Posts Tagged ‘Santa Monica’

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.

A Peaceful Day in Santa Monica

Evan and I have been back in LA for about two weeks now, and we’re working on getting back into the swing of things. I’m working on some freelance projects, Evan is looking for editing work, and we’ll start figuring out where we’ll live soon. Evan also just bought a car — a used Audi A4 he found on Craigslist. He’s only had it since the weekend, so we were surprised to see that it was leaking oil yesterday, after it had already been checked out. We took it to his mechanic in Santa Monica today and it needed some work done — nothing major, but enough to leave us without a car (mine was at my parents house) for the day.

We started by walking down to the Lazy Daisy, one of our regular breakfast spots before we left. We grabbed a small, blue mosaic table in its closed-in patio, which does a decent job of making the restaurant feel removed from busy Pico, and perused the breakfast selections. I settled on an omelet and Evan chose a breakfast sandwich. We got our waters in big, thick plastic cups (the only thing that really bugs me about this restaurant — I don’t really like using plastic dinnerware — thankfully it’s only the cups, not the plates, too), then relaxed in the cool LA morning while enjoying our leisurely breakfast.

When we were done at the Lazy Daisy, we needed to brainstorm what to do next. It was still early — not even 9 a.m., so we had some pretty limited options. We thought we could find a matinee for 10ish, or maybe go down to the beach or the public library. We thought about getting a cab or a ride from the mechanics (they’d offered earlier), but then we realized something pretty revolutionary for us car-centric LA folk — we could take the bus.

We started walking down Pico, which has plenty of bus stops, and realized that though there were stops, there weren’t any route maps. Finally, after passing a few stops and making it to Santa Monica College, we found a route map, made sure we were headed to the right place, and hopped on the Big Blue Bus. It cost 75 cents for each of us, and we were at the 3rd Street Promenade in about 10 minutes. We also found out that SMC students can ride the bus for free — and plenty seemed to be taking advantage of the deal.

We walked to the library, but we were a bit early for its 10 a.m. opening time, so we checked out the movies — not much we wanted to see and nothing that started before 11:20 — and wandered around until we could head back to the big public library, a bright, airy, two-story building built around a courtyard with an arid garden, shallow and sparky fake stream, and a cafe.

At the library, we started by getting new cards, then went to use the free internet. There was a rather creepy guy sitting next to Evan who was staring at a picture of a girl in a low-cut shirt for at least 30 minutes. We mostly just read the news and checked our email.

Then we went down to the sunny downstairs reading room (the sun finally burned off the haze by 11), where we read and relaxed on a comfy bench. What a nice and peaceful way to spend the morning! And a lot of other people had the same idea — the library was full of people working, reading, researching and eating.

We headed back to the mechanic’s because we were told the car would be ready, but alas, it wasn’t, so we decided our next excursion would be a walk to a cafe by Evan’s old apartment called Bolivar. We walked down the tree-lined streets, past a corner where a small accident took place — everyone was calm and just waiting for the police — and a high school field getting covered with astroturf.

At the cafe, we ordered arepas — little Venezuelan sandwiches in hot cornmeal pouches. Yum! We each had one with mango and cheese, called the Pacifico, and one with black beans. They were delicious, especially when we added the extra cilantro-flavored sauce they added on the side. I’d only had salads and sandwichs here before, so this was quite a treat.

We walked back to the mechanic’s and still had a bit of a wait for the car, but being without the car for the day actually ended up being a lot of fun. We didn’t spend much money, we weren’t stressed by traffic and we had a good time rediscovering Evan’s old neighborhood.