Saturday, April 30, 2005

Los Reyes Del Langer's

Here's GeezBob getting his freak on with Evelyn -- our favorite crazy, Scottish waitress at Langer's.

Everyone should be "known" in at least one restaurant. Larry King is "known" at Nate 'n Al's deli in Beverly Hills. Nancy Reagan is "known" at the restaurant at the Bel Air Hotel. Warren Beatty is "known" at The Grill on the Alley in Beverly Hills. You get the idea.

GeezBob and I are "known" at the best Jewish deli in Los Angeles, Langer's, near MacArthur Park. We meet there for lunch every Saturday when we're each in town.

The cashier always has a hearty hello. The kitchen staff always makes a point to wave hello. Even some of the crazy customers have started to recognize us. And Evelyn doesn't even ask for our order anymore -- she just asks if we want the usual.

Ironically, even though we've been steady customers for over ten years, the owner -- Norm Langer -- can't be bothered to say hello. He's too busy talking to his cop buddies or chewing out the staff. But that's a whole different story. We definitely feel "known" when we show up.

Tonight I saw Luis Aflaro's gripping new play, "Electricidad," at the Mark Taper Forum. It's a retelling of the Greek myth of Electra -- set in an East Los Angeles barrio "surrounded by three freeways and an El Pollo Loco."

The main character, Electricidad, seeks to avenge the murder of her Father (El Rey del Barrio) by her Mother -- Clemencia. Can you say "disfunctional family?"

Written in "Spanglish," the play perfectly captures and presents the rhythm of life in East Los Angeles.

I lived in Wilmington until I was 8 years old. By the late 60s Wilmington was pretty Latino. My best friend from Kindergarten through the fourth grade was Tyco Gonzales. (I often wonder what happened to Tyco.)

The set, with it's small house, two really life-like palm trees and low hanging utility lines really reminded me of that time in my life.

Bertila Dames as El Madre (Clemencia) and Alma Martinez as a very Chola Abuela create two searing characters that I'll never forget.

The very upper-middle class and very white audience at the Taper gave a very lukewarm reaction to the show. It was clearly outside of their comfort zone. And I'm more convinced than ever that, because of anti-Latino racism, Antonio Villaraigosa won't be elected Mayor of Los Angeles two weeks from Tuesday. (Of course, his new corporate money laundering scandal isn't exactly helping. Live by the sword, die by the sword.)

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The kitchen gets ready to cook our order. Posted by Hello

GeezBob calls the cashier "Grumpy" after the sweatshirt she often wears with her favorite of the Seven Dwarfs on it. Posted by Hello

Evelyn strikes a pose. Posted by Hello

Cher and Cher Alike

Had an absolute blast tonight at the Cher Farewell Tour 2005 concert tonight at the Hollywood Bowl.

According to Cher, this was the 324th concert in her three year Farewell Tour -- and tomorrow night, #325, truly is the last one.

It was a great concert and a real trip down Memory Lane. From her first Number One hit from the Summer of 1965 to her recent "Love After Love" she sang them all.

I enjoyed how her sets progressed through the decades. And she showed some great video clips to boot.

But I refuse to believe she is going to stop performing live. I wouldn't be surprised to hear she's booked for a multi-year contract in Las Vegas a la Celine Dion, Elton John and Barry Manilow.

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Cher has a message for all the young female singers following in her footsteps. Posted by Hello

Cher changed more than ten times during the concert. I think she's single handedly keeping Bob Mackie still in business. Posted by Hello

Cher brings in a little older demographic than you find at most rock concerts. Posted by Hello

Booking the Village People to open for Cher was pure genius. Posted by Hello

Hurray for the Hollywood Sign. Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 28, 2005

"Jody Says You're a Terrible Babbysitter"

Saw "The Amityville Horror" tonight. It's more creepy than it is scary. But I did jump a couple of times.

During the credits I saw that Jesse James was in the movie. I knew that Sandra Bullock was dating bad-boy Jesse James -- the race car driver and great grandson of the bank robber, with the TV show where they soup-up everyday household appliances (i.e. making a gas powered lawn mower go 60 m.p.h.). But I hadn't seen him in the movie.

I finally figured out the actor who plays the 12 year old son in the movie is also named Jesse James. I've heard there's a trend in Hollywood of older women dating younger men -- but fortunately this isn't that.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Riches of Embarrassment

The Arizona Diamondbacks completed their sweep of the Dodgers tonight, winning 6 to 3. This means the Dodgers fall out of the lead of the National League West. How embarrassing!

The Carl's Jr. I go to inside the stadium was evacuated because of smoke when I got there. All the staff was outside, but no one bothered to tell the hapless fans waiting in line that food production had come to a halt. That's how you make "Happy" Star "Sad."

Even more embarrassing is seeing the greedy Dodgers have stooped so low that even the rakes they use to drag the infield have advertising on them -- as you can see in the photo above.

Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke had an embarrassing article for the Dodgers in today's paper. He details how disastrous the new seats on the field are. The sightlines are terrible. In an effort to put in as many seats as possible, the McCourts built rows with 25 seats between the aisles. So you're climbing over a lot of people to get to your expensive seat that you can't see the batter from. And then Plaschke revealed the McCourts put their just-out-of-adolescence son, Jethro, in charge of the project. The fans are up in arms and the McCourts are going to have to spend millions more to fix Jethro's mistakes.

But the biggest embarrassment of the day comes by way of tonight's giveaway -- a fleece blanket. (Given the ticket prices at least the blanket is aptly named.) The blanket was supposed to list the years of the Dodgers' five World Series victories. But they got two of the years wrong! And no one caught it in time to fix it before the game. (So much for treasuring the Dodgers' historic legacy.) Instead they handed out the bum blankets with forty percent of the years wrong and gave fans a piece of paper we can send in to get a blanket with the correct years on it. If that don't beat all!

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Yet another Male Ego Staredown just a few rows in front of our seats. Posted by Hello

Saw Dodger Great Sweet Lou Johnson when I was waiting for the elevator and before I found out there was a 45 minute wait to get into the Gift Shop! Posted by Hello

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A Message for Steve Garvey

Hey, Steve Garvey: I'm bald and I haven't been beaten!

I paid for my ticket to Dodger Stadium. That means I get to insult the players -- not the other way around.

How desperate for cash does Steve Garvey have to be to be in this ad? I know he's got a lot of kids to support, but come on. I know Cindy would never sign off on this.

And why are the Dodgers running it on their obnoxious "zipper" screen?

Where is Senior Vice President Tommy Lasorda when I need him? He doesn't have the thickest head of hair and I would love to see the Garve tell Tommy he was "beat" by his hairline.

Do I seem a little sensitive?

Well, the Dodgers have lost 5 out of their last 6 games and are in danger of falling out of first place in the NL West. They lost to the Diamondbacks again tonight, 3 to 2.

So I'd appreciate it if my team didn't accuse ME of being the loser right now.

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Monday, April 25, 2005

Settling In

Even though the Dodgers lost 4 to 2, I enjoyed attending my first night game of the season tonight. I remembered to take my ticket this time, so I was there well before the game began. This gave me a chance to score the game -- which really helps me concentrate on the game.

Tonight's crowd proved that our society continues to get more and more coarse as time goes on. Two rows in front of us three guys in their 20s couldn't help but cuss with every other word they said. Finally a guy in front of them decided he couldn't take it anymore. He stood up and demanded they stop what they were doing. I think the cussers honestly had no idea that their language could possibly be offending anyone around them. Their vocabulary had been reduced to about four adjectives, that's all. So, while I object to their language, I think they had no idea what they were being accused of.

Of course Mr. Stand Up handled it poorly, and once the twenty year olds weren't contrite he proceeded to dump his beer all over them. Lovely. Surprisingly, it didn't escalate from there -- despite the people behind me rooting for a fight.

I was sitting next to two fourteen year olds who ended up splattered with beer. They actually seemed tickled at the prospect of explaining to their Moms why they were coming home from the ballpark smelling like beer.

And, no, I'm not in the cheap seats.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Fanali Takes the Mound

Spent this afternoon at a park in Santa Monica watching Max Fanali -- friends Rochelle Lewis and Nino Fanali's son -- play baseball.

11 year old Max maintained his composure under pressure -- including striking out the side with the bases loaded in the fourth inning.

After the game Max informed me I hadn't witnessed his finest pitching performance (that came when he struck out nine batters in four innings when he pitched against the Mets).

Tonight I saw Nicole Kidman's new movie "The Interpreter." How many languages can you say "not so great" in? It's a political thriller set at the U.N. that's not very thrilling and politically uninteresting. At least there are some good shots in and around New York City.

Tired of checking blogs only to find out nothing new has been posted? I've added a new feature to my blog -- bloglines. It's a free service. You give it a list of blogs you like to read and it checks them for updates once an hour. Then you log on to your bloglines account and it has all the updates for you in one place. If you only read one or two blogs it's probably not worth the effort. But I put 14 blogs in a few days ago and I'm loving it. You'll find the button on the left side of my home page right next to my site meter -- which is approaching 300 visits, by the way.

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Get Me Re-Write

I saw the 1936 George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart play, "You Can't Take It With You" tonight at the Brentwood Theater.

This year would be Hart's 100th birthday and the United States Postal Service has released a stamp in his honor. His son, Christopher Hart, directed the show I saw. Moss Hart married Kitty Carlisle when she was a young starlet.

Sadly, the play is very dated. It's about an eccentric family that lives life exactly as they see fit. Unfortunately, what may have seemed outrageous 70 years ago pales in comparison to our Reality TV society.

It had the feel of a Marx Brothers movie on Doggy Downers.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Everything I Needed to Know I Learned by the Time I Was Five

I had planned on seeing the new Nicole Kidman movie, "The Interpreter" tonight, but by the time I got to the always crowded theater at The Grove -- it was sold out.

So instead I ended up seeing the new Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet movie, "A Lot Like Love."

Well, it was A Lot Like Cotton Candy -- sweet, but not very substantial. But if you're looking to park your brain for a couple of hours, you can do a lot worse.

When I was little I used to LOVE the miniature car ride at Knott's Berry Farm. I considered myself an excellent driver. (Why wouldn't I? Grandmother Green always made a big fuss about it. She effectively ignored that the car was completely automated and on a big track. As I saw it, I got us from the start to the finish without hurting anybody, so I must be a good driver.)

Tonight's movie reminded me of that experience. Perfectly entertaining if you allow yourself just to go along for the ride.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

We Now Resume Our Regular Programming

Saw the creepy, little movie "Palindromes," directed by Todd Solondz, tonight. It starts with a funeral and only gets more intense from there.

Solondz certainly came up with quite a cast of characters. I kept thinking it was like a John Waters without the sense of humor.

The movie certainly elicits laughs. But the are of the nervous variety. Like catching the giggles at a funeral or laughing when you see someone fall.

A big part of the story line centers on abortion. And I don't think activists -- pro or con -- will like how they look in it.

Ellen Barkin returns to the silver screen in this one. She remains amazing.

Ultimately the theme of the movie seems to be people never change. You end up just the way you start out. (Kind of like a palindrome -- a word or phrase spelled the same forward and back -- get it?)

So the Dodgers lost tonight -- 6 to 1 -- to the Padres. Proving even the Dodgers are human. Our mild mannered coach, Jim Tracy, got kicked out. During the argument Vin Scully explained to the television audience that the Home Plate Umpire kept repeating, "Fertilizer, fertilizer." Vinny is a much better announcer than he is a lip reader.

Oh, I've got to go. There's a car chase on the news. Only in L.A. They'll set aside every other story to follow a chase. They think the driver is drunk, so this one has potential. Look out for those spike strips.

Update: The chase just ended when the driver pulled over on the freeway and got out of the car. It was a naked lady! What's up with that? Talk about your wardrobe malfuction. Who needs to go to the movies to see how weird people are? The newscasters seem a little disappointed to have to return to regular news stories now.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Really enjoyed seeing "Fever Pitch" tonight starring Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon. Fallon plays a character completely obsessed with baseball in general, and the Red Sox in particular. Barrymore is the baseball-oblivious love interest.

I liked the way Fallon distributed his season tickets. He made his friends dance if they wanted a highly-coveted Yankees game ticket.

Fallon is so Red Sox crazy he turns down a trip to Paris with his girlfriend because his team "really needs him" that weekend.

(Spoiler ahead) And of course there's a Hollywood ending where Fallon gets the girl AND baseball too.

In an unrelated item, I was really angry to come home tonight to find out the Dodgers vs. Padres game isn't televised tonight. I'm stuck listening to Rick Monday on the radio. At least the Dodgers have taken the lead in the 8th inning and may be on their way to their eighth consecutive win and maintaining the best record in Major League Baseball. (Not that I'm obsessed.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

How About a "D" for Did My Homework?

My colleague and theater buddy, Renee Rose, sent me a funny email yesterday. She and her husband, Harvey, are part of a group of eight people who sit together at shows presented by the San Francisco Best of Broadway series.

Renee reported in on the group's experience seeing Shakespeare's "As You Like It" Saturday night. Renee, of course, read up on the show (including the plot twists) ahead of time and loved the show. The other seven were bored out of their minds and even threatened to leave at intermission.

Renee, a former High School English Teacher, has declared the next time Shakespeare comes to their series she's conducting a mandatory class for her co-horts ahead of time.

I guess I just did the opposite with "Play Without Words." I really enjoyed the show Saturday night. But I can't say I "understood" it. The ending seemed ambiguous to me. (I later read Matthew Bourne meant to represent multiple outcomes, so no wonder I was confused.)

But yesterday I rented the 1963 movie "The Servant" that Bourne's play is based on. Trippy movie. Black and white. But now I'm even more confused. In the movie the manservant and the housemaid are engaged to be married but pretend to be brother and sister. (I didn't get any of that Saturday night.)

In the movie there's a scene where the manservant is using a telephone booth and four young women bang on the booth demanding that he finish his call and let them use the phone. (It's a weird scene and I still don't get the point.) Thinking back on the show Saturday night, a phone booth is prominently featured but I don't know why.

So I'm afraid even though I've done my homework, Teacher Renee would give me an F on the test.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Get a Bigger Truck

Yesterday I saw the touring revival of "The King and I" at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. The L.A. Times review described the show as a not very good "bus and truck" version of the revival that hit Broadway in 1996.

This is actually the second national tour to come from the Broadway revival. Sadly, the L.A. Times was pretty accurate.

Stephanie Powers stars as "I" -- the school teacher who moves to Siam to teach the King's children. She's OK, but really played the role like it's a broad comedy. I kept waiting for a spit-take.

Ronobir Lahiri plays the "King" and he was terrible. I may not be the fittest guy around, but I'm sorry - if you're doing a role with your shirt off for most of the show, do a few sit-ups. Surely he could find an Abs class somewhere.

I saw the revival on Broadway in 1996 when it starred Lou Diamond Phillips and Donna Murphy. (L.D.P. clearly had found a local Abs class.) I remember it was a very lavish production at the Neil Simon Theater.

But I guess when you're going out on the road you can only put so much scenery on the truck.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Time Marches On

Saw an excellent production tonight of Matthew Bourne's "Play Without Words" at the Ahmanson Theater. Bourne is best known for merging the worlds of theater and dance. I've seen all of his recent productions -- "Swan Lake," "Cinderella" and "The Car Man" at the Ahmanson. And in 2002 I saw his "Nutcracker!" at Sadler's Wells in London.

I really like his shows. "Play Without Words" is about transitions in relationships between a man and his fiancee, a man and his housemaid, a man and his manservant and the fiancee and her old friend. It's set in 1963 -- a transitional year in culture, race and sexual relations. I missed the first 18 days of 1963, but I was around for the rest of it.

I saw Bourne's "Swan Lake" at the Ahmanson Theater in 1998. My friends from Washington, D.C., Bret Limage and Jim Brown, were in town and I talked them into going with me to see the show. They were both reluctant to see a ballet but finally relented. It was one of the finest and most moving performances I've seen in my life. The show has a heart-wrenching ending. After we had regained our composure both Bret and Jim thanked me for making them go. I've been a Bourne fan ever since.

The night we saw "Swan Lake," Scott Ambler danced the young lead role of "The Prince." Well, that was seven years ago and tonight Ambler danced the older lead role of "Prentice," the manservant. How come everyone around me is getting older?

Friday, April 15, 2005

Cara Mia

Today started out very early for me. I was at the Bel Age Hotel shortly after 7:00 a.m. for a Breakfast speech by Gov. Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

I was pleased to attend as a guest of GeezBob and the good people of Reed & Davidson.

Interesting speaker. A couple times during his speech he seemed like he was fixin' to explode. His voice got louder, he turned red and the veins in his neck started bulging. Of course, I was rooting for him to blow. But he kept pulling back.

Had a couple of Celebrity Sightings at the breakfast: Wilson Cruz, most noted for his performance in the television show "My So Called Life" was in attendance. And Judith Light sat at the table next to mine. She touched me once as she walked by. A brush with greatness, I suppose.

I spotted Hollywood Director Bob King across the room. I didn't say hello. King ran against me for Student Council when we were in High School. I'm still bitter. Not so much because of the conduct of the campaign, but mostly because he won.

Susan Martin, of our Dodger Season Ticket Group, was seated to my left. Martin, a school teacher, told me this was her first political event. She seemed to get the biggest kick out of how candidates for various office would walk right up to our table and launch into a 30 second pitch about themselves and their campaigns. I started tuning it out years ago, but I can see how through her eyes it all must seem pretty weird.

And on my right was the highly spirited Liz Smagala -- a regular reader -- of Reed and Davidson. Her people are from Poland, so we talked about the Pope's recent death and how he shined a spotlight on his homeland. Smagala was last spotted in the valet waiting area with a cellphone in one hand and a "Bill Rosendahl for City Council" sign in the other. Me thinks she was calling the HQ in search of unadorned lawns needing signs on her way to her office.

Did you catch my name in the Los Angeles Times today? The TV - Radio column in the Sports section reported the Associated Press Television-Radio Association of California and Nevada presented an award to "anchor Damon Andrews and producer Ted Green for a feature they did on Bret Saberhagen.....Green is a former Times sportswriter."

I don't run across other Ted Greens too often. There was one in the Arizona Young Republicans who was best known for getting into fist fights. And there is a Ted Green Chevrolet in Vermont. At least now I know why every now and then someone says to me, "Did you used to write for the L.A. Times?"

Spent tonight watching another theatrical debacle at the Kodak Theater -- "Tango Forever." Or as I came to think of it -- "Tango Forgettable." No story or plot in the show -- just people dancing the tango. Some of the numbers were interesting but ultimately it all looks the same. The same would be true if they ever had a "Perchance Polka" or "Whatta Waltz."

And the production values at the Kodak Theater continue to be shockingly bad. The sound was terrible. You couldn't hear the singer and the sound mix of the orchestra was awful, with the sound muddled and dominated by the two bass players. And loud! Lots of folks in the first few rows moved to rows further back.

The lighting was no better than the sound. It was often so dim I considered setting up a check-up with my opthamologist.

And when will Claude Clawdiddlehopper, seated behind me, figure out that the music of Argentina wasn't written for American audiences to clap along to?

On a positive note, I can now say I've seen an orchestra with four accordions in the front row. So there you go.

Some of the dancing was good. I especially liked it when the women kicked their legs fast and high between their male partner's legs. There's a move you don't want to miss on.

But ultimately it was all too Gomez and Morticia Addams for me.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Don't Give Me Any Static

I was pleased to read in the May issue of Los Angeles Magazine that the evil McCourts have banned portable radios inside Dodger Stadium. I can't, however, figure out how they can deem them a "security threat."

It's always bugged me when people play their radios in the stands without wearing earphones. I can barely stand listening to Rick Monday's color commentaries on my own car radio, let alone half-hearing it from two rows backs.

However -- I think the McCourt's motivation is laughable. They want to rent wireless headsets to fans in order to hear the play-by-play-for-pay inside the Stadium. Somewhere Walter O'Malley must be rolling in his grave.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

A Day in the Life

Went to a different 24 Hour Fitness location this morning. The parking at my old location just went up to $4 and that just seems to much to pay to park while working out. Parking at the Hollywood 24 Hour Fitness is a much more reasonable $1.50 -- and I liked the club too. It certainly was busier than their West Hollywood location seems to be in the morning and there seemed to be lots of folks working out with personal trainers. I enjoyed watching their interaction. Somehow I just can't imagine paying someone to stand there and say, "Come on, Ted, one more, just one more."

Pretty uneventful day in the office.

And I spent tonight reading newspapers and magazines. The most interesting thing I read was that Dukes Bar at the Dukes Hotel in London (where I had a couple of great martinis in January courtesy of Renee Rose was where Ian Fleming was inspired to write James Bond's famous "shaken, not stirred" line.

And I watched the Dodgers complete their sweep of the Giants, 4 to 1, on TV.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Working Through Emotions

Drove to Dodger Stadium for Opening Day today -- twice. I got all the way there and was pulling into the Parking Lot when I realized I'd left my ticket at home. Fortunately, I'd gotten an early start and I don't live that far from the stadium.

By the time I'd gone home and back -- fighting really intense traffic near the stadium -- the game was nearly starting. But I got the see the Stealth Fighter flyover from the parking lot as well as all the doves they release every year.

The first thing I did once I was inside was the purchase my "Opening Day Baseball" -- a ball marked with today's date that is only sold today at Dodger Stadium. I have a collection of them from every Opening Day going back to 1993. By the time I got there the souvenir stand only had three left. For the first time in many years GeezBob wasn't able to go to Opening Day and I was under assignment to buy his Opening Day ball. So I quickly bought two and breathed a sigh of relief.

Dodger Stadium used to be one of the most beautiful places in America to see a baseball game. Unfortunately, the new evil owners -- Frank and Jamie McCourt -- have junked up the entire stadium with advertising. It's really out of control this year.

During the off-season the Dodgers got rid of some of my favorite players -- Shawn Green, Adrian Beltre and Jose Lima.

They also added 10 rows of seats on the field, in front of my seats while significantly hiking ticket prices. So I had an ambivalent feeling about rooting for the Dodgers this season.

Today the Dodgers distributed a season schedule with a stadium map listing tickets prices. Prices increase the closer you get to Home Plate. According to this map our season ticket seats should have cost 25% less than the Dodgers charged. This deserved an investigation!

First I found a Supervisor of Season Ticket Sales. He was certain that based on the map and what we paid for the season tickets we must be sitting in the incorrect seats. I explained to him that after coming to Dodger Stadium for 15 years I had figured out how to find my assigned seat. But since he agreed that the map showed a lower price for where I was sitting I asked for a refund of the difference. He explained that his job was to sell NEW season tickets and once you were suckered into buying them, renewals were handled by the Ticket Office. So off to the Ticket Office I went.

On the way, passing through the Club Level Suites area I had a Celebrity Sighting: Tom Hanks and Jon Lovitz were hanging around outside of Hanks' suite. They both were kind of sweaty.

I plead my case to the Ticket Office and the Window Lady left to consult with her superiors for the longest time. She finally returned to tell me we had been charged the right amount, the "price border" was actually an aisle over from where we were seated and that the map was "a little unclear." We went a couple of rounds with me explaining that the map was not "unclear," rather it was wrong. She didn't seem too impressed by my suggestion that the next time they print the maps the fix their mistake.

But the Season Ticket Sales Supervisor actually seemed appreciative when I went back to show him the mistake on the map. He said he would make sure it got fixed before the next printing. He may well have been shining me on, but like a good salesman, he made me feel good about the situation.

My friend Julie Gallaher is a die hard Giants fan. Actually, I think she's more of a Dodger-hater. She calls them the "Smog Dogs." Julie is having her 50th birthday party this August in Ireland and I'm looking forward to attending. But you can imagine my surprise when I was walking around the stadium today and I saw Julie wearing a Dodger jersey, jumping up and down when a Dodger got a hit. I started to go up to her to say I was looking forward to seeing her in Ireland when I realized the woman was not Julie, but her Dodger Doppelganger. I tried not to stare, but it looked so much like her I couldn't help it.

But what about the game? you ask. Well, the Dodgers trailed the entire game but ended up beating the hated Giants 9 to 8 by scoring 4 runs in the bottom of the ninth inning. The crowd (what was left of it) went crazy.

And between pointing out the map error and the exciting finish to the game -- I feel all better now and I'm ready to root them on for the rest of the season.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Is There a Theme?

Saw a forgettable little movie tonight called, "Eating Out." It's about college age dating. The writing was horrible. The writer was going for witty lines -- but ended up with lines that were neither lifelike, witty or funny.

But in keeping with the theme of the evening, I did eat out before the movie. I went to "The Pig" on La Brea -- a great little barbecue place that's nice enough, but not very fancy. The good news is the owner tells me they've taken over the space next door and they're going to open a full-service restaurant called "Memphis." Can't wait until it opens in June

Sunday, April 10, 2005

A Good Theater Weekend

Tonight I saw Jackie Hoffman's one woman show, "The Kvetching Continues" at the Renberg Theater. Hilarious! Hoffman played three featured roles in Hairspray on Broadway (Mother, Gym Teacher, Prison Matron) and was in the movie "Kissing Jessica Stein."

But she hasn't become a big star -- and she's bitter about it. Too many times she's been told she's "too Jewish" for a role. So you can imagine what she has to say about her inability to even get an audition for "Fiddler on the Roof."

This is her second run at the Renberg Theater. The first time around she sold out her shows. Tonight's audience was rather sparse. And Hoffman let us know what she thinks about L.A. theater audiences. Bravo to Jackie!

The Long and the Short of It

Saw the excellent new play, "Doubt" tonight at the Pasadena Playhouse. Good timing since it won the Pulitzer Prize earlier this week. The story is about a Catholic Priest accused of having wandering hands at a Junior High School in the mid-60s. The play focuses on doubt and certainty and their affects.

Tiny,little Linda Hunt plays the lead role of Sister Aloysius who accuses Father Flynn, played by British actor Jonathan Cake, of inappropriate behavior. There has to be a foot and a half of difference in the height of these two actors. They have some intense scenes of confrontation and their height difference and the staging had a great cinematic effect (think Orson Well's direction of Citizen Kane). The characters literally got bigger and smaller right in front of your eyes.

The same show is playing right now on Broadway too. In New York the very tall Cherry Jones is performing as Sister Aloysius along with similarly tall Brian O'Bryne as Father Flynn. I wonder how different it is to see the play with similarly sized actors in the lead roles.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Cho Must Go On

Really enjoyed seeing Margaret Cho's "The Assassin Tour" tonight at the Wiltern Theater. Hilarious! Very political and very raunchy. Her imitation of her Mother is as great as ever. And her riff on ever-bizarre Bjork was an unexpected pleasure. I had no idea her face was so funny. I couldn't look away from the big screen.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Read This Blog

Saw a new French movie, "Look at Me" tonight. It's about a famous writer whose ego prevents him from appreciating his daughter's talents. It's a good, but not a great movie.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Take It Outside

Had a lovely dinner tonight on the patio at La Piazza -- the (relatively) new Italian restaurant at The Grove. Good food and great people watching. The only downside is every ten minutes the music starts to blare and the Poor Man's Bellagio Fountain in the middle of the shopping center starts squirting water in the air. It's not any more impressive than six hoses set loose at full blast on your front lawn. But people still stop to gawk. Us Americans, we love anything that's free.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Thanks for Bringing the Room Down

Just saw Joan Allen's other movie out -- "Off the Map." It's about a family living away from civilization in the New Mexico desert. The father is frozen with depression. He describes himself as "a crying machine." He even drinks lots of water to replace the fluids he loses crying. His pre-teen daughter spends her time complaining to companies about imperfections in their products, which results in them sending her replacements. You should see her face when she gets a case of Moon Pies because of the "rat part" she "found" in one she bought in the store.

After seeing the movie, the Father isn't the only one depressed. So if you find yourself too happy or too chipper, check this one out to moderate your mood.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Is That It?

Not much happened today and I'm tired from my trip and the clock change.

Here's the best story from today: In order to catch my 6:15 a.m. flight I had to get up at 4:00 a.m. Of course with Daylight Savings Time, this felt like 3:00 a.m. And naturally I couldn't sleep last night because I was worried I'd sleep through my alarm.

On my flight from Denver to Los Angeles I fell asleep. Every now and then I could hear myself snoring but I kept falling back to sleep and snoring some more. At least the people around me didn't have to worry about whether I was breathing or not.

What can I write -- not every day can produce such a great blog entry.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Run for the Borders

Had a good brunch today at the Alex Johnson Hotel in downtown Rapid City. The Johnson, towering over downtown at 8 stories tall, was once the grand dame of hotels in Rapid City. Like many other older downtown hotels, it fell victim to the interstate highway system. Now everyone wants to stay by the highway (I'm staying by the highway). According to a newspaper article on the wall, both Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock stayed at the Johnson in 1958 while filming "North by Northwest." The food at the brunch was surprisingly good, and you can't beat the price at eleven bucks.

In the afternoon I made the pilgrimage to Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota -- one of America's all-time great tourist traps. Bought by Ted and Dorothy Hustead in 1931, they quickly figured out they could get drivers to pull over with the offer of "free ice water." The signs advertising Wall Drug became prolific and now the store claims to dispense water sometimes at the rate of 20,000 glasses a day.

The store has grown to take up nearly an entire block of Wall's two-block downtown. It sells a lot of junk but it's all fun to see. It took a while (I'm sure that's the point) but I finally found the spot where I could have my free glass of ice water.

I finished up with a visit to the Badland National Park. I have a new found respect for the pioneers who crossed America in a covered wagon. This park covers the area where the prairie meets the desert. They are areas where literally on one side of the road you can see the flat grassy prairie stretching out over the horizon and on the other side of the road is the forbidding, barren, otherworldly, moon-like desert. Very trippy. It made me wish I had had two glasses of water at Wall Drug.

Earlier today I had a little anxiety attack that I might not be able to read the Sunday New York Times today. But, surprise -- surprise, they sell it at the Borders Books at the mall. It even seemed a little liberal inside of Borders. Having spent two days here I'm amazed that Tom Daschle held on as long as he did. Lots of Pawn and Gun stores everywhere. If I were Democratic Senator Tim Johnson I think I'd be pretty nervous about being up for re-election next year. South Dakota seems pretty red to me.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Picture This

It's only a coincidence that I picked the shortest weekend of the year to visit South Dakota. I'm not that good of a planner.

I didn't come here with a long list of things to do -- but I sure did a lot today.

First I visited Mt. Rushmore. It's very impressive. But I especially enjoyed learning about the politics behind the sculptures. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but the project was conceived primarily to bring tourists to the Black Hills. The sculptor, Gutzon Borglum -- who got the commission because of his work on Stone Mountain in Atlanta, was especially strong willed. He offended President Calvin Coolidge by rejecting the inscription for the monument Coolidge spent two years writing.

Apparently early visitors mistook the Jefferson sculpture for a bad version of Martha, next to George Washington.

They have some great photos of Dwight Eisenhower addressing the 1953 Young Republican National Convention, which was held at Mt. Rushmore. I also enjoyed the photos of Alfred Hitchcock filming "North by Northwest."

I thought it was very American that they make a big deal out of there being no charge to view Mt. Rushmore, but you have to pay $8 to park your car.

From Mt. Rushmore I drove through the Custer State Park. Lots of wildlife was out and about. I watched some "Begging Burros" earn their nickname. You're supposed to bring some carrots or apple slices to feed them alongside the road. I didn't, but I watched them swarm a lady who did. There were also hundreds and hundreds of buffalo along the road. One buffalo was walking right on the side of the road and I came up real close to it so it's eye on the side of it's head was looking right at me. If it sped up, I sped up. If it slowed down, I slowed down. I wanted to see if it would ram my rental car or something. But it just got bored of me and walked away from the road.

Next I went to the Jewel Cave National Monument. I guess I've never been in a cave before. I didn't really know what to expect. My only point of reference was the Mine Train Ride at Knott's Berry Farm (one of my childhood favorites). So I guess I was expecting technicolor stalagtites followed by a narrow escape from a dynamite explosion.

So it was cool underground, but not as dramatic as I was expecting. At the end of the tour our Park Ranger Guide announced we were his last tour ever. He got a little choked up as he explained that while he loves taking people into the cave, he "has to pay the bills" and is moving on to a more lucrative job. So of course I asked him, "How long have you been doing this?" His answer of "three weeks," certainly took some of the emotion out of situation for me.

Next it was time to visit the in-progress sculpture of Crazy Horse. When finished it will be the largest stone sculpture in the world. But I changed my mind when they wanted $9 to get in. I'll wait until it's finished.

Finally I drove north to the town of Deadwood. First I visited the Mt. Moriah cemetery to see the gravesites of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane (whose last wish was to be buried next to Wild Bill).

Then I stopped by several of the casinos in Deadwood. They all are tiny little places along the three blocks of Main Street. The casinos are the caliber of something you would see in Minden or Gardnerville, Nevada outside of Carson City. But Lady Luck shined on me and I stopped by the Deadwood Wells Fargo to deposit my winnings before leaving town. (That's a great feeling.)

Now that I've been to Deadwood I really want to see the HBO series by the same name. The TV show has become notorious for the volume of foul language in the script. In my 5 hours in Deadwood I didn't hear cuss word one. But like I wrote, I was winning.

I would have had some excellent photos to post from today's adventures but my camera is still undergoing the world's slowest repair at the Casio factory following my unfortunate slip-and-fall in Cape Town in January.

Tomorrow it's off to the world famous Wall Drug Store and the Badlands National Park.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Riding the Rim

I flew to Rapid City this evening to spend the weekend in South Dakota. This is not an April Fool's joke.

I've now been in 49 states. (Number 50 is Maine and I'm going there next month.)

I was fortunate enough to score an upgrade on my flight from LAX to Denver, even though technically they're not supposed to upgrade an award ticket. But the gate agents have lots of power, and I got lucky.

But the exciting part of the journey here occurred while our tiny prop jet was landing at the Rapid City airport. Both of the left tires on the landing gear went flat. It seemed like a smooth landing, but it felt bumpy while we were slowing down -- like the runway was really rough. We pulled off the runway and stopped on the taxiway. A visual inspection by someone in a truck determined we couldn't go the last few yards to the terminal.

The powers that be decided the safest way to deal the situation was to bring a bus around to drive us to the terminal. Unfortunately, as you can imagine, the Rapid City airport doesn't exactly have a fleet of buses standing by late on a Friday night. After about 20 minutes they located an old Air Force bus that had to of seen service originally in the 60s. (I rode a bus to Junior High School in the mid-70s, and this bus was more of a relic then the one I used to ride.)

Once we were on the bus it was literally a 60 second ride to the terminal.

My horoscope today said that something out of my control would happen to me and how I dealt with the situation would be a test of my character. I think what it was referring to wasn't the flat tire but instead the guy seated directly behind me who used the time we were trapped in the claustrophobic cabin waiting for the bus to whistle his favorite cartoon tunes. I bit my tongue and didn't say a word -- but I don't know what that means about my character.

Getting off the plane and onto the bus I saw the pilot looking at the tires. He didn't look to happy. I guess blowing out the wheels with your landing doesn't look to good in the ol' personnel file.

But I'm here and tomorrow it's off to Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument and the casinos in Deadwood. And Sunday will be the Badlands and downtown Rapid City.

The weather forecast is clear with highs in the 60s and 70s. So I guess I got lucky.