Boo to You!

October is upon us, and over the last week I have ben decorating for Halloween! Last year I didn’t decorate, because we were still settling in, but not this year! So after much hemming and hawing I’ve gotten our place looking pretty spooktacular.

I have a lot slated for the month of October, mostly morbid themed places to visit, as well as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party later this month (sadly, I’ll be repeating a costume from a previous Halloween, but more on that later), and I look forward to sharing them all with you! How about you – have you started decorating yet? How about plans for a Halloween costume?

A Tiki-rific Day!

Over the weekend tiki fans of all ages flocked to Disneyland for the fourth annual Tiki Day! Like Dapper Day, and many other non-official theme days at Disneyland, Tiki Day focuses on dressing up in your most tiki-rific outfits for a fun filled day at the park, including group oriented portions, like visiting the Enchanted Tiki Room, the attraction that inspired the event. This year marked the fourth annual Tiki Day and there was a massive turn out with some amazing ensembles!

As night fell, many of us made our way to the Tomorrowland Terrace as Scot Bruce, an Elvis tribute artist, was performing, and it was his last night at the Happiest Place on Earth, after 13 years. Many of us were bummed to see him go, as he is an excellent entertainer and singer. Also, how perfect for Tiki Day, right?

Unlike the last two years where I only knew one person, Suzanne of Sweetie Suz, one of the organizers of the event, this year I saw so many familiar faces and friends that I have made over the last year of living here. Here’s to many more fun filled theme-days!

Dress: Paper Moon Vintage, Los Angeles, Ca.
Parasol & Pineapple Purse: Found by my dad!
Shoes: Wanderlust, Portland, Or.
Piranha Brooch: Match Accessories
Hair Flower: Fancy Fruits
Bamboo Bangles: Seriously, I don’t remember. I’ve had them since high school.

Patrick’s Outfit
Shag Shirt: Found by my dad!
Shorts: Quicksilver
Shoes: Nordstorm

Warner Brothers Studio Tour

Warner Brothers Studio is the powerhouse behind some of the greatest classic films of all time. Casablanca being at the top. But they also produced James Dean’s three major motion pictures, East of Eden, Rebel without a Cause, and Giant, along with some wonderful television series. And today the Warner Brothers continues to make great and award winning movies and  TV shows. What some people may not know is that you can actually visit Warner Brothers Studios and take a tour of its backlot and sound stages! I was thrilled when I found this out, and Patrick surprised me with tickets over the weekend.

First, I’m always happy when I can visit filming locations, but Warner Brothers’ backlot holds a special place in my heart with its ties to the James Dean’s films, the 1960s Batman series, and my favorite show, the little known series The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. (Some readers may remember that my devotion extended into me making not one but two cosplays of the character of Dixie Cousins.) However, I knew ahead of time that where the majority of Brisco filmed no longer existed. Like many studios, Warner Brothers had a western area on their backlot. Built in 1957, at the height of westerns, Laramie Street, as it was called, had scenes from not just Brisco film there, but the James Garner classic show Maverick (perhaps my favorite role of his), and Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles shot there as well. But as westerns grew less popular, and family sitcoms and one hour contemporary dramas began to take over the airwaves, Warner Brothers saw little use for Laramie Street, and bulldozed it in 2004 to make way for Warner Village, “a New England-style residential street” where the homes are not just facades, but working production offices as well.

However, Laramie Street is not the only location on Warner’s backlot that Brisco used. They shot extensively on their “New York” sets as well, which acted mostly as San Francisco. Including the Westerfield Club, the Horseshoe Club and the hotel where Brisco and Socrates dangle from a window. (All of the screencaps and their counterparts below are shown respectively.)

And like all shows, Brisco also shot on sound stages. Warner Brothers Studios’ stages all feature plaques that have a list of all of the movies and shows that have filmed on that stage. We were lucky enough to pass by one of the ones Brisco used, stage 19.

We also passed by the building used as police headquarters in Batman, as well as building that acted as the police station that an intoxicated Jim Stark was dragged to in Rebel Without a Cause. Which is currently being used as a high school for Pretty Little Liars.

The tour also featured a museum that rotates exhibits. During our visit the first floor was dedicated to Batman, since the new Batman vs. Superman movie is coming out soon, as well as it being the 75th anniversary of the caped crusader. However, the floor was given to Batman films beginning with Burton’s 1989 version through Batman vs. Superman. The upper floor on the other hand was dedicated to Harry Potter. At the conclusion of our tour we visited Stage 48, part museum, part store, part coffee house, that allows guests to gaze upon items from the archives, such as costumes, artwork and props, as well as experience green screen technology, forced perspective use, and sound mixing. I was most excited over the original Scooby-Doo pitch board and the puppets used in The Corpse Bride.

The Warner Brothers Studio Tour is similar in some ways to the tour at Universal Studios Guests. However when visiting Universal Studios you are mostly visiting an amusement park. The Studio Tour is a part of their heritage, and offers a peek into how movie magic is made, but they do not shy away from gimmicks. Warner Brothers’ tour is different in that it stays away from gimmicks, the tour group is smaller, and guests get to step off of their tour buses and walk along portions of the backlot, as well as onto sound stages (we walked onto the stages for The Big Bang Theory and Ellen), so overall, the Warner Brothers Studio Tour feels much more like a real working backlot, rather than a ride, as with Universal, although Universal is still very much a working set. I was so pleased to be able to visit such locations that mean a great deal to me, and I would honestly go back and do the tour again sometime in the future or when interested friends or family visit.

Other notable movies and shows that have used Warner Brothers’ backlot extensively are A Star is Born, Blade Runner, The Music Man, My Fair Lady, Bonnie and Clyde, The Dukes of Hazard, ER, Friends, Gilmore Girls, and Pushing Daisies.  For those wishing to visit the Warner Brothers Studio you can book through their website.

Clifton’s Cafeteria At Last

When I think about iconic old Los Angeles, a few places immediately spring to mind. The Bradbury Building, LA City Hall, Angels Flight, Griffith Observatory, and Clifton’s Cafeteria. Clifton’s is most certainly an institution in here southern California, and it’s one that was reborn last night, and Patrick and I were lucky enough to attend the grand re-opening. There are three stories that I feel are important to tell, so, this is going to be a longer than normal post.

First I want to tell the story of Clifton’s Cafeteria and its owner, Clifford Clinton. And while at first that may sound kind of boring, I’m telling you it borders on sounding like a James Elroy novel. The first Clifton’s Cafeteria was opened by Clifford Clinton (the name Clifton’s was created by taking portions of his first and last name and putting them together), in 1931, and was called Clifton’s Pacific Seas. The cafeteria was jungle themed, with murals, faux palm trees, waterfalls, and, my favorite detail, a rainfall every twenty minutes. The Pacific Seas location would remain open until 1960. Clinton opened his second cafeteria in 1935, Clifton’s Brookdale as it was called, and it featured a Redwoods inspired interior, rock work and water features. Clinton opened his cafeterias during one of America’s most difficult time periods, the Great Depression, and while other restaurants were turning away customers who couldn’t pay, Clinton had the following printed on guest checks, “Regardless of the amount of this check, our cashier will cheerfully accept whatever you wish to pay – or you may dine for free.” His openness did not end there. In a time when there were separate drinking fountains and much, much more for blacks and whites, Clinton welcomed everyone, regardless of race.

In the same year, Clinton was invited to inspect the food operations at LA County General Hospital, and it was the stepping off point on a crusade against corruption. At the hospital, Clinton made a report siting waste and poor patient treatment, and offered suggestions to trim the budget, but what he didn’t know was that the hospital and its budget had political ties, and Clinton’s suggestions were not welcome ones. In 1937, Clinton found himself selected for LA County Grand Jury, and specifically a jury that would hear offenses punishable by a year or more in prison, and the service would last one year. Shocked by what he learned while serving, and the resistance he met within the grand jury, Clinton created his own group, Citizens’ Independent Vice Investigating Committee (CIVIC). He compiled a report highlighting the relationship between city officials and the criminal underworld, and after the grand jury refused to print it, Clinton printed it himself. After the report, Clinton soon found his own restaurants were being issued violations, and even lawsuits by people claiming food poisoning and more. In October of 1937, a bomb exploded in the basement of Clinton’s Los Feliz home, and just a little while later, another bomb exploded in the car of an ex-cop, who was giving information to Clinton. The bombing was tied to an LAPD Captain, who was soon put on trial. The trial also exposed that the Captain was running illegal wiretaps, and soon the public became aware of the corruption within the city’s government. With the bombing and other corruption now pubic, Clinton with his CIVIC allies then began a recall campaign against the mayor, and they were successful.

After Pearl Harbor and America’s entrance into World War II, Clinton, at 41, joined the army and worked as a mess officer. After the war, he attempted to run for mayor. When he lost, he turned to the problem of world hunger, and teamed up with a Caltech biochemist to develop a food supplement to give proper nutrition, and did so at the cost of five cents per meal, Multi-Purpose Food, as it would be called. He then used this to create Meals for Millions, which has continued to this day in the form of Freedom from Hunger. During his crusades against corruption and hunger, Clinton continued his restaurant businesses, and opened several more locations, however, Clifton’s Brookdale was the only one to survive, being sold in 2010 to Andrew Meieran, who then closed it for refurbishment, and underwent many, many delays, as well as $3 million before it reopened its doors Monday night.

The second story I want to tell is the shortest of the three. As some of you might already know, my dad is originally from the Los Angeles area. He grew up down here, and he can tell you where nearly every business used to be, and recalls stories of his childhood and teenage years before he headed to Oregon for college. It is his stories, along with California’s lush history, that I want to track down and relive, they are stories that inspire me. When he told me about visiting Clifton’s, I longed to go, and Clifton’s shot to the top of the list of places to visit after we moved. But, like many, we found out we had to wait.

And now, the wait is over, and I get to tell you about our experience! Clifton’s Grand Re-Opening was a ticketed event to benefit the LA Conservancy, and Patrick had surprised me with tickets awhile ago. So I had been eagerly counting down the days, while simultaneously trying to avoid looking at pictures from the news articles that were popping up on the internet. Finally the day arrived, and the date couldn’t have been better as it fell on our one year anniversary of moving to California. Seriously, what better way to celebrate? Clifton’s pretty much sums up the reasons why I wanted to move here.

Clifton’s on one level may come across as kitsch to the max, but it is also incredibly charming, and classy. It still evokes all of the fun it did when it opened, while giving the menu a facelift, but there is still mac and cheese and Jell-O. I loved exploring its nooks and crannies, and taking pictures, despite difficulties (seriously, this place was a pain to shoot in, because it is so dark). During the party, the first and second floors were open to the General Admission (which we were), with the next two floors open for VIP admission (which we instantly regretted not purchasing, though they cost double what GA cost). And while the doors might be open, it’s still not completed. Talk of a tiki bar and speakeasy are on everyone’s lips, and I look forward to many, many returns during our visits into LA and exploring it even further.

Dress: Stars Antique Mall, Portland, Or.
Stockings: What Katie Did
Purse & Necklace: Antique Alley, Portland, Or.
Bangles: Buffalo Exchange
Shoes: I honestly don’t remember! Maybe Antique Alley as well…

Patrick’s Outfit
Suit & Hat: Paper Moon Vintage, Los Angeles, Ca.
Shirt & Shoes: Nordstorm
Tie: Not sure…maybe found by my dad…


“You want to go to another weird western town?”

This is how Patrick woke me up this last Thursday. Since moving I have pretty much dragged him to every old west town, be it fake or real, I could find. From Pioneertown to Calico to Knott’s Berry Farm to Paramount Ranch, I’m all about going to places that feature old west buildings. Bodie is next on the list. But Patrick brought an odd ball to my attention that I had never heard of. Thanks, Atlas Obscura. Enter Jack-O-Landia.

This place is just weird. Located right along Highway 18 in Lucerne Valley is Jack-O-Landia, a bizarre, tiny, wanna-be western…town…amusement…thing…I honestly don’t know what to call it. And here’s the thing, the internet doesn’t offer much on it, despite locals claiming the place has been there for around 30 years, according to Atlas Obsucra, anyway.

By just driving by you may mistake it for a mini golf corse, or an amusement park of some sort, but then as you pull up you realize it is something else entirely.  And what that is exactly you don’t know. The land is scattered with sheds that have been given western style porches, a “Last Stop” gallows and jail grace one side, meanwhile on the other side is what appears to be a legitimate tiny cemetery (I say legitimate because most of the headstones are laser etched, and feature relatively recent death dates) and a hearse, complete with casket inside (yes, I opened it, a glass or plexiglass sheet lay just inside, and I didn’t feel like crawling in further to see what lay beneath). Located in between is a playground, fake service station, wooden train, tipis, and a memorial for one Victor Cruz (all I can find is a short 2011 obituary for him, which invites people a celebration of life at Jack-O-Landia). Additionally there is a memorial sign for Freddy Fender. There are even handicap spaces located inside the fence, and restrooms, though they are actually just porta-potties (no, I did not go in).

The area has a strange feeling of both abandon and upkeep, because the buildings are free of tagging, and other forms of destruction. But maybe that is just because the area of Lucerne Valley doesn’t have a lot of vandals in its population. Who knows?

Feather & Totempole Print Blouse: Magpie, Portland, Or.
Shorts: Patti Smith West, Portland, Or.
Belt: I think Buffalo Exchange…
Mocs: Minnetonka
Bracelet & Ring: Capistrano Trading Post, San Juan Capistrano, Ca.
Purse: From my mother-in-law

Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue

Fall is officially in swing at the Disneyland Resort, and while Main Street USA may be lined with adorable pumpkins, one of my favorite areas of Disneyland during fall is Frontierland and the Big Thunder Ranch area. Sadly, this year will be the last autumn for Big Thunder Ranch, which includes the Big Thunder Ranch petting zoo, the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree, and best of all, Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue. More on that in a bit. And seeing as Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue will be closing up shop come January, Patrick and I are attempting to fill our bellies with as much barbecue as possible, and of course I couldn’t resist picking out some western duds for the evening.

Now, more on the Ranch closing. At D23, it was announced that the Disneyland Resort would be expanding to create a Star Wars themed land. Speculation of this has been going on since Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, and soon after it was announced that Star Wars would be taking over the Big Thunder Ranch area, located just north of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Originally this expanse of land was home to the Mine Train, Pack Mules, Conestoga Wagons and Stagecoaches that made their way would Nature’s Wonderland and the small town of Rainbow Ridge. In 1979 Big Thunder Mountain Railroad opened up, giving folks the “wildest ride in the wilderness”. In the mid-1980s, the expanse north of Big Thunder saw a ranch open up, and various forms of entertainment and dining came and went through the area (including the awkwardly placed Hunchback of Notre Dame “Festival of Fools”), and in the later 90s, the dining area closed, until it re-opened in 2009 as an all-you-can-enjoy barbecue restaurant, and live entertainment with extremely talented western musicians. My feelings about the Star Wars themed land are mixed (I mean I love Star Wars), but one thing I am certain of is that I am crushed to see Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue go. It offers some of the best food in the park, including amazing seasonal dishes, like the above pictured sugar cookie bake with pumpkin ice cream and caramel, as well as incredible ambiance, and, as I mentioned before, very talented performers, and I am hell-bent on visiting as much as I can before it closes. And I encourage anyone visiting Disneyland before January to visit as well, that is if you aren’t vegetarian or vegan!

I would also love to do a shout out to Jackie, a reader here. She approached me when Patrick and I were shooting the outfit pictures, and, Jackie, you were a delight to talk to! This is also a heads up to anyone else who may see me in the park, I love meeting my readers, and hanging out in Disneyland has provided me with a lot of contact that I honestly hadn’t expected! It’s so much fun hearing from you all in person, so, please, if you do see me, don’t be afraid to say hi! Unfortunately I won’t be at Dapper Day tomorrow, as I have to work it, after all, someone has to be there to make magic! But I do plan on visiting the Dapper Day Expo after I get off work. I probably won’t be too dressed up, as I will be taking the bus into work, and will be going straight to the Expo after work, so maybe I’ll bump into some of you there!

Cowboy Hat: Disneyland
Blouse: Buffalo Exchange
Skirt: Rock Steady via Roadkill Ranch, Fullerton, Ca.
Tooled Leather Wedges: Olvera Street, Los Angeles, Ca.
Brooch & Purse: Found by my dad!
Turquoise Bracelet: LA Vintage Expo
Turquoise Maize Ring: Capistrano Trading Post, San Juan Capistrano, Ca.

Universal Studios

After living in California for nearly a year (seriously, where does the time go, but I’ll reflect on that in a later post), Patrick and I finally made it to Universal Studios yesterday. I hadn’t been since I believe 1997, and Patrick had never been. With the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opening in spring of next year, I assumed there is going to be a mob of people visiting the park, and decided that we should go and experience Universal prior to all of that madness, and then return once Harry Potter opens and enjoy it without the stress of needing to visit other portions of the park. Thankfully Universal Studios was also doing a promotion of buy one day, get two days free, so we have two more days (until mid-February) to return.

A lot has certainly changed over the years, gone is the Back to the Future ride, as well as the E.T. ride, and sadly the Wild West Stunt Show has also shuttered its doors. With a fire in 2008 that took out many iconic sets, as well a King Kong animatronic, which was part of the studio tour, a 3-D experience has been installed, featuring a scene from Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake of King Kong. Additionally, for you Fast and the Furious fans, Universal has added a 3-D aspect to the end of their studio tour that incorporates the latest film. 3-D has a much greater presence at Universal verses Disneyland, with multiple attractions using in, such as Despicable Me, Transformers, and the Simpsons ride. Which, I won’t lie, is kind of disappointing. I often feel like 3-D, simulation attractions are cop outs. We see movies every day that are images on screens, which use special effects, having an image virtually come toward me doesn’t feel much different. I am much more impressed physical and practical effects when visiting amusement parks. But these feelings aside, Universal Studios is still a really neat place to go, and the studio tour offers a unique look behind the scenes of movies and television, and it’s always wonderful to be so close to such iconic locations that have been used in countless movies and television series. Some of my favorites that have graced Universal’s backlot are I Dream of Jeannie, The Muntsters, Back to the Future, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jaws, Psycho, and Universal’s classic horror films such as Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Frankenstein, just to name a few.

Shirt: The Wigwam Motel, Rialto, CA
Shorts & Belt (I think…): Buffalo Exchange
Jewelry: Here and there
Mocs: Minnetonka
Purse: Target, bought when I had a purse tear on me while on vacation awhile back, has turned out quite useful actually.