Saturday, July 24, 2010

lindsay's 1st birthday

celebrated my friend kyle's daughter's 1st birthday today, which was great fun. they organized quite the celebration, renting out a community room at woodbury park in irvine for all the festivities.

in addition to the incredible spread, there was a full roast pig, complete with scrumptious crispy skin. kyle's dad had dibs on the head - supposedly the best part - so unfortunately i wasn't able to sample any of it. they also had a nifty candy table, which mirrored what they had at their wedding reception a few years back.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

greek theatre - keane & ingrid michaelson

crossed off yet another sad first in socal, as i attended the fran healy/ingrid michaelson/keane trifecta at the greek theatre last night. i was supposed to visit the greek a few years back for their concert in support of 'under the iron sea,' but fires at nearby griffith park necessitated the move to the gibson amphitheatre. so here we are, finally, in july 2010...

i was equally excited to see ingrid as i was keane, and she did not disappoint. she's witty, charming and beautiful - and all of that comes across so effortlessly on stage. plus she's got the chops to back it up, so her star is definitely still on the ascent. her cover of britney spears' "toxic" - complete with dance routine - had the audience in stitches...

as for the topliners, this was the 3rd time i've seen them live (the palladium was the other) and they were amazing yet again.

they only performed three songs off of the 'night train' EP - "stop for a minute," (sans k'naan) "clear skies" and "my shadow" - with the rest of the playlist cobbled together from their previous albums. the stripped down acoustic performance of "try again" and the glorious "bedshaped" were the standouts...

Monday, July 19, 2010

hollywood bowl - the swell season

finally made my inaugural trip to the hollywood bowl last night, after a whole lotta time spent living in socal. better late than never, no?

i was gifted tickets to a lineup that had undercards the bird and the bee and she & him (zooey deschanel & m. ward) for topliners the swell season, featuring the exploits of former couple glen hansard and marketa irglova from the irish film 'once.' they ended up performing five songs total from the film: "if you want me," "lies," "when your mind's made up," "falling slowly" and as an encore, "say it to me now." hansard performs with such conviction and emotion, he almost blew out the sound system in his higher register. irglova is a fantastic counterpoint with her delicate, soothing voice, and they sound beautiful together.

showed up early to picnic and found a shady spot to dive into freshly cut watermelon, salads from lemonade, and treats from snookies cookies. plus, a little vino never hurt nobody...

and it goes without saying, but what a beautiful venue in what has to be considered the crown jewel of outdoor auditoriums in all of the US. the location is unmatched, with it perched directly under the hollywood sign, and last night's weather of 75 at start couldn't have been better.

now i'm just kicking myself for never having been prior...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

'black swan' - advance screening

had the chance to be one of the first to see darren aronofsky's "black swan," starring natalie portman and mila kunis in a psychological drama set against the backdrop of competitive ballet. the film sneaked at the landmark in the westside pavilion last night...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

hiking mt. baldy - baldy bowl trail

had been toying with the bright idea of hiking up mt. baldy (officially mt. san antonio or affectionately known as 'old baldy'), so my friends pam, vim and i jointly committed to make the trek. the two most popular ways to the peak are the baldy bowl trail (an @$$-kicking 4.2 mile, one-way ticket climbing 3,900 feet) or the devil's backbone trail (a more leisurely incline covering the same elevation over 6.8 miles - shorter if you wuss out using the ski lift).

since life's not worth it if not for taking on challenges, we opted for the baldy bowl trail. none of us have ever hiked that elevation (10,000+ ft) prior, so we hauled a boatload of water, layered clothing in case of inclement weather, and subway and cookies to keep our mouths happy. the drive from downtown LA to the manker flats campground totalled about an hour, so we started our ascent at 9:15am to partly sunny skies. below right is the register at the base of the trailhead at 6,100 ft...

it's a short 0.6 mile walk to san antonio falls, so we basked in one last piece of fun before the real fun began. you can see several peeps prancing about in the water at the base of the falls...

and we're off! here's the start of the baldy bowl trail, which splits off from the main road. and the way we're headed is left. yup, the faint trail headed upwards thru the trees. it's very easy to miss even with a topographic map. it's also the first sign that the mountain means business...

below is a shot of towelhead - i mean vim - taking a quick water break. adjacent is the first visible sign of the sierra club's ski hut, at 8,200 ft. high and 2.6 miles from base camp, and a good barometer of progress.

a short distance up, we came upon an impossibly bright red snowplant on the side of a mountain, along with a uniquely mustard-colored tree nearby.

more pics of us pushing onwards. according to a trail book i picked up, this was allegedly the easiest part of the climb. uh, if our faces are any indication, i'll let you be the judge of that. below left is what we have left (that's it?) and below right is a pyrrhic victory up yet another hilltop (yawn).

and here's the last climb towards the top - a torturous, unapologetically steep 3/4 mile that felt like an incline of 70 degrees. all i could do was put my head down, use pam as my guide to the peak, and just hang on.

but have no fear, at 12:45pm on sunday, july 11, we made it atop mt. baldy! nothing short of a raucous celebration ensued, but i'm not sure if it was reaching the peak, or for the fact that we could tear into our sandwiches, chilled blueberries and cookies. i will say this: a 6-inch roast beef on wheat has never tasted better. ever.

since we made decent time, we opted to make our descent via the devil's backbone trail, a 6.8 mile trail down the east side of the mountain to complete the loop. a quick look at the start of the trailhead and to the right, the way down. bottom left is our trail - yes, the pencil-thin squiggly line to the right of the apex. bottom right is me making my way down, or as some would say, concentrating on not plunging to my death:

the way down was a breeze compared to the sweatfest going the other direction, so we were able to enjoy each other's company and take advantage of the incredible scenery. we didn't actually take the ski lift down, but one of the lifts was dormant, so we hopped aboard for a sweet photo op...

about 3.6 miles away from our destination, we descended upon the mt. baldy bar, a perfectly situated watering hole packed with various hikers, mountain bikers and the like enjoying themselves in the great outdoors. to get to your car, you can either take the service road down or pony up $18 for a ride down the ski lift. much to the chagrin of vim, we hoofed it the rest of the way back. and when i say "we," i mean he and i. for reasons unknown, pam took off like usain bolt and sprinted down the rocky downhill ahead of us...

all in all, the 7-hour journey was challenging, enduring and physically taxing, but at the same time it was equally inspirational, majestic and life-reaffirming. for those who ever thought about scaling mt. baldy, get out there and do it!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

4th of july - santa barbara

amazingly, this chap has never been to santa barbara, so it was a treat to finally visit by way of a day trip on sunday the 4th. the drive only took an hour up the 101, so it's definitely close enough to make a repeat trip in the future.

i basically got a neat mini-tour, which consisted of a stop at santa barbara city college, whose picturesque campus is literally situated on a cliff overlooking the pacific ocean. next stop was a visit to state street, the main thoroughfare in the city and the site of an inventive independence day parade. everything from local elementary school dance teams to military helicopters to retro 1930s automobiles to walking sharks (?!?) were on display here, and the boisterous crowds were fiercely vocal in their support for independence day. after chowing down on indian at spice avenue, we made the jaunt to the santa barbara mission, the 10th of 21 franciscan missions founded in california back in the 18th century.

afterwards, we grabbed a spot on the front lawn to watch the annual fireworks show at the pier (which was no more than a mile away), which contained quite the visual array - including that of a smiley face - so i was duly impressed. we dined at bouchon for dinner, a fancy nod to the region's wine country, so elephant garlic escargot and the grilled double-cut kurobuta pork chop was calling my name.

and here's a look at the b&b we lucked out on finding at the last minute. breakfast was served in this beautiful courtyard garden tucked away in the back:

white jasmine inn
1327 bath street
santa barbara, CA 93101