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March 2, 2008 | Cristy Lytal, Special to The Times
For most little boys, tinkering with model trains doesn't lead to a viable career. But for Joachim Gruninger, it laid the tracks for a life as a miniature supervisor and visual effects guru. Born in Stuttgart, Germany, the son of an engineer, Gruninger studied his father's trade for three years before a friend recruited him to work as a set decorator on 1985's "Joey," director Roland Emmerich's first movie after film school.
January 16, 2008 | David Pagel, Special to The Times
Over the last 35 years or so, Robert Graham has made a name for himself sculpting super-realistic bronze nudes.
October 17, 2007 | Eileen Blumenthal, Special to The Times
In 18th century Japan, the shogunate became alarmed at young lovers mimicking the double suicides they were seeing at the theater. What made the situation especially bizarre was that the couples were copying this behavior from puppets. For nearly a century, 3-foot-high wooden performers had dominated entertainment in Japan's commercial center, Osaka, overshadowing even the swashbuckling live-actor Kabuki.
May 16, 2007 | Sheigh Crabtree, Special to The Times
When "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" writer and executive producer Naren Shankar was a kid, he carefully crafted models of classic cars from the 1930s and '40s. Little did he know that several decades later, his youthful hobby would help him shepherd a seventh-season television series with a recurring story line about a serial killer with a penchant for building miniaturized crime scenes.
April 23, 2007 | David Haldane, Times Staff Writer
There are places in the woods where nature and civilization intersect to create a mystery. How else to explain the ceramic storybook bunny village that Mike Hazzard and Ed Schlegel discovered in the Santa Ana Mountains? Here, where there should have been nothing at all, was a scene the two experienced hikers found delightful and bizarre. "It's eerie," said Hazzard, 49, an environmentalist and outdoorsman for most of his life.
March 25, 2007 | Jeff Douglas, Associated Press Writer
At just a hair over 17 inches tall, the miniature horse is more inclined to walk under fences than jump over them. But her owners have sheltered the mare from gaining "circus-sideshow" or "one-trick-pony" status. As the world's smallest horse, 5-year-old Thumbelina, weighing 57 pounds, has a bigger mission: to raise $1 million for children's charities this year. Thumbelina's handler, Michael Goessling, says Thumbelina is the ideal child advocate.
February 25, 2007 | Martha Groves, Times Staff Writer
The Bonsai-a-Thon at the Huntington had barely gotten underway Saturday morning, but Alex Marien had already dropped nearly $200 on pots and plants. "It's an expensive hobby," said Marien, an engineer who lives in Upland and planned to spend the entire day in San Marino with his wife, Hedy, watching demonstrations by bonsai practitioners and browsing the bonsai bazaar, with its stacks of how-to books, hand-thrown pots and lethal-looking branch benders, shears and trunk splitters.
November 23, 2006 | David A. Keeps, Times Staff Writer
AS a host, Michael Rielly rarely has to cope with Los Angeles' least wanted: the fashionably late. Whether they are invited for cocktails or for a sit-down dinner, Rielly's guests tend to arrive early, clambering up the stairs from Mulholland Drive to Domus Solaris, the home that the late Pasadena architect Donald Hensman built for himself in 1975 on a weed-covered lot with a view of the San Fernando Valley on one side and the Los Angeles Basin and the Pacific on the other.
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