Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 - a year in review...

This year we've tried to continue to make the most of living in L.A., exploring all this sprawling city and California has to offer.

Our adventures have included friends and family, but most importantly wherever possible our Labrador pup, Cooper.

It's been a fun-filled year and these are just some of the fabulous highlights...

2009 in all its glory

I think the whole world breathed a huge sigh of relief with the Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, in January...
Super Obama
Being here during the whole Presidential campaign process was so enlightening, especially seeing him elevated to a super-heroic status and I felt very fortunate to be in America to witness his appointment as President.
Jason by River Thames, London
At the end of January we travelled back to the U.K. to the worst snow that London had experienced in eighteen years (what can I say, our timing was impeccable)...
Anowy Chiswick in London
It was lovely to experience this British winter wonderland, but it did disrupt our travel plans and meant we didn't get to see all the friends that we wanted to...
Chiswick in snow Feb 09
Anyway, returning to L.A. we've continued to enjoy taking Cooper to the beach and one of his favourite haunts, Sycamore Cove...
Happy
In April my family visited us and we had fun at Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood...
Jason by Simpsons Ride Universal Studios
We celebrated Cooper's first birthday on the 18th April...
Cooper's 1st Birthday cake
In addition to visiting his local favourite spots, we also ventured further afield with Cooper including to Arroyo Burro Dog Beach in Santa Barbara...
Hendrys Beach labrador and surfer
We even checked out their fantastic dog showers to wash off all the sand and sea salt...
Hendrys beach dog shower fun
Whilst in the neighborhood we also explored Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara...
Jason and Cooper at Stearns Wharf
Our adventures also took us to other dog-friendly beaches, including the Dog Zone in Long Beach, as well as taking in local sights like the Queen Mary Ocean Liner and the Russian 'Scorpion' submarine berthed next to it.
Queen Mary ocean liner and Scorpion Russian submarine
I also made sure to check out the cultural highlights in my local area and enjoyed discovering the delights of the outdoor sculpture garden at LACMA full of impressive Rodin and Bourdelle bronze statues...
LACMA outdoor bronze sculpture garden
And also explored The Petersen Automotive Museum which has a great selection of vintage American cars and famous Hollywood autos...
1989 Bat-mobile and Speed Racer's Mach 5
My Angel Quest around the streets of L.A. continued with many interesting sightings in this affectionately named City of Angels...
LA Angel Quest
Sadly when Barack Obama had been elected President, what should have been a time of joy was marred by the fact that California passed Proposition 8 which denies same-sex partners the right to marry...
WEHO gay pride overturn Prop 8
So this year's West Hollywood Gay Pride Parade in June was as much about celebrating our diversity as protesting this denial of equality. It was still a wonderfully colorful and fun affair...
WEHO Gay Pride superhero float 09
2009 was great year for movies and I managed to see around 45 or so at the cinema this year.

Even though it was one of my worst films in 2009, one of the highlights of the year was seeing the actual Optimus Prime truck and other Autobots from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen parked outside ArcLight Hollywood cinema...
Optimus Prime truck from Transformers 2
The ability to see these original vehicles, costumes and props from the movies, combined with the success of Jason in Hollywood, spurred me on to launch a second blog in July to showcase behind-the-scenes of 'Hollywoodland' - Hollywood Movie Costumes and Props (which has already surpassed 30,000 visitors)...
Authentic Watchmen film costumes
After experiencing the Hollywood Bowl for the first time in 2008, we were determined to have a great Bowl season this year.

In the year that the world lost, Michael Jackson, the 'King of Pop' we started in June with some great box seats to see another music legend, the 'Queen of Soul', Aretha Franklin returning to the Hollywood Bowl for the first time in 35 years. She was also joined by a whole host of Hollywood stars in the audience including Halle Berry and Angela Bassett...
Aretha Franklin and Halle Berry at the Hollywood Bowl
Next we enjoyed an evening of Prokofiev, film and fireworks at the beginning of July and ended the month with a spellbinding showing of the wordless film Koyaanisqatsi accompanied by a live orchestra playing the original score by Philip Glass...
Hollywood Bowl fireworks spectacular
Fireworks at the Hollywood Bowl Jul 09
We continued eating our way around L.A. in 2009, but sadly saw some local favourites close (Mark's Restaurant and Dolce).

We made some new friends this year and so did Cooper, who we took to play in their pool in mid-July...
Cooper's Labrador playtime fun
One cracked head, an ambulance ride and seven staples later (not for me I hasten to add) and we'd experienced firsthand the American healthcare system for the first time...
Cooper and Jason pool fun
Surviving that, we continued our Hollywood Bowl season which always includes a very leisurely picnic before every show...
Picnicking before Hollywood Bowl
In August we saw an all-star cast, including Scott Bakula, Jessica Biel and Beau Bridges, perform Guys and Dolls in Concert...
Guys and Dolls concert Hollywood Bowl all-star cast
I tried my best to get all the latest celebrity gossip and behind-the-scenes news including crashing the Melrose Place TV show launch party (well the set-up at least)...
Jason at Melrose Place launch party set-up
I visited The Getty Center on numerous occasions to enjoy the beautiful gardens, sculptures and architecture...
Beautiful flower gardens at the Getty Center
With our friend visiting from Britain, after seeing the local sights of L.A., we embarked on an odyssey up California's West Coast, stopping off in Santa Barbara and scenic Cambria...
Cambria Pacific Ocean view
Exploring the eclectic world of Hearst Castle in the San Simeon Hills...
Hearst CastleJason enjoys Carmel Valley wine tasting
Carmel Beach
And finally arriving in San Francsico to meet up with friends, enjoy the food, art-filled streets and take a trip to Alactraz...
San Francisco through Golden Gate Bridge
I even shared the driving there and back with Charlie, which wouldn't have happened before we moved to L.A...
San Francisco Bay
Before we'd set off up the coast we'd had the pleasure to see Liza Minnelli in concert at the Hollywood Bowl (more on that later) and returned in time for our last offical concert of the season, John Williams Music of the Movies, complete with lightsabers for the Star Wars scores...
John Williams Hollywood Bowl concert lightsabers
Right around the corner was a fantastic morning of celebrity spotting at the Malibu Triathlon on Zuma Beach on the 14th September...
Teri Hatcher and Julie Bowen at Malibu Triathlon
Not only did my other half, Charlie, run for the Disney Tri-team and raise money for charity but I got to snap photos of Desperate Housewives Teri Hatcher and Felicity Huffman (with her actor husband William H. Macy), Stana Katic and Seamus Dever from Castle, Modern Family's Julie Bowen, Entourage's Jeremy Piven, Matthew Rhys from Brothers & Sisters, Night Rider's David Hasslehoff, and super-buff Mario Lopez...
Buff Mario Lopez at Malibu Triathlon Sep 09
As well as trying to get to the ocean as much as possible we also tried to get ourselves invited around to friends pools so that Cooper could perfect his diving skills...
Pool Cooper in action
In addition to a fantastic Hollywood Bowl season we also visited the Greek Theatre in Griffith Park for the first time this year at the end of September and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Pet Shop Boys in concert...
Pet Shop Boys concert at Greek Theatre Sep 09Pet Shop Boys Greek Theatre concert finale 09
We finally made it out to desert and had our inaugural visit to Palm Springs and discovered why it's essential to have a pool and air conditioning there...
Wind turbines of Palm Springs
Then it was back to the a Hollywood Bowl for one final show, a non-Bowl event, but one I'd been waiting half the year for, the 'Pop Princess from Down Under' herself, the fabulous Kylie Minogue on her first ever USA Tour...
Kylie Minogue's USA Tour Hollywood Bowl concert Oct 09
It was a spectacular evening and she was far better than Britney Spears who I'd seen miming her way through her 'Circus Tour' at the Staples Center in April...
Kylie Minogue Hollywood Bowl concert Oct 09
In October I discovered that life also looked good in mono and experimented with some black and white photography of our pup and L.A.'s landmarks...
Cooper hopeful pup profile in mono
We had the best time at Halloween this year, carving spooky pumpkin Jack O'Lanterns...
Spooky Halloween pumpkin
And dressing up as the Dynamic Duo, Batman and Robin, and joining other West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval goers along Santa Monica Boulevard...
West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval heroes 09
We enjoyed Thanksgiving with a visiting friend and at the end of November finally made it down to Huntington Dog Beach, a one-mile stretch of off-leash dog beach in Orange County...
Huntington Dog Beach visit Nov 09
Then whilst in the neighbourhood we decided to drive further down the coast and check out the seaside resort of Laguna Beach...
Laguna Beach ocean view
In the first week of December we enjoyed the sight of the snow-capped mountains around L.A...
Snow-capped Los Angeles mountains
And then during a trip home to the U.K. before Christmas, saw the real stuff in London and Wales...
Snow in Wales December 09
As an early festive treat we were upgraded to First Class on our return flight to LAX and arrived in time to spend our second Christmas at home with Cooper...
Christmas Tree Cooper
So as you can see it's been an eventful, fun-filled year (and people wonder what I do with my time!).

I'll leave you now with some fireworks to celebrate the New Year...
Hollywood Bowl spectacular fireworks


Plus (as promised earlier) here's Broadway legend Liza Minnelli singing 'New York, New York', a great way to end 2009...


Here's to an equally amazing 2010...

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