Catalina Film Festival 2020

Catalina Film Festival 2020


Don’t miss out! Happening now! The Catalina Film Festival is the only competitive film festival in the world to have an Award sanctioned by the King of Horror – WES CRAVEN. 
So Cal Locals are invited to join CFF for the world’s first-ever CARPOOL CINEMA with DRIVE-THRU Red Carpet in Long Beach, CA for Friday Fright Night on Sept. 25 for the Wes Craven Horror/Thriller block of short films in competition for the Craven Award, plus a bonus, FREE screening of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET; and Saturday Social Club on Sept. 26 featuring indie shorts and THE BREAKFAST CLUB.
Movie lovers that can’t make the socially-distant event can STREAM any of the official selections via the Catalina Film Channel now through Sept 27th!



Catalina Film Festival celebrates 10 Years of Cinema with the world’s first-ever CARPOOL CINEMA and DRIVE-THRU RED CARPET, Friday & Saturday, September 25-26, at the Scottish Rite Event Center in Long Beach.
Doors open at 6 p.m. for a drive-thru RED CARPET experience with step-and-repeat paparazzi photos and park-and-watch films. Guests will have access to food vendors with official programming piped right into your car speakers, sponsored by 
ONLY $40 per car, including one person per seatbelt. LIMITED TICKETS! 

Friday, Sept . 25th 
Drive-Thru Red Carpet at 6pm 
Wes Craven Horror/Thriller Block starts at sundown. Short films in competition for the coveted Wes Craven Award: Gaslight, In the Deathroom, Mask of Sanity, Milk Teeth, Mongrel, Need Anything, One Last Thing, & Overkill, followed by a FREE bonus screening of slasher film, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. 

Saturday, Sept. 26th
Drive-Thru Red Carpet at 6pm

Toast to nostalgia. First a round of independent cinema in the L.A. Social Club Shorts Block featuring films: Balloon, In Hollywoodland, Liquid, Ride in Progress, Thank you Kindly, Un Hombre Debe Aprender, and The Roommates, followed by the 35th Anniversary of John Hughes iconic film, THE BREAKFAST CLUB, starring Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy & Anthony Michael Hall. LA Social Club tickets


                         William H. Macy & Cassi Thomson attend last year’s Catalina Film Festival—photo credit Jerod Harris Catalina Film Festival

The Habit Burger Grill Brings Fresh, Fast, and Free Delivery to Their App

The Habit Burger Grill Brings Fresh, Fast, and Free Delivery to Their App

The Habit Burger Grill just keeps the fire going! While they recently cooked up a new limited-time specialtythe California-based restaurant company has continued to enthrall us all with even more amazing news.
The restaurant renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame, signature sandwiches, fresh-cut salads and more just announced its latest innovation:  You can now order The Habit for delivery on The Habit Mobile App or online at
To celebrate the launch of this exciting new feature, The Habit Burger Grill is offering FREE Delivery From September 23rd-30th for all orders over $10* that are placed through The Habit Mobile App or online at habitburger.comThis means you can order all The Habit’s fan-favorite menu items from the comfort of your couch. Fresh food and free delivery? It doesn’t get much better than that!
It’s the perfect opportunity to try out their new limited-time Chicken Caprese on Garlic Ciabatta while saving a few bucks!
Kástra Elión Vodka And Stephanie Beatriz Host Virtual Mixology Class, Pairing  Dinner, And Concert Event Featuring Kongos

Kástra Elión Vodka And Stephanie Beatriz Host Virtual Mixology Class, Pairing Dinner, And Concert Event Featuring Kongos

On Saturday, September 26, premium vodka brand Kástra Elión will welcome guests to a virtual event hosted by acclaimed actress Stephanie Beatriz. Guests are invited to tune in online to experience a full evening of fun, including a cocktail demonstration from Matthew Biancaniello of Eat Your Drink, a three course paired meal by celebrated caterer Jennifer Naylor, a sip and chat with the Kástra Elión founders, and a performance by alternative rock band Kongos. The special evening is presented in celebration of Kástra Elión’s launch of their new premium sipping vodka distilled from Greek olives

Family-owned, artisan crafted in Greece, and three generations in the making, Kástra Elión combines tradition, innovation, and a love for the flavors and heritage of the Mediterranean. While most vodkas are made with just grain, Kástra Elión is distilled from the finest hand-picked olives found in the Nafpaktos region of Greece, creating a profile with subtle notes of ripe olives refined with peppery undertones and a soft, battery finish.

Along with host Stephanie Beatriz and Kástra Elión founders Mike Camello and Brandon Cohen, guests will experience a cocktail demonstration on how to make the perfect cocktail using Kástra Elión. Chef partner Jennifer Naylor will also provide a walkthrough of her curated Meditteranean meal that includes a mezze platter, Greek salad, grilled marinated chicken and vegetables, plum and nectarine crisp, and much more for guests to enjoy pairing with the vodka. At the end of the presentation, the founders will open up the discussion for attendees to ask questions, engage, interact, and learn more about the brand. The evening will conclude with a special performance by Kongos.

Having launched just prior to the global pandemic, Kástra Elión understands the value of engaging and giving back to the community. Proceeds from ticket sales for this event will be donated to The Art of Elysium – a nonprofit artist organization built on the idea that through service, art becomes a catalyst for social change. Philanthropic efforts, especially during this time, are deeply rooted in Kástra Elión’s brand DNA, and they believe that we are stronger when we work together to make a difference.

Premium tickets purchased for the virtual event will include two meals prepared by Jennifer Naylor, a cocktail kit for two featuring Kástra Elión, and access to Kongo’s performance.

Tickets are available for purchase at



While we were on lockdown learning the latest Tik Tok dance craze challenge, pulling our hair out in our “solitary confinements”, or spending much needed time with our families, the following artists cooked up hit after hit. I did my ingenious best, sniffing out the ones that were sizzling hot and ready to transform our quarantined environments into a space that could be appreciated and respected. Here are my top 5 hot summer tracks of 20Quarantine. Enjoy!


Megan Thee Stallion and Beyoncé set this summer’s playlist on fire with their homegrown Houston collaboration with the remix to Megan’s previously released single, “Savage”. The 808 bass tinged track laced with a heavy kickdrum had every woman across the country “jumping to put jeans on” and feeling Queen B’s pain ala post quarantine pounds! Megan serves up official Megan bravado over the J. White (Cardi B, Bodak Yellow, I Like It) infused beat with lines such as “I’m the shit ooh/ I need a mop to clean the floor/It’s too much drip, ooh” and “I’m a savage/attitude nasty/talk big shit/but my bank account match it”. Topping the charts with over seven thousand spins on Top 40 radio according to Mediabase USA Today and an accompanying viral Tik Tok video, this song heated up every living room, car ride, and quarantine club space for the summer.

“Do it”

With the mention of Queen B, the summer’s next smash is delivered by none other than the flirty, charismatic, and iconic Gen Z sister tandem of Beyonce’s Parkwood Entertainment, Chloe X Halle. On the lead single “Do It” from their recently released album titled “Ungodly Hour” these young ladies bring sultry and soulful together with their harmonious vocals over a melodic dance track, colorfully produced by Scott Storch. Playful lyrics like “Taking pictures/ Make sure you can’t see no lace/ That wig secure/ Like the money in the safe/ I look like bae” keeps up with the tempo in this ode to showing self-love, self-care, and encouraging young women to just have absolute complete fun during this pandemic filled summer. Scoring their first Top 5 hit on the digital song sales chart, this duo has proven to be an added refreshment to the Billboard charts and urban radio alike.


Moving ahead with contemporary R&B star SAINt JHN who enjoyed an arduous climb to Billboard’s number 3 spot this summer with the resurgence of his smoky note single “Roses” which was first remixed by DJ Imanbek, which has now become an ultimate club banger remix ft. Future. This version of the record is raw strip club material at its finest that crept upon us during the quarantine and carried us into the anticipated summer of sexy that we all awaited. SAINt JHN states it best when he introduces the exotic dancer idea with braggadocio and vigor saying “ I might bring them strippers out/ And tell ‘em do it pole-less/You already know, already know, N—-s Roses” with Future riding the synth and the dark bass line which emotes a trancelike hook to follow. SAINt JHN surely has to be proud of the fact that Beyonce turned this record down several years ago. The cliché’ is, to give them their flowers while they are here to smell them. Saint JHN has all the right to smell his roses now with this erotic hustler’s homage.

“What’s poppin’?”

Segway into the infant stages of quarantine madness and here emerges heavyweight newcomer Jack Harlow. “What’s poppin’?” is usually used as a greeting as in, what’s going on? or what activities are taking place now or in the future? No Webster! And what’s poppin with this Kentucky native is his XXL Freshman magazine cover debut (XXL, Aug 2020) and his new single befittingly titled “What’s Poppin” which actually took off during the mid-latter time line of quarantine and continued to soar into the summer destined to become a party staple in the future. Stamped by JetsonMade and Pooh Beatz (Suge, DaBaby) fame, Jack lets us all know how he spent his quarantine safe and healthy “Just Joshing/ I’ma spend this holiday locked in/ My body got rid of them toxins”. The allegro tempo makes this a fun and bright bop for the 22-year-old who rose to fame through Tik Tok with this single. Peaking at number 2 on the Billboard charts ( and with the release of his EP “Sweet Action”, Jack is for sure to know “What’s Poppin” all summer long.

“Cabin Fever”

Closing out the pandemic inspired playlist is stellar entertainer Jaden (Will and Jada’s son without the Smith). Formally known as, Jaden belts out his undying love for his quarantine boo in this laid-back Beach Boy influenced jam. “Cabin Fever” is one of his best works to date since “Icon”, seeing as though according to Jaden “I have to do things in the song (ICON) that are really not normal”. Which is why it is definitely abnormal to want to engage during a contagious outbreak only to create a body of work well deserving of breaking the rules. He takes us on an iridescent California cruise while attempting to lure his lover out of lockdown to come outside and “play” so to speak in his VEVO debut visual for the single.

“I wanna feel your body on me/ Tall palm trees/ And kaleidoscope dreams/ I’m at home thinking bout you and me/ Cause girl, I got that cabin fever” explains how he is reminiscent of the free time previously shared and how he is pining to re-create those moments with her again as he shouts out the 818 and 310 area codes designating his destination throughout the verses.
Jaden told a Vulture interviewer in July that “this song is made to be listened to when the sun is setting and you’re feeling good”, hence the soft guitar riff and melodic hook penned by super producer Burns (Lady Gaga, Little Mix). “Cabin Fever” is a stark contrast to Jaden’s previous releases and his upcoming mixtape release “The Cool Café: The Cool Tapes Vol. 3”, but rest assured that he’ll continue to make “feel good” music during these isolated times.

SoCal Music

Ellenos Greek Yogurt Launches Seasonal Fall Favorite: Pumpkin Pie; PLUS a Q&A with a Co-founder

Ellenos Greek Yogurt Launches Seasonal Fall Favorite: Pumpkin Pie; PLUS a Q&A with a Co-founder

Meet Ellenos: Family-Owned Greek Yogurt 

How do you feel about yogurts? Some people may think it’s just another “health-conscious” snack. Others don’t even give the thought the time of day. Well, fortunately for anyone who thinks that way (or otherwise), Ellenos Greek Yogurt is here to set the record straight. We had the incredible opportunity to learn more about the family-owned business, try some of their exquisite flavors, and have a Q&A session with one of its co-founders, Constantinos (Con) Apostolopoulos.

Before we jump into the Q&A, it’s important to understand the critical differentiating factors when it comes to Ellenos. This isn’t just any old yogurt company. What was once just a family practice and passion, blossomed into a beloved business rivaling that of frozen yogurt shops — and even ice cream brands around the world. Ellenos provides a one-of-a-kind experience with a yogurt bar located in Seattle, and packaged versions of that experience sold in stores across the United States.

Ellenos blessed us with a selection of their yogurt flavors neatly sorted in their stylish insulated canvas tote. (Yes, ice cream is indeed jealous.) Among the flavors were Mango, Lemon Curd, Marionberry, Passionfruit, Plain — and their latest seasonal feature — Pumpkin Pie! As people who once thought of yogurt as “just yogurt,” we were pleasantly surprised and blown away by not just the fruitful additions to each cup, but the yogurt itself. Who knew yogurt could be so complex? Ellenos schooled us, as we tasted their family recipe for succulence: a perfectly balanced creation of sweetness, tartness, and freshness we didn’t expect. While Plain was great for savoring the purity of the yogurt, we had to drizzle a little honey over it, just to say we tried one other great combination — and great it was. While it is incredibly difficult to choose a favorite, we strongly recommend Passionfruit, Pumpkin Pie, and Mango for a traversal of tastebud capabilities.


A Few Favorites 

There’s nothing quite like the freshness of the purees, as if they were just added right before trying a spoonful of yogurt. Pumpkin Pie was accompanied by a lid full of cookie crumbles to sprinkle on top, which set the stage for the Fall favorite. The cinnamon-y crunch paired well with the tart profile of the yogurt, and the pumpkin pie puree was like receiving a prize within a prize! Pumpkin Pie has already prepped us for the holidays, and it’s only September.

Passionfruit is sweet, tart, and full of texture with its fragile seeds. Pair that with Ellenos’ full package of yogurt, and you’ve got a star! This is probably how it feels to have candy-topped ice cream, but so much better for you.  We couldn’t get enough of the satisfying crunch from seeds hidden beneath the creamy blanket of yogurt.

Finally, Mango — which was our very first taste of what Ellenos can deliver. One spoon was all it took to make us swoon. While it seemed there just couldn’t be enough room to highlight both the yogurt and the tropical fruit puree, somehow, Ellenos managed to pull it off. Sweet + Tart + Zing = Happiness.

With those flavor profiles established, below you can learn even more about Ellenos, its founders, special partnerships they have planned in Southern California, and what goes into their yogurt. (Hint: It’s 100% LOVE.) Read on to become a fan, and give them a try to become a forever customer, like us.


Q & A With Ellenos Co-Founder, Constantinos Apostolopoulos 

Q: Hi Con! Please tell us about yourself. What is your role at Ellenos, and how long have you worked with the company?

A: My name is Con Apostolopoulos and I am one of the co-founders of Ellenos, alongside my son, Alex Apostolopoulos, and business partners Bob and Yvonne Klein. Day-to-day I handle R&D and creation of our extraordinary yogurt. Through happenstance, my path crossed with Bob and Yvonne which propelled me to move from Australia and later, we founded Ellenos and opened our Pike Place Market fresh scooped yogurt bar in 2013, to bring my long-standing Greek family yogurt recipe to the U.S. Since then we have expanded distribution into natural and specialty grocery stores, where Ellenos has quickly become the one of the fastest-selling yogurts in the category. Our handmade Greek recipe is carefully hand strained and blended over a proprietary five-day process and uses a signature blend of yogurt cultures that has been a closely held family secret for generations. Topped with our house-made fresh fruit purees and indulgent compotes, Ellenos’ incredible taste is changing the that yogurt is “just for breakfast.”

Q: What strikes you as one of the most notable aspects of Ellenos, and its team?

A: Our brand cares deeply about the quality of food we are providing consumers and Ellenos’ line is a direct result of the rich community and family we have built. We utilize a unique five-day process with only real, hand-picked and high-quality ingredients to create yogurts that have an unparalleled flavor making our fan base say “WOW” after the first spoonful. Our values here at Ellenos are marked by treating everyone like family, going the extra mile and ultimately growing together. This sense of family tradition and community is deeply embedded into our everyday labor and has highly contributed to our success.  Oh yeah, and we all really love making and eating food. 

Q: What is Ellenos’ story? Can you tell us how this company came to be, and how long it’s been around?

A: Our story starts before there was ever an Ellenos company – it begins with our founder, Yvonne Klein, flying to Australia as a flight attendant in 1999 and falling in love with our yogurt at our yogurt bars. Fast forward 20+ years and we have built a cult following in the Pac Northwest and are now selling our handcrafted yogurt in 30+ states

Q: Your team’s Field Marketing Manager, Lisa, told us that some fun community partnerships were in the works. What are they?

At the beginning of the pandemic, our team partnered with Dine One-One and Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles to donate yogurt to frontline workers and local families. As the pandemic continued past March, we wanted to expand our donation efforts to support local restaurants and cafes and did so by stopping by and handing out complimentary yogurt to nearly 100 restaurants between Los Angeles and San Diego. As we knew how difficult these moments were and still are for the hospitality industry, our team has been providing additional yogurt as a way for these restaurants to surprise their customers and thank them for their support in these burdensome times. Most recently, we have partnered with Found Coffee to provide our yogurt treats to customers as they head back to school. Our goal here is to continue to support local businesses and bring joy to the community of Southern California whether that be in any small or large scale act, we are happy to lend a helping hand. So far, we’ve donated around 3,000 cups of Ellenos and look forward to additional donations we have planned for the year.  

With fall on the horizon, we are thrilled to be partnering with Mr. Jack O’ Lanterns Pumpkin’s to host pop-up events throughout the month of October. Not only did we think this was a cheerful way to help celebrate the launch of Pumpkin Pie but we also wanted to bring a special atmosphere to the community and help others get excited about the new season. 

Q: How do you define Ellenos? Breakfast, snack, dessert, or all of the above? From our experience, there were times when we felt so guilty eating it for breakfast!

A: In Australia, yogurt is meant to be enjoyed at all times of the day – I was truly struck when coming to America for the first time that yogurt was strictly a breakfast food. At Ellenos, we are looking to shift perceptions of yogurt use occasions. We have witnessed first-hand that our fans are enjoying our yogurt for breakfast, as a snack, as an afternoon pick-me-up, as a dessert and more. 

Q: Without giving too much away, what is the process for making this amazingly special yogurt?

A: Our secret is that our yogurt is really pretty straight forward; it’s made with a lot of care and love. We really run our company on the philosophy, one I was raised on in a Greek household, that food made with care and craft, and lots of love just tastes better. We also start off with only the freshest ingredients and source all of our fresh milk from a single, family-owned farm and dairy. Our unique five-day process includes slow heating and cooling and natural straining methods and pair it with carefully selected, properly sourced mix-in like a fresh marionberry compote or house-made lemon curd, our our made from scratch pumpkin pie filling.

Q: I read that Ellenos has a yogurt bar located in Seattle, and got so jealous when I saw the pictures! Did the yogurt bar come first, then the packaged yogurt later? If so, is this what inspired the flavors?

A: We opened our storefront at Pike Place Market in 2013 in the corner of my business partners produce stand. The best yogurt pared with fresh fruit purées became our thing. Our fan base has then grown exponentially and we knew it was time to expand that love of our scoop shop across the nation with our distribution plans. We got into the package yogurt space around 2015 and have now come to be one of the fastest-growing yogurts in the category. The yogurt you find now in a cup across the country is identical to what we sell at the market still, but now a trip here to Seattle isn’t required to get it.

Q: We loved all of the flavors we tried, but Pumpkin Pie, Mango and Passionfruit were unbelievable — as if the fruits (and a pie) had just been cut and poured into the cup. The process of making the yogurt is one thing, but what about the fruit?! How do you select these ingredients, and what is the process that makes them so easily enjoyable with the yogurt?

A: You wouldn’t believe how much work goes into sourcing the best fruits. We source our fruit and toppings seasonally and locally by working with like-minded farmers and purveyors who share our love for vibrant, fresh, REAL flavors. Ultimately, the unique touch to our real Greek yogurt is our little secret. It’s a distinct, family blend of probiotic cultures we’ve nurtured over years and years of small-batch yogurt making at home. Plus all that love.

Q: What does Ellenos dream to accomplish in the next 10 years? Are more yogurt bar locations planned?

A: We have a big future ahead of us at Ellenos and as a young company, we’re looking for every opportunity to grow and share our incredible product with more people. Growth is #1 on our minds and we look forward to bringing our fan-favorite product to more people and expanding the strong community we have built in the Pacific Northwest. We’d really like to take our obsession of incredible food across the country.

Q: How about the flavors? Ellenos has a diverse selection and taste that ice cream only dreams of. Are there plans to expand the flavor options even further?

A: You should see our test kitchen. Sometimes I feel all we do all day is taste amazing food. My team always tells me to slow down, but there are just so many incredible pairings. Definitely stay tuned for some incredible limited edition flavors. 

Q: Quick! Which is your favorite flavor?!

A: Passion fruit with fresh cut banana. 

Q: There is one rule that  Lisa informed us of when it comes to eating Ellenos yogurt. Care to fill in our readers on what that rule is, and why they should follow it?

A: Don’t stir it! As great as the purees are, we want you to taste the yogurt. I recommend a bit of purée and a bit of yogurt on the spoon so you taste all the different complex flavors.

BeApp is Looking for the Next Big Star & Doing 30 Days of Prizes

BeApp is Looking for the Next Big Star & Doing 30 Days of Prizes


Los Angeles, CA (September 1, 2020) – BeApp‘s latest launch, 30 days of 30 prizes is currently underway and available to any musician or artist looking to get discovered. The best part about it: you don’t even have to have 1 million followers to be seen by 1 million people.

BeApp, the free app that brings your favorite artists, concerts and festivals to the palm of your hand via livestream, recently debuted 30 days of 30 awesome prizes. Anyone has the chance to win from the comfort of their own homes! Prizes include $1k a day in cash, opportunities to open for the next big artist, and the chance to perform LIVE with your favorite artist! A top 10 app in the Apple App store with over 1 million downloads to date and 100M viewers, #BeApp has featured performances from the likes of Katy Perry, Miguel, Kaskade, DJ Khaled, Gryffin, and more. There’s a week and a half  left to continue winning prizes, too!

BeApp is looking to discover the next big star and those who rise to the top will be welcomed into the BeApp family. No other app is offering this incredible opportunity to get discovered by major artists and teams. The best part is that anyone can join BeApp and begin performing for a worldwide audience. Limiting algorithms from other social media platforms won’t be stifling exposure on BeApp! 

BeApp can be found on the App Store, and is free to download + sign up! 

Ritual for Teens is Here!

Ritual for Teens is Here!

Ritual, the health-meets-technology company known for the reinvention of the women’s multivitamin, launched their Essential for Men 18+ and Essential for Men 50+ multivitamins earlier this year. And now they’ve once again achieved a new first: Ritual: Essential for Teens (Him and Her)!

Everyone remembers what it’s like to be a teen (as much as we try not to). However, when it comes to health, prioritizing a balanced diet during this particular life stage is not always the 1st priority. In fact, according to national data, teens’ diets are among the worst in the US. That means that most teenagers fall below recommendations for fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other nutrient-dense foods.

Not to mention, at this delicate age between 13-17 years old, girls and boys have different needs. This is why Ritual has designed two new minty multivitamins to help fill nutrient gaps, specifically for teens. Your purchase prices and options are below, and they officially launched on September 15th!

  • Essential for Teens Multivitamin for Her ($30)
  • Essential for Teens Multivitamin for Him ($30)

Ritual is applying its same obsessive and traceable approach to science, quality and experience to reimagine the multivitamin for teens so parents can feel good about the multivitamin their teens are taking with just two daily capsules. Essential for Teens is scientifically formulated with bioavailable nutrient forms and without synthetic fillers or added sugars and features key nutrients such as, Iron, Omega-3 DHA, Folate, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, A, E, K2, Magnesium and Zinc.


About Ritual

For Skeptics, by Skeptics 

“We’re not about pseudoscience and half-truths. Health fads make our eyes roll. So, when we set out to develop Essential for Women, we wanted something simple, effective, and backed by real science. We challenged some of the top scientists to dream up the perfect daily vitamin for women. The result is everything we think a vitamin should be.”

We Know Our Suppliers

“For us, creating the perfect vitamin is more than just combining great ingredients—it’s working with companies that care as much about their supply chain as we do. We’ve worked tirelessly to find the right partners worldwide with the ingredients that meet our standards. At Ritual, true transparency isn’t just something printed on a label. We’re committed to sharing all of the choices we made that impact you and the planet.” 

No B.S.

“We care so much about what we put in and on our bodies, but when it comes to vitamins, we still rely on blind faith. Too often, companies make their process and formulations intentionally confusing to keep their customers from knowing what’s really going on. We’re proud of the product we’ve put together with no unnecessary ingredients and with nutrients in their best forms. So go ahead and look under the hood—we want you to. See our clinical study.”



The Habit Burger Grill Cooks Up New Limited-Time Menu Item

The Habit Burger Grill Cooks Up New Limited-Time Menu Item

The Habit Introduces the new chicken Caprese!

Summer is nearing its end, but that doesn’t mean that The Habit Burger Grill is turning down the flames and heat!

The flame-grilling chain launched their new Chicken Caprese sandwich earlier this week, which is a perfect way to switch things up when you’re growing tired of burgers. This mouth-watering new menu item comes topped with melted mozzarella cheese and house-made basil pesto aioli. As if that weren’t enough the Chicken Caprese comes on Garlic Ciabatta, and is full layers of flavor that all fit together to create a delicious Italian-inspired sandwich.

The Habit Burger Grill is known for it’s made-to-order mantra, and always putting freshness and quality above all else. The Chicken Caprese on Garlic Ciabatta delivers on The Habit’s high standards when it comes to quality ingredients and fresh flavor.

The Habit has been cooking fresh marinated chicken and more over an open flame since 1969 to sear in their signature smokey flavor in every bite. The chargrilled Chicken Caprese on Garlic Ciabatta is a one-of-a-kind culinary experience you can’t find anywhere else. Trust us, we tried it — and it’s pure YUM!

What else are they cooking up?

In addition to a delicious new menu item, The Habit Burger Grill just announced its Golden Charticket sweepstakes promotion in celebration of National Cheeseburger Day on September 18th (tomorrow!).

Golden Chartickets will be distributed at random to guests at select restaurants across the US. Golden Chartickets hold the value of up to $500 in Habit gift cards which can be redeemed for future visits to The Habit (no cash value). Why not knock out two birds with one stone, eh? Try the new Chicken Caprese & possibly win a golden Charticket! Sounds like at least one win to us. 

About the habit

The Habit Burger Grill is a burger-centric, fast-casual restaurant concept that specializes in preparing fresh, made-to-order chargrilled burgers and handcrafted sandwiches featuring USDA choice tri-tip steak, grilled chicken and sushi-grade ahi tuna cooked over an open flame. In addition, it features fresh made-to-order salads and an appealing selection of sides, shakes and malts. The Habit Burger Grill was named the “best tasting burger in America” in July 2014in a comprehensive survey conducted by one of America’s leading consumer magazines. The first Habit Burger Grill opened in Santa Barbara, California in 1969 and was recently named in Thrillist’s list of “Underrated Burger Chains that Need to be in Every State!” The Habit Burger Grill has since grown to over 275 restaurants in 13 states throughout Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and Washington as well as seven international locations. More information is available at

Everything is Not Okay

Everything is Not Okay

The West Coast is basically on fire spurred by a nearly 20-year mega-drought. The damage and loss is enormous. The air quality is horrendous. People are reaching breaking point. People are desperate for solutions. But it is not just the west coast of America that is feeling the heat. Fires scorched the Amazon, Brazil, Greece, Argentina, Indonesia, Bulgaria and Australia during one of the hottest years—if not the hottest year—in recorded history. Australia’s most recent climate-related disasters: catastrophic bushfires, damaging hailstorms and powerful cyclones, cost insurers more than $5 billion.

The derecho that hit Iowa on August 16, 2020 severely damaged or destroyed over 8,000 homes and caused $23.6 million worth damage to public infrastructure. The cost of cleaning up debris from the storm was estimated at $21.6 million. Plus, millions of acres of corn around the state were impacted by the storm with nearly 35% of the state’s corn destroyed leaving a giant hole in 2020’s harvest season.

We urgently need to get on track with climate change because our food supply comes from an environmentally unsustainable system that is going to unravel.


Hot sea water and extra moisture in the air from heat-driven evaporation is fueling super-hurricanes in the Gulf that are more powerful and cause more downpours than anything in recorded history. We recently witnessed Hurricane Laura, a deadly and damaging Category 4 Atlantic hurricane that was one of the strongest hurricanes on record to make landfall in the U.S. state of Louisiana. The storm caused the deaths of at least 36 people and inflicted an estimated $8.7 billion in damage on southwestern Louisiana and southeastern Texas.

Right after Hurricane Laura, a plague of mosquitos descended that killed cattle and wildlife. The vast amount of bites from the mosquitoes left the animals anemic and bleeding under their skin.

Today (Sep 15, 2020), with much of southwest Louisiana still dealing with the devastation of Hurricane Laura, new evacuations have been ordered as Tropical Storm Sally aims for the central Gulf Coast.



With climate change the risk of extinction looms over 1 million species of plants and animals. More than half a million species on land “have insufficient habitat for long-term survival” and are likely to go extinct within decades, unless their habitats are restored. We are losing our bee population and a world without bees will struggle to sustain the global human population of 7 billion because our supermarkets would have half the amount of fruit and vegetables.

Ocean life is not any better off. We are losing our coral reefs, and plankton – which forms the basis of marine food chains – corals, fish, polar bears, walruses, seals, sea lions, penguins, and seabirds.

What have we done? We’re hurting our home, we’re hurting our animal friends, and we’re hurting ourselves. And yet we have approximately 1.2 billion gasoline vehicles on our roads and 40 % of our electricity still comes from burning dirty coal, meaning we as a human race, are pumping over 38.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide, a powerful and dangerous heat-trapping gas, into the atmosphere annually. It’s like setting off daily atomic bombs in the atmosphere.

If we don’t do something immediately, pandemics will become a regular occurrence, diseases will become rampant, we’ll have tremendous displacement of humans as areas become un-inhabitable due to rising sea levels and extreme heatwaves and super storms. We will experience food shortages and water shortages. If you think I’m being extreme, you’re wrong. This is a very real and terrifying scenario that is staring us in the face. The smoke-filled, toxic orange sky above the West Coast is a roaring wake up call. Please, for your children’s sake (and for my sanity) please wake up.

What can you do?

    1. Vote for a leader who does NOT support fossil fuel industry and is ready and willing to combat this climate emergency — because we need all hands on deck.
    2. Stop driving a gas car. Buy a hybrid or full electric car. Use public transport where possible. A bicycle, a scooter, walk — anything other than a gas-guzzler. Stop supporting gas/oil. And please, stop sitting in your parked car with the engine running — if you’re going no where for a few minutes, switch your car off.
      I bought a Fiat 500e. It’s a full electric car with a 100 mile range. This zippy little vehicle costs me less than $10 a month to run (and I drive a fair amount).
    3. If you can afford to, install solar power. I installed 8 panels on the roof of my house and my electric bill went from $150 per month to $11. And the $11 is an administration fee— so yes, solar is awesome.
    4. Carry a reusable cup with you for water at restaurants. Take reusable bags to grocery stores. Try to limit the amount of plastic you use. And stop buying plastic water bottles, not only do they harm the environment; they can harm your body too.
    5. Use a drying horse for wet clothes. Do you really need a clothes dryer in California?
    6. Buy soap and shampoo in bars, not plastic bottles.
    7. Use gentle, eco-friendly household cleaners. Better for the environment and for you.
    8. Start to think about your actions on this earth. The plastic cup you just drank two sips out of and then threw away, where do you think that goes?

    We are drowning in our on mess. We use toxic products on our selves and our homes. We drive cars that emit exhaust fumes (as Arnold Schwarzenegger said: if you had to spend the night in a room with the car running, would you rather have a gas car or electric car?) It is not hard to know which car will kill you overnight. We spray our foods with pesticides that kill pests, but also damage the soil and slowly kill us. We need to do better. And we need our governments to do better.DEMAND that your leaders start cleaning up the mess they have gotten us into through putting profit before people. ENOUGH!

    Photo credit: Cover photo: Alon Goldsmith – – –Hurricane Laura Damage: Bill Feig/The Advocate via AP, Pool – – –Derecho photo: © National Weather Service   

Restaurant Review: Yamashiro in Hollywood

Restaurant Review: Yamashiro in Hollywood


Dining with a view

Living in Southern California, it’s easy to lose sight of the thing called Hollywood—for those in the know, it’s not a place, its a street, not a pretty street either. Film studios are in fact, spread out across the area, only one in actual Hollywood—”and yet, the notion remains—”the idea of Hollywood, the history of a town, like any town, that became larger than its reality through shear imagination and luck. Welcome to Hollywood! The landmarks are many: the Sign, the Chinese Theater, The Walk of Fame, The Griffith Observatory, The shapely Hollywood Bowl. There are even some iconic restaurants, Musso & Frank Grill, Pinks, The Frolic Room and of course, Yamashiro. Perched on a hilltop in Hollywood, Yamashiro is a remnant of another time, yet vital to the survival of that idea we call Hollywood. Built in 1911, it has been featured in many Hollywood films and Huell Howser paid a visit in 2001. It has its stories, most notably, the ghost of a weeping woman, who haunts the bridal room and whose silhouette has reportedly been seen in the upstairs windows. In 1955, director and producer Fayette Thomas Moore committed suicide in his car outside the restaurant, and if that’s not enough, the ashes of previous owner Thomas O. Glover and his wife are buried in the inner courtyard. It should also be noted that Bonanza actor Pernell Roberts actually owned the property turning it into apartments in the 50s. It is a large area, and derives its names from a Japanese word that in this case means “mountain castle”. There are layers: a large golden Buddha (600 years old), a pool, a terrace, rounding walks with a stunning vistas are to be found and enjoyed here. This is quite unlike any place in Hollywood. It is a restaurant, a restaurant in the time of social distancing, a restaurant lucky enough to have always had outdoor dining, and is currently thriving. It has changed hands more often than a manicurist at rush hour, but its essence has remained. In August 2012, the Yamashiro Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places. According to the National Park Service, the Yamashiro Historic District includes “nine contributing buildings, sites, and structures on the estate property.” All good news.

So it was on a warm, late August night, the trip up the hill, past the the Magic Castle, the other side of the famed Art Deco complex, High Tower, we find ourselves at Yamashiro. It is near sundown, dusk, and the lights of the city emerge like lights on water, shimmering in the twilight. You can walk though the gardens of the restaurant, visit the very large, golden Lucky Buddha. We are admonished to not sit on Buddha, but he may receive our coin and wishes. People dining create an arc southern arc of the restaurant; it is a romantic hotspot for couples. We are seated in the garden area which has been used in many a Hollywood film, notably Memoirs of a Geisha. When asked about celebrities, we were told that Jennifer Lopez frequents as do a host of other celebrities who enjoy a rare, private dining experience in a romantic setting.

The drinks at Yamashiro are unique. One can experience Double Happiness, which is a drink composed of Tequila, Mezcal, pineapple, Rhubarb syrup, Lime, absinthe bitters. Exotic? Yes, Appetizers served run an interesting gamut of Sushi pizza and mango pureed Crab Cakes. Yamashiro recently welcomed a new executive chef, Valerri.  She welcomes us with a custom platter featuring ALL of the appetizers with SoCal spelled out—the menu is a curious fusion of foods and one senses it is Wagyu cheeseburger that is luring in the young. Coupled with a seating in the immaculately social distanced Zen Garden, we are served essentially everything from the kitchen. You know you’re in Hollywood as the occasional helicopter flies over. Everything is a complement to the previous serving. The sun has dipped into the West, the dark skies above Hollywood reveal a few stars—we are thankful for places like Yamashiro remaining to remind us of the legacy of a place, a place called Hollywood. 

Welcome to Yamashiro

The entrance to Yamashiro is a grand—the gardens await you

Good Luck Buddha

The ceremonial Summer House was placed just below the top of the hill as a resting place for guests who were climbing the stairs. The antique Buddha seated there became so popular with guests, a sign hangs from a post to warn visitors, “Do Not Climb On Buddha.” Buddha now faces west as a sign of good luck and prosperity.

Sushi Pizza

Sushi Pizza Yellow Tail, Salmon and Tuna Sashimi on a floured tortilla with truffled cream.

Our Special Platter

When the platter that had a handwritten SoCal on it arrived—we were happily surprised at how quickly Chef Vallerie turned it around.

Drinks Anyone?

With a wide variety of cocktails, wines and spirits, it’s easy to want to try them all—NOT recommended, but you take your pick of  from The Koan Collection which is Pisco, home-made grape chai cordial, chardonnay, lemon, pimiento bitters (for those who like drinks with information a koan is a paradoxical anecdote or riddle, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and to provoke enlightenment.) The drink featured here is Kobayashi  featuring El Tesoro Reposado Tequila, home-made Hibiscus cordial, lemon, ginger beer (“Kobayashi” is the secondary antagonist of the 1995 film The Usual Suspects. He is the enigmatic lawyer and right-hand man of the mysterious crime lord Keyser Söze). Someone is having fun naming these drinks.

Meet  Chef Vallerie

Born in her grandfather Ramiro Bayangos’ bakery in San Nicholas Philippines, Chef Vallerie learned the craft of baking the best breads and pastries in town. Raised by both her grandparents, she spent most of her childhood in the kitchen.No matter what profession Chef Vall took up, she was always drawn to the kitchen—from cooking to baking. They were always a great source of healing and therapy for both herself and her loved ones. Even when her daughter experienced the harshest forms of bullying growing up, Chef Vall’s macarons always brought a smile to her face.Seeing the joy a simple treat could bring to her daughter’s life, Chef Vall decided to enroll in professional training for baking and culinary, hoping to share her love and joy with others.What started as a way to bring joy to her family and loved ones, including volunteering at school and charities, Chef Vall’s love for the culinary arts has expanded to managing five restaurants, including leading as Executive Chef at Yamashiro Hollywood.As a mom and experienced chef, Chef Vallerie loves sharing her grandfather’s love through her cooking baking at home and professional. Especially her desserts Love Bites Pastries by Val, which was inspired by her grandfather’s treats he affectionately referred to as “my little love bites for you”.

“It may sound cheesy,” states Chef Vallerie, “but I really love my job! I feel like a kid in a candy store just staring in awe at everything this place has to offer.” The new menu features the traditional offerings and some delicious updated delights. “I have always drawn to the kitchen—from cooking to baking. This has always been a great source of healing and therapy for both myself and my loved ones,” further states Vallerie.Chef Vallerie is leading an expert kitchen staff along with a dedicated group of servers and mixologists that are taking extra precautions to make the dining experience memorable and safe, while the city continues to navigate the pandemic. As the facility has reopened, Chef Vallerie is proud to be a leading female executive chef at this iconic restaurant. Along with the new offering, Yamashiro boasts an outdoor dining experience with sweeping vistas of Hollywood and beyond that few restaurants can offer. “We are excited to enter this new chapter in the restaurant’s history,” states the Yamashiro ownership. “The Hollywood Hills and our existing patronage is in for a culinary treat.” Yamashiro has an extremely long history in the Los Angeles area as a leader in the high-end dining experience. “This announcement is the delicious delight that Los Angeles has been waiting for.”

The View from Here

Hollywood does not have the great views that cities like New York or San Francisco possess—it takes an extraordinary clean day to actually see the ocean, but we have our views. Yamashiro looks Southwest which gives you a view of downtown, central Hollywood and yes, on a clear day, the ocean.

Plan a visit


1999 N Sycamore Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068, USA
PHONE +1 323-466-5125

Yamashiro is open for dine-in service. Open for dinner every week from Tuesday to Sunday for dinner and also Brunch on Sunday. 


TIPS for Better HOME Recordings

TIPS for Better HOME Recordings

Tips for Better Home Recordings

Picking up a new hobby can be quite a fruitful endeavor. Recently more and more people have acquired an interest in playing and making music. An article published on lists instruments sales as one of the major retail products that have experienced a bump in sales over the last couple of months. And while these numbers have plateaued in July, it’s safe to say that a significant number of people are currently learning how to play their respective instruments.

If you’re one of these then you may be looking to take the next step in your music-making journey. Maybe you’re interested in recording your own song (or covers of other people’s songs). If this is something you’re interested in, then this article is for you. We understand that recording can be a daunting task. To help you out with this, we’ve put together some home recording tips to help you with your projects. If you’re interested in learning more about this, read on for our tips for better home recordings!

Reduce Noise

One thing you have to keep in mind when recording music is that the devil is in the details. This means you’ll have to be meticulous when it comes to every step of the process. Now, one of the best ways you can go about doing this is by making sure that your recording space is free from unwanted noise and interruptions. There are a couple of ways you can go about doing this. One way is to pick a location in your home that’s free from noise. This means choosing a room that’s furthest away from the street, as a passing car could ruin a good take. Another thing you can focus on is keeping the noise out. Now, soundproofing is effective but can be quite costly. A great alternative would be to seal off the windows and doors with weather stripping. This way you can keep the noise out and just remove the weather stripping when you’re done recording.

For those of you interested in podcasting, you can also apply the tips stated above. In addition to this, you can opt to use an acoustic screen. Acoustic screens are attached to your mic and can filter out external background noise. However, it’s important to note that this only deals with minute noises and won’t be able to cancel out louder external noises.

Get The Right Mic

Surprisingly, you don’t really need a lot of equipment when it comes to recording music at home. According to the Broken Stereo’s piece on, all you really need is a microphone and a digital audio workstation (GarageBand is a great free option for macOS users). So what kind of microphone should you be getting? Considering you’ll be recording indoors, a condenser microphone may be the way to go.’s list of the best vocal microphones include a slew of condenser mics to choose from. The Warm Audio WA-251 is a great choice as it can handle both vocals and instruments. It also has a distinct retro feel, which will transport you back to the recording studios of the 60s.

Vocal mics should also be suitable for podcasting. However, one thing you may want to consider when purchasing a microphone for podcasting is the ease of use and accessibility. For the most part, you won’t really be needing a studio-grade microphone for podcasting as all you’ll be doing is talking (no need to account for instruments). For this, we recommend the Yeti Nano USB microphone. This mic will give you broadcast-quality vocals, along with plug-and-play capabilities. This mic is easy to use and easy to set up, which makes it perfect for podcasting.

Monitors or Headphones?

Lastly, one question you’ll have to answer is whether to use studio monitors or headphones for your recording space. While one isn’t clearly better than the other for home recordings, they do come with their own pros and cons.‘s feature on the pros and cons of mixing with headphones details that headsets are more practical for home studio use. There are many headphones available for every budget, with models like the Sennheiser HD 650 Open Back Professional Studio Headphones being both affordable (but not budget-end), while also producing high quality sound. This option is also better if you share your living space with other people who may find it a nuisance if you blast music out on studio monitors at unreasonable hours.

You won’t really have to make this choice if you’re looking to record podcasts. Monitors are, for the most part, a bad idea when it comes to podcasting as they may interfere with the actual recording. To add to this, using monitors won’t really be necessary as you won’t be needing to tweak too much of the audio for podcast recordings beyond making them sound clear and intelligible.

If you found this article interesting and want some other home tips, you may also like our piece on how to be more presentable on video con calls. You can find that article, along with many others at!



Niki Smart: A Woman of Many Voices

Niki Smart: A Woman of Many Voices

Not many book launches begin with the author singing one of their own compositions, but that’s how the Helter Shelter book launch kicked off last weekend. Author, songwriter, (and our very own managing editor here at SoCal Magazine), Niki Smart and friends delivered an enjoyable hour of song, discussion and a reading from her latest memoir, Helter Shelter. Moderated by award-winning journalist, editor, speechwriter and author, Gus Silber (who brought thought-provoking interview questions) and hosted by Stephen Francis, creator of the famous comic strip, Madam and Eve, the book launch touched upon a variety of topics including the process of writing autobiographical literature, songwriting versus writing a memoir, and the realities of working at a Crisis Intervention Shelter for emotionally disturbed teenagers which is where Helter Shelter takes place.

The good news is that the book launch was recorded. Feel free to take a look!