BEVERLY LAUREL HOTEL
If your guests don't mind the smell of fries wafting from Swingers restaurant below, the Beverly Laurel (8018 Beverly Blvd.) is a fine alternative to spending $300 a night at a WeHo boutique hotel. Reasonable rates (from $107 a night) and a fantastic location make this the insider's choice. Ask for No. 315 -- it's bigger than most suites at pricier hotels and goes for $122.
We're already salivating at the food offerings at the "new Grove," a.k.a. Americana at Brand in Glendale (corner of East Colorado Street and South Brand Boulevard; grand opening Friday) -- a Jodi Maroni's sausage shop, a Nestle Toll House cafe and, our favorite, a new Cheesecake Factory. Sure, a new Katsuya will open here as well, but when it comes to malls, we like our food to be American and as unhealthy as possible.
HAPPY HOUR AT THE OINKSTER
From 4-6 p.m. weekdays, this Eagle Rock eatery (2005 Colorado Blvd.) offers a $3.99 burger special that includes hand-cut Belgian fries and garlic sauce. Don't forget the discounted pints of premium beers.
Enjoy Amy Winehouse's deep, dark, soulful records but find yourself a bit disturbed by her growing police record? Then you'll just love Duffy (fresh from her Coachella performance), who sounds exactly the same but comes with a squeaky-clean reputation and hair and makeup straight out of a Cosmo shoot. Come on now. Have we learned nothing from the Monkees?
Untalented, unfunny and way overexposed, the SNL cast member (and "Baby Mama" star) is a living reminder that it doesn't take comic skills to make the crossover to feature films. Give us any of MadTV's alumni any day.
For all the praise that's heaped on this joint (6400 Sunset Blvd.), it's just the music store equivalent of Costco -- but without bathrooms and cheap hot dogs. Long lines, challenging parking, high prices and a dizzying array of way too much stuff make the trip a pain, not to mention having to put up with the stinky guy next to you flipping through the racks for a used copy of "The Ozzman Cometh." Make sure to keep the Purell close at hand.