Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 - the year the world went low...

You know, I have a great life. I'm very fortunate and I'm very aware of the fact, but 2016 has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year for multiple reasons. Each year on New Year's Eve I try and do a roundup of where I've been and what I've done the past twelve months to try and get ready for what's to come.

Goodbye 2016 and good riddance...
2016 Helium balloons
We started 2016 in Palm Springs where we'd welcomed in the New Year with friends, then we returned to L.A. and for me it was back to physical therapy to help with my back and leg pains.

FIDM Costume exhibition in Downtown L.A. in February
Mad Max Fury Road film costumes
I kept myself busy with my Daily Billboard Blog and costume and props blog, and in February the FIDM Museum kept me occupied with a wonderful collection of movie costumes from the past year, plus TV costumes later in the Summer.

Easter in Palm Springs
Palm Springs pool view
After dealing with leaky roofs, rain damage and plumbers early in the year, we got out of L.A. and hired a house for a well deserved, relaxing Easter retreat in Palm Springs with friends.

Cooper celebrated his 8th birthday in April
Birthday Labrador Cooper
Our Yellow Labrador Cooper turned eight in April and fortunately he's still doing well after his leg operation to remove a benign lump in 2015, although he is slowing down and we don't venture to Runyon Canyon these days but enjoy frequent visits to the beach instead for a swim and play along the shoreline.

Annual visit back to old Blighty in May
Babington House bedroom Somerset
In May it was time for our annual sojourn back to the motherland to see friends and family. Our busy schedule took us from London to Stroud, and onto Wales, but we did manage to squeeze in a night and some spa treatment sat Babbington House near Frome in Somerset on the way back.

The world got a little darker with the mass shootings
at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in June
Orlando nightclub shootings rooftop installation WEHO
On June 12, 2016 at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida 49 people were massacred by a crazy gunman, the deadliest mass shooting in America's history which rocked the nation and as a gay man it affected me deeply.

We're all still sadly living under the gun in the U.S.A.
Under the Gunn documentary billboard
And yet this still didn't convince Republicans that stricter gun controls were necessary, no matter how much Democrats like Senator Chris Murphy filibustered the Senate for 15 straight hours to effect some change, like banning gun sales to suspected terrorists and those on the no fly list.

And now with a President-Elect backed by the NRA you know gun laws won't be changing any time soon, so we can expect more killings in the future.

Celebrating at L.A.'s LGBT Pride Parade in West Hollywood in June
Hairspray dancers LA Pride Parade 2016
The Orlando murders happened in the night before L.A.'s annual Pride Parade and it made me even more determined to mark the occasion, to show our visibility and solidarity for our gay community.

On June 23 we were all dealt another punch to the gut when the British population voted by 52% to leave the European Union, fueled by propaganda, fear-mongering, intolerance and xenophobia in the wake of the world's ongoing refugee crises in countries like Syria. This Brexit came as a shock to many (even those who had voted for it) and made me not so proud to be British, plus it was also the omen of worse events to come.

2016 was the year when police shot a lot of black people
and Dallas police were killed by a sniper
Police caught shooting on camera wall mural
More sad news came with more shootings of black men and women by racist cops using excessive, deadly force (the big difference these days is it's all captured on camera, even live streamed on Facebook, and yet there's still no accountability), which led to the gunning down of five police officers in Dallas  at a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally on July 7.

A bad back stops me running
back spine xray
In the wake of all this misery and a year of divisive presidential election campaigning, I finally went back to my doctors after months in physical therapy with no improvement and had an MRI scan to find out the cause of my back and leg nerve and muscle pain.

Turns out the last few years of marathon running have given me two bulging discs, and I'm still struggling to get back to normal as the recommendation was more physio, as the discs weren't herniated so they didn't need surgery. I also realised that I really shouldn't have just 'run through the pain' of my last three marathons.

Cooper riding shotgun in my car on way to the beach
Labrador Cooper riding shotgun
In all the doom and gloom of politics and depressing world events, not being able to run anymore and experiencing constant pain, there's one bright light that keeps me smiling (aside from my husband, that is), Cooper. When he's not riding shotgun in the car beside me on our little adventures, he has his head out of the window and his ears flapping in the breeze, he's my version of a therapy dog.

Grease Hollywood Forever Cemetery movie night
and Fourth of July fireworks
Hollywood Forever Fourth of July fireworks
In July we headed to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery for the first time to celebrate a friend's birthday with an outdoor screening of Grease and enjoy the Fourth of July festivities.

Florence Foster Jenkins movie Q&A
at ArcLight Hollywood with Simon Helberg in August
Simon Helberg Florence Foster Jenkins ArcLight Hollywood
This year I've continued my love for seeing movies on the big screen, watching around 40 films (some more than once), and I've also enjoyed special Q&A's with filmmakers and actors at ArcLight Hollywood, like this one with Simon Helberg from Florence Foster Jenkins and also with Tom Ford in November for his Nocturnal Animals feature film.

Pre-Labor Day escape to Palm Springs at end of August 
Palm Springs pool
At the end of August we enjoyed another getaway with friends to Palm Springs, before our new window was finally ready and it was time for contractors to cause chaos at our condo.

A new window and roof repairs for our condo in October
Condo repairs new window
After waiting over two months for a new made-to-measure window it was finally fitted and the roof repaired, just in time for the first new rain of the year.

Fixing water damage throughout our condo
It had taken much trial and error, months in fact, to find the source of all the water damage, which was on three floors of our condo, so it was a relief to get it all repaired and redecorated. However when you work from home and have a dog, having a house full of workmen isn't easy with all the noise and plaster dust flying around.

Escaping the decorators with a trip to
Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills
Happy Labrador playtime in park
The work took almost a month so we made the most of the time and escaped with Cooper to parks and the beach whenever possible.

Halloween fun in West Hollywood
Halloween costume fun West Hollywood
At the end of October with no New York Marathon to run this year I was able to enjoy West Hollywood's Halloween Carnaval festivities for the first time in two years. This year I was inspired by the Dead Robin costume in Batman v Superman for my zombie look.

Best friends forever
Labrador Cooper Jason in Hollywood
The second half of 2016 also saw us visit some old neighbours from the U.K. for both their respective 50th birthdays up in Cupertino, which made for a fun couple of road trips (even when we got one of the days of the party wrong, it all worked itself out).

The worst possible election result for the world - Not My President
Donald Trump eres un pendejo
In November the United States made one of the worst mistakes in the history of mankind and elected a fascist, racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, greedy, lying, orange-faced, tiny-handed, thin-skinned, pu$$y-grabbing buffoon to Commander-in-Chief. Although I'm sure in future text books the 45th U.S. President will be known as Vladimir Putin, that is if they don't blow us all up with nukes in 2017.

Visiting The Stonewall Inn in New York City in November 
Stonewall Inn New York City
After the disastrous election result we headed to New York City to commiserate with all the New Yorkers who were with Hillary Clinton, and we were encouraged by all the peaceful #NotMyPresident rallies protesting the Soviet puppet and his homophobic sidekick.

Someone was eyeing the Thanksgiving Turkey
Thanksgiving turkey dinner Labrador
For Thanksgiving we surrounded ourselves with friends in West Hollywood and enjoyed a delicious feast and tried to drown our sorrows.

A quick pre-Chistmas trip to Kauai
Kauai Princeville St Regis resort view
As an early birthday present we flew to Kauai in Hawaii for the first time and enjoyed a few relaxing days exploring the small island. Spectacular views, re-reading favourite books poolside and countless Mai Tais helped take the edge off 2016.

Another Christmas in West Hollywood
Christmas Tree and table setting
This December we celebrated our ninth Christmas in L.A. with good friends and good wine, and switched our Christmas background music to songs by George Michael when we heard the sad news.

I guess were were on the Nice List this year
Wrapped Christmas presents 2016
This year even though I customised some gift wrap with festive pictures of Cooper, I vowed to also use up all the other rolls of half used wrapping paper that was cluttering up our closets from years past (I think there were about ten of them in total). As you can see Santa was very kind once again (although two of my favourite presents were donations to ACLU and Planned Parenthood) and a merry time was had by all.

2016 In memoriam
Carrie Fisher Star Wars Force Awakens billboard
So many actors, pop stars, authors and notable celebrities died this year including David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Victoria Wood, Prince, Caroline Aherne, George Michael, Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds the next day. The Grim Reaper has certainly been busy that's for sure, making a bad year even worse.

Goodbye to grace and wisdom
President Michelle Obama Twitter street poster
As you can see from all of the above my life is pretty damn good and I'm grateful for that. Obviously there's things I would change, but who wouldn't. It's the things not in your control that are the most galling.

This year I'm more than happy to wave goodbye to 2016, but the future doesn't look at bright as it once did, so if I have one hope for 2017 it's that it doesn't suck as much as this past year.

Personally I'm hoping for a cure for cancer, alzheimer's and HIV/AIDS in the New Year to lift everyone's spirits...

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

TV and awards season billboards gracing L.A.'s holidays skies this December 2016...

This festive holiday season there's been a veritable cornucopia of televisual delights to unwrap this December and for the New Year, with new series, specials, awards shows, returning favourites and more streaming, available online, via cable and network TV channels. Here's a roundup of the abundance of TV billboards filling L.A.'s crowded skyline this December 2016.

TV billboards
12 Deadly Days YouTube Red Santa boots billboard
First up is this fun 12 Deadly Days billboard which sees Santa murdered under the mistletoe (although it looks more like a Christmas tree), as a small California town is besieged by supernatural forces in the run up to Christmas Day in the YouTube Red mini-series from horror specialists, Blumhouse Productions.
Giant Search Party season 1 billboard
The critically-acclaimed TBS show, Search Party, received some super-sized support along the Sunset Strip to encourage you to binge-watch the first season on demand this holiday season.
Giant Black Sails season 4 teaser billboard
Plus Starz's pirate show Black Sails also had this giant billboard to tease its fourth and final season, giving you the chance to play catch-up.
24 Legacy series premiere billboard
With one show coming to an end another TV franchise is getting a new lease of life in 2017, with Fox  reviving 24 with Corey Hawkins taking over from Kiefer Sutherland to stop terrorist threats in 24: Legacy.
Homeland season 6 billboard
And speaking of Homeland security and Claire Danes returns as 'Carrie Mathison' for a sixth season of Showtime's drama protecting the U.S. from foreign threats.
Star series premiere billboard
Meanwhile Lee Daniels is expanding his TV 'Empire' on Fox with the addition of new music industry show, Star, starring Queen Latifah and Benjamin Bratt.
Nashville season 5 billboard
And speaking of music and CMT has snapped up country music drama Nashville, starring Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere as best frenemies, for its fifth season after ABC cancelled the series.
Mozart in the Jungle season 3 billboard
For music of a different kind, Gael Garcia Bernal is back for a third season as the eccentric young Maestro in Amazon's symphony dramedy, Mozart in the Jungle.
Schitts Creek season 3 billboard
Another show back for a third season is Schitt's Creek, a comedy where a rich, entitled family learns to live in the real world after going broke.
Portlandia season 7 billboard
Plus comedy sketch show Portlandia is back for more laughs with its seventh season and this jam-packed ad creative.
Man in the High Castle season 2 billboard
Amazon's alternate world drama, where Nazis won WWII and rule America with their uneasy Axis alliance with Japan, The Man in the High Castle is back for its sophomore season.
Man in the High Castle season 2 Statue of Liberty billboard
In light of recent political events, with white supremacists, xenophobes and racists heading to the White House, this Hitler saluting Statue of Liberty is even more arresting in the skies in these uncertain times.
Always Sunny Philadelphia season 12 billboard
Another comedy returning to the small screen, this time for its twelfth season is It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

If you like this Sound of Music spoof ad creative, make sure you also check out previous It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia billboards which have hilariously paid homage to the rock world, horror films, TV shows and more for past seasons.
The Mick series premiere billboard
And IASIP star Kaitlin Olson also gets her own Fox sitcom in the New Year called The Mick, where she plays a party-hard auntie who has to look after her rich sister's spoiled kids when they flee the country to avoid prison.
Shut Eye series premiere billboard
Streaming service Hulu takes a closer look at L.A.'s psychic shops, and the gypsy criminals that run them, in its dark comedy Shut Eye.
Big Little Lies limited series billboard
At the moment HBO's strategy seems to be using big talent for mini-series, with two new limited series on the way, the first Big Little Lies stars Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley as rich housewives who become embroiled in murder.
Young Pope HBO limited series billboard
Meanwhile Jude Law finds religion as The Young Pope opposite Diane Keaton in the new HBO 2017 limited series.
The OA series premiere billboard
Netflix has another strange offering in the skies this month, the new sci-fi series The OA (to explain the meaning of the title would spoil some of the plot). The eight episode series about a blind young woman who returns home after being absent for seven years now able to see is quite refreshing and totally bingeable.
Beyond series premiere billboard
Meanwhile Freeform has its own new fantastical offering for 2017, Beyond, about a boy (played by Burkely Duffield) who's in a coma for twelve years and then wakes up and discovers he has strange new abilities.

It's a shame that Star Trek's latest movie used the word Beyond so dramatically in its billboards, as it makes this atmospheric ad creative a tad tame in comparison.
Shadowhunters season 2 billboard
And Shadowhunters may have stalled at the box office, but the world based on Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments young adult novels is back for a supernatural sophomore season on Freeform.
Riverdale series premiere billboard
Speaking of adaptations, in the New Year The CW adapts the characters from Archie Comics in the new Riverdale series, which coincides with the 75th anniversary of Archie.
Emerald City series premiere billboard
L. Frank Baum's Land of Oz novels once again provides the inspiration for a new TV series, Emerald City, although this reinterpretation of the beloved Wizard of Oz looks dramatically different.
Taboo series premiere billboard
Following success on the big screen with roles in films like Inception, The Dark Knight Rises and Mad Max: Fury Road, Tom Hardy returns to the small screen with FX's Taboo mini-series, in which he plays an adventurer thought to be long dead who inherits his father's shipping empire in the 1800s and rebuilds a life for himself surrounded by murder, mystery and betrayal.
Leah Remini Scientology TV series billboard
Meanwhile in the modern times, after escaping the clutches of the secretive Scientology cult, Leah Remini is telling all in her new A&E documentary series.
Vivicas Black Magic series premiere billboard
In the grand tradition of the Chippendales and no doubt inspired by the success of Magic Mike and its spin-off Vegas ladies' night concept, actress Vivica A. Fox has a new Lifetime reality series where she's hunting for the ultimate male stripper revue in Vivica's Black Magic.
Selection series premiere billboard
If you thought being a buff exotic male stripper was hard with all that working out and baby oil, then that's nothing compared to the civilians volunteering to be trained like military special operations recruits in History's The Selection reality show.
New Celebrity Apprentice billboard
NBC brings in the big guns to save The Celebrity Apprentice from its toxic history with Donald trump, enlisting action star Arnold Schwarzenegger to host proceedings in the boardroom where C-List celebs like Boy George, Carson Kressley, Brooke Burke-Charvet and Snooki compete against each other in the business-themed reality competition.
Savage Kingdom TV miniseries billboard
From brutal training methods for wartime to the Savage Kingdom of the wild, and this ad creative for National Geographic's latest nature mini-series event.
Foursome season 2 YouTube Red billboard
Online platform YouTube Red continues to pump out scripted content, with teen school drama Foursome back for a sophomore season.
Foursome season 2 YouTube Red billboards
Plus the Google-owened company is not afraid to spend money on outdoor advertising for its shows and talent.
The Wall series premiere billboard
Over on NBC Chris Hardwick hosts a new game show called The Wall, giving teammates the chance to win $12,000,000.
Talking Dead 2016 billboard
Plus the presenter is also enjoying being the host of the companion aftershow of one of the most watched series on TV at the moment, The Walking Dead, where he talks to creators, cast and celebrity fans of the show on the sofa on Talking Dead.
Talking Dead TV talk show billboard
Over on Comedy Central Ari Shaffir's long-form storytelling show in front of a live audience, This is not Happening, is the perfect title for 2016.
This is not happening Comedy Central billboard
Plus the stand-up comedy specials continued to fill the skies of L.A. this December, including this timely 'Michael Che Matters' billboard.
Michael Che Matters standup billboard
And the spontaneous comedian Reggie Watts had this trippy ad for his 'Spatial' Netflix stand-up special too.
Reggie Watts Spatial Netflix standup billboard
Whilst Gabriel Iglesias aka 'Fluffy' was also bringing the laughs for his own Netflix stand-up special, 'I'm sorry for what I said when I was hungry'.
Gabriel Iglesias sorry said when hungry standup billboard
Another funny guy, Deadpool's T.J. Miller, was hosting the Critics' Choice Awards again this year and this time they were trying to get ahead of all the other prestigious film and TV industry awards shows by going first in the season.
22nd Critics Choice Awards billboard
Meanwhile in the New Year Jimmy Fallon will host the 2017 Golden Globe Awards, following previous funny hosts like Ricky Gervais and the comedy duo of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.
2017 Golden Globe Awards billboard
In addition to these awards ceremony ads there were also a few shows campaigning to win some of the industry accolades, like this giant billboard towering over the Sunset Strip for Game of Thrones recent sixth season.
Giant Game of Thrones Magnificent Fyc billboard
Plus HBO's newcomer comedy Divorce, with Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church, was also looking for some industry consideration.
Divorce consideration 2016 billboard
And even HBO's acclaimed limited series The Night Of was hoping to engender some votes this awards season.
Night Of Remarkable consideration billboard
Meanwhile Epix was banking on its new scripted comedy Graves to deliver, especially as Nick Nolte has received a Golden Globe nomination for his role as the former POTUS.
Graves season 1 For your consideration billboard
this season my fingers will be crossed for Netflix's new royal drama series, The Crown. Growing up I was always a bit anti the British Royal Family and the establishment as a whole, but seeing some of the historical context and the duties and responsibilities of Queen Elizabeth II, I've warmed to her majesty.
Crown It Rules consideration billboard
Great performances from all involved, lavish sets and soapy drama really does mean this show does rule.
Crown Stately Success consideration billboard
And finally, a little late now that Christmas Day has passed, but I still love Adult Swim's festive sentiment and do agree that people can make or break the holidays.
Adult Swim Christmas 2016 billboard
As you can see from this vast array of billboards, there is so much television to enjoy and keep up with these days. It's no wonder studios, networks and content generators spend so much out-of-home money trying to draw attention to their TV offerings.

Make sure you check out what TV billboards were standing out in last December's L.A. skies and come back in the New Year to see what 2017 has to offer.

On a final note, after the death of George Michael and Carrie Fisher over the holiday period, let's hope 2016 doesn't have any more bad news to come...

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