Tag Archives: los angeles

weekend recap: hiking, bowling, DWTS

Every weekend, we try to spend quality time, as a family, engaged in Wholesome Activities. We try to find educational activities he’ll enjoy, or physical activities we can do as a family. And usually, we can find a couple things to do each weekend that give us that quality family time; Mama, Dada, Ben. Our general goal is to (a) spend time together as a family and (b) wear that kid out so he will take a nap and go to sleep at night.

This Saturday, I woke up to find a marine layer over Southern California. I love misty days here, when it’s cooler, damper, and more like the climate I grew up with. Also, the San Gabriel Mountains look like the North Shore with low cloud cover. Immediately, I suggested to Paul that we go outside and enjoy this lovely weather by taking Ben hiking. Los Angeles is actually a really hiking-intense city, even more so than Vancouver, because of all the trails in the hills and mountain parks that surround the city. Unfortunately, everyone always seems to be trying to hike those trails at once, which means crowded trails, impossible parking, and a wilderness experience that feels more like a poorly kept city park. We usually try to avoid this by going out to the SGV, and going hiking in one of the parks that connects to the Angeles National Forest up there. Our favorite, by far, is Eaton Canyon Park, out in Altadena, past Pasadena – like everything else, a 30 minute drive away.

We’ve been to Eaton Canyon a few times now, and it meets all our criteria for Family Hiking. There’s a minimal incline in most parts of the park, which is great for someone’s short little legs. The trail is well-kept and clear, again, great for someone who’s used to paved streets and sidewalks. There’s tons of animal and birds to observe. And there’s even a well-kept, fairly extensive, nature center and botanical garden, where the local flora and fauna have been carefully curated and organized and labeled. This includes Ben’s favorite part of the park, the WALL’O’SNAKES…a wall of terrariums with local live snakes in them, including examples of the poisonous ones.

This Saturday, after some poking around in the Nature Center, and some wandering on the tiny trail of the Botanical Garden / Toddler Trail, we set off to hike across the dry wash and up the trail fork of “Moist Canyon”. We walked up the canyon for about twenty minutes, stopping to observe animals that neither Paul nor I could name, beyond “hey, look at all the birds!” or, “listen to the woodpecker”, or “look, a snake on a rock!” (small, non-venomous). Eventually though, Ben informed us his legs were tired and we decided to hike back down. By the time we walked the ten minutes back to the dry wash, Ben was insisting on being picked up:

And then, after all that hiking, he decided to take a nap on Paul’s shoulder. Did I mention the kid weighed in at 36 pounds last week?

After the hike, we came home to make one of Ben’s favorite foods: tofu tacos. Ben, being an LA baby, is used to being able to get food truck snacks. Since he loves tofu, one of his favorites is a tofu taco. Seriously, he’ll take tofu over anything else – chicken, beef, fish – as a taco filler. I just toss some tofu chunks in a mix of soy sauce and Sriacha, pan-sear them, and put them on a tortilla with some cheese and salsa. It’s toddler fusion food! But with all the hiking and lunch, Ben didn’t go down for his nap until after 3…and he didn’t wake up until almost 5, which left us in a zone of being Too Late for an afternoon activity, but too early to eat dinner. Quick, someone find a filler activity!

Then it occurred to me, why not watch Dancing with the Stars with my son? Seriously, even he can get the concept. Famous people learn to dance with professional dancers, and the worst person gets kicked off. Yay. Ben likes seeing dancing, he loves music – sure, it’s completely devoid of educational value, and is the entertainment equivalent of feeding my kid a Lunchable, but it was Saturday! So I checked with Paul to be sure it was OK, and then Ben and I watched an abbreviated version of the season premiere, where we fast-forwarded through everything except the practicing (“see? look how hard they’re working!”) and the actual dances (“look how much they practiced!”)

Sure enough, Ben freaking LOVED DWTS. Every time a couple started dancing, he would tell me, “Look, Mama! They’re dancing!” We would watch people’s feet to see how they were doing, and I tried to explain to Ben that the professionals had practiced for a LONG LONG TIME, but the famous people were just learning, and Why Practice Is Important. Then, for the Results Show, I skipped the first 40 minutes of it, and just ran the last three minutes where the decision was made. We talked about how Not Everyone Is Good At Everything, Including Dancing, So Someone Has To Get Kicked Off. Look, I’m trying to redeem myself as a mom here, letting my kid watch reality TV…but honestly, he likes choreography and he likes music and maybe it’s only the entertainment equivalent of one of those Lunchables with reduced sodium and a fruit cup?

And then we get to today, when Ben asked if he could watch TV. We agreed this was OK, and I asked him what he wanted to watch, expecting Thomas, or Dinosaur Train, or something. Nope. I got, “I want to watch Dancing With The Stars, Mama!”

“But Ben, we watched that show yesterday. We saw all the dances. There isn’t a new episode yet.”

“But I want to see who gets kicked off,” he told me.

I snorted with laughter, and went looking for a family movie instead. We ended up watching Free Willy, which I actually never saw…even though it’s probably partially inspired by the gong show that was Sealand of the Pacific, the marine park across the street from where I grew up. Hey, we saw Dolphin Tale Friday, why not a movie about another special Troubled Youth and Marine Mammal bond? Besides, movies are a Special Treat for Ben on the weekends – on weekdays, he’s limited to thirty minutes or less of educational programming. On weekends, we let him watch movies, which he loves, and we just try to curate to make sure there’s some sort of Discussion Topic we can get out of it. (I’m sure we’ll spend this week talking about dolphins and orcas, and doing Related Art Projects. I’ll have to find and print pictures of marine creatures tomorrow for a collage)

But earlier today, we took Ben bowling for the first time. I found a bowling alley up in Glendale that had bumpers. PROGRAMMABLE bumpers, even: they only showed up when it was Ben’s turn! Jewel City Bowl even had shoes IN BEN’S SIZE. Ben also got their special six-pound ball, which he had to roll, because his hands were too little to hold it. He absolutely LOVED it though, and cheered and grinned the whole game. I’ve got photos and videos we’ll have to put up this week, because a three year old bowling is freaking ADORABLE. It also gave us a new family activity, something Ben can do with us, and probably with our friends and extended family as well. Bowling is a super-social activity, and having Ben be able to play it gives him a new way to spend time with grown-ups. Next weekend, we’ll have to try mini-golf.

Fwd: Tom Green at Frida

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Jillian Tate
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2007 13:33:34 -0800
Subject: Tom Green at Frida
To: tips@defamer.com

Tom Green is having lunch with an agent type at Frida in Beverly
Hills. Looks serious and balding and dishevelled. Perhaps negotiating for work? What does he do these days in L.A…I thought he was back in his parents basement in Ottawa.

Sent to Defamer on my BlackBerry

row, row, row your boat

Blogging.LA is going to officially sponsor the blogger boat in this year’s Lotus Festival Dragon Boat Races! I posed the challenge (which we were reminded of by LA City Nerd) to the rest of my site last week, and we’ve got a handful of authors signed up already to paddle. I’m really psyched about this, not only because it will be a lot of fun, but because it’s a chance to really participate in the community of Los Angeles.

Yay! Boat racing! And not just the drinking game kind!

NOW i am the party queen of Los Angeles


My post this AM on blogging.la has kicked off a discussion on what to do for the city’s 225th anniversary.

(Eric Garcetti is my hero!)

i really, really live here

Last night, the guy roomate and I went up to the Sunset Strip to see the Birthday Massacre at the Roxy. They are my favorite new acquisition goth band, probably because they have this really 90s feel to them. Violet makes me think of being eighteen and reading a borrowed copy of the Sandman for, like, the fifth time, while waiting for a friend to show up with a video of The Crow. The songs have minor key harmonies, sticky beats, two guitarists, 90s sounding synths, and a girl lead singer.

We found out that the band didn’t go on until 10:45, and we had no interest in the opening act, so we went next door to the Rainbow Room. This is the old-school death-metal hangout bar. It’s actually a restaurant AND bar AND upstairs private room, but is associated with 80s metal bands. Guy Roomate, being ex-metalhead in the same way I am an ex-grungebunny, enjoys hanging out there. And, despite it being recommended in Alternative Los Angeles (the guidebook that got me here to start with), I hadn’t been there yet. So I suggested that we go there for a drink while killing time.

We pay cover, get our drink vouchers – and I recognize the doorman. “The Man of a Thousand Voices!” I exclaim. It was a talented voice actor I’d chatted with, for ten minutes, while waiting outside Gotham Hall in Santa Monica for friends. He’d been working the door there, and paid me the best compliment I’d had all week: “Girls who buy jeans want their ass to look as good as yours does in those.” I said my hellos, and then proceeded into the bar.

We were twenty minutes into the wait when a familiar looking guy in eyeliner sat down next to us. It was Paul Van, lead singer from local dark rock band Solarcade, who I refer to as “The Depeche Mode Guy.” He knows the band, from having opened for them in his native South Africa and in Europe on the Devotional tour. I met him at Miss Kitty’s a year ago, and occasionally hear from him on MySpace when there’s a Solarcade show. We discussed Martin Gore’s musical genius for a few minutes, and then it was time to go next door to the show.

I think what surprised me is that I ran into two different people I had met randomly at previous times, in places nowhere near the Rainbow Room. This happens to me now. I run into people I know. It isn’t a big deal, really – or it wouldn’t have been, in Vancouver. In Vancouver, I can’t get onto a bus without running into someone I went to UBC with. But this is L.A. It’s bigger, and I didn’t start out here as part of a pre-built university community. Seeing people I know – like running into a girl from Critical Mass at Bar Sinister, or finding an acquaintance invited to the same party I am – makes me feel like I really live here. Like I’m not so much a ghost drifting through city after city, but that I live in Los Angeles, and will continue to see people I know as I move in my paths around the city.

And yes, it certainly improves my evening slightly to run into two separate guys who have flirted with me at two separate times. Nothing like a quick ego reminder to make me smile.

the L.A. meme

Shannon is the first person to tag me with a meme/chain letter that has been making the rounds of local bloggers. I’ve seen in on a few other blogs – Will and Heather, to start with, but Shannon’s the first to tag me as a legit L.A. blogger.

Four Jobs I’ve Had In My Life in LA:
Account Manager, Integrated Media Solutions
Freelance Media Planner, Full Tilt Poker
Media Planner, Tribal/DDB L.A.

(The problem is, I moved here for a specific job & career trajectory. All my fun, city cliched jobs happened when I was in Seattle. Like, “tour guide at Argosy”, “HTML author at Microsoft,” “temp at Sierra Video Games”, “barista at Starbucks”. If I’d spent my late teens & early 20s here, I’m pretty sure I’d have the L.A. equivalent list)

Four Movies About LA I Could Watch Over And Over:
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
LA Story (and/or The Jerk)
Pulp Fiction

Four Places I’ve Lived All Over L.A.:
Mar Vista

(Can I count Mom here? She lived in Boyle Heights, Westchester, NoHo and Sherman Oaks)

Four LA-Themed Shows I Love(d) To Watch:
L.A. Law
Melrose Place
The O.C.
and a tie between Animaniacs and Saved by the Bell

Four Places I Would Vacation At In LA:
Venice Beach (living here is like always being on vacation!)
Santa Monica (see above)
Santa Barbara

Actually, even though I’ve almost perfected the Art of Matching L.A. Destinations To Canadian Friends, and I’ve developed an entire NOT A HELLHOLE TOUR (TM), I can’t think of where I would vacation here outside of the beach areas. But being able to visit those places so often makes my life here one extended vacation.

Four LA-Based Websites I Visit Daily:
I syndicate about twenty, but I never miss:


Four Of My Favorite Foods Found In LA:
Shrimp Cocktail at La Playita
spicy tofu soup in K-town
Chaya Venice sushi
gorditas at Grand Central market

Four Places In LA I Would Rather Be Right Now:
The roof at the Standard downtown
biking around Elysian Park
Grand Central Library
exactly where I live in Venice

puplet_loaf (editrix of LA Alternative)
dufresne (when he logs in again from wherever in the world he is)

she had to leave…los angeles

(x, los angeles)

Short entry tonight – I’m typing over a lapful of cat. And I mean a lapful. This thing is 22 pounds of purring fur and fat.

A post on MetBlogging L.A. reminded me – I always meant to post a list of songs about L.A.

Bad Religion – Los Angeles Is Burning
Bran Van 3000 – Drinking in L.A.Go Betty Go – I’m From L.A.
X – Los Angeles
Missing Persons – Nobody Walks In L.A.
RHCP – Under the Bridge
The Like – June Gloom
Weezer – Beverly Hills
Everclear – Santa Monica
Felix da Housecat – Everyone Is Someone In L.A.
Ozomatli – pretty much any song will do
Ditty Bops – ditto

Songs I associate with L.A. even though it isn’t explicit:

Sisters of Mercy – Detonation Boulevard (“through the angel rain, through the dust & the gasoline)
Alice in Chains – No Excuses (“leave our rain, a cold trade for warm sunshine”)
Counting Crows – Long December
REM – South Central Rain

So those are the songs I would put on an L.A. mix tape.
Anything else?