Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cyrano de Bergerac

Mel Ferrer (1917-2008) was a film director and film producer. As an actor, he is best remembered for his role of the lame puppeteer in the musical "Lili" (1953) and as Prince Andrei in "War and Peace" (1956) (co-starring with his then wife, Audrey Hepburn).

"Birmingham Bertha"

The legendary jazz, blues and gospel singer had a difficult start in life. Her mother, Louise Anderson, was 13 when she gave birth to Ethel. Louise had been raped at knifepoint by Ethel's father. "I was never a child," Waters would later say. "I was never cuddled, or liked, or understood by my family."

At age 15, Waters sang at a club in Philadelphia on amateur night. She so impressed the management that she was given a job and billed as "Sweet Mama Stringbean." In 1921, she began recording and four years later became the main attraction at Sam Salvin's Plantation Club in Harlem, where she introduced one of her signature tunes, "Dinah."

By 1927, she was on Broadway, and in 1929, she appeared in the Warner Bros. early talkie "On With the Show!," where she performed "Am I Blue?" In 1933, she introduced the song "Stormy Weather" at the Cotton Club in Harlem. She was back on Broadway in 1933 in the musical "As Thousands Cheer," marking the first time a black performer worked with a white cast. Waters spread her wings on Broadway, going dramatic in 1939's"Mamba's Daughters." The following year, she appeared in the musical fantasy "Cabin in the Sky," which she reprised for the 1943 film version.

Above: Ethel Waters performs "Birmingham Bertha" in the 1929 musical "On With The Show." (Warner Bros., Warner Bros. / January 25, 2005)

Monday, January 30, 2012

"American Dervish: A Novel"

A stirring and explosive debut novel about an American Muslim family struggling with faith and belonging in the pre-9/11 world.

Hayat Shah was captivated by Mina long before he met her: his mother’s beautiful, brilliant, and soulfully devout friend is a family legend. When he learns that Mina is leaving Pakistan to live with the Shahs in America, Hayat is thrilled. Hayat’s father is less enthusiastic. He left the fundamentalist world behind with reason. What no one expects is that when Mina shows Hayat the beauty and power of the Quran, it will utterly transform the boy.

Mina’s real magic may be that the Shah household, always contentious and sad, becomes a happy one. But when Mina finds her own path to happiness, the ember of jealousy in Hayat’s heart is enflamed by the community’s anti-Semitism and he acts with catastrophic consequences for those he loves most.

About the Author: Ayad Akhtar is a first generation Pakistani-American from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He holds degrees in Theater from Brown University and Directing from Columbia University, where he won multiple awards for his work. American Dervish is his first novel. He lives in New York.

"If you dare . . ."

In Zhangjiajie, Hunan, China and located in the western part of the top of the mountain, the glass bridge is 60 meters long and 1430 meters above sea level, which was open to tourists from Oct 1. It is similar to the Grand Canyon Skywalk in the United Stats, looking so thrilling. Never miss the chance of walking on the bridge if you are brave enough.

China’s first national park

The Zhangjiajie National Forest Park or Hunan Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is a unique national forest park located in Zhangjiajie City in northern Hunan Province in the People's Republic of China. It is the China’s first national park (4,810 hectares), it was then approved by the Ministry of Land and Resources as Zhangjiajie Sandstone Peak Forest National Geopark (3,600 km²) in 2001. In 2004, Zhangjiajie Geopark was listed as a UNESCO Global Geopark.

The unique and stunning geographic feature is the pillar-like rocks throughout the park. They are result of many years of erosion caused by ice. One of the park’s quartz-sandstone pillars (3,544 foot) is the ‘Southern Sky Column’. It is said that the Avatar film’s director and production designers drew inspiration for the floating mountains from this pillar rocks. Recently, in January 2010, the ‘Southern Sky Column’ has been officially renamed as “Avatar Hallelujah Mountain” in honor of the film.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Frozen River Thames ???

A painting, dated 1684, by Abraham Hondius depicts one of many frost fairs on the River Thames during the mini ice age

Shwedagon Pagoda

Yangon, formerly Rangoon, was the capital of Myanmar until it was superseded by Naypyidaw in November 2005. Today, with a population of over 5 million people, it remains the largest city and main economic hub of Myanmar. Above, the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon.

Mount Aspiring National Park

New Zealand's Mount Aspiring National Park (established in 1964) is a wonderful mixture of remote wilderness, high mountains and beautiful river valleys. It is a walker's paradise and a must for mountaineers. The views are endless and unforgettable.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sierra Winter

On a frosty winter morning, Upper Yosemite Fall is just a trickle.

Yosemite in Winter

In Yosemite National Park, the wooden footpath in Sentinel Meadow is covered with snow on a cold January afternoon.

"Ahwahnee Hotel"

With a fresh blanket of snow from an overnight storm, a new morning dawns at the venerable Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park.

The "Actor"

The statuette is called the Actor for a reason; the Screen Actors Guild Awards are all about the performance. But that doesn’t mean the setting will be bare bones.

The 18th annual awards ceremony takes place Sunday at the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall near downtown Los Angeles. In the week leading up to the ceremony, the hall has been the center of frenetic work to complete the transformation.

Massive lighting trusses already have been raised into place. A temporary stage, with a distinctively Art Deco feel, has been erected. And, of course, large-scale versions of the Actor himself — chiseled, if tastefully neutered — are on the floor.

"Love Never Dies"

Andrew Lloyd Webber doesn't mince words when talking about the poorly received London production of "Love Never Dies," his long-awaited sequel to "The Phantom of the Opera."

"It just didn't work in London," said Webber in a phone interview Wednesday from New York. His blunt assessment was in line with the critics, who cruelly dubbed the show "Paint Never Dries." A Broadway transfer was put on indefinite hold and the London version closed with a thud in August.

But last year, a different production of the musical, with some revisions, opened in Melbourne, Australia, and received positive notices. Spurred by its success, Lloyd Webber is resuscitating the musical's Broadway prospects. He said he is in New York this week to screen the Australian version of the musical for the Broadway community and select members of the press.

"I don't want to second-guess it now, but I think there's a strong probability that we do have a chance," said the composer.
"It's a deeply personal piece to me. The fact that it has been got right, that the Australians have got it right ... could make the difference."

Lloyd Webber added that the Australian production, directed by Simon Phillips, "is extremely expensive." The show has since traveled to Sydney.

"Love Never Dies" was captured in HD for broadcast to cinemas and a DVD release. The cinema version is scheduled for late February, said Webber. The DVD is scheduled for a U.S. release on May 29.

The musical picks up 10 years after the conclusion of "Phantom." The action is set in New York's Coney Island, where the Phantom has created a carnivalesque show. The score is by Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Glenn Slater and Charles Hart. The book is by Slater, Ben Elton and Frederick Forsyth.

U-2 to keep flying

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The spy plane U-2, once slated to be replaced in 2015, may continue flying into the next decade under a U.S. Defense Department proposal, officials say.

The fleet of 33 U-2s was supposed to be replaced with RQ-4 Global Hawks, high-tech drones used by the Air Force since 2001.

But the U.S. Defense Department this week proposed delaying the retirement of the U-2s as a result of Pentagon spending cutbacks, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Global Hawk, with a price tag of $176 million apiece, had "priced itself out of the niche, in terms of taking pictures in the air," Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said at a news conference Thursday. "That's a disappointment for us, but that's the fate of things that become too expensive in a resource-constrained environment.

Friday, January 27, 2012

"a classic tale of the individual subjugated to the will of art and expectation"

It's a story that could have been written if Noel Streatfield went over to the dark side. Sergei Polunin was a young Ukrainian dancer of striking talent. He is 21, and was billed as the next Nureyev. And he resigned: the ballet world is stumped, since as the youngest ever principal at the Royal Ballet, he had already achieved more than wonderful dancers, throughout history, could ever dream of.

And the reasons … well, they were split between the completely daft and the terribly poignant. On his Twitter feed, he said things like "as long as you have a beer in your hand by morning" and "does any body sell heroin??"; but in an interview, he said: "I would have liked to behave badly … But all my family were working for me to succeed. My mother had moved to Kiev to be with me. There was no chance of me failing." He'd been in England since he was 13, his story a classic tale of the individual subjugated to the will of art and expectation.

"into the shoes of J. Pierrepont Finch"

HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING bids goodbye to Darren Criss today, following a strictly limited three week engagement. Criss will return to his role as 'Blaine' on GLEE, and next to step into the shoes of J. Pierrepont Finch will be singer Nick Jonas. Jonas, who began his career on stage at age 8, returns to Broadway for the first time since the launch of the international sensation The Jonas Brothers starting this Tuesday, January 24, through July 1.

"Frank Gehry-designed off- Broadway complex"

Hedge fund manager William Ackman donated $25 million to New York’s nonprofit Signature Theatre, which said it will rename its new, Frank Gehry-designed off- Broadway complex after his foundation.

The “Pershing Square Signature Center” is scheduled to open on Tuesday with three theaters, two rehearsal studios and public space on W. 42nd Street, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues. Ackman, 45, is chief executive and founder of Pershing Square Capital Management LP.

"Golden Key Hotel checks out"

There will be no wrecking ball — much less dynamite — as the Golden Key Hotel checks out of Glendale to make way for a new Nordstrom department store at the Americana at Brand shopping center.

Workers started cautiously taking apart the three-story, 55-room hotel on Colorado Street on Thursday, said Paul Kurzawa, chief operating officer of mall owner Caruso Affiliated.

Workers are using an excavator and hand tools on the hotel; a vacant brick building next door will be dismantled entirely by hand. The goal is to avoid creating a lot of dust and racket, or accidentally whacking any of the Americana's existing buildings, which neighbor the hotel on three sides.

"We are taking out anything not permanently affixed, and then certain walls and then the roof and the rest of the walls," Kurzawa said. "It will be very orderly."

The Golden Key, which was built in 1968, closed at the end of December.

Going grey

Liam Neeson, who has emerged as a formidable middle-aged action star over the last few years, is expected to take the top spot at the box office this weekend, with his latest movie, "The Grey," projected to take in as much as $14 million. The other major releases this weekend are the Katherine Heigl comedy "One for the Money" and the thriller "Man on a Ledge." Neither are expected to top the $10-million mark. Looks like I'll be a man on a couch this weekend. Box-office previews from the Los Angeles Times and Hollywood Reporter.

The strong pull of COFFEE !!

Starbucks Corp.'s quarterly profit rose after the summer's economic jitters failed to dilute the coffee buying habits of the world's largest coffee chain's customers.

The stock, which closed at $41.40, rose 2.8 percent to $42.56 in after-hours trade.

Fourth-quarter net income hit $358.5 million, or 47 cents per share, including gains of 10 cents per share, the company said Thursday. In the year-earlier quarter, Starbucks made a profit of $278.9 million, or 37 cents per share.

Total revenue rose almost 7 percent to $3.03 billion for the quarter ended Oct 2.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Disco Party Silhouettes is available for your party

Golden Dragon Parade

​In celebrating over one hundred years of tradition, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles presents the 113th Annual Golden Dragon Parade. With over thousands and thousands of individuals lining the parade route and thousands viewing the telecast each year, this colorful celebration along North Broadway in Chinatown has become the premiere cultural event in the Southern California Asian-American Community.

​​Since the mid-1980’s, the Golden Dragon Parade has expanded to include almost two dozen floats, multiple marching bands, government officials, various dignitaries, entertainers, local business leaders and cultural groups. The parade’s theme emphasizes ethnic diversity, Chinese Culture and exposure to Chinese-American businesses. The parade continues to be a rich and diverse experience for Angelenos of all ages and ethnicities.

​The day of the Lunar New Year is the most celebrated holiday of the year for nearly 1.5 million persons of Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese descent in Southern California. It is celebrated with colorful festivals, parades, and most importantly, large family gatherings. It is also a time when ancestors are fondly remembered and families give thanks for their blessings. Red packets of money (“Lai See” or “Hung Bao”) and firecrackers add fun and excitement to the Chinese New Year celebration.

Hornblower Cruises

Hornblower offers dinner cruises, charter cruises, harbor cruises, corporate events, whale watching, birthday parties, and weddings. It currently owns the largest fleet of private yachts in California, with cruises from San Diego, San Francisco, Berkeley, Old Sacramento, Marina Del Rey, Newport Beach, and Long Beach.

"The X-47B is designed to land on the deck of an aircraft carrier"

The Navy's new drone being tested near Chesapeake Bay stretches the boundaries of technology: It's designed to land on the deck of an aircraft carrier, one of aviation's most difficult maneuvers.

What's even more remarkable is that it will do that not only without a pilot in the cockpit, but without a pilot at all.

The X-47B marks a paradigm shift in warfare, one that is likely to have far-reaching consequences. With the drone's ability to be flown autonomously by onboard computers, it could usher in an era when death and destruction can be dealt by machines operating semi-independently.

Ten Cents a cup No More!

Philippe’s is best known for its legendary French dip sandwiches. But for regulars, nothing speaks to the eatery's historic L.A. feel than the 9-cent coffee on the menu. And the one extra cent of tax.

Since 1977, the legion of longtime customers at the Alameda Street restaurant had grown accustomed to putting a dime on the counter and getting a hot cup of coffee in return.

But on Wednesday, management posted a sign on the door that came as a surprise: Starting Feb. 2, the price of an eight-ounce brew is going up 400% — to 45 cents.

They say the price of coffee is such that the restaurant no longer can keep the price so low.

The Red Tree by Pip Gerard

The living tree root bridges of Cherrapunji, Meghalaya, India

Vines and roots of trees are trained to stretch across rivers and streams, to create a sturdy structure strong enough to be used as a bridge for up to 50 people at a time. Villagers create these living bridges – which take 10-15 years to grow – as a solution to the high annual rainfall, which would cause ordinary wooden bridges to rot

"Capturing the Beauty of Life"

"Put your lips together and blow"

Quoted from: http://www.1stwebdesigner.com/design/eight-photography-effects/

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lunar eclipse time lapse

Staircase To Nowhere...

What do you suppose this guy's thinking ????

Amazing Chalk Art

Art Imitates Life

“lifting of the veil”

An Apocalypse (Greek: Apok├ílypsis; “lifting of the veil” or “revelation”) is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted. The term also can refer to the eschatological final battle, the Armageddon, and the idea of an end of the world. These perceptions may better be related to the phrase “apokalypsis eschaton”, literally “revelation at ( or of ) the end of the eon, or age”. In Christianity The Apocalypse of John is the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death – are described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible, called the Book of Revelation of Saint John the Evangelist at 6:1-8. The chapter tells of a scroll in God’s right hand that is sealed with seven seals. Jesus Christ opens the first four of the seven seals, which summons forth the four beasts that ride on white, red, black, and pale horses which each symbolize War, Famine, Conquest (or Pestilence) and Death, respectively. The Christian apocalyptic vision is that the four horsemen are to set a divine apocalypse upon the world as harbingers of the Last Judgment.

Rudolph Valentino Busts

This is a wonderful collection depicting Valentino from The Four Horsemen, The Son of the Sheik, and possibly The Sheik. Some appear to have been mass produced while other could have been privately made.

Click below for the Rudolph Valentino Collectible Blog:


"It was the tango that changed the world"

Flash back to 1921. Female moviegoers were entranced with such handsome athletic actors as Douglas Fairbanks, Richard Barthlemess and Wallace Reid. But nothing prepared them for Rudolph Valentino's performance that year in Rex Ingram's acclaimed "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse."

As Julio, the charming wastrel grandson of a wealthy Argentine landowner before World War I, the smoldering Italian actor commands the screen, especially when he is in a local Buenos Aires dive watching a man and woman tango. Dressed in gaucho pants and bolero hat, he catches the eye of the woman dancing. Julio swaggers over to the dancing couple and asks to break into the dance. The man brushes Julio off, only to have Julio strike the man and take over in the woman's arms. Valentino's intensity and ardor still permeate the screen nearly 90 years later.

"This film really put him on the map, so to speak," says Donna L. Hill, who runs a Valentino website (www.rudolph-valentino.com) and is author of the new book "Rudolph Valentino: The Silent Idol."

" 'The Sheik' that followed only compounded that and increased his star appeal," she says. "But this is one of the few cases in any Hollywood film where you literally watch a star being born on film. The minute he starts dancing the tango, the whole film changes."

"a wonderfully silly excuse to dress up"

Ron Paul stars in Astros rainbow uniform at ’76 Congressional ballgame

Almost nobody likes Congress. The polls say so. But I'll say this for the federal legislature: Republicans and Democrats play each other in a baseball game every year, and that partly makes up for whatever it is they do the rest of the time.

Back in December, Summer Anne Burton of NotGraphs published a wonderful post called "GOP Presidential Candidates and Baseball" that explored how each of the hopefuls has been affiliated with the national pastime. The runaway winner was Ron Paul, simply because he happened to be photographed wearing a customized Houston Astros uniform while playing for the Republicans in the 1976 game at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. Many of the politicos who play today still wear the uniform of their local club. What a wonderfully silly excuse to dress up.

But Paul really did it right: Rainbow, star, stirrups. The only thing missing is white cleats. (I'm not sure what I think of putting his entire name on the back of the jersey. That's a violation.) Still, he'd fit right in with Jose Cruz, Enos Cabell and J.R. Richard. And check out those forearms. Nice to meet you, Mr. Garvey, err, Dr. Paul. With guns like those, it might not surprise you to realize that Paul reportedly hit the only home run over the fence in the history of the Congressional series — so says his son Sen. Rand Paul.

Worth Preserving

January 24, 2012|By Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times

A downtown Los Angeles theater and office complex built by silent film stars will be converted to a hotel.

Ace Hotel, a Portland, Ore., chain of boutique inns catering to the young and hip, will develop a new outpost in the historic United Artists building at Broadway and 9th Street. The 180-room hotel will occupy the office building's 13 floors, Ace said. It will have a pool, restaurant, bar and 1,600-seat theater when it opens in summer 2013.

"The United Artists building has an intriguing history and is an outstanding example of 1920s gothic architecture," said Alex Calderwood, a co-founder of Ace Hotel. "We look forward to being a part of the ongoing effort to revitalize South Broadway."

The complex at 927 S. Broadway was built in 1927 in part to provide a theater for the movie production company founded by film luminaries Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith.

The Spanish Gothic theater was designed by C. Howard Crane and the office tower by Walker & Eisen, the team behind other local landmarks including the Fine Arts Building downtown and the Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills.

Greenfield Partners, a hotel investor based in South Norwalk, Conn., bought the United Artists building for $11 million in October from Wescott Christian Center Inc. One of the founders of Wescott was Gene Scott, a flamboyant preacher whose broadcasts were heard nationally. He died in 2005.

Hold that Tiger!

In this image dated Tuesday Jan. 24, 2012 and made available by Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, Lee Westwood from England, 2nd left, U.S. golf star,Tiger Woods, 4th left, and Rory McIlroy from Northern Ireland, 2nd right, beat drums with members of a traditional Emirati Ayala dance group two days before the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (AP Photo/ David Cannon/Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship).

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Photography that is Exciting !

Photo by Ian Shive who says: "I have a lot to be thankful for in 2011. It was a great year for making photographs as well as sharing them but of all the great accomplishments and memories, being the recipient of the Sierra Club’s prestigious 2011 Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography takes the cake."

To visit Ian's website, click on the heading above.

Sierra Club

Full of reasons why the Sierra Club warrants your support. For many years I enjoyed membership in the Sierra Club. I should send them a check . . .

I remember doing this once but then I came to my senses.

RUNNING THE RAPIDS will give you a thrill

Only trouble is -- I'm terrified still

ARCH ROCK -- but where ???

If anyone has more information on where this is located -- please leave a comment. According to the Sierra Club it's somewhere in the Great Lakes region. Yeah, I realize, that's a pretty large region.


The Little Tramp returns

After a 20-year exile in Europe, Charlie Chaplin returned to Hollywood to receive an honorary Oscar on April 10, 1972, for such comedies as "The Kid," "The Gold Rush," "City Lights," "Modern Times" and "The Great Dictator." Chaplin, then 82, received probably the longest standing ovation in the history of the Oscar telecast as he walked slowly to the podium to pick up his Academy Award for his "incalculable effect in making motion pictures the art form of the century." Chaplin was quite literally speechless as he looked at the throng of stars whose cheers kept getting louder. He finally uttered "thank you so much," referring to the audience as "sweet people." And there wasn't a dry eye in the house when Jack Lemmon gave him his famous Little Tramp hat and cane.

A Match Made in Heaven

Annie Hall (1977) is one of the truest, most bittersweet romances on film. In it, Allen plays a thinly disguised version of himself: Alvy Singer, a successful--if neurotic--television comedian living in Manhattan. Annie (the wholesomely luminous Dianne Keaton) is a Midwestern transplant who dabbles in photography and sings in small clubs. When the two meet, the sparks are immediate--if repressed. Alone in her apartment for the first time, Alvy and Annie navigate a minefield of self-conscious "is-this-person-someone-I'd-want-to-get-involved-with?" conversation. As they speak, subtitles flash their unspoken thoughts: the likes of "I'm not smart enough for him" and "I sound like a jerk." Despite all their caution, they connect, and we're swept up in the flush of their new romance. Allen's antic sensibility shines here in a series of flashbacks to Alvy's childhood, growing up, quite literally, under a rumbling roller coaster. His boisterous Jewish family's dinner table shares a split screen with the WASP-y Hall's tight-lipped holiday table, one Alvy has joined for the first time. His position as outsider is uncontestable he looks down the table and sizes up Annie's "Grammy Hall" as "a classic Jew-hater."

The relationship arcs, as does Annie's growing desire for independence. It quickly becomes clear that the two are on separate tracks, as what was once endearing becomes annoying. Annie Hall embraces Allen's central themes--his love affair with New York (and hatred of Los Angeles), how impossible relationships are, and his fear of death. But their balance is just right, the chemistry between Allen's worry-wart Alvy and Keaton's gangly, loopy Annie is one of the screen's best pairings. It couldn't be more engaging. --Susan Benson