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Friday, January 26, 2007

An Architectural Delight

Imagine yourself standing on the corner of Grand Avenue and First Street in downtown Los Angeles…


Welcome to the Walt Disney Concert Hall in the historic Bunker Hill section of downtown Los Angeles.

Postmodern architect Frank Gehry, renowned for designing the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain, created this visually peculiar structure that looms before you. It's the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Gehry's stainless steel exterior was designed to resemble a ship with its mast at full sail, to create the sensation of travelling along a ceremonial barge to music. Look closely and see the sails stretching across the cityscape while at the same time reaching down inviting you to stop, look, and surrender to your imagination. Are you sailing away or getting seasick?

If you don't see a sailing ship, what do you see? A blooming flower? A huge heap of steel? An abstract interpretation of heaven? Hell? Whatever your personal reaction, you can be certain it's been a subject of heated debate amongst Los Angelenos.

This 293,000 square foot structure has 22 million pounds of steel wrapping its exterior like a coat or armor. With no two pieces of steel alike, some weigh as much as 165,000 pounds. Many of the 12,500 pieces used were as short as 13 inches or as long as 110 feet. Placed end-to-end they would stretch 49 miles. That's over 862 football fields!

In 1987 Lillian Disney donated an initial $50 million to create a world-class, acoustically superior, performance center for the people of Los Angeles. It would stand as a memorial to Walt Disney's love of the arts. The Disney family's contribution would eventually exceed $100 million.

The structure's controversial final price tag was over $270 million, and construction was finally completed in 2003.


Inside you'll find a distinct contrast to the steel exterior with a predominantly wood interior. Douglas Fir to be exact.

Curved ceilings and swerving interior walls help create an incredible acoustic experience.

The main auditorium seats 2,265 and features a pipe organ with 6,125 pipes.

The Walt Disney Concert Hall is a modern Los Angeles landmark bridging the city's past to the present, with a nod to the future.

And that concludes our tour.

Thank you and have a nice day.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Humiliation: The New American Idol

I admit I was a huge "American Idol" fan that very first season when the beloved Kelly Clarkson rose to fame. The night of the final showdown between Kelly and Justin I was on the edge of my seat. Kelly's talent greatly surpassed that of Justin, but the public's taste can be fickle and I worried they'd make the wrong choice. Luckily they chose the true talent.

As the seasons progressed my anticipation wavered. The show was beginning to look manipulated, cheap, and the focus seemed to be moving away from artistic ability and more into media creation. The judges became jokes unto themselves. Their stale, apparently scripted banter was blatantly aimed at generating high ratings and their own celebrity.

If Paula Abdul ever auditioned for "American Idol" she would never make it past the first round. So what possible talent does she possess that allows her to destroy the dreams of would-be singers? Isn't it interesting that since "Idol" began she hasn't put out a new CD?

The most egregious crime of the show is broadcasting the auditions with all the ridicule and snide comments for the world to see. Doesn't anyone involved with the show have a conscience? Yes there are bad singers - horrific singers - who audition but what gives "American Idol" the right to belittle, degrade, and humiliate these people? Once the show is over these people have to go back to their small town lives and face family and friends. The humiliation must be overwhelming, and I'm certain the effects are long lasting.

Shame on the producers of "American Idol" for stooping so low.

I refuse to watch "American Idol" anymore. The American public deserves better than what the show has devolved into: a freak show without a conscience.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Bend, Stretch, Sweat, and Glow


Yesterday I participated in my very first Bikram Yoga class.

My friend had recently become a certified Bikram instructor and invited me to come and find out what it's all about. So off I went with my newly purchased yoga mat, a towel, and a couple of bottles of water (as instructed by my friend).

Once there I stripped down to a pair of shorts and tentatively entered the yoga room not really knowing what to expect. The room is heated (okay, it's hot) to help warm the muscles which allows for deeper and safer stretching. It also increases the heart rate for a better cardiovascular workout. And what about the heat and sweating? It helps you eliminate toxins from the body.

I personally love the hot weather so yoga in a hot room was just up my alley. It's the bending and stretching that took me by surprise. I workout at the gym five times a week and erroneously thought I'd slide through the exercises with hardly any effort, like a flexible pretzel. I was wrong, wrong, wrong!

Bikram Yoga uses twenty-six postures and breathing exercises to work the body inside and out. These poses were created to help maintain excellent health and fitness, reduce stress, lose weight, limit the effects of aging, and avert illness and injury.

Well… I quickly learned that my body doesn't like being put into foreign positions. I thought my legs were going to snap like twigs! My left side was much more flexible than my right side. And my lower back was as stiff as stiff can be. Not being one to quit I persevered and made it through the ninety minute routine.

After it was all over I was overcome with this wonderful feeling, both inside and out. I glowed.

I'm definitely going back.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Random Thoughts…

What's all the fuss about "Dreamgirls"? I remember seeing the Broadway play and being totally unimpressed. I had the same feeling watching the film. The performances are all good and Jennifer Hudson does send shivers with her rendition of "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going"… but altogether the film doesn't rise above mediocre.

If you can't trust a friend then that person can no longer be a friend. I learned that the hard way but I'm sure glad I did. Good riddance to her!

When will those Hollywood party girls (you know who I mean) get their act together and start acting responsibly? They no longer have anyone's respect. They've become a pathetic joke, a media circus. How sad.

New friends come from the strangest places. I met this wonderful person through a Buffy Sainte-Marie yahoo group. We email regularly. If you get a moment you should check out his blog: swowen9.blogspot.com.

Speaking of Buffy… her long anticipated "Live At Carnegie Hall" CD has once again fallen into "licensing issues" and will not be released. Damn. Fans will have to keep waiting.

I run on the treadmill. I lift weights regularly. I do my best to stay in shape. It's a battle… and yes; gravity can be cruel.

"Sex and the City" late-night TV reruns are a guilty pleasure.

Malbec is a great red wine.

"Thank You For Smoking" is a real good film. You should all see it.

Bob Dylan's "Modern Times" was a 2006 music highlight. So was Neil Diamond's "12 Songs."

There's nothing like a good laugh. We all need to laugh more in 2007.