Observations Along the Road

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

Chum of Controversy

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Apr 08, 2016 @ 7:45 pm PDT

userpic=los-angelesThis collection of news chum may be controversial. It touches on a number of hot button topics: religion, racism, trolls, and sexism.

  • To Bear or Not to Bear, A Cross Too Far. The origin of the user pic to the right is a battle from many years ago when Los Angeles County redesigned their county seal to remove the cross. A few years after that, one of few Republicans on the Board of Supervisors got it added back. A judge has just ruled that the cross must go: that a cross has no place on a county seal.
  • Dress Shirts and Racism. When sizing a shirt, what questions can you ask? This was an issue faced by an internet startup that wanted men to be able to order shirts that would fit them perfectly. He started collecting statistical data, and found out that one of the best predictors was… race. He then discovered that just asking the question put him into a cultural minefield. As the article notes: “There’s no denying the satisfaction of a smartly tailored shirt. But with this one question, the once mundane world of dress shirts is now dabbling in a kind of racial profiling. Are we ready to dredge up centuries of racial strife, simply for a perfect fit?”
  • The Troll Under the Bridge. Have you ever thought about the characteristics that define an Internet Troll? Boing! Boing! did, and came up with a quad chart of seriousness and sincerity. It came up with four categories that it categorized as Squares / Jesters / Worms / Trolls. It turns out, when pressed, there was a diagonal correlation: Squares to Trolls, and Jesters to Worms. A fascinating theory.
  • Gaming and Sexism. I’d seen the source article on this, but Vox had a great summary of a new issue that, is in a sense, an outgrowth of GamerGate: Sexism and Tabletop Gaming. I’ve been boardgaming for years, and I haven’t seen it in the community; then again, I might just have blinders that need to be recalibrated. But I can certainly believe it in the role playing and heavy wargaming  communities. We’re learning more and more about the sexism and aggression that was under the surface, that just wasn’t seen. Part of me longs for the days of my youth when we didn’t need to worry about this, but then I realize that although seeing these aggressions and problems is uncomfortable, it is necessary in order to move society above those problems.

 

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Looking at Food Differently

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Apr 07, 2016 @ 7:33 pm PDT

userpic=fastfoodHere’s an installment towards this weekend’s news chum — a few articles (meeting the over three rule) all related to food:

 

Jazzin’ It Up, Turtle Style 🎻 Turtle Island Quartet @ VPAC

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Apr 07, 2016 @ 7:17 pm PDT

Turtle Island Quartet with Cyrus Chestnut (VPAC)userpic=ucla-csunLast night was one of those rare mid-week concerts. We normally don’t schedule mid-week, but the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB) is almost walking distance, which makes it possible. This concert was advertised as a string quartet that was doing a program based on Jelly Roll Morton, Theloneous Monk, and Ragtime. This is the type of jazz I like (Morton), and the type of jazz my wife likes (Monk), so it was a no brainer. It ended up being a thoroughly delightful evening.

This production was part of the “on-stage” series, meaning that the audience is limited to 250 people, and we sit on-stage with the performers, looking out at the empty hall. This brought a wonderful intimacy to the show; one could watch closely how the performers were fingering, as well as their expressions as they got into the music.

The Turtle Island Quartet (FB) plays what is called Jazz Violin, meaning they can go anywhere from normal string quartet fare with a jazz flair, to bluegrass-tinged jazz, to full-on jazz. I kept thinking they would be great for the Woodsongs stage, with their odd range and high quality. Although they did a few solo numbers, for most of their numbers they were joined with Cyrus Chestnut on piano. I didn’t keep a complete list of the numbers, but there were a few Jelly Roll Morton numbers, a large numbers of Theloneous Monk numbers, some Scott Joplin, some Jazz Debussey, and a number by Bud Powell. There was also a jazzy version of Tea for Two.

Shows such as this demonstrate why one goes to live performance: much of the program was improvised: what we saw will never be seen or heard again. It was a shared experience of 255 people, plus ushers. We come home the better for it.

We also came home with one of their CDs. Live performance: you come home with music and memories.

* 🎭 🎭 🎭 *

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 had been subscribing at three theatres:  The Colony Theatre (FB), Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB), and REP East (FB): but all have gone or are going dark (update: Cabrillo is coming back!), I just added a subscription to the  Hollywood Pantages (FB). 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: This weekend brings the penultimate show of this Cabrillo season: “Children of Eden” at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) on April 10. The following weekend’s theatre is on Thursday, because the weekend brings our annual visit to the Renaissance Faire (Southern). The Thursday show is Stella’s Last J-Date at the Whitefire Theatre (FB). The fourth weekend in April is is Pesach, but the Indie Chi Productions dark comedy Dinner at Home Between Deaths at the Odyssey Theatre (FB) sounded so interesting I’ve booked Sunday tickets. The last weekend of April will be the Four Clowns (FB) production of Lunatics and Actors at the LA Shakespeare Center on April 30. May starts with Endgame at the Kirk Douglas Theatre (FB). We then run off to the Bay Area for our daughter’s graduation from Berkeley. While there, we are seeing the Landmark Musical Theatre (FB)’s West Coast Regional Premiere of The Boy from Oz (but pay no attention to that production behind the curtain — if they start the same day, they are simultaneous premieres and both have equal bragging rights). May 21 has a hold for Los Angeles: Then and Now, a new musical at LA City College (FB) from Bruce Kimmel. The last weekend of May has holds for the MoTAS Outing to the Jethawks, and Armadillo Necktie at The Group Rep (FB). As for June? It’s the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB), and I’ve started to hold dates for the following shows: All Aboard the Marriage HearseAll The Best Killers are LibrariansQaddafi’s Cook — Living in Hell, Cooking for the DevilSqueeze My CansTell Me On A Sunday   Toxic Avenger: The Musical  ✨  Vintage BoxEinstein Titus Andronicus Jr.The Old Woman Sweet Love AdieuMy Big Fat Blond MusicalAlien vs. MusicalHamlet (Las Vegas Style) ✨. But that’s just a small percentage; there are over 200 shows listed now.  We thought about Love The Body Positive, but then again… no. Can’t be scaring people.  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.

A Night of Funny 😃 Elayne Boosler @ TAS

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Apr 03, 2016 @ 4:18 pm PDT

boosleruserpic=laughingLast night, Temple Ahavat Shalom (FB) threw a special fund raiser in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the formation of TAS as TAS out of the merger of two other congregations (Temple Beth Torah (1951-2016) and North Valley Reform (1962-1965)). For this fund raiser, TAS presented comedienne Elayne Boosler (FB).

When this was first announced, I was excited. As you’ve probably figured out, I attend loads of live performances every year, and I write up each and every one of them. Yes, that obsession extends to Temple events. So, last year, when we held a cantor’s concert, I felt obliged to write that up. It’s OK when things are good, but when they go south, well, it can be a bit awkward.

So, when I heard about Ms. Boosler coming, I was very happy. I could write up the show without worrying about feelings. Further, she was someone I had heard about, and about whom I had heard positive things. My wife, who isn’t always enamored of Temple events, didn’t even put up a fuss with the tickets.

So, last night came. And we were blown out of the water. The evening was extremely funny — I can’t think of the last time I’ve seen my wife laugh like that; it certainly topped both Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and An Act of God. There were some stories that I’m not sure I ever expected to hear from a bimah, but they were true and effective commentaries on life — which is what we get normally from a bimah. Evidently, a lot of the material was part of her regular act (which I hadn’t). I can’t remember a lot of the stories, but I did enjoy the reference contrasting Donald Trump with a Jackie Mason delivery.

During the show, Elayne mentioned her charity Tails of Joy, which does dog and cat rescue and supports such organizations. This made us think of our dear friend Mindy, who works with Boxer Rescue LA.  Mindy would have gotten a kick out of the show.

All, in all, a very enjoyable evening, with wonderful desserts. Congratulations to the 50th Anniversary Committee at TAS for doing this event; I hope an evening like this become an annual tradition. It’s something we’ll certainly go to.

Disclaimer: I must disclose that I am President of the Men of Temple Ahavat Shalom; as such, I am also a member of the Board of Trustees.

* 🎭 🎭 🎭 *

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 had been subscribing at three theatres:  The Colony Theatre (FB), Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB), and REP East (FB): but all have gone or are going dark., I just added a subscription to the  Hollywood Pantages (FB). 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: Next up is a mid-week concert of the Turtle Quintet at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB) on April 7, followed by “Children of Eden” at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) on April 10. The following weekend’s theatre is on Thursday, because the weekend brings our annual visit to the Renaissance Faire (Southern). The Thursday show is Stella’s Last J-Date at the Whitefire Theatre (FB). The fourth weekend in April is is Pesach, but the Indie Chi Productions dark comedy Dinner at Home Between Deaths at the Odyssey Theatre (FB) sounded so interesting I’ve booked Sunday tickets. The last weekend of April will be the Four Clowns (FB) production of Lunatics and Actors at the LA Shakespeare Center on April 30. May starts with a hold date for Endgame at the Kirk Douglas Theatre (FB). We then run off to the Bay Area for our daughter’s graduation from Berkeley. While there, we are seeing the Landmark Musical Theatre (FB)’s West Coast Regional Premiere of The Boy from Oz (but pay no attention to that production behind the curtain — if they start the same day, they are simultaneous premieres and both have equal bragging rights). May 21 has a hold for Los Angeles: Then and Now, a new musical at LA City College (FB) from Bruce Kimmel. The last weekend of May has holds for the MoTAS Outing to the Jethawks, and Armadillo Necktie at The Group Rep (FB). As for June? It’s the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB), and I’ve started to hold dates for the following shows: All Aboard the Marriage HearseAll The Best Killers are LibrariansQaddafi’s Cook — Living in Hell, Cooking for the DevilSqueeze My CansTell Me On A Sunday   Toxic Avenger: The Musical  ✨  Vintage BoxEinstein Titus Andronicus Jr.The Old Woman Sweet Love AdieuMy Big Fat Blond MusicalAlien vs. MusicalHamlet (Las Vegas Style) ✨. But that’s just a small percentage; there are over 200 shows listed now.  We thought about Love The Body Positive, but then again… no. Can’t be scaring people.  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.

An Alphabet of Chum: From A to Almost Z

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Apr 02, 2016 @ 2:11 pm PDT

userpic=masters-voiceOur life is a litany of interesting news articles, of news chum, ripe for the discussion. Shall I enumerate? I shall.

 

Beauty in All Aspects 🎤 Lea Salonga at VPAC

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Apr 02, 2016 @ 12:49 pm PDT

Lea Salonga (VPAC)userpic=ucla-csunLast night we saw our penultimate show for this season at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB) — the beautiful Lea Salonga (FB) in concert. Although I had heard Ms. Salonga before in various shows (Miss Saigon, Flower Drum Song, Allegiance), I had never heard her just as a vocalist, in concert.

Before I go on, let’s ask: what is a vocalist? It’s a valid question, in this era of singer / songwriters. Vocalists are artists who primarily make a living singing songs that someone else has written. Example: Neil Diamond is a singer / songwriter — most of the songs he has sung he wrote. Frank Sinatra, on the other hand, is a vocalist. He never penned a song, but he interpreted and presented songs that others have written. It is the vocalists who were responsible for moving the Broadway catalog from the stage to the current fonts of popular music. They are the people who find new things in music, new styles, new directions. Amongst the younger generation or those not familiar with Broadway, they are a dying breed. Most younger pop musicians these days are singer / songwriters.

Salonga, who got her start on Broadway, is a vocalist. She has a far ranging catalog, from Broadway to Jazz, from Pop to traditional Filipino pop music. All of this was on exhibit in her show last night.

I did not make a set list of her songs, and one hasn’t been posted yet. Hence, this list is not in order, and is from memory and definitely incomplete. The first act of her program consisted of a number of jazz numbers that I don’t  recall, a cover of The Story of My Life by One Direction, a medley of two songs from Les Mis, and Back to Before from Ragtime. I want to say that Still Hurting from Last 5 Years was in the first half, but it might have been in the second half. The second half included On The Street Where You Live from My Fair Lady, He Touched Me from Drat! The Cat!, the Filipino song Nais Ko (which hasn’t been recorded by her yet, but is available on YouTube), A Whole New World from Aladdin (which a duet with an audience member that was spectacular… and is already up on YouTube), Higher from Allegiance, and as an encore, Imagine.

All in all, it was just a beautiful show. Salonga was relaxed and seemed to be extremely happy to be back on the concert stage, although sad that the run of her last show wasn’t longer. VPAC was sold out, and the crowd was friendly, loving, and appreciative. It was just a great combination.

Salonga was backed by some excellent musicians: Larry Yurman on Piano, Kevin Axt (FB) on Bass, Paul Viapiano on Guitar, and Ray Brinker  on drums. Yurman also served as Musical Director. They were all great. Viapiano was particularly strong on some jazzier numbers that I can’t remember the name of. It was also a lot of fun to watch Brinker on the drums — he was particularly notable in one of the act one numbers where he drummed on a magazine.

Salonga’s next performance is tonight at the Segerstrom in Orange County. If you’re in the area and you can get a ticket, you’ll enjoy the show. Then again, if you’re in the valley, you can some see Elaine Boosler at TAS.

* 🎭 🎭 🎭 *

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 had been subscribing at three theatres:  The Colony Theatre (FB), Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB), and REP East (FB): but all have gone or are going dark., I just added a subscription to the  Hollywood Pantages (FB). 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: Tonight the concerts continue with an Elayne Boosler concert at Temple Ahavat Shalom on April 2 (this concert is open to the community; get your tickets here). We have a mid-week concert of the Turtle Quintet at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB) on April 7, followed by “Children of Eden” at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) on April 10. The next weekend’s theatre is on Thursday, because the weekend brings our annual visit to the Renaissance Faire (Southern). The Thursday show is Stella’s Last J-Date at the Whitefire Theatre (FB). The fourth weekend in April is is Pesach, but the Indie Chi Productions dark comedy Dinner at Home Between Deaths at the Odyssey Theatre (FB) sounded so interesting I’ve booked Sunday tickets. The last weekend of April will probably be the Four Clowns (FB) production of Lunatics and Actors at the LA Shakespeare Center on April 30. May starts with a hold date for Endgame at the Kirk Douglas Theatre (FB). We then run off to the Bay Area for our daughter’s graduation from Berkeley. While there, we are seeing the Landmark Musical Theatre (FB)’s West Coast Regional Premiere of The Boy from Oz (but pay no attention to that production behind the curtain). May 21 has a hold for Los Angeles: Then and Now, a new musical at LA City College (FB) from Bruce Kimmel. The last weekend of May has holds for the MoTAS Outing to the Jethawks, and Armadillo Necktie at The Group Rep (FB). As for June? It’s the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB), and I’ve started to hold dates for the following shows: All Aboard the Marriage HearseAll The Best Killers are LibrariansQaddafi’s Cook — Living in Hell, Cooking for the DevilSqueeze My CansTell Me On A Sunday   Toxic Avenger: The Musical  ✨  Vintage BoxEinstein Titus Andronicus Jr.The Old Woman Sweet Love AdieuMy Big Fat Blond MusicalAlien vs. MusicalHamlet (Las Vegas Style) ✨. But that’s just a small percentage; there are over 200 shows listed now.  We thought about Love The Body Positive, but then again… no. Can’t be scaring people.  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.

CyberStew: Security, Safety, and More

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Mar 31, 2016 @ 7:55 pm PDT

userpic=cardboard-safeIn advance of the silliness tomorrow, here’s some serious cyber-related news chum:

 

California Highway Headlines for March 2016

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Mar 31, 2016 @ 11:12 am PDT

userpic=roadgeekingMarch has been a busy busy month for me, but I have found time to accumulate some headlines. As it is lunchtime on the last day of the month, enjoy these while you munch:

  • Caltrans Removes East Span as Part of Bay Bridge Seismic Retrofit Project. The 77-year-old east span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is being taken down, piece by piece, as part of a Bay Bridge seismic retrofit project. In fact, the new bridge was designed to be a lifeline in a large quake. It will be used to transport food and emergency supplies to San Francisco or Oakland in an emergency. The new east span of the bridge opened in 2013. The self-anchored suspension bridge was built at a cost of $6.4 billion.
  • Roadshow: Highway 140 to Yosemite needs 4 more years of work. Q: If you’ve been to Yosemite during the last several years and have taken Highway 140, you’ve seen the massive landslide west of Yosemite View Lodge. The slide completely covered the highway, and Caltrans was forced to build two bridges to detour around it. There’s a sign that labels the repair work as the “Ferguson Project.” However, it doesn’t look like any work is under way. This is a heavily traveled route. Is there any projected completion date?

(more…)