Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween - let the spooky spectacle begin...

Happy Halloween one and all, be you a witch, zombie or troll you're all welcome here at 'Jason in Halloween!'
Happy Halloween Balloon
The frightful day is finally here and to mark the occasion this morning was especially stormy with a drop of rain at 6am this morning and cloudy skies to set the mood.
Halloween balloon against stormy skies
We're having a few people over this evening for pre-parade drinks, then venturing out into the frightening wilds of West Hollywood.
Halloween balloon trio
This morning I whizzed out on my Honda-powered broomstick to pick up a few spooky supplies - the obligatory candy (that's chocs and sweets UK folks) for the 'trick or treaters' (although we live in a condo complex with very few kids, so are they just for me?), ghoulish decorations and hard liquor.
Halloween balloons
I thought I'd get into the festive spirit and buy some devilishly wicked balloons, which went down a treat with Cooper.  
Halloween balloons puppy fun
I fear they will come to a shocking end none too soon though, that is, if Cooper has anything to say about it.
Pumpkin balloon puppy
Whilst Cooper was playing with his new toys I scooted off to the gym to get all pumped up so that I look extra fabulous in my costume tonight (don't worry I didn't leave him unsupervised with the balloons, although it would have been quite funny to hear a helium woof from him).
Trick or treat pup
Next I'm popping out to grab a last minute pumpkin to carve (let's hope there are some left!).
Cooper face to face with pumpkin face
This morning when I was out and about I saw lots of school children walking down the street in their costumes - lots of pirates, witches, black cats and even princesses in pink.  They all looked so cute, but I can't wait to see all the grown-ups strutting their stuff down Santa Monica Blvd tonight.
Cute pup Cooper playing with his balloon
Speaking of cute, how adorable does cooper look playing with his ghost balloon on our roof deck.
Boo goes the Halloween ghost balloon
If only balloons could talk, I'm sure there's real fear in those eyes.
And like I said before, I wonder how long it'll be before we hear a 'POP' sound rather than 'BOO' from the balloon.
Halloween balloon fun
There's no getting away from Cooper balloon, your days are numbered.
Ghost balloon & Halloween pup
As I've already mentioned we're off to the big WEHO costume parade this evening, so whatever spooky goings-on you get up to have fun and don't be too scared!
West Hollywood Halloween parade banner 2008
Happy haunting folks...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

High School Musical 3 is not just for kids...

Well, that's what I keep telling myself anyway.  Oh, who am I trying to fool, I'm just a big kid at heart!
High School Musical 3: Senior Year movie poster
I won't go into lengthy movie breakdown, but the real star of this movie is Zac Efron (and his pumped up arms).  He was great as Link Larkin in Hairspray, but for millions of screaming fans I'm sure he'll forever be known as Troy Bolton.

Zac Efron in High School Musical 3 - Senior Year
It's the ultimate feel-good film with some quite memorable songs too and has a real cinematic feel to it (rather than being just another TV movie).  You can really see why kids around the globe love it.  And this big kid did too!

I even ventured out of my comfort zone as it wasn't showing at the Arclight Hollywood or The Grove movie theatre and drove to the AMC cinema at the Westfield shopping centre in Century City.

Anyway High School Musical 3: Senior Year is vibrant, colourful and upbeat, so give your kids a treat (borrow some if you have to) and go see it to put a smile on your face and a spring in your step.  I give it four wholesome **** stars.

Come back tomorrow for some ghoulish goings-on as Halloween fever takes over West Hollywood...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Halloween Cooper is less than impressed with his new costume...

Following my dressing up extravaganza yesterday, it's the turn of our Halloween pup today.  
Halloween pup Cooper
As well as being our first ever Halloween in the U.S.A. it will also be Cooper's inaugural spook-tacular celebration.
Halloween pup & Jason in Hollywood
Unlike his adventurous and slightly exhibitionist dad, you can see Cooper is more a reluctant participant in the seasonal merriment and a lot less enthusiastic about his Halloween costume.
Fighting over the Halloween costume
In addition to trying out his wicked outfit (on us both in case you were wondering), I also took the opportunity to take my camera with me around the neighbourhood on one of our many walks to snap a few local sights.  
West Hollywood homes have the Halloween spirit
As you can see, some of our West Hollywood neighbours really get into the Halloween spirit.  Even though it's a bit strange for us not to have frost on the ground at this time of year, rather than sunshine all day long.
Halloween on the streets of West Hollywood
As regular visitors to Jason in Hollywood (henceforth known as Jason in Halloween for the remainder of the week) will know, this is not Cooper's first costume attempt.
Gravestones & skeletons on the streets of WEHO
I bought him another outfit and sadly had to return it because it was slightly too snug on him - he's a growing boy!  It's a shame as I think the devil red was a good colour on his sandy fur and a very appropriate costume for our no-longer-so-little scamp.
Halloween devil Cooper
With Halloween preparations well underway, following the past few weeks of having friends and family to stay it was nice to take some time out to relax and unwind yesterday.
Halloween warlock pup
However I was guilted into going to the gym after weeks of dining out on three course meals and the fact that our fridge is full of more cakes, chocolate and alcohol than any other food.  
Halloween Cooper so not amused
My trainer was back for a session on Monday which felt especially tough, which is also a signal that I've been eating and drinking way too much.

I'm trying to ease off the alcohol until the festivities on Friday, although I've just realised my costume doesn't have an easy way for me to go the the toilet without taking it all off.
Halloween Cooper - I'm melting
Even though our pup now has a new magical Halloween costume we won't be taking him out to see the parade as there'll be way too many people and so he'll be able to stay in the comfort of his own home with a good bone (although I think we'll avoid any scary movies as he does tend to get spooked easily).
Halloween Cooper askew
Not long now until the witching hour...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Getting ready for Halloween - Jason in Hollywood style...

Oh, no!  As with most things, I've left my Halloween preparations to the last minute. 
Halloween horror at The Grove
It'll be our first Halloween living in West Hollywood and more to the point in America as well. 
Halloween hats - UK Policeman
This annual event is a much bigger affair in the States than it is in the UK, so with that in mind I headed off to Party America at The Grove to hunt down some suitable costumes or some such, for us to wear for the Friday night festivities. 
Jaunty Halloween hat
Halloween is huge in West Hollywood with a massive annual Costume 'Carnaval', apparently the largest in the world, with around 400,000 or more people descending on the city to celebrate this spooky occasion.
Halloween hat - Viking
I'm looking forward to the sheer spectacle of thousands of people dressed up in their outrageous costumes all along Santa Monica Boulevard, from Doheny to La Cienega.  
Halloween hat - Sequin Cowboy
I'm sure our 'bought' outfits won't compare to the fabulous creations on the night, but I thought it best to at least get into the spirit of the evening.
Halloween mask - Batman
Unlike Britain where people tend to keep to the traditional witches, ghosts and ghouls, over here I'm reliably told anything goes, so I'll be expecting some real eye openers in true WEHO fashion.  
Evil Halloween Jester
I'm sure it'll be nothing short of a Project Runway extravaganza.
Halloween hat - Glam Witch
Our friends tell us it's even bigger a celebration than L.A. Gay Pride and that was a massive theatrical production. 
Halloween hat - Sombrero
I hope you enjoy my little Halloween hat and costume parade from the inside of Party America.  
Halloween hats - straw hat
We had lots of fun trying to piece together an ensemble that wasn't too tacky (whilst probably failing miserably).  
Halloween hat - propellor head
There wasn't a vast selection of costumes to choose from.  I don't like pirates, so they were an no-no.  Mummies, zombies and skeletons all seemed too predictable (and also unavailable).
Jason the Jester
I didn't think a saucy nurses outfit would be my thing (scary maybe and not out of place in West Hollywood, but not for me) and even though there were some great kids outfits I didn't think even my short stature would be able to squeeze into one.
Halloween hat - French beret
I also considered some face-paint, but then thought that could take too long to apply and without some practice may turn into a horror show all of its own. Especially when you read the instructions and see that it says that you may need to wash your face several times to remove the make-up.  I don't really fancy spending my Saturday with a glow-in-the-dark white, green or orange face to be honest.
Halloween hat - Pink Fluff
You'll have to wait until the end of the week to see what I decided upon for us, but for now feel free to make up any captions for the various millinery and costume offerings.
Halloween head dress - space balls
Did I mention that I love dressing up for costume parties?  You'd never guess I'm sure.
Halloween hat - Gladiator helmet
Talking about all things spooky.  Today our pup was spooked when I took him to Runyon Canyon and he came across someone standing on their head - he didn't like that at all.  
Halloween hat - NASA helmet
I also think he had a flashback to yesterday when he nearly became a scared lost pup in the dark.
Halloween hat - Chinese
Anyhow, on the night itself you're encouraged to leave your animal companions at home due to the sheer volume of, no doubt drunken, people on the streets.  
Halloween hat - Admiral
But don't despair, come back tomorrow to catch a glimpse of Cooper's new Halloween outfit, at least this one fits better than his Halloween Devil Dog costume did.
Halloween Jester mask
Until then, happy haunting...

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees is as sweet as honey (and a little bit sad too)...

The Secret Life of Bees is a sweet and moving coming of age tale set in the South Carolina in the mid-60's, a time of great change with the advent of the civil rights movement. 

Dakota Fanning plays a fourteen year old girl, Lily, haunted by the memory of her dead mother (and the fact she accidentally shot and killed her).  
The Secret Life of Bees movie poster
She flees from her unloving father's peach farm with her caregiver, Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson), after Rosaleen makes a stand against the local racist Southern townsfolk and gets beaten up and imprisoned at the hospital.  

Lily helps her escape and she follows a clue from the back of a photo in some of her mum's few surviving possessions, just a town's name.  When they get there she spots a jar of honey in a shop window with the same picture of a black madonna on the label that was also amongst her mother's belongings and so they head to the home of the Boatwright sisters to seek sanctuary.
Sweet carrot cake from Sweet lady Jane
Creating a clearly transparent lie, they are still welcomed by the sisters, the matriarch bee-keeper August (Queen Latifah), slightly simple remaining twin May (Sophie Okenedo) and the frosty June (Alicia Keys) who refuses to marry.

Lily learns how to collect honey from bees, gets more lessons in racial intolerance and her first taste of love, discovers more about her mum and ultimately finds a family of mothers and the love she had been missing in her lonely life.  And the implication is, they all live happily ever after (apart that is, from May who sadly dies).
The Secret Life of Bees movie montage
Based on the best-selling novel by Sue Monk Kidd, the story is a simple and sweet story, quite sentimental and emotional at times, but a real feel-good movie.

We had a real crier sitting in front of us (a hysterical gay man), blubbing away or cheering along (a constant outpouring of "you go girl") at the slightest bit of emotion or humour, but there were other sniffles and laughter in the audience throughout the movie which is always a good sign of an appreciated movie.  

After the bleak Blindness and abysmal Max Payne, it was great to watch such a charming and enjoyable film.
Carrot cake from Sweet Lady Jane
When did it happen that movies have more singers in them than actors?  We have Alicia Keys putting in an OK performance in a one dimensional role that doesn't real have much range and Jennifer Hudson following up her Dreamgirls and Sex and the City appearances with a convincing supporting character.  

The real stand out star is Queen Latifah, of Hairspray and Chicago fame and much more (including the Jenny Craig slimming adverts), giving a powerfully moving performance, especially bringing a tear to the eye when she discovers her poor drowned sister May.

Also I can't praise Dakota Fanning enough, who I've loved in everything I've seen her in - the Taken mini-series, War of the Worlds and Man on Fire.  Why is it that American child stars are so much more convincing that British child actors, who all seem like they've stepped straight out of stage school?  Now I just hope that she doesn't go off the rails like most Hollywood child stars like Haley Joel Osment or does a 'Lindsay Lohan' on us.

Anyway, I highly recommend going to see The Secret Life of Bees and give it a well deserved four **** stars.

Adrian Grenier star of Entourage
Also can you believe on the celebrity front, who should be at the Arclight foyer as we left picking up some tickets, but Entourage star Adrian Grenier.  The poor guy, he must think I'm stalking him, or maybe he's stalking me?!?

I do have to ask myself, are there any other celebrities in Hollywood?

After the cinema I whizzed to Runyon Canyon with Cooper, my six month old pup.  Being later on a Sunday, it was dog walking bedlam as everyone was taking their chance for the last walk of the day in the cool evening air before the light went. 

Cooper befriended two new dogs and we walked along with them and their owner, one dog a perpetual stick carrier (taking it in begrudging turn with Cooper) and the other a mad explorer who races all over.  Unfortunately, Cooper decided to follow the older and significantly faster pup into the canyon hills and ended up getting lost amidst the dense bushes.  

So with the light fading and with coyotes and rattlesnakes roaming the hillside, after calling his name to no avail I heard the frightened yelps of my lost puppy.  I dived into the brush to find him and he was so happy to see me when we found each other.  I can't tell you how relieved I was to have my sweet pup back in one piece.

Anyway, we made it the rest of the walk without further incident, although he was totally oblivious of what had happened and would have gladly gone off exploring again if I hadn't kept a close eye on him.  He's a bit of a 'follower' I'm afraid to say.

My reward for bringing our pup home safely was a fantastic dinner party with L.A. and London friends, cooked by my other half.  And speaking of sweet films and things, we ended the evening with a delicious carrot cake from Sweet Lady Jane, an infamous local bakery on Melrose Avenue.

And that was another eventful day in the life of Jason in Hollywood...