Saturday, May 31, 2008

Taking the plunge...

Crisis averted with a bottle of Drano and a handy plunger
Or should that be hunting for a plunger? So not even having been in our new flat a full month yet, I thought I'd broken the garbage disposal.

Since we've been in the U.S. everyone has been telling us to put everything down the waste disposal. So thinking we were doing the right thing we've been merrily flushing every bit of vegetable peeling and food left-overs down the In-sink-erator.

Imagine our surprise on Thursday night when the water just wouldn't go down the plug hole and started to come back up.

Friday morning I headed out on the hunt for a plunger to see if that would help us - it's amazing how many different styles there are available. I opted for this snazzy little number, but alas it didn't really help much and my plumbing skills failed me.

Luckily our landlord popped round later with a bottle of Drano to unblock the pipes, which worked a treat! So panic over, but it did highlight to us the teething problems we're having with the simplest things settling in here in L.A. The funny thing is that in our London flat we had a waste disposal, but we never used it, so we're not exactly novices with this sort of thing.

Anyway, Friday night we headed out to try another local restaurant in West Hollywood, this time Taste on Melrose Avenue and shock, horror, we even walked there!
Taste restaurant on Melrose
It's a nice restaurant with a mixed crowd and was very popular last night, which made it a bit noisy and a bit hard for the three of us to talk, but the food was great. I had the pear and caramelized onion pizzetta (which also had Gorgonzola and walnuts on it) which was divine and then the seared Ahi Tuna fillet, which was a huge fillet and was equally gorgeous. Everyone else had nice food too, but aside from the noise the only other comment I'd make is that the staff seemed overly attentive and we were asked by about four different people, multiple times during our meal how we were doing and was everything OK - it was slightly overkill.

Anyway, we're off on an adventure today as we've been invited to a BBQ in Alta Loma, which is about 52 miles away. Lucky for Charlie I'm not going to be driving there, although my shiny new car is parked downstairs in the garage and I do plan to go for a little spin in it this morning, so watch out L.A., Jason is finally behind the wheel, God save us all....

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I'm out of bed and dressed, what more do you want?

You know sometimes when you can't help but smile? I saw this image on the side of a shop on Melrose Avenue and couldn't resist snapping away.
I'm out of bed and dressed, what more do you want?It's amazing what you see on your travels in the City of Angels. Today was comic day (delayed by one day because of the Bank Holiday), so it was my usual walk of shame along Melrose to pick them up. Soon I will be like every other Los Angelino (is that how you say it?) and will drive everywhere!

Apparently my new car has been delivered to Charlie's office. It's a Honda SUV or some such. I think it's a bluey-grey colour, it was hard to tell on the website, but it'll be my own little tank to navigate the streets of L.A. Check back soon as I'll no doubt have some pictures for you!

In preparation for me taking to the roads I had a two hour driving lesson today. It was meant as a refresher after not driving for over three weeks, but I didn't really enjoy it that much. I think that was mainly due to the driving instructor and his car more than anything else. He was Russian and had apparently been in L.A. for 14 years, but I still found it hard to understand what he was saying, plus in addition to the communication barrier, his car was a Toyota Camry, which was even older than the Mustang I learned in. The brake has a weird springy quality to it, which can't be good can it?
Driving the LA streets
West Hollywood and the surrounding area is much busier and more frantic to drive around than Burbank or Glendale, which I expected, but I think it'll be a long time before I'm racing around the local streets like an expert. I'm sure it'll be fine though, especially when I have my dog beside me and we're driving round exploring everywhere together.

It was harder choosing a driving instructor to use this time without personal recommendations from Charlie's work colleagues and you soon learn that the internet can be a bit hit or miss. Anyway, $80 and two hours later and my pain was over.

As a reward I decided to enjoy the sunshine today and top up my tan on our roof terrace. But you can't have pleasure without pain, so I did also venture to the gym afterwards to work off the wine and chocolate Charlie forced me to have last night and to make amends for the many, many times we've eaten out (as some people have commented!) since we've been on these shores.

I'm looking forward to driving in my own car and living to tell the tale...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The story so far and maybe a glimpse of the future...

All is right with the world and the sun is shining once more in West Hollywood after a dreary Memorial Day weekend.

After being a social butterfly at the weekend (although flagging by Monday), the last few days have been quieter and maybe a time for reflection.Papyrus in the LA sunSo what exactly have I achieved since I've been here in L.A.?

  • Moving here from London was a pretty major step for us, not just moving countries but continents too!
  • I set up this fantastic blog, which is keeping my mind stimulated and teaching me all kinds of things about the fascinating world of the web - now with over 2,000 visitors to date
  • I passed my Californian written driving exam with an impressive 100% score
  • I've learned to drive on the right hand side of the road and passed my Californian driving test with flying colours (although I've not been behind the wheel since!)
  • We've found a perfect place to live in trendy WEHO and we've nearly furnished it (with the help of what seems like Crate & Barrel's entire inventory)
  • We've eaten at pretty much the full spectrum of L.A.'s restaurants and eateries, from Mexican to Argentinian food, to classic American cuisine!

So what's next I here you ask?

Well on my 'To Do' list (which is considerably shorter than it ever was when I was working):

  • Buy a new car for me
  • Drive it on my own
  • Explore more of L.A.
  • Buy a puppy
  • Have more fun!
  • Buy a sofa-bed so that friends and family can come to stay
  • Get a nice L.A. tan (preferably not orange)
  • Stop eating everything they put on the plate (even though L.A. portions are smaller than the rest of America, they can still be super-sized by UK standards and I'm not sure my waistline is benefiting from it at all)
  • Get a nice gym-buff body (overnight in my sleep would be the best, thank you very much!!)
  • Spot more celebs - real ones and not just the D-list!
  • Have even more fun!
  • Spend some time in wine country (drinking, that is)
  • Drive more traffic to my blog and decide what the hell it's about
  • Find something to occupy my time for the next few years...
So as you can see, it's not overly ambitious. There's no grand plan or agenda. Obviously in the meantime, a few glamourous Hollywood parties and a few walk-on parts in a movie or two wouldn't go amiss either.

Keep watching this space to see if any of my 'Things to do' get checked off the list...

Monday, May 26, 2008

There's nowt as queer as folk...

Actor Robert Gant from American Queer as Folk fameSo after a pretty much sleepless night, due to god knows what, here's another instalment of your favourite Hollywood blog.

On Saturday we had another celebrity sighting, this time at the Arclight Hollywood (probably going to see Indiana Jones too). We saw the actor, Robert Gant, who played Professor Ben Bruckner in 55 episodes of the U.S. version of Queer as Folk.

Some of you may also recognise him from guest appearances in TV shows such as Nip/Tuck, C.S.I. and even many moons ago in a 1997 episode of Friends (which it seems everyone and their wife has been in at some stage!).

We saw him queueing up for some popcorn before the movie and after the film was over - it seemed a bit rude to shove a camera in his face at the time!  I always thought he was the sexy older guy in QAF, but he was slightly less striking in person (maybe that's because he had his clothes on!).
Actor Robert Gant from U.S. Queer as Folk fame

After Indiana Jones we tried out a new addition to West Hollywood's eateries and watering holes, the Crown Bar, on Santa Monica Blvd, between Fuller and Greenacres Avenues (and directly across from Trader Joe's - I say that as the bar doesn't have a noticeable sign outside).

The bar was pretty much empty when we arrived, but by the time we left it was full of identikit girls and guys, all looking slightly too overdressed for L.A.'s casual style.

There are not many tables to dine at, but there is additional seating opposite the bar where you can eat. The food was a bit hit or miss, my beet salad was very tasty, but my yellowfin slider was a chewy dissapointment and had to be sent back and taken off the check, with a free cocktail thrown in for good measure!

My top tip would be to check your bill, as we had to ask for a couple of drinks to be removed that shouldn't have been on there. Another tip is that you need to leave by the back door rather than the door you came in from, even though it may say 'exit' above it!

Anyway, Sunday saw us taking it easy in the condo in the morning, waiting for the weather to brighten up (it seems like we've brought the British Bank Holiday weather with us) and then heading over to The Grove for a spot of lunch with some friends at Marmalade.

Even though the sun was still trying to break through we sat outside under a heater and my dodgy yellowfin slider of Saturday night was totally redeemed by a melt in the mouth, lightly seared Ahi Tuna Steak Sandwich which was massive and gorgeous. The Hollywood sign from the roof of The Home Depot, 5600 Sunset Blvd
After popping into a few shops at The Grove and checking out a local nursery off Fairfax, we headed off for our first visit to America's The Home Depot, which is just like B&Q and Homebase in the UK. Our mission was to find some new colourful planters for the papyrus on our roof sun deck and we succeeded.
View of the Griffith Observatory from the roof of The Home Depot, 5600 Sunset BlvdSunday evening we had dinner at the O-Bar just round the corner from us. The food was great, but unknown to us it was another 'ladies night' for Memorial Day Weekend no doubt, as it's usually held on Friday and the music was also a bit pumping, so it was like eating at a night club. Aside from that after a few cocktails and abottle of wine, we had a nice time.

And I can't go without saying a big thank you to our friend Richard for hosting our 'welcome party' at his place on Friday, which was much appreciated and a great way to get together with our L.A. friends, work colleagues and meet new people (and of course eat too much).Nibbles, dips and cheese - perfect for grazing all night long!

Methinks a disco nap will be needed before this afternoon's BBQ...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - was it really worth all the wait...

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull at the Arclight Hollywood cinemaDid I really like the new Indiana Jones movie? Was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull any good? Why is it so hard to decide?

It was an entertaining movie and will probably do fantastically well for the Memorial Day weekend with its mix of family friendly adventure and wealth of nostalgia it embodies, but I think I liked it, rather than truly loved this film!

We watched the movie at the Arclight Hollywood on Saturday afternoon at the 4.46pm showing. The cinema was rammed with people (even lots wearing their fedoras and whip ensemble, I'm not kidding you!) and pretty much every screen was showing Indiana Jones. As always the Arclight was the perfect place to watch the movie and we had perfect seats.

As you know the new Indy film was one of my hot picks for Summer Movie Blockbusters and the main reason I wanted to see it was out of a sense of nostalgia, plus the fact that I'm a total completionist freak, in that I have to watch every film in a series (no matter how bad e.g. The Matrix Trilogy anybody?), any book by the same author and any comic that has a vague tie-in to another I'm reading.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull billboard in Los AngelesAnyway, the film had loads of nods to the classic Indiana Jones franchise, with a silhouetted fedora wearing Indy, a glimpse of the Arc from 'Raiders', old school stunts, old flames, archaeological death traps, treasure maps to decipher, creepy crawlies, a snake, a classic villain in the form of Cate Blanchett's wonderful KGB Agent Spalko and lots of other crowd pleasing continuity delights.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull movie posterWhat was missing for me was Spielberg's original sense of panoramic cinematography, breath-taking locations and a sense of awe and mystery about what happens next.

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was too simple. Everything was spelled out for the audience and it just didn't feel very sophisticated. It lost its sense of classic hollywood blockbuster and instead became just another modern day movie, filled with lots of CGI and filming in studio soundstages. I know that was probably the goal to appeal to a younger audience, but I personally feel it lost something in this compromise.

Aside from that, there were many positives. Harrison Ford as an older Indy, was a believable adventure hero and his action sequences weren't too ridiculous. The overall story was original and a natural progression from the previous films, with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg involved it's only natural an alien or two would pop up somewhere.

The very best thing about the movie has to be Cate Blanchett and her show stealing and convincing portrayal of Soviet psychic, Agent Irina Spalko. It's a great character and she plays it wonderfully.

On the other hand I wasn't too enamoured with Shia LaBeouf's or Ray Winstone's one-note characters, but overall I'd give the movie a 3 star *** rating. Anyway, that's my verdict, how did you like it?

Indiana Jones movie billboard on Sunset & Vine, L.A.Indiana Jones movie billboard on Sunset & Vine, L.A.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Jason does D.I.Y. or just call me Martha...

Martha Stewart, that is! Yes, Hollywood's most glamourous and most Welsh house-husband works his magic on our new West Hollywood condo. More Crate & Barrel furniture deliveries, a spot of TV stand assembling and lots of cleaning up of those annoying white Styrofoam bits that get everywhere. The result, a home fit for a king, or dare I say a couple of queens? Martha would be so proud!
Crate & Barrell furnished living room
So yesterday was delivery day (again) and saw the arrival of our new dining table and benches, wasabi green leather chair for the bedroom and a chest of drawers, so we can finally put our clothes away properly. Crate & Barrel's profits will be huge by the time we've finished furnishing our flat, just like Heal's and New Heights got the lion's share of our money for our flat in Chiswick.
Crate & Barrell Big Sur dining table
We really love everything we've bought so far and it was great to see the Big Sur dining table and benches in the flesh, so
Crate & Barrel Marsden wasabi green leather chairto speak, as we'd only Crate & Barrel Marsden chair with black walnut-stained hardwood legsever seen the larger 90 inch table in the store, whilst this is a smaller 65 inch table. With two matching small benches it's a great space saver and is really solid and natural looking.

I think my favourite has to be this fantastic wasabi green leather chair, which we snapped up on impulse when we'd gone in to order the table.

We were so desperate to find some nice furniture and it caught our eye in the store (although subliminally we'd probably seen it every time we'd been inside a Crate & Barrel since we've been here, and that's a lot of times!), so we're very happy with it and it adds some interesting colour and dimension to our bedroom. Obviously, it's far too nice to sit on, so we'll just look at it lovingly!
Crate & Barrell Elan chest of drawers
We also bought the matching 4-drawer chest to match our Elan oak bed and nightstands and it means we can finally get organised and see how much storage space we actually have.

On Wednesday night Charlie also whizzed to Lamps Plus after work to pick up the lamps we'd ordered - so, let there be light!

Crate & Barrel Marina table lamp and Elan nightstand Lamps Plus Cylinder Shade table lamp Lamps Plus spotlight lampWe were also really brave and took a chance by ordering two flat-pack TV stands from, which also arrived yesterday. We ordered them Sunday and they arrived Thursday, so that's not bad going. Plus everything made it in one piece, which is a result, especially considering there was glass involved. They were on 'special offer', but after you add on tax and delivery, you realise it's not so special!
Having fun assembling two TV stands - thank god I had enough space to spread myself out! So here's the D.I.Y. element from my blog title, I even managed to assemble them both myself quite easily and without lots of swearing and losing of temper. Piece of cake! How to assemble a TV stand - part one!
How to assemble a TV stand - part three!How to assemble a TV stand - part two!And see below for the fabulous finished result (excuse all the wires, that's something on the list to sort in the future).

All in all, Thursday was a jam packed day!

In other news, we're currently deciding on what car to buy for me. Funnily enough it's come down to colour, which in my very limited experience I think is probably the most important factor when you come to buy a car. We're debating the merits of having a black SUV in a land that doesn't get much rain to wash it clean and is extremely sunny the majority of time. So is black, which attracts heat, the best car to be driving around L.A. in?

In totally random musings, I've also noticed something about the maids in this condo complex. They tend to hog the washing machines and dryers, so roll on when we have our own appliances in our flat!

Anyway, tonight our lovely friend Richard is holding a 'welcome' soiree for us (it was intended for much earlier, but it's been delayed until now), so I'd better go and start making myself look beautiful, after all, I've only got about six hours to get ready...
Our new 32 Sony Bravia HDTV and bargain Target TV standOur 40 inch Sony Bravia HDTV and new Target TV stand

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Kristi Yamaguchi is the first female contestant to win Dancing with the Stars...

Kristi Yamaguchi & dance partner Mark Ballas - Season six Dancing with the Stars winner.  Image courtesy of ABC.It was inevitable really that Kristi Yamaguchi, a former World Champion and Olympic figure skater was going to do well in the sixth season of ABC's Dancing with the Stars, but even after the first show you could tell she was going to win.

Kristi Yamaguchi, along with her professional dance partner Mark Ballas (how happy must he be about his career now?), was the season six winner after ten weeks of competition and first female contestant to ever win the U.S. TV series of Dancing with the Stars.

She beat off fellow finalists Jason Taylor and Cristian de la Fuente to take the glitterball trophy. But even from the start her performance has been flawless and she's achieved the highest scores from the judges week after week.

Kristi Yamaguchi & Mark Ballas dancing their way to a trophy win - the first ever American female celebrity winner of Dancing with the Stars.  Image courtesy of ABC After the initial controversy surrounding her past as a Olympic medal winner (1992 Olympic Champion in women's singles), some commented on the unfair advantage of her extensive skating experience and training.

I also thought that the judges were even more harsh on her midway through the season, even though she was consistently the best performer and produced the most breath-taking and technically difficult routines each week.

Regardless of previous weeks negative comments, she obliterated the Dancing with the Stars Season Six Winner - Kristi Yamaguchicompetition in the final, achieving perfect tens from all three judges for all her dances - the Cha-cha-cha, Freestyle and Jive.

It's becoming a bit of a trend this year to have female winners of big TV shows, as previously reported here at Jason in Hollywood, Ali Vincent was the first female contestant to win The Biggest Loser title in April this year.
I also have a sneaking suspicion that a woman may win Bravo TV's Top Chef this season too!
More entertainment news, movire reviews and TV gossip soon...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Vote for your favourite cocktail...

Mmm, it's nearly Cosmo time...As we're nearing the long weekend (it is Wednesday after all), don't forget to exercise your right to vote and let me know what your favourite cocktail is.

I feel torn between a sparkling Kir Royal or a sophisticated Cosmo.

My other favourite would be a Vodka (Ketel One or Grey Goose) and Coke (full fat) aka 'Jokey-Cola'. However, we're not talking mixers and spirits here, we're talking honest to god, shaken and stirred masterpieces.

What's your poison?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'm finally connected to the U.S. phone network...

Not much to report here aside from my new American mobile (cell) phone has arrived at last!

If I say AT&T are as bad as BT in the UK then any Brits reading this will understand the mini trauma we've had getting the phone.
New Samsung SGH-a737 phone
It's a new diddy Samsung phone, in a nice metallic lime green finish, which seems easy to handle and use. I'm still reading the manual, or should that be trying to do stuff, then when that fails, reading the manual.

From now on hopefully deliveries won't be as painful as they have been until now, without a phone. Thursday is a big day with a new dining table and benches, a chair and chest of drawers arriving. Plus the Cable Guy is due back again then to connect up our digital phone service.

Apart from that I've spent my day tinkering around the condo trying to stay cool, doing a bit of laundry and going to the gym.

Dancing with the Stars season six - who will win?At the moment I'm trying to migrate our itunes collection onto the new iMac. The last time I tried do do anything like that I lost pretty much everything we'd loaded onto itunes at the time, so wish me luck!

Tonight is the Dancing with the Stars end of season results show. If Kristi Yamaguchi doesn't win it'll be a crime, as she's the best dancer by far and no amount of ripping shirts off to reveal gym toned torsos by the two other male finalists is going to sway my vote!

Will she be the first ever female to win the US Dancing with the Stars? Tune in tomorrow and I'll let you know...

Monday, May 19, 2008

More nesting, more eating, more drinking and a minor Z-list celebrity sighting...

Best Buy store signAnother weekend, another round of shopping for furniture and accessories to furnish our new WEHO home.

Along the way we managed to fit in another lunch out at The Farm of Beverly Hills (this time in Beverly Hills rather than the one at The Grove), before we popped to Crate & Barrel to pick up the new lamps we'd ordered last week and to order a dining table and benches, leather chair and four-drawer chest of drawers for the bedroom. They were all in stock, so hopefully we'll get delivery on Thursday!

We also popped to a lighting store, Lamps Plus on La Brea, to buy some lighting for our bedrooms. We left with one from the shop floor, with two others on order for next week. Now we can see at night!

We're slowly getting through our furniture essentials checklist, however we just discovered that Target store signsome of the electricals that we brought with us don't work here. It was always a risk and that's why we didn't bring more, but we now have an espresso coffee machine and digital radio alarm clock joining the video and DVD players in the cupboard (which in the UK have scart leads and in the U.S. don't, but maybe the voltage would have been different anyway).

So it was off to Best Buy and Target on Sunday to buy a few more odds and sods.

In less than an hour we had a new radio alarm clock, ironing board cover (ooh, fun), electric shaver (for me), filing cabinet and water spray bottle (as our new iron broke after only five shirts and the spray function doesn't work, we can't find the receipt to take it back to exchange it, so we're being creative - but we're not overly impressed by Black & Decker irons).
JD Jordan from Work Out season 3 - image courtesy of Bravo
After grabbing a cooling, calorie-laden green tea Frappaccino from Starbucks we headed back to our car and who should we see in the Target (or 'Tar-Gay' as it's affectionately known) underground car park, but very minor celebrity JD Jordan, from Bravo TV's Work Out season three.

Doubtless, my fellow Brits won't have a clue who he is, or if you don't watch Bravo TV, but he's Jackie Warner's Beverly Hills based gym, Sky Sports, new massage therapist and personal trainer.

I bet from the picture of JD you have no idea why two gay men would be interested in watching this reality TV show. Plus if truth be told, Charlie has developed a little crush on JD's fellow trainer, Jesse (bottom middle of the Work Out cast).

Anyway, after all our exhausting shopping, we rewarded ourselves with dinner out with our friends Richard and Barry at El Coyote, a Californian Mexican restaurant on Beverly Blvd.Work Out Season 3 cast - image courtesy of Bravo

It's a bit of a Tardis inside, with gaudily decorated rooms that wind their way far back and it serves yummy, affordable food (and lots of it, all pretty much smothered in cheese).

After promising myself, following a few nights of drinking (not heavily mind you), that I'd lay off the alcohol on Sunday, two blended margarita's later and I'd failed miserably. But they did win an AOL Cityguide Award for the best margarita's in L.A., so who am I to argue with award-winning drinks - it would be rude to not sample the local culture!

El Coyote cafe on Beverly BlvdLord only knows what they put in those margarita's though as I had the weirdest dreams ever...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Relaxing poolside in the L.A. sunshine...

It had to happen, I've finally taken the plunge and tried out our condo swimming pool.

We're in the middle of a mini-heatwave, which people keep telling me to get used to as in Summer it's like this all the time and hotter, so I needed a dip into the cooling pool waters today.West Hollywood poolside livingIt was nice to lie in the sun and then be able to cool off. I also overheard some bizarre poolside conversations and I think, rather wisely, chose not to join in on any of them. I can see now why Americans tend to like therapy so much.

As well as being very hot today I also ironed about seven work shirts for Charlie (how good am I?), which added to the stuffy atmosphere, so it was a well deserved trip to the pool methinks.

Whilst I was ironing, I was also babysitting the handyman who'd come back to fix the dry wall behind the washer/dryer space and the the pipe work has now been inspected and approved by the local authority and means that soon we'll be able to wash and dry our clothes and linens in the flat, rather than taking potluck on traipsing down three floors to the laundry room to discover they are all in use!!

Last night we had an impromptu dinner at Asia de Cuba with some of Charlie's work colleagues, which was a really nice way to spend a Thursday night. The food and company was great and I'd highly recommend the Butterfish - yum! Sadly we saw no celebs when we were eating or drinking in the Sky Bar beforehand, but our friend Richard spotted William Shatner (of Star Trek fame) at the Sushi bar he was eating at yesterday. Just wait, my time will come.

L.A. Helicopters L.A. Helicopters
L.A. HelicoptersSpeaking of spotting things, I think that my squirrel watching may now have to give way to helicopter watching as there seem to be more of them here in West Hollywood, than the squirrels in Burbank.

As it's a Friday night I won't bore you and even go into the trauma we're having getting my new mobile phone delivered, but as you can imagine, as with everything else over here, it's not going smoothly.
L.A. evening sky
Anyway, I'll leave you now with a view from our lovely roof terrace - there's nothing quite like a balmy evening and a jokey-cola to relax you...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

How much of L.A. will I be able to take...

"And like most people who came from somewhere else, they refused to part with their winter gear. Nobody ever knew for sure how much of L.A. they could take. It was always good to be ready to run."

This is a quote from the Michael Connelly book I'm still reading, The Overlook. As I've mentioned in previous posts I knew a bit about living in L.A. from reading his Harry Bosch detective novels and thought this quote was quite appropriate to our situation. Not that we've got one foot out the door and can't wait to be gone, far from it, we're really enjoying it here so far, but it will be interesting as time goes by to see how long we're destined to be here for.
Yellow Los Angeles school busAnyway, you lucky people are getting a second blog entry today as I didn't have time yesterday with a trip to discover a new comic shop on Melrose Avenue in the morning,another gym visit and our evening screening of Prince Caspian.

I'm told Golden Apple Comics is the place to go for celebrity sightings - I bet they're all doing research for auditions with all the comic themed movies out and in production at the moment! Let's see if I spot anyone there in the coming months.

I can't wait until I get my new car now as the walk was quite a way down Melrose and by the time I got there in the intense L.A. sunshine, I was a hot and sticky mess. I think that's why no one walks here - it's too hot and you'd be forever changing your clothes or be perpetually stinky!

On my stroll along Melrose I also discovered some fab clothes shops, including this 'can't really miss it' Paul Smith shop and a G-Star store, so I can't wait to explore that soon (although not sure what my meager dollars will be able to buy me).
Paul Smith store on Ventura BlvdIn other important news, in the world of entertainment that is, my prediction for the star leaving Dancing with the Stars was unfortunately correct and Broadway Star, Marissa Jaret Wonikur, was booted out.

No real surprise really, but that means Cristian de la Fuente, Kristi Yamaguchi and Jason Taylor are in next Monday's final. In my view, the only one who really deserves to win now is Kristi, even with her Olympic gold medal winning skater background, the others don't compare to her fantastic routines.

Dancing with the Stars US TV series logoOne slightly unsettling thing about the Tuesday night results show has been that they've had a children's dance contest as well, which has all been very reminiscent of 'Little Miss Sunshine' and the American beauty pageants. The teen contestants don't look too bad, but there's something a bit wrong about the really young ones dancing the samba and trying to be all grown up - it sends shivers down my spine.

And sorry America, but it's still not as exciting as Strictly Come Dancing!

The poll for our new puppy's name has now closed and not surprisingly Troy and Sporticus were the favourites (hmm, I wonder who voted for those names?), followed closely by Sam. Anyway, watch this space to find out the official name very soon, plus don't forget to vote and let me know what your favourite cocktail is.

Mmm, cocktail, that sounds nice...

Advance screening of The Chronicles of Narnia - Prince Caspian...

Last night I was lucky enough to go to a advance movie preview screening of The Chronicles of Narnia - Prince Caspian, which opens everywhere this Friday (ahh, the perks of knowing someone in the movie biz!).

I'm not sure if I ever read the books beyond The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe when I was younger (or even if I read that one that thoroughly), so maybe that's why I enjoyed this second film so much.

It's definitely an improvement on the first movie, with better special effects and a lot more action. I can't help but feel that they've upped the action quota and stolen heavily from The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, which is not a bad thing, but no one can do big sword wielding armies and grim, gritty fighting scenes like those. Maybe it doesn't help that this film is much more colourful than LOTR, but that's maybe an unfair comparison as this is meant to be a kids film after all.

I think it's also harder that there are no central adult leads to carry the film and we have to rely on four, now five, children to drive the story forward. It seems to work in Harry Potter, but there are always lots of adult characters to contribute there too.

So THE GOOD - the humour in the film is very good (a bit clumsy at times, but that can be forgiven), Eddie Izzard as the voice of the 'mouseketeer' Reepicheep provides great comedy value, Georgie Henley who plays 'Lucy' is still the best actor out of the four 'Pevensie' children, Susan using her bow and arrows lots (reminiscent of Legolas from The Lord of the Rings, but great nonetheless), plus there are some really exciting and surprising action sequences throughout the film.

THE BAD - Prince Caspian's accent (did we really need it, it's terrible), Prince Caspian doesn't really do much in this film (and I don't see why everyone is getting so excited about Ben Barnes, the actor playing him), Peter Pevensie (played by William Moseley) came across as a moody 'Prince William' public-school boy type, and finally the story seems a bit weak at times - I'm not sure if this is just the translation from the original book, but there didn't seem to be any major threat or sense of urgency at anytime (maybe because it is a kids film, or that in the end you know that Aslan will appear to save the day!).

Anyway, it's a fun film and doesn't feel like 140 minutes, so I'd give it four stars ****

More from Jason in Hollywood soon...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Heathrow's planes have been replaced by L.A.'s helicopters...

LAPD HelicopterRather than being woken each morning by the planes coming in to land or taking off from Heathrow, you're more likely to hear the sounds of helicopters in Los Angeles.

I don't necessarily mean in the early hours, but during the day and night you'll hear the sound of helicopters. They are either the LAPD (the police) chasing the bad guys or reporters chasing Paris Hilton no doubt (not sure if there's much of a difference either way)!

Aside from that, we've been lucky so far and it seems like a quiet enough neighborhood (famous last words I'm sure). I actually feel a bit like I'm on holiday at the moment, after being in Burbank for two months, either that or a retirement home. There's a real mix of people living in our block of condos, but predominantly the older variety abound in the daytime. Anyway, they all seem nice enough.

I really hoped when we moved out here that we'd be able to get a place with a pool, but I didn't really think it would be possible. Imagine my delight when I'm able to look out our window and see the pool in the dazzling sunshine in the daytime and illuminated at night.
Mark's Restaurant, West Hollywood
Some good news today in that my official Californian driver's license has arrived in the post, but as we're often finding here, two steps forward and one back, it's only valid until September 2008. That's due to the problems with my visa as it was incorrectly stamped when I entered the U.S. It's perfectly sortable, but just more paperwork for us in the long run!

Besides another trip to the gym today and a walk around West Hollywood to familiarise myself with the area a bit (walking past Mark's Restaurant from the weekend and WEHO's Nobu right next to it), mostly today I've been reading up on puppy care and catching up on the first few episodes of Heroes season two online.

Tonight I'll be watching the results show of the semi-finals of Dancing with theNobu restaurant, West Hollywood Stars - methinks poor Marissa may be leaving tonight, but you never can tell. She's been the 'Letitia Dean' (of Eastenders fame) of the US series, in that her dancing has improved greatly from where she was at the beginning, but her size and shape have held her back versus the more petite and athletic female contestants.

Having said that I've really loved her recent dances and think she's greatly improved, plus her bubbly personality is infectious. She was saved by the audience vote last week, so let's wait and see.

And with that I'm off to watch some TV...

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