Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I can think of no better way to wish everyone who reads this blog a Happy Thanksgiving than with a little "Turkey in the Straw."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Standing Tall

Last Saturday night I went to see the West Coast Ensemble production of Edward Albee's "Three Tall Women" at the El Centro Theater in Hollywood.

This show always reminds me of Marian Seldes, who I saw perform in it twice. The first time was in 1994 at the Promenade Theater in New York City when Seldes played "B," the middle-aged woman in the play.

In 1996 she was back at the Mark Taper Forum in downtown Los Angeles, this time as "A," the oldest of the three women.

Whichever role Seldes played became the lead role, as far as I was concerned.

At the El Centro, the performances were more balanced but Eve Sigall, as "A," really was captivating. She has this smile that just makes you want to huddle at her feet and hear her tell stories.

Of course, Albee's rumination on aging really stands the test of time and is worth seeing no matter the scale of the production.
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Winner! Winner! Turkey Dinner!

Made a presentation last night in Lomita and afterwards headed over to the Claim Jumper in Torrance for dinner. A couple of weeks ago I had dinner at a different Claim Jumper and they gave me a prize card that could only be opened upon my next visit to a Claim Jumper.

When they opened the card last night I had won a free entree. Their portions are huge so not only did I have a free dinner last night, I had the leftovers -- for free -- tonight.
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I spent Thursday night and Friday in Ventura. My hotel room had a nice view of the Ventura Harbor (if you block out the parking lot).
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After my early-morning presentation Friday I had breakfast at the 50s-themed Busy Bee Cafe in downtown Ventura. This place has been around a long time -- at least since 1989 when I lived in Ventura (briefly) to run a City Council campaign.
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I like this Fresh Produce Farm Stand in Ventura. So close to the city yet still in the country.
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Monday I had lunch with Rochelle at the new Thyme Cafe in Santa Monica. It's a complete rip-off of the delicious Huckleberry Cafe -- but it's cheaper and the parking is a lot easier. Seems like a winning combination to me.
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Saturday night I went to the Pasadena Playhouse to see the musical, "Baby It's You," featuring the music of the Shirelles.

The show features lots of great early 60s music, but the focus is on Florence Greenberg, a New Jersey real-life housewife who turned herself into a record executive and discovered the Shirelles.

Unfortunately, I wasn't very impressed by this show. The music was OK, but the book was like an express train through several lives. None of the characters were really developed and we never saw below the surface.
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Green Family Memories

Yesterday would have been Grandmother Green's 99th birthday -- so how great was it that I got to spend most of the day in San Pedro and Long Beach (along with Wilmington, the lands of my people).
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For many years (decades?) Grandfather Green worked in this building as a janitor. Back then it was the headquarters of the General Telephone Company (now Verizon) and the building wasn't as modern looking.

I remember riding with Grandmother Green to pick him up after his shift was over. Grandfather Green didn't drive.
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When I was a kid, this part of Long Beach was "The Pike" -- a seaside entertainment zone, sort of a poor-man's Coney Island. Originally it was built to extract money from sailors and others working in the Port of Long Beach.

It was the sort of place Walt Disney must have been thinking about when he said he wanted Disneyland to be the opposite of the amusement parks that existed when the Magic Kingdom opened its gate in the 50s.

Grandmother Green used to take me there all the time. I was too chicken to ride the roller coaster but I always enjoyed the dark rides like the Haunted House. (In the 70s they discovered one of the "bodies" that popped out as you rode through the Haunted House really was a dead mummified body. True story.)

I'm sure if I could travel back in time I'd be shocked by The Pike. No doubt it was filled with tattoo parlors, bars and sketchy characters aplenty. All I remember is that I loved it there and I resent the redevelopment that has taken its place today.
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Sunday, November 08, 2009

I Needa Napa

I spent most of the day on Friday in my hotel room in Napa, working. But I managed to sneak out at the end of the day and walk around a little bit.

I knew I had overstayed my 4 p.m. late check-out when there was a knock on my door at 4:02 p.m. and the Front Desk Manager asked, with a smile, "May we assist you with your luggage?"

Truth is I was nearly ready to go but at 3:59 p.m. I got that call I'd been waiting for all day -- of course.
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I had a great burger at Taylor's Automatic Refresher. It's not cheap, but the food sure is good. I've now been to all three of their locations -- St. Helena, San Francisco and Napa.
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I walked around the very hip Oxbow Public Market. It seemed like a precursor to the recently opened market in the Ferry Building in San Francisco.
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My Napa hotel -- the Westin -- was directly across from the station used by the Wine Train. Precisely at 11:30 a.m. I watched it pull out of the station from my hotel room.
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At 2:30 p.m., with lunch over, the train returned to the station facing the opposite direction. I wonder how it turned around?
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I was walking around when the Wine Train pulled into the station in preparation for it's dinner ride. The interior of the train looks pretty fancy.
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The train passed me by.
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Friday, November 06, 2009


Was at a noontime meeting today where I got to meet Miss Buena Park.

I felt under-dressed for the occasion.
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This morning I had breakfast at the Summit Inn at the top of the Cajon Pass in between Victorville and Rancho Cucamonga. It's a great roadhouse and, as you can see, they're taking advantage of as much Route 66 nostalgia as they can.
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Tonight I'm in Napa and I asked the Hotel Front Desk Clerk to recommend a simple, basic Chinese restaurant. Jackpot! She steered me towards the Asia Cafe on Main Street in downtown Napa. It was exactly what I was looking for.

After she recommended it I asked the clerk if the restaurant was Cantonese or Mandarin? She said, "no, it's Chinese."

Truth is, I don't really know the regional cuisines of China well enough to tell the difference but when I saw the giant, neon Chop Suey sign over the front door I knew I was going to like it.
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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Getting My Kicks

I'm spending tonight at the sparkling new (opened in June) Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Rancho Cucamonga. I've always found Four Points to be a good value for the money -- but they've clearly modernized their look at this location.

This Four Points is located on Foothill Boulevard, the original Route 66 -- the Mother Road. I think the Joads would have enjoyed pulling their jalopy into this place.
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