Saturday, September 29, 2007

Checking Out the Hippity-Hop

"Clay" is a one-man show where the performer is so convincing the story has to be autobiographical. On the other hand, the story is so outrageous it couldn't possibly be true.

At the center of this conundrum is Matt Sax, a recent college graduate who wrote and performs this hip hop show currently at the Kirk Douglas Theater.

I'm in awe of his talent.

I'm not a fan of the hip hop, and wasn't really expecting to enjoy this show -- the tale of a white boy's journey into the world of hip hop music.

Sax plays several different character in the course of this 80 minute tightly wound and highly effecting show.

I was completely blown away.
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A bomb scare at Eighth Street shut down Alvarado and messed up traffic, but it didn't slow down the Saturday lunchtime rush at Langer's.
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Finally got around to seeing "Hairspray" Friday night and really, really enjoyed it. It's not as fun as seeing the musical live on stage, but it sure comes close.

John Travolta portrays Edna Turnblad as much more shy and vulnerable then either Harvey Fierstein or Divine.

But Jerry Stiller, as Mr. Pinky -- the owner of the Hefty Hideaway -- completely steals the movie in a single cameo.
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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Seeing Red Sauce

Had a lovely dinner tonight with friends at Miceli's, Hollywood's oldest Italian restaurant -- opened in 1949.

Too bad the cheats in the restaurant's parking lot nearly ruined it. Now that central Hollywood is back as the white-hot center of nightlife, the parking lots are out of control.

Pulling into the Miceli's parking lot I had to pay a $15 deposit, but I was told parking was $2 per hour and I'd receive a refund for any over payment. Seemed fair to me.

Coming back to the parking lot 2 hours and 5 minutes after going into the restaurant I was prepared to pay $6. So I was not happy when the lot attendant told me I only got $3 back because the third hour (of which I'd used 5 minutes) was $8! $12 to park would make parking more expensive than my entree. (Did I mention the food at Miceli's is cheap?)

So I marched back into the restaurant and asked the manager to help me with the situation in the parking lot. Fortunately he did and I got another $6 back for a total refund of $9 of the $15 parking deposit.

So it worked out, but who needs the hassle just to have some lasagna? Though it's really good lasagna....
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ahoy Matey

Spent Monday night in San Diego. All day Tuesday I worked from my hotel room with one eye on this cruise ship. I kept thinking how great it would be to sail away from San Diego on board.

Alas, I left San Diego on schedule via automobile not via cruise liner.
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Monday, September 24, 2007

Chasing Rainbows

A rainbow broke out over the peristyle end of the Coliseum as the mighty USC Trojans walloped the Washington State Cougars 47 to 14 on Saturday.
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As always, the Trojan Marching Band looked good on campus before the game.
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Rain or shine -- Traveler showed up for the game.
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The Trojans take the field to start the game.
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It's not often that you see rain ponchos at the Coliseum. But this woman had a good idea -- it rained pretty hard for about 15 minutes.
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Sunday night the weather was good as I went to the Hollywood Bowl to see Rufus Wainwright re-create Judy Garland's famous one-woman show at the Hollywood Bowl on September 16, 1961 where a record-breaking crowd of 18,000 plus sat outdoors in the rain for two hours, twenty-four songs, and four encores -- and then made her repeat an earlier song to close out the evening.

Wainwright has done similar shows at Carnegie Hall in New York City, the Palladium in London and in Paris. Tonight he said it was the last time he was restaging a Judy Garland concert.

It was a good show but it left me thinking how amazing it would have been to actually see Judy Garland perform live.
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Wainwright seemed quite proud of this shirt by Tom Ford. It's probably a good thing he wore it tonight because I don't think you could wear it anywhere but the stage of the Hollywood Bowl, unless you're Tom Jones -- in which case you could wear it to the grocery store.
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At the point in the concert when Judy Garland greeted Rock Hudson in the audience, Wainwright greeted Debbie Reynolds. I'm surprised she didn't climb up on the stage to sing.

Lots of other celebrities were spotted in the audience including Ron Rifkin, Ross the Intern, Jerry O'Connell (with Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) and Barry Diller (sans Diana von Furstenberg).

And in an odd twist, with 16,000 seats available for sale my friend, Brian Perry, ended up with the two seats next to mine.
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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Lorna Luft made a surprise, and emotional, appearance at the concert. Her singing brought down the house.
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Saturday, September 22, 2007


Flying home from Sacramento yesterday I bumped into Chris Gardner. It's his life story that inspired the Will Smith movie "In the Pursuit of Happyness."

He's the one without the wrinkled clothes.

I didn't recognize him right out. But folks were making a big fuss over him at the Sacramento Airport so I asked someone who he was.

But I should have figured it out for myself. He was sitting there fiddling with a Rubik's Cube. (That's not a joke.)

Gardner asked me about my blog and seemed a little skeptical when I said it was about "the things I do, people I meet and places I go." However, when he asked me if I made any money from it he seemed convinced when I said, "yeah, about three dollars."
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Before leaving Sacramento I had the chance to catch a movie before my late night flight left. So I headed over to the Regal Cinemas at the Natomas Marketplace and figured I'd see whatever movie best fit into my schedule.

Fortunately there was a screening of "Balls of Fury" starting a few minutes after I arrived. It's the late summer ping pong comedy action movie that I've been wanted to see since I saw its preview.

It was very funny and the perfect choice because I was just looking to shut my brain off and laugh. And I did.
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Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Roadside Accident

I always used to love to stop at the Nut Tree -- roughly half way between Sacramento and San Francisco on Hwy. 80. I enjoyed the restaurant with good food in a 1960 modern pavilion setting. I used to time the drive so I could go by for lunch or dinner.

After years of declining business -- probably done in by the proliferation of drive-through dining -- the Nut Tree shut down a few years ago and the large piece of property just outside of Vacaville sat empty.

Recently I'd read the "new" Nut Tree had opened on the site of the original. Today as I was driving from Sacramento to Petaluma I pulled off the freeway to see what all the excitement was all about.
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The classic restaurant space has been torn down and replaced by upscale shops -- some large and some small. Just what America needs -- another Borders bookstore.
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But my entire perception of the new Nut Tree changed when I discovered Fentons Ice Cream Cafe. Originally established in Oakland in the 1890s, Fentons offers outstanding ice cream hand made in small batches. Looks like I'll be pulling off the road in Vacaville again from now on.
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And I sure liked the room where they display the best elements of the Solano County exhibit at the California State Fair.
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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Dirty Little Puppets

Went to see "Avenue Q" Saturday night at the Ahmanson Theater in downtown Los Angeles. I saw this show a few years ago on Broadway before its upset Best New Musical Tony victory.

I'd forgotten how raunchy and funny this show is. Songs like "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist," "The Internet is for Porn" and an ode to "Schadenfreude" should be the first clue this one isn't for the kiddies.

The touring company puppets are just as good as the ones on Broadway, but as often happens on touring shows, the people performers were better on Broadway than those hitting the bus-and-truck circuit.
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Had dinner Saturday night at "Traxx" off the main concourse of Los Angeles' Union Station.

The food was good, but I thought the menu was pretty limited. The people watching, however, was lots of fun.
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I like this shot of Union Station with the shade of the palm trees showing up on the building's white exterior.
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Spent Thursday night and Friday in Sacramento, where I was startled to see this horse and carriage going down the street. (Insert your own "Sacramento is a small town" joke here.)

During the week I got behind on reading newspapers so I boarded my plane at LAX with a pretty big stack to read. The flight attendant insisted I had too many newspapers in my lap to be safe for takeoff and landing. "That pile's bigger than a suitcase." So I had to store some of my papers in the overhead while the plane took off. The flight attendant said I could "only keep two" to read while the plane was ascending. I'm a big believer in in-flight safety, but that just seemed over the top. But I didn't argue -- I'm a good passenger.
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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Six Years Later

In commemoration of 9/11 the Los Angeles Philharmonic performed a program at the Hollywood Bowl tonight entitled "American Originals" -- featuring four musical pieces written by American composers.

Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring was described by Conductor Leonard Slatkin as the most appropriate piece of music he could think of to conduct on this date because it represents simple American music filled optimism.

Edgar Meyer's Double Bass Concerto was a bit of a snoozer, but I did enjoy watching Meyer play a giant fiddle.

Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee by Gunther Schuller was mildly entertaining. It features seven short musical pieces each based on a painting by Swiss modernist Paul Klee. As each piece began the corresponding Klee artwork was shown on the big screen.

Finally, George Gershwin's classic Rhapsody in Blue closed out the evening. Such a beautiful piece, reminding us of the hustle and bustle of America's urban centers in the 1920s. Michel Camilo pounded away beautifully on the concert grand piano wheeled out on the stage just for this portion of the show.
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