Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day 100: Pole Dancing at LACMA

Today my son and I spent the day at LACMA to check out the Tim Burton exhibit.  The first thing we saw as we walked up to the famous Lightpost installation is a random flash mob of people dirty dancing in the poles.  It was awesome! Their friend was filming them.  I have no idea who they were or why they were there.  Only in L.A.

We took a few photos and then Beckett wanted to play tag.  We ran through the lamp posts until we were exhausted.
After tag, we bought tickets for a 4:00 entry to the Tim Burton exhibit.  We were both sort of starving, so we decided before art there would be lunch.  We ate at the grown up cafe, Ray's next to this incredibly groovy lounge area (note to self:  looks like an awesome place to hang out with grown-ups!  A cross between the lounge area of the old TWA building at JFK, and the sculpture garden at MOMA.)  There was no kids' menu, so Beckett decided to order a pulled pork sandwich (?) I asked him if he had ever eaten pulled pork, to which he replied no.  But I supported him ordering something totally out of his wheelhouse and just warned him if he ended up not liking he could share mine, but we would not be ordering a third thing.  (He is not a cheap date.)  He had a few bites and decided he didn't really like it.  I on the other hand, who have also never really had a pulled pork sandwich, thought it was yummy.  We traded half-eaten meals.  So between the pound of fresh-baked bread we both ate, neither of us starved.

After lunch we checked out an exhibit or two, including an installation Beckett liked with hundreds of tubes/strings dangling that you could walk through.  At four, we headed into the Tim Burton exhibit, armed with our headset guides.  The exhibit was awesome!

It starts with Tim's painfully boring, detached, and yet inspiring youth in Burbank.  The exhibit takes you through his earliest sketches, inspirations, musings and cartoon strips he made as a teen.  Throughout every phase of the exhibit there are fantastic drawings, puppets, film clips and sculptures from the prolific brain of a weird, dark genius.  We loved the audio guide, complete with snippets of interviews with Tim about what goes on in his brain.  His characters are tortured, odd - they have scissors for hands, buttons for eyes, they are disenfranchised outsiders.  But at their core, his protagonists are vulnerable, human.  I love this quote from the irrepressible Ed Wood:
Edward D. Wood, Jr.: And cut! Print. We're moving on. That was perfect. 
Ed Reynolds: Perfect? Mr. Wood, do you know anything about the art of film production? 
Edward D. Wood, Jr.: Well, I like to think so. 
Ed Reynolds: That cardboard headstone tipped over. This graveyard is obviously phony. 
Edward D. Wood, Jr.: Nobody will ever notice that. Filmmaking is not about the tiny details. It's about the big picture. 
Ed Reynolds: The big picture? 
Edward D. Wood, Jr.: Yes. 
Ed Reynolds: Then how 'bout when the policemen arrived in daylight, but now it's suddenly night? 
Edward D. Wood, Jr.: What do you know? Haven't you heard of suspension of disbelief? 

As we left MOMA, without a dinner plan or any exciting groceries to go home to, we were thrilled to see the Galbi NYC food truck, and the topper, a powder-puff blue cupcake truck.  As Ed Wood would say:
"Cut, print, it's perfect!"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Day 99: SUP getting the cobwebs out!

OK, I have been a horrendously inconsistent blogger.  If you haven't unsubscribed by now, tune in because I am loving my staycation in L.A!  My sister Madeleine, and nephews Nick, and Jack came to visit, The Anderson clan came back from Fargo, Hollie and Carley came from New York, Lauren has been surprising me with pop-in visits for work and fun, so we have been non-stop entertaining, and in exchange we have been very entertained.

My sister Lisa and I have had a summer wishlist for two years, so we decided to start knocking off the activities we've been dying to try: top of the list - SUP (stand up paddleboarding).  This sport combines everything I love:  surfing, kayaking, ocean, Malibu.  What really also attracts me to this sport is you are on the water, but you are not really wet, and you are working out so much you never get cold.  When Mad and the nephews came we tried it for the first time and we were hooked.  We drove up to the Malibu pier, parked on PCH to avoid the rip-off parking lot, rented at the surf shack across the street from the pier.  They are really great at this shop -- they will hold your phone, credit card and keys in a drawer so you don't have to leave any valuables on the beach.  They give you paddles, then across the street at the truck they unload the boards, which you bring down to the beach.  They look like they are light but do not be fooled -- they are heavy as all get out.  Once on the water, the board is free to glide.  You float out either lying down or kneeling as you paddle out away from the shore.  The ideal conditions are glassy.  Today we started out glassy, and wound up with slightly choppy water.  I didn't mind it at all -- it's a great workout because you are constantly engaging your core to stay centered and balanced and not have a Three Stooges moment of physical comedy as you plotz on your ass.  Both times we tried it, first with the nephews and my two boys, and today with Abby, we paddled out west, then north of the pier toward the surfers, then south and one or two more circuits.  I love the serenity of being out on the glassy water.  Malibu seen from out there looks green and hilly and beautiful.  If it were a little greener and hillier you would think you were in Maui.  After my first attempt, I thought I looked so cool.  Then I got a look at the photos and ran to ZJ Boarding House to get myself a sporty mom water outfit, which consists of a mom rashguard and hot Hurley short shorts.  It was awesome having Abby as our tour guide today.  She gave us important tips: don't get too close to the pier as you don't want to get tangled in fishing lines.  Hold your paddle the correct way, so it angles out slightly in an arc in front of you, which for me meant the letters and logo faced the shore.  She said narrower boards are harder to balance on -- the ones we rent are perfect because they are nice and sturdy for us beginners.  Today we made another beautiful discovery -- after returning the boards, thirsty and ravenous, we treated ourselves to kick-ass fish tacos from the fish shack underneath the surf shack.  We toasted our new discovery with cold bottled water and I managed to wolf down a few bites with my sister before zipping home to pick up my kids from camp.  Today, I took a mini-break from my kids, squeezed in a little me time -- balance was achieved in more ways than one.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Day 98: Whale Watching and Hangovers Do Not Go Hand In Hand...

Three days into Spring Break we had Groupon tickets to go whale watching out of Newport Landing in Newport Beach.  Two days into Spring Break Mark and I celebrated our 14th anniversary at our favorite restaurant, Osteria Mozza in Hollywood.  I thought I only had two glasses of wine, but as Mark pointed out, those demi caraffes they give you when you order a glass are large, so it's more like I had half a bottle. Damn, though it was great wine.  We shared three appetizers -- prawns, and two of the mozzarellas from the mozzarella menu which were out of this world.  Then, I get the pasta I always get that sounds really plain, but made with fresh pasta, lots of cheese and lots of pepper, it is simple perfection.  We were going to blow off dessert, but the cute waiter offered us something we could not refuse -- flourless chocolate cake (right up Mark's Celiac alley!) so we caved.  Needless to say, the next morning I was not moving too quickly.  But I had promised Aidan, Beckett and Jack we would go whale watching, so whale watching we went.

We got down to Newport in about an hour, parked and walked toward the dock.   There were all kinds of unexpected amusements at the dock - a mini ferris wheel, bungee jumping, and all kinds of tourist traps selling sharks' tooth necklaces, churros and "Newport Beach" shot glasses.  We presented our tickets (which included binoculars) and boarded the boat.  Usually, I love boats, but things were just a little off that day.  It was chilly, our whole area of the boat was shaded, so we were not in direct sun.  The water was rough, and overall, the whole thing was a bit of a bust.  We saw some sea lions and seals, but apart from that, nada.  With all the white caps on the water it was really hard for the captain and his crew to see shinola out there. I snapped a few pictures of sea lions only to realize there was no memory card in my camera - doh! To top off our misadventures, I had heated up some chicken nuggets for lunch, only Mark bought a new brand -- (usually the frozen ones I buy are pre-cooked, but these were raw).  So I heated them up and threw them in a tupperware.  Beckett, Aidan and Jack were munching away on them when Aidan said these don't taste the best.  I took the nuggett, looked at it, saw that it was raw and frantically ripped the other nuggets out of Beckett and Jack's mouths.  A few minutes ago I had been worried about feeling queasy, now I was in a mounting panic that I had given the kids salmonilla for lunch.  This was really not helping my mood, or my general queasiness.  The kids went on to eat hot dogs they purchased on board, (I know, don't ask) along with the rest of the untainted bits I packed for lunch, and they were totally fine.

After the 2 plus hour boat ride I was so thrilled to see the land mass growing larger and larger as we approached shore.  Halle frickin lujah.  They offered us coupons to come back for free since the whole thing was such a bust, and all I could think was you could not pay me enough money to come back next week and do this again.  The whales blew us off, alas.  I'd be willing to try again in Hawaii or possibly Malibu, but I am a bit soured on Newport Landing.  I was glad the kids had a good time, and I was glad as hell to get back in my Highlander and get out of there.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day 97: Doing jury duty with Phyllis from "The Office"

Oh I have been a lousy, remiss blogger.  My life has gotten in the way of my blogging, I do apologize for those of you who tune in.  I have to tell you all about doing jury duty with Phyllis Lapin (her real name is Phyllis Smith) from "The Office" fame.  I first got the jury duty notice, called in, was all scheduled for the week of March 14th.  Then, March 14th came and went.  Somewhere around March 21st I said, I better check that jury duty slip and put the dates down in my calendar - doh!  Missed the whole thing.  Now I was nervous.  Even a little clammy.  Bad memories and associations were flooding in...the time I got a notice from the library that I owed 12.00 when I was ten years old and I wailed for an hour.  This seemed exponentially worse.  My husband assured me I would not be arrested for contempt of court.  So I called the number and the robot scheduled me a date to commence jury duty.  The only problem with this date?  It was smack dab in the middle (well, toward the end) of Spring Break.  So after an awesome hang on the beach at the Hotel Del Coronado last Wednesday, I called in after 5:00 p.m. as instructed.  Nooooooooooo!  I was expected in downtown L.A. at 7:45 a.m.  Lauren had generously invited us to crash another night in her hotel suite, and I had to turn it down.  I left Beckett with his pals to stay and enjoy one more day, but after fortifying myself with a yummy crabcake dinner and a lot of iced tea, I gassed up the Highlander and hit the road.  It's been years (a decade??) since I drove 2 1/2 hours at night by myself, and I have to say, even with Ryan Adams and Stevie Nicks belting away, it was lonely and crummy.  And the 405, usually a nightmare at any time of the day or night, did not disappoint.  Road work (?) was happening, so I ran into one or two nasty traffic jams.
But back to my point.  Wait, was there one?  What was I saying?  Oh yes, Phyllis!  On day one I was in the wrong cattle line in the wrong building, went to the wrong floor and was listening to the spiel when I felt something wasn't right...the kind woman who I showed my slip to told me to go one block down and one block over to Temple and Spring.  Whoops.  So, in the big room where you wait all day to see if you will be picked, I recognized Phyllis.  But from where I had no idea.  Was she someone from Santa Monica -- the lunch lady at Beckett's school?  Someone who worked at Ralphs?  We were both picked on day one at 2:00 to be part of a jury pool for Judge Ohta's court, the same room and the same judge I had jury duty with almost exactly two years ago. Deja poo.  I kept glancing over at Phyllis and thought...maybe she is a character on one of the shows my kids watch...
Well, on day two I was sitting next to her waiting to be called in and I overheard a conversation and understood she is Phyllis from the office.  I struck up a convo, as I am friends with two writers and one actor on that show.  She was very sweet, and I enjoyed passing the time talking to her about writing, and the show, etc.  I'm not going to say much about the case except to say that it was an incredibly disturbing criminal/sexual case, and we were all relieved when, toward the end of day 2 the case was settled behind closed doors and we were all released of duty.  Phyllis and I hiked back to the parking lot at Disney Hall, and had a nice chat about New York Theater, and my writing, my husband's writing, her trip to St. Louis to go home for a visit the next day.  It was sort of the bright spot in my 2 days of servitude.

On a side note, went for the first time to an amazing dive in Chinatown called Yum Cha Cafe.  I would even go so far as to downgrade it from dive to dump.  BUT, in this flourescently lit cafe with beaten up communal tables, where I was the only non-Chinese speaking person, I had an AMAZING dim sum meal for 3.71.  The next time I am downtown on jewelry errands I am making a bee-line for Yum Cha!
Another silver lining, i got to hang with Nnogo, whose office is steps away from Disney Hall.  I met her for lunch on day 2 at the Disney Hall cafeteria.  However in a typical Rebecca/Nnogo plan, all did not go necessarily as planned!  By the time she got there I had to leave 5 minutes later and sprint back the 4 blocks to court.  Our timing was a little f'd.  But it was nice to see her, however brief.  I can only hope my duties for the city of Los Angeles were appreciated.  Translation:  Take me out of the rotation folks!  Give me a break!  Lose my number, L.A!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 96: Front Row at Walt Disney Hall

When Karen offered me front row tickets for Walt Disney Hall I had no idea who I was going with or who was watching my kids, but I said yes!  I ended up taking Kalli.  Neither one of us have ever seen a show there, so it was a real treat.  When we got to our seats, they were amazing.  We were practically on stage.  The show was part of the Aspects of Ades festival, with the amazing Thomas Ades conducting the L.A. Philharmonic.  Unfortunately, the L.A. Phil that night were backing up opera singers, who stood at the front of the stage singing their way through this snoozer of the Victorian era comedy of manners and propriety -- The Importance of Being Earnest.  They prattled on and on (operatically!) about names, and courtships, and muffins.  Yes, muffins.  There was a five-minute back and forth exchange about this man's preference for muffins, which when sung in opera is sorta ridiculous.  So at intermission Kalli and I had a good laugh, and we decided to give up our unbelievably amazing seats at Disney hall to go get a taco and marg at Lares.  Having free front-row tickets is incredible.  Having a girlfriend who shares a look with you and you both know you're going to sneak out at intermission -- priceless!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Day 95: Rockreation

I took Beckett and his buddy Jack to Rockreation today, since it was raining and they were climbing the walls at home.  I figured we would switch it up and climb the walls over there, with harnesses and make it official.  We signed up for kid's climb, $15 per kid for an hour with a belaying guide.  We walked in and the familiar smell of smelly feet/rental shoes/lysol kind of hits you in the face.  It's the bowling alley/ice skating rink smell.  Or if you have boys with smelly cleats of all variety, it is the familiar scent of home.  Beckett and Jack were sure the shoes were too small, but our guide assured us you want to be able to feel the wall and feel your way along with your feet, so eventually they quit complaining.

We got lucky because we were the only ones signed up for the 1:00 session, so it was basically a private lesson.
Our guide, Dylan started them out on an easy climb, which they mastered, then they worked their way along to some of the more challenging areas.  Beckett and Jack took turns , each one cheering the other on and encouraging him as he tried to make it to the top. We watched in amazement as some of the experienced climbers climbed like Spiderman all along the walls and up across the ceiling.  I found the gym overall had a good vibe.  It was a little bit grungy, and so were most of the climbers, but they had a warm fuzziness about them -- the grunge was part of the charm.  This is a no-frills place that is not really concerned with impressing anyone.  If you want to come and climb and use the workout equipment, great, if not, no worries.  Go somewhere else!  After the climb the boys shared a chocolate bar and had vitamin waters.  They were thoroughly satisfied, beginning to end with the entire experience.  And that kinda says it all.  I posted a few pics I took, one of the Impossibly White Guys.  I did not need a flash - they were aglow from within.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 94: Beyond The Olive

In December, I was selling jewelry at Chiat Day's annual holiday bazaar, and located conveniently behind my table was the olive oil man.  I got to overhear a little of his spiel as he told people about his products, and his shop in Pasadena.  Eventually I got really hungry and sauntered over for some samples.  Being sort of a freak for olive oil, I was really impressed by the quality of the samples I was greedily gobbling up.  But what really blew me away was the aged balsamic vinegar.  I have yet to venture out to Pasadena to Beyond the Olive, but I have become a die hard fan.  This is the mission statement (they have a mission statement - it's so Jerry Maguire!) found on their website:

Our Mission The mission of Beyond the Olive is to provide our customers with the knowledge to accurately assess the quality of extra virgin olive oil and provide them with access to the greatest extra virgin olive oil that California has to offer. We accomplish this by providing education on the production, varieties and attributes of extra virgin olive oils and allowing consumers to taste the subtleties in a comfortable, inviting atmosphere. 

I have ordered a few different things from Beyond the Olive's website.  I enjoyed reading about Chip and Crystal Reibel, the owners.  They have a work ethic, and a philosophy, which is mainly about insuring high quality from local, Northern California olives.  I actually learned a lot about olive oil - how to store it (cool, dry place, tightly sealed).  Best not to buy in massive quantity, because it really needs to be consumed while it's fresh -- it can actually go rancid.  Also, there is a long-winded explanation of what extra virgin means.  Next time I find myself in Pasadena I can't wait to check out this couple's fantastic shop.  For now I am enjoying the hell out of my 25 star (formerly known as aged 18 year) balsamic vinegar.  I dip toast in it, make salads with it - today it was excellent drizzled on a turkey arugula sandwich with parmesan and tomato.  Yum.  Thanks Chip and Crystal for elevating the condiments around here.