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It’s #GivingTuesday sweet charity guide to giving

December 1, 2015 at 8:56 am in Holidays, LA, Seasonal

Even Facebook is promo-ing Giving Tuesday to its to embiggen

Even Facebook is promo-ing Giving Tuesday to its users…click to embiggen

Bah humbug to Black Friday, Small Biz Saturday and Cyber Monday.  #GivingTuesday is where its at.  Its the true fulfillment of the holiday dream.  Giving back to your community and those less fortunate.  It started with a whimper last year, but this year its getting promo’d to the nth degree by the big guys like Facebook.

There are multiple ways to help the many local charities and non-profits in Los Angeles and surrounding areas.

First up…good old cash.  Cold hard cash fills their coiffers and ensures that they have operating capital to cover their overhead and fund programs.  Its usually tax deductible if they’re a 503(c) non-profit.  Also check with your employer, they often match cash contributions which is a nice way toy double down your good deed.

Volunteer “in kind” gifts.  Socks for the homeless, food for the hungry drives will take those donations.  If you buy new for the cause save your receipts as those too are tax deductible.

Donate your time to them.  EVen some employers will make a cash donation for your time donated to a qualifying non-profit.  As an example a friend at the Gas company helped out the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts at this fall’s Celebrate the Arts and ChalkFest.  The Gas company made a cash donation for the 16 hours she donated at the rate of $10/hour.

Check with your local food kitchens.  They need help putting out meals daily, not just for the holiday.  Check what they need and if your skill set fits jump in and help them prep, cook, serve or bus tables.

The point is, give back to your community and make lives a little better.  There are so many options and ways to help you can’t go wrong for trying.

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Sneak peak blogathon at “A Christmas Memory”

November 25, 2015 at 9:27 am in Entertainment, Holidays, Media, News, People, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Theatre/Stage

Buddy (Jeff Scott Carey) and Anna Stabler (Theresa Ford) reunite at play opening. click to embiggen

Buddy (Jeff Scott Carey) and Anna Stabler (Theresa Ford) reunite at play opening. click to embiggen

Last night was the sneak preview blogathon at the Sierra Madre Playhouse for “A Christmas Memory” based on a short story by Truman Capote.  This is a musical with live musicians, not canned sound tracks.

I was captured from the get go with this play.  The performances by the cast were engaging and brought the story to life.  To avoid spoilers I’ll not give away too much of the plot or story line. The setting is a man’s boyhood home and sequences between the now and his boyhood spent in rural Alabama raised by cousins in the depression.  The story is about a man returning “home” after being gone a long time for the funeral of a cousin who raised him.  Its an interesting story of familial love and bonding, with adventures and making fruitcake.

The latter is central to the story and the song “Fruitcake Weather” is lively and just adds to the story line. Young Buddy (Ian Branch) and Sook (Diane Kelber) have a bond that is magical and plays out well on stage.

The music gets a big round of applause, but one of the best sequences in the production is when the cast breaks out the ukelele’s and busts out into song.  Fun, well done and did I mention fun?

To read more about the cast and production team visit their website HERE. The Sierra Madre Playhouse has another hit on its hands here.  The play has already sold out for Friday and Saturday night its opening weekend.  You can still get tickets for Sunday and the remaining dates (the play closes December 27) via the Playhouse HERE.

Deets Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre CA

More pics from the blogathon in the a flickr album

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What you missed at L.A Auto Show Press Days

November 22, 2015 at 12:10 pm in Downtown, Driving, Entertainment, Events, News, Seasonal, Shopping, Technology

One the things you get in Press Days of the Los Angeles Auto Show that you don’t get in the public days is the grand reveals and Green Car Drives. It is physically impossible as a party of one to hit every press conference so I have to pick and choose which to attend so I can get in and see all the cars on display and photograph them.  Trust me its a lot of work and not all party and booze and great food.  There is some of that, but the thrust of the 2 day event is press conferences and not all are wowsers.

Audi was a real surprise.  Instead of the ususal hype and bluster, they started with an apology for the current diesel kerfuffle with fudged testing vs operation parameters.  They promised to earn their customers respect back.  Then they went into the discussion on the future of Audi relying on electric cars, first to come is the A3 E-tron and soon to follow an all electric SUV the E-tron Quattro in a few years.  By 2025 Audi expects 25% of all cars they sell to be electric. Read the rest of this entry →

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2015 L.A. Auto Show Highlights

November 21, 2015 at 10:40 am in Downtown, Driving, Entertainment, Events, News, Technology, Transportation

First up…Chevy’s Volt took the green car of the year award in a ceremony held Thursday Morning.  Later I got to drive it and was impressed.  Smoother ride, smoother transition back and forth between EV and gas mode, with much more time in pure EV mode than the prior version.  Add in a much more refined, high end materials and fit in finish inside this car is nothing like its hard edged predecessor.  I can see easily why it won “Green Car of the Year” for its technilogical and creature comfort advancements.  Nice job Chevy.

Read the rest of this entry →

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38th Occasional Doo Dah Parade Sunday 11/22 in East Pasadena

November 18, 2015 at 10:00 am in Events, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal

The parade to embiggen

The parade flyer…click to embiggen

No one’s lining up yet, but they will be early Sunday morning to catch the 38th occasional Doo Day Parade.  It officially starts at 11:00AM but you’ll see folks as early as 8 staking out a spot with their lawn chair and hot cocoa.

The parade route continues to be in East Pasadena where the gentrifiers haven’t invaded and booted the Doo Dah’ers away like what happened in Old Town.  Yet.  The route is on Colorado Bvld between Altadena Drive and San Gabriel Blvd.  It will start at the midway point at Vinedo Ave on the north side of the median on Colorado Blvd.

Queen this year is Ms Juli Crockett at the Grand Marshall, and Veronika MeowMeowz as the queen.  Look for the usual cast of crazies rounding out the parade, Snotty Scotty and the Hankies and new folks as well to march in the parade.

Coming from out of town and don’t want to hassle with driving in?  The Hilton Garden Inn is having a special for Doo Dah fans…Contact Jason Casas, Sales Manager,Hilton Garden Inn – Arcadia, CA. 199 N. Second Ave. Arcadia, CA 91006.  Phone D: 626.321.4498 | F: 626.574.9910.  or on the web

The parade route:

Parade to get a bigger view

Parade route…click to get a bigger view


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Fruitcake tasting at Vroman’s Hastings Ranch 11/20

November 17, 2015 at 9:44 am in Entertainment, Events, Food & Drink, Holidays, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Theatre/Stage

acm posterFruitcake that ubiquitous bundle of fruit and nuts, sometimes soaked in booze that you either abhor or adore.  I fall into the latter and think this Friday’s Fruitcake tasting party at the  Vroman’s book store in the Hastings Ranch shopping center looks to be a ton of fun.  The tasting is a joint venture with the Sierra Madre Playhouse who is opening its holiday play “A Christmas Memory” based on a short story but Truman Capote next week.  ‘

There are planned to be over a dozen fruit cakes at this event.  They are sourced from bakers all over the country as well as the Los Angeles Area.  A sampling…

  • Sumi Chang and Europane Bakery, Pasadena
  • Karen Hansen and Copenhagen Pastry, Pasadena
  • Mike McLellan and Patticakes Desserts, Altadena,

Deets:  Friday 11/20 6PM Vroman’s  3729 E Foothill Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

If you’re interested in seeing A Christmas Memory you can order tickets HERE.  The Sierra Madre Playhouse is located at 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre.

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Thank a Vet…Save a Vet progress update

November 11, 2015 at 8:24 am in LA

Sergeant Major Acosta of Operation Save a Vet. Photo by D'Andra Jay

Sergeant Major Acosta of Operation Save a Vet. Photo by D’Andra Jay

Gayle, Sgt Major Acosta and the group manning the tent at last Friday’s Monrovia Family Festval were blown away by the support and generosity of the community.  Even with the great turn out they have a long way to go to fully realize their goal of helping every homeless vet in Greater Los Angeles. They will be set up again this Friday at the Family Festival to take your donations.

The press release directly from Gayle Montgomery on the board of Thank a Vet:

Thank A Vet (TAV) Returns to Monrovia Street Fair
A grateful Sgt. Major Jesse Acosta sends thanks to those who stepped up to lend their support at last Friday’s Street Fair. El Nino based supplies for homeless Vets, cash, checks, volunteers, and a unique opportunity for disabled Vets to commune with horses were all generously contributed. TAV is grateful for the citizens of Monrovia and to host Jerry Diaz of Greenleaf Productions for affording it this opportunity.

With its 25% discount on the new water and sewer rates—the only city in the area to have such a fee reduction—and its Veteran supporters, Monrovians have shown time again compassion for the needs of those who protected our freedoms. This Friday will find TAV again at the Street Fair. Come to the intersection of Olive and Myrtle and show your support and meet Lou Herrera. Sighted at birth, Lou’s eyesight mysteriously disappeared

Please show these Vets they are not forgotten! Make a donation Friday night from this list: umbrellas, rain ponchos, tarps, all-weather blankets, travel-sized toiletries (male and female), feminine hygiene products, new underwear, new socks, gift cards to local area fast-food restaurants (Subway, McDonalds, Taco Bell, Starbucks), new and gently used backpacks, recyclable cloth or durable plastic grocery bags, used purses large enough to pack supplies, sweaters/sweatshirts, hand wipes, ziplock plastic bags – quart sized, and most importantly, Messages of Holiday Cheer!

For additional info, contact Thank A Vet, Inc. P O Box 691, Stanton, CA 92680, (714) 517-1077, EIN 27-2348844. Note that TAV accepts PayPal donations, and an Amazon Wish List has been created.

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Elio P5 best kept secret to be revealed at L.A Auto Show

November 6, 2015 at 10:23 am in Downtown, Driving, Entertainment, Events, News, Shopping, Technology, Transportation

We know little of this car other than an entry on the schedule of premieres during Press Days of the L.A. Auto Show coming up in 2 short weeks.  Elio is a new car company the P5 is their debut car.  Little is known.  Rumors abound.  Its a 3 wheel car, .9liter 3 cylnder, 80+mpg, 0-60 in under 10 seconds, top speed over 100. This is either going to be the greatest thing since the Tesla to make us change how we think about cars or will will be another blip on the radar that we snicker over like the Dale.  I fear the latter as with “cheap” gas again and a resurgance of guzzing SUV sales and falling hybrid sales, but we’ll see.  It may just wow us.

The L. A. Auto Show is open to the public 11/20-29 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  Buy your tickets now and avoid the lines at the ticket booths.  While there judge for yourself if the Elio Motors P5 is the future or a blip.

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Operation Save a Vet launches this Friday – start your Holiday Giving early

November 5, 2015 at 11:42 am in Events, LA, News, People, Shopping, Social issues, Weather

Sergeant Major Acosta of Operation Save a Vet. Photo by D'Andra Jay

Sergeant Major Acosta of Operation Save a Vet. Photo by D’Andra Jay

I met Gayle Montgomery quite a while back and impressed with the depth of concern she has for her fellow human beings.  Through her job she met Sergeant Major Acosta.  A disabled Vet who lost his eyesight during a batle in the Middle East.  Gayle also works on a local committee trying to find solutions to our homeless problem and became aware that a large percentage of our homeless are Vets with no resources to help themselves.  Sergeant Major and Gayle got to talking about the problems the expected El Nino will bring for them.  Here are a few of the things they discussed.

  • Homelessness in Vets was reduced from 4 years ago. Now 1 in 10 who sleep on the streets is a veteran.
  • There has been a 6% spike in the last year of homeless veterans, probably attributable to the spiraling cost of housing in combination with the draw down.
  • The largest concentration of homeless Vets anywhere in our nation is in LA County where there are over 4,000 Vets who sleep on the street.
  • It is the position of the group that has who have joined hands in lockstep across a wide geographical area, that no person who honorably served our nation should have to sleep on the streets.
  • No person who served our nation should have to suffer such adverse weather conditions without supplies and without knowing that, Gayle’s employer is Glad to Be of Service to those who faithfully served us.
  • This project very closely parallels the Soldiers Angels Program which serves those on the battlefield. This project serves those who were on the battlefield, came home, and have had difficulty reintegrating into society.

From that conversation came the idea to create Thank a Vet Inc and their first mission  “Operation Save a Vet”.  It will consist of a multipronged approach to help the homeless vets trying to survive on the streets during the coming rainy season.  First is getting in kind materials donated to them for distribution.  Second is to raise funds for care and shelter for these vets, men and women trying to cope with life outside the military. Read the rest of this entry →

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Always…Patsy Cline comes to a close at Sierra Madre Playhouse

November 1, 2015 at 11:26 am in Entertainment, News, People, San Gabriel Valley, Theatre/Stage

Sometimes magic happens on stage.  This time around it hit home at Sierra Madre Playhouse with the production of “Always…Patsy Cline”.   The cast was magical and I was tickeled beyond belief to been on the sidelines watching the cast grow into their characters and bring this production to life.  Some 4000 people from all over the L.A Metro and OC saw the play.  You can scroll through for my review from the soft opening.

Actors Cori Cable Kidder (Patsy Cline) and Nikki D’Amico (Louise Seger) gave heartfelt thanks at the end of the show.  Artistic Director Christian Lebano and Managing Director, Estelle Campbell also chimed in with their thoughts on the play.  Enjoy their closing comments and consider visiting the Sierra Madre Playhouse for their next production opening later this month, A Christmas Memory.

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I got my ears neener neener neener

October 30, 2015 at 11:41 am in Entertainment, LA bloggers, Shopping

I to embiggen

I won…click to embiggen

Childish yes, but Disney’s proper names only in a world full of unusual spelling and foreign words that were tried to be Anglofied for govt consumption, the dudes and dudettes at Disneyland held fast to the no nicknames rule for like FOREVER.  Rob here at, aka robnoxious tried for years getting his ears and finally won a while back.  I tried as well over the years and was turned down wanting ID to prove my name.  Tuesday was my lucky day, the “cast member” bored to tears gave it to me…couldn’t do lower case “f” due to machine programming, but I’ll still take it.  I doubt the fake Russian/slavic accent I used worked but who cares.  A Win.  Blogger 1, Disney rules 0.

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Carrera de los payasos…and a fun time was had by all.

October 26, 2015 at 11:33 am in Entertainment, Events

40+ runners and a handful of clowns chasing them wound through the alleyway and streets of Old Town Pasadena Sunday.  I had a ball videoing and photoing it all.  The official video to follow.  To join in the fun with future events visit

More pics in my flickr album.

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2nd Carrera de los Payasos* today at 3PM Today

October 25, 2015 at 11:17 am in Entertainment, Events, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal

Their to embiggen

Their Logo…click to embiggen

*Running of the Clowns to you who don’t know how to use google translate.  Its today.  3PM in the streets and alleys of Old Town Pasadena.  Its a parody of the running of the bulls in Spain, only with Clowns so no animals are hurt.  I’m not running this year…I’ll be photo and videoing it.

What I can share is that if you want to run be at the Memorial Park Station on the Gold Line prior to 3 PM.  Dress all in white with a big red sash just like the bull runners do.  When the bull horn sounds prepare to run with the others followed by seriously silly and happy clowns.  There are breaks where you’ll walk to catch your breath and safely cross streets.  The mile or so loop will end with you buying your own pizza and beer at 800 Degrees Pizza at Colorado and Fair Oaks.

If you just want to witness the fun and silliness just be on Colorado Blvd, between Fair Oaks and Delacy St sometime around 3PM and wait for the runner and clowns to come by and cheer them on.

I can tell you its a ton of fun.  I did it as a runner last year along with my daughter.  Ending at the now defunct Jake’s basement bar.  ITs really a lot of silliness and comraderie…how bad can that be?

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Fresh & Easy doors closing everything up to 30% off

October 24, 2015 at 12:20 pm in Food & Drink, Shopping, Social issues

Fresh and Easy, Duarte

Fresh and Easy, Duarte

Well, I suppose its fitting I write the obit for Fresh &Easy  since I announced its arrival here back in May ’07 before they even opened their doors.  I’m going to miss these guys.  They fit the fickle attitudes of my picky eaters as well as my schedule and budget like no other store ever has in the past.  I could always count on them for a good selection of fresh, even organic items at best possible prices.

They weren’t without their growing pains.  Cheeky “hybrid parking only” signs meant well but drew the ire of a few.  Unions tried to bust them and unionize the workers…who were paid more and had benefits directly from Fresh and Easy at the get go.  Some larger grocers didn’t like the self check out and lobbied to have it such that booze had to be checked out by an employee which did put a slow down on the checking out process.  In the end it came down to a concept us ‘mericans for the most part didn’t get…food shopped fresh daily, quality preservative free prepared meals, sammy’s and salads to go when you don’t have time to cook in a neighborhood market that killed them.  Sad.

I certainly feel for all the employees who suddenly got notice and are now out of a job…at the worst possible time of the year to find a new job.

Today I went through the Duarte store.  The up to 30% off wasn’t on many items.  Everything is off its sale price and listed as full price.  Booze and beer was only 10% not enough to get me into frenzy stock up mode.  Most canned goods were only 10%, Rice/Beans and Jelly were 20% off.  Frozen foods were 30% off and yes, I cleaned them out of every last molten lava cake they had in stock.  Ditto their bulgogi Korean BBQ marinade.


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A Christmas Memory, aka Truman Capote Christmas to open 11/27 at Sierra Madre Playhouse

October 21, 2015 at 8:24 am in Blogging (in) LA, Events, People, San Gabriel Valley, Theatre/Stage

Alison Kalmus...director of A Christmas Memory

Alison Kalmus…director of A Christmas Memory

What…Truman Capote at the center of a story for Christmas?  Yes, in short this is a loosely based story of his childhood in the foster system and the family that contemplated saving him by sending him to a military school for more structure and balance.  There’s your synopsis, the real story lies in the casting and direction of turning this short story in to a musical complete with ukelele.  Starring a former “harlette” from Better Midler’s cast of  talented crazies this play will be directed by Alison Kalmus, a real treasure and supporter of the Sierra Madre Playhouse.

This isn’t her directing debut with the Playhouse, that was 2004 with A Christmas Carol Story, no this will be her 5th play directed for the Playhouse.  She brings a creative vision that ties music and the story line together in what is hoped to be a magical evening.  Alison is a huge supporter of the Sierra Madre Playhouse and helps to bring their mission of American Plays by American authors in historical context.  I can’t wait to see this play.

And I don’t have to wait for the grand opening as I’ll be hosting another soft opening blogathon at the Playhouse for this play the evening of November 25, 2015,  Care to be one of the first to get a sneak peak, a little look see and tweet and instagram it for posterity?  Message me at [email protected] with your twitter handle and instagram and I’ll get back to you with details. I can promise you a most outstanding theatre experience, booze and of course my famous Browned Butter Brownies to keep you satiated during the intermission and before hand.

Full press release after the jump: Read the rest of this entry →