Saturday, October 18, 2014

Mickey's Halloween Party

Mickey jack-o-lantern

There’s something very special about Disneyland at night: all the rides and places you know so well, during the day, are suddenly dark and mysterious after the sun goes down. Needless to say, I love the park at night, especially when it’s all dressed-up for the holidays.

Teacups ride at night

Last night, Tim and I went to Mickey’s Halloween party—an extra-ticket, after-hours event held at Disneyland most evenings in October. The party is also the only time adult park-goers are allowed to wear costumes, so most nights sellout quickly. We saw many princesses and Jack Sparrows, of course; but also an unexpectedly beautiful Ursula, Ariel’s nemesis from The Little Mermaid, as well as quite a few terrific Mad Hatters, a la Johnny Depp in the 2010 Alice in Wonderland reboot. Though we don’t do costumes, I did wear one of my Maleficent t-shirts, plus horns/ears—no surprise: Maleficent is my favorite villainess—while Tim wore his Disney “warm, crispy, crunchy” churros t-shirt. We fit right in.

Me, in my Maleficent ears/horns,
in front of Mickey ghost

When we entered the park, we each were given a shiny wristband to distinguish us from the hundreds of day visitors, who were being gently pushed toward the exit via several checkpoints throughout the park. Our first stop was the town square, where various Disney villains and villainesses were posing for pictures with their fans. The Maleficent line was too long—damn, you, Angelina Jolie!—but we did pose with Star Wars Storm-troopers in Tomorrowland. We enjoyed the 8:30PM Halloween parade down Main Street and practically ran from the Indiana Jones ride to the park’s hub, in order to catch the special fireworks show at 9:30PM.

Tim sneaked a couple of snaps 
of Maleficent


 Although we had to pay—not even “cast members,” like Tim, get into the party for free—we decided it was a good deal because admission was limited, resulting in a lot less crowded park. The wait to pose with Maleficent may have been impossibly long, but the lines to get onto our favorite rides were relatively short. We had a great time.

Main Street train station covered in cobwebs

"Small World" exterior

With storm-troopers

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Mother's Little Helpers

Our cats Jack and Bobby turned seven months old this past week. They're angels when they're asleep. Otherwise, they can be a real handful. I'm sure the neighbors think I've gone insane, constantly yelling at two little cats, who always manage to behave when others are around. I know differently and call them "The Axis of Evil."

The cats and I do have a special relationship, though, probably because I work at home and am with them pretty much 24 hours a day. They especially love to "help" me do daily chores, like making the bed and doing laundry. See for yourself:

Putting on make-up in the morning

Making the bed

Doing laundry (Jack in the basket)

Making sure the laundry is clean (Jack in the
washing machine) ...

and dry (Jack in the dryer)

Helping Mommy iron

And repot plants, even if they don't need repotting

Cleaning the kitchen sink and window sills

Time for a break: "When's lunch, Mom?"

End of day: Mother's little angels

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Ridin' the Monorail

Tim walked some friends into Disneyland this morning. Well, actually they all walked over to the Monorail stop in Downtown Disney and then rode into the park together. Because no one else was on line to ride the Monorail, Tim got to sit in the front with the driver, something that I've never even done! Here's his movie of the entire ride:

Paul Revere, RIP

Paul Revere

One of my fondest teenage memories is of rushing home after school to watch Where the Action Is, a black-and-white half-hour TV show that aired weekday afternoons on ABC. A precursor to MTV, Action featured the top pop singers of the day, lip-syncing to their songs while walking along Santa Monica beach or other well-known, mostly local teen hangouts. I loved the show and especially the Action “house band,” Paul Revere and the Raiders, who were silly and dressed like Revolutionary War soldiers. I still carry a CD of their greatest hits in my car.

Tim and I saw the Raiders about 10 years ago at Disney’s California Adventure, when the park first opened and was so desperate for visitors that they hired nostalgic rock bands to play and attract baby boomers. Paul Revere, the group’s leader, was a hoot and full of life. I couldn’t believe that I was finally seeing one of my childhood idols perform live on stage!

Then last year we bought tickets to see the reconstituted Raiders at an afternoon show in Cerritos. The new band, made up of singers far younger than us, was great. And once again, Paul was a hoot, telling jokes and sitting behind a small organ. But now he walked with a cane and obviously was not 100% well.

I’m very sad to report that Paul Revere died over the weekend. I’ve loved him and his music for almost 50 years. Long may you ride, Paul!

The Raiders on Action. Paul is wearing the tri-corner
hat trimmed in white fur.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Memories of Wilshire Blvd

Me and our old Ford Falcon wagon in 1970

Several years ago, the L.A. Conservancy solicited members' stories about Wilshire Blvd., my favorite street in Los Angeles. I submitted a written memory, which appeared briefly on the Conservancy's website, and then forgot all about it.

Well, imagine my surprise when I visited the Conservancy's new "Explore L.A." microsite, this morning, and there, featured prominently on the Wilshire Blvd. page, was my short story under the headline, "The Most Glamorous Street in the World"! You can link to my memories here or enjoy them right now below:

Like most of the kids in my high school, I got my driver's license as soon as I turned sixteen. But unlike everyone else, I was too afraid to drive the freeway; and so that entire first summer (1970), my younger sister and I regularly drove the family's 10-year-old Ford Falcon over 25+ miles of L.A. streets to go to the beach.
From Burbank we took Barham over the hill to Highland and then down to Wilshire, where we turned right and headed toward the ocean. Our favorite beach was Sorrento, located at the foot of the California Incline.
Just west of La Brea were the tar pits, the art museum (only one building in those days), and the amazing gold column of the Fairfax May Co. -- all only a few steps away from curly-q French fries at Dolores drive-thru.
Further down was Beverly Hills, with its beautiful hotels and department stores, and of course Wilson's House of Leather, where we always decided to continue on Wilshire rather than turning onto the probably more suitable Santa Monica Blvd.
Approaching the beach head-on down the hill from Westwood somehow seemed a lot more exciting than sneaking up behind it from Santa Monica Blvd.
Years later, I frequently retraced this route as a UCLA graduate student, even though I had conquered my fear of freeways by then.
To me, Wilshire Blvd. remains the most glamorous street in the world and is the very epitome of Los Angeles.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Wiltern Theatre

The Wiltern's neon sign

Clad in blue-green Gladding-McBean terracotta tile, the Wiltern Theatre is one of the most magnificent buildings in Los Angeles and may, indeed, be one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in the U.S. Built in 1931, the theater majestically sits at the corner of Wilshire Blvd. and Western. Hence its name: Wiltern.

Blue-green terracotta exterior

Exterior entrance: art deco detail above the old box office

We’ve seen many concerts here—plus, I love showing it off to out-of-towners—so we know the Wiltern. However, the day before leaving for Alaska (see below), we got the chance to take a behind-the-scenes tour with the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation and truly saw the building for the first time.


Wall detail

Wall and ceiling detail

Art deco staircase: ceiling detail

Auditorium wall detail

The stage: view from the balcony

Stage rigging

Stage from the catwalk above

Fire curtain, lowered right before we left

Auditorium ceiling

OK, so we kinda went berserk taking pictures of lamps. But seriously, aren’t these the most beautiful light fixtures you’ve ever seen? Be sure to click on the images to enlarge.


Wall lamp

Inside the auditorium

More lobby

More ceiling

Main chandelier

Chandelier mural detail