Sunday, July 31, 2005

Are You Kidding Me?

The worst pollster in America, Frank Luntz, was sitting in the Owner's Box today at Dodger Stadium. I can't imagine the McCourts are paying for his patented bad advice. They're too cheap.

Today's baseball trading deadline came and went today without the McCourts spending a penny to improve the team. Surprise, surprise! So much for McCourt's promise of a $100 million payroll. Obviously the new owner isn't committed to spending what it takes to win. Dodger fans are stuck with a mediocre team while McCourt looks to make money developing the land surrounding the stadium.

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Tonight's "The Great American Concert: Great American Women" at the Hollywood Bowl lived up to its billing.

The show celebrated 300 concerts (in 15 years) by John Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Mauceri has a great rapport with the audience that makes the music his orchestra performs very accessible.

The show tonight featured 3 terrific singers. First up was the preeminent dramatic soprano of our time -- Deborah Voight. She sang from three operas and "My Fair Lady."

Next was Dianne Reeves, a wonderful jazz vocalist who has won a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for each of her last three recordings.

And finally, Broadway Legend Barbara Cook sang. She was the original "Marian the Librarian" in "The Music Man," and was considered "Broadway's favorite ingenue" during the heyday of the Broadway musical in the 1950s.

Great performances all around and the concert ending fireworks were pretty spectacular too!
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Diminutive Kristen Chenoweth sang the National Anthem at today's Dodgers game. She originated the role of "Glinda, The Good Witch" in "Wicked." The Dodgers could have used the help of a Good Witch in their 9 to 4 loss to the Cardinals. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Bad Night for Coca Cola

10,000 Mormons attended tonight's Dodgers vs. Cardinals game. They saw one #@&! (heck) of a game.

The Dodgers beat the Cardinals, who have the best record in the National League, 7 to 5 and picked up a game on the Padres who were defeated by the Reds -- who are in last place in the NL Central Division.

Mrs. Larry King (a Mormon) sang the National Anthem. Somehow it was arranged for her to be accompanied by a recorded orchestra. Every other anthem singer is either accompanied by Nancy B. Hefly on the Dodger Stadium Organ or sings a cappella.

Mr. Larry King (not a Mormon) threw out the first pitch. He almost made it to the plate -- at his age -- so cut the guy some slack.

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

If Tommy Told You to Jump Off a Cliff....

I did my best to stay interested in the Dodger Game this afternoon -- the Dodgers refer to their weekday, day games as "A Staff Meeting."

But if even the ultimate cheerleader Tommy Lasorda is on his cellphone in the middle of the game -- how am I supposed to remain riveted as the Dodgers lose again to the National League Central Division Basement Dwelling Cincinnati Reds?

I shouldn't be critical. Maybe someone, somewhere in the world needed a pep talk right then. Or more likely Tommy was making dinner reservations at some Bucca di Beppo.
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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Go Right Ahead, Sir

Getting out of the Dodger Stadium Parking Lot is never easy. Leaving after tonight's game was no exception. I consider myself aggressive, yet courteous, when fighting the traffic to get out of the lot.

But every now and then you see a car and just know to get out of their way. See above.

But the most important point is while this truck did "muscle" its way in front of me in Lot 29 -- the driver didn't know the traffic flow of the Ring Road leading to the exit (and the secret of the inside lane) and I watched it slip way behind me in traffic as I left the stadium.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Poor GeezBob wasn't feeling too good after eating his Camacho's Nachos at Dodger Stadium tonight. (Bad guacamole?) Who knew the Stadium Paramedics offered antacid-in-a-tube? Of course GeezBob now expects cheapskate Dodger Owner Frank McCourt to bill him for a co-payment.

A few innings later a guy a couple of aisles over had a seizure or was choking. It looked like his friend tried the Heimlich maneuver, but ultimately the guy passed out and fell to the ground. The Stadium Paramedics sprang into action and eventually he walked out with their help.

As for the action on the field, the Dodgers won and have picked up four and a half games in the last week and now trail the San Diego Padres by only four games.
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Monday, July 25, 2005

Theme Run Amuck

The Dodgers played the Reds tonight. Do you think that's why they asked this woman to sing the National Anthem?
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How'd They Do That?

Attended the 2005 Pageant of the Masters tonight in Laguna Beach. For 73 years they've used live humans to represent actual art on stage. It's quite something to see.

This year's theme, "On the Road -- A Crash Course in Popular Art and Culture" was a great one. Lots of art about travel to foreign lands, Route 66, the Circus -- even fancy automobile hood ornaments. The art looks so "real" it's amazing.

My colleague, Anita Mangels, is the president of the Board of Directors of the Festival of Arts, which presents the pageant each year. After the show she took us on a backstage tour which was fascinating. Up close the costumes and wigs and sets look so basic. But when you watch the show it's dazzling.

The pageant runs every night until September 1.
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Had a lovely dinner at the Tivoli Terrace -- on the grounds of the Festival of Arts -- before the show. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Tonight's Show Goes On

Went to the Pasadena Playhouse tonight to see their production of "Purlie" -- a Black Musical that ran on Broadway in the 60s. It's based on a play written by Ossie Davis, "Purlie Victorious."

It's a very high energy show about a community of cotton pickers in the Deep South seeking to buy a barn from the Plantation Owner Ol' Cap'n Cotchipee to turn it into a church.

The cast is very talented, but I found some of the racial stereotypes hard to watch.

I imagine that even in the 60s the show was dated. But it was interesting to see from a historical perspective.

Friday, July 22, 2005

That Never Happened Before

Went for the first time to The MET Theater in Hollywood to see "The People vs. Friar Laurence" starring my colleague, Jim Kieffer.

Unfortunately, when it was time to begin the show there were only two people in the audience (literally), so they cancelled the performance.

I had been psyching myself up to laugh and clap really loudly. Obviously, it was the other person they couldn't count on.

I wanted to see Jim perform, but I can't say I'm upset at the cancellation. I look at it as a gift of three hours of unstructured time.

My TiVo's been recording stuff all week, so I'll check out what it's got for me. I know there's at least one episode of "Strangers With Candy" starring Amy Sedaris -- so I'm in good shape.

And I'll check out Jim's show in August.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Hello, Kitty

A new business just opened up at Santa Monica and La Cienega, just around the corner from where I live in West Hollywood. It's called "Famima!!" -- with two exclamation points.

It's supposed to be an upscale convenience store. There are 11,000 of them in Japan and East Asia. This is their first one to open in America as part of their "Pan-Pacific Plan" for 20,000 stores worldwide.

The store certainly is beautiful and I like how the items are displayed. But unless they make a lot of changes, I don't think 7-11 has anything to worry about.

1) The parking is terrible. Easy parking is key in California.
2) No beer or lottery tickets. Time to learn a little about your customers.
3) They have an entire aisle dedicated to fancy stationary. Who even writes anymore?
4) I can't think of another time I walked through a convenience store and didn't see a single thing I wanted to buy. Usually it's the opposite.

It's a trippy place to visit.

Moviewise, I saw "Happy Endings" tonight -- Don Roos' new movie (his last was "The Opposite of Sex.") It's one of those movies where seemingly unrelated storylines intersect.

Great performances from a large cast including Jesse Bradford (is there a new law he has to be in everything?), Jason Ritter (John's spitting-image son), Lisa Kudrow (who proves she can act), Maggie Gyllenhaal (who proves she can sing) and Tom Arnold (who proves he's not always obnoxious -- the biggest shock of all).
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You have to admire the work it took to line up all these bottles. Posted by Picasa

I wanted to move a bottle out of place while this staff person wasn't looking just to see what would happen -- but I was too chicken. Posted by Picasa

How about some Shrimp Chips? Posted by Picasa

I'm not sure what "Cup Ice" is supposed to be. Ice Cream? Frozen Foods? Posted by Picasa

Dinner anyone? Posted by Picasa

There were lots of Japanese tourists taking pictures of themselves inside the store. When I went to Tokyo I didn't take any photos inside a KFC. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

2 (On Steroids) Plus 2 (From Austria) Equals

Saw "Fantastic Four" tonight and enjoyed it. For a movie based on a comic book it was relatively deep.

Usually these type of movies are about a lone superhero. This one is about four "regular" people who, because of an accident in space, receive special powers -- invisibility, extreme stretchability, bulk and flamability.

The interaction between the character, as they figure out how to cope, actually is pretty interesting.

And the action scenes are summertastic!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

They're Not on the List

Had a fun time tonight seeing "Wedding Crashers." It's very funny and Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn have great comedic chemistry.

Its an adult comedy that earns every bit of its "R" rating.

The supporting cast from Christopher Walken and Jane Seymour on down do a great job. Even Laugh-In's Henry Gibson shows up in a cameo role.

Owen Wilson's nickname of "Butterscotch Stallion" certainly suits him in this flick. Don't know what Vince Vaughn's popular nickname is, but he sure comes off as tall here. Who knew he really was 6'5"?

Monday, July 18, 2005

A Golden Ticket

I really, really liked "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," which I saw tonight at Hollywood's historic Grauman's Chinese Theater.

I had very high expectations for this movie. It was one of my favorite books growing up. I always enjoyed how Rohl Dahl made his characters suffer the consequences of their bad decisions in odd ways.

Well, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have combined again for a great movie. Burton brings a twisted and beautiful artistic vision to the film. Depp creates another distinctive and memorable character.

And having one actor, Deep Roy, play all of the Oompa Loompas was genius.

I have a bad habit that got me in trouble tonight. Whenever I'm walking behind someone and they sudden stop I have a little phrase that I mutter out of habit. On the way to Grauman's Chinese tonight I was walking behind a couple along Hollywood Boulevard. Suddenly they stopped -- I'm not sure which of the people dressed at C3PO, Catwoman or Elvis caught their eye.

So I said under my breath, "Keep the train moving." First the woman said, "ExcUUUse me?" Then she turned to her husband and asked, "What did he say?" I never did find out what she thought I said because I just Kept The Train Moving.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Whole Mishpokhe Was There

Sunday was Jewish Community Day at Dodger Stadium. Lainie Kazan sang the National Anthem. It was about 85 degrees out, so I was a little surprised at her decision to wear a large, red poncho.

After 15 years as a Season Ticket Holder I finally caught a foul ball. Well, "caught" may not be exactly the right word. At the start of the second inning, Giants left-handed hitter Ray Durham hit a sreaming line drive right at our seats. I crunched over to protect my ponem. The ball hit the hand of the guy seated right behind me and landed in the empty seat right in front of me and I grabbed it.

An usher came over to check on the hand of the guy behind me and asked me if I was going to give him the ball. I thought about it when the stadium paramedics brought some ice over for his hand.

Do you think I'm meshuge? That foul ball's going to look real good on the shelf in my office starting tomorrow.
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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Summer Officially Begins

Summer began for me tonight as I attended my first concert of the season at the venerable Hollywood Bowl. I've long believed that going to the Hollywood Bowl is the quintessential Los Angeles experience.

Our uniquely cool summer nights make attending an outdoor concert delightful.

Tonight's concert was a salute to George Gershwin. I enjoyed Rhapsody in Blue -- but unfortunately hearing it now I keep thinking I'm on hold for United Airlines.

The second part of the concert featured selection from George Gershwin's opera "Porgy and Bess." Tony Award winners Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell along with Emmy Award winner Wayne Brady joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic for a wonderful show.

And if you're wondering about the picture above -- yes, they do close the back door before the concert begins. It was just open before the show -- while everyone is picnicking -- to keep the stage cooler.
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You know you're at an "A" event in Los Angeles if the Crazy Puppet Guy is out front singing. Posted by Picasa

In the latest boneheaded move, the Dodgers have started stopping kids from going to the rail to seek autographs before the game unless they have tickets in the premium seats. Posted by Picasa

Fortunately once some players came over to sign autographs the crowd just ignored the ushers and swarmed forward. Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 15, 2005

Yeah, That's the Ticket

Well, I guess my seats at Dodger Stadium can't be too bad if Jon Lovitz is sitting in the row BEHIND me. I snapped this photo while everyone was standing for the Seventh Inning Stretch.

Lovitz was very nice when people approached him for an autograph or stuck their kids in his lap for a photo. At one point they put a shot of him up on the Jumbotron and he got a nice reaction from the crowd. Later in the game they put a shot of Jerry Seinfeld (sitting in a luxury box) up on the Jumbotron, but Seinfeld didn't really get much of a crowd reaction. Lovitz seemed to LOVE that.

Late in the game I chatted him up about driving Gary Sheffield around Comerica Park before last Tuesday night's All-Star Game. Lovitz reports Sheffield is a good guy and press accounts indicating otherwise are wrong. I guess that's his story and he's sticking to it.

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

A Penny for My Thoughts

Here's a picture of Dodger Starting Pitcher Brad Penny "leaving" the field after he was thrown out of tonight's game in the third inning for arguing a questionable call at first base and throwing his helmet.

That's the last thing the Dodgers need -- one of their better pitchers being taken out of a game by his own actions.

The game went downhill from there and the Giants won -- 4 to 3.

At least I enjoyed visiting with one of the members of our season ticket group -- the new Mayor of Redondo Beach Mike Gin.
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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Thanks for Asking, Again

Watching an interesting screening tonight of "Kinsey" -- not the 20th Century Fox feature film, but a biographical documentary first aired on PBS.

Kinsey's collection of 18,000 individual sexual histories revolutionized scientific research on human sexual behavior. His first report on male sexual behavior in the 40s generated interest and curiosity. His report on female sexual behavior in the 50s generated outrage and denunciations -- including protests from a very young Rev. Billy Graham.

Ultimately his research got caught up in the Red Scare and the McCarthy hearings and finally the Rockefeller Foundation yanked its funding under political pressure.

And it's hard to image that all that time his homebase was Indiana University at Bloomington.

Of course, this was all pretty much covered in the feature film entitled "Kinsey." But it was still interesting to see it all again.

Now that the All-Star Break is over I can go back to attending baseball games. The Giants are coming into town tomorrow for the first of four consecutive games, and I'm going to them all.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Electricity in the Air

Saw an interesting Israeli film tonight, "Yeladim Tovim (Good Boys)." It's a gritty film about young adults surviving on the mean streets of Tel Aviv.

In a Q&A after the screening, director Yair Hochner said his goal was to "shock" his audience. He succeeded.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Seeing Eye Blog

Saw a screening tonight of TV star Peter Paige's feature directing debut entitled "Say Uncle."

Paige plays a simple-minded fellow who enjoys playing with children. He's too innocent to understand that people might misinterpret his behavior (like telling children he meets in a park to call him "Uncle Paul.")

Sure enough, a group of Mothers -- led by a character beautifully played by Kathy Najimy -- demand that the police "bring him in."

In a Q&A after the movie, Paige said his point was we live in a society gripped by a culture of fear (that our children are going to be snatched from their bedrooms, that the mosquitoes are coming to kill us, etc.) and that's a calamity for human interaction.

Apparently afraid of ANY interaction, "Yes, Dear" star Anthony Clark who co-stars in the movie, snuck into the theater just as the movie was starting and snuck out just before it was over. But he sat across the aisle from me, and I see all.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

No Sweating This Recommendation

Saw a VERY funny show tonight called "The Book of Liz" at The Blank Theater Company. It's written by brother and sister David and Amy Sedaris.

You may recognize David Sedaris from his books ("Me Talk Pretty One Day"), regular essays in The New Yorker and NPR appearances.

Amy Sedaris is best known for her Comedy Central show "Strangers With Candy," appearing on "Sex and the City," as well as regular, hilarious visits to the David Letterman show.

When working together they refer to themselves as "The Talent Family."

The show is about Sister Elizabeth Donderstock who makes the famous cheeseballs sold by her Squeamish Community (somewhere between the Amish and the Pilgrims) to the Real World. When Reverend Tollhouse demands the recipe for her cheeseballs (both Traditional and Smoky), Liz decides to leave for the Real World.

First she works as a roadside Mr. Peanut and then as a waitress at a Plymouth Crock restaurant. Eventually she's up for the manager position at the restaurant, but doesn't get it because of her excessive sweating.

If you like Amy or David Sedaris, you'll love this show. If you don't get their sense of humor this is the show may not be for you.

But since the show has been selling out for the last 2 months and is sold out for the remaining 3 weeks in its run, you can't get a ticket anyway.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Three Muskateers

Saw a very interesting documentary tonight entitled "Three of Hearts: A Postmodern Family." It follows three adults living together in a marriage as husband and wife and husband.

They allowed the documentarian extraordinary access to their lives over several years. Of course the relationship changes over time. While watching the film I had the opinion that the filmmaker edited the interviews to make one of the subjects appear to be the villain.

But, to my surprise, the one who I thought got short-sheeted (so to speak) was on hand to answer questions after the screening. So I guess he can't be too unhappy about how it all turned out. Or maybe he's just enjoying his 15 minutes like a red-blooded American.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Here's Looking at You

Saw an interesting little movie tonight entitled, "Heights." It stars Glenn Close as a major Broadway actress who goes through life quoting Shakespeare.

It's about five intertwined lives (filled with secrets) in New York City. I can't really articulate what the message of the movie is, but I found it entertaining. I'm fascinated by how New York City residents, because of the lack of private transportation, lead their lives constantly surrounded by other people -- in the subway, in taxis and walking down the streets. This movie captures that perfectly. I guess the name of the movie comes from all the rooftop shots looking down on New York City.

On the topic of public transportation, my heart goes out to the people of London for what they suffered through today. I wonder if we've reached the point where we need airport-style security for our public transportation -- no matter how impractical it may be.

And what happened today doesn't dissuade me from visiting London next month -- just as seeing an accident on the freeway doesn't make me give up driving.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Fiction Free Zone

Not sure why I've been seeing so many documentaries lately, but I saw a good one tonight -- "Mad Hot Ballroom." It's about a program in New York City Public Schools that teaches grade school students ballroom dancing and culminates in a citywide dance contest.

It brought back memories of how much I HATED square dancing in the fifth grade. (The only good part was the time it took to move our desks to the side.) What does it say about the difference between Los Angeles and New York that we're square dancing here while they're learning how to Tango there. (Maybe it has more to do with 1973 vs. 2005.)

The documentary is a testament to the hard working teachers in New York City's public schools.

(And New York City's public school facilities sure seem to be in much better shape than California's.)

It was wonderful to watch how the students started out very reluctant to dance and eventually became very competitive about it all. It was heartbreaking to watch many of the 9 and 10 year olds take losing very hard.

And what a pleasant surprise to see Broadway-legend Ann Reinking turn up as a judge in the Citywide Finals.

On the topic of documentaries -- interesting article in today's Los Angeles Times points out that "March of the Penguins" is doing better, on the basis of average revenue per screen, than "War of the Worlds." In fact it's doing so well that it's expanding this weekend from 35 to 85 screens nationwide.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Love the Eyeglasses

Saw an interesting documentary, "The Last Mogul" tonight. It's about the life of Lew Wasserman.

Imagine making a documentary about someone who not only left behind no on-camera interviews, but also never put anything in writing. Apparently he was so paranoid about his rivals understanding how he operated he kept nothing in writing.

The movie follows his ascent from a movie theater usher in East Cleveland to the pinnacle of power in Hollywood to the end of his life when he was basically shunted aside after his company was bought by the Japanese and then Seagram's (a Canadian company).

It deals with his involvement with the mob and how his career and Ronald Reagan's intertwined. It also shows how his wife, Edie, was a full partner in his career.

His life followed the arc of modern day Hollywood -- and there's no hype in saying we'll never see the likes of him again.

Monday, July 04, 2005

How Is the Car?

Apparently a couple of cars in the parking lot caught on fire during the post-game fireworks show at Dodger Stadium tonight. Happily, mine wasn't one of them.

It wasn't clear from the report on the radio if it was the Dodgers' fireworks or ones set off by some fans that caused the fires. I prefer to blame Dodger Owner Frank McCourt.

We were on the field watching the fireworks and while they were playing Stars and Stripes Forever (which presumably was the Grand Finale) the fireworks stopped while the song played on. Eventually they just stopped the song and said the show was over and it was time to leave.

Of course we all booed another bumble by the Dodgers. It didn't help that they had just lost the game to the Arizona Diamondbacks 10 to 3.

You can make up your own analogy for the botched fireworks show and how the Dodgers' season is going.

Happy Fourth of July everybody!

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