Archives for September 2023

Irene, Sept. 29 Pet of the Week


Irene’s beautiful orange eyes against her glossy midnight fur are like twin moons at night. They hold enough kitty mystery and misery to write a sad story, and she could do that if she had opposable thumbs. Irene belonged to an unhoused person whom shelter staff and spcaLA were trying to assist. The person was later found dying on the street. Irene was with the person, on a dirty leash but well groomed and fed. She had obviously been loved very much. Irene’s human would want to know that she’ll be likewise cherished by another person. To adopt Irene, ask for ID# or any pet in the shelter, visit Long Beach Animal Care Services and talk to a volunteer, or call (562) 673-5050. Please check out more pets who need to go home by accessing Shelter hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 7700 E. Spring St. at the entrance to El Dorado Park (no parking fee for shelter visitors). You can email to speed the process for adopting or fostering any pet!

(This rescue encouraged by the usual suspects.)

Rubio’s Coastal Grill Launches New Mobile App

Featuring “Back to Baja” Sweepstakes with the Chance to Win a Trip to Cabo. Photo Credit: Rubio’s.

Rubio’s is launching a new and improved mobile app on September 27. The new app better reflects the Rubio’s brand and Baja roots, with an emphasis on an improved guest ordering experience.

  • Easier to earn and redeem rewards for free food, customize menu items and receive special challenges to earn points even faster.
  • Faster reordering, and the ability to quickly add-to-bag and make salsa bar selections.

Plus, app users can participate in the “Back to Baja” Sweepstakes for the chance to win a trip to Cabo San Lucas. Rubio’s Rewards members earn an entry with every app order, through October, for a chance to win. The Grand Prize is a three night and four-day trip to Baja for two, including a Cabo San Lucas luxury resort, transportation to and from the airport and flights. Ten second place prizes include $100 Rubio’s gift cards, good for anything on the menu.

Credit: Rubio’s.

Descanso’s Carved & Enchanted To Return, Featuring New Routes & Enhancements

Get ready for a holiday season like no other as Descanso Gardens announces the long-awaited return of two beloved events—Carved and Enchanted Forest of Light!

Mark your calendars because from October 6 to 29, 2023, Carved will light up Descanso Gardens with a mesmerizing pumpkin wonderland featuring a new route, new locations and even more pumpkin fun! As you stroll through the captivating displays, you’ll be amazed by luminous jack-o’-lanterns, fallen tree sculptures and whimsical installations, including Tom&Lien Dekyvere’s glow-in-the-dark Rhizome installation in the Rose Garden Labyrinth and giant carved pumpkins under the Rose Pavilion. Don’t miss the expanded Día de los Muertos ofrenda altar, providing guests with a place to meditate and remember loved ones. The pumpkin house, hay maze, and fall food offerings will all be back to round out the fun, making Carved the perfect family-friendly adventure, bringing joy and wonder to visitors of all ages.

And the magic doesn’t end there! From November 19, 2023, to January 7, 2024, Descanso Gardens will transform into the breathtaking Enchanted Forest of Light, taking you on a captivating journey through stunning light displays set amidst the serene beauty of nature. This year, you can explore a new route through the Rose Garden, discovering exciting light displays that spark awe and wonder. Prepare to be amazed as the Rose Garden’s Labyrinth comes alive with HYBYCOZO’s 3-D geometric sculptures, and a glowing field of “meadow grass” sways amidst the rose bushes. Tom Fruin’s charming “stained glass” houses will create a village of their own on the Main Lawn, featuring new interactive lighting options. Plus, you can immerse yourself in a new hanging light installation under the oaks which evokes an ethereal ambiance that will leave you spellbound.

Ticket Information:

Tickets for both events will be available for purchase on the Descanso Gardens website, Mark your calendars:

  • Descanso Gardens members will have exclusive access to tickets starting August 23 at 10 am.
  • General admission sales open on September 6 at 10 am.

Ticket prices are as follows:


  • Members: $30-$40
  • Non-members: $35-$45

Children 2-12:

  • Members: $20-$25
  • Non-members: $25-$30

Children under 2 are admitted free of charge.

For more information about Descanso Gardens and to purchase tickets, please visit

The Vampire Circus Brings Halloween-Themed Cirque to The Montalban

For the first time in Los Angeles, step into The Vampire Circus, a mesmerizing theatrical experience that fuses artistry, theater and twisted acrobatics.

Immerse Yourself in a Mysterious Fantasy

As the moon comes out, the magical mystique of the Vampire World begins, with a 19th Century Count Dracula plotting world domination. An extraordinary mix of dark circus and storytelling, see breathtaking acrobatics and captivating characters on an adrenaline-filled 90-minute journey designed to enchant the whole family.

Astonishing Acrobatics, Unforgettable Thrills

From Cirque Factory and multi-award winning executive producer Francisco Santos, witness feats performed by international artists with multidisciplinary skills in theater, dance, and gymnastics, many of whom have trained with Cirque du Soleil.

General Info

Dates: Sept. 29 (sold out) and 30; Oct. 1, 28, 29, 30, 31 (multiple showings)

Time: Check calendar for available showtimes

Duration: 90 minutes

Location: The Montalbán Theater, 1615 Vine St, Hollywood, CA 90028

Tickets: Start at $44, visit

Age: Created to be spooky but not too scary – all ages are welcome!

Credit: Vampire Circus.

A Million Miles Away * An Inspiring Life Story Of Jose Hernandez, The First Migrant Farmworker To Become An Astronaut

This film is a biopic about Jose Hernandez and his path from a farm worker to becoming an engineer and an astronaut. Jose M Hernandez was born in Mexico. While working in the fields, he co-developed the first digital mammography imaging system. He then persevered to become a crew member on Space Shuttle mission STS-128. Tells how it takes perseverance, community and sacrifice to accomplish a seemingly impossible dream.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Daniel S. comments, “A Million Miles Away is full of remarkable acting. Michael Peńa leads as Hernandez with much charisma and dramatic depth. He excellently captures the humble, smart and ambitious astronaut. It’s very difficult not to root for him, as we can all resonate with aspects of his journey.” See his full review and interview below.

A Million Miles Away

By Daniel S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

A Million Miles Away is an absolutely incredible film that is definitely worth watching. The film has great performances, a compelling story and stunning visuals.

The storyline reveals the true life story of Jose Hernandez, the first migrant farmworker to become an astronaut. His journey is filled with incredible perseverance and resilience, as he overcomes numerous obstacles to achieve his dream of reaching the stars.

A Million Miles Away is full of remarkable acting. Michael Peńa leads as Hernandez with much charisma and dramatic depth. He excellently captures the humble, smart and ambitious astronaut. It’s very difficult not to root for him, as we can all resonate with aspects of his journey. Rosa Salazar portrays the strong, supportive, and similarly determined Adela, who marries Hernandez. Salazar’s performance effectively portrays the film’s theme of dreams interfering with reality and one’s struggle to chase their ambitions while concurrently supporting their family. The way in which Hernandez’s story is told in this film is especially captivating. The film connects his past with his present life, helping us understand how his earlier life influenced who he has become. Throughout the film, watching Jose get closer and closer to becoming an astronaut is incredibly satisfying. The film keeps us engaged and eager to see how his life unfolds – making it a truly memorable viewing experience.

The film’s message is one of aspiration and persistence. Jose’s path is filled with barriers and obstacles, but his unyielding determination drives him to fulfill and pursue his dreams. With Jose Hernandez’s traits, one can reach what previously felt a million miles away.

I give A Million Miles Away 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The film releases on September 15, 2023. Trailer:

Ghosters: Phantom Patrol * The Perfect Mix Of Funny And Suspenseful While Tackling Tough Family Dynamics

Get ready for an epic adventure with “Ghosters: Phantom Patrol!” When tricky ghosts break free from a super-secret government facility, things get wild, a little spooky, and a whole lot of fun! As New York City is packed with mischievous ghosts, two clueless security guards team up with a pair of fearless tech-savvy kids to save the day. Get ready for a side-splitting and thrilling ride as they dive into the ghostly commotion and work together to save the city!

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ella S. comments, “There are many similarities between Ghosters and Ghostbusters, such as the theme music, the New York setting, and even the logo with the ghost shown at the beginning (though it isn’t exactly the same). Fans of Ghostbusters will enjoy certain scenes, like the scene where one spirit takes over a giant statue, a nod to the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.” Victoria L. adds, “The film Ghosters: Phantom Patrol is a very interesting movie. I like this film because it’s the perfect mix of funny and suspenseful along with also tackling tough family dynamics… This film’s message is that your family will always have your back.” See their full reviews below.

Ghosters: Phantom Patrol

By Ella S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

Ghosters: Phantom Patrol is a spoof of the classic movie, Ghostbusters. It has good cinematography, but a lot of the time I found myself confused. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or scream at the animated images, and the plot is confusing.

The storyline takes place in New York City and follows Wilbur (Leon Mayfield) and Casey (Heath C. Heine), two ordinary men work the night shift as guards in a mysterious government facility. They soon discover the building is home to ghosts who have been trapped and contained in glowing green tubes (a reference to Ghostbusters, where ghosts are trapped in similar tubes). When the ghosts escape the building, it’s up to Wilbur and Casey to stop them from taking over the city. 

There are many similarities between Ghosters and Ghostbusters, such as the theme music, the New York setting, and even the logo with the ghost shown at the beginning (though it isn’t exactly the same). Fans of Ghostbusters will enjoy certain scenes, like the scene where one spirit takes over a giant statue, a nod to the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. However, some things are very different – the iconic four-person crew is missing, and Ghosters is set in the 21st century and ends in a video game. I especially like Wilbur’s character –- he provides comic relief, such as when he has to ride a child’s bike and when he eats a Domino’s™ pizza during an attack scene. But while the movie is funny and the landscapes of New York are beautifully captured, it falls a bit short. It has no climax; the movie never peaks. It’s all action from the start with no plot twist or big reveal. The characters have no objective or goal either. Wilbur and Casey’s escape from the building lacks pizzazz – we are left to use our imaginations. The animated images are confusing as well. Although Ghosters has a funny tone, the ghosts are actually pretty scary looking, with sunken white eyes and limbs that can twist and contort in ways we can’t imagine. They’re terrifying but very unrealistic. I’m still not sure whether they are supposed to be funny or creepy!

As this movie is meant to be a spoof that makes fun of another movie, the message is a bit unclear.  Be aware that there is some mild language, very mild graphic content, some alcohol references and one drug reference. The ghosts may be quite frightening, especially to young children and they scared me.

I give Ghosters: Phantom Patrol  3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. This film releases on AVOD on September 22, 2023. 

Ghosters: Phantom Patrol

By Victoria L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

The film Ghosters: Phantom Patrol is a very interesting movie. I like this film because it’s the perfect mix of funny and suspenseful along with also tackling tough family dynamics.

This storyline follows two guys, Wilbur (Leon Mayfield) and Casey (Heath C. Heine), as they work an overnight surveillance job in a government building. The two, being unemployed, take the job and everything seems to be going fine until they find out they aren’t the only ones in the building.

One of my favorite moments in the film is when Joey (Arthur Gazarian) and his dad, Casey, get to bond over fighting some ghosts. Casey was going to miss his son’s birthday because of his new job that he got but he later ends up making it up to his son when he joins the battle against the spirits with his dad. The way that Heine and Gazarian show the reconciliation between a dad and a son in a time of need is truly amazing. My favorite character is Wilbur because he is hilarious throughout the film. There is a moment where Wilbur gets out of the facility he’s trapped in after Casey does. Once he realizes that he was left there to fend for himself while the others are off looking for what may help them with the ghosts, he finds a very small bike and begins to pedal himself to the source of the issue to be as much help as he can, even if it’s going to take a little bit longer for him to get there than the others.

This film’s message is that your family will always have your back. Even while Jenah and Casey are not happy with each other, Jenah still stands by Casey’s side in his time of need, making sure he is safe. Be aware there is mild swearing and brief discussion about violent actions.

I give Ghosters: Phantom Patrol 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 12. Ghosters: Phantom Patrol will be available on VOD on September 22, 2023.

Baja Splash Cultural Festival at the Aquarium of the Pacific

Photo credit: Aquarium of the Pacific

In celebration of the beauty and diversity of cultures found from México to Central and South America to Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and beyond, the Aquarium of the Pacific will host its twenty-second annual Baja Splash Cultural Festival on Saturday and Sunday, September 23 and 24, 2023, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The event features cultural dance and music, programming in English and Spanish, and booths from participating organizations.

During this year’s festival, the Aquarium will present its Heritage Award to Puente Latino Association in honor of the organization’s dedication to local communities and the environment. The award ceremony will take place with Puente Latino Association Founder and Executive Director Hilda Gaytán on Sunday, September 24, at 2:30 p.m. in the Aquarium’s Honda Pacific Visions Theater.

Folk dancers and musicians representing various cultures from México, Central and South America, and beyond will share their traditions during the festival. Participants include those who have been part of Baja Splash for more than two decades, including Danza Azteca Cultural Ketzaliztli and musician and teaching artist Martin Espino, who will lead interactive music programs for all ages.

Visitors have the opport participate in an ocean conservation-themed lotería game in English and Spanish with prizes in the Ocean Theater on Saturday, September 23, at 3:40 p.m. Visitors can also explore booths from organizations like Caracol Museo de Ciencias (science museum in Ensenada), City of Long Beach Latino Employees Organization, Fish Contamination Education Collaborative, House of Puerto Rico, Los Angeles Zoo, Mujeres de la Tierra, Puente Latino Association, and SACNAS. 

The name Baja Splash was inspired by Baja California, Mexico’s Gulf of California, which is one of the most important wildlife havens in the world. Visitors can learn more about this important ecosystem and how people can help protect it by exploring the Aquarium’s Gulf of California exhibition created with World Wildlife Fund México. The festival is included with Aquarium admission. General admission is $44.95 per adult (ages 12+), $29.95 per child (ages 3-11), $41.95 per senior (ages 62+), and free for Aquarium members and children under age three. Advance reservations are required for everyone. For more information on the festival and for reservations, please visit  

Credit: The Aquarium of the Pacific.


5 Ways to Reduce Anxiety

Anxiety negatively impacts a victim’s mental and physical health. Someone with anxiety can feel restless and nervous. The condition’s long-term effects include insomnia and depression. You may also experience suicidal thoughts and difficulties with socialization/ work/ school. Discussed below are five ways to reduce anxiety.

1.    Leverage CBD

Studies suggest that CBD can effectively relieve anxiety. The appropriate dosage for a victim to reduce stress varies depending on the CBD product they’re using, how they’re administering it, and individual health factors. The administration method you choose determines how fast cannabinoids start taking effect. Orally administered CBD, including edibles and oils, takes longer to show effects than vaping/smoking CBD oil.

The right CBD dosage for anxiety differs from one individual to another. So, start small and increase your dosage based on how your body reacts. Since CBD consumption may have side effects like drowsiness and weight changes, consulting a medical professional is necessary. Since not all CBD products are top quality, consider consuming a reputable product, such as Secret Nature CBD, for effective anxiety relief.

2.    Embrace physical activity

When undergoing anxiety, exercising could be the last thing on your mind. Working out regularly can help ease anxiety by:

  • Taking the mind off whatever is worrying you, which gets you away from the negative thoughts cycle that feeds anxiety
  • Releasing endorphins responsible for enhancing happiness and well-being

Starting and adhering to a workout routine isn’t easy. However, these steps can help:

  • Identifying the activities you love
  • Consulting your doctor or mental health specialist for support
  • Setting reasonable goals
  • Assess your barriers to solutions
  • Preparing for setbacks

3.    Consider anxiety journaling

Anxiety journaling aims at getting negative thoughts out of your mind and into a record. It lays bare your fears by writing them on paper, which is an initial step to accepting your anxiety issues and finding ways to move past them. Journaling enables you to monitor your symptoms. It records your experiences to assist you in learning how to work on your mental health for anxiety relief.

Writing your thoughts down helps you fight your vulnerabilities, reducing anxiety. If you’re new to journaling, start by keeping it simple and making it a habit. There are no rules for journaling. You don’t need to follow a specific format or template. Finding journaling prompts can help you cope with anxiety effectively.

4.    Leverage cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) effectively treats anxiety disorders. Its primary focus is looking for practical solutions to an individual’s anxiety symptoms and triggers. It equips you with the skills necessary for interrupting and altering problematic or  negative behavior and thoughts that feed your mental health issues. Cognitive behavioral therapy is an evidence-based practice that can effectively treat multiple anxiety disorders, including:

  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Specific phobias
  • Noise sensitivity anxiety
  • Panic disorder

CBT can also aid with other disorders sharing the anxiety symptom like PTSD.

5.    Join an anxiety support group

Anxiety support groups usually assist victims to develop skills to minimize anxiety effects. Most of these groups provide online and in-person meetings. Joining a support group enables you to feel less lonely/ judged/ isolated while allowing you to openly and honestly express your emotions, which helps reduce anxiety.


Anxiety’s effects on your mental and physical health can be severe. Consider using these tips to reduce anxiety.