Friday, November 14, 2008

A Send Off to Anne

Tom's Mom, Anne, passed away two weeks ago, and we spent last week up in Washington saying goodbye to her, attending her funeral, and visiting with the rest of his family. Anne was an incredible woman, a consummate fiber artist, and a loving and supportive mother in law, and while these circumstances always make one sound trite, she will be missed greatly.

Knitting, spinning, weaving...she did it all. Stitch n Bitch? Her group met in the 1960s. State fair? Her spinning and weaving won her three Grand Championships and dozens of other ribbons (mostly blues) in the Western Washington State Fair. Sheep to shawl? You betcha.

Anne and I always shared a close bond due to our love of knitting, and so at Tom's sister's insistence I returned home with a few of her handmade items. Four pairs of Kool-Aid dyed wool socks she knit. Three woven wool scarves that were part of her weaving group's sale stash . Some yarn and a few booklets that missed a former garage sale. Practical, humble mementos of a woman who survived the Depression, served in the Coast Guard in World War II, birthed and raised six kids (five of them boys), and met each challenge with enthusiasm and humor.

She'll always be missed, but I have no doubt where she's ended up: She's whipping the angels into shape...and whipping them up some new robes in a lovely Cormo, too. So here's to Anne! The world is less one kick ass knitter, and that's a darn shame.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

These Mean Streets

This past Sunday Tom and I, along with Ellen and her husband Larry, took a noir-themed architectural tour of Los Angeles. Entitled "L.A. NOIR-chitecture: A Hard-boiled Tour Through the Historic City," it was co-presented by the Los Angeles Conservancy and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, and included seven stops. (A pdf of the tour may be found here. This is the flyer for the tour. It folds up into four pages, so the first page is upside down, but it will print correctly.)

photo courtesy of Ellen Bloom

Formosa Cafe. 1925. Hang out of boxers, actors, and gangsters, it was featured in the 1997 film adaptation of James Ellroy's L.A. Confidential.

Villa Primavera. 1923. It may be a little run down now, but back in the day this Spanish-style courtyard apartment house was home to such stars as James Dean and Harold Lloyd. It was featured in the 1950 film adaptation of Dorothy Hughes' In a Lonely Place.

Parva-Sed-Apta Apartments. 1923. Formerly a boarding house, Nathanael West stayed here during the summer of 1935 when he was researching and writing The Day of the Locust. Elizabeth Short, aka The Black Dahlia, lived in the apartment building next door on the right in the 1940s.

Security Trust and Savings Building. 1921. Thought to be the inspiration for the office of Raymond Chandler's iconic detective Philip Marlowe.

Mulholland Dam. 1924. Located in the Hollywood Hills, it is featured in Michael Connelly's The Overlook. Madonna used to own a home to the right of the houses seen in the upper right corner.

Warner Bros. Studios. 1926-present. A highlight of the tour, the "New York Street" lot is now used in the television shows ER and Cold Case. Back in 1941, it was used to portray the foggy San Francisco streets seen in the film adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon.

Glendale Southern Pacific Railroad Terminal. 1924. My favorite stop on the tour, this gorgeous Spanish Colonial Revival building is still in use as an Amtrak/Greyhound station. Billy Wilder used it to great effect as the scene of the crime in his 1944 film adaptation of Double Indemnity.

Thanks to the Los Angeles Conservancy docents for a stellar job in presentations at the sites, excellent signage leading to and from sites (esp. for Mulholland Dam), and crowd control. From start to finish we had a fantastic time, and hope that there may be other literary-theme inspired tours in the future.

Saturday, November 01, 2008