03/2/14

Behind the scenes of the Oscars Red Carpet

I’m new enough to Los Angeles that I still think it is cool that I live so close to where the Academy Awards take place. Not particularly because of the celebrities but because I love film. I’m also a sucker for ‘world events’ and the Oscars certainly qualifies.

Last year, I stumbled into finding out that you can get pretty close to the Oscar’s Red Carpet preparations. At one point, I was actually standing on the red carpet and I would be lying if I said I didn’t think that was pretty cool. I ended up getting some great photos of the Oscars Red Carpet preparation.

Chris is in town this weekend (yay!) and I thought it would be neat to take him down to see the red carpet setup. What I didn’t know when we made those plans was that Los Angeles was about to have a massive rain storm. Those that don’t live in Los Angeles  often make fun of the way the city reacts to rain. In most cases, that is completely valid. This time though, this storm was the sort  that pose a challenge to most cities. Busy streets were flooded as the rain came down hard and fast.

Nothing in Los Angeles was able to escape the storm and that includes the Academy Awards.  As we got close to the Hollywood and Highland Center,where the  Oscars are held, it was clear that we weren’t going to be able to get as close to the red carpet this year. Mostly because, they had put a big tent over it. A shame because I had been crossing my fingers that we would get to see a red carpet full of dripping wet actresses in expensive gowns.

As you can see, the rain was making the Academy Awards setup difficult. They even had to have the giant Oscar statues covered in plastic to keep them safe from the rain.
Oscars rain

Inside the Hollywood & Highland Center, the other preparations for the Oscars ceremony were well under way.  The hallways were filled with the scent of freshly cut flowers that were being placed around smaller replicas of the Oscar statue.

oscars red carpet

academy awards red carpet

Before we left, we did get to get a look at the rolling out of the red carpet. At least, the portion of the Oscars Red Carpet that is inside the building.

oscars red carpet

I’ve been down these stairs fairly often since the building is a busy shopping center the other 364 days of the year. Never, in any of those times, did they look as snazzy.

02/24/14

Sunday morning at Hollywood Farmers Market

Should I eat before I go? Inevitably that is the question I ask myself before heading out to the Hollywood Farmers Market.

It is a mental toss up between knowing that my tummy will be grumbling as I pass by all the glorious food stalls and wanting to wait so that I have an excuse to tuck right into something I bought once I get home. Today, I opted for the empty tummy plan.

What foodie doesn’t enjoy a good farmers market? Especially in an area like Southern California where the weather allows for such lovely local produce all year round. Since moving to Los Angeles, I’ve tried out a few local farmers markets. None have clicked with me as well as the Hollywood Farmers Market. Initially a bit of a surprise because I assumed that one smack dab in the middle of Hollywood with the sign visible in the distance, would be the snobby one with ridiculously hiked prices.

Pleasantly,that isn’t the case. The fruit and vegetables are all fairly priced. In many cases, on par with local supermarket prices but for a superior product. Some of the more artisan products such as cheeses and oils from mom and pop sort of start ups might feel pricier than your normal shop. There too, it will often be better than whatever brand you would buy in the supermarket. Normally, my plan of attack is get the fruit and veg that I need for the week and then pick out one of the artisan products to try as a treat.

The Hollywood Farmers Market takes place each Sunday from 8am to 1pm. Even if the apocalypse,otherwise known in LA as rain, should occur. It is on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Ivar Street. There is reasonably priced parking available at the nearby Cinerama Dome parking lot. Just go to the markets information booth for validation.

For me though, part of the charm of the Hollywood Farmers Market is how easy it is for me to get there from Koreatown by public transport. I just hop on the underground Metro at the Wilshire/Western station, get off two stops later at Wilshire/Vermont and jump onto the red line headed towards North Hollywood. That takes me all the way to Hollywood/Vine, which is the nearest station to the market which is just a few minutes away by foot. If the trains match up, the whole thing takes me about 15 minutes.

I find the produce selection at the local supermarket chains rather limited. The same apples and the same oranges each week and only the sort of vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes, that they know will be sold in large numbers.

At the farmers market, you will find whatever is in season. Look at the size of the leeks this lady is pondering. I have barely seen leeks in a supermarket since leaving the UK and when I do they are small and uninspiring.

Note to self: Those and some of the wide variety of potatoes found at the market would work well together to make a lovely leek and potato soup.

Hollywood Farmers Market Leeks

Soft fruit such as these strawberries always look so much better at the farmers market too. You can practically taste them with your eyes.

hollywood farmers market strawberries

As somebody who,more often that not, is cooking for one, I also like that I can buy as much or as little as I like of an item.  These sugar snaps, as an example, looked so good. I can snack on fresh sugar snaps like candy but I just needed enough for me. I grabbed a few handfuls and ended up paying two dollars for a farm fresh and organic product.

Hollywood Farmers Market

Did you notice the ‘try me’ written on the sugar snaps sign? That is another reason I enjoy the farmers market. You can taste practically anything before you decide to buy.  Not only does this allow you to go between stalls and see who has the best tasting strawberries (or whatever) that week. It has also encouraged me to stab one of the provided toothpicks into a sample of a fruit I have never tried before.

I didn’t know what a persimmon tasted like until I tried one at the market. Without having that opportunity, I may have remained a bit unsure and never given it a chance.

Certainly, it helped fruit stall owners get a sale out of me today. After a taste test, I ended up picking up this bounty which includes several super juicy blood oranges, an Asian pear, some mandarins, Meyer lemons and some perfectly crisp pink lady apples.

hollywood farmers market fruit

Whereever you go in the market, you will find ladies,such as these, tucking in to bit of citrus.

hollywood farmers market people

The people of the Hollywood Farmers Market is another one its charms. As you can likely tell from my street photography efforts, I am a people watcher and there are few better places to people watch in Los Angeles than at this farmers market.

You get all sorts of people from the expected hippie types to the the long-haired rock veterans and the hip good looking LA types. The market is good for the occasional celebrity spotting too or so they tell me. So far, the only celeb that I have noticed on my trips has been America Ferrera.

hollywood farmers market people

hollywood farmers market people

hollywood farmers market people

It is Hollywood though and so there is no shortage of creative people making themselves known at the market. Musicians are at every turn from a rather nice looking and rather talented male harpist (must remember to find out his name!) to ragtime bands and much in between.

hollywood farmers market people

Hollywood Farmers Market

Then there are the folks that show their creativity by being the characters of the market. Which is great. Whether it has been London, San Francisco or Los Angeles, I have loved that every city in which I have lived, no matter the size, has their local characters that everybody recognizes.

hollywood farmers market dog

hollywood farmers market poet store

hollywood farmers market busking

Before I left the market for this week, I had to make a stop at the Homeboy Bakery stall. It is always the first stall that I see when I walk into the market but I force myself to wait until the end. Mmostly so that I don’t end up squishing the bread I buy under the weight of the fruit and veg.

homeboy bakery hollywood farmers market

You have seen me mention my appreciation for Homeboy Industries before when I used their tortilla strips to make my Drunken Sloppy Joe Nachos for the Super Bowl. As yummy as those are, there is something wonderful about about seeing the program in action at the farmers markets they attend. Plus, the bread is really good. So are the cookies they sell.

homeboy bakery hollywood farmers market

This week, I walked away with a loaf of the Homeboy Bakery’s  Multigrain Pan Bread. The first thing I always notice when I buy this variety is the weight of the loaf. None of this so light that you wonder what is in it type of bread. This is a dense loaf that feels like it really is packed with all those grains and oats that are promised on the label.

Homeboy Bakery Bread

Since I had left for the market on an empty tummy, thinga were getting to critical hunger status by the time I made it back to my apartment. The Homeboy Bakery bread came to the rescue. Which was a good thing because just the rich color of the bread slices had my tummy threatening to stage a coup.

homeboy bakery bread

homeboy bakery sandwhich

So, excuse me while I go enjoy my tuna salad made with fresh dill and lemon that I picked up at the market. Of course, on top of this great bread.

02/17/14

Comic geeks in their natural habitat

I love geeks. They are my people. Which, likely has something to do with being a bit of a geek myself.  When Chris said he was going to a comic shop, I jumped at tagging along because watching him geek out is such a great thing.

On a previous visit, he had discovered Golden Apple Comics on Melrose Avenue and since then it has been where we head when the comic mood strikes. The staff has a keen interest in helping their fellow comic geeks without tipping over into to know-it-all territory.

This time, while Chris perused the store, I got my camera phone out to catch some candid shots.

golden apple comics golden apple comics golden apple comics IMG_8132

02/6/14

Beverly Hills Lunch Ladies

I really try to bring a lunch to work rather than have to buy something. Usually it is a soup or whatever was leftover from what I cooked the night before. It is a ton cheaper than buying lunch but also,in theory,helps me to watch my calories.

Some days though I give in to my laziness and end up having to go out to get a lunch. The area around my office is fairly sparse as far as lunch choices but several months ago I found a sandwich counter tucked away in a liquor store down the street. Ever since then, it is where I head when I need to buy my lunch.

These ladies always offer a friendly face and a yummy sandwich. Mine is usually hot pastrami with Swiss on wheat with mustard and pickles. 🙂

Beverly Hills Lunch Ladies

12/20/13

Happy Birthday to me

Congratulations to me for surviving for 37 years. For my fellow Kevin Smith fans, yes in a row!

I have to work today but I’m flying up to Oakland straight after work so that I can spend at least one hour of my actual birthday with Chris. Of course, I’ll be there for the rest of the weekend too but I was determined that I would get there on my birthday.

With any luck, my day will go better than the faces of these ladies on my morning bus would suggest.

women on morning bus

Onward to 38!

11/26/13

I really hated the bus today

I ride the bus to and from work each day. Los Angeles actually has a fairly good public transport system. Most days the journey is fine. Long and blah but fine.  Other days, like today, you feel every minute of the journey.

The body language of this gent is a good representation of the atmosphere on my bus ride home. Usually, the Los Angeles bus drivers are good. There are even a few that I look forward to having as a driver. Including one guy who sings out each bus stop. That could be a bit twee but after a long day at work it is a bit of sunshine.

riding the bus home

Today though, our bus driver decided to be a jerk. Clearly, everybody on the evening bus commute wants to get home. For some that means meeting a connection with another bus or the subway. The last thing any of us want is to not be moving.

The driver tonight decided that he didn’t like anybody standing anywhere near the bus doors. Anybody that has ever been on a rush hour bus knows that is an unreasonable request. You are lucky if you can find enough standing room at all. Let alone be picky about its location. There is a clear line on the floor near the bus doors. You know if you are standing over that line that the door will hit you when it opens.

This guy decided that it wasn’t even okay to be near the line. To enforce his ruling, he stopped the bus between stops and refused to continue until somebody that was near the line moved. The real genius was that the person he was targeting didn’t speak English. Something which is not exactly unusual on a Los Angeles bus.

After several minutes of repeating his orders, a passenger recognized the language barrier and translated the directive to the violator. The passenger pushed his way into the sea of sweaty passengers and the bus finally started to move. Ugh!

While I am at it, there was this guy on my morning bus commute.  The bus was fairly crowded and taking on more people at each stop. Yet, he felt that his bag needed two seats of its own.

rush hour violation

When somebody eventually asked him to move it, he acted as if he was being inconvenienced . Total rush hour etiquette violation!

Oh well, at least it is done for today and I can get some sleep before it starts all over again tomorrow.

11/18/13

Isn’t airport waiting fun?

I hold my hands up to being a people watcher. I could blame it on my sociology degree or any number of bogus reasons but really, I just find people interesting. For a few years now, I’ve been into street photography.

Since my smart phone came into my life, it has become so much easier to get candid shots without anybody catching on. More than one friend has expressed concern for my safety while I carry out my street photography hobby but so far so good. I guess nobody really pays that much attention to the short and fat thirtysomething. Plus, I am just really good at not looking like I am doing what I am doing.

Completely to entertain myself, I regularly post my photos on my Fat Footprints Street Photography Facebook page. Feel free to check it out.

Travel was a big part of my past weekend.  I flew up to the Bay Area to visit Chris. I swore I would never do a long distance relationship again but he is more than worth it.

Airports are often rich with people watching opportunities. In that time between getting through security and boarding the plane, we are essentially being kept in a cage lined with retail outlets. Different folks have their methods for passing the time.

I try to have a bunch of podcasts loaded onto to my phone and maybe an episode or two of something on my laptop. Of course, as long as I can get a signal (or that precious free airport WiFi that actually works), I am also checking my social media.

Other airport lounge captives pass the time with lengthy and often loud phone conversations. Usually, there are also a few who somehow manage to snooze. I’ve never been able to do that because I would be too terrified I would miss the call for the flight. Once I am on the plane though, all I want to do is fall asleep and make the flight go faster.

Waiting at LAX

There does always appear to be somebody who manages to still look stylish amongst their boredom.  That will also likely never be me.

Waiting at LAX in style

On a side note, Chris and I discovered a delightful cupcake bakery in Oakland.  We loved both the cupcakes and the atmosphere at James and the Giant Cupcake .

James and the Giant Cupcake

All of the flavors we sampled were yummy but the Peppermint Patty really knocked our socks off. Not least because it was from the day old display and still was uber moist. We will have to go back and work our way through more flavors the next time I fly up there.