Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

Musical History | “I Only Have Eyes for You” @ The Montalban

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon May 30, 2016 @ 11:23 am PDT

I Only Have Eyes for You (Montalban)userpic=theatre_ticketsMany years ago, a friend of mine noted that the phrase “I Only Have Eyes for You” could accommodate putting the word “only” between (or before or after) any word in the phrase, creating subtle differences in meaning.

I’ll wait while you try it out. After all, I have only eyes for you.

An exercise like this shows the importance of where you put the emphasis when you write something. “I have only eyes for you” is very different from “Only I have eyes for you”, which is different from “I have eyes for only you.” Place the emphasis wrong, and your intent is trashed.

I mention this because yesterday afternoon we were at The Montalban Theatre (FB) (nee the Doolittle, nee the Huntington Hartford) to see the musical “I Only Have Eyes for You: The Life and Lyrics of Al Dubin“, with book by Jerry Leichtling (FB) and Arlene Sarner (FB), music mostly by Harry Warren, and lyrics by Al Dubin. The musical was well executed, presented loads of talent, and marvelous singing and dancing. However the story was…. creaky. It is clear that the emphasis was placed on the music and the singing and dancing, not on the story and its presentation. Those familiar with musicals will tell you that great music and great dancing can get you far, but what makes a musical succeed in the long term is telling a good story, and leaving the audience with some form of feeling.

In between all the songs from the wonderful Al Dubin song catalog (yes, this was a jukebox musical), the production attempts to tell the life story of the songwriter, Al Dubin. Arguably, the choice of doing that particular story creates the risk of the Mack and Mabel curse: how do you tell a story when the ending is a downer? Mack and Mabel had that problem because the two people you wanted to see together end up apart, with Mabel Normand dying of health problems at the age of 37. Try and feel good after that. In this story, nor matter how you cut it, you end up with Al Dubin entering a spiral down of drugs and alcohol, and dying on the street after having taken a large quantity of doctor-prescribed barbiturates.

Take the downer of a story, and add to it the creakiness of a traditional 1930s musical that tries to be upbeat over everything, and you have…. 42nd Street (which will open at the Pantages down the street tomorrow). More importantly, however, you have a musical that is out of date with the times. In contrast to old musicals that were designed to keep smiling through the pain, to keep dancing, to stay upbeat, new musicals are designed to tell real stories and relate to real life. The pains and foibles remain in the story. The tone and superficiality date the book of I Only Have Eyes for You. That, more than anything, is why I characterized the story as creaky.

I should also note that it is unclear the extent to which the story presented it truthful. Specifically, the book posits a World War I experience as driving Dubin’s spiral down. Yet a web search shows no such incident in Dubin’s life; in fact, the timing of some of the elements of the story as presented do not agree with the real story. Taking artistic license with the facts does happen, but usually it is acknowledged as such.

Lastly, this is a jukebox musical. That means you have to take songs not intended to tell a story, and somehow shoehorn them into to a story context. Sometimes it works; usually it doesn’t. For this show, that means that the songs that are performed as part of the historical context work well; the ones that attempt to propel the story often fall a little flat, primarily because Dubin tended not to be autobiographical in his tunes. Tin Pan Alley tunesmiths rarely were.

This doesn’t mean the show is bad. The performances and the music outshine the weak book. This is a show that might play well on the road, especially to the older theatre audience familiar with the music. The creaky book would limit the life of the show on Broadway; but with a two-week run, this could be spectacular.

The cast for this show, under the direction and choreography of Kay Cole, was uniformly excellent. In the lead positions were Jared Gertner (FB)  as Al Dubin and Nikki Bohne (FB) as Helen McClay Dubin.  Gertner exuded an easy-going charm as Dubin — you could see how his playfulness and creativity were there to take him far. The problem was that his personality was perhaps too bright and bubbly; his darker side and demons didn’t come across as dark as they needed to be to take him in the direction that he went. This might have been sanitization for the sake of story; it might have been direction that wanted to keep things up. Whichever it was, although Gertner clearly tried, the downside was more of a Foster Brooks downside than a deep depression. Gertner’s singing and dancing were uniformly excellent and just a delight to watch. I liked his rendition of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”; for some reason, I thought that was a Jacques Brel song. Bohne’s Helen played off of Gertner’s Al quite well. She was perky, bubbly, and playful. You could easily see that Ms. Bohne was enjoying this role tremendously. She had a truly wonderful singing voice, demonstrated in…. well, everyone of her songs.  She was also a strong dancer.

In the second tier of characters, we have Kayla Parker (FB)’s Ruby Keeler and Constantine Rousouli (FB)’s Harry Warren. Parker’s Keeler was great — a singing and dancing powerhouse. Just a delight to watch in numbers like “A Cup of Coffee” or “You’re Getting to be a Habit with Me”. Rousouli’s Warren was a bit stiffer, but still strong. He had a voice that was surprisingly deep, as shown in “Don’t Give Up The Ship”.

The remaining cast tended to play multiple characters or rotate through the ensemble: Valerie Perri (FB) (Minna Dubin / Monica / Ensemble); Renee Marino (FB) (Carmen Miranda / Ensemble); Jeffrey Scott Parsons (FB) (Patrick / Ensemble); Robert Pieranunzi (FB) (Busby Berkeley / Goldberg / Ensemble); Dominic Pierson (FB) (William / Ensemble); Elijah Rock (FB) (Cab Calloway / Bandleader / Ensemble); Justin Michael Wilcox (FB) (Simon / Al Jolson / Ensemble); Julian DeGuzman (FB) (Syd / Ensemble); Kim Taylor (FB) (Ensemble); Katherine Tokarz (FB) (Ensemble); and Karl Warden (FB) (Ensemble). Daniel May (FB) and Penny Wildman (FB) were the Swings. Notable in this crew were Rock’s Cab Calloway, Marino’s Miranda, Perri’s Minna. They each had essentially solos, and each was just great. Also strong were the male dancers: DeGuzman, Warden, Wilcox, and Pierson, although for some the costumes were a bit, well, ummm, let’s say “out there”. All of the ensemble were called upon to do tap dancing, and they did an excellent job of it. You don’t see tap dancing as much these days; I miss it.

Musically, the production was under the musical direction of Gerald Sternbach (FB), who also led the 10 piece band on piano. Working with him were Jack Lipson/FB (Asst. Music Director / Piano); Darrel Gardner (FB) (Trumpet); Ron Barrows (Trumpet); Ken Kugler (Trombone); Phil Feather (FB) (Woodwinds); Greg Huckins (FB) (Woodwinds); John Krovoza (FB) (Cell0); Adrian Rosen/FB (Bass); and Albie Berk/FB (Drums / Contractor).  These musicians produced a wonderful sound that did not overpower the singers. Orchestrations were by Doug Walter and Steven Scott Smalley.

Lastly, let’s look at the remaining production and creatives. I noted earlier that not only did Kay Cole direct, but she choreographed as well. Cole’s dancing seemed very much in the period, with loads of tap and lots and lots of style. It was very fun to watch. Jeffrey Scott Parsons (FB) was the dance captain. Hector Guerrero was the Assistant Choreographer.

John Iacovelli (FB)’s scenic design was somewhat traditional: lots of pieces that flew down or were stagehanded in. They did a great job in establishing the requisite sense of place; I particularly liked the drop for LA Union Station, which was very accurate. The sets were supported by Brandon Baruch (FB)’s lighting design, which served to focus the view, establish the sense of time, while ensuring what should be seen should be seen. Also supporting the sense of time and place were Debra McGuire‘s costumes, Marissa Bergman (FB)’s properties, and Judi Lewin (FB)’s hair, wig, and makeup design. My wife and I had a few quibbles with McGuire’s costumes: there were there aforementioned stretch pants/leotards that the male ensemble members wore, and which left little to the imagination; the odd blue top that the character of Ruby wore in the second acts that seemed more in the 80s; Carmen Miranda’s costume, which likely wouldn’t have shown her belly button in that era; and some blue costumes that got lost against a blue background. Other than that, the costumes were good. The props were effective, although I noticed at times they were a bit flat (such as the musician’s instruments). Hair, wigs, and makeup all seemed reasonable. The sound was by the ever reliable Cricket S. Myers (FB) — one really doesn’t need to say anything — her presence ensures a good sounding show. Rounding out the production credits in positions significant to the actors, but not obvious to the audience members: Michael Donovan C.S.A. (FB) [Casting]; Davidson & Choy Publicity (FB) and Chasen & Company [Publicity]; Allied Integrated Marketing & 87AM (FB) [Marketing]; Matthew Herrmann (FB) [General Manager]; Brad Enlow [Technical Supervisor]; Art Brickman (FB) [Production Stage Manager]; Tara Sitser (FB) [Stage Manager]’ Phil Gold [Assistant Stage Manager]; A Chandler Warren Esq [Legal]; and Corky Hale [Producer].

I Only Have Eyes for You” continues at The Montalban Theatre (FB) through June 12. Tickets are available online. Discount tickets may be available through Goldstar.

* 🎭 🎭 🎭 *

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre critic; I am, however, a regular theatre audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) and the  Hollywood Pantages (FB); my subscription at  The Colony Theatre (FB) has gone dormant, and REP East (FB) has seemingly gone dark for 2016. Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals).  I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows: Ah, June. Wonderful June. June is the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB), and I’ve already written about the shows I plan to see, as well as suggestions to the Fringe regarding viewing the audience as a customer. Our Fringe/June schedule is as follows:

Whew. July brings us back to conventional theatre, with Beautiful at the  Hollywood Pantages (FB) and the Western Corps Connection (FB) the first weekend, a HOLD for Grey Gardens at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB); the second weekend, The Little Mermaid at  Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB); the third weekend, Weird Al Yankovic at the Hollywood Bowl (FB) and Operaworks (FB) Opera Re-Constructed at CSUN; the fourth weekend, a mid-week Hollywood Bowl (FB) concert of Wynton Marsalis and Aaron Copeland, and … currently nothing for the weekend. As of right now, August is completely open. One weekend has a bar mitzvah, and there are a few holds for show, but nothing is booked. Late August may see us looking at shows down San Diego/Escondido for one weekend. The best of the shows available — or at least the most interesting — is Titanic from Moonlight Stages. As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, and Musicals in LA, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves.

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Memorial Day Stew

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon May 30, 2016 @ 5:55 am PDT

Observation StewThis has been a busy weekend, what with theater, working on the highway pages, cleaning the house, and hunting for a replacement car after my accident. But I do accumulate links, and they need to be cleared out periodically. Before we do, please take a moment and remember those who have given their lives so that we may have the freedoms we have in this country. Despite our flawed political candidates, the flawed presidential selection process, and the divisions created by entrenched political parties, we still have more freedoms in this country than many elsewhere in the world; many have given their lives to protect those freedoms, and to ensure others are free as well.

(pauses for a moment)

Here are the news chum links I’ve accumulated since my last news chum post:

Lastly, (a) remember to read and comment on my potential replacement cars (remember the car is for me and how I live, not how you think I should live); (b) remember that the Hollywood Fringe Festival starts Tuesday, and you should pick your shows now; (c) that tickets are now on save for November’s new Faire: Nottingham Festival (no word on Tumbleweed Township tickets yet); and (d) you have the ability to help Spring Awakening be on the Tony Awards.

Transposing the Matrix: Update 1

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun May 29, 2016 @ 9:11 pm PDT

userpic=matrixYesterday, I wrote about how a recent auto accident resulting in my 2006 Toyota Matrix being totaled,  and about beginning the search for a new car. That post detailed some of the requirements for any replacement vehicle: cargo capacity, not too big, being able to work with my iPod Transpod, convenient Aux jack, backup camera, decent gas milage. We have already visited Northridge Toyota:  that visit eliminated the 2013 Toyota Prius V and 2013 Toyota Prius from competition, confirmed limited availability of any used 2013 Toyota Matrix, and added the 2012 Toyota Venza and added the 2016 Scion iM [brochure] to the list.  Our goal is to keep the price below $24K before we subtract what we get from AAA for the Matrix.

Today, in and around our scheduled theatre, we hit three more dealerships to look at cars and/or test drive: Galpin Mazda, Robertson Honda, and Sherman Oaks Subaru. We had been planning looking at the 2013 Honda Fit, 2013 Subaru Impreza Hatchback,  and the 2014 Mazda5 Grand Touring and the 2014 Mazda3 5 Door Grand Touring. Things took a slightly different turn due to the availability of the used product, and we focused instead on new products: the 2016 Mazda3 5-Door, the 2016 Mazda5 5-Door, the 2016 Subaru Impreza 5-Door, and the 2016 Honda Fit. These visits did one clear thing: they eliminated the Mazda from contention. For the Mazda3, we simply didn’t like the storage in the vehicle or the layout of the power outlets and such. It wasn’t comfortable. We took a drive in the Mazda5: we liked the engine, but it had the same layout problems, and the Mazda5 was  at the upper end of our price range.

At this point, we have three top contenders: the 2016 Scion iM [brochure], the 2016 Honda Fit, and the the 2016 Subaru Impreza 5-Door. This is essentially the same choice we had when we replaced the 1999 Honda Civic. Yes, the universe is pushing us towards a new car. Here are some comparison statistics to help us decide:

  Scion iM Honda Fit Subaru Impreza
MSRP (Approx) $19,995 MSRP
$19,046 Dealer Cost
$17,525 MSRP
$17,246 Dealer Cost
$20,756 MSRP
$19,758 Dealer Cost
Image  2016 Scion iM  2016 Fit  2016 Impreza
Console Layout
Scion Console Honda Console Subaru Console
Trim Level LX 2.0i 5-Door
MPG 28/37 33/41 28/37
Engine Type DOHC 4-Cyl DOHC 4-Cyl DOHC 4-Cyl
Engine Size 1.8l 1.5l 2.0l
Horsepower 137@6100 130@6600 148@6200
Torque 126@4000 114@4600 145@4200
Weight 3031 2544 3076
Turning Circle 17.7 ft 17.55 ft 17.4 ft
Dimensions 170.5″ L x 69.3″ W x 55.3″ H 160″ L x 67″ W x 60″ H 174″ L x 69″ W x 58″ H
Cargo Space 20.8 ft³, 42.37 est ft³ with seat area 16.6 ft³, 52.7 ft³ with seat area 22.5 ft³, 52.4 ft³ with seat area
Fuel Capacity 14g 10.6g 14.5g
Passenger Space 90.4 ft³ 93.8 ft³ 97.5 ft³
Wheelbase 102.4″ 99.6″ 104.1″
Suspension F: MacPherson Strut
R: Double Wishbone
F: MacPherson Strut
R: Torsion-Beam
F: Strut w/lower L arm, stabilizer bar
R: double wishbone
Coefficient of Drag 0.3 0.28 0.32
Brakes Ventilated Disc / Solid Disc Ventilated Front Disc / Rear Drum Ventilated Disc / Solid Disc
Aux Jack Yes EX: No Aux Jack Yes
Special Offers 0.0% APR for 60 MOS. None 1.49% APR Financing on all new 2016 Impreza Models
Exterior Colors Blizzard Pearl, Classic Silver Metallic, Black Sand Pearl, Barcelona Red Metallic, Electric Storm Blue and Spring Green Metallic. Aegean Blue Metallic. Alabaster Silver Metallic. Crystal Black Pearl. Milano Red. Modern Steel Metallic. Mystic Yellow Pearl. Passion Berry Pearl. White Orchid Pearl. Crystal Black Silica. Crystal White Pearl. Dark Blue Metallic. Dark Gray Metallic. Ice Silver Metallic. Jasmine Green Metallic. Quartz Blue Pearl. Venetian Red Pearl.
Interior Colors Black Black Black Tricot, Ivory Tricot, Black Striped Cloth, Ivory Striped Cloth
Interior Cabin Noise
64.0 dB @ 55mph
“noise is still a constant presence, if not always loud” – The Car Connection
66.1 dB @ 55mph
“Road Noise is Significant” – Edmonds
63.6 dB @ 55mph

In terms of decisions, I think that right now I need to analyze the stats.  My wife likes the Impreza. I like the Scion iM, but I want to test drive the Fit and compare it again to the Scion. I don’t like how the Transpod fits into the Impreza.

ETA: Looking at the stats a bit more, I’m growing to like the Impreza. I want to test drive all three again, and see better how the Transpod might fit and how they sound at the trim level we are considering.

Transposing the Matrix

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat May 28, 2016 @ 11:00 am PDT

userpic=matrixOn Tuesday, driving home from the North Hollywood Red Line station after spending the day judging projects at the California State Science Fair, I was rear-ended. To be specific, a 1996 Honda hit the drivers side rear of my 2006 Toyota Matrix in the far right lane of I-5 just S of Osborne, near the end of the Route 170/I-5 merge. We drove off the freeway, exchanged information, and I called for a tow because I was unsure about long-term drivability of my car. The end of the day saw me at home (pissed), and my car over at Schiros Collision in Chatsworth. Here are some photos:

Matrix Rear End DamageAs before (i.e., when my previous Honda Civic was tipped on its side), I thought the car was repairable. As before, the impact of putting low miles on a car does not offset its age, and the car was totalled. To be specific, the repair estimate on the car totals out at $6,263.17 for parts and labor (PDF),  and the KBB trade-in value maxed at $5,300 and the KBB purchase value was between $5,800 and $6,400, depending on how the condition was judged.

As before, I’ve been pissed at the inequality of it all: The person who inflicted the damage gets off with some minor repairs (his car was drivable). The innocent victim gets to replace a vehicle that was paid off with something newer, meaning the insurance proceeds won’t cover the replacement 100%. This means having car loans again, plus having higher registration costs and higher insurance due to a newer vehicle, none of which was planned for.

I have the fellow’s email, and I have the urge to vent at him, but I know it will do little good. This is the fault of the profit-driven nature of our insurance system, which seeks to minimize payouts to insureds.

As a result of all of this, we get to go car shopping. What I’m looking for is a car priced less than $24K, 2013 model year or later (ideally), certified pre-owned if used. I want a wagon or hatchback (because I haul boardgames), but I do not want an SUV. The 2006 Matrix, which this was replacing, was essentially a Toyota Carolla Hatchback. I’m used to smaller cars: the Matrix replaced the 1996 Civic Hatchback, which replaced a 1981 Nissan Stanza Hatchback.

I also wanted to ensure it would work with my iPod Classic, could support an AUX (3.5mm) input, had a rear backup camera, got gas milage equal to or better than the Matrix, and had sufficient cargo hauling capability.

The initial short list was based on recommendations from Consumers Reports, and consisted of the 2013 Toyota Prius V, 2013 Toyota Prius, 2013 Toyota Matrix, 2013 Honda Fit, and 2013 Subaru Impreza Hatchback. Second tier possibilities were the 2013 Scion xB or the 2012 Toyota Venza.

Last night, we went to the local Toyota dealer to do some test drives. Despite the Prius/Prius V being at the top of the list, a test drive eliminated them. The Prius didn’t have enough space. The Prius V did. However, the “get up and go” had gotten up and went, and the car had no pickup. We also did not like the display and control layout. We also drove a 2013 Venza, and that was a “yes”: it is essentially a Camry Wagon. Very comfortable, very nice drive, and loads of storage. However, it lacks a backup camera (until 2015, it wasn’t standard) and has worse gas milage than the Matrix. That’s not a surprise, it has a V6 engine.

Visiting the dealer also led to one unexpected find: the 2016 Scion iM [brochure] (which will become the Toyota Corolla iB in 2017). This is the current version of the Toyota Carollla Hatchback (Aurus in Europe), which means it is a sportier Matrix equivalent. It is new, which likely means a 0% financing deal (which beats the credit union), is priced under $20K before taxes, and gets service covered for two years. It also drives like or better than the Matrix, has similar space and storage, has an Aux port, has a backup camera. In short, it is an updated Matrix. Drawbacks? Being new, there will be the new car depreciation, plus higher registration fees and insurance fees.

Over the weekend, we’ll be test driving the 2013 Subaru Impreza Hatchback. We probably won’t drive the Honda Fit — we’re familiar with the car, but it is hard to find used, and doesn’t have the storage of the Matrix Scion iB. We may also test drive the 2014 Mazda5 Grand Touring and the 2014 Mazda3 5 Door Grand Touring. One last possibility is the Kia Soul, either new or used. For new, we’ll need to see the incentives.

I’ll be glad when this process is over. I’m still pissed; my wife’s car (2002 Honda CR-V) was the next one to be replaced — and now that’s going to be pushed back until the cash flow can support additional payments and a down payment is rebuilt.

 

Waxing Nostalgic | Los Angeles Now and Then @ LACC

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun May 22, 2016 @ 11:37 am PDT

Los Angeles Now and Then (LACC)userpic=los-angelesAs Tom Paxton likes to note in his concerts, nostalgia is a cheap emotion. He subscribes to the theory (and so do I) that it’s OK to look back, as long as you don’t stare. Last night, I stared. It felt good.

I’ll also note that I’m a native Angelino. For those unfamiliar with that term, that means that I’m native to Los Angeles. I was born here, and have lived all my life here. This is my city, and with all the quirks she may have (which are many), I still love her. Last week I was in the San Francisco Bay Area (as an aside, did you ever notice that folks there appear to think nothing else exists: “the City”, “the Bay Area”, “the East Bay”). Driving and navigating up there made me, yet again, appreciate Los Angeles. I’m an LA boy, and I’m proud of it. You can have New York or Chicago. LA is #1 to me.

I’m mentioning all of this because last night I saw a love note to the city, of which there are very few [don’t believe me? Quick: Name 10 plays, movies, or musicals that celebrate Los Angeles.  Now name 10 that celebrate New York. Which was easier.] This love note came from the fertile mind of Bruce Kimmel (FB) — the man behind one of my favorite small musicals (The Brain from Planet X) as well as the man behind Kritzerland Records. It was in the form of a revue — a style of musical less common these days. Revues take a particular subject, and present a series of scenes and songs from multiple artists all related to that subject. It was a style that fell out of the popular conscience with the advent of the TV variety show. This love note was titled: L.A. Now and Then, and was presented by the Theatre Academy (FB) and students at Los Angeles City College (FB); last night was the final performance.

The focus of L.A. Now and Then is the Los Angeles of the somewhat near past. I characterize the timeframe that way because this show is not nostalgic for the earlier “then” — there are no songs celebrating the Zanja Madre, the opening of the Aquaduct, the bombing of the LA Times, the heyday of the Pacific Electric, and such. The audience that would remember those in the way they should be remember has passed away. Rather, this was a show that was aimed at the bulk of today’s theatre audience — men and women in the 40s through 70s that are nostalgic for the period between 1950 and perhaps the mid-1980s. The songs and scenes in the show celebrate that period. Looking back at the show (in retrospect, as the Lizards might say), I’m asking myself if there was a broader point being made about how the city has changed.  I think there was, and I think it is captured in the ultimate point of the song “What’s So Good About the Good Old Days” — namely, that Los Angeles was a much simpler and warmer city, and something seems to have been lost in moving from where we were to what we are today.

L.A. Now and Then, which features music and lyrics by Michele Brourman (FB), Grant Geissman (FB), Paul Gordon (FB), Karen Gottlieb/FB, Bruce Kimmel (FB), Shelly Markham (FB), Wayne Moore (FB), Adryan Russ (FB), Richard M. Sherman (FB), and the Sherman Brothers, and sketches and monologues by Doug Haverty (FB), Bruce Kimmel (FB), Bruce Vilanch (FB), and David Wechter,  touches upon the following subjects from the history of LA: Helms Bakery Trucks, Laurel Canyon Rock Music, the wide variety of place names, C. C. Browns, childrens TV hosts, the Pan Pacific auditorium, the surfer culture, the Disney studios, wrestling and the Olympic Auditorium, disco, movie palaces, the Black Dahlia, Uber, Hallabaloo, the Dodgers, Christmas in LA, the Sunset Strip, and more. Based on my knowledge of LA history, there were no obvious errors (I had my fears when they mentioned the Red Cars in the opening number). Did it touch on everything it could have or should have? No. I can think of numerous things that should have been included, such as the San Fernando Valley (the prototypical suburb of the Brady Bunch); the penchant for theme parks, especially those that are gone such as Marineland, P.O.P., Kiddieland, and Busch Gardens; the freeway culture of the city, including how we always say “the” in front of freeways; the Westwood of yore; or a paean  to the RTD. But you know what: they only had so much time, and could only include so much. They included enough for that quick look, and that’s better than the staring.

Being a revue, there was a wide variety of styles and presentations. The music ran the range from rap to rock, from ballad to bouncy. There were some particular numbers that have stuck in my mind:

  • “Weekday Heros”, perfromed by Bedjou Jean/FB, music and lyrics by Bruce Kimmel (FB). This was a lovely tribute to the live Children’s TV shows of the 1950s and 1960s. As someone who still uses the Birthday Cake Polka every day, this hit a nerve. The host that I remember that they missed was Sally Baker‘s Hobo Kelly.
  • “There Once Was a Building”, performed by April Audia (FB), written by Bruce Kimmel (FB). A very loving tribute to the Pan Pacific Auditorium, as well as a telling commentary on how LA doesn’t preserve its history when it can, but then recreates its image of its history — through the rose colored glasses of memory — after the destruction.
  • “The Whimsey Works”, performed by Robert Yacko (FB), music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman (FB). A loving remembrance of the Walt Disney Animation Studio and of Walt Disney himself.
  • “Every Wednesday Night”, performed by the entire cast, with music and lyrics by Bruce Kimmel (FB). A remembrance of the era of wrestling in general, and the Olympic Auditorium in particular. For me, the Olympic Auditorium wasn’t wrestling, but Roller Derby on the weekends. I even went one weekend with my grandmother.
  • “The Black Dahlia”, performed by Elle Willgues/FB, music by Bruce Kimmel (FB), lyrics by Adryan Russ (FB). A very touching piece on Elizabeth Short — the Black Dahlia — and the continuing dream of starlets with respect to L.A.
  • “L.A. Uber Alles”, performed by Robert Yacko (FB) and Michael MacRae/FB, written by Bruce Vilanch (FB).  An insider’s commentary on the Hollywood Foreign Press, and what’s behind the curtain of the Golden Globes.
  • “Christmas in Los Angeles”, performed by Robert Yacko (FB), music and lyrics by the Sherman Brothers. A commentary on the incongruity of Christmas in Los Angeles.
  • “We Look Ahead”, performed by Robert Yacko (FB) and the cast, written by Doug Haverty (FB), music and lyrics by Bruce Kimmel (FB). A very touching look at the changes in the gay community in Los Angeles, from the homophobic LAPD of the 60s to the acceptance and creation of West Hollywood.

The cast — under the direction of Bruce Kimmel (FB) and choreography of Cheryl Baxter (FB) — consisted of two veterans and a collection of talented students from the LACC Theatre Academy (FB). The veterans were Robert Yacko (FB) and April Audia (FB). The students were Jenny Bacon/FB, Sarah Barnett/FB, Paola Fregoso/FB, Alexis Jackson/FB, Bedjou Jean/FB, Prisca Kim/FB, Michael MacRae/FB, Kole Martin/FB, Shawna Merkley (FB), Lamont Oakley/FB, Kasper Svendersen/FB, and Elle Willgues/FB. I called out some individual performances above, but it was difficult to match things up during the show with a name. A few other impressive performances: In every number that Alexis Jackson/FB was in, she grabbed the eye with her performace, her emotions, her fun, and her dancing.  Kole Martin/FB was noteworthy in a number of scenes, but I particularly remember his wrestler from “Every Wednesday Night”. Prisca Kim/FB was also someone who caught the eye, but I particularly remember her real tears at the end of “We Look Ahead” — the song evidently hit a nerve and brought emotion forward — when then was conveyed to the audience through that tear. Very touching. Bedjou Jean/FB had very expressive face; in addition to the previously mentioned “Weekday Heroes”, I remember his face from his numbers in “What’s So Good About the Good Old Days”. Lamont Oakley/FB, did a great job on the rap number of the names of LA.  All were great dancers. Further, it appears that the entire cast was having fun, and that fun was conveyed to the audience.

Music was provided by the on-stage L.A. Now and Then Band, under the music direction of Richard Allen (FB), with Allen on keyboard, Randy Landas (FB) on bass, Ed Smith (FB) on drums, Grant Geissman (FB) on guitars and banjo, Dave Hill/FB on reeds, and Bob O’Donnell (FB) on trumpet. Orchestrations were by Lanny Meyers (FB).

As mentioned earlier, the choreography was by Cheryl Baxter (FB).  The show had a wide variety of dance styles, from the 50s and 60s rock dancing to disco, from slow numbers to fast numbers. All worked well, and were well executed.

Turning to the production and creative side. The scenic design was by Tesshi Nakagawa (FB), with projection design and sound supervision by Vern Yonemura. The scenic design was simple: some white walls, some risers. The sense of place or history was provided by Yonemura’s projected images, and they worked well. Also establishing the sense of place was Natalya Shahinyan/FB and Min Lee’s costume design. In general, the designs worked well, although there were some minor historical inaccuracies (understandable given a college’s costuming budget) and minor “support” issues. None of the issues rose to the level of distracting or problematic or “WTF?”. The sound design was by Alex Mackyol/FB. It may have just been our performance, but there was something a little off in the sound. In speaking, voices were a little muffled or echo-chambery. I believe this came through to the singing as well: initially, I thought some of the students were a little flat (writing it off to “hey, they’re students”). I then realized it sounded that way across multiple students and in almost all individual vocal numbers; given the odds were low of every student and professional being flat, I realized it was the off-sound coming across in the music as well. It was minor and didn’t hurt the enjoyment once I realized it for what it was; if the show was continuing off, I would hope the sound would be tuned a bit. The lighting design was by Jim Moody. It worked well to establish mood, highlight performers, and support the sense of place without washing out the projections. Remaining technical credits: Graphic Design – Art & Soul Design ; Production Stage Manager – Joey Vreeland/FB; Executive Producer – Fred Martin; Assistant Stage Manager – Eric Sherman; Assistant Choreographer – Heather McKeown; Hip Hop Consultant – Brian Drake; House Managers – Joyce Lakin/FB and Mary Smith/FB. The LACC Theatre Academy is under the direction of Leslie Ferreira (FB), Department Chair.

Alas, last night was the final performance of L.A. Now and Then. It was recorded; it is unknown if Kritzerland Records will be publishing the CD or just making it available to Indiegogo backers. There are also hints of a future life; I could easily see this show being successful at a mid-size house such as the Geffen, Colony, or Pasadena Playhouse.

* 🎭 🎭 🎭 *

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre critic; I am, however, a regular theatre audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) and the  Hollywood Pantages (FB); my subscription at  The Colony Theatre (FB) has gone dormant, and REP East (FB) has seemingly gone dark for 2016. Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals).  I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows: The last weekend of May brings the MoTAS Outing to the Jethawks, and for I Only Have Eyes for You at the Ricardo Montalbán Theatre (FB). That brings us to June. June is the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB), and I’ve already written about the shows I plan to see, as well as suggestions to the Fringe regarding viewing the audience as a customer. Our Fringe/June schedule is as follows:

Whew. July brings us back to conventional theatre, with Beautiful at the  Hollywood Pantages (FB) and the Western Corps Connection (FB) the first weekend, a HOLD for Grey Gardens at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB); the second weekend, The Little Mermaid at  Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB); the third weekend, Weird Al Yankovic at the Hollywood Bowl (FB) and Operaworks (FB) Opera Re-Constructed at CSUN; the fourth weekend, a mid-week Hollywood Bowl (FB) concert of Wynton Marsalis and Aaron Copeland, and … currently nothing for the weekend. As of right now, August is completely open. One weekend has a bar mitzvah, and there are a few holds for show, but nothing is booked. Late August may see us looking at shows down San Diego/Escondido for one weekend. The best of the shows available — or at least the most interesting — is Titanic from Moonlight Stages. As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, and Musicals in LA, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves.

June 2016 Sample Ballot Analysis II: State and Local Races

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat May 21, 2016 @ 2:12 pm PDT

userpic=voteAs I wrote in Part I, which covered the Federal races: My sample ballot has arrived, indicating that California’s Silly Season has arrived. For me, that means it is time to do my Sample Ballot Analysis. For you, it means it is time for you to read my analysis and try to convince me otherwise. Hint: I’m only going to listen to positive argument based on your candidate’s positions, not negative arguments about why my candidate or choice is so bad. This post will cover the State and Local level offices and measures. Shall we dig in?

❎ State Senator – 27th District

Our current state senator, Fran Pavley, is termed out, and doesn’t appear to be running for new office somewhere else. This has created an open, likely Democratic seat… and loads of folks have jumped in. The leading candidates are Janice Kamenir-Reznik (D) and Henry Stern (D). Kamenir-Reznik is co-founder and president of Jewish World Watch, an organization dedicated to the fight against genocide. She practiced law as a partner of Jeffer, Mangels, Butler and Mitchell, and helped run a law firm with her husband, Ben Reznik, for more than a decade. She’s also served as commissioner on several Los Angeles County commissions.   Stern is a senior policy advisor to Pavley, teaches at UCLA School of Law, and endorsed by the California League of Conservation Voters, California Nurses Association, and Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs. He is also Pavley’s choice.

Also running are George Christopher Thomas (D), Shawn Bayliss (D), David Pollock (D), and the lone Republican, Steve Fazio (R). Thomas is the honorary mayor of Van Nuys, as worked as a Congressional Staffer for Rep. Brad Sherman from 1997-2001. Bayliss is an aide to Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz. Pollock is a former child actor who played Rudi on the Bad News Bears, as well as being the mayor pro tem for the City of Moorpark and a long-time city councilman there. Lastly, Fazio is the owner of Fazio Cleaners, a retired reserve police officer, and a former member of the Los Angeles City Fire Commission.

Fazio states no positions on his website, but is endorsed by a bevy of Republicans. Thomas lists no endorsements. Let’s eliminate those two folks.

The remaining democrats have varying levels of endorsements. Pollock has a few supervisors, some councilcritters and mayors, and numerous educators. Bayliss has just a few, including Brad Sherman. Stern has loads of endorsements, including lots of assemblycritters, including Pavley, Waxman, Hayden, and Beilenson. Kamenir-Reznik is endorsed by loads of LA City folks, including Mayim Bialik.

I don’t think the district would be ill-served by either Kamenir-Reznik or Stern (or, for that matter Bayliss or Pollock). Going on the theory that, when in doubt, increase the diversity. Further, I think K-R is stronger on her position regarding Porter Ranch.

Recommendation: Kamenir-Reznik. Stern is an acceptable 2nd choice.

❎ State Assembly – 45th District

This is a district where there is a fair amount of spending. There are three candidates: Matt Dababneh (D), the incumbent who has been so-so; Doug Kriegel (D), who has lots of name recognition from being a consumer reporter on KNBC; and Jerry Kowal (R), the Republican trying to get a foot in the door. According to a Daily News article, campaign filings show independent expenditure committees have poured more than $350,000 into the race to support Dababneh. Keeping Californians Working, an IE funded by oil company Chevron, the California Dental Association, and the California Apartment Association, are supporting Dababneh. Other groups backing him include the California Charter Schools Association Advocates and the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians. Dababneh won the seat by just 330 votes in a 2013 race against a Republican. Fundraising is also lopsided: Dababneh has more than $837,000 cash on hand for the election, according to filings, while Kriegel has $17,000 and Kowal, 41, reports $2,786 in available funds.

Kowal is a strong gun proponent, and supports English only. I can’t see supporting him.

I was never strongly behind Dababneh — he struck me as someone steered into the position through Bob Blumenfeld. You remember Bob? He had this assembly district. He was reelected for his last term in 2012, and then promptly ran for LA City Council, creating a special election. Out of the 11 candidates for that seat, the war chest was used to paper the district for Dababneh. When the runoff was between Dababneh and Shelly (R), he beat her. At the normal election in 2014, the same contest occurred… and he narrowly lost against her. I don’t have a strong impression of Dababneh, other than he doesn’t seem to be working that much for the district. I wasn’t that much in favor of him during his first primary. I’m not in favor now.  I think Kriegel will be much more working for the people of the district.

Recommendation: Doug Kriegel

❎ Superior Court Judges

EWQ – Extremely Well Qualified > WQ – Well Qualified > Q – Qualified > NQ – Not Qualified

📚 Office No. 11

An open seat, with four candidates: Jonathan Alexan Malek (NQ), Debra R. Archuleta (Q), Steven Schreiner (WQ), and Paul Kim (Q). I’m going with the Well Qualified candidate, who is also the LA Times endorsement.

Recommendation: Steven Schreiner

📚 Office No. 42

An open seat, with four candidates: E. Matthew Aceves (WQ), Michael P. Ribons (WQ), Cyndy Zuzga (WQ), and Alicia Molina (NQ). Three well-qualified candidates, with Zuzga having the most experience already in the court. She’s the Times endorsement.

Recommendation: Cyndy Zuzga

📚 Office No. 60

This office has an incumbent judge, James A. Kaddo (Q), and a challenger, Stepan W. Baghdassarian (NQ). We have only one qualified candidate. LA Times endorses Kaddo.

Recommendation: James A. Kaddo

📚 Office No. 84

Another open seat, with the candidates being Aaron J. Weissman (Q), Javier Perez (Q), Hubert S. Yun (Q), and Susan Jung Townsend (Q). All are qualified. I personally know Weissman, as he is a member of our congregation and has attended MoTAS meetings. The times endorsed Townsend, without giving a strong reason why. Given that all are qualified, and that Aaron has loads of endorsements, I’m going to go with the man I know.

Recommendation: Aaron J. Weissman

📚 Office No. 120

This is another case of a challenger, Eric O. Ibisi (Q) going against the incumbent judge, Ray Santana (WQ).  Ibisi won’t say why he is running and has established no website. Santana has been out lately on disability, but is more qualified… and has no website. LA Times endorses Santana.

Recommendation: Ray Santana

📚 Office No. 158

Another open office. Five candidates: Kim L. Nguyen (WQ), Onica Valle Cole (Q), Naser “Nas” Khoury (Q), Fred Mesropi (WQ), and David A. Berger (NQ).  The Times explicitly disregards the NQ rating and recommends Berger. Additionally, someone has domain-squat the Berger for Judge domain and put up a blog advising folks not to vote for him. It has a private registration, so it isn’t easy to find out who is behind it.  Metropolitan News has a good background piece on Berger,  and it looks like the NQ rating, as well as the website, are the work of parties or parties offended by Berger’s Blog.  I was going to lean towards a WQ candidate, but I think I need to stand up for a blogger. There’s something fishy in the NQ rating, given the endorsement.

Recommendation: David A. Berger

📚 Office No. 165

Another challenge to an incumbent, Kathryn Ann Solorzano (WQ), this time from Tami L. Warren (Q). Warren doesn’t say why Solorzano needs to be replaced, even though she worked in her courtroom. Solorzano has the better rating, and is endorsed by the times.

Recommendation: Kathyryn Ann Solorzano

❎ County District Attorney

The incumbent, Jackie Lacey, is running unopposed.

Recommendation: Jackie Lacey

❎ Member, Party County Committee, 45th Assy District

We have 9 candidates (Cecile BenDavid, Elizabeth Badger, Raymond J. Bishop, Marcos Sanchez, Jeff Daar, Leah K. Herzberg, Richard Mathews, Scott Abrams, and Barbara Rae Rolbin) for 7 seats in a position no one really cares about.  Only one candidate (Mathews) has a campaign website; most of the rest have some information online except for Rolbin. Abrams was the campaign manager for Brad Sherman and filed FEC complains against Howard Berman in that campaign. My suggestion would be to vote for most the folks already on the committee (Bendavid, Badger, Bishop, Daar, Herzberg), except for Abrams and Rolbin. Abrams because his position strikes of patronage, and Rolbin for having nothing to inform people voting for her. That leaves space for Sanchez.

Recommendation: The incumbents — Bendavid, Badger, Bishop, Daar, Herzberg, Mathews, and Sanchez.

❎ Proposition 50 – Suspension of Legislators

We’re lucky. Only one proposition. There may be as many as 18 in November.

With respect to the one we’ve got, Ballotpedia has a good analysis.  The LA Times is against this. I’m not sure I buy their reasons; I see it as a tool that is available when necessary, but that when is rarely.

Recommendation: For Proposition 50.

❎ Conclusion

And that’s it for the June ballot. As always, I welcome your opinion.

 

June 2016 Sample Ballot Analysis I: Federal Races

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat May 21, 2016 @ 11:40 am PDT

userpic=nixonMy sample ballot has arrived, indicating that California’s Silly Season has arrived. For me, that means it is time to do my Sample Ballot Analysis. For you, it means it is time for you to read my analysis and try to convince me otherwise. Hint: I’m only going to listen to positive argument based on your candidate’s positions, not negative arguments about why my candidate or choice is so bad. This post will cover the Federal level offices; a subsequent post will address the rest. Shall we dig in?

❎ President

I’m a registered Democrat, meaning that Republicans are off the table (and off my ballot, at least for the primary). I’m also simply ignoring the candidates who haven’t made any media inroads: Willie Wilson, Roque De Le Fuente, Henry Hewes, Keith Judd, and Michael Steinberg. They have no chance of winning the nomination, and no chance of influencing the platform.

That narrows the field to two: Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. If you’ve read my previous long posts (“Election Decisions”, “Presidential Musings, Take 2 (Updated)”), you should know where this is going. I’m with Hillary.

First, let’s start with the negatives. Hillary has a load of them. However, in the scheme of things, they are minor. For most of them, if you believe them, you have drunk the GOP Kool-Aide (so to speak) — you are rewarding 25 years of GOP attempts to smear the Clinton family over minor issues. Hillary hating has become a hysteria that is not based in reality. Here’s a great quote from that last article: «Every single accusation is trivial. Petty. Penny-ante. Yes, even the business about Clinton’s private email server. And especially the septic tank full of hyped-up, conspiracy-laden nonsense that goes by the name of “Benghazi.” […] In an ideal political world, all administrations would be as clean as Obama’s. But as the events of this election cycle have demonstrated quite vividly, this is most emphatically not an ideal political world — and in the deeply troubling world we do inhabit, the prospect of a president dogged by minor scandals shouldn’t distract us from the far higher stakes involved in the upcoming election.»

The stakes are high. This is not a place for on-the-job training, even if you surround yourself with experts. Trump certainly does not have the experience. Bernie does not have the experience (especially in Foreign Policy). The LA Times said it best: «For all her faults, Hillary Clinton is vastly better prepared than Bernie Sanders for the presidency». In particular, the LA Times noted: «Sanders lacks the experience and broad understanding of domestic and (especially) foreign policy that the former secretary of state would bring to the presidency. Although Sanders has tapped into very real and widespread anxieties about economic inequality, deindustrialization and stagnant economic growth, his prescriptions are too often simplistic, more costly than he would have us believe and unlikely to come to pass.». That last point is true: Sanders proposals would increase the Federal Debt by 18 Trillion, and not provide improved benefits. Such an increase in the debt would have significant impacts on the nation.

Clinton and Sanders are congruent on most of their positions. As for Hillary’s positions, I tend to agree with them. I even agree that the military budget is required: this is especially true when you realize that most of that budget doesn’t go to bombs and guns, but to people. The engineering behind them and other advanced technology, and to our warfighters. In many ways, the DOD is the best job program — especially for well-paying white collar jobs — in the Nation. It also is one of the few programs that encourages people to go into technology fields, and encourages research into technologies on the edge. Cut that back, and imagine what happens to unemployment.

Now: With respect to Sanders, I think he is a good man with good ideas. As President, he wouldn’t get those ideas through — he doesn’t have the skill to persuade Congress — especially a strong Republican Congress. Should he drop out? That’s his decision, and I understand why he is staying in. After all, Hillary did in 2008. It provides him with the ability to influence the Democratic Platform, and that will have a significant impact for years to come. He will return to the senate with vastly more power, and will be a tireless advocate for his positions there. If you wish to vote for Bernie based on his positions, go for it. If you are voting for Bernie solely based on the fact that he isn’t Hillary, then I suggest you rethink your position. Don’t believe the smears. Examine her positions.

What is most important is after the Primary. Non-partisans and Democrats, as well as Republicans who love this country, must come together to make sure that Donald Trump does not win. We need experience. We need diplomacy. We need someone who understands the complexities of decisions. We need someone who will pick reasonable Supreme Court justices, as there will be multiple openings.

Recommendation: Hillary Clinton

❎ United States Senate

Thanks to California’s open primary rule, there are 34 candidates for State Senate. 30-frigging-4. That is so many that there are worries about ballot confusion, as the candidates are spread across two pages. Let’s see if we can separate the dregs from the fine wine.

According to the LA Times, the top candidates are: Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez on the (D) side, Tom Del Beccaro and George “Duf” Sundheim on the (R) side. I’ll add Ron Unz (R) and  Gail K. Lightfoot (L) (as they both have name recognition).

As for the rest, they are extremely unlikely to make it past the primary. Let’s escort Phil Wyman (R), Jarrell Williamson (R), Greg Conlon (R), Jason Kraus (-), Don Krampe (R), Mark Matthew Herd (L), Von Hougo (R), Jason Hanania (-), Gar Myers (-), Paul Merritt (-), Massie Munroe (D), Eleanor Garcia (-/Socialist Workers), Tim Gildersleeve (-), Clive Grey (-), Don J. Grundmann (-), President Christina Grappo (D), Herbert G. Peters (D), Tom Palzer (R), John Thompson Parker (P&F), Karen Roseberry (R), Emory Rodgers (D), George C. Yang (D), Jerry J. Laws (R), Mike Beitiks (-), Pamela Elizondo (G), Scott A. Vineberg (-), Steve Stokes (D), and Ling Ling Shi (-) off the stage. Some may have reasonable position, and from seeing their pages, many are kooks. All are extremely unlikely to have a change in their status over the next three weeks. I’ve attempted to link to their pages; if you think they are worth considering, let me know.

Let’s look at the remaining candidates, from least to most likely. We’ll start with Gail K. Lightfoot (L). She’s a basic minimal government libertarian, wanted to cut back the government to specific constitutionally enumerated powers. On the surface, this seems good. When you read deeper, problems emerge. Her approach minimizes foreign policy and depends on NGOs — an approach similar to depending on donations and churches to protect the poorest in society. She does not believe in taxation, and would get the government out of social welfare and healthcare.  She doesn’t want experts in government. Although I agree with some of her positions, I think she goes to far for my taste. I tend to believe that only government can balance the greed of business. Much as we believe people will do good when unfettered, that hasn’t been borne out in practice. So, given that a key (L) tenant is that people will do the right thing if the government lets them, I can’t support their position. Just. Doesn’t. Work.

This brings us to the top 3 Republican candidates: Ron Unz, Tom Del Beccaro and George “Duf” Sundheim. Realistically, in California, they don’t stand a chance unless the Democrats split their vote too much.  Let’s start with Unz, and why he’s on the ballot. According to his page: «I entered this race because the worthless Republicans in the California Legislature wholeheartedly supported the repeal of my 1998 Prop. 227 “English for the Children” initiative.» Unz believes in “English Only”, fighting immigration, and fighting affirmative action. Other than that, his positions seem remarkably … liberatarian. They also seem a lot like Sanders: Raise the minimum wage. Get out of Iraq. Dismantle Wall Street. Given California, he might have a chance if he could get a listen, especially from those who like Trump.  I could see myself supporting many of his ideas, if it wasn’t for his anti-immigration, English-only, stance. I’ll note that it is refreshing that his page makes no demands on social issues, and does not attempt to bash Obama or his accomplishments.

Tom Del Beccaro strongly supports a flat tax (which tends to hurt the poor proportionately more), is a strong supporter of private gun ownership, and believes that immigration is our biggest national security threat.  He wants to end divisiveness in the Senate, and work to eliminate tax loopholes by moving to the flat tax. What’s interesting is what isn’t on his website: social issues, church and state, his position on the military. Knowing his party affiliation, I’m very very suspicious — especially as he is currently chair of the California Republican Party.

George “Duf” Sundheim comes right out of the door using the “Second Amendment” codewords. He talks about extreme left politicians, lowering marginal tax rates, eliminating loopholes. He wants a strong military and endorses intelligence efforts.  He believes in offensive cybersecurity, as demonstrated by his statement: «technology must be thought of as a defensive and offensive priority.  As much as we should try to plug every hole in our technology network, we will never be able to do so.  People who try to undermine our network need to understand the price they will pay if they try.» He is strongly against the front-runner, Kamala Harris. There is no mention of his positions on social issues, or Obama’s accomplishments. He opposes the minimum wage increase. The Fresno Bee notes that Sundheim is “not willing to wage culture war over a woman’s right to choose, immigration, higher wages or climate change”, and supports the nomination of Garland

This brings us to the two Democratic front-runners.

Loretta Sanchez is very similar to Kamala Harris in terms of the issues. Very few of the articles I could find highlighted different issues positions. Where they differ is in style. The Sacramento Bee captures the contrast well: «Harris comes off as a 21st-century aristocrat – poised, disciplined, distant. Born and raised in the Bay Area by two academics who also were immigrants, she graduated from Howard University (the “Black Harvard”). In this, she’s representative of the rising Bay Area, an upper-middle-class island of advanced education in a struggling state. Sanchez was born in Lynwood, a poor city in southern Los Angeles County, and graduated from high school in working-class Anaheim. One of seven children born to Mexican immigrants, a machinist and a secretary, she earned her degree from Chapman, an underdog college that more recently gained renown. She represents a Southern California that has become more working-class, with education levels stagnant, median income falling and fewer payroll jobs than two decades ago.» That difference in style leads to a difference in effectiveness, and Sanchez has a reputation in the style of Ted Cruz, whereas Harris is more polished. The lack of polish leads Sanchez into more gaffes and political landmines.  Sanchez has more legislative experience than Harris, which can be significant in the Senate.

Making the recommendation is a hard decision. Unz has some good positions, and would be strong choice for those with Libertarian leanings. If it wasn’t for his immigration and English stances, I could see supporting him. I don’t like Del Beccaro — I think he is too tied to the Republican establishment. Sundheim seems to be a Republican that is acceptable to California — i.e., a moderate. I think he could put up a real battle against a Democratic candidate… but would his positions remain the same under pressure from Republican senate leadership? As for Harris vs. Sanchez. I like Sanchez in many ways: she’s a voice for Southern California (which is needed to offset Feinstein), she’s Latina, representing a growing segment of the state. She has legislative experience. Harris is more careful and measured, and might be the stronger candidate in the general election if running against a Republican. This is especially true against a Republican that might use Sanchez’s style and gaffes against her. Harris is like Clinton, and has quite a few negatives.

Recommendation: Loretta Sanchez, at least at the present time.

❎ United States Representative, 30th District

In our district, we have the current incumbent, Brad Sherman (D), facing off against 7 lesser-known candidates, where only two previous Republican candidates have any sort of name recognition: Mark Reed (R) and Navraj Singh (R). The remaining 5 you’ve probably never heard of are Luke Davis (D), Patrea Patrick (D), A. (Raji) Rab (D), and Christopher David Townsend (R).

As before, let’s look at the Republicans first. Mark Reed (R) hammers — rightfully so — on Sherman being late to the party with respect to the difficulties in Porter Ranch. But Reed also opposes the ACA. Reed is strongly for Israel. He is strongly backed by the Republican Party.  Navraj Singh (R) is running again, after running into ethics violations with his last campaign. He thinks we are in the worst economy in years, and views the ACA as socialistic. Christopher David Townsend (R) opposes the ACA, and wants to eliminate Welfare. Looking at their web pages, the best of the bunch is Reed. He has a professional website (something Townsend lacks), and no issues with ethics violations (a Singh problem). But Reed still has a major issue — that (R) behind his name that would lead him to support issues from the (R) coalition.

Turning to the democratic side: Brad Sherman is entrenched, meaning he has better committee positions than a clueless newbie. The other candidates would need to be significantly stronger to override the power of seniority. Luke Davis is a tech candidate, a founder of PlaceAVote.Com, which allows anyone on the Internet to vote on issues before Congress. He seems to have no positions of his own. Patrea Patrick has a position very much in line with Bernie Sanders. Looking at her page, if I was a Sanders voter, I might go for her (in fact, she endorses Sanders on her page). A. (Raji) Rab has the basic Democratic positions, but doesn’t distinguish himself enough from Sherman to make it worth the change.

As for Sherman, I generally agree with his issues. He also has seniority.

Recommendation: Brad Sherman. If you are a Sanders voter, I could understand a vote for Patrea Patrick. Such a vote could help move Sanders agenda program, which needs to start in the house. I don’t really like any of the (R) candidates, but Reed is perhaps the best of the bunch.

❎ Coming Up

Thus ends the first part. The second half of this will focus on the state legislative races, the county commission, judicial races, and the one ballot proposition.

Technology Tricking You

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue May 17, 2016 @ 7:08 am PDT

userpic=toshibaTechnology is sometimes straight-forward. Sometimes, however, it befuddles you and doesn’t do what you want. Here’s are some articles about some useful things to know, in advance:

  • The 7-10 Split. You’re on Windows 7. You’re not sure if you want to move to Windows 10. First, you should know  that some updates from Microsoft can bork your Windows 7 installation, especially if you have an ASUS motherboard. Assuming you survive that, next comes the update question: Move to Windows 10 or not. Here’s one way to lock in that free upgrade, and still stay on Windows 7. Of course, it involves moving to Windows 10 and then backing it out. Of course, you might not have a choice. It appears that Microsoft is forcing people to move to Windows 10 by scheduling the updates without telling them. Forewarded is forearmed. Watch closely to see how to avoid it. Further, the article confirms why Microsoft is pushing Windows 10 so hard, and why it is free. The answer: It is that old adage: if you get it for free, you are not the customer, you are the product. From the article: “When Microsoft created Windows 10, it tied in numerous monitoring and data collection tools. The operating system is capable of gathering your search history, web usage, Windows Store usage, details of what applications you use, voice recordings, emails, geographic information and just about anything else that is on your PC. This information is gathered in part for improving Windows-based services, but it is also used for market research and advertising purposes. Because each user on Windows 10 increases the amount of advertising information available to Microsoft, which in turn enables Microsoft to earn more revenue from selling this data, it is not surprising that Microsoft wants everyone to use its new OS.” In a related note, Microsoft is adding more ads to the Windows 10 Start screen that you can’t remove.
  • Booting from USB. If you get hit by malware, you might need to boot from a USB drive. The problem is: it’s not always that easy. Here’s how to boot from a USB drive. It is not as easy as it was in the old days, when you could boot from a floppy (or in some cases, a CD). Today’s PCs come with a lot of protection—which is good—but it can get in the way. Somewhere in your BIOS setup screen, you’ll almost certainly find a Secure Boot option. If you can’t boot from a flash drive, turn it off. UEFI can also be a problem. Finally, most of today’s PCs boot immediately from the internal hard drive or SSD, without looking for bootable external media first. You have to do something special to make them look, and what you have to do depends on your PC.
  • When “Buy Now” Isn’t. When you go to Amazon or iTunes and click “Buy Now”, I bet you think you’re actually buying something. That’s what most people think. The problem is: “Buy Now” sometimes doesn’t buy anything at all. As a recent study shows, when it came to physical goods, the shoppers pretty much knew exactly what they thought they were getting. But when it came to digital goods, there was a violent mismatch between what the customers thought they were buying (something they could resell, lend, or give away) and what the small print said they were getting (an extremely limited copyright license that required them to use their media in conjunction with special restrictive players that prohibited all these activities).  In short: people are buying things because they have mistaken beliefs about what they’re getting, and if they knew better, they wouldn’t buy those things on those terms.