Sunday, September 27, 2009

Carnival Dream

Carnival, the world's largest cruise line, launched its 23rd and biggest Carnival brand vessel this month, the 130,000-ton, $840-million, 3,600-passenger Carnival Dream.

Oasis of the Seas

On Dec. 1, Royal Caribbean International will roll out the world's largest cruise ship, the $1.2-billion, 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas

Early Tennis Champion ? ? ?

Serious tennis was brought to the San Fernando Valley by the family of Hammond Davis in the late 1800s. Jack Davis was best at the game. So, it might be fair to call him the first athletic champion of his times.

A Red Bull Soap Box Derby Entry

Red Bull Soap Box Derby races are held around the country --this one was in Providence RI.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Remains of a Legendary War

Archaeologists in the ancient city of Troy in Turkey have found the remains of a man and a woman believed to have died in 1,200 B.C., the time of the legendary war chronicled by Homer, a leading German professor said on Tuesday.

Ernst Pernicka, a University of Tubingen professor who is leading excavations on the site in northwestern Turkey, said the bodies were found near a defense line within the city built in the late Bronze Age.

The discovery could add to evidence that Troy's lower area was bigger in the late Bronze Age than previously thought, changing scholars' perceptions about the city of "The Iliad."

Tens of thousands every year visit the ruins of Troy, where a huge replica of the wooden horse stands with an array of excavated sites.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"A Village in Holland with no roads"

Source unknown ? ? ?

"Horses made out of scrap driftwood"

Source unknown ? ? ?

"the car of tomorrow" ? ? ?

In its latest bid to help finance the car of tomorrow, the Obama administration said it would lend more than $500 million to Irvine-based Fisker Automotive Inc. to develop a pair of plug-in hybrids.

The loans, announced Tuesday, come from a $25-billion Department of Energy program to fund development of alternative vehicles. According to the administration, the funding will help create or save 5,000 jobs at Fisker and its suppliers.

The $528.7-million low-interest loan "is another critical step in making sure we are positioned to compete for the clean-energy jobs of the future," Energy Secretary Steven Chu said. Over the summer, the department lent $8 billion to a variety of other automakers and suppliers under the same program.

The loans to Fisker are sure to spur the rivalry between it and Tesla Motors Inc., maker of a $109,000 all-electric sports coupe called the Roadster. Tesla, based in San Carlos, Calif., was awarded $465 million in Energy Department loans in June, primarily to build its second all-electric car, a sub-$50,000 sedan, in California.

Desirée and Sondheim

Catherine Zeta-Jones (shown below), who won an Oscar for kicking up her heels in "Chicago," will make her Broadway debut in a revival of the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical "A Little Night Music." She'll play the character of Desirée that Elizabeth Taylor portrayed in the 1978 film adaptation.

Five-time Tony winner Angela Lansbury has signed to play her mother in the new production, which is set to open Dec. 13 at the Walter Kerr Theatre in New York. It will be directed by Trevor Nunn, who staged the musical in London in 2008 at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

Design Loves Art at the Blue Whale

For some L.A. art dealers, the contemporary art program opening Thursday at the Pacific Design Center is rent-free space in a different part of town. For those who have lost galleries to the recession, it's a chance to go public again.

For artists, it's an opportunity to do something big or be seen by a new audience at the enormous Melrose Avenue building known as the Blue Whale.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"the only complete Walled City in Ireland"

The Historic City of Londonderry, also known as Derry, has a history stretching back to the sixth century A.D when a monastery was founded there by the Irish Saint, Columba / Colmcille (521-597). The current Walled City is one of the most complete within the British Isles and the only complete Walled City in Ireland. Given its unique status, the Walled City has been designated by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board as one of the five Signature Tourism Projects for Northern Ireland.

Night view of illuminated King John's Castle, Limerick City, Ireland

King John’s Castle is a 13th century Castle on ‘King’s Island’ in the heart of medieval Limerick City. The Castle overlooks the majestic River Shannon offering wonderful views of Limerick City.

"the temple with a pearly irridescence"

Temple of the Dawn, so named because the first light of morning is reflected off the surface of the temple with a pearly irridescence) is a buddhist temple (wat) in Bangkok, Thailand. The temple is located in the Bangkok Yai district, on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. The full name of the temple is Wat Arunratchawararam Ratchaworamahavihara (วัดอรุณราชวรารามราชวรมหาวิหาร).

"A journey of faith in France"

A medieval château perches high on the cliff above Rocamadour, France. Pilgrims have been coming to the town, home of a rare and mystique-shrouded Black Virgin, for centuries.
The Courtyard of the Churches is ringed by five chapels, a basilica and a crypt. The French village has long been a station on the pilgrimage trail, the faithful drawn to a statue of the Black Virgin. The statues are believed to act -- sometimes miraculously -- on behalf of those who seek help from the Virgin Mary.

"thoughtful silliness"

An English newspaper once described a soccer star as having "developed splendidly and then aged as well as could be hoped for." That might sum up another U.K. icon, Monty Python. Because while it's been 25 years since the seminal six-man English comedy troupe has produced any new material, its thoughtful silliness still resonates.

Now the group is again among us, cheerfully exploiting its upcoming 40th anniversary with a Python-palooza of events on tap: a new play in Los Angeles based on its classic TV sketches, a six-part documentary on the IFC channel, a book describing its live performances and a rare coming together of the group's five living members for a Q&A session in New York.

Original Pythons, from left, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, John Cleese, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam. Chapman died in 1989.

Monty Python's Flying Circus -- as it was called at the beginning -- first forged its reputation for comedic innovation from 1969 to 1974 in 45 programs on British television. These shows were unlike anything seen in the days of highly structured sitcom formats. Their BBC episodes were a series of nonsensical sketches stitched together by surreal, low-tech clip-art animation. Subject matter was a cascade of deceased parrots, upper-class twit-of-the-year competitions, fish-slapping dances and the occasional song extolling Spam. An innocuous yet calculated sensibility was at work, disguising sly jabs at social institutions and English behavioral traits.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cowboy Stadium

Arlington, Texas: The Dallas Cowboys'state-of-the-art retractable dome stadium is going to take spectator sports to a whole new level. Jerry ?The Plastic Man? Jones took the ?everything is bigger in Texas? saying to heart because JJ?s pad will be among the biggest and most luxurious sporting venues in the world. It has an insane 60 yard HD video board, 15,000 premium club seats and 200 suites. Jones has already secured the 2011 Super Bowl bid. Capacity: 80,000 - 100,000 (large events/conventions).

Friday, September 18, 2009

"a stealth submarine of a car"

If you think all hybrid cars are like the Toyota Prius -- mirthless, ugly hair shirts of green conscience -- BMW would like you to meet its Vision: a stealth submarine of a car, lower than a boxing foul, all folded geometry and LED tracer lights. The signature BMW grille glows blue like a reactor cooling pond. The transparent doors open like dragonfly wings.

The all-wheel-drive Vision sport coupe is the Usain Bolt of hybrid cars: zero to 60 mph in under 4.8 seconds, top speed of 155 mph, 356 horsepower, and handling and braking comparable to the company's brain-melting M3 coupe.

Fuel economy: 75 miles per gallon. And you can plug it in.

Santa Monica might never be the same.

The Sinatra Flight

When Frank Sinatra fans play his music, classic songs like "Summer Wind," "Fly Me to the Moon" and "One for My Baby" will likely trigger strong emotions and memories. But when Twyla Tharp sifts through his catalog, it conjures up an entire world.

Who was she when she first heard these songs, compared with the woman she is today? Why do they remind her of so many couples she's known? And what is the essence of Ol' Blue Eyes' music beyond the thrill of an unforgettable vocal?

Tharp, one of the dance world's most respected choreographers and directors, set out to answer these questions in her newest musical, "Come Fly With Me," based on Sinatra's songs, which began previews this week at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre. It has become a very personal pursuit for her, even though she is dealing with a musical library that is intimately familiar to millions.

"fantastical imagery"

There is something wonderfully peculiar about the paintings of Gegam Kacherian, but it's difficult to pinpoint just what it is. Each of the 15 works in his second solo show at Rosamund Felsen Gallery begins in a reasonable, even orthodox manner with an aerial view of a city skyline, or else the billowing clouds of a turbulent sky-scape. He has a knack for spatial atmospherics and most of these scenes would make for very handsome compositions in their own right. Over these, however, he layers a whirling miscellany of fantastical imagery: animals, figures, flora, architecture, and various totemic objects, all wound in ectoplasmic strands of abstract pigment.

Rosamund Felsen Gallery, 2525 Michigan Ave., B4, Santa Monica, (310) 828-8488, through Oct. 10. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Night Out to Remember

"Oklahoma!" opened the 1994 season of Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities. And 15 years later, by popular demand, the company returns to the sweeping plains. "Oklahoma!" began previews Wednesday at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center and opens Friday, directed by Stephanie A. Coltrin.
(Photo by Robert Casillas)

"Oklahoma" features Lauri (played by Sarah Bermudez) and Curly (Damon Kirsche) whose performances were solid gold.

Spectacular Voices !!!

Unforgettable Songs !!!

Wonderful Dancers !!!

A show you will love and long remember.

What more could you ask for ???

70 years ago . . .

Hard as it is to believe, the Judy Garland-starring fantasy classic "The Wizard of Oz" is 70 years old, and to mark the event, a special one-night-only theatrical presentation of the film in newfangled high-definition is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday in theaters nationwide, including more than 20 in Southern California. The evening program will be introduced by historian and Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne and contain a "making of" featurette, which includes interviews with the actors who played those lovable Munchkins. The yellow brick road never looked so good. For theater and ticket information, go to

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The "Wizarding World of Harry Potter"

It sounds like a new book in the Harry Potter series, but "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" will be a high-tech ride and the marquee attraction at the "Wizarding World of Harry Potter," a new theme park area opening in spring 2010 at Universal Orlando Resort.

The "Forbidden Journey" ride was named by author J.K. Rowling and described Tuesday by Universal officials in a Web cast revealing details of what the Potter park will look like.

The ride will takes guests through scenes and rooms from the blockbuster movies inside a richly detailed remake of Hogwarts Castle made to look 700 feet tall. Hogwarts is where Harry attends a boarding school for witches and wizards.

Guests will enter the "Wizarding World" through a station archway named for Hogsmeade, the magical village near Hogwarts. A plume of steam and a train whistle will sound the arrival of the Hogwarts Express. The goal is to make the experience immersive, so nothing outside is visible after guests pass the Hogsmeade station archway.

Monday, September 14, 2009

224-story skyscraper would be high point for architect

A Santa Monica architect known for his high-rise designs is working on what may be the ultimate "spec" building -- a 224-story skyscraper with green ambitions that would be the tallest structure in the world.

The tower is envisioned for a man-made island in Abu Dhabi, if leaders of the oil-rich emirate decide they want to make a statement to rest of the world and perhaps one-up neighboring Dubai.

A conceptual design for the $3.5-billion project in the United Arab Emirates is under consideration by an Abu Dhabi planning committee, said Tommy Landau, the architect who created the design and is part of an unusual team of U.S. real estate players trying to get the ambitious project launched.

Landau knows it might be several years before construction starts -- if it starts at all. But he's not in a rush.

"This would be my swan song, my goodbye thing," the 72-year-old architect said.

Such a building could hold more than 11 million square feet for such uses as offices, shops, hotels or condominiums. That raises the question: Is there actually a need in the Middle East for a building so gargantuan that it would be more than three times as tall as U.S. Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles, the tallest building in the West?

In the Neighborhood

The question of what Bugatti is going to do with itself once it completes the Veyron's run of 300 cars (and potentially 150 Grand Sports) may have been answered today when Bugatti President (and Bentley Chief Executive) Franz Josef Paefgen unveiled the concept 16C Galibier at the company headquarters is Dorlisheim. With the Veyron's W16 engine turned around and put under the hood, and here fitted with two-stage superchargers (instead of the Veyron's four turbochargers), the Galibier will have ample low-end torque at low engine rpm, which is more fitting for a four-passenger car. Though Wolfgang Schreiber, Bugatti's head of technical development, declined to be specific, you can figure on between 920 and 1,000 pound-feet of torque. The company is targeting a top speed of 240 mph, which would handily establish the Galibier as the fastest four-door car in the world.

Bugatti has no clear idea what they should charge for such a car. The Veyron costs about $1.8 million, depending on the exchange rate at the moment. Paefgen said he was thinking "in the neighborhood" of the Veyron. Some neighborhood.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"What a City!" by Dan Simpson

View of the L.A. skyline from the Ralph K McPherson Building (formerly the Park Sunset Building). Angelus Temple and Echo Park are in the foreground.

Submitted March 27, 2008 by Dan Simpson to "Your Scene" (Los Angeles Times) -- What a beautiful shot.

Daybreak in Los Angeles

"hpyglf" says "Day breaks beautiful over the city" -- I say "beautiful photography"

Submitted March 1, 2009 by "hpyglf" to "Your Scene" (Los Angeles Times)

"The Singing Cowboy"

Gene Autry Statue at the Autry Museum

"the tree that escaped the crowded forest"

The Price Tower was commissioned by Harold C. Price, for use as a corporate headquarters for his Bartlesville company. His wife, Mary Lou Patteson Price, and his two sons, Harold, Jr., and Joe, rounded out the building committee. The Prices were directed to Frank Lloyd Wright by architect Bruce Goff, who was then Dean of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma, where the Price sons had studied. That relationship bonded into a life-long patronage of both architects by the Price Family.

Wright nicknamed the Price Tower, which was built on the Oklahoma prairie, "the tree that escaped the crowded forest," referring not only to the building's construction, but also to the origins of its design. The Price Tower is supported by a central "trunk" of four elevator shafts which are anchored in place by a deep central foundation, as a tree is by its taproot. The nineteen floors of the building are cantilevered from this central core, like the branches of a tree. The outer walls hang from the floors and are clad in patinated copper "leaves." Wright had championed these design ideas, which other architects had put to use before the construction of the Price Tower as early as the 1920s in his design for an apartment complex of four cantilevered towers for St. Marks-in-the-Bowerie in downtown New York City. Following the effects of the Great Depression, the project was shelved and adapted by Wright for the Price Company in 1952. Wright, therefore, plucked his "tree" out of the "crowded forest" of Manhattan skyscrapers and placed it on the Oklahoma prairie where it continues to stand uncrowded by neighboring tall buildings.

The ORIGINAL "McDonalds"

"heritage with intensity"

On Thursday, Walt Disney Co. will launch its big new marketing event, the D23 Expo, in Anaheim with predictably bright and shiny promotional messages about upcoming projects such as "The Princess and the Frog," "Toy Story 3" and the new-look California Adventure theme park and stars such as Robin Williams, Nicolas Cage and Kelsey Grammer plugging future Disney vehicles.

But on closer inspection the four-day event is as much about the past as it is the future. The D23 Expo -- the name is a reference to 1923, the year Walt Disney founded the studio -- is a major moment in the archival life of the entertainment giant that holds on to its heritage with more intensity than any of its Hollywood rivals.

He saw a need and made it happen

1917 - Andrew Pansini saw a need for "off-street parking" in downtown Los Angeles and opened Los Angeles' first parking lot, the fee was 5¢ a day. He later founded the Savoy Corporation and opened Savoy Auto Park. In 1942 he opened Savoy's Union Square Garage in San Francisco, the world's first, underground parking garage (shown above). Today he owns and manages commercial real estate in Northern California.
( images/4sm.jpg)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"Views from an Adirondack chair"

An Adirondack, N.Y., morning, with mist rising off the lake and the sun sending shimmers of light onto its surface. Memories of childhood summers draw Jim Riley of Venice back to upper New York state every year. Two years ago he had a reunion with his six sisters and one brother at Big Moose Lake. Early one morning Riley "sat down and started snapping shots" with his Canon Rebel. (Photo by Jim Riley)

"Talking pictures"

Earl Dell Jr., 4, was excited about the experience of using one of the very first picture phones in December 1972. The phone was on display at the Museum of Science and Industry, touted as phone of the future.

Countdown to the future

The NASA-funded N+3 project is imagining quieter, more fuel-efficient commercial aircraft for 2035. (NASA)

Meryl Streep's many faces

Meryl Streep plays characters so well you often forget she's acting. She's been a nun who relentlessly pursues the truth in "Doubt" and a tool-belt-wearing, promiscuous mother in "Mamma Mia! The Movie." In "Julie & Julia," which opened August 7, she plays famed chef Julia Child.

Friday, September 11, 2009

"hot spots du jour"

Historically, L.A. restaurants have shared the same fate as their famous celebrity patrons in that they are the hot spots du jour then fade away, not to be heard from again. But a handful of eateries from bygone eras have made a lasting impact on the Southern California landscape that reflects a progressive evolution in the region's architecture. The University Art Museum at UC Santa Barbara has dug into its extensive collection to chronicle a select few restaurants that defined the lifestyle changes in L.A. in the early and mid 20th century with its exhibition "Sardi's to Orange Julius ®." On view are 50 images representing eight projects from concept to completion, including presentation sketches, model photos and memorabilia such as menu design and upholstery samples. The show features the designs of five architects: J.R. Davidson, Maynard Lyndon, Kem Weber, Edward A. Killingsworth and Rudolph M. Schindler. Shown above is the interior design for Sardi's by Rudolph Schindler.

Leonardo da Vinci's Atlantic Codex is going on public display for the first time

The entirety of Leonardo da Vinci's 1,119-page Atlantic Codex is going on public display in Italy for the first time, in a series of 24 exhibits spanning six years.

The first exhibit of 45 drawings, "Fortresses, Bastions and Cannons," opened Thursday at the Santa Maria delle Grazie church, which also holds Leonardo's "The Last Supper," and at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, which has preserved the Codex since 1637.

The exhibit was made possible by a decision to unbind the drawings, work that was carried out by Benedictine nuns at the library who carefully melted the wax binding, said Alberto Rocca of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana.

"the perfect assembly of male imperfections"

From the waist up, Don Knotts was perhaps the perfect assembly of male imperfections.

His high forehead, perched above a worried, wrinkly brow, set off his trademark googly eyes, ever-ready to pop out in alarm at whatever misfortune came his way. Below the eyes, his recessed chin tapered into a longish neck that highlighted a bulgy Adam's apple that Knotts worked up and down in synchronized tandem with petrified double-takes or facial tremors. Out of his mouth came a quavery, yet squalling tenor voice, shrilly sounding in disbelief at the latest unfair turn of events that threatened his well being.

In other words, he was unmistakable.

Still the staying power of Knotts, compared with other indelible American comics, seems a bit on the wane. A tribute Sunday in Santa Monica featuring a guest panel and screening of two of his films from the late '60s is aimed at reaffirming the reputation of the gifted physical comic who died in 2006.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Birthday Blast

A fireworks display Wednesday ends the ceremony honoring the centennial of the Santa Monica Pier. The landmark opened Sept. 9, 1909, in celebration of the anniversary of California's admission to the United States in 1850.

Dubai unveils $7.6-billion mass-transit rail system

The United Arab Emirates city is emphasizing the public transportation system's luxuriousness, such as VIP cars. But authorities hope it will ease traffic congestion. Dubai's metro train speeds past a backdop of high rise buildings during a final test run hours before the opening ceremony in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The Dubai metro track is seen along Sheikh Zayed Road, adjacent to luxurious new high-rise towers.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

L.A. County supervisors oppose environmental waivers on proposed NFL stadium

Legislative leaders indicate they may grant waivers because the project would create thousands of high-wage jobs. Supervisors argue that would let the developer bypass local concerns such as traffic.

Monday, September 07, 2009

"Rio de Janeiro Icon"

Statue of Christ the Redeemer is a large Art Deco-style statue of Jesus Christ in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The statue stands 38 m (125 feet) tall and is located at the peak of the 710-m (2330-foot) Corcovado mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park, overlooking the city.