The Briggs performing This Is LA at The Vex in Los Angeles, CA. Filmed on April 18, 2013.

Which came first: the chicken or the egg? Since the beginning of time, civilization has always asked what came first. While the public can typically attribute tangible items with an origin, everything else requires documentation to pinpoint an origin, unless generally accepted. For example, today’s gourmet food truck trend started in early 2009 with Kogi BBQ, which everyone will say started it all. When you look at expos for comic books, all fans will tell you that the San Diego one started it all. But with the San Diego Comic Con selling out in seconds every year, what else can fans do? Sure they can shell out the cash for super inflated after-market passes, but why not travel up the coast two hours to Long Beach? After all, Long Beach plays home to the semiannual Long Beach Comic Expo, which costs less and never sells out.

The 2015 Long Beach Comic Expo returns to the Long Beach Convention Center this weekend, taking place over two days in all its glory. Returning to Hall C and the foyer on the southwest side, hundreds of local comic book writers and artists will travel here to exhibit their merchandise, art, books, toys, and more. Eager fans can gain access to the entire show floor for $30 per person for Saturday, $25 for Sunday, or $45 for both days, with children 10 and under entering free with a paid adult admission. In addition to the expo on the show floor, various workshops and seminars will occur in the promenade meeting rooms for those who register ahead of time. Diehard fans will recognize the various celebrities sitting in for meet & greet and autograph sessions.

Even to those not interested in comics, everyone should attend a comic expo/con just to see everyone dressing up in costume. At any expo involving comics, video games, anime, manga, and more, any attendee cannot avoid seeing another guest participating in the inevitable cosplay for the duration of the event. Cosplay has turned into a staple for any sort of expo in this industry, and the fans proudly don their best gear for this expo.

I have hundreds of photos from last year’s expo, which you can find at http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.298093063688353.1073741947.132847846879543
Yes, I just went full lazy-mode here. View a teaser photo here, selected as a top favorite from my album:

Earlier I had mentioned that this expo occurs semiannually. The Fall expo, the Long Beach Comic Con, returns on the second weekend of September. The Fall event generally takes place in Hall B, a larger space than the Expo, and generally has a greater turnout due to more famous people in attendance. Until then, keep an eye out for other similar expos, such as Anime Expo in early July or Anime California in August. You have plenty of time to work up that unique and amazing DIY costume that everyone will want to take a picture of.

Newport Beach Brewing Company celebrated their 20th anniversary with their 7th Annual Brewfest this past Sunday at their restaurant in Newport Beach. Unlike many other Southern Californian beer festivals, this fest took place all indoors at their restaurant, which allowed attendees to order food should they get hungry. Admission to this beer tasting event cost $35 and provided unlimited beer pours from 1pm to 5pm. Multiple local breweries lined the perimeter of the restaurant, bringing out some rather strong beers for such a small fest. Because of the small size of this fest, unlike a large-scale beer fest, this little fest caters mainly to the locals that frequent this restaurant. Granted, true beer lovers would travel great distances for beer opportunities like this, and this went surprisingly well given the limitation in space. Unlimited pours coupled with strong beers make for a successful beer fest, despite running out of room to seat guests.

I hate to leave such a short review, but nothing extraordinary occurred that made this beer fest stand out. The venue had their strong beers, and the guests had a great time. All in all, it ran smoothly with no hiccups. Should you return to Brewfest 8 next year? Why wait until next year? Visit Newport Beach Brewing Company any time during the year, and enjoy a cold one or two.

Orange County’s Noble Ale Works opened just over four years ago, and this past Saturday afternoon, they celebrated the third anniversary of their opening with a beer festival at their tasting room. Noble Ale has quickly risen as one of Southern California’s more well-known microbreweries. This beer festival allowed for unlimited beer tastings during the festival hours, unlike most beer festivals in Southern California that limit attendees with the amount of beer they can have. Serving over 30 different brews that they have concocted over the past four years, Noble Ale took the reins of their celebration this year, unlike previous years where a third party organization organized the fest.

Noble Ale fixed a handful of problems that existed last year, but they could not solve every issue in one go. Prominently, they resolved the physical setup that plagued them last year. Instead of having all the beer under one tent in the middle of the parking lot, Noble Ale placed tables around the perimeter of the parking lot, spreading out the lines and balancing them out. Although this requires more setup on Noble’s part, this made for an easier experience for guests, as they could navigate the fest with ease and not have to fret over clumps and lines. I also heard that Noble cut the admission down significantly this year, selling out of tickets a day prior to the festival. Last year, they kept selling tickets all the way to last call. Combine that with all the beer in one spot, and last year felt oversold, a problem that did not exist this time. Some issues did persist that Noble Ale could not fully resolve. Despite reducing admission, the event still felt somewhat oversold, with long lines for the timed releases. Everyone surely felt the pressure of the massive crowd when it came time to unload all that beer. With only two restrooms inside and six outside, it took longer to let loose than to refill up. As another issue from last year, two types of admissions existed – general admission to start at 1pm, or pay $10 more to enter an hour earlier. Arriving way early showed that attendees had entered and started drinking before noon, and those who only bought the regular admission had gotten in by 12:30pm.

Overall, the major fixes outweighed the problems faced at this festival. I would say that Noble Ale did a fine job running their own celebration, and hopefully they make things run smooth next year for their fifth anniversary.

Interestingly, the live music consisted of a handful of head brewers from some Southern Californian breweries. Eagle Rock, Stone, Beachwood BBQ, Monkish, and Noble all made a presence to greet guests in person and on stage. Props to the Monkish dude for playing Fugazi and Minor Threat.

Noble Ale Works has carved out a name in Orange County’s history, so why have they not grown to a greater location? As the hermit ages, the hermit must leave the old shell behind to seek out a larger shell. This celebration clearly demonstrated the soaring popularity of this brewery, and that Noble Ale can only go up from here on out. Once you try their brews, you will understand the prominence of Noble Ale Works.

Bell’s Brewery Tap Takeovers
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, February 24, Pie Dog, Fullerton http://www.facebook.com/events/705932302839040/
5:00 pm – 9:00 pm, February 25, Meat Up BBQ, Placentia http://www.facebook.com/meatUpBBQ/photos/a.645749405516015.1073741829.645725588851730/784668281624126/
7:00 pm – 11:00 pm, February 26, Naja’s Place, Redondo Beach http://www.facebook.com/events/371903702981576/
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, February 27, Alpine Village, Torrance http://www.facebook.com/events/1441370076153213/

Bell’s Brewery will have their beers at a handful of Southern California locations this week. Check out where they will have their beers, and enjoy a cold one.

Taking Back Sunday – 2015 Spring Tour
6:00 pm – 12:00 am, February 25, Riverside Municipal Auditorium, Riverside http://concerts.livenation.com/event/0B004D67F5D632A3
6:00 pm – 12:00 am, February 26, House of Blues, San Diego http://www.houseofblues.com/sandiego/events/eventdetail/?viewNav=/event-detail&eventId=0A004D67D3C02439&oid=0
7:00 pm – 1:00 am, February 27, Hollywood Palladium, Hollywood http://www.thehollywoodpalladium.com/events/taking-back-sunday-letlive-the-menzingers/
7:00 pm – 1:00 am, February 28, The Observatory, Santa Ana http://www.observatoryoc.com/event/Taking-Back-Sunday

Taking Back Sunday’s Spring tour will swing through Southern California this week with these four shows. Each show has its own ticket price, so click on a link above for more details about that show.

San Luis Obispo Craft Beer Fest
5:30 pm – 9:00 pm, February 27
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm, February 28
Alex Madonna Expo Center, San Luis Obispo
http://www.slo-beer-fest.com/

Get sudsy in San Luis Obispo this weekend and enjoy dozens of beers from dozens of breweries. Friday night consists of a pre-party with beer and blues music. Saturday will contain the full brewery lineup. Saturday-only tickets have sold out, but Friday’s event costs $30 while a two-day pass costs $75.

Yeastie Boys @ The World Famous Doll Hut
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, February 27
The World Famous Doll Hut, Anaheim
http://www.facebook.com/events/637282176401135/

Get your weekly dose of punk rock at the World Famous Doll Hut in Anaheim this Friday night. The cover for this show costs $6. No one under 21 may enter.

Color In Motion 5k – San Diego
7:00 am – 1:00 pm, February 28
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
http://colorinmotion5k.com/San_Diego

After many weekends of other off-center 5k races, we now return to the style that started it all – the color 5k. Start your weekend off with an all-ages 5k run while getting color dusted in your face. Registration costs $50 per person, or $45 if registering with a team. All participants should wear white during the run to absorb and show off the most color. Participants should bring extra towels and spare clothes for the ride home.

37th Annual LA Chinatown Firecracker 5/10K Run
7:30 am – 4:00 pm, February 28
6:00 am – 12:00 pm, March 1
Chinatown, Los Angeles
http://www.firecracker10k.org/

Start off the new (Chinese) year right with this 5/10K Run/Bike race this weekend in Chinatown. The bike race takes place on Saturday, while the run takes place on Sunday. All races cost $40 to enter. Various festivities will also take place in the Chinatown Central Plaza for most of the day.

Atlas Race SoCal 2015
8:00 am – 4:00 pm, February 28 – March 1
Vail Lake Resort, Temecula
http://www.atlasrace.com/racepage-socal.html

Test your might at this unforgiving obstacle course this weekend in Temecula. Participate in a standard obstacle course that lasts about four miles, or take part in a longer obstacle course lasting about eight miles. Registration prices vary depending on the event and time, starting at $85.

2015 Long Beach Comic Expo
10:00 am – 6:00 pm, February 28
10:00 am – 5:00 pm, March 1
Long Beach Convention Center, Downtown Long Beach
http://longbeachcomicexpo.com/

Comic fans rejoice! The Long Beach Comic Expo returns for its annual installment at the Long Beach Convention Center this Saturday. Admission costs $30 for Saturday, $20 for Sunday, or $45 for both days, giving guests all-day entry to the all-ages expo, where they can find plenty of merchandise, vendors, workshops, seminars, comic book signings/autographs, and more. Expect hundreds of cosplayers, as both exhibitors and attendees will dress up as their favorite fictional character. The convention center will sell food to hungry guests, but you can also check out the other great restaurants nearby if you get hungry, plus the bike fest going on across the street. Convention Center parking costs $10, so I suggest taking carpooling, taking public transportation, or parking in the neighborhoods east of Alamitos Ave and walking to the Convention Center.

Open That Barrel Night
11:00 am – 12:00 am, February 28
Hangar 24 Brewery, Redlands
http://www.facebook.com/events/424118834417866/

Enjoy some live music, rare barrel-aged beers, and one-off beers this Saturday at the Hangar 24 tasting room in Redlands.

Barrel & Stave Tap Takeover
12:00 pm – 4:00 pm, February 28
The Brew House, San Juan Capistrano
http://www.facebook.com/events/1650892148471998/

The Brew House in San Juan Capistrano will tap dozens of oaked & barrel-aged beers matured in everything from chardonnay & port barrels to oak chip & bourbon casks this Saturday for your drinking pleasure. This event costs $45 to attend and includes ten 3oz beer tasters, a souvenir glass, and one meal ticket for the visiting food truck.

Punk Fest 2015
12:00 pm – 12:00 am, February 28
The World Famous Doll Hut, Anaheim
http://www.facebook.com/events/320160751501554/

Over a dozen local punk rock bands will perform at this all-day concert this Saturday at the Doll Hut in Anaheim. Tickets to this show cost $15 presale or $20 at the door. No one under 21 may enter.

Litmus Green @ House of Tacos
7:00 pm – 1:00 am, February 28
House of Tacos, Hollywood
http://www.facebook.com/events/632181126885945/

Enjoy a local punk rock show in Hollywood this Saturday night. The cover for this all-ages show costs $12.

Monster Squad @ SCLA Apparel
7:00 pm – 1:00 am, February 28
SCLA Apparel, Los Angeles
http://www.facebook.com/events/1486227114993885/

Follow no rules at this punk show in South Central LA this Saturday night. The cover for this all-ages show costs $13.

Say Hello To Sunshine 10 Year Anniversary Show
8:00 pm – 12:00 am, February 28
Glass House, Pomona
http://www.theglasshouse.us/event/743913-finch-pomona/

Finch will headline this one-off show, not part of any tour, this Saturday night at the Glass House in Pomona. Tickets to this all-ages show cost $25.

Orange County Restaurant Week
March 1-7
Various restaurants in Orange County
http://www.orangecountyrestaurantweek.com/

For one week, numerous restaurants in Orange County will offer prix-fixe multi-course meals, ranging from $10-20 for lunch and $20-40 for dinner.

Get Happy – Old Pasadena Happy Hour Week
March 1-14
Participating locations, Old Pasadena
http://www.oldpasadena.org/happyhourweek/

Enjoy extended Happy Hour food & drink specials at participating locations in Old Pasadena during this two-week period.

Party For The Planet
12:00 pm – 5:00 pm, March 1
Big Red Sun, Santa Monica
http://www.eventbrite.com/e/party-for-the-planet-tickets-15678157792

With a very vague and ambiguous description, this event has music, art, food, drinks, raffles, and more. It costs $20 to enter. The event page lists no other details, such as age limit, parking, content, and more.

2015 Vegan Street Fair
12:00 pm – 6:00 pm, March 1
Weddington St & Bakman Ave, North Hollywood
http://www.veganstreetfair.com/

The vegans have their day in North Hollywood this Sunday afternoon. This event takes place on the streets of North Hollywood, closing the intersection of Weddington St & Bakman Ave to traffic. Dozens of vendors will set up booths in this event, serving up vegan food samples to all visitors. Visitors must purchase $8 booklets containing 12 tickets that they can redeem for food samples.

Many people have heard of the term acquired taste, but most people rarely ever can apply that to their own lives. For example, wine definitely falls under the category of acquired tastes, as most people do not simply grow up enjoying the taste of wine. One could say that beer also falls under the category of acquired tastes. Who honestly grows up liking the taste of fizzy yellow water? Thankfully with the advent of microbreweries, new styles of beer have come to the market that aspire to ease the introduction of beer to non-beer drinkers. Experienced beer drinkers no longer need to subject their friends to the torment of fizzy yellow water, when approachable brews now exist for those without the acquired taste for beers. It takes time to build an acquired taste for beer – it took me over a year to get used to the bitterness of IPA beers, and I still cannot withstand sours or wild ales. For those just starting to get into bitter beers like an IPA, I have a suggestion right for you.

Where people best know San Diego for their hoppy beers, Orange County has more progressive or experimental beers in their local microbreweries. For example, Noble Ale Works does not specialize in one specific style of beer. The folks at Noble Ale Works constantly create new beers, and by now, they probably have brewed every single type of beer in the world. Everyone has a trial & error phase, so if a brew does not work out, they move on to the next. When a brew does work out, Noble Ale ensures that they keep it in the repertoire, such as with their Big Whig IPA. Now available in 22oz bombers for retail, this 6.8% abv west coast IPA contains notes of tangerine, honey, and rosemary, all of which contribute towards a big, piney, lingering finish. It does not come off as bitter as one would expect – for a west coast IPA, Big Whig drinks nice and balanced, perfect to pair with savory and/or spicy foods.

Enjoy Big Whig IPA and more of Noble Ale’s brews at their fourth anniversary celebration this Saturday afternoon at their tasting room. General admission costs $40 and provides three hours (starting at 1pm) of over 30 different brews, unlimited pours, live music, food trucks, a souvenir glass, and more. For $10 more, enter an hour early to get a head-start on the day. No one under 21 may attend this event.

The 2015 Southern California Pet Expo makes its annual return this Saturday and Sunday. Moving to its new location at the Fairplex in Pomona, this FREE all-ages expo allows all guests to bring their pets and to exhibit all the vendors, pet adoptions, pet fitness demos, pet competitions, and of course other guests’ pets. Shorty Rossi from Animal Planet’s Pit Boss also appears at the expo to give a seminar about animal care and his passion for pit bulls. Goods sold by vendors range from food to toys to furniture to apparel and more. As far as I have observed in previous years, the pet adoptions only included dogs and cats. Almost all guests brought a dog to the expo last year, while other pets included cats, a mouse, parrot, snake, guinea pig, and an elusive kinkajou. Bring cash for parking (ranges from $5 to $10) and for any purchases at this expo in case vendors do not accept cards.

Last year, I noticed an increased presence of specialty pet food vendors present at the expo. Just like how humans should adhere to, these vendors specialize in all-natural, gluten-free, non-GMO products. If we love our pets like family members, we ought to feed them like family members. The trend to eat healthy and natural also carries over to the animal world.

Expect to find an entire section of the expo that contains all the pet adoption booths. This allows visitors to potentially bring home a new pet for the family, or at least seek information about any specific pets. See the website linked above for a full list of pet adoption groups that will attend this expo.