Monday, April 30, 2007

Starwood Dreaming

Flew up to San Francisco tonight to be in place for a Junior Statesmen meeting tomorrow in Menlo Park.

I'm staying at the Sheraton Hotel near SFO and, I'm happy to report, they have an Executive Lounge with snacks in the evening and free breakfast in the morning.

Since switching from Hilton to Starwood I've been a little disappointed that the Sheratons (or related brands) I've stayed at haven't had the kind of Executive Lounge I became used to as a guest at Hilton Hotels.

But maybe it's just a matter of the specific hotels (Sacramento Sheraton, W San Diego, Westin San Diego) I stayed at in March and April.

The SFO Airport Sheraton appears to be a little dated but is currently undergoing a major renovation. For now, it's restored my willingness to stick with Starwood a little longer.

Site Meter Update: My site meter registered a whopping 1200 visitors to this blog in April. That compares to 700 visitors in March and is nearly 50 percent higher than the previous all-time high of 850 visitors in February. You can check it out for your self by clicking the Site Meter button to the left and then clicking on visitors for the past year.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Hail Caesar!

Drove down to San Diego today to attend a Memorial Reception for my late friend Dr. Michael Clark, who passed away in January at 61 years of age.

I met Michael in 1980 or 1981 through the California Young Republicans. He was a colorful character, a great story teller, always a hoot at the dinner table and he made an immediate impression on me.

I was 18 years old at the time and Michael seemed like such a bon vivant. Sometimes we found ourselves on the opposite side of the "YR wars" but Michael was always courteous and friendly to me. I like to think I learned to be that way to others from him.

And I'll never forget one dinner I had with Michael about 20 years ago when he told me of his practice of ordering Caesar's salad whenever he visited a restaurant with it on the menu. He liked to compare each restaurant's Caesar's against all the other Caesar's he'd had before. I've been ordering Caesar's salads ever since.

I saw Michael last May at Audrey Merkin's funeral in Las Vegas. It had been several years since I had seen him. And seven months later he was dead. I'm so happy I had the chance to really catch up with him last year.

When I got in my car to drive home the Dodgers vs. Padres game was in the bottom of the seventh inning. I was looking forward to listening to the final couple of innings during the drive home. But since the game ended up going seventeen innings I not only drove home, but I made three stops along the way and still got to watch the end of the game at home on TV. The Dodgers won 5 to 4.

Back Where I Belong

Friday night I joined the Fanali Family to see the Santa Monica High School production of "Hello, Dolly."

(You should have seen GeezBob's shocked expression when I told him at lunch today I'd never seen "Hello, Dolly" before.)

The students all did a good job with Jerry Herman's musical but I thought Nick Leonard as Cornelius Hackl, the Chief Clerk at Horace Vandergekler's Feed Store, completely stole the show. His rubber-legged comedic dancing brought Ray Bolger to mind and brought down the house.

Saturday night brought me to Culver City to see the Kirk Douglas Theater's production of "Sleeping Beauty Awakes." It's a modern musical interpretation of the Sleeping Beauty Fable co-produced by the Center Theater Group and the Deaf-West Theater.

The story is spoken and sung in both English and American Sign Language. Both hearing and non-hearing actors are in the cast.

The deaf members of the audience clearly loved the show -- waving their hands at the end, the American Sign Language version of clapping.

For the hearing members of the audience the addition of Sign Language adds a visual layer to the story being told.

Lots of beautiful musical numbers and it was great to see Kevin Earley in another show.

Celebrity Sighting: Saw CNN political analyst William Schneider at my laundry in Larchmont Village this morning. He told me he was on his way to the CNN studios in Hollywood.

I couldn't get my camera to work and I've shipped it off to Olympus to be repaired. So I'll just have to use words to paint pictures for the next few days.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Show Me Something to Blog About

Flew up and back to San Francisco today for the Junior Statesmen Foundation's Executive Committee meeting.

Both flights were pretty uneventful.

I did see former Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt getting into an elevator at SFO.

That's all I've got for today.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I Get the Picture

Went to UCLA tonight to hear humor writer David Sedaris talk at Royce Hall.

Sedaris is one of the few writers who, when I see his byline in a magazine, I'll automatically stop and read his story no matter what.

His ability to take something of insignificance (like a spider or the need for caffeine) and make it absolutely hilarious is astounding.

At his lecture appearances, like tonight, he read a few of his stories and takes questions from his audience.

One of the stories he read tonight -- which turns on an inappropriate name for a TV remote control -- I remember reading a couple of months ago in The New Yorker. It was even funnier hearing it in his real voice.

I especially enjoyed hearing him read from his diary during the three months he spent earlier this year in Japan (in part to learn to speak Japanese).

During the Q&A I asked about the origins of "The Talent Family" -- the name he as his sister, Amy Sedaris, used in some shows they put on. But when I asked the question I incorrectly referred to them as "The Wonder Family." Several audience members were quick to shout out the correct name. Show offs!

I had hoped to take an interesting picture at UCLA to post here but my camera was on the fritz. I'm hoping I just let the battery run down too far. It's charging right now.


Spent most of Monday in the State Capitol Building in Sacramento. The bill I was following didn't get heard by its committee until 7:50 p.m.

The hearing was over at 8:10 p.m. and the last flight out of town leaves at 8:57 p.m. I made it from downtown Sacramento to the airport (and returned a rental car) in time to make the flight.

The last nonstop to Los Angeles left at 7:30 p.m. so instead I flew to San Francisco and then connected to a flight home.

I didn't get home until after midnight but that was better than staying in a Sacramento hotel without a change of clothes or toiletries.
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The California Federation of Republican Women (and their red jackets) were in Sacramento yesterday.

Do Democrats color coordinate their outfits?
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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Old Home Week

My dear, longtime friend Pam Taylor is visiting Los Angeles from Lexington, Kentucky for a conference and I had a chance to see her Saturday night.

We went to see "Heroes" at the Geffen Playhouse, written by Gerald Sibleyras and translated by Tom Stoppard (yes, more Stoppard).

It's a cute little show set in 1959 at a French Home for War Veterans and focuses on three veterans of WW I. Despite their age and infirmities (one has a bum leg, one has seizures and one has a fear of strangers) the three old codgers plan their escape from the home.

The most impressive aspect of the show is its cast -- Richard Benjamin, Len Cariou and George Segal. It's gratifying to see three "veterans" of screen and stage plying their craft.

Pam was particularly taken by seeing Richard Benjamin, who she fondly remembers watching in the movie "Goodbye, Columbus" when she was a teenager. Like the rest of us, he's a little older now.
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Ronald McDonald was at Sunday's Dodgers game.

I like the way McDonald's changed his clown outfit into something more akin to a jogging suit in order to promote a more "healthy" image. (They need to work on his running shoes next.)

But as Rochelle Lewis pointed out today, can you imagine the hours of debate in the executive suite and the amount of research that must have preceeded such a decision.
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Friday, April 20, 2007

More Dodgers Bumbling

I'd heard a rumor the Dodgers were going to start using the long-closed Scott Street Gate to help alleviate the disaster they've created in their parking lot.

Before heading to the game I called Stadium Operations and they confirmed that, yes, the Scott Street Gate would be reopened as of tonight.

You can imagine my reaction when I pulled up to find the gate locked just as it has been for the last seven years or so.

Turns out the Dodgers are only opening it AFTER games to help ease the crush of cars exiting they've created with their new, awful parking system. So much for "you have to exit whichever gate you enter."

Why don't they just go back to the way it was? Because Frank McCourt has figured out a way to park my cars in his lot and all he cares about is the extra revenue.
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I decided not to wait in the long line for a free t-shirt tonight. Now the Dodgers can't even GIVE stuff away efficiently.
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I guess the Dodgers missed the news that flags are supposed to be flown at half staff until sunset on Sunday in memory of the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting.
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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Crank Up the Heat

Made my annual trip to a baseball field in Santa Monica to watch Max Fanali and his team, the Giants, play a game.

Up against the Dodgers (considered one of the best teams in the Santa Monica Little League, I'm told) the Giants fell behind 5 to 1 but battled back late in the game to win 8 to 5. Max got a solid hit during the Giants' rally and later scored in the inning.

It was a fun game to watch but, boy, was it cold out. It had to of been one of the coldest nights in a long time. I stuck it out until the end, barely short of my teeth chattering. As you can see, Max played the game in short sleeves. Talk about being "cool."
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Do All Roads Lead to India?

Since I visited New Dehli in February reminders of India keep coming up. For instance two movies I've seen recently (The Namesake and After the Wedding) include scenes filmed in India.

Tuesday night I went to the ArcLight Theater to see a movie and was surprised to stumble onto the India Film Festival of Los Angeles.

The movie I went to see wasn't from India. It was Paul Verhoven's "Black Book" about a Jewish woman's survival in the Netherlands during Nazi occupation and the chaos that followed the end of WWII.

It was a little strange to see a story like this getting "big" picture treatment -- car chases, swelling music, etc. But it works.
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Monday, April 16, 2007


Molly Shannon stars in "Year of the Dog," a movie about a woman, Peggy, whose life is centered on her dog, Pencil -- the cutest little beagle you've ever seen.

When Pencil dies Peggy goes off the deep end, big time.

Shannon's genius is her ability to play off-kilter characters, something she did to great success on Saturday Night Live. Here her Peggy is creepy, sad, funny, pitiful and believable all at the same time.
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Who are these people who camp out along Fairfax Boulevard outside the gate to CBS Studios for a shot at being in the audience of "The Price is Right?" They hang little signs stating their love of Bob Barker or where they're from. These folks were already in line at 6:30 p.m. for a show I assume tapes at 9 or 10 tomorrow morning.

That seems like a lot of effort for the chance to "come on down."
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Marital Bliss

Spent Sunday at the gorgeous rooftop wedding of Jennifer Proia and Greg Gloede overlooking the Santa Monica Bay at the Marina del Rey Marriott Hotel.
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Everyone seemed happy when the ceremony was over.
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The view from the hotel's rooftop was spectacular. And the weather was perfect.
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Jennifer "saved" Greg by coming to the microphone when he became a little emotional during his speech. Very sweet!
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Saturday night I went to the Mark Taper Forum to see "Distracted" by Lisa Loomer. It's about two parents raising a nine year-old boy with Attention Deficit Disorder. More broadly, it's about our modern information age and how between cellphones, blackberrys, 24 hour news, infotainment, etc. we're all on information overload.

The show stars Rita Wilson and Bronson Pinchot. It enjoyed it but I wish the author had given Pinchot fewer opportunities to chew the scenery -- something he obviously needs little encouragement to do.
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Saturday, April 14, 2007

A Tasty Danish

Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, "After the Wedding" is a brutally emotional movie from Denmark. I saw it Friday night at the Royal Theater in West Los Angeles.

A man running an orphanage in Bombay, India travels to Copenhagen to meet with a billionaire considering making a major contribution. When their talks don't conclude the billionaire invites the man to attend his daughter's wedding that weekend.

Secrets are revealed, in a completely unexpected twist, and we're off to the races.

I left the theater a wreck, but my tear ducts sure were cleaned out real good.
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Friday, April 13, 2007

I Almost Forgot

Thursday night I went to see "Race You To The Bottom." Intriguing premise -- a guy and a gal fall in love. The kicker is she's "straight" but he's "gay."

Too bad the movie's not witty or interesting or heart-wrenching -- something!

It was so blah I forgot to blog about it until right now.
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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

My Kind of Baseball Game

Yesterday was Opening Day at Dodger Stadium. Despite the final score (the Rockies beat the Dodgers 6 to 3), it was a lovely afternoon at the ballpark.

Now I'm in San Diego for a meeting in the morning.
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This lady has been to every Dodgers Opening Day since 1958 -- the year the Dodgers moved to Los AngelesPosted by Picasa

Despite an usher trying to stop me, I was determined to take this photo of Dodger Pitching Legend Fernando Valenzuela -- now a spanish language broadcaster for the DodgersPosted by Picasa

Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa worked the rail before the game. The Mayor's son is behind him in a cap.

Interestingly, McCourt got more attention from the crowd then the Mayor and the Mayor was never introduced by the public address announcer. That doesn't seem like a very good government relations move by the Dodgers. Posted by Picasa

A new look for the Boy ScoutsPosted by Picasa

As part of the pre-game Opening Day ceremonies Navy Seals parachuted into the stadium. Posted by Picasa

A giant flag was unfurled on the field. Posted by Picasa