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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Jimmy Kimmel Interview (L.A. Family Vacation, Part 7)

March 2013, my wife and kids and I were in Los Angeles for a few days for a little family get away. We stayed in Hollywood, taking a few days to see the sights.

Coming back from viewing the Space Shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center, we were walking along Hollywood Blvd when my son was asked if he wanted to be interviewed for the Jimmy Kimmel show.

Sure, why not??

After filling out the obligatory legal releases, my son was asked "What's Your Greatest Accomplishment?" He mentioned the usual academic accomplishments, student government, knowing how to play the piano, involvement at our church, etc.

It was a fun, "experiencing L.A." moment. Of course, we wanted to know, was he really going to be on TV?

A day or two later, we watched the segment on Youtube:

No, he didn't make the cut. Guess he really had accomplished something. Or, his answers just weren't funny enough. I guess he could have made something up.

Afterwards, we talked about how many interviews they probably have to make just to get enough funny material for a 2 minute slot. And how so much of what we see on TV is edited. Stuff for a laugh kept in; real stuff, serious stuff edited out.

And the fact that not just the media, but all of us, have a bias when we communicate. Everything we say or do is edited by our worldview - that is, how we view reality, what we view as important. When anyone says they're "unbiased," that's really impossible.

The question is "with what bias are you approaching life"? And "how do you treat those with different world views." Any thoughts or feedback on this is appreciated.

Good experience. I guess my son can tell his friends that he was at least interviewed for the Jimmy Kimmel show. Chalk it up to experiencing L.A. moment.

If you want to get interviewed, try you luck walking along Hollywood Blvd mid day.

And if you want your interview to get aired, try answering with really stupid answers.

Here's a link with information on getting tickets for the Jimmy Kimmel Show.

More on our little L.A. family vacation next week in Part 8: Pink's Hotdog Stand.

© 2014


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Space Shuttle Endeavour (L.A. Family Vacation, Part 6)

In March 2013 my wife, kids, and I were back in Los Angeles for a little vacation. 

Day One we saw the Brady Bunch House, the Los Angeles Zoo, the Hollywood Sign, and spent the afternoon at the Grauman's Chinese and the El Capitan Theaters

Day Two we took the Red Line Subay from Hollywood, where we were staying, to Downtown Los Angeles

We went to the top of L.A. City Hall's 27th Floor Observation Deck, followed by a little tour of Grand Park and the Music Center, then had French Dip Sandwiches at Original Phillipe. After lunch we walked across the street to Union Station where we look the Red Line Subway to the 7th Street Station, transfering to the Expo Line. 

This post focuses on our next stop: the California Science Center to see the Space Shuttle Endeavour!

The California Science Center is located in Exposition Park, across the street from USC. It's open everyday except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. ADMISSION IS FREE - although there is a suggested donation of $5 a person (which is still a steal). If you're driving, parking is available on the street (metered, and generally very limited) or in the parking lot for $10.

My kids in front of a photo of the Space Shuttle making the 15 mile trek from LAX to the Science Center back in 2012. Here's a link to a previous post with a collection of some pretty impressive photos (I didn't take them) and video. 

Admission to see the Space Shuttle is also free but you have to have a timed admission ticket.

This is the view when you walk in. It's very moving. 

Obligatory family photo. 

Los Angeles is one of four cities that now have decommissioned Shuttles, the others being Washinton D.C., New York City, and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

The Shuttle is in a temporary building. The plans are to have it standing upright in a massive 10 story building. Here's a link to the Science Center's plans. 

Lots of people there, lots of photos. It was an awesome experience - we totally recommend going! 

Again, admission is free - but you need to have a timed ticket. Here's the link

During the five years my wife, kids and I lived in Los Angeles we took many trips over to the Science Center. Lot's to see and do. 

My kids enjoyed seeing the displays they remembered when they were younger. 

It was Spring Break - and fairly crowded, especially as a lot of people were there to see the Shuttle as well. 

Outside is Science Center is a seven acre rose garden - one of the city's best kept secrets. 

The Exposition Park Rose Garden has over 20,000 different bushes - making it one of the largest rose gardens in the world. Here's a link to a previous post and it's fastincating history. 

We caught the Expo Line Light Rail to downtown Los Angeles. 

The tower in the background is one of the buildings at the University of Southern California, located across the street. 

The skyline of Downtown Los Angeles. The California Science Center is located 3 1/2 miles south of Downtown. We transfered at the 7th Street Station, terminus of the Expo Line, and took the Red Line Subway back up to Hollywood & Highland. 

On the way back to our hotel, my son was stopped and interviewed for the Jimmy Kimmel Show

One of those "only in L.A." moments. More on that next week. 

After the interview, we saw Darth Vader waiting at the traffic light to cross Hollywood Blvd. 

Actually, it's just a guy in a costume hoping to make some tips possing for photos with tourists in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater. I love the fact that he's basically being ignored - just another guy off to work. 

photo credit: NASA: Jim Ross
Speaking of Hollywood, here's a final photo Space Shuttle Endeavour and the Hollywood Sign on it's final trip to Los Angeles in 2012. Although I wasn't able to get back to L.A. to see it crawling through the city on it's way from LAX to the Science Center, here's a link to a post with a collection of some amazing photos and video clip of that event. 

© 2014


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Downtown Los Angeles: (L.A. Family Vacation, Part 5)

In March 2013 my wife, kids, and I were back in Los Angeles for a little three day get away.

Day One we saw the Brady Bunch House, the Los Angeles Zoo, the Hollywood Sign, and spent the afternoon at the Grauman's Chinese and the El Capitan Theaters

Day Two we left our car at the hotel and decided to see the city via public transportation.

Yes, in addition to a small light rail system, Los Angeles does have a subway, running from Downtown Los Angeles to North Hollywood in the San Fernando Valley. We were staying in Hollywood, so we caught it at the Hollywood and Highland Station.

My daughter counting the stops. 

We got off at the Civic Center, one stop before the terminus at Union Station. 

City Hall, Downtown Los Angeles. The early morning sun behind the building made it tricky to get a photo. At 32 stories, L.A. City Hall was the city's tallest building until 1964. 

This being Los Angeles, L.A.'s City Hall has been in numerous films and T.V. shows, including standing for The Daily Planet on the 1950's Superman T.V. Show. 

photo credit:
Better angle + better camera + better lighting = better photo of City Hall. Thanks, L.A. City Council. 

Our destination was the 27th floor Observation Deck, which is free and open to the public. I grew up in Los Angeles. I went to college at UCLA - in Los Angeles. My wife, kids and I lived in Los Angeles for five years. But for some reason I had never made it to the City Hall observation deck.  

The entrance is off of Main Street. We tried getting in via the north entrance, only to have to walk back around to Main Street (the south entrance). Above, the lobby rotunda. 

Another view of the lobby rotunda. We took a couple of minutes to look around, admire the architecture, and then took the two elevators to the 27th floor. 

Good, not great views, of downtown. It was a little hazy. On a clearer day the views would be outstanding. Above, the office towers of Bunker Hill.

At the lower left is the Los Angeles Times building, at the end of the Bunker Hill section of downtown. Bunker Hill was an old residential district that was re-zoned for high rises in the late 1950's. The first high rises were completed in 1968. What's shocking is that 45 years later there are razed parts of Bunker Hill still waiting development. 

The Walt Disney Concert Hall. To the left, the construction cranes of the new Broad Museum of Contemporary Art, scheduled to open in 2015. 

In front of the Walt Disney Concert Hall is what was originally planned as a "temporary" parking structure. It's been around for almost fifty years. Apparently, this ugly structure will finally be getting replaced with a office and residential development. Here's a link to a previous post with more information. 

Another view of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Our family attended a free concert when we lived in Los Angeles. There was another one in September of 2013, so apparently this happens now and again. 

The three block area between City Hall and the Department of Water and Power Building in the distance is called Grand Park, taking it's name from it's north most boarder: Grand Avenue. 

You can see City Hall's shadow on the lawn out front. Those little pink things are chairs. 

The buildings on both sides are City and County government buildings. This area of Downtown L.A. is often referred to as the Civic Center. Apparently, it is the largest collection of government buildings outside of Washington D.C. 

Grand Park opened in July 2012, and I was curious to see what it looked like. 

We crossed the street and walked over to take a look. 

The large lawn and planters were fine in the first two blocks - but for our kids the real draw was the massive fountain at the north end of the park. 

photo credit: wikipedia
Here's a wikipedia photo - this one of Grand Park at night. Pretty sparkly. 

The large fountain was part of the original Civic Center Plaza. I remember seeing it when my family first moved to Los Angeles back in 1968. Some of the smaller "children's fountains" were added as part of the transformation of this area into Grand Park. 

As my kids had fun playing in the fountain, I noticed a couple of statues on the sides of the Los Angeles County buildings. Historic figures who have influenced the foundation of American law: Moses - with the Ten Commandments ... 

... and Thomas Jefferson - with the Declaration of Independence. 

As a Christian, I don't believe it's the role of the government to give special preference my - or any other - faith. I certainly don't believe that the United States was founded as a "Christian nation" (I'm not even sure what that means). As the grandson of European immigrants, I'm extremely thankful for the First Amendment. 

Jefferson's 1802 letter to a group of Connecticut Baptists describing the seperation of church and state certainly didn't mean of the separation of faith from public life. Many of the Founding Fathers were religious, and our the laws of our nation were influenced by both Jewish and Christian thought. What some have called a "Judeo-Christian world-view." So, in terms of a historic understanding of the foundation of the American legal system, does Moses belong alongside Jefferson? Absolutely. 

Here's a few thoughts on a previous post on displays of faith in public spaces. Much more could be written on this subject. That'll have wait for another day. 

We walked across Grand Avenue to see the fountain in front of the Dorthy Chandler Pavilion at the Music Center. 

My kids had a blast running through the fountains - that is, until the security guard came by and told them they had to stop. Bummer. 

They went back down to Grand Park ... no guard, no rules against running through the (smaller) fountains. Actually, that's what they were designed for. 

Meanwhile, I wondered over to the Department of Water and Power's Building, to catch this photo of artwork, with the Walt Disney Concert Hall in the background. 

This is looking north up Grand Avenue. Much of the Bunker Hill district of Downtown Los Angeles is like this. Wide sidewalks - empty of life and people. There's no stores, no restaurants, no retail, no reason to walk along these streets. That was done on purpose. In the 1950's and 60's this was "forward thinking." Fast forward 50+ years and you wonder "what were they thinking?"

This was the thinking of the time - which ended up killing off all pedestrian life from this part of downtown. What a contrast to the older parts of Downtown (Main Street, Spring Street, Broadway) that are currently experiencing a radical transformation. Over the past ten years, 50,000 mostly young professionals have moved into the Historic Core of Downtown Los Angeles to experience a much more traditional - much more vibrant - urban experience. More on that in a future post. 

We took a DASH shuttle from Grand Park (also know as the Civic Center) a few blocks north to Philippe's, across the street from Union Station. 

Ever had a French Dip Sandwich? Philippe's lays claim to the inventor of the French Dip. 

The good people at Cole's, also located Downtown, disputes that claim, saying that they are the first to come up with French Dip. Either way, the French Dip was first introduced in Los Angeles. 

Philippe's is awesome - and a MUST SEE if you're in Downtown Los Angeles, or anywhere near by. You really feel like you're stepping back to another period of history. And - YES - incredibly, they have free parking. Here's a link from a previous visit. 

After lunch we walked across the street to Union Station, catching the Red Line subway, and then the Expo Line light rail to see the Endeavour Space Shuttle a few miles away at the California Science Center. 

More on that next week!

© 2014


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Grauman's Chinese & the El Capitan Theaters, Hollywood (L.A. Family Vacation, Part 4)

In March 2013 my wife kids and I were back in Los Angeles for a little three day vacation. We started with a quick stop at the Brady Bunch House, then over to the Los Angeles Zoo, and then up to the Hollywood Sign.

After that, we drove over and checked into our hotel on Sunset Blvd. 

Hollywood Blvd is only three blocks from where we were staying, so it was just easier to walk over and see the sites - including the Chinese Theater, pictured above. 

Grauman's Chinese Theater (Graumn's was it's original name, last year it became the "TCL Chinese Theater"). It's arguably the most famous movie theater in the world. Above, my kids at the footprints from the stars of the Harry Potter series. 

Tourists from all around the world were there. Above a visitor at Will Smith's and Matt Damon's footprints/handprints. 

My wife and I were here in 2011 sans kids. Here's a link to a previous post with more photos and backstory on the Chinese Theater. 

The original Star Wars premiered at the Chinese Theater back in 1977. I remembering seeing it just a few miles away at the Plitt Theater in Century City. 

Grauman's Chinese opened in 1927, with the premier of Cecil B. DeMille's film The King of Kings

The forecourt features over 100 movies stars footprints and handprints. And there's no charge to walk around and look. Nice. 

Immediately outside of the forecourt is the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Why Jack Nicholson? In addition to being a brilliant actor, he's - suprise - very pro-life. In a 1984 interview with Rolling Stone magazine he stated: “I’m very contra my constituency in terms of abortion because I’m positively against it. I don’t have the right to any other view.” 

Just down the street from the Chinese Theater is the Hollywood & Highland entertainment complex. 

Designed to invoke the set of the 1916 film Intolerance, it has the usual suspects you'll find in most upscale shopping centers. 

Obligatory fountains in the center court. 

Hollywood & Highland has a great view of the Hollywood Sign - and the Hollywood Cross. To get this view, skip the crowded catwalk in the middle of the complex. Go up to the top floor, and walk over to the east side (overlooking Highland Avenue). There's an awesome open air patio that nobody knows about - great place to take pictures. Here's a link to my previous post with a few more photos and info.

Back out on the street you'll find numerous individuals dresses up in costumes or like Hollywood celebrities, available to take photos with tourists - for a tip. 

Transformer at the crosswalk. 

Walking across Hollywood Blvd, looking east. To the left is the Hollywood and Highland complex, and the Kodak Theater - home of the Academy Awards ceremony. Out of view on the left over my shoulder is the Chinese Theater. On the right, the El Capitan Theater. More on the El Cap in a moment. 

We walked east along Hollywood Blvd a few blocks for dinner.  I like some of the historical architecture.

Immediately adjacent to the 1922 Egyptian Theatre, now the home of American Cinematheque, is the Pig 'N Whistle restaurant. 

The Pig 'N Whistle opened in 1927, undergoing a major restoration in 1999. 

They have a family friendly menu, and reasonable prices. It's a great place for dinner if you're in Hollywood. We were there early - my understanding is that it has more of an adult crowd later on. 

Amazing architecture - this is the ceiling. 

And looking out towards the street from our table. 

After dinner we headed back to the El Capitan to see "Oz, the Great and Powerful." 

The El Capitan Theater opened in 1926, and after a $14 million renovation in 1991, became the flagship theater for the Walt Disney Company. 

We sprang for the extra $$ to see "Oz, the Great and Powerful" in 3D. Above, parents and kids waiting in line for the show. 

A huge plus of seeing a film at the El Capitan is the special extras. Afterwards, we hung around to look at some of the costumes from the film. 

My son looking at some of the props. 

And me taking a picture of him taking a picture. 

Outside the theater: Hollywood Blvd at night. 

Here's a final view of the Chinese Theater was we walked home at night. Our hotel was only three blocks off of Hollywood Blvd, so we decided to keep our car at the hotel and just walk. 

If you're driving, you can park across the street from the El Capitan at Hollywood and Highland (entrance off Highland). 

Our second day of our little vacation, which I'll cover in the next post, we purposely left our car at the hotel in Hollywood and explored L.A. via public transpiration: subway, bus, and light rail. 

It included a tour of downtown Los Angeles and and a chance to see Space Shuttle Endeavor at the California Science Center.  More on that next time.

© 2014