Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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7/2/2015

The Griffith Park Tea House

Filed under: — stan @ 7:17 pm

Yesterday, I read about how some unknown artists had popped up a little Japanese-style tea house on an old concrete pad on top of one of the peaks in Griffith Park. Apparently, it was done on the sly in one night, and from the pictures I saw, it looked like it was very nicely done. Since it was unclear how long it would be there, I figured it was something we should go see immediately. Fortunately, Morgan and Jason from my office were up for it, and we headed over there this afternoon.

The instructions on how to find it from Modern Hiker were for starting out from the observatory, but parking there is always a problem, and coming from Pasadena, it’s just easier to start from the other side of the park, by the Old Zoo. We headed up the trail just like we did back in March, when we went to Mt Hollywood to see the marathon lights. When we got to the part of the trail that goes around just below Taco Peak, we looked up, and the tea house was there. Just a short distance up the trail, we came to the spot and saw it close up. There were quite a few people there to see it. I guess everyone had the same reaction to hearing about it.

The artists had left pencils and little wooden chips to write wishes for Los Angeles on, but all the wood chips had been used. We went inside to see them all hung on the pegs and read what people had written. It was all very nicely done. The construction of the house was first-rate, and it really looked like it belonged there. It’s unclear what will happen to it, but at least we got to see it when it was still fresh.

It kind of reminded me of Amir’s Garden, which is another place in the park that was built by one man with a vision. So on the way down, we took a route to go through there. It was nicely cool and shady there, as the garden is irrigated with what I can only assume is reclaimed water. But it was very nice there. Then we took a very steep trail down the end of the ridge to get back to the trail that would bring us back to our starting point. It was a good little afternoon adventure.

Route map and elevation profile

5/30/2015

Dapper Cadaver for Obscura Day

Filed under: — stan @ 5:10 pm

Today is Obscura Day, and the Atlas Obscura people are putting on about 20 events all around the Los Angeles area. And one of them is a visit to Dapper Cadaver, which is one of the premier places for supplying horror movie props. Since Lucinda and I went on the Dearly Departed tour of Hollywood, as well as the Helter Skelter tour, and we also visited the Museum of Death. So I figured this would be right up her alley.

There was a pretty big group there for the tour. We were shown around the different rooms where they showcase the things they make there. There were lifelike animals, and deathlike humans. There was a an entire room dedicated to body parts and bodies in various stages of dismemberment.

Another room was dedicated to ‘things in jars’. Lucinda perked up when he showed us the baby skull in a jar that was used on an episode of “American Horror Story“.

In the end, there weren’t any props that we just had to have for our house, but we did pick up a catalog to take home. I got Lucinda one of their shirts, and everyone on the tour got a Dapper Cadaver shot glass for a souvenir. It was a fun, albeit horrifying experience. But that was the idea.

5/24/2015

Eleven

Filed under: — stan @ 5:51 pm

Last September, I saw an article that Mel Brooks had put his hand prints in concrete for the Chinese Theater in Hollywood. We took a ride out there to see, but when we got there, they said that the concrete blocks are kept inside for a few months to harden properly before they are put outside. So this week, I’d emailed the manager of the Chinese Theater, and he said that Mel Brooks was now out on the Forecourt of the Stars. So this Sunday’s ride was another visit to Hollywood.

We rode out by our usual route across Eagle Rock, across the L.A. River, and then through Silver Lake into Hollywood. When we got there, I saw that the dinosaur on the roof of the Ripley’s Odditorium was dressed up for summer tourist season. Then we got to the Chinese Theater and had a look around. I noticed for the first time that the block with the “Harry Potter” series cast had their wand-prints in the concrete. Then I found Mel Brooks. His block is toward the back on the east end. I tried out the six-fingered hand print for size.

Leaving the Chinese Theater, we headed up Outpost Dr. About halfway up, we saw some skid marks, a broken wall, and the bumper of a car. But the license plate was not attached to it. I guess whoever it belonged to had enough presence of mind to take the plate before running away.

At the top of the hill, we paused for a few minutes before heading down Mulholland Dr into Cahuenga Pass. We stopped for a few minutes at the Hollywood Bowl overlook. I thought it was funny that the little coin-operated telescope at the overlook had an ad on it to try and recruit more people for the coin-operated telescope business. It’s not like coin-operated telescopes are Amway or anything… Then we rode down the hill into Burbank, and our snack stop at Priscilla’s.

Heading home, we rode back across Glendale, and then up Chevy Chase and Linda Vista, coming down the other side by the Rose Bowl. It was a nice ride.

39 miles.

Route map and elevation information

5/23/2015

Train of Thought

Filed under: — stan @ 1:57 pm

Today was the dedication and open house at the new Gold Line Operations Campus in Monrovia. So Carla and I took a short bike ride out there to go see it. We figured it’s our one chance to get to see inside and close-up.

It’s not all that far away, so we rode a little extra on the way there, and we arrived just about when the politicians were starting their speeches. While they were talking, we walked around and looked at things. They had one of the new-style trains parked there, sticking out of the train wash building. It had a nice little steel platform on top of the coupler on the front of the train, so I wanted to get my picture taken sitting on it. I figure that I’ll probably never get another chance to sit there on the train again.

After the outdoor speeches, the herded everyone into the shop building for more speeches. They had a couple of trains parked inside for us to see, and we got to see the maintenance area where they had catwalks to get on top of the trains, and the tracks were elevated to get underneath.

After all that, we headed back, stopping in the parking lot on the way out to look at the Messerschmitt KR200 someone had driven there. That was one weird little car.

This was a short ride, but interesting sights to see.

21 miles.

4/26/2015

Working for the Mouse

Filed under: — stan @ 5:18 pm

A couple years ago, we went to see “Pulp Shakespeare” in Hollywood at Theater Asylum. Since then, I’ve been on their mailing list, and this week I got something about some small shows they were putting on this weekend. I read the synopsis about “Working for the Mouse“, and it sounded funny, so we got tickets. The basic story is that it’s a one-man show by Trevor Allen recounting the time he spent working at Disneyland as some of the costumed characters.

It was all really funny and entertaining, and if he brings the show back to L.A., we’ll go see it again. Looking on YouTube, I found a few clips he posted of excerpts from the show. Here’s one about his time working as the Mad Hatter, which he said was a step up from being Pluto, since he didn’t have to wear a full head, and he also got to hang out with Alice:

If he ever brings this show anywhere near you, go see it.

4/7/2015

What are the odds…

Filed under: — stan @ 7:14 am

Google Maps updates their aerial views every so often, replacing the old images with newer ones. And I see that they updated the views for Pasadena recently. So what are the odds that the aerial photos they would update with would just happen to have been taken on the afternoon of April 24th, 2014, when a horrific two-truck crash completely closed the eastbound 210 freeway and also took out the Metro Gold Line light rail tracks?

http://www.myfoxla.com/story/25334177/big-rig-crash-on-210-freeway-one-rig-overturned-on-metro-gold-line


4/4/2015

The Dearly Departed Tour

Filed under: — stan @ 4:45 pm

Today, Lucinda and I went on the Dearly Departed Tour. This is the Hollywood tour that takes us to all the spots where the stars died, as well as a stop at the Pierce Brothers Westwood cemetery, which is the final resting place of many of the biggest stars in Hollywood. I took her on the Helter Skelter Tour about the Manson Family last year, so it seemed like it was time to do the regular tour now.

We had a nice brunch at Off Vine before the tour. That’s still one of my favorite restaurants. Then we headed over to the tour office on Sunset Boulevard. The tour showed us a weird collection of locations, including Bela Lugosi’s last apartment, the apartment in West Hollywood where Marilyn Monroe lived for a time, and the bit of sidewalk in front of the Viper Room where River Phoenix collapsed and died. In between, we had a stop at Pierce Brothers in Westwood, where we saw many of the most famous stars’ graves. And we weren’t even the only parent and kid group on the tour. There was a mother and son, about our ages, who were visiting from somewhere in the midwest. They had even gone so far as to be staying in the motel room where Janis Joplin died. They were making it a complete death-pilgrimage experience.

We had a nice time on the tour. And on the way home, I let Lucinda drive my car for the first time. It was actually her first time driving on the freeway, and she did pretty well at it.

3/15/2015

The Wistaria Vine

Filed under: — stan @ 4:18 pm

Years ago, I saw an episode of Huell Howser’s show where he visited the giant wisteria vine in Sierra Madre. And now that I’ve been living two miles away from it for 20 years, I figured it was time to go see it. So today was the “Wistaria Festival” in Sierra Madre. They deliberately spell it that way, although I have no idea why. But they have a big street festival in the center of town, and the yard where the vine is growing is open for tours.

The story is that the vine came in a 1-gallon pot, and it was planted about 120 years ago. It grew up and over the original house, crushing it. A new house was built off to the side, and the owners constructed a steel trellis for the vine to grow on, and it now takes up two whole lots. The festival is timed to coincide with the relatively short time it spends blooming every spring. So we went to the festival and had lunch before heading up the hill to see the vine. And yes, it’s big. It covers most of the space between two houses. It’s not obvious from the street, since I’d ridden my bike down the street by the vine a few weeks ago, when I was scouting out where the trail to Jones Peak started. After taking in the vine, we walked back down the hill and browsed around the festival a bit more before heading home.

Update on the NoHo Barrel

Filed under: — stan @ 1:17 pm

Today’s bike club ride was another trip to North Hollywood to check out the barrel-shaped restaurant. We’d gone to see this in January when it was being renovated, but I’d read recently that it was finished and open for business. So it was time to go see it again.

There’s a spot on Riverside Drive where businesses park their trucks as advertising while they’re not being used. There’s the “Hot Topless Maids” van, and today there was also a junk-hauling truck. And thanks to reality TV, apparently now “Extreme Hoarding” is a thing.

When we got to NoHo, the barrel was all out in the open and nicely refinished. We were able to peek in the windows and see the inside, and it really looked pretty good.

After looking at the barrel, we continued on up Vineland Ave to Chandler, where we stopped for snacks at the Panera across the street from the Metro Red Line station. That was where we’d caught the train home three weeks ago when the ride was rained out.

Heading back on the Chandler bikeway, we came across a big group of people running around in circles carrying medicine balls. I guess that’s one of those fitness boot camp things. I think riding the bike is just more fun. And we get to cover a lot of ground. And today, I finally got my photo-op riding the shaggy dog sculpture in Burbank. That makes for a companion to the time I got to ride the rattlesnake sculpture in Rattlesnake Park or when Lucinda was a little kid and like to ride the little fox sculptures in the park downtown.

On the way back on Riverside Drive, we saw that apparently Rene Magritte has a hamburger stand now. It must be, because the sign clearly says “Not a Burger Stand”.

44 miles.

Here’s the route map and elevation profile.

3/13/2015

The view from Mt Hollywood

Filed under: — stan @ 11:10 pm

A couple days ago, I ran across this article:

la.curbed.com/archives/2015/03/spotlights_los_angeles_marathon_route.php

The plan was to put up 27 powerful searchlights along the Los Angeles Marathon route from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica, and have them turned on for about 90 minutes on Friday night. Of course, in their artist’s conception, it looked pretty cool. While it remained to be seen how good it would look in person, I was curious.

I figured that any suitably high overlook would be mobbed with people trying to see, so I thought that hiking up Mt. Hollywood in Griffith Park might be a good alternative. There’s usually a small crowd up there on any normal night, but regardless, I figured the fact of having to hike several miles to get there would ‘thin the herd’ a bit. So in the end, I went there with Karina, Morgan, and Jason from my office, and we hiked up the back side of the mountain.

This was my first time hiking this mountain since 2011. We went by way of the ‘anklebreaker trail’. I don’t know why they call it that, since it’s not a bad trail by any means. In any event, it was a fine way to get up the mountain, and we were at the top in just about one hour. At the top, there were a lot of people. More than on a regular evening, but still nothing like the crowds that had to be down below at the observatory. Looking down, I could see the road up to the observatory, and it was packed solid with cars, and nobody was moving. So I was glad not to be there.

We broke out some snacks while we were waiting for the 8:40 to come around. I put my camera on the tripod and took some test photos of the city lights, just to get a feel for how different exposure times would come out. I started at 1/30 and went up to a full second, and I figured that the longer exposure would give the best results. Fortunately, between the tripod and the remote shutter release, I was able to keep the camera very still for the shots.

When they turned on the searchlights, it wasn’t as spectacular as the artist’s conception. If there had been more haze, it would have been better. But I started taking pictures, and with some more experimenting, I found that by pushing the exposure time up to 6-8 seconds, I could get the lights to show up pretty nicely. So I took several photos looking toward the marathon start near downtown, and several more looking toward Santa Monica.

We looked at the lights for a little while before we had to head back down so we could be out of the park before the closed the gates at 10:30. On the way down, I stopped and took one more picture of the lights, this time with the mountain blocking the city lights. For that shot, I put the exposure up to 15 seconds, since I didn’t have to worry about city lights being overexposed.

On the way down, we took the fire roads most of the way. It was a little longer, but very easy to follow in the dark. And I got to try out the uber-powerful little flashlight I got last November, after Karina and I got caught in the dark on the way back from Cucamonga Peak. It worked quite well, so I was happy. This was a pretty fun little adventure.

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