Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Back Home in Los Angeles

I know what you are thinking... you are a New Yorker!! BUT for some reason (and maybe this has happened to you) when I am in LA I feel like a child again in my home town. Los Angeles to me is the city that inspired my career and it still lights a fire under my butt every time I come back. This is Hollywood and here anything can happen. There is a sense that at any time of the day...something could happen that could change your life. Now, you should be aware that the change you encounter could be found in the powder that someone slipped into your drink at the SkyBar. This is still a city people... so, get your head out of the clouds!

Anyway, I arrived in LA on Monday night via a Jet Blue flight into Long Beach. TRAVEL TIP!! Do yourself a favor and look into flying into the regional airports of this area. The options for Jet Blue are Long Beach and Burbank... both are much more manageable than LAX! Trust me!! AND it will be a cheaper flight and you can watch TV right at your seat. I am a huge fan of Jet Blue... they just get it. All a passenger wants is a reasonable price for a seat on a flight, entertainment on board and maybe a snack! I love the fact that they actually give you a CAN of soda with a cup and a REAL bag of chips or pretzels. I hate when you are on those other carriers and they hand you a tiny mouthful of soda with their dirty ice cubes and a trial size bag of pretzels. Can they spare the food? Do you not trust that I can drink the entire can of soda? Do I really need to split my diet coke with the person in front of me?? Don;t judge me because I want a larger bag of chips along with the swedish fish that I bought in the terminal!

The drive from Long Beach to Hollywood is about 40 minutes. I arrived at 5:30pm... so, the 405 was a bit congested with rush hour... but, it was far from bumper to bumper. In the heat of rush hour, it still took me under an hour.

For this trip, I decided to stay at the Sofitel LA right on the corner of Beverly and La Cienega. What I love the most about this hotel is the location! The Beverly Center (translation... MALL) is directly across the street! I am also able to walk to a Starbucks or A Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (yummy LA version of Starbucks)which is a nice option after a morning workout.

The Sofitel looks and feels like a big hotel. The lobby is black lacquer and glass and the staff is always dressed in black. When I arrived, I was promptly greeted by a young lady who escorted me to the check in area. She checked me in and she also gave me an overview of the property that was so detailed and personal... she actually told me what her favorite dessert was at the restaurant (chocolate and banana bread pudding served warm)! It wasn't annoying... it was personal and super helpful.

The hotel smells good (something that I am aware of after my time in China!) and the hallways are light and open which is really nice because I imagined that the elevator would open to dark hallways with mood lighting (Did I say W Hotels out loud?) My room is small but modern and filled with cool upgrades. There is a beautiful bathroom with a huge rainfall shower and a really nice size bedroom area with a flat screen HD TV. While the design is modern and sleek... the colors are creams and browns... making the shiny furniture and straight lines seem a little softer. Very comfortable. The best part of this room was revealed to me when I went to put my coat away (No need for it this trip... its supposed to be 80 degrees here tomorrow!) in the closet. I noticed a black and white seat cushion. (At least it was not a gas mask like the one in the closet in Chengdu!) I was intrigued... what was that for??? And then I realized. The curtains that lined the back wall of this room was hiding something spectacular!! Two french doors that opened to a small patio area overlooking the Hollywood Hills. So, right now... as I am writing... I am laying in my cushy bed with the curtains open and dreaming about what could happen today in LA. I love it here.

More tomorrow... Lori

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Politics and a little gluttony...

I am not a political person. I live outside of the Beltway and work inside of it... but I am a New Yorker and politics on Long Island had more to do with what color BMW your friend would order for her sweet 16. If she decided for white... then the entire class would discuss on Monday if she made the right decision. However, there is one political conversation that I do get involved in and that has to do with our right to paid leave. (Note to my boss who is a subscriber... this has nothing to do with you... but, as a Brit living in the US... could you not talk some sense into this country? You are the BIG CHEESE of the Travel Channel. If you can't push this bill through... who can?)

ANYWAY, Do you know that the United States of America is the ONLY industrialized country on the face of the earth that does not guarentee time off to its workforce!! AND... in terms of the average amount of vacation time we are given (US gets an average of 13 days per year) I believe we rank right up there with Mexico who gives their workforce a measly 6 days! Now, I know that a lot of you are going to start writing me about how we are the US and we are supposed to work hard and that we are the best country... yadda.. yadda. I say YOU ARE ALL DEAD WRONG! People work harder when they are well rested. Families are closer and children are more secure when they have time to spend with their families. The absolute problem with this country is that our homes are being divided by divorce and our already hectic lives are becoming busier... with no real time for rest. We are also not connecting as a human race. People are watching the Discovery Channel (hiss...) instead of getting out and really exploring their world. They cannot take off a few days... let alone a week! Its crazy. They can't afford it and the government turns their heads on the problem!

What happens if you have 10 years with a company and you are now sitting with a solid 4 weeks of vacation time and suddenly you get laid off? When you start that new job... do you go back to 4 weeks? OR... do they put you at 2 weeks because you are not with the company long enough to warrant that much time off? What did you say? You do not even get two weeks? Oh, right... because we are the only country that does not guarentee time off. So, it is up to the employer. Right.

So, what do we do? DO we rally? I guess. Do we say screw the electric bill... I'm going to Disney World? I would not suggest it. But... we could make it a point to set some time and a bit of cash aside to get away from the daily grind.. even if it is just for a long weekend. (I would also get online and read about the bills going before congress and make your opinion count!)

Weekends are the biggest trend in travel these days. More people are taking a few long weekends instead of one long trip. They are extending their business travel and bringing along their families. They are also looking local... and relying on road trips and short flights so that they get the most time at their destination.

With the value of the US dollar plummeting (I believe the exchange for a Euro is 1.46 for every dollar and the pound is worth double the greenback!) it is time for all of us to look local for our travel. Another great travel option is Mexico where you can still get quite a bargain for your money! Canada seems like another good choice...but, think agaiin... the Canadian Dollar is also trading higher than the US dollar. Nice, ehe?

Another money saver and great for weekend travel is apartment or home renting instead of using pricey hotels! You know that I do this all the time and it is especially important when you have a family and you do not want to spend $5 for each glass of milk or apple juice you order from room service!! There are plenty of home and apartment rental companies online... so, shop around. There is also an article in Budget Magazine this month that tells you about a villa in Mexico that sleeps 8 and rents for $100 per day!!

So, there it is. My political rant in honor of Super Tuesday... but its also FAT TUESDAY and I have to get my ashes in the morning and start my lenten journey to Easter tomorrow. So, out of respect for the good people of New Orleans... I am going to get some ice cream and finish watching American Idol. Total Gluttony.


Monday, February 4, 2008

Goofy is a GODDAM DOG

After a long couple of days at Disney, I have to say... that place is CRAZY! When I got home the other night, I literally had to scrub the pixie dust out of my hair! But... it is a magical place. (SLAP)... sorry, it sometimes just comes out.

Anyway, so remember Joe from my last blog? He's nutso!! Here's why... We were all shooting with Sam on Main Street USA the other day and someone wanted to have their picture taken with Pluto. Someone said that Pluto was Mickey's dog and then somebody else asked what Goofy was... and I promptly answered "a dog." Joe then briskly walked over and corrected me. He said, "Lori, Goofy is not a dog." to which I replied, "Then what is he?" Joe then quickly said, "Goofy is a Goofy." What? He then said (without a wink in his eye), "Lori, dogs do not wear shoes and Goody wears shoes... so, obviously... he is not a dog." What? Wow... so, I guess all mice and ducks wear clothes? Because I have never seen Mickey without his red shorts and black shoes!!! Minnie always wears her pink dress, high heels and a bow in her hair. You wanna talk weird? Have you ever seen Donald Duck without a shirt?? C'mon Joe.. Goofy is a Goddam DOG.

After a long day of snorting the pixie dust the crew all met up for a little dinner and fun over at Downtown Disney. We had dinner at Portobello yacht Club and then wandered over to the 80's Dance Club at Pleasure Island. It was fun... and just what our crew needed after a week-long shoot.

This trip to Orlando was fun. I am not a huge fan of the Saratoga Springs property. The rooms were fine... but, it has this weird vibe... almost like an old stale version of the Catskills in upstate New York. There is only one little cafe and a small restaurant on the entire property. There is NO room service and the service was just not up to what you would expect from Disney. Here's the best example... we called for a reservation for dinner for three (me, Sammy and Christina) at 7pm. The woman on the other end apologized and said that she did not have a table for 3 at 7pm. She then paused and said that she had a table for 3 at 6:55pm... would that work? WHAT? UMMM... sure... I mean, it is a little earlier than what we wanted... but, we will have to deal. (That weird)

My next trip is out to LA to meet with the crew from Made in America! I am now taking over that show as the EP... and really excied to be working with RATZ!

More soon.