Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hollywood Bowl: The Producers

The stage

We’ve had mini-season tickets to the Hollywood Bowl off and on since we moved back to L.A. almost 20 years ago. The Bowl is fun—and certainly historic—but the journey getting there from Culver City—or from just about anywhere, for that matter—can be grueling, especially during the week. This year the Bowl is offering several good programs on Sunday, so we bought the 4-event mini-package.

Grabbing a snack before the show

Our first show was The Producers, Mel Brooks’ hysterically irreverent musical about two theatrical producers who hope to make a bundle staging the sure-to-be-a-flop play “Springtime for Hitler.” The cast was great: Richard Kind (Max Bialystock), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Leo Bloom), Rebecca Romijn (the voluptuous Ulla), Dane Cook (Nazi-sympathizer Liebkind), and role originators Gary Beach (who won the Tony in 2001 for playing Roger Du Bris) and our favorite Roger Bart (Carmen Ghia). Though we’d seen The Producers twice before, we laughed just as hard this time around. Plus Mel Brooks, himself, came out during the curtain call, which was a thrill. 

But the best part: traffic wasn’t bad at all, going or coming! Sundays at the Bowl are the best.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Olympics 2012

It’s only day 2 and I’m already obsessed with the Olympics. The games are the first thing I watch in the morning and the last thing I watch at night. I bet Tim is sorry I let him put a TV in the bedroom several years ago. He caught me yelling at the U.S. women’s cyclists this morning. “Every four years you become an expert on cycling,” he said, rolling his eyes. Indeed. Yesterday I announced that my new favorite word is “peloton.”

Actually, I like all the sports where the athletes compete directly against each other—e.g., swimming, volleyball (especially beach volleyball—yay, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh!), and most track events. I’m less enthused by the sports that judges get to decide—e.g., gymnastics and diving—because they’re just too subjective, though the U.K.’s Louis Smith was pretty amazing last night on the pommel horse.

Anyway, though we have lots of other things going on, I’m pretty much going to be held hostage by the Olympics over the next two weeks, so don’t worry if I don’t write!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Beth's Cafe (Seattle, WA)

Got back yesterday from a quick jaunt to Seattle, where I had a wonderful time catching up with my sister and her family. A highlight of the trip was eating at Beth's Cafe, a true "greasy spoon" (in the best sense of the phrase!) in the Green Lake district of the city.

Around since 1954, Beth's has appeared on several "best" lists over the years and is renowned for its hash browns (cooked in butter, we think) and 12-egg omelets. The restaurant walls are also festooned in hand-drawn crayon pictures, encouraged—and apparently collected—by the owners. Very fun. Needless to say, after eating what looked and felt like a pound of hash browns each, we spent the next hour walking around the lake!

Beth's Cafe and Green Lake are both highly recommended the next time you're in Seattle.

"I'll have a BLT and hash browns, please!"
My sister opted for just hash browns (yum!).

Detail of the crayon art wall

Followed by a walk around Green Lake

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Montaña de Oro

While we were on the central coast last week, our friends* joined us on a late morning hike through the wildflowers and out onto the bluffs of Montaña de Oro State Park, not far from Morro Bay and Los Osos. As you can see, it was a beautiful day and the view spectacular. The walk from the car to the bluffs was less than a mile, which I did in my sturdy Fitflop sandals.

Highly recommended the next time you're on the central coast!

Stopping (or is that stooping?) to smell the 

Heading back to the car

*Thanks to Karen H. and Eric for sharing their photos!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Railroading on the Central Coast

We finally made it up to Arroyo Grande, where my high-school friend Karen H.’s brother-in-law Karl owns and manages the Bitter Creek Western Railroad, ten acres of private property where train buffs can work on and ride their narrow-gauge model trains. Several times a year Karl hosts organized “runs,” where train owners and their fans are welcome to camp on the grounds and operate their trains. The 4th of July run is one of the largest, attracting model railroad folks from around the world.

Bitter Creek Western, which is maintained by Karl and a group of volunteer train aficionados, features more than a mile of track that takes riders over and through three bridges, three trestles, and four tunnels. Riders catch trains as they pass a small station, located at the foot of a short hill where Karl lives. Passengers are invited aboard depending on how many seats are available. Some trains can accommodate several riders, while others offer just one or two seats. Trains run all day long, so there are lots of opportunities to ride. We had a ton of fun looking at the various types of trains—steam, electric, lawnmower motor!—and taking leisurely rides. It’s easy to see how people can become so addicted to railroading.

Karen H. and a train

Readying a train to run

Karen's husband Eric getting ready to take us on a ride

Trains running

The grounds

Riding over a trestle

Engine detail: When asked if everything worked or was
 just decoration, the engineer replied, "Nothing here is 'just decoration.'"

Karen H., Eric, Stephanie, and Karl

Monday, July 02, 2012

High-Speed Chase in Culver City

Ever since OJ Simpson’s wild ride down the 405 in a white Ford Bronco, high-speed car chases have become major events in Los Angeles. They’re dangerous and annoying—remind me to tell you some day about the high-speed chase down Venice Blvd. that almost kept me from fulfilling a fierce crave for Cuban food. However, although TV stations no longer automatically pre-empt shows to cover them—a highly criticized on-air slaying of a suspect ended that several years ago—they often make for some riveting live television.

Case in point:

Tim went to work at 4AM today and so was taking an afternoon nap when I heard him call from the bedroom: “Babe, come here quick!”

I was engrossed in work and hadn’t heard the helicopters over head. I joined him in the bedroom. There on the TV was a high-speed chase.

But not just any high-speed chase. The driver had exited the freeway at Sepulveda, about a mile from our house! I looked out the bedroom window and counted six helicopters. The chasee’s pick-up truck was heading south on Sepulveda toward our house!

“There’s Tito’s!” Tim yelled as the driver zoomed through Washington Place. “And Johnnies Pastrami!” The truck was getting closer.

A CHP officer tried to run her (the driver was a woman, as we soon found out) off the road, but only succeeded in getting her to turn right onto Culver Blvd., a short walk from our house.

“Watch out,” I yelled at the TV. “She’s getting back on the freeway!”

But no. Obviously not from Culver City, the driver turned right again onto the first street—the notoriously skinny Globe Ave.—and there met her doom. She surrendered without further incident. Apparently she had been caught siphoning gas in Fountain Valley (in Orange County) and had led CHP on a merry chase for 30 minutes.

“Only 30 minutes from Fountain Valley?” Tim asked incredulously. “Boy, she made good time!”