Road Trip: Cherbourg & Beaches of Normandy

June is always a busy but special month for me. Liv’s birthday is at the beginning of the month, then Father’s Day and ends with Antz birthday. I rented a car and we drove to Cherbourg for a weekend trip for Antz birthday. I have wanted to visit Cherbourg ever since I saw the French musical “Les Parapluies de Cherbourg” Since Cherbourg is near the beaches of Normandy, we spent the day visiting Sainte-Mère-Église village, the Omaha Beach Memorial and the American Cemetery. The drive was over five hours and even though I normally would be able to drive longer than that in LA (I drove for eleven hours for our road trip to Portland) something about the French highways seems to lull me to sleep. I drove the first three hours and then Antz took over for the last two.

 

There were many tolls heading west towards Cherbourg. We also noticed livestock on the sides of the highway. At first we thought we were looking at sheep but with a closer look, they were golden cows! They were so pretty we pulled over and tried to snap a photo with some of the cows. The countryside is insanely pretty.

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I was surprised at how small Cherbourg was. Our hotel was just across the street from the harbor.

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We went for a walk around the town looking for a place to eat for lunch. Of course it was after 3 so we missed lunch and nothing was open until after 7pm.

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We found this gorgeous fish market but they didn’t cook the food. Liv bought a bag of apricots, Antz and I got crepes to tide us over.

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Les parapluies were everywhere. I only recently saw the French musical in the last few years although I have always been a big Catherine Deneuve fan. I also discovered that the guy who directed The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is one of Liv’s friend’s from school grandfather! How rad is that?!!

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We walked around for an hour then hung out in our hotel room. By 7pm, we were starving so we went to the first restaurant we found that was open. We ordered a plateau de fruits de mer for Antz birthday dinner. To our surprise, shellfish is served cold and there’s no melted butter to dip. Sadly, no matter how many times we have tried, we don’t like oysters. As fancy as the meal looked, we really missed our annual seafood meal from Duke’s in Malibu.

We drove around town looking for the Cherbourg sign. Oddly, we could find it’s location on Google Maps so I relied on photos from Pinterest and my intuition. Finally, just as I was about to give up I drove right past it on a steep hill! Since the sign was so big, one of us had to run into the street to get a photo. We waited forever for someone to get a photo of all of us but it’s an isolated area. This selfie has made me want to travel with a reliable tripod. I just don’t see where we could have set one up since there were cars passing in the street.

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The next day we grabbed breakfast at our hotel and headed out early.

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I had to take a photo with my umbrella by the harbor before we left. Our first stop was Sainte-Mere-Eglise. We learned the heroic story of Private John Marvin Steele. As the 82nd Airborne soldiers parachuted into the village, they were under heavy attack by Germans. John survived the jump but his parachute got caught in the spinnet of the church. He hung there limp, playing dead for two hours before he was taken prisoner. He later escaped and captured 30 Germans. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his valor. He is featured in the classic film The Longest Day.

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Miraculously, it didn’t rain. The sun actually came out as we headed towards the American cemetery. I spent hours explaining the D-day invasion to Liv and she listened intently. I was surprised to see how interested in history an eight year old was. I think it hit her the most when I told her how many men were drafted into the war and how her Dad would have most likely been sent to fight if we were alive during that time. During the summer of 1944 over 100,000 total men died.

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This was the most incredible experience for our family. France has always been a romantic place for us but visiting these sites where close to 10,000 people lost their lives felt very somber. We visited the memorial and watched a short film about World War II.
Below is Omaha beach.

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Our last stop wasn’t planned but Liv was asking what happened to the German soldiers so we stopped at La Cambe German war cemetery. It definitely had a different vibe to it. There were very few people there. Over 21,000 German soldiers are buried there. The cemetery has 1,200 maple trees as a gift of peace.

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If you are a history buff, I strongly recommend making this trip. Normandy Discovery Tours offers a tour by French locals. We saw a group of school children at the Omaha beach memorial. I really think that the difference between American children and European is our approach to the past. I feel like Americans shield their kids from the dark side of history but I believe that is doing them a disservice. They lack empathy and may grow up to make the same mistakes of bigotry and complacency. I talk to Olivia about everything, not to frighten her but to open her eyes to the world she lives in. She is a multiracial child so she doesn’t have the privilege to ignore the past suffering of her ancestors. Every accomplishment she makes in her life, she has many generations of proud Mexican and Black people cheering her on.

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Day trip to Astoria, Oregon

 Our kid is really into my dvd collection from the eighties. The original Annie, Beetlejuice, Legend and The Goonies are her favorites. I must say, The Goonies is the perfect kid’s flick, a treasure hunt, pirates and Cyndi Lauper! Liv has inherited my good taste in cinema. I told her about the city where the Goonies was filmed and all about the awesome child actors. We knew we had to make a day trip to Astoria on the northern coast of Oregon to see the film locations.
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We had to grab some donuts for the road since I missed out on Voodoo the day before. Blue Star Donuts is Portland’s best kept secret, well maybe not so secret. Lucky for us there was no stupid, long line or crazy expensive parking since it was in walking distance from Chris & Story’s house.

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Olivia was always looking for her pal Blueberry the cat
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Umm, are Toni & Candace working in there?

 

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We will definitely try this place on our next visit
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Antz attempted to eat my donut 
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I love phone booths!

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We stopped by the kid’s shoe store Clogs N’ More. I could’ve stayed there for 
hours but we had to hit the road.

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Can you believe that after what happened in Santa Cruz Olivia asked if we could ride this guy?!

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We took a crazy beautiful scenic highway with only one lane to get there but the view was 
worth the two hours of curves and slow trucks.
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We have arrived!!

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This building is from the opening scene of the Goonies. We followed this film location tour
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Yep, I have no shame in my cheesy tourist antics

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Goonies never say die!
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This goregous Queen Anne Victorian was owned by sea Captain George Flavel. It’s right across the street from the Jailhouse.
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We walked around town, everything looked like a movie set

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This creepy house belonged to George Conrad Flavel (those Flavel’s owned most of Astoria!) 
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I am all about abandoned houses with a spooky story behind them. I didn’t tell Liv the gruesome details about this house but she said it looked haunted! Someone has now bought it and plans to restore it to it’s original beauty.

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Veda was like, it doesn’t scare me!

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The town of Astoria is extremely charming but also has a creepy element I love.

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This store wins at common sense!

This store wins at common sense!

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Astoria-Megler Bridge connects Oregon to Washington state.

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We had lunch at this restaurant on the pier over looking the harbor. 

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We could see Washington state from our table.
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So the big attraction of Astoria is of course, the Goondocks, the house filmed in the movie. For thirty years this house has been a welcome attraction for tourists to come and take photos. Well, my bad luck curse struck and just a few days before our arrival, the homeowners decided they had enough of disrespectful folks intruding on their neighborhood. So when we drove past the house we found this…
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It’s hard to feel sympathy for these guys since they knowingly bought a famous house. However, I do understand that people suck and are incredibly rude and ruin the experience for others!
I guess they got sick of people doing the truffle shuffle

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Even with the tarp and signs, there were still a lot of people visiting the house.

We were bummed but we still had one more stop before we headed back to Portland, the Astoria Column. A beautiful 125 foot tower with the history of Astoria drawn into a spiral column with an observation deck. However as we approached, the tower looked different. As soon as we made it to the top of the mountain I knew it, the tower was closed for renovations! D’oh!!

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We were grateful for the stunning views

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Oregon is the land of millions of trees and bridges

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We drove around downtown Portland looking for the famous Portland neon sign

Antz and Chris had a bro-date at a soccer game downtown. Story and I drank wine while the girls watched the Spongebob movie. It was a long but epic day.

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Paris for Kids

Our first trip to Paris we were in our early twenties so we explored the city’s bars, nightclubs and less child-friendly restaurants. Now that we are parents, we are discovering what Paris has much to offer for family fun. So far Liv has really enjoyed Jardin des Tuileries.

The garden is enormous. There are gorgeous trees for shade and musicians playing everywhere. I was in heaven!

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The playground was hardcore. I was worried she would fall off of everything.

I cheered Liv on across the rope bridge

It was crazy high but she was brave, way to go kiddo!

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Metal slides are hot on the bum!

Created in 1564, Jardin des Tuileries became a public park in 1667. It borders the Louvre Museum and is massive. It’s pretty much the Central Park of Paris. There is so many activities to do but we wanted to try something that I wish we had in California public parks…TRAMPOLINE!

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 Best jump!
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I adore this face! She was so happy

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It cost €2,50 for five minutes and Olivia had the time of her life! This kid never gets tired. I remember having unlimited energy when I was a kid too. I suggested that we install trampolines in the new park they are going to build in Highland Park but I suppose American kids aren’t ready for something this awesome. I do know that an in-ground trampoline is high on my wishlist.


As much as Liv could have jumped all day, it was too hot so we ventured out to do some indoor shopping and sightseeing. Angelina is one of the nicest dessert shop/tearoom we saw in Paris.

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Shopping for kids in Paris is a dream…if you are a wealthy person. We chose to spend our cash on food, experiences and some gifts to bring back for our family so I didn’t splurge on $50 Petit Bateau shirts *Antz is giving me a high five* However, if you are in Paris and feeling extravagant, I recommend these stores.

Bonton

Milk on the Rocks

Antoine & Lili

Petit Pan

Le BHV (department store)

One night after a long nap, we went to the Pathe Cinemas in le Opera and saw Malefique! I was secretly hoping it would be dubbed into French but it was in English with French subtitles. I found it to be very interesting. Angelina seemed to be in her element and the story wrapped up nicely. Olivia loved it!

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I thought it was cool how the French movie theaters operate. You can choose to purchase tickets with a person or use a self kiosk like in LA but they charge one euro for 3-D glasses so if you don’t want to buy them you can still watch the movie normally. We found ourselves in a Portlandia sketch due to the theater being six stories underground.


After the movie we walked around the neighborhood late at night and found a place perfect for a four year old on a Saturday night. A retro video game arcade! I used to love these places when I was little. Now that I’m older I get a headache from all the noise and flashing lights but it makes my kid happy so I smile and play along. We didn’t have much change but she enjoyed herself.

Look what else we found in Paris! Good ole fashioned American-Mexican cuisine.
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This means that Anthony could possibly live here!!

I am extremely bummed because I made a dumb mistake and somehow lost 400 pictures I took with our Nikon J1 camera. I will try not to dwell on it because I have the memories of the experience but I lost many special moments *La Doguerie was so much fun* Lesson learned; Never, ever accidentally hit delete!

Amélie/Montmartre walking tour

We can all agree Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain is the most adorable movie ever made. Today we took a walking tour through Montmartre to see the filming locations from the movie. It must have been 80° but I can’t complain. I’ll take the sun over rain any day. We started out at the St Martin canals which is close to our apartment and then walked to the Metro and got off at Lamarck-Caulaincourt station since I was sure that was the highest point so then we could work our way down in Montmartre. Wrong! We ended up hiking up grueling hills and stairs. It’s great for my dress size but my legs are like, I quit! After we made it to the top of the hill, we found a cute train so we hopped aboard for a relaxing tour of Montmartre. We saw everything on my list except visit Monsieur Collignon’s grocery store *so I didn’t dip my hand in a bag of lentils*.

 

DSC_3043Time to break in my new Saltwater sandals. Could I be any more brighter?!

I dropped off my dress at the cleaners to be pressed.

The owner insisted on taking Liv’s photo with her camera

We popped into American Apparel to find cool sunhat but neither of these worked.

I really wanted to rent bikes for the day but there is no safety seat for Liv. We walked around our neighborhood and found this cute little bagel shop. They were playing old Michael Jackson and there was cute boys so we gave it a try.

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Liv ordered a blue donut in honor of National Donut day.

The first stop on our Amelie Walking tour was the Canal Saint Martin where Amelie would enjoy skipping rocks. I failed to collect some so I had to pretend.

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I love that the canals aren’t gated so you can sit along the edge and enjoy the green. murky water.

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Here’s a typical Parisian water fountain. Still working, despite being built in 1872!

Finally peonies are in season!

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Another fountain, Paris is soo pretty!

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We spotted Peter Pan by Invader! He is one of our favorite French street artists.

The second stop was Gare de L’est which is featured heavily in the film. The photobooth where she first sees Nino and the beautiful shot of her sitting on the stairs looking at Nino’s scrapbook.

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I love the green hue the film was shot in. Photo booths are my weakness, I can’t seem to walk past one without taking silly photos. They have updated the booths since 2001.

So we may have bribed her with some candy so she wouldn’t complain about walking all day. Her Dad still ended up picking her up. Parenting fail!
This is where Amelie meets the blind man who is playing music on his record player
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Amelie leads the blind man on a walk while describing the sights to him *one of my favorite scenes* and ends at the Lamarck/Caulaincourt station. Montmartre feels like the hippie part of town. Many artists live in this neighborhood.

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Olivia found this awesome cool book store, too bad it was closed. She wanted a French comic book.

We have spent so much time in the flat part of Paris, these hills and stairs were killing me.

We stopped a this tiny square on Rue St. Vincent for a rest.

I adore the city’s many fountains and public squares with benches. In LA, public benches are usually a bed for homeless people.

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We spotted this cute train passing us so we asked the driver for directions to take a ride and of course he said at the top of the hill.

This wall may look familiar if you remember the opening scene after the credits.

DSC_3255On this street, rue de Saint Vincent, the first shot of the movie was taken:

On September 3rd 6:28pm and 32 seconds a blue fruitfly,
capable of 14,670 wingbats per minute, landed on the Rue Saint Vincent in
Montmartre

When we finally reached the top we were delighted to be greeted by artists. I learned from watching I Love Lucy to not fall for the counterfeit art scam but I wouldn’t mind one day returning to have my portrait painted.

We waited about ten minutes for le petits trains de Montmartre. I am the first to admit, taking the train is embarrassingly touristy of us, however, it was bloody hot and sitting down for 40 minutes and getting a full tour of the city felt like a good idea.

We saw Sacré Coeur Basilica, Montmartre cemetery, Pigalle (the red-light district) and so much more. I was able to jump off the train for five minutes to get a photo in front of the world famous Moulin Rouge which is disappointingly tiny in person. I’m sure it appears better at night when it’s all lit up. The tour guide told us about all the famous people who lived in Montmartre and we even saw Picasso’s old house.

Here’s the place Nicole Kidman used to work at.

I’m no prude but Pigalle wasn’t my cup of tea. Dirty, sleazy and tourisy I didn’t enjoy that part of town. I did pop into a sex shop to buy some nudie postcards to send Aimee and Leslie. The Sex shop Nino worked at was in the area but we didn’t see it.


And the piece de resistance, Cafe des 2 Moulins, Amelie’s place of work along with an eccentric group of characters.

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The Saint Pierre de Montmartre Church is one of the oldest in Paris
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I love visiting old churches, the more Gothic the better.

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According to urban legend, rubbing this dude’s foot is good luck!

There’s that ugly, old radio tower.

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At the very top of Montmartre you find the La Basilique du Sacré Cœur.

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Stupid, American tourist! Haha, I’m so lame.

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Not the scene I expected from the part of the movie when Amelie sends Nino on a hunt for his scrapbook.

Of course Olivia rode the lovely carousel and made a French friend at the playground.

How does this kid run around in the blazing hot sun?

We made our way back to the 10th, Friday night is a popular time for hanging out by the canals, very hipster vibe.

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We were pretty hungry by the time we finished so we took the metro to our favorite Indian restaurant. Guess what? Most restaurants close between 3pm and 7pm. We had to wait for an hour but it was worth the wait. The guys told us the nan *flatbread* wasn’t ready yet so we were pretty disappointed but then he magically brought us 2 pieces. So delicious!

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All this walking and tours is catching up with me. My thighs feel tighter and I am not so easily out of breath. This is the perfect workout!

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Bon nuit!

Huge News!

I am so happy to say Olivia will be attending preschool at the French school this fall.

Liv standing in front of her lycee

We are so proud of Liv and elated that she will be not only learning French but at an international school which promotes global awareness. Olivia will meet kids from all over the world. In all honesty, living in LA can feel insular. I wouldn’t know anything going on in the world if it weren’t for Jon Stewart.

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Most of the people I know are from the same economic status and we are not a culturally diverse group. I am looking forward to meeting new people and expanding our horizons. Another benefit is the curriculum is taught at the individual child’s strengths, so kids who already speak French don’t have to wait for the kids who don’t to catch up. The kids who are learning French, don’t feel pressure to speak right away, it happens naturally. I am so excited to learn along with Liv. We will be a French speaking family in no time!

I am sad to be leaving her current school. The teachers are remarkable and the last two years have been wonderful. We have met so many wonderful people and Liv has friends we hope to stay in touch with. Antz and I want to thank everyone for the encouragement and support. My Mom and Aimee have been saints allowing me to be a basketcase and patiently listened to me go on endlessly about the new school. I couldn’t have kept my sanity without your love.

I was so proud of Olivia for achieving such a huge accomplishment, I went against my better judgement and did something not so bright. I downloaded Disney’s Frozen for Liv. If this isn’t proof that I love my daughter nothing is. I am not a fan of Princess films. I have endured Cinderella, Snow White, Aladdin and The Little Mermaid only by the skin of my teeth. I was so happy when she fell for Wreck-it-Ralph and Hayao Miyazaki films. I prefer my heroine to be smart, clever, funny, ambitious and sensible. I can’t say the same for Disney characters whose main quality is having luscious hair, biting their lips, being clumsy and falling instantly in love with a dude they just met. Don’t even get me started with the corny songs. I adore musicals. I think Adele Dazeem was incredible in Wicked, yet I’m not so convinced in this film. The plot *which makes zero sense* is too absurd for words and the songs are just lazy narration and loudly obnoxious to me. I don’t hear a loveable character I am rooting for singing, I hear the desperation of an actress wanting to win an Oscar being screeched at me. I never made it to the end but I heard most of the songs from another room and it sounded too church choir for my taste. Sorry, I am not feeling the Frozen hullabaloo. Regardless of my own opinion, the film makes my kid happy and she has earned this special treat. So I’m choosing to “Let it Go!”

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Good thing I downloaded it from iTunes, now she can watch it on my iPad using her HEADPHONES!!

Happy Birthday Lizzie!

My birthday is always a whirlwind of radness, drinks and fun. My birthday also coincides with the first day of Spring and International day of Happiness. We took a pre-birthday trip to the beach on Wednesday. The weather was nice but the water was ice cold. Of course that didn’t stop our beach babe from running in.

Showing off her new boogie board

Antz took the day off on Thursday and took me to see Grand Budapest Hotel.

Wes Anderson is my favorite modern day director. His distinct style is visually beautiful. I’m so happy Grand Budapest Hotel came out the week of my birthday because it was such a treat to see. I highly recommend seeing it at Hollywood Arclight so you can check out the incredible model of the hotel in the lobby. Wes Anderson, Sofia Coppola and P.T. Anderson are so talented and amazing. I know they are pretty formulaic in their films and he often uses the same cast but it never bores me. I fell in love with Grand Budapest, bravo!

So, we picked up the kid from school and stopped by the W hotel in Hollywood.

We had a pose off
It was too early for drinks but we will return
W Hollywood rooftop pool
The friggen queen of Sheba
Thanks Liv & Antz for making my birthday so rad!
Wait, lemme check out this fabulous face first! #supermodel

So after that we went for a yummy lunch and headed home for a nap. That evening Aimee came over with birthday cake, a lovely gift and champagne.

My favorite ice cream cake!!
My BFF is rad!! I love you Aimee
My pretty Crosley record player

I’ve been wanting this beauty for months! Antz wasn’t so thrilled about me putting it on this tiny table as it teetered over the side so he surprised me today with a proper place to keep it. My next project is collecting my favorite artists on vinyl. So far I have;

Björk – Biophilia
Lana del Rey – Born to Die
Radiohead – In Rainbows

I am hoping to add;

Björk – Greatest Hits
Tom Waits – Rain Dogs
Michael Jackson – Thriller *for Liv*
Joanna Newsom – Milk Eyed Mender

I’ll show you the rest of the room once we finished putting everything away. Needless to say, I’m a one happy happy thirty-something!!

The Grand Budapest Hotel

I don’t get to the cinema as often as my pre-kid days which is actually making me much more selective in my film choices. The last movie I saw was Gravity which was amazing. I am highly anticipating the new Wes Anderson movie.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Antz says his films are all the same and I say “Good!” His formulaic approach makes me happy. I am elated to see my yummy Jeff Goldblum and Jason Schwartzman and my favorite crazy kooks Tilda Swinton and Willem Dafoe.  Saoirse *which I always pronounce Say-oh-err-see* is a nice addition to his regular cast. I am a bit disappointed Anjelica Huston was missing from Fantastic Mr Fox and this one but maybe she lost her cool cred for appearing on that Smash show which is, of course, now cancelled. I am also missing Waris Ahluwalia from the cast. Bet you didn’t know he’s an amazing jewelry designer and a stone cold fox. I would melt if Antz would ever dress this dapper.

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Homie is wearing a muu-muu and still looks like a MAN!
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I LOVE this dude! I wanna make him laugh so hard that milk comes out of his nose and then I’ll shampoo his magnificent beard and comb it all night long. Wes, we want more Waris!! Here’s some more photos for you to drool over. Sex-say!

A few weeks ago Kumar Pallana passed away. He is the Grandpa I wish I had. He was so cute in Rushmore and The Royal Tenebaums. Did you ever catch the scene when Etheline is bringing out Margot’s birthday cake and her hair almost catches fire, you see Kumar react to it if you look closely. He still win’s for best character name ever. Good night, Mr. Littlejeans!

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He used to do a spinning plates act on the Mickey Mouse Club

I am hoping Santa*Antz* stuffs my stocking with these lovely bookie wookies.

The Wes Anderson Collection: Matt Zoller Seitz, Michael Chabon: 9780810997417: Amazon.com: Books
The Wes Anderson Collection
The Making of Fantastic Mr. Fox

So, seen any good movies or read any good books lately?

Still my third favorite movie

Go see Sample This the Movie

My Mommy is a fucking rockstar!! If you love music, go see her in the documentary Sample This. It’s playing at the Lammele Noho until Friday Sept. 19th. Antz and I went to the screening of this film last year. I was crying like an idiot full of pride hearing my Mommy speak about her extensive career. She is an amazing woman and there’s no one like her. I hope Olivia has inherited her ambition, her passion and her talent.

Here’s a few reviews of the documentary. It’s really a fascinating story.

Film Review: Sample This


We’ve all danced at some time another to the
rhythmic “Apache,” even if we didn’t know it, and this highly enjoyable
doc reveals the incredibly colorful and variegated tale behind it.

Sept 12, 2013
-By David Noh

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For movie details, please click here.

Nothing less than a loose but pretty exhaustive history of pop
music in the last 50 years or so, Dan Forrer’s Sample This
focuses on the great drummers who’ve kept the beat going from Bing
Crosby to today’s hip hop. He frames his film around the story of
producer Michael Viner (1944-2009), whose Incredible Bongo Band,
comprised of the best percussionists of the day, created the
seminal instrumental “Apache,” probably the most ubiquitously
sampled record in music history.

Viner had a colorful, huckster-ish life, starting with his first
novelty hit, “The Best of Marcel Marceao” (with that curious
spelling) consisting of total mime-silence followed by applause. He
was one of those fluke geniuses who managed to corral big talent
with, in the case of “Apache,” fabulously enduring, unexpected
results. Forrer’s doc is densely populated by interviews with those
unsung heroes of an age: the bewilderingly virtuosic studio
musicians who’ve hung in there long after the stars they’ve worked
with, from Sinatra to Presley to Amy Winehouse, crashed and burned.
Legendary names like Michael Melvoin, Perry Botkin, Jerry Scheff,
Jerry Butler, Robbie King, Mike Deasy and the great bongo-banging
Bobbye Hall are interviewed or, if deceased, gloriously evoked.

These music guys also had serious interactions with history, like
Viner, whose pal Roosevelt Grier was right there when Bobby Kennedy
was assassinated (and who appeared in the outlandish Viner-produced
The Thing with Two Heads, his skull grafted onto the body of
Ray MiIlland—or was it vice versa?). Mike Deasy, now a born-again
preacher after serious drug years, had a connection to Charles
Manson and was a friend of producer Terry Melcher, who owned the
house were Sharon Tate and friends were murdered.
Although many of these musicians are miraculously hale and
hearty—and prove thus in a recent Incredible Bongo Band reunion
session, jamming away on the “Hawaii FIve-0” theme—the tale of one
of their number, charismatic drummer Jim Gordon, is not only
cautionary but horrific. After a blazingly bright career, he
bottomed out on drugs and alcohol, became “possessed” by demons and
gruesomely murdered his mother, for which he is still serving
time.

Through so many of these events, however, the irresistibly funky
“Apache” lived on and was rediscovered by DJ Kool Herc in the
1970s, who sampled its drum breaks while spinning music for
ecstatically enthusiastic New York dance crowds. As rap and hip hop
music rose to the predominance it now enjoys, countless other
artists also employed it to juice up their own tracks, and continue
to do so. As one pundit puts it here, “There is nothing more hip or
hop than ‘Apache.’” Forrer charts the rise of hip hop culture, with
its attendant, still extant highlights of “scratching” and
break-dancing, with affectionate incisiveness through interviews
with Herc, Afrika Bambaata, Melle Mel and Grandmaster Caz, giving
his film a really universal appeal to music lovers, whether they’re
into rock or rap, and showing how true talent can truly encompass
all genres.

 

Sample This: Film Review

Sample This - H 2013

The Bottom Line

This improbably fascinating documentary will be manna from heaven to pop culture devotees.

Director-Screenwriter

Dan Forrer

Narrator

Gene Simmons

Dan Forrer’s documentary delves into the history of the
little-known instrumental song that became one of the most sampled
tracks in pop music history.

For a film about a little-known song by a now forgotten band, Sample This
manages to weave in a wealth of pop culture wanderings into its
tapestry. The song, “Apache,” originally appeared on a 1973 album by Michael Viner’s
Incredible Bongo Band, a group of studio musicians assembled by Viner, a
producer whose previous credits included the hit novelty album The Best of Marcel Marceau,
which consisted of silence followed by the sound of audience clapping.
While the song made little impact initially, it was later discovered by
DJs and hip-hop artists and improbably went on to become one of the most
sampled tracks in pop music history.
But that’s not even the most compelling element of Dan Forrer’s
entertaining if disjointed documentary, which delves into the history
of the track and its creators with a near obsessive attention to detail.
Among the colorful elements featured in the film are the assassination
of Robert Kennedy (a young Viner was one of his aides); the campy horror film The Thing With Two Heads; the Charles Manson murders; the possible participation of Ringo Starr on the album; and the notorious gangster Johnny Roselli and his possible role in the CIA’s plot to kill Fidel Castro and the subsequent JFK assassination.
“Apache,” which one onscreen commentator describes as “the national
anthem of hip-hop,” was originally written by a British songwriter
inspired by American westerns and recorded by the band The Shadows. The
obscure instrumental was later covered by the Incredible Bongo Band,
which had been created by Viner to contribute a couple of songs to the
soundtrack of The Thing With Two Heads, which starred the improbable onscreen duo of Rosey Grier and Ray Milland.
The song languished in obscurity until it was rediscovered a few years later by DJ Kook Herk,
who made it a staple of his Bronx dance parties. It was later covered
by The Sugarhill Gang and eventually became a hip-hop staple, used by
artists including Missy Elliot, Amy Winehouse, Nas, LL Cool J, The Roots and countless others.
While the film narrated by Gene Simmons largely
eschews delving into exploring the cultural impact of sampling on pop
music, it endlessly explores the fascinating characters involved in the
song’s creation and evolution. Among the members of the Incredible Bongo
Band were such musicians as guitarist Mike Deasey, who was once briefly had a connection with Manson; drummer Jim Gordon, who later suffered from severe emotional illness and went to prison for killing his mother; and bongo player King Errisson, who was befriended in Jamaica by Sean Connery during the filming of Thunderball.
It’s a fascinatingly eccentric, if digressive, tale, recounted
through a combination of archival footage and interviews with such
figures as Afrika Bambaataa, Questlove, Freda Payne, Melle Mel and Jerry Butler, among many others. A joyous coda features the band’s surviving members reuniting to jam on the Hawaii Five-0 theme song.

Opens: Friday, Sept. 13 (GoDigital, Inc.)
Director/screenwriter: Dan Forrer
Producer: Bob Burris
Director of photography: Philip Hurn
Editor: Michael Levine
Composer: Perry Botkin Jr.
Not rated, 85 minutes

Pippi Longstocking the Liv Edition

Over a year ago my friend Aura came to visit me. She lives in Finland which I hope to go visit her one day. This lady is so sweet, she brought Liv an authentic Pippi Longstocking costume from Sweden! I was so super stocked!

Liv, Sofia & Elina
We took Aura to lunch at Frida’s at the Americana
Aura  made this flower balloon for Liv, the guy in the blue shirt asked her for a balloon for his kids, she made them their balloon animal of choice. He asked how much and she said, next time you see a kid who can’t afford a toy, just buy it for him. How fucking cool is she? I was totally in tears about how kind hearted my friend is!

So a few days ago, I put on our Pippi Longstocking dvd *the original crazy dubbed 1970’s version* for Liv to watch. She loved it! If you haven’t introduced Inger Nilsson in your child’s life, you need to, she is so badass. I persuaded Olivia to take off her Cinderella dress for 5 seconds and wear her awesome Pippi costume. Aimee and me were dying over how rad her costume was, complete with wires in the braids to make them stick out. I tried my best to get a good shot but she wasn’t in the mood for pictures. Darn kids and their free will…

So this is how the kid throws up the peace sign, totally gangster!
Next time she has to wear some of Dads shoes so it looks more Pippi.
Tommy, Pippi & Annika
Kiitos, my dear friend. I hope to come see you and the lovely girls soon!

Liv’s top movie list with a little help from Mommy

Now that Olivia has informed us she’s a “big girl” her taste in cinema has changed, ahem, elevated. Out is Peter Pan, Finding Nemo and Yo Gabba Gabba *which makes Mommy sad* and in is this list. These are Olivia’s top movies at the present moment. She changes her mind constantly and has already informed me she wants The Little Mermaid for Christmas. I’ve been waiting ten years to buy it so I’ve pre-ordered it, the release date is October 1st.

Cinderella

My least favorite Disney princess, of course would be Olivia’s favorite. She fucking loves her some Cinderelly. The story of a girl who’s forced to serve her evil stepmother and stepsisters but does it will a smile and a song. She dreams to find love and with the help of her animal friends and her fairy Godmother, she has the night of her life dancing with the Prince. In the end, having freakishly small feet comes to her advantage. The cutest thing is Liv sings most of the songs. She can only watch this movies while wearing her own gown and gwass swippers.

Crown and wand made by Daddy

The Iron Giant

The story is of a boy with a rather interesting name *Hogarth*
who stumbles upon a giant robot in the woods. They develop a bond and
he does his best to teach the robot love all while the robot is being
hunted by a government agent. Olivia is riveted by the robot. It has
some moments that young kids may find scary but not Liv *who loves robots!*

Monsters Inc.

A tale of a monster-led society where the celebrities are “scarers” who extact children’s screams as a source of power. Mike & Sulley are the top scarer team who are on track to breaking a scare record but another monster wants to take the top spot and will cheat to do so. An adorable child ends up in the monster world and Mike and Sulley have to get her back unharmed. Monsters University is just as sweet but not on dvd yet. Liv loves this one and so do I.

Alice in Wonderland

 File:Alice in Wonderland (1951 film) poster.jpg

This has been my favorite Disney movie for years. The story of a curious girl who wanders into Wonderland in pursuit of a white rabbit. Her nosiness and poor decisions cause her to get into predicaments but she finally wakes up and finds it all to have been a dream. Sorry for the spoiler but I’m sure by now everyone has seen it. Did you know that Mel Blanc had a small uncredited role as Dinah the cat? Besides, it would be child abuse if I didn’t share this old school Disney classic *with the stunning artwork of Mary Blair* with my kid.  Still working on Snow White and Bambi, they are a little slow for Liv’s taste.

Wreck-it Ralph

 Theatrical release poster depicting Ralph along with various video game characters

This movie is fantastic! I had no idea what it was about or who was in it when we took Liv to see it in theaters but we were all pleasantly surprised. The story of Ralph who is the bad guy in a video game. He’s been the bad guy for 30 years and he’s tired of it. He tries to change and become the good guy but gets into trouble in another game. He has to help a little girl win in her game so he can earn respect in his own game. He makes a mess of things but he changes and becomes friends with the girl and she turns out to be what was missing in his life. The cast is superb *John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch and Jack McBrayer* Olivia is obsessed with the soundtrack and even sings a song in Japanese.

The Incredibles

File:The Incredibles.jpg

The story of a family of superhero who has to blend in with the world after being forced to hide their powers. A villain threatens the world and the hero has to save his family and the world.  Liv loves any movie with kids in it. She tells me through the movie, “look Mom, your gonna miss it!” This is Antz favorite kids movie so he’s very proud.

Spirited Away

File:Spirited Away poster.JPG

This one is hard to explain briefly, but I’ll try. A girl ends up in a secret Spirit World because her parents were being dumb and greedy so they got turned into pigs. She makes reluctant friends and has to outsmart a witch to break the spell on her parents. She is super adorable and spunky but most of it makes little sense since it’s Japanese. Liv is a sucker for movies with kids, even though she has not idea what the plot is. It has an amazing soundtrack and a dragon. Liv really loves dragons, too bad she has zero interest in My Neighbor Totoro, maybe when she’s older.

Scott Pilgrim vs the World

 File:Scott Pilgrim vs. the World teaser.jpg

This is one of Mommy’s movies, one day Liv joined me engrossed by it. “I like your video game movie Mom.” Based on a comic book with a silly plot about a guy in a band who has to defeat the girl he likes seven evil exes. The music is rad and Liv loves the action. It’s brilliantly directed by the great Edgar Wright and has a pretty awesome cast *Kieran Culkin is the best* it’s edgy enough but still PG-13!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

 File:Charlie and the chocolate factory poster2.jpg

Sadly, this one isn’t the amazingly weird Gene Wilder campy/awesome 70’s version but the monstrosity that Tim Burton remade and Johnny Depp pedobear-ed all over. It’s the story of a poor lad who wins the chance of a lifetime to visit the strange and mysterious chocolate factory. Four other horrible children join the tour and one by one they fall victim to their own terrible circumstances which end in Charlie winning the factory as the grand prize for being awesome. The Oompah Loompahs suck the most. It’s an embarassing remake but when my daughter grins at me and says “I’m a winner!” *a phrase she learns from gum-chewing Violet Beauregarde* how can I say no to that?

The Nightmare Before Christmas

File:The nightmare before christmas poster.jpg

I know, I talked a lot of shit about Tim Burton a second ago, but it comes from the frustration of how incredible this film is compared to the other. This film is so unique and creative. The story of Jack the Pumpkin King of Halloween town who wants to try a new holiday for a spin. He enthusiatically brings Christmas to his town but sadly it’s almost too late by the time he realizes he has made a mistake. With the help of a girl who is secretly in love with him, they fix everything just in time. The puppetry and Danny Elfman score are impeccable. Liv loves Jack.

Oz the Great and Powerful

 File:Oz - The Great and Powerful Poster.jpg

This is Liv’s movie. We took her to see it in theaters, a bit cautious thinking it may be too scary for a two year old *flying monkeys and homicidal witches* but she loved every second! It’s the prequel to The Wizard of Oz and kinda tells how he came to rule the merry ole land of Oz. This womanizing circus performer ends up in hot water and escapes an ass whooping but ends up in a tornado that delivers him to Oz. He meets a chick *the witch of the west before she was wicked* but ends up dissing her for a hotter one *Glinda*. She and her sister declare war and he wins by doing what he does best, lying and cheating. I prefer the original but it’s a well told story and visually stunning. I am relived there’s no singing, well the munchkins sing a song briefly.

The Goonies

 File:The Goonies.jpg

Score big time for my kid! I LOVED this movie as a kid, it’s sooo rad she likes this movie. The Goonies is a gang of teens who are on the verge of being forced out of their homes so a country club can be built on their land. They end up going on an adventure that may end in finding treasure so they can help their parents but they have a group of criminals on their tails. I let Liv chose a movie to watch per day and I get really excited when she picks this one *because I have had my fill of Cinderella!* It’s such an endearing 80’s movie and you can’t help but root for the Goonies to prevail.

**Rocky Horror Picture Show

The Rocky Horror Picture Show.jpg

Liv calls this the lips movie. Lately she’s been asking me to watch the lips movie to my simultaneous dismay and delight. The absurd musical is about a naive young couple who end up stranded at a castle. They interrupt a professor’s latest invention, a creation named Rocky. The movie is very risque and we turn it off before any of the, ahem, bedroom scenes but Liv loves the Time Warp and I can’t deny her Tim Curry in drag.

What do your little ones watch nonstop?