All posts by Wil

I'm just this guy, you know?

Flashback: Trekkies Protest in 1968

While the dead tree version continues to disappoint, some really great blogs are starting to flourish at the Los Angeles Times. My personal favorite is Hero Complex, a blog that’s all about science fiction, graphic novels, and other things that make Geek culture awesome.

This morning, Hero Complex’s Geoff Boucher reached into the Times’ archives, and pulled out this photo of Cal Tech students protesting the cancellation of Star Trek at Paramount in 1968.

Groovy, man. Like, click it to embiggen, dad.

CBS2 isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions

A lot of people have been talking about Michelle Obama’s speech to the DNC last night, and our local crew at CBS2, as always, had their finger on the pulse of Los Angeles, challenging their viewers (and website readers) to really think deeply about the event:

For fuck’s sake. You know what’s even worse? People are actually casting votes on the goddamn thing. “She didn’t” is currently leading with 56%, in this crucial test for the Democratic party.

Maddux returns to the Dodgers

So, this was unexpected: Greg Maddux is returning to the Dodgers, who suddenly seem to be serious about winning the NL West so they can get swept in the first round of the playoffs:

The Dodgers reacquired Maddux from the San Diego Padres on Tuesday, getting the future Hall of Famer and cash for two minor leaguers to be named or cash.

“It’s nice to be back,” Maddux said with a smile. “Last to first. It’s pretty cool. One off day and I make up 16 games, so I’m excited.”

I’m excited too, because the Dodgers can’t seem to stop stranding runners, and recently the bullpen seems to be more focused on throwing batting practice to opposing teams than preserving those rare and slim Dodger leads. This team needs pitching, and adding one of the greatest players to ever step onto the field is a great place to start.

At last, some close up pictures of those TVs in Silverlake

When I was doing shows at ACME in Hollywood, I drove past those cool televisions at the intersection of Riverside Drive and Fletcher at least twice a week. I always wanted to stop there sometime and take a bunch of pictures, and though I never managed to do that myself, I saw that a guy called Rob, who posts pictures at had done just that. In addition to the nifty pictures, there’s also this interesting history lesson:

These recycled RCAs are sitting atop the ruins of Los Angeles’ first attempt at mass transit dating back to the turn of the century. The cement forms underneath the televisions were the footings for a railroad trestle that ran across Fletcher Ave. in Silverlake for the Pacific Electric Red Car line. Even though GM took apart the Red Cars in the ’50s to sell us all on buses, what is left here of the old run from downtown to Glendale has recently been declared a historical monument.

While you’re there, be sure to check out his pictures of the old Los Angeles Zoo, yet another one of those cool LA landmarks I’ve always wanted to visit, but never have.

if it bleeds, it leads

Last night, our fine local news channels lead their late night broadcasts with a pretty heinous story. Out in Lancaster, it seems, a man murdered his girlfriend. In front of her children. With a sword.

This story is horrible, but that wasn’t enough for our local news directors! They had to play the fucking audio of one of the children — a nine year-old girl — screaming and crying that they’d watched it happen, and didn’t want their mother to die.

Can someone please tell me what part of the public’s interest is served by broadcasting this horrible, tragic moment of children suffering? Other than the sick voyeurism and television ratings parts, that is.

Continue reading if it bleeds, it leads

And now, your annual 4th of July travel nightmare at LAX

According to the Times, a man claiming he was a terrorist told police at LAX this morning that he had a bomb, and was going to use it to blow shit up. There was massive gridlock while the police investigated.

The upper- and lower-level roads were immediately shut down after the man made the threat outside the Tom Bradley International Terminal, authorities said. Los Angeles Police Department bomb squad officials are examining a black bag the man was carrying.

The FBI says the suspect was arrested, and they’re checking out his backpack . . . but get this: an LAX spokeswoman wouldn’t confirm that it was, in fact, a backpack. OMG CONSPIRACY! WAKE UP SHEEPLE!

LAist has pictures, and an eyewitness report that everything is back to normal at the airport, which, of course, means massive gridlock.

security theater comes to the metro. er, i mean metrolink

As gas prices leave the “um, really?” territory and speed into the “are you fucking serious?” range, a whole lot of Angelenos are finally considering using our fair city’s subway commuter rail system.*

That’s awesome. Getting cars off the road is great for the environment, and anything we can do to reduce congestion on our over-crowded freeways is always a good idea. The metro doesn’t really go to as many places as you’d expect (thanks, City Council Board of Supervisors!) and it doesn’t run as late as it does in . . . well, every other city in the world, but you go to work on the metro you have, not the metro you wish you had.

Sure, it’s a little inconvenient to take the metro, but with a some sacrifice and extra planning, it can be a pretty pleasant experience (as long as you don’t want to take pictures, you goddamn terrorist-fist-jabbing America hater) and it’s certainly cost effective.

However, the experience of riding the metro is about to become as annoying and frustrating as trying to get on an airplane, because security theater is coming to town:

In June 2008, Metrolink’s Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Bureau will begin deploying its Passenger Random Baggage Search Program to further strengthen rail security and discourage and deter violent criminals from carrying weapons, explosives, or other dangerous items onto Metrolink trains. According to the Transportation Security Administration, random baggage inspections are an effective security tool for deterring individuals who may pose a threat to passengers on board commuter trains.

If the Transportation Security Administration says it’s an effective security tool, you know that shit is seriously vetted, dogg. Remember, according to the Transportation Security Administration, 3.1 or more ounces of any liquid is deadly (3.0 is fine, though), shoes are dangerous, we should be scared shitless all the time, everywhere we go, and people who aren’t too keen on having some guy shove his fist up their ass to take a look around whenever you want to ride in a plane, train, or bus is worthy of tremendous suspicion. In fact, those people probably want to take pictures of things while they’re in public! OMG TERRORISTS! OH NOES! EVERYBODY PANIC! Continue reading security theater comes to the metro. er, i mean metrolink

time lapse photography of 2005 simi valley fires

Over at Boingboing (isn’t it weird how we use direction-specific terms like “over at” when talking about other websites? Is anything really “over” anywhere online? These are the things that keep me awake at night.)

Um. Anyway, I was reading Boingboing this morning, and saw this phenomenal video of the Simi Valley wildfires in 2005:


Mark at Boingboing sez it was “Shot with 3 cameras over a period of 28 hours during September 28-29th 2005. Firestorm shows a a unique look at the Simi Valley fire which consumed 25,000 acres. Look for Mars, Orion & the Moon rising in the distance…”

wow, that’s a lot of balls

The Boston Globe has a fantastic feature called The Big Picture. Every day, they publish a series of pictures that personify a different theme. Yesterday, it was about space, and today it was about water.

One of the pictures that caught my eye today was a picture of 400,000 balls being dropped into Ivanhoe Reservoir. The Times has the story:

The agency started dumping thousands of floating plastic balls into Ivanhoe Reservoir — the dwarf sibling next door to Silver Lake Reservoir, the neighborhood’s crown jewel — to protect the drinking water supply needed for summer.

The water needs to be shaded because when sunlight mixes with the bromide and chlorine in Ivanhoe’s water, the carcinogen bromate forms, said Pankaj Parekh, DWP’s director for water quality compliance. Bromide is naturally present in groundwater and chlorine is used to kill bacteria, he said, but sunlight is the final ingredient in the potentially harmful mix.

The DWP drop was designed to stop the three from mingling in the 10-acre, 58-million-gallon Ivanhoe Reservoir. The 102-year-old facility serves about 600,000 customers downtown and in South Los Angeles.

It looks cool to pour them in, but I bet the novelty of looking at them wears off really fast. The Times says that the Ivanhoe and Elysian reservoirs will be covered with balls for 4 years.

(Image from flickr user councildistrictfour.)

it’s a damn geeky weekend in los angeles

I think this could be the geekiest weekend we’ve had so far this year. Allow me to explain:

  • Iron Man comes out today. I saw a preview screening on Monday, and other than the score (which is absolute crap) the movie is damn near perfect. I think it’s the best comic book movie since Sin City, and blows Transformers and the last two X-Men movies into oblivion. Go see it for the pitch-perfect performances, lead by Robert Downey Junior. io9 says, “Iron Man is the first comic-book movie that’s actually better than its source material. That’s partly because Iron Man is one of the most boring characters in the history of comics, but it’s also because the movie manages to transcend its source.”
  • Saturday is Free Comic Book Day. Go to your friendly local comic shop, and load up on piles of free comic books.
  • JPL is having their open house Saturday and Sunday, so after you get your fix of pretend science in the movies, you can get up close and personal with some real science.

Pretty awesome, isn’t it? Put on your nerd cape and have a great weekend, everyone!

OMG Earthquakes!

According to the first ever survey of giant earthquakes that are going to hit Los Angeles, knock over our bikes, and spill our coffee, we’re pretty fucked.

Southern Californians, get ready for higher home insurance. The US Geological Survey has just released its first ever statewide earthquake forecast for California, and the odds aren’t great.

The study finds a 99.7% chance that an earthquake of magnitude 6.7 or greater will hit California by 2037, while the probability of a quake of magnitude 7.5 or greater is 46%.

I’m sure our local newsdrones will go nuts with this one (at least until there’s a high speed chase) but speaking as someone who’s lived here for 35 years, I don’t see what the big deal is. We know we live in earthquake country, and it’s the price we pay for living in a city with such stellar management, championship sports teams, and world-class public transportation.


I’ve been here for every major earthquake since 1972, and though the Northridge earthquake in 1994 was one of the most terrifying events of my life, it was over in less than a minute and rather than spend every moment of my life since then worrying about it, I’ve just dulled the memories with sweet, sweet liquor.

Now that we know The Big One is coming — apparently before 2037 — make sure your home is as earthquake-proof as it can be, make sure you have at least a simple survival kit, know where your towel is and don’t panic.

ESPN on Greg Maddux

If you’ve been watching the maddeningly inconsistent Dodgers struggle to stay above .500 this year (and get ready for a long, hot summer, Dodger fans) you should not read this article at all about Greg Maddux. You should especially not read this bit:

Padres manager Bud Black says Maddux “has the best feel for how to throw a pitch and when to throw it of anybody, maybe ever.” Which prompts Maddux to shrug his unimposing shoulders and trot out the mantra “Whenever you’ve had a little success in this game, people think you know more than you do.”

Right. But when Brad Penny and Maddux were teammates on the Dodgers, during the last two months of 2006, they had a conversation one day that led Penny to reach a stunning conclusion: This guy knows my stuff better than I do. It was eerie, really, how easily Maddux dissected Penny’s repertoire and suggested ways to maximize it. Penny, figuring he’d take advantage of the situation, asked Maddux to call a game for him against the Cubs. And so, on the night of Sept. 13, Penny glanced into the dugout before every delivery and found Maddux, who signaled the next pitch by looking toward different parts of the ballpark. Penny threw seven scoreless innings with no walks and beat the Cubs 6-0. “Maddux probably won’t tell you that story,” Penny says. He’s right.

All hating on the Dodgers useless general management aside, this is actually a great article for any serious baseball fan to read. Maddux is probably one of the best pitchers in the history of the game — certainly the best in the modern era — and it’s pretty cool to get a brief look into the head of the guy who has won 347 games.

The ROQ of the 80s Returns

KROQ of the 80s

From about 1984 to 1990, KROQ was the soundtrack to my life, and the DJs — Freddie Snakeskin, Richard Blade, Swedish Egil, Jed the Fish . . . even the Poorman — were like friends I’d never met (though I did meet a few of them during the Star Trek heyday, because all I ever wanted to do when I grew up was play records on the radio. Everyone I ever met was really cool to me, even though I was an annoying teenager who really wanted to be a DJ.)

Most GenXers I know agree that KROQ turned to absolute shit during the Limp Bizkit/Cypress Hill/Linkin Park years, and though it’s gotten better recently, it still hasn’t quite returned to the time when hearing great music on KROQ was as reliable as a giant sale at Guitar Center this weekend. We miss the Joq’s Choice, and we’ve had just about enough Red Hot Chilipeppers, thank you very much. (Okay, maybe that’s just me.)

Well, for those of us who are determined to live in the past, when each day brought new episodes of The New Detective and Rodney on the Roq was introducing us to strange new acts like The Vandals and Dramarama, I present Kroq of the 80s. The playlist is what you’d expect from classic KROQ: Devo, Depeche Mode, INXS, Boingo, Blondie, etc., but what makes it truly awesome are the old station IDs and drops from classic KROQ personalities like Freddie Snakeskin and Scott Mason.

If you’ve got an HD radio, you can tune in on 106.7-HD2; the rest of us can feather our hair, flip up the collar on our Le Tigre shirt, and listen online.