from Sandy Needham

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hollywood Dispatch

I got to be Elise, Fluffer and Cashew's Hollywood roommate for some days in December before Newton arrived from his Asia trip. Then the three of us had a week together before we headed to our Christmas fest in Las Vegas.

It was fun to pretend I was part of the neighborhood with Elise, what with the walk past the loaded orange tree to the post office and the impressive YMCA, where we took a Pilates class together. I discovered my yoga has missed entire families of muscles!

We also walked to Elise's neighborhood sushi place, the organic coffee place, Javista, then branched out to a scrumptious Indian buffet (can't get Indian in Natal) and a charming Peruvian restaurant, Los Balcones, complete with delicious octopus and pisco sours. I cannot survive comfortably without hitting the first available Trader Joes when I arrive in the USA. I stocked up on celery (can't get celery in Natal) and that incredible yogurt/KALE dip ("when in Rome..."). I introduced Elise to my new craze from the summer in Europe: dry rosé, never more affordable than at TJ's. I was able, finally, to resist the Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, which I had mainlined the previous Christmas and had then spent much of the year trying to winnow, cup by cup, from my torso. 

Elise was swamped with free-lance video editing, but still found additional time slots for making the best egg salad in the world and for heading to Mission Cantina for "Taco Tuesday." The $1 tacos were fantastic and the margaritas were the best I've had (from scratch - no sickly-sweet mix!).

We had an entertaining evening with our old Nyack, NY friends, Aaron Camper and his wickedly astute Brit wife, Kat, and Nadja Hoyer-Booth - now an actress in LA! Kat captured the holiday spirit with mulled cider. 

Newton arrived from China and joined me on the living room pull-out sofa for a long sleep. Fluffer and Cashew were good sports about staying in Elise's room till we awoke, though Fluffer's "strike a pose" attitude kicked in after a few days of altering her routine for us! The cats are simply adorable, attitude, shyness and all.
Elise had arranged in advance for the three of us to dine at a Hollywood institution: Musso and Franks, where Marilyn Monroe and dozens of studio luminaries from the Hollywood heydays used to meet and negotiate over perfect martinis. It has a great ambiance, good food and excellent service from original cast waiters.

We started an evening out at another Hollywood landmark, the beautiful old Roosevelt Hotel. It was a sensory feast to have a holiday toast in such a grand setting, bedecked as it was with snowflake projections:

We couldn't let Newton miss "Taco Tuesday" at Mission Cantina! 

Good pizza with an entire plate of sautéed Brussels sprouts the waiter gave us from someone's miss-order; my perfect semi-annual burger; and a Hollywood Boulevard pub completed our food adventures - our favorite kind, obviously. 

I was determined to find Newton a light jacket for Christmas. He has needed one forever. I took myself to the famous, upscale Grove shopping center, where the holidays are elaborately noted. After four hours there, I had the perfect jacket being shipped to our door by another Tommy Bahama store location with the correct size. It turned out that the delivery was mistakenly a sweater, not a jacket, but there was no time left to run around and fix this. The story takes up later in Las Vegas.

Newton and I became quite familiar with a particular song from the young pop artist, Justin Bieber, during our stay. Elise was editing a "lip sync" video for Radio Disney, which obviously is an entity with visuals. It was a tremendous amount of work, even for our quick Elise, and Newton and I frequently found the song in our heads after hearing it on and off for hours! The video, featuring young up-and-coming Disney talent, turned out well:

We are so proud of Elise's formidable talents, which she can apply to work she enjoys, sans commute, home with her cats and sometimes in pajamas, if she wishes!

Elise also had numerous videos to complete for the DanceOn company. Newton and I even spent a morning at the local organic coffee café while a production woman came over from DanceOn to work with Elise. Elise had so much work that she had no chance to solve my repeated inquiries regarding my winter coat I had forgotten last trip. She was sure it was located in her large closet, but I was forbidden to check as I might have happened upon our gifts in there. She couldn't check till late on our last night when she was packing for Christmas in Las Vegas and New Year's in Chicago. That is when she remembered that she had placed my coat in Jake and Larissa's extra suitcase she was storing for them until the recent hand-over at protect it from the cat hairs! Unfortunately, Larissa and Jake didn't know why that was in there and gave it to Goodwill in Las Vegas. I had just had twelve days out and about in LA to find a new coat, but didn't know I needed one. The story takes up later in Las Vegas.

The weather in Los Angeles could be rainy, sunny and mild or more chilly at night, but the holidays in December felt just fine there! Thank you, Elise, for finding the time to have some fun with us during your heavy work schedule ("you gotta eat!").

Next stop: Jake and Larissa's house in Las Vegas. 



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