Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bigfoot Lodge West

Sorry, sorry, it's been almost a week! I have been a horrendous blogger! Reviewing a bar (again):

Bigfoot Lodge West
10939 Venice Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Telephone: 310.287.2200

7:00 pm - 2:00 am

Never heard of Bigfoot Lodge? It's in Los Feliz, on Los Feliz Blvd. I hear there's one in San Francisco, as well, which I have never been to (the bar, not S.F.- definitely been to the city!).

Bigfoot Lodge West opened up this past Wednesday, and a few friends and I decided we'd go check it out. The Bigfoot Lodge in Los Feliz (Silverlake or Atwater Village area, sort of) is fun and silly, a sort of hip version of a hunter's cabin, and we desperately needed some fresh blood in the area. The portion of Venice Blvd. that Bigfoot is on doesn't have enough fun places, other than Saints and Sinners, its sister bar.

Plus, Caroline on Crack's website told me it was fun!

We went pretty early, maybe 8:30 or so, and it wasn't too full. I wanted to get there before massive crowds started forming, because I hate lines and I especially hate just standing there with a drink in hand. I want a barstool or a table, dagnabit!

When I had initially read Caroline's post about Bigfoot, I knew that I wanted to try all the specialty drinks. I hadn't been planning on trying them all at the same time, but it ended up happening somehow (perhaps because my friends are enablers instead of being responsible adults?), in the order in which they appear on the cocktail menu:

Toasted Marshmallow:
Vanilla vodka, butterscotch liqueur, Frangelico, and Bailey’s, topped with a flaming marshmallow

Girl Scout Cookie:
A chocolatey Thin Mint martini (it's GREEN like Kermit!)

Dudley Do-Right:
Canadian Club whisky, amaretto, cranberry juice, and lime juice

Wild Turkey 101, ginger brandy, ginger ale, and a dash of bitters

My favorite was the Dudley Do-Right, served in a ginormous glass. It's not too sweet but still really easy to drink. I was pleasantly surprised, since I am not a huge fan of whisky. I know, it's an acquired taste- I have not yet acquired it, that's all. Maybe Dudley Do-Right is my gateway into whisky appreciation??

There was a man there taking photos of the opening night- he took a few shots of us after asking us if it was okay. We were told that there would be an article in the L.A. Times ... but he didn't end up using a photo with us in it. : ( Our chance at stardom, gone!

There is also a giant glass vat behind the bar full of a dark liquid with lots of little things suspended in it. If you ask a bartender what the heck it is, they'll hand you a sheet of paper with all the ingredients in it- A TON. An entire sheet of letter-sized paper! Includes all kinds of weird things, including bugs and twigs and branches and brains (well ... maybe not brains).

It's supposed to be some sort of an elixir for men, colloquially called "horny goat hooch." Yes. Classy, I know.

The decor is determinedly outdoorsy and male- mounted dead animals, antlers, wood and stone. There's a large totem pole that's actually really nice but not well-situated, as it blocked our view of the rest of the bar. Or maybe hid us away from prying eyes? I haven't decided yet.

Definitely not pretentious, very casual- a great neighborhood bar to go to for a quick drink before dinner (I hear the Mediterranean place a few doors down is really good) or after a movie.

I recommend:

Toasted Marshmallow, just for the novelty of it. The marshmallow's delectable, the drink is so-so (REALLY strong and REALLY sweet).
Dudley Do-Right, because it's delicious.

I do not recommend:

Girl Scout Cookie, too sweet!
Sasquatch ... just ... too ... much ... yikes.

I'm positive that I will be at this bar again sometime in the near future. So glad that I don't have to trek to Los Feliz (or even worse, San Francisco!) for the Bigfoot Lodge experience!


Monday, July 20, 2009

My Sassy Girl (엽기적인 그녀)

I love movies. Yes, I complain about working on them (a lot!) and I whine endlessly ... but at the end of the day, I love movies. I like watching them, criticizing them, talking about them, quoting them, and generally being a movie nerd.

During last Thursday's Santa Monica Pier shindig, I was talking to a Chinese friend. He asked me if I had ever watched "My Sassy Girl." I had heard of the movie, but hadn't ever seen it. I told him as much, and he said he'd get it to me.

(A frustrating thing about this friend? He and I don't have each other's phone numbers. In this day and age, when strangers have one another's numbers, how do we manage? I've known him for about four years! Being a girl, and a stubborn girl, I categorically refuse to ask for his number. Don't bother telling me I'm unreasonable.)


I saw my best friend yesterday- we had decided to go to Disneyland (again). She had with her a DVD from the phone-number-less-friend of, what else, "My Sassy Girl," 엽기적인 그녀 (which really translates to "That Freaky Girl" or, according to Wiki, "That Bizarre Girl").

(Disneyland was great, by the way- we started at California Adventure and made our way to Disneyland. Those annual passes, they are being put to good use!)

I decided to watch the movie this afternoon. I'm on vacation for two weeks, I got nothing better to do (other than the several appointments I've made).

My mother watched it with me, and my father joined us about halfway through.

About halfway through the movie, my mom turns to me and says (in Korean), "Oh, it's a COMEDY."

I burst out laughing- the whole time we had been watching, she kept thinking it was a melodrama and the dramatic tension would start at any moment.

I know this movie blew up when it first came out, in 2001, and there were several remakes made in several different countries. I can't imagine that any of the subsequent homages were better than the original, which was charming and self-deprecating and emotional without being twee.

Cha Tae-Hyun (차태현), who plays the hapless hero that we love, pity, and mock, was cast perfectly. When last I saw him, he was a doctor on the atrociously boring drama "General Hospital 2" (종합병원 2), so my opinion of him was low. I didn't know if I was going to be able to get over my previous perception of him, but his dimwitted, good-natured character won me over.

Jun Ji-Hyun (전지현), currently appearing in "Blood: The Last Vampire," is deceptively sweet and delicate-looking. My phone-number-less-friend was asking me what is up with Korean women beating their men (watching 솔약국집 아들들 right this second, and the mom is smacking one of her sons around something awful!) and I tried to deflect, not really understanding what he meant by "beating."

I now know what he meant by "beating," and while I agree with him that it was excessive (she punches rather than slaps!), it wasn't without reason. No gratuitous violence, that, it was violence with cause.

"My Sassy Girl" must have been fun to make, what with all the abuse that Jun Ji-Hyun gets to dish out to Cha Tae-Hyun. Well, fun for her- maybe not so much for him.

The story can be explained simply, but takes so many twists and turns that the synopsis won't do it justice at all. Here it is, though:

A college student meets a drunken girl on a subway platform and their relationship develops from there.

Easy, yes?

No, not really.

The movie was really simply done- no elaborate sets, no insane lighting, no exaggerated grain or color. It really lets the viewer focus on the dialogue (much of it is narrated by the male character) and the actions of the two confused college kids.

I found out that the movie is based off a true story. A man wrote about his experiences on his blog, a publisher found the blog and convince the man to write a book, and then the book was adapted into a movie. There is a ring of truth to the story, as absurd as it gets- it doesn't become a farce (well ... maybe just one sequence...) or so far-fetched that I started laughing at inappropriate momens.

I don't want to give away the big twist (which I actually guessed and told my mother, who had no earthly clue), so I'll just keep prattling on with random thoughts.

- School uniforms. So crap they loop all the way back to awesome. I totally want one!

- White heels and a white bag. Yes, I'm going to be superficial and talk about accessories. Jun Ji-Hyun's character has a great look when she's "dressed up" for blind dates. Normally, her look is boring college student. I liked the prim and proper style that was obviously foisted on her by her mother. She wears a great white blazer with matching white skirt, too- brave and cute.

- It occurred to me that Koreans are patient with their plots, don't need instant gratification- the movie spans a rather long period of time, the editing was non-linear, it jumped around, there were ideas and themes that needed to be actually sought out, rather than handed right to the audience on an outthrust silver spoon.

- I want to make a time capsule! In the shape of an egg!

- Girls can hold their liquor better than that. I am insulted. Of course, I can hold my liquor better than most boys that I know ... so perhaps I am not the best person to talk about such things.

- Do they still make guys like that? Sweet and thoughtful and hopelessly romantic? Able to write and emote?

Great summer movie! Easy to watch, but not mindless eye candy, like so many of the blockbusters can be. I will definitely be watching it again.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Guppy Teahouse, Cerritos

Guppy Teahouse
11803 E. South Street
Cerritos, CA 90703

Telephone: 562.865.7288

Sunday - Thursday:
11:00 am - 1:00 am
Friday - Saturday:
11:00 am - 2:00 am

Last night was the only day everyone in my nuclear family could all meet up while my grandmother's still in town.

Because my sister and I both had to battle traffic from West L.A. to get to Cerritos, we agreed to go for a post-dinner snack at Guppy's.

Let me be clear- I am not a fan of Guppy's. I like their food, yes, but between the hordes of chain-smoking, pants-sagging, foul-mouthed Asian teenagers and the pimply high-school workers, I try to avoid the place whenever possible.

It's actually unfortunate that I like their food so much, because I had an internal struggle every time: But their chicken. So good. But that one little obnoxious waitress. So annoying. But the shaved ice ... yum ... But those little Korean/Chinese/Phillippino kids ... beyond irritating. Hmm...

To add insult to injury, they play the most irrelevant songs at the highest volume possible. Seriously, Boyz II Men? Just turn it down from shrieking to at least yelling volume, and maybe I'll be able to overlook it.

Honestly, I think Guppy is the underage set's version of a bar/club. They're open late, they have non-alcoholic drinks, and annoying kids congregate there. What's more indicative of a bar/club than that?? Other than stumbling drunks, of course.

Enough hating on the place, on to the good stuff!

Their popcorn chicken is DELICIOUS. The external batter is not too thick (American popcorn chicken is more "popcorn" than "chicken") and comes in a variety of spice levels. We always get spicy, which is pleasantly tongue-tingling after eating about five of the little suckers.

Next up came the shaved ice (빙수, pronounced bing-soo), which we got topped with strawberries, bananas, and red beans (팥), which my grandmother loves. I haven't had red beans on shaved ice in a long time, and they were a pleasant surprise- really yummy, a little sweet. The whole thing is drizzled liberally with condensed milk.

We also ordered fruit tea, which I think is literally cut-up fruits with honey in hot water. It's sweet but good, and the little pieces of fruit are still tasty, despite being essentially cooked.

Can't go to Guppy without getting brick toast! Brick toast, as the name indicates, is a giant piece of toast, covered with something coconut-flavored (but not actual pieces of coconut, which I hate), garnished with (more) condensed milk and chocolate syrup.

Heart attack on a plate? Why, yes, yes, it is! But still deletable and one of my dad's favorite desserts.

Off to the Santa Monica Pier tonight for some music and some quality time with friends in the sand.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bravo Beethoven!

Went to the Hollywood Bowl last night (Bastille Day) for a lovely evening with my sister and one of my closest friends.

I have loved Beethoven ever since I was a child being raised by one classically trained pianist and one ardent Elvis lover. I have fond memories of the Hollywood Bowl from my childhood, when we used to go for one night of Tchaikovsky, when beautifully synchronized fireworks would explode during the 1812 Overture.

Having not been to the Bowl since sometime last year, it seemed like a nice little Tuesday evening activity.

I made Spam musubis (one and a half cans of Spam for three people? Why not?) and brought some sweet pickled radish, and my sister brought snacks- cherries (a Hollywood Bowl tradition for us), Milano cookies, limeade.

We got there early, giant cooler and all (we had four tickets, one of which was for the cooler!) and settled in. In front of the main gate is a gorgeous, enormous tree, which my friend and I were both fascinated by. It was huge!

We ate while people-watching. Staying during a sunset at the Bowl is a unique experience. Because the actual setting is between mountains (hills?), the actual sun is not visible while it is setting. The only true indication of sunset comes from the amount of light showing on the far mountain, which remains bright much longer than the seats do.

We were joking that the members of the L.A. Philharmonic and the guest piano soloist looked like cruise ship waiters in their white jackets. I think perhaps white jackets are indicative that it's summer?

There is a large (and by large I mean GIANT) cross that is only really visible at nighttime, when it's lit up. It's also traditional for me to seek out the cross and marvel that anyone would want to spend untold dollars paying that kind of electrical bill.

The concert was amazing. Selected (less famous) works from Beethoven:

- Egmont Overture
- Piano Concerto No. 2
- Symphony No. 2

The conductor, Bramwell Tovey, was really funny. Dry, self-deprecating, but also full of knowledge about the pieces to be performed. He apologized for 1776, he poked gentle fun at Beethoven's initial admiration of Napoleon that soon gave way to hostility, he teased the Brits (the soloist and he were both English!)- he was just the perfect person for making Beethoven approachable and light.

What's a piano concerto without a piano?? The soloist was a young Englishman, Paul Lewis, who looked like a younger and slightly more disheveled version of Rufus Sewell, was dramatic and theatrical (in a good way).

Overall, a great night and a judicious use of Spam.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Social Butterfly

Somehow, I find that the more I do, the more I want to do. I'm really appreciating it right now, though, because it's making me love this city again.

Also, it's been as HOT as Hades lately and most of the activities I have pursued involve air-conditioning or very cold drinks.

Since my last post, I had the following social appointments:

- Dinner with a good friend at Kanpai (good but over-priced)
- Thursday night concert at the Santa Monica Pier (Joan Baez, anyone?)
- House party for a friend that's moving to New York (I bought tacos from Sky's for the vegetarians- worst website ever)
- Shopping at the Beverly Center
- Picked up my paternal grandmother and one of my cousins from LAX
- Went shopping with said cousin at the Cerritos Mall

Let's start with Kanpai. Delicious good, great company, excellent photos of Paris (so jealous!), decent glass of wine. YUM.

Honestly, I had never heard of Joan Baez. She was good, though. There were THOUSANDS of people on the pier and the beach. I mean ... wow. The weather was lovely, the sunset was picturesque, and I had a margarita at Rusty's afterward. All good.

The house party was great. I haven't seen all my Rhythm and Hues friends in a long time, so it was great to see them (drunk). I miss them.

My paternal grandmother has six children. My father is the oldest. His siblings were born in proper order- boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl.

Girl #1, Girl #2, and Boy #3 live on the east coast (Maryland, Maryland, Pennsylvania, respectively), and my grandmother's been over there for a month or so, bouncing between houses.

She came out here to see my family, the lone west coasters. The cousin that came with her is the only child of Boy #3 (and the spitting image of his father). I've been busy with the entertaining of visiting family members, which should get better since the cousin is now at his friend's house in Moreno Valley and the grandmother has her daughter-in-law (my long-suffering mother) to keep her company.

Back to Philly they go on Friday morning, so it's not even a long visit. And then my grandmother goes back in Korea in a month, where she lives with the only sibling still living there, Boy #2.

I promised Boy #3's wife, one of my favorite aunts, that I would go visit "soon." I refuse to go to the east coast during the humid months. Perhaps in October? I can go visit my friend that's moving to New York then, as well... hmm...

Going to the Hollywood Bowl tonight for some Mozart and a LOT of people crammed into one small space (okay, it's not small. But it FEELS small when there are a bajillion people stuffed in there!).

Tomorrow night, a friend's spinning in West Hollywood (you know, where the city flag is a rainbow?) at Palihouse. Hopefully it's fun.

My sister is off to San Diego on Thursday to prepare for Comic Con (not by choice, she works at a videogame company!) so I'm staying at her house and rabbit-sitting for Gouda, the most finicky bunny I've ever met. He's also adorable, so it's okay. What is not adorable? My sister sending me tons of e-mails with very long documents attached about the condition of rabbit poops and the likes and dislikes of bunnies. Oy.

I believe I'm going to trivia at Cock 'n Bull in Santa Monica on Thursday night (AFTER taking care of le rabbit, of course) and then some as-yet-undetermined bar on Friday night.

Good thing I'm sleeping with my eyes open at work right now. I need the rest.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009


It has been far too long, Internet!

What with the final crush that is the completion of a show and the subsequent exhaustion that followed, I have been neglecting my little blog.

Then, during the subsequent exhaustion, I decided I wanted to go on a spur-of-the-moment jaunt to Vegas.

That's #1 on the "List of Why I Like L.A.": proximity to Las Vegas.

About 250 miles away, Vegas is pretty much the perfect weekend getaway. I was cranky and tired and sick of being here, where everything reminds me of work, so when I heard that some people at work were going to spend the three-day weekend in Vegas, I jumped on the idea.

My sister is generally my travel buddy. We talked on Thursday night and left for Vegas early Friday morning. Went shopping in the outlets at Primm, about 40 miles closer to L.A. than Vegas is, blew a ton of money on clothes, shoes, bags, the works, then refueled with lunch and caffeine and got to Vegas. Knew I was in trouble when I saw the temperature when we were just outside the Strip:

We stayed at the Luxor. Checked in around 3:30, went up to the 26th floor room we got, taking the strange sideways-traveling elevator (to accommodate for the pyramid shape).

Unpacked a couple things, made sure that toiletries hadn't melted into goop, and took some pictures of our view out the slanting (and dirty) window:

Excalibur on the right. Luxor and Excalibur are connected by a tram, so you don't even have to step outside. On the other side of it, Luxor is connected to Mandalay Bay by a sort of corridor lined with shops and salons and such.

Such pretty clouds; they lulled me into a false sense of "how hot could it possibly be outside?" which is DANGEROUS because it's always hotter than Hades:

After taking the photos, we took a disco nap for a few hours. Shopping + extreme heat + waiting for valet parking = wilted girls.

Didn't wake up until 7:30 or so. Took a shower, felt better after sleeping in a frigidly air-conditioned hotel room, and had dinner at Luxor. There was no way I was going to leave the coldness after being out in the sun earlier in the day.

Went back to our room and got ready to meet up my work people for a night out. I don't even want to get into the drama, so I'll just say that we ended up at Tryst in the Wynn, getting there around 12:30 or so. (The cabbie that took us there was delightful!)

Got back to the hotel after a night of sardine-can conditions and sweaty dancing. The sister decided she wanted chicken strips or Little Caeser's Pizza, so we changed and went down to the casino level of Luxor. Little Caeser's was closed and McDonald's entire register system took a dive while we were in line, so we ended up at Nathan's at 4:00 in the morning, standing in line in front of a hilariously inebriated English dude.

We had chicken strips and French fries and went to bed. Probably not a good idea, but when in Vegas, all bad ideas seem GENIUS.

Saturday (Happy 4th of July!) we went across the way to Mandalay Bay. I loved this light with the bamboos. Too bad there were people in the way, ruining it:

There's a restaurant inside Mandalay Bay that was inappropriately named. We went to check out the menu just because of the name of the place and were not impressed:

There's also a walkway inside Mandalay Bay with huge windows that display their "Beach." It looked so nice, if overly crowded and burningly hot (and look, there's an American flag! I was patriotic in Vegas!):

SO MANY PEOPLE. Like little ants all over an anthill. I think the proximity of sweaty people and the strong sunshine combined would have killed me. I don't do well in the sun- after ten minutes, I'm bright red. After twenty minutes, I'm burnt to a crisp. I peel like a snake the next day, then I'm back to being pasty white.

Beauty shot of Mandalay Bay, just because the sky was such a pretty blue and there were little cottonball clouds puffing away.

On the drive back. The sky is such an amazing color in the desert. I know L.A. has smog and whatever else polluting its sky, but I never realize how washed-out the color is until I'm out and somewhere else.

After the quick overnighter in Vegas, came back and spent some quality time with the parents and got some rest on Sunday (finally). There's never much sleep to be had in Vegas.

Yesterday, went to Disneyland after work. My friend and I both have annual passes. This is #2 on my "List of Why I Like L.A.": proximity to Disneyland.

We only went on a few rides:

- Indiana Jones
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Haunted Mansion
- Buzz Lightyear
- Snow White

Friend got a churro, we pushed through the summer vacationing crowds, it was all good.

I'm so glad I'm back to 8-hour days. I can do so much extracurricular stuff!

Dinner tonight with a friend that just got back from Paris. Concert tomorrow night at the Santa Monica Pier. House party Saturday night in Marina del Rey.


I'll keep racking up the reasons to love this city!


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

R.I.P. Jaime Norman

Jaime Norman Sheldon was a colleague of mine from "His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass."

We worked together for a hellish nine months, through endless hours and countless cups of coffee.

She had been planning her wedding during our "Compass" days and I met her then-fiance, Eric, a few times.

Because we didn't work together after "Compass," we lost touch and didn't speak much, other than the occasional Facebook message.

I got home from work at 7:00 a.m. this morning. Being restless and cranky, I didn't actually go to sleep until around 9:30. I woke up a scant four hours later to e-mails (which I get on my Blackberry) and text messages about Jaime.

She had given birth to her son recently and passed away this morning due to the flu.

I am shocked. To have a baby is such joyous news, but to be followed by the death of that baby's mother ... my heart goes out to her family, and especially to the oblivious boy that will never know his mother.

Jaime, you will be sorely missed.



Last 'Hours' post. Update:

In the past 9 days (totaling 216 hours):

138 hours: spent at work