Upon a beam under The highest most point of the eave on the north side of the house has been home to a nest since mid-spring that I’ve seen occupied on at least two separate occasions, but unknown whether any chicks made it out of there alive.

This is latest of many attempts over the years to utilize this prime bird-raising real estate as a nesting area. This is the first time it wasn’t a failure. That the nest continues not to have been destroyed by jays or pigeons is a bit of a surprise/miracle.

Of course I’ve long wanted a closer look as well as to see if it might presently be occupied by chicks or eggs, so I mounted a cam onto a monopod and from the master bedroom window raised it all up in there.

As the pix demonstrate (click to enlargify): said nest is empty. Bonus: that first shot shows you a section of the north side garden waaaaaay down there, giving you an idea how high up this is.

 

nest1 nest2

 

One of the pitfalls of being a (albeit former) blogger of a certain low-level of local renown and influence is that I remain on mail lists of PR firms whose bot admins both:

1) Don’t know I’m a post-middle aged geezer curmudgeon;
2) Have even less of a clue how much I detest anything bandwagon marketed to the wannabe hipster class.

So you can guess my practically visceral reaction to find this pitch in my inbox this morning urging me to gush all OooooooGottaHaveIt over these products like I’m some sort of overly facial-haired and trucker-hatted arbiter of such crap.

gah

biffI really hadn’t given much thought of late to the upcoming film “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” I remember reading that Ben Affleck would be the next in a long line of actors to don the cape and I was left entirely nonplussed at that shred of entertainment news.

I grew up adoring Batman as a child — the campy Adam West version. Then sometime in the early 1980s I absorbed the mythology of the originating comic book hero — the Dark Knight — and my adoration turned to something bordering on idolatry. I loved the concept of flawed archtypes walking awkwardly and outcast on something of a frayed tightrope fighting an inner duality pulling them between sinister and savior. Into that mix you can add The Shadow, the Phantom of the Opera, and what the hell: Darkman.

My favorite film version still remains Tim Burton’s with Michael Keaton as the caped crusader. I thought it confidently treaded that fine line between the light and dark. The sequels that followed grew progressively goofy, until the reboot trilogy with Christian Bale, which restored a certain semblance of order, but also got a bit too caught up in the beauty of its own reflection.

So now along will come “Batman v. Superman” and my entire lack of enthusiasm for the movie — nevermind Affleck’s involvement — was quantified by the premise that a fight between the two couldn’t possibly be waged or sustained; that a battle between the two icons would/could last no more than it would take Superman to melt Batman’s brain with a bolt of his eye lasers.

Than along comes this extraordinary column and it blew a lot of conceptions I’d held straight outta Gotham:

Batman Is A Corny Dingus, And Superman Should Whomp His Ass

Don’t let the headline fool ya, it is one of the most compelling opinion pieces I’ve ever read. Written gloriously bug-eyed and spittle-inflected by a fella named Albert Burneko, he not only succeeds in defending why this movie will suck as an enterprise, but much to my shock and awe he also with more than a few salient points succeeds entirely in stripping away the veneer of Batman that I’ve spent the majority of my life polishing and reveals him not only to not be very super, but also certainly no hero. and I quote:

Even on the terms of his most generous depictions, Batman is a dingus. He is a trust-fund billionaire who puts on a balaclava with ears so that he can do technology-enhanced karate at pickpockets and muggers; who sinks his fortune into paramilitary hardware in support of his one-man campaign to punch a major city into peace; whose concept of justice is throwing on his Goth Navy SEAL costume and terrifying people so they’ll follow the rules better; who evidently has never once considered that Gotham City’s continued awfulness might refute his methods. He throws darts shaped like his brand logo. He’s Jeff Bezos on steroids and paint-thinner fumes. He is a choad.

I wanted to hate Burneko for spouting such Batman blasphemy. But I can’t. Because it’s not. It’s the truth. A giant Biff! and Ka-POW! to all I’d held dear.

I can never look upon Batman with anything but contempt again.

 

Those recognizing manipulation when they see it laugh Donald Trump’s high-profile antics off and expect that the majority of us will too.

I think that’s terribly apathetic, or at the least shortsighted.

It brings to mind a nasty and manipulative period in California’s history roughly about 12 years ago when juuuuuust enough Californians did little more than laugh off the potential success of the Rep. Darrell Issa-bankrolled recall attempt of Gov. Gray Davis as inconceivable (including first and foremost the dismissive Davis administration in its entirety) only to ultimately wake up the day after the election to find that the majority of voters massaged into being really angry and wanting change without really knowing what change they wanted did go to the polls and ended up not only ousting a sitting California governor for the first time in the state’s history (and primarily for the “crime” increasing vehicle license fees) but putting our great state into the hands of one functionally incompetent Arnold Schwarzenegger.

You think “President Trump” is impossible? That such an outcome might happen in goofy California but no way can happen with the country as a whole? You may be right, but do the country a favor and be right by doing something to ensure that outcome.

My point is people need to recognize the inflammatory kneejerk rhetoric and tactics and respond not just by getting baited into anger but instead by ignoring the idiocy, dealing in facts, and becoming proactive in the process. If the best you’re planning to do is sit around waxing about your firm belief in the common goodness and decency and intelligence of the masses you could wake up in a couple of Novembers reading headlines that just the thought of make my blood run cold.

wdI’ve looked sideways at Russell Crowe ever since I made the mistake of watching him star in the unintentionally hilarious “Noah” a couple years ago. Nevertheless, this week’s Friday night movie was “The Water Diviner,” reportedly inspired by true events and powered by Crowe who both directed and starred in it.

Absent any information, you might think this could be a tale of a farmer and his family attempting to eke out a living in the parched Australian outback that becomes increasingly dependent on the Crowe’s skills as a finder of underground water, but it is instead a tale of a farmer who loses his family to war and with his skills as a water diviner undertakes a seemingly impossible mission to locate his sons’ bodies halfway around the world where they fell on a battlefield during the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915.

Crowe soon finds himself in the killing zone four years after the fighting, where he manages through luck, determination and sympathy to secure permission to search for the remains of his boys in the midst of a multi-national, large-scale, first-of-its-kind effort to recover the war dead, identify them and bury them with proper honors.

I do have to take issue with the fact that Crowe’s character on essentially his first day searching manages to use his water divining skills to locate their bones on the very first try. It wouldn’t have hurt to include a couple false starts — but that’s just an editing quibble.

For the most part, it is a gem of a film that provides an important and unique perspective on the horrific campaign of Gallipoli during World War I from the allied side as well as the Turkish side. The cinematography is exquisite, aided in large part by the visually stunning locations utilized in Istanbul; and Crowe’s performance as well as those in the supporting roles are  all exceptional. The battle sequences — especially given the ultimate futility of the seven-month campaign that resulted in an estimated 500,000 dead, wounded and missing — are particularly harrowing and heart-wrenching.

Where the film falters a bit is near the end where it apparently had to be Hollywood’ified with a rather contrived romance that of course blossoms and something of a textbook “they all lived happily ever after ending.” But none of that detracts from what is a well-paced and compelling motion picture.

 

This past week saw a couple awesome days of monsoonal flow-fueled massive thunderheads forming up out over the Valley of the Antelope beyond the Mountains of Saint Gabriel (as illustrated by the following trio of in-transit snaps I took of the magnificence this Thursday):

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From the 110 North approaching downtown.

cloud2

From the 5 North, passing Griffith Park.

cloud3

From Glenoaks Boulevard in Sun Valley.

It brought to memory a hot late-summer day seven years ago when in order to capture footage of the fluffy stuff’s formations and dissipations, I lugged my laptop and webcam up onto the steeply pitched roof of our humble Silver Lake abode and from it created the following timelapse of all that hot wet and sticky cloud action:

imageIt was while coming down Highland Avenue approaching Franklin Avenue  a couple days ago I saw this billboard so awesome I just had to snap it (click to enlargify).

It’s promoting the much-anticipated spinoff to the incredibly popular “Walking Dead,” and while the 13-year-old zombie-lover inside me can’t freakin’ wait for series to start, the uptight angeleno geezer is sitting in his easy chair harumphing at what he expects to be another Los Angeles-based series that will inevitably wreak havoc on my native city’s geography/topography in part by focusing on recognizable areas of the city as if the greater sum of Los Angeles didn’t even exist.

The billboard however quiets that inner jerk a little bit. In it we see two youngsters playing a little late afternoon game of street basketball whilst in the background unbeknownst to them a not niceman cometh — and not to call “I got next!” And silhouetted behind him? The U.S. Bank Tower, meaning the scene is situated in Boyle Heights.

So? Well, what’s great about that is the subtlety. I mean, it’s been pretty well publicized that the show takes place in L.A., and what’s nice is that AMC’s marketing department has opted not to cram that fact down at least ours if not the country’s throats. For example, it would have been so easy for them to panic and locate this same scene with some iconic landmark such as the Hollywood Sign in the background. Or Dodger Stadium. Or City Hall. Or the Santa Monica Pier. Or Disneyland. Or the Watts Towers (wait — that would actually be incredible). Instead they offer up an image that could be anywhere. I mean, there’s not even a palm tree in the frame.

Does a single billboard a great L.A.-based series make? Of course not. But it does give one hope.

 

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