Thursday, November 28, 2013


I don't have much money to spend this year, so I'm lucky that the gifts I have in mind are crafts, which is a field where bargains abound. Like the shadowbox diarama above...I love Mexican sculptures and the prices aren't too bad. That's because the box is actually pretty small, it just looks big here. The figures are made out of potato starch and gypsum. 

Or the Moroccan fabric on the left above...My daughter likes stuff like that. That bureau's kinda nice too, but who gives bureaus for Christmas?

This (above), believe it or not, is a pad of paper from a stationary store.

 Here's a nice Mexican beadspread. It's so cheerful!

More pricey, but still a bargain, is this (above) embroidered bedspread. There's better examples, this picture just happened to be handy.

Here's (above) another diorama. It only costs a few bucks.

 Here's one (above) with a theme common to all cultures...the table resplendid with good food.

 How about a Chinese dragon? They come in little paper cutouts like the one above...

...or in big sculptures like the dragons you see in New Year parades.

This guy (above) made his own paper dragon. The dragon could use some improvement but I like the way it's supported by little sticks.

What would I like for Christmas? Maybe a paper dragon kite. I'd hang it from the ceiling. I've heard that it takes an experienced kiteman to fly them. The head has to be light enough so that the disks that make up its body can support it in the air.


Well, that's all on that subject. Later on this afternoon comes Thanksgiving dinner with friends. I love that holiday. When you think about it, we have lots to be thankful for, even in these times.

BTW: If you're making pumpkin pie be sure you use small mashed baking pumpkins and not the big jack-o-lantern pumpkins that you see at Halloween. The now defunct Horn and Hardart's restaurant made the best pumpkin pie but they were an East Coast outfit and I don't know if anyone on this side of the country ever tasted it. Too bad. That's like never having had pizza.

On the West Coast everyone thinks pumpkin pie is supposed to be brown, the way it comes out of a can.  Not true. A real pumpkin pie is orange like in the picture above, not brown, and it's made with condensed milk. Condensed milk tastes horrible when drunk, but it works great in baked goods. And did I mention orange zest? It'll need some of that too, but not too much.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Today I discovered a structure that instantly became my favorite new building in Los Angeles. I speak of St. Leon's Armenian Cathedral in Burbank. If you live in L.A., and you're a fan of architecture, then you MUST visit this church!

Unfortunately none of the photos I took did justice to the exterior and I didn't get any pictures at all of the interior. I didn't want to disturb the people who were praying inside. Since I have no adequate pictures to back up what I say, you'll just have to trust me on this one.

I got this interior picture of the rotunda (above) off the net. One of the things that impresses me about this ceiling is that the entire effect is achieved by lighting and the simultaneous harmony and contrast of the bare-bones shapes. I have nothing against decoration but this building doesn't require it. Most of the effect is achieved by the awesome beauty of the interior space that these shapes carve out.

Like I said, photos aren't very good at conveying the experience of space. You'll just have to see this for yourself. It's not far from Ikea in Burbank. Get off the 5 freeway at Hollywood Way and drive Southwest along Glenoaks for a few blocks and you'll see it. It's not an overly large building though the architect's clever use of scale makes it look enormous. Be sure to go inside.

Let me know what you think about it.

Monday, November 25, 2013


Saturday, November 23, 2013


This post is for architecture fans. Disneyland is an architect's dream, even when it's a bit overwrought or hokey. Here's a few examples. See what you think.

Even on a gloomy, overcast day like this the landscaping looked terrific. I could easily have photographed nothing but that all day. The tallest shrubs (trees?) here are only about as tall as a person.

Even industrial sites look good in this park.

And why shouldn't industry look good? It has a noble purpose, which is to make useful or beautiful things in quantities which will allow them to sell for low prices.

Every time I go to Disneyland I come back with a resolve to make my backyard look like Disney's cannibal village. I actually tried it once and was surprised to see that my kids were indifferent to it.

Nice shield!

Above, that crossbar and faux giraffe skin add a lot to that pole.

Nice bamboo stakes! I'll have to remember this when I decorate my porch next Halloween.

Here's (above) a low roof supported by columns in Fantasyland. Walless sections of buildings like this aren't very useful for keeping cold air out, but they're psychologically sheltering, and make for great indoor/outdoor transitions. For some reason this sort of thing never caught on in America except on railroad platforms.

Remember the stage set for Disneyland's Animation Academy that I posted about last time? Here's a few blurry pictures (sorry about that) to show details of that set. Check out that framed picture on the wall showing what I assume is a winning hand in a card game. It never occurred to me to frame things like that. It looks good.

Here's (upper left) a bulletin board framed in thick, quality wood that matches the wood in the shelf stack beneath it. It's a nice look.

In a different location now, here's a shelf top (above) in a voodoo shop in New Orleans Square.

In the same shop: a shelf of colored glass bottles. Nice, huh?

Above, the Haunted Mansion decked out Tim Burton-style for both Halloween and Christmas. Click to enlarge.

Yikes! I have more pictures but no more space. Oh, well.....

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Here I am again, this time on a cloudy day.

I was so happy that on the park trolley I broke into the J. G. Wentworth song. I was surprised to find that others on the trolley joined in. Apparently lots of people know the lyrics: "I have a structured settlement and I need cash now."

"Call J. G. Wentworth! 877 CASH NOW!!!"

"They've helped thousands, they'll help you too-oo!"

"One lump sum of cash they will pay to you."

"Call J. G. Wentworth, 877 CASH NOW!"

'It's your money! Use it when you need it!"

After that we blitzed the area around the trolley stop.

Holy Mackerel! My head is about twice the volume of the park attendant's.

We ended up in The Animation Academy where an animator teaches the audience how to draw Mickey.

I didn't get to draw because I was too busy taking pictures of the set.

Wow! I'd give a lot to have wooden shelves like the ones on the stage.

Check out the rug on the floor.

From a distance the pattern looks like a faded, old-time Sunday comics page like the one above. When you see it up close though, it's just an abstraction. Even so, the idea is an interesting one. I've heard you can get custom patterns printed on throw rugs and the price isn't steep.

Yikes! I've reached the end already! Maybe I'll continue this on another post.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


These are all pictures from a recent book of old New York Post photos called "New York Noir."

The Post's staff artists frequently drew recreations of crimes using the real backgrounds.  Here a man temporarily blinds his victim by throwing pepper at her.

Here (above) a woman has been shot by an unknown sniper.

This man (above) has been recaptured after a jailbreak.

This guy's wife caught him cheating so she gathered up the kids and threatened to leave him. That never came to pass because he shot her. One impulsive act changed his life forever.

Above, a policeman looks on as two tough kids (above) take a cigarette break. Two soon to be wasted lives.

In this picture a whole family has been wiped out. But why? No one knows.

Above, two cop killers after interrogation.

I'm supposing this man was a well-known criminal of the time. Here (above) a Physiognomist offers her opinion about why the man went wrong.

This dapper gent (above) is, believe it or not, the District Attorney. He dresses the way crooks in the movies dress.

Wow! New York used to look like one big noir movie set. I wish it still did.