Friday, May 30, 2008

Harold Lloyd's "Speedy" 80 years later

COMPOSER Carl Davis has worked with the giants of the silent era -- nevermind that it's all been decades after the films came out.

So when he conducts the U.S. premiere of his score for the 1928 Harold Lloyd comedy classic "Speedy" on Saturday evening at Royce Hall, it won't be the first time he's given a silent movie a new voice. "Speedy" is the centerpiece of the 19th annual Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Silent Film Gala, which features Dustin Hoffman as honorary chairman. The film was Lloyd's last silent and one of his best. Shot on location in Manhattan, it centers on Lloyd's bespectacled "Everyman" Harold "Speedy" Swift, an absolute Yankee baseball nut who tries to save the last horse-drawn trolley bus in New York, operated by his girlfriend's grandfather. Babe Ruth has a wonderful cameo as a nervous passenger in Speedy's taxicab.

BioBlitz to document species in Los Angeles area

"BIODIVERSITY" may not be a word generally associated with the urban sprawl that is Los Angeles, but an upcoming event rooted in the city's more rustic spots may change all that.

BioBlitz, an annual event organized by the National Geographic Society and the National Park Service, will make its first appearance in California this weekend.

For 24 hours beginning today at noon, teams of scientists and naturalists will be leading members of the public out into the wilderness to begin recording as many species of living organisms as possible.

"The idea is to get people -- and kids in particular -- aware of the nature in their own backyards," says John Francis, vice president of research, conservation and exploration at the National Geographic Society. "With the increasing distance between people in general and the natural world around them, this is one way to awaken an interest in nature, by providing a bridge through the park system and to people who are experts in studying nature."

The event has the vibe of an outdoor science fair combined with a pedigreed and ambitious science experiment. Some 120 scientists from across the country -- experts in everything from ocean to land, flora to fauna -- will lead a 200 teams, each with 10 to 12 people, through predetermined sections of several state parks for a few hours at a time. Each team will look for something specific -- a species of plant, butterfly, bird, creepy-crawly -- and all the information will be photographed and documented.

The project will give participants a hands-on opportunity to locate and catalog myriad specimens from nature.


A WOMAN was flying from Seattle to San Francisco . Unexpectedly, the plane was diverted to Sacramento along the way. The flight attendant explained that there would be a delay, and if the passengers wanted to get off the aircraft the plane would re-board in 50 minutes.

Everybody got off the plane except one lady who was blind. The man had noticed her as he walked by and could tell the lady was blind because her Seeing Eye dog lay quietly underneath the seats in front of her throughout the entire flight.

He could also tell she had flown this very flight before because the pilot approached her, and calling her by name, said, 'Kathy, we are in Sacramento for almost an hour. Would you like to get off and stretch your legs?' The blind lady replied, 'No thanks, but maybe Buddy would like to stretch his legs.'

Picture this: All the people in the gate area came to a complete standstill when they looked up and saw the pilot walk off the plane with a Seeing Eye dog!

The pilot was even wearing sunglasses. People scattered. They not only tried to change planes, but they were trying to change airlines!

True story.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

"Top of the World"

On this day, May 29, in 1953, Mount Everest was conquered as Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and sherpa Tenzing Norgay of Nepal became the first climbers to reach the summit.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

An L. A. Treasure

The Shakespeare Bridge was built in 1926 in Franklin Heights just east of Hollywood near the Silverlake Reservoir. The bridge is very heavily traveled and I'm sure most who cross it don't realize its there. The ravine it crosses is full of houses and the neighborhood is quite densely populated. The Gothic Revival detailing of the structure mimics other public buildings in Silverlake. The bridge itself was declared LA Historic Cultural Monument no. 126 in 1974.

Remember when . . .

. . . You got your windshield cleaned, oil checked, and gas pumped, without asking, all for free, every time? And you didn't pay for air? And, you got trading stamps to boot? . . . and gas was nowhere near $4 a gallon.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cosmic Depths with Hurricane Mama

AT 4:53 p.m. Sunday, NASA's Phoenix spacecraft landed on Mars, and two hours later pictures from the dusty red planet arrived at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to prove it.

But sound doesn't travel as fast as light, so it took a half-hour longer before we had an indication of extraterrestrial life stirring. That is when Hurricane Mama awakened and began to make miraculous music a few miles from JPL at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Terry Riley -- a Space Age Prospero dressed in black, wearing a black skull cap and in striped stocking feet, his long gray beard flowing -- walked to the organ consol. The hall was darkened. The wooden pipes were illuminated deep purple. No longer "French fries," a nickname Riley told the audience he felt inelegant, the pipes were newly dubbed "radiant columns of Orfeo." Hurricane Mama is his name for the Disney organ.

For the next two hours, Hurricane Mama howled and roared. Orfeo's columns traced the shapes of swirling galaxies and accompanied accelerating quanta as they collided releasing astonishing quantities of energy. They strung out strings of space-time and hymned drones of mystical oneness with the universe. All of that came

Fine Arts Building is Steeped in History

One of the most venerated structures in downtown Los Angeles, a richly embellished Jazz Age office tower honoring the arts, has been acquired by two high-profile attorneys for $23.5 million. The aptly named Fine Arts Building at 811 W. 7th St. is now owned by Brian Kabateck and Mark Geragos, who last weekannounced its purchase from a Denver real estate partnership. The Los Angeles lawyers plan to take over almost half of the space on the top floor and rent the rest of the space in the 12-story building to tenants. Kabateck and Geragos, whose clients have included pop star Michael Jackson, have coveted the Romanesque Revival-style building for years, Kabateck said.

They already own and keep offices in a nearby former fire station built in 1912 known as Engine Co. No. 28. It has a restaurant of the same name on the ground floor, where some of the city's first motorized fire engines were once housed.

"After we bought Engine Co. we decided we loved older buildings," Kabateck said. "The real building we thought it would make total sense to own was the Fine Arts Building."

The Los Angeles Times called the Fine Arts Building "one of the finest business blocks in the Southland" when it opened in late 1926 with a private gala for thousands of guests.

The design reflected an era when sculpture was integrated into architecture as a way of expressing the meaning and purpose of a building, according to USC archives.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A New Era Evokes An Old Era

The new Yankee Stadium — shown in an artist's rendering — rises on its site across from the current field.

A rendering of the new Yankee Stadium reveals an architectural ode to the old. The vertical-arched entryway evokes the entrance to the 1923 arena that called itself home to Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, among many other big-name players.

The colonnade and arches that circle the exterior, shown in an artist's rendering, will lend a Roman air to the experience in the new stadium.

Visionary or Fool

The new manager of the Million Dollar Theatre, Robert Voskanian, a tall and skeletal Armenian immigrant has dabbled in moviemaking and spent years running two big downtown discos before taking on the theater's renovation. The man is either a visionary or a fool, betting on the chance of restoring the Million Dollar to even a quarter of its past glory. Voskanian has spent the legendary theater's title sum to restore it as a multicultural venue.

Located at Broadway and 3rd Street, the Million Dollar was once considered the grande dame of the marvelous movie palaces that line L.A.'s historic theater district. It was Sid Grauman's first movie house in town, designed by noted architect Albert C. Martin Sr. and hailed as one of the finest in the world when it opened on Feb. 1, 1918, to a crowd of celebrities including Charlie Chaplin and Cecil B. DeMille. For decades, it would serve as the site of glitzy Hollywood premieres, often preceded by live vaudeville shows featuring the likes of Buster Keaton and Gloria Swanson.

In recent decades, the theater has fallen on hard times. It had served most recently as a church before the faithful also abandoned it five years ago, leaving its once-gilded interior inexplicably whitewashed. Then, it just sat empty, but soon that will all change.

Would they dare ???

Several news outlets reported last month that the Eiffel Tower in Paris would be getting a temporary addition next year to mark its 120th birthday: a mushroom-shaped viewing platform made of Kevlar panels.

It turned out, though, that the tower was planning no such addition, temporary or otherwise. It was a misunderstanding fueled by Internet hype: a story about temporary architecture that was itself temporary.

Hey! What's going on here ???

Sailing around the world

Zac Sunderland, 16, aboard his 36-foot Islander sailboat, docked in Marina Del Rey. Sunderland is preparing for a solo-sail around the world, hoping to become the youngest sailor to have solo-circumnavigated the globe, and the first to complete the circumnavigation before turning 18.

A Salute to Our Brave Men Who Serve Their Country

On a recent Wednesday, the sharp reports of rifle salutes rang out from different corners of Riverside National Cemetery. Shown above is the National Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Memorial in the Riverside National Cemetery.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Descent of the Phoenix

'In a sense, right here in the backyard of the L.A. Times, you have what some of us say is the center of the universe," says Charles Elachi, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. "We have 19 spacecraft across the solar system right now. For the past decade, our country has had a permanent presence on Mars.

"When we say we're at the center," he continued, "we really mean it in the following sense: JPL is exploring the solar system and doing the telescope work exploring the stars. You have Caltech here, which is the premier organization for astronomy. Look at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena. And if you go back 100 years, the basic understanding of the expanding universe happened because of the telescopes on Mt. Wilson. The Keck Foundation, which funds the Keck telescope in Hawaii, is headquartered in L.A. So really, no other place in the world has contributed more to our understanding of the universe and the solar system than this region within 25 miles of downtown L.A."

Elachi's successful run is up for another test this afternoon, when the Phoenix mission attempts a risky touchdown close to the Martian north pole 150 million miles away. Shown above is a drawing depicting the descent of the Phoenix lander. As the lander's name suggests, the project is built on technology resurrected from canceled and lost missions, and the prospect of catastrophe (so far, more than half of all missions to the Red Planet has ended in failure) is always looming.


Photo by RandyLee on Los Angeles Times "Your Scene"

Martin Margiela's Horse-Print T-Shirt carries $1,395 price tag

Shifting Hues

Designer Roberto Cavalli named his boat after himself, which makes it, in essence, a logo afloat. It also makes it easy for revelers to find the after-parties he hosts.

Like a disco minidress adrift, Cavalli's 134-footer -- with six guest cabins and one master suite -- is sleekly tapered and painted electric purple with metallic blue trim. Built by the megayacht maker Baglietto and launched in 2003, the yacht has a hull that shifts hues, depending on the sun's whims.

Colorful history of Santa Barbara's San Roque neighborhood runs from bandits to postwar housing boom.

SAN ROQUE, in northwestern Santa Barbara, is a leafy, well-established part of town where development began in the 1920s and '30s and was largely completed during the building boom of the '50s and '60s.

The neighborhood is named for St. Roque, from 14th century France, who is variously described as the patron of surgeons and bachelors, dogs and diseased cattle.

San Roque 150 years ago was the headquarters of gang leader Jack Powers, one of California's most notorious bandits and gamblers. Powers established a base here, squatting illegally on private land, and for years resisted all efforts to evict him.

Powers and his henchmen controlled Santa Barbara with "a virtual reign of terror" in the early 1850s, on one occasion scaring off a 200-strong posse of local citizens, according to historian Walter A. Tompkins.

A century later, much more law-abiding folk were setting up homes in San Roque as part of the postwar housing boom, and today the neighborhood has an eclectic mix of architectural styles -- Spanish and American Colonial, English Tudor, French and Italian.

Another Knievel . . . Another Daredevil

Robbie Knievel jumps 24 trucks in Ohio
12 hours ago

MASON, Ohio (AP) — Robbie "Kaptain" Knievel, son of the late daredevil Evel Knievel, successfully jumped over 24 delivery trucks Saturday night at the site of one of his father's most famous stunts.

"Hopefully I'll see you after the jump," Knievel told the crowd before he climbed the start ramp.

Knievel, 46, had said he would need to be going 95 miles per hour at take off for the 200-foot jump, which began from a three-story tall ramp and was completed amid wild cheers, booming explosions and shooting flames at Kings Island amusement park near Cincinnati.

After touching down at the tip of the landing ramp, Knievel gave the crowd a thumbs-up, raced his bike back and forth and popped a wheelie.

"He took a really hard shot at the landing," said Knievel's business partner, Jeff Lowe. "But he's thrilled. We're all thrilled. He was a lot more nervous about this jump than he let on."

Evel Knievel jumped 115 feet over 14 buses at Kings Island in 1975 in an event that was watched by more than half of the nation's television viewers. He died last year at the age of 69 after suffering from failing health for many years

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Bright Moment . . . even if you can't see the sky

AS Roma's Francesco Totti holds the Italian Cup after beating Inter Milan at the end of their Italian Cup soccer final match at the Olympic stadium in Rome May 24, 2008. AS Roma won 2-1. REUTERS/Max Rossi (ITALY)
Albert Einstein once said that "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind," and people with and without faith have long argued that he supported their view.

Pitcher traded by Calgary for 10 bats is nonplussed

During three years in the low minors, John Odom never really made a name for himself.

That sure changed this week — he's the guy the Calgary Vipers traded for a bunch of bats.

"I don't really care," he said Friday, in Texas. "It'll make a better story if I make it to the big leagues."

For now, Odom is headed to the Laredo Broncos of the United League. They got him Tuesday from Calgary of the Golden Baseball League for a most unlikely price: 10 Prairie Sticks Maple Bats, double-dipped black, 34-inch, C243 style.

"They just wanted some bats, good bats — maple bats," Broncos general manager Jose Melendez said.

According to the Prairie Sticks Web site, their maple bats retail for $69 US each, discounted to $65.50 for purchases of six to 11 bats.

"It will be interesting to see what 10 bats gets us," Melendez said.

The Vipers team signed Odom about a month ago, but couldn't get the 26-year-old righty into Canada. It seems Odom had a "minor" but unspecified criminal record that wasn't revealed to immigration officials before they scanned his passport, Vipers president Peter Young said.

Odom said the charge stemmed from a fight he was in at age 17. Although he thought it had been expunged from his record, it popped up during immigration.

Odom spent hundreds of dollars driving to the Canadian border and staying at a Montana hotel while the matter was sorted out. He then drove to Laredo after the trade.

Originally from Atlanta, Odom was drafted late by the San Francisco Giants in 2003. He pitched 38 games, all in class-A, from 2004-06, and was released by the organization this spring.

Laredo intends to activate Odom on Monday and have him make his first start Wednesday.

Odom said he was supposed to be traded for Laredo's best hitter. But when that player balked at moving to Calgary, the bats entered the deal.
Laredo offered cash for Odom, but Young said that was "an insult."

The bat trade wasn't the first time Calgary came up with some creative deal making. The Vipers once tried to acquire a pitcher for 1,500 blue seats when they were renovating their stadium, Young said.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Order your tickets early

The Ferris wheel in Vienna's Prater leisure park, is pictured in this February 28, 2008 file photo. Soccer fans wanting a birds eye view of Euro 2008 games can rent a place on the wheel near the stadium. Events organiser Geo-Events offers places for all the games at prices up to 5,900 euros ($9,277) for 10 people including a big TV screen and food. The Ferris wheel next to the Ernst Happel stadium, where Austria will host games including the final, will still be turning. Passengers will be able to look down onto the pitch in the upper part of the journey.
REUTERS/Herbert Neubauer/Files (AUSTRIA)

At Beijing's "Bird's Nest"

China's world and Olympic champion Liu Xiang (L) competes next to Australia's Justin Merlino during the men's 110m hurdles semi-final at the Good Luck Beijing China Athletics Open at Beijing's "Bird's Nest" National Stadium May 23, 2008.

Mother always said, "Use your head"

Australia's Mile Jedinak and Ghana's John Mensah (C) fight for the ball during their international friendly soccer match in Sydney May 23, 2008.

"I Love You, You're Perfect" -- now close.

The long-running off-Broadway revue "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" will fold July 27 after a 12-year run at the Westside Theatre. Only the original production of "The Fantasticks," which clocked in at nearly 42 years, has had a longer run off-Broadway.

The revue has played more than 500 cities worldwide and grossed more than $200 million.

Shown above is a scene from one of the many productions of "The Fantasticks" which has become a legend.

(From the Associated Press)

125 years old and holding up well

NEW YORK -- It was so singular a marvel, so ambitious a feat, that its opening drew the president and a crowd of thousands.

A leading national magazine said it stood poised to become "our most durable monument."

Some 125 years later, the Brooklyn Bridge remains a symbol of engineering might and imagination, and an iconic landmark in the nation's largest city.

And it can still attract a crowd, like the one at the bridge's 125th birthday blowout Thursday night, which featured fireworks, a Navy flyover, a colorful new lighting scheme, a musical tribute by Oscar-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch, even a birthday cake in the shape of the bridge.

The 6,000-foot-long span is one of the nation's oldest suspension bridges and among its most treasured. It opened on May 24, 1883.

Historians note its role in shaping the city: It linked Manhattan with what was then a largely rural Brooklyn, spurring growth in the more rustic borough, Schweiger said.

Brooklyn's population grew by 42% between 1880 and 1890, while Manhattan's grew about 26%, census figures show.

Building the bridge took 13 years, cost $15 million and claimed several lives, including that of its celebrated designer, John Roebling

(From the Associated Press)

Action hero but no archaeologist

Indiana Jones managed to retrieve the trinket he was after in the opening moments of "Raiders of the Lost Ark." He pretty much wrecked everything else in the ancient South American temple where the little gold idol had rested for millenniums.

Though he preaches research and good science in the classroom, the world's most famous archaeologist often is an acquisitive tomb raider in the field with a scorched-earth policy about what he leaves behind. Although actual archaeologists like the guy and his movies, they wouldn't necessarily want to work alongside him on a dig.

Real experts in antiquities acknowledge that the movies are pure fiction that present archaeology as blockbuster adventure, yet they cannot help but cringe at the way Indy manhandles the ancient world.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

This a new Prison in UK!

When I go to jail I wanna go to this one.

James Stewart's wonderful life and enduring legacy

James Stewart would have turned 100 this week. Both the UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are celebrating his centenary this month. Stewart gives one of his best performances as the San Francisco detective John “Scottie” Ferguson who becomes obsessed with a woman (Kim Novak) he’s hired to follow in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 psychological masterwork, “Vertigo.”

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Figment of Imagination"

"Sometimes when I look into the sky,
Clouds start to follow my mind and try
to give the picture that has created in my mind."

(Words and Photo by naxief on Flickr)

Into the Supernatural . . .

Baraboo, Wisconsin: Tom Avery (aka Dr. Evermore) is responsible for the world’s largest scrap-metal architectural sculpture known as Foreverton. Weighing in at over 300 tons this amazing structure climbs 50 feet in the air and reaches 60 to 120 feet in either direction. Once the owner of a salvage business, Avery began turning his talents to this bizarre architectural pursuit over two decades ago and (supposedly) believes a spaceship contained within will launch him eventually into supernatural world beyond our own and bring him into contact with the Divine.

The Amazing Wooden Skyscraper

Archangelsk, Russia: Nikolai Sutyagin started this amazing wooden skyscraper as a simple two-story structure, then just kept building. The building now stands 13 stories (144 feet) tall and is under threat of demolition out of safety concerns by authorities. Taking what he learned (and earned) as the owner of a small construction company he built this masterpiece. While in jail for supposedly imprisoning a worker in part of the building his business went to pieces. Now the strange wooden skyscraper is all they have left.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Heart of Quito Revived

SIGNS OF LIFE: A view of the main square in Quito, where redevelopment efforts have helped bring back middle-class residents and encouraged tourists headed to the Galapagos Islands or Amazon to linger for a few days.

We're all looking for our "15 Minutes of Fame"

For more than 10 years starting in the late 1970s, Rollen Stewart was the nation's most celebrated sports fan, a wig-wearing, wigged-out self-promoter who showed up at virtually every major athletic event worldwide and always managed to plant himself smack-dab in front of a television camera.

He was known as the Rainbow Man, for the multicolored Afro wigs he sported, or Rock 'n' Rollen, for the party vibe he exuded. Later, after finding religion, he morphed into the John 3:16 guy, for the Biblical messages he espoused.

He found fame, as planned, simply by showing up.

But the fanatic who was always there, Stewart says, really was no fan at all.

"I despised sports," he says.

Serving three life sentences for hostage-taking, he has been imprisoned since 1992. It's probably just as well -- Stewart has already had more than his "15 minutes of fame."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Surprise !!!!!!

This is a real place outside Bakersfield, California -- now, stop trashing Bakersfield.

The Marqués de Riscal

Architect Frank O. Gehry designed the Marqués de Riscal in Elciego, Spain, in the heart of the Rioja wine region.

The Marqués de Riscal took four years to complete, partly because Gehry’s Los Angeles-based architectural firm had to develop special methods for working with colored titanium and because the winery decided after the design process started to turn the building into a 43-room hotel.
(Adrian Tyler / Starwood Hotels)

Futuristic Designs

The iconic Theme Building at LAX, which houses the Encounter Restaurant, is a popular example of the Space Age look of Googie architecture. The whimsical design style, popular in Southern California in the 1950s and named after an L.A. coffee shop, features bright colors, eye-catching signs and futuristic designs. Though many Googie buildings are gone, a few examples remain in Southern California.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Oldest Big Boy Still Around

The Bob's Big Boy restaurant on Riverside Drive in Burbank, built in 1949, features a Streamline Moderne design, highlighted by plenty of neon. The first Big Boy restaurant opened in Glendale in 1936, but this site is the oldest remaining restaurant in the chain.
(Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

Styling you can't miss

Norms restaurant on La Cienega in Los Angeles features many Googie design elements, including a jutting roof, bright neon sign, orange structural trusses and large windows.
(Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles Times)