Saturday, November 29, 2008

Final Port of Call for Queen Elizabeth 2

A jumbo Emirates Airlines A380 jet and scores of pleasure craft greeted Queen Elizabeth 2 on Nov. 26, as the ocean liner sailed into Dubai, its final port of call in a four-decade-long career. The QE2, arguably the world’s best-known passenger ship, will be refurbished as a floating hotel and museum moored off the wealthy Mideast emirate.

"slapstick sillies"

For knuckleheads of all ages, the Alex Film Society unleashes the 11th Annual Three Stooges Big Screen Event on Saturday at Glendale's Alex Theatre. Among the slapstick sillies being screened are "Three Little Beers" and "Disorder in the Court." The bonus feature is a rarely seen 1974 interview with Stooge Larry Fine.

A Scythe for Sore Eyes

The Galpin Auto Sports Scythe brings a lot to the table. "From the handmade composite body and voice-activated on-board computer system to the twin-supercharged 1,005 horsepower engine, this car was built to make a statement."

The Wynn Las Vegas' interiors feel almost cutting-edge

From the outside, there’s nothing Bellagio about Wynn Las Vegas. Architecturally, it is slim and graceful, wrapped in skin-tight bronze. It’s coy compared with his earlier projects.

The Wynn Las Vegas' atrium, with marble floors inlaid with mosaics and decorative swirls in the carpets, lets some natural light flow into the casino itself.

A waterfall at the Wynn, part of a design centerpiece, is the backdrop for a table in a Japanese restaurant.
(Lawrence K. Ho / LAT)

Friday, November 28, 2008

A man pursuing his dream

LONG QUEST: David Spindler on the Great Wall in Jinshanling, China. He has spent more than 830 days exploring the wall on foot. Without formal training or funding, David Spindler has managed to become a leading scholar of the Chinese landmark's history through sheer determination -- and a lot of footwork. Spindler is a Harvard Law School graduate who left his job as a consultant and lived off savings to pursue his grand obsession thousands of miles from his Massachusetts roots. Some day soon, he hopes to publish a book on all he's learned. Spindler has traveled across China and even to Japan to look up arcane, centuries-old texts about the Great Wall. Now he wants to learn Mongolian to study works from the raiders perspective.

Danger shrouded in beauty

Three men enjoying the ocean view at Point Mugu were swept to their deaths Thursday afternoon by a wave that pulled them into the water along with two companions who were able to scramble to safety, authorities said.

The victims -- ages 17, 19 and 21 -- were standing at the water's edge on the landmark Mugu Rock taking photographs of the ocean about 1:50 p.m. when a wave knocked them into the surf, Ventura County sheriff's officials said.

Two of the men managed to haul themselves out of the water and shout for help, and a passerby dived into the choppy ocean to try to save the other men, said Senior Sheriff's Deputy Julie Novak.

Kathryn Barrona said she took off her shoes and jumped into the chilly water when she saw one of the men floating face down. She managed to swim out and haul him back against the current and crashing waves, but he was already dead.

Bonds that are a good investment

Reporting from Hong Kong -- From one Bond to another: job well done.

Roger Moore (above) told reporters Thursday that Daniel Craig was "marvelous" as James Bond because he brought a fresh dimension to the character.

The 81-year-old actor, who starred in seven Bond films in the 1970s and the 1980s, said Craig's performances in Steven Spielberg's 2005 political thriller "Munich" and "Sylvia" in 2003, in which he plays the poet Ted Hughes, helped shape a new Bond.

"All of those parts were very, very different to one's conception of Bond. . . . I thought he was absolutely marvelous," Moore said of Craig's acting in 2006's "Casino Royale."

Fans have criticized the casting of Craig, questioning whether a stage-trained actor with little action experience could pull off the role of Bond.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Devil's Throat, Iguassu Falls, Argentina

Iguazu Falls, Iguassu Falls, or Iguaçu Falls Portuguese: Cataratas do Iguaçu pronounced [kataˈɾatɐz du igwaˈsu]; Spanish: Cataratas del Iguazú, [kataˈɾatas del iɣwaˈsu] are waterfalls of the Iguazu River located on the border of the Brazilian state of Paraná and the Argentine province of Misiones. The falls divide the river into the upper and lower Iguazu.

Their name comes from the Guarani or Tupi words y (IPA:[ɨ]) (water) and ûasú (IPA[wa'su]) (big). Legend has it that a god planned to marry a beautiful aborigine named Naipí, who fled with her mortal lover Tarobá in a canoe. In rage, the god sliced the river creating the waterfalls, condemning the lovers to an eternal fall. The first European to find the falls was the Spanish Conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca in 1541, after whom one of the falls in the Argentine side is named. The falls were rediscovered by Boselli at the end of the nineteenth century, and one of the Argentinian falls is named after him.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Blue Mosque

The sun sets on Istanbul's legendary Blue Mosque, completed in 1616. The stately mosque features six minarets instead of the typical four.

Frankfurt am Main

Frankfurt is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2008 population of 670,000. The urban area had an estimated population of 2.26 million in 2001.[1] The city is at the centre of the larger Frankfurt Rhine Main Region which has a population of 5.3 million and is Germany's second largest metropolitan area. In English, this city's name translate as "Frankfurt on the Main". A large early tribe in the area was the Franks and in German "Furt" means a river crossing. Thus, in medieval times, "Frankfurt" meant the Franks' river crossing.

Situated on the Main River, Frankfurt is the financial and transportation centre of Germany and the largest financial centre in continental Europe.It is the place of residence of the European Central Bank, the German Federal Bank, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and the Frankfurt Trade Fair, as well as several large commercial banks. Frankfurt International Airport is one of the world's busiest airports, Frankfurt Central Station is one of the largest terminal stations in Europe, and the Frankfurter Kreuz (Autobahn interchange) is the most heavily used interchange in continental Europe.

Grey Glacier, Patagonia, Chile

Grey Glacier is part of Torres del Paine National Park, which also is home to those jagged peaks you see on the Patagonia clothing logo. The whole area is South America's answer to Alaska -- vast spaces, dramatic seasons, looming mountains, exotic creatures, enormous quantities of ice and water.
(Antares Patagonia)

Hyundai’s Electric Mini Minivan

At the 2008 Geneva Auto Show, Hyundai gave us a glimpse at where they are heading, debuting the HED-5 i-Mode concept. HED stands for Hyundai European Design, thus the vehicle is aimed squarely at the European market.
The key attributes of the car? Let me name a few:

Lighter plastics to reduce weight are included, with an emphasis on environmentally friendliness — fewer emissions are required to build each panel.

Self-healing paints, the type you find on the Infiniti G37 coupe will be standard.

Swivel seating along the lines of Chrysler’s Stow and Go minivan seating will be included.

Extensive use of LG electronics to hook up with wireless networks allowing communication between car and house, and between items within the car such as headphones and keyboards.

(Excerpts from a review by AUTO TRENDS -- to visit their website click on the link below:

Kazamai by Mazda

Mazda recently revealed the first official image of a new compact crossover vehicle called KAZAMAI for the first time AT the Moscow International Motor Show. According to Mazda, KAZAMAI means the "revolving crosswinds". The concept has a four-wheel-drive powertrain and constitutes the next generation of direct injection engines along with the development of a new transmission. The spectacular styling of this beauty will catch the eye of all as it passes by.

Exciting and Unsettling

Stephen Higgins and Nina Gilden Seavey's absorbing documentary "The Matador" doesn't avoid airing the protests against bullfighting that have increased in recent years. But the filmmakers never take sides, concentrating instead on their captivating subject, David Fandila, a bullfighter from Granada, who, five years ago, at the age of 21, set out to become only the 13th matador in history to complete 100 corridas in a single season.

Even if one is not a bullfighting aficionado, it is easy to get caught up in his quest. Fandila is as graceful and stylish as a dancer and rarely falters; he does seem to fulfill one observer's remark that the bullfighter is "a hero who confronts death for all of us."

When he arrives at a ring, David blots out protesters chanting, "Torture is not art nor culture." The bull's fate might be cruel, but surely Fandila is an artist and bullfighting has been deeply embedded in Spanish and Mediterranean cultures for centuries.

The filmmakers don't probe why this came to be and what it signifies, and their film would have been stronger had they done so. Still, they do capture the paradox of beauty and cruelty that charges their entire film. "The Matador" is rightly exciting -- and unsettling.

-- Kevin Thomas "The Matador." MPAA rating: Unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 14 minutes. Exclusively at the Laemmle's Music Hall, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills (310) 274-6869.

To purchase the Art Print above click on the link below:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

World’s Worst Boxer To Retire

After 256 defeats, the world’s worst boxer has thrown in the towel. At 39 years old, Peter Buckley says his 300th fight will be his last.

Unusual Photo Angle

Michael Phelps (left) wins 8th Olympic gold medal. There is a series of these shots. Click on the link below to view the entire sequence:

Desperately Seeking Snitches

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- The Albuquerque Police Department has turned to the want ads for snitches.

An ad this week in the alternative newspaper The Alibi asks "people who hang out with crooks" to do part-time work for the police.

It reads in part: "Make some extra cash! Drug use and criminal record OK."

Capt. Joe Hudson says police received more than 30 responses in two days. He says one tip was a "big one" but wouldn't elaborate.

An informant whose tip helps officers arrest a drug dealer could earn $50. A tip about a murder suspect could bring up to $700.

It's not the first time department has run ads. In a program 10 years ago, police received so many calls they turned the phones off.


Arcosanti is a real construction site north of Phoenix Arizona. It is the product of Paolo Soleri's architectural and societal theory of Arcology. In his philosophy, architecture is society and visa versa. This is an image from Arcosanti's web page. It is a rendering of the mega-structure where it will be when completed. You can see the existing buildings near the bottom. notice the flowers in the foreground. They are meeting the rising sun in the east. The entire construction site is oriented to face south. In the summer months, the sun's path is high in the sky and the apse's(the mega-structure) curved shape keeps the inside in shade. In the winter months when the sun's path is low in the sky, the apse collects the sun's rays and stores the heat in it's enormous thermal mass. It regulates it's temperature with passive solar design principles and is incredibly aesthetic at the same time.

"Andy Warhol's Factory People"

The three hour film, “Andy Warhol’s FACTORY PEOPLE”, tells the story of the 60’s Silver Factory that Andy founded in 1964 in an abandoned hat factory on East 47th Street in New York City. The Silver Factory lasted until 1968 when Andy gave up the lease and moved to the White Factory on Union Square. Shortly after moving in the Spring of ’68 Andy was shot by Valerie Solanas and this event bookends the period of time covered in “Factory People”.

The idea of the film is to tell the real story of the culture, who was there with Andy, who participated in the work with Andy, and what really happened during this period…all without passing judgement on Andy, his work, his friends, and the people who were there at the time. The film takes and in-depth look at the lives and times of the people who hung out with Andy and “worked” at the Silver Factory during the Sixties, making it all click as a new counter-culture arose and began to exert its influence throughout the arts.

What makes this Warhol documentary, directed by Catherine O'Sullivan Shorr, slightly different from other Warhol documentaries is its avowed bottom-up approach: Warhol as a function of his followers is the idea. ("Factory People" assumes you already know your Andy.) Of course, this is true to some degree of any film about this artist, given the fact that he's no longer around to speak for himself, and even when he was he preferred utterance to explication, and also given the use he made of those around him. But this time the interview subjects get to talk about themselves, and each other, a little more than usual.

There are lots of photos and film clips, both by and of Warhol -- who would have turned 80 this year -- but it's the interviews, most of them new, that that tell the tale. There are Warhol assistant Gerard Malanga, unofficial Factory foreman Billy Name, biographer Victor Bockris (who calls the Factory "the most intelligent art commune in the world"), "superstars" Ultra Violet, Mary Woronov and Holly Woodlawn, actors Allen Midgette and Taylor Mead, and Velvets Reed and Nico.

The documentary is currently being shown on Ovation TV at various times.

Monday, November 24, 2008

VALKYRIE: Coming in December

At the height of WW2, a group of high-ranking German officers hatched a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, and seize power of the military command in order to end the war. The operation was codenamed "Valkyrie", for the emergency plan that was meant to be used in case of a revolt against the Nazi government. This plan had been modified by the conspirators to ensure their success, but for various reasons the plot failed when finally carried out on 20 July 1944. The conspirators of the inner circle were shot after a kangaroo trial or sentenced to death soon after.

The movie opens in December.

The Valkyrie And Her Einherjars

"A valkyrie on her silver steed on a war-torn land. The butterfly she is looking at is the manifestation of a soul of warriors who died on the battlefield. So, this picture has a combo of norse myth (valkyrie), greek myth (pegasus) and japanese myth (spirit butterfly).

To purchase this print, click on the link below:

Letting a wetlands grow wild again

A California brown pelican dives into the water to snare a fish at the Los Cerritos Wetlands. “This place has incredible potential,” said Lennie Arkinstall, groundskeeper of the privately owned land. “Just add a little water and cleanup work and, boom! You’ve got instant thriving ecosystem.”

Swordsman slain at Scientology Celebrity Centre

Police today identified the man who was shot and killed after wielding two samurai swords at the Church of Scientology's Celebrity Centre in Hollywood.

Authorities said they were not sure why Mario Majorski, 48, traveled from Oregon to the center Sunday morning but indicated he had "created problems" for the church in the past, said Det. Wendi Berndt

"From that we believe there is some sort of mental issue," Berndt said.

Majorski allegedly waved two swords in the center's garden about noon Sunday and threatened to kill security guards, she said.

Police said a surveillance tape backed the security guard's claim that he fired his semiautomatic handgun to protect himself and two colleagues.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The magnetic Tyrone Power

From 1936 through 1958, the incredibly handsome Power was one of Hollywood's favorite leading men. Romance novelist Barbara Cartland once said, "We didn't need sex. We had Tyrone Power."

He excelled in everything, including romantic dramas ("The Razor's Edge"), swashbucklers ("The Mark of Zorro," "The Black Pirate") and comedy ("Love Is News"). Every once in a while, Power got a chance to play against type, as in "Nightmare Alley," in which he costarred as an ambitiously ruthless carnival worker, or in Billy Wilder's 1957 mystery thriller "Witness for the Prosecution," which cast him as a charming murderer.

This weekend, the American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre paid tribute to the actor with a three-day retrospective, "Tyrone Power: Everybody's Darling Boy."

"Sunset Boulevard" and Norma Desmond

This movie is absolutely haunting. The dialogue is magnificent. It works as both a moving drama and a semi-black comedy look at the fragility of fame and the lure of the movie industry. Billy Wilder’s direction and screenplay are brilliant. I could watch it over and over again. And I have.

By: Barry Monush

"seven flavors of insufferable"

The All-Ego Sports Team isn't about steely self-confidence. It's about bloated ego, about heads too big for the helmet, and mouths too big for the microphone. It's about the real-life Apollo Creeds. Being merely obnoxious doesn't get you on this list. You have to be seven flavors of insufferable.

Here are a couple from that list: (For the complete list click on the link below)

Barry Bonds, baseball player. He’s the most prolific home run hitter of all time and still can’t get a gig. Why? Maybe it’s because he’s clubhouse poison. Maybe because he may be headed for jail. Was Willie Mays really his godfather? What happened there?

Alex Rodriguez, baseball player. The way he finagled a new contract in 2007 was churlish and an insult to an organization that treated him well. Now he has left his wife to hang out with strippers and movie stars. A-Rod? More like A-Bomb.

Creating Magic

Bob Baker, 84, owner and creator of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater on the corner of 1st and Glendale, has over 3,000 puppets in his collection. The nearly 50-year-old stage just west of downtown, where the owner crafts most of the puppets, is behind on mortgage payments. But he is determined that the show will go on. We wish good luck and prosperity to the Bob Baker Marionette Theater.

For more information click on the link below:

Red Wing boots, Pendleton plaid shirts, Filson field bags and Carhartt beanies are among the brands that a new generation is discovering.

CLASSIC: Red Wing boots have been a U.S. staple since before the 1930s, when this ad ran.

Amazing Art of Guy Peelleart, 1934-2008

Militants and military brace for a winter of war in Afghanistan

NO WONDERLAND: The snow was deep in Kabul, the Afghan capital, in February. Western strategists say winter weather will hamper militant movements, but the Taliban claims it won’t stop suicide attacks and roadside bombs.

Brits may ban Happy Hour

Britain is considering a ban on happy-hour discounts at bars and restaurants to curb drinking, a spokesman said Saturday, as health advocates warn that a rise in liver-related deaths among young people may signal a future epidemic.

Officials will decide whether to ban happy hours after an independent policy review is released in coming weeks, a health department spokesman said.

Virtual reality in ancient Rome opens near the Coliseum

It’s back to the future — or is that forward to the past? — at a theater near the Coliseum (not the one in L A) where “3-D Rewind Rome” opened on Nov. 20. The high-tech, virtual-reality program is aimed at introducing visitors to ancient Rome in a vivid and exciting way to prepare them for touring the 2,000-year-old city.
Spectators don special 3-D glasses for the 30-minute program that uses some 60,000 virtual characters — senators, plebeians, even vestal virgins — brought to life using some of the same kinds of technology that created “The Lord of the Rings.”

The show begins at a construction site in modern-day Rome where a frescoed tunnel that once led to the living quarters of gladiators is discovered. Then, as part of a virtual crowd in the Coliseum during a gladiatorial contest, the “3-D Rewind Rome” audience members get to give the thumbs-up or thumbs-down sign to a prostrate fighter. The action seems so real that preview audiences flinched when a gladiator thrust a sword in their virtual direction.
Besides its entertainment value, the program educates visitors who too often wander around the Forum area with no real sense of what they are seeing. And unlike most Hollywood versions of the ancient world, “3-D Rewind Rome” is based on a virtual map of the imperial capital that was masterminded by scholars and was 10 years in the making. The map, known as Rome Reborn, will soon be available on Google Earth.
“3-D Rewind Rome” is showing

Tomales Bay is "picture perfect"

A colorful array of kayaks brightens up a foggy day along Tomales Bay, the site of Nick's Cove, a cozy new complex that stretches alongside Highway 1 just north of the town of Point Reyes.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Verdun: Always we will remember

The Victory Monument in Verdun has a card catalog with the names of the war dead, including those of many American infantrymen.
(Susan Spano/Los Angeles Times)

Skull Cave

Lava Beds National Monument in Northern California has 150 miles of hiking trails. Skull Cave, shown here, was named for the animal and human skulls discovered there.
(Andrew Mariman / For The Times)

Striking Images at Legoland in Carlsbad, California

The real Griffith Observatory and Hollywood Bowl are a few miles apart in L.A., but in Legoland’s Miniland, they’re next-door neighbors. Also nearby: a mini Manhattan and faux San Francisco.

Legoland's scaled-down version of San Francisco.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Amsterdam all aglow

The city at dusk sets aglow its signature town houses – reflecting centuries of style – and low-slung bridges, not to mention its miles of historic waterways.
(Massimo Catarinella)