Saturday, October 25, 2014

things that make me smile

Win number two in three years is now etched in silver. While the first time will always be the best, looking at these names is special because not only is the current team there, but three members of the LA Kings I learned to love hockey by watching in the late '80s / early '90s -- Luuuuuc, Blakey and part of the All-American line from our first Cup run, current scout Mike Donnelly. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

garden surprises

I've lived in my house almost six years and for the first time in those six years, the vine on my patio trellis has bloomed with these GORGEOUS red and purple flowers. Love! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sunday, September 21, 2014

a super-fun disney day in downtown la

Today was super-fun! Three of my pals and I signed up a month ago to take the always sold-out Charles Phoenix Disneyland Tour of Downtown LA and it did not disappoint! 

We took the metro to Union Station to meet up with Charles, a humorist, author and "ambassador of Americana," who I've seen leading tours around Downtown LA multiple times on my weekend downtown adventures. But today, we were part of the group following the guy in Mickey ears with a megaphone. And while I'd already been to a lot of places on the tour, today I saw them in a whole new light... looking through the layers of history surrounding us daily if we just take the time to look at them (to paraphrase a certain tour guide :)

The tour began at Union Station, where we admired the architecture and got to go into the closed-for-eons restaurant to the left of the terminal (that could finally re-open soon as a gastro pub!).

Next we took the gold line one stop north to Chinatown, where I haven't been in years. We threw pennies in the wishing well (think Snow White's well at Disneyland), had egg rolls at Hop Louie, and saw the just-reopened, frozen-in-time office of the first Chinese lawyer in LA, You Chung Hong.

From Chinatown we hopped on our tour bus and went to El Pueblo de Los Angeles to walk through Plaza Fire House No. 1, the first firehouse in LA, which is now a museum showcasing an old horse-drawn fire engine and other historic equipment. This made me think of my grandpa....

From the fire house we walked across the square to Olvera Street. I've eaten there twice and browsed the shopping stalls. But today we went into Avila Adobe, the oldest existing house in Los Angeles, went up on a roof to view the recently restored, controversial "La America Tropical" mural, and had an amazing taquito at Cielito Lindo.

After taquitos, it was time for lunch (ha!). We walked down the street to Philippe the Original, where I (and many others) believe the french dip sandwich originated. I had a beef french dip, potato salad and a bite of blueberry pie. Delish!

 From Philippe's we took the bus up to the Bradbury Building, a national landmark, which for years was called the only important piece of architecture in Los Angeles. Numerous movies have been filmed there, including Blade Runner. And I've been there before thanks to my friend Cwennen, whose office used to be located there, and walked around it as a bustling office building. Today, it was very quiet and museum-like.

After the Bradbury Building, we walked across the street through the Grand Central Market (note: at 3pm the Eggslut line was not that bad), then walked UP the stairs next to Angel's Flight, since the rail cars are currently shut down. Then we walked through California Plaza and down the street to Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Then it was back on the bus to visit the neighborhood Charles says would be a block behind Main Street USA, Carroll Avenue in nearby Echo Park. It was one of the first neighborhoods in Los Angeles and is also home to the largest concentration of Victorian houses in LA, including the house where Michael Jackson's Thriller video was filmed (below, lower right).

After hearing about the historic homes, we drove down the hill and around the corner a bit to the Bob Baker Marionette Theater. We saw about a fifth of their current show Fiesta, then had ice cream and cake in the party room.

Then it was back on the bus to return to Union Station where our tour ended... but not before taking a photo with our tour guide. Here's to super-fun, photo-filled Sunday fun-days! :)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

thoughts on songs of innocence

A little over a week ago, Apple held one of their big press conferences and announced they have new products you need to pay hundreds of dollars for that I will never buy because #iluvmydroid. Snooze. Yawn.

But then they introduced my favorite band (now that Bon Jovi is minus a Sambora) and announced that every iTunes user in the world was getting a gift in their account -- a free copy of the long-awaited new U2 album "Songs of Innocence."

That woke me up. I knew the album was almost ready. They'd been working on it for years. It was supposed to come out last year. Then it didn't. Then it was going to come out before the end of this year. But no date was announced. I kept waiting. Then I got distracted and all excited about the new Foos album coming out in November.

Never did I guess U2 would go from zero to a thousand and give it away to everyone (whether they wanted it or not) at the exact moment it was announced. I was so excited!

Then I got home to check my iTunes (since #ihaveadroid) and became perturbed. It wasn't easy to find. (Thanks to the peeps on the Apple message boards who also felt my pain and shared the secret of going to iTunes Preferences -> Store and checking the friggin' "Show iTunes in the Cloud purchases" box.)

I finally got it downloaded and started listening. My immediate favorite song was "Song for Someone"... a sweet, lyrical Bono love song with Edge singing harmony that builds up like a classic U2 hit a'la "With or Without You" or "Walk On."

Then the next day, Bono posted this.

Then I really started listening... trying to figure the "very, very personal" songs out, because one of the things I love and miss most about buying albums is reading the liner notes and analyzing the little poems put to music known as song lyrics.

I started loving "Every Breaking Wave." Then "Iris" .... classic Edge strum, strum, strum... Larry bang, bang, banging beat, building up, with the music traveling in circles as Bono tells a story over it.. this time about his mom, Iris, who died when he was 14. It reminds me of pre-Unforgettable Fire U2. And I can already see that song in concert with bright flashing lights traveling the stage as Bono runs around and Edge stands there strum, strum, strumming in one spot. It's very different from the song Bono wrote when his dad died, ("Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" from one of my favorite albums, "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.") but he had a lot more history with his dad...

Then two days ago I read this on Thank you for not making me figure it all out anymore. For those that don't want to click, based on an interview with Bono, the songs chronicle their young, innocent, pre-super band days.

Today I was connecting with the haunting "The Troubles" and "Volcano" -- they fit my mood this week at work. Volcano is also very '80s to me, which is a good thing ;)

Overall, I think I will like and listen to this album a lot. It's definitely more on the Achtung Baby/All That You Can't Leave Behind side of the collection (where I love listening to the whole album, no skipping) than the Zooropa/Pop side (where I listen to "If God Will Send His Angels" and "Staring at the Sun" and ... that's about it).

It was definitely worth way more than I paid for it (ha) and I will probably be one of the suckers that actually buys the album when it's physically released on October 15 so I can get the book that comes with it (see liner notes comment above ;) and the acoustic versions of four songs... because I'm also a sucker for anything played unplugged.

What do you think of your free gift? (That Apple actually paid $100 million for... nice promotional budget!) And who wants to go to a U2 concert with me next year to hear it live? :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

things that make me smile

With the appearance of a FedEx tag on my front door, today became my favorite day in September -- Season Ticket Box of Goodies Arrival Day!

Not only did I get another "Luc Robitaille-Authenticated" container of melted ice that the LA Kings won the Stanley Cup on, but I got my discount card and all my tickets, which are awesome!

The Kings went all out on the season ticket books this year! Not only is every player (not just the long-contracted stars) on a ticket (I guess that means no one is getting traded this year :p), but every ticket has a different photo of Stanley Cup Championship happiness on it and the special games have special tickets. 

This is my favorite ticket :) 
(Glad they used a photo of him sticking out his tongue! Haha)