Wednesday, December 23, 2009

LA, TV, the PITS

A mammoth stuck in the lake. The bubble is from gas and tar rising to the top.
Very well preserved fossils:)
La Brea fossils are brown because of the tar.
pronghorn, saber-tooth cat
buffalo, rapture
A tar pit and the "tree" boxes from Project 23.
Viewing the fish bowl where workers are cleaning fossils, one of which is Zed the Colombian Mammoth..
LA art; Part of the Berlin Wall, Nanc hanging on the lampposts and the Travel Angel.
Christmas in LA
The four heads on the bottom are Val, Richard, Nanc & Jim at the Late Late Show.

We continued exploring the LA area with a visit to the Page Museum and La Brea Tar Pits, a unique natural feature near downtown where thousands of animals have been entrapped in the tar over the last 40,000 years. The pits of asphalt, which are covered with a thin layer of water, would lure animals where they would become stuck in the goo. The gas and tar continues to bubble to the surface which we witnessed as we stood by the lake. This is one of the largest concentrations of fossils in the world as thousands have been unearthed here. More than a million bones including 231 vertebrates, 234 invertebrates and 159 plant species have been found. Thousands of dire wolves are the most common animal with over 2000 saber-toothed cats ranking second. The most resent find, Project 23, was discovered when a new underground parking garage was being built in 2006. To allow construction to proceed 23 large "tree" boxes were placed around the fossils so they could be moved for excavation. Zed, a nearly complete Colombian Mammoth, was among this find. Pit 91 is a site where excavation has been ongoing each summer from July to September since 1969. The museum has an excellent display of many complete fossils that have been found here and at the "fish bowl" laboratory you can watch the scientists clean and carefully examine the bones. The pits are a very interesting find right in the middle of LA.

We also visited the nearby Farmers Market and Grove shopping complex. We had a great lunch at the food court that offered a huge selection of foods from around the world. We did the usual window shopping and enjoyed the Christmas decorations. Going to these shopping areas when you live in a home on wheels with space and weight limits actually makes the experience more enjoyable (for me at least) then when going to the mall meant buying not just window shopping. It is amazing all the "stuff" you can live without.

Another LA experience was going to the taping of the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at CBS. The whole thing was very interesting from start to finish. Richard ordered free tickets on line and we needed to be in line at CBS by 3 PM. No cameras or cell phones were allowed and we had to go through a metal detector before sitting in line to wait for instructions that included no shouting out, how and when the applaud and laugh, no ooohs when Craig told a joke and a reminder that we were an important part of the production. Next, comedian Chunky B came out to warm us up with a few jokes before the capacity crowd of 108 were lead into the studio. Once inside, Chunky B explained what would happen and what we were to do when Craig came on stage. He continued to warm up the audience with candy and more jokes. With the cameras rolling Craig entered and did his monologue and we all clapped and laughed with great enthusiasm. After finishing the monologue Craig explained he would be doing a second one for a future show so he changed ties and we repeated the shows opening. Next up was a "surprise" visit from Betty White dressed as Santa as a promo for the bell ringers of the Salvation Army. We later discovered this portion was also for a future date and not for the show that evening. The featured guest of the night and a highlight for us was Sigourney Weaver whom Craig interviewed about her new movie Avitar. We have enjoyed many of her movies and it was a real treat to see her in person. The final guest was author Hank Stuever who was interviewed about his book, Tinsel - A Search for Americas Christmas Present. After the taping was done, Craig came out and talked to the audience to let us know we would all be receiving a gift bag from Delta Airlines because of nasty comments he had made about another airline. He told us it was probably crap but it was free crap and that was not far from the truth. As we were leaving, a new audience was waiting in line for the taping of the Friday program. We had a grand time being part of the audience and would recommend it as good, cheap and funny entertainment any time you are in LA. All that said, we did not see the show because we really don't ever stay up that late. We did check out some of it on line and captured the passing view of the back of our heads in the last row.

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