Sunday, October 23, 2016

Los Angeles Zoo Gets Spooky as 'Boo at the Zoo' Returns

Boo at the Zoo

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.

Boo at the Zoo

Guided tour

Boo at the Zoo

No rush

Boo at the Zoo

The dinosaurs are fed

Boo at the Zoo

Arts and crafts for the kids

Boo at the Zoo

Bats in our backyard

Boo at the Zoo

"Mad science" show

Boo at the Zoo

Bats even found in the carousel

"Boo at the Zoo" continues through the end of the month. Check out next weekend's animal feedings:

October 29
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)

October 30
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.

Listen below!

The Spin-Off

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Petersen Auto Museum: A Disappointingly Sterile Makeover


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.


"Entourage" car




OK, the kids would absolutely get a kick out of seeing the "Back to the Future" DeLorean




The infamous "Breaking Bad" Pontiac Aztec


Lightning McQueen



Art car


Low riders


Replica of the first practical car


David Hockney art car


Keith Haring art car


Silver cars


Original electric cars

The Great Los Angeles Walk 2016 T-Shirts Are Now Available!

GLAW T-Shirts

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:

Meanwhile, keep up with info about this year's GREAT LOS ANGELES WALK down Pico via our website ( or our Facebook page ( And RSVP at our email (!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Hangin' With Mr. Robot: My Chat with Christian Slater

Christian Slater SAG

Last week I sat down with Christian Slater at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation for a wide-ranging chat about "Mr. Robot," his career and finally landing a big TV success. Along the way, "Pump Up the Volume" and "Heathers" were also mentioned. The SAG-AFTRA audience screened the Season 2 "Mr. Robot" episode that featured a "TGIF" sitcom parody and a cameo by ALF, so we talked a lot about that as well. Watch below!

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