Stan’s Obligatory Blog

8/1/2011

Monday evening fun

Filed under: — stan @ 10:59 pm

Monday evening was an exercise in contrasts.

First off, I went downtown for the first stair practice session at One California Plaza. This is a 42-story building, so it’s bigger than my usual practice sessions at Millikan Library at Caltech. I’d done this one once last year, so I was curious to see how I’d do on it this time.

There was a good group there for it. We all trooped over there and handed in our signed waivers to the building guards. Then the let us loose in the stairs.

Because the building is relatively short, the stairs were pretty much straight up. There was just one break in the middle for a big mechanical floor, I passed one or two people, and one or two passed me. But they were people who are very fast, so I can’t complain too much. And in the end, I got to the top in 7:31, which is a good 35 seconds faster than I did it last year. Nothing not to like there. And we got to ride the elevator back down this time, which was good. I’d said that I wasn’t going to walk down unless the building was on fire.

Afterward, just a bit of contrast, I went out to Burbank and met up with Kathleen at the Smoke House for their Monday night special. Prime rib, and 1/2 off wine. Again, nothing not to like there.

It was a fun evening.

7/31/2011

Top five

Filed under: — stan @ 2:47 pm

A couple months ago, I found an article in the L.A. Times on “The Ten Best Houses in Southern Calfornia“. when I was reading, it, I realized that we could go see five of them on a single bike ride. I made up a route for this, and I test-rode it back in June. So today was the first time that I took the bike club group on it.

The first one was the Gamble House, which we pass all the time. Then we rode down into Silver Lake and then up the hill next to Griffith Park. Some of the guys missed the turn on Vermont and rode off up the hill into the park. I figured they’d realize that they’d missed a turn when they got to the Observatory. So I just waited down on Vermont. While I was waiting for them to come back, Carla showed up. She had overslept and gotten a late start. Finally, the rest of the group came back down the hill, and we all headed up to the Ennis House.

The third house was the Hollyhock House. That was an easy side trip. Then we headed across Hollywood, passing a sightseeing van that was stopped to look at the Michael Jackson Auditorium at the elementary school on Gardner Ave.

The Schindler House on Kings Road in West Hollywood was the fourth stop on the tour. Then we rode back into Hollywood and up toward the hills. We stopped off at the Studs Theater, which used to be the flagship of the old Pussycat chain back in the ’70s. David had to try his feet in John Holmes’ footprints in the concrete in front of the theater.

We rode up Nicholls Canyon to get to Mulholland Drive. Then we took a short side trip up Torreyson Dr to see the Chemosphere. That was the fifth and final stop on the house tour. Then we rode the rest of the way down Mulholland and down into Burbank for a snack at Priscilla’s. The rest of the ride was a direct path home by way of Glendale and Eagle Rock. We had a bit of fun right at the end when a guy on an electric-assisted bike passed us. We got on behind him and he motor-paced us for several miles, which was nice.

It was a fun little ride.

52 miles.

7/30/2011

WOL

Filed under: — stan @ 11:31 pm

We were at a backyard party on Saturday night, and someone noticed this little guy perched in one of the trees. I think this may be the first time I’ve ever seen an owl in the wild.

Hollywood Sightseeing with the Krell

Filed under: — stan @ 6:29 pm

This afternoon, Kathleen and I went to Hollywood to see the exhibit at the Linwood Dunn Theater gallery. They were showing props and other artifacts from the 1956 movie, “Forbidden Planet“. In keeping with the theme from last Thursday, this movie was based on Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”.

We saw some of the equipment they used to make the all-electronic music for the movie, which was pretty unusual for 1956. We also saw some miniature models used in the filming, as well as the full-sized Robbie the Robot suit.

After this, we went to Hollywood Forever to do a bit more sightseeing. We went to Hollywood Forever, and I got some new entries for my Graves photo collection.

And on the way home, I saw some minor words of wisdom tie-wrapped to a pole.

7/28/2011

Hamlet, but not in the original Klingon

Filed under: — stan @ 10:50 pm

Our adventure for tonight was a trip back to Griffith Park to see the Independent Shakespeare Company’s production of Hamlet. This was actually the first time I’ve ever seen this particular play, and I never realized just how pervasive it is in our culture.

There is the story of the woman who read Hamlet for the first time and said, “I don’t see why people admire that play so. It is nothing but a bunch of quotations strung together.”

—Isaac Asimov, Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare

The show was well done. Even though I’d only read a brief synopsis ahead of time, I was able to follow the story, and it was entertaining. So this made for a nice little evening adventure.

7/26/2011

Nope – no aliens here…

Filed under: — stan @ 11:11 pm

Tonight, Kathleen and I went to the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles for a talk by Annie Jacobsen about her new book, Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base. The format of the talk was a conversation between her and M.G. Lord, author of Astro Turf: The Private Life of Rocket Science. We’d been to one of these events once before, when we went to see John Waters last year.

The talk was very interesting and entertaining. There were even three of her sources in the audience: Ed Lovick, Ken Collins, and Wayne Pendleton. They were engineers and a test pilot on the A-12 “Oxcart” project, which was the CIA precursor to the Air Force’s SR-71 Blackbird spy plane. So as you might imagine, they had some good stories to tell her for the book. Apparently, a lot of this was classified until pretty recently. The fact that the CIA was actively designing stealth aircraft in 1957 was kept secret until the late 1990s.

All told, it was an entertaining evening. And as a little bonus, we got to look across the street from the library and gaze up at the U.S. Bank tower and think about just how much it’s going to hurt when we go to climb the stairs there in September.

7/25/2011

The Captains

Filed under: — stan @ 11:35 pm

Tonight, Kathleen and I went over to Hollywood Forever for a special screening of “The Captains“. This is a documentary by William Shatner, where he goes to meet and interview all of the actors who have played starship captains in all the incarnations of “Star Trek“. It was a chance for him to confront and embrace what is surely his legacy, and to talk with the others and share their feelings on their participation in “Star Trek”, which will likely be the one thing they will all be remembered best for having done.

As one would expect, there were lots of fans there in “Star Trek” costumes. I don’t have a costume, but I brought along my tribble. And each incarnation of the show and each captain had its own set of fans. Even after all these years, it’s still an amazing thing that it took on a life of its own and became such a pervasive part of our culture.

William Shatner was there to introduce the film. Beforehand, I saw him in the middle of a little scrum of photographer, along with Henry Rollins. (WTF? Henry Rollins? What’s he doing here?) In his introduction to the film, Shatner spoke of how strange it was to be introducing this film at the cemetery in Hollywood. Looking over the back wall, we could see the sound stage where they filmed the original “Star Trek”, nearly 50 years ago. He talked about how he originally came to the part of Captain Kirk, and how nobody really thought the show would amount to much in the long run. And his having to come to terms with the fact that that one role has in many ways come to define his life. Apparently, it’s been an interesting journey.

The film itself was very entertaining. The other captains all came into it with at least a bit more warning that they were doing something that would be career-defining, since they all came along after “Star Trek” had become a worldwide phenomenon. Each one had a slightly different take on how their character should work, and hearing their reminiscences was a lot of fun.

In the end, Shatner came to terms with his legacy, which was the main reason he made this film. It was a lot of fun, and I highly recommend it.

7/24/2011

Hollywood by bike

Filed under: — stan @ 1:28 pm

Today’s bike club ride was one we haven’t done in quite a while. The last time was over a year ago. We’d planned on it several times last winter and spring, but we got rained out each time. So now that it’s summer, we finally got to do it.

The route was a ride over into Hollywood and up Beachwood Canyon to just below the Hollywood sign. Then over the hill into Burbank, and home by way of Glendale. It was a perfect day for riding.

The ride up to the sign was very steep, on a rough road with a fair amount of sand and dirt on it. This is the hill where I always tell people, “you may or may not see anyone you recognize from TV here, but you’ll be seeing stars by the time you get to the top.” We regrouped at the top, by Wolf’s Lair Castle. Then we headed up the rest of the way to the end of Mulholland Drive, just below the Hollywood sign.

On the way back down, we stopped for a photo-op at the bookshelf garage door. Then down the hill, past Lake Hollywood, and up and over into Burbank. Our stop was at Priscilla’s in Burbank. While we were there, I had a look at the 1920s-era racing bike they had displayed in the window of the bike shop next door.

On the way home, we went over the Chevy Chase/Linda Vista hill in Glendale, coming down on Lida into Pasadena. Then around the Rose Bowl and home by way of Orange Grove.

It was a nice ride, even if Tony did beat me to the top of all the hills.

41 miles

7/22/2011

More new frontiers in the kitchen

Filed under: — stan @ 7:17 pm

Last weekend, when we had our picnic at Lake Travis, one of the things we got at Central Market was jalapeños stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon. Yum. They were good. So today I decided I’d try making some at home.

The ones we bought were halved, stuffed, and then wrapped. I took a slightly different approach, slitting the pepper on one side and stuffing it, but leaving it essentially whole. Then I wrapped a half-strip of bacon around it and stuck a toothpick through it.

I cooked them on the barbecue, which may not be the best way to do this, since the dripping bacon fat caused a lot of flames. It may be that hot oven might be the best way to do this.

They were quite good. Lucinda and I both liked them. Clearly, more experimentation is in order.

Can this be for real?

Filed under: — stan @ 8:11 am

This was in the L.A. Times yesterday:

Bicyclist harassment outlawed by Los Angeles City Council
New law makes it a crime for drivers to threaten cyclists verbally or physically.

By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times

July 21, 2011
The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday passed a pioneering new law intended to protect bicyclists from harassment by motorists.

The ordinance, which backers described as the toughest of its kind in the nation, makes it a crime for drivers to threaten cyclists verbally or physically, and allows victims of harassment to sue in civil court without waiting for the city to press criminal charges.

I think this sounds like a great idea. It remains to be seen how it will work in real life, but at least somebody is thinking about it. And that in itself is remarkable.

The whole story is here:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-bicycle-law-20110721,0,3219222.story

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