Archive for August, 2012

Blog Plug: Kelli Murray

| August 27, 2012

KelliMurray-Blog

What it’s about: San Diego illustrator, painter, and designer Kelli Murray shares her stylish perspective on life, from the things that inspire her creativity to the artwork and fashion that come out of that inspiration.

Why I dig it: When I feel frumpy and anxious at the idea of putting an outfit together, I check out Kelli’s blog for her latest style suggestions. She has a way of making fashion feel accessible and, recently, how to keep it cost-effective. I particularly appreciate her 5 ways to style entries and I look forward to reading more of her ideas on how to put a new outfit together for less than $100.

Fun Facts:

  • Kelli Murray is the head designer of San Diego-based apparel company with a conscience, Jedidiah.
  • You can purchase Kelli’s artwork on Etsy and on Society6. She even offers her invitation design skills on her Etsy shop.
  • I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelli in 2010 on the occasion of her first solo art show, “Dreamer.”
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Gotta dance! My history with Don Lockwood

| August 23, 2012

Gene-kelly-1A hundred years ago today, Eugene Curran Kelly was born in Pittsburgh. At the time, it probably wasn’t that big of a deal beyond the family. But then he grew up to pursue a song-and-dance life. For the stage, he dropped his middle name and used the common nickname associated to his first name–Gene. Then, in 1940, he caught his break, playing the lead role in the stage musical, “Pal Joey.” Two years later, he appeared with Judy Garland in his first MGM film, “For Me and My Gal.”

I learned about Gene Kelly a little over 45 years later. I can’t quite pinpoint how, but my memory wants to attach it to the weekend afternoons I spent watching KTLA 5’s “Family Film Festival” in the late 1980s. “Family Film Festival” was the TCM of my pre-teen and tween days. The program opened with a whimsical, nostalgia-triggering instrumental and a green ribbon spelling out “Family Film Festival” on screen. From there, it transitioned to host Tom Hatten sitting in a set made to look like a screening room in an old Hollywood bungalow. The green from the ribbon in the opening echoed in the pine green carpet of the set. A large film projector was propped on a large end table next to Tom Hatten. Before the film started, a film that usually dated between the 1940s and 1960s, Hatten would provide viewers with trivia on the afternoon’s selection.

I often watched “Family Film Festival” by myself. My parents were uninterested in watching the films Hatten screened because they considered the movies old. They often rhetorically asked me why I liked such old movies. To this day, I don’t have a satisfactory answer. I just like them.

It was in one of my first “Family Film Festival” afternoons that I first saw “Singin’ In the Rain.” I was either 9 or 10 years old and, not fully understanding the concept of time, crushed hard on Mr. Kelly and the idea of telling a story through song and dance.

I eventually wizened up to the fact that the film was made tens of years before I was born, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to watch more like it. “Singin’ In the Rain” was my gateway musical and my original favorite film, the first of which I made a point to learn the names of the principle actors–Gene Kelly, Donald O’Conner, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen. I wanted to know their names so that I could find more films starring them. On Friday afternoons, when my dad would take me to our local video rental store, I’d gravitate to the classic movie section while Dad had a look at the new releases. Of the four “Singin’ In The Rain” stars, Gene Kelly seemed to be the most famous since his films were in stock. I rented and re-rented “Anchors Aweigh,” “On The Town,” “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” “An American in Paris,” “The Pirate,” “Summer Stock,” and “For Me and My Gal.” My Dad never understood why I wanted to see movies more than once and it would sometimes take some fibbing (”No, I haven’t seen this one yet”) to get the chance to rent one of these films a second or fourth time.

I personally think Gene Kelly was funniest when he played opposite Judy Garland. They starred in “For Me and My Gal,” “The Pirate,” and “Summer Stock” together, and they would have starred in “Easter Parade” together if he hadn’t broken his leg (no disrespect to Fred Astaire intended). Of their three films together, I own but one (”Summer Stock”) and my goal is to own all three at some point. I know it’s as easy as buying them on Amazon.com, but I’m in a frugal stage of the year. And, frankly, I hold out on buying them for myself to give those who know me best a chance to gift them to me on Christmas or on my birthday. Conniving, I know.

My favorite Gene Kelly numbers tend to fall under the obscure category. For instance, I love the “Moses Supposes” tap number with Donald O’Conner in “Singin’ In the Rain”; his highly sensual ballet in “The Pirate”; and his newspaper and plank tap number in “Summer Stock.” There was an amazing ease to the way he danced such intricate numbers. Considering the fact that much of those numbers were filmed during the era of long takes, wide shots, and few cuts (an era I sorely miss), I fully appreciate and admire Kelly’s drive, stamina, and uncanny way of making numbers he rehearsed over and over again look fresh.

Gene Kelly made me appreciate dance in general, both on screen and on stage. He was an artist, treating tap, ballet, and modern dance like paints on his dance palette.

He also made white socks and loafers look dapper.

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Dig This Jive’s Happy Hour Picks for August 2012

| August 17, 2012

As promised last week, please enjoy this month’s list of notable happy hours around San Diego! For more happy hour food photos, check out Dig This Jive’s Happy Hour album on Facebook.

Happy-Hour-San-Diego-August-2012

Monday: $5 Bruschette from 4:00-6:00 p.m at Davanti Enoteca Little Italy. Pronounced bru-SKET-te, this daily Davanti deal delivers on the “chunk” it boasts in its menu description. Each of the four thick slices of grilled Italian bread is slathered with a spread then topped with a mixture of roughly chopped vegetables, both of the kitchen’s choosing. On the night I went, the bruschette featured a tomato-and-ricotta spread that was topped with chilled grilled vegetables–cauliflower, red bell pepper, yellow and green zucchini–and a dollop of pesto. It was a flavorful and filling mini feast. If you can’t make it to Davanti Enoteca Little Italy during the week, fret not: Happy Hour is daily, i.e., it’s offered on Saturdays and Sundays, too.

Tuesday: $2 Cochinita Street Tacos and TJ Dawgs all night at La Puerta. This Downtown watering hole takes a break from its daily happy hour programming to give patrons an all night steal: $2 street tacos, $2 TJ dawgs, and $2 Tecates. You can choose any of the tacos listed under the “3 Street Tacos” section of the menu, but my favorite is the Cochinita for featuring juicy slow-cooked pork that’s been seasoned in La Puerta’s achiote spice blend. Make sure to order the tacos a la carte to get the $2/taco deal. If you prefer your pork in tube form, opt for the bacon-wrapped goodness of the TJ Dawg. Can’t decide? Order one of each. And here’s a little conversation starter for when you go: La Puerta resides in one of Gaslamp Quarter’s historic buildings, the Royal Pie Bakery building, the second floor of which was a brothel run by Madame Cora during the years the Gaslamp was the red light district of San Diego. Madame Cora’s tenancy at this location eventually came to an end in 1935 for “rampant immorality.”

Wednesday: 45-cent wings with the purchase of a drink at Riviera Supper Club and Turquoise Room. Finding out about this deal in La Mesa is just another lesson I learned from my colleagues at Comic-Con. The wings at Riviera Supper Club are plump on the inside and crisp on the outside and they’ll drown in your choice of sauce–honey barbecue, Riviera’s original, Burning, spicy soy-garlic, or Jamaican jerk. I’ve yet to taste all of the sauces, but my favorite so far is the spicy soy-garlic. I find that an order of five wings feeds me and an order of 10 wings is great to share with a friend or two. The fine print: the 45-cent price per wing goes all night so long as you purchase a drink and dine in the swank of either the dining room or the lounge.

Thursday: 20% off Antelope Sliders from 4:00-6:00 p.m. at The Lion’s Share. The antelope may play in a home on the range, but in a gutted-and-gussied up brick building in Downtown San Diego’s Marina district, they get eaten. Executive Chef Lhasa Landry’s version of the fits-in-your-palm mini burger stars a charbroiled patty of ground antelope that’s topped with smoked Gouda and a red onion marmalade. Served three to a plate, you could share the spoils, but I prefer to hoard the whole like the lion in the Aesop animal fable the restaurant is named after. Eat them for 20% off their usual $12 price Monday through Friday between 4:00-6:00 p.m. Their cocktail program ain’t so bad, either.

Friday: $5 craft cocktails from 5:00-9:00 p.m. at El Dorado Cocktail Lounge. What can I say? I’m a loyal lush. End the work week with one of El Dorado’s seasonal signature craft cocktails. This being the season of heat and humidity, the bar-with-the-white-buffalo-head decided to highlight gin, aged rum, a peach infused rye whiskey, mezcal, and reposado tequila on their summer cocktail list alongside the ever-present vodka-based Moscow Mule. Cocktail names for the summer range from the punny (the Going Back to Mezcali and the Your Tai) to the song-inspired (the Peaches For Me) to a fashion nod (the Armani) and a spin on the classic Tom Collins (the St. Thomas Collins). I’m most curious to try the St. Thomas Collins (gin, St. Germaine, lemon, raspberries, soda) and the Peaches For Me (peach infused rye, lemon, ginger syrup, soda). And seeing that all of the signature cocktails are only $5 before 9:00 p.m. daily, I won’t try to choose between the two.

(Photo caption, from left to right: Bruschette from Davanti Enoteca Little Italy; Cochinita taco and Pastor taco from La Puerta; wings from Riviera Supper Club, photo from Riviera’s website; Antelope slider from The Lion’s Share, photo from Yelp; Moscow Mule from El Dorado Cocktail Lounge, photo from El Dorado’s Facebook page.)

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Shout Hallelujah, come on, get happy

| August 06, 2012

Now that my convention season, i.e., dependable source of income, is coming to a close, it’s time to place an imaginary Master Lock on my wallet and selectively remember its combination.

Not that it requires a tourniquet, mind you. I’ve never been one to hemorrhage money. But as someone who is building a reputation of knowing where to have a good time in and outside of San Diego, this is the time of year when I find myself in a catch-22 that’s hardly as entertaining as Joseph Heller’s classic novel. I often need to spend money to have something to write about. “Often” not “always” because it’s easy for me to find and write about interesting people, selfless organizations, and free, cultural events. The “often” comes into play when exploring places to eat and drink. Is there a way to address this First World predicament?

Enter Dig This Jive’s Happy Hour Picks.

Each month starting this August until December 2012, I will publish a post that highlights five Happy Hour deals in San Diego, one for every day of the work week (i.e., Monday through Friday). A Happy Week, if you will. My goal is to pinpoint spots that offer more than just a discount on drinks and apps. It’s all in the quality. If I feel like I can mimic the Happy Hour deals at home with little effort, it’s not worth a mention on the list.

Check back next week for the first list of Dig This Jive’s Happy Hour Picks! Until then, please enjoy one of my favorite Judy Garland numbers from one of my favorite MGM musicals, Summer Stock. It inspired this post’s title, after all.

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