Friday, August 31, 2007

Today at Disneyland

Today was the start of a beautiful Labor Day Weekend at Disneyland:

We made an impromptu end-of-summer visit to both Disneyland and California Adventure this morning.

There's still a bit of summer left...

...but fall is right around the corner:

The temps were edging close to 100 in Anaheim today. We left for home before the worst of the afternoon heat. In under four hours, we went on seven rides in two parks, plus watched a bit of the new HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 2 Pep Rally, shopped, and ate lunch.

We went on the Storybook Land Canal Boats for the first time in a while:

Some of us were brave enough to try the Teacups...I swore them off years ago (grin).

Once upon a time I didn't care for California Adventure's Mulholland Madness, but I've grown to love it. Uppppp we go!

Halloween Time will be back soon:

All in all, a wonderful day and a great start to the holiday weekend.

Happy Labor Day, everyone!

Tony Snow Resigns as White House Press Secretary

Godspeed, Tony, we love you.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Double Wedding (1937)

I'm a huge fan of William Powell and Myrna Loy, but I have to admit that DOUBLE WEDDING, which I just watched for the first time, is on the low end of their many successful films together. While it's always a pleasure to have Powell and Loy on screen together, the plot, writing, and casting were all on the weak side in this film.

Powell is unsuitably cast against type as Charlie Lodge, a scruffy vagabond who lives in a trailer, while Loy plays the chain-smoking dress shop manager who spends most of the movie believing she despises him. Florence Rice wasn't particularly appealing as Loy's impressionable sister, and John Beal was tiresome as Rice's milquetoast longtime fiance. Jessie Ralph and Katharine Alexander breathe some needed life into their scenes, and Donald Meek shows up for a quick scene, but they're not enough to save the film from being a disappointment.

I love screwball comedies, and have enjoyed all of Powell and Loy's other comedies, but this one felt forced, and I particularly noticed it was filled with visuals which were supposed to be funny but were just unappealing: Powell in silly clothes, Powell with ink on his finger, Powell with a napkin tied around his face, Powell with paint smeared on his face, Powell with a framed portrait smashed over his head, etc. I kept expecting to learn something about Powell's character that would make him more appealing, but the best that could be said about Charlie was that he was nice and had a good relationship with his ex-wife. But what was the point? It was hard to imagine what Loy saw in him, or he in her, or what their future together would be like. Which I can't imagine saying about any other Powell & Loy movie! I feel a bit disloyal even criticizing this one, but there you have it.

What's more, the title is a misnomer: there actually isn't any wedding at all in the film, let alone a double wedding.

There is a sad back story to the filming of DOUBLE WEDDING: Powell's fiancee, Jean Harlow, who was also a close friend of Myrna Loy, died while the film was being made. The production was shut down for several weeks. Loy wrote in her autobiography, BEING AND BECOMING: "I wasn't at my best during DOUBLE WEDDING. It had more slapstick than most of my comedies and seemed hell to make... I hated that picture, although I may never have seen it. Perhaps it became the scapegoat for concurrent despair; during the filming, Jean Harlow died, leaving Bill and me absolutely devastated."

DOUBLE WEDDING was filmed in black and white and runs 87 minutes. It was directed by longtime MGM director Richard Thorpe.

DOUBLE WEDDING has been released on DVD and VHS.

DOUBLE WEDDING can also be seen on TCM. The trailer, which is about as silly as the movie itself, can be seen here.

August 2017 Update: DOUBLE WEDDING has been reissued on DVD by the Warner Archive.

Big Changes Coming to Disney's CA Adventure

One of the most interesting stories in the new update at MiceAge concerns plans to import the wonderful Mickey's Philharmagic attraction from Florida's Magic Kingdom.

Al Lutz also details exciting plans to renovate the Hyperion Theater and otherwise make over DCA.

A Wonderful World of Color show is coming to Paradise Pier Lagoon, most likely in 2009.

I'm rather fond of DCA's "wild mouse" coaster, Mulholland Madness, despite it being an "off the shelf" coaster, and I really like Pizza Oom Mow Mow, which has great surfer theming. Both are slated to be replaced. However, the concept of a RATATOUILLE roller coaster in that area sounds great...

And I love that they're going to get rid of the Golden Dreams movie and use the building as an exit for a LITTLE MERMAID ride!

Over at Disneyland, a new People Mover is said to be in the works to open by the end of the decade...yay!

There's lots more exciting news...Disney theme park fans should be sure to Read the Whole Thing.

Life & Times Story on Felix the Cat Sign

Sam Louie of KCET's LIFE & TIMES did a good report on the Felix the Cat sign controversy. You can watch his 8-minute news story online. (Click on the subject link above.)

Life & Times linked to Laura's Miscellaneous Musings on the same page where you can watch the video -- scroll down to "Insider Viewpoints."

The one angle in the video report that I'm curious about is that while Darryl Holter of Felix Chevrolet discusses how a historic landmark designation could impede him from renovating his building and cause problems with his relationship with Chevrolet corporate headquarters, there is no discussion about how the historic designation could affect the long-rumored University Gateway "mixed-use" development project planned for that intersection.

Although I've previously heard chatter that both of the Felix lots at Figueroa and Jefferson were part of the plans, I found a couple websites which say the project would only be located on the Felix lot on the northwest corner of the intersection, across from the affected building. But one would think if the dealership is considering giving up one of their lots, they might have plans for the northeast corner and the "sign building" as well.

Previous posts on this topic here at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings: July 12, 2007, July 26, 2007, and August 23, 2007.

Thompson: The Date is September 6th

If you've missed the news elsewhere, Fred Thompson will officially announce his candidacy for President on Thursday, September 6th.

The announcement will take place via webcast at his official site, I'm With Fred.

Does An Edwards Staffer Work For Time Magazine?

Eric Pooley of Time has written a fawning profile of John Edwards, which is so flattering -- and so deliberately obtuse on some topics -- that one really has to wonder if the Edwards campaign slipped a mole into Time.

As for deliberately obtuse, check out this paragraph:

"Another challenge is that much of the attention he's gotten recently has been the unflattering kind, stories that question his sincerity and assail his image as a fighter for the little guy by focusing on his pricey haircuts, huge house and hedge-fund job. These viral attacks, spreading from the Drudge Report and other blogs to newspapers everywhere, make a dumb argument. They assume that someone who's wealthy can't be a sincere advocate for poor and working people. By that logic, the healthy can't speak on behalf of the sick, or whites on behalf of people of color. But in politics, of course, dumb arguments can hurt you, which is why some Edwards aides urged him not to build such a big house."

What's really dumb is the argument made in the above paragraph. To my knowledge, no one has asserted that a rich guy can't be a "sincere advocate" for the poor. The writer has either chosen to ignore reality and restructure the "argument" to benefit Edwards, or alternatively, he's use the author's own adjective, dumb?

Edwards' problem has not been his wealth; it's been his blatant hypocrisy and his desire to tell the rest of us how to live, while doing something entirely different himself. For instance, advocating that Americans give up their SUVs while he enjoys an energy-guzzling 28,000-square-foot house.

And guess what? Edwards owns two SUVs!

There are many similar examples of Edwards talking the talk but not walking the walk.

Back to the article, another paragraph worth examining:

"By the time midsummer rolled around, the negative stories had crowded out substantive ones about Edwards' proposals, so most primary voters didn't know he had been leading the debate on domestic policy. He was the first to present a credible plan for universal health care. (Obama later offered a similar but less expensive plan that leaves some 15 million uninsured; Clinton still hasn't revealed hers.) He came up with a Gore-approved policy to combat global warming and a well-conceived antipoverty package, including a $1 billion fund to help people facing mortgage foreclosure. (Clinton later proposed a similar fund.)"

Why is the Time writer editorializing that an "antipoverty" package, including a billion-dollar taxpayer-funded mortgage bailout fund, is "well-conceived"? In whose eyes?

And they wonder why so many people no longer respect the "mainstream media"...

A postscript: Yesterday NewsBusters ran a brief story about the lack of coverage of Edwards asking whether Cuba had a government-run health care system.

You know that if that question had come out of the mouth of Giuliani, McCain, or any other major Republican candidate, it would have been aired on TV for days.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

On the Bright Side... about someone really competent, like Ted Olson, for Attorney General?

Thursday Update: The Olson rumors continue to build.

My Least Favorite Story of the Week

The developing scandal surrounding Senator Larry Craig is just...ugh.

I am so tired of Republican politicians who sacrifice the good of the party and the nation in order to pursue their own selfish desires. We deserve better from the people we entrust to represent us in Washington.

On the positive side, Republicans usually clean house pretty quickly. The same, sadly, often cannot be said for the Democrats: Gerry Studds, Barney Frank, Bill Clinton, William Jefferson, Patrick Kennedy...or, locally, Antonio Villaraigosa.

Ed Morrissey makes a great point, that Patrick Kennedy was an actual danger to the public, driving under the influence, yet no one demanded he leave office.

And, of course, the media aids and abets the Democrats with this double standard.

More on the Seattle Ferry Story

Ed Morrissey had a very interesting update today about the suspicious behavior of the two men the FBI is seeking.

The two men have photographed restricted areas, measured distances in the cargo hold, studied evacuation charts, and asked "unusual questions."

And yet the Seattle Post-Intelligencer would rather a ferry blows up than run the men's photo and help the FBI locate them for an interview.

A Post-Intelligencer columnist, Robert Jamieson, Jr., wants to pretend there's no there there and it's all about racism. He asserts that "Fear makes people irrational."

No, political correctness makes people irrational.

Fear justifiably causes people to take commonsense steps to protect themselves from potential threats.

Thursday Update: A very interesting update from Michelle Malkin: "I have learned that these men have been the subject of much investigative energy within homeland security bureaucracies for quite some time. Indeed, one source told me that until the FBI released the photos of the men, the snapshots had been handled as classified material."

Time Marches On In Southern California

Interstate Baking Corp., the maker of Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and Wonder Bread, is shuttering its bread bakeries in Southern California.

While Twinkies and other snacks will still be made and sold in California, Wonder Bread -- sold here since the 1940s -- may permanently disappear from store shelves.

Southern Californians who want Wonder Bread will have to trek to Las Vegas in future.

Meanwhile, the Tribune Corp. is selling the studio which houses KTLA. The Sunset Boulevard building was built by Warner Bros. in 1919.

That Didn't Take Long

Hillary Clinton is giving away to charity $23,000 in questionable donations from Norman Hsu. Just yesterday the Clinton campaign said there was "no question about his integrity or his commitment to playing by the rules, and we have absolutely no reason to call his contributions into question."

Then today the L.A. Times broke the story Hsu's a fugitive from justice who's been hiding in plain sight for 15 years.

Now, what about Hsu's friends, the Paw family, who live in a run-down home and have a modest income, yet combined to donate over $200,000 to Mrs. Clinton? As detailed by The Wall Street Journal, the timing and amounts of the Paws' donations are suspicious, to say the least.

Update: More on this posted by WLS at Patterico's site.

Edwards: Sacrifice For You, But Not For Me

John Edwards, who lives in an energy-guzzling 28,000-square-foot mansion, wants Americans to give up their SUVS in order to save energy.

When Edwards was called on this inconsistency, he haughtily claimed entitlement because he's worked hard all his life: "I have no apologies whatsoever for what I've done with my life."

So the rest of us who work hard are supposed to do without purchasing things that use more energy, in the name of energy conservation, but he's apparently "special"...

Thursday Update: It's become even more apparent that John Edwards won't put his lifestyle where his mouth is: he owns two SUVs!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

New Books: Southern Cakes and Sunday Roast

SOUTHERN CAKES (linked above) by Nancie McDermott has a cover that's hard to resist. It's subtitled SWEET AND IRRESISTIBLE RECIPES FOR EVERYDAY CELEBRATIONS.

I still usually use a boxed mix for cakes, while making frosting from scratch, but a book like this might tempt me to try a recipe from scratch.

The L.A. Times just reviewed the book, which was released last May. The review includes a mouth-watering photo of a brown sugar pound cake. The article includes a link to the recipe. (Warning: This recipe may disappear into the Times archives so print it soon if you're interested!)

SUNDAY ROAST, by Clarissa Dickson Wright and Johnny Scott, will be released on September 25th. This book is by a British cook and features extensive information on carving. Sounds interesting, although Booklist warns "...this volume may not appeal to all Americans because its photographs expose the English penchant for overcooking meat." That gave me a chuckle.

On the other hand, Booklist also says "The authors' unremitting and uncompromising use of British terminology also sounds obscure to the American ear..." That part sounds like fun! I love "translating" new-to-me British terms.

The Clintons and Chinese Funny Money, Revisited

Yet another reminder that we really don't need to have a new Clinton Administration...

Wednesday Update: The story gets even of the donors is a fugitive wanted in California for the last 15 years. He's been in "plain sight," acting as a Democratic Party fundraiser.

I would add that it's a pleasant surprise to find the L.A. Times covering this case.

Monday, August 27, 2007

And Speaking of England...

...Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, has backed out of attending the memorial service marking the 10th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

What could Camilla have been thinking when she accepted in the invitation in the first place? People may have moved on in the last 10 years, but not that much.

Cal Thomas: Vanishing England

For those of us who love England, what's happening there due to the influx of unassimilated Muslim immigrants is sad...and a cautionary example for America.

New Book: Until Proven Innocent


The authors are Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson. Last December they co-authored an excellent piece on the case at Opinion Journal.

Johnson, a history professor, blogs at Durham-in-Wonderland. His reporting on the case played an important role in exonerating the players and exposing Mike Nifong as a prosecutor completely uninterested in justice.

Should be a good read.

Victor Davis Hanson on Public Education

Hanson discusses the decline of American public education and offers ideas for how to improve our schools.

Unfortunately, I don't see his ideas going anywhere. They make too much sense...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Today at Disneyland: Club 33

Today my husband and I celebrated the 25th anniversary of our first date. That date took place at Disneyland, where we both worked at the time, and tonight we celebrated in style with a dinner at Disneyland's legendary "hidden" restaurant, Club 33.

We've been fortunate to eat at Club 33 on special occasions twice in the past; photos I took in the summer of 2006 can be seen here. Remarkably, our waiter tonight remembered us from our first visit in 2004!

These beautiful charger plates are on the table when you're seated. (Flash turned off to prevent reflection. Click to enlarge.)

We highly recommend the chateaubriand.

I took a photograph of the harpsichord from a different angle tonight, so that the artwork under the lid can be seen:

THE HAPPIEST MILLIONAIRE phone booth from a new angle:

Club 33 is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. This plate was one of the items on display in a case of souvenir items for sale.

I chose a Club 33 40th Anniversary book bag to bring home. :)

It seems almost in the blink of an eye we went from being college students to college student parents. Funny how that happens!

New Book: Blue Ribbon USA

I just learned that earlier this year John Margolies and Georgia Orcutt released another volume in their series of retro-style cookbooks. Their latest effort is called BLUE RIBBON USA, featuring recipes from county fairs.

I really enjoyed the authors' COOKOUT USA and COOKING USA. I've only tried a couple of the recipes thus far, but what really sets these books apart is their beautiful graphic design. The books are filled with reproductions of vintage postcards, maps, magazine covers, travel brochures, and advertising photos.

For more on COOKOUT USA, see my post from Labor Day weekend, 2006.

I'm looking to checking out this latest title soon.

Chris Wallace Slams Bill Moyers

PBS's angry liberal, Bill Moyers, has been unfairly targeting Karl Rove in the media of late, asserting, in so many words, that Rove is an agnostic who has manipulated the religious right.

When Rove responded in a Chris Wallace interview that he is an observant Episcopalian, Moyers continued to dispute that Rove is religious, stating that Wallace shouldn't take Rove's "every word as gospel."

Wallace skipped his "Power Player of the Week" segment today in order to respond to Moyers:

"If you want to find out about someone's religious beliefs, a good first step might be to ask him. If you had talked to Rove as I did, you would have found out he reads a devotional every day and the biggest charitable contribution he ever made was to his church. Of course, you never called Rove. That's reporting 101, but it would have gotten in the way of a tasty story line about a non-believer flimflamming the Christian right. I guess, Bill, reporting is easier when you don't worry about the facts."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

USC: A Visit to Doheny Memorial Library

While visiting USC on Move-In Day last week, we took the time to explore Doheny Memorial Library. The library celebrates its 75th anniversary next month.

The library was named in honor of Edward L. Doheny, Jr., a USC alumnus who tragically was murdered in 1929. The Memorial Library, built by Doheny's parents, opened three and a half years after his death and has been a focal point of the campus ever since.

Decades ago the library sat on University Avenue, with automobile traffic separating the library from the Bovard Administration building. (Click here and scroll down to see a photo of University Avenue in 1921, before the library was built.) University Avenue was later closed to traffic and renamed Trousdale Parkway. Walking around USC now, you'd never know that a street once divided the campus.

I don't have a good photo of the library exterior handy, but you can see pictures here and here.

As you walk up the steps to the library, plaques mark addresses given on the library steps by former Presidents Kennedy and Ford:

Above the library doors:

The interior photos were taken without a flash but convey some of the library's beauty:

I love the card catalogue room. The beautiful wood card catalogues are all preserved -- though empty -- and serve as a backdrop for rows of computer screens. What a wonderful combination of historical preservation and modern convenience.

Several floors of the library are underground. This downstairs lobby has lovely marble and other detail work:

The L.A. Times Reference Room has been seen on TV recently in a Pizza Hut commercial:

We spent the most time downstairs in the Cinema Library, where we glimpsed Constance McCormick at work on her movie scrapbooks in a little room deep within the stacks. The Cinema Library has many film posters on the walls -- some of them signed -- and a nice exhibit of Cecil B. DeMille memorabilia. The school credits DeMille with founding its famed cinema school in 1929.

I hope you enjoy these glimpses of one of the architectural and historic jewels of Los Angeles.

Coming to DVD: Frasier, Season 10

Great news this week for fans of classic TV: the final season of FRASIER to be released on DVD is coming December 11th.

Season 11 was released soon after the series went off the air, so the release of Season 10 means that fans can now enjoy the entire series.

Although I enjoyed the show, I saw relatively little of FRASIER when it first aired; in the '90s I was too busy with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers to watch much TV. :) One of the great pleasures of DVDs is the ability to watch a TV series from start to finish, at whatever pace one desires. Over the last few years we've been watching FRASIER straight through from the first episode and we're now up to the last disc of Season 8.

I'd definitely rank FRASIER as one of my all-time favorite TV shows. Turning on an episode is like a comforting visit with family. And has there ever been a more gifted comedian than David Hyde Pierce?

I have a feeling by the time we finish the last episode of Season 11 we'll be reading to go back to Season 1, Episode 1, and start all over again.


Robin Givhan of the Washington Post writes pointless, nasty columns, yet somehow she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

Givhan's latest venture into meaningless blather is a rambling piece on Jenna Bush, politicians' children, and celebrity, which includes confounding gems such as this:

"The White House turned it into an American wedding. And while no one expects to be pleased with all of the couple's choices, everyone will think they have a right to be heard."

Does that even mean anything? The rest of the article's not any better; it's barely intelligible.

And this kind of writing rates a Post paycheck and a Pulitzer?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Around the Blogosphere This Week

It's been a hectic week, and with the weekend starting I've been catching up on some reading. Hope you'll enjoy some of the interesting items I've come across while surfing the web.

NewsBusters (subject link) has a hilarious quote by the managing editor of the Seattle Press Intelligencer, who refused the FBI's request to post photos of two men who have regularly engaged in suspicious activity on Seattle ferries. David McCumber said, "We get to decide what is news and what isn't." You might have had that power once, Mr. McCumber, but it's a new media world, or hadn't you noticed?

The Democrat Clamor for a Housing Bailout: A few days ago I posted about Hillary Clinton's plan for taxpayer-funded mortgage bailouts. Michelle Malkin has more.

Has Fox Dismissed Fred?: Ed Morrissey notes the condescension towards Fred Thompson on Fox News Channel's Special Report With Brit Hume. I've noticed myself that the channel's news reporting, as well as the roundtable, has been lopsidedly negative toward Thompson in recent weeks. The roundtable panel's dismissive writeoff of Thompson as "an actor" shows how quickly those Beltway types forget. The last actor to live in the White House was one of our greatest Presidents. I don't know yet if Thompson's the man I'd vote for, but considering his standing in the polls without yet officially entering the race, it certainly seems premature for the pundits to assert his "boomlet" is over.

Getting Serious on Reforms of the Nominating Process: This year's endless leapfrogging by states wanting to hold the earliest primaries makes it very clear that the parties need to reform the primary process. Betsy Newmark has a good post on this topic. I don't care for the proposal that big states always go last, which strikes me as unfair, but I think rotating groups of states is a fine idea, as I mentioned here last May. As for Iowa and New Hampshire, they've had long turns being first and I think they need to get over themselves and "play nice" in a new primary system.

A Quake Lull, But For How Long?: Yikes. Another reason to leave California? This story ran on the front page of today's L.A. Times. I hear that James Dolan, the lead author on the paper discussed in this article, is an excellent professor.

Dorms Gone Deluxe: College is on my mind this week... Some student housing these days is unreal!

The Curious Incident of the Funnel Cake in the Lawn: Knott's Berry Farm sells funnel cakes, but dare I confess I've never tried one?

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS DVD News: Has anyone seen this show? I loved Kyle Chandler on HOMEFRONT and GREY'S ANATOMY. The DVD set comes with a "money-back guarantee if you aren't completely hooked."

HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 2 on DVD: Finally, more DVD news, and probably the last HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 2 post for a good long while (grin) -- an "extended edition" of last week's ratings smash will be released on December 11th, just in time to fill Christmas stockings.

Tonight's Movie: Design for Scandal (1941)

DESIGN FOR SCANDAL (1941) is an amusing, well-paced romantic comedy with some sharp dialogue and an appealing performance by leading lady Rosalind Russell.

Russell plays a quick-witted, Berkeley-educated judge who incurs the wrath of a newspaper publisher (Edward Arnold) when she rules against him in a divorce case. Enter Walter Pidgeon as the newspaper's star photographer, who has a plan -- a design for scandal -- which should end with the judge removed from office and the divorce ruling overturned. That's the plan, anyway. This being a romantic comedy, it's a pretty sure bet things don't go exactly as Pidgeon expects. The film ends with a hilarious courtroom scene which is a screwball comedy delight.

Russell plays a confident and highly intelligent woman who is light years from the addlepated role she played in THE FEMININE TOUCH (1941) the very same year. It's a warm, lovely performance. Pidgeon does well in his part, particularly when nonchalantly facing possible death as the movie opens, but with all his character's devious plotting, he's not always especially likeable, especially in his early scenes with Russell. It's Russell's movie all the way, and things lag a bit when she's not on screen.

DESIGN FOR SCANDAL has a large cast of talented actors which also includes Jean Rogers (of FLASH GORDON fame), Lee Bowman, Barbara Jo Allen (radio's "Vera Vague"), Mary Beth Hughes, and Thurston Hall. Guy Kibbee is a riot as a candy-gobbling judge, and his brother Milton Kibbee plays a court clerk. Anne Revere has an uncredited bit part as Russell's hard-nosed maid, a few years before her Oscar win for NATIONAL VELVET (1944).

DESIGN FOR SCANDAL runs 85 minutes and was filmed in black and white. It was directed by longtime MGM director Norman Taurog.

DESIGN FOR SCANDAL can be seen on TCM. It has not yet been released on DVD or VHS. Vote here to indicate interest in a DVD release.

The trailer can be seen here.

February 2011 Update: This film is now available on DVD-R from the Warner Archive.

November 2022 Update: My review of the Warner Archive DVD may be read here.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Figueroa and Adams

There are many interesting buildings within blocks of USC. These are not the best photos, as they were taken from a car, but I thought it would be fun to share a couple. (Click to enlarge.)

The beautiful building below is the Automobile Club of Southern California, located at the corner of Figueroa and Adams.

The building was designed in the style of a Spanish cathedral, and serves as the Club's Los Angeles District Office. I believe it also houses the Auto Club's archives.

Across the street from the Auto Club is St. Vincent de Paul Church. The church was built in 1924, paid for by the Doheny Family. The Doheny Family also built USC's Doheny Memorial Library which opened 75 years ago next month.

The Doheny Family bought surrounding property and had the church built angled to the corner to ensure that no other buildings would ever obscure the view of the church. (They weren't counting on buses...)

L.A. News: Felix the Cat Sign Update

According to the latest issue of the Daily Trojan, Darryl Holter, the owner of Felix Chevrolet, has agreed to donate the Felix the Cat Sign and "any portion of the dealership" to the famed Petersen Automotive Museum.

This seems like an excellent alternative to having the building and sign declared a cultural and historic monument, freezing future development plans for the dealership site at Jefferson and Figueroa in Los Angeles.

Here's a new photo I snapped of the Felix the Cat sign yesterday:

You can click to enlarge. It's slightly blurry as it was taken from a moving car.

That's USC's new Galen Center in the background behind the sign.

August 30th Update: Welcome to readers of Life & Times Blog!

New Blog: Sallie's Stack

I always enjoy perusing the links posted by Sallie at A Gracious Home.

Sallie's decided to start a new blog, Sallie's Stack, just for a daily list of fun links.

I'm looking forward to checking the new site out on a regular basis.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Move-In Day at USC, Continued

It was a beautiful day today at the University of Southern California. I always enjoy our visits to the campus, but there is a special "vibe" on move-in day as the new school year starts. USC is famous for its school spirit, and the enthusiasm all around the campus is really contagious.

I took a number of photos today and thought I'd share a few tonight. (Click on photos to enlarge.) I'll be posting more pictures later in the week.

Below is Bovard Auditorium. The exterior has been featured in countless films and TV shows, including LEGALLY BLONDE -- it stood in for Harvard -- and GILMORE GIRLS, where it played the role of Yale.

A close-up of the fountain from the above photo:

Below, University Church:

Although not affiliated with any one religious group, USC is a very faith-friendly campus. There are many places to worship, both on campus and immediately north of campus in the University Park area, and there are numerous religious groups active on campus.

Welcome back barbecue on McCarthy Quad, with Leavey Library in the background on the right:

This will be a challenging semester for our daughter, who among other things is studying mineralogy and chemistry this fall as she decides whether to pursue a minor in geology.

Fight on!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Move-In Day at USC

It doesn't seem possible it's been a year since our daughter moved into her freshman dorm at USC, and here we are again, preparing to deliver her for her sophomore year on the morrow.

Between a computer mouse which broke yesterday -- replaced today! -- my proofreading work, and college preparations, blogging has been very quiet the last couple days. It should resume at a more regular pace in the near future! :)

Poll: 1 in 4 Adults Read No Books Last Year

That's just...sad!

What they're missing...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Tonight's Movie: The Feminine Touch (1941)

THE FEMININE TOUCH (1941) is a mildly amusing romantic comedy. Don Ameche stars as a professor who has written a book explaining why jealousy is unnecessary in romantic relationships, and Rosalind Russell is the professor's wife, who desperately wants her husband to demonstrate some jealousy, which she believes will prove he loves her.

Van Heflin plays Ameche's womanizing publisher, who incessantly pursues Russell, and Kay Francis plays the publisher's lovelorn assistant.

It's a slightly strange movie -- complete with a Dali-esque dream sequence -- that goes on a bit too long, but it has its compensations. Long-haired Rosalind Russell is at her most beautiful as the professor's somewhat giddy but devoted wife, and she has a number of amusing scenes. This was one of Ameche's less interesting roles, as the endlessly patient professor, but he's always a pleasure to have on screen.

This was Van Heflin's first role at MGM, and he went on to do a steady stream of films at that studio. One of my favorite Heflin performances of the '40s was in GREEN DOLPHIN STREET (1947).

THE FEMININE TOUCH was filmed in black and white and runs 97 minutes. It was directed by W.S. Van Dyke, whose best-known titles included TARZAN THE APE MAN (1932), THE THIN MAN (1934), and SAN FRANCISCO (1936).

THE FEMININE TOUCH does not appear to have been released on video, nor has it been released on DVD. It can be seen on Turner Classic Movies. (Update: THE FEMININE TOUCH is now available on DVD from the Warner Archive.)

The trailer for THE FEMININE TOUCH can be seen at TCM.

Another TCM programming note: FAST AND LOOSE (1939), the Robert Montgomery-Rosalind Russell edition in the Joel and Garda Sloan series, also airs on Monday, August 20th. My post on FAST AND FURIOUS (1939), which starred Franchot Tone and Ann Sothern as the Sloans, includes a link to the trailer for FAST AND LOOSE.

Update: My review of the Warner Archive DVD release of this film may be found here.

Sunday Sports Stories

Relief pitcher Eric Gagne provided Dodger fans with many wonderful memories during his stint with the Dodgers. With a record-setting streak of saves, his entrance from the bullpen meant "Game Over!"

Unfortunately, Gagne has been beset by injuries. He is now playing in Boston, and with a 15.00 ERA, things aren't going so well. Bill Plaschke of the L.A. Times has the story (subject link).

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been unable to reach an agreement with his stepmother, Teresa, to take the No. 8 with him when he leaves Dale Earnhardt Inc. at the end of the year. I would think DEI and Teresa are going to suffer some loss of goodwill from fans, which they'll need as they rebuild DEI without Jr., whom most consider the most popular driver in NASCAR.

USA TODAY explains why race teams control car numbers, rather than drivers. Mark Martin explains, "In this business, the standard has always been that the number stays with the owner and the driver has his superstardom to carry wherever he may."

Meanwhile, USC is being picked by many as the team to beat in the coming football season. USC is one of only two schools to start and finish as No. 1 in the AP poll, and they'll have the chance to attempt repeating that feat this year.

Fight on!


Senator John Edwards on Cuba: "I don't know a lot about Cuba's healthcare system. Is it a government-run system?"

Edwards had earlier this week spoken in an un-Presidential manner, calling Ann Coulter a she-devil.

(NewsBusters, incidentally, addresses the continued misreporting of Ann Coulter's quote on John Edwards.)

This latest gaffe may seal Edwards' fate.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

HSM2: Most-Watched Cable Show of All Time

HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 2 has made TV history as the most-watched basic cable program of all time.

Now if only I could stop "We're gonna have fun in the sun..." from repeating endlessly in my head...

And there's still the sing-along version coming Sunday night! :)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Tony Snow Leaving White House Soon?

Finances are being cited as the reason Tony Snow will probably leave the White House before the end of the President's term. CNN reports he may leave as soon as next month.

Given Tony's uncertain health, the desire to do more for his family financially at this juncture is entirely understandable.

He's done a great job and I'll be very sorry when he decides the time is right to leave. Wherever he is, he'll always have my prayers and best wishes.

Following Hurricane Dean

The Irish Trojan's blog is the place to go for the latest news on Hurricane Dean or other major weather events.

Like many people, I began reading Brendan Loy's blog during Hurricane Katrina. Since he graduated from USC and regularly covers USC football, I kept reading. (He is blogrolled to the left under So. CA links.) His cell phone photos of various events are one of his blog's nicest features.

Brendan is a recent graduate of Notre Dame law school -- hence his blog name -- and he and his wife Becky are expecting their first child.

High School Musical 2: The Reviews

My kids have discovered that Disney Channel has an onscreen countdown clock today. Too funny!

USA Today: "...a first-rate family film: sweet, smart, bursting with talent and energy, and awash in innocence."

Reuters: "Passes With Flying Colors: ...there's more than positive social impact to praise here. Director Kenny Ortega, who shares choreography credit with Charles Klapow and Bonnie Story, puts the young cast through some exciting moves. One number in particular, 'I Can't Dance,' performed on a ball field, would be a show-stopper almost anywhere."

San Jose Mercury News: "More Fun Than Original: ...the good news is that, if anything, the creators have managed to improve on the basic formula. The big numbers - staged with considerable panache...have even more zip. The songs are better - particularly the opening 'What Time Is It' and 'You Are the Music In Me,' the big romantic power ballad. Overall, the sequel has such energy that it's hard not to get caught up in it. Most importantly, the core cast...doesn't phone it in."

L.A. Times: "Zippier, bouncier, prettier, more soulful and even more musical...and that's saying something... Bright and shiny and bursting with pep."

Sounds like there will be Joy in Disneyland tonight, so to speak. :) I'm really delighted to hear that the sequel appears to be such a high-quality production.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

New USNWR College Rankings Are Out

I take these lists with a grain of salt, as all of the top-ranked colleges are fine schools, but the list is fun to peruse, nonetheless.

My daughter's college, USC, continues to improve. Last year it jumped three spots, from No. 30 to tied with two other universities for the No. 27 spot. This year USC is still No. 27, but it has the spot to itself.

One of these days in the not-too-distant future I believe USC will tie or pass up that other school across town... :)

This Is So Messed Up...

California, as noted in the above article, has some of the highest electricity rates in the nation. We don't have enough power plants, and in order to force conservation, Southern California Edison instituted punitive new "high usage" rates last summer, with kilowatt hours over a certain minimal usage rate being charged as high as triple the normal rates per hour.

Consequently, no one I know in our neighborhood runs their air conditioning much anymore, because last summer's bills were in the hundreds of dollars.

Unfortunately, this probably isn't the end of it. We've not only got to conserve because of the lack of power plants, but now we may also be charged even more due to global warming legislation passed last year by California's Democratic legislature. From an August 10th article:

"California is poised to pass a groundbreaking rule that would pay utility companies to cut energy use. The California Public Utilities Commission late Thursday unveiled a proposal to create financial incentives for utilities such as PG&E to get their customers to use less power, with the threat of big fines if they do not. The plan would help meet the aggressive targets of the state's landmark global-warming law passed last year, which calls for drastic cuts in the amount of carbon emissions Californians produce."

The commission will vote on the new rule next month.

It seems quite twisted that the electric companies, which are already soaking consumers to extremes, would be paid even more for forcing us to use even less electricity than we already are. Our family's summer consumption, without using air conditioning, is down 12 kilowatt hours per day from two years ago, yet our bills have doubled, and running the A/C would cost a couple hundred dollars more per month. Thus, the electric companies are providing far less service for a lot more money.

It's also quite disturbing that part of the plan is to force electricity consumption to fall to such a degree that the utilities will be able to avoid building new power plants!

That will be great for the economy...

There are days I am really ready to leave California, and this is one of them.

White House Wedding?

The office of First Lady Laura Bush released the following announcement today:

"President and Mrs. George W. Bush are happy to announce the engagement of their daughter, Jenna Bush, to Mr. Henry Hager, son of the Honorable and Mrs. John H. Hager of Richmond, Virginia. Miss Bush and Mr. Hager became engaged Wednesday, August 15, 2007."

John Hager was formerly the lieutenant governor of Virginia.

No wedding date has been set. The Austin American-Statesman speculates that a White House wedding is not part of the couple's plans.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Stamp Honoring James Stewart Released Friday

This Friday's release of a postage stamp honoring American movie great James Stewart will be celebrated in Stewart's hometown of Indiana, Pennsylvania.

A first day of sales ceremony will be held at the Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, while another ceremony will be held the same day at Universal Studios here in California.

The stamp features Stewart as he looked in a publicity photo for THE STRATTON STORY in 1949.

I recently had the opportunity to see the wonderful patriotic short WINNING YOUR WINGS, which is an Air Force recruiting film Stewart made with director John Huston during 1942. It served as a timely reminder that Stewart was not only a beloved film legend, but also an American patriot who served his country, eventually reaching the rank of Brigadier General in the Air Force Reserve.

Our nation's history is richer in many ways because of James Stewart. I'm looking forward to celebrating his life by picking up some of these stamps in the near future.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

DVD Review: Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 4

Just a note pointing film noir fans in the direction of a very enjoyable, detailed review of the Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 4, over at The Shelf.


New on DVD: All Creatures Great and Small

Today the seventh and final season of ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL was released on DVD. The set also includes a 1990 Christmas special and a 2004 interview with cast members.

If you're not yet acquainted with this series, it's really a must, one of the classics from the "golden age" of British TV in the '70s and '80s. The show is loosely based on the books of Yorkshire veterinarian James Herriot (Christopher Timothy) and depicts the lives of Herriot, his wife Helen (Carol Drinkwater, later Lynda Bellingham), and his fellow vets Siegfried and Tristan Farnon (Robert Hardy and Peter Davison). It's warm and funny, with wonderfully subtle humor by Robert Hardy, in particular.

The show is also quite educational for young people, as the earliest seasons depict daily life in pre-WWII England -- a world of telephones and typewriters, but without televisions or other more modern conveniences. Watching the show slowly unfold over many hours really brings home what life in that era was like, in a way that movies can't quite fully capture.

I first watched this show as a teenager, and the program holds up wonderfully -- if anything, Hardy and Davison, as the rascally Farnon brothers, seem even funnier now than when I first saw it. The great Hardy, veteran of countless British TV shows -- I particularly liked EDWARD THE KING, in which he played Prince Albert -- is now better known to many as Cornelius Fudge in the HARRY POTTER film series. Davison's roles included stints as the stylish detective CAMPION and one of the many incarnations of DR. WHO.

There is an excellent entry at Wikipedia explaining the show's somewhat confusing production history. It first aired in England from 1978 to 1980. Specials aired in England on Christmas in 1983 and 1985, and then the series was revived for four more years beginning in 1988 -- unfortunately with a new actress as Helen Herriot. (Carol Drinkwater, the first Helen, has gone on to a second career as a writer chronicling life in Provence.)

The entire series was also released today -- yours from Amazon for $296.49. :)

I highly recommend this series as outstanding family viewing.

Senator Obama Goes Too Far

Senator Barack Obama has charged that our troops in Iraq are "just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there."

Senator Obama seems to be of the John Kerry school of foreign policy: make it up, and while you're at it, disparage the troops.

Hillary Wants Taxpayer-Paid Mortgage Bailouts

Part of Hillary's newly announced plan:

"To help curb the number of foreclosures, Clinton proposed setting up a $1 billion fund to assist homeowners in making arrangements with lending companies to stay in their home."

That's right, a homeowner makes a bad decision about an adjustable mortgage, or otherwise can't afford the payment, and taxpayers -- who should be using their money to pay their own mortgages -- are supposed to pay for it.

I've heard this idea gaining traction among various politicians in recent months, and it really makes me wonder what our nation is coming to. Apparently taxpayer-funded home ownership is now a "right" too. What about personal responsibility for personal financial decisions?

The creep toward Socialism continues...

(Hat tip: Michelle Malkin.)

Meanwhile, Hillary won't release the papers from her years as First Lady prior to the election... As Ed Morrissey notes, Hillary is running in part on her "White House experience," yet she's simultaneously hiding her White House record from the public.

New Book: Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle-School Math

One of my earliest blog posts was about Danica McKellar, the young actress who graduated from UCLA with a math degree. Along with recurring roles in THE WONDER YEARS and THE WEST WING, McKellar has co-writing a math theorem to her credit.

McKellar has written a new book designed to interest middle school girls in math. She uses examples from areas likely to appeal to young girls, including fashion and baking, to show why math is relevant to their lives.

McKellar told Newsweek "When girls see the antics of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, they think that being fun and glamorous also means being dumb and irresponsible. But I want to show them that being smart is cool. Being good at math is cool. And not only that, it can help them get what they want out of life."

I admire McKellar and what she aims to accomplish with her book. It sounds like something my middle schooler would find helpful; for example, we worked hard last year on retaining "rules" for fractions, and McKellar has hints along those lines in the book.

My only complaint is the tacky title: Did she really have to use the word "suck"? That one word causes me to be reticent about adding this book to our shelf. It might be the way a lot of kids talk, but it also undermines those parents who teach their children that that is not appropriate language.

More from USA Today.

HSM2 Countdown Continues

I found myself at Target by 8:15 this morning, so that my 12-year-old, babysitting money in hand, could buy the new HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 2 CD. I have a feeling I'm going to know the songs very well by Friday...

Sunday the L.A. Times ran a couple fun stories related to the upcoming movie: "It is impossible to overstate the importance of this event in so many young lives. The Disney Channel's 2006 movie 'High School Musical' remains a bona-fide phenomenon, a success so huge that the human brain cannot quite fathom it."

The author, Mary McNamara, describes HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL as "...a sweet, wholesome story with swinging good tunes and a truly aspirational message..."; "...the kids express real teenage emotion without damaging property or even uttering a 'sucks.'" (More on that word in another post.)

The Times also published an interview with director-choreographer Kenny Ortega, who related how a musical number on a baseball diamond in the upcoming film was influenced by Gene Kelly.

Fence? What Fence?

The Washington Times reports that the border fence is far behind schedule, making it unlikely that the first 70 miles will be completed by the end of September, as originally scheduled.

The situation is such that members of the Border Patrol are being recruited to leave their regular duties for fence building...meanwhile, half of the National Guard members who were supposed to be improving border security infrastructure -- freeing the Border Patrol for law enforcement -- are being sent home.

And politicians have trouble understanding why the public was skeptical about the commitment of the Administration and Congress to provide border security, along with amnesty for illegal aliens?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Disney World Park Renamed

Disney-MGM Studios at Florida's Walt Disney World will soon be known as Disney's Hollywood Studios...although in this case Hollywood is just a state of mind, not an actual location!

Many were surprised that the previously rumored name change to Disney-Pixar Studios was ruled out, apparently at the last minute.

Over at Disneyland, many of us interested in exhibits on park history are sad that the Disney Gallery in New Orleans has now moved to Yesterland. Hopefully it will reopen soon in a new location.

Pot, Meet Kettle

It strikes me as rather amusing that on the same day Elizabeth Edwards accuses Senator Barack Obama of behaving in a "holier than thou way," it was disclosed Edwards' husband had not told the whole truth about donating his book deal advance from Rupert Murdoch's publishing house to charity.

Senator Edwards, of course, has claimed that Murdoch's media companies demonize the Democratic Party, and he has refused to appear in a debate on Fox News Channel. Then it was pointed out he had personally benefited from a significant publishing deal with a Murdoch company.

While Senator Edwards claims to have donated "every dime" of his own half-million-dollar advance to charity, it turns out that at least some portion of his book's $300,000 expense budget was paid to his daughter and also to his assistant.

Complete honesty about the issue would seem to have demanded that Edwards disclose that his daughter had received -- and apparently kept -- a substantial amount of money from the publisher due to her involvement in her father's project.

Back to Mrs. Edwards. She was also quoted as saying, "The problem for me with the other candidates is I don't know what it is that drives them. I should think the president has to be somebody who has that kind of vision outside themselves."

We might grant that Mrs. Edwards is speaking as a loving wife, but many people would not agree that it's her husband who has a "vision outside" fact, in a story I first linked to last week, editorialist Brad Warthen, who has observed Edwards in varied situations, believes Edwards may not think about others, in general. Mrs. Edwards' complaint, in the current issue of People, about her husband's habit of jogging at dinnertime seems to back up one of Warthen's claims, that Edwards kept a crowd waiting in a hot park while he went for a run.

Tuesday Update: Anne at Just Muttering posted about Edwards' daughter's book income back on August 4th, so the story was out there before Politico ran with it yesterday.

Anne raises some excellent points, including: Edwards promised to donate all the "profits" to charity. Have there been any profits?

To which I add, the book seems to have had little chance of selling anywhere near what would be needed to recoup Edwards' huge advance. Was Edwards, thus, actually receiving something akin to a political contribution from Murdoch? Interesting...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Those South Carolina Terrorists

Although the feds have been publicly denying a terrorism connection between those "students" with "fireworks" in their trunk for over a week, the evidence against the men continues to pile up.

Michelle Malkin has extensive details (subject link), as does Riehl World View.

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