Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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8/23/2015

The Spheres of MacArthur Park

Filed under: — stan @ 1:14 pm

A few months ago, I read about how an artist was planning on having some 3,000 plastic spheres painted with flowers, fish, birds, and so forth, and then was going to float them all on the lake in MacArthur Park. I made a note that we should go see this when it was done, and this was the weekend. This is our first art tour bike ride since we went to see “Urban Light” back in May.

We rode down Huntington Drive into downtown L.A., and then down Spring St through downtown, and then Flower down to Adams, near USC. On the way out on Adams, there is a place with some sharp humps in the pavement, and Carla’s pedal hit the peak of one of them. This knocked her foot out of the pedal, and it snapped off one of the little stops that hold the spring-loaded back of the pedal. We were able to lever it back into place well enough to continue the ride, but that was today’s installment of the long-running series, “I’ve never seen one of these break before“.

We stopped for bagels at Noah’s in Larchmont. After that, we headed back toward downtown, taking 7th St in, since it goes right by the park. When we got to the park, we stopped off to have a look at the balls floating on the lake.

The route home went through Echo Park and Silverlake, and then home by way of York Blvd and South Pasadena. It was kind of hot at the end, but a pleasant ride.

43 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

8/22/2015

Gyoza!

Filed under: — stan @ 3:33 pm

Today was the gyoza eating contest, which is one of the events in Little Tokyo for Nisei Week. We’ve been to see it in 2011 and 2012, and it was both hilarious and horrifying. That makes it a “must-see” in my book. So we took the train down to Little Tokyo to go see it.

As always, the announcer from the IFOCE was great. He knew all the statistics, the rankings of the eaters, what contests they’d each won. And he introduced each one with enthusiasm and stomach-turning stories about how much they could eat. Each eater who had competed in this event before had a number on the back of their shirt signifying how many gyoza they had eaten before. Joey Chestnut was there, and he holds the record with 384 gyoza in ten minutes. At the same time, the tables were prepared with stacks of plates, each plate carrying 25 gyoza. The announcer had the audience count down from ten, and they were off and eating. It’s really amazing to watch. The intense concentration, the heads bobbing up and down, swigs of water to wash it down, and occasionally jumps and shimmies to try and pack the food down in the stomach. The contest was ten minutes. And nobody stopped eating. They were stuffing their mouths as fast as they could swallow, and nobody suffered the dreaded “Reversal of Fortune“. When the countdown to the finish came, they all stuffed their cheeks like chipmunks, since any gyoza that are already in their mouth at the finish count as long as they swallow them.

In the end, they tallied up the results, and Matt ‘Megatoad’ Stonie won with 343 gyoza. He didn’t set a new record, but it was enough to win. Joey Chestnut came in second with 339. Miki Sudo came in 3rd with 178. Full results are on the Major League Eating web site. As I said, watching this contest is both hilarious and horrifying. I recommend it highly.

8/15/2015

Getting close…

Filed under: — stan @ 12:25 pm

Back in May, Carla and I rode to Monrovia for the dedication of the Metro Operations Campus. And today was the first of the dedications of the new stations that they are finishing up on the Foothill Extension of the Metro Gold Line. Since I’m not going to be able to make the other ones, I made a point to ride out to Duarte for this one.

It was very hot today, but the ride out there is only about 10 miles, so it’s not bad, even in the heat. They had a short stretch of Duarte Road closed for the event. There were tents set up for shade, and the dignitaries were making their speeches. The station itself looks like it’s basically complete, although they had it roped off. They had a train parked there, which I guess means that the track from Pasadena to Duarte is passable by train now.

They had a table set up to tell the story of the artwork in the station. Every Metro station has some sort of art in it. The art at the Duarte station has steel pillars with carved limestone at the top. The carvings are supposed to evoke something of the history of the area near the San Gabriel River. Or at least that’s what they told me. In contrast, I passed the Arcadia station on the way out there, and it had a big peacock on it. That seemed appropriate, since Arcadia is known for its large collection of feral peafowl.

They had some cakes there, but I didn’t want to stay out there in the heat until they served them. I did manage to bum some ice from the caterers, so I filled my water bottle with ice and had cold water for part of the ride home.

21 miles.

7/12/2015

The Rock Walk

Filed under: — stan @ 1:28 pm

A few years ago, I took a ride to Hollywood to do a Ramones tour. One of the stops on that tour was at Guitar Center on Sunset to see the Ramones’ handprints in the concrete in front of the store. I recently realized that the Rock Walk has a lot more than just the Ramones on it. In particular, I saw that the Funk Brothers are on it. So I thought this would be a good piece of sightseeing for the Sunday morning bike club ride.

We rode out there by our regular route through South Pasadena and Highland Park. After we crossed the L.A. River, we made a quick stop to see the Snow White Cottages. We’ve been by there a hundred times, but never made the half-block side trip to see them.

Once we got into Hollywood, we rode the length of Hollywood Boulevard down to the Chinese Theater. Then we turned off and headed down to Sunset and Guitar Center. Sadly, Guitar Center doesn’t open until 11 on Sundays, so we could only look at the handprints through the screen that they close at night. Still, it’s quite a collection.

From there, we rode down to Larchmont Village to Noah’s Bagels. I took a walk a couple doors down the street to Salt and Straw just to see what they had there. It looked and smelled good, but 10AM is just a little early for ice cream for me.

The route home was our regular route up Benton Way through Silver Lake. I’d read recently that they were draining the Silver Lake reservoir, but when we went by it, it still had quite a bit of water in it.

At the end, we went through Eagle Rock and up the Colorado hill to get back to Pasadena. It was a nice ride.

40 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

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


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