Tuesday, November 04, 2014

CENTERED IN THE UNIVERSE at Griffith Observatory/Samuel Oschin Planetarium - (9)

Griffith Observatory is a famous landmark in Los Angeles which has been featured in such classic films like REBEL WITOUT A CAUSE,


and I'm sure quite a few other movies since it's a cheap location in a park close to Hollywood.

One can tell from the heroic paintings on the ceiling

 that this is a building for the people.  These flying buttresses,

 and Atlas,

 support a structure of SCIENCE, Science which is made from Greek ideals,

solid European practicality,

and easy access to the community and the masses,

back before folks were too busy playing on their phones to think about stuff like this.

The Griffth Observatory opened in 1935 so they have ridiculously dangerous/crazy exhibits like this lying around:

as well as low-key nerd stuff like a physical table of elements wall.

Natalie wanted to see the planetarium show so we went.  You walk into a room that looks like this:

Pretty standard stuff.

I must admit, I fully expected CENTERED IN THE UNIVERSE to be terrible.   I couldn't imagine how something they have done since the 1930's could be anything but stale and outdated.

I was completely wrong.

CENTERED IN THE UNIVERSE is actually an immersive visual experience which is narrated by a real live person!  In real time!   A kindly bearded man was delighted to tell us that this show has been happening with live narrators for 70 years and turns a lamp on and off while talking about fireside stories.

He walked us through the history of astronomy, earth-centric views of the stars,

the first telescopes, the big bang, where we fit into the universe, and the existance of dark matter.   He explained how many stars are in the Milky Way,

and gleefully described our position in the great vast universe as being "in the suburbs."

He consistantly reminded us that we don't have all the answers and that more information is always over the next horizon.

It was marvelous and I loved every minute of it.

Monday, November 03, 2014


I love evenings.  It's my favorite time of day.  The heat of the day is over. (That's a big deal in the desert.)   As the sun slips away, lights start to twinkle awake, cool breezes drift in, and everything gets softer.  People relax, too, since the day is mostly done, and along with dinner there is more smiling and quiet laughing.  The best evenings, I think, are where one can see these things happen all at once.   Where people walk and relax and watch the lights come on.

In THE BOOK OF LIFE we are introduced to the Land of the Remembered.  When you die, (and you will) it doesn't hurt and you don't stop existing.   You don't go to somewhere strange or alien, either.  Nope, you open your eyes in an evening full of lights and music and your family - ALL of your family.  They are happy to see you, and you them, with their beauty etched on their bones.

I found it a deeply satisfying idea.  Heaven should be evening, all the time.

THE BOOK OF LIFE was satisfying in other ways, as well.   There are hundreds of terrible children's movies which teach that it's okay to be you.  It's tired and we have heard it a million times.   THE BOOK OF LIFE has the same idea except for one difference: it shows how difficult it is to be yourself.

It takes work and courage to truly embrace your passion.  After Manolo overcomes that challenge (it is very scary and he is very brave), beating the Bad Guys is no big deal.

(Though the Bad Guys are still really really scary....)

Other wonderful things in THE BOOK OF LIFE is the way the whole movie looks

and how good the music is.

I strongly recommend it.