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Friday, July 30, 2010

Do It. U.S. Open of Surfing.

This unpredictable cloudy weather hasn't exactly made for great beach conditions, but you've still got a great excuse to don the bathing suit and sunscreen this weekend: the U.S. Open of Surfing.

Check out some of the best surfers in the world tackle those gnarly waves, and take part in the extra activities going on around too, because it's not just about surfing anymore. There'll also be skateboarding and BMX competitions going on, places to see art exhibits and murals, and even a fashion show. And on top of that, really great must-see bands like Cold War Kids, The Soft Pack and Weezer (!). And get this: it's all free.

Happy surfing (and rocking)!
The U.S. Open of Surfing will take place beginning this Saturday, Aug 1 until Sunday, Aug 8 at Huntington Beach in Orange County. Check out the schedule for competition and music set times.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: U.S. Open of Surfing

Check It. MOROCCANOIL.

MOROCCANOIL (LIGHT TREATMENT) is my favorite new hair product. After nearly two bottles of happiness with Ojon Revitalizing Mist, this stuff has blown it out of the water. And I'd still recommend Ojon!

This satiny soft oil seems to be taking the beauty product world by storm, and has gotten mentions in just about every magazine you read--In Style, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Elle, Lucky, Rolling Stone, to name a few. MOROCCANOIL products were used on Angelina Jolie's hair for her August issue of Vanity Fair photos (on newsstands now).

I have curly hair which I usually straighten, and it can sometimes look dry on the ends. With the use of this on damp hair, when I'm finished styling my hair, it is just unbelievably silky smooth. Yesterday morning I used it, and left my hair curly. I had a long stroll on the Manhattan Beach boardwalk last night--and this morning, my curls are still smooth, soft and intact.

If your hair could use some new conditioning action, check this stuff out.

MOROCCANOIL is sold at professional salons and beauty supply stores, such as Beauty Collection. $41 for a 3.4 oz. bottle, $16 for mini (.85 oz.) travel size.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: amazon.com


Check It. Behind the scenes of 'Mad Men' style.

OK, so we (or I) have been pretty "Mad Men" crazed after their Season 4 premier last Sunday. First we did the pick up lines, then the Banana Republic line and contest, and now this.

Janie Bryant, the costume designer for "Mad Men," takes viewers behind the scenes and explains wardrobe choices behind the show. Why are Don's suits darker this season? What are some of the defining characteristics behind Peggy's clothes? Do they wear period skivvies? (This answer is yes, with a peak at one of Joan's undergarments).

Enjoy!

-- Lauren Williams


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Drink In. Peroni [Thirsty Thursdays!].

There are many great beers to enjoy in the summer, but sometimes you just want something basic. If you don't feel like going with something like Budweiser, or even Heineken or Beck's, this Italian classic should be just the ticket.

Peroni is pale, crisp, and refreshing--perfect for with a heavy Italian meal, or on a hot summer evening when you're cooking (or just relaxing).

I think it's best served ice cold.

Peroni is available at Gelson's, BevMo, and other supermarkets and liquor stores worldwide.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: images.businessweek.com




Eat Out. Lemonade.

The first time I went to Lemonade with my best girl Brigid was at their Venice Beach location on Abbot Kinney and both of us were blown away by the food they had.

I saw the restaurant featured on HuffPo's things-to-do-in-LA-for-$1 post with their mini $1 cupcakes, but the rest of their menu is amazing. They have parmesan brussel sprouts, all kinds of meats, pot roasts, sandwiches, cookies, cakes, bars, and all kinds of lemonade varieties incorporating mint and rosemary into their juices -- delicious!

Brigid had the banana layer cake, with mascarpone frosting -- excellent! -- and I had a red velvet cupcake, which was also tasty.

Lemonade is like a very gourmet version of a cafeteria with all kinds of amazing dishes at reasonable prices.

They have four locations around town, including one in MOCA at Grand.

Lemonade in Venice Beach is located at 1661 Abbot Kinney Blvd.

-- Lauren Williams

[Leslie checked out Lemonade's Beverly location this May and also liked it. Compare and contrast our two reviews!]

Do It. EATLACMA Public Fruit Jam.

Fallen Fruit is one of my favorite homegrown community efforts. The collective began as a way to map the spots in Los Angeles where one might be able to obtain public fruit, or rather free food, like in areas where tree branches grew over sidewalks or public property. Soon, they grew their fruit-finding horizons, teaching people about fruit with neighborhood fruit tours and advocating for public gardens. Most recently, they've taken part in and planted a garden for LACMA's latest program, EATLACMA, which explores the role of food in art and culture.

And to celebrate its participation in EATLACMA, Fallen Fruit is presenting one of its most popular and well-loved activities: the public fruit jam. In this event, people are invited to bring their public fruit and then learn how to make jam with it. No recipes are used, so as to come up with unique and original flavors. It's practically like performance art, and at the end of the day, you get to take home a jar of your own homemade jam.

And it's all free, with tickets to be handed out the day of from noon-3pm--but come early because the event is sure to be popular. And remember to consult the fruit maps beforehand, you'll want to bring your own public fruit finds for the full experience.

EATLACMA Public Fruit Jam
takes place this Sunday at 12 p.m. in Hancock Park at LACMA, located at 5905 Wilshire Blvd. in Miracle Mile.

-- Chau Tu

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Eat Out. Magnolia Bakery.

Magnolia Bakery is now open in Los Angeles, and that's something to celebrate! West Third Street really didn't need any more deliciousness, but I'm definitely not complaining.

They're known for their pastel-frosted cupcakes, but they also have a fantastic light creamy and flavorful banana pudding, as well as red velvet that rivals any in town.

The corner shop has checkerboard floors and a really cute vintage feel.

Magnolia Bakery is located at 8389 West Third Street in Los Angeles.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: allthingscupcake.com

Advance Notice. 826LA's Spelling Bee.

Admit it: every June, whenever you're flipping the channels around and see the Scripps Spelling Bee is on (or if you don't even try to pretend and just immediately switch to it), you get excited. You get pulled in. You suddenly get overwhelmed by every single awkward and passionate emotion that you remember feeling as an adolescent child and put all that energy into that one kid with the glasses, nervously asking for any alternate pronunciations. And no matter who wins, you're happy. Everyone loves the spelling bee.

So why not take that love and put some money behind it? And maybe take your own spelling skills to task? The (always cool) education-based non-profit 826LA has got the event for you. In its latest creative fundraiser, A Spelling Bee for Cheaters, you have the chance to show off your spelling moxie...but also save some face if you're not exactly keeping up with word origins and all that. That's because if you and your team raise enough money, you can buy cheats such as "get a dictionary" ($750) or "i before e" (ask a letter hint, $100) to get you through to the next round.

The bee is on August 14, so it's time to start raising your money! Glee's Dianna Argon is already past her goal of $5,000. Oh yeah, there'll be celebrities there too, like Argon and Spike Jonze and John Krasinski. So even if you're spelling-shy, you can still sponsor another participant, or buy general admission tickets to the show (will be available on Aug.6 for $25). Educational, charitable fun? It's spelling 8-2-6-L-A (that's sort of cheating, I know, but that's the spirit of it all, right?).

A Spelling Bee for Cheaters is taking place Aug. 14 at 2pm at Lincoln Middle School at 1501 California Avenue in Santa Monica.

-- Chau Tu

Eat In. Smoothies.

Or, as my roommate used to call them smoodies. I love smoothies, and this is a great way of squeezing in a few extra points in the raw fruit/veggie category without really having to eat them if you're not a big raw fruit/vegetable person.

It's also a great way to get ride of the fruit you hate to throw away, but is just a bit too .. ripe .. to eat.

The banana that's just a bit too brown? Throw it in the blender, if you don't want to go to the hassle (or calories) of making it into bread. And at Trader Joe's and other health food stores, you can grab some whole ground flax seed ground and maybe some protein powder to squeeze in some extra omega 3s and B vitamins, and protein (obviously).

I've recently been adding nuts to smoothies, which makes them thicker and also adds some extra nutrients.

Unless you have someone in the house who sleeps in later then you who might be woken up with the grinding of a blender, this is an excellent alternative to a bowl of cereal, oatmeal, or eggs in the morning. It's very filling and you can eat it on the go, if you're really in a hurry.

-- Lauren Williams

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Advance Notice. Culture Collide Festival.

Without a doubt, Los Angeles has one of the most vibrant and consistently-awesome music scenes in the country. We're always cooking up something new and fresh to add to the 'next best' lists, and we house some of the best intimate venues in the country, so it's really no wonder why musicians continue to flock here in search of rock stardom.

Filter magazine's Culture Collide Festival is zoning in on this phenomenon, and bringing us local music fans along for the fun. The four-day music fest, taking place October 7-10, is bringing in bands from all over the world (including Norway, Sweden, Israel and the U.K.) into L.A., and calling up some of L.A.'s own bands to come and act as ambassadors. The artists will get the chance to exchange advice, stories and musical wisdoms, and in between it all, play a few fun shows at local venues.

For us fans, that means checking out sets by great up-and-coming bands as well as some well-known names, playing in great places like The Echo and Spaceland. Think Klaxons (representing the U.K. and making their grand return) next to the local group We Barbarians, or the Black Lips (from Atlanta) playing after Land of Talk (Canada). It'll be a melting pot of the familiar and strange, the new and the known.

And the best part? The whole weekend-long fest can be enjoyed for only $20. And the line-up already lists more than 20 bands, with more to be added soon. Talk about a deal! But better get on it quick, tickets are already on sale and sure to sell out, and you won't want to miss out on this meeting of musical nations.

-- Chau Tu

Eat Out. Cisco's.

While I'm reluctant to give Jesse James any business, his small restaurant, Cisco Burger in Long Beach has some really phenomenal food.

Located right next door to his West Coast Choppers, Cisco uses quality ingredients in their food, including Kobe beef for their burgers, and their veggie burger is one of the best I've had. Their fries, shakes, and crunch French toast are also delicious.

The restaurant is also green, with a large percentage of the store's power coming from solar energy and all their to-go containers I've ever gotten there were the biodegradable kind. And their delivery car is a Toyota Prius!

Cisco Burger is located at 620 West Anaheim Street in Long Beach. Most plates are about $5.

-- Lauren Williams


Check It. Sheryl Crow's 100 Miles from Memphis.

Sheryl Crow has an undeniably awesome voice, and she's always great to listen to and has an element of freshness, although she's been around awhile. I saw her in concert in 1996 or 1997, and more than ten years later, she seems about the same. Sure her hair is blonder and straighter, and she's had her share of pictures in the weekly gossip magazines, but she's still singing quality music that people want to hear.

Her latest album, 100 Miles from Memphis, came out last Tuesday. I thought about not writing about it today as "new music" since it's not a new release today, but then found it appropriate that Sheryl Crow music doesn't have to be brand new to be appreciated, because all her songs feel like classics. So here are 12 more classics for the Sheryl Crow collection. With a country influence, of course--something I think serves her music very well.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: A&M

Monday, July 26, 2010

Do It. Summer Darling at Spaceland.

It's always a good idea to take advantage of free live music, especially when it's likely that of an up-and-coming band.

Spaceland's Monday night residency program is great for this. Tonight is the last night of Summer Darling's month at the Silver Lake venue - so check them out if you haven't had a chance yet.

Spaceland is located at 1717 Silverlake Blvd. in Los Angeles. Show July 26 at 9:00 p.m. Free.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: clubspaceland.com

Check It. Pictures of the Year Intl at Annenberg Space for Photography.

One of my favorite things about attending classes in the Annenberg building at USC (go Trojans!) was an annual art exhibit that took over the lobby every winter. The Pictures of the Year International show features the best documentary photography from the past year, from all over the world and across all different sorts of categories, like nature and sports to contemporary news and wars. And no matter what the subject, all the photographs are somehow able to elicit strong emotions within you, whether it be happiness or sadness, or just simple awe. The photographers are usually from news outlets, which means they're right in the middle of the action, and taking you with them.

Luckily (unluckily?) for you, now you don't even have to get to the USC campus to check out this awesome show (plus it's not showing there anymore). The exhibit is now being presented at the Annenberg Space for Photography, a newish venue set in Century City, and it's all free. It's an exhibition that doesn't usually get so much hype, but trust me, once you've walked through it and experienced it once, you'll come to appreciate photography in such a different way afterward. Highly recommended!

The Annenberg Space for Photography is located at 2000 Avenue of the Stars in Century City, and the Pictures of the Year International exhibit lasts until Oct. 10.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Charles Ommanney, Getty Images; courtesy of Pictures of the Year International; Barack Obama backstage at the Capitol before bring sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.

Do It. Wacko.

When thinking of where to find an excellent birthday for my dad his birthday tomorrow, I remembered this fantastic shop in Los Feliz with all sorts of quirky, unique gifts.

Soap Plant/Wacko is filled with interesting action figures, ceramic items, bags, fancy soaps, one-of-a-kind cards, bead curtains, weird books, crazy see-through pregnant belly keychains, and prints for you walls. La Luz de Jesus gallery is in the store if you want to peruse some art to take home.

Prices here range from the very cheap to the moderately expensive, and go from very small goofy gifts to a bit nicer things (but not much). Even if you're not looking for things to buy, this is a great place to peruse just to see the weird stuff.

Wacko or Soap Plant is located at 4633 Hollywood Blvd.

-- Lauren Williams

Friday, July 23, 2010

Do It. Fifth Avenue, 5 a.m. book signing at Book Soup.

If you, like me, love Breakfast at Tiffany's, this book is for you. It also might be of interest if you're a fan of film, curious about how films get made, and/or enjoy Truman Capote and/or Audrey Hepburn.

On Monday (July 26) night at Book Soup, author Sam Wasson will be discussing and signing Fifth Avenue, 5 a.m. at 7:00 p.m.

The newly released book has been getting a lot of positive attention, including some from the New York Times.

Book Soup is located at 8818 Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood. Event July 26 at 7:00 p.m.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: harperstudio


Check It. I Write Like.

If there were ever a writer who I wish I could write like, it would be Vladimir Nabokov. There's something about his lyric-like prose that was always so admirable to me, in how effortless it seemed to make everything so beautiful--even in a twisted, dark world as was Lolita. But I definitely don't think I write like Nabokov.

Actually, I apparently write like Stephen King. Or at least, that's what "I Write Like" has told me. This instant aggregator simply asks you to input a sample of text into a box, click a button and voila! It analyzes your text to tell you which author you emulate the most. I inputted an article I had written, which isn't the best way to figure out a literary style, but I'll take King, I guess.

According to the L.A. Times, getting Nabokov is an option, unfortunately for me (a girl can dream!). But you can also get Raymond Chandler, Lewis Carroll, Chuck Palahniuk, Edgar Allan Poe, Kurt Vonnegut, J.K. Rowling, Charles Dickens, or even Dan Brown (ew). So who do you write like? Tell us below in the comments, I'm curious!

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: babble.com

Check It. Ana Tijoux at the Bootleg Theater.

Ana Tijoux is one of those very talented female rappers in a very male-dominated genre who can definitely hold her own against her fellow male MCs. Her lyrics are smart, she's socially conscious, and she's got a unique style.

The half Chilean, half French MC usually has Spanish lyrics, but has been known to weave French into her songs.

The below video is off her latest album 1977 -- the year Tijoux was born in France after her family fled Chile under the Pinochet regime. She's extremely talented and her live performances are excellent.

Tickets to Ana Tijoux with Money Mark at the Bootleg are $10. The Bootleg Theater is located at 2220 Beverly Blvd. The show starts at 10 p.m.

-- Lauren Williams


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Do It. Food GPS' Walking Tour.

Beverly Boulevard is a great area to be around for delicious but not overpriced food. We've featured our review of Milk here before, but we're also fans of Golden State Burgers (and not only because they offer Scoops!) and BLD, the younger sibling to Grace.

And those three just happen to be part of the local food blog Food GPS's latest walking tour. The dining tour will be led by blogger Joshua Lurie, who will take participants along to come sample some of the best eats offered around the neighborhood--specifically, those three restaurants plus Eva Restaurant. On the tour, chef-owners from each spot will introduce a key dish, drink or treat, and participants will get to learn much about the spot and the surrounding area. It's a definite to-do for any foodie, or anyone interested in getting some great food with some personal attention and history thrown in as well.

The walking tour occurs this Sunday, July 25 at 3 p.m. It's $45/person (which includes tax and tip) and you can buy your ticket here.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Food GPS

Check It. 40% off an item at Banana Republic.

Banana Republic sometimes has some really great stuff - and sometimes they don't. Right now, they do (pictured above), and you can get it on sale. That's right, brand-new, full-priced items, for 40% off. Next Wednesday, July 28, is the last week for the '40% off on Wednesdays' series that began July 7.

I picked up a coupon card at the reception counter at the Grove's Marmalade Cafe the weekend before last, and finally made it to Banana last night to take advantage of the deal. I ended up finding a great pair of pants that were $69.50 - which meant I got $27.80 off.

Get your hands on a coupon card, and pick an item you'd like from Banana Republic that you can get next Wednesday for a great price. It's the benefit of sale shopping (money off) with none of the downfalls (clothes that are tattered or makeup-stained from being around so long, your size not being there, etc.).

In-store only, one item, July 28, with coupon. While you're at it, check out Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale, on till August 2.

Banana Republic is located at 189 The Grove Drive in Los Angeles, and other locations worldwide.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: www.bananarepublic.com

Do It. LB Street Food Fest.

If you weren't able to catch the LA Food Fest at the Rose Bowl (or didn't want to cough up the hefty $45 entrance fee) you can still sample all that the local gourmet food vendors have to off this weekend at the Long Beach Street Food Festival for $8 at the door, $6 presale.

Among the over 20 vendors serving up their gourmet cuisine are the grilled cheese truck, Buttermilk, Uncle Lau's, Cool Haus, World Fair, and Gourmet Genie.

But you'll have to leave all animal companions at home: no pets allowed at this event.

The Long Beach Street Food Festival is scheduled to be at the Rainbow Lagoon Park in Long Beach from 10:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

-- Lauren Williams

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Check It. Anthropologie latte bowls.

I've had my eye on these for awhile, and finally ordered a set yesterday. I'm so looking forward to getting them! Anthropologie's latte bowls are not only really adorable, they're also highly versatile. Using them for ice cream, cereal, and snacks came to mind even before lattes. I think they'll also be really helpful to put chopped ingredients in while cooking, to keep things organized (like on cooking shows!).

The sets of six come in matching or assorted colors. I think the set pictured above is a fun, pretty mix, but if you're not a fan of the mix-and-match style, there's ivory, red, lime, grass (a dark green), and coral to choose from. And four options of assorted color combos. Something for everyone, really.

Now all I need is an espresso machine!

Set of six latte bowls, $30.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: www.anthropologie.com


Eat In. Jambalaya.

Southern cuisine is something that is definitely not in my common repertoire of cooking, but I definitely enjoy it. Baked mac and cheese, blue cheese grits, cornbread, the list of delicious (albeit fatty) Southern comfort food is practically endless.

But without thinking about it last night I made delicious jambalaya. It's really just a medley of veggies, with broth, meats, and rice -- kind of like paella.

Most jambalayas come with chicken breast, sausage, and shrimp, but I opt for just veggie sausage. Should you want a little extra umf! in your jambalaya though, you can just cook these as you normally would, chop up the chicken breast into cubes, and mix into your medley. Here's what I did.

What you'll need:

- One packet of rice, about 1 1/2 cups. I really liked the Trader Joe's Basmati Rice Medley, which has grains of wild rice and herbs already mixed in.
-4-5 cremini mushrooms
-1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise then chopped into quarters
-6-8 cherry tomatoes
-bell pepper, I used only a quarter but you can add as much as you want. Chopped.
-Spice of some kind. I used merken, but cajun spices are available at the market. If you don't want to have to venture to the store for one spice, red pepper flakes or any other spicy flavoring would be fine.
-veggie or pork sausage, cut into 1-inch cubes.
-Onion would work well in this too. Chop finely.

What you'll do:

-Saute vegetables in the order that they cook in a pan with a bit of olive oil or butter. In this case, bell peppers first, then mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes.
-While veggies are cooking, have your meat/protein cooking, ready to add when the veggies are cooked.
-Add rice dry to absorb some of the flavor and brown a bit.
-Toss in your protein to also absorb some of the rice.
-Add vegetable or chicken broth in proportion to the rice, about 3 cups. If it seems that the rice is still dry, add in some boiling water. Turn off the stove and let the broth/water absorb.

-- Lauren Williams

Do It. Culver City Block Party.

It's just another hump day in the dog days of summer, but Culver City thinks it's time for a party. A block party to be exact, and on every third Wednesday of the month (aka today!) through to October, the city is holding a full-on event in its downtown area.

Downtown Culver City boasts some of the area's best dining, and many of those places are participating with some great deals. Akasha is offering 1/2 off all wines by the bottle, Ford's Filling Station is giving out sliders and a draft beer for just $10 (and a live performance of country cover musicians Christopher Hawley and the Rollers on the patio), and Rush Street has a $21 prix fixe menu all night, along with free pole dancing lessons upstairs until 9:30pm--now that's a party! Even Cold Stone is giving out free samples and offering two "Like It" creations for $6. I suggest heading over to BottleRock for their $4 food, wine and beer specials, or try and grab one of their specially-priced $20 bottles for the night.

But it's not all about eating: you can also hit up the Haro or WWA galleries, open during the block party, check out live music at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, or relax at the Wellness Spa with a $1/minute massage (10 minutes minimum).

It's a perfect excuse to check out the area, be outside and enjoy some great deals. Nothing like getting the neighborhood together for a good ole fashioned block party, right?

The Culver City Downtown Summer Block Party is every third Wednesday until October, from 5pm-9pm. Click here for a PDF of all the participating restaurants and shops.

-- Chau Tu

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Do It. 'Mad' style.

So Chau already told us about the very excellent Mad Men pick up lines, but there's also a new retro line of clothes coming out that are inspired by the 1960s show. I love the classic outfits on the show (who doesn't?) and now Banana Republic is partnering with AMC to bring these old school styles to the masses.

Vintage clothes aren't too hard to come by in Los Angeles. We've got the Melrose Trading Post, 4th Street in Long Beach, and dozens of other regular flea markets around the city, but the likelihood that classic styles survived 50 years of storage with all their buttons, zippers, and material intact and unstained is pretty rare.

And the new Banana Republic line blends these classic fashions with current trends so they don't look too anachronistic. Plenty of reason to mark your calendar for the new line coming out in September.

Also, for those who love all things vintage a casting call is starting this Wednesday going through Aug. 11 for those with "Mad" style. Submit a photo of yourself in your best retro to madmencastingcall.amctv.com and you're eligible to win a spot on the show or up to $1,000 at Banana Republic.

-- Lauren Williams

Check It. The Runaways on DVD.

The Runaways is out on DVD today. I think most people skipped this one in the theater, but I think it's a perfect rental. The band's story is definitely interesting, and Kristen Stewart admittedly looks like a great Joan Jett.

Director Floria Sigismondi is best known for her music videos, which probably means the film is good at least visually, even if other areas are lacking.

Back in April, Los Angeles Magazine wrote about the film, and why rock and roll biopics either succeed or fail--with Runaways falling somewhere in between.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: thevampireclub

Do It. The Orange County Fair.

County fairs don't get much excitement out here in California, but that changes whenever the Orange County Fair rolls around.

That's because it's so much more than a simple fair--on top of all the usual sketchy carnival rides, strange attractions, and fairway games, there are major events like the concert series, which this year boasts performances by actual household names like Faith Hill, Adam Lambert, the B-52s, Weird Al Yankovic and Blondie.

And of course, there's the food, which is nearly an event in and of itself! You can't hit a fair without indulging in something ridiculous and fried, and the O.C. Fair is nearly the best in combining the two. Oh there are those bacon-wrapped hot dogs and boxes (yes boxes) of fries, but how about deep-fried Oreos, deep-fried Twinkies and--apparently this year's big one-- deep-fried butter? Oh yeah.

So escape the city for a bit and have some carefree fun! You might want to have some antacids ready, though.

The Orange County Fair is located at 88 Fair Drive in Costa Mesa and runs until Aug. 15. Tickets are $10 for adults.


-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: OC Fair

Monday, July 19, 2010

Check It. Mad Men pick up lines [The Monday Download].

The amazing Mad Men is set to return this Sunday, and it's kind of sad to think that we've gone without Don Draper and Peggy Olsen and Roger Sterling (swoon!) for so long. But it's time to refresh your memory and get back into that slick Madison Ave. world, which obviously leads to...pick-up lines!

This impressively long montage of Mad Men's most naughty moments (both intentional and unintentional) offers a great reminder of how far Peggy has grown and how hilarious the Sterling Cooper crew can be. I love seeing how things have changed so quickly over just three seasons. Raise those martinis (dry, of course), and get ready for another season!

Mad Men's season 4 premieres on Sunday at 10pm on AMC.

-- Chau Tu

Etc. Baking Soda.

I always have one or two boxes of baking soda in my refrigerator to neutralize food odors, and to occasionally shake down into the waste disposal to keep that smelling fresh (or at least not smelling) too. Baking soda is known for its amazing versatility, and this weekend I learned a new use for it--to help cure spider bites!

A few months ago when a bee stung my neck downtown Los Angeles, I learned that a water/baking soda paste would alleviate the discomfort/pain of the sting. It worked, but I didn't immediately think of this when a spider bite (or so we think) came up on Hank's toe this weekend.

After a little online research, I learned the wonder paste will bring up the venom, and prevent bacteria from forming. After a few applications of the paste, the bite had come much more to the surface and was looking closer to its end.

At under $2 a box, it's worth having plenty of baking soda on hand for whatever life may throw your way! Even if that means actual baking.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: realsimple.com

Friday, July 16, 2010

Eat Out. Daily Grill picnic boxes.

With so many outdoors activities going on this summer, the excuse for a picnic is irresistible. But sometimes you don't want to spend the time or money to dish out your own lame PB&Js.

Which is why the Daily Grill's new picnic box offering is such a great idea. The classic dining spot (one of my faves for happy hour, actually) is offering a full-on picnic box for your simple summertime needs. Each box comes with DG's own sourdough bread, homemade garlic potato chips, plastic tablecloth, utensils, and some variety of soup, salad AND dessert. Then for the main course, depending on the prices, you can choose from Santa Fe chicken and Ahi tuna wraps ($22.95/person), charbroiled herb chicken ($27.95/person), Atlantic salmon ($29.95) filet mignon ($38.95/person). Or choose your own entree from the take-out menu and add $5 per person.

Talk about a feast! It's a perfect fancy-type meal for nights out at the Bowl or even at places like Cinespia. And though it may be a bit pricey, everything's inclusive and can be picked up 24 hours after ordering. Just grab a blanket, some shades, and you're ready to go! Happy picnicking!

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Daily Grill

Eat Out. Manhattan Beach Creamery.

Now that the sunny California summer is starting to appear, it's the perfect time to get some delicious hand-crafted ice cream and the Manhattan Beach Creamery serves up classic and creative flavors that are delicious.

MB Creamery is a vintage-looking ice cream shop, with memorabilia from Manhattan Beach's early days as a beach community. The ice cream here is really extraordinary, probably because its extremely creamy.

Some of their flavors include root beer, cotton candy, Nutella, and Apple Blackberry Sherbet. This place can take any flavor and make it delicious. I usually am not keen on bubble gum flavor, but the one here is excellent.

Since it's so close to the Manhattan Beach Pier I like picking up a scoop and taking a walk on the pier -- to me that's an ideal summertime afternoon.

Manhattan Beach Creamery is located at 1120 Manhattan Ave.

-- Lauren Williams

Do It. Inception.

Christopher Nolan's new film (Memento, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight) already has Oscar Buzz. In mid-July. With Leonardo DiCaprio as the star, it's easy to believe. Add Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy, and Michael Caine to the mix and you've got yourself a picture that's going to be a fantastic summer blockbuster, and it's out today.

I think it will give us a lot to think about--consciousness, where ideas come from, and the world we enter when asleep.

Inception is out today, July 16, only in theaters.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: screenrant.com

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Eat Out. Belmont Brewing Company [Thirsty Thursdays!].

This is one of the more gourmet pubs Long Beach has to offer. The Belmont Brewing Company is an excellent place to sit and have a drink, with a variety of brews crafted on site. Their strawberry blonde is excellent, but they have quite a few other blends that are spot on. Food here is exceptional, with typical dips, pizzas, and appetizers at very reasonable prices during their happy hour Mondays through Fridays 4:30-6:30 p.m. Pizzas cost $7 each.

BBC also offers a growler, where for a one-time $14 investment you can take home what you're drinking in 64 oz. glass jug so you can have craftsman brewed beer at home. Once you buy the jug, just bring it back and get it topped off for a nominal fee.
BBC also is hosting a Beer Dinner on their seaside patio Monday, July 26, featuring delicious-sounding foods and a variety of beers. Beer Dinners are held at BBC through October and cost $49 per person.

The Belmont Brewing Company is located at 25 39th Place in Long Beach.

-- Lauren Williams

Do It. The Shop Around the Corner at LACMA.

As part of The American Cinema of Ernst Lubitsch program at LACMA, The Shop Around the Corner is playing this Saturday night.

The plot sounds a little bit like You've Got Mail to me--which to you may or may not be a good thing, but I find it to be a classic Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan romantic comedy that I could watch (and have) over and over. I'm hoping (and guessing) The Shop Around the Corner will be just as charming. Jimmy Stewart is one of the stars, so it's a pretty sure bet.

You can watch the film's original trailer on the Turner Classic Movies site.

July 17, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10, and can be purchased at the museum's box office or online.

LACMA is located at 5905 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: www.metroactive.com

Do It. Santa Monica Pier Twilight Dance Series with Ben Lee.

Ah, no better time or place to take advantage of the SoCal weather than in the summer and on the beach. Add in a world-famous pier and some free music, and you really can't go wrong.

And that's why the Santa Monica Pier's Twilight Dance Series is a definite to-do for those looking for a classic L.A. summer experience. The annual concert series has been around for 27 years now, and is nothing short of a great tradition that brings free fun and great music to the masses. Admittedly, the musical line-up isn't the most hip or contemporary, but there are some fun options like former Rolling Stone Mick Taylor on Aug. 19 and Beatlesfest on Aug. 26. But my pick for the summer just happens to occur tonight, as "Australia Rocks the Pier!" brings groovy acoustic popster Ben Lee to the stage. Dancing and carefree sing-alongs sure to incur.

Australia Rocks the Pier! at the Santa Monica Pier begins tonight at 7pm. Don't forget the beach chairs and blankets!

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Santa Monica Pier

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Eat In. The perfect grilled cheese.

The perfect grilled cheese is a thing of beauty. Simple and delicious, yet not as easy to whip up as you might imagine. Fresh bread makes this lovely sandwich taste good, but the fresher the bread, the harder to get the cheese to melt without the bread burning.

Start with two slices of bread (whole wheat or sourdough are my favorites), a little bit of cold regular butter (salted or unsalted both ok), and three slices of pre-sliced Tillamook cheddar (medium or sharp).

Turn the stove to low-medium heat.

Stick a few small chunks of butter on the outside areas of the bread, and some more on the inside. Spread the cheese evenly (with overlap in the center), close up the sandwich, and place it in the hot pan. Change the setting to 'low'.

Leave one side grilling for a minute or two, checking the bottom for darkness. Flip it when it looks toasty-brown. Let the other side get to the same level. Press down on the sandwich lightly but firmly with a spatula as each side grills. Some cheese may come melting out the side, this is a good sign that it's almost ready. With a large spatula, I like to flip the sandwich back and forth a couple more times, to ensure fully melted cheese, and that it's hot on both sides.

Slice diagonally, and enjoy.

A grilled cheese goes so well with most drinks imaginable--from milk, to lemonade, to red wine, to apple martinis!

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: gothamist.com

Advance Notice. FYF Fest.

Finally, finally it's beginning to feel like summer, but it's time to think about the 'end' of the season--Labor Day weekend. Why so soon? Because the awesome line-up for FYF Fest was just announced yesterday, and tickets are already on sale!

But let's review the scene here first. The music fest is taking place Sept. 4th at the L.A. State Historic Park, and already has more than 30 bands scheduled to play, including Panda Bear, The Rapture, Dead Man's Bones (that's Ryan Gosling's band), Ted Leo & the Pharmacists and Titus Andronicus. Not surprisingly, there's also a slew of local groups (good thing L.A. has been having such a great local musical revival, right?), like Abe Vigoda, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Warpaint and the Soft Pack.

And if you're not yet convinced, how about tickets for only $20? That is, if you're quick enough to grab the early birds. But even if you miss out on those, tickets are still only $25. That's already less than a buck for each band, plus you'll be supporting the local music scene. At this point, even VIP at $65 (drinks at Cha Cha!) seems like a steal. And really, what better way to end your summer? In honor the fest's original name--f*** yeah!

-- Chau Tu

Do It. Melting Pot Food Tours.

The Melting Pot food tours begin this month around Old Pasadena and Mid-City, taking foodies around Los Angeles' hidden gourmet restaurants to sample all that Los Angeles cooking has to offer.

The Mid-City tour travels the Farmer's Market at Fairfax and 3rd and includes Japanese, Brazilian, Indian and French cuisine and lasts about 4 hours.

Tickets to the tours are a bit hefty, but don't cost much more than a nice meal out at about $50 each.

Happy eating!

-- Lauren Williams

**Correction: Updated from earlier, the Melting Pot tours do not have any affiliation with the fondue restaurant, and the tours no longer sell their tickets through Goldstar. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Do It. Walk of Fame turns 50s.

Those who love all-things Old Hollywood should mark their calendars for July 25 because that day the Walk of Fame turns 50.

And in keeping with Hollywood's vintage grandness all kinds of performances and screenings have been scheduled, and four production centers off the Walk of Fame are expected to be open to the public that day.

The festivities begin at 11 a.m. with a special ceremony for famous jazz man Louis Prima in front of the Ricardo Montalban Theater at 1615 Vine St. (conveniently near the Vine Metro stop for those who don't want to struggle with parking.)

-- Lauren Williams

Check It. Greenberg on DVD.

If you didn't make it to the ArcLight to see Greenberg this spring, today is your lucky day--it's out on DVD.

Ben Stiller is his usually wonderful self in this Los Angeles-based drama/comedy, and his co-stars Greta Gerwig, Rhys Ifans, and Jennifer Jason Leigh all add something special as well.

On my post back in March, I named the L.A. institutions they visit in Greenberg, which are fun to see on screen.

If you like Stiller's comedy, this rental (or DVD purchase) will definitely bring some laughs (and some poignant serious moments too).

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: eonline

Advance Notice. Treasure Island Music Festival.

While the Treasure Island Music Festival isn't in Los Angeles, it's definitely becoming one of those annual events more than worth the road trip. Set on the tiny island just off the shore of the San Francisco Bay, the music and arts fest is small, but better for it because it actually allows you to see all the acts in the line-up. And that line-up? It just happens to be getting better and better each year.

To wit, this year's just-announced line-up for October boasts LCD Soundsystem headlining Saturday's more electronic-influenced group of performers like Deadmaus and Miike Snow, and the just-back-on-tour Belle & Sebastian leading a more indie program of The National and She & Him on Sunday. Check out the rest of the bands here.

The event takes place October 16 and 17th, but specially priced early-bird two-day tickets go on sale TODAY at 10am for $99. Once that limited quantity sells out, they'll be $119.50. Or you can wait until Friday for advance one-day tickets for $67.50 each. Buy them soon; the fest is sure to sell-out, and you need to plan that fun road trip of yours anyway.

-- Chau Tu

Monday, July 12, 2010

Check It. Alternative Press' art show.

Celebrating their 25th anniversary, Alternative Press magazine is hosting an art show exhibiting works by such well-known performers as Black Francis, Shepard Fairey, and Tim Armstrong.

The exhibit is being held at the Merry Karnowsky Gallery and only for two weeks.

The variety of artists and music-related art seems extremely promising, so make sure to get down there before the exhibit moves on to New York City! The show runs through July 24.

The Merry Karnowsky Gallery is located at 170 S. La Brea Ave.

-- Lauren Williams

Check It. "All Summer" by Kid Cudi, Best Coast and Rostam Batmanglij [The Monday Download].

If you're already sick of hearing Katy Perry sing about Daisy Dukes, it's time to hit up Converse's website for a new summer tune perfect for open-car-window blasting.

Yes, Converse--the shoe brand that's provided your reliable foot wardrobe for decades is now regularly producing musical collaborations. Last year they got together Julian Casablancas, Santigold and N.E.R.D. for the rather bizarre "My Drive-Thru," but this time around, the random threesome of Kid Cudi, Best Coast and Rostam Batmanglij (of Vampire Weekend) has worked out a lot better.

It's still really random, and I still don't quite understand the point, but either way, "All Summer" is worthy of making the summer playlists this year. You can download the song at Converse's website or take a listen by streaming here.

-- Chau Tu

Eat Out. Brooklyn Bagel Bakery.


L.A. is sprinkled with a few good bagel shops, most of which are not on the east side. Fortunately, one of the oldest and best is. The Brooklyn Bagel Bakery is on Beverly just west of Alvarado, near downtown Los Angeles.

It's a large industrial-style space, not at all like a cozy coffee or donut shop. When you see the place, you feel like they know what they're doing, and you're right. The bagels are fresh and delicious, and come in a really wide variety of flavors, including Oat Bran, Strawberry, Cranberry Apple--and of course classics like Sesame, Egg, Cinnamon Raisin (pictured), and Cheese. Cream cheeses come in several flavors as well.

They have been rated 'Best' by Los Angeles Magazine, and been featured in the Los Angeles Times (where I first ate a Brooklyn Bagel).

The prices and the hours are great. Every day after 3:00 p.m., all fresh bagels are half price--a bagel "Happy Hour"!

The Brooklyn Bagel Company is located at 2217 Beverly Blvd. Open 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily. For more info: brooklynbagella.com, (213) 413-4114.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: brooklynbagella.com


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Advance Notice. L.A. Street Food Fest.

A sure-to-be-streamlined L.A. street food fest/extravaganza is in the works to take place on the evening of Saturday July 24 at the Rose Bowl. Participants will include favorites of the Los Angeles streets like Louks, the Border Grill Truck, The Grilled Cheese Truck, and many more (Coolhaus and other dessert trucks too). Rather than in the actual trucks, vendors will be in booths, for better ease of serving and less time waiting in lines.

The ticket price is all-inclusive, so once you're in, all you have to think about is which food you'd like to eat--not bad. Also included are drinks. There will be mixologists on-site, as well as tequila tastings. Picnic areas, live music, and of course plenty of food. A (hopefully) warm summer night in Pasadena, Calif. Sounds perfect.

Tickets are only available online, there won't be tickets at the door, so order soon if you want to go, or they may sell out. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to charities.

5:30 p.m. July 24; 4:00 p.m. early entrance with VIP ticket.

Tickets $45 general admission, $65 VIP available online only. More info: lastreetfoodfest.com

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: lastreetfoodfest.com

Friday, July 9, 2010

Check It. Dennis Hopper Double Standard at MOCA.

By his later years, Dennis Hopper was known most for his rogue acting roles in such films like Blue Velvet and Easy Rider, but behind the scenes he was actually a very important player in the art world scene. After gaining a bad reputation in the '60s among Hollywood studios and filmmakers for being difficult to work with, Hopper immersed himself in photography, painting and sculpture, and began collecting art as well. Most notably, he was an early proponent of Pop Art, and actually bought one of Andy Warhol's infamous Campbell's Soup Cans for the unimaginable price of $75.

His impact on pop culture undeniable, Hopper has made for a perfect debut subject for Jeffrey Deitch's inaugural exhibition as the new director of MOCA. Dennis Hopper Double Standard is curated by fellow artist Julian Schnabel and is the first comprehensive survey of Hopper's artistic works. The exhibition has gained a lot of attention in light of Hopper's recent passing and because of the Deitch expectations, but nevertheless is sure to follow through on simply being a great, memorably and not-to-be-missed art show.

Dennis Hopper Double Standard is set to open this Sunday at the Geffen Contemporary branch of MOCA (the one in Little Tokyo, at 152 N. Central Ave.). There will be a special tribute to Hopper on Saturday with a cash bar and DJ set by Eddie Ruscha (yes, the son of artist Ed Ruscha), and on the official opening day of the exhibit on Sunday, curator Schnabel himself will be on hand at 3 p.m. to discuss the exhibition. The show will run until Sept. 26.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Dennis Hopper, Double Standard. 1961 gelatin silver print © Dennis Hopper, image courtesy of the artist and Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York

Check It. Play Misty for Me.

If you like Clint Eastwood, this 1971 crime/drama/romance/thriller he directed and stars in is a great weekend rental. Shot in Big Sur, Carmel and Monterey, Calif., it's beautiful to watch, and has lots of classic Eastwood acting. Think Gran Torino forty years ago (and an obsessed female fan instead of a Hmong family next door).

The bar he goes to, in real life called the Sardine Factory, is still there, and looks like a great place. The bartender is played by Don Siegel, director of Dirty Harry, among other Eastwood films. Monterey is about a six hour drive from Los Angeles, and this film may get you itching for a road trip.

The title, Play Misty for Me, comes from creepy song request calls Eastwood's Dave gets regularly, while he's a radio DJ. You'll have to watch to find out the rest!

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: impawards.com

Check It. Blu street art.

This video is marvelous combination between two extremely excellent things: stop motion animation and street art. I love the use of recycled materials, and the shots, the art, variety of locations, even the length of this short vid blow my mind.

Kind of a fun video to start your weekend.

Happy Friday!

-- Lauren Williams

BIG BANG BIG BOOM - the new wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Drink In. Lillet [Thirsty Thursdays!].

Lillet is a French aperitif that's perfect for summer. It can be used as an ingredient in mixed drinks, like Martha Stewart's Lillet-Basil Cocktail, or Katie Lee's Kiwi-Lillet Gimlet, or even James Bond's Kina Lillet, or enjoyed on it's own.

When served, it should be well chilled (as the bottle even says) or even over ice, with a slice of lemon or lime. It's definitely on the sweet side, so I think on the rocks and with a citrus slice or two works best.

It's meant for the time of day when day turns to evening, and evening turns to night which is such a nice idea, and really makes it feel like an occasion (even if a daily occurrence) to have a glass.

Cheers to summer!

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: the BEAT

Eat In. Buffalo Bill's Orange Blossom Cream Ale.

This is an amazing find by Ms. Leslie Anne Wiggins: Orange Blossom beer. While she wasn't keen on it because of it's strong orange flavor, I loved it even though I quite often I go for more yeasty, wheaty beers.

Buffalo Bill's Orange Blossom Cream Ale has a surprising and refreshing taste, and the "creamy" texture was very unique without being gross. The cute vintage box is a plus, although not exactly a deal breaker.

Buffalo Bill's who bottles this excellent brew has other amazing craftsman seasonals, including their pumpkin ale coming out in the fall, which is probably my favorite of their collection.

It is a bit hard to locate Buffalo Bill's Orange Blossom Cream Ale, although Ralph's and BevMo! will usually have it. One six pack costs about $8 at BevMo!

-- Lauren Williams

Do It. Old Pasadena Film Fest.

Honestly, if you don't see an outdoor movie screening sometime this summer, you really have no excuses. Because here's another one to get you in the summer spirit, and totally worth heading up the 110 to catch.

The Old Pasadena Film Festival takes place for three weeks in July, featuring multiple screenings on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays all throughout the lively Old Pasadena district. Beginning tonight, you can catch modern classics like Annie Hall, Jurassic Park, Labyrinth, Harold and Maude and more in the area's many courtyards and other mini open spaces.

And since it's free, it's simply the perfect way to kick off your weekend. Think enjoying a fun dinner at Il Fornaio, Buca di Beppo or A'Float Sushi, then grabbing dessert at 21 Choices before heading to a nearby courtyard to see Night of the Living Dead. Perfect for a date night, or just hanging out with friends, all in one convenient spot.

The Old Pasadena Film Festival begins tonight in the One Colorado Courtyard, 41 Hugus Alley with Annie Hall at 8:30pm. For more info, click here.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Old Pasadena Film Festival