Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Handful of Excellent Reasons to Visit Palm Springs

Located in the Southern California’s Coachella Valley, Palm Springs offers nature lovers access to a wide range of exciting opportunities, from the celebrated Joshua Tree National Park to Indian Canyons, which contains miles of hiking trails with breathtaking vistas and a 60-foot waterfall. People can also hire off-road tour companies to explore the San Andreas Fault or ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which boasts the largest rotating tramcar in the world.

Film lovers also have several reasons to visit Palm Springs, which has hosted the Palm Springs International Film Festival every January since 1989. Additionally, several smaller festivals occur over the course of the year, including the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival, ShortFest, and the Festival of Native Film & Culture.

Attracting several artists and art appreciators, the Backstreet Art District features local galleries that do an open house complete with wine and snacks once monthly. People may also want to see the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands, which displays an impressive art collection with pieces by Rodin and Giacometti.

Finally, shoppers will find countless opportunities for excellent thrift store shopping, as well as several major outlet malls.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Some of the United States’ Most Underrated National Monuments

The United States National Park System maintains more than 50 national monuments throughout the country. These monuments often go ignored as crowds flock instead to national parks, but many of these protected areas offer incredible sights.

The Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction, Colorado, for example, offers an amazing look at deep canyons and towering sandstone formations. Visitors can follow the trails of explorer John Otto and see golden eagles and coyotes in addition to the beautiful landscape.

Another underrated attraction is White Sands National Monument in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Here, visitors can walk on sand that is so white that it resembles snow. Exploring the dunes is an experience unlike any other in the U.S.

The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in eastern Oregon will delight visitors who are interested in paleontology. The area contains fossils of both plants and animals that date back between 7 and 44 million years.

Cedar Breaks National Monument in southern Utah includes a three-mile natural amphitheater with unbelievable vistas dotted by ancient bristlecone pines -- some over 1,000 years old. Visitors can also enjoy challenging day hikes. The best time to visit is during the summer, since snow can largely cover the monument between October and May.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

William Friedkin - From Poverty to Hollywood Acclaim


Born to a low-income family in an impoverished area of Chicago, William Friedkin went on to become one of the star directors of 1970s American cinema. After graduating from high school, he began working in the mailroom of the local WGN TV station. It was during this time that he first saw Citizen Kane, the cinematic masterpiece that spurred his directorial ambitions. 

Early Life

Friedkin moved into live television directing and documentary filmmaking and led the development of more than 2,000 television programs throughout the 1950s, first garnering acclaim for his 1962 documentary, The People vs. Paul Crump. The film earned numerous festival accolades and ultimately resulted in the reversal of Paul Crump’s death sentence. This success caught the attention of David L. Wolper, a producer, who offered Friedkin his first Hollywood job. 


After heading west, Friedkin struggled to find his footing with his first fiction films, but he finally found success by returning to his roots as a documentarian. In 1971, he released his adaptation of the best-selling true crime novel The French Connection, an action thriller that earned critical acclaim and had a significant impact on the style of future cop movies. The French Connection received eight Academy Award nominations and took home five Oscars, including a Best Director trophy for Friedkin, leading author William Peter Blatty to recruit Friedkin to direct the adaptation of his popular supernatural thriller, The Exorcist. After overcoming obstacles related to the film’s budget and schedule, Friedkin released The Exorcist in 1973, drawing 10 Oscar nominations, thrilling audiences across the country, and solidifying his esteemed position in the history of American cinema.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Pug Nation LA to Host Fourth Annual Strut Your Mutt Walk and 5K

Pug Nation Rescue of Los Angeles rescues abandoned, abused, and otherwise displaced pugs throughout LA, offering sanctuary and striving to match each dog with a loving home. Each month, the organization holds multiple adoption fairs throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan area. It also hosts annual events such as Strut Your Mutt, a fundraising dog walk that benefits local shelters.

In 2014, Strut Your Mutt drew approximately 2,500 human participants and 1,400 canine companions, raising nearly $625,000 for LA’s homeless animals. On Saturday, October 10, 2015, Pug Nation LA will aim to top last year’s attendance with its fourth annual Strut Your Mutt walk at Exposition Park. In addition to a leisurely stroll through the park, which includes landmarks such as the California Science Center and the Los Angeles Coliseum, this year’s event will feature a 5K run, in which people can participate with or without their four-legged friends. Attendees can begin registering as early as 7 am, and both the walk and 5K run will kick off at 9 am.

Following the walk and run, participants will have the chance to enjoy a dog-themed festival featuring a variety of attractions. Dog owners and their companions can take part in a number of pet-friendly activities, compete in pet contests, have their photos taken, and enjoy delicious refreshments.                            

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sidney Lumet - Delving into Human Conscience

Sidney Lumet was an important figure in American cinema who took a unique approach to filmmaking, seeking not only to entertain audiences but also to encourage them to examine their own consciences. Many of his films, such as 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, and Network, deal with issues of conscience and morality and have inspired countless audiences to consider their themes. In fact, US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has credited 12 Angry Men, which revolves around a single jury member’s efforts to convince his fellow jurors of a defendant’s innocence, as a significant influence on her career in law.

Released in 1957, 12 Angry Men was Lumet’s first motion picture, but the acclaimed director entered the entertainment industry much earlier. Born in Philadelphia in 1924 to an actor father and dancer mother, he appeared in several Broadway and off-Broadway productions throughout his childhood and adolescence, and his love for New York shone through in the settings of many of his films.

Lumet transitioned from a career in television directing to work on 12 Angry Men, which garnered three Academy Award nominations and the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear. He went on to direct such widely renowned films as Network, a satire of the American media that earned 10 Academy Award nominations and secured four wins, and Dog Day Afternoon, a complex crime drama featuring Al Pacino in a groundbreaking role.

Throughout his extensive career, Sidney Lumet created over 40 films, directed such noteworthy actors as Sean Connery, Marlon Brando, and Katharine Hepburn, and earned more than 40 Academy Award nominations. Despite this, Lumet did not receive an Oscar until 2005, when he received an honorary Academy Award. He died in 2011 at his Manhattan home, leaving a truly impressive cinematic legacy to be enjoyed by audiences for decades to come.                          

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

President Obama Establishes Three New National Monuments in Western US

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Mission and History of the Tailwaggers Foundation

From its headquarters in Los Angeles, California, The Tailwaggers Foundation works to provide lifesaving veterinary care for animals in need. The nonprofit group offers financial support to qualified animal rescue organizations, which often spend as much as 50 percent of their funding on medical treatment. With The foundation’s assistance, these groups can focus their efforts on finding loving, permanent homes for the animals in their care.

Both the name and mission of The Tailwaggers Foundation honor The Tailwaggers Club, a British charity founded in 1928. Serving as both a pet registry and an animal welfare advocate, the organization grew to serve nearly one million canine members by the end of its first year. Actress Bette Davis helped to bring The Tailwaggers Club into the American public eye through her work as president of its Southern California branch. From 1929 on, she raised awareness for animal welfare, hosting fundraising events that garnered the support of such prominent figures as Walt Disney and Howard Hughes. Her efforts even led to press coverage from publications including LIFE magazine.

The charity remained active until 1960, when it was acquired by Spillers Pet Food, which created the Tailwaggers Club Trust to administer the nonprofit’s assets. Inspired by the “old Hollywood” camaraderie and unified community service of The Tailwaggers Club, The Tailwaggers Foundation continues to champion the cause of animal welfare in the 21st century.