Archive for November, 2008

Notre Dame Marching Band Does OK Go, Treadmills and All

We just got back from the USC-Notre Dame game where USC won 38-3. The game wasn’t terribly exciting, but the marching bands really stepped things up for the halftime show. The full Notre Dame marching band was on hand — apparently for the first time in 35 years — and they did some of the most impressive formations I’ve ever seen.

My favorite part was when they played OK Go’s “Here We Go Again,” made famous by the treadmill dance music video. Well, the marching band didn’t bring out real treadmills, but they made two treadmills with two men — then had the belts moving, and the men moving, too. I’ve never seen anything like it on a field.

Check it out a little closer up. Too bad I was sitting on the wrong side of the field so it’s upside down.

After the field-scale treadmill dancing, the band started playing “American Pie” and created a field-size car that traveled across the field, leaving a trail of smoke behind it. I don’t usually care much for the halftime show, but this was a real standout. Apparently the Notre Dame band director is actually a USC alum.

The USC band had its own story to tell, highlighting USC’s victories over the past 35 years that the Notre Dame marching band had remained in Indiana. It was fun and typically tongue-in-cheek, though I couldn’t really tell what any of the formations were supposed to be. There were also plenty of dance breaks — it seems anytime anyone in the USC band isn’t actively playing their instrument, they make up some sort of dance, which ends up being pretty entertaining.

Feeling the Reach: Stories Around the Web

It’s always a pleasant surprise to get a link back from a blog — especially one that doesn’t belong to a friend, but I’ve had some pretty big surprises this past week, which resulted in some pretty big traffic for this little blog.

First, Cracked.com linked to my wavy facade post — in an article called 15 More Images You Won’t Believe Aren’t Photoshopped (see #12) — which had a link to pictures I took of a building in Paris that looks like it’s melting.

Overnight it brought thousands of people to the blog, overloading the servers for a time. I have noticed that post frequently gets found in searches, so I imagine it was the first thing the author found, and he linked to it. Thanks, Cracked!

Also, my recent Hitched interview with Alimi Ballard has been picked up by People magazine’s Celebrity Baby Blog and b5 Media’s FBI Dramas Blog, both with ample quotes from the interview. That doesn’t bring anyone back to this blog, but it’s still very cool to see my work being quoted.

It’s nice to see the reach of some of my pieces — especially ones I didn’t really expect to have much impact. It’s good inspiration to keep writing more.

Madame Chocolat: The Most Delicious Interview

Most of the interviews I do for the articles I’m writing are over the phone, so it’s a real treat to get to meet the person I’m writing about face to face. Over the last few weeks, I did not one, but two interviews — for two publications, SpoiledinLA and Hitched magazine — with Hasty Torres at her Beverly Hills chocolate boutique Madame Chocolat. I also took plenty of pictures.

Now, hanging out in a chocolate shop — and getting to indulge in some of the sweets — is never something I’d turn down. I even have a tag devoted to chocolate on the blog. And Hasty’s shop didn’t disappoint. We chatted over lattes mixed with chocolate spoons, and I checked out the incredible holiday chocolates and got a tour of all the goodies in the store, from truffles and bonbons to chocolate covered cheerios. I must say, my favorite chocolate so far was the white chocolate citron, a pretty and creamy bonbon made with lime juice and decorated with delicate teal branches and leaves (second chocolates back on the right in the picture below). The caramel hearts were also delicious, as were the rich and enormous chocolate chip cookies. (OK, I promise to stop drooling now.)

I also learned that you can have a chocolate party at Madame Chocolat, for kids or adults, where you can make chocolates of your own. Ahem — anyone planning a party?

The SpoiledinLA reviews aren’t online yet, but the Hitched Candid 7 article where I talk to Hasty about her relationship with her husband, celebrity chef Jacques Torres is up now. The interview was fantastic, but of course I couldn’t use it all. Here’s my favorite outtake, about how Hasty and Jacques make their relationship work when they both have their own chocolate shops on opposite sides of the country — and how they hope to work together one day:

It works because of our love of chocolate and the love of what we do. It’s so helpful to have a partner who understands what you do and works in your industry. Jacques is still my mentor, and he’s still my chef. There are so many people who say they could never work with their spouse, but since that’s how we met, we really do well together. We’re like yin and yang in the kitchen—we can anticipate each other’s needs, and we know how to help each other out.

Check out the Hitched article to learn how Jacques proposed in the chocolate shop, what their favorite chocolates are, and how being on “The Girls Next Door” has brought in a flood of new requests for “body parts” chocolates.

Web on the Wii

Today we finally set up our Wii to connect to the internet — we weren’t able to in London for some reason — and of course we checked out France to Go to see how it would look on the new TV. Check it out:

We’re still working on getting settled into our new place, but thigs are coming along nicely. We have nearly everything we need, save for a couch/futon for Evan’s office and somewhere to put our DVDs, and we still need to hang our pictures on the walls. I think that’s what’ll really make it feel like home.

Weekend Fun: Quantum of Solace, The Santa Monica Pier and the McGill Jazz Orchestra

Note: This post somehow disappeared from my blog, so I’m reposting it. Seriously, it’s a total mystery to me what happened that would erase the whole post from last night to today. Apologies if you’ve seen this twice now.

We’re still getting the apartment set up, but it’s been sort of slow going because we’ve been having too much fun. Friday we went to a late screening of Quantum of Solace after getting Martinis with some friends. I’m not normally a big Bond fan, but I enjoyed the movie quite a bit. It’s action sequences were pretty amazing and covered close to every mode of transportation, from cars to boats to planes to feet to hanging from the ceiling by ropes.

There was also a point in the movie, when Bond is at a party in Bolivia, that one of the voices sounded exceeding familiar. I leaned over to Evan and said, “That sounds exactly like Guillermo (Del Toro),” and he said, “Oh, it is him! I almost missed it!” Apparently Guillermo Del Toro and Alfonso Cuaron both have voice cameos in Bond. I was pretty proud to have picked that up, even without knowing.


Santa Monica

Saturday we got up late and went down to Santa Monica to meet up with my friend Terri, her two little kids, John and Lexi, and some of her friends. We walked along the beach, ate some french fries and then walked down the pier to take the kids on some rides. Johnny absolutely loved them and just kept waving at us and smiling and enthusiastically driving his mini bumper car, airplane or jeep.


Johnny on the bumper cars

Earlier in the day we were surprised how clear it was despite all the nearby fires, but by late afternoon, we started seeing a lot of ash in the air and the sun was an eerie pink-red as it was setting, creating a very fiery reflection on the water.

Saturday evening, my parents came over to the apartment for happy hour — bruschetta, cheese and crackers, and wine — then we all went out to Bel Air to see the McGill Jazz Orchestra play at an alumni event (both my parents are McGill alumni). We drove on a very windy mountain road to a beautiful home and drank more wine and ate hors d’ouevres outisde in the warm night. When it was time for the jazz to start, my parents snagged front-row seats, and we sat just feet away from the high-energy band.

There were plenty of impressive solos from piano, guitar, trumpet, saxophone and trombone players, a guest performance from an alumnus, and an incredible sight reading session where the band was handed new music — it was even new to the conductor — and started playing and even improvising solos on the spot. There was even an tuba solo! My dad started a standing ovation at the end of that song and the rest of the audience joined in, then he started yelling for an encore. The band obliged and ended with “Gonna Fly Now” from Rocky, which nearly deafened us since two of the trumpet players stood in the front row.

We met some of the students in the band after the concert and it turns out they had also been having fun in Santa Monica earlier in the day.

Monster Madness: The Hellboy II DVD Release Party


The top of a “burning trash can” table

Last night, Evan and I went to the Hellboy II The Golden Army DVD release party (boy, that’s a mouthful). It was quite an event, and it looks like quite the Blu-ray DVD, with tons of special features, a 2 and a half hour documentary on the making of the movie, a director’s notebook, lots of commentary, a comic book creator and a “goggle view” that lets you see the movie in various stages of visual effects. We can’t wait to get our hands on one and check it out with our new Blu-ray player, which is still in the box.

The party was a major production, which transformed the club Element into a scene from Hellboy, complete with monsters, burning trash cans, and actors from the movie.


Evan and me with a monster

Evan and I had fun taking photos with the monsters who did an incredible job in their elaborate costumes. We’re pretty sure they couldn’t see a thing, and saw quite a few of them being led around the room slowly by hand. Some of their costumes were huge, too, and Wink’s mouth and hads were radio-controlled making him unbelievably life-like.


Evan and me with the enormous Wink

Guillermo Del Toro also gave a presentation about the Blu-ray’s special features, making sure to rib on the cast and costumes in his typical fashion. He’s also hosting the first-ever in-Blu-ray live chat on Sunday, November 23, 2008 at 6 p.m. PST, which anyone can join by signing up at UniversalHiDef.com and submitting questions via the “Directors Chat” tab in “My Account.”


Guillermo Del Toro introducing the Hellboy II DVD

There was also a rather funny panel discussion with Selma Blair, Jeffrey Tambor, Doug Jones, Mike Mignola, a Dark Horse exec and Guillermo. We learned that Guillermo liked to call Jeffrey Tambor “Jeremy” and Guillermo said that Selma and Doug “learned everything they know about handling a weapon from Charlie’s Angels.” The actors confirmed that and Selma added that when using her fake gun, she would say “Bang bang,” when it was supposed to go off, and she had to be reminded to keep quiet during her close-ups. Doug talked about the elaborate costumes he got to wear during the shoot since he played three characters, and they all talked about their favorite monsters — most were partial to the incredible Angel of Death.

Selma Blair, Jeffrey Tambor, Doug Jones, Mike Mignola, Dark Horse exec whose name I can’t remember, Guillermo Del Toro

After the party, we went to an Italian restaurant next door to the club with the DVD producer, Javier, and his girlfriend Orso (the ones we baked the cake for), a concept artist, Francisco, and a few other people. We didn’t get DVDs, but we did get Golden Army toys and a big hug from Guillermo.

See the rest of our photos in Evan’s Facebook album.

First Look: Hellboy II The Golden Army DVD Release Party Swag

Tonight Evan and I went to the Hellboy II DVD release party. It was great — they turned the Hollywood club Element into a scene reminiscent of the Troll Market in the movie, complete with plenty of monsters, like Wink and the Butcher Guards, and tables that looked like burning trash cans covered with Hellboy II-branded plexiglass. Guillermo Del Toro made a presentation to show off some of the new Blu-ray DVD’s features, like the goggle view, which allows you to see the movie as it was shot and in two stages of temporary visual effects, and he also showed some behind-the-scenes footage from the set. Then there was a panel, with Guillermo, Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, Jeffrey Tambor, Selma Blair, Doug Jones and a Dark Horse exec, which had some funny moments, mostly from Doug and Jeffrey.

More to come about the event tomorrow, but for now, check out our swag. Unfortunately we didn’t get our own Blu-rays, but we did get Golden Army toys.