Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"When we were Kings"

Name a sport and chances are good you'll be able to find a movie to indulge your fandom. Ping pong? "Balls of Fury." Ice skating? "The Cutting Edge." But when it comes to the big ones -- baseball, football, basketball, hockey -- Hollywood has gone to the court (or the field) so many times that it's not a matter of finding your sport in a movie as finding the greatest movie with your sport. Baseball movies are everywhere, but what's the best baseball movie? How can you decide which film best captures the spirit of boxing?

That's where the fans come in. We've dug out five of the best movies featuring 10 of America's biggest sports. Now it's up to you to cast your vote and decide which film is best for each sport. To vote for your favorite, click on the heading above.

--Commentary by Patrick Kevin Day

"transforming robots"

Without a doubt, the "How Stuff Works" staff is anxious about the upcoming "Transformers" movie. They don't just wonder whether it will be good. They wonder whether we'll see robots with Transformers' capabilities during our lifetimes. While full-scale Transformers seem a little implausible - and impractical - it turns out that some existing robots have a lot in common with Transformers. Click on the heading above to explore what these transforming robots look like, how they work and how they're similar to Transformers like Optimus Prime.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Devout Christian discovers miraculous image of Mark Spitz on toast

Halibut Cove – Kachemack Bay, Alaska

(Photo by brownbearsw)

Nevada's newest ghost town

The recession has claimed many victims, but this could be the first town to be completely wiped off the map.

The mining town of Empire in Nevada, about 100 miles northeast of Reno in the Black Rock Desert, was created in 1923.

But from June 20, it will simply cease to exist, its 300 inhabitants will no longer live there, the ZIP code won't even exist any more.

In fact the only thing remaining of the town, which was once home to the United States Gypsum Corporation, will be an eight-foot chain-link fence crowned with barbed wire sealing off the 136-acre plot and a sign saying Welcome to Nowhere - which has never proven so true.

"The ugly side of an art law"

Perched outside the Posco steel company office, the jarring 30-foot-tall object looks like the remains of a plane crash — all crushed steel and gnarled parts — because that's what it is.

Creator Frank Stella built what he considered a modern work of art and named it "Amabel," in honor of an artist friend's daughter who died in a plane accident. But many passersby for years have considered it to be something else: an eyesore.

The work is one of the more avant-garde sculptures in Seoul and the symbol of an art controversy in South Korea.

For 16 years, a national law has required builders of large commercial projects to commission an adjoining piece of art — including engravings, calligraphy works or sculptures — whose cost would equal 1% of the overall cost of the project. The public art promotion act produced 10,684 public art works between 1995 and 2008,— at a cost of more than $546 million.

But critics of the urban improvement effort objected, some saying the law had created a monster that over the years generated too much art that many find objectionable. There's the huge straw man that sits, feet dangling, on the ledge of a downtown building; the copper piece that is supposed to look like a group of people but which many say looks like a dirty ashtray; and a mammoth gorilla wearing a backpack scaling a building.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Where there's no end to beauty

Autumn photograph of Mount Shuksan located in the North Cascade Range of Washington State reflected in Picture Lake.

A nice place to visit

Proxy Falls, Cascade Range, Oregon

Bravo's five-story treehouse

This five-story treehouse in the middle of the Bravo Farms complex in Travers, California is ready to be explored. The tourist-friendly Bravo also has a bar and cafe with tri-tip sandwiches.

"one of the most eloquent attacks on the death penalty ever delivered in an American courtroom"

A tragedy of three young lost lives, a dead fourteen-year-old victim and the imprisonment of two teenage killers, unfolded in Chicago in 1924. The murder trial of Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold that shocked the nation is best remembered decades later for the twelve-hour long plea of Clarence Darrow to save his young clients from the gallows. His summation, rambling and disorganized as it was at times, stands as one of the most eloquent attacks on the death penalty ever delivered in an American courtroom. Mixing poetry and prose, science and emotion, a world-weary cynicism and a dedication to his cause, hatred of bloodlust and love of man, Darrow takes his audience on an oratorical ride that would be unimaginable in a criminal trial today. Even without Darrow in his prime, the Leopold and Loeb trial has the elements to justify its billing as the first "trial of the century." It is not surprising that the public responded to a trial that involved the kidnapping and murder of a young boy from one of Chicago's most prominent families, a bizarre relationship between two promising scholars-turned-murderers, what the prosecutor called an "act of Providence" leading to the apprehension of the teenage defendants, dueling psychiatrists, and an experienced and sharp-tongued state's attorney bent on hanging the confessed killers in spite of their relative youth.

The crime that captured national attention in 1924 began as a fantasy in the mind of eighteen-year old Richard Loeb, the handsome and privileged son of a retired Sears Roebuck vice president. (Interestingly, Barack Obama's home in Chicago's Kenwood neighborhood (5046 S. Greenwood) is only one block from Loeb's former home.) Loeb was obsessed with crime. Despite his intelligence and standing as the youngest graduate ever of the University of Michigan, Loeb read mostly detective stories. He read about crime, he planned crimes, and he committed crimes, although none until 1924 were crimes involving physical harm to a person. ( Darrow and Leopold later saw Loeb's fascination with crime as form of rebellion against the well-meaning, but strict and controlling, governess who raised him.) For Loeb, crime became a sort of game; he wanted to commit the perfect crime just to prove that it could be done.

Loeb's nineteen-year old partner in crime, Nathan Leopold, was interested in ornithology, philosophy, and especially, Richard Loeb. Like Loeb, Leopold was a child of wealth and opportunity, the son of a millionaire box manufacturer. At the time of their crime, Leopold was a law student at the University of Chicago and was planning to begin studies at Harvard Law School after a family trip to Europe in the summer. Leopold already had achieved recognition as the nation's leading authority on the Kirtland warbler, an endangered songbird, and frequently lectured on the subjects of his ornithological passion. As a student of philosophy, Leopold was attracted to Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche's influence on early twentieth century academics was powerful, and the merits of ideas contained in books like his Beyond Good and Evil were fiercely debated in centers of learning like the University of Chicago. Leopold agreed with Nietzsche's criticism of moral codes, and believed that legal obligations did not apply to those who approached "the superman." Leopold's idea of the superman was his friend and lover, Richard Loeb.

Loeb and Leopold had an intense and stormy relationship. At one time Leopold contemplated killing Loeb over a perceived breach of confidentiality. This relationship, described by Darrow as "weird and almost impossible," led the two boys to do together what they almost certainly would never have done apart: commit murder. Motives are often unclear, and they are in this trial. Neither the defense's theory that the murder was an effort by both to deepen their relationship nor the prosecution's theory that money to pay off gambling debts and a desire by Loeb to "have something" on Leopold in order to counter Leopold's unwanted demands for sex, are likely accurate. What is clearest about the motives is that Leopold's attraction to Loeb was his primary reason for participating in the crime. Leopold later wrote that "Loeb's friendship was necessary to me-- terribly necessary" and that his motive, "to the extent that I had one, was to please Dick." For Loeb, the crime was more an escape from the ordinary; an interesting intellectual exercise.

Murder was a necessary element in their plan to commit the perfect crime. The two teenagers spent months discussing and refining a plan that included kidnapping the child of a wealthy parents, demanding a ransom, and collecting the ransom after it was thrown off a moving train as it passed a designated point. Neither Loeb nor Leopold relished the idea of murdering their kidnap victim, but they thought it critical to minimizing their likelihood of being identified as the kidnappers.

Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb

"enhancing our ability to relate"

From her own experience, April Gornik observes that looking at artwork with a sense of how it is made enhances our ability to relate it to our own lives. In Vermeer’s View of Delft, for example: the clouds at the top and the gently curving shore open to the middle of the painting, like an eye opening, into the exterior world the painting reveals. Light in the distance draws us towards infinity and a sense of the immensity of space extending limitlessly out from us, but which Vermeer presents with great intimacy.

In the same way that a painting holds within itself the history, time, and the tale of its formation, a person looking at it is informed, enriched, and is subliminally able to experience all of that input. This physicality, the way an art object is ‘built’, speaks to us, and our response is an affirmation of our own sensory abilities, forming a connection and an interface of time and space, intent and emotion, even history.

The "Lion Fighter" Prevails

The original Lion Fighter sits as a companion piece to Auguste Kiss's Mounted Amazon Attacked by a Panther on the steps of the National Museum in Berlin. The Fairmount Park Art Association purchased the original plaster cast for The Lion Fighter in 1889 and placed it in Memorial Hall for public viewing, along with a plaster version of the Amazon. This bronze was cast locally by the Bureau Brothers in 1892 for exhibition at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. When returned to Philadelphia, it was installed on a "jutting rock" on East River Drive. It was moved to the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1929, where—as in Berlin—it accompanies a bronze cast of the Amazon.


The GO Train platforms at Toronto's Union Station are to be transformed into a vast, light-filled zone in a 13-stage refurbishing that began in January, 2010 and is expected to take five years to complete.

A Quiet, Restful Day at the Beach

Maho Beach is a beach situated in St Maarten in the Netherlands Antilles, on the Dutch side of the island. The location is known worldwide because of the Princess Juliana International Airport that is situated immediately adjacent to the beach.
Incoming air traffic is known to have to touch down as close as possible to the beginning of runway 10 due to the short runway length of 2,180 metres/7,152 ft, resulting in low-flying aircraft on their final approach over the beach. Due to these low flying airplanes (including large passenger airliners such as the Boeing 747), the location is very popular with plane spotters.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Brest, Belarus

The Valor monument at the Brest Fortress memorial complex is one of the most important Great Patriotic War monuments commemorating Soviet resistance against Fascist invaders. The fortress was bestowed the title "Hero-Fortress" in 1965.

"The Stone Forest”

The Stone Forest is the must-see place in Kunming. However, what we’d like to recommend is to explore the Stones by taking the route to the Peripheral Area (wài shí lín). It features much more natural, much wilder and much quieter. You may have found that in China you always “encounter” thousands of elbows and other crowd troubles in one single tourist site. When you finish the Sword Peak Pond (jiàn fēnɡ chí) in the Major Stone Forest (dà shí lín), please say “goodbye” to other tourist groups and find the footpath to the peripheral area where you will be greeted by distant views, close looks and even birds-eye views of the grotesque lime stones. Only in this way can you say proudly “I’ve been in the Stone Forest”.


The Hochstrahlbrunnen fountain in front of the Heroes Memorial of the Red Army, Vienna, Austria. Interesting shot.

War Began

Navy officers at dawn today in Westerplatte, Gdansk, on Poland's Baltic coast, commemorating the moment a Nazi battleship fired its first shots at a military garrison 70 years ago to spark the Second World War.

" The Battle of Britain celebrates 70th anniversary"

It was one of the most important victories of the Second World War and a defining moment in Britain’s struggle to stand firm against the forces of Hitler’s war machine.

Not only did the Battle of Britain scupper Nazi plans for a British invasion, many consider the RAF’s rout of the Luftwaffe over the skies of Southern England during the summer of 1940 to be the first significant defeat of the German armies and a major turning point of the war.

Ukraine city in ‘Communism is Nazism’ poster drive

Authorities in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Wednesday pinned up posters on billboards equating Nazism to Communism to mark the 70th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.

The posters, with the slogan “Communism = Nazism”, were a hugely provocative gesture in a country whose east still fondly remembers the rule of the USSR, which the more nationalist west regards as an occupation.

The billboards were put up at the behest of the local authorities and show two pictures, one of locals murdered murdered by the Soviets in 1941 and another of seven people hung in public by the Nazis in 1942 after the invasion.

“The inhabitants of Lviv suffered both under the Nazi and Communist regimes in the war,” said deputy mayor Vasyl Kosiv.

“Prisons and concentration camps were used by both the Soviet NKVD and the Gestapo.”

“These were two forces identical in their criminal actions,” he added.

When the Nazis entered western Ukraine in 1941, some greeted them as liberators from the Soviets.

Nationalist guerrillas continued to fight Soviet forces in the mountains of western Ukraine into the 1950s and are regarded as heroes in the region to this day.

Hitler and Stalin

I wish I knew when this imaginative cartoon was done -- If you have any information regarding this item, please leave me a comment.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Wild in the Streets"

A few years ago, suburban teen Max Flatow (Christopher Jones) was making bombs and LSD. Now he's a rock star using his fame to urge young people to vote at the behest of a senator (Hal Holbrook). But Max hasn't abandoned his love of anarchy. Soon, the voting age is lowered to 15, Max is elected president, and everyone over 30 is shipped to retirement homes. Richard Pryor and Shelley Winters co-star in this Cult Classic.

This movie has not been released on DVD. Future availability is uncertain.

Tony Smith’s monumental sculpture "Smoke"

Those who have visited LACMA the past couple of years have seen and walked around Tony Smith’s monumental sculpture Smoke. The space that it inhabits in the Ahmanson Pavilion was actually redesigned (by Renzo Piano) specifically for the work.

It would be unimaginable to think of the museum without the piece. Today, you won’t have to. The LA Times reports that LACMA has purchased it. The amount was not revealed, but it is said to exceed $3 million. It is insured for over $5 million, but the institution received a substantial discount in buying it. The funds were provided by one unnamed donor from Bel Air after rumors of a competing offer by another museum was presented. Congratulations to LACMA for now owning one of the “most powerful sculptures of the 20th century.”

"sprightly.language and brilliant orchestration"

Giuseppe Verdi's final opera, Falstaff, composed when he was 80, has no great melodic lines, triumphal marches or consumptive heroines; at its center there is only a drunken old man who imagines himself a seducer. Falstaff's lack of self-awareness permeates the opera and gives it broad brushes of comedy. Handsome once, he has grown grotesque and fat, yet not without wit ("I am in the waist two yards about; but I am now about no waste; I am about thrift"--and "If Falstaff were thin, no one would love him"). He behaves like a boor; oblivious to his own hypocriscy, and lectures his servants about "honor."

It's Verdi's only comic opera, based on Shakespeare (mostly The Merry Wives of Windsor, with bits of Falstaff's character adapted from the Henry plays), and it uses sprightly.language and brilliant orchestration to tell the story or Falstaff's comeuppance


Keith Olbermann will be appearing tonight(Wednesday, June 22) on Al Gore's CURRENT TV. Check the current TV listings for time and channel number.

"Viking Vampire"

It may be his current role as enigmatic Viking vampire Eric Northman in HBO’s True Blood that has raised his international profile, but Alexander Skarsgård has long been an established star in his native Sweden. Son of renowned actor Stellan Skarsgård, Alexander made his own screen debut at just seven years of age, and went on to become a popular child star. Unnerved by his growing celebrity, he turned his back on acting at the age of thirteen to pursue other interests. He studied Political Science, served in the Swedish Marines, and was contemplating a return to school to study architecture when the acting bug finally bit him once more. Since then he has accumulated over fifteen international film and television credits, not to mention been voted Sweden’s sexiest man no fewer than five times. Eat your heart out, George Clooney!

He made his Hollywood debut with a small role in the movie Zoolander (2001), but it was in the acclaimed mini-series Generation Kill (2007) that he really made his mark. Shrugging off initial doubts about his casting, he completely dropped his Swedish accent to convincingly portray real life US Marine Sgt Brad ‘Iceman’ Colbert, earning widespread critical praise and no doubt bringing him to the attention of the True Blood casting bods.

With a strong pedigree and obvious talent already in his favor, Alexander’s growing legion of female fans will also be pleased to learn that this is one thespian who isn’t exactly precious when it comes to taking his clothes off. As well as a joking insistence that he should have nude scenes written into all his contracts, he has also claimed that he will pose as a Playgirl centerfold in exchange for “a chicken burrito and a pint of strawberry ice cream.”

So with True Blood returning this month for its second season, shall this sexy Swede be putting his money where his mouth is and giving us Eric Northman in the buff? We can only wait and see. In the meantime, does anybody have a good recipe for a chicken burrito?

"doesn't want to die" -- oh really !!!

Nik Wallenda doesn't want to die. It just looks that way sometimes. He's seventh generation of the legendary acrobatic family The Flying Wallendas, and is on a mission to bring his famous family's skill, passion and showmanship to a new 21st century audience.

On Wednesday, June 22, from 10 to 11PM ET/PT, Discovery Channel will sneak peek LIFE ON A WIRE, a limited series commissioned by Discovery Channel that profiles Nik and his incredible family. Additional episodes are set to air later in 2011 on the network.

Monday, June 20, 2011


"a unique chalk painting art form"

The Guinness World Record for the Largest Display of Chalk Art Returned to Paseo Colorado Father’s Day Weekend, June 18th & 19th, 2011. Over 600 dedicated chalk artists converged on Paseo Colorado’s interconnected mix of retail, entertainment, and garden promenades as the 19th Annual Pasadena Chalk Festival continued the legacy of bringing this unique chalk painting art form to Southern California.

In 2010 Pasadena Chalk Festival received the Guinness World Record for the Largest Display of Chalk Pavement Art, to authenticate its title as The World’s Largest Street Painting Festival. Each year the festival offers visitors an opportunity to shop, dine or see a movie as they see the artworks created by the artists come to life before their very eyes during the two day festival.

A Blackbeard Legacy

Blackbeard's facial hair wasn't the only thing the infamous pirate liked big.

Archaeologists on Friday recovered one of three giant anchors believed to be used by the 18th-century high seas bandit on his ship, Queen Anne's Revenge.

The 11-foot, 4-inch long anchor, weighing 3,ooo pounds, was pulled from the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Carolina.

Scientists hoped to raise the ship's other two anchors, but they are stuck to the sunken ship.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"The Stupa of Many Auspicious Doors"

Tashi Gomang Stupa, Crestone, Co (9-25-10)--("The Stupa of Many Auspicious Doors" – thus named for Buddha's 84,000 paths to enlightenment)

A STUPA is a Buddhist monument erected as a commemorative shrine and site of pilgrimage. Stupas are typically filled with hundreds of thousands of Buddhist religious relics. Buddhist practitioners circumambulate (walk around) stupas while reciting mantras as a form of spiritual discipline.

"Fiat 500, a real Italian icon"

Even with the top up, in a blinding rainstorm, the 2012 Fiat 500 Cabrio was still enjoyable during a recent drive through Manhattan and just north of New York City. And with its EPA estimated 38 mpg on the highway, or 32 mpg, with the optional automatic transmission, it was pretty efficient the whole way, too.

You'd expect that combination of fun and economical driving from the modern version of the Fiat 500, a real Italian icon. The original Fiat 500 was launched back in 1957. It wasn't a hardtop, either. It had a manually folding canvas top that's similar in concept to the power-folding version on the new 500 Cabrio.

What's unexpected is that the 2012 Fiat 500 Cabrio avoids so many of the issues that plague most other convertibles. First, it's just about as much fun with the top up. Second, it's surprisingly practical. Third, it's affordable.

The base price of the Fiat 500 Cabrio is an even $20,000. That's a $4,000 premium over the hardtop model. Add extras like heated leather seats, navigation and a six-speed automatic transmission, it's possible to run the sticker price for the convertible up to around $26,000

China builds replica of fairytale Austrian village

China is building a replica of an idyllic Austrian alpine village in a rundown industrial estate in the Guandong province.

The village will be a £5.7billion carbon copy of Hallstatt, a UNESCO World Heritage site, complete with artificial lake.

Posing as tourists, the Chinese have been photographing every building there for three years.

The plan was discovered when a Chinese guest at one of the village hotels left blueprints behind.

Publicy, Hallstatters say they are proud that their village has caught the eye of the Chinese. But the apparent secrecy surrounding the project has revived suspicions about outsiders.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Black Shadow evolved

The Black Falcon Motorcycle is the third from Falcon Motorcycles Concept 10 Series. The Los Angeles based company that specializes in making one of a kind motorcycles is run by Ian Barry and his partner Amaryllis Knight. The couple supervised a six man crew to design the Black Falcon that has a 75 horsepower engine that sends the cycle flying at a top speed of 140 mph.

The motorcycle came into existence as a Vincent Black Shadow Motorcycle and after considerable tweaking that consisted of lightweight material part replacement and the addition of massive brakes, has created a whole other beast. The photos of this classy bike will get your motors running and if you’re totally into the motorcycle world we know the Black Falcon has raised your brows. Take a look at the gallery and film about the unique motorized sensation and see Falcon Motorcycles’ other creations at their site

Architecture that's unusual and interesting !

Druzhba sanatorium in Yalta, Ukraine, by I Vasilevsky and Y Stefanchuk, 1985

"unusual inspiration"

The architecture faculty at the Polytechnic Institute of Minsk, Belarus, and its succession of overhanging lecture theatres, by V Anikin and I Yesman, 1983.

Photo credit: Frédéric Chaubin from Cosmic Communist Constructions

Are you accruing junk ??

​I worry about my interest in hoarders.

They are, as the stars of reality shows like A&E's Hoarders and TLC's Hoarding: Buried Alive, the latest in a long line of Americans--right after celebrity drug addicts, obese weight-loss competitors, and tone-deaf teenagers who think they can sing--who are being exploited for our viewing pleasure. And ever since those two shows went on summer hiatus, I've been thinking about how I should start spending more time with my friend, Betty, who's a hoarder. I--and perhaps you, too--need a little hoarder time.

Betty is 81 and, about 40 years ago, she and her husband moved into his mother's house after the old lady passed away. Hubby's mom had tastefully decorated her big, sprawling ranch home with a lot of nice antiques, and when Betty and her husband moved in, they somehow never got around to unpacking. That's why, when you visit Betty, you walk around waist-high piles of carefully arranged cardboard boxes: because rather than clean out her mother-in-law's stuff and replace it with her own, she sort of merged her things with what was already there.

Betty used to tell me that it was her husband, Roger, who was the packrat. And it's true--Roger actually kept toothpaste tubes and shampoo bottles after they were empty; I saw the evidence shortly after he died seven years ago.

But it turns out that Betty didn't stop accruing junk after Roger died. One of her sons drove down from Flagstaff the year after his dad died, to help Betty clear out some of the stuff, including a 60-year-old Pontiac parked in her carport that she was using as a makeshift storage unit for the empty Pringle's cans she was collecting ("They're great for mailing muffins in," she once confided in me. Do I need to mention that Betty, who doesn't drive, neither baked nor visited the post office?). Her son gave up and, after a very long weekend during which my friend refused to part with a single one of the several hundred Styrofoam meat trays in her basement ("They're perfectly good!" she argued), he went back home. He hasn't returned.

This real-life episode of Hoarders is what really got me thinking about why people won't part with their stuff. I still have a lot of the toys and crap--yearbooks, Partridge Family trading cards, old Tiger Beat magazines--of my youth, but I don't consider myself a hoarder. But lately I've been wondering if I don't secretly admire people who go berserk with accumulation.

I'm beginning to think the reason that we've become fascinated by the poor slobs whose homes are over-run with newspapers and baby clothes and candy wrappers has less to do with voyeurism or our own need for prime time schadenfreude. I think we're ogling hoarders because we secretly, and almost certainly unconsciously, admire them

(from an article by Robrt Pela)

NOW at L.A. Live !!!

Movie lovers who were unable to make the trek to Utah in January for Sundance may feel better once they see what the Los Angeles Film Festival has planned.

A number of films that proved popular in Park City will screen for local audiences at the Los Angeles Times-sponsored festival -- which offers both specialty cinema and fare that is more commercial. From June 16 to 26, more than 200 films, music videos and shorts from over 30 countries will be shown (including 27 world, North American and U.S. premieres). Organizers successfully moved the festival from its longtime home in Westwood to downtown Los Angeles last year, and this year the majority of screenings will again be held at L.A. Live

"portions of the surface of Mercury appear to be covered in ice"

Despite their proximity to the sun, portions of the surface of Mercury appear to be covered in ice, scientists said Thursday after analyzing about 20,000 new images of the solar system's smallest planet.

The pictures beamed to Earth by the Messenger spacecraft strongly suggest that frozen water — and perhaps other frozen substances — coat portions of impact craters near the planet's north and south poles. Permanently enshrouded in shadow, these surfaces are typically 300 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

‘Nice Work’ — and Matthew Broderick Gets It — in Broadway-Bound Show

Three years after a bitter offstage fight derailed its plans for Broadway, the new musical comedy “Nice Work If You Can Get It” is back on the drawing boards for a spring 2012 opening, with a new leading man, Matthew Broderick, in his first Broadway musical since “The Producers” in 2001. “Nice Work,” about a playboy who gets mixed up with bootleggers in the 1920s, and featuring songs by George and Ira Gershwin, will open on Broadway in spring 2012, the show’s producers announced on Thursday.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"the transformation of the cultural landscape"

A panoramic yet intimate history of the American left—of the reformers, radicals, and idealists who have fought for a more just and human society, from the abolitionists to Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore—that gives us a revelatory new way of looking at two centuries of American politics and culture.

Michael Kazin—one of today’s most respected historians of American politics—takes us from abolitionism and early feminism to the labor struggles of the industrial age, as well as to the emergence of anarchists and socialists and, later, the communists of the twentieth century; he shows how, in the sixties and seventies, the New Left fell short politically but transformed the cultural landscape. While few of these movements achieved success on their own terms, Kazin shows how they also did much to bring about significant changes: equal opportunity for all; the celebration of sexual pleasure; multiculturalism in the media and schools; the popularity of books and films with altruistic and anti-authoritarian messages.

Deeply informed, at once judicious and impassioned, and superbly written, American Dreamers is an essential book for our time and for an enlarged understanding of our political history. Michael Kazin is a professor of history at Georgetown University.

"a special and cherished honor"

This year, a cherished Redondo Union High School ceremony will take place for the hundredth time — the passing of the mantle.

The simple black graduation gown once graced the form of Annie Barrett on the day she graduated from Stanford University. Barrett later became vice-principal of Redondo Union High School, and in an effort to recognize students who consistently achieved academic excellence, she passed her cherished gown to the RUHS junior with the highest grades. This student became the first RUHS mantle bearer in 1911.

On the mantle’s left shoulder, the student’s initials, “DB,” and the year, “11,” are still vibrant, the yellow embroidery bright on the black wool. A glance through decades of yearbook photos highlights the gown’s evolution, as row upon row of new stitching blossomed over the gown’s sleeves, shoulders and back.

Today, cascades of initials and years stream down both sleeves and cover the body of the mantle. Time has faded some of the thread colors to soft browns and grays, and dissolved bits of stitching entirely, but it has also shown how students’ tastes have changed over the decades. The simplicity of the earliest embroidered sets of initials has given way to designs as elaborate, colorful and unique as the mantle bearers themselves.

“The mantle is the most significant cultural artifact of this school,” said RUHS archivist Terry Martinez, touching one of its sleeves. “This has a life of its own.”
Martinez displayed the mantle among other RUHS artifacts for the school’s 100th anniversary in 2005.

“Of all the things displayed, people gathered around the mantle, saying my grandma wore this, or my aunt, or my cousin. It’s like a touchstone,” she said. “It really moved me when people had personal stories to tell, because they usually see it from far away. People were just mesmerized.”

On Friday, the current mantle bearer will pass the mantle to the new bearer, the junior with the highest grade point average.

"off the wall and out of this world"

"Green Lantern" is both off the wall and out of this world — literally. More science-fiction space opera than superhero epic, it works in fits and starts as its disparate parts go in and out of effectiveness, but the professionalism of the production make it watchable in a comic book kind of way.

The film's wacky premise comes from the 1959 rebooting of the earlier comic book that floated the notion of a huge intergalactic legion of way-powerful Green Lanterns, each with his very own lantern — think upscale lava lamp — and each being the protector of a particular corner of the universe.

But though the Lanterns and their potent matching rings have been around for eons, a member of the human race has never been tapped to join the corps. And when hotshot test pilot Hal "Call Me Irresponsible" Jordan gets the nod, there is a lot of scratching of heads both on Earth and elsewhere.

That mirrored the response in Hollywood when charming leading man Ryan Reynolds was tapped for the role. How would he look in the computer-generated, form-fitting Lantern uniform, and would he have the gravitas to take on the dread Parallax, the evilest entity that ever lived?

As it turns out, Reynolds can handle most of what the script by Greg Berlanti & Michael Green & Marc Guggenheim and Michael Goldenberg throws at him. The problem is, not all of that stuff is worth doing.

(For the complete review by By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic click on the heading above.)

For a Perfect Weekend

This July 4th weekend, the REAL fireworks show will be at the Los Angeles Guitar Festival! Don’t miss this unprecedented two-day celebration with some of the hottest and most respected acoustic and electric guitar talent on the planet — in the only guitar festival named after our city.


The beautiful Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center is home to state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, computerized climate-control systems and expanded plentiful and FREE parking. Located at 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd, Redondo Beach CA 90278