Friday, July 19, 2013


SyFy's schlocky movie-of-the-week Sharknado was such a hit on Twitter last week that they showed it again last night. I made Tim watch it with me. 

As the title suggests, a tornado off the coast of Southern California sucks-up thousands of sharks, who then terrorize and destroy L.A. Even more ridiculous than the idea of sharks flying through the air and eating people in their swimming pools was the egregious disregard for Los Angeles geography. I'm sorry but Van Nuys is not 10 minutes away from the 6th Street bridge in East L.A. Nor can you see the Hollywood sign from Downtown. For a minute there I thought we were watching an old episode of 24.

Still, it's always fun to see our beloved city destroyed by natural—or, in this case, totally ludicrous—disasters. See for yourself:

By the way, a Sharknado II is already in the works. This time NYC is going to be destroyed (again). What a surprise!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Automobile Driving Museum

The Centinela Antiquers Club, of which we are members, had its annual field trip yesterday. The destination: a small but fabulous car museum located in a non-descript business park just south of the LAX airport. In a town rife with car collections, this is the only one where visitors can actually ride in a pristine classic vehicle—hence the name, Automobile Driving Museum. They also host car shows, rent event and meeting space, and feature a swing band concert every third Sunday of the month. It's a great little place. 

We went berserk taking photos, so I'll let the cars themselves tell the rest of the story.

Custom Packard behind glass

Lots of old Fords


My favorite car when I was a kid: the Edsel

Can you find me in this picture?


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Becoming L.A.

Griffith Park Observatory

We had the opportunity, yesterday, to preview the new permanent “Becoming Los Angeles” exhibit opening today at the Natural History Museum. It presents a solid overview of the history of L.A., but is nowhere near as deep or fascinating as, say, the Getty exhibit we saw last weekend. Still, the curators did a good job examining Los Angeles from various ethnic perspectives and sprinkling interesting factoids throughout, including the unanticipated impact of cow dung and ostriches.

Freeways east of L.A.

Early 20th-century oil rigs on the beach

The centerpiece of the installation is a late-1930s model of downtown L.A., created as part of a Depression-era Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. We, of course, loved it and spent a long time trying to find and identify several architectural landmarks that are still standing. The exhibit is worth the price of admission if only just to see this fabulous diorama.

The model at ground level—City Hall is upper left

City Hall detail

Los Angeles Public Library (center) and
California Club (lower right) detail

Union Station detail

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sony Studios Tour

Although we’ve been on the Sony lot many times for parties, a political rally, and even to see scenes filmed from the former TV show Joan of Arcadia, we’ve never—in all the 15 years we’ve lived here—taken a formal tour of the studios. Luckily, Sony is offering a twilight tour every Thursday this summer, so we went last week. It was very fun, even though we didn’t learn anything new about the Hollywood side of Culver City.

The tour started with a short video history of how Sony started as MGM and then Lorimar studios before its current incarnation. We also saw clips of MGM's most famous movies, including It Happened One Night, On the Waterfront, Lawrence of Arabia, and The Wizard of Oz. We then spent the next two hours walking around the lot, eyeballing buildings named for classic movie stars, like Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, Kate and Audrey Hepburn, and Spencer Tracy, and the recording stage, named after Barbra Streisand. We also saw cars from recent Sony movies and TV shows, ending the tour at the Jeopardy museum, which celebrates the most beloved game show of all time. 

Recent addition: an enormous rainbow
sculpture commemorating The
Wizard of Oz

Columbia Pictures, now a subsidiary of Sony, 
is here, too

Sony offices that can double as movie sets, as needed

Vehicles from Green Hornet and TV show
Breaking Bad

 Just a few of Jeopardy's many Emmy awards

Cardboard Alex Trebek and me

Faux theater facade

The highlight, though, was when our tour guide, Will, randomly selected three of us—two young people and me—to rehearse and enact an improvised movie scene. The premise: the kids start bickering when their mom (me) forgets the keys to their storage unit. Tim, of course, was our cinematographer. Here’s our first rehearsal:

No Oscars, but not bad for someone who hasn't performed since 10th-grade Drama. Am I ready yet for my close-up?

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Short Trip to Disneyland

Shag's Enchanted Tiki Room

Don’t tell anyone, but this morning I walked two friends into Disneyland—a practice that Disney discourages because of the lost revenue. I, however, made up for almost all that lost revenue by shopping—a new Shag line commemorating the Enchanted Tiki Room’s 50th anniversary (highly collectible!)—plus I stayed to see the new “Mickey and the Magical Map” show in the Fantasyland theater. So it wasn’t really like I just walked in and then out. The Mickey show got a rave review in the L.A. Times when it opened a few weeks ago and, indeed, was lots of fun: several musical numbers jammed into just 23 minutes, including a lovely medley by Pocahontas, Mulan and Rapunzel. Afterward, I rushed home to finish the rest of my workday.

The short trip reminded me, though, that I hadn’t blogged about Disneyland in a while. So roll your eyes if you must, these photos are for my sister to enjoy!

With Jack Skellington on my
birthday weekend

Autopia car in the Disneyland Hotel lobby

Mad Hatter tea cup furniture, Disneyland Hotel
on my birthday

Ridin' the Junkyard Jamboree in Cars Land -
yup, that's me screaming!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940-1990

A sequel to last year’s wildly successful Pacific Standard Time exhibit is currently running at the Getty Museum. Called “Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940-1990,” the show presents the single best overview of L.A.’s constructed environment we’ve ever seen. Not only are there maps, photos, and blueprints of iconic, as well as lesser known, spaces in Los Angeles, there’s also a terrific video of Edward R. Murrow touring Television City (CBS studios) in the 1950s, an historical look at L.A.’s intricate freeway system, artist renderings of LAX, UCLA and Disneyland, and architectural artifacts from the 1984 Olympics. Also featured are the Case Study houses, Park La Brea, the Century Plaza hotel, Gregory Ain and Joseph Eichler homes, the Chemosphere, Watts Towers, the Capitol Records building, Dodgers Stadium, the Hayden tract, Disney studios, and almost everything else we love about Los Angeles. Karen, Tim and I spent more than two hours pouring over every detail.

This is a fabulous exhibit. But it ends July 21, so get over there quickly. And while you’re there, be sure to stop by the Getty gardens, now in all their summer glory. It’s the perfect L.A. experience.

Getty Gardens from above

Enjoying the gardens