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L.A. Stories / The Roving Eye

L.A. Stories

He’s Game

Since launching his “Loaded Questions” board game in 1997, Santa Monica resident Eric Poses has put more than 50,000 miles on his Honda Accord, crisscrossing the nation to pitch his creation to toy store managers.

The game has players ask each other questions from a 528-card set to test how well they know each other.

The sales efforts have paid off: “Loaded Questions” is available at more than 1,000 retail outlets nationwide, including Barnes & Noble. More than 175,000 games have been sold for $25 to $30 each.

This summer, he plans to hit the road again to promote “Arbitration” a card game that forces decision-making in everyday situations.

Though games might run in Poses’ blood his great uncle is Bill Todman co-creator of hit TV game show “The Price is Right” and “Family Feud” he said his inventions are his own.

“It’s a fun piece of trivia rather than him having any direct influence on me creating the games,” he said.

David Greenberg




Modern History

Long the butt of jokes about loving to pave over the past, L.A. now has a pictorial catalog of all 700 structures that the city has designated historical and cultural landmarks over the last 40 years.

The brainchild of Margie Johnson Reese, general manager of the city’s Cultural Affairs Department, city arts manager Jeffrey Herr did the compiling and editing. It’s just off the press, published by Angel City Press.

Naturally, there’s the Hollywood sign, the Watts Towers, the Egyptian Theatre, the Bradbury building and all the other well-known landmarks.

But there’s also the median strip on Highland Avenue between Melrose Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard that was declared a historic landmark back in 1972.

Perhaps the weirdest of all is Historical Landmark 184: “Tower of Wooden Pallets.”

The collection of some 2,000 3-foot by 3-foot by 6-foot pallets, piled up on Magnolia Boulevard in Van Nuys, was erected back in 1951 by Daniel Van Meter, according to the description in the back of the catalog. “It purportedly sits atop the grave of a child buried in 1869.”

Herr said he didn’t know why it was designated or even why it was built in the first place.

Howard Fine

It’s in the Bag

Stater Bros. Markets announced the results of its “Best Bagger” competition last week, with Michael Hamill taking the top honors. Hamill, an 18 year-old student at Citrus College in Azusa, endured a months-long competition in which he was judged on speed, appearance, smile and grocery distribution.

“It’s really fun,” said Hamill, who said he has been training on Saturdays to prepare. “I thought I had a good chance because I trained really hard.”

Hamill was awarded $500 and two tickets to Disneyland. Last weekend Stater Bros. flew him to Las Vegas to compete in a national competition with baggers from other supermarket chains, including locals Ralphs and Vons.

Hamill sounded less confident about taking top honors in Vegas, but it’s not for a lack of trying. “I’ve trained really hard for the past four weeks,” he said. “We just bag over and over.”

Conor Dougherty




Bigger and Better

Not to be outdone by New York, The Grove at Farmer’s Market has erected a 100-foot Christmas tree this year bigger than the one at Rockefeller Plaza.

“Did I want it to be bigger? Sure,” said John Murphy, director of development at Caruso Affiliated Holdings, the owner/operator of The Grove.

The 100-foot tree arrived last Friday and was put into a 10 by 3 foot hole. Over the next few weeks it will be cleaned up, decorated and fireproofed, all in preparation for a Nov. 27 lighting ceremony.

Murphy, a New York native, was inspired by his hometown tree when Rick Caruso, chief executive of Caruso Affiliated Holdings, approached him about the tree. “It was a great opportunity to do something that reminded me of Rockefeller Center,” Murphy said. “Of course it’s bigger.”

Conor Dougherty

The Roving Eye





Washington Art

The painting might be an American icon, but for 200 years an Englishman owned it.

The “Lansdowne” portrait of George Washington is probably the most reprinted painting in American history. Anyone who uses money has seen the picture on the front of dollar bills.

And now, with a new American owner, the painting is coming to Los Angeles during its first tour of the United States.

“I imagine people are going to be struck by the size,” said Austen Bailly, an assistant curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where the painting will be displayed. Standing eight feet tall, the piece expresses a “moral, heroic look. And even though it seems staid and hard because of the wooden teeth the image conveys something impassive.”

An accompanying exhibition, called George Washington: A National Treasure, features plenty of other art and programs centered around the theme of the founding father as cultural icon. It opens Nov. 8 and runs through March 9.

Bailly expects heightened interest in the Lansdowne painting with the surge of patriotism since Sept. 11. But that’s not why the painting is on tour now, she said.

The portrait has traveled to the United States only three times since artist Gilbert Stuart painted it for the Marquis of Lansdowne in 1796. It has hung in the Smithsonian Institution since 1968 when it was loaned from the Earl of Rosebery and later Lord Harry Dalmeny in West Lothian, Scotland.

The Smithsonian bought the painting for $20 million in 2000 with donated money.

Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts kicked off the tour in February. Other stops have included Las Vegas, Seattle, Minneapolis and Oklahoma City.

Travis Purser

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