Highlights of Oscar Weekend in LA
I have been to LA twice in the past 11 years. So I've done most of the major touristy stuff out here. The
studio tour at Universal Studios, Disneyland (back in 1990), Six Flags, QE2 (when it was here) and the Spruce Goose,
This weekend was a bit more relaxing. The lovely Chelle came into town and we hung out in Newport Beach on Friday
and Saturday. Nice area. We weren't very
close to the beach, but there is a big inlet there that allows for a marina every two feet. You couldn't throw a dead
cat without hitting a boat.
On Saturday instead of suffering through hours of waiting on line at Disney, we decided to hit "Downtown Disney".
Basically Downtown Disney is a series of restaurants and stores right in front of an entrance to Disneyland. The saving
grace was that they had an ESPNZone.
If you haven't been to an ESPNZone, I highly recommend going. Unfortunately we don't have one back home...actually,
I should be happy considering how quickly I spent money there.
Obviously it's a sports themed restaurant...specifically ESPN themed. The one in CA has a big board out in front of
it with clips of ESPN anchors goading you into coming inside, and while I was watching they had a spot with Stuart Scott
explaining how he comes up with those wacky things he says.
"Call him butter, 'cause he's on a roll"... you see I came up with that because you say someone gets on a roll, but
what do you put on a roll?....Butter!"
Even after watching horrible crap like that on outside, you should still venture inside. ESPNZone is somewhat like a Hard Rock Cafe or
Planet Hollywood in that it is a themed restaurant that is a front for selling merchandise. However, it is a BIG step
above Planet Hollywood because it actually has good food! Hard Rock has an advantage of being a larger enterprise, one
that has been around longer, has many more locations in various parts of the world, and Rock and Roll is a bit more
universal than ESPN.
The dining experience really puts ESPNZone in a class by itself. The main dining area generally faces a wall of
sports tickers and TVs. Usually 12-16 smaller feeds and one giant (and I'm talking 25' x 15') TV. If you are really
lucky you'll get a custom lazy boy in the first row. These recliners have speakers built in with a remote that lets
you pipe in the sound for any of the TV feeds up on the big board. They have cupholders and little tables for your food.
It's heaven for any sports junkie with couch-potato tendencies! At the booths you have a touch screen that allows the same thing, you can pipe in any
of the feeds, the touch screen also lets you watch any of the smaller TVs on it, plus you can surf any sports related
websites from it (ESPN.com, EXPN.com, ABCSPORTS.com, Yahoo Sports, etc.). Truly excellent.
The food is also quite good. Outside of the usual burger and fries fare you'll find great appetizers (their
spinach and artichoke dip is the best I've had in a restaurant), delicious and different sandwiches (the mahi mahi
burger was absolutely fabulous), and plenty of big entrees (the baby back back back ribs gives you 2lbs. BBQ heaven).
That alone makes ESPNZone a fun place to visit and have a good meal...but that's only half the story. The real fun
is upstairs. That's where you'll find the games. Imagine a sports themed Dave & Busters (or Gillian's ... or any of
those adult arcade type places... no, not THAT kind of "adult"). They have a rock-climbing wall where up to 10 people
can scale a 30+ foot wall in a race to the top (the one in DC has a rock-climbing treadmill...you climb in
place while it spins like a tank tread...it also tilts forward and back for added difficulty).
You can challenge the Xtreme Glacier at the ESPN Zone Anaheim
They have all those fun NASCAR/Indy Car/hovercraft/hydrofoil/Horse racing games where you go against other people.
They also have a virtual reality game where you "climb aboard a Formula One Race car for a four minute thrill ride.
Take the race car for a spin around our track and test your driving skills against another driver. Feel the wind in
your face as you reach 200 MPH. This attraction is all about speed, distance and endurance, let's see who can tame
these powerful machines? When all is said and done, get a computer printout analyzing your driving skills."
They have those fun basketball quickshot games where you go head to head against your friends. They've got a
great football game where you throw the football through holes on moving targets. There is also this cool game where
you are a boxer. You pick up these rubber handles designed to look like gloves. In front of you is a screen and above
you are sensors to pick up your movement. When the game starts you have to literally duck and dodge the boxers punches
and then counter with your own. The first guy is pretty easy, and after you dodge it shows you where to punch. So you
just start throwing punches out in front of you, and whoopin' ass! It was great!
Floatin' like a butterfly...
Last, but definitely not least, they've got the best game I've ever played. It's a hockey game where you get inside
a big 20' x 10' cage with a scoreboard, a goal, and a goalie at one end. When the game starts it spits a puck out on the floor to you,
depending how far back you are when you shoot the puck you get 1, 2, or 3 points. While you are shooting the goalie
moves back and forth in the goal. When you miss or hit the goalie, you have to run up and get the rebound and put
it past him...score as much as you can in 90 seconds. It's soooo much fun!!!
Ahem, sorry, I get a little giddy over this place. It's just so incredible! Check
Anyway, after working up a serious sweat playing games it was time to move on.
Sunday we made our way up from Anaheim to the Park Hyatt in Century City. We were lucky enough to be upgraded to a suite
on the 10th floor with two balconies, deck furniture, and a view of downtown LA, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and the world
famous Hollywood sign. The suite also overlooked 20th Century Fox Studios. I could see a line of trailers that the
stars retreat to while filming...however, being Oscar night, the place was a ghost town.
We made our way down to Hollywood and Highland, the site of the new Kodak Theatre. There was an army of cops in the
area, and you couldn't park within a 4 block radius (more like 6 blocks by the time we got there, with all the people
who had already shown up). There were plenty of
people lined up on Highland to watch each limo drive by on their way up the street to the award ceremonies. We walked
around trying to get closer to the action...each time met with one of LA's "finest". While trying to find a way
to get closer we saw Josh Hartnett making his way on foot to the ceremonies with two lovely ladies.
Plenty to see while wondering around on Hollywood Blvd. Like paying homage to your favorite entertainers!!!
After making a
complete circle around the area, we were able to get across the street from the entrance just in time to see Denzel
Washington get out of his limo. The place was absolutely packed, and when Denzel stepped out, the crowd surged forward
against the police barricades. Thankfully no one stole my wallet in the packed crowd.
He's the little black head just below the bright light between the two valets.
After that bit of fun we decided
it was time to go. On the long walk back to my car we were walking down Highland when a late arrive limo was coming up the
street. The rear window was rolled down and the limo slowed as it approached a group walking in front of me. It was
P. Diddy... he raised his champagne glass to all of us as he slowly rolled by. Didn't surprise me a bit that Puffy
would show up late to the Oscars...not surprised at all.
After arriving late, P. Diddy beat the hell out of the guy sitting in his seat.
Little did he realize that the guy was just a seat-filler doing his job.
We then retired back to the suite at the Park Hyatt to watch the Oscars unfold.
Whoopi? Aw crap, I totally forgot that Whoopi was doing the Oscars...after 5 minutes I already feel that I've sat
through 4 hours of crap.
Sidney Portier is how old? Wow, he doesn't look 75. Damn.
Yay for Shrek!!!
Anyone else shocked to see Woody Allen? Besides never showing up for the Oscars before...I figured he was still
damaged goods since marrying his stepdaughter...ah well, it's Hollywood...stranger things have happened.
Did anyone else find it weird that Halle went from crying shaking babbling girl at the beginning of her speech to
"I'm the queen of the world" at the end? Why do I feel I may have just seen another great performance by Halle?
Ah Denzel...I knew he would win. It's a great night for actors of all races, colors, and creeds.
Bah, Beautiful Mind... we didn't see that coming did we? :-P
Only a tad over 4 hours this year...and Whoopi didn't seriously annoy me the whole night...I think the key to that
was the noticeable lack of dance numbers this year (thank god!).
As the searchlights at the corner of Hollywood and Highland continue to illuminate the sky outside of my suite, I
bid you a fond farewell from the entertainment capital of the world!