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Sneak peak blogathon at “A Christmas Memory”

November 25, 2015 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 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 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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Elio P5 best kept secret to be revealed at L.A Auto Show

November 6, 2015 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 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 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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Recap of this past weekends Celebrate the Arts and ChalkFest

September 29, 2015 in Art, Entertainment, Events, News, People, Photography, San Gabriel Valley

This weekend was a terrifc weekend, if you forget the blazing heat and attended the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts 52nd Annual Celebrate the Arts and first ever ChalkFest.

Celebrate the Arts incorporated several first as I outlined the other day.  What makes these events fun isn’t so much the terrific art, but the ability to see artists working on their art, demonstrating their technique.  There year there were several artists doing just that.  Glass blower Joshua Smilth wowed folks with his tecnhique.  Metal sculpturist Bill Hyatt continued working on his horse head sculpture a painstaking process of welding dot by dot to build up the face and texture of the horse.

Glass artist Joshua Smith bending glass. click to embiggen

Glass artist Joshua Smith bending glass. click to embiggen

To learn more about ChalkFest and see those artists in their creative zone you need to make the jump.  Read the rest of this entry →

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Celebrate the Arts in Monrovia’s Library Park 9/26-27

September 24, 2015 in Art, Books, Entertainment, Events, Food & Drink, News, Photography, San Gabriel Valley

Show to embiggen.

Show poster…click to embiggen.

This is a biggy for me.  Something that I, as a board member, have been all but consumed with the last several weeks.  Celebrate the Arts is in its 52nd year and its going to have quite a few firsts on top of the already terrific fine artists populating the park with their art.

Celebrate the Arts is held in Monrovia’s Library Park from 10AM – 6PM both Saturday and Sunday this weekend.  There will be a lot of firsts at this show that we are really excited about on top of our usual host of Food Trucks, live music, extremely talented artists.  Among our firsts this event:

  • ChalkFest – a competitive street art event with Lori Escalera as our celebrity judge.
  • Children’s Chalk Experience -designed for the 12 and under set to experiment with chalk
  • Featured Artist Elizabeth Butterfield…her collage work is simply stunning
  • The first appearance by students from Mt. Sierra College (11 fine artists and 2 chalk artists)
  • The first appearance by 18 artists new to MAFA
  • Glass Blowing demonstrations
  • TIKI Bobbleheads from artist Rick Kess
  • Authors exhibition with live book signing
  • Photographer Author Stephen McCarthy will be selling his images, autographing his books including his newest “The Extra Virgin Spy Club”

To read more about this years Celebrate the Arts you need to make the jump.   Read the rest of this entry →

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A Walk on Water gets a gift from Dodge

September 18, 2015 in Celebrity, Education, Entertainment, Events, News, People, Social issues

Sometimes it is more than the car, its the  perfect mix of ambition and heart.

Last night started out like any other manufacturer party.  This time hosted by Dodge.  It was different as instead of rolling out a red carpet for a shiny new car, it was to give a gift to suburban Los Angeles based “A Walk on Water“. AWOW for short.

Until last night I hadn’t heard of them or their mission.  AWOW is there to support families with autistic members.  They provide the entire family, not just the person with autism, with the chance to spend a fun day together learning to surf.  They believe in the theraputic powers of the ocean and surfing as a way to bridge the communication gap and give a family with special needs a fun learning experience they can share.

Actor Danny Trejo gave a moving introduction to the group and shared how is own family is affected by autism.  Its just not the person with special needs that needs help, but the entire family that is affected and need help with coping and learning.  The board members of AWOW also shared with us their personal stories on why what they do is important to them and the families they help.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house after one board member talked about how his non-verbal son spoke his first words after his first surf ride.  He’s skilled now on the board that he’s ready to be a teacher in the group.  The power in belief in abilities and that you can make always find a way to make a positive out of a challenge.

The big news dropped at the end of the presentations is that Dodge, a division of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was donating $20,000 to AWOW to kick start their growth and expand beyond the Los Angeles area.  Dodge/FCA together are also pledging an additional $50 for every test drive at authorized dealerships in the coming days up to $5,000 additional for AWOW. (list of authorized dealers after the jump).  It was hinted that Danny Trejo himself will be at some of the dealerships during their day of sponsored test drives to meet and greet those helping out AWOW by taking drive in a shiny new Dodge.

To further sweeten the pot, Nacional Records, our host for the evening festivities, is going to give away 2 tickets per test drive to the October 3 Supersonico Festival at the Palladium.

For the list of  dealerships dates and times you need to make the jump. Read the rest of this entry →

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DiMora Vicci 6.2 to Highlight Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance 9/20

September 16, 2015 in Driving, Events, LA, News, South Bay, Transportation

High Res photo attached. Picture credit: DiMora Motors

High Res photo attached. Picture credit: DiMora Motors

Only 25 examples of this car will be hand crafted.  Its Los Angeles showing will be at the Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance on September 20.  (Full details on the car after the jump).

The Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance is one of my most favorite shows in all of Southern California.  IT IS without a doubt the best curated show out there and you can’t go wrong with the location –

General Parking for Concours d’Elegance


  • General Parking is Free
  • Location: Promenade Shopping Center & Peninsula Center – Rolling Hills Estates
  • See map, below for parking entrances
  • Shuttle access is at the Peninsula Center parking area.

We are happy to be able to provide FREE general parking for this year’s Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance through the generosity of Promenade on the Peninsula and Peninsula Shopping Center. Constantly running buses, courtesy of L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe, will shuttle you to and from the Concours venue—about a 7 minute drive.


From either Hawthorne or Crenshaw Blvds., turn onto Indian Peak Road.

  1. Signage will direct you to parking entrances
  2. Volunteers will help guide you to a parking spot.

At Promenade on the Peninsula parking structure:

  • Please use ONLY the parking entrance next to the Norris Theater.
  • Please do not use any other parking entrance for Concours parking. These areas are reserved for shopping center patrons. Be courteous.
  • After parking, walk across the street to Peninsula Shopping Center to board the Shuttle.

Pics from last years show in my Flickr Album.  Now make the jump and read about that car!   Read the rest of this entry →

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BMW Loans i3 EV to Los Angeles Police Department for Evaluation

September 14, 2015 in Crime, Driving, environment, News, People, Transportation

A detective loses his Dodge Patrol car with a hemi and cries…

Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck announce a year long test of a BMW i3 electric vehicle at a City of Los Angeles press conference in Los Angeles, Sept. 11, 2015. Photo by Danny Moloshok/Newscast

Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck announce a year long test of a BMW i3 electric vehicle at a City of Los Angeles press conference in Los Angeles, Sept. 11, 2015. Photo by Danny Moloshok/Newscast courtesy BMW PR

I could add a few more snarks, but bottom line a few electric cars in the LAPD make sense in the right applications.  No I can’t imagine them used in a high speed pursuit, but contrary to local TV that is not a constant occurrence.  There’s plenty of things they do that involves just slogging around town and idling in traffic that an electric car and its zero emissions at the tail pipe make sense.  Detectives cold calling witnesses and victims on follow up doesn’t need speed nor lights flaring.  Parking meter slugs idling around town issuing tickets is another area that kinda makes sense.

Regardless of what you think of the EV, they make sense in some applications and if we can save some gas money swapped for electrons cheaper off the grid to power these little beasts its better for the cities bottom line.

Personally, I like the BMW i3,  Drives very much like what you expect from BMW, with its aggressive regeneratvie braking systems a quick lift of the throttle feels more like downshifting a gasser than just idle coasting.  My full review from a few years ago HERE that included an interview with the BMW i project manager.

Free subscription to for the first person who captures a pic of the BMW i3 in action on the streets of L.A.

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Griffith Park…when size really matters

August 26, 2015 in History, LA, News, Real Estate, Which Side?

The map to embiggen Every now and then I get stuff in my inbox thats just too cool not to share. This infographic from Sparefoot shows just how freaking BIG Griffith Park is compared to other cities of the world.  At over 4000 acres its one of the biggest city park in the world.  No one else comes close, heck its even larger than some national parks.  But I digress, when Brian Shreckengast of Sparefoot reached out and asked if I would be interested in sharing with all of you the answer was an emphatic YES!

Click to embiggen the pic to the right to get the whole effect.  Using some special mapping software Brian mapped the outlines of Griffith Park and then used that map to superimpose it over some of the worlds cities to show just how big and special Griffith Park is.  Massive is an understatement.  The full story on how they did it and larger maps can be seen on their WEB SITE.

I have always loved this park.  When I was a valley dweller, Valley Village to be precise, this was my go to place to hike, walk, or just clear my head.  I miss the road that once was open from the observatory to Travel Town as it gave excellent spots to stop and and soak in the city sights and vistas.  But thats been closed at least 20 years at this point and I doubt they’ll reopen which is sad as it makes so much of the park out of reach for a quick walk on the trails.

What’s your favorite spot in the park?

Image courtesy Brian Shreckengast of Sparefoot and used with permission.



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Patsy Cline Listening Party at Vromans Hasting Ranch

July 15, 2015 in Entertainment, Music, News, People, San Gabriel Valley

Always - Patsy Cline listening party poster, click to embiggen

Always – Patsy Cline listening party poster, click to embiggen

This is going to be an awesomely fun evening.  Sierra Madre Playhouse and Vroman’s Books in Hasting Ranch have teamed up to bring the cast and crew from their soon to open “Always…Patsy Cline” production down the hill for a listening party.  Listen to such classics as Crazy, Walking After Midnight, and I Fall To Pieces.

Learn about the singing techniques Patsy used to evoke the heartbreak and longing that have made her songs country and pop classics. Presented in tandem with the production of Always… Patsy Cline at The Sierra Madre Playhouse, playing July 31 – September 12, 2015.

I know this shopping center well.  Parking is always tight and you can idle forever waiting for a spot to open.  I’d suggest if you are mass transit enabled take the Gold Line to the Sierra Madre Station and walk the 4 blocks east to Vroman’s or grab an ARTS shuttle or Foothill Transit 187 “murder bus” to the center.  Much easier and less stressful than dealing with tight parking.

Deets: The Patsy Cline Listening Party will take place at Vroman’s Hastings Ranch store at 3729 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91107 on Friday, July 17, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. Free event. MAP HERE.

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Calling all Chalk Artists…contest with prize money

May 14, 2015 in Art, Contests, Entertainment, News, South Bay

Chalk Art to embiggen

Chalk Art Promo…click to embiggen Photo credit: V. Bugatti

Monrovia Association of Fine Arts (MAFA) is adding a Chalk Art Festival to its already established Celebrate the Arts.  The show will be held September 26 and 27 with the Chalk Art produced and judged on the 26th.  Celebrate the Arts is excited about this, its 52nd annual event in Library Park in historic Old Town Monrovia.

Prizes, yes there will be prizes that are funded by your nominal entry fee and by generous sponsors in the area.

  • $500 First Place Advantage Ford Lincoln (Just announced)
  • $250 Second Place Monrovia Merchants
  • $100 Third Place Brian Huffman Photography
  • All Prize winners will also receive an 8X10 photograph of their work by Brian Huffman Photography

If you’d like to join please write me direct [email protected] and I’ll send you an application with the full details.  Unlike some other festivals we like to think of ours as the friendlier, more fun Chalk Art Festival in the SGV.  Yes, there are some requirements.  Entry fee of $25 but that also makes you a member of MAFA. Subject matter is wide open, but because the Celebrate the Arts is a community family oriented venture so you can’t include pornographic or erotic themes and content.  You need to apply early as space is limited and spaces are assigned on a first come, first served basis.  As Celebrate the Arts is MAFA’s big fund raiser for the year we ask that you create a small piece of art on a  12″X12″ canvas to be included in our silent auction.

Disclosure…I’m a Board Member and Jury Chairman for the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts.  I donate way too much time according to my wife as I firmly believe in their mission statement: “Enhance the lives of those within our community through interaction with the arts. Increase the opportunities of our children through art education.”.  And do “like” us on Facebook.

Edit 1:57 PM our First Prize sponsor has been signed on and announced.

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The Odd Couple is a rip roaring good time at Sierra Madre Playhouse

May 9, 2015 in Entertainment, News, People, San Gabriel Valley, Theatre/Stage

The cast...cick to embiggen

The cast…cick to embiggen

Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple” opened at the Sierra Madre Playhouse and it was a riotous good time.  The play we know, but Alan Brooks and Artistic Director Christian Lebano twisted it up a notch and made this so much more than the bare words on the script.  I can’t find a fault in the production, and neither could the audience that laughed pretty much non-stop during this examination of interpersonal relationships among friends and differing personalities.

Where to start, by now we all know the story.  Oscar Madison’s wife and kids leave him and move away leaving him to grunge up an 8 room apartment.  Shortly thereafter Felix Unger’s wife boots him and he shows up on Oscar’s doorstep with no place to live.  Jack Sundmacher as Oscar and Brad David Reed as Felix have terrific chemistry and brought their characters to life.  Even in Oscar’s most curmudgeonly moments you felt connected to him and understood him.  Felix is just a nutball basket case and he too wound up capturing your heart.  His sinus-clearing-ear-unplugging bit was hysterical.

As I mentioned in an earlier post the poker table, played by Richard Van Slyke, Joe Langer, Steve Bean and Vince Donvito had chemistry.  It was really as funny as watching a group of guys who’ve been been playing for years, not actors who just recently met.  Funny, caring, wise-cracking and FUNNY.  You couldn’t help but wish you were in their circle at the table playing poker as well.

Jane Lui (l) and Kari Lee (r) as the Pigeon Sisters, click to embiggen

Jane Lui (l) and Kari Lee (r) as the Pigeon Sisters, click to embiggen

The absolute bit of genius was switching up the roles of the “Pigeon Sisters”, the dating interest and neighbors of Oscar and Felix. Played by Kari Lee and Jane Lui was a piece of sheer casting genius.  The chemistry and infectious zest for living they brought to the stage really brought the play to life. Typically the two rolls are just simply cast to a couple of blonde bimbos and let the chips fall where they may, these two brought the characters of Gwendolyn and Ceciy to hyper animated life.  Between the two of them they capture Felix’s heart and convince him he’s going to be ok.  They even twist Oscar around to see Felix for the friend he is.  Quite a task and brilliantly played by Ms Lee and Ms Lui.

Don’t forget the contest for “my worst roommate” that runs until May 31.  Send the Playhouse your worst roommate story and if chosen you get dinner with this incredible cast!  ENTER HERE, or simply mail your story to [email protected]

The play runs through June 27,  Order tickets HERE.

DEETS: Sierra Madre Playhouse 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd. Sierra Madre CA 91024  MAP HERE  Box Office 626/355-4318

All pics by me.