Friday, February 29, 2008

Retro Friday: Saturday Morning Edition

Whatever happened to the Saturday morning animated series based on popular bubblegum bands? (I guess the bigger question remains, "What ever happened to Saturday morning?" The answer: Cable killed it.)

Here, for your enjoyment, two entries from the early 1990s: The "New Kids on the Block" series (above) and the M.C. Hammer-themed "Hammerman" (below). Ahh, those were the days -- and continuing a tradition that reached back to the animated Beatles, Jackson 5 and Osmonds series.

Who would be ripe for a Saturday morning animated series these days? I suppose we'd be seeing a cartoon version of Miley Cyrus; maybe "L'il Kanye"?

Since we're talking about Saturday morning, I can't resist one more clip, for the sheer creepiness of it. Check out this old McDonalds ad, featuring Willard Scott as an early incarnation of Ronald McDonald. Here, Ronald keeps pointing out how the kid in spot shouldn't talk to strangers or accept gifts -- and then plies him with hamburgers!

The View from the 110

There are few moments more beautiful in Los Angeles than a clear winter day, with the snow-capped mountains peeking behind the downtown skyline. These pics from a few weeks ago.

Have you taken my advice and gone up the 2 (the Angeles Crest Highway) to see the snow? This weekend would be a perfect opportunity -- it'll be warm, but the snow will not have much longer if it keeps up.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Observing the Griffith Observatory

Now that the noise surrounding the reopened Griffith Observatory has died down -- and, more importantly, parking is once again allowed up on the hill -- we finally visited the newly renovated, expanded building this week. Even Blogger Toddler enjoyed looking at the models of the planets -- pushing buttons, standing on scales to see his weight on other planets... and snacking at the "Cafe at the End of the Universe."

It's a good looking upgrade. The downstairs space exhibit is simple yet well done; the upstairs "Hall of the Eye" and "Hall of the Sky" exhibits are well organized. (We didn't go inside the new planetarium, as children under 4 are only allowed into the first show of the day.)

The gift shop offers up some great L.A.-centric gifts in addition to the usual touristy knicknacks... but the cafe, run by Wolfgang Puck catering, is as expensive and lackluster as I'd heard.

Some pics:

Nice to see some things haven't changed: The pendulum located in the Central Rotunda.

The views are obviously still fantastic.

The new downstairs "Gunther Depths of Space Exhibits."

Blast from the past: On display, the old projector that thrilled generations inside the Observatory's old planetarium.

Photo op alert: Sit next to Albert Einstein.

Technical difficulties inside the Spock Theater already?

Evan was hungry, so we bought him a turkey and cheese sandwich. That's two slices of bread, some turkey, and a slice of American cheese. For $3.50. Memo to self: Open catering service, secure contracts at tourist destinations. Watch money pile in.

The strangest feature at the new Observatory: The "Cosmic Connection," a hallway decorated by thousands of pieces of cheesy celestial-themed costume jewelry. Seriously.

Griffith Observatory
2800 E. Observatory Rd.
Tuesday - Friday: Noon - 10 p.m.; Saturday - Sunday: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.; Closed Mondays

Maria's Thursday Three

1. Thank You: Some long overdue thank yous are in order to our readers who have sent us stuff. First off to Derek Powell, thanks for pushing us into Wi-Fi territory by giving us your extra router. Honestly, your box sat there for a month as we stared at each other waiting for the other to blink and finally, Mike saved the day and connected everything. Secondly, thanks to someone from 90039 -- Atwater Village, I believe -- for sending us a CD of "Christmas Music That Doesn't Suck." Love the tracks.

2. Elvis and Our MacBook: We recently purchased a MacBook -- secure in our timing that Apple wouldn't put out a new version, since they just announced the release of MacBook Air. So imagine our dismay when the computer giant released new editions of the MacBook and MacBook Pro two days ago. We love Apple, but have a long history of buying their products shortly before a new model comes out. Elvis, manager of the Grove Apple Store, restored our faith when he let us come in and exchange our model for the newest one. We had to pay a 10% re-stocking fee, but it all evened out in the end, as we got a faster computer with more space.

3. Franklin Avenue Turns Five: March marks the fifth anniversary of Franklin Avenue and we are planning something big. Something along the lines of a certain race. You interested? Stay tuned for more announcements.

The Bloggest Loser: Week Seven

I was delinquent with my own game this week, having missed the gym -- and my ability to weigh myself. I know it won't be pretty anyway; with my parents in town over the weekend, we hit some out our fave spots -- Casa Bianca, Foster's Freeze, etc. It ain't gonna be pretty.

Meanwhile, we've had some drop outs -- so the contestant panel is thinning. The latest:

Ashley: XXX (from 149, same) START: 155, GOAL: 140
Bob: 217.2 (from 218.6, minus 1.4 pounds) START: 226.4, GOAL: 190
Don: XXX (from 223.5, minus XXX pounds) START: 231, GOAL: 196
Fexy: 132.5 (from 131.5, plus 1 pound) START: 135, GOAL: 125
Jenny: XXX (from 154.4, minus XXX pounds) START: 155, GOAL: 130
Jim: XXX (from 343, minus XX pounds) START: 343, GOAL: 263
Joe: XXX (from 232, minus XX pounds) START: 238, GOAL: 198
Kathryn: XXX (from 253, minus XX pounds) START: 257.4, GOAL: 190 (140 by end of 2008)
Me (Mike): XXX (from 173.5, minus XX pound) START: 180.5, GOAL: 163
Will: 220 (from 220, same) START: 225, GOAL: 195

(Logo via

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Rate-A-Restaurant, #161 in a series

Restaurant: Dish

Location: 734 Foothill Blvd (La Canada Flintridge)

Type of restaurant: American/Brunch

We stipulated: My parents were in town, and we were thinking it was time to take them some place new (we usually take them to Montrose on Sunday morning, and brunch it at Zeke's, but wanted to do something different this time). I'd read good things about Dish, and I'd never taken them up to Foothill Blvd., so it was decided.

johnnycakes, with egg whites and ham

What we ordered: Mike: Jonnycake Combo (made with cornmeal and corn kernels): short stack of Jonnycakes with 2 eggs to order and choice of applewood smoked bacon, Schreiner’s sausage or brown sugar-glazed ham ($8.95); Maria: The Awesome DISH Breakfast Sandwich: Applewood smoked bacon, fried egg, sliced ham & cheddar cheese
on grilled sourdough; choice of breakfast potatoes, sliced tomatoes or fruit ($8.95); My parents both got: Dish Breakfast Combo: Short stack of buttermilk cakes with 2 eggs to order and choice of applewood smoked bacon, Schreiner’s sausage or brown sugar-glazed ham ($7.95)

egg, bacon and ham sandwich

High point: Once you get seated, the environment is casual, lazy Sunday -- perfect for a rainy, casual, lazy Sunday. Food is comforting, plentiful and pretty good. Ham is slow cooked on premises and delicious; johnnycakes were good but filling. (I loves me cornmeal pancakes.)

Low point: Ahh, the wait. We got there at 11 on a Sunday morning and were told it would be a 25 to 30 minute wait; that turned into just under an hour. Later we learned Dish does indeed take reservations; I didn't think they did. Also, once we finally did get a table, it took quite a long time for the overwhelmed kitchen to bring us out the food. Thankfully, it was the kind of overcast, mellow day where we weren't feeling like being rushed anyway.

Overall impression: Pretty much everything you'd expect from a comforting brunch. Coffee kept flowing, food was rich and artery-hardening (not to mention comforting) and service -- even if it was slow -- was friendly. I love the environs up there in La Canada Flintridge as well.

Chance we will go back: Probably, but ONLY if we make a reservation ahead of time.

For a complete list of our over 150 restaurant reviews, check out our companion Rate-A-Restaurant site.

New Heritage Day Seeks to Connect L.A.'s Historic Organizations

(Flickr pic by There2Roam.)

The Heritage Square Museum is throwing its first-ever "LA Heritage Day" on March 2, kicking off a new "Heritage Alliance" initiative to link our local history organizations and collections.

Some of the groups participating include the San Marino Historical Society, Lanterman House Museum (La Canada), Los Angeles Conservancy, Culver City Historical Society, Chatsworth Historical Society, Los Angeles City Historical Society, Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum, Lomita Railroad Museum and Foundation, Bilingual Foundation for the Arts, Venice Historical Society, Los Angelitas del Pueblo, Highland Park Heritage Trust, Historical Society of Southern California, Costumers Guild West , Grier Musser Museum, Campo de Cahuenga Historic Memorial Assn., Boyle Heights Historical Society, and Rancho Los Cerritos.

Event will take place on March 2 from noon to 4 p.m. Tours of the museum will be held; Admission is $10/adults, $8/seniors, $5/children ages 6-12.

The museum explains the initiative:
This alliance will work to unify the efforts of heritage organizations on matters of preservation, promotion, and communication.

"This isn't about raising funds - which is often the focus of museums - but rather, we're working together to step in and preserve our history," says Brian Sheridan, one of the organizers of the LA Heritage Day and LA Heritage Alliance. "Though we've been successful as individual groups, as an alliance, we will be able to work smarter and more efficiently to preserve the regions heritage and the plan for future efforts, as well."

Given the amount of history we've lost over the past few years (The Ambassador, etc.), an initiative like this couldn't hurt.

The Heritage Square museum is located at 3800 Homer Street, off the 110 Arroyo Seco Parkway (110/Pasadena Freeway) at Avenue 43, just north of downtown Los Angeles. But hey, take the Gold Line to the Heritage Square/Arroyo Gold station.

License Plate of the Day: Songwriter Edition

This one is easy, thanks to Google -- and that perplexing license plate holder. This must be the car of Aganaze Jones (details here), whose songs include "Pupperville."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oscar Trickles Out of Hollywood Boulevard

With my parents in town yesterday, we took the Metro subway (that part was for Blogger Toddler's benefit) from Los Feliz to Hollywood & Highland, partly to see the final remains of this year's Academy Awards.

Hollywood Boulevard was still blocked off between Highland and La Brea, and several huge Oscar statues still sat outside the Kodak Theatre. But most of the activity had already been hauled away.

Some images:

Oscar still guards the Kodak.

Temporary Oscar signage on Hollywood & Highland

Shut down Hollywood Blvd.; the temporary camera bridge is still in place in this shot.

Kodak Theater: Don't even THINK about entering!

Hollywood & Highland wasted no time applying the name of this year's Oscar winner for Best Picture, "No Country for Old Men," on its Awards Walk.

One more shot of Sir Oscar.

Wait, how'd this get in there?

Return of the Shamrock Shake

After a year hiatus, the Shamrock Shake is back at area McDonald's. This minty delight is enough to send me to the fast food giant, which I generally avoid (other than occasional breakfasts there when Blogger Toddler catches me in a good mood). I lived for Shamrock Shakes -- available for a limited time at participating McDonald's, the disclaimer goes -- as a kid, but they disappeared for most of the 1990s, as far as I can tell (well, that, and I avoided McDonald's for most of the 1990s, so who knows).

But other than last year's strange disappearance, the Shamrock Shake has been back in local McDonald's for most of the decade. Go get it now; it pretty much disappears after St. Patrick's Day.

The Wine Bar Explosion Finally Hits Glendale

The recent opening of Atwater Village's new 55 Degrees wine shop (here's the Atwater Village Newbie's rave review) and tasting room reminded me that we're suddenly surrounded by vino-oriented joints.

We're fans of Eagle Rock's Colorado Wine Co. and Los Feliz's Vinoteca... and back in December, we met up with AVN and the missus at Glendale's new Left Coast Wine Bar.

Here it is, two months later, and neither of us ever wrote a post about it -- perhaps it made that little of an impression on us (to be fair, it was also the start of the holidays, and we all got pretty busy). Left Coast Wine was pleasant -- we were the only patrons there, the service was nice and the selection decent enough. But the waitress knew nothing about the wine she was selling... and again, there was nothing all that memorable about the spot.

Nonetheless, the idea of Glendale having a wine bar is reason enough to root for Left Coast. And I'm sure we'll be back, given how close by it is. (I also imagine it will be helped by the coming opening of the Americana at Brand.)

Left Coast Wine Bar
117 East Harvard Street

Monday, February 25, 2008

OSCAR RECAP: Well, That Wasn't Very Intereszzzz...

Some memorable moments and observations from the 80th Annual Academy Awards. We don't get to see movies much these days -- blame the Blogger Toddler -- and so we didn't have much of an investment in this year's awards. (Apparently, neither did many other viewers.) Yet we stuck it out to the end, watching all 3+ hours of this year's Oscarcast.

The highlights:

Funniest Moment of the Entire Night: During the "Night at the Academy Awards" post-telecast on KABC, host George Pennacchio had managed to wrangle host Jon Stewart into a one-on-one interview.

Which was fine... until the guy on the left came along and yanked Jon from the interview. "One second," the unknown assailant told George. "I've known this guy forever (referring to Stewart)."

Suddenly, Pennacchio was live on air, forced to improvise, while Stewart caught up with his pal. Pennacchio counted backward -- "3, 2, 1," and Stewart finally returned. "That's never happened to me before," the long-time KABC "entertainment guru" said.

"Were we live?" asked an exhausted Stewart, who then answered Pennacchio's non-questions with non-answers.

Meanwhile, back in the studio, hosts Richard Roeper and Marc Brown couldn't believe what just happened either. Roeper went as far as calling the guy who pulled Stewart aside a "jerk."

Best-Dressed of the Night: Diablo Cody's tattoo.

Biggest Whaaaa? of the Night: OK, I clearly don't know fashion, but I still don't get what Tilda Swinton is wearing. One long sleeve, one not? C'mon, she's wearing a black plastic bag.

Kinda Offensive Telecast Moment: Host Jon Stewart touched on politics in his monologue, noting the landmark race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. That's even unprecedented for Hollywood, he quipped: "Normally, when you see a black man or a woman president an asteroid is about to hit the Statue of Liberty."

Big laughs. But now take one guess, out of everyone in the audience, at whose reaction the ABC camera immediately cut to in the crowd. Check it out above.

Yup, a staple of awards show telecasts: If a host is referencing something about an ethnic group, or sexual orientation, or anything that involves a certain group, cameras usually seek out a reaction to someone from said group. Kudofest Profiling?

Semi-Creepy Celeb Moment: OK, we know Oscar winner Javier Bardem loves his mom, and gave a great speech (mostly in Spanish). But the extent of that affection -- the smooch above (from after he returned to his seat) -- left me feeling a bit uncomfortable.

Most Unfortunate Commercial: There I was, snacking away, until H&R Block decided to go this direction. Half-naked middle-aged men? Oh crap, I better file my taxes! I don't know whether to thank the tax prep business or smack 'em.

Biggest Elephant in the Room: Hey Owen Wilson, you just gonna act like that little thing six months ago about you and a hospital room and slashed wrists never happened?

Most Handy Screen Grab From This Year's Telecast: Looks like we'll be forging Paul Mazursky's name and sneaking into Academy screenings next year.

Biggest "Watching Paint Dry" Moment: Yes, that's Academy president Sid Ganis in front of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, explaining the Oscar balloting process. Can Nielsen measure audience yawns?

Best Hair-do: "Uh, hi, we're with the Motion Picture Academy, we're here to film a segment with Elton for the Oscars."

"Oh, Elton just woke up and hasn't had time to get ready. Oh, what the hell, go on in. You can fix any embarrassing images in post, right?"

"Ummmm, surrrre!"

Free Food Alert: Pink's Hot Dogs

Given how long the line usually is at Pink's, I can't imagine what it's gonna look like this Friday and Saturday, when free regular dogs -- with or without chili -- are passed out to the first 500 customers.

It's part of a promotion for Fox's upcoming new comedy "Unhitched." (From the Farrelly Brothers.)

I can't vouch for the show -- but I can vouch for free hot dogs.

First 500 on Friday, Feb. 29 and Saturday, March 1 will be offered one -- limited one per customer, while supplies last.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

L.A. Times to "TV Times" Fans: Buy A Computer

A year after the L.A. Times axed its "TV Times" listings book, the newspaper still hears from between 15 and 20 readers a week, demanding that the paper reintroduce it.

According to the paper, that's an unusual amount -- but they're not about to change their mind:

Editors emphasize that the decision to stop printing TV Times wasn't easy.

Readership surveys showed fewer readers than ever were using TV Times; many people now get their TV listings through their satellite and cable systems, or online offerings like the ones The Times offers, where the grids can be personalized to their lineup. And financial realities had management looking for ways to continue serving readers while cutting newsprint.

A final note from entertainment editor Betsy Sharkey, who oversees film, TV and pop music: Editors continue to look at ways to expand the TV offerings based on reader concerns, and readers may well see changes in the coming weeks and months.

I suppose I get it... but at the same time, I still think it could be a sales tool -- and many papers in the 1990s agreed, introducing gussied-up TV magazines. Even the LAT printed many zoned editions geared toward local cable outfits.

These days, with TV Guide out of the local printed listings business, there's a void that could be filled. But maybe I'm just old-fashioned.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Palazzo's Totally Sincere "Strike Is Over" Gesture

To whom, exactly, is the Palazzo targeting with this banner? "Hurray, the strike's over and everyone's kinda pissed at how it all ended up!" Um, congrats?

Does the Palazzo do this whenever some major issue reaches an ambiguous conclusion?

Congratulations: State Budget Cuts Completed!

Congratulations: Northeast Los Angeles Gang-Related Shootout Over!

Congratulations: Area Newspaper Layoffs Done For Now!

Congratulations: Foreign Investors Bail Out American Economy!

I suppose the Palazzo is simply congratulating itself, as it may now resume suckering people into paying ridiculously overpriced rents for those glammed-up, Park La Brea-adjacent apartments.

FRANKLIN AVENUE CONTEST: Grizzly Bear with the L.A. Phil

Check out Brooklyn-based quartet Grizzly Bear, featuring the Los Angeles Philharmonic, at Walt Disney Concert Hall on March 1.

Here's the write-up:
Brooklyn's lo-fi atmospheric quartet, Grizzly Bear, co-headlines with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in an awe-inspiring yet intimate evening of sensory immersion. The first half features the orchestra playing selections hand-picked by Grizzly Bear and the LA Phil, reflecting classical music's influence on the band's sound. Grizzly Bear's full set follows, showcasing their dreamy melodies, adventurous instrumentation and seductive vocal harmonies.

More details here.

Want a pair of tix? Drop a line to our Franklin Avenue e-mail, and Blogger Toddler will choose a name at random. Thanks for reading!

License Plate of the Day: Overexplanation Edition

This is probably the most obvious vanity plate we've seen in a while: "So Late Again." Yet this is the one where the owner felt the need to explain it via their license plate holder:
It says... SO LATE AGAIN!

Um, thanks. We got it. Didn't need the expla--
Get it? The "8" combined with the letter "L" makes "L8" sound like the word "late!"

Yeah, really, we got it, thanks for the head's--
Due to space limitations, we couldn't spell out the word "again," but the letters "AGN" are meant to be an approximation, as just the vowels "a" and "i" have been omitted.

"So Late Again" refers to the fact that I'm frequently late.

Thank you, TMI license plate. And thanks to Tony, who shot this plate and passed it along to Franklin Avenue.

See an interesting vanity plate? Shoot it, and send it to the Franklin Avenue email at the top of the page.

Retro Friday: Cocoanut Grove Edition

In honor of the Cocoanut Grove's recent destruction... Above, in a clip from 1934, Mary Pickford introduces Bing Crosby on stage at the Ambassador Hotel's Cocoanut Grove. Bing croons "Sentimental Ballad."

Thanks to Tess Inman for pointing out this one, another Cocoanut Grove clip from 1934. According to the You Tube post, "we catch glimpses of El Brendel, Gary Cooper, Richard Cromwell, Toby Wing, Sir Guy Standing, Jack Okie, Arlene Judge, Ted Fiorito and his Orchestra and Leo Carrillo."

Your Chance to Grill Bobby Flay. Or, At Least, Grill With Bobby Flay

Admit it, you'd like to school Bobby Flay on national TV, showing him how to truly grill. Food Network is looking for people to appear on the latest Flay enterprise, "Grill It with Bobby Flay." (Seriously, how many shows can one guy star in on the Food Network?)

According to the channel, applicants must send a 3-minute VHS tape or DVD of themselves cooking something. There are no winners or losers on the show, so don't expect some big prize. But hey, if you're a media whore like me, just being on TV is enough. Here's the address:
ATT: GRILL IT! 110 Leroy Street, New York City , NY 10014

Send those tapes in by March 15; you've gotta be 18 or older.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Final End of the Sears Auto Center Everyone Hated

The Hollywood home of the Sears Automotive Center everyone seemed to hate -- I just liked the old Sears, Roebuck & Company sign above it -- is finally being torn down. Sears moved out last year, in preparation for the new Paseo Plaza shopping center; Linoleum City is now sitting pretty in a brand new building (the famed sign is now on the building, as opposed to on top of it) down the street.

But the changes are happening. Some pics from this morning:

That Paseo Plaza sign had been up there for so many years that I seriously doubted that it would ever come to fruition. (Of course, maybe it still won't -- it's a long way from demolition to construction.)

Maria's Thursday Three

1. Wall of Gift Cards at the Grocery Store: An unspoken tradition in my family has become the giving of gift cards as birthday presents. Unimaginative, I know, but with 6 birthdays in February alone from our combined family, it's necessary. I've come to really appreciate those walls of gift cards at the local Vons or Ralphs which allows me to make my selections while I get the necessary bread and milk. They offer up gift cards for countless businesses -- Home Depot, Gap, Eddie Bauer, etc. -- and you don't have to make a trip to the mall as a result.

2. The Great L.A. Cupcake Map: Via Eating L.A., I discovered this google map compiled by the L.A. Times of the cupcake bakeries cropping up in and around Los Angeles. I could make it my personal mission to try each and everyone -- I'll do it for the blog (oh, the sacrifices make). I'm just happy those mini red velvet cupcakes at Auntie Em's are within 3 miles of us.

3. Biirdie: Recently discovered this group from Glendale. Good to know a local band is making some waves in the music scene.
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