Tuesday, November 30, 2010

L. A.'s Disney Concert Hall

This "stormy shot" was taken by "Junket" and submitted to Your Scene (Los Angeles Times).

"Academy Awards mainstay"

In past years, Bob Hope became an Academy Awards mainstay, hosting or co-hosting the Oscars 18 times from 1940 to 1978. In 1959, he led an eclectic group of hosts that included Jerry Lewis, David Niven, Laurence Olivier, Tony Randall and Mort Sahl.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The " Black Dahlia" case -- never solved

Several days after Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen was found shot to death in her Mercedes-Benz, a friend voiced the hope to KNBC-TV news that the case wouldn't turn into "another Black Dahlia."

The friend was referring to the 1947 slaying of aspiring actress Elizabeth Short (shown above), which has never been solved.

The Times' Larry Harnisch attributes fascination with the Black Dahlia case to the fact that the killing was a "gruesome, unsolved murder of an attractive victim with a haunting nickname."

She picked up the nickname because of her black outfits and black hair and because a movie of that era was titled "The Blue Dahlia."

Short's mutilated body was found Jan. 15, 1947, in a vacant lot on Norton Avenue in the Leimert Park area.

More than 50 delusional characters confessed. No one was ever arrested.

Over the years, the villain has variously been identified as a pipe salesman, a doctor, a cop, a mobster, a cafe owner and an actor.

Meanwhile, it is too soon to predict the outcome of the investigation into the Nov. 16 slaying of Ronni Chasen. But, as the above cases illustrate (all too brutally), not every Hollywood story has a happy ending. And some have no ending at all.

A splendid review by Charles McNulty tells Sondheim-lovers what delicious treats await them in Sondheim's new book

Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) With Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes by Stephen Sondheim -- Alfred A. Knopf: 480 pp., $39.95.

The essential qualities of Stephen Sondheim's artistic temperament — the peppery precision, the refusal to traffic in received wisdom and the commitment to truth over sentimentality — help turn what could have been a perfunctory curatorial service into the most valuable theater book of the year. "Finishing the Hat," the first of a two-volume set of Sondheim's collected lyrics, springs to life with sharp-eyed annotations, zingy anecdotes and frank appraisals of his most illustrious lyric-writing predecessors.

Sondheim on Sondheim alone is worth the price of admission. It's fascinating to hear about the complicated genesis of "Comedy Tonight," the opening number from "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" that crucially establishes the show's "elegantly vulgar" comic tone. And what a privilege to be privy to his justification for a "trick rhyme," such as "personable"/ "coercin' a bull," from "You Could Drive a Person Crazy," the patter number from "Company" that merrily blends psychological indictment with Andrews Sisters pep.

Reviewing the songs he wrote with Leonard Bernstein for "West Side Story," Sondheim finds much to criticize about his early desire to verbally impress. After hearing a run-through of "I Feel Pretty," friend and fellow lyricist Sheldon Harnick gently pointed out that Maria probably wouldn't resort to such curlicue sentiments as "It's alarming how charming I feel!" Sondheim agreed, but his collaborators were pleased with what he had done and wouldn't consent to changes. "I have blushed ever since," he confesses.

The only thing perhaps more interesting than Sondheim dissecting his own work is Sondheim dissecting the work of his forbears. He is a Geiger counter for mis-stressed syllables, syntactical snarls and sacrifices of meaning for rhyme — chronic problems in the popular catalog of Lorenz Hart, whom Sondheim calls "the laziest of the preeminent lyricists."

Carping does indeed come naturally to him, but this isn't an exercise in snotty fault-finding. The book is a celebration of craft, an "Elements of Style" guide for theatrical songwriters. Sondheim generously bequeaths trade secrets to the next generation, which he refuses to subject to his unsparing scrutiny, knowing firsthand the pain that can be inflicted on an artist still searching for his voice.

The dead, however, remain fair game. When considering his beloved mentor Oscar Hammerstein II, Sondheim engages in the same kind of "heavy duty nitpicking" that his great teacher modeled for him. This practice of examining each word in a song "with fierce care, because there are so few of them" reveals some wayward tendencies in Hammerstein's work, such as pointless repetitions, strained imagery and a full-blown obsession with birds. But it also allows Sondheim to appreciate that the man who could be breathtakingly "monumental" with simple emotions was "at his most poetic when he was at his least 'poetic.'"

Lush with insights into what Sondheim himself describes as a "fringe enthusiasm" (the theater being "an ancillary part of American culture these days"), "Finishing the Hat" is a masterful book on the art of writing — specialized to be sure but as widely resonant as the best of his songs. Above: Stephen Sondheim, left, with Leonard Bernstein circa 1965.


Holly Hill House has a 120-year history

A stately Queen Anne home on Santa Catalina Island known as Holly Hill House has a 120-year history as colorful as its signature cupola.

In addition to the towering red-and-green-striped dome, the three-story home is distinguished by steep gables, quirky interior spaces, antique furnishings that are included in the purchase and multiple porches. It was built by Peter Gano, a transplanted Ohioan and civil engineer who had helped develop the water systems for Pasadena and Altadena. He became smitten with Catalina during leisure outings, purchased a choice lot for $500 in the late 1880s and employed a former circus horse named Mercury to power a pulley system that moved building materials up the hillside, according to an account written by Sherri Kreis, whose family has owned Holly Hill House for the last four decades.

Gano, who was engaged to be married, built what he called Look Out Cottage in less than 18 months. But his fiancee balked at moving to the island. Forced to choose between her and the house, he opted for the house. Locals say that Gano lived in the red-roofed storybook home until the early 1920s. He refused to associate with women after his ill-fated romance and went so far as to post "No Women Allowed" signs around the property.

Although it has been enlarged a bit and the cupola burned in a 1964 fire, the home has been carefully restored and appears today much as it did when Gano finished construction in 1890.


An unmanned vehicle is seen patrolling during a demonstration at the Homeland Security Conference at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv. Israel is considering using the vehicles in a new security regime to be instituted at the airport by 2012.

(Nir Elias, Reuters / November 28, 2010)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

You never know which McCain you're getting ???

What's important . . .

"quieter, greener and more fuel-efficient" -- we hope ?

They might be best known for space travel, but the folks at NASA are determined to shape the future of commercial aviation.

The agency says airliners need to be quieter, greener and more fuel-efficient.

To attain those goals, NASA handed out nearly $6 million in contracts this week to two defense industry giants: Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp.

NASA’s goal is to develop technology that would enable future aircraft to burn 50% less fuel than current models, cut harmful emissions in half and shrink the geographic areas affected by obnoxious airport noise by 83%.

The agency hopes to develop concepts for airliners that could go into service by 2025.

the Burj Khalifa — The Tallest Building in the World

The Burj Khalifa skyscraper is a world-class destination and the magnificent centerpiece of Downtown Dubai , Dubai's new urban masterpiece. The world's tallest building is surrounded by hotels , must-visit shopping destinations and a world of entertainment options.

"on Saadiyat Island"

MARITIME MUSEUM: The planned facility on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, designed by Pritzker-winning Japanese architect Tadao Ando, would be joined by several other museums.

(Tadao Ando Architects & Associat, xx)

Mammoth Mountain off to a great start

Mammoth Mountain opened on schedule — the second Thursday of November — thanks to a storm that dropped nearly 3 feet of snow.

(Mammoth Mountain / November 27, 2010)

"A one-way ride costs 25 cents"

Against a view of blazing afternoon clouds framing City Hall, an Angels Flight car climbs Bunker Hill. A one-way ride costs 25 cents, but a fare hike to 50 cents or more is under consideration.

(Anne Cusack, Los Angeles Times / November 22, 2010)

Has the "American Dream" failed to evolve ???

The Crystal Cathedral blames its bankruptcy on the recession; others say the vast operation has failed to evolve.

(Anne Cusack, Los Angeles Times / October 24, 2010)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

"all-star birthday concert"

Reporting from New York — — Stately and rumpled, Stephen Sondheim descended from an upper floor of his elegant East Side townhouse and submitted to the interview as though it were a necessary barber shop shave. He's used to these intrusions — the artist obliged to natter on about his work was one of the themes of "Sunday in the Park With George" — but this year the distractions have gone to a harrying new extreme.

Sondheim turned 80 in March, and he's been blowing out the candles ever since. There was an all-star birthday concert at Lincoln Center (scheduled to air on PBS on Nov. 24). Broadway paid homage with a musical revue, "Sondheim on Sondheim," interspersed with video clips of the maestro musing about art and life. And now that he has a new book out, "Finishing the Hat," he finds himself once again thrust into the spotlight, with a West Coast tour that includes a UCLA Live conversation at Royce Hall on Monday night with KCRW-FM's "Bookworm" host Michael Silverblatt.

Hey, when's a guy going to get a spare minute to compose the next "Sweeney Todd"?

"How the Grinch Stole Christmas!"

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a wonderful, whimsical musical based upon the classic Dr. Seuss book. Back for another incredible year, the family favorite features the songs "This Time of Year," "It's the Thought that Counts" and "Fah Who Doraze," the delightful carol from the popular animated version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Celebrate the holidays as the Old Globe Theatre is once again transformed into the snow-covered Who-ville, right down to the last can of Who-hash.

How do you top two Legends ???

Though Peter O'Toole has never won an Oscar, two of his eight Academy Award nominations were for playing King Henry II. The first came for 1964's "Becket," which revolves around the carousing monarch and the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket (Richard Burton). The second was for 1968's "The Lion in Winter," in which he played an older Henry who keeps his wife locked in a tower as his three troubled sons vie for the throne. Katharine Hepburn earned her third best actress Oscar for her acerbic turn opposite O'Toole as Eleanor of Aquitaine, French-born queen of England in "The Lion in Winter." Hepburn tied in the category with Barbra Streisand for "Funny Girl."

"Autobiography of Mark Twain," published a full 100 years after its author's death

The 736-page "Autobiography of Mark Twain," published a full 100 years after its author's death, was a surprise bestseller when it came out earlier this month.

That's terrific news for the University of California Press, the book's publisher, which says "Autobiography of Mark Twain" is the biggest seller it's ever had.

Original plans called for a printing of 7,500, which was upped to 50,000 by the time the book actually went to press. It's since gone back again and again, bringing the total number of printed copies to 275,000. But still, it is hard to find -- as the N.Y. Times reported Friday, the book is selling so fast that it's selling out.

Neil Diamond "Dreams"

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Neil Diamond recorded his latest album, "Dreams," with just a guitar and a microphone, interpreting old classics in a very intimate setting that puts the focus squarely on his voice.

But the 69-year-old legend is hoping the stripped arrangement draws listeners closer to something else he holds dear — the songs' lyrics. While he knows people are pretty familiar with the tunes on this album, which include "Midnight Train To Georgia," ''Hallelujah" and "Yesterday," he wanted to highlight the stories behind them that made them special in the first place.

"On my songs, I worked very hard on the lyrics and I want people to hear them. I felt these songs deserve to be heard, and so they are," said Diamond in a recent interview, where he delved more into "Dreams."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Li-ion Motors INIZIO: all-electric supercar hitting 170 mph next year, all yours for $139k"

Tesla, schmesla. This, friends, is the electric vehicle that your garage has been waiting for. Designed by North Carolina's own Li-ion Motors, the downright stunning INIZIO is being hailed as the world's first all American-made electric supercar, and while the Roadster is definitely peppy, it ain't got nothing on this. Using the company's own lithium-ion battery technology and management system, the car can purportedly cruise for up to 250 miles on electricity alone, and it can hit a top speed of 170 miles per hour without breaking a sweat. Naturally, you won't (legally) fit more than two humans into this thing at once, but those two individuals will enjoy adjustable, leather / suede Recaro seating with heating and cooling features, an inbuilt 12-inch subwoofer, digital surround sound system, integrated navigation system, DVD player and rotational doors that raise on a 90-degree angle. Oh, and they'll probably drool a little after racing from zero to sixty in 3.4 face-numbing seconds. The company also adds that it emits no carbon emissions, can be recharged over 2,500 times and can go from drained to rejuvenated after just eight hours on the plug. It's expected to launch in mid-2011 with a starting price of $139,000, or just a few pennies more than the current value of the wretched Carolina Panthers franchise.

Update: Just a heads-up before you throw down for a pre-order... you may not actually ever get your vehicle. Just another one to the list, really.

"anything's possible!"

The Cadillac Aera concept is a proposal for a lightweight and efficient 2+2 coupe. The design was created for the 2010 LA Auto Show's Design Challenge competition. The brief for the 2010 competition was to design a car which weighed less than 1,000 lbs (454 kgs), and could carry four people in safely and comfortably.

The Cadillac Aera concept was developed by a team of five designers; Frank Saucedo, Phil Tanioka, Jussi Timonen, Brent Wickham and Shawn Moghadam. The group set themselves the goal of not only completing the brief, but also creating a car with a 1,000 mile range. But then when you don't actually have to make it in reality, anything's possible!

"perfect amalgamation"

Nissan’s vision for future automotive solution is both ingenious and practical to say the least, and the Nissan iV electric vehicle is proof of it all. A perfect amalgamation of sports and performance aesthetics the iV is completely based on nature’s intelligence like the chassis that is re-enforced with spider silk composite that is extremely robust and lightweight. This ultra-lightweight sports tourer will have automotive components developed from organic synthesis based on carbon neutral process. The vehicle comfortably seats 4 people and the cabin is made from photovoltaic material that is 99% less heavy than glass. It also has a solar panel in the canopy and a bio-battery that uses super-capacitor technology to regain 60% of kinetic energy spent.

"the world’s largest cat may disappear"

Tens of millions of dollars have been spent to try to save tigers in the wild, but their numbers have continued to spiral downward over the past two decades.

Hunted for their pelts and bones, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine, as few as 3,200 tigers are estimated to be roaming in the wild today. They are found mostly in isolated pockets spread across fragmented forests. Conservationists have warned that the world’s largest cat may disappear altogether by 2022 -- the next year of the tiger, according to the Chinese zodiac.

Russia this week is hosting an international summit in St. Petersburg aimed at saving the endangered wild tiger.

You can use “Flynntuition"

Disney Interactive Studios has released a preview of their new Wii game, based on the anticipated blockbuster Tangled. Tangled tells the classic story of Rapunzel and her golden hair, but with a twist. In the game, players can take on the role of Rapunzel or her rescuer, Flynn. The game will also be available for the DS. It’s story based, not just a bunch of random challenges to complete.

Rapunzel can use her hair as a tool to climb and swing, and she has a gentler side, growing flowers and painting. Flynn comes with a sword and his “Flynntuition”, and will find hidden treasure. Ultimately to win, Flynn and Rapunzel will have to team up and work together. The game was released on Nov. 23, right before the movie hit theaters.

An Idea That Blossomed"

Through the first decades of the 20th century, the airplane had its coming of age in World War I dogfights and the postwar barnstorming craze; in 1927, Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic, and in the early 1930s, Wiley Post made a pair of round-the-world flights.

The helicopter, meanwhile, was still awaiting a technological breakthrough. That's because it was a much more difficult mechanical problem to solve than was the fixed-wing airplane. Where airplanes get their lift from the wings, allowing for the use of a relatively modest engine for propulsion, helicopters rely on their rotors for both functions. Torque was another serious challenge--inventors kept trying new ways to counteract the twisting movement that was directed into the helicopter body from its large main rotor. Even today, helicopters are a noisier, shakier ride than their winged counterparts.

One hybrid approach that got a few tries over the years was the autogyro. The one in this undated photo (probably from the early 1930s) is a Pitcairn PAA-1. The big overhead rotor aside, it's got a pretty standard monoplane fuselage. Autogyros were a big deal, at least briefly--Amelia Earhart flew them, while Herbert Hoover heaped praise on manufacturer Harold Pitcairn.

Photo by Langley Research Center/NASA

Read more: http://news.cnet.com/2300-11397_3-6205597-2.html#ixzz16ENvN1Hi

LA 2010: Mercedes-Benz shows off Biome concept for LA Design Challenge

For more information, check out the postings below:


The Youthmobile Design Challenge, held in conjunction with the LA Auto Show, asks top automotive design studios to envision the car of 2030, with emphasis on how young drivers will relate to transportation 21 years from now. Shown is Nissan Design America's V2G, an eco-neutral commuter car. School of Industrial Design Director Tom Matano was a founder of the Design Challenge series and will judge the 2009 competition.

"Robot 2057"

According to futurists, 50 years from now, cars will want to be robots.

Above, one of the snazzy concept cars conjured up for "Robot 2057" at the annual Los Angeles Auto Show.

Info: http://www.laautoshow.com

"A Century of Cars"

The Los Angeles Auto Show in 1930 at the Shrine Auditorium.

"flexing their creative muscles"

The Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge entrants reveal 1000-pound car concepts. Each year the Design Challenge gives California-based design studios a chance to flex their creative muscles. Nine major auto manufacturers have revealed their entries for the annual Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge. One entry is shown above.

Acura 'Advanced Sedan Concept' Debuts at Los Angeles Auto Show

"The Advanced Sedan Concept illustrates Acura's commitment to modern design and cutting-edge style," said John Mendel, senior vice president, auto operations."With our advanced design team taking a significant role in shaping future vehicle design, we can expect upcoming products to reflect this progressive, forward-thinking styling."

"A New Leaf"

The all-electric Nissan Leaf will be the most fuel-efficient car on the market when it starts reaching buyers next month, according to the federal government.

The Environmental Protection Agency gave the vehicle a rating equivalent to 99 miles per gallon. The previous record holder, the Toyota Prius hybrid, was rated at 50 mpg.

The Leaf, according to the agency, will reach up to 106 mpge, or miles-per-gallon equivalent, in the city and 92 mpge on the highway, traveling up to 73 miles on a full battery. Nissan had previously said the vehicle could run 100 miles on a single charge.

Owners will spend about $561 a year on electricity to power the car –- Prius drivers pay about $867 for fuel, the agency said. The battery will require seven hours to fully juice up using a standard 240-volt charger, known as a Level 2 unit.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Beginning of a Legend

On November 24, 1971, a hijacker calling himself D.B. Cooper parachutes from a Northwest Orient Airlines 727 into a raging thunderstorm over Washington State. He had $200,000 in ransom money in his possession.

Cooper commandeered the aircraft shortly after takeoff, showing a flight attendant something that looked like a bomb and informing the crew that he wanted $200,000, four parachutes, and "no funny stuff." The plane landed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where authorities met Cooper's demands and evacuated most of the passengers. Cooper then demanded that the plane fly toward Mexico at a low altitude and ordered the remaining crew into the cockpit.

At 8:13 p.m., as the plane flew over the Lewis River in southwest Washington, the plane's pressure gauge recorded Cooper's jump from the aircraft. Wearing only wraparound sunglasses, a thin suit, and a raincoat, Cooper parachuted into a thunderstorm with winds in excess of 100 mph and temperatures well below zero at the 10,000-foot altitude where he began his fall. The storm prevented an immediate capture, and most authorities assumed he was killed during his apparently suicidal jump. No trace of Cooper was found during a massive search.

In 1980, an eight-year-old boy uncovered a stack of nearly $5,880 of the ransom money in the sands along the north bank of the Columbia River, five miles from Vancouver, Washington. The fate of Cooper remains a mystery.

"old and tired and needs to be replaced"

For 42 years, the Gerald Desmond Bridge has straddled the waters of Long Beach's Back Channel, the primary link between Terminal Island cargo facilities and the city and freeways.

But the decades have taken their toll. The ships that now frequent the nation's second-busiest seaport are so big that many cannot fit under the bridge. Port officials estimate that the bridge carries 15% of the nation's cargo that moves by sea and truck, yet the traffic lanes are often jammed and any accident sends vehicles into adjacent neighborhoods.

And then there's the chunks of concrete that fall from the bridge, necessitating the nylon mesh installed to catch the debris.

On Monday, after years of planning, the Port of Long Beach began a nearly $1-billion project to replace the Gerald Desmond Bridge.

The bridge will remain in operation until the new one is completed, which officials estimate will be in 2017.

At 155 feet high, the Gerald Desmond is one of the lowest bridges in commercial seaports, leaving a small margin of error for captains navigating large vessels beneath the bridge, said Richard D. Steinke, executive director of the Port of Long Beach. For that reason, vessels attempt passage only at low tide.

The new bridge will be 50 to 60 feet higher to accommodate the larger container ships that currently cannot pass into the port, Steinke said. It will also be wider to accommodate the thousands of vehicles that drive across the bridge each day.

"This bridge has been the workhorse of the goods movement system," Steinke said.

When it was built in 1968, the Gerald Desmond Bridge was intended to handle relatively light traffic. But by the 1990s the Port of Long Beach emerged as the busiest container port in the nation; the Port of Los Angeles overtook it in 2001.

"No one could have imagined the amount of international cargo that has come into these two ports," Steinke said. The bridge is "old and tired and needs to be replaced."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tidal power: Could waves provide 10% of America's electricity?

Last month, in the swells off Oahu, a company called Ocean Power Technologies connected a small test buoy to the power grid that serves the Marine Corps Base Hawaii. It was a first for a wave energy device in U.S. waters.

"We have demonstrated that our technology works, that it can survive in harsh ocean conditions and can deliver high-quality power to the grid," said Robert Lurie, a vice president of Ocean Power, which is based in Pennington, N.J.

Next spring, the company plans to anchor a larger power buoy in the waves off Reedsport, Ore., for further tests. The ultimate goal, Lurie said, is to build "multi-buoy wave farms" generating enough power to light 50,000 homes.

Possibly LOVER and perhaps briefly the HUSBAND of Marlene Dietrich

He had at least 21 aliases. He insisted that he was briefly Marlene Dietrich's husband in 1920s Berlin, which was probably not so, though he was possibly her lover. He was definitely the model for the leading character in Lillian Hellman's successful play (and film) "Watch on the Rhine," but not, I think, the inspiration for " Casablanca's" Victor Laszlo, much as the publisher of this book might wish it so. That said, he seems to have known everyone over the course of a world-traveling public career as a left-wing journalist and author and a more hidden (but not entirely unknown) career as an undercover Soviet operative.

He was a charming, handsome, high-rolling man named Otto Katz, and based on Jonathan Miles' well-written, deeply researched book, "The Dangerous Otto Katz: The Many Lives of a Soviet Spy," it is possible to identify him as an exemplary figure of 20th century life — an individual more or less self-cast in a role that did not exist until the vast tragedies of that era began to play themselves out after the rise of Hitler and Stalin.

(Book review: 'The Dangerous Otto Katz: The Many Lives of a Soviet Spy' by Jonathan Miles -- By Richard Schickel, Special to the Los Angeles Times)

"the largest satellite in the world"

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The Air Force has launched a new classified spy satellite.

An un-manned Delta 4-Heavy rocket blasted off From Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Sunday at 5:58 p.m.

It carried a satellite that was described in a news release from the National Reconnaissance Office as "the largest satellite in the world."

The mission is classified, so no other details are available.

The 23-story rocket took off after several delays over the past few months because of technical glitches, including a problem during fueling for a launch on Friday. Weather concerns on Sunday cleared shortly before launch time.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

This was another Venice

In the early 1920s, long before it became famous for roller-skating, Venice was the capital of another sport: stunt flying.

It was a time, as author Don Dwiggins put it, when barnstormers and carnival fliers gathered at DeLay Airfield "to try out new ways to cheat death for money."

When a daredevil thought of a new maneuver that the movies or newsreels might buy, he'd drop out of the continuous poker game in the DeLay hangar to give it a try (hoping he'd live to be dealt another hand).

So many wing-walkers inhabited the skies that Venice, which was then an independent city, passed an ordinance prohibiting low flying over churches on Sundays.

The airfield was run by, and named for, pilot B.H. DeLay, a two-fisted chap as colorful as any movie character.

DeLay performed in more than 50 films and claimed several innovations, including the first jump from an airplane onto a moving train.

With "a passionately driven nature derived from his French American heritage," as his great-granddaughter Shawna Kelly described him, the handsome pilot also engaged in several extramarital affairs.

On one occasion, he faced down a gun drawn by his angry wife, said Kelly, author of "Images of America; Aviators in Early Hollywood."

"It was the roaring '20s," she noted. "People were wild."

That included wild about seeing aerial stunts. DeLay charged $40 an hour for staging wing walks, $100 an hour for making leaps onto or off of aircraft and $350 a week for movie work.

But his brief career came to an end July 4, 1923, when he attempted to "loop the loop" at 2,000 feet over Ocean Park.

His wings "bent back as though on hinges," the Los Angeles Examiner reported, and the plane plummeted to the ground, killing DeLay, 31, and his passenger, a businessman friend.

"1892 Style"

A wasp-wasted Emily Post poses on her honeymoon in 1892.

"a love affair with Roquefort"

Reporting from Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, France — A cool water droplet hit my forehead as I descended narrow stairs into the caves. An overwhelming smell — ammonia meets dirty feet — assaulted my nostrils. Chilly, stinky, damp. It was heaven. I had entered the caves of Roquefort (rohk-FOR), a village in the south of France and home to the world's most famous blue cheese.

My love affair with Roquefort possibly began in the womb. My mother loved all things French, especially pungent cheeses. So I panicked last year when I saw a newspaper headline declaring: "U.S. Punishes France With Roquefort Tariff." A small wedge would skyrocket from $20 a pound to $60 or even higher in a matter of weeks. Quelle horreur! Who would bother to sell? Bigfoot might soon be easier to find. My lifelong desire to visit became a mission to secure my stash at the source.

I arrived in Marseille, France, then hopped a train for the five-hour journey northwest. For one week, I would eat Roquefort on baguettes. In salads. On le chicken and le duck. Straight out of the package with a fork. Roquefort-flavored chocolate and potato chips? Oui. I would eat it until I could feel my pants becoming uncomfortably tight.

(By Mary Ellen Monahan, Special to the Los Angeles Times)

"chunks of ice, some as large as basketballs"

A team of astronomers announced its first snow Thursday — not due to the approaching winter, but from a spacecraft that observed a peanut-shaped comet spitting fluffy ice balls into space.

The Deep Impact spacecraft flew within 435 miles of the comet known as Hartley 2 on Nov. 4, snapping images as it whizzed past about 27,000 mph. Images released that day revealed a nearly 1 1/2-mile-long body with a smooth middle and rough, bulbous edges that was spewing gas from its surface.

In the two weeks since, scientists noticed the white specks circling the comet, as if it were inside an invisible snow globe. When they analyzed the images, they were in for another surprise — the smooth, middle portion, which they expected to be relatively inactive, was emitting water vapor; while the ends released chunks of ice, some as large as basketballs.

The flurry of white specks surrounding the comet's body caused the astronomers' jaws to drop, Peter Schultz, a team scientist from Brown University, said in a news conference at NASA headquarters in Washington.

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Surfing alpaca makes waves"

Peruvian surfer Domingo Pianezzi hit the headlines in 2001 when he was photographed surfing with a dog on his board and again in 2008 after teaching a cat to surf. Now, photographer Pilar Olivares spends the day with him and his newest surfing companion, his alpaca "Pisco."

He forgot to warn the bull not to "touch his junk"

"The Yimin Festival – The search for the fattest pig"

In Taiwan there are many odd things to cover -- mass weddings, fights in the parliament and the enchanting sky lantern festival. The image above was discovered at the Hakka Yimin festival in Hsinchu where worshippers breed pigs to a fattened state for sacrifice.

(Photo by Nicky Loh)

"glamour and history too"

Hollywood's Roosevelt Hotel has long been synonymous with glamour. The first Oscars were held there at 7000 Hollywood Blvd. in 1929. Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift were residents at the historic hotel in the 1950s. Aspiring rock stars began hanging poolside during the 1990s, and in the last few years bona fide celebrities have again been flocking to the place — especially since New York-based Thompson Hotels began managing the iconic 300-room property in 2005 — transforming it into a nightlife anchor for the area.

Recently, however, the Roosevelt's poolside Tropicana Bar and still-sizzling lounge, Teddy's, have been challenged by new rivals in the vicinity such as the tempting bars and restaurants of the W Hollywood and the Redbury Hotel.

In response, Roosevelt hotelier-in-chief Jason Pomeranc is doubling down on late-night thrills. The hotel owned by David Chang and Goodwin Gaw is being remade once again with two new bars: a new outpost from formerly Las Vegas-based impresario Jeffrey Beacher, and a new gaming-inspired lounge called the Spare Room.

Baltimore to build a 236-foot-tall illuminated metal sculpture

Paris has the Eiffel Tower.

St. Louis has the Gateway Arch.

And Baltimore could soon have a monumental work of art if a developer is successful in his quest to place a 236-foot-tall illuminated metal sculpture on the city's waterfront as a focal point of a $1.5-billion development.

The sculpture would be one of the tallest works of art in the United States and visible for miles around, said Pat Turner, president of Turner Development Group. The art tower is part of a larger economic development strategy to call attention to the waterfront project that includes housing, offices, shops, a hotel and recreational space.

"We want the sculpture to be the center of attention of the project," Turner said. "It does for Baltimore what the arch does in St. Louis. It would become a symbol of the region."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"The most trusted man in America"

Reporting from Austin, Texas — "Hello, I'm Walter Cronkite." The stentorian voice booms from an oversize replica of an early console television. To viewers older than 40, the image on the screen is familiar, though more distant with the passing of years. Younger observers appear curious or bemused, or both.

In quick succession, the TV images highlight some of the biggest events of the 20th century. The coverage of the assassination of President Kennedy appears in black and white. Later images from political conventions and Vietnam are in color, before a return to fuzzy, black-and-white footage of Neil Armstrong setting foot on the moon.

Through the tragedy, upheaval and excitement, there is one constant: the essential anchorman. Cronkite. Uncle Walter. The most trusted man in America.