Category Archives: Reviews & Recommendations

Dallas Clayton Coloring Party

Yep, you read that correctly, a coloring party. If you don’t know who Dallas Clayton is why don’t you go familiarize yourself with some of his work, because he’s awesome and it will give you a better idea of what the heck this is all about.

My favorite photo of the day. That’s the coloring party inside the window, Dallas Clayton front and center. Downtown Santa Monica is reflected in the window.

(sorry about the shaky video, my hands and arms were not cooperating today)

Me & Dallas Clayton!

One More Shot & Making a Play by Victoria Denault

Do you remember when I posted about my friend Laura Stone and her wonderful book The Bones of You? This time I’m proud to introduce you to another one of my talented friends, Victoria Denault. I can’t even remember how many years I’ve known Victoria, but I know it’s more than I can count on my fingers. Victoria is fabulously talented and has started publishing romance novels. (Bad Jen for not posting about this sooner!)

If you’re like me, you’re a little hesitant when it comes to novels about romance. Too many of them tell stories where all a woman needs to find true happiness is a man to acknowledge that she has worth. Or sometimes all a man needs to overcome massive commitment issues is a woman good enough for him. Gag. (Honey, if he’s scared of commitment he’s not going to invest in the relationship no matter how “good” you are, and if you can’t find happiness inside yourself no man is going to be able to give it to you!) But I’m getting off topic… The stories Victoria tells are not that at all. Don’t let the classic cheesy romance novel covers fool you, Victoria’s characters feel like real people. Real people who, like most of us, are trying to successfully navigate this often frustrating thing called ‘life.’ Ideally with a best friend/lover/companion by our side.

IMG_6901(Click image to go to Victoria’s author page on Amazon)

You can read an excerpt from One More Shot here. The second book in the trilogy, Making a Play, was just released. Excerpt here. Look for the final installment, The Final Move, in December of this year.

Buy One More Shot on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, or BAM.

Buy Making a Play on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, or BAM.

Pre-order The Final Move on Amazon.

IMG_6902(Click image to go to Victoria’s website)

Victoria Denault loves long walks on the beach, cinnamon dolce lattes and writing angst-filled romance. She lives in LA but grew up in Montreal, which is why she is fluent in English, French and hockey.

Still not convinced? Here are One More Shot reviews from around the web:

Overall this was a really fabulous read and I must say I was shocked how well written it was for it being the debut novel for this author. It is a beautifully written story that is sweet and funny, it’s hot and very sexy but it’s also at times it has just the right amount of drama. Jessie and Jordan’s story was a really great and I immediately felt the connection they shared and the chemistry between them when they got together was electric. This was my first read by the author but it definitely won’t be my last and I will be adding her to my list of authors to keep an eye on for sure.
BethyMac76 on Amazon

One More Shot is the first book I have read by Victoria Denault, and as a debut novel it was a pretty stellar start to the Hometown Players series. … This is a book that jumps back to Jordan and Jessie as teenagers and for the first 50% or so the story is giving you the reasons as to why they have spent the last 6 years apart, and the beginnings of their reconnection. It was well paced; the developments and revelations from them both were spaced perfectly. … I often get to a point where the drama being added to drama just for the sake of more drama just bores me. Victoria worked the drama and angst between this couple perfectly, I felt a little frustration, a little empathy, and understood where both of them were coming from at points, I think the dual POV gave the depth to them, as you were given their reasons for what they did in the past, as well as their motivations for everything that went down with them as the story moved on.
Miss Claire L. Robinson on Amazon

I love second chance romances!!! One More Shot was a great combination of sweet, angst, steam and still managed to pull on my heartstrings. It was the first book in a new series and I have to say I cannot wait for the second book (about another couple coming out Sept. 2015)!! I loved Jordan and Jessie and really hope will get more of them in future books :). Steph and I both agree One More Shot is a 4.5 star book and want to thank Victoria Denault for introducing us to the town and people of Silver Bay!
Stephanie and Christin’s Reviews on Good Reads

I fell in love with this story very early on. … I really enjoyed this book more than I expected to and would recommend it to anyone who loves a good semi-steamy, super sexy, second chance romance.
Jaime Fiction Fangirl’s Reviews on Good Reads

I Am Big Bird

If you know who Big Bird is, you might be interested in this post. If you don’t know who Big Bird is I’d really like to ask you about what it’s like to live on a distant planet, totally isolated from the rest of the human race. (And how it is that you have an internet connection!)

Watch the trailer below:

Did you watch it? If you’re anything like me, just the image of Big Bird brings out feelings of love and happiness, innocence, nostalgia, and childhood. Like a lot of people, I grew up on Sesame Street. It’s not something I think about a lot, I don’t have kids so I don’t watch Sesame Street anymore. Probably the only time I consciously think about Sesame Street is when I’m listening to my music on ‘shuffle’ and a song from Sesame Street comes up in the rotation. Considering the amount of music in my library that’s not often.

In the summer of 2012 someone told me about a Kickstarter campaign to fund a documentary about Caroll Spinney, the man behind Big Bird. After watching a short video and seeing what the filmmakers were trying to do, I was “in.” I made my donation to the campaign and, other than the occasional e-mail updating me on the status of the project, sort of forgot all about it.

Well, it’s been a while but I Am Big Bird is now playing in theaters and available to stream at home. I finally saw it, and totally loved it. I wasn’t expecting to be so emotional while watching it, but I was. Truly a wonderful documentary telling a wonderful story. If the trailer above didn’t do anything to catch your interest then maybe your reaction will be different than mine was, but if you can’t help but smile when you see Big Bird, give this film a chance!

“The Bones of You” by Laura Stone

Well after my comment the other day that I’m not using the “reviews and recommendations” section of this website enough, I’m certainly on a roll right now! 🙂 I’d like to tell you about a wonderful book that just came out, written by my lovely and talented friend Laura Stone.

(Keep an eye on her website by the way, for the release of her book Laura is doing a “virtual book tour” with something new everyday including chances to win her book for free!)

I’ll let you know right up front that this is a sexy love story, so naturally sex is going to be part of the book. It’s so much more than that though, it’s about love and the choices we make for it, when to sacrifice for love and when we need to put ourselves first. And when a second chance is presented, do we grab on with both hands or do we look back at ‘what might have been,’ sigh, and continue on our chosen path? This is no formulaic “romance novel,” these are people dealing with real emotions and decisions that will impact the rest of their lives. This might be a work of fiction, but it’s been a long time since I have read something that felt so real. If stories with sex in them or stories with two boys in love aren’t your thing, consider this your warning to move along, nothing to see here… If that doesn’t scare you off so easily let me take a minute to tell you why I love this book so much.

The review I left on Amazon:

Exceptional story from an exceptional author! I read this book expecting a romantic love story that I could enjoy. I got so much more! The characters are fully three dimensional and fantastic, and not just the main characters. Every part of the world this author creates was so fully realized that at some point you are totally engrossed in these people’s lives and forget that they aren’t really your friends. The highest compliment I can give this book is that, where another author would be content to wrap up the plot and leave it as a “sweet love story,” Laura Stone uses that as almost a jumping off point to get into the heart of the story and start examining who these people are and what makes them ‘tick.’ It’s been a long time since I’ve read a romance story where I couldn’t see the ending coming a mile away, but this one kept me glued to the page the whole way through. I don’t want to say too much so as to drop hints about the ending, but just know that the characterizations, the plot, the emotions, every part of the story are all top notch. If you are like me the minute you finish this book you’ll be searching the internet for an announcement about her next book release. I don’t know when that will be, but I promise I’ll be buying it the very first day it is available!

Publisher’s Weekly said:

Stone’s sensitive debut reunites two lovers who were separated by both distance and expectations. Oliver Andrews is slaving away on his M.A. in Cambridge, Mass. When he opens an email from a friend back home in Atchison, Kan., he finds a video that delivers an emotional gut-punch. It shows Seth Larsen, Ollie’s first—and only—love, singing on a nationally broadcast morning TV show in New York. The pair had broken up five years before when Ollie, encouraged by his father, decided against following Seth to New York. Seth felt betrayed: he wanted a career on the stage, and the distance from Boston to New York was too long. But Ollie was determined to pursue his own dream of becoming a social psychologist, even if that meant giving up on love. With the support of their friend Moira, Seth and Ollie decide to take another stab at building a life together. Stone plays the relationship with restraint, letting it unfold slowly and organically.

RT Book Reviews gave it 4 1/2 stars and said:

A casual style allows you to slip easily into the complicated lives of Oliver and Seth as they attempt to reconnect. Anyone that’s ever tried a long distance relationship can relate to the unique circumstances. Their beautiful love story will bring plenty of laughter, and even a few tears, as these men grab hold of their rare second chance. It was appreciated that neither man was willing to give up his dreams because that wouldn’t have felt true to the love they have shared since boarding school. Oliver has spent the last few years focused on finishing his degree program at Cambridge, letting important relationships slip away. On a particularly stressful morning, he gets an e-mail from his hometown friend with a video attachment detailing the Broadway success of his ex. He thought he was over Seth, but hearing his voice brings the memories flooding back, forcing him to re-evaluate the course of his future, and maybe give him a second chance at love.

Our Wolves Den said:

Oliver Andrews was wholly focused on the final stages of his education at Cambridge University when a well-meaning friend up-ended his world with a simple email attachment: a clip from a U.S. morning show. The moment he watches the video of his one-time love Seth Larsen, now a Broadway star, Oliver must begin making a series of choices that could lead him back to love—or break his heart. The Bones of You is full of laughter and tears, with a collection of irritated Hungarians, flirtatious Irishwomen, and actors abusing Shakespeare that color Oliver and Seth’s attempts at reconciliation.

Carly’s Book Reviews said:

Seth and Oliver have a complicated history that started with their relationship in high-school. Tolerance is low in small town Kansas and growing up gay can be down right dangerous. Both boys have challenging backgrounds and have been hurt in the past. Their young love is unable to stand the test of time, distance and immaturity. Both Seth and Oliver have perused other relationships since their separation, but the attraction of their first love remains. An unexpected second chance at love forces each man to face the mistakes that drove them apart. While hindsight may be 20/20, it is also easy to fall back into old habits. Just when things are starting to look up for the charismatic couple again, history threatens to repeat itself, proving that sometimes you have to look backwards in order to move forward again. The Bones of You is a complex and emotional story that focuses on love, loss and second chances. Told from Oliver’s perspective, his internal dialog is raw and gut-wrenchingly honesty. Seth is a little harder to identify with, as readers get to know him through Oliver’s thoughts and impressions. The cast of secondary characters is dynamic and entertaining, often bringing much needed comedic relief to the otherwise intense story. While opposite in many ways, the two main characters have an elemental chemistry that struck a deep chord and kept me engaged. Well written and steadily paced, it is thought provoking in many ways and offers a slightly different twist to the traditional story line of rekindling lost love.

I’ll stop copy/pasting reviews from around the web now, I’m sure by now you’ve already decided this isn’t your thing or you’re already intrigued. I’m so excited for Laura and I want to the whole world to know it, but beyond all of that supportive friendship stuff, the fact is that this is just a damn good book!

The Bones of You can be purchased from Amazon in paperback or on Kindle format here, from Barnes & Noble here, or you can get it directly from the publisher in paperback or e-book bundle (that means formats for all e-readers!) However you choose to read it, I think you’ll love it. I certainly did!

You can stalk follow Laura Stone on her website, tweeting on Twitter, reblogging on tumblr, whatever we call it on Google +, reading good things over on Goodreads, or posting over on Facebook.

Etsy Recommendations

Well, I certainly haven’t used the “Reviews and Recommendations” part of this website as much as I thought I would when I started it. I’m going to take this opportunity to promote a few stores on Etsy that I think should get more love. (If you have any you think I should know about please share them in the comments!)

Roweville Retro is my friend Lisa and her husband Scott who make the most beautiful pens, fountain pens, pencils, key chains, and more. Seriously, go look at their creations, they are gorgeous! I am the proud new owner of one of their pens in teal dyed wood and I love it.

Public Quirks is my Aunt who isn’t really related to me by blood but is certainly related to me by love. Her store is all Christmas cards right now, not something I have a real pressing need for, but maybe you do… I’ve received many of Katy’s cards over the years and they are the kind you never get rid of, so beautiful and unique. Katy has the best sense of humor so my favorites of hers are the funny ones, maybe we can get her to put up some of those for sale. My all time favorite card of hers was a funny, geeky, Star Trek themed card. So great!

Cards I’ve saved over the years…

(Sorry about the crappy scans, they don’t do the cards justice!)

A random Etsy surfing find was LeCubicule, handmade, simple yet stunning jewelry. I bought this ring from her, with a custom stamped word. I love so many of her pieces, I doubt this will be my only purchase.

Stitch and Swash was another random Etsy find, and wow am I glad I found it! If you know me well you know I can mostly take or leave fancy jewelry or nice cars or designer clothes or whatnot. I like what I like and if I can have it I am content with it for a very long time. The one big exception to that is purses. If I became a bazillionaire overnight I would run out first thing and buy the purses, all of the purses. Everywhere. They might be my kryptonite, but Superman is in pain when exposed to kryptonite I think, and I’m just happy as a you-know-who rolling in you-know-what when in the midst of the pretty, pretty purses of the world.

Angie hand makes all of the bags and wallets she sells. It’s always kind of hard to tell just what the quality of something is from pictures, and when it is a pricy item it’s a bigger risk. I spent almost an hour reading her reviews before making my purchase. There were an unusually high number of reviews and they were all way over the top glowing reviews. It kind of convinced me that most of them were friends or family, but then I noticed there were no bad reviews, at least none I could find. It seemed like a fairly safe risk because why would you plant fake reviews if you weren’t trying to minimize the genuine not-so-good reviews? So they were probably real. I bought this purse and Angie worked with me to make all the tweaks and customizations I wanted.

When the purse arrived I realized my high expectations had been too low, and all of those “too good to be true” reviews were actually honest. This is the nicest purse I have ever seen, much less owned. The leather is great quality, and so soft to the touch. The zipper and hardware (always the first things to break on my bags) are solidly built and well connected. It feels like a bag that is going to be in still great shape 10+ years from now. The inside comes with a sewn in key hook and cloth pocket on one side. I had Angie sew in a zipper pocket with a cell phone holder on the other side. No more digging around in the bottom of your bag because everything you need inevitably falls down there. I picked out the leather color I wanted, the lining color I wanted, and even the thread color I wanted (basic black is my style but you can really make it colorful if you want.) You also get your choice of art designs on the front but I decided not to do any of those. They are all cute, but I want something that will be in style for a very long time and basic seemed to me to be the way to do that. (But go to her shop and look at all the colors and combinations and art she can do, it’s really great!) I’ve bought really expensive purses before, way more expensive than this one one, but this is the best purse I’ve ever owned. If I ever get the cash to splurge on a purse again I have my eye on a few other of her styles! 🙂

Well, that’s all I have for right now. I do far less shopping at this point in my life than I did when I was working, but I’ve come across these items that I truly love and want to share with you. I hope you check them out. If you buy anything let me know, I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do!

Poety Recommendation…

A while back I was treated to the pleasure of a visit from a friend I rarely get to see. She’s known me nearly all of my life. Although we aren’t the best at staying in touch with each other sometimes, I always smile when I see her name on my Caller ID no matter what kind of day I’m having.

This last visit she handed me two books and I was surprised to find out she’d published some of her poetry. I knew she was creative, I still have a battered and well-loved copy of a story she wrote and gave me when I was child, but it wasn’t something we talked about regularly so I had a brief moment of “oh, wow!” surprise. Then she showed me a poem she wrote about my Mom… I took a moment and read it, but tears quickly started coming and I pretty much closed the book immediately and turned the conversation to other things. Not that I didn’t want to read it or feel those emotions, but I didn’t want them to color the few hours we had to enjoy each other face to face.

I set the books aside for a few days, but then I fell into a sort of routine. Most days it takes me a while to get my brain up-and-running (no jokes please!) after I get out of bed, and so I would pick a page at random and read a poem while I sipped my tea. A few minutes of total focus every morning on one poem would help get my brain up and running, creative juices flowing, and in that ‘not quite all the way awake’ state I think I could really feel the emotions in each poem more than I would be able to if I was reading later in the day. Instead of focusing on what to cook for dinner or whatever items on my “to do” list were (or weren’t) going to get done. I stretched this out, treasuring each page and not allowing myself to consume them all in one sitting.

I love Susie as a person because she’s wonderful. I’m also a fan of her work, and those are two separate things. Susie has a special gift, she can really convey emotion in very few words. That’s something I’ve found very few people are able to do. At times I laughed out loud or felt tears in my eyes reading her words. She’s so talented. I will treasure these books.

Open Door by Susan Weinstein can be ordered here and Tertiary Colors: A Kaleidoscope of Poetry by June Gerron, Susan Weinstein, and Mimi Whittaker can be ordered here.

Venice Christmas Concert

Thanks to a wonderful friend, I was able to go to the Venice Christmas Concert last night in Santa Monica.

Now as a “nice jewish girl” Christmas carols don’t mean a whole lot to me, but Venice shows are just magical and the Christmas music is no exception. Venice just released a new double album (you can order it here) so the show was a mix of old favorites, new songs, and of course holiday tunes. Here are a few of my favorites:

Cool Me Down (with a holiday twist!)

(This is the song with lyrics I have tattooed on my wrist.)

Bad Timing Song (also with a holiday twist!)

Winter Wonderland (with a special Venice twist to the lyrics!)

An awesome tribute to Virginia Lennon who works so hard to make these concerts happen!

Blue Christmas (It’s Elvis!) (NSFW, hysterical lyrics.)

I put all these Venice posts into the “Reviews and Recommendations” category because I love them and I think you will love them too. If you enjoyed these videos, check out some more of their music. Maybe you’ll find an album or two that you love… Click on the photo below to go to their website.


About a year and a half ago I saw a video online. Nothing about that statement is strange, the internet pretty much exists for cute animal videos and clips of people walking into walls while texting right? Obviously I am over simplifying here, but in this day and age we are inundated with video clips other people think we “must” watch from facebook, twitter, e-mail forwards, you name it, that they tend to hold our interest for however many seconds we watch the video and then we’re on to the next thing that grabs our attention. This was different. This particular video was called “It could happen to you” and it really packed a punch. We’re talking ugly sobbing, runny nose, staying in your thoughts days later… No matter who you are or how you live your life I think everyone can relate to the love and loss and sadness and devastation, the raw human emotions playing out in this video.

If you haven’t seen it go ahead and watch it now, this post will be here when you’re done.

Pretty powerful huh? I still get choked up, even now. I don’t know any of the people involved in this story, I have never had anything remotely similar happen to me or anyone I know, but there is something about this story that breaks through right to the center of my heart.

Have you heard of Kickstarter? In a nutshell: it is a website that allows people to post ideas and plans for projects (of all sorts) they don’t have the funding for, and other people online can pledge money towards that project. It’s not a donation exactly, you get “rewards” at various levels for your contribution, but it’s different than say, buying a t-shirt after seeing your favorite band in concert. That concert would have happened whether you bought the t-shirt or not. I’m over simplifying here, but that will give you an idea of what Kickstarter is all about if you’ve never used it. I think it’s one of the best examples of how the internet can really connect us all no matter where we are. But I’m getting off topic…

The video had truly gone ‘viral’ and people who had long, legitimate Hollywood resumes wanted to take this story and turn it into a feature length documentary. A Kickstarter campaign was started. I remember bookmarking the link, and going back every day to see what the new amount raised was. If you know me in real life you know I don’t exactly have disposable income, but this project felt too important, too necessary, not to contribute. A little over 6,500 people felt the same way I did. It became the highest funded Kickstarter project in the history of the website.

The people who were making the movie were great about sending updates and keeping us “backers” informed on what was happening, but it felt like forever. When the film was completed it was shown on the festival circuit and won all kinds of awards. It even had a small theatrical release, and was shown on OWN on TV. Finally a DVD of the film showed up in my mailbox, my “reward” for my Kickstarter contribution. It was a year and a half later but I was as excited to see this story told as I had been when I made the contribution, and after waiting so long and finally watching it I can tell you the story did not get any less powerful in that time.

I tend to ignore the “Reviews and Recommendations” part of this blog more than the other categories, and that’s okay with me. I don’t want to recommend anything I don’t absolutely love so I’m not going to review every movie I enjoy or every band I like. If I take the time to blog about something though, you know it really means something to me. I can’t recommend this documentary enough. If you’re like me and cry at everything sentimental, grab the tissues. But it’s not strictly a sad story. Tragic yes, but something beautiful happens too. Shane’s brutal honesty is both noteworthy and commendable; watching him talk about the person he was while looking at the person he is now inspires me to want to become a better version of myself and do more to touch other people’s lives. I think that is probably true for a lot of people who watch Bridegroom. I hope it is. I hope this story changes minds and hearts on the issues of equality and gay marriage, but even for those of us who think this is a “duh, of course, no-brainer” there is always more we can do. Pre-social media and pre-internet no one other than those directly involved would have known Tom & Shane’s story. And so it seems the internet is good for more than cute animal videos after all…

Click to go to the movie’s website

Bridegroom is available on DVD and Netflix streaming. Amazon streaming and other streaming media services will also have it available.

Bridegroom Trailer:

When you watch Bridegroom stick around for the credits, my name is in there!

If you’re on Facebook you can ‘like’ Bridegroom here and Shane Bitney Crone here. If you’re a twitter user you can follow Bridegroom here and Shane Bitney Crone here.

Endeavourfest & The California Science Center

Does everyone remember when Endeavour was moved on the streets of Los Angeles to the California Science Center?  Here are a few of my pictures from her journey.

Can you believe that was a whole year ago?!! The California Science Center celebrated Endeavour’s “homecoming” anniversary with Endeavourfest October 11-13. The California Science Center is in Exposition Park which houses the Coliseum, many museums, a rose garden, and more. It’s a neat place to explore if you’ve never been, and quite beautiful.

Walking up the the front of the Science Center was a Dragon. No, not like the fire-breathing ‘princess-in-peril’ type, the kind of Dragon that SpaceX has been launching into space. This particular Dragon was the first one ever to go into space, orbiting he Earth in December 2010. (It also amused me that the signs telling you not to touch the spacecraft said “Please do not pet the Dragon.” In related news, I am easily amused.)

It isn’t long after walking into the Science Center before you’re looking up and saying “wow.”

But I was really all about Endeavourfest. We went into a big conference room and sat for a good long time. Despite the government shutdown forcing the cancellation of NASA’s participation in the event there were plenty of things to see and do.

First we heard from one of the filmmakers of “Three Days, Three Nights.” It is a 20 minute documentary on Endeavour’s 68 hour journey through the streets of LA to get to the California Science Center. Even though you know going in to the film how it’s going to end (spoiler alert: she arrived) you’re holding your breath as you watch some of the close calls and challenges. It’s a short but powerful little film, more about human ingenuity, inspiration, and doing the ‘impossible’ than a simple “how it happened” story. I wish it was available to stream or purchase somewhere but so far it isn’t. Hopefully this will change soon. I’m sorry I didn’t get the name of the gentleman who spoke, he was great.

Next we heard from Astronaut Danny Olivas. (An honest-to-goodness astronaut!) Everything he had to say was interesting but honestly I spent most of his talk watching the crowd. I can’t even tell you how much it filled my heart with hope to see how excited the kids in that room were. Little ones dressed up in astronaut costumes. Older kids asking questions about what it takes to be an astronaut. Questions about space and science and the universe we live in. Questions that showed a desire to learn and explore. I know it was a “preaching to the choir” kind of thing, everyone in that room chose to be there so of course there was interest, but it was so nice to see kids looking up to someone for something other than behaving badly on television. But that’s a rant for a different post…

John “Danny” Olivas is pretty awesome. Well, I mean, all astronauts are awesome. Duh. But everything I know about Danny Olivas is impressive. He was an aquanaut. He went into space twice. Go read a sort bio about him here. Go do it now, I’ll wait. Are you back now? Good. Talk about having the right attitude in life! Those were some great lessons applicable to everything, not just astronaut stuff. (If you didn’t click the link and just kept reading this I bet you’re curious now, huh?)

Danny Olivas wrote a children’s book called Endeavour’s Long Journey. An awesome friend surprised me with an autographed copy a few months ago. I highly recommend it if you have kids who are interested in space. I think if you’re a grown up you can use the “kid at heart” excuse, it totally counts. 😉

Now I should be clear, I’ve never been to the California Science Center before. Maybe it’s one of those things where you never do the things in your town because you live there and can go anytime? I know, I really have no excuse… I knew some of what to expect, but for the most part I was surprised by all of the amazing things there. Nothing was a cooler surprise than finding myself in front of a Mercury, a Gemini, and an Apollo capsule. Did you understand that sentence? HOLY CRAP THEY HAVE MERCURY, GEMINI, AND APOLLO SPACE CAPSULES!!!

This Mercury-Redstone 2 Capsule launched for a 17 minute flight on January 31, 1961 with a chimp named Ham inside. If you have 9 minutes worth of interest in the mission this video is a fun watch. (Click the first link if you want to know what those painted yellow symbols are all about.)

This Gemini 11 space capsule flown by Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon was in space September 12-15, 1966. It landed on autopilot to test the landing system. The pattern on the heat shield is from reentry when the outer surface vaporized from a solid to a gas. It isn’t centered because the capsule came in at an angle.

The Apollo Command Module on display was originally supposed to go to the moon as Apollo 18, but when congress cancelled the mission it was used for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project instead. Engineers developed a docking module to let the American’s Apollo join up with the Russian’s Soyuz and let the crews visit each other’s spacecraft.

Here is a Project Mercury Test/Training Suit. It is nearly identical to the ones worn in space by the Mercury Astronauts. (This one was made around 1960 for test evaluation and training.) The suit only weighed 20 pounds, not being designed for use outside the spacecraft.

This is the actual space suit Astronaut Ken Mattingly wore during an Apollo 16 spacewalk. It weighs 185 pounds (on Earth, that is) and has a life support system (the backpack) with 8 hours of oxygen.)

Moon rock. Actual rock from the moon! Sample #10017-9010 if you want to get technical. It’s on loan to the California Science Center by Dr. Buzz Aldrin. Maybe you’ve heard of him? 😉

Now we are at a point where I’m a little fuzzy on things. I tried to be good and take pictures of the signs alongside items I was photographing, but honestly I kept turning around and taking more pictures of the Apollo capsule. I was having a “ooh, shiny object!” moment, sorry.

I could be wrong about any of these, by the way. DID I MENTION THERE IS AN APOLLO CAPSULE RIGHT IN FRONT OF THIS DISPLAY?!!? Anyway, If you have better info than I have please share it in the comments.

Another awesome thing just “hanging around” (I’m so sorry for that) is Cassini. (Displayed with insulating blankets.)

1/5th scale models of the Hubble and Chandra telescopes.

Iron meteorites are only about 4% of meteorites but they are easy to recognize. I kind of want a side table made out of one.

Velie Monocoupe Model 70. The link tells us “The Velie Monocoupe is one of the first planes built for private pilots. Manufactured from 1927-1929 by W.L. Velie, an industrialist who had previously specialized in carriages and cars, the single-wing Monocoupes were built with a frame of wood and shell covered with canvas. The Monocoupe could seat two people, and its enclosed cabin, speed and flashy style made it quite popular.” Actually it tells us a lot more and has some awesome photos if you’re interested.

1902 Wright Brothers’ Glider (replica)

And now we get to a section all about Endeavour…

I’ve read in a few places that the question astronauts are asked most often is how they go to the bathroom in space. I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me. 😉

What is the ROSC? Click and find out!

How do you cook in space? Another good question! (Not as commonly asked as the toilet one though.)

(Did you know that salt and pepper are served in liquid to keep the small specks of seasoning from escaping? These are the things you learn at the California Science Center!)

Space Flown items

She may launch upwards, but Endeavour lands like an airplane. Which means tires. These are the tires from Eneavour’s final flight, STS-134. The main landing gear tires are only used once. They would get so torn up they needed to be replaced for every mission.

Do you remember when that guy had that plan to skydive from space? Well that guy was Felix Baumgartner and he did a freefall jump from 128,100 feet, rushing toward earth at supersonic speeds. It was a big deal where he broke a bunch of records and a lot of people (myself included) watched live online as it happened. (Oh and by the way, he he stuck the landing!) Well, his capsule and special pressurized spacesuit are at the California Science Center through January 12, 2014.

SPACEHAB modules flew on the shuttle 18 times, and the first and last SPACEHAB missions were flown on Endeavour.

All around the pavilion Endeavour is housed in are displays giving a little bit of info about each and every shuttle mission. Taking pictures of pictures has always seemed pointless to me, but there were a few that I did stop to photograph.

And here she is, the lady of the hour:

(The reason this post is so after-the-fact is that I couldn’t narrow down the hundreds of pictures I took of Endeavor into anything resembling a reasonable amount. Here are 15 of MANY…)

There was a Space Shuttle Main Engine at ground level in one corner so we could get a closer look

Fun fact from the website: “Guests who come to see Endeavour often notice that the flag on the starboard side of the orbiter appears to be “backwards.” But tradition (and an interpretation of the U.S. Flag Code) suggests that the blue field on the flag should always be pointed forward, into the wind, as if the flag were flying on a flagpole in the breeze. The flag is painted the same way on many aircraft, such as Air Force One.”

Of course a visit to the gift shop ended the day.

I resisted buying any of the models.

There were other things I bought, but those are the cute ones.

Good pictures to end on, I think.

We timed our visit to see Space Station 3D in the IMAX theater. I’m not a fan of 3D but I really enjoyed the movie. Here’s a trailer if you want to get an idea what it’s all about. Really enjoyable film.

Basically the California Science Center is awesome and you should all visit if you can. There were entire sections of it that we didn’t get to, I can’t wait to go back and explore more!

(Okay, one minor confession: while we did go to Endeavourfest and loved what we saw, there were just too many people for me to navigate. Every time I have fallen in public it has been because someone just wasn’t paying attention and bumped in to me. Even though I had the walker with me I didn’t want to risk a fall so we went back a few days after Endeavourfest to go through the Center itself and see Endeavour. The pictures above are a mixture of both of those days. Just pretend it was all one exciting day though, it reads better that way. 😉 )