Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 - an eventful year in review...

What a life-changing year it's been, both personally and politically. I've gone from almost having to wave goodbye to the charms of L.A., due to unequal laws, but instead got hitched after fourteen years together and now have a brighter future on the horizon. Now at the end of 2013, here's a look back at the past twelve months and all my trials and triumphs that have made the year fly by so fast.

My first visit to the Venice Canals
Venice Canals California
Even after living in Los Angeles for six years, it continued to be another year of 'firsts' for me.

Even though I've visted the sculpture gardens outside, in January I went inside LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) for the first time to enjoy the fantastic Stanley Kubrik movie exhibition, a retrospective of the filmmaker's work.

In February I visited the Venice Canals for the very first time and we took our Labrador Cooper thinking it would be a nice relaxing walk, instead he was very confused at why he wasn't allowed to dive into the water and have a swim.

March marked the five year blogging anniversary of Jason in Hollywood, but this year also saw me question continuing this blog, with changes to Google's search algorithms almost obliterating traffic across all three of my sites at one stage. I've since decided to not worry so much about this blog and instead concentrate my efforts on the growing success of Daily Billboard and Hollywood Movie Costumes and Props.

I ran my 3rd L.A. Marathon with a personal best of 3:42:18
After running LA Marathon 2013
Website frustrations were more than made up for by my record breaking time at my third L.A. Marathon, shaving over five minutes off my personal best. It must have been the luck of the Irish, as this year's marathon took place on St. Patrick's Day.

Cooper turned 5
5 year Yellow Labrador Cooper
In April our adorable English Yellow Labrador turned five and he celebrated with a playdate with his doggie friends at his favourite off-leash park in L.A., Runyon Canyon. We still walk there most weekday mornings five days a week, but I'm certainly starting to see age take its toll on him, especially in the summer heat when he struggles towards the end.

Ran my first ever Vancouver Marathon in 3:50:26
Vancouver Marathon 2013
This year also saw some horrific and senseless acts of violence in the U.S. The Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013, took everyone by surprise and really hit a personal note, with friends running in the prestigious race and the thought that my fellow marathon running community and their supporters had been so mercilessly targeted.

In the true spirit of runners we kept on competing to show terrorists that they couldn't stop us from living our lives in freedom and I joined thousands of fellow runners wearing a yellow ribbon for Boston when I ran my first ever Vancouver Marathon on May 5, 2013.

The marathon was a beautiful course, but it was an extremely hot day in Canada, so a tough race. I still finished in under four hours and I've already signed up for the May 2014 race, where I'll hopefully improve my time.

Enjoying the delights of the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff Bay
11th Doctor Who Matt Smith waxwork TARDIS
At the end of May I travelled back to the U.K. to visit friends and family. One of the highlights of the trip was being able to journey further through time and space at the BBC Doctor Who Experience in Wales and see costumes, props and even sets from the British sci-fi show from over five decades.

We also had to return to Britain to renew our visas in December and so I took the opportunity to visit the out-of-this-world exhibit for a second time in 2013.

West Hollywood Gay Pride Parade in June
West Hollywood gay Pride Parade June 2013
In June were were back in L.A. in time to celebrate West Hollywood's annual Pride Parade festivities, but a historic event on the horizon would soon give us all something far greater to celebrate.

I mentioned earlier that it had been a life-changing year and the cause of most of that change was the phenomenal gay rights victories with the overturning of certain parts of DOMA (the inappropriately titled Defense of Marriage Act) and California's heinous Prop 8, which made gay marriage illegal and prevented same-sex couples from tying the knot.

Both were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in June and suddenly we were able to get married in California, plus be entitled to the same rights as straight people when it came to taxation, legal and immigration issues.

Anti-gay DOMA and Proposition 8 overturned
DOMA Prop 8 Victory rally West Hollywood June 2013
On June 26, 2013, Charlie and I attended the victory rally in West Hollywood and it really did feel like we'd all won a major milestone against inequality and it felt like a huge weight had been lifted. With equality we now had options and were finally able to plan for our future, and not worry about being kicked out of the country because the Federal government didn't recognize gay marriage rights.

Enjoying 4th of July in Palm Springs with Marilyn Monroe
Giant Forever Marilyn statue Palm Springs
We're not Americans, but we joined in the 4th of July festivities this year in Palm Springs, enjoying the heat lying in the pool for a few relaxing days with friends.

A fan of outdoor public art, I loved this giant Forever Marilyn statue and saw it twice this year, in July and then August when we returned for our 'mini-moon' (mini honeymoon).

On July 24 we were married at Beverly Hills Courthouse
Happy Couple wedding day
So after applying for our marriage license and having to wait two weeks because of the backlog of same-sex couples trying to finally get hitched, we were married after fourteen years together.

It was a quick, simple ceremony with two friends as witnesses and it was much more emotional than I thought it would be. When you've been told all your life growing up that you'll never be able to get married like opposite-sex couples by religions and politicians alike, you never think you'll be able to, or even want to get married. I'm not interested in the religious aspects of marriage, but I do want the same equality and legal recognition we're entitled.

Celebrating with Cooper and champagne 
on our roof deck after we tied the knot
Happy Couple celebrating after wedding
In August three of our best girlfriends flew over from the U.K. to help celebrate our wedding at a cocktail and canapé reception outside on Cafe La Boheme's patio, which was a wonderful evening. Glasses were raised, speeches were made and once again tears flowed, but tears of joy.

Disney's D23 Expo in Anaheim
Disney D23 Expo 2013 Anaheim
This year I continued to fuel my love of movies by seeing over 30 movies on the big screen and going behind-the-scenes whenever possible to track down original costume and props displays at cinemas, Universal Studios Hollywood, Disneyland and also Disney's D23 Fan Expo in August.

Oz The Great and Powerful movie costumes on display at D23
Disney Oz Great Powerful movie costumes
Some of my favourite exhibits this year have been costumes and props from Oz The Great and Powerful, original costumes from 1985's Return to Oz, the Iron Man 3 Hall of Armour and costumes and props from Thor: The Dark World.

Fun cocktails at Paradise Cove in Malibu
cocktails Paradise Cove Malibu
In August and September we ate, drank and were merry with our visiting friends, taking in the delights of Palm Springs, Malibu, Santa Barbara, Laguna Beach and even we went boating around Newport Beach's waterfront for the first time.

At the start of October I saw Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson perform at the Hollywood Bowl, my only trip to the outdoor venue this year, and I have to say, she was the better act.

Diagnosed with Runner's Knee
Knee xrays
Following the challenges and achievements of running marathon after marathon in recent years, my body finally succumbed to the fatigue and stress, and delivered a double-whammy of knee and shoulder injuries putting me out of commission for several months.

After months of deep tissue massages, physical therapy, x-rays, MRIs, acupuncture and countless thousands of dollars later, my shoulder slowly improved and the diagnosis for my leg troubles was 'Runner's Knee', a common symptom for marathon runners where the cartilage has worn away behind the knee cap causing pain when to run, or in my case run, walk, climb up stairs.

At least this information helped me put things in perspective and allowed me to move forward again. So with the knowledge that running would ultimately cause further damage if I continued, I promptly signed up for two more marathons, just to hold a middle finger up to fate.

Carved pumpkins - a Halloween tradition
Carved Halloween pumpkins
One of my favourite times of the year is Halloween. Aside from carving pumpkins and making soup for days from the innards, you also get to dress up and parade your costume with 450,000 or so other revelers all in the name of fun. This year I chose to be a 'Zombie Bride' in honour of our wedding this year.

West Hollywood's annual Halloween festivities
West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval costumes 2013
My horror outfit was certainly a hit (I've never posed for so many photos in my life), and if you think my gory look was great, be sure to check out these other outrageous and inventive costumes from West Hollywood's Halloween Carnaval.

First time at Pantages Theatre to see Evita and The Lion King Musical
Lion King Musical billboard
2013 really was a year of firsts, as I ventured to the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood for the first time in six years and actually went twice in November, to see Evita (which I wasn't that impressed by) and The Lion King on stage (which I've seen countless times before, but still retains that Disney magic).

My photos in print
50 typefaces changed world book
People often wonder what I've been doing these past few years, being unable to work. Aside from running to raise money for AIDS Project Los Angeles, I also have three blogs which keep me busy and on occassion some of my images find themselves in print in books, magazines and textbooks, with all proceeds going to charity.

Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay in December
Mermaid Quay Cardiff Bay
In December we were unexpectedly back in the U.K., which was remarkably mild for that time of year (I think we were lucky to miss the big storms), to renew our visas and actually change mine to a spousal visa, which now means we can approach the immigration desk together as a legally married couple and not be sent back to wait in line separately (believe me it makes a big difference).

Christmas Day
After celebrating the last birthday of my thirties in London at Gordon Ramsey's Bread Street Kitchen restaurant, we made it back to West Hollywood for our very own jet-lagged Christmas in the sunshine with Cooper.

Laguna Beach sunset
Laguna Beach sunset California
So as the sun goes down on another year in Southern California, I wish you all health, wealth and happiness for the future and raise a glass to a wonderful 2014, whatever delights it may bring.

Have a Happy New Year...

Monday, December 30, 2013

Latest drama, fantasy and sci-fi costumes, props and cinema displays...

2013 is almost at an end and I've seen some amazing costumes and props this year from both the big and small screen, from the worlds of comic books, sci-fi, fantasy, drama and even romance. Here's a final collection of fantastic screen-used exhibits from this year.

American Hustle movie costume exhibit
American Hustle movie costume exhibit
When I was back in the U.K. I discovered that this assortment of fabulous 70's inspired costumes from American Hustle were on display at ArcLight Hollywood. As you can imagine the first thing I did upon my return was rush to the cinema to capture these costumes worn by Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner.

Dazzling dress worn by Amy Adams in American Hustle
Amy Adams Sydney Prosser American Hustle costume
My favourite outfit is this plunging sequin halter dress worn by Amy Adams, which is a real glittering spectacle.

Be sure to take a closer look at all these American Hustle movie costumes designed by Michael Wilkinson.

Original Her movie costumes on display
Joaquin Phoenix Her movie costume exhibit
Also on display at the same time were these costumes and props from Spike Jonze new romantic sci-fi comedy, Her, which stars Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and features the voice of Scarlett Johansson. Take a closer look at these original costumes worn by Joaquin Phoenix in Her.

Original costumes from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug on display
Hobbit Desolation of Smaug costumes
Another highlight of my return to L.A. were these Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield and Gandalf the Grey costumes from The Hobbit 2 also on display at ArcLight Hollywood. I'd seen Peter Jackson's second installment whilst in London, so it was super cool to see these original movie costumes from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug up close and check out the detail of the garments.

The Day of the Doctor 50th Anniversary costumes and props 
at the Doctor Who Experience
Doctor Who Day of the Doctor exhibit
Whilst I was back in Britain, I took the opportunity to visit the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff Bay, Wales again, where this time they had a new exhibit for the 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor.

In addition to alien Zygon costumes and props, a fabulous Queen Elizabeth I gown and Gallifreyan costumes, they also had costumes and a TARDIS for each of the Doctor's featured in the episode, including the outfit worn by John Hurt's newly revealed 'War Doctor'.

Ray Stevenson's Volstagg costume from 
Thor: the Dark World on display
Volstagg Thor Dark World movie costume
Before I left for the U.K. I was busy rushing around making sure I didn't miss any cool costume exhibits and I just managed to check out two more original costumes from Thor: The Dark World at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. 

They had this Volstagg battle armour worn by Ray Stevenson and also had Jane Foster's Asgardian costume worn by Natalie Portman, so be sure to check that out at my Hollywood Movie Costumes and Props blog.

Disney's Frozen movie theatre display
Snowman Olaf Frozen display
And finally, a bit of movie memorabilia in the form of a Frozen cinema standee featuring the snowman 'Olaf' from Disney's latest animated feature film which was also at the El Capitan Theatre, which I think is just cute and festive.

Let's hope 2014 will be as fruitful when it comes to original costume and prop displays...

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cool TV billboards filling L.A.'s skies in December 2013...

There's a whole new season of winter TV premieres and returning favourites arriving in the New Year, but until then, here's a selection of the television billboards that caught my eye in L.A. throughout December.

TV billboards
Giant True Detectives series premiere billboard
American Horror Story really started something when it started its anthology horror series with changing concepts, storylines and casts each season, and it looks like HBO wants to replicate that idea with its own original crime anthology series.

To start the True Detective series off in major way they've brought in some Hollywood talent in the form of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, not normally known for their gritty roles (until recently, that is), but sure to get tongues wagging and people watching.
Giant Treme season 4 billboard
Whilst one series begins, another HBO series comes to an end with the post-Hurricane Katrina drama Treme bowing out with a shorter fourth and final season.
Episodes season 3 billboard
Following Matt LeBlanc's Golden Globe win for his performance as a fictional version of himself, Showtime's quirky sitcom Episodes returns for a third season in the New Year.
Betas season 1 Amazon billboard
Meanwhile, online retailer Amazon joins the likes of NetFlix and Hulu shaking up the TV provider landscape and creating original television content, with this billboard for the second of its new shows, the Silicon Valley startup comedy, Betas.
Rick and Morty season 1 billboard
Speaking of new comedy, Adult Swim has the new animated sci-fi series Rick and Morty about a mad scientist and teenage boy duo similar to 'Doc' and 'Marty McFly' in the Back to the Future films.

In addition to this fun 'Wanted' standard landscape creative, there was also this cool crashed spaceship 3D billboard installation for Rick and Morty along Sunset Boulevard.
Giant State of Play Trophy Kids billboard
On a more serious note HBO had this giant-sized billboard on the side of West Hollywood's Andaz Hotel for their new sports documentary series, State of Play, kicking off with Trophy Kids, an examination of the pressure parents place on they young kids competing in sports.
Short Game NetFlix billboard
And along a similar theme, this fun billboard for the NetFlix documentary, The Short Game, about child golfers popped up in December too.
Voice season 5 finals billboard
Talking about competing, and The Voice's fifth season came to a conclusion this month and had this amended billboard to promote the live finals of the singing talent contest.
Pink Truth About Love Tour Epix billboard
Plus speaking of music, Epix had this billboard featuring the singer for Pink's latest tour.

Radio billboards
KCRW in the air radio billboard
From music to radio stations, and I really love this KCRW ad creative which captures the spirit of the City of Angels with its cool view of Downtown L.A.

Be sure to check out my Daily Billboard blog for all the latest TV billboards around L.A. and come back next month for more round-ups of the best TV, movie, fashion, drinks and lifestyle billboard ads that grab my attention in the coming weeks...

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Festive drinks, fashion and lifestyle billboards around L.A. in December...

Christmas Day may be over for another year, but there's still plenty of festive billboards in the skies of L.A. Here's a taste of some of the drinks, fashion, technology and lifestyle ad creatives filling the city skyline in the run up to Christmas in December 2013.

Drinks billboards
Coke Santa billboard 2013
To kick us off here's this year's festive offering from Coca-Cola. Not everyone may agree that the fizzy sugar-laden drink is the best for you in vast quantities, or at all, but I always enjoy seeing their Coke Santa in the skies around the Holidays, especially in Southern California where the weather doesn't exactly scream winter, so every festive ad helps.
Grey Goose Vodka Fly Beyond billboard
December 'tis the season to be merry and this month there were certainly plenty of alcohol brands trying to convince you they were the best option to make you feel jolly this season. I especially love this carefree 'fly beyond' creative from Grey Goose Vodka, both the colours and the spirit (pardon the pun) behind it.
Ketel One Vodka billboard
Ketel One was another vodka brand trying to convince you their finely crafted vodka was the best, with a proud heritage, and not some fresh new upstart brand.
Johnnie Walker Whisky defining moment billboard
With this being a key gift-giving time, Johnnie Walker had a new visible campaign around L.A. for its whisky, the perfect festive present.
Don Julio Tequila Make your move billboards
Plus with party season in full swing, Don Julio Tequila had lots of billboards trying to convince everyone to make their brand your favourite festive tipple (although when I think tequila, I always think margaritas and summer).
Bud Light Cool Twist billboard
For beer drinkers this holiday season Bud Light had a new aluminum bottle offering, accessible with a simple twist to refresh your taste buds.
Festive Budweiser Designate a driver billboard
Plus Budweiser beer had a festive-themed billboard for their drink awareness campaign to encourage people not to drink and drive.
Nespresso Taste the extraordinary billboard
Bottles of alcohol were not the only gift idea in the skies this month, with Nespresso advertising their coffee makers and their new Beverly Hills store just in time for Christmas.
138 Water Amanda Cerny billboard
And finally 138 Water continued their marketing strategy of using beautiful, scantily-clad women to sell their bottled water, which has no other distinguishing qualities than coming in different colour bottles. Be sure to check out these other 138 Water billboard ads for their vain and vacuous customers.

Fashion billboards
AG Adriano Goldschmied FW 2103 billboard
This fall season AG Adriano Goldschmied has certainly been filling the skies with striking ads for their designer denim brand.
Burberry Sienna Miller Tom Sturridge FW 2013 billboard
Whilst British brand Burberry has been using recognizable British actors, like Sienna Miller, to help advertise the fashion house abroad.
David Beckham Breitling Bentley watch billboard
Another advertiser breaking out the British celebrities this month was Breitling, using soccer star David Beckham as the face of their luxury Bentley-inspired watches.
Tags FW 2013 billboard
Local West Hollywood brand Tags had this stylish mono billboard filled with happy young things to get you shopping this month.
Gucci Cruise 2014 billboard
And Gucci was glamming up its regular ad site with a very luxurious billboard, featuring an amazing sunset visual and model Andreea Diaconu, for its Cruise 2014 collection.

Health billboards
Sexual Revolution 2 AHF billboard
Meanwhile with it being party season, when maybe you're having a little too much to drink and making some dodgy decisions, Aids Healthcare Foundation had another creative for its Sexual Revolution 2 safe sex campaign to help put things in perspective.

Technology billboards
Christmas time is obviously the perfect time for technology companies to be selling their wares, especially when it's a perfect gift idea for the music lover in your life, like these colourful Beats by Dr. Dre Solo headphones.
Plus with everything going digital and everyone streaming more and more music, TV shows and movies, having your own virtual storage space to handle everything is becoming a necessity, rather than a luxury. Western Digital have the perfect solution with their My Cloud offering.
And speaking of streaming Roku was back in the skies of L.A. just in time for Christmas, so you had something to watch every day of the New Year, for the next 82 years at least. Roku had really clever copy-only billboard campaign last year and this seems to be a natural progression in that campaign.
And whilst other tech companies seem to be highlighting the cameras their smartphones have, Sony is actually advertising its new compact camera, the RX 100 II, as the perfect gift idea. Personally I still love my point-and-click digital compact camera and prefer it over my iPhone camera, although I just think smartphones have simply replaced the old disposable fun cameras you used to take to parties because they are so small, convenient and you have it with you anyway.

Homewares billboards
Finally, here are a few more festive ad examples that helped create some holiday spirit this month, like this one directing Santa to The Container Store.

Car billboards
Happy Honda Days billboard 2013
Plus if you're in the market for a car this Christmas, Honda's play on happy holidays, with 'Happy Honda Days' was a fun and festive billboard.

Finance billboards
And Wells Fargo had a similar wintery ad to Budweiser, but they were able to incorporate their brand's horse-drawn stagecoach into the design to make it even more relevant to the bank.

It's always nice to see some holiday-themed billboards in the sky to lighten the mood and generate some much need Christmas cheer and long may this tradition continue.

Be sure to also check out this month's movie billboard round-up and come back soon for December's TV billboards from the streets of L.A.

If you can't wait that long, you can also check out eye-catching new ad creatives every day at my popular Daily Billboard blog. Enjoy...