Out and About in LA: Family Reunion

Good news! I had visitors from the family this weekend. Specifically my sister and her boyfriend since they were traveling across California. It was a pretty sweet day because I haven’t seen anyone from Jersey in two months! So, of course we painted the town red. Or at least a solid magenta.
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25 Favorite Films: The Thing (1982)

It must be very hard to convey any kind of emotion or feeling in a film. We can show someone be happy or miserable but it takes true skill to make us, the audience, actually believe it. Whether it involves the best actors in the world or a very competent Director; if you can make these emotions believable then you have the stirrings of a classic film. Which is why John Carpenter’s The Thing is so revered even if it wasn’t at the time of its release. This film perfectly encapsulates the dread of paranoia that a movie has not evoked before or since.

The Thing is a slow build up in that regards as, early on, we just get the ins and outs of this Antarctic group of scientists. Once the titular ‘thing’ comes into play everything gets thrown out the window. With the idea that this alien can transform into anything or anyone you immediately start to question who is who. I think Carpenter does a masterful job fooling the audience and not making it overtly obvious who is or who isn’t the alien. Even after repeated viewings you can’t figure out when a change happens so it still becomes a bit of a surprise when a normal dude suddenly has his stomach open wide with monstrous teeth.

Speaking of monstrous: the creature designs in this are gorgeously done. If this film is any indication then John Carpenter does not have a favorable view on what aliens outside our system looks like. This alien is just gross to look at no matter what form it takes and the production crew goes all out on the gore. Gallons of blood, deformed features, and (again) just some of the grossest images around. That dog creature it tries to mimic is the stuff of nightmares and I am not sure I wanna meet the person responsible for that design.

All of this is summed up quite perfectly in the clip above. The ‘Blood Test’ scene is one of my all time favorites in film for all the things I mentioned. It’s got the tension because we have no idea if ANY of these guys tied up are the alien, everyone including Kurt Russell is showcasing paranoia extremely well, and when we finally get the reveal of the alien it is as gory as you can imagine. The scene is paced well too and this slow build up matches up perfectly with this sudden burst of excitement as the man changes into the monster. There are a lot of great scenes in The Thing and I didn’t even go over my other favorite involving Wilford Brimley and an ax. Like I said before, even after repeated viewings you can find a lot of enjoyment out of this film. It certainly beats a lot of the sci-fi/horror films that come out today that’s for sure.

Out and About in LA: Thrillist Culinary Road Trip

Last week a website called Thrillist had their first ever ‘Culinary Road Trip’ in Los Angeles. Basically it is a food festival where they take some of the best restaurants in America and tour them around. I wanted to do this because:

A) As a former fatty and lover of food this seemed right up my alley

B) It covered a major Philadelphia icon in Tony Luke’s.

So I can taste some of the best food we have to offer as a country but also not feel homesick for a few hours. If it ever comes to a city near you I highly recommend it. Here are the highlights of this particular tour:

The tour takes place in the heart of Hollywood at Siren Studios.   

A pretty good line at the door. Makes me happy this didn’t turn out to be a scam.    

I’m not big on the club scene. But Thrillist definitely wanted it to feel like it.    

Refreshments everywhere 

Boxed water? What will they think of next?
 

The Main Attractions

Tony Luke’s  

Tony Luke’s Cheesesteak (Doesn’t look like much but it felt like home.) 

 

Insomnia Cookies (Also a Philly staple but sadly was not there on Sunday. But they left a ton of leftovers for people.) 

 

Gino’s East (Chicago

  

Chicago Fire Deep Dish Pizza (Spicy Sausage, red peppers, and onion)

  

Lardo (Portland)  

Griddled Mortadella Sandwich (Mortadella w/Provolone, Mama Lil’s Peppers, and Mustard)  

Stumptown  

Luke’s (Maine)  

Maine Lobster Roll  

Sweetgreen (Washington D.C.)

Rad Thai Salad (Arugula, carrots, cabbage, spicy sunflower seeds, cucumbers, and a spicy cashew dressing)   

Blackseed Bagels (New York City)  

Sesame Seed Bagel (cream cheese w/cucumber and caper salad)  

Georgetown Cupcake (Los Angeles)
Peanut Butter Fudge Cupcake   

25 Favorite Films: Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

In 1988 filmgoers got the equivalent of a ‘Marvel/DC Comics’ crossover in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. By taking a hard boiled detective story and mixing it with a cartoon universe we got every single famous cartoon character (at the time) in one place. You want Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny together? You got it!

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Out and About in LA: UCLA

I have no plans to going back to college but why not take the opportunity to visit one of the biggest in the country? UCLA is a pretty massive area and I decided to go because they have two (free) museums. The Fowler holds various materials from India, Africa, and the Americas. Meanwhile The Hammer Museum holds modern art from European artists of the 1600s to abstract work from today. Here are some of the highlights of the campus and these two museums:
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Great Movie Scenes #008: The Last Boy Scout (1991)

Let’s get one thing straight: The Last Boy Scout is not a good movie. The action is pretty mediocre, the characters are generic, and overall it does not stand up to the test of time like better films of this type. Basically, it feels like this is suppose to be a parody of the action genre but it went through so many rewrites that it turned into a full-on, serious project. Even when the film tries to be funny it doesn’t really work despite Bruce Willis’s best effort. Although this is one moment that kind of sums up this picture and tickles me pink.

(SPOILER ALERT!)
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Out and About in LA: Rowan Meet-Up

So last night I had a really fun time hanging out with people I went to school with. My friend Adam Bradshaw has been successfully trying to keep all alumni from Rowan University in touch by having events like this. Not only is it a good place to network but just to see fimiliar faces is amazing for me. It has been a roller coaster of a month for me so to chat with people having the same experience was a treat.

 

This place has everything if you are a beer snob.

   

We have shuffleboard!

    

Or pool…if you are into that.

  

Top the day off with late night, Korean tacos.