Passions ignite at Scarlet Tea Room with live cabaret and burlesque soiree

>>EAT

It was a sea of red (one hoped it would never part) for a few nights in August at the Scarlet Tea Room. A sultry, live theatrical revue took up residence there for Scarlet Passion, with music, cabaret and burlesque performances amid the tea-room tables and rounds of fire-engine-red raspberry lemon drop shots.

Oh, yeah, there was food, too. Selections from the new menu debuted, and are represented in the photos below. Also check out the photo spread, above, in Rose Magazine.

From top: Guests wore red to gain entry to the affair. Heirloom Capri salad. DelMonico grilled pork chop. Banana hazelnut chocolate strudel. (Photos by Sarah Reingewirtz/Staff)

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Because things in miniature are always cool: The Pasadena Model Railroad Club

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The Pasadena Model Railroad Club puts the model town in “Beetlejuice” to shame, shame, shame.

First of all, it’s one of the largest operating model railroads in the whole world and covers almost 5,000 square feet. Second, those itty-bitty steel rails — more than 30,000 feet of them — were all hand-laid.

Get a look at the details on these babies, below, and scope it out in person at one of the club’s open houses or the twice-monthly operational meetings.

As an aside, is it wrong to think the lilliputian peeps in the second-to-last photo are skinny-dipping?

(Photos by Keith Birmingham/Staff)

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That’s genius: Art Center students turn symphony experience on its ear

>>THINK

Art Center College of Design students have been thinking a lot lately about how to give the Pasadena symphony-going experience a fresh, visionary appeal.

Students in Mikio Osaki’s “The Agency” advertising class came up with a quirky “Magritte meets Dali” marketing campaign for the Pasadena Symphony that’s getting a lot of attention. It involves a fiberglass ear that measures more than 3 feet tall; The ear last week made its YouTube debut, and you can check out the video at Culture Monster.

Rob Ball’s environmental-design class also took on “The Symphony Project” to give symphony officials some light-bulb-brilliant ideas for attracting a younger audience and enhancing the musical experience as a whole. Their presentations proved to be chock full of that whimsical stuff only Art Center students would dream up. Read the full story on “The Symphony Project,” above, in Rose Magazine.

Below is a photo gallery, courtesy of Art Center, of the environmental-design students’ symphony presentation.

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Nightlife: Climbing the vine at Noir Food and Wine in Pasadena

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>>PLAY

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THE PLACE: Noir Food and Wine Bar opened not so long ago on North Mentor Avenue, a top-drawer addition to the developing wine scene in Pasadena. Noir is owned by Michael Farwell (also of Vertical Wine Bistro) and serves up small plates for noshing — the yin to the yang of its prodigious (and I mean, to be clear, mammoth) wine list.

It’s the kind of place you thank your lucky stars, as I did, to find open late on a Monday night.

THE PRICE: It varies widely, but it’s not hard to find a glass or bottle to meet your demands. You might imagine it should be so, considering the 14-page wine list.

Urged on by a sense of noncommittal adventure, my companion and I decided to choose two wine flights — a sauvignon blanc series and a ros series, $13 and $11 respectively. With the sauvs, we ventured through California, New Zealand and France, all for a price fitting a single, quality glass at most watering holes.

A highlight was the discovery of an exquisite ros — Pink Girl, Syrah Ros (Napa) — a crisp, juicy bouquet of fruit billed appealingly by the vintners to envelop, among many tastes, the hint of watermelon Jolly Rancher. Such sweet talk.

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THE SOUNDS: There’s nothing quite like ordering two flights of wine, followed quickly by quiet — but not imagined — rounds of cheering and applause.

That was my auditory experience sitting at one of Noir’s sidewalk tables and listening to the ambient noise drift over from the Ice House Comedy Club just next door. It felt felicitous, as though my selection had so pleased the carousing masses that I was given a hand.

Otherwise, it was a serenely quiet evening — a vacation of sorts — punctuated only by the conversations of people straggling out of the Ice House. If you were attentive, you could catch bits of their conversations, most reviewing the comedy acts they had just taken in.

On the opposite side of Noir is Boston Court Performing Arts Complex. If ever there were distinct crowds destined from both Boston Court and the Ice House mingling around Noir, it would be a most interesting cross-section of the city — and a quick way to overhear a handful of honest reviews on the latest performances at both.

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THE FOOD: I quite despise sampler platters — unless they are of cheese, and so I found myself ordering yet another fromage board and devouring mostly the whole thing, with little help from my dining partner.

For $9, we sampled Explorateur, Humboldt Fog and Bucheron cheeses. I’ve already shouted my love of The Fog from rooftops here to NorCal (and in this column), but I was delighted by the other two, also powerful soft cheeses, which are now added to my dairy repertoire. Perhaps now I will sound less like a broken record. Elevating that platter to mouthwatering heights were the accoutrements du fromage, including tiny rectangles of date bread and an oozing honeycomb.

Seared scallops with corn and shitake ragout ($16) were also shared, a lightly sweet savory — each mollusk divided tenderly again and again to prolong the pleasure.

THE VIBE: A tasting note: While you scour the wine list for your Duckhorn, your Sea Smoke, your Caymus — the familiars you give away as tasteful gifts at parties and weddings — you may overlook a little-known or unexpected surprise.

At Noir, the accent lies on boutique and hard-to-find wines in a come-at-able setting where novice and master can toast together and explore.

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AGE GROUP: The reach, like the wine list, is wide: mid-20s and up, with a sophisticated but adventurous palate.

BEWARE: Noir is quite small; intimately so, and not stifling in the least. Although the place was quite deserted on my late, Monday night visit, I could envision people spilling out the door on a busier evening while waiting to nab one of a handful of tables. If business takes off here, as I hope it will, you may find yourself coveting a reservation in addition to the wine list.

GO:
Noir Food and Wine Bar is located at 40 N. Mentor Ave. in Pasadena. Hours are 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Monday through Saturday. (626) 795-7199, www.noirfoodandwine.com

MY RATING: 4 — I am normally loathe to distribute “hot” ratings for wine bars and lounges. To me, the express purpose of their existence is to be smooth, slow, easy — set at more of a “simmering” level. And while Noir is all of those desirable things, I found the service (ask for Shyla) to be beyond exceptional and couldn’t bear to hand down a mid-range numeral. My guest and I were even treated to service by back-of-house staffers, including a causal encounter with Chef Claud Beltran. I suggest you, too, accept the invitation.

evelyn.barge@sgvn.com

RATINGS: 5: Really, really hot; 4: Hot; 3: Fun, loose, low pressure; 2: Cool; 1: Just OK.

Photos, from top: A Sauvignon blanc wine flight at Noir Food and Wine Bar. Noir has been open for about a month-and-a-half at its 40 N. Mentor Ave. location between Boston Court and the Ice House Comedy Club. A Ros wine flight accompanying a fromage board with Explorateur, Humboldt Fog and Bucheron cheeses. Seared scallops with corn and shitake ragout. (Staff photos)

That’s genius: ‘E.T., e-mail home’ and other adventures in deep-space Internet with JPL’s Scott Burleigh

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Scott Burleigh of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory is one among a consortium of scientists and computer programmers working to turn interplanetary Internet from science fiction to reality.

The deep-space Internet, which had to be specially designed to withstand the tumult of extraterrestrial existence, has already been tested by NASA and may be up and running for practical use on real missions in the blink of a Space Eye.

The new networking protocols that make up this Internet are delay-tolerant, so as to protect and pass on data even amid the regular transmission glitches that happen, for example, when a spacecraft moves behind a celestial body or a solar storm flares up.

The interplanetary Internet even has potential terrestrial applications that could benefit life here on Earth. Read more about them — and Burleigh — in Rose Magazine, below.

At top, an artist’s concept of interplanetary internet, courtesy of NASA/JPL. Portrait by Walt Mancini/Staff.

That’s genius: By day, Kjerstin Williams is a robotics engineer; By night, she croons a smooth tune in Pasadena-area joints

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>>THINK

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Kjerstin Williams is the second of three geniuses featured in Rose Magazine’s cover story. If you’re not green with envy over her day job — working with robots at Applied Minds — then her night job ought to do the trick: she’s a jazz singer, and a good one, at that.

With her pixie-blond hair and bubbly personality (we dubbed her a RoboVixen) Williams resides somewhere on the bridge between science and art — a spectrum that’s often at play on the Caltech campus, where science reigns supreme, but a musical subculture has thrived.

Williams has even performed at Carnegie Hall with the Caltech-Occidental Concert Band.

She harmonizes regularly around town with The Conspirators, a quartet of Caltech musicians. At top and below is a photo series by Jonathan Prentice of a recent session at the Pasadena Jazz Institute.

Swing along and read the full story on Williams in Rose Magazine.

Also check out Williams’ Web site for a performance calendar and to listen to some of her tunes. She’s already rolled out the red carpet for you.

For a firsthand glimpse into the playful duality of Williams’ life, follow her on Twitter.

Portrait by Walt Mancini. Performance photos by Jonathan Prentice: Kjerstin Williams and The Conspirators perform at the Pasadena Jazz Institute in July. Laurence Yeung on guitar, Jim Van Deventer on tenor sax, Jimi Hawes on upright bass, Michael Ferrara on drums and special guest Bill Watrous on the trombone.


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Meet the Rose Magazine cover artist: Zack Morrissette

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Theater marquee, below, and comic work, above, by artist Zack Morrissette.


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Los-Angeles based artist and designer Zack Morrissette created the Rose Magazine cover look, based on a photo shoot of Caltech’s John Dabiri, as captured by staff photographer Walt Mancini.

Morrissette has been working in the L.A. art and design scene since 1996 in a variety of mediums and styles — charcoal, watercolor, acrylic, pastel, ink and computer graphics, among them.

He studied at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.

At right, you can see the original photo shot by Mancini and, below that, how Morrissette transformed the image for the cover. The graphic design in the background blends inspiration from both Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” and Dabiri’s scholarly research on jellyfish.

(Read more about our cover story.)

At bottom right is an alternate watercolor painting version of the cover art, also handcrafted by Morrissette.

The artist specializes in comic design, and some pieces from his portfolio are displayed at the top of this page.

Visit Morrissette’s Web site to see more work by the Rose Magazine cover artist.

Top right photo by Walt Mancini/Staff
All others courtesy Zack Morrissette/Contributor

That’s genius: Caltech’s John Dabiri tells us why you should care about a brainless, boneless creature

>>THINK

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Rose Magazine cover subject John Dabiri is only 29, and he’s already racking up serious accolades, like this one from the White House, for his research on jellyfish. Dabiri isn’t a biologist — he’s an associate professor of aeronautics at Caltech, where he and his team study the movement of jellies for inspiration that has some surprising potential to change the way we live.

If you think the 650-million-year-old creatures only matter when they’ve got their stinging tentacles wrapped around your leg, Dabiri’s research would solidly suggest otherwise.

His analysis on the way creatures swim, pump and propel themselves underwater includes human-oriented applications in:

  • Underwater vehicles, particularly military uses
  • Wind energy and how it is harnessed
  • Mass mixing and movement of the oceans, connected to climate change
  • Human heart diagnostics, with potential for treating heart disease

Visit the Caltech Biological Propulsion Laboratory Web site to see some of the research tools that allow Dabiri and team to study jellyfish, both in the lab and out in the ocean, including a 40-meter tilting water channel (that generates waves) and some really fancy underwater camera and laser systems.

The animation below, courtesy of Dabiri, shows the movement and forces of water created by a moon jellyfish as it interacts with the ocean around it. (Photo above by Walt Mancini / Staff)

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