Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Sydney Laurence Art"

Known for his dramatic landscape paintings of Alaska, Sydney Laurence was one of the first professionally trained artists to live in the Alaska Territory. His trademark subject was Mt. McKinley.

Monday, March 30, 2009

"the conservation of natural open space"

The Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy was founded in 1988 by a group of concerned area residents to preserve open space on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The Conservancy has been very successful through the years preserving open space by working cooperatively with cities, property owners and environmental groups, locating funds for purchasing land, providing tax benefits for land donations, restoring habitats, and promoting the conservation of natural open space in the Palos Verdes Peninsula. With its help, future generations will be able to enjoy this precious coastline in the purest state possible.

The Big Challenge

Las Vegas -- Within 90 days, this city founded on risk-taking is supposed to break ground on one of its biggest cultural gambles to date: the $475-million Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

The ground-breaking is taking place at a challenging time for Las Vegas' biggest cultural institutions, which have been buffeted by the recession. Most notably, the Las Vegas Art Museum closed last month. The museum's closing and cutbacks elsewhere have raised questions about whether a city that in recent years has tried to cultivate a more sophisticated and cosmopolitan image can sustain a high-arts presence and fill the seats at its fancy new cultural center. Previously, Las Vegas attempted to lure out-of-towners away from the slot machines and showgirls by offering brand-name artworks at splashy venues such as the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum at the Venetian Resort, now closed, and casino magnate Steve Wynn's Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art.

By contrast, said Myron Martin, the Smith Center's president, the "vast majority" of patrons at the new performance hall downtown probably won't be tourists, but southern Nevada residents.

On the Fast Track

At the ADT Event Center Velodrome in Carson, California, The 250-meter, or 820-foot, oval has turns banked at 46 degrees, more than the steepest NASCAR track, and at first sight it's intimidating for even an avid cyclist who has never pedaled on a track before. Recreational riders typically turn a lap at 25 to 35 mph, and pros can hit 50 mph.

"It doesn't seem possible that you can ride an angle like that," says Matt Thompson, a member of the South Bay Wheelmen cycling club. "But you keep pedaling and keep up your speed and you start to get used to it."

“Every person of color in this country knows more about racism than I’ll ever know, because they have to live with it every day," -- Jane Elliott

Jane Elliott created her "Blue Eyes / Brown Eyes" exercise for her Iowa third-grade pupils in 1968. For an entire day, she conducted her class as if the brown-eyed children were superior to those with blue eyes, to help the students learn the concept of racism.

A 1970 photo shows Jane Elliott's class in the midst of the "Blue Eyes / Brown Eyes" exercise. The blue-eyed children toward the back of the line are wearing collars.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Holmby Hills mansion listed for $150 million

Candy Spelling, widow of legendary TV producer Aaron Spelling, has put her 4.7-acre residence in Holmby Hills up for sale, all 56,500 square feet of it. Priced at $150 million, it's currently the most expensive residential listing in the U.S.

Officially known as "The Manor," the property -- which looks like a French chateau and is slightly larger than the White House -- is the largest home in Los Angeles County. Spelling, the mother of actress Tori Spelling, describes it as the "greatest entertainment house ever" with a "kitchen where you can cook for two or 800." The parking lot, dubbed the "motor court," can accommodate 100 vehicles, with 16 carports to boot.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

World's "cheapest car"

Reporting from New Delhi -- With the flash of cameras and oohs and aahs from the crowd, an Indian company Monday launched what is billed as the world's least expensive car, six years after it was conceived and six months behind schedule.

The Nano will start at $2,200 after taxes and dealer costs, while the more expensive CX and LX models with heat, air conditioning and power brakes will go for as much as $3,800.

None of the models, made by India's giant Tata conglomerate, carry air bags or anti-lock brakes. But they will meet or exceed all Indian safety standards, company officials said.

"I hope it will provide safe, affordable four-wheel transportation to families who until now have not been able to own a car," Ratan Tata, company chairman, told reporters.

Faster than a speeding bullet . . .

Reporting from Nagoya, Japan -- This is a nation addicted to speed.

And to ride Japan's super Shinkansen, or bullet train, is to zip into the future at speeds reaching 186 miles per hour.

From Nagoya to Tokyo, the scenery whizzes past in a dizzying blur as the sleek engine with its bullet-like nose floats the cars along elevated tracks -- without the clickety-clack of the lumbering U.S. trains that make you feel as though you're chugging along like cattle to market.

These days, Californians dream of a future with high-speed elevated rails that would link Southern California and Las Vegas in less than two hours, or L.A. and San Francisco in just over 2 1/2 .

Japan, meanwhile, will soon have a class of train that could make the trips in less than half those times.

This is a nation where it's not nearly enough that the trains run on time -- they've got to break land records. And even that's not enough.

By 2025, a network of bullet trains connecting major cities is to feature magnetically levitated, or maglev, linear motor trains running at speeds of more than 310 mph.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Flying car takes off in upstate New York

By Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

Several years in the making, the Terrafugia Transition made a successful first test flight this week at Plattsburgh International Airport in upstate New York.

Often referred to as a “flying car,” the Transition (created by Terrafugia Inc.) is a two-seat aircraft designed to take off and land at local airports and drive on any road.

You Tube video>> First Flight: "Flying Car" Terrafugia Transition Roadable Aircraft

Will she sail again ???

In 1952, the crossing from Britain to the United States was carved down to just three days, 12 hours and 12 minutes at an average speed of 34 knots, by the Steamship United States. The sprint across the Atlantic knocked almost 10 hours and four knots off the records set in 1938 by the venerable Queen Mary.

“Sorry, old girl,” the new liner radioed to its defeated rival.

Fifty years later, the United States is still the fastest ocean liner in the world, though it hasn’t sailed in 40 years.

United States: The United States is not open to the public but is docked at Pier 82 in Philadelphia Harbor. Now idled from commercial service since 1969 the ship is up for sale and the cost of renovation has been estimated at $100 million or more.

The Buffalo Nickel -- once a common sight

It's Magic in Beijing, China

(China Photos / Getty Images)

Atlas Mountains in Morocco

A hiker takes in the beauty of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.
(Kodiak Greenwood)

"still under construction"

The Sagrada Familia church, with its tall, narrow spires, is a popular destination for tourists in Barcelona. Designed by architect Antonio Gaudi, an icon of Modernisme architecture, the church is still under construction, although Gaudi died in 1926.
(Julien Lagarde / For The LATimes)

The world's largest swimming pool

Thinking about swimming a few laps before breakfast?Check out this man-made "lagoon" — dubbed the world's largest outdoor swimming pool — at the San Alfonso del Mar vacation property resort at Algarrobo, Chile.

The coast-hugging pool is all man-made with a bit of patented technology that uses water from the nearby Pacific Ocean to fill it.
(Crystal Lagoons)

According to the Guinness World Records, which deemed it the world's largest pool in 2007, the lagoon measures 3,324 feet long. The pool was completed in December 2006.
(Crystal Lagoons)

Is it real or is it . . .

Maddie Meltzer, 13, of Los Angeles took this photo near Kruger National Park, South Africa, on a school trip last summer. Every day at 6 a.m., the visitors would go on a walk with their guide at the Tshukudu Game Lodge. “This particular morning, while watching the lions, I was able to capture this lion and a Labrador dog in this aggressive moment, while they were actually playing!” Maddie said. To capture the shot, she used a Nikon Coolpix S50 with autofocus.
(Maddie Meltzer)

The Green Apple: a revolutionary concept

It's made of glass

Here's the winner of the Best Design Interpretation Award at the Pilkington Automotive Vehicle Design Awards. Frenchie Pierre Sabas’ Airflow has wheel-mounted electric motors and is made entirely of glass.

GYM Human-Electric Hybrid Concept Car Packs Entire Health Club Into a Cockpit

Here's something you don't see everyday: A plug-in human-electric hybrid mobile gym concept car, for people who'd like to get in a workout while stuck in traffic.

The GYM Concept Car includes a single-seat cockpit surrounded by a lightweight injection-molded magnesium alloy chassis and built-in exercise machines.

Its maker -- Da Feng, a design student at Coventry University, England -- intended the exterior to resemble a World War II fighter aircraft. The cockpit is reminiscent of a Spitfire.

But it's its innards that are truly remarkable. An electric motor hooked up to a battery pack propels the vehicle. The pack can be charged via a plug-in socket, or by harnessing energy created by the driver using an electricity-generating array of built-in exercise equipment.


This original 1966 image was on the verge of being thrown away, but a determined archivist stepped in.
(NASA / Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Pearl Carpet of Baroda sells for $5 Million plus

A carpet that was commissioned in India 150 years ago to decorate the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad in Medina has sold for nearly $5.5m at an auction in Doha. Bidding was expected to start at about $5m but the starting price was brought down to $4.5m as there were few buyers.

The rug, known as the Pearl Carpet of Baroda, was created using an estimated two million natural seed pearls. It is decorated with hundreds of precious stones, including diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds. "We had to reduce the opening bid to $4.5m and the pearl carpet [eventually] sold at $5.458m," including commission and fees, news agency AFP quoted Sotheby's spokesman Habib Basha as saying. The identity of the buyer has not been revealed as he wished to remain anonymous, Mr Basha said.

It is believed that the Pearl Carpet of Baroda was commissioned by India's wealthy Maharaja of Baroda, Gaekwar Khande Rao, as a gift to sit at the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad. The maharaja's death meant it was never delivered and remained in India, being exhibited as a highlight of the Delhi Exhibition more than 100 years ago. Later, it was taken by a family member to Monaco. The tiny natural pearls, known as Basra, were harvested from the waters of the Gulf. Created in the late 1860s, the carpet is largely red and blue, with swirling vines of flowers and three large round rosettes across its centre.

"the heartbreaking story of two amorous young people, caught in the ethnic enmity of their rival communities"

The further we get in time from when “West Side Story” was written, the more the musical’s mythic dimension come into focus. This beloved 1957 classic earns its timeless status not through the authenticity of its snapshot of gang-ridden New York but rather through its re-envisioning of “Romeo and Juliet” as a ravishing fusion of drama, dance and song.

Broadway’s new bilingual production of “West Side Story,” which opened Thursday at the Palace Theatre under the direction of Arthur Laurents, the book’s 91-year-old author, aims for a more realistic approach. What we get is a grittier look at the street violence between the Sharks and the Jets, those turf-warring toughs from Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and the translation (by Lin-Manuel Miranda) of some of the dialogue and lyrics into a more dramatically appropriate Spanish.

These renovations all make perfect sense (why shouldn’t the recently arrived Puerto Rican Sharks comfortably converse in their native tongue?). But it’s the heartbreaking story of two amorous young people, caught in the ethnic enmity of their rival communities, that continues to grip us — amazingly, even in a production in which Tony (Matt Cavenaugh) and Maria (Josefina Scaglione) struggle to fill out their archetypal roles as star-crossed lovers.

"a tale of master liars who just might love each other"

The only thing you can trust about "Duplicity" is its title. Nothing else in this sleek, dizzying entertainment is even remotely what it seems to be. A throwback to the days of old-school caper movies like "To Catch a Thief," "Duplicity" is just the kind of sophisticated amusement you would expect from filmmaker Tony Gilroy. Sure, Julia Roberts and Clive Owen are stars here, but so is Tony Gilroy's crafty tale of master liars who just might love each other.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"When You Wish Upon a Star"

After revolutionizing animation with the feature-length "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," Walt Disney Studios tackled this dark, moralistic fable about a puppet who learns there's more to being "a real boy" than just playing all day. Disney softened the story's hard edges with comic relief and sentimental songs such as "When You Wish Upon a Star," but the movie retains a hard punch that few modern children's films would dare -- outside of maybe “Coraline.” "Pinocchio" is now available on Blu-ray, a format that reveals the movie's painterly layers spectacularly. The disc also includes an appreciative hourlong look back, interactive games and a wonky picture-in-picture commentary track featuring Leonard Maltin and others.

"a psychedelic sensibility"

From 1965 to 1967, British artist Alan Aldridge was the art director of Penguin UK, bringing an edgy, growingly psychedelic design sensibility to its always iconic paperbacks. Eventually, Aldridge and the publisher parted ways and he spent time designing for rock stars such as Elton John, Mick Jagger and John Lennon. The snapshots are a fun addition to the art in his book, "The Man With Kaleidoscope Eyes: The Art of Alan Aldridge," released in the U.S. this year after an exhibit of the same name at the British Design Museum.

The "mysteries of magic"

Ever wonder how the professional magicians like Lance Burton first got started? Well, here is the place to get started in performing your own magic.

Magic Secrets Revealed: Lance unveils some mysteries of magic. New secrets featured each month.

Magic Shop: View some of Lance's special product line. You can pick up most of these items from your local magic store.

Our Magical Art: Enjoy Eugene Burger's wisdom for magicians. New articles featured each month.

Magic Fraternities & Organizations: Check out the Organizations that help magicians to learn their trade and keep in touch with all the latest in the world of magic.

To get started, click on the link below:

The "Mazarin Chest" on display

A wonder of 17th century Japanese craftsmanship, the black and gold lacquer trunk known as the Mazarin Chest is an export product. That's not exactly a compliment in the world of high art. In this case, a European-style chest made in Japan for a foreign market is adorned with scenes from Japanese literature, but a tradition of decorative restraint is subsumed by a European appetite for ornamental excess. Nearly every available space is filled with intricate patterns and narrative imagery.

"Nonetheless, it's probably our most important Japanese object," says Julia Hutt, a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which has lent the chest and other objects to “Tales in Sprinkled Gold: Japanese Lacquer for European Collectors,” an unusual exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum. "Artistically it is really on a par with objects made for the domestic market by the best workshops in Japan. The detail is just amazing."

"it took a comedian to make it happen"

Below is a Letter to the Editor (Los Angeles Times):

As funny as the confrontation between Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" and Jim Cramer of "Mad Money" was -- and it was a killer -- the tragedy is that it took a comedian to make it happen.

The real issue isn't that CNBC's "financial experts" missed the biggest economic tsunami in 75 years. It is the lack of oversight that the incident pointed out. Most people still feel that if something is on television, it is probably true -- that someone must be screening it to protect the public.

That is not the case. Corporate-owned CNBC's only real goal is to garner high ratings so it can make more money. It allows its "experts" to say anything they please, as long as it won't get them sued.

What Stewart really pointed out is that it's time to rein these guys in.

Bart Braverman
Los Angeles

"the world's fastest production electric sport bike"

Billed as "the world's fastest production electric sport bike," Mission Motor Co., a San Francisco company debuted a product called the Mission One. It is scheduled to ship in early 2010, at an estimated retail price of $68,000 -- most of which is attributable to a large lithium-ion battery pack designed to compete with a gas-powered, performance-oriented sport bike.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Lucha Libre, literally means "free struggle"

In Mexico, the popularity of lucha libre, literally "free struggle" or "free fight," is rivaled only by soccer. Wrestlers star not only in the ring, but in movies, comic books, commercials and magazines. Now the sport's following in this country is beginning to swell, driven by the desire of many assimilated Mexicans to reacquaint themselves with a part of their heritage and by the nostalgia more-recent arrivals have for their homeland.

"This is part of the culture. It's the fiesta of the people," says Donovan Garcia, a Whittier warehouse worker several border crossings removed from a Mexico City neighborhood where lucha was among the few distractions from crushing poverty.

"Family, music, lucha libre and futbol. That's all there was," Garcia recalls in Spanish as he awaits the start of a two-hour wrestling card in a drafty community center in Cudahy.

With each abstract acrylic, inmate seeks to draw freedom to himself

Best known by the moniker Spel, Hernan Cortes is serving life without parole for a 1990 murder that he contends he did not commit. His supporters have been selling his paintings to fund his defense. Bold acrylic abstracts, painted by the artist known as Spel in his 12-by-6-foot cell, have moved beyond prison walls to exhibitions and one-man shows around Philadelphia. A few of his works have sold for more than $1,000, but most sell for a few hundred dollars.

Intensive care may be necessary

Charlemagne Palestine, known in music circles for his marathon all-night concerts in the 1970s (they were often so intense that he bled on the keys) is returning to the Los Angeles stage tonight after an 11-year absence. As part of the Monday Evening Concerts series, he will perform one of his seminal works, “Schlingen-Blängen,” on one of the world’s largest church pipe organs at the First Congregational Church.


Ike Eisenmann (now known as Iake Eissinmann) and Kim Richards, who played brother and sister in the original “Witch Mountain,” play a sheriff and a waitress in the remake.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

LAPD ready to move

The LAPD plans to move to this newly constructed building on Spring Street between 1st and 2nd streets downtown. The Los Angeles Times building is visible on the right. In the last 113 years, the department has been housed in only two headquarters. A move from Parker Center (below)to the new building is scheduled for November.

Sunday, April 26, 2009 is World-Wide Holocaust Remembrance Day

Above is the Los Angeles Holocaust Monument in Pan Pacific Park.

It's rare but at a price . . .

New York -- A rare copy of the first comic book featuring Superman has sold for $317,200 in an Internet auction. The previous owner had bought it secondhand for less than a buck.

This man of faith and wisdom taught us about love and tolerance

Bishop Melvin E. Wheatley, who risked censure in the United Methodist Church for appointing his denomination's first openly gay pastor in 1982, died March 1 in Mission Viejo after a lengthy illness, a church spokesman said. He was 93.

Wheatley was known for promoting dialogue across faiths and cultures during nearly two decades in Los Angeles as senior pastor of the Westwood United Methodist Church. As an associate pastor in Fresno during World War II, he caused a stir when he moved into the home of a Japanese American family to protect it from vandals after the family was ordered into an internment camp. Two decades later in Westwood, he broke down racial barriers by exchanging pulpits with the Rev. L.L. White of Holman Methodist Church in Central Los Angeles. The exchange took place in 1964, a year before the Watts riots.

Wheatley "was a visionary for the whole church," said the Rev. Donald Messer, president emeritus of the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, who knew Wheatley for 30 years. "He was the Martin Luther of the Methodist Church. He freed all of us to be less prejudiced, biased and dogmatic."