Tag Archives: Orange County

San Gabriel Snow and Clouds

Snow covered mountains lit up by the sun, with clouds above them.

Yesterday morning on my way to work, I looked over and saw the San Gabriel Mountains practically glowing with the morning light of the sun. A layer of cloud blocked the sun where I was, making the distant peaks look that much brighter. I stopped at a spot where I knew I’d have a good view of the mountain range.

It turned out to be a really interesting view, as you can see from the panorama below.

Wider view of the same snow covered mountains lit up by the sun, with clouds above them.
District Mountain Panorama

By lunchtime, the sky above was mostly clear, and clouds were bunched up against the mountains, completely blocking them. I was indoors most of the morning, but it seemed as if the cloud layer had just blown northward until it hit the mountains, then stopped.

Click on either image to go to its Flickr page.

Side Note: Stitching

Since Canon’s PhotoStitch no longer works on Snow Leopard, I’ve tried out Hugin again. It’s come a long way since I first tried to use it and spent hours just getting a panorama to break up spectacularly and went hunting for PhotoStitch on the disc that came with the camera! I can’t get it to automatically detect control points on Fedora, but it does a surprisingly good job even when I’ve only marked around 10 or so. The ability to customize things like which pieces appear in front of others, or which projection to use, has turned out to be useful as well.

Stars & Lightning with Cirque du Soleil

We went out to see Kooza last Thursday (January 21) in the middle of the biggest storm to hit Southern California in ages. Floods, mudslides, tornadoes, lightning, high winds, power outages…and these tickets had been sitting in my desk since sometime last fall.

Fortunately, we managed to miss the worst of the storm. There was a lull in the early evening, and the cloud layer broke up enough that I could see the moon as I left work. We only hit rain during the post-dinner drive to the show. One moment: clear. The next: lots of brake lights ahead of us. The next: intense rain!

As near as I can tell, the storm passed through just north of the grandiosely-named Great Park in Irvine, where the circus had set up their tent. We could see lightning flashes in the distance, and it was cold and wet and windy, but the sky above was clear. So we reached the show against the backdrop of the moon, Orion and Sirus, lightning, and a giant orange balloon.

Night at the Circus

Tower of Chairs at the Orange County FairThe show was impressive. I think this is the sixth Cirque du Soleil show I’ve seen* and they’ve all been good. A few acts did look kind of familiar, like the guy balancing on a 20-foot-tall tower of chairs (we’d seen a similar act at the OC Fair last summer), but even those acts maintained the “how the heck do they do that?!” factor. A contortionist act reminded me of someone’s idea back in the early 1990s, never realized as far as I know, to get contortionists to play non-humanoid aliens on science-fiction shows. (These days, you can just use CGI to portray any body structure you want.)

Cirque du Soleil Wheel of DeathThe centerpiece of the show was sort of a giant double human hamster wheel. Two mesh wheels, each with a diameter of perhaps 1½ times the height of the performers, are attached to either end of a scaffolding, which is then suspended from the ceiling so that the entire structure can rotate. Then two performers proceed to run and jump inside the wheels as the whole thing spins around in the air…and then they start running around the outside of the wheels! According to the Cirque website, it’s called the Wheel of Death.

The clowns seemed more prominent in this show than in the others I’ve seen, to the point where they basically had two MC characters: one serious, one comedic.

Oddly enough, the show features a rainstorm. There was enough fake thunder and lightning that we probably didn’t recognize the real thing a few times!

*I’ve been trying to remember exactly which shows I’ve seen, and what I can come up with are:

  • Saltimbanco, early 1990s
  • Dralion, 1999 or 2000
  • Zumanity, 2006
  • O, 2007
  • Corteo, 2008?
  • And now Kooza, 2010

I keep thinking there’s one more, but I just can’t bring it to mind.

Two Plays: Glass Mendacity & Ordinary Days

We went out to see two plays* last week: The Glass Mendacity in LA and Ordinary Days at SCR.

The Glass Mendacity is a spoof of Tennessee Williams, mashing together The Glass Menagerie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and A Streetcar Named Desire into one messed-up family gathering, played as comedy instead of tragedy. There’s Big Daddy and Big Amanda Dubois; their son Brick (played by a mannequin) and his wife Maggie the Cat; their daughter Blanche and her husband Stanley Kowalski; their youngest daughter Laura; and a gentleman caller, who appears in the final sce–okay, he shows up in scene one and never leaves. It’s funny on its own, but absolutely hilarious if you know the plays being parodied.

The production we saw was at the Ark Theatre. It’s a tiny theater upstairs in the historic building that houses the Hayworth Theatre. In the 1920s, even office buildings had character! The lobby is basically entry-level landing to the rear stairway, but they’ve managed to fit in a small bar and a couple of tables.

Ordinary Days is a slice-of-life musical about four people in New York City: a couple just moving in together, a grad student, and an artist. Their stories intersect, and each reaches an epiphany about his or her life over the course of the story. The music reminded me a bit of Stephen Sondheim and a bit of Stephen Schwartz. The cast was good, and the set design did a great job of suggesting various locations in an enormous city.

This was the first show I’d seen at South Coast Repertory’s Julianne Argyros Stage. Somehow I managed to go a whole decade without seeing anything at SCR at all, and the other shows I’ve seen over the last year were all in what used to be the main stage. In my head, I still had the image of the old second stage, a box-shaped studio, up until the point that we walked in the door to see a proscenium stage and a house with a balcony and box seats. I might actually have missed this one, except we ran into one of my music theater teachers from college on the way to Xanadu last month, and he was rehearsing this show as the musical director and accompanist.

Both shows are still running. The Glass Mendacity runs through January 30, and Ordinary Days runs through January 24.

*Hooray for cheap tickets at Goldstar. ← (Darn right, it’s an affiliate link! If you sign up using it, they’ll give me $1 off my next purchase!)

Macy’s Domestic Water

Pipes and...Macy's Domestic Water

We made our first Christmas-season foray into South Coast Plaza over the weekend. Well, really, we just walked over there to grab something at the Coffee Bean after a late lunch at Finbar’s at Metro Pointe, then walked back…but it was a taste of the holiday insanity of the mall. Especially that mall. (Usually I try to avoid it during the holiday season, but I always seem to end up making at least one trip.)

Anyway, the phrasing on this sign just struck us both as odd. Okay, obviously, these valves control the water for Macy’s, which was right on the other side of the shrubberies. But why Macy’s domestic water? Is there another pipe for foreign water?