All posts by la_colleen

What that UMA graffiti is all about


Perhaps you’ve seen this strange non-tagging tagging showing up lately; perhaps not.

About a month ago, my friend, Uma Nithipalan, a 27-year-old local theater actor, suffered a series of seizures while visiting her fiance, John, an L.A. musician who was touring in NYC. Turns out it was a ruptured brain aneurysm, and she’s been in the neurological ICU (a.k.a. Not A Picnic) at St. Vincent’s ever since. Stage 5 coma. Scary-bad, out-of-nowhere stuff. All-we-can-do-is-pray, “but she was so young“, there-but-for-the-grace-of-{blank} stuff.

In other words? Really. Not. Good.

But what kind of story would it be if it ended there? A piss-poor story. A limp and flaccid story. And even among thespians, Uma has always had a flair for the dramatic.
Continue reading What that UMA graffiti is all about

Best. Voicemail. Menu. Ever.

So I dial a local adult emporium to make my reservation for my friend Polly‘s upcoming (adult) staged reading and am greeted by the cheery, professional, completely non-sexual voice of a woman listing my available options on the voicemail menu:

For accounts payable, press “6”…for store hours, press “blah blah”…

And then, without so much as a hint of a nudge or wink,

For leather, press ’15’;” “For toys, press ’18’.

Which immediately brings to mind two questions: what are items 16 & 17, and why are all other voicemail menus so lame?

Warning: please do NOT start dialing the Pleasure Chest to hear the menu–it only works if the lines are all full and as a responsible citizen and former retail worker, I don’t want some nice counter person losing her mind.

One last chance to catch the 99-cent show

99_pageant_ma-nature.jpgSure, the holidays are over. Good riddance, you might even say. But there’s one slice of holiday goodness you should consider partaking in (of?) if you haven’t–or going back for seconds if you have.

Ken Roht’s Pageant of the 4 Seasons, A 99Cent Only Modern Something is extending from now through January 28th, after which it will melt away like a glittering ice statue in the California sun, or somesuch metaphor.

And I don’t like to be an alarmist about this, but while a magnificent show, it is also somewhat taxing to create and produce, and there’s always a chance that this time might be your last. Seriously. I’ve heard the bitching, up close and personal. So don’t be the only bozo who never got to see a 99-cent show. Just, you know, in case…
Continue reading One last chance to catch the 99-cent show

Things wrong with L.A.(me) hate lists

I’m fully prepared for the L.A. Hater haters to jump on me, but I have lived my life, or at least, the more humorous portions of it, by one credo: with exceptions so rare as to prove it a rule, The Joke is King; All Hail the Joke. (This means you.)

That said, it is with great sadness that I read KungFuMike’s anti-L.A. rant list. Not because I am anti-L.A.-rants–I love a good rant–but because his is lame-lame-bo-bame, banana-fanna-fo-fame lame.

For those of you less familiar with the form, a good list:

1. is useful (e.g. that Trader Joe’s list on your fridge)
2. is concise yet comprehensive
3. contains at least three items (symmetry thing)

A great list:

1. adheres to principles #1 & 2, above
2. is instructive, thought-provoking and/or hilarious
3. may contain less than three items (chiefly limited to McSweeney’s practitioners and other masters of the genre)

With these principles in mind, I can now address KFM’s list.
Continue reading Things wrong with L.A.(me) hate lists

Last-minute tchotchke-gift heaven

I have a mercifully small holiday shopping list, most of which is easily dispensed with via consumables (booze and flan for host gifts, lunch out for the non-partythrowers), but, well, you know–there’s always a few little something-somethings you always need, if only to bolster your own spirits for another round of holiday-fracking-cheer.

For these, I give both my design and cheapskate seals of approval to Kinokuniya Bookstore, in the little plaza that abuts (heh heh) the New Otani in Little Tokyo. It’s chock-a-block with cool books, of course, but it’s also home to at least two overflowing aisles of insanely great writing pads (of all sizes), containers, drawing & writing implements and several hundred other things I Absolutely Must Have, including tons of stuff in the $5 – 20 range.

Actual address: 123 Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka St., Suite 205, L.A., 90012
Actual hours: 7 days/week, 10am – 8pm.

Unsilent Night = a pretty joyful noise

The BF, his brother, his brother’s girlfriend and I trundled over to Pan-Pacific Park last night for L.A.’s first participation in Unsilent Night, and I’m happy to report that it was ultra happy-making.

Turnout was impressive for a first year; at one point towards the end, after our winding walk through the park brought us to the little amphitheater towards the north end of the park, The BF counted somewhere around 200-250 celebrants. And there is something really uplifting about (a) that many people gathering together to share in an artistic experience and (b) hearing the same lush music (in four harmonizing parts) emanating from so many amplified devices all around you.

My hat’s off to L.A. organizer Behnoosh Khalili, who hooked up with the NY Unsilent folk during her five years in NYC, and who did a banner job pulling this one together. I’ll be back next year for this awesome holiday tradition.

(Chennessey, who dressed as Santa, has her Flickr photoset up here.)

99 cent show turns five bucks this year, Markland beat me to my nowannual pimpage of Ken Roht’s fabu “99 cent show” this year, but since the plug got buried in a laundry list of (albeit a good one) of holiday shows and since reader Justin Jorgensen let us know that even Holiday Meister Charles Phoenix gave it a rave and since there’s only one more weekend to catch it, I thought it deserved its own plug.

This year’s iteration–the fifth all-original musical extravaganza in the series–is especially lush and charming. It’s true to its title (Pageant of the 4 Seasons) in that it feels like more of a pastiche than years past. It’s also especially lush musically–the vocal arrangements are nothing short of extraordinary, and a little darker in parts. And of course, the costumes and props, all fashioned from items found on the 99-Cent Only chain’s shelves, are as dazzling as ever. (Nice job on those ‘flowers’, Justin!)

Oh, and speaking of nice jobs–I did Mr. Cutey-face graphic this year, once again. (I told you I was shameless…)

Pageant of the 4 Seasons, A 99-Cent Only Modern Something
Written, directed & choreographed by Ken Roht
Through Dec 17 at the Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly at Alvarado
Tix, times and other details on the Orphean Circus website

Unsilent Night hits L.A.

An expat Angeleno pal now in Brooklyn sent word that Unsilent Night, “an
electronic caroling party for an infinite number of boomboxes,” is coming to L.A. this year.

Started by NYC composer Phil Kline, Unsilent Night (MySpace profile, Flickr tag) brings together a collection of people in one public space, each playing a prewritten “part” on individual boomboxes. It’s been done in cities all over the world; last year, over 1,000 people participated in Washington Square Park in NYC.

The L.A. iteration is happening on December 17 at 7pm in Pan-Pacific Park. You can just show up to enjoy it, of course, but if you want to participate (and that sounds like half the fun, at least), you’ll need to contact Behnoosh Khalili, the organizer out here, to get your tape. (It sounds like you can get a CD or even an mp3, for those iPod-w/-speaker rigs.) Behnoosh has set up a MySpace page here, or you can email him at unsilentnightla at the mailplace of google.

Oh–and it’s 100% free to play. Except, of course, for the boombox. And, um, the batteries and stuff…

Best. Telemarketing. Call. Ever.

When Caller ID shows the LA Times on the horn, I usually just ignore it. They’re a little…um…overly persistent. But my DSL was down last night — AGAIN — which meant my Vonage was down, which meant the call got routed to my cell, which meant the ID was lost somewhere along the way. Hopefully, up The New AT&T’s–but I digress…

PLEASE NOTE: Yesterday was 95F…outside. Which meant it was something like 105F in my sh*tbox, postwar apartment. And I’ve given up television. And it was a big, big election day. (And did I mention my DSL was down?)

Yes. So. Our playlet:

ME (wearily): “Hi, this is Colleen.”
HIM: “Hi, this is Joe X. from the LA Times about your subscription.”
ME (warily): “Yes?”
HIM: “This holiday season, we’re offering a special for our weekend-only custom–”
ME (cutting him off…POLITELY, I SWEAR!!!): “I’m sorry, but I’m really not–”
HIM (gamely proceeding): “–where you can get the weekday–”
ME (more firmly…BUT POLITELY, I SWEAR): “I’m sorry, I’m really not interested.”



HIM: I’m really not interested either. (click)



ME: Hahahahahahaha!!!! (Wipes eyes. Dials cell.) Hello, Time-Warner Cable…?

Arty-farty bloodbath of the century!

99pageant_thumb.jpgTheatrical genius Ken Roht’s annual fundraisers for the 99-cent show, while not as elaborately produced as the shows themselves, are almost as legendary. While my favorite fundie-wonders thus far have been his low-key, “unplugged” retoolings of famous albums (like last year’s Song to a Seagull), this year’s could be a real hootenanny.

Two more of alt-theater’s finest stylists (Robert Prior of the Ramayana 2K4 and the brilliant Laural Meade) will face off in Director vs. Director, a self-described “party-event” at the newly renovated Bootleg Theatre at Beverly & Alvarado. A swath of amazing performers + instant spectacle + the greatest performance/party space in town + cocktails and it benefits the best holiday show in town? Now that’s $15 well spent!

Oh, while 99-centers are famously family-friendly, this fundraiser is (ahem) adults only. Caveat Barney…

Director vs. Director
Saturday, Nov. 11, 2006 @ 8pm (one night only)
@ Bootleg Theatre, 2220 Beverly Blvd (at Alvarado)
$15 dollars at the door (cash preferred) via
Reserve NOW!!! (They’ll sell out)

More Andrew Ward tonight, you last-minute types: one of my favorite photojournalists, Andrew Ward (see here), has another collection of his newest photographs opening tonight.

This one is at Brenart Cafe in Pasadena, and features more of the most excellent shots Andrew took on his last trip to Southeast Asia. (Click to biggify, but really, no online JPEG can do these justice.) Link to Andrew’s bio on the Brenart site.

Andrew Ward | Indochine
Oct 28 – Nov 17 (opening tonight, 6:30 – 9pm)
Brenart Cafe & Gallery
53 E. Union St, Pasadena, 91103
(626) 796-7460

The King is Back in L.A. (for two days only)

sternsirius.jpgEver since Howard Stern left “Free FM” (n√©e KLSX) for the FCC-free “airwaves” of Sirius radio, I’ve felt like L.A. radio was the poorer for it. However, I didn’t want to be the poorer for listening to him post-move, so I bailed on the King of All Media.

If you want to see what the fuss is all about (or just hear Howard with swears), check out the two-day free trial, today and tomorrow only. Just give ’em an email addy and it’s all Howard, all the time.

Except for the, um, long commercial blocks and stuff. Hmm…feels like home…

Beastly Bombing = The Bomb!

beastly.jpgIf I see a lot more theater than I end up recommending, that probably goes triple for musicals, which are notoriously tricky things to pull off.

That’s why I’m so thrilled to be able to jump and down out loud about The Beastly Bombing, the delightful, hilarious and razor-sharp theatrical work of genius by Julien Nitzberg (libretto & direction) and Roger Neill (composer & musical direction) that’s back at CFI West‘s beautiful The Steve Allen Theater through November 18th.

Without getting too much into plot, The Beastly Bombing involves two separate terrorist teams, a power-mad president, his two drug-addled daughters and a plan to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge. Hilarity pretty much ensues from the get-go, but smart hilarity, in a madcap, Gilbert-and-Sullivan-esque romp that has more smart things to say about 9/11 than a phalanx of self-important political bloggers.

The WEEKLY loved it. (They’re preparing an article on it for the next issue.) Stephen Schwartz hated it.

That last should be reason enough to hightail it over.

The Beastly Bombing
by Roger Neill and Julien Nitzberg
at The Steve Allen Theater (thru 11/18)
Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm, $20
Tickets via the theater’s site or call 800-595-4TIX