Tuesday, August 20

The Magic Castle

The Magic Castle maintains a regal hiding spot perched atop a hill overlooking Hollywood. And rightfully so.  This establishment is an exclusive members only experience.  It has been for decades.  And will be for decades to come.

Unfazed by social media and the quickly evolving world outside the castle walls, the magicians who grace the dark and hazy halls are a special breed.  All with their vastly unique specialties, the members have this old world stoic respect for the art of magic and illusion. 

There are artifacts around every corner, mysterious bars in each den.  You can have a full sit down dinner on the main floor, or cozy into an old mahogany bar stool for a whiskey and lighter fare on the upper level.   There are a handful of different stages - some as intimate to only hold a dozen guests, others with a stage and elevated seating for 200. The magicians only perform one or two weeks a year, to always keep the material fresh and draw dropping. I could spend hours trying to find the right descriptive words to describe a visit, but I think I'll just briefly recount my new favorite place in Los Angeles, through my eyes.

Dress coats & ties are a must.  When you pay for valet you are given a secret code to say aloud at a bookcase, which opens you into the castle.  I could have left after this and felt satisfied with the experience. 

The halls are draped with dark red curtains, the owner (who is in his 90s) will always be sipping down a drink and engaging a patron somewhere amongst the bars scattered on the two floors.  The first bar is for beginners.  The amateurs who are practicing their first sleight of hand.  These hopefuls are sporadically visited by one of the great veteran magicians to bestow a piece of invaluable knowledge.  We cozied up to the bar for a glass of wine before dropping in to see a dear friend Adam Trent's magic show.  The room held no more than 30 people, his act was was sidesplitting funny, and the magic awe-worthy. After the half hour show we were back out to enjoy some quick tricks by passerbys at the bar before catching the final 11:30 show at the biggest stage.  

The first act was the magician that played the hand on the Adams Family.  He was eerily quiet and utterly mesmerizing to watch, his tricks classic sleight of hand with a level of superior sophistication.  The second act was akin to a comedy central standup where the comedian takes props from a giant chest. He was hilarious, pulling material from the audience.

The Magic Castle is just that.  Magic.  A hidden gem that takes you back a half a century to a time where we would appreciate a trick or illusion without googling how it was done.  A time where we respected a stage with a single performer and a castle with a password. 

Wednesday, August 14

Staying On Track during ... COOKOUT SEASON!


Greetings from day 10 at my family’s home in Plymouth, MA! While I love visiting my favorite little speck on the map more than anything, the trip really tests my willpower and inevitably expands my waistline in the most undesirable ways.
Each morning, I wake up to chocolate chip pancakes, eggs benedict, bacon and cheese danishes I grew up begging for. Lunch and dinners are heavy meals of lasagnas, meatloaves and steaks, followed by an irresistible homemade dessert. I am sure you all can sympathize in one-way or another. It is August, and cookouts, family reunions and weddings are rampant.
Here are some tips to stay sane and only gain a pound or two when you are up against visiting family, a wedding weekend, a long vacation, or just wrapped up in the enjoyment of cookout season.
1. Wake up with good intentions. Start your morning routine with a cup of coffee or tea and assess your will power. Don’t focus on guilt trips from the feast you enjoyed the night before. But rather, reflect on the enjoyable, but heavy, meal and make a conscious effort to be mindful of what you will consume today.
2. Fill up with a sustainable breakfast. Doing so will help keep you full and away from the cookies and sweets until lunchtime. It is okay to indulge a little, but try not to overdo it. One pancake and a slice of bacon is enough. Have a sliced banana with a little bit of peanut butter with your meal and you are bound to feel more satisfied and less likely to reach for a second cinnamon bun.
3. Try to only indulge in the things you cannot get everyday. The grocery store cupcakes are always going to taste the same. And so is the pub cheese and the hot dogs. Choose to fill up on your great aunt’s famous apple crisp or your sister’s first attempt at a fancy potato salad.
4. Really eyeball the food options before digging in. This is one of my favorite calorie saving rules! Don’t just choose the foods you normally deny yourself of because you think this is your one free day to be a glutton. Fill one plate with the dishes you think you will most enjoy. This rule is especially important with the desserts. You do not need a separate plate to try each dessert. Chose one or two that look undeniably delicious and pick a small piece to enjoy.
5. The 50:50 Ratio. When making my plate, I like to give myself at least a 50:50 ratio of healthy to unhealthy foods. That means half my plate will be vegetable dishes, less fattening dips (such as hummus, guacamole, salsa or yogurt based dips), lean meats and salads.
6. Be conscious of alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol can lower our inhibitions and leave us less will power to stay away from the buffalo chicken dip. Plus, a full day of drinking can quickly triple our daily calorie, carb and sugar intake! For mixed cocktails, I try to stick to wine coolers or sangrias made with soda water and fresh fruit. Rum punches and margaritas will spike your sugar and tack on a few hundred calories per serving. Wine, champagne, beers and unflavored liquor mixed with soda water or tonic is your safest bet if you are planning on having a few cocktails over the course of the party.
7. Get some exercise! Play croquet or horseshoes with the family, get up on the dance floor at the wedding, go for a walk around the block, or hop in the pool with the kids! There are always plenty of chances to burn a few calories and step away from the buffet line.
All of these suggestions are useful tactics for sticking to our diet goals, but they are just that: suggestions, NOT rules!
The only rule I have is to live joyfully in the moment. If I am going to have another piece of my mom’s homemade lasagna that brings me back to my childhood, then I am going to savor every single delicious bite. Our social lives revolve around enjoying meals in good company. Dieting does not mean giving up this social life, it just means being conscious and fully aware of our eating habits and actions.
Do not feel guilty for a day (or in my case 10 days!) of veering off track. We are in this together, and with a little extra motivation at the gym on Monday, we will be back on the road to fit and healthy in no time.
Enjoy your time with family and friends!

Friday, August 2

Friday Rants

I want to formally apologize for beings so obnoxiously preachy and optimistic lately.  All this recent booking success is getting to my head and clouding my cynical edge.   Long gone are the posts fueled by misery as a theatrical agent I suppose.

Nonetheless, I know there's still a bit of wit somewhere in me, and I felt it creeping up on the set of Tosh.O yesterday.  Here's a guy whose cynicism is the groundworks of his fame!

So here's my Friday Rant list.  Because why not spend Friday sulking about the idiocracy of the week instead of posting "TGIF bitches!!" posts all over twitter.. even though you know damn well that you are probably going to work through your weekend, get too drunk and make bad decisions, or waste it overeating on your couch.

1. The over bearing hairdresser. Right, you think cutting my hair is the only way to make it grow longer because you'll be cutting off split ends.  Well genius if you cut off the split ends, the hair is just going to split even higher up, causing you to cut shorter and shorter.

2. I get it, you're Jewish.  But I'm not.  And I don't know how to respond when you say Mazel tov.

3. I'm so happy you uplodaded two photos per minute the entire week you were on vacation! You should have just stayed home and googled your destination, since all you did was experience it through your cell phone camera and uploading clever comments on instagram ...then waiting to see how many likes you get.

4. Laser hair removal doesn't work.  I don't care what anybody else says.  I suffered through 6 painful sessions, and there is still hair.

5. Granola and yogurt parfaits are not a healthy morning choice. They are a dessert.  But.. no.  A dessert.

6. Oh I have the eating disorder? I munch on fruits, veggies, hummus, and lean meats all day and take multivitamins. You starve yourself then eat 3 pieces of pizza with soda. But I'm the one with the disorder because I prefer salad for dinner instead of starving myself and binge eating junk with you. Makes sense.

7. When I walk into the plastic surgeons office to inquire about a nose job and the secretary assumes breast augmentation. Well, you bitch, I wasn't planning on getting my boobs done until now.

8. Trail mix. Show me one person who can eat just one serving.

9. Sticky lipgloss. Which manufacturer thought adding glue to lipgloss made sense. And why did everyone follow suit.

10. That makeup artist who poked me in they eye with the mascara wand and I had to drive the half hour home with one contact on.  I hate you.

11. The casting director who decided the wardrobe should be a bathing suit and heels. I hate you so much more.

12. When the nail girl clips your cuticles until they bleed. Then acts pissy when you only tip 3 dollars.  Sorry, I wanted a light pink color, not red.

13. Girls who drag their heels because they cant walk in them. Or the girls who stomp their feet like dinosaurs for the same reason.  Or the ones who manage to do both, against all odds.

14. Crop tops.  Who decided these are in style?  Like really?  what asshole dude is the mastermind behind this? What happen to good old tunics and moo moos.  when can they come into style?

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