Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Demon Stalks the Canyons Again...

Maybe it's because this is my first fire season as a home owner (in a hilly, brushy area no less) but the Station Fire in Los Angeles seems to be one of the worst I remember since moving to SoCal.  

I know, it's nothing compared to the fires in Australia last year, but my god, it certainly looks apocalyptic from our front window!

The clouds of smoke have a strangely mesmerizing attraction to them. They look stationary, but when you focus on any particular area you start to see that it is actually growing and boiling. 

As night fell yesterday these images gave way to an erie reddish-orange glow punctuated by flares of what must have been at least 50 foot columns of flame as some patch of scrub or stand of dead trees ignited on the mountain side. The fact that we could see fire from our porch, two freeways away, gives you some idea of the size of this thing. 
Here's hoping that the majesty and absolute horror of this particular demonic visitation ends soon. 

Sunday, August 23, 2009

An Evening with Edgar Allen Poe in Hollywood

Ever play that game that starts "if you could meet any historical personage, who would it be?" My list would include Charles Darwin, H.P. Lovecraft, Janna Levin and yes, Edgar Allen Poe. Too bad all but one of them are long gone!

Spend an evening at The Center for Inquiry's Steve Allen Theater, though, and you may come away believing that you really have been in the presence of Mr. Poe himself.  The play is called NEVERMORE and it is the most fun I have ever had watching a one-man show. 

Written by Dennis Paoli, directed by Stewart Gordon, and realized by Jeffery Combs, its horror-nerd pedigree is impeccable. The perhaps surprising thing is that it really is funny, tragic, and entertaining. The premise revolves around the idea of Poe doing a reading of his works, as he indeed often did during his short lifetime. This format allows for a wonderful renditions of some of his short stories and poetry, as well as many digressions about his life, ambitions, and failures. 

Horror fans may recall that Mr. Gordon, Mr. Paoli, and Mr. Combs have teamed up for a similar project in the past: the Master's of Horror episode THE BLACK CAT. The play in some ways extends the idea and inverts it, giving you a more intimate portrait of the man and his work. The functional, sparse set allows Combs the freedom to do what he does best: physically embody the character without restriction. Yes, his acting is "big", but it is never tiresome or ineffective. 

Am I a biased fan who would love anything these folks put out? Well, maybe. REANIMATOR remains in my horror movie top five, and I adore Combs in pretty much everything I've seen him in. The fact that The 4400 was canceled, robbing me of seeing him as Dr. Kevin Burkhoff, still rankles. That said, there are ever so many ways that a project like this play could have gone off the rails into self-parody or worse. Instead, what we have here is an absolute joy to watch. And, lucky you, it's been extended through September. So if you live in SoCal, go see for yourself!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Flea Market Frenzy

Ok, so we went a little crazy at the Rose Bowl Flea Market last weekend. But I swear, we spent very little money! And it's all green, right? I mean, vintage things are recycled things, yes? So really we did it for the good of the planet. With that in mind, I give you our flea market finds:

First up is this awesome bookcase. Not super old, but solid wood all the way. No particle board here! We had to bring the car around to get it. We could have called it a day then, but we suspected that more treasures might still be lurking inside.

Next was a cute little plant. It doesn't need much water, so it's just possible that I won't kill it. When we got home I put it in this little vintage Japanese barrel-type thing, and suddenly it looks like my wooden jaguar has something to be worried about. Why is he scared of a plant? I don't know, but I like the arrangement. 

Then we found this trade ad for Some Like it Hot in an old issue of The Hollywood Reporter. Framed, it adds a bit of color to the room. The movie itself, of course, ends with one of the best lines in cinematic history.

But the best was yet to come. We finally found a table and chairs,
 and they are pure '50s.

The guy we bought them from delivered them too, and then randomly threw in an old saddle. Supposedly it comes from Universal's prop department, so Gabriel pointed out that it may have been on some horse during the filming of Winchester '73. Well, maybe. Either way, who are we to turn down a free saddle?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Baby Peafowl EXPLOSION!

Well, maybe not an explosion exactly, but four brand new babies!

Typically we get quite a few baby peafowl in June and early July but this year has been unusually slim. Only two mothers had babies; one with a group of four and another with twins. We thought that was it for the year, but another group of four showed up over the weekend.  As you can see, the
 other groups are already getting their color and are much bigger. Teenagers, by peacock standards!

The new babies are amazingly cute and the mom is doing a good job looking after them. A nice surprise on a Monday morning!

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