Friday, February 29, 2008

Action at Venice Beach

"Surfing the Shoe"

Venice Beach is always fun...

Jim getting some expert basketball instruction.

"Surfers on Venice Beach"

Medical pot being ready to evaluate need and supply drug.

A few shots from the Santa Monica Pier

Last few days in paradise...

We went to The River for our last night in PS. We started with a beer and appy at The Yardhouse where they have 100 draft beers from small US and foreign breweries. I had Rogue Deadguy Ale and Jim had Andosan Valley Boont Amber....excellent! We had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory there. Our first time and were impressed with the extensive and reasonable menu. We browsed through Borders and saw Jim's Huxley letters on the shelf and then went and saw The Bucket List. Nicolson is always fun to watch and Morgan Freeman was good too.

Then into Santa Monica Thursday. Jim was anxious to get to UCLA for his research so headed to MacDonalds. I had a few hours to kill before getting into our room and it was foggy and cold so found a great restaurant right across from our hotel called The Lobster and warmed up with a pound of fresh Alaskan King Crab legs (only 3 months of the year they get them fresh so couldn't pass up that opportunity) paired with a half bottle of Soave Classico. I ended with a Caesar that was magnificent...fresh anchovies. Then wandered the Santa Monica Pier for a while.

Jim was in sunshine at UCLA...a lot of good it did him buried in the library!

"The River"

View from "The Lobster"

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Liberace House

We began our Modernism Tour looking at the Liberace house right across from where the bus was parked. Notice the candlelabra on the lawn much like he had on his grand pianos and the musical staffs on the garage. Looks small from this side but goes back a lot.

Orbit In - the ultimate palm springs modern experience

We got a chance to see "The Hideaway" since it wasn't booked.

Orbit In - the ultimate palm springs modern experience

Kaufmann Desert House - Richard Neutra - Great Buildings Online

This house by designed by Richard Neutra is currently being auctioned and expects to go for between 15 - 33 million. It's being marketed as a work of art and hope is an art gallery will buy it. It's property is amazingly large with tennis courts, pools, etc all behind a huge hedge.''

Kaufmann Desert House - Richard Neutra - Great Buildings Online

I was interested to learn that the seemingly "top story" is a "gloriette"...a ruse to make a second level since these were against the building laws. They got away with it by making it open on all sides I believe.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sinatra House 2

His own personal recording studio in the house.

Grand piano shaped pool

Album covers in the washroom by the pool. We were allowed to use the facilities. One person even put her feet in the pool and had a friend take a photo.

Sinatra House 1

We were fortunate to get into this house as groups book it for special events.

One of many fireplaces in the house.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Modernism Tour 3

And more of these houses I never tire of...

Modernism Tour 2

And more...I was amazed how well these photos turned out given a rather bouncy ride and people's heads in the way.

Modernism Tour 4

And more of these great houses...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Modernism Tour I

We really enjoyed the double decker bus tour during Modernism Week. The fellow who did it was terrific. Get ready for loads of photos.

We were also really lucky to get into the Frank Sinatra House and the Orbit-Inn Hideaway. Both places are rented out to groups so they weren't on the program in case they were booked. A great bonus.

George's Hamburger joint

A fellow at the pool told us about this place and it was really fun and good burgers too. Cheeseburger and fries with pickles and hot peppers on the side for $5.85 and beer at $ can you go wrong? And the insults are free! And also good natured. When they found out we were Canadians the guy started calling us "the vinegar drinkers"...and they actually had a really fine malt vinegar. Hidden under the bar like contraband...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Itty Bitty Book Review

"Straight Man" by Richard Russo

A novel about a dysfunctional university English department. Really very funny and somewhat serious. I see Russo has won the Pulitzer for "Empire Falls". A talented writer.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hole in one!

So I even got my name in the Desert Sun. They do the weekly holes in one. I guess a must for a place that's got 120 golf courses!

Itty Bitty Book Reviews

"Animal Dreams" by Barbara Kingsolver

I almost always enjoy her novels and this one was very enjoyable especially under the sun and palm trees.

"David Golder" by Irene Nemirovsky

As much as I liked Suite Francaise I felt this was very melodramatic and somewhat shallow. It could be the translation as well. Towards the end there was some powerful writing.

A few books I began but didn't finish. Thought I'd give Kathy Reichs another try with "Bare Bones" but just can't seem to enjoy her work. Elizabeth George, who I usually enjoy, got thrown on the "donate to Rancho Mirage Library" pile as well. The novel was "What Came Before He Shot Her" which was initially very engaging and then just went overboard. It could have been half the length I think. Alice Munro could have made it into a good long short story.

Richard and Claudia come to visit

We had a super time with Richard and Claudia and really enjoyed meeting Claudia. She's a great person and we had lots of laughs together. They did get a few rays of sunshine and got some swimming and hottubbing in.

They're off camping now in Joshua Tree. The forecast isn't perfect but I notice tonight is clear so sounds like Richard will get the starry (if somewhat cool and windy) night he was hoping for. Friends from Sacramento are driving down and joining them. They're young and I'm sure they'll have fun anyway. We've told them they can come back here anytime in the middle of the night if things really get bad.

They had a good time in LA. Before coming here they went to MOKA (a LA art museum) and saw an interesting exhibition and bought me a bookbag for my collection. They also found the sequel to Graham Roumieu's "Me Write Book" which is a graphic novel I found very funny. This one is called "In Me Own Words". They wanted to cook dinner but I told Richard a few days before that I would pick something up since they had a pretty full day and could run into traffic problems. They didn't have any problems with traffic fortunately...unlike last year when it took Richard 7 hours to get here from LA (it was Friday of the Presidents Day weekend, accidents, etc.) I'm glad they didn't have to deal with that.

The night before they were in the Beverly Hills area to shop, have dinner, and go to an Improv show and while shopping they ended up being in a paparazzi scrum for Brittney Spears! They figure they'll probably be in the background of some photos. The night ended with Richard being shat upon by a pigeon much to Claudia's hilarity and Richard's dismay. Everyone says that's good luck but I think the victims aren't so convinced!

It was really fun to have them!

Richard fulfilling Claudia's brunch order of saucages, banana waffles and scrambled eggs...I was impressed!

My way cool MOKA bookbag.

An example from the "Bigfoot" book...these really tickle my fancy.