Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Run for the Border

There's a building next to the Langer's parking lot that often has topical murals along one side. Recently an artist painted a new mural apparently about Swine Flu. I think the snot dripping from the pig's nose is an especially nice touch. Nighty night.
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Saturday night I went to the Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City to see their remarkable new production, "Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo" by Rajiv Joseph.

Set in Baghdad in 2003, the play is obviously about the Iraqi War. But it's really about so much more.

Using the real-life story of a soldier who shot a bengal tiger at the Baghdad Zoo after it attacked another soldier, this show look at the unintended consequences of war -- including how it affects the soldiers fighting in it and the ghosts it unearths.

The stage is filled with ghosts, including that of Uday Hussein (Sadam's son) whose gold-plated gun turns into booty worth fighting over.

Most amazing about the show is the obvious talent of the playwright. Talk about your auspicious debut! The writing is so crisp, the dialogue so natural yet meaningful.

While tacking some very difficult topics and demonstrating the violence of war, this play was a completely pleasurable experience to sit through.
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Last Thursday I had lunch with Rochelle Lewis at the trendy and tasty Border Grill in Santa Monica.

They have a pretty ingenious lunch special going on. For $10 you get a green tamale appetizer, an pre-selected entree special that changes each day and a soda. Seems like a pretty good deal. The trick is you have to eat at the bar and no substitutions are allowed.

Drawn in by the great bargain, we decided to eat in the dining room and order off the full menu. Though the restaurant's prices are reasonable we both spent well over $10. And that, my friends, is called marketing.
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Monday, May 18, 2009

Not as Big

Friday night I went to see "Big" at the El Centro Theater in Hollywood.

I saw this musical for the first time in 1996 when it was running on Broadway at the Shubert Theater.

This production makes the transition from a large cast and stage to a much smaller one very well. The cast of adults and kids are winning and the material is touching -- the time in life when kids want to be "big" and the adults don't want them to grow up "too fast."
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Friday, May 15, 2009

Red Alert

Took a quick trip Wednesday to the Bay Area for a Junior Statesmen Foundation Board of Directors meeting in San Mateo.

It was great to see a display in the San Francisco Airport honoring the 35th Anniversary of Beach Blanket Babylon. What a great show -- famous for its big hats. And an impressive run -- made possible because they keep the show fresh and regularly update the cultural and political comedic references.
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How do I tactfully tell her son I really just want the Cougar in my photo?
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Monday, May 11, 2009

Predicting the Future

This is how one filmmaker in the 60s thought mankind would dance in the future.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

"Gag" Reflex

Saturday night I went to see the Reprise production of "The Fantasticks" at the Freud Playhouse at UCLA.

The original off-Broadway production of "The Fantasticks" ran at the Sullivan Street Playhouse from 1960 until 2002. Yes, 42 years -- making it the longest running show in New York history. And I'm happy to report I saw it there shortly before it closed.

Sadly, the magic of that production in a tiny theater is completely lost in this production directed by Jason Alexander. "Costanza's" go-to move is the old-vaudeville laugh (give 'em the old razzle-dazzle) and his ham-handed technique completely snuffs out the charm in this musical.

After seeing this show Saturday night all I can do is "Try to Remember" how delightful it was when I saw it in 1999 or 2000.
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Had a great lunch on Thursday with GeezBob at Taylor's Prime Steaks. Opened in 1953, Taylor's is one of the last remaining old-fashioned steakhouses in the mid-Wilshire district. I don't really know what the other customers do for a living but it looked to me like they were all salesmen, insurance executives or union officials. It's a dark setting -- perfect for three martinis. Sadly, we stuck to just iced teas.
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Wanda Sykes Rocks!

Solid Potato(e) Salad

Monday, May 04, 2009

Happy Star Wars Day

Saturday night I went to the Ahmanson Theater in downtown Los Angeles to see "Ain't Misbehavin'" -- a revue of songs by Thomas "Fats" Waller, an African-American jazz pianist, organist, composer and comedic entertainer who wrote around 500 songs mostly between the two World Wars.

Waller died in 1943 at the age of 39, on an eastbound train after coming to Los Angeles to appear in the film "Stormy Weather" with Lena Horne.

This production commemorates the thirtieth anniversary of "Ain't Misbehavin's" debut on Broadway (with Nell Carter) and features an original cast member -- Armelia McQueen.

The performers are very talented but I have to admit to feeling ripped off by this show. Five singers and a piano player (backed by a six-piece band) do not a night at the theater make.

There's no book to this musical, it's simply a compilation of Waller's songs ranging from "Honeysuckle Rose" to "The Joint is Jumpin'."

The Center Theater Group, which runs the Ahmanson and two other theaters, clearly is hurting for cash -- in fact they've canceled two show already announced as part of their seasons at the other two theaters. This show, with its tiny cast, single set and simple costumes must be cheap to produce. But if I'm paying top dollar for theater tickets I expect something more.
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I see this old gal out and about in West Hollywood all the time. I don't know anything about her except she's 84 years old, always dressed to the nines and loves martinis. What an inspiration.

She reminds me of an all grown up Princess Leia. Which leads me to explain why today is Star Wars Day. "May the Fourth Be With You." Get it? Yuch, yuch, yuch.
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Friday, May 01, 2009

The Economy or Swine Flu?

GeezBob and I went to lunch yesterday at Philippe -- The Original Home of the French Dip Sandwich in downtown Los Angeles.

As you can see on the clock, we got there at pretty much prime time for lunch -- 12:50 p.m. Every other time I've been to Philippe the lines to order at the counter were 10 to 12 people deep.

Yesterday we just walked right up to the counter. Not sure why. The food is still great.
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Philippe is located in what used to be Los Angeles' red-light district. The collection of small rooms upstairs has led some to speculate that before Philippe opened 100 years ago the location was used as a bordello.
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