Paleontology and Obama

Trip Start Jun 30, 2010
Trip End Aug 15, 2010

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, July 15, 2010

Today I did some more touristy stuff but I felt one has to do these things when one is here in LA. Firstly I went off to the tar pits which are quite fascinating and set in a lovely park but I could smell the asphalt as soon as I got off the bus. Lots of people were in the park enjoying the coolness in the shade.
In the first part of last century they found these pits and a whole stack of fossils in there - like a stew the guide said. Every summer they dig - it is easier to work in molten tar - and there is still a lot to do. The pits which they have already cleaned out still bubble and you can wander around and look at what they are doing. Unfortunately, there was no one working in the current pit today but the fossils they are excavating are clearly marked. It looks like filthy work but apparently they have no shortage of volunteers. The experts believe there are masses of fossils because the tar was so sticky animals (small and large) would get stuck, other predators would come in etc etc. They also found masses of insects, plant material (some from inside preserved animal stomachs) and smaller animals.
The museum was great for kids and very interactive so the kids that were there were having a great time. There is also a place where you can watch people cleaning up the bones. They have signs letting you know what they are doing, however, the person who was supposed to be cleaning up the jaw of an american lion called 'Fluffy' looked like they were working on a vertebrae. The people who lived around the area used the tar to seal up woven baskets and as a general glue.
Next I just had to visit the Kodak Theatre where they hold the Academy Awards. It is actually in a shopping mall and during the awards they take down all advertising signs and cover the front of the shops with curtains - what you see on TV is just an illusion. I have never really watched the awards before but I think I might have to next time to check out the differences. The other thing they do is have a staff of about 250 seat fillers on hand - they are all dressed up and are usually family and friends of people who belong to the academy (like a union for the movie industry) - who fill up the seats when the stars go to the loo or to have a drink so you don't see an empty seat at all on the TV. We had a small group which was nice so could ask lots of questions.
Old cinema screens were made of glass beads with the negative of the film played on that giving it a sort of silver sheen, hence the term silver screen! I am a mine of useless information now. Like the fact that at the Governor's Ball after the awards they have a dinner at which the chef always make some piece of food in the shape of an Oscar. Last year it was hand carved croutons for the salad and this year it was slices of salmon.
The shopping mall where the theatre is was built so you could see the Hollywood sign. This used to be an advertising sign for Hollywoodland which was a release of land for a housing estate. They had a bloke looking after the sign way back when and he lived behind one of the L's in a shack.
Next I went to Madame Tussaud's - check out my photos, it was a lot of fun. It really is very clever the way they make these wax models and some of them are really life like. Others are not so good. 
Did you know that it was Madame Tussaud who coined the term 'undertaker'? Apparently she used to make death masks and was asked to 'undertake the commission' so she called herself the undertaker. I did not learn that fact at the wax museum but rather at Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum. That was another interesting place to go - I have great memories of it on TV when I was young. Ripley was a great traveller and brought all sorts of weird and wonderful things back. He lived near the sea and spent a lot of time on his Chinese junk but he could not swim. See - more useless info for you to remember when you next go to a quiz night. I have more but 
It was early back for me tonight as I need to pack for the next leg of my journey. Montrose, Colorado here I come. 
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lucia on

Fantastic!!! love the photos :) xo

Marie Ambrose on

We are really enjoying reading about your wonderful experiences. You write so well Kate.

Alison O'Dowd on

Hi Kate! Enjoying reading about your travels - it's a good idea! I've sent you a few of our snaps too, we are home now - how depressing! Enjoy every moment! Ali xxx

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