LA Opera Off Grand Presents NOSFERATU: A Symphony of Horror

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My husband and I are two completely different people with different sensibilities when it comes to our personal interests.

Fortunately for us, we have a shared passion in classic films including those of the early 20th century like F.W. Murnau’s 1922 silent classic horror film Nosferatu.
Nosferatu is a film that is studied in film schools throughout the world for being a classic example of German Expressionism, and for showing the silver screen’s first vampire—played by Max Schreck. In this role, Schreck's Vampire is a twisted, clawed and fanged creature completely unlike Bela Lugosi's urbane Dracula that we are all familiar with.

Another interesting tidbit about the film is that while Nosferatu is based on Bram Stroker's Dracula, names and other details from the novel were changed because the studio could not obtain the rights (for instance, "vampire" became "Nosferatu" and "Count Dracula" became "Count Orlok").
To add to the mystery of this film, a host of musicians have re-scored this classic because the original score was lost, now including LA Opera's Artist in Residence Matthew Aucoin.

Aucoin will conduct his new score for chamber orchestra incorporating composers of Murnau's time such as Schoenberg and Zemlinsky, as well as Schubert, Wagner and Weber, adding an eerie feel during the Halloween night screening of Nosferatu at the Ace Hotel.
The Halloween Nosferatu screening and concert is being held at the Ace Hotel's Spanish Gothic 1920’s movie palace, accompanied by a live performance of the new score by L.A. Opera's chamber orchestra.

Tickets range from $19 - $89
NOSFERATU: A Symphony of Horror at

8 p.m. on Halloween Night
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18th Annual Animation Show of Shows

The 18th Annual Animated Show of Shows will feature 16 shorts from 11 countries that are highly curated by it's founder Ron Diamond; who, for the last 18 years has selected 32 Academy Award® nominated films and nine Oscar® winning films, including one of my favorites, Disney Animation's The Feast. 

In addition, those who attend the evening screenings will have the opportunity to see a bonus of four provocative shorts exclusively for mature audiences including “Corpus” which features a bizarre chain reaction between inanimate objects and human body parts; an exploration of the pain and pleasure of love in “Blue;” a brief and rapid descent into the depths of depravity in “Manoman” and “All Their Shades,” a gently satirical paean to the wonders of the female gender.

There will also be a number of special daytime screenings which are specifically designed to be family-friendly and appropriate for viewers of six years and up. Highlights of the matinees include “About a Mother,” a new folktale with echoes of Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree,” Disney/Pixar’s sweet “Piper,” and the latest in 360º storytelling in Google’s touching father-and daughter-journey “Pearl” by Academy Award® winner Patrick Osborne. 
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Visiting Costa Mesa

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As life gets busy it's sometimes hard to get away for more than a long weekend. This is especially true since I started film school.

But the irony of a busy life is that to continue to create I need breaks to recharge and reconnect with that inspiration, that drive, that mojo, and that "spark" that makes me, me.

I need to get away.

My hubby has learned that inspiration to me is so much more than a big idea at work or a beautiful photo project.

That having a permanent "light bulb" is a huge part of what keeps me happy, grounded and in love with my life; And...Centered enough to be in love with him for being "him."

Costa Mesa happens to be the place that I needed to visit to regroup before I started my fall term.
Allow me to be honest: I have family in Costa Mesa. My parents actually lived in Orange County when they got pregnant with me (so to a certain extent a little bit of me is rooted in the OC).

Through the years Costa Mesa has become a place that I have relegated to shopping trips haphazardly nestled between family gatherings. I didn't, we didn't, know much Costa Mesa has to offer.

So when the city invited me to spend my first school break in Costa Mesa I was prepared to relax and unwind.

Do nothing.

I wasn't prepared to be as inspired as I was from finding so much art, culture, and foodie gems within a short drive of each other. Some? Within walking distance. All so close, yet far, from my WLA home.

I can't say enough about Avenue of the Arts Hotel who hosted our weekend stay.

This stylish resort-style boutique hotel is a dog-friendly property that prides itself in offering personalized service to cater to the adult traveler. They not only have a pool next to the Costa Mesa (man-made) lake, but many of the rooms have private balconies with a view of the pool, lake and gardens.

Speaking of which, Avenue of the Arts Hotel also has a zen garden, is home to Silver Trumpet Restaurant and Bar, and located within a five-minute walk to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and South Coast Plaza!

One of our biggest worries when my hubby and I travel (or go anywhere for that matter) is the accessibility to good and quality food. We are, for all intents and purposes, picky eaters.

Traveling foodies like ourselves need not to worry. Costa Mesa has a diverse selection of restaurants that will satisfy even the most refined palates

From start to finish, every. single. meal. we enjoyed in Costa Mesa was not just amazingly well prepared with quality artisanal and imported ingredients; but it was the attention to service, coupled with the experience of dining in some of the most unique restaurants we have been to in So Cal - even dining in a restaurant located inside of a shopping mall - if only for that, reason enough to spend an entire weekend in Costa Mesa.

Restaurants of note include:

French bistro cuisine, perfect for a special occasion lunch or dinner.

Modern Spanish cuisine and tapas. Ideal for dinner or drinks & tapas pre-theater.

Lovely artisanal brunch, breakfast or lunch spot with plenty of outdoor seating.


While initially I expected to do nothing other than lounge by the pool during my weekend away, I soon learned that Costa Mesa has an internationally acclaimed arts and theater district named after one of the most prolific Orange County philanthropists, the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

The performing arts district has a state of the art concert venue that hosts award-winning concerts and acclaimed theater productions that travel from NY, all located within walking distance of various art installations and galleries.

While the experience of watching a musical at the Theater was bar none one of the best we've had, I found myself discovering sculpture gardens and even finding that the local shopping district has art incorporated within their retail environment, which makes Costa Mesa a feast for the eyes and senses.

A Fall or Winter weekend away to Costa Mesa is the perfect reason to head South to the OC and see one of these award winning productions:

Beautiful: the Carole King Musical starting on October 4, 2016
Ringo Starr and his All Star Band starting on October 20, 2016
Mamma Mia, starting on November 22.

If you live in So Cal you know that one of the best luxury shopping destinations is in Costa Mesa. But did you know that The Lab anchors the SoBeCa District, an acronym for "South on Bristol Entertainment, Culture and Arts?"

The Lab is a unique enclave of boutique shops, one-of-a-kind eateries and artistic happenings from art showings, poetry readings, musical offerings and seasonal festivals. It is definitely a fun place to visit for both dining and shopping.

My hubby and I spent our Sunday having brunch at one of their many eatiers and shopping at some of the most unique boutiquess you can't find anywhere else. Completely worth a stop when you head south.

Thankfully Costa Mesa is not horribly far from us, but far enough to experience something different from L.A. Definately worth a weekend away for my friends that are looking to unwind but still be connected to everything So Cal has to offer; and especially worth planning a visit to when you want to see a play or musical in a beautiful setting surrounded by art, culture, and good food.

Special events and shows are always added to the Travel Costa Mesa Calendar.  Make sure to stop by to plan your next visit.

Wishing you happy travels!
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Nordic Noir LA: Benefit Concert for Friends of Griffith Park

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As a native Angelino, I couldn't be more excited that internationally recognized film composer Jacob Groth took the initiative to create an event that leverages his musical talents and connections to benefit Griffith Park and its inhabitants. 

As a passionate supporter of urban wildlife and Griffith Park in particular, which he calls home several months a year, there was no question that he had found the perfect setting for Nordic Noir LA, a benefit for Friends of Griffith Park, scheduled for Sunday, September 25, 2016. 

This world-class concert will have the participation the Danish Film Harmonics as they offer the LA community an opportunity to experience the acclaimed soundtrack for the film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and more.

According to Groth...

"The Concert is a journey through 9 new renditions of my scores for both feature film

and TV-Series. They will be performed by my orchestra, “The Danish Filmharmonics,” which includes some of the most acclaimed talent from Scandinavia. 
The Concert also includes back-screen showing scenes from the different movies and more ambient/abstract moods. It is going to be an amazing audio-visual experience."

Wildlife supporters, music fans and local residents will enjoy a spectacular night of culture, music, education and fun!  Learn more about Nordic Noir and how you can also help spread their message by visiting the on:

Join me this weekend by purchasing your event tickets here. (Regular admission tickets are available for $40 - $85 each and VIP tickets are available at $200 per pair. VIP guests will enjoy complimentary Nordic cuisine and beverages at a VIP reception.)
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