Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 - a year of resistance...

Well, what a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year that was, thank the lords that hellish twelve months is over. In a year when decency and democracy in America were threatened by the orange buffoon and his corrupt regime, only the signs of resistance, friends and family kept me sane and hopeful for the future.

Goodbye 2017 it's time to wipe the slate clean
2017 in the sand
Just like many people lulled into a false sense of security and complacency we realized we had to act to make our voices heard in 2017, especially as Green Card holders you pay your taxes but are not allowed to vote in any elections.

Women's March in Downtown L.A. on January 21, 2017
Womens March Downtown LA Jan 2017
In January a day after the inauguration of the new president, we ventured Downtown to join literally hundreds of thousands of women, men and children at the first Women's March, to peacefully protest the outcome of the election and the threats to women, the LGBT community, the disabled, to healthcare, freedom and democracy itself from racists, misogynists, homophobes, bullies, religious extremists, corporate fat cats and Russian colluders.

Huntington Botanical Gardens in Pasadena at the end of January
Huntington Botanical Gardens cacti
At the end of January we were joined in L.A. by my parents after they'd been on a three week cruise from the U.K. and showed them the sights of Southern California again, including Huntington Beach, Malibu, Santa Monica and the Huntington Botanical Gardens.

Cheering on friends and 2017 L.A. Marathon runners
Cheering 2017 LA Marathon runners
Sadly my running has been scuppered of late by a bad back and multiple bulging discs after running too many marathons too quickly, so I've spent most of this past twelve months trying to recuperate and rebuild my core. Whenever I try to run it just makes things worse, but that didn't stop me cheering my friends on as they ran this year's L.A. Marathon in March.

Mirage House Palm Springs at beginning of April
Doug Aitken Mirage mirror house Palm Springs
At the end of March we took a trip to Palm Springs and rented a house with friends, and aside from the usual fun and sun we got to see the fantastic mirrored Mirage House installation by Doug Aitken.

Downtown L.A. Tax March on April 15 to get
Donald Trump to release his tax returns
LA Tax March Sesame Street protesters
By mid-April we were hitting the streets again for another protest in DTLA, this time for the Tax March. Even with the latest GOP tax scam we've still not seen any sign of Trump's tax returns, so we don't know the extent to how much he profits from it and who he owes money to. Again we marched with thousands of people and chose Sesame Street t-shirts because of the current administration's desire to defund PBS (and arts and education in general).

Visiting California's Poppy Reserve in Antelope Valley
California wildflower bloom Antelope Valley
The next day after the rally we decided we needed some beauty in our lives and went for a visit to Antelope Valley to see the orange poppy bloom.

Cooper turned 9 years old on April 18, 2017
9 year old Labrador Cooper
In April we celebrated our boy's ninth birthday and here's the obligatory party hat photo, for which Cooper was handsomely rewarded a special birthday chew. This year our aging Labrador has become our very own therapy dog to get us through all the daily trauma. There's nothing a smile or tail wag can't solve, and when he deigns to snuggle up to you, your troubles seem to melt away for a time.

La La land in concert at the Hollywood Bowl on May 26, 2017
La La land concert Hollywood Bowl
In May we joined thousands of people at the Hollywood Bowl to enjoy La La Land in concert, accompanied by the film's composer, an orchestra and singers and dancers from the Oscar-winning movie.

L.A. Resist March at LGBT Pride on June 11, 2017
LA Resist March LGBT Pride June 2017
We continued resisting and showed our LGBT Pride with over 100,000 protesters at L.A.'s annual Pride festivities. This time the usual parade through West Hollywood was cancelled in favour of a march to show that gay people will not be silenced, hung by our necks, or erased from history (even if you remove us from the 2020 Census) and that we will continue to fight for equal rights no matter what this homophobic administration does to oppress us, or remove support for our community by firing the HIV/AIDS advisory council.

Cotswolds countryside sunset in June 2017
Cotswolds countryside sunset uk
Also in June we ventured back to the U.K. for our annual trip to see friends and family and got to enjoy, or suffer, a very British heatwave on our travels from London to the Cotswolds and to Wales and back. We arrived back just after the horrific Grenfell Tower fire in West London, which highlighted the widening gap between rich and poor in the U.K., so the U.S. isn't the only country with problems, especially with Brexit creating turmoil in Europe.

Mamma Mia: The Musical at the Hollywood Bowl in July
Mamma Mia Musical Hollywood Bowl
As is often the case we didn't plan to go to the Hollywood Bowl as much this year, but somehow we managed to get invited to several additional events this year starting in July with Mamma Mia: The Musical, which was a fun night under the stars.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
at Hollywood Bowl at beginning of August
Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark Hollywood Bowl
In August we returned to the outdoor amphitheatre to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark accompanied by a live orchestra soundtrack. As it had been so long since I'd seen the 80s movie, I almost forgot how handsome a younger Harrison Ford was and what an entertaining film it was, back in the day when we knew what Nazis to punch.

August heatwave in L.A. led to some amazing summer skies
LA Summer sky
The temperatures soared over the summer and even though we got to enjoy spectacular sunsets, it's no wonder we've had so many wildfires at the end of this year following all the rain at the start caused new foliage growth and it all got dried out.

Watching the U.S. solar eclipse on August 21, 2017
Solar eclipse watching
In August I was one of many who got some special viewing glasses to enjoy the solar eclipse in America from a neighbour's rooftop.

Giant-hunting in Huntington Beach at the end of August
Clash of Clans Giant Huntington Beach
Throughout the year I continued to build my billboard, costumes, props and photography business and even ventured down to Huntington Beach on assignment to hunt for giants that had washed up on the shore.

September visit to Palm Springs
Palm Springs retreat
In September we ventured back to Palm Springs for a long weekend break with visitors from Europe and started house-hunting in the desert town for our own getaway pad.

Victoria & Abdul Q&A at ArcLight Hollywood
with Dame Judi Dench and director Stephen Frears
Judi Dench Victoria Abdul Q&A ArcLight
This year I've continued to see as many films on the big screen as possible, over thirty at my count, plus enjoy Q&As with stars and directors at ArcLight Hollywood, like seeing the wonderful Judi Dench after her latest historical drama, Victoria & Abdul.

Beach visits, BBQ's and wine-tasting in wine country
Fess Parker winery vineyard
In addition to summer weddings, we also went wine-tasting at Fess Parker winery on the Foxen Canyon Trail and had a BBQ with a big group of friends in Los Alamos Park, preceded that same day by a visit to Hendry's Beach in Santa Barbara with Cooper along for the ride to meet everyone.

We installed a new kitchen in our Chiswick flat in London
Kitchen renovation
New gloss grey Kitchen
Whilst all this fun and games was happening stateside, back in Britain we were having a sleek new kitchen fitted in our Chiswick flat in West London. It was nice not to live through all that mess and dust personally, and the end result looks great.

Having fun as a Liberal Snowflake
at West Hollywood's Halloween Carnaval
West Hollywood Halloween 2017 costumes
For Halloween I took my resistance one step further and became a literal 'Liberal Snowflake', it felt more appropriate than being a basket of deplorables (my friend was inspired by this year's Twin Peaks TV revival). Be sure to also check out all these other fab costumes at West Hollywood's annual Halloween festivities.

Experiencing Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrors at The Broad in November
Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrors Broad
In November we took in some culture, and ventured to The Broad in DTLA to see the visiting Infinity Mirrors exhibit by Yayoi Kusama.

Celebrating Thanksgiving with our first time to the Big Island
Waialea Beach view Puako Hawaii
For Thanksgiving we jetted off to the Big Island in Hawaii and stayed at the Lalamilo Bungalow right on Waialea Beach in Puako.

Snorkeling at Two Steps in Hawaii
Two Steps Honaunau
Staying with a group of seventeen people we enjoyed great food, fun hikes and several excursions around the island, including snorkeling at Honaunau Bay which was teaming with a huge variety of colourful fish.

Visiting the green sands at Papakolea Beach
Green sand Papakolea Beach Hawaii
Another day we ventured even further south and enjoyed a wild, windy shuttle ride in the back of a rusty old truck, which could have tipped over at any second, to see the infamous green sands at Papakola Beach and swim in the ocean with fantastic waves.

Enjoying the gayest of Christmases in West Hollywood
Rainbow Christmas Tree Mickys WEHO
In December we were back in West Hollywood for a gay old Christmas, although it's always hard to be festive when the temperatures are soaring and the raging California wildfires are filling the air with soot and smoke. Plus knowing that people are still being evacuated and fearing for their homes.

Celebrating Christmas Day as always with Cooper
Christmas Labrador presents
Even though I seem to have had a perpetual cold ever since Thanksgiving, we had a lovely Christmas with Cooper and friends once again.

At the end of every year I like to look back and see just what I've been up to for the past twelve months, to take some time to reflect, and gather my strength to face another year.

To infinity and beyond in 2018
Hapuna Beach Hawaii
In 2018 new challenges like the end of net neutrality could really hamper my blogging business,
which I've built over the past ten years, severely jeopardising my income, so much for championing entrepreneurship and small business.

Therefore it's all the more important that we get better representatives in power that actually care about people's lives and not just giving tax breaks to big corporations and the rich to help them get even richer (including the Liar-in-Chief himself).

On a brighter note in March we'll celebrate ten years of being here in L.A., so there's that to look forward to, plus a visit from my niece who'll be 20 and last visited when she was 11.

I'm thankful I live in 'liberal' California and I hope that in 2018 more Americans in every state continue to stand up for freedom, liberty, decency, equality and sanity (and that toddlers fighting don't get us all nuked).

Let's raise a glass to the New Year and hope that the next twelve months don't cause me to drink as much as the last...

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Head-turning December 2017 TV billboards around L.A...

When I hear people say there's nothing on TV to watch these days I'm always amazed, as I can barely keep up with all the new shows on streaming services, cable channels, online and network television. Here's a smattering of TV show billboards gracing L.A.'s holiday skies this December 2017.

TV billboards
Walking Dead season 8 All Out Binge billboard
First up is this cool 'All out binge' billboard for the first half of The Walking Dead's eighth season which is a more vibrant colour version of the All out war key art for the season.
Fake News Ted Nelms billboard
Next is this very topical billboard for Comedy Central's The Fake News with Ted Nelms (or Ed Helms) to entertain liberal snowflakes and right wing deplorables everywhere.
America we have to talk Bill Maher billboard
On a similar theme, Bill Maher is back for the sixteenth season of his Real Time satirical and highly political talk show, but let's hope he can stop himself saying anything too racist this year.
A Christmas Story Live billboard
On a more festive theme, this month also saw A Christmas Story Live! adapt the classic 1983 film and 2012 stage musical into a TV spectacular.
Robot Chicken season 9 billboard
And Adult Swim was also keeping things festive and quirky for Christmas with this season nine billboard for the stop-motion animated series, Robot Chicken.
Ellens Game of Games series billboard
When she's not hosting her daytime talk show, Ellen DeGeneres will be hosting a new game show for NBC in the New Year called Ellen's Game of Games.
Giant Crashing season 2 billboard
Another show getting super-sized this month was HBO's comedy, Crashing, back for a second season starring Pete Holmes as a stand-up comedian.
Divorce season 2 billboard
Another series back in the skies for its sophomore season is HBO's Divorce, starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church as a married couple separating.
Gunpowder miniseries billboard
HBO's Game of Thrones star Kit Harington was also back in the skies this December for his new three-part historical drama, Gunpowder.
Gunpowder series launch billboard
The mini-series is based on the infamous Gunpowder Plot to blow up the House of Lords in London in 1605.
Wormwood mini-series billboard
From one failed assassination attempt to another conspiracy and government cover-up that resulted in a scientist's death by LSD, as recounted in the docu-series Wormwood.
Crown season 2 billboard
Also on Netflix this month and filling L.A.'s skies at the beginning of December were these billboards  for the sophomore season of royal historical drama, The Crown.
Fuller House season 3 part 2 billboard
Meanwhile in the world of sitcoms, Fuller House was back on the streaming platform for the second half of its third season episodes.
Trollhunters Tales of Arcadia season 2 billboard
Plus in the world of animation, DreamWorks Trollhunters series from Guillermo del Toro was back for a second season, subtitled Tales of Arcadia.
Hot Streets series premiere billboard
Adult Swim was also offering new cartoons of the more grownup variety at the end of December with the new series Hot Streets.
Waco series premiere billboard
In the New Year cable channel Spike will rebrand itself as the Paramount Network in the ongoing battle to acquire viewers in an incredibly competitive market.
Waco miniseries billboard
One of its first offerings appears to be a mini-series based on the Waco siege in Texas in 1993.
Waco miniseries billboard
Taylor Kitsch stars as cult leader 'David Koresh', with Supergirl's Melissa Benoist as his young wife 'Rachel Koresh' and Michael Shannon as FBI negotiator 'Gary Noesner'.
911 series premiere billboard
Fox may be being bought by Disney, but that didn't stop their television arm from promoting all their new season shows in the city skyline this month, like the new first responder drama, 9-1-1. This rollercoaster special extension cut-out really looks dramatic and stood out in the city skyline.
Resident series premiere billboard
From police, firefighters and paramedics to a new modern medical drama, The Resident, starring The Good Wife's Matt Czuchry.
Long Road Home TV series billboard
National Geographic's war drama, The Long Road Home, also had this different ad creative this month.
LA to Vegas series premiere billboard
Another new show on display at Fox Studios this month was LA to Vegas, a new workplace comedy set on the Friday night flight from the City of Angels to Sin City.
XFiles season 11 billboard
And after being revived early this year, The X-Files will return for an eleventh season of strange happenings at the start of 2018.
Simpsons season 18 billboard
The Simpsons were also advertising the eighteenth season of the animated hit show on DVD, just in time for the gift-giving season, a perfect stocking filler.
Four Battle for Stardom billboard
And just incase you didn't think there were enough singing competition shows on television, Fox has a brand new one debuting in 2018, The Four: Battle for Stardom, with judges Sean "Diddy" Combs, DJ Khaled and Meghan Trainor.
Giant Best Cover Ever YouTube billboard
Meanwhile YouTube was shining a spotlight on its new singing show, Best. Cover. Ever. in a big way this month. Hosted by Ludacris the online series sees aspiring singers perform covers for their idols, like Katy Perry, Demi Lovato and Keith Urban.
Good Mythical Morning YouTube billboard
Speaking of YouTube, the internet platform was also advertising its new morning late show, Good Mythical Morning, with its web personalities Rhett & Link.
Alienist series premiere billboard
Caleb Carr's 1994 crime novel The Alienist gets adapted for the small screen in the New Year with the period thriller set in 1896 New York starring Dakota Fanning, Daniel Brühl and Luke Evans.
Alone Together series premiere billboard
Meanwhile Freeform is offering up another half hour comedy with Alone Together, about two millennial misfits navigating life as platonic friends in status-obsessed L.A. 
Grownish series premiere billboard
Plus Black-ish is getting its own spin-off series starring Yara Shahid, as the Johnsons' eldest daughter heads of for college in Grown-ish.
Black Lightning series premiere billboard
Over on The CW, DC's television universe gets bigger with the addition of Black Lightning, starring Cress Williams as a retired superhero forced back into protecting the streets and fighting for justice.
Punisher season 1 billboard
Speaking of crime-fighting vigilantes, and here's another cast billboard for Netflix's new Punisher series featuring Marvel's anti-hero played by Jon Bernthal.
Shut Eye season 2 billboard
Shut Eye is back for another psychic season on Hulu with Jeffrey Donovan still plagued by visions, and still not sure whether they are paranormal, or he's going mad.
Magicians season 3 billboard
And speaking of the supernatural, The Magicians are back for a third season on Syfy to bring back magic after the apocalyptic events of last season.
Grand Tour season 2 billboard
The ex-Top Gear gang are back for more car-driving shenanigans all over the world in the sophomore season of Amazon's The Grand Tour.
Corporate series premiere billboard
And in the world of humour, Corporate is the new workplace comedy which takes place at a soulless multi-national corporation.
Judd Apatow Return billboard
This month Netflix continued to deliver multiple stand-up comedy specials from the likes of Judd Apatow.
Russell Howard Recalibrate billboard
Plus comedian Russell Howard was learning to Recalibrate this December on the streaming platform.
Todd Barry Spicy Honey billboard
And Todd Barry was buzzing about his new original comedy special, Spicy Honey, with this fun ad creative.
Dave Chappelle Equanimity billboard
Meanwhile Dave Chappelle was getting ready to deliver the laughs for his New Year's Eve special, Equanimity.
Rose Parade 2018 billboard
And as a special treat for New Year's Day, the annual Rose Parade will be streamed live on Amazon Prime and commented on by Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon as their alter egos 'Cord Hosenbeck' and 'Tish Cattigan'.

Awards consideration billboards
Big Little Lies Golden Globes FYC billboard
At the beginning of the month before all the Golden Globes and SAG Award nominations were announced there was still plenty of time to spot consideration billboards like this giant-sized billboard for HBO's Big Little Lies.
Veep season 6 Golden Globes FYC billboard
Plus sixth season of HBO's political satire, Veep, was also getting some FYC support for its sixth season.
Deuce Golden Globes FYC billboard
And the debut season of NYC's 70s sex industry drama The Deuce was also looking for nominations along with these other HBO For your consideration billboards.
Sinner giant Golden Globes FYC billboard
Plus this giant-sized billboard for The Sinner starring Jessica Biel payed off, as both she and the series were nominated for Golden Globes.
Stranger Things 2 For your consideration billboard
And Netflix was also trying to garner industry attention for the sophomore season of its hit 80s sci-fi horror series, Stranger Things.
75th Golden Globe Awards billboard
And finally for this roundup, it's almost time for the 75th Golden Globe Awards and this year it's hosted by late-night host Seth Meyers, so something to look forward to in the New Year.

As ever the city skyline was crammed with TV billboards this month. You can compare this assortment to last December's TV billboards and come back at the end of next month for more snapshots from round the streets and skies of La La Land this awards season.

Now go watch some television...