🛣 Changes to the California Highway Website covering November-December 2021

The following is the change log for the November-December 2021 updates to the California Highways pages:

2021 is done. You had such promise, 2021. Why did you have to piss it away by falling in with the low-life loser crowd? Luckily, there were a growing number that put the public good over blatant self-interest. Not far enough, though.

For me and my family, the end of 2021 has been hard. My wife fell the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and broke her knee and the surrounding bones. She was in acute care for a week, then in-patient rehab for two more weeks (meaning three weeks of travel back and forth between Northridge and Burbank), and now is getting in-home rehab — with no weight bearing until the end of February. This has added caregiving to the load—I don’t mind doing it, but it does add to the work and stress.

But the hospital was there when we needed it, because the people in the area headed the pleadings of the scientists and got vaccinated. This meant that there was acute care and rehab space. Many throughout this country are no so lucky. Hospitals are overloaded, and the new Ο (Omicron) variant doesn’t help with its faster spread. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue: The nation came together for the sake of the common good and to fight a common enemy in the first half of the 20th century. We saw our “freedoms” temporarily limited during WWI and WWII through rationing and other controls, and cheerfully did it to bring the nation out of a crisis. But that attitude of America coming together to fight a common foe has been lost today. Whether it is poor leadership or leaders taking advantage of a crisis for their political power, what should be a common fight against a public health enemy has become partisan. Move beyond that partisanship. Just like the nation stepped up for their Polio and Smallpox vaccines to defeat those public health scourges, step up and get your COVID vaccines and boosters unless there are legitimate medical reasons not to do so. Together we can fight this, so we can get back out on the roads. If there are any questions I can answer to ally your vaccine hesitancy, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Those reading this on ꜲRoads will miss my usual pleadings related to Mr. Spike Protein and his antics over the last two years, because some feel that public health is a partisan issue. Those who want to see my pleadings can go over to the full Changelog on the site; those who want to stick their heads in the sand can go to (a city in Michigan). All I’ll say is that you know what you can do to help make 2022 better, and help bring the nation (and the world) out of this crisis, so we can get back on the roads and stumble headfirst into the next one.

But let’s turn our attention to something more pleasant: the roads of the great state of California. From the rural areas in the far northern environs of the state to border commerce in the south, from the deserts of Nevada and Arizona to the Pacific; from the great Sierra mountains to the depths of Death Valley; from the urban areas to rural farmland—California has a vast road network to maintain and grow. It is a network that is vital to the success of the state: its commerce, its people, its growth. It is the mission of the California Highways website to document that network: its history, its peculiarities, and the significant changes that are coming down the road. It is a journey we go on together… once you show proof of vaccination and your boosters, and you wear your mask. After all, I have a sick wife at home, and what you do with respect to communicable diseases impacts not just you, but the broader community.

So here are your updates covering the months of November and December:

Updates were made to the following highways, based on my reading of the (virtual) papers in November and December 2021 (which are posted to the roadgeeking category at the “Observations Along The Road” and to the California Highways Facebook group) as well as any backed up email changes. I also reviewed the the AAroads forum (Ꜳ). This resulted in changes on the following routes, with credit as indicated [my research(ℱ), contributions of information or leads (via direct mail or ꜲRoads) from Concrete Bob(2) , Tom Fearer(3)mrsman(4): Route 1(ℱ), Route 3(ℱ), I-5(ℱ), US 6(3), I-8(ℱ), Pre-1961 Route 10(3), Route 11(ℱ,3), I-15(ℱ), Route 25(ℱ), Route 37(ℱ), Route 42(3), Route 43(ℱ), Route 46(ℱ), Route 70(ℱ), Route 84(ℱ), Route 96(ℱ), Route 99(ℱ,3), US 101(ℱ,3), Route 125(ℱ), Route 129(ℱ), Capitol Southeast Connector/Route 148(2), Route 152(ℱ),  Route 156(ℱ), Route 174(ℱ), Route 182(3), US 199(3), Route 247(ℱ), Route 260(4), Route 263(ℱ), Route 266(3), Route 299(3), US 395(ℱ), US 399(3), I-580(ℱ), I-880(4), Route 905(ℱ,3).
(Source: private email, Highway headline posts through December 2021 as indicated, AARoads through 12/31/2021)

Reviewed the Pending Legislation page, based on the California Legislature site. As usual, I recommend to every Californian that they visit the legislative website regularly and see what their legis-critters are doing. As many people are unfamiliar with how the legislature operates (and why there are so many “non-substantive changes” and “gut and amend” bills), I’ve added the legislative calendar to the end of the Pending Legislation page. A new fiscal year starts October 1, but the legislature does not reconvene until January 2022. As such, there were no new bills or resolutions from either chamber of the state legislature.

I checked California Transportation Commission page for the results of the December 2021 meeting of the  California Transportation Commission. As always, note that I tend not to track items that do not impact these pages — i.e., pavement rehabilitation or replacement, landscaping, drainage, culverts, roadside facilities, charging stations, or other things that do not impact the routing or history, unless they are really significant. As such, the following items were of interest:

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🛣 Headlines About California Highways – December 2021

And we that, 2021 is in the history books. Good riddance. May 2022 be the year that sees us back on the front roads and back roads of this great state, secure in our health. I give us perhaps a 60% chance.

Why so low? Do I need to say it?

[Insert pause so that the various link previewers put the rest below the fold]

I guess I do need to say it. There are those today who put politics and partisanship over science and reason. Refusing to do something simply because someone says you need to do it is the behavior of a child.  “I won’t eat my spinach, even though you say it is good for me.”

We started 2021 with such promise. A number of new vaccines were approved, temporary public health restrictions were lessening. But getting to a global vaccine level is hard … and we didn’t get there. The end of 2021 with the rise of the Omicron variant is showing that. Omicron just may be what turns this from epidemic to endemic, at least for those who are vaccinated (and who, as is looking more likely, get regularly boosted as with the flu vaccine). For those who are not vaccinated, the news may not be as good. Sometimes, you lose the dice roll.

But this is a highway headlines post, you say. Why do you drone on each month about this?  The answer is simple. If we want to get back on the roads we have to get a handle on this. We want our road workers to be safe. We want those travelling the roads to be safe. We want, if there is an accident on the roads, for there to be available caregivers and available hospital space so the injured do not turn into casualties.  That’s why I talk about this.

Please do what you can to stop the further spread of this disease. Do all that is in your power to stay healthy. If you are hesitant about anything, please feel free to reach out to me and we can talk.

Let’s make 2022 the year we get back to our new normal, out of the roads happy and healthy. Of course, to do that, it is important to know what is happening on the roads. So, with that, I present to you the last headline post of 2021. May you have a happy, and most importantly, healthy, new year.

P.S.: I’ve been working on the updates to the California Highways site. Once these December headlines are reviewed and incorporated, I can regenerate the files and upload.

Key

[Ħ Historical information |  Paywalls, $$ really obnoxious paywalls, and  other annoying restrictions. I’m no longer going to list the paper names, as I’m including them in the headlines now. Note: For $ paywalls, sometimes the only way is incognito mode, grabbing the text before the paywall shows, and pasting into an editor. ]

Highway Headlines

  • BTTF#12: Edward Everett Horton’s Encino Ranch Estate and the 101 Freeway; How A Celebrity Lost His Ranch to Suburbanization (San Fernando Valley Blog). Welcome aboard the Delorean! Marty McFly here to take you on a journey to the affluent and trendy community of Encino. The Delorean has the required plutonium plus some random garbage in the Mr. Fusion reactor ready for this trip. The time circuits are set to sometime in 1926 (actual date unknown) and the flux capacitor is………fluxxing. The engine is running (not stalled this time) so we need to hurry. Hang on, as the ride can be a little bumpy as we travel back in time to the Edward Evertt Horton Ranch Estate known as “Belly Acres” or “Belleigh Acres” at 5521 Amestoy Avenue in Encino.
  • Metro breaks ground on I-5 North County Enhancements Project (The Source). Metro on Wednesday celebrated the groundbreaking for the I-5 North County Enhancements Project, which will improve the operations and safety of the I-5 freeway for motorists in the Santa Clarita Valley. Metro is planning, designing and managing the construction of the project in partnership with Caltrans. Watch the event here. This $679-million project is specifically designed to make the I-5 freeway safer, improve the movement of freight and people and accommodate expected population growth in the Santa Clarita Valley. Improvements include the addition of one High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane in each direction along with other improvements in the 14-mile corridor between State Route 14 in Santa Clarita and Parker Road in Castaic.
  • Napa County seems unlikely choice for Highway 37 reroute (Napa Valley Register). Relocating Highway 37 through Napa County’s Carneros wine country to avoid sea-level rise never looked like an appealing option and recent data makes it appear even less so. Regional transportation leaders say Highway 37 faces two big problems. One is sea level rise from San Pablo Bay they say could someday put parts of the road underwater. The other is congestion. One proposed solution is to elevate and widen the highway along its present route from Vallejo to Novato through Solano, Sonoma, and Marin counties. Another is to move the highway away from marshland to higher ground.
  • Highway 101 carpool lane opening in Petaluma (Press Democrat). A temporary carpool lane is expected to open early Thursday on a stretch of Highway 101 that’s undergoing a widening project in Petaluma. The new northbound lane is on the Washington Creek Bridge between Lakeville Highway to the south and the Lynch Creek Trail bridge to the north, according to Caltrans. It was expected to be open by 5 a.m. Thursday, Caltrans spokesman Jeff Weiss said. “There will be three lanes the whole way, which is the first time it’s happened there,“ he said.
  • Caltrans preps for 10-hour I-80 closure for bridge removal (Daily Republic). Crews on Thursday were making some of the final preparations for this weekend’s removal of the connector bridge from Highway 12 to eastbound Interstate 80. The work will cause a full I-80 closure from 11 p.m. Saturday to 9 a.m. Sunday, the state Department of Transportation reported. Kiewit, of Fairfield, is the contractor on the $61 million project – the second package in the seven-phase $740 million Interstate 80/Interstate 680/Highway 12 Interchange Project.
  • RAISE Grants Will Support Four California Transportation Projects (Streetsblog California). The federal transportation grants from what was the TIGER program created under President Obama have been released, and journalists and advocates note that this new version of the program is generally good news for sustainable and active transportation. The RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) grants, as they are now called, do support some road and highway expansion, but most of the money is going towards projects like greenways, transit planning, and pedestrian and bike improvements.
  • Work crews complete I-80 bridge removal, reopen freeway on time in Fairfield (Daily Republic). A 10-hour closure of both eastbound and westbound Interstate 80 in Fairfield ended on time Sunday as crews reopened the freeway to traffic. I-80 was shut down in both directions for about 10 hours starting at 11 p.m. Saturday. The freeway was open again at 9 a.m. Sunday. Crews overseen by the state Department of Transportation removed the old Highway 12 to eastbound I-80 connector bridge. The work is part of the Interstate 80/Interstate 680/Highway 12 Interchange Project.

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🎭 No Humbugs For This New Interpretation of an Old Story | “A Christmas Carol” @ Ahmanson

A Christmas Carol (Ahmanson Theatre)Charles McNulty said he might be cast as the Scrooge of Drama Critics, and I’ll gladly cast him as such. How he let a technical problem at his performance mar his enjoyment of this delightful version of A Christmas Carol at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) is beyond me. “Bah Humbug” to you sir; this is a very Happy Christmas Carol indeed.

Now, I’m a Jewish boy. I’m not a big fan of the heavy emphasis that Christmas gets (I tend to agree with Stan Freberg’s Green Chri$tma$). I used to be tired of A Christmas Carol; indeed, some versions are very tiresome. My favorite production of the story is still A Mulholland Christmas Carol (which needs to be brought back), and I’m partial to the audio version of the Christmas Carol concert by Alisa Houser and Bob Christianson. It was that version from which I learned the fuller version of the story; previously, it was just remembered snippets from the various TV movie versions.

So what about the version of A Christmas Carol that is currently playing at the Ahmanson. The Old Vic production that was on Broadway just before the pandemic shut everything down. The one where Jack Thorne adapted Charles Dickens‘ version of the story (although Mr. Dickens doesn’t get a credit in the program — the man needs a new agent). The one that was originally conceived and directed by Matthew Warchus. The one that won 5 Tony Award in the Tony Award Season with an Asterisk. You know, that Christmas Carol.

Well, despite what McNulty said, I enjoyed it quite a bit.  The stage craft was astounding, the performances delightful. At was at times dark, at times joyous, and at times laugh out loud funny. This wasn’t one of those dour versions of the story, where the actors are tired and the story comes across the same. The actors behind this production were clearly having fun with the story, and that fun came through in the performances. They, in the words of the play, had Christmas in their hearts.

Thorne took some liberties with the story. He played up the roles of Fan and Belle, bringing them much more into the latter parts of the story than is traditional. He dropped some elements that still remain in my head: the dances at Fezziwigs, the children that accompany the Ghost of Christmas Present. He gave a face to the Ghost of Christmas Future when it was just a spectre before (which made for better theatre). He made Scrooge’s father a more pivotal figure, perhaps to provide more of a backstory. He brought the party to the Cratchett’s in a way I haven’t seen before. But you know what? It worked. I remarked to my daughter afterwards that A Christmas Carol is a lot like a Passover Seder. There are elements that absolutely must be in the story, and there is a trajectory to the main characters that must achieve the same resolution. But the surrounding elements can be adjusted slightly, and symbols can be adapted, to emphasize points relevant to the audience. That’s what this Carol did: the emphasize was a clear message that although the past can shape our behavior, it is we who have the free will to change our destiny. We can choose joy and caring about others; or we can only care about ourselves and what is in it for (as Paul Stookey might say), “Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”.

Although this adaptation was done before the pandemic, that message—the importance of caring about others and doing things to make their lives better, and not being self-centered—clearly resonates even more in the first production at the Ahmanson after COVID. As Bradley Whitford notes at the ending bows, this production is possible thanks to those who listened, cared about others, and took the steps necessary to make theatre safe again. That means they go their shots. What better way to have Christmas in your heart, and carry Jesus’ message about caring for the least, than making sure you protect them by getting vaccinated.  It’s a great gift, and it’s free as well. Scrooge would approve.

This production also has some wonderful localized humor. After Scrooge’s transformation, when he’s gathering food for the eventual feast, the writers throw in a number of local references and lots of ad-libbing. It’s delightful, and brings the audience in on the action. There are a number of other wonderfully immersive elements, from the actors tossing fruit to the audience before the show, to the lighting of the piece, to the snow in the theatre, to the actors showing up not just around the orchestra level, but up in the Mezzanine and the Balcony. It’s hard not to walk out of this production with a smile on your face (well, unless your Charles McNulty).

Would I recommend this production? Wholeheartedly yes.  It was a load of fun.

One thing that made this production special is that it is clear that the actors are enjoying themselves, and are having fun with their role. No where is that seen better than with the lead, Bradley Whitford Ebenezer Scrooge . Typically, Scrooge comes across as dour. Whitford starts out that way, but there’s a glimmer of something mischievous in him. Not in the way he is with money, but in the quick-witted responses he makes. It is clear he finds himself funny, even if no one else does. The other thing I noted about Whitford is how he disappeared into his character. I watched the recent Annie Live! on NBC, and everyone was praising Ann Dowd‘s performance as Charlotte Rae as Mrs. Garret. But when I saw it, I kept seeing mannerisms that made me think of Aunt Lydia.  Bradley Whitford is also in Handmaid’s Tale, but there was no trace of Commander Lawrence in his portray of Scrooge. Whitford was a believable Scrooge.

Another notable performance—and one I was looking forward to—was that of Alex Newell Ghost of Christmas Present / Mrs. Fezziwig.* Newell has a wonderful voice, and they got the opportunity to use it at various points in the program. But what made Newell’s performance wasn’t the singing—it was their smile. From the opening playfulness with the audience to the end, whenever Newell would smile the world would light up in joy. That joy fed back into the performance, with Newell being a wonderful Ghost of Christmas Present, as well as numerous other characters. They were having loads of fun, and it showed.
*: Newell used he/him in the program, but has indicated they don’t really have a preference. They are gender non-conforming, and has indicated that people should use whatever is comforatable. My mind says she/her, so I’m going with they/them as a middle ground.

Also notable was Kate Burton Ghost of Christmas Past. She had a bit more of a reserved role with an odd face mask, although she seemed to loosen up in the post-transformation sequences.

Completing the ghosts, the adaptation placed Glory Yepassis-Zembrou Little Fan as the voice of the Ghost of Christmas Future. This changed worked in the revised story, and she made a believable sister to Scrooge.

The other characters, although having named roles, served more as a supporting ensemble to the leads: Chante Carmel Mrs. Cratchit; Dashiell Eaves Bob Cratchit; Brandon Gill Fred; Evan Harrington Fezziwig; Chris Hoch Father / Marley; Sarah Hunt Belle; Alex Nee Ferdy / Nicholas; Cade Robertson Tiny Tim; Brett Ryback George; Harry Thornton Young Ebenezer; Grace Yoo Jess. Sebastian Ortiz Alternating as Tiny Tim. Standbys were Andrew Mayer and Celia Mei Rubin. Some notes on the supporting ensemble: Gill was actually up near us in the Mezzanine during the food gathering sequence, and he was fun to watch as he reacted to Whitford’s seeming ad-libs. I liked Hunt’s Belle, who had a nice inner spirit, and Hoch had a spectacular voice. Cade Robertson was incredibly cute as Tiny Tim; more notable is that the casting notice specifically cast disabled performer in the Tiny Tim role. Representation is everything, especially when you’re blessing everyone.

Although this wasn’t a musical, there was a fair amount of music. This was  mix of background and mood setting instrumentals, traditional Christmas music with some modified arrangements, and some new pieces composed and orchestrated by Christopher Nightingale. Music was provided by a mix of on-stage and off-stage performer, a number of whom were part of the acting ensemble (🎻). The musician team consisted of Remy Kurs Music Director / Keyboard; Alonso Pirio Assoc. Music Director; 🎻 Evan Harrington  Drum; 🎻 Brett Ryback  Whistles / Accordion; Hillary Smith Cello; 🎻 Harry Thornton  Cello / Bass; Mona Tian Violin; Micah Wright Clarinet / Bass Clarinet / Whistles; 🎻 Grace Yoo Ukulele. The rest of the music staff consisted of Howard Jones Music Coordinator; Emily Grishman Music Preparation Music Copying; Paul Staroba Music Supervision; Randy Cohen / Randy Cohen Keyboards Synthesizer Technician.

Turning to the production side: The performance was originally directed by Matthew Warchus; with Thomas Caruso being responsible for tour direction.  Lizzi Gee coordinated the movement. A few thoughts on the production design. This cast consisted of about 40% veterans of the Broadway production, and the rest who were new to the show for Los Angeles and a few other cities. The director did a great job of making this a unified team, and bringing out remarkable performances in the Los Angeles local team (who do a lot of work for cameras, not large rooms of people). Additionally, although A Christmas Carol may be technically a straight play, there is lots of movement and choreography, and Gee made it poetic and seamless and delightful to watch.

The most remarkable aspect of the production, however, was on the stagecraft side. Let’s start with what hits you when you walk to your seats: Hugh Vanstone‘s lighting design. Thousands of lanterns throughout the theatre; lanterns that you learn are programmed and not just mere lights (and so credit should go to Craig Steizenmuller US Assoc Lighting Designer; Sam Waddington UK Assoc Lighting Designer; Joe Beumer Asst Lighting Designer, and the Moving Light programmers Alyssa Eilbott and Mo Epps). Combine this with the other remarkable lighting that sets the mood, and you’ll be blown away (and this includes lighting the audience at times). The second remarkable aspect of the program is the sound design.  Rob Howell‘s set is simple: a basic wooden cross, some boxes that can be moved around, and four doorframes that rise up and down. It is Simon Baker‘s sound design that brings this to life. The actors pretend to open the door; and the sound makes it real. They slam the door; sound makes it real. The sound becomes the props, and you see the difference between the imagination that stagecraft can create vs the realism that film demands. The remainder of the scene was set by Rob Howell‘s costumes and the work of the team from Campbell Young Associates Wigs, Hair, & Makeup Design.  The principle designers were augmented by Michael Carnahan US Assoc Scenic Designer; Nancy A. Palmatier US Assoc Costume Designer; Andrew Wade Voice and Dialect Director; and Kathy Fabian / Propstar LLC Props Supervisor.

Rounding out the production team were: Jim Carnahan CSA Casting; Jason Thinger Casting; David S. Franklin Production Stage Manager; Michelle Blair Stage Manager; Amy Ramsdell Stage Manager; Showtown Theatricals General Manager; Aurora Productions Production Management.  I always give credit to the COVID Safety Teams, for without their work we would not be in the theatre. On the A Christmas Carol side, this was Swif Testing / Jeff Whiting COVID-19 Management; Sheree Devereaux COVID-19 Officer; and Krystal Nelson COVID-19 Medical Technician. On the CTG side, this is Niki Armato Facilities Assistant / COVID Compliance Officer; and a large team of supporting COVID compliance officers: Chase Anderson-Shaw, Monica Greene, Dean Grosbard, Henry Kelly, and Denise Reynoso.

A Christmas Carol continues at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) through January 1, 2022. Tickets are available through the Ahmanson box office; discount tickets may be available through Goldstar.

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member (modulo the COVID break). 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 (or I’ll make a donation to the theatre, in lieu of payment). I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB), Broadway in Hollywood (FB), the Ahmanson Theatre (FB), and we have a membership at The Pasadena Playhouse (FB). We were subscribing at Actors Co-op (FB) and the Musical Theatre Guild (FB) prior to COVID; they have not yet resumed productions. We have also been subscribers at the Soraya/VPAC (FB), although we are waiting a year before we pick that up again. 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. Note to publicists or producers reading this: here’s my policy on taking comp tickets. Bottom-Line: Only for things of nominal value, like Fringe.

Upcoming Shows:

For right now, we’re pretty much sticking with shows that come as part of our subscriptions or are of interest through our memberships. That may change later in 2022. Looking at the first half of 2022: January brings Everyone’s Talking About Jamie at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). February brings Something Rotten at 5 Star Theatricals (FB) and Marvin’s Room at Actors Co-op (FB). March brings The Lehman Trilogy at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB), Trayf at the Geffen Playhouse (with the TAS Live Theatre group); and Ann at The Pasadena Playhouse (FB). April brings the Southern California Renaissance FaireHadestown at at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) (although that may get pushed to May); and Tootsie at Broadway in Hollywood (FB). May is otherwise empty, but June will see Come From Away at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) and Pretty Woman at Broadway in Hollywood (FB), plus as much of the Hollywood Fringe Festival as we have the energy for.

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarOn Stage 411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget (although I know it is outdated and need to update it). Want to learn about all the great theatre in Southern California? Read my post on how Los Angeles (and its environs) is the best area for theatre in the Country (again, I need to review this for the post-COVID theatre landscape)!

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🎭 Beauty in the Inconsequential | “The Band’s Visit” @ Broadway In Hollywood/Dolby

The Band's Visit @ Broadway in Hollywood (Dolby)Silence. Calm. Space. Relaxation.

Those are not things you associate with a Tony-award winning Broadway musical. When you think of Broadway, you think of high kicking dance numbers. Lots of energy. Lots of volume. Something happening in every minute. Long leggy dancers. Big bands.

That’s not The Band’s Visit, which we saw last night at the Dolby Theatre as part of Broadway in Hollywood.

The Band’s Visit is best summarized by the opening projection, which is also said at the end of the show: “Once not long ago a group of musicians came to Israel from Egypt. You probably didn’t hear about it. It wasn’t very important.” What distinguishes this show is the quiet. The show is not afraid of silence; there’s quite a lot said in the pauses. That particular message is very important right now. We are all going crazy with the ongoing stress and fatigue of COVID, of politics, of conflict, of hostility, of partisanship. What we need to do is appreciate the quiet, to get the most out of our pauses.

This musical tells the story of The Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra, which was invited to perform at an Arab cultural center in Petah Tiqva. However, when getting their bus tickets, they get tickets for Beit Hatikva. This is a speck of concrete in the middle of the desert.  They spend the night with the villagers, and then go on their way and perform their concert.

That’s it. That’s the story. Two groups of strangers getting to know each other, and then moving on.

There are no big dance numbers. There are, instead, insightful chamber numbers. There are songs in English. There are songs in Hebrew. There are songs in Arabic. People who speak different languages, somehow finding out how to see past the differences and get along. Calmly. By listening to the pauses.

As the musical unfolded, I found myself enveloped by the difference of this musical. It relaxed me; it pulled out the stress in a different way than Head over Heels had the week before. Yet I found myself leaning forward and smiling (under my mask). I was also enthralled by the portrayal of the people. When we think of the conflict in the Middle East, we often think stereotypically of the strongly religious. That’s not present here. We see people. Secular folks, running cafes, going out to eat, playing music, taking care of families, dealing with family issues. The only hint of religion is the mezuzah on the cafe door. The story forces us to see people as people, and not through the lens of religion and politics. In these polarized times, perhaps that’s worth remembering.

One post show musing I had regarded the subsequent life of this musical. On the surface, it is deceptively appealing: a small cast, not a lot of technological tricks. Few curse words. But will it success in the regional and school circuit? It requires actors that can speak not only English but Hebrew and Arabic. It requires folks that can play some odd instruments. It has that odd sort of quirky draw similar to another Tony award winner, Once. I’m not sure this will make it on the regional circuit. Translation: See this now while it is on tour, or you may be waiting a while.

The Band’s Visit is based on the 2007 screenplay by Eran Kolirin, with a book for the stage by Itamar Moses. Music and lyrics are by David Yazbek, and sound very different than other shows of his such as The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels or Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

The performances were uniformly strong, let by Janet Dacal Dina and Sasson Gabay Teqfiq. I had heard Dacal before on the Wonderland album, and I have the recording of her solo album. She has a lovely voice, and brought a nice depth to the performance. Gabay played the role in the original screenplay, and brought a night level of formality and warmth to the role. But the cast, as a whole, was an ensemble. Other than the leads, it was difficult to single out any performance. The remainder of the cast at our performance was: Joe Joseph Haled; Clay SInger Itzik; Yoni Avi Battat Camal, 🎼 Violin; Coby Getzug Papi; Joshua Grosso Telephone Guy; Kendal Hartse Iris; David Studwell Avrum; Billy Cohen Zelger; Layan Elwazani Julia; Nick Sacks (in for Marc GinsburgSammy; James Rana Simon; Hannah Shankman (in for Ariel Reich) Anna; Roger Kashou 🎼 Darbouka/Riq; Brian Krock 🎼 Clarinet / Saxophone / Flute; Kane Mathis 🎼 Oud / Guitar; Wick Simmons 🎼 Cello. Other standbys were Ali Louis Bourzgui, Loren Lester, and Dana Saleh Omar. 🎼 indicates on-stage band members. I’ll note I was a bid sad not to see Marc Ginsberg; we’ve seen him in numerous 5-Star/Cabrillo productions and the in LA Premier of Levi – The Musical. Also interesting is the large number of Los Angeles locals in the cast (such as Dacal, Getzug,  Ginsberg, Lester, Omar) and CMU alumni (Singer, Grosso, Sacks).

The remainder of the band, offstage, were Adrian Ries Conductor / Keyboard; Kelly Thomas Assoc. Conductor / Keyboard; David White Electric & Acoustic Bass; Shai Wetzer Drums / Arabic Percussion. Other members of the music team were: Jamshied Sharifi Orchestrations; Andrea Grody Music Supervisor / Additional Arrangements; Alex Farha Musician Swing; Dean Sharenow Music Coordinator; Peter Foley Music Preparation; Billy Jay Stein and Hiro Iida for Strange Cranium Inc Electronic Music Design.

Turning to the production and creative side: In terms of performance design, the production was directed by David Cromer, and choreographed by Patrick McCollum. Of course, they don’t go on the tour, so credit for keeping the tour fresh goes to Seth Sikes Associate Director; Jesse Kovarsky Associate Choreographer; and Hannah Shankman Dance Captain.  Also pretty significant was Zohar Tirosh-Polk Israeli Dramaturg / Dialect Coach and Lamia Bensouda Arabic Dialect Coach. The stage design team consisted of Scott Pask Scenic Design; Sarah Laux Costume Design; Tyler Micoleau Lighting Design; Kai Harada Sound Design; Charles G. LaPointe Hair and Wig Design. As with the story, the stage design was similarly understated. There were well worn buildings, well worn living rooms, a well worn cafe. The costumes were well-worn for the residents, the band was in uniform. Lighting was often subdued. Sound was clear; this was a show that benefitted from being in the Dolby with its clear and crisp sound (it would have suffered in the Pantages, which swallows sound). The scenic design elements worked well. Rounding out the production team were: John M. Atherlay Production Stage Manager; Nikki Lint Stage Manager; Sean Francis Patrick Asst. Stage Manager; Tara Rubin Casting Casting; Foresight Theatrical Management Consultant; Chris Danner Company Manager; Justin T. Scholl Asst. Company Manager; Bond Theatrical Marketing and Publicity Direction; The Road Company Tour Booking. There were loads and loads of producers. I always give credit to the COVID Safety Team: Toni Ostini Tour COVID Safety Manager; and … well … the Broadway in Hollywood staff directory does not give a credit for their COVID safety team. They should. They are what keeps the theatre open.

One last thing, if the Broadway in Hollywood (FB) staff read this: The show needs a pre-show announcement about keeping your masks on during the show, and keeping any light emitting and sound emitting devices off. Audiences have been out of the live theatres for so long they have clearly forgotten the protocols, and mask reminders keep everyone safe.

The Band’s Visit continues at The Dolby Theatre through December 19, 2021. Tickets are available through Broadway in Hollywood (Ticketmaster). Discount tickets may be available through Goldstar.

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member (modulo the COVID break). 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 (or I’ll make a donation to the theatre, in lieu of payment). I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB), Broadway in Hollywood (FB), the Ahmanson Theatre (FB), and we have a membership at The Pasadena Playhouse (FB). We were subscribing at Actors Co-op (FB) and the Musical Theatre Guild (FB) prior to COVID; they have not yet resumed productions. We have also been subscribers at the Soraya/VPAC (FB), although we are waiting a year before we pick that up again. 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. Note to publicists or producers reading this: here’s my policy on taking comp tickets. Bottom-Line: Only for things of nominal value, like Fringe.

Upcoming Shows:

For right now, we’re pretty much sticking with shows that come as part of our subscriptions or are of interest through our memberships. That may change later in 2022. We have one more show in December: A Christmas Carol at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). Turning to 2022: January brings Everyone’s Talking About Jamie at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). February brings Something Rotten at 5 Star Theatricals (FB) and Marvin’s Room at Actors Co-op (FB). March brings The Lehman Trilogy at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB), Trayf at the Geffen Playhouse (with the TAS Live Theatre group); and Ann at The Pasadena Playhouse (FB). April brings the Southern California Renaissance FaireHadestown at at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) (although that may get pushed to May); and Tootsie at Broadway in Hollywood (FB). May is otherwise empty, but June will see Come From Away at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) and Pretty Woman at Broadway in Hollywood (FB), plus as much of the Hollywood Fringe Festival as we have the energy for.

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarOn Stage 411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget (although I know it is outdated and need to update it). Want to learn about all the great theatre in Southern California? Read my post on how Los Angeles (and its environs) is the best area for theatre in the Country (again, I need to review this for the post-COVID theatre landscape)!

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🛣 Headlines About California Highways – November 2021

Eleven down, one to go. Perhaps 2022 will be better than 2021 was. We went into 2021 with so much optimism after 2020 and its craziness. It looked like things were going better, but then we were slammed with supply chain woes, and people that seemed more concerned with themselves and partisan political positioning than with making the world a better place (Tikkun Olam). But we can make 2022 better. You can do your part. Get vaccinated (and get a booster if have your first shots). Put your vaccine card in your digital wallet (it makes things easy). Wear your masks. Let’s keep beating this virus down until we can get that R0 to 1 or below. Right now, the R0 is at 1.1, so we’re getting closer. This chart visualizes how infectious SARS-COV-2 is without the vaccine, compared to other diseases.

But November has been crazy in other ways. On the plus side, theatre is coming back and I saw two shows in November: Hamilton and Head Over Heels. That’s the good. The bad is that I saw the last show with a friend, not my wife. That’s because my wife fell in a store the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and has been in the hospital since. They repaired the broken kneecap and tib-fib fracture, and now it is just rehab until mid-December at least. That sees me on the roads more, but not for a good reason.

But at least I can give you something fun. Here are the headlines I collected for November. As always: Ready, Set, Discuss, and get your vaccine or booster.

Key

[Ħ Historical information |  Paywalls, $$ really obnoxious paywalls, and  other annoying restrictions. I’m no longer going to list the paper names, as I’m including them in the headlines now. Note: For $ paywalls, sometimes the only way is incognito mode, grabbing the text before the paywall shows, and pasting into an editor. ]

Highway Headlines

  • Goodman urges California officials to widen I-15; Caltrans says not so fast (Las Vegas Review-Journal). After an end to any busy weekend in the Las Vegas Valley, you can almost count on two things happening: a miles-long traffic backup on Interstate 15 southbound, and Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman tweeting about it. With the interstate going from three lanes on the Nevada side to two on the California side, traffic can back up more than 20 miles on some busy holiday weekends. Last week’s EDC music festival drew hundreds of thousands of people, with many driving in from Southern California. The backup on Monday, after the festival ended, got up to at least 15 miles long, according to Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada traffic alerts. Goodman took to her Twitter account to urge California transportation officials to help ease the congestion.
  • $$American Canyon looks at gas stations and hotels on Highway 29 (Napa Valley Register). American Canyon’s main drag of Highway 29 could get another hotel, though adding gas stations beyond an upcoming Circle K looks doubtful. This week, the city Planning Commission had two discussions that could affect the Highway 29 ambiance. It recommended the City Council allow a Hampton Inn and favored a ban on new gas stations, pending a few details to be worked out. American Canyon’s highway stretch is the first look at Napa County for many visitors. It is a mixture of new shopping centers, old buildings and vacant lots. A three-story, 112-room Hampton Inn with such features as a fitness center and meeting room would be just south of Donaldson Way. It would replace, among other things, a house with a windmill in front of it on a 2.5-acre lot that is largely vacant.
  • Who killed L.A.’s streetcars? We all did (Los Angeles Times). Suppose you’re thinking of moving to Los Angeles, and you ask your friends, what movies should I watch to learn all about the place? Easy, they say. “Chinatown,” “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” That’s fine — if you’re willing to let movies teach you history. But do remember, please, that “Chinatown” is a brilliant but truth-adjacent film and that “Once Upon a Time” delivers a happy grisly alternate ending to the Charles Manson saga. And as for “Roger Rabbit,” do you really want your source material about L.A.’s electric streetcar system to come from a cast of animated lagomorphs? Next to the Black Dahlia, that is probably L.A.’s favorite murder-conspiracy whodunit: Who killed the Red Cars, once the grandest electric streetcar system in the nation?
  • Phase 2 of the Route 70 Safety and Passing Lanes Project (District 3/FB). Caltrans and its partners celebrated the completion of Phase 2 of the Highway 70 Safety and Passing Lanes Project in Butte County this morning. The new roadway improves safety along Highway 70 corridor by providing continuous passing opportunities for vehicles from East Gridley Road to the Butte-Yuba county line. The project is the third of six major roadway improvement projects completed on Highway 70 between Oroville and Marysville.
  • South Fresno Corridor Project (District 6/FB). District 6 will host a virtual public hearing for the South Fresno Corridor Project. The hearing will be held on November 4th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. You may access the virtual hearing through the project website: https://dot.ca.gov/caltrans-near-me/district-6/district-6-projects/06-0h240
  • Golden State Bridge Inc. Delivers Unique Reconstruction Project (Construction Eqpt. Guide). The new $18 million Klamath River Bridge, a 300-ft. long, one lane in each direction, arch structure located north of Yreka, Calif., constructed by Golden State Bridge Inc. for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), was fully delivered on Oct. 1 of this year. The complex project dealt with many environmental hurdles, which required a unique falsework system envisioned and implemented by Golden State’s Project Manager Paul Lukaszewicz, Superintendent Jim Banbury and Project Engineer Evan Huber to meet all concerns of the permitting agencies with no temporary structures in the flowing water. An engineered bridge removal plan also was required to dismantle the old structure and prevent debris from falling into the river.

Read More …

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🎭 A Joyous Break | “Head Over Heels” @ Pasadena Playhouse

Head Over Heels @ Pasadena PlayhouseBack in late 2018, I happened to listen to the Little Known Facts podcast episode with Bonnie Milligan. Bonnie, at the time, was starring in a new Broadway musical, Head Over HeelsHead Over Heels tells the story of … well, we’ll get to that later.  The podcast interview impressed me a number of ways; most particularly, it made me curious about a musical where one of the main leads was being played by a larger woman. The musical was built around the music of the LA band The Go-Gos,  so the music was fun and bouncy and it just sounded like it would be a great show. I got the cast album, and looked forward to it eventually going on tour.

Then it closed quickly on Broadway after 36 previews and 164 performances. This made a tour unlikely. This would be another musical like Big Fish, Tuck Everlasting or Bandstand that had great music, but no official tour. I resigned myself to probably not seeing it. But, like with Big Fish and Bandstand, I happened to luck out. In this case, the Pasadena Playhouse announced a regional reimagining and remounting as their first show, post-pandemic. Just like with Big Fish (Musical Theatre West, 2014) and Bandstand (Broadway in T.O., 2019), I’d get to see it. Tuck Everlasting, I’m still waiting for you.

Head Over Heels is primarily a jukebox musical, as noted above. The story they chose to pull the songs together Book 1 is The Arcadia, a prose pome by Sir Philip Sidney. Here’s how Wikipedia summarizes the original Book 1:

In Book I, the Duke of Arcadia, Basilius, journeys to the oracle at Delphos and receives a bleak prediction: his daughters will be stolen by undesirable suitors, he will be cuckolded by his wife, and his throne will be usurped by a foreign state. Hoping to preempt this fate, Basilius entrusts the Arcadian government to his loyal subject, Philanax, and retires to a pastoral lodge with his wife, Gynecia, their attractive daughters, Pamela and Philoclea, his boorish servant, Dametas, and the latter’s repulsive wife and daughter, Miso and Mopsa. In a nearby city, Pyrocles and Musidorus pass the night; they are cousins, princes, and best friends, and are famous throughout Greece for their heroic exploits. Pyrocles, upon seeing a picture of Philoclea at a gallery, is overwhelmed by a passionate desire to see her in person. To that end, Pyrocles disguises himself as Cleophila, an “[Amazonian lady] going about the world to practice feats of chivalry,” and heads for Basilius’s pastoral lodge, accompanied by the skeptical but loyal Musidorus. Deceived by Cleophila’s feminine disguise, Basilius falls in love with her, and invites her to stay with the family. While Musidorus covertly observes this meeting, he is overwhelmed by a passionate love for the elder daughter, Pamela, and decides to disguise himself as a shepherd, Dorus, in order to gain access to her. When everyone congregates in an arbor to hear the shepherds sing, a lion and bear attack the party. Cleophila kills the lion, saving Philoclea; Dorus kills the bear, saving Pamela. Cleophila’s manly puissance leads Gynecia to suspect her secret male sex, while Philoclea forms an intense “sisterly” affection for Cleophila.

As I said, that’s the original story. As transformed by Jeff Whitty‘s conception and original book, and then adapted by James Magruder, the story takes on a decidedly modern feel. This was made clear in the original casting by a number of ground-breaking and gender-bending selections beyond the casting of Milligan — most notably, the casting of a non-binary performer, Peppermint, as the oracle. You can find a synopsis of the Broadway production on the wikipedia page; but it is essentially the same story.

For the Pasadena Playhouse production, Jenny Koons and Sam Pinkleton Direction, Choreography, Updated Conception reimagined the show a bit more. They knew that, post-COVID, audiences wouldn’t want to sit for 3 hours in a small building. So they cut the story down to a single 80-minute act, mostly by cutting extraneous story bits. They knew the audiences wanted fun, so they moved the show from a standard proscenium presentation to an immersive presentation (similar to what was done for Pirates at the Playhouse in 2018). They covered the orchestra seats with a dance floor, making it level with the existing stage. They put bleacher seating on the stage, and organized the audience into three groups: one group standing and dancing on the dance floor, interacting with the actors; one group in the stage seating; and one group up in the balcony as an upper mezzanine. They encouraged the audiences to dress up and dance and have fun (although no open bar, as with Pirates); I think a lot of the fun of the show was watching the audience. This, of course, while making sure EVERYONE was vaccinated and had their masks on.

They then cast the show in the manner of the original production: gender bending all the way. What a shock that must be for the Pasadena Blue Hairs, but it was fabulous. The cast consisted of Alaska 5000 Gynecia, the Queen; Lea Delaria Basilus, the King; Yurel Echezarreta The Player; Freddie Pythio, the Oracle; Tiffany Mann Pamela, the elder daughter; Shanice Williams Philoclea, the younger daughter; George Salazar Musidorus, the sheperd; and Emily Skeggs Mopsa, the handmaiden. If you just look at the cast, you’ll see a number of drag performers; this element of cross-dressing continues into the show and — I’m pleased to say — isn’t being used to play up the laughs in a Bosom Buddies sense, but as an integral part of the characters and the stories. So in Head over Heels, it is appropriate and it works.

The performances themselves were strong. It is clear that the cast is having a hell of a good time and that sense of joy is clear in their performances and audience interactions. Every show will be a bit different because of the interactions — they dance with the audience, they pull them on stage. The singing is strong, and the performances are stellar. Personally, I was most impressed with Skeggs look and voice, Mann’s singing, the playfulness of both Williams and Salazar, the wow factor of Echezarreta, the voice of Freddie, and the … everything of Alaska 5000.

I think the most telling thing about the show was that the mood was infectious — and in a good way, not a COVID way. I went into the show feeling a bit down. My wife (who was supposed to go with me) fell last Saturday and broke her kneecap, tibia, and fibia, and has been in the hospital for the last week — and she’ll be there at least two weeks more for in-patient rehab. Finding someone to go with me made me realize how few friends I had (luckily, a friend from my synagogue’s mens club joined me). So I was down. But I left this show happy and feeling good. Especially right now, this is what theatre needs to do. We need shows that bring us joy, and Head Over Heels at the Pasadena Playhouse certainly does that.

Music for the show was provided by an on-stage all female band: Laura Hall Assoc Music Director/Keyboards; Nikki Stevens Guitar 1 (Electric / Steel-String Acoustic / Mandolin / Ukulele); Hisako Ozawa Guitar 2 (Electric / Nylon & Steel-String Acoustic / Banjo); B. B. Kates Bass; and Nicole Marcus Drums / Percussion. Eric Heinly was the contractor that assembled the band. Kris Kukul was the music director. Simply put, the band rocked!

Turning to the production side of the equation: David Meyer Scenic Design warped the playhouse. He transformed the physical space into a dance club, with an upper mezzanine, lower bleachers, and a dance floor with risers (including the names of the Go-Gos painted here and there), with a metal structure surrounding the sides and in front of the balcony for the actors. It was remarkable, and must give the actors quite a workout. But it made for a fun show. This was augmented by the work of Hahnji Jang Costume Design, who had this odd modern mix of costumes: classic 50s style for the Queen, suit and cigars for the King, playful sweatpants and dresses for the daughters, and just real imaginative stuff for the rest. The costumes were supported well by the work of Christopher Enlow Hair and Wig Design , some of which were classic (like Alaska 5000), some were playful (such as the Players or the daughters), and some were so unique to the character (like the King’s). About the only weak point was Stacey Derosier Lighting Design design that at points left the actors in a deep shade, making them hard to see. This may have been an artifact of the warping of the space screwing up the possible lighting lines. Danny Erdberg and Ursula Kwong-Brown‘s Sound Design sound was generally clear, although on the lower bleachers a bit of the volume was lost.  Other production credits: Jenny Slattery Assoc Producer; Brad Enlow Technical Director / Production Supervisor; Sara Sahin Stage Manager; Lydia Runge Assist. Stage Manager; Davidson & Choy Publicity Press Representative; The Telsey Office, Ryan Bernard Tymensky Casting. The program does not give a credit for a COVID safety officer; that’s too bad, as that role deserves acknowledgement right now. However, the production team does deserve credit for strong back-stage diversity that mirrors the diversity on-stage. Danny Feldman is the Producing Artistic Director.

Note: You don’t get the program for the show until you are leaving, and — starting what is sure to be a trend — there are a limited number of printed programs. They encourage you to visit an online interactive program instead via a QR code. This, in my eyes, is poor. Twenty-five years from now, will this online site be available? I still have programs from when I started at the Playhouse back in 1988 (Down an Alley Filled With Cats … I’m looking at you). Yes, it saves paper, but they could just as well print on recycled paper without as much color or clay.

Head Over Heels continues at the Pasadena Playhouse until December 12. Tickets are available through the Playhouse; discount tickets may be available on Goldstar.

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member (modulo the COVID break). 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 (or I’ll make a donation to the theatre, in lieu of payment). I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB), Broadway in Hollywood (FB), the Ahmanson Theatre (FB), and we have a membership at The Pasadena Playhouse (FB). We were subscribing at Actors Co-op (FB) and the Musical Theatre Guild (FB) prior to COVID; they have not yet resumed productions. We have also been subscribers at the Soraya/VPAC (FB), although we are waiting a year before we pick that up again. 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. Note to publicists or producers reading this: here’s my policy on taking comp tickets. Bottom-Line: Only for things of nominal value, like Fringe.

Upcoming Shows:

For right now, we’re pretty much sticking with shows that come as part of our subscriptions or are of interest through our memberships. That may change later in 2022. December brings The Bands Visit at Broadway in Hollywood (FB) and A Christmas Carol at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). Turning to 2022: January brings Everyone’s Talking About Jamie at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). February brings Something Rotten at 5 Star Theatricals (FB); lastly, March brings The Lehman Trilogy at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB), and Ann at The Pasadena Playhouse (FB).

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarOn Stage 411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget (although I know it is outdated and need to update it). Want to learn about all the great theatre in Southern California? Read my post on how Los Angeles (and its environs) is the best area for theatre in the Country (again, I need to review this for the post-COVID theatre landscape)!

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Where is Barney?

My wife is in the hospital, after falling and breaking her knee, and this is leading me to a stark realization: I’m friendless. That’s not saying I don’t have friends — I do. But I don’t have a Barney, and its troubling. Let me explain.

My wife (who is my best friend) is going to be stuck in the hospital for at least the next week. We have tickets to the Pasadena Playhouse for Saturday night (Head over Heels, The Go-Gos Musical). She will not be able to make it. So I’m trying to figure out who to go with. My daughter is going the next day, so she’s out. That leaves… I don’t know. In discussing this with my daughter, she “arranged” a possible person: the father of her best friend. That just seemed off to me, I don’t know the guy and have no idea if we have anything in common. However, one thing he said got to me: “Saturdays are for the guys”.

If I were Fred Flintstone, I’d have a Barney. A best bud. A pal. A guy who has been a friend most of my life, who has a number of shared interests. If I were Fred Flintstone, I’d call Barney. But I don’t have a Barney. Racking my brain, I can’t think of a single close male friendship. I had some as a kid, but post-college … not really. I tended to form strong friendships with women; but even at that, the truly close female friends I’ve had are either dead or have moved away from the area. This is familiar, I think: I tried to think who filled this role for my dad, and I can’t think of anyone after my Uncle Ray passed: they were usually friends of my mom whom my dad grafted on to. I’d say that my dad’s best friend, beyond his spouses, was his brother.

As I lay in bed this morning, I was raking my brain thinking who I might ask. The basic parameters would be:

  • Shared experiences: Someone I’ve known a reasonable amount of time
  • Shared interests: Someone with some congruity with my interests (roadgeeking, theatre, boardgaming)

There are perhaps one or two, but most of the potential candidates no longer live in the area. I’ve drifted away — either in distance or social circles — from many of my childhood, high school, or college friends. It’s making me realize I have no “best buddy”. Friendship is a partial ordering, and I’m realizing I don’t have a least upper bound. My best friend is my wife, and beyond that … I’m not sure anyone achieves that closeness. That’s worrisome. My wife has some friends who do. Do women form relationships like that better? I don’t think so — at least not if I read the literature.  I think it is just introverts like me.

But this still leave me wondering: What do I do Saturday night? I can think of a few possibilities, but no one nearby. That’s troubling.

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🛣 Changes to the California Highway Website covering September-October 2021

Time for the penultimate update to the highway pages for 2021. Before I paste in the change log, I should insert enough text so that folks don’t get bothered by the masterpiece of an introduction that I’ve written. So suffice it to say that these changes include updates from my usual review of headlines, AARoads posts, and material sent to me, as well as bills and resolutions approved by the legislature and actions of the California Transportation Commission. Read it, enjoy it, and you’ll find it a real “shot in the arm”, if you get my drift. Oh, and “Ready, Set, Discuss”.

Here’s the change log:

Welcome to the penultimate update of 2021, capturing happenings in September and October. Whenever I write up these things of late, I’m always including a reminder for people to get (noun), I also advise people to (action). I’ve made comments about (event in the past), and even have expressed my opinion about (political figure). Invariably, when I share this on AAroads, some (noun) makes a comment about how I’m injecting politics into the forum. I want to make one thing absolutely clear: My highway pages are about the truth, without opinion, and discussion about the pages and these updates should be focused on the highways.  But (noun) is real, and measures must be taken to reduce its spread and get us out on the roads again — and those roads must be safe and not filled with (plural noun) waiving their (plural nouns) and driving their (plural nouns). Oops. Did I say that with my public voice?

I thought about making the paragraph above in the form of a Mad Libs, but it was harder to format. Those who know me should know how to fill in the words. Those who are offended by the above, well, it is your mind that is filling in the blanks, and I think you should (anatomically impossible action).

As for the real introduction: September and October were interesting months. Newsom survived the recall attempt, and it will be interesting to see the impact of his survival on the roadbuilding and road rehabilitation programs of the state, as well as the future of High Speed Rail. There have been massive wildfires in the Northern and Eastern parts of the state that have impacted roads. I normally don’t note fire damage here because it will be repaired, but these fires have resulted in major closures on roads such as US 50, Route 88, Route 299 and much more. Let’s hope for their speedy and complete repair. As road lovers, we are all too aware of the impact of (noun) on highways, be it flooding on Route 37, fires on the roads in the Sierra Nevada or other forests, or damage from flash flooding out in the desert. This is one reason why emphasis of transportation programs is changing from building more roads and getting more vehicles from place to place faster to increasing capacity and improving the movement of people.

For those reading this on AAroads: Go over to the 2021 Changes page ((web page link)), and you can read the incredibly clever and witty introduction that I wrote, but decided not to post here because I didn’t want to deal with (username)‘s reaction this time. Trust me, it was really good.

On to the updates:

Updates were made to the following highways, based on my reading of the papers in September and October 2021 (which are posted to the roadgeeking category at the “Observations Along The Road” and to the California Highways Facebook group) as well as any backed up email changes. I also reviewed the the AAroads forum (Ꜳ). This resulted in changes on the following routes, with credit as indicated [my research(ℱ), contributions of information or leads (via direct mail or ꜲRoads) from PDERocco(2), Tom Fearer(3)HeyNow415(4), Rick Kelly(5), Michael McThrow(6): Route 1(ℱ), Route 2(ℱ), I-5(ℱ), LRN 5(5), I-10(ℱ), Route 11(ℱ,2), Route 24(ℱ), Route 26(ℱ), Route 49(ℱ), US 50(ℱ), Route 73(ℱ,3), US 97(3), Route 99(ℱ,3), US 101(ℱ), Route 107(ℱ), Route 108(ℱ), Route 113(ℱ), Route 133(ℱ), Route 139(3), Route 148(ℱ), Route 154(ℱ), Route 161(3), Route 190(3), Route 213(ℱ), LRN 232(ℱ), Route 238(4), Route 239(6), Route 241(ℱ), Route 299(3),  I-580(ℱ,5), Route 710(ℱ), Route 905(ℱ), County Sign Route J4(6).
(Source: private email, Highway headline posts through October 2021 as indicated, AARoads through 11/13/2021)

Thanks to a question, I learned that there is an online version of “2020 Named Freeways, Highways, Structures and Other Appurtenances in California“. Did an audit against my names list. Discovered that Caltrans has errors in their document :-).

Reviewed the Pending Legislation page, based on the California Legislature site. As usual, I recommend to every Californian that they visit the legislative website regularly and see what their legis-critters are doing. As many people are unfamiliar with how the legislature operates (and why there are so many “non-substantive changes” and “gut and amend” bills), I’ve added the legislative calendar to the end of the Pending Legislation page. Noted the passage of the following:

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