Archive for March, 2008

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Amanda Recommends : LA Edition

March 30, 2008

MOVED!

Before I get sucked into an all-night Degrassi marathon, I decided to make a little list of my favorite spots in LA, just in case anyone wants to tour the city, Amanda style. Here goes:

FOOD

Joan’s on Third (8350 West Third Street) A popular celebrity hang-out where I personally believe their food to be baked with cocaine. Halfway through the week, I’ll start thinking about the Grilled Maple Rosemary Chicken sandwich, until it becomes the only thing on my mind. There is not a lot of seating, but I somehow always find a table. Plus, they bring you adorable bottles of water for free. I also recommend their Chinese Chicken Salad. It’s light but filling, and amazingly delicious.

Eat Well (7385 Beverly Blvd.) – a short walk from my apartment, this little restaurant with plenty of sidewalk seating has become my group’s go-to brunch place. Their breakfast plates are huge and pretty reasonably price, plus their sweet potato fries are TO DIE for. The wait staff is pretty cute as well.

Pink Taco (10250 Santa Monica Blvd.) – The name is questionable, but the food is fabulous. I don’t even like Mexican food, but I ordered and adored their fish tacos, which came with a cilantro-chile sauce and a fabulous guacamole. They keep you in chips all night, and their margaritas are huge and amazingly worth the $10 price tag.

25 Degrees ( 7000 Hollywood Blvd) – Located in the famed Roosevelt Hotel, this hamburger bar served one of the best hamburgers I’ve ever eaten. You choose the meat, cheese, and any topings to make your own perfect burger. Plus, you absolutely have to start out with their fries, which are seasoned with sea salt and thyme, an original and delicious combination. When I left, I felt like I was going to explode, but it was totally worth it.

BARS and CLUBS

86 (6533 Hollywood Blvd) – My group’s go-to place on Hollywood Blvd, this bar never has a line, but usually has a good crowd. Located in a basement space, the bar has a cool vibe, with live bands, plenty of seating, and fun red tinted chandeliers. Plus the drinks aren’t too expensive…for LA that is.

Boulevard 3 (6523 W Sunset Blvd) Our go-to club. There is usually a short wait, and guys have to pay a cover, but we never have any trouble getitng in. Once inside, you have a choice of hanging out in the large outdoor patio area, the dark and cozy lounge, or the huge dance floor and bar. The crowd is slightly crazy, egged on by the muscular guys on stilts walking around and the group of dancers that put on a show every few hours, but it’s always a good time.

El Carmen (8138 W. Third St.) The only place we seem to go on birthday’s, this Mexican themed bar is a little on the dive-end of the things, but makes amazing margaritas and sangria. We always can find a table, and the walls are covered in cool vintage Spanish movie posters.

I’m sure I’m leaving out some places we’ve been and loved, but these are clearly stand-outs in my book. I’ll have to do one for Boston when I get back in the summer. Unfortunately, I’ve now made myself starving. Too bad I already ate my leftovers from Pink Taco.

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LA in List Form

March 27, 2008

MOVED!

Today’s been a nice little day. I didn’t have to go in to work, so I went on an excursion to Target and The Grove to buy presents for my new sorority grand-little back in Boston. I’m sad I’m missing our Big/Little Week traditions, since it is really my favorite part of being in the sorority. (Basically, every new member gets assigned a big sister, but they don’t know who it is. During Big/Little week, they do a bunch of events, getting clues and TONS of presents from their bigs until on Friday, we have revealing, and everyone finds out who their big is. My little is taking a little this year, which makes me feel old…) Anyway, I got her some fun stuff that I’ll have to mail out this weekend.

To waste a bit more time today, I’ve decided to start a pro/con list of LA, just to help sort through some of my feelings. Here goes:

Things I Love About LA: 

  • The Weather! Seriously, it’s beautiful
  • The possibility of seeing celebrities
  • Having time to sing in my car.
  • Not having to rely on public transportation.
  • The fact that every movie released is playing somewhere in the city.
  • Living¬† withing walking distance to Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, AND two Ralph’s.
  • Being able to call people on the East Coast in the morning without being annoying.
  • The overabundance of cool bars and clubs.
  • My new BULA friends.

Things I Hate About LA:

  • The fact that people can’t drive in the rain…and the lack of proper drainage systems in my parking lot.
  • Being afraid of getting run over by paparazzi.
  • TRAFFIC! It takes me an hour to get home from work…and I only work 7 miles from my apartment.
  • Parking, aka the bane of my existence.
  • Having to pay $13 after taxes to see a movie.
  • 8% sales tax on EVERYTHING
  • Not being able to call my mom after 7 for fear that she is asleep.
  • The lines and $10 drinks at bars and clubs. Plus the sketchy guys…so many sketchy guys.
  • Missing my BU friends…in addition to the many groups of friends I already miss automatically most of the time.

I’m sure I will think of more as time goes by, but my roommate’s Dexter DVDs are calling to me.

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“You Know You Love Me”

March 24, 2008

MOVED!

Aaannnd, I’m back. Back to LA. Back to Work. Back to tiredness.

Our journey to San Diego was fabulous. We stayed in my uncle’s beach house, which looks more like an Italian Villa, relaxed on the beach, ate some amazing food, and watched Everyday Italian about 7 times, prompting us to eat our fair share of gelato and Italian food. On Friday, I met up with my parents, who are in town for my cousin’s bar mitzvah, and spent Friday and Saturday with the family. My parents drove me up to LA Saturday, and I showed them all the highlights of my area, even the CVS and Trader Joe’s. Exciting stuff. They were impressed by the sandwiches at Joan’s on Third, though, but really, who isn’t?

Now that I’ve breezed through those four days, I can spend a little time reminiscing about the amazingness that was Saturday night. Jillian and I scored tickets to the Gossip Girl Panel at PaleyFest ’08 back in January. We (or I) decided on the GG event back when few people were confirmed for the Friday Night Lights event and the Pushing Daisies event was already sold out, so GG seemed a good choice. I thought it would be quality, but let me just say that my expectations for the night were exceeded. The panel was hilarious, interesting, and entertaining. The only downside was having to get there early (which did help us score some sweet seats), and the annoying 14-year old girls beside me (who sadly reminded me of myself at all those *Nsync concerts).

The night started with the reveal that the moderator was Tim Stack from Entertainment Weekly – only my favorite magazine of all time. (It made up for missing Michael Ausiello of TV Guide, my favorite television writer, moderating the FNL panel.) Then Josh Schwartz, the inspiration for Seth Cohen and the youngest person to ever create an hour-long drama for network television (only a little something called The O.C. – now the producer behind both Gossip Girl and Chuck) came out to introduce a nice clip reel wrapping up the season thus far. After the clip package, the entire cast and creative team came up on stage. The girls looked beautiful, the boys adorable, and the panel began. Some of the boys seemed to think they were a little too cool for school at the start, but after a while, everyone opened up and had a discussion that was truly entertaining and informative. My favorite parts were probably Blake Lively discussing her mad guitar hero skills, Tim Stack asking about Josh Schwartz’s aversion to parties, and the constant references to a future appearance by a gay, jewish monkey on the show. To read a professional recap, you can go check out The Futon Critic.

After the panel ended with Tim Stack giving the smack down to some obnoxious girls in the audience who asked about the cast’s personal lives (really?), the crowd swarmed the stage for pictures and autographs. I didn’t for a second pretend to be above this practice and ran up as well. Jillian and I were quickly fearful for our lives as we were surrounded with young girls and creepy old paparazzi men with really bad BO. We kept getting close to the actors only to have them walk to another part of the stage. We also realized we didn’t have pens. Our lone goal then became getting a photo. We got the closest to Blake Lively, but the publicists and body guards started rounding everyone up. We saw our chance slipping away so we pushed our way over to the stairs where the cast was heading out. We got Blake Lively’s attention and asked her for a picture. She couldn’t have been nicer! She said absolutely, even as they were pulling her away. I went to take the picture of her and Jillian, when she goes “Do you want to be in the picture too?” I half answered something incoherent as she happily handed my camera to a girl next to us and asked her to take the picture for us. Success! My goal of getting a photo with a celebrity is fulfilled. I’ve also now seen one half of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, as I spotted Alexis Bledel at the doctor’s office.

So that was my first foray into PaleyFest. It only hit me a while later that I was that close to the cast of Gossip Girl. Oh, and Leighton Meester and Blake Lively are completely that beautiful in person. Flawless. Seriously. It’s unfair. I really do love that show more than I should. It’s just so saucy. Tonight is the night of other shows I shouldn’t love so much. It starts out with a little How I Met Your Mother (very acceptable – excellent show), moves into some Greek, (quality but underrated. Seriously. You should watch it), and ends with The Hills (so terrible, but SO addicting. I can’t help myself.) I’m off to prepare!

(To see the rest of my sweet panel pics, go here. Enjoy!)

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A Lot of Relaxing and A Little Sleep

March 17, 2008

MOVED!

Still reeling from my sickness induced tiredness, I decided to take this weekend easy. I mean, if you can’t relax on Spring Break, when can you? Friday Night, I stayed in and caught up on the latest season of Degrassi – a bit jarring since the last time I watched Degrassi they were in 10th grade and are now apparently in college – while my friends headed out to Winston’s, and of course, saw Sienna Miller at the table next to them. I do not regret relaxing though. How else could I have discovered that Paige and I are suffering form the same intern-hazing-induced stress?

Saturday, Jillian and I headed out to a relaxing lunch with our friends Jordan and Pauline at a cute place a block away called Eat Well. We each devoured our weight in sweet potatoes fries, aka orange crack. We then decided it would be a great idea to wander around Melrose. We started and ended at Fred Segal, as we quickly realized that nothing is really within walking distance in LA, plus we were tired. We ended up hitting up Hollywood Video and spent the night watching movies (The TV Set and Ratatouille) and eating pizza. Fabulous night in my humble opinion.

Sunday Jillian and I went on a number of outings. First, we headed out to Pasadena. I had been out there twice to help at casting sessions for the Pasadena Playhouse, and I had decided it was adorable and needed to be revisited. We had another delicious lunch (crab cake sandwich…mmmm), walked around a little art festival, and hit up some stores. (Is it just me, or has J. Crew got even more unreasonably priced?) When we got back, we decided it was too nice to sit inside, so we went and read by the Park La Brea pool. After a dinner of leftovers and things I found at the back of the refrigerator (I refuse to go grocery shopping within a week of going on vacation…), Jillian and I headed out to Milk on Beverly, which Pauline and Jordan recommended. I got schooled on what a Caramel Macchiato actually is when I complained that my drink was all foam – which is apparently all a macchiato is supposed to be – and bought some delicious coffee cake. Unfortunately, I was so caught up in this macchiato confusion that I forgot to ask for decaf and was up until four in the morning last night. I was already having trouble falling asleep. A shot of espresso certainly didn’t help the situation. Neither did the helicopter that flew over my building about 10 times at 3AM. Luckily, my pre-sleepless part of the night was happy, as I finally saw Once, which was beautiful and fabulous. I highly recommend it.

Today has just been showering, laundry, and soon, packing for San Diego tomorrow. This week will hopefully be more relaxing with some beaches and family thrown in, as my parents are coming out for my cousin’s Bar Mitzvah. If I’m MIA for a while, it just means I couldn’t bring my computer, but I’ll give the full Spring Break update when I get back.

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The TV Set

March 15, 2008

MOVED!

I just watched The TV Set, and while it was an extremely good movie, it was like seeing all my worst fears about working in the television business come to life on screen. The executives were unfeeling and uncreative. Their families were falling apart. The writer comprised and comprised until he didn’t even recognize his extremely personal show anymore, and his manager, while being his friend, encouraged him at every turn to give in just to get the show on the air. Perhaps that wasn’t the best of rental choices.

In other news, my sickness has turned into debilitating tiredness. I almost fell alseep at my desk yesterday. When I got home, I fell onto my bed and had to roll myself off to get up and make dinner – and by make dinner I mean microwave leftovers from my free work lunches. My life right now is amazing, isn’t it?

Tuesday I head down to San Diego for some beach and family time. As long as at least 50% of my time is devoted to lying down, I’m sure it’ll be a wonderful vacation.

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Some Highs and Lows

March 13, 2008

MOVED!

High: Going to work only to be told that today will be slow and thus, I could run out to Barnes and Noble to buy myself some books. (This also allowed a continued high of reading “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” for most of the day.)

Low: Staying at work until 6:40 as karmic payback.

High: Staying at work allowing me to miss a BULA activity I was already too tired to attend.

Low: Being too tired to attend things like an 80 year old woman.

High: Lost tonight!

Low: My lack of knowledge on how to respond to comments on WordPress. Does anyone know if this is possible or if I just have to add a totally new comment? Until I figure this out, I’ll just say, thanks for the comments! They are very much appreciated.

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I can’t hear you over the blowdryer

March 12, 2008

MOVED!

I feel bad for the people who have to cut my hair. Not because of the quirky way my ridiculously thick hair is crazy curly on top, limp on the bottom. I feel for them, because I am the world’s most awkward stylee. I never hear them when they ask if I want something to drink. I never quite know where they want me to go. I always move my head to the exact place it needs not to be while there are scissors very close to my eyes, and I have no idea what kinds of conversations I’m supposed to get into with hairstylists.

In middle school, I went with my mom and sister to a stylist we all loved for years, thus we all could have one big, unending conversation together. In high school, I had a stylist who I barely spoke to despite how often I saw her, which to me was a very special kind of balance between awkward and silent understanding. Lately, however, with all the moving, I’ve been going to someone new each time I get my hair done. Thus, after I initially explain what I want done to my hair, I become socially inept. Usually, I can waste a few minutes explaining why I came to their salon, where my family is from, what I’m in school for, but then I lose it. Do I need to ask the stylist questions about their life? Is it prying to ask about their family? Am I supposed to keep talking even when the blow dryer is going, despite it cutting my hearing ability in half? Usually, I go for silence. This may be awkward, but at least I’m not over sharing.

Today, however, I am not shouldering the blame for the awkwardness. Today, I went on my first foray into the LA hair styling world. It started off better than expected. I began thinking, perhaps I’d finally figured this thing out. I had a great conversation with the colorist about San Diego, the merits of going to Disneyland on weekdays, and learning to surf. It was impersonal, but interesting. I felt fabulously cool and calm.

Then I moved over to the hairstylist, who came very highly recommended. I’d had a few awkward talks with her on the phone, mainly awkward because she was so friendly, and I had no clue what to say when she told me she had to go out of town because her father was very sick. I should have known where this was headed. As my hair cut began, we discussed my styling techniques before taking a sharp left turn into discussing religion, selling her father’s mobile home, and her acting career. I could barely comprehend where this conversation was going. Couldn’t we just discuss a movie you just saw or maybe my bangs? The problem was, she was so nice that I felt I had to actively participate in these conversations I knew nothing about, adding vague positive comments here, nudging the conversation along there, but in my mind I just kept thinking, this is not appropriate client stylist conversation, unless you have been going to the same corner salon for the past 15 years and attended this stylist’s wedding or kid’s graduation. I was reassuring her about taking control of her father’s medical care, for pete’s sake. I don’t know anything about retirement communities. I just wanted to know if you thought I should take off one inch or two.

Luckily, my hair turned out fabulously – seriously, amazing cut, perfect color, just fabulous – and all for the low low cost of $200……Sorry, had to take a moment to stop the gagging reflex. Transitioning from Ohio salon prices to LA salon prices pains me a bit at times. Plus, the entire encounter ended with her hugging me good-bye. That seemed apropriate for the amount of information I had just learned about her life.

Sadly, I had to run by work in the BULA office after my beauty tryst, and when I got home I felt like I had run a marathon. I guess that’s what comes after leaving the house for the first time in three days. Now I’m just counting down the minutes until my double header of Top Model and Top Chef – Welcome back, Tom Calicio! How I’ve missed you, Padma! – and contemplating whether this haircutting experience should count as a pro or con in the LA tally.