The Historic El Rey Theatre: Standing Room Only

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It’s almost embarrassing to say it here, but I’m old.

I tried last night, I really did. I wore my sensible shoes. I made sure, against the pleas of the reasonable voices in my head that would say otherwise, to drank a double espresso at 6pm to ensure that I wouldn’t need to slump against the floor of the venue sooner than later.

I mean really, who, at my age, drinks a double espresso after oh, say 10 am?

The caffeine didn’t even touch it. Not at all.

We drove up from Orange County at a sensible seven pm after dropping the kids off with the babysitter. The doors opened at eight so we made it perfectly. I know what you’re thinking: pre game it by taking a nap at 8, driving up at 9, arriving by 10 just in time for the main act. I know. I know how you’re supposed to do it. But I’m 39, y’all. If I go to sleep at 8, I won’t wake up until the next morning.

So we push through, friends. We push through.

The Historic El Rey Theatre, for many shows, is General Admission, which in my language means I’ll be standing up crowded against strangers for four hours. Luckily it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I’m no alien to standing room only venues, in fact, some of the best shows I’ve ever seen have been at places like that (insert Troubadour reference here). Plus if I had been sitting down, say, at the Wiltern or similar I would have fallen asleep into my gin and tonic at 10 pm.

It was built in 1936 as a single screen movie theatre and showed movies for 50 years. In the eighties it became a night club and then in 1994 it was refurbished to become a live music venue. If it feels historic it’s because it is. It still retains some of it’s “Streamline Modern” style and was originally designed by Clifford Balch. Balch designed a ton of art deco movie theatres during that time including the Regency Lido in Newport Beach and the Fox Theatre in Pomona. Many of Balch’s theatres have been demolished or are serving other purposes, like the El Rey.

It’s really a beautiful and fun small venue to see pretty much anything, I would think. Even the back of the theatre feels close to the front. The drinks are good and not overpriced.

Last night the headliner was Shakey Graves, who, if you have never heard of him, don’t beat yourself up. But you will. Actually, you just did. Just say you heard it here first. He’s an up and coming blues/rock singer-songwriter whose real name is actually Alejandro Rose-Garcia. He’s energetic and fun and got his start as a one-man-band (please don’t envision Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins here --- think more dark, brooding and sinewy in a cowboy hat) by making a drum kit out of a suitcase.

The only thing I regret is that he didn’t play his one song off of And the War Came that everyone wanted him to. Or maybe he did, but this 39 year old mom of 2 had to make it home, I’m guessing, by the time he got to “Dearly Departed.” I’m sure he played it and I’m sure it brought the Streamline Modern house down, but I was well on my way to In and Out by then.

But what I did hear? So so good.

Another one to watch is one of the opening acts, Rayland Baxter. On the stage was simply Baxter with only his impressive beard and guitar to accompany him. And the guy whistles. Again, don’t get caught up in the fact that yes, whistling could be corny or strange. Here it seems like when, years ago, Jewel made yodeling cool. Yes, that. Baxter has made whistling way cooler than I ever thought possible.

So, yes to the El Rey. I’ll be back. I promise.

And yes to Mr. Graves, or Mr. Rose-Garcia. But please put your best song sooner in the set next time, for all of us almost-forties. Deal?

The El Rey Theatre is located at 5515 Wilshire Blvd in West LA. Parking is either valet or at a safe, covered garage at the corner of Cochran and Wilshire. Last night parking was $10 but it may vary for different shows/days of the week.

For their calendar of upcoming shows click here. 

Also, Shakey Graves is playing one more time tonight. If tickets aren't sold out then you can buy them at the door starting at 8 pm.

LA Craft Beer Tours: Drinking and NOT Driving

Monday, October 20, 2014

I’ll admit I ran across LA Craft Beer Tours as I was attempting to find a great birthday activity for my husband who recently turned 40. I saw that their Yelp score was pretty impeccable and so I filled out their contact form which was promptly responded to by one of the co-owners, Pat.

We figured out what breweries and when and for how long and then Pat took it from there.

And we had a bus. A bus, I tell you! It pulled up in front of my house and all the people gasped. It was wonderful.

LA Craft Beer Tours operates both scheduled and private tours (we booked a private) that run from about $50 per person for publicly scheduled tours to a bit more per person for private ones. Prices for private tours depend on how many people you have and how far they will be transporting you.

For example, a couple times a month LACBT runs a public tour in LA that stops at Los Angeles area breweries. The scheduled for the first weekend of November stops at Angel City, Golden Road and Eagle Rock Brewery. That tour is $49. At each stop on both the public and private tours each person gets either a flight of tastings or a pint to enjoy before they move on to the next location. Some breweries offer tours and at one, we met the owner and master brewer who chatted with our group all about his particular process. It was fascinating.

They run tours in all three coastal counties: LA, Orange and San Diego and will take even take you up toward Ventura and Santa Barbara from Los Angeles. Some tours (where there is more driving involved) can be an all day thing (from 9 hours) but most that are local run about 5 to 5 ½ hours.

Pat or Dale run the tours and one of them accompanies each one. At each brewery, Pat gave us recommendations based on what kind of beer we liked and what he preferred at each one. We happened to go on one of the hottest days of the year a couple weeks ago, so he rearranged our day to include the one with the least air conditioning early on (you’re all outdoor Bootleggers, but I love you anyway!) and even reserved a table for our group in the shade.

Loved it, loved it, loved it!

And I’m even thinking about taking one of the scheduled ones with some friends to experience some fun new breweries we’ve never been to.

Seriously. Pat is super knowledgeable and I can’t recommend them highly enough.

Plus not a single one of us should be driving after visiting THREE BREWERIES! Right?

Of course I'm right.

LA Craft Beer Tours can be found on the web here and on Yelp here. Choose from beer tours in San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, the South Bay and Ventura/Santa Barbara.

You're My Fun Friend: FAQ for CALovesCulture

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Because, as you may know, I've tiptoed quietly over from another blog to secretly (or not so secretly) write this one.

Right now, you're my favorite. Really you are.

(Said like a horrible mother to only one of her dear children.)

But yes, yes, yes, I write both.

You know like when you have a two different friends and you love both equally. One is deep and brooding and you can only take so much and not every day, for sure. But like once or twice a week you leave her a Vox because any more than that is just way too much. And then you have another friend who's fun and happy and easygoing and it's just super easy to chat because you talk about wine and shopping and movies.

You're my fun friend. Really. You are.

So here's a gently FAQ that I wrote for my other readers on my deep, brooding blog. If you want to check me out over there, click here.

Sarah, will you still be writing your regular blog:

Yes. As much or more as I am now. Hopefully more. I’ve just been a little burned out on writing lately. I’m hoping this infuses a little more life into me creativity-wise. And that this kind of writing, a little more light hearted, will be a good thing for me personally.  I am also still writing regularly for (in)courage, Deeper Story and The Art of Simple.

What if I don’t live in Southern California? Will I still like it?

Well I hope so! Do you ever plan on visiting? Do you like seeing pretty pictures of the beach? I’m slightly kidding, but I’m not kidding. I’m primarily directing this toward people who live here in Southern California and are able to go to the places I’m featuring, but I’m hoping it will inspire people to make a trip out here as well!

I don’t live in Southern California but I live a different part of the state. Will you ever be featuring other places?

Yes and I hope so. Part of my four-pronged approach is local travel (Arts, Culture, Food and Drink, Travel). My favorite vacation destinations are all within this great state. (Is there a name for people who are prejudiced toward California?) So I’m planning on writing about nearby destinations. Also, if I’m lucky, I’d like to also take submissions from other people who live in NorCal, Central Coast, Central Valley and San Diego with their local favorites. But that will be later.

I’m a local business owner. Will you be writing about anything like that? What if I have an idea for you?

Yes. Hopefully. If you have a suggestion, whether it be a local business or event, or anything else, please email me and let me know! I’m highly curious and I have a loooong running list of places to go, people to see, things to visit so throw them at me.

Blurred Lines: Venus in Fur at the South Coast Rep

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What a smart play. Seriously smart.

That’s the first thing I thought as I left the Julianne Argyros Theater on Sunday night. Smartly written, smartly performed and so ingenious I can’t stop thinking about it.

Not heady-smart, and certainly not academia-smart. But Venus In Fur by David Ives is sociologically-smart, witty, engaging and made me think hard about women and men and the idea of who’s in charge. Should there be someone in charge? It made me think about my own relationship and ask myself the hard question, in a metaphorical sense, am I a Vanda? Do I want to be in control?

I’m not sure. Maybe. Probably not.

It is interesting that Ives’ Venus in Fur it is loosely based on a nineteenth century German erotica novel by the same name, but all the sex and sexual tension between Vanda and Thomas amounts to words, looks and emotion. There is no nudity. There is no overt sexual act the play at all, but the chemistry between the actors is as electric (almost severely so) as the chemistry between the Vanda and Severin and Vanda and Thomas.

But the blurred lines. Oh the blurred lines! And I’m not talking about a certain pop song that cost a man his marriage.  I’m talking about the play within the play, the roles within roles. I’m talking about the fact that even though the source material (the German novel) is in many ways the precursor to a modern conversation about more fringe sexual desires, Ives’ play itself, I thought, was more about the blurred lines between what we want in a relationship, what we say we want and then how we act.

I will give no spoilers (because you MUST see this without knowing the ending) but for example, Thomas’s Vanda wants to be “directed” but in the end she wants to “direct.” Thomas wants to dominate but perhaps realizes (or confesses) that that’s not exactly what he wants.

Who wins? I won’t tell you.

But isn’t that what every relationship is on some level? A play at power? Maybe you say that yours isn’t. But it just might be.

I will say that for a play with only two actors in it, I realized by the middle that these two actors (only) must carry the weight of the emotion, hold that emotional and sexual tension tightly and bring the audience to “release,” if you will, all by themselves. Jaimi Paige, as Vanda, and Graham Hamilton, as Thomas, do an amazing job during an intermissionless performance, taking us with them every step of the way. For ninety minutes they build and build and then, and as only two actors like Hamilton and Paige can do, bring the play to its proper resolution.

Venus in Fur is smart, witty and imaginative. Don’t miss out on this amazing performance.

Venus in Fur, directed by Casey Stangl, is at the South Coast Repertory on the Julianne Arygros Stage until October 26. You can buy tickets here. Because of the subject matter, this play is for adult audiences only.

All photos courtesy of South Coast Repertory.

To view their 2014/2015 season click here.

Things to Do in October in Southern California

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

October is an interesting month in Southern California.

Autumn seduces you. It says, “It might be cool, it might be sweater-weather, it might be lovely, it might be Pumpkin Spice Latte weather but it might not be.” Bam. All of a sudden it’s 100 degrees again and we are all sweating through our boots again. We go to the pumpkin patch or apple picking and our kids are yelling because it’s 105 degrees in the shade. Yes. This is SoCal.

But we manage. We make it work. We say things like “December will be better.”

And it usually is.

But I digress.  We still live in the warmest, most summer-like part of the country whilst all our friends on Instagram are sporting new Etsy scarves. So we must. Make. Do. We must make it feel like fall while battling the heat and Santa Anas at times.

So what do we do in October in Southern California?

Conffession. October has always been my favorite month because I like to write the number 10. I know. I’m odd. I remember in high school October is always the best because I can write “10” for an entire month. The perfect, evenness, and squatty personality of the number surely can’t be beat. I hate January for this reason alone.

October. What to do?

1. Pumpkins. Yes. Of course. But you don’t have to do the normal, circus-y pumpkin patch. You can head east out to Oak Glen and instead of the Apple Picking, which they are known for, you can pick your favorite pumpkin. Our favorite is Riley’s Farm. Please get the apple pie. Please. For me. In case I can’t go this year.

2. Wine tasting. All year round. But autumn is the perfect time to hit the local wineries you avoid in the spring and summer because of the heat. Our favorite Temecula winery is Wiens Family Cellars. They are known for their bold reds. Take advantage of the cooler evenings and hit them up for a tasting. On October 24th they are hosting a Refugio Vertical Wine Dinner. Click here for details. The local wineries often have festivals or live music on the weekends so call around and see what’s happening.

3. Explore new beverages. And I’m not just talking wine. I’m serious. There are a lot of snobby new ways to do coffee and tea and because we live in such a great place to explore that, take advantage of it. Pour-over coffee isn’t new, but I’m guessing some of you don’t know what I’m talking about. Figure it out. Coffee from a beer-style tap? Yes and yes. You’ll thank me. There are many in our area. Portola is one in Orange County as well as AoSA in Huntington Beach (hint: they serve Stumptown). Also my friends in LA love Intelligentsia in Silver Lake and Pasadena as well as Cafecito Ogranico both in OC and LA (they have several locations – click here).

4. While we’re talking beverages, how about some beer. Okotberfest is happening everywhere this month. Grab your favorite people and head over to a local beer garden. And I mean everywhere. Here are a few to choose from. Los Angeles: LA Oktoberfest, The Wirsthaus, The Red Lion Tavern. In Orange County: The Phoenix Club, Old World Village.

5. Halloween Type Things. I didn’t grow up really making a big deal out of Halloween, but as an adult, I’ve come to a place where I really am fascinated and intrigued by Halloween and all things October. Why not try the Day of the Dead celebration at Hollywood Forever? It’s actually on November 1 so it’s technically not in October, but by the time I post my November post it will be said and done. If you go, let me know how it is. I’m thinking about steeling myself to do it next year.

I hope you have a great October. What are you going to be doing this month?

Third Wave Coffee: I'm Late to the Party but OH Portola!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

It’s really exciting to be in a local business that is at the apex of it’s popularity and influence. The buzz, the lines out the door, the all-of-a-sudden rushes and the camaraderie among the employees is a fun thing to observe. And the way Portola Coffee Lab is set up, you feel like you’re a part of the excitement.

I know I’m a bit late to the Third Wave Coffee party but I stopped being embarrassed about being late when I started having kids several years ago. I’m sure you’ve been drinking coffee like this for years, but it’s a little like when you finally discover what ROFL means. Or LOL. Then it’s all you can do to NOT use it. Or in this case, not drink coffee like this.


At Portola, the baristas are in the middle, so you can see all the magic up close and personally. I always love watching someone do what they love; it makes you love it too. These baristas are coffee evangelists. In fact, their motto, so it seems, is “try it black.”

I’ve been a black coffee drinker twice over. Once when I gave up all creamer and sugar when I went on Weight Watchers 15 years ago and then once again 3 years ago when I began giving up processed foods one by one.

So I’ve been an I’ll-take-my-coffee-black girl for quite awhile.

All the ways that coffee is brewed, both hot and iced at Portola is enough to make a newbie like me crack. But they’re nice and they explain well, and even though they are “evangelists” as it were, I didn’t feel like they were snobby. Some of the Yelp reviews disagree with me in this regard, but my experience was great.

I ordered a Kyoto cold-brew drip. I can’t even begin to explain to you the unique taste. There is almost a tangy sweetness to it and so don’t you dare put sugar in it.  That would be like putting A1 sauce on a nice steak. Ketchup anyone?

No. Don’t do that. And yes, try it black. The coffee, that is.

They also have a Chai that I hear is wonderful so that should be my next venture when I visit.  It’s located at the super-cool, super-hipster marketplace called the OC Mix at SoCo (details below) and shares some common seating space with the nearby gelato shop, a tea shop and a wine bar. Theorem, an extension of Portola with a different vibe, is also next door.

If you enjoy coffee, every stop in Orange County must include Portola Coffee.  And I hear they’ll be opening another one up across the street from my workspace at Batch in the next few months.

Welcome to Santa Ana, Portola!

Portola Coffee Lab is located at 3313 Hyland Ave in Costa Mesa. It is inside the OC Mix in the SoCo marketplace center.

Beer Plus Hymns Equals Love

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Maybe you’re the churchy type. Maybe you’re not. Maybe you grew up singing hymns. Maybe you didn’t. It doesn’t matter. You’d have to be pulse-less not to love a good old-fashioned pub sing-along.

Gathering once a month (ish) in different parts of Orange County, Beer and Hymns OC is a collection of people who like to sing, like to drink (beer or otherwise) and like to have a great time.

On Sunday night we somewhat channeled the Irish (or the British) for the first event at Durty Nellies off of Red Hill in Costa Mesa. They opened up the bar on a Sunday night especially for us. Eighty-five people raised their glasses (I drank a Harp and possibly a bourbon) and sang together songs like “Be Thou My Vision” and “Blessed Assurance.”

We sang loud. And we sang strong. And not a one of us was drunk but who knew singing could be so much fun after a beer? I guess only EVERYONE WHO EVER DOES KAROKE, right? I digress.

This was no karoke. This wasn’t even “church” (okay, maybe for some of us it was). This was pub-singing songs that a lot of us grew up with and this was pub-singing at its best.

The band played two “sets” and by sets I mean they led the way while the crowd/choir sang louder. I’m telling you, I had never thought “In the Garden” could lend itself to a bar, but no lie, it never felt better than at Durty Nellies.

I’m so excited about this. Can you tell? You want to be there. I know you do. In fact, we can’t stop thinking about it over here at our house. And in the spirit of full disclosure, some of our besties are at the helm with this so we are fully invested.

If you're nearby, please come out in a few weeks. You will not be disappointed.

The next event is on Sunday night, October 19 at The Harp Inn in Costa Mesa. Click here for the Beer and Hymns OC Facebook, Insta, and the website with all the rest of the details.

And if you can make it in October, RSVP here!

The Only Ice Cream You'll Ever Need

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

On accident I found myself at two different ice cream shops over the weekend. Hello five extra el-bees. Not really. But maybe.

It was an accident, truly.

Let me back up. My new friend and current Batch-mate sent an email around the other day asking some of us to help us find the best taco in Santa Ana. She called it the Great Santa Ana Taco Quest. Needless to say, I found myself at El Reyes del el Elote Asado on Friday. Just wow. More on that at a later date.

But later that evening we met some friends at “just a cool ice cream spot” in the Orange Plaza. “Just a cool ice cream spot” turned out to be A la Minute Ice Cream, one of the coolest spots in this part of Orange County.

I only have a few things to say about A la Minute. First. Go here. Go here now. Second, anything you order will be grand. They make (MAKE) your ice cream to order with liquid nitrogen. The shop looks like a modern science experiment but with to die for ice cream. I got the fresh Mint Chip with fresh mint (it tasted like a summer garden) and shaved Parlaiment chocolate on top. Chad got the Orange Honey and our friends got the Salted Caramel. It’s all fresh. And its all good.

Literally the next day, after an eight-year-old soccer game in the driving heat, we escaped to our friends house in the much cooler part of the county near the beach.

“Let’s go get ice cream for dinner,” one of us must have said because that’s what we did right at five o’clock when most people are jonesing for sushi or pizza. We found ice cream. But this was not your normal ice cream.

Apparently someone did what one can only dream of. They put ice cream in a donut. I’ll say it again. Ice cream INSIDE of a donut.

At Afters Ice Cream in Fountain Valley you can get their handmade ice cream traditional styled in a cup or a cone, but you can also get it warmed slightly in a fresh made glazed donut. It’s like a donut sandwich with creamy, icy goodness.

I got the “cereal-and-mik” which was MILK FLAVORED ICE CREAM (yes) with frosted style flakes on top inside the donut which Afters calls their Milky Bun. Yeah. Pretty sure I can only go there once a year. Like on my birthday or something. I’ve never had anything like it in my life.

It felt like the weekend of grand culinary quests: first tacos, then ice cream.

It all was an accident. I swear it.

Local tip:A la Minute gets a long line. But don’t be deterred. It goes fast. Their people work hard and quickly to get you your ice cream. It is very much worth the wait. There's also a location in Redlands if that seems closer to you. And at Afters, make sure you get there early (we know you get a hankering for ice cream after dinner like the rest of us) because they have a new closing time of 9pm. Both places have new menus all the time. Right now A la Minute is serving things such as Avocado and Olive Oil Vanilla Bean. Afters has Vietnamese Coffee, Churro and Almond Cookie right now. 

A la Minute is located at 117 N Glassell St in Orange. Afters is at 18030 Brookhurst St in Fountain Valley.

Anaheim Packing House: You Had Me at Grilled Cheese Bar

Friday, September 12, 2014

Think of it like a grown-up food court. Without a Subway or Panda Express. Not that either of those eateries are necessarily inherently bad, but let’s just let them have their place in the sun at the shopping mall.

This “food court” of sorts is entirely different.

Envision a two storied, giant warehouse converted into a slightly hipster, always yummy circus of gratification for all the senses. Porch swings and rocking chairs are next to sofas, long community tables as well as places to hide in the corner if you so wish. You can find craft cocktails, craft beers, craft juices, craft popsicles --- just think craft-everything --- at the Anaheim Packing House.

The Packing House (where all the food and drink are) is located within the larger complex of the Anaheim Packing District which includes the Packing House, the Packard Building and Farmers Park.

The Park has a Farmers Market on Sundays at 10am and when there isn’t a Market hopping, the Park itself is an inviting lawn with trees and colorful chairs for relaxation. 

We’ve made our way there a few times. What is about it really, is the same thing that’s fun about a mall food court. When your boyfriend wants a burger and you can’t do a burger one more Saturday afternoon in a row and you’d rather have a prepackaged salad from the deli, you can. 

You can eat BOTH places. Win.

At the Packing House, I can eat a Double Tuna sushi roll from Orange Tei and my daughter can get a Classic from Black Sheep GrilledCheese Bar (don’t you dare miss this place. You had me at grilled-cheese-bar.) And then my comfort-food husband can eat at Kroft which boasts a Chicken Pot FRIES. Yes. It’s like Irish Nachos but not. Chicken pot pie innards on top of a pile of French fries. Right? Go now. Don’t stop.

The Pop Bar is a must of course: remember the craft popsicles? They will hand dip them for you in pretty much anything sugary and bad-for-you. Also for desert is Han’s Homemade Ice Cream located near the back. 

Live music in the central gallery on the weekends is a fun way to explore local bands. However the precious and adorable band we saw was full of talent, but couldn’t have been older than about fourteen. Bless their teenaged hearts.  Who knows, they’ll probably be the next Ed Sheeran or something and I’ll think “I knew them when.”

Take your kids or not. Either way works. We have been both ways and figured out you can’t take your kids to the speakeasy (yes. Yes. YES!) on the bottom floor, so next time, right? But they were just fine after we found Han’s and the Popbar. Also, two words: Giant Chicken.

Local Tip:
The Packing House is open at 10:30 for the rest of the day for lunch and dinner. But at 9 they open a little early for juices and a few other morning-type places. The bars are open till midnight. If you are there during a high volume time and can’t find a place to sit, there is hidden seating outside along the backside of the Packing House. There is a door near the sushi place. Also, if you can’t find parking don’t be afraid of using the valet. It’s only $3 and if it’s “full” the valet told me it’s usually only “full” for a few minutes and then they have room.


The Anaheim Packing House is located at 440 S Anaheim Blvd in downtown Anaheim. They have events all the time including yoga on the lawn and organic gardening classes. Click here for a calendar of events.  Plus I saw something about a chocolate and cheese pairing! What??

You Must Be New Here. It's Okay. We All Are.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

You must be new here! It's okay. We all are.

I'm so glad you came. California Loves Culture an arts and culture blog curating local happenings and great things to do, eat and experience in and around Southern California. We'll be exploring the arts including theater and music events, local food including farmers markets, restaurants and eateries, local travel and local culture including fun places to go and things to do in and around our amazing area.

We already have curious minds around here for new and amazing things to do here, so we are looking forward to sharing them with you.

We have a Facebook page that I hope you'll connect with. Click here.

If you want to know more about me and mine, you can find it here.

And if you really want to know the daily ins and outs of what's going on, hit up our Instagram here.

If you have any ideas of great places to visit, please feel free to leave them in the comments or on our Facebook page. We can't wait to hear your ideas!

The Tempest at the South Coast Rep

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

photo by South Coast Rep
Oh my.  I’ve never seen Shakespeare quite like this.

I was a communications minor at University and all through my Junior and Senior years as part of my course work, I had to attend half a dozen performances per semester. Student rush tickets are amazing. I took my boyfriend to plays and operas and musicals and everything in between. And I saw a ton of Shakespeare: professional companies all the way down to college troupes.

But the South Coast Rep’s current iteration of The Tempest, not unlike the famed storm itself, is a force to be reckoned with.

With an intriguing small group acting as the music and “Rough Magic” including music by Kathleen Brennan and Tom Waits (right, I know!) and a magical element with acts designed by Teller (of Penn and Teller) I promise you’ve not seen anything like it. 

An amazing physical acting duo played Caliban (I found it difficult to look away from Zachary Eisenstat and Manelich Minniefee) and a magician in his own right played the part of Ariel (Nate Dendy). Prospero (Tom Nelis) levitated Miranda (Charlotte Graham) briefly during her and Ferdinand’s (Joby Earle) wedding and Trinculo’s musical and comical prowess was impressive (Jonathan M. Kim).

The script was true to Shakespeare but the dress and set design was decidedly Victorian in nature. Glowing café lights reminded me of gas lamps and behind a thin curtain, the actors at times, moved through shadow and light plays.

I honestly can’t say anything bad about The Tempest at all. And because at the SCR every seat is a good one, one can’t go wrong. 

Local Tip:
You can get specially priced tickets today only for $40. Use code 10676 at checkout (not an affiliate link) for performances this weekend only!

The Tempest is playing currently and still has many tickets available for the next few weeks. Click here to find tickets and don’t beafraid to buy the “cheaper” ones. Like I said, no seat is bad in this intimate venue.

Six Things to do NOW in SoCal

Friday, September 5, 2014

All of us who call Southern California home know that some of the best time of year here is the fall. No, we don’t have the leaves. No, we don’t have the cozy, blustery days. But we do have sun. 

Oh yes. We do have the sunshine. 

Labor Day doesn’t have to signify the end of summer-type things to do for us.

September and October might be the warmest months of the year but the difference between October and July is that while it may be close to 90 degrees at Halloween, there’s a good chance that it will cool off nicely at night and be overcast in the morning. 

So what should we do NOW that the summer tourist crowds have gone home, while we still have the summer/fall sun and before we release Daylight Savings into the recesses of November?

Here are a few great ideas and some of my favorites:

       1. Go to the beach. 
      After all the kids are back in school, and the sand is still warm, take advantage of the beach in September. The summer crowds are gone or are inside pretending its fall, so why shouldn’t you extend August into September? My favorite Orange County beach is Crystal Cove which isn’t even very crowded in the summer, so September is brilliant down there below the cliffs.

2. Eat outside. 
      There are few places in Southern California that don’t have outdoor eateries because we live in PARADISE. Seriously. Make use of the summer-like weather this fall and continue to eat outside. Find a new restaurant with outdoor or beach-view seating or grill a few steaks with your favorite people. In fact Chad and I often grill through the fall, winter and spring. Check out the Roof Top Bar in Laguna beach for not-so-good drinks, but an amazing view. Hit it near sunset and you’ll forgive them for the slightly watered down mojitos. Also, get the bacon wrapped dates. To. Die.
     3. Take a hike. 
      I hardly hike in the summer. Why? Snakes mostly. I’m dead serious. There is something irrational in me that says there are more snakes in the summer but I’m sure I’m wrong. The other reason is the heat. It’s hot in the morning, afternoon and night on a non-shady hike in the summer. But in September and October, the cooler temperatures in the morning and evening make for perfect solo hikes or with friends. My favorite OC hikes: Newport Back Bay and Peters Canyon. Also, here’s a list of some great LA hikes and OC hikes you can take to beat the city.  
      4. Watch a Play. 
      We love our outdoor venues, don’t we? Many outdoor playhouses still perform through the fall. Hit up the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum for an outdoor season through the fall in Topanga. Most troupes move their performances indoors after the summer but there are still a few that operate through September. If you don't want to sit outdoors in September, you can always hit up the South Coast Rep for The Tempest this month. 

     5. Find a festival
      Of course October is great for OktoberfestMore on that later in the season, as well as many fall festivals around the southland. Head out to the Temecula Wine Country for their Autumnfest, a celebration of local food and wine. The LA County Fair happens all September long at the Pomona Fairgrounds and three local cities host Lobsterfests this month (Long Beach, San Pedro and Redondo Beach). Find a weekend, find a festival and don’t look back.

      6. Go Camping
      Now I'm aware that camping isn't for everyone but if it's for you {and you know who you are} there are a ton of local campgrounds that are close and great for the weekend. Both Caspers Wilderness Park in South Orange County and Leo Carillo in Malibu are ones I've been to personally and love. Caspers has a ton of hiking trails and great sites and Leo Carillo has beach access. What more could you want? I prefer the showers at Leo Carillo but who really takes showers when they camp?

     Whatever you decide to do this September, don't let this month get away without taking advantage of the great weather and lessened crowds. Have fun!
      What are some things you like to do in the fall months in Southern California?

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