Observations Along the Road

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

Security News Chum: Browsers, Berkeley, Ransom and Requests

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Mar 05, 2016 @ 3:29 pm PDT

userpic=cardboard-safeReady for the third course of news chum? This part of the meal is a collection of articles related to cybersecurity:

  • Help! I’m DROWNing. This week, researchers announced yet another attack against TLS, the protocols used to secure the traffic that you see as HTTPS://. More than 11 million websites and e-mail services protected by the TLS protocol are vulnerable to this low-cost attack that decrypts sensitive communications in a matter of hours and in some cases almost immediately. The attack works against TLS-protected communications that rely on the RSA cryptosystem when the key is exposed even indirectly through SSLv2, a TLS precursor that was retired almost two decades ago because of crippling weaknesses. The vulnerability allows an attacker to decrypt an intercepted TLS connection by repeatedly using SSLv2 to make connections to a server. In the process, the attacker learns a few bits of information about the encryption key each time. While many security experts believed the removal of SSLv2 support from browser and e-mail clients prevented abuse of the legacy protocol, some misconfigured TLS implementations still tacitly support the legacy protocol when an end-user computer specifically requests its use. The most notable implementation subject to such fatal misconfigurations is the OpenSSL cryptographic library.
  • More Exposure at Berkeley. No, I’m not talking exposure of a student body, but exposure of the student body. The University of California, Berkeley, has admitted to a second data breach which may have exposed the data of 80,000 people to misuse. Current and former students, faculty members and vendors linked to the university are among those who have been warned about the incident, which took place through financial management software which contained a security flaw, allowing an attacker — or group — to access internal services. In total, 57,000 current and former students, including student workers, 10,300 vendors and others — at a ratio of roughly 50 percent of current students and 65 percent of active employees — could have had their information taken.
  • Dealing with Ransomware. Our biggest worry used to be viruses. Those were the days. Today, the big fear is ransomware — malware you get by a drive-by-download or clicking on a bad link in an email. These attacks encrypt the data on your computer and require you to pay a ransom if you want to have any hope of decrypting it. Here’s a reasonably good PCWORLD article with somethings you can do to prevent attacks. As usual, it boils down to the 4 “E”s: Use the engineering in your system to stop attacks by having a good always-on malware and dangerous site scanner; have usage policies and enforce them about not clicking on links, using non administrative accounts, etc.; educate your users on what to look for, and what not to do; and plan for emergency services by having a external disk backup that is not always connected using a reliable back tool.
  • Dealing with Requests. This article from ComputerWorld explains what really is at risk in the Apple vs FBI fight. The issue is not encryption or encryption backdoors. The FBI is not trying to break the encryption on the phone. They are trying to unlock the phone, which will decrypt it. To find that key they need to do a brute force attack; to do that attack, they can’t have the system wipe the phone after 10 failures. So what they want Apple to do is put up a special signed software update that the phone will automatically install that will remove the limit. In other words, this request is to force Apple to put up an untrustworthy software update that weakens the phone. That’s the precedent that Apple does not want to set. In particular, such an update can’t be limited to just one phone, and if a faked update can get out, then the entire spider-web of automatic software updates becomes untrustworthy. If it becomes untrustworthy, people won’t automatically install updates, and that will result in known holes being unpatched, which means weaker systems.

 

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History and Los Angeles

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Mar 04, 2016 @ 9:42 pm PDT

userpic=los-angelesTime for the second course of News Chum. For your dining pleasure, we present a collection of articles dealing with history and Southern California:

  • Going on a Trek. If you remember a few years ago, we had this little thing called a Space Shuttle go through the streets of Los Angeles. Trees had to come down, a special route had to be plotted due to the weight, all to move Endeavor from LA Airport to Exposition Park. Guess what? It’s happening again. This time, they are moving a 66,000 lb External Fuel Tank from Marina Del Rey to Exposition Park. The complicating factor here isn’t weight — it is that the tank is extremely fragile and could easily collapse. The tank sits outdoors at the Michoud facility in Louisiana, where it was built. It is huge but also delicate, covered by about an inch-thick layer of foam. It can be touched only in a few places during transport. It will be a complicated move: by barge from Louisiana to Marina Del Rey through the Panama Canal, and then by truck and dolly from the Marina.
  • The Proud Bird. As the ET travels, it will go near a famous theatre is Westchester, the Loyola. Once a splended movie house (I went there a lot as a kid), it is now an odd-duck of an office building. When opened, the theatre’s baroque-modern architecture featured a stainless steel box office, an ornate marquee and a distinctive curved 60-foot high spire with a swan-like sculpture at its top. Inside, the theater had 1,200 seats, velvet drapes, hand-painting wall and ceiling murals and a variey of Art Deco fixtures. It also had a unique sunken circular concessions stand in its lobby area.
  • Seeing Stars. Speaking of stars, have you ever wondered about the Hollywood Walk of Fame and how the stars get there? Wonder no more.
  • Hitting Close to Home. Not that far away from where I live is Porter Ranch (oops) is Chatsworth, home to the former Santa Susanna Field Laboratory. Just the place to situate a housing development.
  • In The Subway. No, not that subway. The original LA Subway. Here’s what the Subway Terminal looks like today.
  • And Lastly. Photos inside the Last LA Bookstore. Cool. I must go visit there.

 

Thoughts on a Theatre Season (Pasadena Playhouse) 🎭 Other Theatre News

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Mar 04, 2016 @ 6:39 pm PDT

userpic=theatre2Some weeks the news chum doesn’t theme, and you get stew at the end of the week. Other weeks, you get a multicourse tasty meal. This week is the latter. For our first course, some theatre news:

🎭 Pasadena Playhouse 2016-2017 Season 🎭

The Pasadena Playhouse (FB) has just announced their 2016-2017 season, and it looks quite interesting. In fact, with The Colony Theatre (FB) going dark, we might just switch back to the Playhouse (if they can do a decent payment plan). Let’s look it over together, shall we?

  • Thumbs Up The Fantasticks by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, directed by Seema Sueko. Sept. 6, 2016 to Oct. 2, 2016. I’ve seen two productions of The Fantasticks: a great Theatre West (FB) production and an even better Good People Theatre (FB) production. This is a very touching show which I’m growing to love. It should be interesting to see what the Playhouse can do with it.
  • Thumbs Up M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang, directed by Bart DeLorenzo. Oct. 25, 2016 to Nov. 20, 2016. Winner of multiple Tony Awards including “Best Play” in 1988 and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, “M. Butterfly” is David Henry Hwang’s fictionalized account of an actual French diplomat who carried on an affair with a Peking opera star for twenty years, only to discover she was actually a man. I remember when this won the Tony and missed seeing it when it was at the Ahmanson.
  • Thumbs Up Shout, Sister, Shout! conceived and directed by Randy Johnson, book by Cheryl West. Jan. 31, 2017 to Feb. 26, 2017. A World Premiere musical conceived and directed by Randy Johnson, the creator of A Night With Janis Joplin. The musical depicts the life and music of legendary gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, whose hits include “Down by the Riverside,” “This Train,” and “Strange Things Happening Every Day.” Given the style of music, this could be very interesting.
  • Thumbs Up Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. March 28, 2017 to April 23, 2017. No director stated. The press release states “a great way to return to the tradition of the Bard on our stage as The Pasadena Playhouse enters its 100th year.” One of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies, “Twelfth Night” features mistaken identities, gender confusion and separated twins, all obstacles to be overcome on the quest for true love. If they don’t muck with it, this could be good.
  • thumbs-side ARTISTIC DIRECTOR’S CHOICE. May 30, 2017– June 25, 2017. Sheldon Epps, Artistic Director of The Pasadena Playhouse, is on the hunt for the show he will direct for the last production of his final season as Artistic Director. Could be good, could be …

I’m not bothering to list the Pantos — I don’t care about those. I’ll explore subscribing when we’re there later in March.

🎭 New Jersey at the Fringe 🎭

The good folks at Good People Theatre (FB) have announced their Fringe musical:

We have exciting news! GPTCo is teaming up with Producer Alejandro Patino to bring you The Toxic Avenger Musical this June at Fringe! We will be at The Sacred Fools Space on Lillian Way. More info to come!

Posted by Good People Theater Company on Thursday, March 3, 2016

I’ve heard the music from this, and it is great. Should be a hoot, and I’m looking forward to it.

🎭 Yiddish Theatre in LA 🎭

Inside LA Stage History has a wonderful article up on the history of Yiddish Theatre and cabaret in LA. This includes the fact that the New Beverly theatre on Beverly Blvd (now owned by Quentin Tarentino) used to be a Yiddish Theatre, and is credited with the LA debut of Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, as well as Phil Silvers, who worked there as an emcee.

Snakes, Scotland, and Pipes

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Mar 02, 2016 @ 9:36 pm PDT

Royal Marines and Scots Guards (VPAC)userpic=ucla-csunI know it is a few days late, but I did want to do a quick writeup of the show we saw Sunday afternoon at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB): The Band of the Royal Marines and the Pipes, Drums, and Highland Dancers of the Scots Guards.

This is a hard show to write up — there were no real production credits; you don’t get the names of the performers — all you get is the history. That’s on the page I linked above.

The program (from the program we were handed out) included:

  • Famous Songs of the British Isles: Donald Maclean of Lewis; Bravua, UK National Anthem; US National Anthem; A Fanfare of Daffodils
  • Standard of St George; Over the Hills and Far Away; Ceremonial Drum Display
  • Royal Salute; Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1; Heart of Oak
  • When the Pipers Play; Devil in the Kitchen; SIlver Spear; Mason’s Apron; Drum Salute
  • Highland Fling
  • St Patric Day; Gary Owen; Erin Shore; Irish Washer Woman
  • Tripping Up the Stairs; Scare O Tatties
  • Ice & Fire; Lord of the Dance; Killaloe
  • Castell Coch; All Through the Night; Welsh Clog Dance; Men of Harlech
  • Cullen Bay; Merrily Danced the Quakers Wife
  • Queen of the Rushes; La Baum; Stepping Up; Itchy Fingers; Clumsy Lover; Skye Boat Song; Alba; The Gael
  • Single Swords
  • Armed Forces Medly
  • Abide with Me; Sunset
  • Scotland the Brave; W’re No Awa Tae Bide Awa; A Life on the Ocean Wave

The performance itself was spectacular. I particularly enjoyed the vocalist during “Over the Hills and Far Away”, and the individual performances. Other than that, it was hard to separate performance — I just sat back and enjoyed the music.

Two observations:

  • The bagpipe is the only instrument I know with its own carrier wave.
  • Close order marching on the VPAC stage was like a game of snake: I kept expecting them to add band members from the wings to make it more of a challenge.

Short summary: much much better than our previous VPAC outing.

* 🎭 🎭 🎭 *

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 subscribe at three theatres:  The Colony Theatre (FB), Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB), and I just added the  Hollywood Pantages (FB). In 2015, my intimate theatre subscription was at REP East (FB), although they are reorganizing and (per the birdies) will not start 2016 shows until August. Additionally, the Colony just announced that the remainder of their season has been cancelled, so the status of that subscription is up in the air. 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: March starts with “Man Covets Bird” at the 24th Street Theatre (FB) on March 6 (the day after the MRJ Man of the Year dinner). The second weekend of March recently opened up, due to the cancellation of “Another Roll of the Dice” at The Colony Theatre (FB). We’ve replaced “Dice” with another musical: “All Shook Up” at the Morgan-Wixson (FB) in Santa Monica.  [This also permits me to get more music for my iPod Classic (now at 512GB) by visiting Record Surplus)] The third weekend of March takes us back to the Pasadena Playhouse (FB) on March 19 to see Harvey Fierstein’s Casa Valentina, followed by Bach at Leipzig at The Group Rep (FB) on March 20.  The last weekend of March brings “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB).  April will start with Lea Salonga at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB) on April 1 and an Elaine Boosler concert at Temple Ahavat Shalom on April 2 (this concert is open to the community; get your tickets here). April will also bring the Turtle Quintet at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB), “Children of Eden” at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) , and our annual visit to the Renaissance Faire (Southern). April may also bring A Shred of Evidence at Theatre 40 (FB). 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.

California Highway Headlines for February 2016

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Mar 02, 2016 @ 11:55 am PDT

userpic=roadgeekingFebruary… a month that brings to mind… freeway closures. I’m not talking about closures due to rain, but -maggedon closures of the 101 downtown and the 91 in Corona. But those are now past us, so what else has happened this month: (as always, the information in the linked articles will find its way onto my California Highways website).

  • Crews work to tear down major section of old Bay Bridge. Caltrans crews are working to remove a major section of the old Bay Bridge Thursday morning. Crews started working around 6 a.m. to remove the first 504-foot truss span, Caltrans officials said. The removal should take two 14 hour days, according to Caltrans officials.
  • Can bigger and brighter signs prevent wrong-way crashes on San Diego freeways?. Wrong-way drivers killed 13 people on San Diego freeways last year, a number that has prompted state officials to take measures to keep motorists going the right way. Caltrans is conducting a pilot program that calls for improved warning devices, such as bigger signs, flashing lights and sensors on offramps along Interstate 15 through much of San Diego County. Researchers will study what systems work to reduce the number of drivers who enter the freeway at those locations.
  • Engineers zero in on design for bike path on Bay Bridge western span. Transportation officials are narrowing the final designs for a bike and pedestrian path on the western span of the Bay Bridge, something bike advocates have been dreaming about for decades. But it could still be another decade before the 2.9-mile structure from Yerba Buena Island to San Francisco is funded and built, according to the Bay Area Toll Authority.

(more…)

News Chum Stew: This and That

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Feb 28, 2016 @ 10:23 am PDT

Observation StewIt’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve made some news chum stew, and I’m hungry for a nice heaping bowl. Please join me, and let’s discuss some of these:

  • Inclusion and Integration. Let’s start with an article I chose just for the graphic, which is appropriate for the Oscars tonight and #OscarsSoWhite . I had seen others use this graphic before with respect to diversity discussions, and I realized that it is also wonderful to explain security system engineering, and how security truly needs to be included in the engineering discussion, not just considered in a separate area.
  • Food and Health. Here are two articles related to food and health.The first explores how the proton-pump inhibator heartburn meds (such as omeprazole, which I take) may be associated with a higher dementia risk. This is of concern to me; it is why I’m trying to wean down on the meds (I’m at every other day). Specifically, a new study links the widely used PPIs — which include Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec — to an increased risk for cognitive decline, though researchers caution the study has limitations, and does not show a definite cause. PPIs have recently been linked to kidney disease, heart disease, and deficiencies of B12 and other vitamins. While patients have reported side effects of the drugs, not taking them often results in stomach pains and worse heartburn as the drug leaves their systems.

    The second highlights a fascinating finding about pasta: Reheating your pasta makes it healthier for you. When pasta is cooled down, your body digests it differently, causing fewer calories to be absorbed and a smaller blood glucose peak. And reheating it is even better – it reduces the rise in blood glucose levels by a whopping 50 percent.

  • Cruz and Gluten Free. It seems society just wants to hate and bully. We’ve all seen various people, shapes, and trends become scapegoats for society’s extended mockery. Recently, Ted Cruz marched into the frey by declaring the military shouldn’t provide gluten-free meals. This promped a lovely editorial in HuffPost asking people to stop making fun of the gluten-free diet (which was the real article that prompted this item). Yes, I know there are many folks doing it because the diet is trendy and they believe it will help them. The problem is that if people start feeling that folks only do it for trendy reasons, then they won’t be careful in making things truly gluten free. That can create significant health problems for those that are Celiac and truly must eat gluten free.
  • Kitchens and Shopping. If you’re a cook, you’ve probably gone shopping at those high end kitchen supply stores. Have you gone to a restaurant supply store. It’s quite fun. We’ve gotten a few things there that we use every day. Here’s a good article on what you should be buying at a restaurant supply store. I particularly recommend the cutting board advice: get a really large one you can sit over your sink. You can then rinse and cut without the water going over your counters, and scrape the cuttings right into the disposal. They also have colored boards, so you can segregate vegetable from meat boards.
  • Humor and Jews. This article got an incredible amount of shares when I posted it on FB: Mad’s Al Jaffe explaining how Mad helped make American Humor Jewish, bringing in Yiddish along the way.
  • Calculators and Caller ID. Recently, an app on my Android Phone informed me it was using Caller ID, and I needed to go into its settings if I didn’t want that. The app, PowerCalc, and yes — it is integrating CallerID to make money for its authors. Needless to say, I want to find a different calculator app now.
  • Cars and Satellites. Here’s a real interesting one. I work in El Segundo, and regularly drive now Nash Street. I’ve never thought about why it was named what it was. However, a posting in an LA History group on Facebook provided some fascinating history. Evidently, what is now the Boeing Satellite Facility at Imperial Highways and Hughes Way used to be the Nash-Kelvinator Assembly Plant. Thus: Nash Street.
  • Names and Processors. A number of years ago, picking a processor was easy. You went for the latest x86 and clock speed. Then came Pentium and Celeron and Atom, and now there are Cores and iX and more. Here’s the first cogent explanation I’ve found of Intel Processor naming. This will be a big help next time I go processor shopping. I wonder how they differ architecture-wise, in particular in memory mapping and privilege rings — things us cybersecurity folks care about.
  • Tuna and Pianos. Get it? Piano Tuna? Nevermind, I’m here all week. You may have seen the recent Android commercial where they play one song on a regular piano, and one song on a piano where every key makes the same note. You might have wondered whether they made a square piano to do it, in order to have all the strings the same length (remember: a piano has the same number of strings as a harp; it is just that they are buried in a box and hit with a hammer). Here’s a Scientific American article on what they did, and exploring if you could make all strings sound the same just through tuning.
  • A, B, C, D, E, and F. If you are old enough, you remember the days before “forever” stamps, when postage changed so frequently they issued lettered stamps worth make up postage between the old rate and the new rate. One wonders if they would issue negative postage stamps now, given that stamp prices are set to go down 2c in April. That’s right. Down. From 49c to 47c. I’d wait to buy that “forever” postage.
  • Maps and Places. We’ve all heard about it, but is it really done? Atlas Obscura explores the legend of fictitious place names on maps. Can they really be used to copyright a map?
  • Restaurants and the San Fernando Valley. A couple of articles on restaurants and the valley. The first explores 118 Degrees, a new raw vegan GF restaurant. The second is supposedly the essential valley restaurants, although I find some a bit trendy for my taste (and as usual, then tend to think only of the Boulevard, instead of the Northern valley). This becomes clear when they mention Lum Ka Naad’s outpost on the boulevard, instead of mentioning the original location near CSUN (which is about a mile from where I live). PS. While we’re talking about the valley, here’s an obit of interest: Rabbi Gordon of Chabad in the Valley has passed away. Z”L.
  • Malls and ShoppingTowns . In the news recently was an article noting how the Beverly Center mall near Cedars Sinai is getting a makeover. I remember this area well: I remember when the mall was built in the 1970s (drove by it on the way to WBT). It replaced the beloved Beverly Playland. The redevelopment is part of a trend of mall redesign, where developers take what were indoor malls and make them outdoor strolling areas. Think “the Grove” or “Americana at Brand”. What goes around, comes around, I guess. I remember when this was done at places like Fallbrook; I also remember when outdoor malls were turned into indoor malls (Panorama Mall; Sherman Oaks Fashion Center). They are about to do a similar transformation on the Westside Pavillion (which folks remember used to be a little lovely outdoor shopping center with a Vons and May Company). Should be interesting to watch.

Lastly, I’d like to highlight a few “GoFundMe”s of interest, related to folks I know. Orlando de la Paz was the scenic painter at the Colony; he recently had a stroke and is raising support funds. Jolie Mason worked with me at SDC; she’s now running the LA Radio Reading Service, a group that is raising funds for studio upgrades. Bruce Kimmel, a producer out here in LA, is raising money for an LA Themed Musical, which will premiere at LACC around May 13 for two weeks.  The family of one of my counselors from camp days is raising funds for his care; he’s dealing with a brain tumor and the prognosis isn’t good. The LA Theatre Community is raising funds for its legal fight against Actors Equity; they’ve already raised 75K. Lastly, the Men of TAS are raising funds to improve the Social Hall Kitchen; we’d love it if you could help.

Rails to West Hollywood – A Lunchtime Musing

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Feb 25, 2016 @ 12:05 pm PDT

userpic=metrolinkWhile eating lunch, I’ve been staring at an article from Curbed LA titled “West Hollywood Refusing to Let Metro Rail Pass It By”. The gist of the article is that West Hollywood is trying to convince Metro to extend the a-buildin’ Crenshaw line northward to West Hollywood, connecting the neighborhood not only to Metro’s system, but also directly to LAX. A feasibility study is needed to determine the exact route a train line would take to WeHo, but the advocates for this proposal are hoping for a route that spans from San Vincente to Santa Monica Boulevard. The train would run completely underground, making it’s way through West Hollywood before connecting with the Red Line at Hollywood and Highland.

Here’s the map from their website:

First and foremost, haven’t they seen Volcano? You don’t build a rail line near Cedars-Sinai; it only will create a canal for the magma.

Seriously, it appears that whomever is proposing doesn’t understand the problems with the rail network in LA. The Expo, Green, and a-buildin’ Crenshaw line are all above ground light rail. Overhead caternary. The Red and Purple lines are underground, third rail. Yet this proposal shows the above ground line connecting with the underground line. At the present time, there’s only one place where that happens: The blue/red line connection downtown, and there the blue line is on the upper platform and doesn’t travel more than a few blocks underground. This proposal would have the Crenshaw extension traveling multiple miles underground with overhead caternary, and connecting to *existing* Purple and Red stations (or heaven forfend — new stations). Connecting to an existing station with a different power system means you need to be on a different level, making tunneling and construction even more difficult.  Of course, there’s also the fact that this is geologically unstable land through oil and gas fields.

There’s also the issue of how this would cross the Santa Monica Freeway, and where it would safely go underground.

This won’t happen.

If West Hollywood wants a rail line, their better bet would be to jump on the eventual line that will run from Westwood to the San Fernando Valley under the Santa Monica Mountains. They could come off the Westwood spur, and possibly coordinate for an underground connection at Hollywood and Highland. Of course, that does mean tunneling under Beverly Hills.

It’s Hard to Find a Banjo Player Up in Heaven 🎻 “String/Awakening”

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Feb 22, 2016 @ 6:53 pm PDT

String/Awakening (Muse/Ique)userpic=folk-guitarThose of you who know the Austin Lounge Lizards know the lyric in the title:

So gather round and raise your pleasant voices
And play that gospel bluegrass, while you live
It’s hard to find a banjo player up in heaven
There’s some things that even Jesus won’t forgive

Perhaps I should explain why I’m sharing the Lizards (as if one needs an excuse): Last night, we went to another event from the wonderful counter-cultural orchestra, Muse/ique (FB). The event, called String/Awakening, was billed as follows:

String instruments are magic machines born of an ancient mystical technology.  When guided by master hands, these basic devices made of simple parts have the awesome power to change everything.

A few inches of string becomes a thread that connects humanity’s every story from Eleanor Rigby to Bach’s Air on a G String.  The handheld box is like a treasure chest that holds our common experiences and emotions – reminding us that we are all alike.  And the bow is like a magic wand, conjuring in the listener a willingness to imagine the world differently.  

With childlike passion for discovery, Rachael Worby and the musicians of MUSE/IQUE will turn from the tuxedo clad safety of the concert hall to unleash the full and delightful fury of the violin, cello , viola, harp, bass and more.

In other words, the evening was a celebration of all things string. We had all sorts of orchestra strings on the stage: cellos, violas, violins, harps, basses. We had a cajon (stringed percussion box). We had chimes… hanging on strings. We had a guitar used for percussion. We had drums with the head held on by twine.

But that wasn’t all. We had tables with cats cradles, yo-yos, and string cheese. We had people spinning and knitting. We had a dancer who hung by a string. We even had a five minute speaker from Cal-Tech on String Theory.

We had wonderful music that emphasized the strings:

  • Mozart: Eine kleine Nachtmusik
  • Bach: Brandenberg Concerto
  • Mendelssohn’s Octet in E-flat major,
  • Vivaldi: Winter
  • Piazolla: Spring in Buenos Aires
  • Eleanor Rigby
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow

All of this being held in the parking garage of a florist; said garage being the former service bay of a 1920’s Cadillac Dealership.

It was a lovely evening. Only one thing was missing… or should I say one thing was there: string snobbery.

They didn’t highlight the fact that the violin is also the lowly fiddle. They didn’t play guitars, ukukleles, or heaven-forfend, banjos. Certainly some Segovia would have fit in. They could have morphed from Segovia into Chet Atkins or Tommy Emmanuel. Certainly they could have done bluegrass.

But this was heaven, or at least heaven as it exists in Pasadena. And well all know what isn’t in heaven.

Actually, I’m being a little tongue in cheek here. Actually, String/Awakening was a delightful evening with a fascinating lecture on string theory bookended by some wonderful music. Alas, I can’t name the musicians, because they didn’t hand out a program. But it was quite fun.

[ETA: A subsequent email provided some credits: “Artistic Director Rachael Worby (FB) led and conducted a group of amazing friends and artists including violinist Roger Wilkie, harpist Alison Bjorkedal and the strings of MUSE/IQUE! We would also like to thank our extraordinary supporting cast: percussionist Mona Tavakoli (FB),  String Theorist John Schwarz, choreographer Shauna Barger (FB) and the dancers of Artists Plus, and weavers led by Ruth Souza.” They also posted additional pictures of the event.]

P.S. to Ms. Worby, if you read this: Next time you invite a speaker from Cal-Tech, please remember the appropriate way to enforce the time limit. Much better than playing with your watch 🙂

* 🎭 🎭 🎭 *

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 subscribe at three theatres:  The Colony Theatre (FB), Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB), and I just added the  Hollywood Pantages (FB). In 2015, my intimate theatre subscription was at REP East (FB), although they are reorganizing and (per the birdies) will not start 2016 shows until August. Additionally, the Colony just announced that the remainder of their season has been cancelled, so the status of that subscription is up in the air. 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: February closes with more music: The Band of the Royal Marines and the Pipes, Drums, and Highland Dancers of the Scots Guards at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB). March starts with “Man Covets Bird” at the 24th Street Theatre (FB) on March 6 (the day after the MRJ Man of the Year dinner). The second weekend of March recently opened up, due to the cancellation of “Another Roll of the Dice” at The Colony Theatre (FB). We’ve replaced “Dice” with another musical: “All Shook Up” at the Morgan-Wixson (FB) in Santa Monica.  [This also permits me to get more music for my iPod Classic (now at 512GB) by visiting Record Surplus)] The third weekend of March takes us back to the Pasadena Playhouse (FB) on March 19 to see Harvey Fierstein’s Casa Valentina, followed by Bach at Leipzig at The Group Rep (FB) on March 20.  The last weekend of March is being held for “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) (pending Hottix).  April will start with Lea Salonga at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB) on April 1 and an Elaine Boosler concert at Temple Ahavat Shalom on April 2 (this concert is open to the community; get your tickets here). April will also bring the Turtle Quintet at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB), “Children of Eden” at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) , and our annual visit to the Renaissance Faire (Southern). April may also bring A Shred of Evidence at Theatre 40 (FB). 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.