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

October 21, 2015 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 →

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Always…Patsy Cline a run away hit at Sierra Madre Playhouse

October 8, 2015 in Entertainment, People, San Gabriel Valley, Theatre/Stage

It seems like only yesterday I wrote about this amazing play and shared the back story of a blogathon soft opening that opened at Sierra Madre Playhouse.  This play has exceeded everyones wildest expectations.  Between Nikki D’Amico and Cori Cable Kidder, backed up by a live band you get the story of Patsy Cline and her biggest fan in a lively if not outright energetic play.  Always…Patsy Cline has received numerous nominations from the local theatre community.  Cori herself has received phenomenal reviews and nominations for an Ovation Award from the L.A. Stage Alliance.

Always…Patsy Cline has been extended twice due to demand…selling out every weekend since it opened in July.  There are only 10 performances left before the curtains close the final time on October 30, 2015.

Make a night of it.  Dinner out at one of the few restaurants in Sierra Madre or kick back a beer at Lucky Baldwin’s in honor of Louise’s Schlitz she pounds down during the play.  Order your tickets here.  Order fast as they sell out quickly.

Deets: Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre MAP HERE 626-355-4318

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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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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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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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2 years in the making – hyperlapse of Los Angeles

August 21, 2015 in Filmmaking/Filmmakers, Media, People, Which Side?

Tip of the hat to my friend Darlene Powells over at KCBS for finding and sharing this video from artist Vadim Tereshchenko.  It took over 2 years of a few frames at a time to produce the final product.  What a truly beautiful city we are.

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Always-Patsy Cline and the blogathon soft open

July 31, 2015 in Entertainment, Events, Music, People, Profiles, San Gabriel Valley, Theatre/Stage

Cori Cable Kidder as Patsy and Nikki D'Amico as Louise.  click to embiggen

Cora Kidder Cable as Patsy and Nikki D’Amico as Louise. click to embiggen

Always-Patsy Cline the production kicking off the 2015-2016 season at the Sierra Madre Playhouse officially opens this weekend to a sold out crowd.  SOLD OUT.

As a board member I’m involved in a lot of aspects behind the scene’s.  JozJozJoz,  metblogs/ CEO is an official tweeter for the L.A. Opera and that was the germ of the idea for the blogathon for the soft opening, last rehearsal of Always-Patsy Cline. But more on that a bit later.

This is a wonderful story of an overly zealous fan and the star she adored becoming accidental friends and pen pals. The play itself is about  how Louise Seger, a Houston housewife played by Nikki D’Amico who is best characterized as a spitfire hellcat fun loving divorcee, reminiscing over the night she first heard Pasty Cline on the radio and how she followed her career until they met a club outside Houston.  They became best of friends, Louise and Pasty became penpals and wrote each other until Patsy’s untimely death at the age of 30.  Those letters to Louise ended with the salutation “Always-Patsy Cline”.  That story, and the story of Patsy’s life are intertwined and told through 27 songs by Patsy Cline beautifully recreated by Cori Cable Kidder and backed up by a live band. Read the rest of this entry →

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Monrovia Art Walk Saturday 7/25 7-10PM

July 23, 2015 in Art, Entertainment, Events, People, San Gabriel Valley, Shopping

Santiago Heredia will be among the artists doing live demonstrations at this Saturday’s Art Walk in Monrovia sponsored by the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts. Santiago works in acrylic and cranks out paintings full of character and fun live before his audience.

Also demonstrating at the Art Walk will be Elizabeth Butterfield who will show her torn paper collage techniques.  Monrovia High School Ceramics under the direction of Saul Perez will be demonstrating on the potters wheel.

All told there will be 10 (possibly more in the works still) artists on the 400 and 500 block of South Myrtle Avenue.  These artists will include photographers, painters, jewelry sculptures at the Art Walk.  Last. and not least, the Empty Bowls Monrovia project led by Meaghan McCarthy will be there selling the last of the bowls with 100% of the proceeds going to help the Foothill Unity Center feed the homeless and needy here in the SGV.

Lastly, adding to the festive atmosphere there will be live music.

Might I suggest…make a night of it.  Visit one of the many restaurants in Old Town Monrovia, or take in a movie then hit the Art Walk to round out your night.

Deets.  MAFA ART WALK, Saturday 7//25/2015, 7PM-10PM. 400/500 Block S Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia CA 91016 MAP HERE


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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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What do with the kidlets in the SGV this summer?

June 17, 2015 in Art, Education, LA, People, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Shopping


Summer Art Lessons to embiggen

Summer Art Lessons flyer…click to embiggen

Paint n Play Art Studio and Gallery in Monrovia has just the thing to keep kids entertained and busy this summer.  Art classes.  Several to choose from and all expert taught by Lisa Barrios and her loving staff.  Real working pros sharing their talents with kids.  Does it get better than that?

From basic ceramics to Parent and Tot classes its a learning experience and freeing little minds to create.  I really love this stuff.  Most is ages 6 and up, though some are as young as 4, and others you need to be at least 8.  Hard core elementary ages that need some structure and learning activities in the summer…that are fun.

Click the flyer to embiggen and get the full deets on the classes they offer.  Call Lisa Barrios the owner of Paint n Play for the details and to get your kidlet signed up.  You won’t regret it and you’ll be a hero to your kid for doing so.

Deets: Paint n Play Art Studio and Gallery, 418 S Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia 91016  626-256-4648

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A night of creating ART and a little libation to loosen you up…

May 21, 2015 in Art, Entertainment, Events, Food & Drink, Media, People, San Gabriel Valley

Adult Art nite 5.20 This is going to be a fun event. Terrific even.  Its about creating art, some adult refreshements (booze) and hors d’oeuvres to nourish your body and loosen up the creative spirit you bottle up daily while chained to your cube.  Its about learning to express yourself in a media other than words.

The teacher this round is Elizabeth Jewell Butterfield, the featured artist at Monrovia Association of Fine Art’s annual Celebrate the Arts held in September.  Elizabeth is an amazing mixed media artist.  She takes bits of material, paper, what have you, tears in itty bitty bits and applies it to a canvas where it suddenly becomes a beautiful painting.  She will teach you do the same in the First class held on May 30

The last time this was done at the Paint n Play Art Studio and Gallery in Monrovia it sold out fast.  The teacher made the class exceptionally fun and everyone walked away with a piece of art to hang in their cube to remind themselves they can do it.  I can’t stress enough…sign up early and don’t miss this fun event.

Deets” May 30, June 20,  and July 18.  Paint n Play Art Studio and Gallery, 418 S Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia CA 91016 626/256-4848 to reserve a spot.

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Fung Brothers attack the East vs West Coast differences

May 20, 2015 in Entertainment, LA, People, Which Side?

These guys are hysterical.  I actually enjoy watching them and their analysis of what an Asian American is all about. Its entertaining and educational.  This time around they attach the East Coast vs West Coast differences.  Not the usual attack on Angelenos from the NYT or some condescending post on Angelenos making the move to the big NYC.  Its really just a close look at the differences in the two coasts and the Asian communities.