Monday, July 12, 2010

#128: Be a Rock Star at the Hollywood Academy of Music

Rock Band 101

I've been playing the drums for about three years. When I first started, there was no way I could imagine playing in public. My experience on drums just consisted of messing around on my electric kit to the songs on my ipod. I had zero confidence, and I really just needed to get out of my apartment and play on an acoustic kit with other musicians.

Enter the Hollywood Academy of Music! On a whim, I enrolled in their School Of Rock Band 101 adult class, which met once per week in the evening at their location on Melrose. I think that the lessons were $40 per lesson, or $160 per month.

This was the perfect no-pressure environment for me, and I felt very comfortable with our group. The term "adult class" was misleading.. Our group actually consisted of two young kids (on guitar and keys), an older gentleman (guitar), our teacher (bass), a guy around my age (singer), and myself. We looked like an odd bunch, I'm sure, but it was so much fun.

After eight sessions, we performed on stage with a bunch of other groups enrolled in the program. It was my first show, and I was pretty nervous. My friend and Brad came along for support.

I stopped after those eight sessions, mainly for financial reasons. A short time later, I joined a band I found on craigslist, and then in three months we recorded an album. Right after that I played my first real gig. I don't think I could have done any of that without the Academy of Music--it really boosted my confidence.

So if you've always wanted to play an instrument or be in a rock band, you can do it! Try an adult class either at Hollywood Academy of Music or at the other School of Rock in Santa Monica (see #35 School Of Rock). Pretty soon, you'll be up on stage rocking out :)

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Friday, July 9, 2010

#127: Road Trip To San Diego

I love living in L.A. because whenever you feel like it, you can drive somewhere and have a mini vacation. Last weekend's mini vacay destination was San Diego to visit the newlyweds. It only takes about 2 hours to get there! Here are some highlights from our last visit:

Padres Baseball Game at Petco Park: It was my first time seeing a baseball game in California (and I used to live right behind Dodger Stadium in Echo Park!). We got a fantastic deal on for tickets + hot dog + soda + blue Padres baseball hat for only $25. And the seats were awesome! I love a deal. :) The stadium is quite new, so the facilities are great. There's also a lawn where people can watch the game and entertainment outside the stadium for free.

Torrey Pines Gliderport in La Jolla: At Torrey Pines, you can have a meal at the Cliff Hanger Cafe while enjoying some free entertainment... Sky gliders! And if you are the adventurous type, you can even sign up for a session for $150 and ride tandem with an expert. It looked really fun, and the setting is just gorgeous. We just watched, but who knows... maybe next visit?

Chuao Chocolatier in Encinitas: Whenever I go to Encinitas, I always stop here to pick up a few gourmet chocolates. With flavors like pear+chevre+black pepper, and strawberry caramel+balsamic vinegar, this is as exotic as chocolate gets. Above is a picture of their salted caramel. Click here to order Chuao online.

Yu Me Ya Sake House in Encinitas: We had an amazing meal here. Visit my food blog for more pics.

C-Level Lounge: If you fly into San Diego, you must eat at C-Level Lounge. It's right near the airport and offers stunning water front dining. Above is a picture of the seared ahi with black rice and mango salsa that Brad got. The portions are pretty generous too--we left stuffed!

Other places to visit in San Diego:

Wild Animal Park: See animals in a more natural habitat. Wear comfortable shoes cuz this place is huge!

La Jolla Kayaking: I got sea sick here... and then I capsized! Yup, those are two things that are pretty difficult to do on a kayak. Here at La Jolla, you get to paddle up to the sea lions bathing on the rocks, and sometimes you may even see tons of leopard sharks swimming beneath you! Definitely worth it if you've got a stomach for it.

Balboa Park: This is a must-see if you're in San Diego. There are tons of museums, free concerts, street performers, and gardens. You could spend a whole day here and not see everything. Right now they have a "Stay For The Day" pass for $35 that allows you access to any 5 of the 14 museums.

Sea World: Another must-see, especially if you've got kids.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

#126: Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum

If you can brave the motion sickness-inducing winding roads in Topanga Canyon, Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum is a worthy pot of gold at the end of the sinuous rainbow. Beneath a canopy of trees, you can enjoy concerts and Shakespearean plays in a small outdoor amphitheater. It's absolutely beautiful here.

Brad's surfing friend Jeff leads a "kindie rock band" called EGG that performed last Sunday at the theatricum. It took me a while to figure out that word play, but "kindie" is "kid" and "indie" put together. This is indie rock aimed at the under 10 set. Truth be told, four of us "adults" went there sans kids and our toes were tapping the whole time too.

One of the best parts of the concert was seeing all the little kids rock out on stage. It reminded me how uninhibited and free spirited kids are. They didn't even need prodding to get up and dance--once the music started, all the kids ran up on stage. Literally within ten seconds, everyone was shaking their egg shakers and jumping to the music. So fun! The theater hosts Family Fundays every weekend. Click here for more info.

If you don't have kids, you can still enjoy the theater's Shakespeare performances. This season they are presenting Hamlet, Three Musketeers and Midsummer Night's Dream and tickets are $45.

The box office