Tuesday, August 22, 2017

It's HOT! HOT! HOT! Can You Feel It?

Contributed by Georgia Menides

There are two types of "heat" that describe Los Angeles. There's the heat which refers to the rest of the city floating around the (818) all innocent and perpetually moving. Then, there's the Soul Sucking Heat Monster of Hell that lives within the (818) proper. Every summer, he comes, and no amount of tribal rituals, AC, or central air will keep him away. 

To be honest, I've always the been the lone Valley Film Festival programmer who didn't live in The Valley, until this winter, when a job beckoned my roommate and I to Sherman Oaks. Overall, we love it here! We love the farmers markets, galleries, mom and pop stores, canyons for running, snow capped mountain views, proximity to Lankershim and Magnolia (aka the VFF strip), the parks, the bars, and the best ethnic food ever.

The only issue..it's hot! Even my Greek blood can't handle the assault. I used my air conditioner for the first time last week (ask my roommate, Becca, it's true I've never turned it on before). I was  lying helpless on the couch until the temperature finally fell. 

Since I didn't move to LA to sprawl helplessly on my couch all day, I decided to research the community for how other Valley folk made it through the hottest months of August and September. So out of a compassionate favor to myself, I've complied a list of things to do when you're so hot you just can't move. I hope they help you as much as they have helped me.

1. Ice Skating

Yes, before the days of the ice skating rink, it made sense to go skating during the winter to avoid falling into patches of cold water and drowning. But, post ice skating rink? I mean, if you think about it, why are we forgetting to go ice skating during the hottest time of the year? It's on those sweltering days when it feels like heaven to not just cool off, but actually  get cold. We all love a good workout and an opportunity to show off our rarely worn hats and mitten sets, so give your skates a new lease on life (or just rent a pair) and get on board with this new trend. 

Where: Head to Valley Ice Center or Iceland in Van Nuys, or Pickwick Ice in Burbank for free skates days and nights. 

Photo by Benson Kua

2. Pools

I mean, hopefully, you have one, like I do. Or you know someone really close who has one and you can say, "Listen, it's too hot to live, I'm coming over." When the Soul Sucking Heat Monster of Hell comes out, and your own pool is unavailable, then it's time to peruse the little blue book. Analyze your Facebook walls and cross reference a list of potential pools. Now, look, your friends will know you've got an ulterior motive, so come prepared to shower them with chilled wine, fresh music, and eye candy. They're benefitting too. What a wonderful way to cool down from heat stroke, while pretty much broadcasting how cool they are to all of your friends.  And if you can't find a friend's pool, The Valley is full of options.

Where: The Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks Aquatic Center, East Valley YMCA, or, if you're closer to Burbank, the Verdugo Aquatic Center

Photo from Pixabay

3. Parks and Recreation Centers

The beauty of a Valley-based recreation center, is that there are tons of options to exercise  (both indoor and outdoor) and equally as many to not exercise. Or just sit and enjoy the weather, always temperate inside and out, due to air conditioning and tall shady groves of trees around tiny bodies of water. 

Hike through the woods in any of these beautiful parks and you'll find rivers, ponds, lakes, and animal tracks. 

Where: Lanark Rec Center (Canoga Park), Lake Balboa (Encino/Van Nuys) or NoHo Recreation Center (North Hollywood)

Photo courtesy of Georgia M.

4. Shopping/Museums

Museums sell themselves, especially on a hot day. I've known friends to go to The Getty for the sole reason of beating the heat, but shopping needs more of an explanation. Now when I say shopping, I don't mean the exhaustive process of hauling the kids into a car, driving around in the heat, and fighting over city parking. I'm talking about the kind of stores you can actually drive to, walk in, and let your kids run loose in. LA is full of stores that promise several hours fun for adults, children, and the kid within. 

Where: Museums - The Getty Center (Sepulveda) & Valley Relics (Chatsworth) and Fun Stores - Puzzle Zoo (several locations in LA), Wacko Soap Plant (Los Feliz), and The Dinosaur Farm (South Pasadena)

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

5. The Movies

No brainer here! Why do you think the word "Summer Blockbuster" is so important to big studios? Luckily, the (818) has several options for you to dip into for a blast of cold air. 

Where: Laemmle NoHo7 (the home of The Valley Film Festival) and the Regency's Valley Plaza 6, also in North Hollywood, to name a few.  What's your favorite theatre in The Valley? 

Photo by Ilja von Nagel

6. The Beach

Finally, if all else fails, there's the beach. The (818) is so close to the Pacific Ocean and you don't even have to drive there! Park at any metro station and make your way to the Orange Line; Get off at Warner Center and grab LA's official Beach Bus for only $1. Sit back, enjoy the hour-long ride through Topanga Canyon, and you'll be at the best place to beat the heat in the whole city. The best part? This service runs year-round! 

Where: Warner Center Station (Woodland Hills)

Photo courtesy of Georgia M.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Bitchin!! (In Honor of Valley Girls Everywhere)

Contributed by Georgia Menides

"Gag me with a spoon" and "barf me out the door"!  As much as we all love to laugh at "Valley Girl" lingo how much do you... like... actually know about its origins? 

As a programmer for The Valley Film Festival and lover of all things (818), I decided to do some digging into the history of these phrases as well as the concept of "upspeak" in general.

Although the expressions that made the words "Valley Girl" so ubiquitous did in fact originate in Encino, CA. in the late 1970s, entomologists have actually traced the beginnings of "upspeak" or "high rising terminal" back to the 1930s in parts of England and Australia. By "high rising terminal", I am referring to the use of a rising pitch intonation at the end of a sentence where a falling pitch is actually implied by its contents. So this concept that we have of a "Valley Girl" inflection being synonymous with being rich, female, flighty, or shallow couldn't be farther from the truth.  Speaking this way is actually quite international. 

San FernandoValley by Serouj via WikiCommons
That being said, in the late 70's and early 80's, up-speak did make its way into Encino, and other pockets of the San Fernando Valley, where it took on a life of its own.

In 1982,  Frank Zappa truly immortalized the concept with his song "Valley Girl" on the album "Ship Arriving too Late to Save a Drowning Witch." Lyrics with phrases like "gag me with a spoon," "bitchin," and others were given to him from his daughter, Moon Unit, then a teenager, who compiled a list of phrases she heard from her peers at the mall, in school, at parties, etc. and collaborated with her father on this track. (Read full lyrics here.)

On the heels of this song came Tracey Nelson's character, Jennifer DiNuccio, on the TV show "Square Pegs" where she played the ultimate Valley Girl. DiNuccio was known to use the word "like" up to 30 times per episode!!
Other TV shows like "Silver Spoons," "Saved by the Bell," and "My Two Dads," along with the movie "Clueless" continued to immortalize this kind of talk and link it to a vapid culture of shallow young girls dying to, like, go to the mall. 

But recent speech scholars have done extensive studies on "upspeak" and have been myth-busting ever since. 

These days,  this type of inflection is characteristic of all of Southern California, across all races, classes, ages, sexes, and cultural demographics. No longer does talking like a Valley Girl imply a less than stellar intellect. These days, Valley Speak, is simply a sign that someone may be from Southern California (aka the best place to live in the universe). So, like, embrace your inner Valley Girl with pride!!