Category Archives: Other Stuff

LA LA Land

Not the movie, but I will address that at the end of this post.

I’m talking about the real LA LA Land-EL AY, The City of Angels, and of course, the city for which L.A. (as well as the movie) is a symbol-

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Los Angeles itself is really just like every other big metropolitan city-busy, hectic, and in many places, kind of grimy. But, when you push so many people into such tight space, you also get Art, Beauty, Creativity, and human progress.

I was in LA to both visit my daughter, and attend the opening reception for the street photography show at the Los Angeles Center of Photography.  LACP is located in Hollywood, so I spent some time there for the first time ever. A great deal of Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards are devoted to celebrity culture- more than one wall had pictures of Charles Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis, and a room in one low budget Hotel is famous as the last place Jim Morrison lived before moving to Paris.

The Hollywood/celebrity thing is fascinating. Only in LA would a hardware store have autographed movie star pictures on their walls, inscribed with something like, “For my pal Harry. You have the best selection of wall fasteners in town”.

It seems that everybody you meet is one step away from stardom. Once, I was staying with a friend who made us a nice dinner, along with her roommate and her boyfriend. He was a carpenter/handyman, but during the meal he said, “I have this great screenplay that I know would be perfect for DiNiro. If I can just figure out how to get it to him”.

But there is more to LA than Tinseltown.

There are some great museums, and I got to visit one that I have been wanting to see for more than 50 years, the La BreaTar Pits. This may be a simplistic description, but the Tar Pits are an area where natural  asphalt springs ooze up and pool on the Earth’s surface.

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When these areas collected rainwater, thirsty animals would wade in, and get trapped by the tar, and over thousands of years, the Tar Pits collected, preserved and fossilized millions of biological and botanical specimens-from insects and ferns to Mastodons and Saber Tooth Tigers. The Tar Pits and the Page Museum are located in a the middle of the city, a great place to see and learn more about this fascinating chapter of Natural History.

The Tar Pit animal that has held my interest for all of these years is the

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As powerful and ferocious as our modern big cats are, this critter was a bit larger, and it had those teeth-what a killing machine! I couldn’t wait to stand before one.

Fortunately, the Saber Tooth is one of the most common animals found at the Tar Pits, and I was not disappointed-the skeletons are beautiful to behold, and the exhibit information was fascinating.

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We learned that, like other mammals, those saber teeth start out as baby teeth,

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and are followed by permanent teeth as the cub matures.

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Another interesting thing we learned was how a cat’s claw retracts into the bony toe.

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Apparently, the Saber Tooth Tiger is such a common favorite, it has been named the Official California State Fossil (awarded posthumously).

The most visually interesting animals have to be the Mastodons. I love Elephants but these guys are in the Elephant Hall of Fame.

There are two Mastodons here. One appears to be about the size of our modern elephants. This display shows a mother with a developing cub-

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But this guy takes the prize, look at those tusks

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The tusks are so amazing, we tend to overlook the teeth, which look like big molars

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Here are some other animals

Camel

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Giant Sloth

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Buzzaed

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If you like natural history, paleontology, fossils, etc., this museum has something for everyone, young and old.

 

Oh yeah, the other LA LA Land

My wife really wanted to see it, so last night, against my better judgement, I agreed to go.

It was a waste of time.

I think Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling did a good job in “Crazy, Stupid Love”, but even their talent couldn’t save this movie.

The cinematography was good, and in two scenes, Emma Stone did a good job, but otherwise it was a big marshmallow- fluffy and sweet, but no substance. Not that much is expected from a movie musical, but I recently heard the director being interviewed, and he said that ever since he was a kid, “Singin’ in the Rain” was one of his favorite movies. “Singin’ in the Rain” is another a behind the scenes movie about Hollywood moviemaking, but it also had real musical performers and the amazing Gene Kelly choreographed and co-directed it.

Watching Donald O’ Connor perform “Make ‘em Laugh” is a musical comedy masterpiece.

I’m sure this director meant well when he invoked “Singin’ in the Rain”, but it is  a disservice to that classic motion picture to mention “LA LA Land” in the same sentence.

WORKING GIRL

WORKING GIRL

I usually don’t discuss my private life here, but my daughter has just completed a training course as a makeup artist for cinema (scars, bullet wounds, monster stuff), and was offered an internship at a prominent studio.

She started work today.

It’s a temporary gig, but she is working in some pretty good  professionalcompany, is quite talented, and a hard worker-this would seem to set the stage for a good future.

So, I want to be a proud papa, and show her off a little.

None of these photos are mine, but at the least are property of the Cinema Makeup School, and may be the specific property of another photographer. Please don’t reproduce them.

 

A sampling of her work can be seen here-

 

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These two are the same model

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This assignment was to make the model up to resemble a celebrity

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The real Angelina Jolie is on the bottom left.

She went to a Chameleon show and was inspired to make this mask.

She hand fashioned every scale on this critter

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Yesterday she made me a gift of the eyes.

Here is another assignment to imitate a China Doll

If you have an interest in this, you can follow her at

https://www.instagram.com/avareina_fx/

Thanks for indulging me, and reading this.

 

Soul Food

 

SOUL FOOD

pasta

If I don’t eat Pasta every three or four days, I get crabby.

When I was a kid, my Grandfather lived downstairs. He was a two burner stove guy, one for boiling water, and one to cook his pasta sauce. Every day we ate a plate of Pasta while watching an after school television show featuring cartoons and cowboys.

His English was terrible, but he loved it when Hopalong Cassidy shot the bad guys off their horses.

At least a couple of times a week, when my Father came home from work, my Mother made Pasta for our family dinner as well.

Although we ate mountains of Ravioli that my Grandmother made, we didn’t eat much fresh Pasta. All of the local stores sold dried Pasta that was produced in a factory just a block from our house.

However, we all learned how to make our own Pasta, and I still enjoy to do so whenever possible. I love to make it when we have friends over, and it is a great pleasure to give it as gifts.

The recipe that I use differs from the family Ravioli dough in that it uses more eggs. It has a richer taste, and in my mind, goes best with simpler sauces.

This is the recipe that I use.

Three eggs

Two cups of flour

About a teaspoon of Olive Oil.

A dash of Salt

 

1. Mix the ingredients together until they are all thoroughly blended.

2. Knead by hand. If the dough remains sticky, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until the ball is pretty uniform in texture.

3. Put the ball in a bowl, and let it rest for 15 to 30 minutes.

I cut chunks off of the “mother” dough ball slightly larger than a golf ball. This size makes the sheet manageable as it comes out of the machine.

If, at any point, the dough seems sticky, dust it with flour.

 I use a pasta machine to roll out my dough into sheets. It gives me more constant results, and when set on the finest setting, it makes a delicate noodle that goes down easy.

For years, I used the pasta machine attachment that cuts very precise Fettucine and Linguine noodles, but now I just slice it with a sharp knife. I roll a dough ball through the machine using every other setting until we get to the thinnest one. Then I slice that small sheet of dough into ribbons, and hang it up to dry.

I think my Uncle Joe made that rolling pin from a mop handle.

After my grandmother made Ravioli, she would slice up the trimmings, cook them, and serve them to us for lunch. She called this noodle “Lasange”, and I was in my mid 20s before I saw the baked dish that everyone else ordered by that name.

I suspect that Hipsters would call this noodle, “Hand Cut Artisan Egg Pappardelle” but to me it will always be “Lasange”.

 

 

The 2016 Presidential Race

We just spent a second week listening to a bunch of talking heads and pundits regurgitate, dissect, and analyze an event that was disguised as a Presidential Debate, but sounded more like two children bickering on a playground-“did not”, “did too”, “did not”.

 

The issues are about so much more than emails or locker room talk, but that is what makes headlines. It is difficult to not get caught up in this chatter, which only seems to be getting worse in this age of the 24 hour news cycle, but 140 character attention spans.

All of this friction is just creating heat, but there is very light.

It seems that more voters than ever are not voting for what they believe in, but against the person they believe will ruin the country. However, a great deal of this belief comes from a general disgust with the way our political process has ground to a halt.

This seems apparent in the current presidential campaign, where Bernie and Donald were considered the “disrupters”. No wonder we are seeing this message on a bumper sticker-

 

This is a (already) a great country, and we deserve more than this.

Turn off your TV and go out and do something.