Tuesday, February 28, 2006

$2 Tuesdays

Drove to Norwalk tonight to see "Howl's Moving Castle" at the Silver Cinemas. It's pretty shocking to find a movie theater with a $2 admission price.

"Howl's Moving Castle" is nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film. It was made in Japan and was redubbed in English.

They got some pretty big names to provide their voice talents for this cartoon movie, like Blythe Danner, Lauren Bacall, Christian Bale and Billy Crystal. I guess a paycheck is a paycheck.

Though it's a Japanese movie all the characters are drawn Anglo. And the settings are old Europe. It's about a young wizard whose heart was stolen by a demon. He meets a young girl who falls for him and another wizard/demon turns the young girl into an old lady.

The young wizard, Howl, lives in a castle that walks around on legs. There's a dial next to the front door and you turn the dial to determine where you want to be when you open the front door.

I can't really say I "got" this film -- but I did "get" another checkmark on my Oscar nominations list.
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Monday, February 27, 2006

Not In the Top Ten

With the Hilter's war machine stalled on the eastern front in Stalingrad and the Allies closing in in February of 1943, the Nazi police stepped up their efforts to squash any dissenting voices at home.

"Sophie Scholl -- The Final Days" -- a German-made move nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar tells the true story of a college student, Sophie Scholl, who along with her brother and another student was arrested and executed for high treason for organizing the student dissident group, White Rose.

Based on recently found interrogation transcripts held in Soviet files for the last six decades, this movie is an emotionally harrowing look at the four days between Scholl's arrest (for distributing leaflets) and her expedited encounter with a guillotine.

By the way, the ghostly image of me taking a picture doesn't appear in all the slicks for this movie.

There was quite a hullabaloo today over the fact that of the Top Ten Movies at the box office the weekend before the Oscars NONE are nominated for Best Picture. None! I, for one, am doing my part, but I accept there will always be a different between the People's Choice Awards and the Academy Awards.

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Leg Up!

A few years ago I saw Tommy Tune on stage in the show "EFX" at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. Tune starred in the show for two and a half years. It was a stage spectacular, with lots of special effects, and was the MGM Grand's attempt to compete with the Cirque du Soleil shows that were beginning to blossom on the Strip. (This auditorium at the MGM Grand has since been redone and now hosts the Cirque du Soleil show "KA!")

I remember thinking at the time, "I shall never see Tommy Tune in a cheesier show -- no matter how long I may live."

So, I was wrong.

Today I saw "Dr. Dolittle" starring (and directed by) Tommy Tune at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. What a godawful, vanity piece of theater!

The music is boring, the book is terrible, the choreography (yes, the choreography!) is average at best. Tune's make-up was so bad his face was shiny. I couldn't help but think I was seeing the Hollywood Wax Museum's version of Tommy Tune.

The "animals" are mostly portrayed by puppeteers although some are cardboard. Sort of a poor man's "Lion King."

I did think the 12 year-old who played the tap-dancing monkey, Chee-Chee, was a talented dancer. The Monkey-Monkey Island Dance number -- featuring Chee-Chee, was the most energetic in the show. Turns out Aaron Burr www.aaron-burr.com was discovered during a dance contest on Good Morning America where Tommy Tune was a judge. (I'm a Today Show man, so I didn't see it.) And what a time for him to share a name with a gentleman who I guess is now referred to as the FIRST Vice President to shoot a man.

Tune did tell a funny story at the curtain call. He said that he was making his Pantages Theater debut, one of the few major theaters in the country he hadn't performed in. He said that he went out yesterday to find his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was a little distressed to find it on Yucca Street. He must have a good joke writer because there are no stars on Yucca Street.
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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Why Chromosome

Spent today at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose attending the California Republican Party convention for work.

It hit me like a ton of bricks last night when I realized this weekend is the 25th anniversary of the first CRP convention I ever attended.

(Actually upon further contemplation, I spent a day at a CRP convention in Los Angeles in the fall of 1978 as a volunteer for the Younger-Curb campaign -- so technically it's my 27 1/2 Anniversary.)

In 1981 I was a freshman at the University of Southern California and was active in the Trojan College Republicans. Our leader, Roman Buhler, talked a few of us into attending the CRP convention in Sacramento.

At the convention Roman introduced me to Fred Karger and Kathy Auth who were organizing then-Attorney General George Deukmejian's campaign for Governor. (At that point he was going up against Mike Curb and Pete Wilson for the GOP nomination.) This introduction led to me volunteering on the campaign during the summer of 1981 and being hired part-time (as the youngest staff person) on the Deukmejian campaign that fall.

Following the campaign I worked for two years for the Dolphin Group -- Bill Roberts' political consulting firm which ran the Deukmejian campaign.

That led to my moving to Washington, DC to participate in USC's Capitol Semester program and interning in the White House. That was followed by four and a half more years of living and working in DC.

In 1989 I moved back to Southern California and on February 1, 1990 went to work for my current employer, the political consulting firm, Woodward & McDowell.

(In an interesting twist, Dick Woodward and Jack McDowell worked together at Bill Roberts' first political consulting firm -- Spencer - Roberts -- before forming their own firm in 1971.)

But I wonder what would have happened if Roman hadn't talked me into going to the CRP convention in Sacramento in 1981. How would that have changed the chain of events?

In a nice note, my friend Susan Allen and colleague Ethie Weaver gave me an Anniversary card as a light-hearted recognition of today's significance.

In San Jose, Hertz had the ugly car photographed above waiting for me when I arrived. It's a Dodge Magnum.

Ironically, yesterday's Wall Street Journal ran a feature story on "Manwagons" and one of the cars they test drove was the Dodge Magnum. Manwagons -- a cross between sports cars and station wagons -- are described in the article as "the melding of speed and sippy cups."

They described the Magnum as "the ideal soccer-dad's muscle car" and "the most overtly manly wagon of the group."

This manwagon certainly had pep -- in fact I got on the freeway and was quickly doing 80 before I knew it (and slowed it down).

But I think it's an ugly car and not exactly fitting my self-image.

I didn't, however, hate it enough to demand a different car. In 2002 I was working on a campaign in Seattle and picked up a car from Enterprise Rent-a-Car once a week. I usually accepted whatever they gave me -- but I drew the line one week when the offered me a purple PT Cruiser to drive. Somehow I just didn't see myself driving around the Puget Sound expecting to be taken seriously in a car like that.

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Five Checkmarks in 80 Minutes

Went to the Laemmle Fairfax Cinemas on Beverly Boulevard tonight for a showing of the 5 Animated Short Films nominated for an Academy Award.

It's really wonderful to be able to see all five together in one sitting -- many different "types" of animation were on display.

Badgered -- the most traditional of the nominees was a hand-drawn film about a badger just trying to sleep down in it's hole and two annoying black crows making a ruckus in a tree above ground. It's a cartoon, so one thing leads to another and you get nuclear annihilation.

The Moon and The Son: An Imagined Conversation -- combines hand-draw animation with real-life home movies to create a conversation the son (the animator) wishes he had with his late father (who was always angry and served two terms in prison).

The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello -- the animation here reminded me of Jules Verne (lots of gears and tracks). It's about an airship voyage to an island floating in the sky where a monster is found to cure a plague harming the folks back home -- but the ship captain warns never to bring a monster on-board an airship. But no one listens. Very trippy!

9 -- Rag dolls seek to hide a glowing object from a scissor monster. Pass the LSD.

One Man Band -- Computer animation from Pixar: two one man bands vie for the attention of a little child and seek the coin she had intended to throw into a fountain.

Which one do I think should win the Oscar and which one do I think will win the Oscar? You have to check back on March 4 for my Oscar predictions!

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

I See You

Spent tonight in the San Fernando Valley on the dark side of a one-way mirror observing a couple of focus groups.

I've been a participant (on the bright side of the one-way mirror) in several focus groups on lots of topics over the years -- Mexican vacations, magazine design, cologne, etc.

Observing them is always fascinating -- especially political ones. No matter the topic, at some point the Lottery always comes up.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Glamour Delay

Went to an interesting screening tonight at the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard of a documentary called "Flag Wars."

It's about the gentrification of a rundown neighborhood on the eastside of Columbus, Ohio. This predominantly black part of town sees an influx of white yuppies attracted by the beautiful, large homes -- at bargain prices -- in need of major repair. Change is never easy -- for everyone involved.

I nearly missed the start of the film because traffic was all messed up on Hollywood Boulevard by the premiere at the El Capitan Theater (where Richard Nixon delivered his famous "Checkers" speech) of a new movie called "The Seat Filler." I don't know a thing about this movie -- but how much do you want to bet it's about a famous star who meets and falls in love with his/her seat filler at some awards show?

Somehow, I don't think I'll be filling a seat to see that one. Well, maybe if they send a stretch Hummer to get me.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Not Bad for 61

Really enjoyed seeing Harrison Ford's new movie "Firewall" tonight. Ford plays a bank's senior executive in charge of computer security. Bad guys kidnap his family and attempt to force Ford to electronically steal $10 million from the bank. It doesn't matter that you know a movie with Harrison Ford in it isn't going to let the bad guys win. It's a well put together thriller.

Set in Seattle, I was surprised to see Ford's character -- who limits risk for a living -- commuted to downtown Seattle daily on the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Five years ago a report by independent engineers said the AWV had a 1 in 20 chance of collapsing in a earthquake in the next 10 years. Maybe this is the filmmaker's way of signaling that deep down Ford's character was a Bad Ass.

I read that Ford did all of his own stunts for the movie, including the fight scenes. There's one scene where Paul Bettany's character throws Ford through a window. I understand that not only did Ford insist on not using a stunt double, but that the scene required several takes and that Ford even replaced the windowpane himself between takes (once a carpenter....)

When are they ever going to make the next Indiana Jones movie?

It was also fun to see my neighbor, Robert Forster, show up in the movie as a banking colleague of Ford's.

Monday, February 20, 2006


"Glory Road" is one of the best sports movies I've seen in a long time. It tells the story of the 1966 men's basketball team at West Texas University at El Paso, which has the distinction of being the first all-black team to play in the NCAA Tournament.

Josh Lucas plays Coach Don Haskins who put together the team, the Miners -- over the objections of university alums not accustomed to seeing a team that looked different than themselves.

The Miners faced the University of Kentucky Wildcats (who had previously won the tournament 4 times) in the final game. Famed basketball coach Adolph Rupp, known as The Baron, coached the Wildcats and is played by Jon Voight in the movie. Pat Riley played for this Wildcats team.

The movie captures the discrimination the team faced throughout the season, particularly on the road.

I wanted to see "Glory Road" when it first came out but never got around to it. It's been in the news this week because USC Head Coach Tim Floyd was an assistant coach for several years for Haskins. This Wednesday night there's going to be a dinner at the White House to honor Haskins and his team. Floyd was invited but is unable to attend because the Trojans have a game on Thursday. Floyd will be represented by his wife.

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Sell It!

Had lunch today with GeezBob at Goodfellas www.goodfellasonmelrose.com on Melrose in Hollywood.

It's a pretty good Italian restaurant with a "mob" theme -- photos of John Gotti and black fedoras on the wall, mob puns on the menu, etc.

The restaurant used to be run by a hard working real-life Italian family but now it's "under new management." The food is still good, but the waitstaff is obnoxious and the loud rap music has got to go!

Afterwards we caught "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" www.threeburialsfilm.com at the ArcLight Theater www.arclightcinemas.com.

Three Burials is a new movie starring and directed by Tommy Lee Jones. It's an interesting, quirky movie about a cowboy who befriends an illegal immigrant and promises to return the immigrant's body to Mexico should he die north of the Rio Grande. Barry Pepper plays an out-of-control Border Patrol Officer who is forced by Jones to assist in returning the corpse to Mexico after the inevitable death. (If someone in a movie ever brings up what will happen when they die you know that character is going to die.)

The usher/greeters at the ArcLight Theater always give a little speech before each movie pointing out the exits, asking that the audience switch off their phones and pointing out how important sound and picture quality is to ArcLight. Today's usher/greeter's speech was notable for it's dramatic flair -- especially for the flourish in his pronunciation of "Melquiades Estrada" in the title of the picture.
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Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Times They Are A Changin'

Radical economic changes are always difficult -- even for the people who are supposed to benefit. And what country has seen more radical economic change in the last 150 years than Russia?

Anton Chekhov's final masterpiece, The Cherry Orchard, is currently running at the Mark Taper Forum in downtown Los Angeles at the Music Center http://www.taperahmanson.com/show.asp?id=308.

Annette Benning and Alfred Molina co-star in this adaptation by Martin Sherman and directed by Sean Mathias.

Benning plays Madame Ranyevskaya, the matriarch of a formerly wealthy aristocratic family now penniless (rubleless?) and unable to pay their debts. The family's grand estate, including its treasured cherry orchard, is threatened with being put up for auction. But Ranyevskaya has absolutely no concept of money and persists in giving money away, even though she has no business doing so.

Benning's performance captures the waves of emotions her character experiences -- delighted to be back from Paris and in her old mansion one moment, and in despair over the memory of the drowning-death of her son the next. It's a thrill to watch a master at work live on the stage.

Lopakhin, played by Alfred Molina, is a friend of the family whose father and grandfather were peasants beholden to the family before the serfs were emancipated in 1861. He urges Ranyevskaya to sell off the orchard and subdivide the land for summer cottages in order to still hold onto some of the land. Though Ranyevskaya understands the words she simply can't grasp the concept.

In the meantime family members, their staff and hangers-on all fret about their future as it becomes increasing clear change is afoot. One servant pines for the old system where peasants belonged to masters and masters belonged to peasants. And at the same time a student contemplates a future where ownership is irrelevant -- pre-shadowing Russia's communist period (pretty impressive for a play written well before the 1917 Revolution).

It's interesting to see how Chekhov skewers the aristocracy as out of touch with their irrelevance while still holding some nostalgia for their existence.

The show is simply staged with basic props and sets creating both interior and exterior settings.

In 1999 the Geffen Playhouse staged another of Chekhov's masterpieces, Uncle Vanya. I remember it well: it was the last time I walked out of a show at intermission. Tonight's show was more interesting, especially the second act -- and I feel sorry for the five percent of the audience that left tonight at intermission.

Celebrity Sighting: Lakers Owner Jerry Buss was in the audience a few rows in front of me.
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I Just Played with Blocks

Spent today in San Francisco, and despite rain both there and in Los Angeles my United flight home made it on-time.

Good thing since I was seeing "It Came From Beyond" www.itcamefrombeyond.com tonight at 8 o'clock. This was the show that www.plays411.com made arrangements for me to see after last weekend's episode with "Southern Baptist Sissies" www.seasonofshores.com.

What a fun musical! They describe it as "War of the Worlds meets Grease." It's set in a high school detention classroom and the action switches back and forth between the classroom and a comic book one of the students is reading. The same five actors play the school room characters and the comic book characters. Very creative!

Kevin Earley www.kevinearley.com plays a nerdy student and a Professor seeking to defend the earth against an alien invasion (you can figure out which is the comic book character). I've seen him in a couple Reprise! www.reprise.org productions. He's a great singer who often plays the younger leading man.

But Todd Fournier www.toddfournier.com steals the show as the classroom bully/alien invader. Fournier really shows off his ability to sing and dance in this show.

It was nice to see Mary Jo Catlett in the audience. I've seen her a couple of times in theater audiences recently and I still haven't had the nerve to tell her she's on my TiVo wish list.

The show is running at a theater in Hollywood I'd never heard of -- The Write Act Theater. Turns out it's at St. Stephens Episcopal Church -- specifically in the auditorium of the Delany Wright Fine Arts Preschool.

(What a trip when I went into the Men's Room to find tiny stepstools to allow the little ones to reach the sink and towel dispenser placed real low on the wall and assorted toys laying around.)

Small theaters in Hollywood are popping up in the most interesting places.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Cold Slap of Reality

Spent today in Sacramento. I took this photo from what I call my Office in the Sky -- the top deck of a parking lot I go to and make phone calls from my car when I'm in Sacramento.

The streets of downtown Sacramento were filled with high school students in town to participate in the YMCA's Model Legislature.

I stopped by my favorite place for breakfast, Cafe Dolce -- right behind the Hyatt Hotel and it was mobbed with teenagers. My friend behind the counter said to me, "So you're going to have breakfast amongst all the kids today?"

I replied, "You mean I don't blend in?"

She shot me a look that was somewhere between "How do I respond to that?" and "How pathetic!"
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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

What I Missed Being Eight

Ventured over to the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard tonight for a screening of "Harold and Maude" -- 35 years after it was originally released.

What a great, great movie. I can't believe I'd never seen it before.

Bud Cort plays a sullen young man, Harold, who "performs" suicides to try and shock his seen-it-all Mother, played to perfection by Vivian Pickles.

Harold drives around in a hearse and attends strangers' funerals for fun. (I kept thinking of him as an early inspiration for "Six Feet Under."

Ruth Gordon plays "Maude" a 79-year-old grab-life-by-the-horns spitfire who drives really fast and really poorly (in stolen cars.)

Maude sums up her outlook on life as, "Go Team! L-I-V-E! What else are you going to talk about in the locker room?"

Maude teaches Harold how to live -- and Harold teaches Maude...well you get the idea.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Highly Personalized

Race relations seems to be the emerging theme of the week.

Tonight I went to see "Something New" -- a new movie about an African-American woman who falls in love with a white guy and is faced with explaining to her family and friends why she's decided to "go skiing."

Somehow she's gone off course in searching for her I.B.M. (Ideal Black Man).

It's a fun movie, with a light look at a serious issue and a very sassy script.

Alfrie Woodard does a great job as the mother not to happy about her daughter "crossing over to the OC."

But the most amazing thing when I saw it tonight was that it begins with an alarm clock going off. Then the radio announcer said, "Good morning. Today is February 14th, my favorite day of the year -- Valentine's Day."

How in the world do they customize the film so that it's accurate every day?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Problem Solving

"Darwin's Nightmare" is an Oscar nominated Documentary Feature by Hubert Sauper (photo above). I earned another checkmark on my Academy Awards nomination list by going to see it tonight at the Lammele's Music Hall Theater in Beverly Hills.

I had to turn my head away from the screen several times because some of the images are impossible to watch. It's about the extreme poverty in Tanzania and is filmed primarily in the town of Mwanza on the banks of Lake Victoria (the second largest lake in the world) which feeds the Nile River.

An enormous, non-native fish, the Nile Perch, has taken over the lake and has eliminated all other fish. This includes fish that clean the lake and now the lake is suffering from the lack of oxygen.

Meanwhile, 500 tons of Nile Perch a day is being fished out of the lake. While millions of people in Tanzania are starving, the fish is flown daily to European markets. And the cargo planes don't fly to Africa empty -- they bring guns and military supplies to nearby countries, then jump over the Tanzania and fly home with their fish cargo -- leaving behind a hideous cycle of poverty.

I've never been a big fan of fish -- and now I've seen enough disgusting footage of fish guts and fish heads and maggots to keep me away forever.

Before the 7:30 screening began the theater manager apologized to the remaining members of the 5:00 audience who were expected a Q&A from the director, Sauper. The director hadn't shown up and the manager didn't know where he was.

So it was a pleasant surprise after the 7:30 screening when the manager announced Sauper was there and ready to take our questions.

He came down the aisle and stood next to where I was sitting and with no introductory comments said he was happy to take questions. No raised hands. Awkward.

So given my Junior Statesmen training I figured I ought to ask a question. "Your film certainly doesn't make the government of Tanzania look very good. What was their reaction to you filming this documentary in their country?" (Seemed like a softball question to me.)

Sauper stared at me, blinked, gulped and said, "Why are you asking me that question? Is there a reason?"

So of course I replied, "Yes, I'm a representative of the Tanzania government." You should have seen the wide-eyed look on his face.

(I really hadn't thought he would take me seriously for a second.)

I quickly said I was kidding and everyone had a good laugh. Sauper explained that he had literally just flown in from Tanzania to Los Angeles yesterday in order to attend today's Oscar Nominees lunch at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The Tanzania government was not reacting well to the documentary at all. In fact, he was just in Zanzibar (which is part of Tanzania) and the government attempted to prevent him (unsuccessfully) from traveling to other parts of Tanzania. So I guess the timing of my question hit a nerve.

It was interesting to hear Sauper describe his role in presenting a dilemma without feeling a need to presents solutions or easy answers. He wanted the audience to be disturbed by the problems he filmed -- and he didn't want the audience to be absolved of their culpability simply by writing a check or emailing the President.

Speaking of solving dilemmas -- I'm happy to report that both Plays411.com and Del Shores responded to emails today about my problems yesterday with "Southern Baptist Sissies." Shores wrote me personally and his producer sent an email to their entire distribution list making it crystal clear that Leslie Jordan will not be appearing in any matinee performances. Shores also offered to comp me into a performance of "Sissies" with Jordan in it this week, but that doesn't work out with my schedule. So he offered me two tickets to his next show at the Zephyr.

And Plays411.com offered me two tickets to any other show they are currently selling ticket for.

So sometimes it pays to complain. And I think it didn't hurt that I complained on the day my blog's site meter hit 5,000.
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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Paging Mr. Peanut

Went to the Zephyr Theater this afternoon to see Del Shores' "Southern Baptist Sissies." I saw this show when it first ran in the Fall of 2000. Now it's back as part of the "Season of Shores" at the Zephyr.

It looks at the anti-gay attitude of the Baptist Church and its affect on young people raised Baptist.

In addition to scenes in a Baptist Church in Texas there are a series of hilarious dialogues, set in a bar, between two barflys -- Odette Annette Barnett and Peanut.

Peanut must be a dream role to play -- given lines like:

"I'm a social drinker. You have a drink and so shall I."


"My entire family is white trash...I'm the only one who rose above it."

I was excited because Leslie Jordan (best known as Karen Walker's nemesis on "Will & Grace") was reprising his performance as Peanut.

I bought my tickets early on from Plays411.com and they made it very clear Jordan was only performing in the show until February 19. That's why I made it a point to go today.

So you can imagine my disappointment when Gary Ballard came on stage to play Peanut. Ballard did a fine job -- but it's such a distinctive character I was really looking forward to seeing Jordan perform it again.

I asked about Jordan at intermission and they told me "Mr. Jordan never performs matinees." Well I never. I know Nathan Lane did the same thing in New York when he had vocal problems during "The Producers." They told me "the website" explains Mr. Jordan isn't in every show. All I know is I sure didn't see it when I was ordering the tickets.

I think the problem was I ordered tickets through Plays411.com -- which sells tickets for lots of small theaters in Los Angeles. At some point after I ordered my tickets Del Shores dropped Plays411 and started selling tickets through his own website.

This also may explain why I was treated like a second class citizen with my Plays411 tickets. The folks who bought tickets through Shores' website were given assigned seats and those of us who made the "mistake" of buying tickets elsewhere were forced to sit in seats in the back on the sides of the theater.

Pretty tacky on Del Shores part, if you ask me, in order to probably make 5 bucks more a seat.

At 12:31 this morning someone in Daly City, California became the 5,000th visitor to this blog. They were referred by www.rpaulv.blogspot.com -- where my blog is included in the list of interesting blogs!
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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Seeing Issues as Black and White

Went to the Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City tonight to see "Permanent Collection."

This show examines the issues surrounding race in America -- both racism and the charge of racism. The show is set in an iconoclastic art foundation/museum where the new African-American Director wants to exhibit some African art and the museum's white Education Director wants to enforce the museum founder's will which says the exhibit must never change.

This may sound like a far-fetched scenario -- but it's almost exactly what has occurred at the real-life Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.
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Chicken Delight

As planned, I had lunch today at the Chicken Pie Shop on Olive in the Tower District in Fresno. Such a great place.

The Tower District is so-named because of the Tower Movie Theater (which is an old-fashioned theater with a large tower).

Over the last few years the Tower District seems to have really improved. I'm worried that real estate values may price this restaurant out of existence.
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Lunch is served. Posted by Picasa

Here's the inside -- it wasn't too crowded today. Posted by Picasa

I find the color of the booths calming. Posted by Picasa

Plenty of room at the counter. Posted by Picasa

Modern art. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Saw the USC Hockey Team at LAX tonight on their way to Oregon for the PAC-8 Championship Tournament.

The Trojan Hockey Player in the security line in front of me learned you can't take a Swiss Army Knife on an airplane anymore. The choice he faced was to go back downstairs, pack the knife in his carry-on bag and then check his carry-on bag OR give up the pocket knife. It took him a few seconds but he figured out the right answer: buh bye knife.

(Make up your own joke about a Bruin Hockey player in the security line at LAX. I think mine goes, "Are you kidding? The Bruins are on a bus to Oregon.")

As for me, I'm spending the night in Fresno at the brand-new Hampton Inn in order to attend a meeting in the morning.

But the best part about coming to Fresno is I get to have lunch tomorrow at one of my all-time favorite places: the Chicken Pie Shop. I expect to post some photos tomorrow.

Don't expect much. I don't know exactly why I love it so. I've taken a few people there over the years -- and they mostly seem to humor me about going there (although a few have been downright critical)

But now I have an even stronger emotional attachment to the Chicken Pie Shop than before. In 2004 my Grandmother Fliegner and I drove to Berkeley to watch my sister, Andrea Redewill, graduate from college.

Driving home to Victorville, where Grandmother Fliegner lived, we stopped at the Chicken Pie Shop for lunch. She, by the way, was as enthusiastic as I am about how good it is. Sadly, it was the last restaurant meal she and I ever had together as she died shortly after that trip.

(Note: She died several months later so I'm absolutely confident the food at the C.P.S. had nothing to do with it.)
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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Surprise Visit

Went to the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard tonight for a screening of "My Brother...Nikhil," and AIDS drama from India.

Set in the town of Goa, it looks at the ostracization of a family when they (and the entire town) suddenly find out their son has HIV.

Set in the late 80s, it shows how irrationally people with AIDS were (are?) treated in second and third-world countries. Not that our country was (is?) such a role model on the issue.

Earlier today I had quite a pleasant surprise when Janet Reilly, www.janetreilly.com, stopped by my office to say hello. Janet and I worked together on a campaign way back in 1992. (My memory is it was her first campaign.) And now she's a leading candidate for the State Assembly -- running for the seat Assemblymember Leland Yee is leaving in San Francisco. Janet was in LA for a meeting and stopped by to say hello. I love it when former Regional Field Directors I've worked with say "howdy."
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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Crisis Averted

Last night as I sat down to blog my laptop had a collision with a bowl of cereal. Uh-oh. Talk about crying over spilled milk. I did my best to clean it up as quickly as possible but it was obvious I had a serious problem on my hands.

When I pushed certain keys other letters registered on the screen. The backspace didn't work. I thought I'd try the universal computer problem solver -- reboot. But instead of rebooting my laptop just made this loud alarm noise. Not good.

I figured it just needed to dry out. So I tried again first thing this morning and that alarm noise only went off for a second and then it did come on. But it just kept typing "g." Like this:gggggggggggggggggggggggggg

Not gggggggggggggggood.

Fortunately my crack office manager, Jim Kieffer, rode to the rescue. He took my laptop apart and determined I had shorted out the keyboard but everything else (including my hard drive) was OK. Total cost to order a new keyboard and get it shipped overnight: $35.

Trust me -- I spent a very sleepless night last night expecting much worse. In the meantime I'm using a gigantic keyboard attached to the back of my laptop. Very retro. And the laptop itself is working like normal.

Last night I had planned to write about seeing "Annapolis," the new James Franco movie about the worst plebe at the Naval Academy who finds his true grit in the boxing ring. It was all pretty predictable but an enjoyable two hours of mindless entertainment.

Tonight I went to see Queen Latifah's new movie "Last Holiday," about a woman given a surprise diagnosis of three weeks to live who decides to blow all of her money and live out her fantasies. This movie was better than I expected. Latifah is always very watchable on screen and she's surrounded by a fun cast of characters here.

Ggggggggood night.

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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Pass the Guacamole

Like every other red-blooded American, I spent most of today on the couch watching the Super Bowl -- pre-game, game, half-time and post-game.

But I still made progress on my Academy Award nominees list -- I rented and watched "Murderball," nominated for Best Documentary Feature.

It's a very moving film about quadriplegic rugby players. These guys really smash into each other in custom-made gladiator-like wheelchairs.

Of course it goes way beyond the matches they play. It's a film about standing-up even after your spirit -- and your spine -- has been crushed.

(OK, I admit it. I'm tired and that last line came right off the DVD box cover. So sue me.)

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