Friday, August 29, 2008

Hollywood Bowl Nights: John Williams

Just spent the first part of the John Williams concert getting all misty-eyed and sentimental. For someone who is as fanatic about film scores as I am, seeing John Williams conduct his own amazing music is just ridiculously transcendent. So far, we've heard themes from the Olympics, Hook, Close Encounters and Indiana Jones. Coming up is special guest Stanley Donen, who directed some of my favorite movie musicals. What a wonderful night!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


This past weekend, I drove all the way to Glendale to visit two places I've been meaning to go to for awhile: the Americana at Brand and the Target in the Glendale Galleria.

Despite having a degree in Urban and Regional Studies and having had the idea that malls are bad for cities (and perhaps bad for the soul) constantly drilled into my brain, I actually like going to malls. Being a Southern California native, it is very comforting for me to walk into one, wherever I may be. I didn't mention it at the time, but when I was in B.Aires, I spent time at two malls in between doing all the cultural stuff: the tony Patio Bullrich and my favorite, Abasto, a nice adaptive reuse of the gorgeous former central produce market. Abasto also has a well-designed modern food court, where I was able to try Argentine fast food and soak up all food branding. (One day, I will write about my love for food courts.)

In any event, regarding the Glendale Galleria, combining a mall with another thing I love, Target, is a stroke of genius. I've never been a big fan of the Galleria's design (both inside and out), and I'm still not a fan, but because it has a three-story Target, it automatically gets more points. (My favorite Target/mall combination is the Westfield Topanga... Target, H&M, puppies, Nordstrom, awesome food court, natural light, free parking, Shoe Pavilion and a steak from the Farm all in one place!)

Regarding the Galleria's next-door neighbor, the Americana at Brand, let me first say that I like its sister, the Grove, much better. For me, the developer, Rick Caruso, took a little of the charm and coziness of the Grove away when he increased the scale and open space at the Americana. For sure, the Americana is much more integrated into the local surroundings than the Grove is, which is good since it's already located in a thriving commercial business district, but perhaps because it is juxtaposed with the more real street retail of Brand, it just feel more sterile and fake. Whereas with the Grove, because it is somewhat contained, you do feel like you're being separated from reality a bit and are able to more easily buy into the illusion.

The only highlight of my Glendale trip was the Beard Papa stand at the Americana, where I was able to try what is now my number 1 filling choice, strawberry, along with the former number 1, chocolate. I might go back, if only to walk around Target with a puff in my hand and mouth, but I doubt it since a Beard Papa is opening up in my neighborhood soon!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Beyond the keys

Since you're probably sick of looking at those keys (I know for a fact that a few of you are), here's a photo of my actual car (haven't had a chance to take more detailed shots):

When you get a new MINI or any new car for that matter, they tell you not to go too crazy until after the 1,000 mile mark. Since I decided to drive up to a wedding in Santa Clara just a week and a half after taking ownership of one, I didn't have to wait that long to break 1,000. And seriously, now my car seems to ripen with responsiveness every day that passes and I'm loving it more and more. Plus, I'm starting to settle into it more comfortably. I'm freely experimenting with the ergonomic positions and my right arm is starting to remember that the window switch is its responsibility. My left thumb now knows the steering wheel stereo controls by touch and I'm starting to fumble less with the key fob. I am definitely starting to feel more at one with it whilst driving.

And probably more importantly, I care about it's cleanliness. (My old car was always dirty and messy.) I've already been to the car wash several times and even made sure to get a punchcard. I've also bought cleaning supplies for on-the-fly bug removal (ugh, didn't realize that that was a pun until I wrote it, sorry) and am constantly scanning the exterior for dirt and bird crap.

I even care about the gas I put into it. Since I'm supposed to pump premium, I went online to find out which one was the best. While there is a lot of debate, there is general agreement that Chevron and Shell premium are pretty good and at the moment, I'm just doing Chevron, which I can normally find at a pretty good price (relatively speaking, of course.)

The next step for me is to learn how to use the manual shifting option (via paddle or stick shifting) to get the most performance out of my MINI. (I think I've been watching Top Gear on BBC America too much lately!)