Tuesday, January 12, 2010


We're back in cold, gray NYC after 10 days in warm, sunny LA. I haven't been to LA (or Southern California generally, other than San Diego) in almost 20 years (not counting stopovers at LAX), so any memories I have of LA are generally hazy and very few. I remember that someone took my mom's wallet at the Chinese theater and I remember my mom's cousin visiting us when we were at Universal Studios and I remember going to the Hollywood Bowl, but honestly I don't remember much else. Everything seemed a little bigger and more glamorous back then.

But here's some things I learned or observed on our visit to LA:

1. Based on the main "attractions", it seems people in LA like to shop. Located on all the maps with the same blue dots as tourist attractions were a lot of malls. And we went to a lot of malls. The Westfield in Century City, Beverly Center, the Grove, etc. Not that people don't go shopping in NYC, but we lack the giant malls in the middle of the city. And most of these malls had movie theaters.

2. LA as a city layout confuses me. I'm used to NY and Chicago where most of the big business centers are concentrated in the "center" of the city, and as you go outwards from the center, it becomes more residential. In LA, it seemed like there were houses (not just apartments above businesses) right next to business centers, and business centers all over the place. There's nothing wrong with it, but it confused me. You could change jobs and triple your commute! I know we have businesses in Westchester and CT and elsewhere, but that's not quite what I mean. Hard to explain.

3. Food trucks in LA have a lot more variety when it comes to Asian food (bahn mi, pho, Korean tacos and bbq - I wish we had all of those!) but didn't seem to have the straight "street meat" cart that is all over NYC. Here, it's more often than not a street meat cart, but I didn't see that out there. Granted, we didn't see the whole city (how could we in 10 days?) and there seems to be a little more leeway as far as people just taking a grill and sitting on the sidewalk, but I found it interesting. In total, we went to 9 food trucks (mostly on Twitter) because they were different from what we had at home.

4. Everyone seemed happier when we were there (or maybe it was the sun-induced bliss of the first few days coloring my view). It just seemed that the sunlight and the warm weather made people smile more than people do here trudging around through the freezing cold and gray weather.

5. Sunsets, beaches, ocean. We don't get much of that here in January. Sometimes there's a nice sunset over the river, but I haven't seen many lately, and don't usually get to watch them from the river anyway. That's the thing about visiting a place - I always seem to like it better than where I live because (a) I don't have to go to work, (b) I get to be outside or doing things during my favorite time of day (afternoon), and (c) I'm not burdened with everyday life stuff, like commuting.

6. Things aren't always how they seem on TV. The Walk of Fame? I thought the stars on the sidewalk were on a big boulevard of fancy tourist attractions, but a lot of the stars are in front of random souvenir shops or smoke shops or the like. The Kodak Theater? It's in a mall! Seriously? I had no idea that people walked past the Sanrio store on the way to the awards.

That's it for now - I was supposed to sleep early tonight to try to cure my jet lag and get an early start tomorrow. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


I'm a little late to the party, but we went to see Avatar in 3D tonight, and WOW. It was completely breathtaking and overwhelming, and I think it was the best thing I have ever, ever seen. I wanted to see it again immediately after it was over, and when it ended, I just couldn't stop crying because it was so amazingly beautiful. Just WOW. That was an experience.

Before the movie started, I was thinking about how our experience at the movies this time (we're in LA) differs from our usual experience at the movies:

1. There were assigned seats. I have never been to a theater with assigned seats before! And we got the very last set of seats in the upper section, so we were really lucky. It was more than half an hour before the movie so I thought we would be fine (not to mention a Monday night), but how was I to know that they had assigned seats? If I knew, I would have tried to buy them earlier this morning and/or online just to make sure we got better seats (or got seats at all, considering how popular the movie is!).

2. The movie itself started at the designated start time. Usually at home I think it's ads before the designated start time, then the trailers and then the movie starts (after the start time). I thought I read sometime about companies getting sued and maybe that's why they start the movie itself on time here? There were some good 3D trailers though, so can't complain.

3. Everyone showed up when the movie was about to start, and not an hour before like we do at home. This probably has to do with the assigned seating thing.

I can't stop thinking about Avatar. It was so, so, so amazingly good. I keep trying to think about other movies that I thought were good to see how it compares, but I can't think of anything that comes close. I want to see it again!!

Friday, January 01, 2010

2009 in Review

What a crazy year 2009 was. Personally, so many great things happened this year. Next year will be our first full year as a married couple, and I'm really looking forward to it. But there was also so much about 2009 that was troubling. The world seemed to be in crisis, the economy was falling apart and people were losing their jobs left and right, including in my industry which used to seem relatively recession-proof. My 2009 year in review:

Movies/shows I saw in theaters in 2009:
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Star Trek
(If there's any others, I can't remember. We had a whole list we wanted to see but no time with wedding planning!)

Vacations/trips in 2009:
Maui, Hawaii (x2)
Chicago, Illinois
Findley Lake, New York
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Newark, Delaware

Books in 2009:
Uh oh, I can't think of anything I have read this year! I must have read something...

I need to figure out some more categories for next year. Perhaps I should make that a resolution!