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Friday, May 29, 2009

Spelling Bee

It’s a great day in Olathe, Kansas. Eighth grader Kavya Shivashankar, 13, was crowned the winner of the 82nd annual Scripps National Spelling Bee for correctly spelling the word Laodicean.


Laodicean? Yup. It means lukewarm or indifferent, particularly in matters of politics or religion.

I didn’t know the meaning of the word, or how to spell it. I do now.

Shivashankar won $40,000 in cash along with a host of prizes.

When the teen was interviewed she exclaimed, “This has been my dream for so long; I’ve always wanted to win the bee. I was just really excited when I was able to go up and the spell the last word.”

I wonder if she would have been stumped if the final word was floccinaucinihilipilification? (meaning: the action or habit of estimating something as worthless) My limited IQ would have gotten me eliminated on this one.

How about supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? Hmmm.... I can’t spell it but I can certainly sing it beautifully. That counts for something, doesn’t it?

Congratulations Kavya. May this be the beginning of a very successful spelling career.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More Than 50%

I recently read that more than 50% of people in the world have never received or made a telephone call.

That means more than 50% of people in the world have never had to endure calling a business and getting lost in the voice mail maze without ever speaking to an actual person.


That means more than 50% of people in the world have never had to endure the aggravation of receiving incessant marketing and political calls.


That means more than 50% of people in the world have never had to pay a monthly phone bill.


That means more than 50% of people in the world have never had to listen to little Sarah or baby Brian’s stupid incoherent incoming answering machine messages when trying to leave a telephone message.


That means more than 50% of people in the world have never had the opportunity to experience phone sex.

Wow.

Except for the phone sex I think they’re pretty damn lucky.

Friday, May 22, 2009

2009

peace

stranded
under the sweltering sun

parched voice
weakened

thirsting for the water
nearing death.

hatred

homegrown

father son
mother daughter

circles around
hungry.

is there a renegade god to save us
before it’s too late?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Idol Goodbye

Last night’s “American Idol” show was a total bore.

The top finalists group sing-a-longs were cheesy, like a twisted version of Up With People.

The category “awards” were embarrassing.

Ryan Seacrest was laughable.

The wrong idol was chosen. Can over 50 million people be that stupid?

It’s time to put "American Idol" to sleep, for good, forever.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Are We Really Surprised?

Michael Jackson “postponed” the opening of his new concert in London a few days, and moved three dates into 2010.

Is anyone willing to bet he’ll “postpone” all the gigs?

Sources close to the has-been say the reason is he’s not healthy enough to get through the show.

I think all that skin bleaching and plastic surgery and those children pajama parties have done permanent damage.

Quite frankly I was surprised he sold any tickets.

Who bought them?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Sunday wasn’t just the Cuban Music Festival and the earthquake. Wedged between the two was a visit to the Heritage Square Museum and the Lummis Home and Garden, both in Los Angeles. These diverse adventures made me feel like I was ping-ponging around a multi-cultural world all in one day.

The Heritage Square Museum was established in 1969 as a living history museum showcasing the development of Southern California Victorian mansions. These mansions were moved from their original locations into the Heritage Square and are open to the public. The museum docents are dressed in period costume, and there are woodcarving and blacksmith demonstrations along with antique cars, and original photographs highlighting the history of our beloved Los Angeles, a Los Angeles not solely centered around the myth of “Hollywood.”

Here are photos I took of two of the homes:



The next stop on this multi-cultural adventure was a jaunt around the corner from the Heritage Square Museum to the Lummis Home and Garden, a turn of the century home built over a twelve-year period by hand by Charles Fletcher Lummis from stones he pulled from the arroyo.

Who the hell is Charles Fletcher Lummis you ask? He was an early activist, author, anthropologist, photographer, and civic booster. Additionally he founded the Southwest Museum and was the first city editor of the Los Angeles Times. He was the original multi-tasker for sure.

Here’s a picture of the Lummis House:


All I can say is Sunday was certainly a fun day.

Monday, May 18, 2009

It’s All In The Hips

Sunday wasn’t all about shaking while my apartment shook from under me. The earthquake, originally reported as a 5.0, turned out to be a mere 4.7 on the Richter Scale. News reports predicted sizable aftershocks, but as of yet I haven’t felt the slightest jolt. I’m strangely disappointed.

Earlier Sunday, BE (before earthquake), a friend and I ventured over to Echo Park Lake on the eastern side of Silverlake for the Cuban Music Festival. The sun was shining, the temperature hovered around eighty degrees, and the scent of Cuban food mingled with the sounds of Cuban music to create a joyous celebration of Cuban culture.


When we arrived we made a beeline to the food and certainly weren’t disappointed. I had shredded pork with plantains and rice. It was simply delicious.

With our hunger pangs satisfied we wandered the music area and listened to the band play and watched people dance. The dance action looked so fluid yet when I tried it I looked like a demented uptight suburbanite without an ounce of rhythm. It’s all in the hips, and my hips seemed to be quite rusty, arthritic.

All in all I had a terrific time. Here are some other pictures I took:



Sunday, May 17, 2009

5.0

Los Angeles just had an earthquake.

5.0 on the Richter Scale.

It’s Mother Nature flexing her muscle.

It was quite the jolt. My apartment shook, and I shook with it.

Earthquakes make me horny.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

She Said She’s Sorry

Oprah finally apologized to James Frey for lambasting and humiliating him on her show a few years back. She was brutal to him.

Frey graciously accepted her apology.

I loved “A Million Little Pieces,” and I don’t care if in some sections he bent the truth.
I also enjoyed Frey’s “My Friend Leonard.”

I plan on reading real soon his latest book “Bright Shiny Morning.”

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll start watching Oprah again.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Le Fils de L'Epicier

For some unknown reason I had placed “The Grocer’s Son” (“Le Fils de L’Epicier) on my NetFlix queue. I cannot seem to remember who recommended it, or if I had read something about it that piqued my interest, but every time I checked my queue there it stood at the top of my list with red letters saying “very long wait.” Because it wasn’t available my need to watch it got stronger and stronger.

And finally the long wait dwindled and “The Grocer’s Son” made its way into my mailbox.
It was well worth the wait.

“The Grocer’s Son” is the story of Antoine, a thirty year old, who’s forced to leave his life in the big city and return to his family in the French country after his father suffers a stroke. Antoine ends up driving the family grocery van throughout the area selling and delivery groceries. At first his family and villagers don’t accept him and his stubborn, gruff ways, but as time passes and love sparks, Antoine re-discovers himself, re-connects with his family, and learns that he does love the place he once swore he’d never return to.

This is one of those small wonderful films that takes a simple story, one that’s been told numerous times in film, and gives it room to breathe and grow. With deft direction by Eric Guirado and nuanced performances from Nicolas Cazale (Antoine) and Clotilde Hesme (as Antoine’s love interest) the film leads us into the lives of complicated, yet loving people, whose journeys hold a mirror to our own lives.

If I were doing a rating system I’d give “The Grocer’s Son” five out of five baguettes.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chew This...

Wrigley’s gum was the first product to use a bar code.

When?

On June 26, 1974 at a Troy, Ohio Marsh supermarket shopper Clyde Dawson purchased a 10-pack of Juicy Fruit gum at 8:01 AM and it was scanned by employee Sharon Buchanan.

Both the pack of gum and receipt are on display at the Smithsonian Institution.

Congratulations to Clyde and Sharon for their participation in bar code history. I wonder if they got matching bar code tattoos to commemorate the occasion?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Saturday Night at the Theatre

My theatre weekend continued on Saturday night with the Los Angeles premiere of the musical thriller No Way To Treat A Lady at the Colony Theatre in Burbank.
The book, music, and lyrics were written by Douglas J. Cohen, based on the 1964 novel by William Goldman. In 1968 Paramount Pictures released the film version of the novel starring George Segal, Lee Remick, Rod Steiger, and Eileen Heckart.

No Way To Treat A Lady is the story of a Jewish New York detective (Kevin Symons) who’s single (over thirty) and still living with his overbearing mother (Heather Lee). He’s in pursuit of a serial killer (Jack Noseworthy) who strangles his victims in hopes of getting his name on the front page of the New York Times to prove to his recently departed famous actress mother that he too can get the headline. Oy. There’s murder, mayhem, life changes, and of course, the requisite love interest (Erica Piccininni).

The actors are all very good, with special praise for Jack Noseworthy and Heather Lee. Lee’s Jewish mother could have been a boring rehash of a stereotype but Lee infuses her heart, making her more real than cartoonish.

The music is good, and the lyrics are cleverly written. My favorite songs include “I Need A Life,” “Front Page News,” and “So Much In Common.”

No Way To Treat A Lady is a fun show, and a great way to spend a Friday or Saturday night. Not only do you get to see a fun show, but you also get to spend some time in the valley in the very heart of Burbank. Now that’s a treat!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Six 10-Minute Plays

This weekend ending up being a theatre weekend. Friday night brought me to Hollywood to Theatre of Note’s 10-Minute Plays. The theme for these late-night one-acts was Someone else’s loss is my chocolatey goodness.


Instead of passing out actual tickets everyone received two pieces of chocolate along with a miniature program. Dark or milk? I chose dark.

Then came the one-acts, exploring such diverse scenarios as renting an apartment, baring one’s pain, meeting persons of interest at a bus stop, breaking up with your drug dealer, a disgruntled child at a birthday party, and a woman named Anne who’s a pirate.

Overall it was an interesting evening. Some of the acting was wonderful, and some of it not so wonderful. Some of the writing was better than average, and some of it was mediocre.

But hey, it was a night out at the theatre, and the chocolate was good.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

I'm Totally Connected

Let’s see....

Blog - YES
Facebook - YES
Twitter - YES

My life is now complete.

Friday, May 01, 2009

The San Antonio Winery

I was recently out with a friend and we were looking for somewhere to have dessert and coffee. My friend, ever the Los Angeles enthusiast, knew of just the place. He is truly a walking wikipedia.com for Los Angeles. He grew up in LA and knows all the nooks and crannies, and all the wonderful places off the beaten path worthy of exploring.

This time he took me to the San Antonio Winery located at 737 Lamar Street. I was pleasantly surprised. I never knew there was a winery in the middle of the city. I love wine, especially red wine, and my taste buds were suddenly telling me to screw the decaf and go for the vino.


The San Antonio winery was established in 1917 and is currently a City of Los Angeles Cultural Historical Landmark. It is the last of more than one hundred wineries that once populated the Los Angeles River Basin. It’s currently the 21st largest winery in the United States.

Fortunately we started talking with one of the workers who graciously gave us a mini tour of the facility. It was fascinating to see how the wine is made and bottled. San Antonio produces the award-winning Riboli Family of Wines which include Maddalena, Kinderwood, La Quinta, Aliento del Sol, and others.

On the premises is a gift shop, banquet facility, restaurant, and wine shop. At the wine shop we tasted a few of their delicious wines, and then wandered into the restaurant for some more wine and dessert.

An afternoon in search of dessert ended up with a history lesson of Los Angeles wineries, wine tasting, and yes, a piece of cheesecake.

Check out their website: sanantoniowinery.com