Wednesday, February 29, 2012

More Magic Coming Our Way

Composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim told The London Evening Standard that he is working on a musical with David Ives, the playwright known for Venus in Fur, All in the Timing and adaptations of classics.

The paper reported that Tony Award winner Sondheim, 81, has written "20 or 30 minutes" of the new piece. "Having spent the better part of four years writing two books [of his collected lyrics], I'm really rusty," he told the paper. "I sit at the piano and think, 'Where's middle C?' Any muscles, as you know, atrophy when you don't use them, and I haven't been using my musical muscles."

Sondheim told on Feb. 29, "It's an idea I've had for a long time and it springs indirectly from a moment in a play of David's." He left it at that. Ives declined to comment.

The last "new" full work from the Pulitzer Prize- winning songwriter was Road Show (2008 at The Public Theater), a revision of a past show called Bounce, though he did pen a new song called "God" for Sondheim on Sondheim on Broadway in 2011.

Pulitzer Prize winner Sondheim wrote music and lyrics for the Broadway musicals Company, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, A Little Night Music, Follies, Sunday in the Park With George, Merrily We Roll Along, Sweeney Todd, Pacific Overtures, Passion, The Frogs, Assassins and Into the Woods.

Ives' plays includes The Heir Apparent (adapted from Regnard play), The School for Lies (adapted from The Misanthrope), the Helen Hayes Award-winning The Liar (adapted from Pierre Corneille's play), Is He Dead? (adapted from the Mark Twain play), Polish Joke and Irving Berlin's White Christmas.

"abundant portions of French country cuisine at affordable prices"

The Taix Family are the third and fourth generations of a family of sheepherders and bakers from the "Hautes-Alpes" in southeastern France who immigrated to Los Angeles around 1870.

In 1912 Marius Taix Sr. built a hotel called the Champ d'Or in downtown Los Angeles' French quarter. In 1927, Marius Taix Jr. opened Taix French restaurant within the hotel serving chicken dinners for 50 cents at long "family-style" tables. Diners could choose private booth service for an extra quarter. Taix's novel food, unique service and affordable prices make it a Los Angeles institution.

The present location opened in 1962 and continues to be a family affair. Family style service has given way to private booths, but Taix French restaurant remains faithful to the famed tureen of soup, fresh french bread, and abundant portions of French country cuisine at affordable prices. The restaurant dynasty is carried on by Marius' son, Raymond Taix, who has made sure that the character of the restaurant has remained unchanged, and his son Michael, whose passion for wines has resulted in an extensive, award winning wine list.

Costa Allegra in distress

An Italian cruise liner (above) carrying more than 1,000 people was adrift without power in the pirate-infested Indian Ocean on Monday, February 27, 2012, after a fire erupted in its generator room. Officials said the blaze was extinguished without causing injuries.

The fire aboard the Costa Allegra occurred only six weeks after one of its sister ships, the Costa Concordia (above), hit a reef and capsized off Italy, killing 25 people and leaving seven missing and presumed dead. Both ships are operated by Costa Crociere SpA, which is owned by the Florida-based Carnival Corporation.

"like so many snowflakes being hurled hither and thither by the wind"

The Snow Goose - one of the most abundant, wide ranging, gregarious and noisy water birds in North America - stages a showy pageant in the Southwest and central United States every year through the fall and winter seasons. “The spectacle of a flock of these white geese flying,” said naturalist George Bird Grinnell in his 1901 book American Duck Shooting, “is a very beautiful one. Sometimes they perform remarkable evolutions on the wing, and if seen at a distance look like so many snowflakes being hurled hither and thither by the wind.”

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Not "for humility or moderation"

The Pritzker Prize is not awarded for humility or moderation or being a chill dude. The Pritzker Prize, at least in theory, is awarded to architects who design impressive buildings, and by that standard Frank Gehry eminently deserved the Pritzker Prize he won way back in 1989. Since then, Gehry has continued to do what he does best, which is design fascinating structures like the beloved Guggenheim Bilbao — which architects recently chose as the greatest building of the past 30 years in a Vanity Fair poll — and the Novartis Building, which is seen above. While its (jargon alert) unconventional shape and super-shiny aesthetics unmistakably mark the Novartis Building as a Gehry project, something about it is different than many of Gehry’s others. No, it’s not less shiny — not that we can see, at least. It’s just a lot more energy efficient, which is more the result of Switzerland’s forward-thinking national green building laws — it’s different in Europe, people — than any change of heart on Gehry’s part. But while Gehry has never really evinced much interest in green design, it wasn’t until recently that he weighed in on the US Green Building Council’s LEED program, which — for better and worse, as we’ve discussed numerous times at gbNYC — is effectively the brand name for green building in the United States. He is, to put it gently, a skeptic.

"Performing Arts Center on Saadiyat Island"

Performing Arts Center on Saadiyat Island

Designed by Pritzker Prize winning Zaha Hadid

Located in Cultural District on Saadiyat Island

62 m high building houses 5 theatres – a music hall, concert hall, opera house, drama theatre and a flexible theatre with a combined seating capacity for 6,300 Besides, the Center is home to an Academy of Performing Arts

Zaha Hadid describes her design for the project as “A sculptural form that emerges from a linear intersection of pedestrian paths within the cultural district, gradually developing into a growing organism that sprouts a network of successive branches. As it winds through the site, the architecture increases in complexity, building up height and depth and achieving multiple summits in the bodies housing the performance spaces, which spring from the structure like fruits on a vine and face westward, toward the water.”

"with hints of the Scottish Parliament"

The Ray and Maria Stata Center is a 430,000-ft² (40,000 m²) academic complex designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry, and is in a central position on the MIT campus.

Finished in 2004, its a remarkable building, with hints of the Scottish Parliament. I think that the building looks best on a day like this, with hazy blue skies bringing out the colours and angles of the building.

It is just as neat inside.

With "automated lenses that control light to the interior"

Jean Nouvel, the bold French architect known for such wildly diverse projects as the muscular Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and the exotically louvered Arab World Institute in Paris, received architecture’s top honor, the Pritzker Prize in 2008

Mr. Nouvel cemented his reputation in 1987 with completion of the Arab World Institute (above), one of the “grand projects” commissioned during the presidency of Fran├žois Mitterrand. A showcase for art from Arab countries, it blends high technology with traditional Arab motifs. Its south-facing glass facade, for example, has automated lenses that control light to the interior while also evoking traditional Arab latticework. For his boxy, industrial Guthrie Theater (shown below), which has a cantilevered bridge overlooking the Mississippi River, Mr. Nouvel experimented widely with color. The theater is clad in midnight-blue metal; a small terrace is bright yellow; orange LED images rise along the complex’s two towers..

The Dow finally closed above 13,000!

Can we stop talking about Dow 13,000 now?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 23.61 points to 13,005.12, boosted by a strong reading on consumer confidence.

The S&P 500 Index climbed about 0.3%.

Currency and bond markets cared less about the U.S. data and were mostly transfixed on expectations for the European Central Bank's lending operation tomorrow – seen as a bellwether for whether the run-up in risky assets will continue. Read expectations of LTRO.

The euro hit a three-month high, trading at $1.3464, up from $1.3405 Monday. Yields on 10-year Treasury notes 10, which move inversely to prices, were down most of the day but turned up at the end to 1.94%.

Oil futures fell $2.01, or 1.9%, to settle at $106.55 a barrel.

Gold for April delivery added $13.50, or 0.8%, to $1,788.40 an ounce, rising for the first time since the metal reached a three-month high last Thursday.

Among big company news (and we mean one BIG company), Apple Inc.'s shares rose to $535 during the session, pushing its market capitalization over $499 billion. That's bigger than some entire sectors. Read related blog at

"Johnny Blaze"

Former stuntman and bounty hunter of rogue demons Johnny Blaze has been living in self-imposed exile, believing that his powers are a curse. But when he is approached by a member of a monastic order who is looking for someone to protect a mother and her son, who are being pursued by the devil in the figure of a man named Roarke, the Ghost Rider takes the case.

"inseparable partners and best friends but . . . "

Two of the world's deadliest CIA operatives are inseparable partners and best friends - until they discover that they've fallen in love with the same woman. Deciding to keep their friendship a secret from her, they pull out their full arsenal of fighting skills and high-tech gadgetry to defeat their greatest enemy - each other.

High Art

When American architect Richard Meier was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 1984, he was a mere 49, the youngest recipient in the history of the prize. In his acceptance speech Meier said how he viewed his skill as more master builder than artist, concerned with the concrete making of his buildings, ‘My goal is presence, not illusion. My meditations are on space, form, light and how to make them. My style is something that is born out of culture and profoundly connected with personal experience,’ he said.

This tract is clear to see in his extensive architectural portfolio and goes some way to explaining why he is the architect behind a number of the world’s finest museums and galleries: The Getty Centre in Los Angeles, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta (above), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona and, recently the Ara Pacis in Rome, to name just a few. Clean light and often white buildings, Meier's architecture has a subtle magnificence to it that is unmistakable in its simple, post-modern grandeur.

Monday, February 27, 2012

"Fall's Finery"

Leaves are suspended in a puddle of water in Owosso, Mich., after falling from trees during a heavy rain.

Author: CBS News Staff, Oct. 2, 2006
Credit: AP/Owosso Argus-Press, A. Cepak

"Spectacular Image"

A wood duck floats against the reflected foliage on Sanctuary Marsh at North Chagrin Reservation in Willoughby Hills, Ohio.

Author: CBS News Staff, Oct. 9, 2006
Credit: AP/The Plain Dealer, Gus Chan

"Hollywood Life" reports:

Justin Bieber shocked fans by appearing in a taped segment at the 2012 Oscars, and host Billy Crystal says he was the perfect choice for the bit!

"a pony away from a bar mitzvah!"

At this year's Academy Awards ceremony, Cirque du Soleil took to the stage to dazzle audiences with their daring and astonishing stunts. The gymnasts used their contortionist skills to honor cinema with a mix of acrobatic and aerial stunts.

"We've got puppets, acrobats...we're a pony away from a bar mitzvah!" host Billy Crystal exclaimed following the performance.

The performance began with two suited circus artists soaring above the heads of the audience members, floating over the aisles and swiftly landing on the stage. The ensemble of more than 50 dance and gymnastic artists showcased talent, performing aerial tosses and outrageous maneuvers.

And audience members weren't the only ones impressed. Viewers posted their opinions on Twitter as the performance was happening live.

"Cirque du Soleil at the #Oscars. Wow. #MindBlown," tweeted one viewer.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The 1912 Chicago Cubs

Many baseball fans know the names of Frank Chance, Johnny Evers and Joe Tinker, the Chicago Cubs infielders named in Franklin Pierce Adams' 1910 poem known as "Baseball's Sad Lexicon." The trio played together as Cubs for over 10 seasons, but 1912 marked the end of Chance's playing days in Chicago. He did, however, continue to manage the team for the rest of the season, leading Chicago to a 91-59 record and a third place finish.

With Evers at second base and Tinker at shortstop, the 1912 Cubs featured one of the best middle infields in franchise history. Evers hit .341 that year while Tinker drove in a career-high 75 runs. According to "Cubs Journal" by John Snyder, though, the two did not always get along and even tried to fight each other in the dugout at one point. (This sounds very similar to a few more recent Cubs players.) Evers also served two suspensions for fighting with umpires during the season.

Rounding out the infield that year was catcher Jimmy Archer, first baseman Vic Saier and third baseman Heinie Zimmerman. On June 10, 1912, Zimmerman hit a game-winning home run in the tenth inning on an attempted intentional walk. Many of Zimmerman's 1912 statistics led the league, including his .372 batting average, his 14 home runs and his 207 hits. He also led the team with 99 RBIs.

The Cubs' outfield in 1912 consisted of regulars Jimmy Sheckard in left field, Tommy Leach in center field and Frank "Wildfire" Schulte in right field. Schulte finished the 1911 season as the first player in major league history to hit 20 home runs, 20 doubles and 20 triples in the same year. He continued to play well in 1912 and placed second on the team in home runs (12) and doubles (27).

Four Cubs pitchers earned double-digit win totals in 1912, including Larry Cheney, the league's leader with 26 wins. Lew Ritchie added 16 wins, as did rookie Jimmy Lavender, whose main pitch was a spitball. Ed Reulbach contributed 10 wins and had four of the team's nine saves.

Despite winning 91 games, the Cubs finished 13 games back in the 1912 National League standings. Chance was fired as the team's manager at the end of the season, with Evers named as his replacement. Tinker was soon traded, marking the official end of the Tinker-Evers-Chance era in Chicago.

Andrew Lloyd Webber: 'Love Never Dies' Will Likely Hit Broadway

NEW YORK - By Frank Scheck - Despite some savage reviews when Andrew Lloyd Webber's sequel to "Phantom of the Opera" opened in London, the British composer believes that "Love Never Dies" will still one day likely make it to The Great White Way.

After a planned Broadway showing was scuttled after the London production closed prematurely, the fate of the musical has taken an upswing since a reworked version of the show opened last year in Melbourne, Australia, to acclaim.

Now, a filmed version of that production is debuting in the United States next week.

"I think it will inevitably come, at some point," Webber, 63, told Reuters in an interview on the show's Broadway prospects. "But in many ways I now feel like I've closed the chapter on it. The film that's being shown is something I'm very, very proud of. So in a way it doesn't really matter if it comes tomorrow or five years' time."

He added with an air of confidence, "But I'm sure it will."

August 14, 1957 – Interstate Highway Sign Design Adopted

On August 14, 1957, the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) adopted the familiar red and blue shield design for interstate highway markers. During his time in Europe during World War II as commander of Allied Forces, President Eisenhower had been impressed by Germany’s well-engineered Autobahn. He could see the value of a system of high-quality roads for the United States, as well, and through persistent efforts persuaded Congress to approve and fund the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. The initial mileage to be constructed with federal funds was set at 41,000, which was later increased. Currently, the interstate system covers 46, 876 miles of American countryside.

ArtWork of Carol Wells

Utah's Delicate Arch

2012 Oscar Nominees -- The work of Chris Morris

Top row, from left: Max von Sydow, Rooney Mara, Michel Hazanavicius, Jessica Chastain and Kenneth Branagh.

Second row: Terrence Malick, Gary Oldman, Janet McTeer, Viola Davis and Jean Dujardin.

Third row: Nick Nolte, Meryl Streep and Martin Scorsese.

Fourth row: Alexander Payne, Jonah Hill and Michelle Williams.

Fifth row: Woody Allen, Christopher Plummer, Melissa McCarthy, George Clooney and Glenn Close.

Bottom row: Demian Bichir, Berenice Bejo, Octavia Spencer and Brad Pitt.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A neo-classic film "winner" ?????

With its swooning lovers, glamorous 1927-set L.A. scenery and charming score, the Oscar-buzzed silent film The Artist, now in theatres, is the quintessential date movie. To make a full throwback night of it in appropriate style, secure a reservation at one of the Deco-minded restaurants boasting retro fare.

"the largest housing development west of the Mississippi"

Conceived 70 years ago, Park La Brea has managed to remain relevant in a city that seems to grow ever-young. Perhaps that is because the apartment complex still inspires extreme reactions. One is either in or out of Park La Brea's gates, a resident or a ranter, and sometimes both.

Troll the Internet and your nets will sag with a tonnage of opinions, not unexpected for a place with 4,255 units, still the largest housing development west of the Mississippi. Ardent emotions swirl about its 31 two-story garden apartment buildings and 18 towers, each 13 stories high.

Closed until "who knows when?"

Kevin Forrester, a superintendent with the California Department of Parks and Recreation, walks inside Mitchell Caverns at Providence Mountains State Recreation Area. Since the remote park's closure, intruders have cut fences, kicked doors off of hinges and shattered windows and display cases at the visitors center. Critics say it might be a harbinger of what's to come when 70 more state parks are closed because of budget cuts.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times / February 22, 2012)

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Man Who Gave the Trojians Their Name

It was just one word, one brief thought from a dreamy kid about an upstart university, seven taps on a rattling typewriter, one word stuck deep in the first sentence of a thick first paragraph.

But for both the school and the sports columnist, it was one word that changed their worlds.

His name was Owen R. Bird, he was 25, and he had been with the Los Angeles Times barely five months when one of his influential readers made an unusual request. He was asked by Warren Bovard, USC's athletic director, to end the circus of monikers given the school's athletic teams — Methodists, Wesleyans and Cards — and find one powerful nickname that would stick.

One hundred years ago, Feb. 24, 1912, in a track preview in this newspaper, Bird began referring to USC as the "Trojans."

It was one word that eventually defined an institution, created a culture and fostered an attitude that has endured for a century.

It was also one word that cursed the man who concocted it.

Since being named the Trojans, USC has won 116 national titles and 363 individual NCAA titles while using athletics to help build the school into a institution of worldwide influence with endowments in the billions.

After naming the Trojans, Bird spent the rest of his life wildly and vainly trying to replicate the stature of that achievement while barely being remembered for it.

He fought in one skirmish and one war, married three women, worked at least a dozen jobs, lived in at least a dozen homes and continually sought greater thrills, until one day making the only memory more compelling than his Trojans creation.

On a winter evening in 1929, Bird returned to his Silver Lake home to find his wife, Laura, conversing with his best friend, Percival Watson. Bird pulled out a revolver and killed Watson with shots through his face, arm and abdomen.

Bird was convicted of manslaughter and sent to prison with a farewell that would serve as a template for the rest of his life. In its stories on the incident, the same Los Angeles Times that decorated its pages with nearly 800 of his bylined pieces during Bird's three years as sports editor and columnist never once mentioned that he had worked there.

“The Forgiveness of Blood’’

Welcome to 21st-century Albania, where an ancient code of justice persists alongside the latest technological gadgets. In “The Forgiveness of Blood,’’ teenager Nik (Tristan Halilaj) finds himself a marked man after his father kills a neighbor in a land dispute. Under a custom dating back hundreds of years, the dead man’s family is entitled to kill a male from Nik’s family as retribution.

This means that Nik is confined to his home for his own protection while his younger sister, Rudina (Sindi Lacej), leaves school to take over the family business — delivering bread in a horse-drawn cart. (Talk about old-fashioned.)

Nik (Tristan Halilaj) lives in fear in this thriller.

This is the second feature by Joshua Marston, who studied film in New York and has helmed an episode of “Six Feet Under’’ and other TV shows. His debut movie was the highly praised “Maria Full of Grace,’’ about a 17-year-old Colombian girl who smuggles drugs into the US. “The Forgiveness of Blood,’’ a suspenseful work using nonprofessional actors and co-written with an Albanian filmmaker, shows Marston is no one-hit wonder.

"Chez Jay"

When piped-in music and a bar's history perfectly align, it makes for a sweet cocktail of synchronicity, a besotted wink from the intimate interior that makes all the drinkers lean into their liquor just a little bit more.

On a recent Sunday night, the ramshackle Chez Jay, a beachcomber bistro in Santa Monica with a legendary past, was packed. Glasses twinkled, waiters rushed through the room delivering steaming steaks, and the Doors' "L.A. Woman" played overhead. "Driving down your freeways," Morrison growled, and it seemed like the room was right there with him, careening down Pacific Coast Highway.

Morrison was known to frequent Chez Jay, as well as a host of other famous regulars in its 53 years of business. Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Dean Martin, Lee Marvin, Judy Garland and even Marilyn Monroe would get seated in the curtained-off booth in the back, Table 10.

The restaurant, and that table in particular, is reported in the unpublished memoirs of now-deceased owner Jay Fiondella to have been the birthplace of many a screenplay, including work by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, as well parts of Warren Beatty's "Shampoo."

"Powerless Structures"

The newly-unveiled sculpture by artist duo Michael Elmgreen, of Denmark, and Ingar Dragset, of Norway, is seen on the Fourth Plinth in central London's Trafalgar Square, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012. The 4.1m high golden sculpture of a young boy riding a rocking horse is entitled: 'Powerless Structures, Fig. 101'. The plinth was originally built to house a bronze equestrian statue of William IV that was never installed. The project is commissioned by the Mayor of London as part of the rolling programme of contemporary art commissions for the empty Fourth Plinth. AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis.

"On the Ice"

Shot entirely on location in Barrow, Alaska, On the Ice is the engrossing and suspenseful film debut by filmmaker Andrew Okpeaha MacLean about two teenage boys who have grown up like brothers go about their lives in the comfortable claustrophobia of an isolated Alaskan town.

Early one morning, on a seal hunt with another teenager, an argument between the three boys quickly escalates into a tragic accident. Bonded by their dark secret, the two best friends are forced to create one fabrication after another in order to survive. The shocked boys stumble through guilt-fueled days, avoiding the suspicions of their community as they weave a web of deceit. With their future in the balance, the two boys are forced to explore the limits of friendship and honor.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

It took 50 penalty kicks and two days

SAN DIEGO, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- A high school soccer game in California came to an end after 50 penalty kicks spread out over two days, officials said.

The game between San Diego Crawford and The Bishop's School of San Diego (above)was tied 3-3 at the end of regulation time Tuesday and 42 penalty kicks were executed -- with each team making 18 and failing on three -- before officials halted the game due to darkness, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

The penalty kicks resumed the following day and Bishop's eventually won after scoring a goal on the 49th penalty kick and watching Crawford miss the 50th kick.

"All of us were so nervous after every (penalty) kick," said Matt Harris, who kicked the winning goal. "Any kick could have been the end. All of us were holding our breath."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Carnival of Binche

The carnival of Binche is an event that takes place each year in the Belgian town of Binche during the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday. The carnival is the most known of several others that take place in Belgium at the same time and has been proclaimed as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity listed by UNESCO. Its history dates back to approximately the 14th century.

Events related to the carnival begin up to seven weeks prior to the primary celebrations. Street performances and public displays traditionally occur on the Sundays approaching Ash Wednesday, consisting of prescribed musical acts, dancing, and marching. Large numbers of Binche's inhabitants spend the Sunday directly prior to Ash Wednesday in costume.

The centrepiece of the carnival's proceedings are clown-like performers known as Gilles. Appearing, for the most part, on "Shrove" Tuesday, the Gilles are characterised by their vibrant dress, wax masks and wooden footwear. They number up to 1,000 at any given time, range in age from 3 to 60, and are customarily male. The honour of being a Gille at the carnival is something that is to be aspired to by local men. From dawn on the morning of the carnival's final day, Gilles appear in the centre of Binche, to dance to the sound of drums and ward evil spirits away with sticks. Later, during the day, they don large hats adorned with ostrich plumes, which can cost upwards of $300 US dollars to rent, and march through the town with baskets of oranges. These oranges are thrown to, and sometimes at, members of the crowd gathered to view the procession. The vigour and longevity of the orange throwing event has in past caused damage to property – some residents choose to seal windows to prevent this.

New Orleans Celebrates Mardi Gras

Riders in the Krewe of Rex parade through the city during Mardi Gras day on February 24, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Mardi Gras celebration ends at midnight, when the Catholic Lenten season begins with Ash Wednesday and culminates with Easter.

(February 24, 2009 - Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images North America)

Lamas perform a traditional Buddhist dance at Yonghe Temple in Beijing yesterday, as part of the celebrations for the Tibetan New Year

The buzha, or cham in Tibetan language, is a masked dance used in Tibetan Buddhism to exorcize devils. Wearing masks of skulls and various demons, the lamas of Yonghe Temple performed buzha to the accompaniment of traditional Tibetan instruments.

At the end of the dance, the lamas walked in a procession with a model of the devil and threw it into a fire, symbolizing the exorcizing of the devil and pacifying of the world. After the ritual, the lamas continue to chant sutras, while people got a small bag of sacrificial fruits and candies before leaving the temple.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Would you eat lab-grown meat?

A Dutch scientist is hoping to create the world's first 'test-tube burger' after growing strips of muscle tissue in a laboratory from stem cells. Would you be happy to eat lab-grown meat or should science stay out of food production?

Stealthy Supersonic

The F-35, the military’s next-generation fighter jet that's currently under development, has begun its first flight tests carrying external missiles at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert.

The stealthy, supersonic fighter, built by Lockheed Martin Corp., has been undergoing tests since its first flight in late 2006.

The F-35, known as the Joint Strike Fighter, will be used jointly by the Navy, Marines and Air Force. Three versions of the F-35 are being built -- one that can operate off aircraft carriers, one capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings, and a conventional fighter jet.

All three F-35 variants will be built on the same production line at Lockheed's plant in Fort Worth, Texas. The center fuselage sections will be made by Northrop Grumman Corp. at Plant 42 in Palmdale.

Currently, the F-35 order is the Pentagon's costliest program going; the Defense Department has plans to buy 2,443 of the aircraft at a cost of $382 billion.

"The bloodshed underscored a new kind of cruelty in Egypt"

A woman passes a mural in Cairo depicting unidentified soccer fans slain at this month's riot in Port Said. The bloodshed underscored a new kind of cruelty in Egypt.

(Nasser Nasser, Associated Press / February 21, 2012)

"a passion for natural landscape"

In a career that spanned more than 50 years, Ansel Adams combined a passion for natural landscape, meticulous craftsmanship as a printmaker and a missionary's zeal for his medium to become the most widely exhibited and recognized photographer of his generation.

His photographs have been published in more than 35 books and portfolios, and they have been seen in hundreds of exhibitions, including a one-man show, ''Ansel Adams and the West,'' at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1979. That same year he was the subject of a cover story in Time magazine, and in 1980 he received the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

In addition to being acclaimed for his dramatic landscapes of the American West, he was held in esteem for his contributions to photographic technology and to the recognition of photography as an art form.

Monday, February 20, 2012

"two of the top pitchers in the nation"

Life couldn't be better for Lucas Giolito (above) and Max Fried (below), the right-handed and left-handed standout pitchers for Studio City Harvard-Westlake.

They recently signed letters of intent with UCLA and took a moment to celebrate.

"UCLA is my dream school," Giolito said. "When I walked on campus, it clicked."

Said Fried: "Just knowing I have a place going to college and get a great degree and have fun playing baseball under one of the best coaches in America ... "

Yes, UCLA Coach John Savage will be excited knowing that two of the top pitchers in the nation have signed to become Bruins, but the big question is: Will they show up for classes next year?

Giolito is considered a candidate to be the No. 1 draft pick in the nation in June. Fried is a possible first-round draft choice.

Too old to win Oscar? Never !!

Here are two who won Oscars late in their careers . . .

Henry Fonda

The veteran superstar had largely been ignored by the academy, earning only a lead actor nomination for 1940's "The Grapes of Wrath"and a nod as producer of the 1957 best picture nominee "12 Angry Men."He finally won a lead actor Oscar at the age of 76 and 317 days for his role as the husband of Katharine Hepburn's character in 1981's "On Golden Pond." Fonda, though, was too frail to attend the 1982 ceremony, but his daughter Jane, who was nominated for supporting actress for the film, did. "Oh, Dad, I'm so happy and proud for you," she said. Henry Fonda died in August of that year.

Katharine Hepburn

Fonda's "Golden Pond" costar also won the lead actress Oscar for the drama. It was her fourth win — she was 74 years and 275 days old. And just as with the other three times she had won, Hepburn was no where to be found at the ceremony to pick up her Oscar. Hepburn continued to work in films, TV and even theater until 1994. She died in 2003.

George and Gracie

The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, which premiered on 12 October 1950, was one of the first comedy series to make the successful transition from radio to television. Similar to the format of the radio program in which George Burns and Gracie Allen played themselves, the CBS domestic comedy was set in their home, the first television series to depict the home life of a working show business couple.

The half-hour series was broadcast live for the first two seasons. The first six episodes were broadcast from New York, but the show soon moved to Hollywood, making it only the third CBS series to emanate from the West Coast (after The Ed Wynn Show and The Alan Young Show). On Burns' insistence, the show was broadcast on alternate weeks in order to provide sufficient time for rehearsals and alleviate some of the pressures of live broadcasts. During its bi-weekly period, the series alternated with the anthology series Starlight Theater and, later, with Star of the Family. After two seasons of live performances, the series switched to a weekly filmed broadcast. Although not filmed before a studio audience, the final filmed product was previewed to an audience and their reactions recorded. At a time when many series relied on mechanically reproduced ("canned") laughter, Burns claimed that his series only "'sweetened' the laughter when a joke went flat and there was no way of eliminating it from the film. Even then we never added more than a gentle chuckle."

"The Good the Bad and the Ugly!"

An amazing artist by the name of Juarez Ricci created this amazing illustration of one of my favorite films of all time: Sergio Leone’s The Good the Bad and the Ugly! If your loving this then be sure to also checkout more of Juarez Ricci’s artwork over at his deviantart:juarezicc

"design concept for the Eisenhower Memorial"

On March 25, 2010, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission unanimously selected the preferred design concept for the Eisenhower Memorial created by architect Frank O. Gehry.

1937 postcard of Fern Dell in Los Angeles

A copy of a postcard from 1937 shows Griffith Park's Fern Dell in its former glory -- once a must-see attraction with fern gardens, footbridges and serene pools. Efforts at restoration are underway.

"Hey Frank, we took first place in the technology category!!! Kim"

Properly assembled, the bridges in the above plans can carry 1,000 times their own weight but they are not the ultimate design. Use them as a starting point. The parts are few and easy to duplicate, so you can use your time more efficiently evaluating different configurations. Make several bridges and test your ideas.

When you test the load limit of your bridge, catastrophic failure is unlikely. As soon as the first glue joint pops, repair it and think how you can reinforce that weak point.

You can scale the measurements of the parts for longer building material.

What can you lighten? What needs reinforcing? Does doubling the thickness of the sticks increase the efficiency? Does the truss railing increase efficiency? Do 3 or more arches in a bridge increase the overall efficiency?

Some things you might consider:
- An arch needs fixed feet to carry a serious load. If you just place it on a flat surface, you'll have to tie the feet together with non-stretching string or wire, else you'll just have a weak beam bridge carrying less than 50 lbs.
- Sand the surfaces to be glued. Boards might be rough, warped or have splinters around the holes or a glaze on them.
- Don't clamp pieces together too quickly. Let the glue soak in for a few seconds or prime the surfaces with a thin glue solution first.
- Leave your glue lots of time to set. Read the glue instructions.

Have fun :-)

"Renascer de Jacarepagua"

Performers from the Renascer de Jacarepagua samba school parade during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday Feb. 19, 2012.

Photo: Silvia Izquierdo / AP