A little more from Paramount Studios

One highlight of the Paramount Studios tour is the Paramount Studios backlot. The backlot recreates a number of generic city neighborhoods that have been used in movies and television shows. If you’ve flown on United Airlines recently, you’ve seen some of the backlot in the airplane safety video: We also visited the (physical) film and video library, which staff were digitizing. The organization of the collection seemed a little haphazard—one shelf contained, in order, “Top Gun”, “Paranormal Activity 2”, “Iron Man 2”, “The Perfect Score,” “Ghost”, “Hotel for Dogs”, “School of Rock”, and so on—but overall, the visit felt like…

Paramount Studios

So, you’re walking down an unexceptional street in Los Angeles. Fast food, cars, some nondescript houses and buildings, and a curious-looking character or two. However, the view of the Hollywood sign and the large white trucks might give you a clue as to what’s nearby … as might the globe atop the building or the small but familiar logo on one of those nondescript buildings. Welcome to Paramount Studios! While we waited for the tour to begin, we enjoyed some history, including costumes designed by Edith Head, famous props, and (not shown) clips from famous Paramount films and television programs….

Critters

Australia has its share of unique animals. Kangaroos, obviously, but also the quokka (shown in the lower left photo), a raccoon-sized marsupial that is found only a few islands off the Western coast: primarily Rottnest Island, which is a recreational destination, and some smaller nearby islands. We found the kangaroos at the Caversham Wildlife Park, on the mainland, where they are completely domesticated to the point of eating kangaroo snacks out of tourists’ hand.  Domesticated kangaroos are lazy, unlike the quokkas, who are constantly hustling for food. The quokka in the lower right corner didn’t get that sandwich by being…

On the rocks

If you drive about three hours north of Perth, you’ll come to the Pinnacles, a desert area dotted with thousands of limestone formations. (Weirdly, the Indian Ocean is just a half-hour drive away, and you can see it from the high point of the park.) (Different filters on each of the lenses produce different colors.)  

Getting In to Bayon

This post should have come earlier … to get to Bayon, you have to pass from Angkor Wat into Angkor Tom, the formal capital complex of the Khmer Empire under King Jayavarman VII. Angkor Tom is a walled city which is reached via gates to the north and south, by crossing a bridge which is lined with statues of gods on one side and demons on the other. Each group of figures is holding a seven-headed naga along the length of the bridge. (Unfortunately, most of the statues on both bridges have lost their heads over the years, and the…

Ta Prohm

The final temple of the day was Ta Prohm. King Jayavarman VII built Ta Prohm to be a monastery and university, but it is best known as the temple in the Angelina Jolie film Tomb Raider. The temple is distinct for the trees with their enormous root structures growing out of the ruins, and—apart from stabilization—the temple has largely been left in the condition in which it was found.