Monday, November 30, 2009

Hal Landon Jr. in A Christmas Carol

With Thanksgiving and Black Friday safely behind us, it's starting to look a lot like Christmas. The aroma of pine draws us to Boy Scout run tree lots, Starbucks is stocked with Cranberry Bliss Bars, houses are strung with festive bought-on-sale-at-Target lights, peppermint is flying off candy store shelves and Santa has checked his list twice. There is plenty to do in Orange County at this time of year to get in the holiday spirit. The Gazette highlights a few of these special local December treats in our current issue, which is available at over 70 locations. Click here to get your own FREE printed copy or here to read the magazine online.

One of our favorite local end-of-year traditions is the annual performance of A Christmas Carol at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa. This month we feature a story on the artist behind Scrooge: Hal Landon Jr.. This year marks his 30th year playing the legendary role. Our dear friend and writer Lisa Birle chatted with Hal over coffee and shares his personal insight with us. Also, our close personal friend Caroline Landon comments on her holiday experience as the daughter of the cherished local celebrity. Read his story here.

The cast in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol at South Coast Repertory. Photo by Henry DiRocco/SCR.

Tickets to the performance are selling fast, so be sure to get yours today! Take an evening drive up the 405, tune the radio to KOST 103.5 FM, stop at Starbucks for a gingerbread latte (get the whipped cream, it's a special occasion), park at South Coast Plaza near the bridge in front of Claim Jumper, admire the holiday decor and twinkly lights, breathe in the crisp night air, enjoy a short walk over to the venue and as the lights dim and the curtains rise, delight yourself in this jubilant performance.

- Sara
Listening to Louis Armstrong's "Shine"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

OC Daily Photo

Orange County, have we told you lately that we love you? No, really. We love you. We love your beaches, your endless opportunities for entertainment, your 10 months of 75 degree weather, your native plants and animals (from the desert succulent to the mountain lion), the old missions, the new shopping centers, the year-round swap meets, the annual fairs, the way you trick the rest of the nation into thinking we're nothing but Luis Vuitton purse-toting, vanilla latte-drinking, 85 mph sports car-driving, shopaholics (we're so much more than that). There is so much to love about you, Orange County-which leads me to the following shameless promotion.

Have you added Orange County Daily Photo to your RSS yet? Orange County Daily Photo is a site that posts pictures of Orange County (all around Orange County) to offer you a much-needed daily dose of all the sights you'd hope to see, and that you never knew existed in the county.

Seven Orange County photographers post photos- one each day of the week- of a new, unique, beautiful, or intriguing look at OC. Could it get any better than that?

I call this a shameless promotion due to the fact that I'm one of the seven photographers who help fuel the site (and I still feel very lucky to have been asked). But I wouldn't be gallavanting around about it if I weren't proud of it, and I am!

So. If you would like to see a new photo every day, add Orange County Daily Photo to your RSS feed/bloglines/blog roll/list of sites you regularly check!


on my itunes: The Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up"
(Amy said I sing this song every day. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it is catchy, in my defense)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Napoleon Exhibition at MUZEO

So says a petite man with a thick French accent in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Shamelessly, I love this movie and am adding it to my Christmas list because who doesn't love a museum that comes to life, sports Hank Azaria who doubles as a fictitious Egyptian pharaoh and the voice of Abe Lincoln, casts SNL's Bill Hader as a doofy version of General Custer and walks us into the 'kissing sailor' photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt? Oh, and did I mention the heated, power-hungry triangle of Napoleon, Ivan the Terrible and Al Capone? Today Napoleon Bonaparte is the man of the hour and although he bestowed upon himself the highest of praises by crowning himself Emperor, I will indulge his soapbox a bit further.

This past weekend I shared the joy of discovery with a dear friend and Gazette writer, Lisa Birle, at MUZEO, a young Anaheim museum. We toured an exhibition titled "Treasures of Napoleon," which chronicles his incredible life and history. The show had everything from his favorite game (lotto) to the foot pillow used during his coronation ceremony. It even featured a lock of his hair and the quill pen that he used to draft his will.

Wasn't he handsome in his younger, lesser war-torn years? At this exhibit I learned that Napoleon was a master at using propaganda to further his image, an admirer of George Washington, and a fond supporter of the arts and education; his invasion in Egypt brought artists, scientists and writers to study the ancient culture, and his soldiers discovered the Rosetta Stone - the key to decoding hieroglyphics! Unbelievable! Did you know that he even changed his birth name from Napolione di Buonaparte to the French version we know today? That's like me adding a letter H to the end of my name for emphatic throat sounds! Even the small details of Napoleon's life intrigued me: he enjoyed hour-long hot baths, citrus-scented perfume and preferred watered-down wine with roasted chicken at meals.

The exhibition ends with the creme de la creme: The Emperor's Hat, summer model from 1805. If the man could be distilled down into one simple image, this hat fares him well. I hope that you will soon reserve a weekend to visit the exhibit. It will travel away like a feather in the wind (insert "Forrest Gump Suite" here) on January 8th, 2010.

- Sara
Listening to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody"

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Being as we're all half-dead and quite deflated after yesterday's final upload for The December issue of The Gazette, this will be a shorter than usual blog, although equally as informative, hopefully.

Two things of note:

1. Meat Loaf is going to Rock Camp... well, hosting one actually. We're not talking Jack Black in form-fitting school boy uniform teaching little tikes to kill a riff. We're talkin a grown-up Fanatasy Rock Camp where aspiring artists can go to work with a star-studded group of counselors (including Yes singer Jon Anderson and former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley). I wonder if there'll be the standard camp games at this affair? (Can you imagine potato sack racing with Meat Loaf?).

Our very own Sara Wilkins and Amy Hood will be going to LA tomorrow to meet the man himself, the man who sent ladies spontaneously melting in the 80's with the ballad "Paradise by the Dashboard Light." They'll talk to Meat Loaf (not to be confused with meatloaf see below), about the camp and life out of hell.

Also, check out this chuckle-worthy commercial inspired by Meat loaf's "I Would Do Anything For Love."

2. Also, this weekend, Little Women will be playing at The chance Theater in Anaheim. It should be a treat for all Alcott fans. And non-fans too. Don't knock it if you haven't read it. It's surprisingly way more interesting and enjoyable than the lackluster book covers usually portray (muted paintings of women sewing...not so).

Thu at 8pm
Fri at 8pm
Sat at 3pm & 8pm
Sun at 2pm & 7pm

(714) 777-3033

This actually ended up being really long. Apologies.
Cheerio old chaps,

On my iPod: Honorary Title's "Stay Away"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The OC Gazette Press Week Survival Guide

It's press week again here at the Gazette. It comes once a month, just like many other unpleasant things, among which are rent, bills, and - well I'm going to stop right there. Every month it comes, every month we think we won't survive it, and every month we do in fact survive it. When tensions are mounting, nerves are on edge, deadlines are bearing down on you like the Grim Reaper, and the slightest misread twitch from a co-worker is able to set you off like Nicholas Cage in Face Off [Fig. 1], it's easy to forget that "this too shall pass." So how do we make it through? After many press weeks and much trial and error, the following are the things that have become holy writ when the dreaded Press Week descends upon us:

[Fig. 1]

1. Caffeine
All forms are welcomed. I prefer Coca-Cola. (It really is a problem, actually.) But coffee is my second favorite form, and probably my co-workers first. Peets [Fig. 2], It's A Grind, Starbucks; All of the coffee houses within a 1o mile radius of our office are well patroned during this week. The key when ordering a coffee during press week is getting maximum caffeine, but keeping it light. You've got to steer clear of the heavy, sweet yummy stuff, or at least go non fat on them. Otherwise the coffee you bought to give you a swift kick in the pants will instead leave you uncomfortably full, tired, $4.00 lighter, and 5 pounds heavier. My seasoned suggestion: A non fat iced caramel macchiato with an extra shot. They're tasty, they're light, they're refreshing, and they'll get you going.

[Fig. 2: Peet's off of El Toro is Jen's favorite dealer]

2. The Cheesecake Factory
We always treat ourselves to The Factory on the night of our final upload of the magazine to the printers over at Freedom Printing. (Shout out to Carlos, Mark and all the guys!) We get to get out of the office, remember what the outdoors feels like, remember that the world still turns outside of The OC Gazette, and get some tasty, tasty food. The menu is a short novel, so we always have plenty to choose from; Which plethora of options Sara always takes advantage of and Jen and I always disregard for our usual herb-crusted salmon with mashed potatoes. We're creatures of habit. I'm not proud of it. But salmon is very good for your complexion in my defense. Anyways, we always have the best servers (Shout out to the Osbornes and the Tengs!), and we always manage to catch a Lakers or Angels game which is a huge plus.

[Fig. 3] Nay for The Avett Brothers

[Fig. 4] Yay for Glasvegas

3. Catchy, upbeat, PEPPY music
When you're working long nights, close quarters, you've got to have the right music to keep you in an upbeat, efficient, and positive mood. Ray Lamontagne, Death Cab For Cutie, and The Avett Brothers [Fig. 3] are all forsaken for anything with a quick beat, catchy melody, and sing-a-long gang vocals are a huge plus - even stooping to cheesy tween pop like the Jo-Bros, as we like to call the Jonas Brothers. Anything that gets you laughing hysterically and singing along is good. And what does that better than embarrassing-I-hope-no-one-ever-finds-out-I-listen-to-this-sometimes pop music? Some of our more proud frequent listening choices include The Kings of Leon, my all time favorite (even outside of press week) Glasvegas [Fig. 4], Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Shys, and more recently Van Morrison. All upbeat, with great driving drum beats.

The December issue is coming soon, but to hold you over, head over to and read this amazing interview with our favorite Elvis/Robert Plant/Bob Marley impersonator [and OC native might I add], Tortelvis of Dread Zeppelin.

- Amy
on our Pandora: Demi Lovato's "Don't Forget" (I warned you. Don't judge us.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Peet's Art Show

Do you ever find yourself thinking nothing original/creative/artistic is happening in Orange County? Well, how wrong you are! Sure, the urban sprawl with its model homes in four repeating patterns may have led you to believe that all remaining creativity is used to strategically plan new commercial plazas where you can get a latte, go grocery shopping, paint pottery, get a manicure, have Fido neutered, find a model ship to display on the mantle, and buy a gourmet cupcake all on one giant street corner-- but if you bought into that thought, you're sadly mistaken.
There's a lot of creativity in Orange County! One way we try to (gently) remind you of this is by including an art feature every month in The Gazette magazine. We let you know about cool local painters, photographers, collectors, movie-makers, and musicians every single month. Orange County loves art: from the galleries of Laguna Beach to the independent art houses of Fullerton (shout out to Hibbleton Gallery!), OC is artsy.

In promoting all things art-related in Orange County, we've made some friends with similar interests. Peet's Coffee has become a wonderful friend; like The Gazette, Peet's is enthusiastic about celebrating community- from hosting open mic nights to holding art shows where local artists are invited to share what they're working on. You may remember my post a week or so ago to announce an upcoming show, and I'm happy to let you know that the show was a swinging success.
As promised, Chad Cheverier was in attendance, with photographs on display. We're hoping to get him involved somehow or another in an upcoming issue of The Gazette (you may remember his awesome photos in the September issue?)...

The place was quite comfortably packed, and I had fun chatting with artists and art-enthusiasts while sipping away at a Scharffenberger hot cocoa,

a local band played a few tunes,

Also displaying work was photographer Shannon Leith, who has been known to shoot a Gazette cover every now and again. We think she's just the bee's knees.

If you missed it, don't worry! Peet's hosts music and art nights every month or two; just keep checking back here for announcements regarding upcoming shows!
A big thank you to Annie for sending us these photos!


on my itunes: Ferraby Lionheart's "Before We're Dead"

Monday, November 16, 2009

In the words of Robert Downey Jr.

Every artist requires a muse, someone or something to fancy their creativity. John Lennon had Yoko. Julia Child had butter. The Gazette Creatives have Esquire. Wait. You ask, "The successful, modern man's fashion, culture, how-to-be-a-better-man magazine?" Of course. And while us girls may not fall exactly into their readership demographics (last I checked we weren't male or 41.7 years of age) we are continually inspired, educated and amused by a publication that doesn't directly aim to please us, but has succeeded in doing so, effortlessly. And the December issue is no exception.

Esquire's 'Augmented Reality' issue is an incredible work of interactive technology applied to a print platform. To experience the magic, all you need is a webcam and a physical copy of the issue. The magazine provides directions on how to download the required software and how to fully experience a walking, talking, living, breathing Robert Downey Jr. as he speaks to you through your webcam while you rotate the cover and inside pages, facing the computer screen. And who better than Downey to entertain us? Want to watch a fashion model move about in Giorgio Armani trousers? Want to hear a jazz, hip-hop pianist play music right off the page? Pinch me. It is such a trip! You've got to try it for yourself. Trust us. It's just one of those things that you have to see to believe. Here is a demo of what it's like:

Hats off to Esquire, for once again they have charmed our creativity. (The page flap cologne samples help, too.) We recommend this magazine to all of our friends!

- Sara
On Pandora Radio: Frank Sinatra's "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" (I know, I know, it's only November, but we are wrapping up the December issue and it is a very fitting tune!)

Friday, November 13, 2009

7 Reasons not to fear Friday the 13th

"Very Superstitious." Aren't we all, Stevie? Especially on that very rare occaison when Friday falls on the 13th. Maybe it's Jason the hockey masked serial killer, maybe it's the fact that over 80% of skyrises don't have a 13th floor, maybe it's the fact that reputable institutions like hospitals and hotels don't have rooms numbered 13. How can we be expected not to turn irrational over these things when even the powers that be seem to fear the number?! Well I am here to give you 7 simple reasons not to fear this day of Friday the 13th so that you can go out, drive your car and enjoy your Friday night accordingly!

1. The Lakers are best in the west again. Even without big man Pau Gasol, who will likely be out till Christmas (but we won't talk about that since this blog is meant to be about the brighter side of this dreary day), Kobe and the Lake Show breezed past Nash and the Phoenix Suns, winning 121 to 102 last night. Sure Phoenix was just coming off of a tough schedule, but even fresh as daisies, the outcome would have been no different. If we can do this without one of our best players, and one of the best power forwards in the league, think of how unstoppable we will be after Christmas! I can already see the locker room champagne shower and Phil wearing his custom "XI" cap.

2. Pirate Radio comes out this weekend. This movie looks awesome. It's based on the true story of a group of DJs who set up shop just off the shores of England on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic and illegally blasted rock n' roll (which was banned at the time) over the airwaves. Our sales manager Candice lived in London during this time and remembers listening to Radio Caroline while she was stationed there with her husband who was in the service. "It was funny, because it would go off the air for a few days every now and then because the feds would get onto where they were at," Candice reminisced. With such a premise and an ensemble of amazingly hilarious actors that includes Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Nick Frost and Bill Nighy, I can't imagine this movie will not be good.

3. You are still reading this blog. That means your alive and kicking! It may be a cursed day but you've survived thus far.

4. It's casual Friday! I always think of that episode of The Office about how Michael Scott started Casual Friday just so that he could wear his favorite pair of Levis. There's nothing better and more comforting than a comfortable pair of denims. Even if you cross the path of a black cat, drop a mirror, fall and break your leg, or fall prey to whatever other superstitious calamity today supposedly brings, at least you will do it in the comfort and style of your favorite pair of jeans instead of that itchy polyester blend suit.

5. It finally feels like fall! We all love the benefit of almost year round summer weather here in Orange County, but isn't sweater weather fun every now and again? The best part about autumn in SoCal? It's still warm. Autumn in NY is 30 to 40 degrees with a wind chill factor of 20 degrees. We are living the dream people. Check out Jen's guide to enjoying this fall/winter weather - trust me, you want to!

6. It's Still 2009! With the opening of 2012 on one of the most cursed of days, people are freaked. But hey, look on the bright side - if you believe in the Mayan calendar, we've got two more years! I personally don't, but this movie looks terrifying none the less. So the bright side for me is that at least this movie's got John Cusack. Remember The Sure Thing? Or the loveable Lloyd Dobbler of Say Anything? Who could forget the "In Your Eyes" scene? Where John Cusack is involved, there is nothing to be afraid of.

7. It's Movember. November is the month of the mustache. I love a good mustache. There's nothing more manly or rugged. They are glorious. Except when on women. Although I think Jen and I wear one fairly well (I'm the twin on the left). My favorite 'staches: Tom Sellick, George Parros, Daniel Day Lewis as Bill The Butcher (my favorite), Burt Reynolds, and the list goes on.

- Amy
On my iTunes: Buddy Holly and The Crickets' "That'll Be The Day"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

An Ode to OC Fashion

Orange County definitely has it's own style. We have our own everything, really. We march to the beat of our own drum. What other city do you know of with more television or reality shows based on it? We have to be up there with New York City thanks to the loveable music nerd Seth Cohen of The O.C. (R.I.P.) and the obnoxious yet entertaining Speidi Pratt of Laguna Beach and The Hills. [See Fig 1] Why are we so intriguing to the rest of the world? Because we are unlike any other place. Our economy is unlike any other (reality TV and professional surfing being viable careers), our weather is unlike anywhere else (it's November and it's in the high 70's outside right now), and our fashion scene is unlike any other, drawing from art, the endless summer beach lifestyle, music, current affairs, politics, and the whole counter culture of surf, skate, and snow. Where else can you find kids running around with Vans sneaks, Seven jeans, a Che Guevara tee, and neon throwback raybans on? Or girls dressed in Coach boots, a Hurley skirt, Ramones tee, Marc Jacobs bag and Burberry shades? Orange County, that's where.

[Fig 1] Left: Seth Cohen, Right: Spencer and Heidi Pratt

It's a glorious hodgepodge. One that I love. Before moving back to Orange County I spent about five years in Bowling Green, KY where your shopping options were American Eagle and Abercrombie & Fitch. I remember when they got an Aeropostale and a Hollister at the Bowling Green mall. People went out of their minds. "New Stores! Variety!" they said. Am I crazy or are all those stores exactly the same? I think it's a big cover up. [See Fig 2] I can see the criminal masterminds in their factory now, mass producing navy and white striped polos, "We'll just switch the tags and no one will ever know! [enter sinister laugh here]" Maybe it's the heavy dance beat and cologne that seems to permeate from each store that has me disoriented. Whatever the case is, I believe it is why I love Orange County fashion so much. Originality, fearlessness, designer and surf threads coming together to make something beautiful.

[Fig 2] Can you tell which is which? Me neither

Coco Chanel said, "Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening." And in Orange County right now, the sky is blue, the streets are bustling, ideas are flowing, and life is happening as it does like nowhere else but right here.

For all of you OC smart shoppers and recessionistas:

Hurley Holiday Warehouse Sale!
When: November 12 -15, 2009
Thursday and Friday 12:00-8:00pm
and Satrday 9:00am-3:00pm
Where: 2323 Main Street, Irvine, CA 92614
Click on the photo above for more info!
(Thanks to our lovely fashion columnist Malia Hill for the heads up on this one.)

- Amy
On my iPod: Nico's "These Days" (If you haven't heard it, download it, and then google the green bus scene from Wes Anderson's film The Royal Tenenbaums.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's Been A Long Time Since I Rock & Rolled

Imagine Elvis Presley playing "Moby Dick". Did your heart just skip a beat? Are you feeling all shook up? Maybe your left eyebrow shot upwards toward the ceiling. Think of the quintessential sounds of our time. Can you picture them combined into one mega-act? Imagine listening to Led Zeppelin, Elvis and Bob Marley at the same time. Is that even possible? OH, IT IS! And you won't need to pull out any old records or get mixmaster-y with your turntable.

Believe you me, the boys of local cover band Dread Zeppelin have created something so unique that you'll have to see it for yourselves. Dread Zeppelin has been putting a new spin on these classic sounds for the past 20 years. They have even earned the favor of Robert Plant himself. Check out The Gazette's interview with Elvis impersonator and frontman Greg Tortell, also known as Tortelvis. You will learn about their favorite local venue, where to get the best Elvis stuff, and why the ladies still can't resist a man singing "My Way" in a custom-made jumpsuit.

But wait, THERE'S MORE! Get your Elvis sighting on. This week is your LAST CHANCE (well almost) to WIN TICKETS to see Dread Zeppelin at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, November 27th (the day after your food coma). All you have to do is email your name and contact info to before Friday, November 20th. Here's a little teaser of what's in store for the lucky winners...

And while I'm speaking of mash-ups, for all of you winos and foodies out there, be sure to try Chef Albert's Crush Wine Bar & Restaurant in Lake Forest. If you need a venue to romance your honey (house vocalist Paco will do the serenading) or a place to kick off your shoes and indulge yourself after a long work week, Crush is the perfect local spot. Chef Albert Constandine has created a menu that combines American cusine with European flair, and he also offers 200 wine selections. Read all about it in our November cover story! Bon appetit!

Live music. Entertainment. Food. Wine. Table for two please! What could be more golden?

- Sara
Spinning on my iTunes: Led Zeppelin's "Over The Hills And Far Away"

Monday, November 9, 2009

Corduroy Appreciation

There are simple things in life that can prove to be the most comforting; mashed potatoes, electric blankets on a cold night, tearing perforated edges (that one may just apply to me), and a good Corduroy clothing item. One of my earliest memories involves listening to the swish swish of my Corduroy pants as I walked down the long quiet hall of my elementary school on my way to the Principal's office. I was about to be reprimanded for dancing on my desk. Before you assume I was a showgirl in the making: my classmates had all gotten carried away and were dancing to a song my teacher had put on to entertain us while she disappeared to speak to another teacher. I was only trying to top Tommy G. after he stood on his chair to show off his air guitar-ing. Instead of being impressed by my dare-devil desktop dancing as I had hoped, my classmates pulled a Lord of the Flies move and turned on me in an instant.

Back to Corduroy. I remember the swish swish-ing of my pants in that quiet hallway, and I felt comforted, somehow. I may not have understood it then, but I know now that it was an assuring reminder that in the midst of life's ups and downs, there are certain constants. Certain little pieces of joy to be seized. Which brings me to share this very important discovery.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon The Corduroy Appreciation Club.

A whole club dedicated to the glorious fabric? I was sold. I quickly became a member (it's free), and have been receiving occasional emails that fill me in on the CC haps.
The CC's mission statement:
The Corduroy Appreciation Club wishes to cultivate good fellowship by the advancement of Corduroy awareness, as well as, understanding, celebration, and commemoration of the fabric and all related items. Club events are held on dates which incorporate, resemble or refer to corduroy.

CC meetings are held on January 11th and November 11th each year, because these are the dates that most resemble Corduroy. 1|11 and 11|11.

This Wednesday is 11|11, and I plan on celebrating from afar (the meetings are held in Brooklyn, NY) by wearing Corduroy with pride.

You too can celebrate Corduroy by wearing two items (or however many you so choose) on 11|11, and by signing up to be a member and official Corduroy enthusiast.

I'm thinking about beginning an Orange County Chapter, so let me know if you are local and interested.


on my iTunes: Phoenix's "Listomania"

Friday, November 6, 2009

10 ways to take November on...

November is here. And although the days are deceptively warm, as soon as it hits 5 or 6pm, or whatever dismal, early hour it now gets dark, the cool fall atmosphere descends upon our unappreciative So Cal terra cotta homes. This whole clock set-back and winter solstice gig really throws off the Southern California habits we so enjoy for 10 months out of the year. Suddenly, we're forced to deal with something fairly foreign and fearful to us: Seasons [Cue shrieking horror soundtrack violins]. For most Southern Californians, the temp drops below 65 and they start grabbing for their "The End is Near!" sandwich board signs. But don't worry Orange County, as a former New Yorker I can assure you that this mildly chilly winter we endure in Orange County will not kill you, and in fact can be enjoyed! Here's my 6-point list of recommendations on how to herald in and suck full enjoyment from the duller, darker, and damper time that is fall and winter.

1. Coffee: What better way to celebrate the colder, darker times than heading to a low-lit coffee shop for any warm beverage with the word "spice" in it? My picks: Peet's Coffee (my personal haunt is the one in The Arbor in Lake Forest) or The Koffee Klatch in Laguna Beach (1440 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, 949-376-6867. This place is open late, they serve a vast array of goodies, and have an eclectic environment that will make you a willing stowaway).

2. Jay Buchanan:
The man himself is not available for purchase, but his music is...or will be. He's recording. The point is, you need fall/winter-appropriate music. Cold, dark nights require a warmer, soulful sound to be emitted from your sound machine, be it radio, tape deck, or iPhone. My pick is Jay Buchanan, a soulful Long Beach singer who describes himself as all things between Van Morrison, Otis Redding, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, John Prine, Bob Dylan, the public library and his coffee maker. All you need to hear to be convinced is his song "Feel Better" on his myspace page here.

3. Nordstrom: Not the clothes or people, not even the cafe (although their creme brulee is delicious), but the store holiday decorations and the pianist. Want to feel the warm, fuzzy nostalgia of the holidays? Then go to a Nordstrom near you (mine is at Shops at Mission), park yourself at the sofas by the shoe department between 12-4pm and listen to the melodious tunes of the house pianist. It's splendid. And he takes requests if they're valid. No Liberace please.

4. Reading:
Archaic, i know, but whether it's your 20th round of Pride and Prejudice (guilty as charged), or a leisurely chuckle through Calvin & Hobbes (some of the best comedic social commentary out there), reading is one of the best ways to enjoy the cold. Curl up in a warm space by a window, and peruse some pages. (Need some literature? Peruse the Gazette! See Here).

5. Movies: Movies can be enjoyed from the warm comfort of your own living space. Make a night of it. Invite friends over. Make hot cocoa. Pop in a classic.

My picks: A. The Brothers Bloom (By director/writer Rian Johnson who's from our very own San Clemente! It's an off-beat conman story. See the opening sequence clip below)

B. The Volunteers (Tom Hanks at his best, in my opinion. A hilarious throwback. See the trailer below)

6. Hats: Beanies, fedoras, berets, ushankas - whatever the genre, they're warm, they omit the need to fix your hair, and they tell everyone that you're ballsy enough to wear an ornament on your head. It's a brave thing to do and it'll keep your ears warm.

So don't live in fear. Embrace it. Winter's coming.


-On my nightstand: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Will it be as interesting without sweeping musical numbers or Liam Neeson? I shall see.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Radio: A Sound Salvation

I figured Elvis Costello's Radio Radio lyrics were a good title for this blog. Costello's song addressed everything that was wrong with radio. Let's face it - not much has changed on that front. They play what they get paid to play - thus the fall of the late, great local LA/OC station Indie 103.1 from the airwaves. (They wouldn't bow to the man!) Luckily, we are living in the internet age! Indie 103.1 is still living and thriving on the world wide web, along with another local gem I discovered recently.

This past weekend, Blythe, Jen and I made the pleasant drive down the coast to our friendly southern neighbor, San Diego. San Diego's great by the way. Isn't it? It's like the cleaner, friendlier LA; The perfect blend of a crappy little beach town and the big city life... I digress. Our friends in The Union Line (a great local OC band) were playing a show around National City at an online radio station called X1FM. And unlike the sketchy, dark National City business complex the station resides in, the station is quite the antithesis, with a HQ that is filled with legit radio equipment, multiple studios, a stage/mini venue for broadcasting live performances, a green screen and all the lights and cameras necessary for their morning news program, not to mention amazing graphics and art covering every wall.

When you head to their website you are greeted by one of the three station DJs shamelessy head-bobbing and lip-synching to the music. The DJs are on a live video feed all day like an MTV version of EdTV. Just when you're starting to feel like a voyeur, the live feed is interrupted for a music video or two. (Save the music videos!) You can also find interviews, live performance videos, and in-studio sessions. And they play great music! Here is an example of the last 10 songs we just listened to while banging out graphics here in the office:

1. A Perfect Circle - Judith
2. Tegan & Sara - Hell
3. U2 - Some Days Are Better Than Others
4. Wolfmother - New Moon Rising
5. Spoon - The Underdog
6. Nirvana - Heart-Shaped Box
7. Voivod - Astronomy Domine
8. Beck - Girl
9. Pearl Jam - Got Some
10. Beastie Boys - So What'cha Want

Great mix isn't it? Hard, soft, old, new, punk, alternative - awesome.

[Fig. 1: X1FM sticker]

Check their website to see who will be perfoming live on upcoming fridays in studio. And don't forget to pick up one of these awesome stickers [Fig. 1] while you're there. They also gave us all free official X1FM chapstick. Doesn't it just keep getting better and better!? Check it out - you know you want to.

[Fig. 2: If you haven't seen Miracle yet, rent it. It's about the 1980's US Olympic Hockey Team and it's Kurt Russel at his best! Well excepting Big Trouble In Little China. That movie rocks.]

Also in other news: I've recently gotten very into Ducks hockey. This generation's Broadstreet Bullies have always been a dark horse, and there's nothing I love more than rooting for the underdog. We actually even got to interview Ducks enforcer George Parros (read it here), who's great attitude and witty banter made me love the team even more. It's early yet in the season, and last week's win against the Canucks gives me hope that there's an end to this dark tunnel; but I fear that rooting for the Ducks this season is going to be one heartbreak after another. My Raider-fan of a friend described it perfectly this weekend when we went down to see the Raiders play the Chargers. The Raiders put up a suprising fight, but the Chargers overcame as was expected. So I turned to my friend and asked, "Is it ever hard to watch?" To which my friend sighed, with head hung low, "It's like the wound that just won't heal." I feel your pain. But let's all remember the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team [Fig. 2]. A win is so much sweeter when there are naysayers and doubters to prove wrong. Go Ducks!

- Amy
On my iPod: Billy Dean's "We Just Disagree" (Do you guys remember this song!?)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Art Show at Peet's San Clemente

If you missed the last art show at Peet's, another chance has arrived (and the time is now, friend!). On Sunday, November 15th, Peet's Coffee in San Clemente will be hosting a community art show showcasing the paintings, drawings, photos, and other artistic creations made by local artists. Some pieces will even be for sale, should you feel moved to purchase.

Local photographer Chad Cheverier will be displaying a few of his photos at the show. You may remember his stunning photos in the article on Dave Boehne in the September issue of The Gazette. Here are a few of his photos that I'm told will be on display in their full photographic glory.

Whether you're an artist looking for inspiration, a parent looking to excite an appreciation for art in your children (or spouse), an art/community enthusiast, or simply a Sunday night coffee drinker, be sure to stop by and check it out.

Oh, and speaking of art: Check out Alexandra Baird's article on Antique American Indian Art in this month's issue of The Gazette.


on my iTunes: Orange County band Local Natives' "Only Son"

Monday, November 2, 2009

Free Candy!

As if the weekend of Halloween didn't meet your sugar's a shameless plug for the sweetest deal in town. Click below to print a coupon for a free 1/4 lb. of bulk candy from Powell's Sweet Shoppe in Laguna Niguel, courtesy of The Gazette. Happy cavities!

- Sara & Jen

Listening to silence as we leave the office...
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