Monday, October 24, 2016
For the Blogger Kid 2.0's birthday in August, we gave him a choice: Throw a party with his friends, or go to the new Great Wolf Lodge in Orange County with his family. He chose Great Wolf -- with no regrets.
The idea of an indoor waterpark... in Southern California... in the middle of a drought... seems, well, a little odd. And indulgent. But Great Wolf Lodge is not the only water park in Southern California (it's actually smaller than many)... and because it's indoors, there's less evaporation -- so it loses less water than other parks. For parents, it's nice to know that the only people in the park are staying at the hotel (so there's a bit of a safety factor there), and no one's getting a sunburn.
We spent two nights at the Great Wolf, which is almost necessary in order to enjoy a full day at the park, as well as parts of the other days. (Actually, on the days you check in or check out, you can also utilize the park for the full day). The hotel rooms are fine but average; the food options include a decently priced restaurant, a breakfast buffet and even a Dunkin' Donuts outlet. (There are other choices nearby outside the hotel).
Many of the water slides are for multiple riders; there is also a wave pool, a body surfing pool, a lazy river and more.
Outside of the water park, the lodge also includes a small miniature golf area, an arcade and other games. At night, kids run around the hotel halls with wands in hand, playing the game "MagicQuest." It all costs extra, of course.
And that's one of the things about visiting a place like Great Wolf Lodge: You end up spending a lot more money than you thought you would spend.
At 105,000 square feet, the Southern California outpost of Great Wolf Lodge is the chain's largest water park.
The water park also closes at 8 p.m. on weekdays -- a little too early for people actually staying in the park (but I suppose they need time to clean it up for the following day).
Great Wolf Lodge
12681 Harbor Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92840
Here's a video from one of the larger water slides:
Sunday, October 23, 2016
With all the creepy, crawling creatures at the Los Angeles Zoo (particularly at its LAIR exhibit of insects, lizards and snakes), dressing it up for Halloween seems to be a natural. And indeed, the zoo's popular "Boo at the Zoo" is back this year, in time for the holiday.
This year's event also extends to the zoo's dinosaurs exhibit, and features pumpkin carvings, a science show, a small hay maze, a puppet show and more.
The dinosaurs are fed
Arts and crafts for the kids
Bats in our backyard
"Mad science" show
Bats even found in the carousel
"Boo at the Zoo" continues through the end of the month. Check out next weekend's animal feedings:
9:00 a.m. - Sloth (Special roses feeding, on location out of the exhibit)
1:30 a.m. - Okapi (Special banana peel feeding and keeper talk)
11:30 a.m. - Elephants (Special feeding with large pumpkin)
1:30 p.m. - Hippos (Large pumpkins for the water)
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
KCRW's The Spin-Off: Married Showrunners Marc Guggenheim and Tara Butters on Writing, TV and Their Unique Relationship
On the latest edition of KCRW's The Spin-Off, I talk to married showrunners Marc Guggenheim ("Arrow," "DC's Legends of Tomorrow") and Tara Butters ("Agent Carter," "Reaper") about what makes them tick:
Television writer-producers Tara Butters and Marc Guggenheim have been married almost 12 years. When they first met, they were both writers, and while they still continue to write, at this point, they're also each produced and overseen a couple of shows.
In this episode of The Spin-off, they tell Michael Schneider about their respective careers, how they once ended up working for rival superhero universes (Butters produced Marvel's Agent Carter and Guggenheim is a co-showrunner for DC's Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow), and what they've learned from parenting that has helped them in their jobs.
Saturday, October 15, 2016
They destroyed the soul of the Petersen Automotive Museum.
The completely redesigned museum re-opened at the end of 2015, but I finally got a chance to check it out last week. The exhibits are smart, crisp, pristine and interesting. But museum is no longer fun.
Ironically, the outside of the Petersen used to be sterile, short-changing the personality inside. Now, it's just the opposite: The museum's new facade is ambitious and bold... while the inside is surprisingly sterile.
The anal/Virgo in me loved the new, clean setup. It's well-organized, pristine and doesn't distract from the cars.
But the Angeleno enthusiast in me misses the old museum, with its re-creation of early 20th Century L.A. streetscapes. The old museum was also much more kid-friendly, and the new one is truly for the car enthusiast. It was perfect for my dad, who was visiting, but I imagine my kids would get antsy after awhile.
David Ulin shared my disappointment in the L.A. Times:
When my son Noah was little, the Petersen Automotive Museum — the car museum, we used to call it — was one of the touchstones of his world. In many ways, they grew up together; the Petersen opened on June 11, 1994, only a few months before Noah was born. Beginning when he was 1, we went to the museum around once a week, and we quickly developed a routine that lasted for a decade or so: Start with the immersive streetscape on the ground floor, with its trolley homage to Laurel and Hardy (Noah always spent time in the driver's seat), its Helms Bakery bread truck, its grocery store and auto showroom, then move on to the second floor, where there was a fully detailed hot rod shop and all those movie cars. Our visits would generally wrap up in the third floor playroom.
The new museum no longer plays by such irreverent rules. We visited, finally, a Sunday or so ago. As per the advice of the docent, we took the elevator to the third floor and worked our way down — exactly the opposite of how we used to navigate the space.
The new museum is themed by floor: History, Industry, Artistry. Cars and motorcycles are arrayed like, yes, museum pieces: static, sterile, separated from environment. This has long been my issue with museums, the notion that they strip art of context — or more accurately, impose a “museum” context of their own.
This new museum was efficient, even comprehensive, in its way, but it wasn’t much fun. It didn’t stir us to do much except keep moving, one display to the next. We stopped and admired the motorcycles (Noah is a rider), and the theme cars. We glanced at the production galleries and the performance vehicles. Yet there were few points of intersection, little for us to do but look.
Not only that, but the personality of the place, its connection to the city, was no longer clear. “It used to be a museum about Los Angeles,” Noah said once we reached the ground floor. “Now it’s just a museum.”
Exactly my thoughts. The Petersen used to be alive. Now it just feels like... a museum. (As for the outside, well, LA Times architectural critic Christopher Hawthorne notes that the museum "has embraced its inner Michael Bay."
That's not to say I didn't enjoy it. I'm always a sucker for history and the past, and checking out classic and historic automobiles is always interesting. Some shots from our afternoon at the new Petersen:
This 1900 Smith is the oldest surviving gasoline powered vehicle built in Los Angeles.
OK, the kids would absolutely get a kick out of seeing the "Back to the Future" DeLorean
The infamous "Breaking Bad" Pontiac Aztec
Replica of the first practical car
David Hockney art car
Keith Haring art car
Original electric cars
Get your shirt now in order for it to arrive before this year's Walk! Wear it proudly on November 19 -- and show everyone that, yep, you spent all day walking down Pico Boulevard! Click below for the T-shirts... which this year comes in a sharp forest green color!
We've just posted a whole bunch of t-shirts at Spreadshirt, including choices for men, women and kids. (The men's T is actually unisex -- I like the forest green on that one.) Go here: greatlawalk.spreadshirt.com.
Meanwhile, keep up with info about this year's GREAT LOS ANGELES WALK down Pico via our website (www.greatlawalk.com) or our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/greatlawalk). And RSVP at our email (firstname.lastname@example.org)!