomona party, and the crafty brews run the refreshing gamut from Icelandic white ales to Wisconsin rieslings. Plus? Plenty of regional libations to feel local pride over.

As for the non-stand-y eats? Farm Fresh Flat Bread is the grilled specialty at The Farm, Asian cuisine is on the menu at the lantern-lovely Luminasia, and the Top of the Park Restaurant & Bar has that sit-down inside dining experience.

Okay okay okay: All that booth-blissful crackly-fried goodness is in full fried-fun blossom at the fair, of course.

Want funnel cake? You got it (aside: funnel cake is more old-school than the term "old-school). Deep-fried bacon-wrapped pickles? They're around. The Krispy Kreme Burger of yore has gone full-on triple decker, and the fried Doritos from the San Diego County Fair? Yeah. They're at Chicken Charlie's. Prepare to get orange-tipped fingertips.

If you're someone who feels overwhelmed among the bite-laden booths, best take a peek ahead of time. You can start right here, fair foodie.

Photo Credit: Greg Andersen/LA County Fair]]>
<![CDATA[UberCHOPPER Takes Flight in LA]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 14:27:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/229*120/uberchopper123.jpg

There may be a day, not too far in the future, when we pull out our iPhone 127C and call for the nearest spaceship in our neck of the galaxy, because we really, really need to hit that new plasma restaurant on Centauri 6.

But until then? The rideshare boom is very much terrestrial-based. Summon an automobile, get in, get out, all without defying gravity or sailing over traffic.

That all changed in a rather dramatic and visual way on Sunday, Aug. 31 when a helicopter began to transport riders to Malibu with the sole purpose of quaffing wine. Well, quaffing wine and hashtagging the heck out of their experience, socia media-style, because, yeah, they just took a helicopter to their next glass of wine.

It was no mere helicopter, though: It was UberCHOPPER, as in Uber, the car company that picks people up and drops them off, quickity-like, a titan in the new (newish?) share economy.

"For a while it said no chopper available, and then all of a sudden it said 11 minutes, so I clicked it and it said 'en route,' and I said, 'No, way!'" said one user.

Will there be UberCHOPPERs on every corner now, hovering while awaiting passengers? Well, no. It was a promotion, just on the final day in August.

UberCHOPPER wasn't, however, strictly like any other scenic helicopter ride. The experience required that you use an Uber app, which calls an UberBLACK -- a posher set of wheels, yep yep -- to wherever you happen to be standing while staring at your phone. "If an UberCHOPPER is available, we'll give you a call to confirm the details." The UberBLACK will eventually deliver you to a helipad.

And then? You're in a helicopter, headed for Malibu, to drink wine, eat cheese, pet animals, and go on a safari tour of the property.

Are you hearing a soft-rock '70s soundtrack over that visualization? The soaring-over-the-city part? A few bow-chickas thrown in, to lend your jaunt a touch of extravagance? Yeah, you're so visualizing this.

The cost: $1,500 (or $500 if you "split the fare," as Uber breaks it down).

The demand was high, Uber said.

No doubt about it: We'll be summoning spaceships soon. Mere months? Maybe.

Photo Credit: Uber]]>
<![CDATA[Whimsical Cat Shelters, as Imagined by Architects]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 17:22:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/catFXFOWLE__photo_credit_LucioSantos12.jpeg An exhibit spotlights elegant and contemporary feline-ready structures, with an important goal in mind.

Photo Credit: Lucio Santos]]>
<![CDATA[This Weekend: Made in America Festival]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 08:40:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/id452083488.jpg

Grand Park, our downtown park, has been the subject of every comparison possible since debuting just over two years ago. How is it like other urban parks, how is it not, and will the 12-acre expanse become LA's primary meeting, picnicking, hangout place?

It's been trucking along on several fronts, save one: It hasn't yet hosted a major, major concert, like many other metro-ensconced green spaces around the country have. That changes over Labor Day Weekend with the Budweiser Made in America Festival, which is the first time the park has been the location for a pay-to-get-in happening.

The mondo, multi-genre gathering, which will see upwards of 50,000 attendees ready to see live performances from Imagine Dragons, Afrojack, Kanye West, John Mayer, Iggy Azalea, Kendrick Lamar, Juanes, and Weezer, was announced in the springtime. Founded by artist Jay-Z, the fest has Philadelphia roots and is "expected to inject millions of dollars into the LA economy," says Mayor Eric Garcetti.

United Way is a beneficiary.

The two-day party is also being "met with resistance by a group who fears alcohol will lead to dangerous behavior, while officials say security and the city are ready."

Headed to the park along with those 50,000 concert goers? Best check out the festival guide, which includes information on street closures, area hotels, ticket specifics, and how to get there (Metro is suggested).

The large-scale outdoor music festivals continue for Los Angeles, with the Sunset Strip Music Festival scheduled for the final weekend of summer (Sept. 20 and Sept. 21).

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Long Beach Kicks Off SoCal's Lobster-iest Month]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 09:38:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lobsterlbcphoto123.jpg

Some seafoodians might glance at the calendar around Labor Day, making a note to change it from August to September, and then bingo-bango: They remember that Southern California's every-week-for-three-weeks run of lobster-filled festivals is just ahead, and they better text their lobster-lovin' relatives and chums at once.

But other seafoodians? They know, already. Boy howdy, do they; they're so serious they've been practically sleeping in their plastic bib for much of the summer, in eat-happy anticipation.

They know that Long Beach is up first, then Port of Los Angeles follows, and Redondo rounds it out, one, two, three weekends in a row.

Ready to enter the crustacean zone, People of the Claw?

LBC is your place to be -- take that slogan, Long Beach, if you like it -- from Friday, Sept. 5 through Sunday, Sept. 7. This is the one with allllll the festival goers in the lobster hats and beads. Due this year? A Queen tribute band, zydeco-flavored dance, blues, country, get-up-and-move music.

Plus: the food. Fresh Maine lobster is the star, along with coleslaw, watermelon, lemons, and butter dipping sauce. Oh, and a roll, which you'll completely soak in the butter dipping sauce, once you've made short work of your lobster.

We know that's how it goes.

There's also a lobster knick knack store, in addition to other vendors. Our thought? You should buy a crustacean statuette for your shelf, so you remember that September is LA's lobster-iest month of the year. No surprises when Labor Day Weekend rolls around: You've made your plans.

Then, soon, you too will keep the bib handy, maybe even donning it for special occasions outside of the late-summer lobster festivals.

Photo Credit: The Original Long Beach Lobster Festival]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend: LA County Fair Opens]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 07:05:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/luminasialacountyfair1.jpg

LA COUNTY FAIR OPENS: It's only a few more years before we celebrate the Pomona party's big centennial, but for now the everything-in-one-place extravaganza still stands upon its billing as "the largest county fair in the nation." Pig races, fried treats, and the new Luminasia walk-through Chinese lantern area will draw the thousands of SoCalers who adore that classic midway, some juicy corn-on-the-cob, and snapping pics of prize-winning cows. Through Sunday, Sept. 28

SENDING SUMMER OFF: People will argue that summer doesn't wrap until the third week in September. They are correct, technically, but shall we just call Labor Day Weekend the observed finale of the summer season? Let's. Doing so puts the emphasis on getting out and enjoying a pool (like at the Annenberg Community Beach House) or a mondo crafts-nice, beach-close street fair (like Fiesta Hermosa) or a mondo tunes gathering (like Shoreline Jam or Long Beach Funk Fest, both at the Queen Mary) or an outdoors food extravaganza (like Orange International Street Fair). True, summer has three weeks to go, starting now, but don't put off summery good times.

THE TASTE: There was once a day, in this very town, where chefs remained behind restaurant kitchen doors and fans never got a glimpse. Now famous food wizards meet with fans at top events like this one, which is from The LA Times. Place? Paramount Studios (the backlot, no less). Will there be tidbits, samples, drinks, music? Oh yes. And what of chefly cooking and explaining? So much of that, too. Find the demo you just can't miss and buy your ticket before that chance disappears, like butter in a pan. Aug. 29 through Aug. 31

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LOS ANGELES: Cities across the country see their anniversaries marked in a variety of lively, community-building ways, but our own home-sweet-metropolis is all about a nine-mile, starts-just-about-at-dawn historic walk. Starting point is Mission San Gabriel, end point is El Pueblo, and the footsteps or bike tracks in-between recall the Poblodores who made the same journey back in the 18th century. Oh, and LA's age? A very spritely 233. Join the party on Saturday, Aug. 30.

ART DECO FESTIVAL: Call this Queen Mary happening the end-all-be-all in '30s-vintage-fashion-rockery 'round SoCal (though Dapper Day is coming at Disneyland on Sept. 12). People don their sateen and pearls, learn about architecture, sample Prohibition cocktails, dance and gossip and generally raise genteel heck aboard the iconic ocean-liner. And this lively scene is a long one, too, overlapping both ends of the holiday weekend. Through Monday, Sept. 1

Photo Credit: LA County Fair]]>
<![CDATA[The Taste: SoCal Flavors Flower at Paramount Studios]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 12:43:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/thetastelatimes1234.jpg

The Paramount Pictures backlot has seen a lot in its tenure, which makes sense, given that it has reigned as the Moviemaking Wonder of Melrose Avenue for a chunk of a century. (Raleigh and others, you, too, deserve that title -- love all around.)

And while it has seen superheroes dash through its streets, and Austin Powers and Audrey Hepburn, too, finding people dabbing napkins at the corners of their mouths and discussing the piquant nature of the burrito they're trying or the depth of the cocktail they just swished is rather rarer.

But The Taste from the Los Angeles Times doesn't come around all that often. Just once a year, in fact, and it is due again, over Labor Day Weekend, with a pretty darn gourmand-tastic goal in mind: Put the flavorful focus on the cuisine of Southern California, and the cuisine-makers.

Eateries who threw their hats -- or spatulas -- into the Taste's ring include Pedalers Fork, Hamasaku, Hinoki & The Bird, Craig's Restaurant, and literally a pantryful of perfectly SoCal establishments that bring both the local neighborhood love and the adventurous cookery.

Bartender demos, cook-chatty roundtables, wine tastings, live bands creating live music, presentations that are good for the kid chefs who happen to be attending with their grown-ups, and talks of a helpful and illuminating nature.

And there shall be eating, lots of sample-y things, tidbits and bites and edible pop-'em-in-your-mouths that fit well in your palm.

Well, now that we think of it, the food tradition for the backlot was established a half century ago. Weren't scenes from "Breakfast at Tiffany's" filmed right there? If only every film with a food reference in its title could herald a future food event.

Dates are Friday, August 29 through Sunday, Aug. 31. And tickets? Hoo goodness, they go, and are going right now, as fast as you can pop a shrimp or mushroom puff in your mouth. (So: fast.)

Photo Credit: The Taste]]>
<![CDATA["The Star-Spangled Banner": The Grammy Museum Pays Tribute]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 07:50:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AmericanFlag_Shutterstock.jpg

Outside of "Happy Birthday" and maybe a few Christmas carols, there aren't too many songs that the majority of us know all of the words to and feel comfortable about singing in public.

The big and lasting acception in this country, though, involves the stars, stripes, the occasional baseball game, the occasional stirring political convention, and all of the full-throated passion we can muster. It's "The Star-Spangled Banner," a thrill-filled paean so storied that books and documentaries and museum displays regularly spotlight it.

Oh, did we say "museum displays"? One is coming together in honor of the patriotic ballad at the Grammy Museum. The show, which will consider 200 colorful years of the anthem in popular music, debuts on Friday, Sept. 12.

Sheet music arrangements from Rickey Minor, a jumpsuit worn by Whitney Houston when she sang the anthem in 1991, and footage from Woodstock 1969, when Jimi Hendrix famously played one of the most famous takes on it, ever, are part of the show.

We mean, ever, right? You're hearing Mr. Hendrix's guitar now.

Francis Scott Key penned our national anthem, as every American schoolkid learns when they're yea-high, after viewing the bombing of Fort McHenry during the Battle of 1812. But "The Star-Spangled Banner" moved far beyond its Maryland roots to become a rousing favorite sometimes elevated by its singer, sometimes not.

But count on it being interpreted with a good dealing of feeling and zest. (You've seen that zest expressed at pretty much every baseball game ever, by the guy next to you with his cap over his heart? Yep.)

"Oh Say Can You Sing: The Star-Spangled Banner in Popular Music" unfurls for one month at the LA Live-based museum, with an open date of Sept. 12 and a final date of Oct. 12.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[T. Rex on Tour: Walking with Dinosaurs]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 17:20:27 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/walkingwithdinostrex.jpg

Making unyielding judgments about wide swaths of strangers is rarely wise, but we'll go on record to say this: Pretty much ever human, ever, should they find themselves standing before a moving, roaring Tyrannosaurus Rex, would likely A) run or B) take cover or C) rub their eyes very hard and attempt to wake up.

A generalization? Nope. 100 percent accurate.

There is an exception: "Walking With Dinosaurs -- The Arena Spectacular," the live stage show inspired by the popular BBC series. People neither run, nor take cover: They applaud.

Okay, yes, true, absolutely, "live" does not mean T. Rex has sprung back to life in some lab -- um, eek? -- but it does mean gifted puppeteers ensconced inside astoundingly lifelike prehistoric creatures are making them seem very dinosaur-y, indeed.

Dinosaur-y=roaring, sniffing, snarling, pawing, tussling, running, hunting, and so forth.

The big-teethed extravaganza will prehistoric up both the Honda Center in Anaheim (starting on Sept. 3) and Staples Center (beginning Sept. 11). So what's too ooh-and-aah over this year? "The updated production will showcase changes to the dinosaurs based on the latest scientific research including the likely feathering of some species."

Feathering? We're engrossed.

The show also depicts "how dinosaurs evolved to walk on two legs" and "herbivores fended off their more agile predators."

Plateosaurus, Stegosaurus, Utahraptor, and, yep, T. Rex are just some of the dinos ready to cameo. The biggest? Why that's Brachiosaurus, who soars to 36. Or should we say "sauropods" to 36 feet?

Jurassic humor.

It's educational, it's informative, it is facty-fun, and it allows dinosaurs to walk off the pages of books and the TV and movie screens into our lives, or nearly.

You'll probably hear the word "cool" a whole bunch for the dino-obsessed members of your party, so take note: "Walking With Dinosaurs" can and does tip the cool meter.

Photo Credit: Walking with Dinosaurs]]>
<![CDATA[233 Years Young: Happy Birthday, Los Angeles]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 14:37:49 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/candlesbirthdayla1.jpg

If you had to select a birthday gift for Los Angeles, and buy it, and wrap it, where would you possibly hide it, if you happen to live within Los Angeles? Because wouldn't Los Angeles somehow know? 

Secret-keeping would be rendered impossible, if you stash the present inside the birthday honoree.

But LA asks for no balloons, no streamers, no gifts. There's just one moving annual tradition when it comes to observing our historic metropolis's birthday, and it is the historic nine-mile walk from Mission San Gabriel to El Pueblo Historical Monument.

It happens this year on Saturday, Aug. 30.

Got LA's age circled on your calendar? You are correct if you jotted down that you have to purchase 233 candles for your city's cake. Really, though, there's no reason to bake a cake on your own: The Aug. 30 celebration ends with a frosting-laden slice of birthday treatness at El Pueblo.

Other festive to-dos will include artisan demos, re-enactments that recall our city's earliest days, and exhibits looking back. Part of the looking back will be at Los Pobladores, those wayback founders who made the San Gabriel-El Pueblo journey, by foot, in 1781.

If you'd rather pedal it, instead of doing the "by foot" thing, you can. This is the second year a bike ride will be part of the early morning walk, but note that helmets are mandatory.

Be in San Gabriel at 6 a.m. on Aug. 30, strolling history lovers; the party doings rev up at El Pueblo around late morning (think 10 a.m. on). And, for sure, don't sweat it: A gratis shuttle will zip you back to San Gabriel when the party wraps.

As for your gift to LA? Well, you're not physically buying anything, right? Good. It's really, really difficult to find something LA doesn't already have, and then the whole duplicate thing puts LA in the whole re-gifting situation...

Yeah. Better to make the historic walk and eat cake at Olvera Street.

Photo Credit: Birthday]]>
<![CDATA[Aquarium Penguin Chicks Make Public Debut]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 14:40:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/penguinHughRyono.jpg

The people who study the internet for a living look at why we use it, when we use it, where we use it, and how. And those thinkers regularly reach the very same conclusion, a modern theory of monumental proportions: Animal webcams are the fuel and live blood of the World Wide Web.

We josh, but only a tad. Look to the live feeds that regularly beam out from zoos and aquariums nowadays. Bevies of fans keep avid watch and share sightings on social media. These fans include the bird buffs who've been following the Magellanic Penguin chicks at our own Aquarium of the Pacific.

Webcam watchers have been patiently waiting for a first waddle, a first peep, a first show of curiosity. Squee, squee, and squee.

But an auspicious moment has arrived: Two of the four chicks will join the grown-up penguins inside the Long Beach aquarium's June Keyes Penguin Habitat. The public debut date? It's Wednesday, Aug. 27 at 9 a.m.

There are webcams in the habitat, too, "allowing people around the world to tune in to catch a glimpse of the chicks exploring the habitat for the first time and meeting with their parents." Even better, for the penguin completest? "Cameras are located above and below the water, giving viewers up-close and candid looks at the lives of the Aquarium’s penguins," says the institution.

If you've been a viewer following along with the chicks' growth, there's a chance you could name it. Jump into the Adopt an Animal program at the $100 limited edition penguin chick level and maybe see your moniker fit the chick. If it is the staffers' pick, you'll get to go behind the scenes and watch feedings and such.

Feedings? We'll say it yet again: squee. The only issue with seeing the penguin chicks live in the habitat, rather than from the privacy of your home computer, is your cooing and squealing will now be heard by other aquarium attendees within earshot.

Don't worry. Everyone loves those animal webcams, so coo and squeal away.

Photo Credit: Hugh Ryono]]>
<![CDATA[Queen Mary Sails Back to the 1930s]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 08:49:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/artdecowkdqm1.jpg

Many of us have likely received a birthday card listing the prices of milk and cars from the year we were born, and the fashions, and the popular songs, and such.

It's quaint, all righty, but the card does not transport us back to that time. The Queen Mary gets a sort of card each year, in the form of the Labor Day Weekend Art Deco celebration that zips it right back to the early 1930s, when it was first constructed on the River Clyde in Scotland.

Nope, the card isn't paper, nor is there an envelope; rather fans of the era's look, and of vintage architecture, board the boat in period wear, looking to frolic, hobnob, and serve as living, breathing reminders of the Queen Mary's 1930s start.

Is Art Deco Weekend all about stroking walls and sighing over in-laid details and considering the sunburst and chevron detailing of the ship? Yes, there's a lot of that, because architecture, and the marvel that was and is Art Deco, is the main player.

But Prohibition tastings -- think cocktails while you're being and looking your swellest -- and a Sunday tea dance and a brunch and vintage bazaar round out the popular and in-depth design tours. Call it a pretty immersive trip into a decade 80 years gone by.

Not just immersive, but impish, too: The Friday night "lounge wear" party -- think fancy, shiny pajamas and those slipper-type mules with the feathers -- includes tabletop horse-racing and the admiring of people in their after-hours wear. Are you going to look as though you stepped straight out of a screwball comedy romance? You better.

Tickets for events start at fifteen dollars, but there are fuller options, and stay-over packages, too for the Aug. 28 through Sept. 1 doings. By the by, this is year 10 for the robust gathering, so bet you'll hear "decade" tossed about a lot (as it should be -- ten years of any celebration is brag-worthy).

Happy time-travel-ing, Art-Deco-ists.

Photo Credit: Queen Mary]]>
<![CDATA[New: Chinese Lantern Landscape at LA County Fair]]> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 18:45:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/luminasialafair.jpg

We humans often say that something drawn to something else is much like "a moth to a flame" but we're not totally above finding ourselves pulled towards an object that flutters with mysterious illumination.

Curiosity? A point of light in the night? However you break it down, people like glow.

And nighttime sparkle and a large-scale county fair go together as well as a midway and a row of lit-up rides. But the Los Angeles County Fair, "the largest county fair in the nation," is on the fanciful forefront of going one-better-ville and trying new stuff.

So what's the new stuff in 2014, in terms of lighting up the night? It's actually quite old and very storied: The Pomona-based fair is introducing a walk-through Chinese lantern experience. But Luminasia is taking the traditional look of a lantern and journeying int the worlds of glowing flowers and bright-cute animals and, yes, even the city of Los Angeles.

Meaning this: One of Luminasia's four distinct zones will celebrate some of the well-known buildings of LA, like TCL Chinese Theatre, Capitol Records, and the Hollywood Sign.

Will seeing Tinseltown's most famous nine letters, all aglow, make you wish the real sign were lit each night?

The three other lantern-rich zones include Wonders of the World, Garden Earth, and Myths & Legends, which will feature a Fenghuang phoenix and the Legend of the Lunar Goddess Change. Several dozen artists journeyed from Zigong, China to create the bulb-pretty sculptures, many of which are quite large and well beyond the petiter lantern shape.

The fair is "Luminasia's first appearance in California."

So does the midway's glitter have competition from the "vibrant landscape of wonder" making its LA County Fair debut? We think there's enough room for the glimmer of the Ferris wheel and the luminosity of the over-sized lanterns.

Call the new nighttime experience an excellent complement to the fair's sparkly character, with a hefty dose of history, whimsy, and local love thrown in.

The 92nd annual Los Angeles County Fair glows in Pomona from Friday, Aug. 29 through Sunday, Sept. 28.

Photo Credit: LA County Fair]]>
<![CDATA[Bat-Signal Is Bright at Warner Bros.]]> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 16:17:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/batsignalwb1.jpg

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.]]>
<![CDATA[Struts, Rescues, Surfing Dogs: A Trio of Hound Haps]]> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 08:38:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/219*120/dogstrut1323.jpg

Back-to-school times are in the air, but so are a bevy of barkly to-dos of the nicest, fundraise-iest order. Some you can bring your own pup to, some you just need to have the code to help out a shelter dog.

Dog devotees, you're on track for...

Strut Your Mutt: For sure, Best Friends is behind this much-attended day out -- the full name is Best Friends Animal Society's 5th Annual Strut Your Mutt in LA -- and, absolutely, plenty of dough is stirred up for dogs needing homes.

The Saturday, Sept. 6 walk at Will Rogers State Park has a few interesting twists of the tail (we're picturing a twisty Pug's tail, of course): You can choose the length of your walk or run, with three shortish courses on tap. Eat|See|Hear, the outdoor cinema people, will show a flick and have themed to-dos. And shall there be live tunes and food trucks? Goodness, yes, there shall be.  

National Dog Day: If you Uber it on Tuesday, Aug. 26, enter the code DOGVACAY into the app and bingo: five bucks'll go to START Rescue, "a non-profit dedicated to saving dogs from high-kill shelters" (START also gives dogs lifts to shelters where they can wait to be adopted). DogVacay is teaming with Uber on this one.

And the five bucks? Yep, they'll help START transport pups between shelters.

Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon: The cameras whirring in Del Mar during this popular happening might rival the sound of the waves crashing (okay, but not quite). It's dogs on surfboards, with their humans, and the Helen Woodward Animal Center of Rancho Santa Fe is the beneficiary. There've been surf classes for the canines all summer -- now the show, and the helping out, revs up on Sunday, Sept. 7.

Seriously, bring your camera, and all the "ahhhs" and "ohhhs" you can muster: Waggers on waves tend to elicit the emotions.

Photo Credit: Strut Your Mutt]]>
<![CDATA[That Culture-Loving Bike Ride: Tour da Arts]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 18:23:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/smmoabiketour1.jpg

There are pub crawls in this world -- think of revelers strolling from tavern to tavern, enjoying a brew at each -- and there are progressive dinner parties, where pals hop from one apartment to the next, in order to try a new course made by friends.

But cycle join-ups? You don't hear of this fun philosophy applying as much to the spokes scene, where it can be, at least in some minds, very "get on your bikes and ride" (with all due respect to Queen). That's changing, thanks to events like CicLAvia and LA River happenings, and thanks, in very large part, to the Santa Monica Museum of Art's annual Tour da Arts, which rolled past its half-decade anniversary in 2013.

This year? It happens on Sunday, Aug. 24. It's free but you need to register.

What is it, exactly? SMMoA describes it thusly: "Enjoy the creative side of bicycle culture on this casual, nine-mile ride filled with art, music, and theater."

So the afternoon basically looks like this: You start out at the museum, with your wheels, enjoy some theater, some bike tips, some art. Food and beverages are for sale.

Then at 2 p.m., you and your fellow cyclists pedal out into Santa Monica, visiting the Santa Monica Bay Women's Club for electronic music and Barnum Hall at Santa Monica High for a performance involving shadow, "fantastic dreamscapes," and more whimsical treats.

You'll pull back into the museum and its Bergamot Station location to behold a scene from Homer's "Odyssey," a bit that's "been adapted for contemporary Los Angeles." Intriguing.

This is, as they say, or should, only the tip of the handlebars. General good vibes and lively actions shall flow from the bike-cultural confab, so bring your helmet, your curiosity, your cycle, and your desire to see events like pub crawls and progressive dinners rise, on the up-and-up, in the two-wheelin' world.

Because why not? There's no official document that says one must arrive to enjoy a play or concert by car, is there? (Answer: nope.)

Photo Credit: Santa Monica Museum of Art]]>
<![CDATA[Dunkin' Donuts Opening: Santa Monica, You're Up First (and Soon)]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 18:05:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dunkin11.jpg

The future is often described as "hazy." We can't see into it, we don't know what's to come, and we all need to cool our heels on the guessing/speculating/prognosticating.

But the future, at least Southern California's future, could definitely be described these days as "glaze-y," as in a delicious tasty glaze atop the perfect cake donut. The highly anticipated Dunkin' Donut "full expression" locations are on their way -- four in all -- with the first to open ahead of 2015, which was an early prediction from the Massachusetts-based company.

But dunk this official announcement in your coffee, SoCalers: The first regional shop throws the doors open at 5 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 2 at 1132 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica. There shall ribbon-cutting. There shall be giveaways. The first 100 people to queue up get a special tote bag. Mascots Cuppy and Sprinkles'll be in the house.

And the first person in line? Hoo boy, prepare yourself: They'll nab free coffee for one year.

Seriously, is someone already lining up? Sunscreen and comfy chair and all? People are devoted to that brew, for sure.

"The new Santa Monica franchise will be operated by Gary Haar, an experienced Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins operator for more than 10 years, and his business partner Steve Silverstein," says the company.

Dunkin' Donuts made the official announcement on Friday, Aug. 22, which'll give enthusiasts, the curious, and locally based New Englanders a week-and-a-half to get stoked for the kremes, excited for jelly donuts, mad for muffins.

But people are pretty dang excited already. The doughnut-a-terium, which jumped into the pastry-making business back in 1950, has long been one of the food "gets" for the Golden State.

Fans wanted it to head west something fierce.

So hang tight, fans, because the future is glaze-y: Three more SoCal shops shall follow Santa Monica, in the months ahead, including outposts in Whittier, Downey, and Long Beach. Oh, and one in Modesto, too, so hello, friends up the 99.

Munchkins for the holidays, right? Who's with us on that? Donut devotees, near and far? Yep. The day of Dunkin' has arrived, SoCal.

<![CDATA[Johnny Ramone Tribute: Hollywood Forever Ceremony]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:31:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/jr51996175.jpg

Hollywood Forever, that storied final resting place just north of Paramount Studios, is very much associated with the silver screen stars of yore, actors who glittered in movie houses nearly a century ago.

But the Santa Monica Boulevard landmark is not simply about remembering Rudolph Valentino and other luminaries of early cinema: A statue of one of music's biggest legends stands with his guitar in the peaceful place, a robust and vibrant reminder of the life of Johnny Ramone.

The punk rock icon succumbed to prostate cancer in September 2004, and while fans of The Ramones regularly visit his gravesite to flags, flowers, bottles of beer, and other tokens, a large-scale tribute is ahead, and just ahead of the 10th anniversary of his passing.

Linda Ramone remembers her husband alongside musician-filmmaker Rob Zombie, comedian Fred Armisen, Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols, Robby Krieger of The Doors, MC5's Wayne Kramer, and rocker Duff McKagan. The artists, and others, will join the Sunday, Aug. 24 tribute, which begins at 5 p.m.

A screening of Mr. Zombie's "The Devils Rejects" is part of the evening's memory-filled, art-celebratory evening. The musicians in attendance are expected to play some classic Ramones tunes, too, inside the property's Masonic Lodge (a simulcast will be screened for viewers in the cemetery).

Tickets? They're  $20 to $75. The beneficiary? The Johnny Ramone Foundation and Dr. David Agus of the USC Keck School of Medicine.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Marine Animal Medical: Visit the Aquarium Care Center]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:22:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/molinaanimalcareaquarium.JPG

If you can recall visiting zoos and aquariums a few decades back, you likely remember a distinct dividing line between the animals you saw splashing in pools or snoozing on boulders and the care and feeding of those animals, those necessary daily duties that happened off-stage and tucked well behind-the-scenes.

That's changed, and is changing. Many "back walls" have been raised in a plethora of public-facing institutions, and animal parks are among the ones at the forefront of this movement. Look to the Walnut Creek Wildlife Hospital, which gives summer visitors a view to beastie check-ups, and the kitchen at the Santa Barbara Zoo, which provides visitors a peek at the residents' meals for the day.

The Molina Animal Care Center at the Aquarium of the Pacific is another such "open-wall" area. The center "provides enhanced healthcare to our animals as well as opportunities for our guests to view veterinary medicine in action." Quarantine areas, high-powered microscopes, x-ray technology, and other medical necessities fill out the 14,000-square-foot space, which debuted in 2010.

Interactive kiosks help visitors get up-to-speed on how marine animals are tended to in the center while a staffer explains a live procedure once every day. There are viewing windows, which may give you a view to "an otter getting its teeth cleaned."

That? We want to see. Like, a lot.

And just ahead for the Aquarium? The 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, Sept. 6 is a biggie, and takes in some of the pretty coastline around the institution. But, before that, two baby penguins, born behind-the-scenes, will make their waddly debut at the June Keyes Penguin Habitat on Wednesday, Aug. 27.

Photo Credit: Aquarium of the Pacific]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend: Tall Ships, Cannon Battles, Rubber Ducks]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:05:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tallshipssanpedro2.jpg

TALL SHIPS FESTIVAL: For sure, the vast vessels'll be out and skimming about the Port of Los Angeles (think American Pride, the Schooner Curlew, and the Bill of Rights among them). Definitely, there shall be cannon battles and kid activities and chances to go aboard. But you know everyone is all aquack about the World's Largest Duck, a six-story inflatable, floatable artwork, visiting the shiply confab? It's the whimsical phenom's first West Coast visit, by the by. Through Sunday Aug. 24

FYF FEST: It's sold out, but that's no surprise, since this two-day music festival has been growing like a well-watered seed in fresh soil over the last eleven years. It lands at LA Sports Arena & Exposition Park this go-around -- a long way from its early club beginnings -- and it brings with it The Strokes, Haim, Interpol, Phoenix, Grimes, Built to Spill, and Kindness. We said it was sold out, yeah? Thank goodness you can ride Expo Line there. (Said casually, as a suggestion, but you really probably should.) Saturday, Aug. 23 and Sunday, Aug. 24

LOS ANGELES FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL: So you say you like cuisine-focused happenings where chefs are up for chitchat and restaurants are up for serving their best bites and foodists are up for tasting events that pay tribute to specific ingredients, beverages, eats. You're in luck: This stalwart is spreading out, as in past years, to Santa Monica, Hollywood, Downtown, and Beverly Hills. The to-dos are a la carte, so do what you like. And is it on through Sunday, Aug. 24? Can't talk, mouth full.

'90s NIGHT: They say that trends and pop-culture-y things take about 20 years to come back around, which means we're all rocking 1994-style scrunchies and chokers right about now, yes? Good. Then take your '90s-outfitted self to the Music Center Plaza on Friday, Aug. 22, for Dance Downtown. It's all '90s tunes and dance favorites, all night, and it is free. By the by, some "running man" moves are promised during the event. Not as easy as it looks, but what a crowd-pleaser.

DOWNTOWN DARK NIGHTS: Once and awhile, every now and again, there isn't much doing, entertainment- and sports-wise, at L.A. Live. Nokia Theatre is quite, Staples Center, too. With that in mind, the complex is launching a Happy-Hour-y affair that'll include five-buck food specials at participating restaurants and five-buck parking in a particular area of the garages. Live tunes, street performers, and other diversions await, downtowners. The first run is on Friday, Aug. 22.

Photo Credit: Tall Ships]]>
<![CDATA[Northridge Earthquake, on Stage, with Songs]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 07:08:04 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/northridgeoperamusical.jpg

There was a day, several decades ago, where musicals, whether they were set on stage or the screen, took on a certain flavor and sunny outlook. Peppy, hearts aglow numbers were standard, as were a festive finale and themes that were as candy-flavored as the treats sold in the lobby concession.

But a stage production lush with songs doesn't have to be all daisies and lollipops. Look to opera, for one, which has the thunder and breast-beating delightfully down pat. Look to musical works taking on less-than-rosy themes, like Steven Sondheim's "Assassins." And look to "I was looking at the ceiling and then I saw the sky," an "earthquake romance" from composer John Adams.

Not just any earthquake: Mr. Adams, and late poet June Jordan, have focused on the 1994 Northridge shaker.

And members of the Long Beach Opera will take the roles of a group of young Angelenos. Mr. Adams says "the characters, all inner-city young people in their twenties, play out their personal dramas against the backdrop of specific social and political themes.”

While the "song play" -- not quite a musical, but not a ditty-free drama, either -- has traveled the globe. "Ceiling/sky" premiered in Berkeley in 1995, not long after the earthquake that serves as its structure, and has enjoyed stagings in Montreal, Helsinki, and New York, it has never been presented in Los Angeles.

That changes on Saturday, Aug. 23 when a one-night-only performance goes live at The Ford Theatre.

Andreas Mitisek, artistic director for the Long Beach Opera, says “It’s surprising that Ceiling/Sky has never been done in L.A. We’re righting a wrong with this performance." Mr. Mitisek concludes that the piece "speaks to the time," as all art should when considering a real historic event, one that rippled out into millions of lives. 

Tickets are $60-$100.

Photo Credit: LB Opera]]>
<![CDATA[New at L.A. Live: Downtown Dark Nights]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 12:37:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lalivedark12344.jpg

Ever wandered by a theater or rink or plaza that often hosts mondo events -- big hockey face-offs, humongous concerts, tony tune-filled productions -- on a quiet afternoon? It can be a little silent, so silent that you can hear a flier for a past game or show blow by past your feet, scraping along the sidewalk.

That sidewalk scrape is pretty unknown 'round L.A. Live. Even when the entertainment complex is free of concerts at Nokia Theatre or Club Nokia and games at Staples Center or its seasonal ice rink, the restaurants and Grammy Museum and hotels keep the destination bustling.

And will bustle even harder beginning on Friday, Aug. 22 when Downtown Dark Nights kicks off. It's a "local community celebration" set to bring an after-hours, Happy Hour-esque vibe to the complex. The "Dark Nights" bit reveals that the event will coincide, from time to time, when "no major events" are scheduled to fill out the complex.

Staples Center, Nokia Theatre, and Club Nokia? They'll be on the quiet side, but Nokia Plaza will not be: "local street performers, musicians, artists, dance groups, DJs, and more" will keep the fizzy feeling pumped and five-buck menu specials at the eateries will be part of the meal side of the merriment.

Oh yeah, also merry? Parking is a fiver in the West Garage via Gate B. There's a bike valet, too, in case you roll up, two wheel-style.

Will there be more to come? Well, the L.A. Live crew has to wait for those quiet in-between moments, and they do happen, though not often. Watch this space and take a look at the Dark Nights menus while you're at it. Clearly "$5" is the number to remember, both for plates and parking.

Very Happy Hour-esque, for sure.

Photo Credit: AEG Creative]]>
<![CDATA[Rubber Duck in SoCal: Spy Past Sightings]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:57:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/222*120/duck+san+pedro+1.jpg Excited to see the mega ducky in San Pedro? Eye his former sojourns.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Madonna Memorabilia Auction: Early Sneak Peek]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 08:16:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tlmd_madonna21.jpg The "Material Girl" dress, a yearbook, and more items go on the block in November.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tasty Exhibit: SoCal's Famous Menus]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 17:42:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/library_brown-derby-coffee-cover12.jpg

There are things that arrive on paper, often with illustrations, that are happy-making -- say, a favorite storybook from childhood -- and there are some things that arrive on paper, with prices, that tend to cause heartburn -- say, an unexpected bill for that car problem you believed was solved.

But what's the paper item that arrives bearing a bunch of prices and oftentimes illustrations that inspires the reader to be flush with good feeling? It is, indeed, a menu. And when you're holding one in your hands, dreaming of the club sandwich or steak you're about to enjoy, all feels pretty dang right in your world.

And if your world has been Los Angeles over the last 30 or 40 or 70 years, you've likely seen your fair share of colorful, wacky, and elegant menus, many for restaurants that have been gone for 30 or 40 or 70 years.

Many of those menus, perhaps even a menu you once held, are cataloged within the Los Angeles Public Library. It's a "vast collection," says the library, and numerous artifacts will go on display at the Central Library as part of the To Live and Dine in LA exhibit.

The exhibit, due in 2015, is as big as buffet: USC Annenberg professor Josh Kun and several of his students "combed the Library's roughly 9,000-piece menu collection, piecing together an unprecedented history of how, where, and what people ate in Los Angeles over the past century."

You'll see some famous hotspots in the mix -- hiya, Brown Derby -- and some locations that have completely slipped your memory, and probably our collective city memory, too.

Thank goodness something that can be as ephemeral as a menu is being looked after, and collected, by our library system. What are the menus we collect? Take-out places down the street? Perhaps, but we likely don't have 9,000 of them stuffed in a kitchen drawer.

A book and public programs will be tied with the large-scale menu-and-restaurant exhibit. To have a peek at what's to come, much in the way one might when scanning a menu ahead of an anticipated meal, tuck in your napkin and make for the official To Live and Dine in LA headquarters.

Photo Credit: The Brown Derby]]>
<![CDATA[Madonna's Personal Items: Largest Auction Ever]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 08:18:04 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/madonna722best.jpg

Music videos from the 1980s overflow with iconic and outlandish outfits, from David Byrne's oversized white suit in various Talking Heads clips to Cyndi Lauper's tulle-laden tutus.

But the fashion, aesthetic, and theme of the era is often epitomized in a single dress: the pink strapless evening gown worn by Madonna in 1985's "Material Girl" video (which itself was an homage to Marilyn Monroe in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"). Can you picture the frock? Enormous bow on back?

It could be yours, and will be someone's, once "the largest collection of Madonna memorabilia from her personal and professional life" goes up for bidding at Julien's Auctions in November.

Up for grabs? The aforementioned "Material Girl" dress and stole (which Julien's estimates at $20,000 to $40,000), several costumes from "Evita" and "A League of Their Own" and "The Next Best Thing," and a number of seen-in-music-videos pieces as well.

"(H)andwritten notes on concert choreography," a number of lyrics in the performer's hand, and, yep, Madonna's AFTRA guild card are on the block as well, in addition to a bevy of photographs and negatives.

Of deep interest to the Madonna completest? Her 1988 day-planner. Did you have a day-planner in 1988? Many people did, but only a few have an appearance on "Late Night with David Letterman" penciled in.

A make-up compact and a school yearbook round out some of the more offbeat items.

Want to take a look or put in an offer? The public exhibition will be at Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills from Nov. 3 through 6, with the live and online auction to follow on Nov. 7 and 8.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Smell This: Stinky the Corpse Flower's Back, San Marino]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 17:49:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/corpseflowerstinky5.jpg

Another day, another rare Amorphophallus titanum ready to bloom and stinkify the air in its general vicinity, right? 

Well, not quite. The so-called Corpse Flower is not your garden variety carnation -- sorry, carnations, you actually rock and deserve a renaissance -- and it doesn't come along all that often.

Exhibit A? Our own world-class Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, the ultimate cream of the unusual blossom-possessing crop in many flower fans' eyes, has only housed four Corpse Flowers, ever.

Make that five: Stinky 5 is currently holding court at the San Marino institution, and the flower's much-anticipated bloom is set to occur between Wednesday, Aug. 20 and Saturday, Aug. 23.

If you know the gargantuan and elegantly eerie Corpse Flower, you know this: It does not wear a wristwatch and it shall not be rushed into blooming before it is good and ready to do so. Also know this: When it finally does open it up, its foul whiff shall cause many a face to contort.

Prepare, noses of Southern California.

Stinky 5 -- or, if you prefer, Stinky the Fifth, which seems more suitable, given the royal subject matter of many of The Huntington's paintings -- is currently passing its pre-blooming, anticipation-building time in The Conservatory. Want to keep tabs? Instagram and Twitter are your tab-keeping go-tos. Look for frequent updates, fun photos, and such.

Amorphophallus titanum is "(n)ative to the equatorial rain forests of Sumatra" and "can reach more than 6 feet in height," says the institution. The plant "can also go many years without blooming," so the anticipation in the soon-to-be-stinky air is, yes, palpable.

A few other Corpse Flowers have called upon our neck of the woods over the last year or so, including specimens in Santa Barbara and Costa Mesa.

The Huntington is also posting a daily height watch here, so that's fun, if you like strange flowers with wicked odors that are rare as all get-out. And who doesn't?

And, seriously, flower people: Can't we give carnations a chance? Not ironically, either. None of us will ever wear a Corpse Flower corsage, meaning carnations deserve a little more respect.

Photo Credit: The Huntington]]>
<![CDATA[New Shrieks Afoot: LA Haunted Hayride]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 07:24:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/hauntedhayridepumpkins1.jpg

We're a town with screenplay jumpstarters on the brain. Thousands of SoCalers can instantly recommend the best time for a fictional first date, the best twist in a crime story, the best ending to a romcom.

And if those screenwriters had to pick a location for a hayride that's taken a turn for the very scary? Well, they'd put it someplace like the Old Zoo, in Griffith Park, which has a name, and look, which lend eerie atmosphere.

Los Angeles Haunted Hayride has lived up to -- or do we we mean died up to? -- its highly inventive Southern California setting for the past half decade, via creepy rides, theatrical shows of the foulest bent, near-total-darkness walk-throughs, and mirthfully macabre actors summoning the giggly screams out of visitors.

And the al fresco fright night is gearing up for its sixth outing, which debuts on Friday, Oct. 3. Three new attractions have been announced for the event, which is doning a rift-from-the-Underworld, seven-deadly-sins-y feel for this year, like a vampire might don his cape.


On tap among the trees of the Old Zoo? An "experience" introducing guests to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the Theatre Macabre, an In-Between Dark Maze (you're given a low-voltage lamp and sent into a very shadowy labyrinth), a 40-foot Leviathan, sway polers (an astounding sight), and lots more stuff aiming to tingle spines.

Meaning that the Haunted Hayride is way, way beyond the hayride perimeters, by this point, which any screenplay-smart SoCaler would tell you is exactly what a scary spot needs to do, to up the ante.

Consider the ante up as one of LA's premiere Halloween destinations clip-clops, horseman-style, into the autumn of 2014.

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Haunted Hayride]]>
<![CDATA[Gourmetzia: New Posh Food Show Samples Up Downtown]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 15:38:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/237*120/gourmet2e41.jpg

(* Note: Gourmetzia and the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco are not affiliated.)

Where do your thoughts turn come the first day of autumn?

Probably, if you call Southern California home, not to the purchasing of rakes and leaf bags. Fall 'round this slice of the Golden State is a tad sunnier -- and Santa-Ana-windier -- than most places, but we do experience some of the longings of the season.

Like? A wish for deeper, richer tastes, posher bites, fancier foodstuffs. Look to any magazine cover around September for a shift from summer-lite to swanker fare. Or look to Gourmetzia, a new fancy food show set to debut over the weekend ahead of fall at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The big question, when it comes to events like this, though: Is it open to the public, or just people who own a toque, chef's knife, and a restaurant? The big answer? You betcha.

Tickets go on sale Aug. 20.

"(D)ozens of gourmet food and beverage companies will be arriving in Los Angeles," the better to bring chocolates and olive oils and tony toffees and breads and other richly flavored, deep-bodied edibles to people look for a few tidbits to posh up their plates.

Does that mean samples shall be handed out? Oh yes, and, for sure, attendees can buy, too.

Primizie Crispbreads, Olive Oil Boutique, Darby's English Toffee, Seven Angels Cellars, and Hangar 24 Craft Brewery are a few of the exhibitors lined up.

Tickets go on sale on Wednesday, Aug. 20 for the Saturday, Sept. 20 and Sunday, Sept. 21 happening. VIP and early admission choices are available. Need to know more before you prepare to poshly nosh? Click.

Photo Credit: Gourmetzia]]>
<![CDATA[World's Largest Duck Swimming for SoCal]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:36:30 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/rubberduck181118257.jpg

Many things can be (and have been) said about the great city of Los Angeles, but a completely factual assertion is this: We're wild for large objects appearing in unlikely situations.

"Levitated Mass," the giant "hovering" boulder at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art? Qualifies. How about when the Space Shuttle Endeavour squeezed through narrow streets on its roll to the California Science Center? Yes. And, heck, can we give it up for the ginormous pastry atop Randy's Donuts? Applause, applause.

Next up on SoCal's gargantuan-things-in-odd-spots calendar? A bright yellow ducky, the kind that might appear in a bathtub, but multiplied in general size by, like, 40,000, give or take. Artist Florentijn Hofman's Rubber Duck Project, which has unleashed whimsy and countless whirring cameras in China, Australia, and, indeed, Pittsburgh, is set for its first West Coast appearance at San Pedro's Tall Ships Festival.

The mondo masts'll sail into the Port of Los Angeles from Wednesday, Aug. 20 through Sunday, Aug. 24.

Along with what is undoubtedly going to be the star of the shiply spectacular, the mammoth rubber duck. Mr. Hofman created the out-sized toy-like fowl, an inflatable sculpture with "healing properties," to "relieve the world's tensions as well as define them," says the artist. "The Rubber Duck knows no frontiers, it doesn't discriminate people, and it doesn't have a political connotation."

The sunshine-hued, ship-big plaything has appeared against some interesting settings, skyscrapers among them, but the famous tall ships should provide a backdrop, and a complement, that'll draw photographers throughout the region.

The mega artwork's measurements, by the by, are listed as 10 x 11 x 13 meters. It involves a pontoon, too, as you might imagine.

Will you go to behold the lucky duck? We're only the second North American city to be visited, but the duck chose wisely. After all, we're pretty good with large things presented in offbeat ways.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Help NASA: Urban Tree Tracker Project]]> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 15:31:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/treetrackernhm.jpg

That oh-so-noticeable drop in temperature, when you turn the corner from a tree-less street onto an avenue lined with leafy branches? We've all experienced it, the shift from a warmer to cooler microclimate, in just a few steps.

It isn't just a random, pass-by experience, but a rather significant one. And NASA is intent on studying microclimates around our region with microclimate-minded fly-overs. The goal of the fly-overs? The agency is looking to "develop models" to "identify interacting relationships between climate, land cover, temperature, evaporation rates, and demographic patterns across LA."

"On the ground data will corroborate the NASA aerial imagery collected during flights at the end of August and September 2014," says the Natural History Museum, which is working with NASA on the Earthwatch Tree Tracker project, which considers "the cooling effect of urban trees."

So how can we help Earthwatch out? By lending a hand as part of a citizen science group set on "identifying trees and taking measurements" at the Natural History Museum's Nature Gardens and south lawn. "On the ground data will corroborate the NASA aerial imagery collected during flights at the end of August and September 2014."

The date is Saturday, Aug. 23. It's free to participate but you'll need to RSVP to nature@nhm.org, as space is limited. If you can't visit the Exposition Park institution, a number of organizations shall spread out at various green spaces to take measurements.

Tree Tracker comes with three initiatives that citizen scientists should keep in mind as they gather data. One question to ponder: "How do different tree species and configurations of trees cool both the parks they are growing in, as well as the neighborhoods the parks border?"

Interesting stuff, and worthy ideas to ponder. Leafy trees acting as cooling agents in our urban spaces is a hot topic, and one sure to grow in prominence. Playing a part today can positively impact a time far down the road, citizen scientists of Southern California. Here's how to get involved.

Photo Credit: MARIO de LOPEZ]]>
<![CDATA[Wiltern Tour: Peek Behind the Scenes]]> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 12:20:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/wilterntourtheatre1.jpg

It's sometimes called the greeniest building in all of Los Angeles -- yep, even over the Easter Columbia building, which leans more turquoise -- and it definitely reigns as just about the Art-Deco-iest, which is saying something in our Art Deco-bedecked city.

We speak of the Wiltern Theatre, the landmark entertainment venue that has to be one of the easiest places in town to find. Not only is it the greeniest building around, but, yep, it has its location in its very name: Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue.

Been to a concert at the historic gem, which is connected to the Pellissier Building? Maybe twenty concerts? Get to know the 1931 building better, with a behind-the-scenes, fact-fun tour led by LA Historic Theatre Foundation members on Sunday, Aug. 17.

Tickets are $15.

The informative walk, which will contain four ongoing loops in various parts of the capacious venue, will cover the Wiltern's full story, including how it was nearly demolished at the end of 1970s.

On the agenda? Talks about its early vaudeville days, and the bridge that was built across the street to handle its splashy opening, and how the seats that were removed to create the tiered platforms are in storage. (Yep, current steward Live Nation did not throw those chairs out.)

Chairs, of course, still exist in the Wiltern's balcony, which is the perfect spot to admire the Art Deco "skyscrapers" on the theater's ceiling.

A peek at the dressing rooms, too, is on the tour.

So, the last time you went to a concert there: Did you rush through the lobby? Into a darkened theater? With nary a look-around?

Go deeper. And start here:

photo: LAHTF/Hunter Kerhart

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation]]>
<![CDATA[Volleyball Mojo: AVP Manhattan Beach Open]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 14:11:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/mb89091804.jpg

Beach recreation is the epitome of easy-breezy, no-worry-no-hurry, fun in the sun in most people's minds. Stick your feet in some waves, catch rays, draw a heart in the sand.

Beach volleyball? It's the awesomely muscled, pure-power other end of the spectrum. It's the opposite of chillaxing, and while "fun in the sun" is certainly part of the equation for both the athletes and the spectators, head-first dives into the sand, superhero-like leaps at the net, and spikes of pure power are the order of the day.

Witness this, in person, during one of the biggest tourneys to hit the shores of Southern California. It's the AVP Manhattan Beach Open, and it's at the nets through Sunday, Aug. 17.

The Association of Volleyball Professionals has been bringing top-notch v-ballery to cities around the country for over 30 years, but watching it Pacific-side, with the likes of players like Kerri Walsh Jennings, Whitney Pavlik, and a host of forearm-fierce athletes is a very specific SoCal pleasure.

It's year 55 for the Manhattan Beach Open, which makes it "the longest, continuous tournament in the sport of beach volleyball." A Manhattan Beach Open Walk of Fame Pier ceremony is part of the weekend program, too.

As for tickets? Check it out: It's free to see. Now that's pretty easy-breezy and very fun in the sun.

Play kicks off each day, Friday through Sunday, at 9 a.m. Ready for the best of the best in that classic, sandy-footed, multi-netted SoCal setting? 'Tis the season for world-class beach volleyball.

And if you can't get enough of the AVP action, hold tight: It's in Huntington Beach in the middle of September.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SoCal Beach Volleyball: Mighty Matches Through the Years]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 12:47:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/452756836.jpg Look back at tourneys from LBC, Hermosa, and Manhattan Beach.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Weekend: The Great Sand Sculpture Contest]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 07:37:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/LBCSandSculptureBeach.jpg

THE GREAT SAND SCULPTURE CONTEST: If you've ever watched a small, moist structure come together, grainily, on a beach, you must have an opinion or two. What makes the perfect sand castle? Is it in the detail and little touches? The height of the towers? How quickly the build goes? You can ponder these debate-spurring topics at 1 Granada Avenue in Long Beach. Saturday, Aug. 16 the professional sculptors'll be out with their tools, and on Sunday the 17th? It's the community team sculpting day. And, for sure, these artworks go way beyond the classic castle (though you might see a cameo or two).

FRIED CHICKEN FESTIVAL: The known fact about one of summertime's perennial supper favorites is this: It is versatile. Very versatile. There are probably as many ways to coat fried chicken as there are chefs who make the dish, and there are various manners of serving it up, too (tenders, patties, and more). Want to get to know a few different tastes with some haute sides to complement the chicken's zing? Head for Chinatown on Sunday, Aug. 17. Beers and treats and more savory doings await, but, really: It's about the fried chicken, right?

LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL TEA FESTIVAL: The Nisei Week Japanese Festival activities continue around Little Tokyo through the weekend, including a steam-sweet, liquid-lovely happening at the Japanese-American National Museum. Want to learn about the health benefits of tea? Need to know more of oolong? Wanting to plan a traditional tea ceremony? There is much to see, and sip, on Saturday, Aug. 16 and Sunday, Aug. 17.

ALL ABOUT THE WILTERN: So you've seen five -- or ten -- or thirty shows at the Wiltern Theatre over the years? High fives. Now is the moment to bone up on the Art Deco landmark's history, quirks, and characters via a dig-deeper tour. Can you name the design on the ceiling? That's right -- it's skyscrapers. Truly a gem, that Wiltern. Big word, and we mean it. Sunday, Aug. 17

AWESOME '80S RUN 5K: So all of your pastel blazers, the ones with the sleeves you can roll up, and the neon green t-shirts with the mega shoulder pads, are in the front of your closet, pressed and ready for wearing? You're in luck. A whole bunch of people are going to side ponytail it and make for the Rose Bowl, where people in the fashion-y costume of a certain decade will proceed to run five kilometers. Tunes of the era? Other quirky additions? Yes and yes. Be there on Sunday, Aug. 17.

Photo Credit: The Great Sand Sculpture Contest]]>
<![CDATA[Neon On: Pasadena Awesome '80s Run]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 16:44:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/awesomepasadena80srun.jpg

While every decade of the past century has had a pretty distinctive fashion vibe -- though, seriously, aughts, we're still kind of waiting to see what you'll be, nearly a half decade later -- it is hard to beat the 1980s for sheer brightness.

All of that neon and plaid and pastel will out-bright, out-kapow, and out-glimmer the flapper dresses of the '20s and go-go boots of the 1960s. No wonder "Sunglasses at Night" became a standard of the era; '80s people required 'em in the face of all of that eye-testing clothing.

Thus any event that involves the wearing of '80s parachute pants and leg warmers and stretchy sweatbands that takes place in the bright morning may have the approximate power of a dozen suns. Or, more likely, oodles of charm.

Charm-oodling up the Rose Bowl on Sunday, Aug. 17 is the Awesome '80s Run 5K. Yep, there's a costume contest. Indeed, you'll nab a "circa 1980s style t-shirt" for finishing. And, for sure, there are medals.

As for what to wear? We'd think comfort first, neon-amazingness second. You don't want that skinny piano tie flapping in your face, and your mother said to never run in your jellies. Best wear sneakers of some sort, vintage if you like, if you don't mind hoofing it for five kilometers in 30-year-old shoes.

Other '80s stuff'll festoon the event, like games, props, and an '80s cover band. And there are team nods, too, for Largest Team and Best Group Costume. Who is going as Pac-Man and the Ghosts? The characters from "The Princess Bride"? You can do it, '80s enthusiasts.

Just remember, when picking out that shiny-wear apparel, that it is morning, and it has been decades since people have been accustomed to the bright-a-tude that was '80s wear. Tread carefully, dig out the parachute pants, and save those jellies to rock after the run, not during.

Photo Credit: Awesome '80s Run 5K]]>
<![CDATA[Universal Mazes Announced: "Dracula Untold" ]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 11:40:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/hhndraculauntold.jpg

Ever stopped by a shop and spied something that pays tribute to the business's beginnings? Perhaps in a frame on the wall, near the counter? It might be the first dollar bill earned, or the first shoelace made, or a meaningful early object tied to how the shop got successful.

Universal Studios has its meaningful early earners and business-growers, though they wouldn't dare be framed on a wall. Vampires and werewolves and monsters and invisible men helped lay the bricks of one of Hollywood's most robust movie factories, and every chiller that's come later owes an amount of dastardly debt.

But Universal remembers its roots, and will again, during Halloween Horror Nights, the annual autumn spectacular that brims with mazes and other macabre to-dos. A vampire is set to show, not in the form of the traditional 1930s Universal Count Dracula but a new take: "Dracula Untold," the new film set for an October release, shall get the "foreboding maze" treatment.

It's an unusual twist: How often does one get to venture into the world of a film before the film's release? Vampire fans, you're in luck.

As are fans of 1981's "An American Werewolf in London." The John Landis-directed film is also getting its own snarly Halloween Horror Nights maze, complete with the pub from the flick (The Slaughtered Lamb -- good memory). Shall there be moors inside the maze? You bet. Hold a friend close before wandering by moonlight.

The shapeshifting werewolf and newly re-imagined vampire join "The Walking Dead: End of the Line," "The Purge: Anarchy," "From Dusk Till Dawn," "Face Off: In the Flesh," "AVP: Alien vs. Predator," and the Terror Tram on the 2014 Halloween Horror Nights roster.

The screamy spectacle opens on Friday, Sept. 19 and runs on select nights through Halloween.

Cue baying at the moon and/or evil vampiric chuckling...

Photo Credit: Halloween Horror Nights]]>
<![CDATA[OC Fair Wrap-Up by the Numbers]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 08:19:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/219*120/bacon10.jpg

Eat two or three of anything at a county fair -- two cotton candy cones, two turkey legs, two milkshakes, three cookies -- and you're bound to garner comment from your friends.

But chances are incredibly good you've never downed 1,350 Banana Chocolate Cream Donuts or 1,400 pounds of sweet cream cheese frosting. Fair goers, however, did, as an adventurously eat-happy group during the 2014 OC Fair. The Costa Mesa spectacular is technically over -- it closed on Sunday, Aug. 10 -- but it isn't truly over before the big, big, gargantuan numbers regarding how many people attended and what they dined on have been released.

Let the eye-popping and no-way-ing commence.

Always a popular place to start? Bacon. Bacon-A-Fair, the culinary wizards behind this year's Deep-Fried, Bacon-Wrapped Jack Daniels Churro, went through 20,000 pounds of bacon over the course of the extravaganza, which ran for 23 days. Yep, we meant all four zeroes in that number. 20,000 pounds of bacon, 23 days.

On the topic of that now known-far-and-wide churro, the booth also went through 99 1.75-liter bottles of Jack Daniels.

Elsewhere? The Pop Rocks Cherry Donut -- a donut, yes, crusted in Pop Rocks -- was ordered by 1,800 curious attendees over at Texas Donuts. Some, 3,300 feet of cinnamon rolls was coiled into edible buns at Old West Cinnamon Rolls. And the Orange County Wine Society poured 34,800 glasses of wine.

And those accolade-garnering Chile Relleno Burgers? Grantburgers reports selling 1,290 of 'em.

It isn't all about the food at the fair, contrary to popular belief. Over 1,300,000 people attended, some 42 tons of canned food was donated on We Care Wednesdays, and over 10,000 ribbons were handed out in categories like baking, quilting, photography, and art. And for those plushies won on the midway? People hauled 435,000 of the soft prizes home.

It's a production that's as big and bright as a Ferris wheel, any which way you look at it, that OC Fair. But 20,000 pounds of bacon? We're going to have to let that one sink in.

Bacon buffs, you always astound with your commitment to anything that comes in contact with the superstar strip.

Photo Credit: bacon]]>
<![CDATA[5 Avant Garde Abodes: Sunset Magazine Beach Cities Tour]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 17:53:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/greenonmainsunsettour1.jpg

When the news fluttered south that Sunset Magazine was going to lift its famous Idea House straight out of Menlo Park and deposit it in Los Angeles, aficionados of the venerable Western living publication felt as sunny as the pages of the sunshine-laden magazine itself.

Of course, Sunset didn't actually transport its HQ-close Idea House to LA -- that's an annual fixture, in the Bay Area, and choppering houses great distances isn't wise. But Southern California got its very own, in Manhattan Beach, and design and architecture fans have been wandering its stylish spaces since it debuted on Friday, Aug. 1.

But the magazine is looking beyond its first-ever LA Idea House, to LA-based houses full of ideas. With that in mind, the inaugural Sunset LA Beach Cities Home & Garden Tour will set out on Saturday, Aug. 16 to survey a quintet of Westside abodes, including, of course, the Idea House.

Where will the tour wander? Well, Green on Main, for one. It's the "only building in Southern California made entirely of shipping containers," 14 in all, and it is plunk in the middle of thrumming Venice Beach. It's a mixed-use property, and airy as all get-out, lest you're thinking container=closed.

In this case container=quirky, cool, and bright as a lightbulb.

Three more homes, one more in Venice, one in Los Angeles, and one in Manhattan Beach, are also on the visit-and-lust-after list. If you've ever desired to enter the pages of Sunset, and you wanted those pages to be lush with that Los Angeles coastal aesthetic, here's your doorway.

And, indeed, you'll walk through the doorway to the Idea House, as mentioned. There's a wine and cheese reception at the house, and representatives from DISC Interiors, the firm behind the house's contemporary details, will be ready for chatting all things design.

Tickets are $60 each.

It's a rather big day packed with plans, concepts, quirky design touches, and broad family needs, plus a few cool stoves and windows and staircases along the way.

Does Sunset Magazine set you to daydreaming of domestic fancies? Here are those very domestic, daydream-worthy fancies, if, not in the flesh, then in the glass and metal and wood and stone.

Photo Credit: Green on Main]]>
<![CDATA[Chinese Theatre to Dim Lights for Robin Williams]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 15:19:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Chinese_756077.jpg

The TCL Chinese Theatre is one of the lit-up landmarks of Tinseltown, but the famous movie palace will lower its forecourt lights for only the eighth time in its 87-year history on Tuesday, Aug. 12.

The one-minute dimming of the always bright forecourt is in honor of Robin Williams. "Williams, 63, was found dead Monday in what the Marin County Sheriff Department described as an apparent suicide by asphyxiation. His publicist said he suffered from depression," NBC Bay Area reported.

Photos, videos, and written remembrances are filling social media feeds while fans are leaving flowers at both his Tiburon home and the actor's Walk of Fame star in Hollywood. And the TCL Chinese Theatre is up next to pay homage, with a one minute dimming of its forecourt lights at 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 12.

Calling it the "ultimate Hollywood send-off," the Chinese Theatre remembers the actor and his career, which is much associated with the Tinseltown theater. "Popeye" had its 1980 premiere at the venue, as did several more of his films, including "Good Morning, Vietnam" and "Mrs. Doubtfire."

And Mr. Williams left his handprints and footprints in the forecourt cement in celebration of 1998's "Patch Adams."

The landmark has only lowered its lights on seven other occasions during its venerable run. Shirley Temple, Peter O'Toole, and Mickey Rooney were all honored with the dimming of the forecourt.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Burritobox Buffs, Prepare: Pizzabox Is on the Way]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 12:23:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/Generic-Pizza.jpg

A SoCaler secrets many an opinion, including but not limited to the following: How one might efficiently make it from Hollywood Boulevard and Gower Street to LAX on a Friday at 5:15 p.m. without using a freeway, where to park when the Third Street Promenade is hosting a big event, and the best burrito in town.

That last category is far too broad, of course, because many a local has a favorite breakfast burrito, a favorite vegetarian, and one involving carne asada. We know, we know; tip of the iceburg.

Then along came the Burritobox, in early 2014, to expedite all of our burrito-based needs. Need something spicy, with beans, fast? The orange kiosk, which debuted in a pair of West Hollywood gas stations, could deliver.

But Burritobox? You're getting a new savory sibling, one that'll address the pizza needs of those on the go. Pizzabox is ready for its melty, cheesy bow at the start of 2015.

How it works? Order a 10" pie, mill near the kiosk for 90 seconds while it bakes, and presto: You've been pizza'd in a lickety-split amount of time.

Yep, this one is again from Box Brands, the company behind Burritobox, and, again, it'll make a gas station appearance to kick things off (the company is "eyeing West Hollywood for the first location").

Want an early look at Pizzabox? The company shared a first photograph on Instagram.

The only argument not to start, among your friends, is which is superior: pizza or burritos. Sure, pit margherita pizza against a pepper-and-bean burrito, is you want to get specific in your foodly battles.

But titan-to-titan? Pizza vs. burrito? Pizzabox vs. Burritobox? We do believe that we can all get along, and love both, when it comes to the two belly-filling stalwarts of quick cuisine.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA River First: Fly-Fishing Derby]]> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 17:39:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/230*120/lariverflyfishing1.jpg

Picture, in your mind, which is the very best place to picture things, a peaceful angler casting a fly-fishing line. Are there fat bumblebees in the foreground? Maybe a forest near the river? A few skyscrapers, some jets overhead, and a freeway, too?

Those last few items don't fold into our angling daydreams as neatly as plump buzzing insects and swaying grasses, but they may soon: The Los Angeles River will soon see its very first fly-fishing derby. Name? Off Tha' Hook.

A folksy fly-fishing derby, in the heart of one of the world's bustlingest metropolises, along the bank of its most famous and too-oft-maligned waterways?

Yes. Can't get much more affirmative than "yes," either.

Call it the natural unfolding of the rise-and-rise of the river, which the EPA deemed "navigable" a few years back. The LA River now sees recreational kayaking along certain portions and a weekend hangout called the Frog Spot for cyclists. The derby, which lines up the poles on Saturday, Sept. 6, feels like the next step in making the H2O a homier, easier-to-enjoy spot.

One? It's a catch-and-release kind of deal, as derbies often are. Two? Anglers of every stripe, be they newbies or know-all-bies can jump in. And three? Participants will be lending a hand, as "catches (will be) cataloged in search for signs of steelhead trout." The steelhead once called the river home, but has not been spied in its waves since the late 1940s.

Indeed, the Friends of the LA River, and all of the waterway's supporters, put an emphasis on the health of its wildlife, and derbyists will help science and conservation by casting those lines and maybe making a catch.

You'll make for the Glendale Narrows early on Sept. 6 -- "early" being 9 a.m. -- and you'll fish for $35 bucks (if you have a child with you, she or he fishes for free). 

Maybe minds'll even be swayed that a traditionally folksy scene can have buildings in the background. We sometimes wear fisherman's vests and flannel around LA, and whistle happy tunes; why can't we go line-to-line in a fly-fishing fun-for-all?

Photo Credit: LA River]]>
<![CDATA[U.S. Taco Co.: Taco Bell Enters the Fast-Casual Scene]]> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 12:57:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ustacoco1.jpg

Slip into any restaurant convention nowadays and you're bound to hear one thing, repeated over and over (beyond the attendees commenting on the convention food): fast-casual.

The fast-casual concept, which hovers somewhere between fast food and full-on traditional sit-down service, has exceeded the grasps of buzzword greatness in recent years and now fully consumed an industry eager to fill in a profitable space. And people who eat out are eager to give this sector money, time, and patronage.

Meaning that even established stalwarts like Starbucks are exploring tonier tastes, longer meal times, and the world of upscale-easy eats (see: La Boulange, which debuted on La Brea Avenue in June).

Next up? Taco Bell. The powerhouse fast-foodery is launching U.S. Taco Co., a take on tacos that boasts a slightly foodier edge.

What's a "foodier edge"? Think "wild-caught seafood." Think hormone-free leche shakes. And picture tacos brimming with pulled pork, Polynesian sauce slaw, peach jalapeno BBQ sauce, and cotija, cheesing things up in its artful way.

But don't look for names that might be familiar at Taco Bell, like Quesarito and Gordita, to grace the short but punchy menu. Big Stud Spud, Not My First Rodeo, and Brotherly Love, a piquant take on the cheesesteak, are three of the quirkily monikered choices.

Prices? Like all fast-casual choices that have a fast food sibling, they come in a few dollars higher.

Place? Huntington Beach has the first U.S. Taco Co., which made its debut on Monday, Aug. 11 a block from the pier.

Philosophy? U.S. Taco Co. has an "Our Soul" page on its website, where it reveals it is backing the Best Day Foundation, "an organization that helps kids with special needs build confidence and self-esteem through safe, fun-filled adventure activities, like surfing." Meaning that "a portion of our net profit goes to support this great cause."

So where will U.S. Taco Co. show next? With the continued ascendancy of fast-casual foodie love in the restaurant world, the answer could be literally down the street from where you live.

Photo Credit: U.S. Taco Co.]]>