Sunday, October 31, 2010

You Tube Sensation

If you haven't caught up to this guy on "You Tube" -- Look him up: RYAN HIGA for creative and sensational comedy.

"High-speed bypass of Hoover Dam"

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), approximately 9,623 total vehicles crossed the new Hoover Dam bridge (both northbound and southbound traffic) on Thursday, Oct. 21.

The spectacular $240-million project, including the centerpiece Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, creates a high-speed bypass of Hoover Dam. It also forges a safer and more efficient route for all travelers and commercial truck traffic, while maintaining critical economic ties between Arizona and Nevada and the southwest region.

"A Summer Place"

The Grand Hotel is a destination with all the charm of a third-generation, family-owned resort. A national historic landmark that’s been visited by U.S. presidents, world-renowned entertainers, and countless families for well over a century. Built in 1887. On Mackinac, an island in Michigan without cars where horses and bicycles are the favored modes of transportation. Guests enjoy exceptional dining, accommodations and amenities.

"Big Tree"

Anyone with a bike or car and a couple of friends up for a good time can’t go wrong with a trip to the McBaine bur oak tree, better known to locals simply as “big tree.”

And they’re not kidding. This tree is big. It’s 90 feet tall, almost 24 feet around and roughly 7 and a half feet in diameter, according to the National Register of Big Trees. It’s estimated that the tree is between 200 and 400 years old.

McBaine itself is a sight to see, particularly for anyone from a big city. Only 17 people live in McBaine, according to the 2000 census.

The only spot to dine in town is a restaurant called Lucy’s, and anyone who drops in will probably see a handful of locals sitting around a table on a hot afternoon. Most of the 12 houses are visible from State Highway K, which passes straight through McBaine. Many towns this size, where everybody really does know everybody, are scattered throughout Missouri’s countryside.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"Double Rainbow Rising Out Of The Skyscrapers In Downtown Los Angeles"

"A Colorful Performance"

Chinese paramilitary police practise a performance for the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games on May 7, 2008 in Beijing, China.

(Photo by Guang Niu/Getty Images)

"Power and passion"

Chinese paramilitary police march at the Forbidden City in Beijing.

(Photo: Reuters)

The World's Largest Book

Frankfurt Book Fair, the world\'s largest trade fair for books, is held annually in mid-October at the Frankfurt Trade Fair, Germany. On Wednesday October 6th, visitors to the fair had the opportunity to admire the world’s largest book. The two-by-three-meter Atlas priced at $100,000 was published by Australian publisher Gordon Cheers. It contains maps of continents and sharp images of famous landscapes. With 128 pages, this page has the same size with the Klencke Atlas which was produced in 1660 as a gift for Charles II of England. Up to now, he has sold two volumes to museums in the United Arab Emirates and felt confident of selling all the rest.

"A new view of Copper Canyon"

In the Mexican state of Chihuahua, where local leaders have been trying to lure adventure travelers to the desert despite persistent drug-war troubles, many tourism officials believe their future is up in the air.

About 1,475 feet up, in fact.

That’s the altitude of a new aerial tram designed to take tourists from the rim of the region’s famed Copper Canyon down into its depths. The tramway (teleférico) opened this month at Divisadero, a rim-top stopping-point along the Copper Canyon rail route with commanding views of the Urique River.

Friday, October 29, 2010

"Houdini is set to reappear"

A century after Harry Houdini thrilled audiences with daring escapes from handcuffs, straitjackets and watery tombs, the legendary magician has conjured a major art museum exhibition that explores his enduring legacy.

"Houdini: Art and Magic," which opened recently at the Jewish Museum in New York City, tells the story of an impoverished son of Jewish immigrants who harnessed the power of the mass media, and the emerging technologies of film and photography, to become one of the 20th century's most famous performers.

Scattered amid the historic photographs, Art Nouveau posters and archival films are more than two dozen recent works by such well-known artists as Matthew Barney, Vik Muniz and Raymond Pettibon that attest to Houdini's continuing influence as the consummate illusionist. The museum also displays some of his magic props, including handcuffs, shackles, a straitjacket, a milk can and a packing trunk that were featured in various escape acts.

—Associated Press

"Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust"

Hundreds of people toured the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust during its grand opening recently at Pan Pacific Park.

The museum, founded in 1961, has been moved four times over the years, but never had its own building and has always had limited space. But its new $18 million, high-tech, very green museum changes all that, executive director Mark Rothman said.

The building, designed so it is partially underground to preserve green space, is located next to the Martyrs Memorial, built in the park 18 years ago.

Valley Performing Arts Center

Cal State Northridge's Valley Performing Arts Center will have its gala opening Jan. 29 featuring Tyne Daly, Gillian Murphy, Ethan Stiefel and Dave Koz.

(Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times)

Día de Los Muertos

This coming Saturday marks the 11th annual Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration at the historic Hollywood Forever Cemetery. On this Mexican holiday, families gather to pay homage to their deceased loved ones and ancestors. Unlike Halloween however, Día de Los Muertos is meant to be joyous and respectful, not frightening.

Traditionally, altars with ofrendas (offerings) are placed on graves or set up in the home. These altars can be very elaborate with lighted candles, marigold flowers, wreaths, calaveras de azúcar (sugar skulls), and offerings of the person's favorite foods and drinks—even bottles of tequila! One specialty is pan de muerto (bread of the dead) that’s baked in the shape of a skull, or a round loaf with bone-like crosses on it, and then sprinkled with sugar.

At Hollywood Forever's Día de Los Muertos festivities you can wander around the cemetery where screen icons like Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, and Jayne Mansfield are buried. A traditional procession will take place starting at 2:00 p.m., followed by Aztec fire dancing, live music, face painting for the children, and of course, plenty of vendors selling authentic Mexican food. Many people will even be dressed up as the dead themselves. “Elegant” skeleton costumes are very popular, with men in suits and sombreros and women in fancy party dresses, their faces painted like macabre calaveras (skulls).

"the world’s first billion-dollar home"

India’s richest man has built what is said to be the world’s first billion-dollar home. Yes, that’s billion with a “B.”

Mukesh Ambani, his wife and three children plan a housewarming party for the 27-story Mumbai pad later this month. In addition to decadent food, attendees can glimpse three helipads, a health club, dance studio, 50-seat movie theater and underground parking lot with enough room for 160 cars, the New York Daily News reports. An American firm oversaw the interior design.

The house didn’t cost $1 billion to build, of course, but construction did cost millions of dollars. Given Mumbai’s astronomical property prices, the finished product is worth many times the construction tab. That’s where the billion-dollar figure comes in.

The home is rumored to have a wait staff of 600, bigger than the staff of many small companies.

The house might be oversized, but it isn’t sprawling: It soars more than 550 feet, more resembling a condo tower than a luxurious mansion. Children might say it looks like Lego building blocks, the Daily News points out.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

"the greatest tragedienne of her era"

French actress Sarah Bernhardt was known as the greatest tragedienne of her era, lighting up stages in Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Los Angeles.

(Yale University Press / August 30, 2010)

"The Last Frontier"

Everyone’s favorite almost-V.P. will be hitting a television set near you to host a new Discovery Channel show all about Alaska and its culture. The show, called “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” will cover all the traditions, attractions, and other interesting aspects of ‘The Last Frontier.” Variety reports that Mrs. Sarah will be paid $1 million per episode.

P.S. -- I can see Russia from here.

"Art of the American Soldier"

Before its national tour, Art of the American Soldier debuts at the National Constitution Center in a profound assortment of 250-plus artworks created by American soldiers since World War I. A special online gallery features veterans’ artistic reflections of their service. Independence Mall, 525 Arch St., Philadelphia; (215) 409-6700,

'By Nightfall'

An illustration from the book 'By Nightfall' by Michael Cunningham.

(Owen Freeman / For The Times / October 17, 2010)

It's all happening in Oceanside

In California, beach goers ride and stroll along the walkway and beach near the Oceanside pier.

(Photo by Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Still . . . we have not forgotten !

Poster from 1940s rallying Americans to "Remember Pearl Harbor" Dec. 7, 1941, as "a day of infamy." (National Archives / W.W. Norton & Co. / October 14, 2010)

POCKET PARK for downtown Los Angeles

Rendering of a park to be built on Spring Street between 4th and 5th streets in downtown Los Angeles, designed by Lehrer Architects. (Courtesy Lehrer Architects)

Twyla Tharp's Sinatra: Dance With Me Set for Run at Wynn Las Vegas

Sinatra: Dance With Me, conceived, choreographed, and directed by Twyla Tharp, will play a limited engagement at Wynn Las Vegas, December 11-January 29. Additional details, including casting, has not been announced.

This dance musical follows four couples as they fall in and out of love at a swinging nightclub. Blending the legendary vocals of Frank Sinatra with a big band and 14 of the world's finest dancers, the show weaves classic standards including "Fly Me To The Moon," "My Way" and "That's Life" in a soaring dance fantasy of romance and seduction.

Sinatra: Dance With Me will feature scenic design by James Youmans, costume design by Katherine Roth, lighting design by Donald Holder, and sound design by Peter McBoyle. Music supervision is by the late Sam Lutfiyya and Patrick Vaccariello.

Thousands of starlings descended upon Rome

From the series, Murmur, by Richard Barnes

Photographer Richard Barnes is one of those rare photographers who seems to find beauty wherever he looks. And it is impossible to peg him with a "style". He is perhaps best known for the photos he made inside a huge, otherwise empty US Military warehouse, of the Unabomber's rustic cabin — as it looked after it was transported there, completely intact (inside and out), for further forensic research. But his work streches far and wide. He also self-published (I think) an elegant, slim, large-format book of photographs he made over a period of many months while a former 19th century "pauper's cemetery" was exhumed and moved to make way for expansion of San Francisco's Museum of the Legion of Honor. On the few occasions I have had the pleasure to talk with him in person, I have been taken by his quiet, humble manner.

So, it was a delight to discover this wonderful narrated slideshow about his work about migratory starlings in The New York Times online version.

You can discover more about Richard Barnes at his web site.

And special thanks to Alec Soth's always interesting and provocative blog for pointing the way to this gem.

Posted by jimcasper at

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Principia's Ra 7 Solar Car

Principia’s newest solar car, Ra 7, finished in second place in NASC 2008 last year. As we approach our next race, we are excited to test the new modifications we have made to the car on the largest stage solar car racing has to offer, WSC 2009. Despite the college’s lack of an engineering department, Ra 7 is custom built by Principia students in majors ranging from physics and computer science to English and graphic design.

Now, you might be asking yourself, why “Ra”? What does that mean? Ra, in fact, was the ancient Egyptian god of the sun. Appropriately, Ra’s symbol was the falcon, representing not only Ra 7’s source of energy, but also her speed, agility, and precision.

"The many faces of Yosemite"

(Photos from the Los Angeles Times travel section)

"A photographer's paradise"

Everybody has a special place where time stands still and serendipity rules. Mine is a giant granite cathedral decorated with some of the tallest waterfalls in the world. Beneath the falls lies a magical valley decorated by fields of flowing grasses and wildflowers. The air is washed clean by pine trees and aromatic cedars. A mighty river flows through it, and a magical range of light illuminates all of its features. I'm talking about Yosemite National Park.

By Mark Boster, Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles -- the city some people love to hate

(John W. Adkisson, Los Angeles Times / October 17, 2010)

Dramatic walls of glass

A circular garden courtyard enclosed by soaring steel-ribbed walls of glass is the dramatic focal point of a Beverly Hills house by modernist Malibu architect Ed Niles. The home was commissioned by Los Angeles developer Raffi Cohen and completed earlier this year.

Set on a promontory with unobstructed views from Mid-City to the Palos Verdes Peninsula, the three-level home is an amalgamation of sharp geometric lines highlighted by a nested pair of rounded glass walls. Tinted a Mediterranean blue, the glass walls are framed with steel beams and rise above the home's upper level. They are set about a dozen feet apart and follow the same wide 360-degree trajectory. The outer glass wall is part of the home's exterior while the inner wall provides views of the courtyard from most of the rooms.

Listed at $11,895,000.

"climbing to the edge of space"

Commercial space tourism got a boost Sunday when Virgin Galactic's rocket ship successfully completed its first manned test flight at the Mojave Air and Space Port.

The rocket plane, dubbed SpaceShipTwo, was dropped from a carrier aircraft at 45,000 feet and made an unpowered glide for more than 10 minutes before landing on the desert runway.

The carrier aircraft, which resembles a flying catamaran because of its two fuselages, and the six-passenger rocket plane are in the midst of a test-flight program that will continue until Virgin Galactic, the space tourism company that owns the planes, believes it can begin commercial operations.

Instead of launching a rocket into space, the carrier craft will fly SpaceShipTwo under its wing to 50,000 feet, where the spaceship will separate and blast off. The craft will climb to the edge of space, or about 60 miles above the Earth's surface.

At that suborbital altitude, passengers will experience weightlessness and see the curvature of the Earth. The price for the experience: $200,000.

The idea was developed by Burt Rutan, a maverick aerospace engineer, and his Mojave–based company, Scaled Composites.

Virgin Galactic, founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, hopes to make its first passenger flight sometime next year from the yet-to-be finished Spaceport America in New Mexico. The company said it has taken about 370 reservations for the ride.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

“The Performance Culture of Burning Man"

Scholars are delving into what Nevada’s Burning Man means, just as they did with Woodstock decades ago, and they’re coming up with some interesting answers.

Wendy Clupper wrote a dissertation after attending the festival in Black Rock Desert, Nev. Her paper, “The Performance Culture of Burning Man,” earned Clupper a doctoral degree in performance arts from the University of Maryland. Since then Clupper’s essays on Burning Man have been reprinted in two books. That put Clupper among a growing list of sociologists, business professors, theologists and other scholars who view the event’s mix of hipsters, artisans, zany theme camps and outdoor art gallery as more than a party. They see fertile ground for research.

"an airborne truck"

With its armored doors and bulletproof windows, the burly Humvee has been a stalwart ground transport for the U.S. military.

But now the Pentagon thinks the hulking vehicle should also be able to fly.

On Tuesday, Pratt & Whitney's Rocketdyne division in Canoga Park announced that it had been awarded $1 million to design a propulsion system for a flying Humvee.

Don't scoff — there is good reason for an airborne truck, defense officials say.

With the proliferation of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, on the ground, a hovering Humvee would be an ideal way to keep soldiers out of harm's way, Pentagon officials said in announcing the award.

Dubbed the Transformer, the vehicle — at least an artist's rendering of it — looks like a toy commando truck out of a "G.I. Joe" cartoon.

But according to the Pentagon's technical specs, it would "combine the advantages of ground vehicles and helicopters into a single vehicle equipped with flexibility of movement."

The Transformer would have folding wings that pop out from the side of the vehicle and helicopter-like rotor blades attached to either the roof or the wings, depending on which design the Pentagon eventually picks. Also, it would be robotic, meaning there would be no pilot or driver behind the wheel.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Arriving in style

Queen Elizabeth, the newest ship in the Cunard Line, arrives Oct. 8 in Southampton, England, for her naming ceremony a few days later. The 16-deck, 2,092-passenger vessel is a sister ship to Cunard's Queen Victoria, with a few differences.

Chris Ison / Associated Press)

"John Muir Wilderness"

California is home to 138 designated wilderness areas, protected by some of the nation's strictest land protection laws. For hikers, the John Muir Wilderness, southwest of Mammoth Lakes, has few equals. With 590 miles of trails, dozens of pristine aquamarine lakes and the most spectacular peaks in the Sierra Nevada, this wilderness area exemplifies the beauty its namesake so prized. The office to obtain permits to enter the wilderness is at 351 Pacu Lane, Bishop. Info: (760) 873-2485,

(Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)

"No temple made by hands can compare with Yosemite"

Yosemite National Park can be crowded and noisy in the summer, but if you stay clear of the tourist-clogged Yosemite Village, you will see why John Muir, the father of America's environmental movement, said, "No temple made by hands can compare with Yosemite." The real magic happens in the late afternoon, when the setting sun casts a violet glow on the iconic Half Dome and Bridalveil Fall. Yosemite is about 80 miles east of Merced, along California 140. Info: (209) 372-0200,

(Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Could this story be true ???

What would a Gulag out building be without a huge tacky Russian statue. I think I found just the right one for it.

The statue was a representation of Christopher Columbus and was offered to the USA by the communist government (CCCP) to commemorate the anniversary of Columbus "discovering" America.

The Americans politely turned them down as the Russians would have expected this monstrosity to be erected ala' the Statue of Liberty.

The Russians were incensed by the snub. The cut the head of Columbus off the statue and placed the head of Peter the Great instead. It was then erected on the banks of the Moskva River where it is now.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Iowa in San Pedro ???

Certain ships are revered because they participated in historic battles or simply represented the pinnacle of naval power for their time. One example of both is the HMS Victory, Admiral Horatio Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Another is the Iowa, the lead ship of the last and most powerful line of U.S. battleships ever built, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's shuttle and a World War II workhorse. Yet while the Victory is lovingly maintained as a floating museum that has helped turn Portsmouth, England, into a major tourist attraction, the massive Iowa has been mothballed by the Navy in a tributary of San Francisco Bay.

That may soon change. A booster group hopes to bring the Iowa to the Port of Los Angeles, where it would anchor a $1.2-billion redevelopment of the faded Ports O' Call Village mall and a surrounding stretch of waterfront. But first it has to overcome resistance from port officials.

The Iowa was decommissioned for the last time in 1990. A group in Vallejo has been trying for years to turn it into a naval museum at the nearby Mare Island Naval Shipyard, but Navy officials lost patience with the group's fundraising progress last spring and opted to seek other bids. A rival organization, the Pacific Battleship Center, has secured an $8.5-million loan to tow the Iowa to San Pedro and renovate it. The L.A. City Council unanimously approved a resolution last month urging the port to find a berth for the ship, and the initiative also has the backing of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce and the Port Community Advisory Committee.

Yet officials at the port, which is conducting a feasibility study on the project slated for completion early next month, have expressed qualms. Though there's berth space available near Ports O' Call, they fret that the Iowa could take up space needed for more lucrative activity, such as docking cruise ships, and that if it doesn't pan out as a tourist attraction, the port could be stuck with a huge white elephant. Floating museums have had mixed success in Southern California. Long Beach struggled for years to turn a profit on the Queen Mary, yet the Midway, a retired World War II aircraft carrier in San Diego, lures a whopping 800,000 visitors a year.

San Pedro is a bit remote for tourists, and it isn't a Navy town like San Diego, so the Iowa might never be a Midway-sized hit. We'll withhold judgment until the port finishes its report, but can't help feeling that L.A. would miss a big financial and cultural opportunity if the battleship plans are sunk.

"the city boots vehicles from several major thoroughfares"

What would you do if seven miles of city streets stretched out before you and there wasn't a car in sight?

Hop on your bicycle? Drop into a yoga pose? Samba? Salsa? Sing?

These are the sorts of choices Angelenos will have Sunday, when the city boots vehicles from several major thoroughfares and urges its citizens to come out and play.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., portions of a dozen streets will be closed to car traffic on a zigzagging route that extends from East Hollywood through Westlake and into downtown and Boyle Heights.

In this car-centric metropolis, where drivers spend an average of 72 hours stuck in traffic annually and jaywalkers are heavily fined, CicLAvia, as the event is known, is something of a marvel.

It is designed to challenge the idea — so ingrained in the city's psyche — that automobiles rule the road.

"a sensation beyond belief"

“If you’ve never been at 200 mph, it’s a sensation beyond belief,” they say. The words of Dick Messer, the longtime Director of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, could hardly have better summarized the reasoning behind the museum’s sponsorship of an October 11, 2009 car show that focused on automobiles capable of 200 mph. Reaching out to local collectors and loyal members, the museum was able to assemble 23 such supercars for a fun and free event set against the backdrop of one of the area’s most popular open air luxury retail centers, the Americana on Brand Boulevard in Glendale, CA. Above, the AREX has it's top down and is ready to go.

The fine can be up to $600 for jogging

Kevin McBride knows there are 208 steps on the staircase adjacent to the sand dune at the city’s Sand Dune Park.

He also knows he can be fined up to $600 for jogging on them.

In August, the Manhattan Beach resident was cited a misdemeanor and fined $433 — his fine was reduced in court — for jogging on one of several trails connecting the park’s various stairways.

“I live nine houses away from the park and I had no idea a ticket for this is actually $600,” said McBride, who has worked out at the park for the last three years. “I just got married two months ago. The last thing I need is to be paying this much for jogging. This amount of money is ridiculous and excessive.”

In 2002, the city passed an ordinance prohibiting running or jogging on the stairs and connecting trails.

“The running and congestion on the stairs was a safety concern and also the stairs were becoming a destination point for workouts,” said Manhattan Beach Director of Parks and Recreation Richard Gill about why the ordinance was adopted.

Park enforcement was increased after the controversial sand dune was closed last year due to neighbor complaints of excessive use and the accompanying noise. A series of meetings followed to determine whether the dune would be reopened and, if so, how traffic could be minimized.

“It came to light last year when we went through many meetings about the park that the stairs are also used for exercise,” Gill said. “The residents were saying the stairs are as much of a destination spot as the dune.”

Prior to the dune closing, park rangers and community service officers frequented the park once or twice a day, Gill said. After its reopening, city officials with the authority to give citations were assigned there at all times.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

"What does a federal deputy do? Truly, I don't know. But vote for me and you'll find out."

SAO PAULO (AP) — The clown who got more votes than any other candidate for Congress will have to convince authorities he can read and write if he wants to take office.

In a ruling posted on the Sao Paulo electoral court's website Tuesday, a judge found there is sufficient doubt about whether comic performer Tiririca — which means "grumpy" in Portuguese — meets a constitutional mandate that federal lawmakers be literate.

Tiririca, whose real name is Francisco Silva, will have 10 days after being notified of the ruling to prove his literacy through a written defense. If it fails, he will be barred from taking up his seat representing Sao Paulo in Congress.

Silva's run for office attracted wide coverage in the news media, and his online campaign videos drew millions of viewers, with slogans such as "It can't get any worse" and "What does a federal deputy do? Truly, I don't know. But vote for me and you'll find out."

But a week before the election, Epoca magazine reported that people who worked with Silva on his TV shows and a book credited to him say he is illiterate, as is 10 percent of Brazil's population.

A video on Epoca's website shows a reporter reading questions from an election poll to Silva. He is then asked to read one of the questions himself. Visibly shaken, he hesitates before campaign aides rush to the rescue.

Prosecutors asked the Sao Paulo electoral court to intervene last week, but it said Silva's candidacy could not be stopped because the court had approved his application to run for Congress, including a document in which Silva swears he can read and write.

After Sunday's election in which the clown received about 1.3 million votes — nearly twice the tally of the next-highest vote-getter in Brazil's congressional races — prosecutors refiled their motion.

Judge Aloisio Silveira ruled that there were discrepancies between Silva's written statement and autographs he gave to fans, and he must therefore demonstrate to the court that he can read and write.

FIVE STARS for the 2011 Hyundai Sonata

Federal safety officials unveiled a more comprehensive crash rating system for vehicles that for the first time evaluates how women fare in accidents by using female crash dummies and takes into account side pole crashes and crash-prevention technology such as electronic stability control.

The Transportation Department and its National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it would now issue an "overall vehicle score" that combines the results of a frontal crash test, side crash tests and rollover resistance tests. It compares the results with the average risk of injury and potential for vehicle rollover of other vehicles.

In the rankings released Tuesday for the latest 2011 models, the BMW 5 series sedan and the Hyundai Sonata sedan (shown above) were the only autos to receive overall vehicle scores of five stars, while the Nissan Versa got only two stars and was particularly vulnerable in side crash tests, according to safety regulators.

"a paint-slathered chamber of blood, skeletons and whimsy"

Crowded by costumed Halloween freaks, sharp-dressed urbanites, face-painted gypsies and indie art kids, the Hive in downtown L.A. on Saturday night hosted half of the evening's “Heaven and Hell” joint exhibit at 729 S. Spring Street.

A couple doors down, Temple of Visions Gallery played its foil, hosting an exhibit titled “Heavenly Bodies.” As the street corner teemed with curbside cabs, tight skirts, fishnet hosiery, devilish harlequins and tobacco fumes, the choice between heaven and hell seemed like a no-brainer. Going to “Hell” felt like more fun. Especially when it’s not the real thing.

The Hive‘s side of the party was a kick-off of their monthlong exhibit of “Hell vs. the Monster Mash.” Transforming sterile white walls into a paint-slathered chamber of blood, skeletons and whimsy, the exhibit featured work by dozens of artists.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A dazzling, colourful, high-octane opening ceremony

A dazzling, colourful, high-octane opening ceremony that was part Bollywood, part cultural extravaganza, did much to dispel the nightmares of the past fortnight, thrilling a sell-out crowd in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium as well as the athletes and officials from 71 Commonwealth nations.

It even managed to start on time, to the very second, proving there are some deadlines that Games organisers are capable of meeting.

"fabulously fierce with hooded eyes and a revealing costume that probably wouldn't raise eyebrows on Hollywood Boulevard these days"

On Vine Street just north of Hollywood Boulevard, valets stand at attention, ready to usher guests into the new Redbury Hotel. The latest project from SBE's Sam Nazarian, the hotel design braids elements of Morocco, France and Egypt into an exotic, Old Hollywood look.

The hotel restaurant is called Cleo after the Egyptian queen, and for those who don't quite get it, a giant black-and-white photo of Theda Bara from the 1917 film "Cleopatra" greets visitors at the entrance. She's fabulously fierce with hooded eyes and a revealing costume that probably wouldn't raise eyebrows on Hollywood Boulevard these days. It makes me want to go and rent the movie immediately, though.

Cleo the restaurant is much more welcoming. It's about time somebody did a hip Middle Eastern restaurant, and that somebody is SBE corporate chef Danny Elmaleh. The menu is mostly small plates, but instead of an annoying sprawl of platters that don't fit on the table, the delicious spreads and dips are presented in small bowls. Who wouldn't swoon over the slurry of piquillo peppers with feta or the thick Lebanese yogurt with olive oil, lemon and dried oregano? They're wonderful spread on warm, freshly baked flatbread.

The luxurious 13,200-square-foot Blake House -- but can we afford to keep it ???

The University of California is weighing what to do with the abandoned president's mansion. The luxurious 13,200-square-foot Blake House near Berkeley has been deteriorating for years. Officials are considering alternatives to avoid $2 million for basic maintenance, and $10 million for a full renovation.

Blake House is a lonely, empty place these days.

The Mediterranean-style mansion near Berkeley that is intended to be the official residence of the University of California president has not been occupied since 2008.

Apart from three UC Berkeley social events this year, its grand entertainment rooms are chilly and silent, with most of its antique furniture now in storage. Its second-floor private suite, with stunning hilltop vistas of San Francisco Bay, badly needs refurbishment, and rat traps are placed throughout.

(Larry Gordon, Los Angeles Times reporting)