Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Look For this Bayer Advanced™ Float in the 120th Rose Parade

Bayer Advanced will be going for its ninth consecutive Rose Parade trophy with its Garden of Oz float during the January 1, 2009, Rose Parade. The theme for the 120th Rose Parade is Hats off to Entertainment. Bayer Advanced and Pasadena-based Phoenix Decorating, the largest Rose Parade float builder, have created a float that salutes one of the most entertaining and popular movies of all time: The Wizard of Oz, which was released in 1939. The American Film Institute considers it one of America’s 10 greatest films. Warner Bros. has launched a 70th anniversary celebration.

"Bollywood Dreams" -- coming to a "channel" near you

In the Making -- Sierra Madre's Bollywood float for the 2009 Rose Parade. (click on the image to enlarge the photo)

Sierra Madre is recreating a classic Bollywood wedding scene. The bride rides in a "doli" carried by 12 men. Her groom follows atop an ornately adorned elephant. Bollywood dancers portraying wedding guests perform alongside the float to the beat of a contemporary Bollywood soundtrack.

Look for them . . . they'll be marching again !!!

Los Angeles Unified School District - All City Honor Band

1998 Tournament of Roses Parade

A Special Effect

A general view of the holiday decorations at Rockefeller Center in New York City.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Alexander Nevsky voted Russia's greatest historical figure

Television viewers have voted Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, who sent millions to their deaths in the 1930s, Russia's third-greatest historical figure.

Rights activists have blasted Stalin's inclusion in the nationwide project by the state-run Rossiya channel. They say authorities are trying to gloss over Stalin's atrocities.

The project culminated with the announcement that medieval leader Alexander Nevsky, who defeated various European invaders during his 13th century reign and was subsequently canonized, had been voted the greatest Russian.

In second place was Pyotr Stolypin, an early 20th century prime minister. Stolypin was recognized for land reform but gained notoriety for his brutal quashing of leftist revolutionaries.

If you rob a bank be sure to leave your calling card !!!

A 40-year-old man allegedly robbed a Chicago bank Friday using a threatening note written on the back of his own pay stub, which was printed with his name and home address.

Thomas Infante walked into a Fifth Third Bank and handed a teller a note that read "Be Quick Be Quit. Give your cash or I'll shoot," according to an FBI affidavit filed Monday. The teller gave the man about $400.

The robber left behind his demand note, written on a torn half of the pay stub. Investigators found the other half -- with Infante's name and home address -- outside the bank.

"It's fairly unusual that we see something that specifically stupid," FBI spokesman Ross Rice said.

Infante was arrested at his home and later admitted to the robbery, according to the FBI affidavit. The image above is NOT Infante.

Andrew Lloyd Webber plans 'Phantom' sequel

Twenty-two years after launching the music of the night, Andrew Lloyd Webber is preparing a sequel to "The Phantom of the Opera," the musical that has amassed more than $5 billion at box offices around the world.

The composer tells the Times of London that he expects "Phantom: Love Never Dies" to premiere at the end of next year -- and not merely in one city but possibly three.

"Making Choices in Evil Times"

"Good," which opens in limited release Wednesday, is set in Germany during the 1930s and '40s. Viggo Mortensen plays John Halder, a well-regarded, morally decent college professor who has a crazy wife, two unloving children and a whiny mother with dementia. His only real friend is the outspoken, gregarious Jewish shrink Maurice, played by Isaacs. Halder finds himself embraced by the Nazis because of a novel he has written on the need for compassionate euthanasia.

"Good" is just one of several films released this year dealing with Nazis and World War II, including "Defiance," which also opens Wednesday, and "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas," "The Reader" and "Valkyrie." The issues raised by World War II remain strikingly contemporary, noted "Good" director Vicente Amorim.

"World War II is such a strong metaphor for human behavior," he says. "We wanted 'Good' to be as much about what's happening in the world today as it is about what happened in Germany in the 1930s -- the decisions that made the rise of National Socialism possible are very, very similar to the ones we make in our everyday lives today."

Monday, December 29, 2008

"fulfilling its promise"

Reporting from Frankfurt, Germany -- Ten years ago, Europe launched its grand experiment with a shared currency -- and watched it plunge in value before recovering.

But as the anniversary of the Jan. 1, 1999, arrival of the euro approaches, economists say the new currency is finally fulfilling its promise as a way to lower borrowing costs, ease trade and tourism, boost growth and strengthen the European community.

And doing it amid a global financial crisis underlines, for the moment, the safety in numbers that comes from joining one, big currency.

"Who's delusional?"

From "Letters to the Editor" (Los Angeles Times)

Re “Cheney’s delusions,” editorial, Dec. 20

Evidently, you must have been mindlessly thumbing through the kid-glove section of your favorite accessories catalog as you watched the ABC News interview and then composed your truly vapid editorial.

Did you not hear Vice President Dick Cheney -- as I and so many others did -- blithely admit to facilitating war crimes?

I fear that your editorial is merely a harbinger of the treatment Cheney and the rest of this administration will receive on leaving office. If these documented crimes against humanity are never prosecuted, it will leave a despicable legacy that this nation will never outlive, nor should it deserve to.

Walter Ross

San Luis Obispo

"He's as good as there is"

Trevor Bauer, a straight-A student who wants to be an engineer, recently took his final test at Newhall's Hart High School, and come Jan. 5, he'll start classes at UCLA.

"I can't wait," Bauer said. "It's going to be a lot of fun."

Bauer isn't the first high school athlete to graduate early. USC has had three early graduates in quarterback John David Booty, catcher Robert Stock and guard Daniel Hackett.

As a pitcher last season, the 6-foot-1, 175-pound right-hander struck out 106, walked 15 and had an 0.79 earned-run average in 70 2/3 innings. He threw four shutouts and had a career-high 16 strikeouts against West Torrance.

"He's as good as there is out there," UCLA Coach John Savage said.

"The Perfect Season"

There have been many winless teams in NFL history, but until Sunday only one since the 1940s — the 1976 Buccaneers, who were 0-14 in their first season in the league. Now, the lousy Lions have surpassed those bumbling Bucs, losing on the road to the Packers to complete the NFL's first 0-16 season.

"I wish it was just a dream,'' Detroit rookie running back Kevin Smith said. "I wish I could wake up and it'd be over. But it's not."

"I'm not trying to prove how Mexican I am or how American I am. I'm proud to be both." -- Mark Sanchez

Sunday, December 28, 2008

200th birthday coming up

It seems strange to say about someone who's been dead for 143 years, but Abraham Lincoln may be the cultural icon of the coming year. Feb. 12 marks his 200th birthday, and there are dozens of new books scheduled to commemorate the moment, including Ronald C. White Jr.'s massive "A. Lincoln: A Biography" and the Library of America's "The Lincoln Anthology," which features a century and a half of writing, beginning with William Dean Howells, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Karl Marx and continuing on to Gore Vidal, Mario Cuomo and E.L. Doctorow.

Then, there's the matter of Barack Obama, who appears intent on invoking Lincoln every chance he gets. Lincoln has never fallen out of favor -- more books are published about him annually than about any other American. But between his bicentennial and the affections of Obama, this could be the year that, in some strange way we still can't quite imagine, the 16th president comes into his own.

-- David L. Ulin

Some Recruiting Posters -- Over the Years

circa 1863
J C Leyendecker poster
1909 poster
W. W. I Naval Aviation poster
James Montgomery Flagg poster
Reuterdahl poster


Jan 04, 2009 8:00 PM

Fountain Theatre
5060 Fountain Ave.
L.A.,CA,90029 $30

The continuing series showcases a rotating roster of flamenco dancers, singers and musicians.

Jan. 4: "Alma y Corazon Flamenco" features dancers Mizuho Sato, Vanessa Acosta and Briseyda Zarate, singer Jesus Montoya and musicians Kai Narezzo and Joey Heredia.

"the glorious scene was something to be thankful for"

John and Jody Dreyer of Pasadena drove the coast from Los Angeles to Bandon, Ore., for Thanksgiving. The Tuesday before the big feast, they pulled onto a turnout just south of Big Sur to watch the sunset. “In and of itself, the glorious scene was something to be thankful for,” John says. He used a Canon G9.
(John Dreyer)

"a resounding thumbs down"

Is Ben Lyons the most hated film critic in America?

In the four months since the fresh-faced 27-year-old "movie dude" for the E! Entertainment Network was installed to co-host a revamped version of the venerable movie review program "At the Movies," he has gotten a resounding thumbs down from an angry mob of film bloggers, columnists, professional movie critics and fans of the show. Consensus is that Lyons, the son of New York film critic Jeffrey Lyons, is unworthy of the balcony seats once occupied by Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel on the TV mainstay that has rallied audiences into theaters for more than three decades.

"His integrity's out the window. He has no taste," said Erik Childress, vice president of the Chicago Film Critics Assn. "Everyone thinks he's a joke."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

King Harbor gets a spectacular new fountain

Beneath the looming King Harbor sign at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Catalina Avenue, in the formerly uninteresting plot of land, now sprays a spectacular new fountain. With sails that mimic those on the pier, the fountain is the centerpiece of this newly landscaped and hardscaped welcome plaza. (photo by Chris Miller)

Making the Rodin sculpture of Saint John the Baptist suitable for family viewing at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena

An early concept rendering of the plan for the "Thinking Cap" and "Lightfield" artworks gives an idea of how the pieces will look on the plaza

PASADENA - Depending on whom you ask, juxtaposing edgy, contemporary art or architecture with historic buildings brings fresh life and personality - or it thumbs the nose at classic structures that have stood the test of time. And perhaps as early as Jan. 26, the City Council will don its collective art-critic hat and step into the middle of a spat over plans to put two funky sculptures on the historic Civic Auditorium's plaza.

The council will be asked to approve a $1.2 million public art project, in the works for more than two years, for the $145 million Pasadena Convention Center expansion opening in March.

Opinions are sharply divided over whether "Thinking Caps" by New York artist Dennis Oppenheim - a 30-foot fedora, sun hat and baseball cap - and a 6-foot, $500,000 kinetic sculpture described as resembling waving stalks by Berlin-based "light and sound" artist Hans Peter Kuhn, belong on the plaza fronting Green Street.

Green Concrete

In this age of Environmental Degradation we would hold the development of concrete buildings as one of the major reasons for the same. We would seldom find anyone associating eco-friendliness with concrete structures but all that could change now. The credit for such a reformation of thoughts should go to Studio RMA for developing the Pasadena EcoHouse.

Concrete almost to the core, it is built of recycled materials and uses SCIP i.e. Structural concrete insulated panels. These unique panels are made out of concrete shell wrapped around a nucleus of foam gutted with a lattice of steel. This binding technique gives it enough strength to build a house with large open areas. Studio RMA is awaiting LEED Platinum Certification for this innovation. Irrespective the certification been provided or denied, this creation has given concrete a greener meaning for sure.

Sons of Pasadena

In Centennial Square across from City Hall are two sculptures honoring baseball legend Jackie Robinson and his brother Mack, both sons of Pasadena, California.

Page Cavanaugh: A One of a Kind

Page Cavanaugh with Lloyd Pratt (bass) in Doris Day film debut, "Romance on the High Seas" (1948).

The letter below could have been written by me since it's author expresses my sentiments so perfectly. I, too, have many happy memories of Page entertaining at the Bicycle Shop.

It was with great sadness I heard the news of jazz pianist-composer Page Cavanaugh's passing ["Pianist-Singer-Composer Led an Enduring Southland Trio," by Dennis McLellan, Dec. 24]. I remember him from his movie musicals with his fingers dancing along the piano keys with total ease and precise rhythm.

Several years ago, while having dinner at the Bicycle Shop, a restaurant in Santa Monica (sadly gone now), I glanced over and noticed a very dapper man at the piano, playing beautiful jazz and smiling. I soon realized that it was the one and only Page Cavanaugh entertaining everyone there. You could just see that he loved what he did, and he did it so well. That was a lovely treasure to remember for a longtime fan of his unique sound.

Frances Terrell Lippman

Sherman Oaks

Friday, December 26, 2008

"the largest and tallest"

The Harbor Freeway Interchange is the largest and tallest freeway interchange in Southern California. This massive 5-stack interchange connects the Century Freeway (I-105) with the Harbor Freeway (I-110). Nestled between its soaring ramps is a 3-level train and bus depot.

"A Little Night Music" has great flourish

Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s 1973 waltz musical is based on Ingmar Bergman’s Smiles of a Summer Night and as Trevor Nunn has already directed Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage on the stage this year, he’s in the mood for a piece the composer described as whipped cream with knives. His intimate revival comes out of the mirrored mists of a country house estate where memories are rife and the moon smiles three times: for the young, the foolish and the old.

The sinuous, bittersweet score is Sondheim’s Rosenkavalier full of trios and duets, Mozartian grace notes in a storyline full of mishaps and mistresses, syncopated rhythms and of course “Send in the Clowns”, that 11 o’clock number (and it was not far short of that hour on opening night) sung by Desiree Armfeldt, the touring actress, to her old flame the married lawyer Fredrick Egerman. In the past, Jean Simmons and Judi Dench have delivered it in an identical red dress as a defiant sob story. Here, the languorous, tall Hannah Waddingham (above with Alexander Hanson) allows the song through her baffled and defeated defences.

It’s much more effective that way, especially when countered with Alexander Hanson’s superb, deflated Fredrik, who has been unable to cope with his impetuous second marriage to a virgin teenager, Anne. In this role, Jessie Buckley compensates for inexperience with blushing girlishness, finding her right emotional level with Fredrik’s troubled, cello-playing son Henrik (Gabriel Vick) whom she discovers at the wrong end of a rope in the garden after dinner.

The structure has two levels of supervision. First, the choric quintet who drift in and out and supply the reflective tone and social momentum in items like “Remember” and the spring-heeled catchiness of “A Weekend in the Country”. Then there is Desiree’s old mother, Madame Armfeldt, a strong-willed chatelaine who has slept with most European heads of state and acquired as much experience as vintage champage.

Usually, this wheelchair-bound old trout is played with mittel-European inflection, but Maureen Lipman scrubs it all down and finds Lady Bracknell lurking. Lines that were never funny shine like gems, fair reward for losing the mildewed grandeur of Hermione Gingold (the first Mme Armfeldt in Lodnon in 1975) or Lila Kedrova in the Chichester revival of 1989. She is less successful with the nostalgic “Liaisons” (what happened to them?)

The music is brilliantly arranged for a tiny band by Jason Carr, and David Farley’s design is a cream conservatory with opening doors and a vista of silver birches in the second act. The lighting of Hartley T A Kemp plays its part, too, in evoking the steam and sultriness of the woodland retreat where only the valet and the sexually active

maid Petra are honest to their desires. The first is given a new song “Silly People” that doesn’t really earn its keep, but Petra’s “The Miller’s Son”, glowingly sung by Kaisa Hammerlund, sets up the finale of resolution and death with great flourish.

"John Barbour opens a small but intriguing historical window"

A group of 13 paintings unseen in 40 years by the late, little-known Pasadena artist John Barbour opens a small but intriguing historical window.

Hard-edge painting -- a term coined in 1959 by the influential Los Angeles critic Jules Langsner to describe geometric abstractions by John McLaughlin, Karl Benjamin and others -- was the first indigenous Modernist art exported from Southern California in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Still far from fully examined, the period style was widely practiced.

"It's exhausting!"

Here's a rather odd piece of art made from exhaust pipes purchased with public monies at the newly-opened St. Cloud city library (Minnesota).

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Stan Winston's Claim to Fame

The above scene is from the 'The Terminator' (1984)

Creature: The Terminator

Stan Winston's touch: His design for the metal exo-skeleton that existed beneath Arnold Schwarzenegger's skin in James Cameron's sci-fi thriller won Winston worldwide acclaim. He expanded on the design in each subsequent "Terminator" film, showing whole armies of metal skeletons wreaking havoc on a future world.

It's "Twilight" time

On the first weekend of August, eager fans of Stephenie Meyer's vampire love story "Twilight" were able to snap up "Breaking Dawn," the fourth and final installment of the massively popular book series. The madness resumed in December when the "Twilight" movie hit the theaters. The fan-demonium was already in full effect at last summer's Comic-Con.

Shifty, Nifty Michael C. Hall is DEXTER

Michael C. Hall in front of blood spatter patterns on the police station house bullpen set of the "All in The Family" episode of "Dexter." July 22, 2008

Wynn's Encore

Steve Wynn's luxury Encore hotel opened today (Dec. 22) at 8 p.m.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Encore is the companion to the 3-year-old Wynn hotel.
(Darrin Bush / Associated Press)

The Lady from Alaska

A 16-acre corn maze near the town of Whitehouse, Ohio has been carved in Sarah Palin's likeness, complete with her familiar updo hairstyle and eyeglasses.

Hey Ma! . . . Look what I found!

A giant skull made from kitchen utensils by Indian artist Subodh Gupta is on display at the Frieze art fair in London,

Santa’s 21st-century sleighs

’Twas the night before Christmas and not a creature was stirring -- not even a reindeer. That’s because Santa has given himself a present and traded in his old sleigh for a new Bentley-designed model. British buff book, Car, wrote a little letter and left it by the chimney, asking for a few auto makers to create their own take on the most famous sleigh of all.

Bentley, Ford, Nissan and Rolls-Royce answered the call and put their elves in the North Pole design studios to work. The results are here. The Bentley effort has a W-12 engine, naturally. Ford came up with three ideas (too much spare time at the Blue Oval?), while Nissan’s sci-fi contribution was penned by a Canadian, so he knows all about trying to get around in winter weather.

Being somewhat traditional, Rolls-Royce has decided to retain deer power in place of horsepower, but has given Santa an elegant and no doubt supremely comfortable carriage section. There’s probably a little cocktail bar, should St. Nick fancy a quick snifter to keep him warm. All the sleigh images on the Car site can be sent as personalized e-cards. Ho, ho, ho.

-- Colin Ryan

Hop aboard, we have room for one more

In this Nov. 2, 2008 photo, Pakistani Sunni Muslims devotees return back to their homes on a packed train after attending annual religious congregation in Multan, Pakistan.

Well . . . you came looking for excitement . . .

In this June 3, 2008, photo, former mayor of Madrid Alvarez del Manzano, first row, second left, shows his emotions as a bull jumps over the barrier during a San Isidro bullfight in Madrid.

"Unusual" Photo

In this March 2, 2008, photo, one of Tim Osmar's sled dogs looks out of its pen before the start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Willow, Alaska.

"Tribute in Lights"

In this September 11, 2008, photo, the New York skyline is punctuated by the "Tribute in Lights," representing the towers of the World Trade Center, as seen from the Staten Island Ferry.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"the nation's bestselling potted plant"

The Eckes of Southern California are to poinsettias what De Beers of South Africa is to diamonds. Over the last century, four generations of Eckes took a cold-weather bloomer few Americans had ever seen and made it a holiday staple.

Their zealous promotion is the reason the poinsettia is the nation's bestselling potted plant -- an astonishing fact considering about 100 million are sold each year in just six weeks. Let's see the iPhone top that.

German immigrant Albert Ecke and his family were headed to Fiji to open a health spa when they stopped in Los Angeles in 1900 and liked what they saw. They established a dairy farm and fruit orchard a few years later in the Eagle Rock area.

Ecke became intrigued by the red-and-green shrub that is native to Mexico and Central America and grew wild throughout the Southland. The Aztecs extracted dyes and a fever treatment from poinsettias, and the Spanish used it as a Christmas decoration. The plant was brought to the United States in the late 1820s by the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett.

Ecke was the first to develop the commercial potential. He grew poinsettias on farmland in Hollywood and sold them from street stands. His son, Paul Ecke Sr., had bigger ideas.

A visionary horticulturist and businessman, Paul Ecke Sr. gave the poinsettia a makeover through a secret breeding technique that turned the delicate and gangly weed into a sturdy and voluptuous potted plant. In the 1920s he moved south and laid a carpet of poinsettias stretching from Carlsbad to Encinitas.

His son, Paul Ecke Jr., expanded the business yet again. In the 1960s he moved the poinsettias into greenhouses and pushed cuttings shipped by air instead of mature plants hauled by rail.

An inexhaustible promoter who would've given P.T. Barnum competition, Paul Ecke Jr. created buzz by showering television networks with free poinsettias from Thanksgiving to Christmas. He extolled their virtues on programs such as "The Tonight Show" and Bob Hope's holiday specials.

The Ecke family had a virtual monopoly on the world's poinsettia market largely because no one could figure out how they produced uniformly perfect plants with multiple branches emanating from a single stem -- the so-called Ecke style.

"My grandfather learned this from a German backyard gardener he knew," said Paul Ecke III, also known as P3. "Nobody at the ranch knew the secret. My grandfather, my dad and their breeder knew, and it was done at the breeder's home so nobody could see."

In 1992, Ecke took out a 30-year loan and bought out other family members, well aware he was following in the footsteps of two flower industry legends.

His timing couldn't have been worse.

Imagine Col. Sanders with his 11 herbs and spices laid bare. Or Coca-Cola with its recipe splashed across the Internet. That's how Ecke felt when a university researcher published an article revealing his family's secret process.

It wasn't pollination, but rather the grafting of two types of poinsettias to create the desired plant from which cuttings were taken. It was stitched together like Frankenstein's monster.

"The people who wanted to compete with us said, 'Ah, now we get it,' " Ecke said. "I was saying, 'My life is over.' "

The outing of the Eckes' secret opened the door to competitors. They challenged the family's market domination by lowering costs, establishing farms in Latin America and undercutting Ecke's prices. Meanwhile, discount stores and big box outlets such as Home Depot began selling poinsettias as loss leaders to entice customers into their stores.

Ecke gradually followed his competition overseas. Every year, he ships millions of tiny cuttings harvested from closely guarded "select stock" to Guatemala. There they are grown into small plants and sold to large growers. Armstrong Garden Centers harvests the rest in California under a licensing agreement with Ecke.

Last year, for the first time, no poinsettias were grown for sale at the Encinitas ranch. An 83-year-old tradition came to an end.

Gabriel Macht's "Spirit" is willing !!!

Once upon a time, superhero roles were considered career-killers. But not anymore, not with Christian Bale, Will Smith, Robert Downey Jr. and Hugh Jackman proving that if the glove fits, you should wear it. Still, for Gabriel Macht, who suits up as the latest masked man in " The Spirit," which opens Christmas Day, there are new and different risks in this modern era of cinematic crime fighting.

For one thing, there's the danger of getting upstaged by the bad guy, who in "The Spirit" happens to be the nefarious Octopus, a near-invulnerable crime boss played with great zeal by Samuel L. Jackson. Macht first got a sense of that threat while doing an informal script read-through with his future costar.

"I needed earplugs when Samuel L. Jackson started doing lines, he had the volume at 11," Macht said with a bewildered smile a year after the table read. "Look, when actors come to read-through in Hollywood they don't give anything; everything is a whisper. They're not risking, they're not showing anything, and they're not trying to do stuff with the character. The attitude is: 'Put on a camera, get me lights and makeup and hair and wardrobe, that's when I'll perform.' Not Sam. He shows up and he was screaming and went crazy. It lifted everyone. And I knew way back then that we were going to be taking chances in this movie."

And "The Spirit" is absolutely a film that cranks the volume and goes for broke. The movie aspires to mint a leading man out of Macht, who may be a veteran of the New York stage and a graduate of Carnegie Mellon School of Drama but has a Hollywood résumé of supporting roles and indie fare. The movie is the solo directorial debut of Frank Miller, the acclaimed comic book creator, and, like his artwork in the pages of "300" and "Sin City," "The Spirit" is a stylized visual swirl that instantly divided viewers into love-it-or-hate-it factions at screenings.