Here's an update on the running of the bulls in Pamplona. Six people were injured, including a 73-year-old Pamplona resident, who was the only person who had to be hospitalized. The running continues daily through July 14.
Check out these photos from the Associated Press of the kick-off of the annual San Fermin Festival, with the launch of a small rocket, partyers spraying each other with wine and water, people jumping from fountains, and general revelry. The festival, in Pamplona, Spain, is known for the Running of the Bulls, which doesn’t start until Saturday, but the first day brought tens of thousands of people into the streets to celebrate.
William Faulkner, author of The Sound and the Fury, Absalom, Absalom!, and other books, died 50 years ago, but Oxford, Misssissippi, the town where he lived, is celebrating his life and marking the anniversary of his death on Friday.
Faulkner’s home in Oxford is now owned by the University of Mississippi. He is one of the few authors whose home has been preserved and opened to the public – think of the Hemingway House in Key West, Thomas Wolfe in Asheville, N.C., Margaret Mitchell in Atlanta, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings in Cross Creek, Fla., Louisa May Alcott in Concord, Mass. That’s not a complete list, but it’s a big part of it.
Scholars and fans will commemorate Faulkner with a day of events, beginning at dawn with a marathon reading of his novel, The Reivers, and ending with a twilight ceremony at the Faulkner gravesite. Read the full story here.
Photo: A statue of William Faulkner sits in front of the Oxford, Miss., City Hall. Credit: Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press
The Naples Zoo has got itself a pair of cheetahs, its first in decades. But unlike most new arrivals at zoos, this pair is retired. She is 13 and from Amsterdam, he is 12 and from South Africa. The Naples Daily News, which is the sponsor of the new exhibit, says the two previously lived at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, although they weren’t in the big public display. Their new home, which will open for public viewing on Saturday, is in the zoo’s northern gardens in a modified habitat with glass viewing walls. The cheetahs will sit atop small hills like ones seen on the African veldt.
Usually I write about travel by people, but this tale of a Florida black bear’s wanderings along the state’s Gulf Coast was too good to pass up. Read the Tampa Tribune’s account here.
Later this month, the world comes to Santa Fe. The Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, which runs July 13-15, is the largest market of its kind. This year, it will feature more than 150 artists from 49 countries, most of them selling art, clothing, baskets, jewelry, rugs and other items traditional to their countries. Ninety percent of the market’s proceeds go back to the artists’ countries and communities, sometimes paying for programs that will improve the lives of the participants and their neighbors. Read about the Folk Art Market here.
Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth 2 made its last cruise in 2008, then the fabled ocean liner was taken into custody by Istithmar World, the Dubai state investment company that had bought the ship and planned to turn it into a permanently anchored luxury hotel.
But Dubai’s economy took a tumble, and the Queen Elizabeth 2, instead of entering rehab, sat idle.
On Monday, Dubai announced its more modest plans for the ship. Its appearance will be kept largely as is, and about 300 existing cabins will serve as guest rooms, probably starting at the end of 2013. Read the full story here.
Photo: The Queen Elizabeth 2 in January 2002. Credit: Stuart Ramson/Cunard.
Universal Studios opens its newest ride today: Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, a motion simulator ride that, like the Simpsons ride at the same park, doesn’t go anywhere but might make you feel like you did.
Although the ride doesn’t officially open until today, it’s been operating for a couple weeks in a “technical rehearsal” and was often open to park visitors during that time. I got to ride it over the weekend. The whole experience, not including time waiting in line, takes about 12 minutes with a pre-ride video and post-ride dance party; the ride itself is four to five minutes.
The storyline picks up where the 2010 movie leaves off, with the same actors voicing the same characters. Gru is seeking to claim credentials as the world’s greatest criminal. For his latest evil deed, however, he needs more minions, and the human riders are recruited. We don goggles for the 3-D animation, get scanned for germs, and take our seats on benches with lap bars.
From there, it’s a wild ride to nowhere, the seats shaking and jerking in sync with the animation that shows a lot of ups and downs. Signs at the entrance warn that people prone to motion sickness shouldn’t take the ride, and the combination of movement and the 3-D pictures could indeed induce nausea. There are some stationary benches for people who have disabilities or who want to see the animation without the motion.
The ride has a warm and fuzzy ending, with Gru recreating the movie’s theme park, Super Silly Fun Land (and it feels like we’re zooming along its roller coaster) to celebrate the anniversary of the day he adopted his daughters, Margo, Agnes and Edith; he is a better person now.
The ride is cute – cute minions, cute daughters, cute concept. The attraction uses the new Infitec 3-D projection system, which produces excellent animation. It’s a little less jerky and a little less sophisticated than Disney’s Star Tours but along the same lines. It’s also aimed at a younger audience.
Then we walk into the next room for a short disco dance party with a couple minions, and from there into the gift shop, with minions, fluffy unicorns and all manner of minion paraphernalia.
Photo credits: Universal Orlando
If you're a fan of Los Angeles-style noir books and films, if you've ever pondered the disappearance of Elizabeth Short, aka The Black Dahlia, if L.A. Confidential is one of your favorite movies, then be sure to read this story by Sam McManis, who will take you on a tour of noir spots in the City of Angels.
The Millennium Biltmore, where Elizabeth Short was last seen alive, has built on that little slice of noir notoriety by inventing The Black Dahlia cocktail, with citrus vodka, Chambord (a raspberry liqueur) and Kahlua. This evening, I mixed a Black Dahlia and took it out in the backyard to enjoy as the sun went down. The verdict? The sweetness of the Chambord dominates.
Want to try it? Here's the recipe:
3 1/2 oz. citrus vodka
3/4 oz. Chambord raspberry liqueur
3/4 oz. Kahlua coffee liqueur
Tools: shaker, strainer
Garnish: orange zest
Shake ingredients in a shaker. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish.
From the Gallery Bar at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles