Your Daily Quota of Chum

Today brings a few intersting bits of chum… certainly worth chewing on…


Disappearing Landmarks: Granada Hills, Westwood Village

Today’s lunchtime reading of the news led me to some interesting articles regarding disappearing landmarks:

  • Granada Hills. The LA Observed Blog (la_observed) today highlighted a new blog on Granada Hills (now syndicated to LJ as granada_hills), which led me to this post about the 1960’s Ralphs at Chatsworth and Balboa. I drive past that location every day (it’s where we pick up ellipticcurve for the vanpool). I never knew that was a former Ralphs, or one that had such interesting design, with a fascinating roof and signage. I’ll have to look closer when I go by today.
  • Westwood Village. The LA Times is reporting on how the movie theatre scene in Westwood Village is changing. A while back, the Manns National closed (the big brown whale) — I had many a good time at that theatre, and its where I saw the first Star Wars. Last Thursday, the Mann Festival theatre on Lindbrook closed (this was the former UA theatre next to the former Bratskeller… which used to be a Ralphs), and early the Mann Westwood 4 (which I think was the old UA theatre south of Wilshire, near where Westward Ho used to be) and the Mann Plaza (not sure which this one was). The article also notes that Mann isn’t renewing the lease of the Bruin and the Village. I remember seeing many movies in Westwood in my college days (including at the Avco — I have no idea what that is these days). Westwood Village has really changed — from the happening hot spot in the 1970s and 1980s to a dead zone.

So What Do They Do Now?

According to the LA Times, Anaheim Ducks owner Henry Samueli has agreed to plead guilty to lying to federal authorities about his role in the backdating of stock options at Broadcom Corp. Of course, those of us who are UCLA alums know that he made the naming contribution for the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science at UCLA, and a similar school at UC Irvine. Does this disgrace the reputation of UCLA engineering school to have the Samueli moniker?

[I’ll note that, based on the article, he also appears to be a member of my sister-in-law’s congregation in Aliso Viejo, Temple Beth El.]


Aging and Modern Media

As one gets older, one thinks about the past more often. Right now, with my daughter’s 8th grade graduation, it’s been on my mind, just as it was on my mind last November when I had my 30th high school reunion. So, this morning I created a group on Facebook for the UCLA Computer Club, and started trying to search for Computer Club folk (at least those I could remember). Now mind you, these are people who were technologically-savvy. They were some of the first folks on the Internet (back when it was just UCLA, BBN, and I think MIT). These were folks involved with the IBM 360/65 and IBM 360/91. These were folks using the net in the days of SFLOVERS. In short, if anyone from my generation would be up and active on places like Facebook (or here on LJ, or on MySpace, for that matter), it would be these folks.

You know who I found?

Three people. All of whom are CS Faculty, which means they probably have Facebooks due to their students.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m an oddity being so connected in this social networking world… (don’t answer that :-))


Update at the Conference Dinner

The conference dinner was its usual interesting affair. I’m not sure I’ll do the same thing next year, at least in terms of food. There was a lot of the buffet items left uneaten (especially the seafood paellia). I’ll probably do a plated meal.

The discussions, as always, were the most interesting part of the evening. I had my usual fun introducing people to other people (I feel that is one of my jobs at the conference). In this case, I introduced Hongxia Jin (who gave our broadcast encryption tutorial) to Deb Downs, as both have or had an interest in digital rights management. Looks like we may have a tutorial proposal on that next year. That’s about four tutorial proposals I’ve already solicited today.

Dick, as usual, was fishing for drink tickets :-). He actually won a large book on security during the book raffle… which he promptly auctioned off for 8 drink tickets. One person at our table won a book on security metrics. She was an MBA student there with her husband, which led to a fascinating discussion on risk management and how companies deal with risk and justifying the cost of security.

The student paper winner was local, from the University of Central Florida. This led to a discussion with Ed Schneider on state universities. I, for example, never knew that schools such as George Mason and William and Mary were state universities of Virginia. Evidently in Virginia the state universities don’t always have University of Virginia in their name. I know Maryland’s are all University of Maryland, and Missouri’s… well, I’ve discussed that bru-ha-ha in the past. So is University of Central Florida a state university? I have no idea, but an article in today’s Miami Herald makes me think so, as their schools don’t have consistent names. As for California, of course, there is University of California, xxxxx, and California State University xxxxx, unless it is xxxxx State (or the California Maritime Academy). I’m sure, by the way, that you can name all the UC and CSU campuses… can you? There are 23 CSUs and 10 UCs, as well as loads of ancillary locations and laboratories. However, there is at least one California University that is not in California.

Tomorrow is another full day technical program, after which the conference committee is going out for a committee dinner (Robert is pushing for Brazilian, although last time that was $$$). I’ll also have a sponsoring organization meeting (ACSA) at lunch.


Theatres in your Life

la_observed provided notice today that the Mann’s National in Westwood is finally closed for good. In the linked CinemaTreasures article there are more details on the theatre, including a complete list of all the movies shown there.

Boy, does that bring back memories.

10/23/74 … 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (RE, 1 week, 70mm-stereo)

My first date, with a girl I met through a friend from camp. I later took that girl to the prom. I have no idea what happened to her, but I do remember her well.

06/12/81 … RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (16 weeks, 70mm-Dolby Stereo)

This was a UCLA Computer Club expedition, a matinee, to see the perfect matinee movie.

Goodbye National. I’ll miss you. You were a part of my life.


Those Scurvy Dogs… and Bears

Scurvy Dogs be everythere these days, mates. I ’twas looking at the paper in me parrot’s cage, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and I saw an article about how some scalliwags are trying to rename the University of Missouri-Columbia to simply “the University of Missouri”. Those salty dogs should be made ‘t walk the plank, for they seem to forget there are other University of Missouri campuses, such as UMKC (Kansas City), UMSL (St. Louis), and MUST (nee UMR (Rolla)). Mates, that would be like the University of California at Berkeley renaming themselves as simply “the University of California”. Me mates at the twig, ooops, University of California, Southern Branch, oops, UCLA, would be rightly pissed about that. So would me mates at Davis, Santa Barbara, and all t’ other ports of call. Now, we all know that Berkeley has no intention of renaming, ummm, don’t we.

What’s that mate? They call themselves “Cal“? I say a raid for booty is called for!


Come Look at the Freaks / Come Gape at the Geeks

Some shows you watch as a disinterested observer. It is the rare show where the power of the music and the power of the acting combine to get into you, to touch your soul, and to leave you thinking about deeper meanings. It is even rarer when such a show is a student performance. Last night, we saw the final performance of such a show… “Side Show”, the final student performance of the year from the UCLA Theatre Arts Department. This production was funded through the UCLA Ray Bolger Musical Theater Program.

Side Show” tells the story of the Hilton twins, Daisy and Violet. The presented story closely parallels the real life of the twins. The show opens at a Texas sideshow where the twins are the featured attraction. Spotted by a talent broker, the twins are soon encouraged to leave the show for a chance at vaudeville. They do, and succeed quite well in the show biz. But love, as always, gets in the way, for the twins fall in love with the talent broker and their agent. The love isn’t always returned, for the men have trouble accepting the issues of getting two-for-one. Violet is loved by Jake, another sideshow performer who comes with them as their protector, but she doesn’t return it, unable to accept loving a black man. The climax of the show is the wedding of Violet to her talent broker at the Texas Centennial, at which the true nature of all the relationships are revealed. The marriage goes through anyway, but no one is happy. The show closes with the sisters realizing that the only people they truely have are each other.

There are many aspects here to explore, so let’s start with the story (book and lyrics by Bill Russell, music by Henry Krieger (who also did “Dreamgirls”)). The story raises the question of what is a “freak”, and how society treats them. Far too often, freaks are judged by looks and not the inner person. In the case of the Hilton Sisters, we had two beautiful young ladies, who do to their deformity were classified as freak first. The show also touched on the issue of acceptance, and how and why we accept people. This is a big issue in Kreiger musicals (look at the acceptance question, based on looks, of Effie in Dreamgirls). In this case, we had someone who could accept the twins as they were, coming from the same mileau (Jake), but they could not accept him… again, based on looks (black vs. white). Acceptance is something we all crave, on our terms. The show says it quite well:

Like a fish plucked from the ocean
Tossed into a foreign stream
Always knew that I was different
Often fled into a dream
I ignored the raging currents
Right against the tide I swam
But I floated with the question
Who will love me as I am?

Lastly, the show raised the question of whether we are ever alone. In the case of Daisy and Violet, they couldn’t move forward until they accepted that they were never alone spiritually in addition to physically: that each twin was there for the other, as they sing:

We were meant to share each moment
Beside you is where I will stay
Evermore and always
We’ll be one though we’re two
for I will never leave you

In reality, aren’t we all twins, with that inner strength we forget we have that is always with us? If you would like a taste of the music, here is a performance by the original actresses at the 52nd Tony Awards.

This performance was made even better by the talented cast and crew, all of whom were members of the UCLA Theatre Department, and all of whom (to my understanding) were undergraduates. Further, according to the article on the show by the Daily Bruin, the production process officially began in January with the directors and designers meeting. Auditions were not held until after spring break, and the cast had only nine weeks to rehearse and prepare for the performance. They also physically connected the lead actresses for the role, something that was not done on Broadway.

Starring in the production as Daisy and Violet Hilton were Melisa De Seguirant and Grace Wall (both third-year theatre students). Both were remarkable: great singers, great dancers… but what got to me more were their facial expressions. Even thought we were in a 100 seat theatre, I had to pull out the binoculars just to look at their fantastic and expressive faces. They made the characters come alive; they inhabited these twins. I hope these beautiful young ladies go far.
[Note: The picture was snarfed from the Daily Bruin article.]

Joe Bettles co-stars as Terry, the twins’ agent who is loved by Daisy, but can never let himself express that love publically because he thinks it isn’t normal. Jimmy Lambert co-stars as Buddy, the talent scout who finds the twins and initially wins Violet’s heart… and eventually marries here, although he can’t love her as she wants to be loved. The third man in the life of the girls is Jake, played by Ryan Castellino. All three of these men gave powerful performances.

Supporting the principles were the inhabitants of the side show, who played various other unnamed roles through the show. These included Adam Cohen (The Boss/Tod Browning), Kerry Watson (Fortune Teller), Daniel Becker (Roustabout), Caitlin Beitel (Harem Girl), Kaitlyn Daley (Snake Lady), Emma Hawley (Half Man/Half Woman), Mrk Krey (Geek), D’Angelo Lacy (Roustabout), Jamison Lingle (Harem Girl), Patrick Logothetti (Reptile Man), Nathan J. Longdon (Sheik), Lauren Okida (Harem Girl), Brian Pugach (Roustabout), Jacob Silva (Roustabout), Tony SIlva (Fakir), and Naomi Segert Tauger (Bearded Lady). The production was directed by Nicholas Gunn, with musical direction by Dan Belzer, vocal direction by Jeremy Mann, and choreography by Christine Kellogg. The scenery was designed by Tesshi Nakagawa, lighting by Neil Jampolis, costumes by Leighton Aycock, and sound by Jon Gottlieb. Stage management was by Bonnie Anderson. The production was managed by Jeff Wachtel. All aspects of the production were supurbly exectued by students enrolled in the UCLA Department of Theatre.

Alas, the production we saw was the final performance, although the audio was recorded and will be used during the Theatre Department’s graduation in a few weeks. We were impressed with the program, and are curious what they will come up with next year. Speaking of student theatre, I’ll note that the CSUN Theatre Arts department has announced their 07-08 season, and one of the productions will be “Tommy! The Rock Opera”, currently scheduled for Apr 4-6, 9-13, 2008 (if they can get the rights).

What’s next for us? P-U-T-N-A-M. That’s right, we’re seeing “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” through Broadway/LA on 6/16 @ 2pm. We’re on vacation the end of June in Nashville, and when we return, it is “Jersey Boys” at the Ahmanson Theatre on 7/15 @ 7:30pm; “Can-Can” at The Pasadena Playhouse on 7/28 at 8:00pm; “Beauty and the Beast” at Cabrillo Music Theatre on 8/4 @ 2:00pm, and the DCI 2007 World Championship Finals in Pasadena on 8/11 @ 5:00pm . I’ve also ordered season tickets for the Ahmanson, as discussed here, and there’s likely to be a Hollywood Bowl show in there somewhere.