It's been chaos this week. Everyone's cancelling meetings and staying inside, glued to TVs. Outside, roads are gridlocked, beaches are eerily deserted, and there's a pervading whiff of change in the air.
It has nothing to do with the election. The inhabitants of Los Angeles have been coming to terms with a seismic annual event that strikes at the very fabric of their lives: the start of the "rainy" season.
This being Southern California, it's important to get "rainy" into proportion. We're not talking monsoon. Instead, November has brought what Brits might call scattered showers and a few hours of persistent drizzle last weekend. A thunderstorm is forecast to hit the city today.
Still, it's the first precipitation LA's seen since May, and rolling news channels are in full-on panic mode. Surfers have been told to stay out of the water to avoid toxic pollution that's being washed into the sea; muddy landslides are allegedly threatening houses. Some drains are blocked. One TV station even went live to shocking pictures of... people using umbrellas.
The biggest problem with rain is that it clogs up the very lifeblood of this city: traffic. Angelenos make terrible drivers at the best of times, but the smallest downpour turns their freeways into a scene from Wacky Races, as tailgating commuters skid into each other, exchange insurance details, and prepare to sue for personal injury.
I wonder, though, if the people of LA should really hate the rain. It is, after all, the fuel that drives their precious car washes, power showers, lawn sprinklers, and swimming pools. It helps stop forest fires and prevents smog. In short, for the inhabitants of this fragile metropolis, a bit more seasonal drizzle might actually be one of the Changes We Need.
Ladies be good
Rain didn't prevent 100 of the University of Southern California's former cheerleaders turning out for a reunion at half time of their alma mater's football game against Washington on Saturday.
A crowd of about 80,000 people watched the plucky ladies (who were mostly aged between 40 and 60) demonstrate their enduring ability to perform high kicks and squeeze into the Lolita-esque outfits that they first wore during their student days. In Britain, by contrast, we have Morris Dancing. I know which one I prefer.
Branded with fame
Here's how Russell Brand explained his status to the inhabitants of a small fringe theatre in Hollywood on Sunday: "English people in the audience will be able to verify that I am indeed famous," he said. "I wouldn't work without fame. Without fame, my haircut would just look like mental illness."