El Phil Meets La Brea

In the middle of Los Angeles, as luck would have it, there are fabulous pits of tar. Pits of tar that trapped helpless animals who were not fortunate enough to realized that the liquidy substance they were traipsing through was actually tar, and that they would get totally stuck and then die and then be doomed to be eaten by predators (who not only ate you, but argued over who ate what part of you), who in turn occasionally got stuck and died, only to have Darwin come along and decide that none of you were the fittest of creatures, so too bad too sad you're dead, and then other humans would come along and ogle at your remaining skeleton. That's pretty much the low down on the La Brea Tar Pits (translation: "'The Tar' Tar Pits"). The tar pits hold preserved bones of many a mammal and insect and tree that existed about 40,000 years ago, up until about 10,000 years ago. Or, roughly, a time span that appeals to yours truly a great deal, because in my spare time, I'm a huge anthropology nerd. In a limited sort of way. I wasn't even aware of these tar pits until Robert brought them up as we drove by the street named after them. But that doesn't mean I liked them any less. Maybe I'm just like Marcus Brody from Indiana Jones, all full of knowledge but otherwise clueless about the world around me.

But how could you not love looking at giant sloth skeletons? And birds? And dire wolves? And mammoths whose teeth, when put all together, form an area larger than your skull? And camels? And saber-toothed cats? The list goes on (no dinosaurs, though), and it's all fantastic (even without the dinos, imagine that).

There was also a movie being shot while we were there. So I've now added to my resume "witnessed production set for a movie" and checked it off the list. I guess it's some movie that installs occasionally interesting and funny but otherwise one-trick-pony Will Ferrell. The movie, called Land of the Lost, involves some park ranger stumbling back in time with his two kids. And it involves the tar pits. And dinosaurs. Of course. Yawn. It's more like "The Land Before Time: 20-year Anniversary Remake of the Original Yet Stunningly Beaten to the Bush By Sequels Edition."