This past Wednesday marked the end of our fourth week, and the beginning of our last, in Venice. Rather than spend our last weekend moping about our eminent and unavoidable return to winter, we chose to make the most of our time and do LA right. The weekend got an early start for January when her good friends Liz and Erica flew in Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. Being the social animal that she is, January was really excited to get to spend some time with any of her friends, but I know it was especially nice to see such good friends she hasn't seen in a while. They spent the first day or so touring the Venice area, enjoying the beautiful weather, and trying to make sure their faces got evenly sunburned. It's also worth noting that Gus was super excited to have company. Although he might try to tell you otherwise, we think he was a bit smitten with Liz; Whenever she was in the apartment, he spent his time following her, sitting and staring at her, or bringing her his toys to see if she wanted to play. Without fail, whenever the girls left the apartment, he would situate himself by the front door eagerly anticipating their return. Here are a couple of quick shots I was able to get.
After work on Friday, we climbed into the car and headed toward Burbank for the taping of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The tickets to filmings like these are always free but Erica's brother-in-law, who works for Epic Records (an NBC-related record label), was able to get us on the list. I'm not convinced that being on the list for something like this is any particular reason to brag, but it was still fun to walk up to the NBC page and hear January say very assertively "We need to get in to the Tonight Show filming. We're on the list." While the show itself wasn't terribly interesting -- the monologue was on the weak side, and I wasn't too interested in Elizabeth Banks' story about her skiing holiday -- it was really interesting to be there to see how a filming works. If you sit in on the filming of a standard sitcom, the process can take upwards of three to four hours; The filming of The Tonight Show is what they call "live to tape," where it's all pre-recorded but they do it all in one go, leaving everything in, so the whole process happens in real time. At around 3:40, Jay came out to introduce himself, explain how the filming works, and chat up any fans interested in coming down for pictures. After a little more instructions and wrangling by Tonight Show Announcer John Melendez, the show started up and we did our part applauding and laughing. I mustered up as much enthusiasm as I could, but I'm a pretty laid back kind of guy and I'm sure I added little to the "energy" to the show. If you're interested in catching the episode that we were at, it should be available shortly at Hulu. Check for the January 30th episode featuring Elizabeth Banks, Dev Patel, and musical guest James Morrison.
After the filming we headed out to spend a little time with Erica's sister Lia and thank her and her husband Mike for getting us on the list. Lia and Mike live in an amazing penthouse in West Hollywood and we had a great time enjoying some cheese and crackers, drinking a little wine, and trying pickled okra. Verdict on the evening: perfect. Verdict on the pickled okra: gross.
The entire month up until this point has been spent eating at home, out of a combined desire to not go into debt eating at all the expensive local restaurants and the necessity of keeping an eye on Gus. We've ordered delivery a few times, but all of our meals up until this weekend have taken place in our apartment. Saturday evening, we had our first opportunity to get out of the apartment and see what Venice had to offer. On Lia's recommendation, we got reservations at Primitivo, a tapas and wine bar a couple blocks away on the trendy Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Erica ordered us a bottle of Merlot and, after examining the menu, we ordered up some delicious plates. If you ever find yourself in the area and stop in for a meal, I can wholeheartedly recommend the arugula salad, antipasto platter, bacon wrapped medjool dates, seared diver scallops, and especially the braised chipotle BBQ short ribs. I wasn't bowled over by the golden beet salad, but everyone else seemed to love it. In the end, Primitivo didn't disappoint as our one "fancy" evening out in Venice.
Sunday morning, with the weekend coming to a close, we saw Erica and Liz off at LAX. It was sad to see them go after such a short trip, but I think it was punctuated all the more by the knowledge that we wouldn't be too far behind them. As of this writing, we really only have one more complete day in Venice before Wednesday when we load the car up, pile in and start our trip back east to the reality of what February is supposed to be like. Of course, keep an eye here and at the main Team Soell page for updates on our trip back to Columbus, and we'll see everyone soon.
Update: The Tonight Show episode we were at is now online. You can view it at Hulu.com, or right here: