Happy New Year Los Angeles!

Here are some resolutions I'd like to see L.A. make:

#1 Build more metro stops (particularly ones at Miracle Mile and Laurel Canyon)

#2 Build more Boba Locas!

#3 Hire more teachers.

#4 Put a Vietnamese restaurant in Studio City!

#5 Citizens, stop giving so much attention to hipsters with ironic facial hair. It's your staring and reactions that encourage them to "stay weird." Ignore them, and they will eventually go away.

#6 $100 "jaywalking" tickets? Seriously? Skim the fat off of the over-inflated California government in Sacramento instead of ripping off poor citizens. Use the extra to do #3.


Everybody Loves Steve Martin

Steve Martini
Steve Martin's face makes me feel warm and fuzzy. It takes me back to the leafy suburb of my childhood, where an endless stream of peanut butter and lemonade was accidentally snorted through my nose while laughing in front of The Jerk, LA Story, Little Shop of Horrors, Parenthood, Father of the Bride, Roxanne and so on.

Thank goodness for Gallery 1988, which is appealing to all us Gen Xers with exhibits that take us back to our decadent 80's childhood. Not too long before the Steve Martin exhibit, they had a Garbage Pail Kid exhibit

To be in a room surrounded by various Steve Martins smiling back at me, was nothing short of glorious.


An L.A. holiday must-do: The Tam O'Shanter!

"What the Dickens?" you ask. Why, it's the Tam O' Shanter

Since Los Angeles is a sea of concrete strip malls and steel-and-glass minimalism, you wouldn't expect to see a place straight from a Dickens novel. Oh we have a sprinkle of the soot and smog of London during the Industrial Revolution, but we don't have snowy Christmas Eves, icicles hanging off latticework windows and Christmas carolers.

Or so I thought. We have the Tam O' Shanter, right by Griffith Park. Built in 1922 and frequented by everyone from silent film stars to Walt Disney (whose sketches adorn the walls), this place is a true wonder. They offer the ultimate Scottish experience all year, but it's during Christmas that the place pities the fool. Their multiple fireplaces are roaring, garland thick with red velvet ribbon is strung from rafters and Christmas trees laden with Victorian trinkets glint with the advent of the holiday. Best of all, there are carolers! Actual Christmas carolers in Victorian attire who sing in harmony, gliding from table to table to take requests, and they know every song. They even offer a production of A Christmas Carol in a special room.

prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, creamed spinach and mashed potatoes
And the food was impeccable. As a Middle Easterner, I've taken great pride about our triumph over cuisine, despite a barren landscape. A lot of Irish, Scottish and English food is bland, though cultivated from lush and bountiful landscapes. When visiting England, I marveled at how the best restaurants were Indian, not to mention the boiled chicken and potatoes that pass for delicious. And the Brits told me to thank my stars I wasn't in Scotland, where they serve the same fare, plus haggis. But the Tam O' Shanter would have none of that. They have roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and thick gravy, and seasonal pumpkin souffle with whipped cream. Scottish salmon with mashed potatoes and buttery greens, multi-layered English trifles and more.

Between the food, the carolers like porcelain figurines and the overall look of a light-up Christmas village, this place is a must-do.


Candy Cane Lane - a real Holiday Road!

Story has it, there are Candy Cane Lanes all over the country. They've popped up HERE, HERE and HERE and then some. But word has it that the Candy Cane Lane in Los Angeles is the one that started them all. Feels good to know that, considering the barrage of commentary coming from New York, accusing us of licking their fashion crumbs. For the record, we were never the last to know. Sometimes the 2nd, but never the last. And we don't all wear shorts and flip flops. And Rodarte is from Pasadena. But I digress...

It's undoubtedly a perk to have Candy Cane Lane in Los Angeles. We're close to Disneyland and I swear one of the employees must have built the two-story facade in front of their home, filled with trinkets and characters belting out It's A Small World. Then there's the weather perk. It's not hot outside by any means, but wearing a snuggly sweater and Uggs makes it perfectly cozy. The weather brought out families, who placed chairs in the back of flat-bed trucks, so that their kids could cruise by and interact with the crowds roaming the streets. It sounds white trash, but it isn't. It's like a parade, and they all don cute knitted scarves and thermoses of hot cocoa. Sometimes they carol, as do the kids who have the privilege of popping half their bodies out of the sunroof of their parents car. They don reindeer antlers made of felt and wave to everyone, giggling.

Vendors are on the street selling spiced apple cider and funnel cake. Neighbors are dressed as Santa and pose with visiting kids on gigantic sleighs, three rows deep. Since the barrage of cars and foot traffic on Candy Cane Lane has residents literally trapped on their property, teens take the opportunity to score some money, baking cookies and selling bottles of water. Strangest of all, was a man who biked through Candy Cane Lane over and over, wearing a helmet that dangled mistletoe over his head.

The thing that made it special, was that people were unabashedly enjoying the Christmas spirit. Teens weren't rolling their eyes, they wore blinking red noses. Parents weren't stressed over the commercial aspect of shopping lists, but slowing down to soak up the campy Griswold beauty of it all. It was truly a Holiday Road, if there ever was one!


Baby It's (a teensy bit) Cold Outside

There is a nip in the air! Naysayers, hush. You just haven't been here long enough to have your blood thinned.

Time to bust out the bulky sweaters and enjoy some comfort food! It's time for Doughboys. They aren't afraid of gluten, the sticky stuff that holds the world together. Cold weather isn't just awesome because hipsters will be putting away those oversized tank tops and slipping their pasty arms away from sight. It means buttery grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches and cast iron skillets filled with cheesy Southern goodness.

Happy December!


Rolling Stone After Party for the American Music Awards

A couple of nights ago, I was at the American Music Awards after party, hosted by Rolling Stone. It was a great time, but my takeaway is this: Rock and roll is strange

College-educated music executives and groupies alike stuffed themselves into mini-dresses that resembled sausage casing, coupled with patent leather platforms. They wobbled around trying to rub shoulders with musicians; even unwashed ones who donned ponchos and tangled beards. Some were bony with over-teased, flammable hair that made them resemble matchsticks. These women overlooked neon green eyeglasses and exposed midriffs. These maladies would be deal breakers in the real world, but this is rock and roll.

Music thumped on the packed dance floor, and in addition to the open bars, Pitbull's vodka, Voli had promo stands literally pouring with orange-vanilla cocktails. Nokia did promo photos for the guests inside. Usually at big parties, you have to lurk near the kitchen exit in order to snag the beautiful-but-fleeting canapes. Rolling Stone would have none of this. Servers streamed from the kitchen wielding trays, which floated through the rooms like a flying saucer invasion. We were inundated with truffle pizza slices, crab cakes, heirloom tomatoes with burrata, Kobe sliders, mini tuna melts, mini baked potatoes and cupcakes from Magnolia. For the first time I can remember, I had to turn them away. Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet danced alongside Hollywood's top beard, Stacy Kiebler. Jenny McCarthy rocked a pompadour and Gavin DeGraw still didn't take off his hat.

me with Hilda Nathalie-Roque
All the while, I thought about how lucky the men of rock and roll are. While beautiful women primped the entire day for this event, rockers showed up stinking of whiskey and slurring orders. And of course, they were surrounded by giggling, adoring fans. This is the world that made Kid Rock a ladykiller. In the real world, women would not scramble for a redneck who got arrested for beating up a guy at Waffle House. Just sayin'.


Such Great Heights

Anyone driving north along the PCH has been curious, if not captivated by the grounds of Malibu's Pepperdine University.

The rolling green lawn evokes Ireland and the campus on the cliffs guarantees breathtaking views and evenings filled with the canyon's coyote chorus. Plus, who wouldn't want to get a higher education in Malibu? No one has access because the campus is blocked by a security toll, but I had the privilege of partying there since my husband is enrolled in the Master's program. This was no keg party with the sour smell of spilled beer. We were at the President's mansion, with a gourmet spread, espresso bar and an unbelievable view of the Pacific.

For all those PCH road trippers who have always been curious, enjoy!


Review: Bad Evidence

People say that being married in L.A. is like dog years compared to the rest of the country. While New York swarms with unattainable supermodels, wives in L.A. contend with attainable girls, who are chestier than their supermodel counterparts, shorter than models so that the men feel bigger, and so insecure from financial instability and bad auditions that they throw themselves at anyone who flatters them and drives a Range Rover. 

That's why Angelenos should see Bad Evidence, playing at The Elephant Theatre in Hollywood. If we thought we were bring tested here in the Porn Capitol of the World,  you should see the mess these New Yorkers get themselves into. I left the theatre both relieved and uncomfortable. Relieved that it was only a dream, and uncomfortable because the characters surge dangerously close to territory that married couples steer far from. When actress Glory Simon confronts her spouse about an affair, or even an attraction that may lead to an affair, you wish she hadn't asked. The air is electrified and they're both so vulnerable. You hold your breath and hope he will lie. Lying is the nice thing to do.

The play has the domestic sparring of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and the antics of Laguna BeachA couple of standout performances include Justin Sintic, who was somehow able to break away from the script in which all characters speak exactly the same. He took the role of Kevin and made it his own; a hard-boozing, aggressive Wall Street type. Ryan Fox delivers an empathetic performance that makes one wish he were given a bigger role. Though he's caught red-handed with the wrong woman minutes after we're introduced to him, the audience roots for him. He looks torn when she grinds against him, almost uncomfortable. It humanized him, so in response the audience hoped he would emerge with his political career and marriage intact. His subtlety also helped reel in actors that seemed too over-the-top for the small space. His sense of moral gravity reconnected his castmates to the events happening on stage.

Angelenos, you should see this play not only for entertainment, but to feel better about your own relationships.  I'm a firm believer in schadenfreude. After all, this is a town where Angelina runs rampant kissing her brother, humping on mentally ill senior citizens, drinking blood and stealing the Lord of the Douches from his perfectly good wife. A land where men tint their eyelashes and a geriatric Playboy magnate enjoys ice cream in bed with teens. We need all the help we can get.



slab city carol
in the throes of freebird

the slab city lothario, and  his "temple" is an old miltary base septic tank


Los Angeles Haunted Hayride - a MUST!

pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes
Last year I realized that some of the good old-fashioned pleasures from the East Coast are alive and well in Los Angeles. Hayrides for instance. Haunted hayrides were one of my favorite pastimes; being out in nature, the nip in the air, and the smell of woodsmoke and fear.

horse skeleton carousel

I was at first reluctant to shell out $25 for the hayride, but it was worth every penny. I'd have paid double. Off-roading through the mountains of Griffith Park and sidling up to gruesome Hollywood-grade scenes in the woods is unforgettable. Lit Christmas trees topped with decapitated heads greeted us as Silent Night played softly in the background. Circus tents were filled with maniacal clowns. Rednecks in cabins, licking their chops and calling us "fresh meat" as we rolled past. 

The Haunted Hayride was tricked out with perks that make you want to stay all night. A house of mirrors, horse skeleton carousel, costumed characters on stilts, haunted maze, a sideshow, spiced apple cider and pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes.

Happy Halloween Los Angeles!

If there are three things I can guarantee about Halloween in Los Angeles:
- girls wearing corsets, tutus and thigh-highs, claiming to be anything from a referee ("My corset is striped, duh!") to the devil ("My corset is red, duh!")
- Me pretending to live in a world where referees wear corsets
- Amazing parties
- Bulimics stashing bite-sized goodies in their purse for later
- Great costumes  
 Enjoy photos from last year's festivities!

Michael Jackson (with a white hand), me as Snooki, and Curt & Courtney
party in the hills

the city glitters below

abusive spread!
Corey Howe wins for Most Clever Costume - making a mockery of girls who feel as if EVERY costume must be slutty
 Cute couple alerts!

Top Gun's Maverick and Kelly McGillis
Red Riding Hood & Big Bad Wolf
Hugh Hefner & Playmate

Katy Perry &......Katy Perry