Thursday, July 31, 2008


So today I'm mostly not happy about the Scrabulous game application being taken off Facebook (first in America and Canada and now I'm reliably informed in the UK). I can only assume it's due to a lawsuit about the copyright with Scrabble, but I was enjoying my online games with pals in the UK and around the world. How am I going to get my mental stimulation now?

The Age of Mythology game I brought for the Mac the other day is a nice distraction, but obviously not as distracting as a fifteen week old pup, so I don't get a chance to play it much (ah, those were the days).

Also I hope you've noticed there have been some changes in the last few days here at Jason in Hollywood. I've added a new sidebar on the right-hand side and now have Amazon shops for both the USA ( and UK (

So when you need to buy anything from Amazon, be it a DVD, CD or something else they sell, remember to click through the link on my blog and spend away!

You'll also be able to see what people are reading on my blog with a brand spanking new 'Most Popular Posts' widget.
Cooper's a growing boy
As you can see from this picture, Cooper is just raring to see the world outside and it's not long now before he can. My driving is going well and I'm getting to know West Hollywood and beyond, so pretty soon we'll be out in my car exploring L.A. together.

Tonight it's off to North Hollywood for another play-date with Cooper's gal-pals, so hopefully we'll have an exhausted pup by nightfall. Finger crossed...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dog-Blog: Our early warning earthquake system...

So after the 5.4 magnitude earthquake yesterday here in L.A. (my first real earthquake anywhere), I think we may have our very own early warning system. His name is Cooper!
Cooper & his rope toy
Charlie summed it up the other day when he said that no two days with Cooper are the same.  Well this Monday and Tuesday he was really unsettled and whiny in the mornings, which I just thought was another stage in our puppy growing up, but on reflection I swear that he knew that we were in for an earthquake.
Puppy Cooper dozing
They say that dogs can tell when storms are coming, so maybe his doggie senses were tingling before the quake.  Today he's back to 'normal' and much more settled.

So my recommendation to any Los Angelinos is to get a yellow Labrador puppy to warn of any impending tremors.
Puppy Cooper sleeping
On another note we've booked Cooper's vet appointment for his final shots next Friday, so only nine more sleeps before he's able to safely venture out into the world.

We can't wait...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I want to believe The X-Files movie is great, but the most exciting thing about it was the earthquake I felt before it started...

What a 'spooky' day I'm having!  Celebrity sightings and 5.4 magnitude earthquakes - it's like something out of The X-Files themselves. 

So today I decided to go see the second movie starring Mulder and Scully, The X-Files: I Want To Believe.X-Files I want to Believe movie poster
I went to The Grove for the 11.45am showing and who should I see as I was walking from the car park, but Kirsten Vangsness, who plays Penelope Garcia in Criminal Minds.  
Kirsten Vangsness plays Penelope Garcia, the computer genius in FBI profiler TV show, Criminal Minds

Is that a coincidence that I see an actress from a TV show about FBI profilers and I'm going to see a movie about ex-FBI Agents Mulder and Scully?

She was with a man and it looked like she was headed back to the car park.  She was dressed as eclectically as her computer whizz character does in Criminal Minds and they were deep in conversation (and there was me without my camera, again!).  

Charlie and I just finished watching the second series of Criminal Minds on DVD and she's one of my favourite characters and brings a lot of quirky humour and heart to the show. Kirsten has starred in about 65 episodes of the series so far.

Anyway, I digress from my X-Files movie review.  So I get to the cinema and but my ticket and the obligatory popcorn (even though I don't really like U.S. popcorn, I'm getting used to it), and take my seat.
Kirsten Vangsness plays Penelope Garcia, the computer genius in FBI profiler TV show, Criminal Minds

So I'm sitting there watching the previews before the film and at about 11.42am I feel my seat trembling.  I thought it was someone behind me being rude and annoyingly shaking my seat with their feet or something, but as I discovered when I left the theatre totally oblivious and checked my phone messages, it was actually an earthquake of 5.4 magnitude.  Who'd have thought!

The funny thing is, that only the other day, Charlie had earthquake training at work and they said that we were due a big quake sometime in the next 30-odd years. How spooky is that?  Is that another coincidence?

But back to the movie.  (Spoiler alert: Don't read any further if you don't want to know plot and storyline details from the film).  

I was really looking forward to the film as I was a fan of the original TV series (although I didn't stick with it until the bitter end) and liked the first movie spin-off, The X-Files: Fight The Future.
X-Files I want to Believe movie teaser poster
The difference with that first film to this one, is that it had so much more energy and excitement, whilst The X-Files: I Want To Believe, just feels a bit stale and worn out.  It doesn't really breathe any new life into the franchise and I don't feel any great affection for the characters, I just feel sorry for how tired and sad they seem to have become.

So instead of government conspiracies and alien abductions we get Russian 'Frankenstein' doctors who are kidnapping women with a rare blood type and reattaching limbs (including heads) to keep some other Russian alive.  Just who is a bit vague, as well as any real motivation why.  
X-Files I want to Believe movie poster - Mulder & Scully
At the same time we are presented with our two main characters, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, as a couple living together, sharing a bed (shock horror!) after all those episodes of sexual 'will they, won't they' tension and so totally changing the dynamic between them.  OK I'll say it, they are a bit of a boring couple.

No longer FBI Agents they are contacted by the Feds for their help in finding a missing Agent, due to the involvement of a psychic who has helped to discover a severed arm matching the blood type found at the scene of the Agent's abduction. Knowing of Mulder's work on the X-Files cases in the past, they want him to discern if the psychic (played by Scottish actor Billy Connolly) is legit and can really help them find their missing Agent.

Unfortunately the psychic, Father Joseph Crissman, is an excommunicated pedophile which makes him come into conflict with 'Doctor' Dana Scully, who now works at a children's hospital.  So what we get is a lot of angst about belief - belief that Father Joseph can reform, belief that Mulder's sister (remember her) may still be alive and belief that a risky stem cell treatment may help Scully's terminally ill young patient, oh and maybe most importantly, that Mulder and Scully should be together!  I knew there was a reason why they called the second movie 'I Want To Believe'.   
David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as Fox Mulder and Dana Scully in The X-Files - I Want To Believe movie
Overall the film feels like a cheap thriller and I think loses something without it's more paranormal and extraterrestrial connections, just a few psychic visions don't quite do it for me.  

I'd be interested to see what people who watch the film without any nostalgia or preconceived ideas from the old TV series think.  For me it was lacking in many ways and I was going to give it three stars out of sheer loyalty, but I think it only really deserves two stars **.  

I'd wait for the DVD to come out with this one and let the aftershocks of the earthquake provide the excitement you may be looking for.

Buy X-Files merchandise in the U.S.A. and relive the glory days:

Buy X-Files merchandise in the UK:

If you want to check out Kirsten Vangsness in Criminal Minds in the U.S.A.:
In the UK:

P.S. Our puppy, Cooper, was fine when I got back home too!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dog-Blog: Cooper's first play-date...

On Saturday afternoon Cooper had his first play-date with three new doggie friends - Ginger, Dot and the matriarch of the bunch, Loki.
The first kiss between Ginger & Cooper
Although he doesn't get his final shot for another two weeks, the vet had said it was OK for him to play in our friend's back yard as we knew all his dogs were fully vaccinated and healthy.  It was a great opportunity to start socializing Cooper with other dogs in a safe environment.
Cooper and his new doggie pals
We drove over to North Hollywood, where a nice size garden that Cooper could run around and expend all his energy awaited him.  A great big tree provides shade for the garden in the afternoon, so it's perfect for doggie fun.
Cooper's new lady play-mate Ginger
His new friends are all ladies and Cooper took an instant shine to Ginger, who's twice his size yet was willing to roll over on her back at the drop of a hat!  I think the attraction was that the other dogs didn't put up with his puppy exuberance, whilst Ginger didn't seem to mind at all.
Poor Ginger
I think it's love at first bite...
Doggie kisses
Cooper had a grand old time running, jumping, sniffing, chasing, rolling, chewing, licking, racing, pouncing...
Cooper's first play-date - dogs at play
It wasn't long until he was soon tiring though, not that it slowed him down too much.
A tired pup, Cooper
The great news for us was that he was worn out from all the exercise and he slept all through the night until 7am in the morning.
Cooper's first play-date
On Sunday, whilst Charlie continued to decorate the condo I drove Cooper over to Burbank for another walk.  It's a great place for anyone with a puppy not fully vaccinated as there's never any dogs there, or humans for that matter!  
Jumping for joy
Plus there's a little traffic on the road around the Disney Studios, so it's a great way to familiarize the dog with passing cars.
Fun with Dot, Ginger and Loki his new doggie gal pals
In the evening we popped to The Cheesecake Factory at The Grove.  My expectations were low, as I was thinking any food from a restaurant chain named after a dessert was a bit worrying, but I really was pleasantly surprised. My food was great, however the hour long wait for a table wasn't something I'd like to repeat - thankfully there was an Apple store opposite, where I bought a new game for the iMac to amuse myself.
One tired pup
Anyway, I think Cooper is looking forward to his next play-date with his new gal-pals, mainly because he's a big flirt...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

My life in comics - L.A.'s greatest superheroes...

Because you didn't demand it, here's another fantastic comic based blog entry following on from the success of my homage to the 80's L.A. based superheroes - The West Coast Avengers.

My L.A. super-team themed blog post got picked up by local website, so I thought I'd revisit the comic world for a look at today's L.A. heroes.

For those not up on their current Marvel comic lore (shame on you), sadly The West Coast Avengers are no more, but they did last for about ten years and 102 issues (plus a four issue limited series and eight annuals).
Avengers West Coast Annual #5 cover

Based on America's West Coast in a compound in Palos Verde, their roster initially consisted of fan favourites Iron Man and Hawkeye and less well known heroes Wonderman, Mockingbird and Tigra.  

Eventually their ranks grew to include The Vision, Scarlet Witch, Moon Knight, Spider-Woman, War Machine, Wasp and more.

When I was younger I loved how their West Coast exploits were so different to the predominantly New York City based heroes and so here are a few more comics which carry on the mantle of L.A.'s mightiest superheroes today...

Runaways Volume 2 issue #1 cover

The Runaways are not your usual superhero team.  They were created by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona and their comic was launched by Marvel in 2002. 

The basic premise of the comic is that unbeknownst to a group of teenage friends all of them have super-villain parents, collectively called The Pride, who rule the Los Angeles crime underworld.  

The kids discover the truth when they witness their parents making a ritual human sacrifice to the supernatural forces that give The Pride the power to control L.A.  Over time we learn that they are the children of alien invaders, time-travelers, mystics and mutants.

Runaways Volume 2 issue #13 cover
Unusual for comic book characters, the children reject established superhero trappings, such as masks and costumes, and simply 'runaway' to set about trying to destroy their parents hold over L.A.  

Along the way there are real shocks, including a few surprising deaths and even a genetically engineered dinosaur from the future.

With witty dialogue and realistic teenage angst the series was a sleeper hit and garnered wide critical acclaim, but the first volume didn't last beyond issue 18. 
Runaways Volume 1 issue#18 cover - the last issue of the first series

Relaunched with a second volume and another issue #1, the team of teenage misfits has enjoyed continued popularity, if not huge sales success.

Vaughan, best known as the writer of Y: The Last Man has since experienced wider success becoming one of the principal writers on the immensely popular ABC show LOST.  

In the future he will also help bring Runaways to the big screen, as Marvel Studios has decided to option it as one of its movie franchises.

After the departure of series writer/creator Vaughan, cult TV favourite Joss Whedon (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Serenity and writer of Astonishing X-men) took over the writing for a six issue run and moved the Runaways to New York. 

Unfortunately his disappointing run was plagued by a series of delays and as a result Marvel have decided to start over again with a third volume coming in August 2008.
Runaways volume 2 issue 3# cover - featuring the infamous Hollywood Sign
A new series will be written by Terry Moore, creator of Strangers in Paradise, with art by Humberto Ramos, and will return the Runaways to their L.A. stomping ground.
Over its lifespan Runaways has featured many famous L.A. landmarks and areas such as the Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Sign, Bronson Canyon, Downtown L.A., they even set up home in the second volume of the series under the La Brea Tar Pits.
Coming soon in August 2008 - the third volume of Runaways with a new issue #1

Spinning out of Runaways we have our second youth team based in L.A.
The Loners, formerly Excelsior and ex-teenage heroes, who first appeared in Runaways volume 2

This is another unique concept in the comic book world, a 'self-help' group of ex-teenage heroes who banded together to support each other and to help dissuade other young superpowered individuals from becoming part of the dangerous lifestyle.

They first appeared together in the second volume of Runaways initially under the group name, Excelsior (as all Marvel fans will know the catchphrase of 'Godfather' of the Marvel Universe, Stan Lee), but it looks like no one cleared it with legal, as due to copyright issues, they soon returned in their own series as the renamed The Loners.

The team consisted of fan favourites from the 80's and 90's - Turbo, Darkhawk (both ex-New Warriors), Lightspeed from Power PackRicochet from the Slingers Green Goblin (Phil Urich) and Chamber (of Generation X, who turned out to be an imposter).

Their L.A based therapy support group. was joined in their own six issue limited series in 2007 by Spider-woman III (Mattie Franklin), Hollow (formerly Penance of Generation X) and a new character, a cyborg taking up the mantle of Red Ronin.

Each of the six issues featured a teen movie inspired cover - The Breakfast Club, Ferris Beuller's Day Off, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, Some kind of Wonderful and Sixteen Candles (so very Hollywood!).
The Loners #1 cover - an homage to The Breakfast Club movie

The Order issue #1 - California's official superteam
This comic series launched in September 2007 after Marvel's hugely successful Civil War event. This superhero team was part of the 50-State Initiative, a program to put a government sanctioned super-team in every State in America. 

The Order are California's official superhero team and they were based in Los Angeles.

Originally to be called The Champions, again legal problems forced a last minute name change for the group.  

The team was comprised mainly of well known celebrities who had been given their superpowers through technological means, modeled on the pantheon of the Greek gods. 

They were the pet project of Tony Stark (Iron Man) and were run by his long time assistant, Pepper Potts.

Sadly even though I thought this series was well written by Matt Fraction and had great art by Barry Kitson, the title only lasted ten issues.  

Their short lived adventures took them all over L.A. to Rodeo Drive, Century City, the San Gabriel Mountains, Catalina Island and they even had their HQ based at the Bradbury Building in Downtown L.A.  

But fear not, The Order still live on and were recently featured in issue #2 of the new Eternals comic.
The Order issue #9 cover - California's official superhero team

The Champions Classic trade paperback volume 1 cover
This short-lived mid-70's superteam were the first Marvel group to be based on America's West Coast.

Their roster comprised of established heroes including former X-Men Angel and Iceman, Russian spy Black Widow, Greek demi-god Hercules and the supernatural Ghost Rider. The team was later joined by another Russian character, Darkstar.

Despite the popularity of the individual members, there was never really a reason for this group to exist, aside from being a West Coast version of the superhero teams based in New York City, like the Avengers, so the comic only lasted 17 issues.

Luckily for those loyal fans, the adventures of these Champions of L.A. have recently been collected in two trade paperbacks of the entire run.

And there you have it, five comic book teams that are part of L.A.'s rich superhero history (at least the Marvel Comics version).  

I hope you've enjoyed that round up, why not check out some of the comics featured above and see if the writers and artists portrayal of L.A and the U.S. West Coast is accurate.

Come back soon for more interesting installments of entertainment, Los Angeles and life from Jason in Hollywood...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Dog-Blog: A different kind of puppy training - weight lifting for dogs...

It's another of those classic moments, when animals do the cutest things. It's puppy training, but not as you know it...

Puppy training with weights
Totally unprompted whilst we had some dumbbells lying on the floor, Cooper picked up one of the 5lb dumbbells and started carrying it around.  I was worried he'd strain himself, but he seems quite comfortable lifting it in his jaws.  Methinks he's going to be a strong dog.

Luckily he's content to just lick the heavier metal weights.
A different kind of puppy training
He's obviously been inspired by my one-to-one personal training.  I had my third session on Friday and it's going well.  

By going well, I mean I ache, so it must be doing some good, right? 
Dumbbell Cooper
Financially I won't be able to do this three times a week for too much longer, but it's great to get that expert motivation from someone who knows what they are talking about, as I've never been that great in the gym.
Weight training Cooper
It'll be interesting when, or even if, I start to see any difference.  In the past a hectic work life and my lack of self control (chocolate, ice-cream and alcohol being my main vices) have always scuppered me getting fit before I really got started (did I mention that my love for pizza, indian takeaways and cheese also didn't help), so now that I have the freedom to focus on it, let's see if I actually can make a noticeable difference.
He's going to be a strong dog
Obviously once Cooper is old enough to go out, he's going to be a big part of my fitness routine with multiple daily walks to keep us both in shape.  With the amenable Californian climate maybe trips to the beach and an outdoor lifestyle will help keep me motivated.

Only time will tell...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dog-Blog: So many toys, so little time....

Cooper is fourteen weeks old today and as you can see, as adorable as ever (when he's being good).  
So many toys, so little time
Here he is surrounded by his hordes of toys (although I'm sad to say that Fluffy is sadly R.I.P. after having his nose bitten off and stuffing removed) and even these have been to their own version of Animal Hospital for necessary repairs, so their time on this earth is obviously limited.
In another two weeks he'll get his final shots and be able to go and play out in the real world.  Our vet was telling us yesterday that in some other American States dogs can have their final shots at around twelve weeks and the sixteen week rule is a Californian thing.
13 week old puppy Cooper on the sofa
He's got lots more energy lately so it's getting harder to amuse him in the apartment, so after a dinner out last night at The French Quarter Restaurant on Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood, we've arranged a play-date for him on Saturday afternoon with dog pals Ginger, Dot and Loki.
Cooper playing under the sofa - but for how much longer?
By the way, I make no apologies for the copious amounts of puppy pictures posted on my blog.  It's amazing to look back to when we brought him home at eight weeks and see the difference as he's grown.  He changes so quickly.
Cute puppy Cooper
I'm sure in a couple more weeks he'll be twice the size on the sofa!
Cooper at home on the sofa
Ah well, better get back to the blogging....
Jason in Hollywood hard at work...Cooper too!