Friday, August 31, 2007
When I come up for air and have time to take a deep breath, I will start posting about the weekend's events.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Posting may light for a while. We fly away toward the east in the morning . . . to the Washington, D.C. area for my great-nephew's Bar Mitzvah, seeing many family members who will be there, sightseeing and visiting with old friends we haven't seen for several years.
My hope is to post from my laptop along the way. But I personally wouldn't count on it. We'll just have to see what happens along the way.
Monday, August 27, 2007
I do offer just one last theatre photo (provided by Laura Boccaletti) and then on to other things. It shows Heidi Dotson (in the center) who wrote the script and directed King Midas receiving a bouquet of roses during the curtain call from The Ancient One and Sharon Savene. Heidi, who also is a CCPT board member, is one of those special people who work enormously hard and for whom it was a pleasure to be a cast member. She was brave enough to offer me the title role and she brought some acting talent out of me that I was not aware I possessed. And so, a public thank you to Heidi.
As for this past weekend, it was wonderful. On Saturday evening we attended the wedding of Nicole Schiff and Daniel Brozost. We have been friends of the Schiff's since we moved to Palos Verdes in 1982. We watched Nicole and her sisters Shanti and Arielle grow up. The wedding was held at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. The ceremony was framed by "the breathtaking three-story Blue Cavern aquatic exhibit." It was truly a magnificent evening.
Yesterday provided another special and exciting event. Donna's voice teacher, Bradley Baker, occasionally has his students perform at an "open mike" night he sponsors at the M Bar in Hollywood. This time Donna led offer the entertainment with Unchained Melody. What can I say; my unbiased opinion is that she was truly outstanding. And thanks to friend Jim Shneer, I offer the below photo which is pretty good considering the lighting (or lack thereof).
A number of friends were there to cheer Donna on in her 2nd M Bar appearance and to support the other performers as well. If I'm not mistaken, based on their comments at dinner after the show, they shared my assessment of her performance. Bradley and pianist Byron Smith rounded out the evening, with performances that add a seasoned-professional touch.
So the first weekend following CCPT came to an end. It was great. . . I survived the "weekend after" with flying colors. And now for more of the same with, as will become evident in later posts, a bit of travel added in.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Well, instead of calling earthlink (I just couldn't deal with them any more), I went to the website of Linksys where they have a Live Chat option. A wonderful Techie named Jocelyn F. gave me detailed instructions, which I cut and pasted to an MSWord document on my computer, on how to manually set up my wireless router. She also treated me like someone who had a problem, instead of the person who caused it. It was almost too good to be true!
Actually, it was too good to be true, at least after 3 attempts which seemed to do what they were supposed to do except that I still could not access the Internet when the signal was directed through the router. Very frustrating again. . .
BUT. . . I did find a partial solution which now has Donna back on line for her e-mail. I dug out my old Ethernet router and hooked it up. Fortunately, when I installed the wireless router some months ago, I left the Ethernet cable running between Donna's and my offices in place. It works!!!
Now only Seth has no connection from the house, nor do I from my laptop unless we find a kindly neighbor who will consent to let us go online through their signal.
At least one more small step has been taken to have us all in touch with the internet. Sigh . . . . . .
Friday, August 24, 2007
I have my home DSL back. After hearing nothing for 24 hours, I called Earthlink again and again I was speaking to a Tech in India. But this time I got someone who knew what he was doing. And he was talking to me on one line and to the "signal" or "line" technicians on another line. In less than an hour (which was relatively fast compared to the other calls this week), my DSL was up and I was connected to the internet.
Actually, I was connected with the Ethernet cable running straight from the modem to my computer. As the call was ending, I innocently asked, "This will also work when connected to my wireless router, right." The answer was a pleasant and confident "Yes."
Well, that is not quite accurate! When I redirected the cables through the router and then to the computer, there was no internet signal. I found the Linksys installation disk and have now tried to reinstall the system 6 times. I have not yet succeeded. Linksys tells me that it can't read the internet signal. I can get my work done but dear Donna cannot get her e-mail or surf the net; I may just have to reinstall the old Ethernet router but that won't help with any of the laptops in the house, especially Seth's.
So, it looks like there may be one more call to Earthlink to straighten this out although I do have the feeling they will tell me to call Linksys since it is the router that doesn't recognize the good internet connection provided by my ISP.
That's why I attach "sort of" as a modifier to "success at last." Stay tuned for later installments.
Well, Earthlink kept their promise and a new DSL modem awaited me when I got home yesterday afternoon. That's the good news.
On the other hand, I am still without DSL service at home. I opened the package, followed all the instructions and . . . voila . . . still no signal.
Back on the phone with another nice Tech in India. After a frustrating, long period of time with no solution revealing itself, he politely put me on hold to check with his "supervisor."
Eventually, an equally polite chap came on line and we tried some more things. I jokingly commented, "I see I have advanced to a Tech 2." "Oh, no," he replied proudly, "I am a Tech 3."
When success was not forthcoming, he gave me a ticket number, told me that he was passing my problem on to a "signal specialist," and that I should call back 4 hours later to a direct line for which he provided a new phone number. I called at the appointed time, entered the numbers requested by the recorded voice, and heard a new recording telling me that my phone company was checking the line and I should call back in 24 hours.
After I hung up, I thought to myself: They are utilizing a "signal specialist" and having the phone company check my line. Isn't that what I told them on the first call 2 days ago? Didn't I tell them I was no longer receiving a signal? It really took the inability of a new modem they provided to receive a signal for them to realize I might have been right in the first place.
Well, it's a new day and the saga continues. Currently, I am using dial-up to download my e-mail and the supermarket free Wi-Fi zone to carry on other business and write silly blog posts like this one.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
It will be interesting to hear what they say if I am right and the problem is the signal not the modem. We will see in a day or so.
Meanwhile, I can only post from WiFi hotspots using my laptop. Thank you to my local Pavilions market for providing not only WiFi but some tables at which to sit.
OK - my e-mail is checked. And this post is finished but it may be the last for a few days.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
The Inter-Ocular Traumatic Test (IOTT) has played a very important role in our family. Actually, I first saw the term in a graduate sociology course at the University of North Carolina in the early 1960s. My recollection is that it was a methodology course taught by Professor Ernest Q. Campbell but I'm not positive about that. And I also recall that it appeared in an article written by the eminent sociologist Robert Merton. In terms of academic research IOTT meant that, in the examination of data, when you saw something significant it hit you between the eyes.
Early in my current marriage, we were out shopping for some big ticket item. Nothing we looked at seemed to fit exactly what we were looking for. . .until. . .there it stood before us and I blurted out, "It's an IOTT!" Since that day, after explaining what I meant, we have always used that combination of letters to describe the moment we found exactly what we were looking for. And the strange part of this is that I can never remember when something was an IOTT for one of us and not the other(s).
It may have started in a sociology methods article but it has translated well into the practical life of our family. Thank you Robert Merton.
Monday, August 20, 2007
I came away from the day and the season with a special memento. Dean Suh, who did the artwork that was used on both the cover of the playbill and the front of the annual T-Shirt, gave me a signed copy of the original artwork which I will soon have suitably framed. His drawing was based on 3 photographs that were used for the season's publicity flyer. Pictured are John Glass and Shannon Pritchard (as seen in Much Ado About Nothing), Eric Billitzer (in the Good Doctor) and The Ancient One (as King Midas).
At the end of the day the season ending barbeque was held and there was a lot of mutual back slapping for a season successfully completed. Personally, I was ready for the end because I have either been rehearsing or performing since the end of January and it is time for a break. But, there are feelings of melancholy too. It's over!!! The work and the audiences are gone for a while. And the King Midas cast, with its very special chemistry, will never perform as a single unit again. Those of us who continue to see each other will share stories of the experience but it isn't quite the same; it isn't the same high that comes from collectively touching an audience with a story to which they respond enthusiastically. I will miss that collective sense of joy and accomplishment that comes when you succeed in touching others lives through theatre. I know that is one of the main reasons I perform on stage or, in the case of CCPT, in the park.
Well, there may be an afterword or two about the season over the next few weeks if other pictures and stories from the come forth. But CCPT is now dark until 2008 after a wonderful, successful season.
Friday, August 17, 2007
This has been a memorable season for me. I have been privileged to work with an incredibly talented group of actors who not only perform but set-up and strike the set every performance day. The days are long in the park. Most of the actors arrive before 10:00 a.m. and are not finished with the strike until about 5:30 p.m. The season also has been special for me because I had a rare lead role in the CCPT's Popcorn Children's Theatre production of King Midas and I made it through my first venture into Shakespeare as the delightfully befuddled Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing. Anyone who saw my "pre-season" posts knows how I struggled preparing for both plays at the same time.
And I always have a special place in my memories for the audiences. I've talked about the interaction between the performers and kids during King Midas. Last week, there was even one young lad who was back for the 3rd or 4th time and decided that he would vocally call out what was happening next as new missteps appeared for King Midas. I talked with him after the show and he really was a nice kid who just got carried away, much to the embarrassment of his mother and annoyance of those around him who were seeing the show for the first time.
There are also fond retrospective memories of the distractions that abound when doing outdoor theatre. The planes overhead, the bell on the cart of the passing ice cream man, gardeners' leaf blowers in neighborhood yards, kids at a birthday party hooting and hollering as they swing happily away at a piñata. At least this year, no tree branches fell on unsuspecting audience members during performances as has happened more than once in the past.
Goodness, there is still a full weekend of performances and the season closing CCPT company barbeque ahead and I am already waxing nostalgic. But CCPT and the summers in Carlson Park are such wonderful aspects of my life. Well, on Monday I can start thinking about 2008.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
And a picture billed as coming from Elvis' final concert:
I am sure that Bill and I are not the only ones who remember exactly where we were when we heard the news on August 16, 1977.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
It's strange how the mind works. There I was just driving along and suddenly the word "marathon" popped into my mind. And then it brought back memories of the years I lived in Springfield, Illinois and old friends in the Springfield Roadrunners' Club and the 3 marathons which I entered and finished. As I recall. The Springfield Roadrunners organized somewhere in the mid-1970's. I am not clear on the exact year but it might have been about 1974 (+/- 1 year). As I started writing this, I was surprised to find, as signified by the link above, that the club still exists, and has a website which appears to have been created in 2000. None of the names I came across on that site were familiar to me and that seems logical since I left Springfield early in 1982. But that's not where I thought I was going with this.
I'm trying to remember why I started jogging. It may have been recommended by my primary care physician; in those days I think we called him a family practice doctor, Stuart Yaffe. He wanted me to lose weight (and I weighed less then than I do today) and mentioned that he jogged most days in Washington Park, about a block from the old house I had recently bought. And so I started. And as it built up I started running in local 5K and 10 K races. Not very fast but respectable finishing times and I did earn an occasional age-group ribbon. I started getting Runner's World magazine which was not nearly as flashy as it is today. But from reading it, I decided I wanted a pair of New Balance shoes. But they were relatively new on the market and not to be found within striking distance of Springfield. As it happened, I was scheduled to go to Boston and, while there, I bought a pair of NB 320s (I think that was the model number) and to my knowledge was the first person in Springfield to own a pair of New Balance.
Somewhere along the way I decided I wanted to train and run a marathon. And eventually I did run in 3: The Marathon Marathon at Indiana State University in Terre Haute; the Drake Relays Marathon in Des Moines, Iowa, and one whose sponsorship I can't remember that was on the grounds of Allerton Park and Retreat Center which was a continuing education center of the University of Illinois near Monticello, IL. And I trained hard. . .well as hard as a somewhat overweight guy in his mid-30s could train. And occasionally I overdid it. At one point I was the local expert on plantar fasciitis, sometimes called a "heel spur," which in my case was incredible pain along the tissue of the bottom of my foot that connect the heel bone to the toes. Actually, as I recall, rest was the best way to treat this pain but that was not a viable choice when training for a marathon. But I survived the inflammation and did complete all 3 races.
I did find a good description of the Marathon Marathon (sponsored logically enough by Marathon Oil) on the blog A Portrait Of The Runner As A Thirtyish Man.) While I did finish in well over 4 hours, it was a painful experience. The temperature on the day I ran was in the low 90s. I was made ill by the smell of creosote soaked ties in a railroad yard along the route. I did hit the proverbial wall and hurt so badly I should have quit. But I was too stubborn to do so and, with a fair amount of walking instead of running, finally made it to the finish line where I was immediately carried into a first aid tent and treated for heat exhaustion. Perhaps the highlight of the day was on the drive back to Springfield when we stopped at an A&W Root Beer stand where I had the best root beer float I ever had. I can still taste it today, more than 30 years later.
My 2nd Marathon was the one held in conjunction with the Drake Relays. A history of its first 25 years can be found here. It started near the State Capitol in downtown Des Moines and the course wound up to the stadium at Drake University. The race ended inside the stadium just prior to the final events of the Relays. And I was lucky. With a time just under 3:45, I was one of the last runners allowed to finish inside the stadium. It was the highlight of my "athletic career;" entering a stadium filled with nearly 20,000 track fans and doing a finishing lap around the track being cheered by the real athletes warming up on the infield for their own races. As I recall, I was so high, I grinned all the way back to Springfield after the race.
I can't find any references to the marathon held in Allerton Park. I know that there were many of us from the Springfield Roadrunners who participated. I was having a rough time during the final 1/3 of the course when a fellow Springfield Roadrunner, who had finished well ahead of me, showed up at my side somewhere between 22 and 23 mile markers and ran along cheering me on to the finish line. He was a pleasant fellow named John Block, who not only was a good runner but he served as Secretary of Agriculture in Illinois and in Washington, D.C. under President Ronald Reagan. I will always remember John because without him I never would have finished that marathon.
Of all the races I ran, mostly at the 5 and 10K distances, I remember more detail about the marathons. I remember friends like Stu Yaffe, John Block and Carmen Chapman. I remember the trips with club members to the races and especially meals in St. Louis, probably the best carbohydrate loading city in the country for fans of pasta and great Italian food.
When I moved to southern California in 1982, I tried to keep up my running but it gradually faded away, a victim of my knees and the very hilly roads of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. I did run one 10K race after moving here and by the undulating end I knew that it was probably my last competition. And it was. But I still have many good memories.
An afterthought – when I started running in the 1970s, there were occasional articles that no one who had ever run and finished a marathon ever had a heart attack. Well, that was a myth that was put to rest. And I am also proof that it was a myth, having had a mild heart attack 11 years ago, an angioplasty and insertion of a stent a year after that and, 3 years ago (August 30, 2004) an emergency triple coronary bypass operation. Yet, I am healthier today than I have been in decades and I do give the years of my distance running part of the credit for my simply being alive today; that and some phenomenal doctors and a great hospital.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Indeed, I had read it when it was first published in paperback 2 years ago. Now why did my mind not remember that? Was the book so unmemorable? Clearly, the teaser blurb inside the cover did not alert me. I simply had forgotten about it. And this is not the first time this has happened. A few months ago I thought that I had found an older Faye Kellerman novel, featuring Detective Peter Decker and his wife Rina Lazarus, which I was sure I had not read previously. The same thing happened; as I started reading, something sounded familiar and fairly soon I remembered all the details of the storyline. Oh, woe is me! The tricks the mind plays on us. Perhaps it is just a function of age or the number of mysteries that I read or . . . whatever.
Well, I've started a new book now and I know I haven't read it before because it is non-fiction which is rarely a reading choice of mine in recent years. I endured plenty of non-fiction over a 40+ year academic career.
I remembered an article about Malcolm Gladwell in the January, 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine.
It is the only business oriented periodical I read and I found Danielle Sacks' The Accidental Guru fascinating. Finally, a few months ago, I purchased his book The Tipping Point and just started it this afternoon and, it is very interesting and readable so far.
I haven't read enough of the book to reach any conclusions yet. When I do, I may share my thoughts . . . if my mind remembers them.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Oh yes, a final note. All of the clocks were working and showed the correct time. That isn't always the case with old clocks.
Friday, August 10, 2007
The penultimate weekend for CCPT's 2007 season is here. The main stage production of Neil Simon's The Good Doctor will continue as will The CCPT Children's Popcorn Theatre production of King Midas.
I am hoping that the kids in the audience for the good king's story are as interactive as those who attended last Sunday's performance. One highlight for me: Shortly after the god Apollo has cursed me with long furry ears, I have a line that includes, "I can't rule my kingdom with the ears of an aaaaa………." Several children in the audience shouted out "donkey" and one loud, young voice intoned "jackass." It is sometimes hard to keep in character when the kids call out. And they helped many characters, not just King Midas, complete their lines last Sunday. Just another part of the joy of doing children's theatre productions.
As a reminder, performances are at Paul Carlson Park at the corner of Motor and Braddock in Culver City. King Midas begins at noon and The Good Doctor follows at 2:00 p.m.
First, my oldest brother Jerry (who died suddenly almost 12 years ago at the age of 70). This picture was taken less than a month before his 12th birthday.
Next, sister Bobby (Barbara), less than a month before her 9th birthday. She currently lives in Farmington Hills, Michigan, the only one of the siblings who stayed in the Detroit area, and will be 79 next month.
And, brother Andy (Andrew) just after his 5th birthday. He now lives in Houston and will be 75 on August 20.
So those are The Ancient One's siblings before The Ancient One saw the light of day.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
When I started writing this, it was going to be about a Culmination Ceremony where daughter Alicia, aka my little girl, was receiving a certificate from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion here in Los Angeles. She was one of 12 students receiving certificate's this evening; it was sort of a recognition that they were well along the way to completing a Masters Degree in Jewish Communal Service. It was a delightful event and we got a chance to meet many of Alicia's friends and professors. Most noteworthy was the camaraderie among the students and the passion with which they described their work and goals.
But the whole evening got me thinking about where the sense of service to community in these young people came from. And, in a personal sense, it is not just Alicia but her brother Seth as well. She will complete her HUC degree next May as well as a M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration/ Student Affairs from USC. Seth, who has an undergraduate film degree will be completing requirements for his teaching credential in December on his way to becoming a high school drama/English teacher.
Although I spent over 40 years in public higher education as a professor and administrator, I never pushed the kids to "follow in dad's footsteps." Quite frankly, I sort of hoped they would find careers that were more financially rewarding than those found in the education or public service sectors. Oh, we did impress the importance of community service on them. In high school, they were members of an organization where the kids volunteered at a local hospital. And I got them both involved in an annual holiday dinner and toy giveaway for homeless families in Compton where I worked with the school district's Homeless Education Program for many years.
But Alicia went off and got her Bachelor's degree in technical theatre and Seth, as I mentioned above, has a film degree. Yet somewhere along the way their plans changed; Alicia's after her return from a year in Israel, Seth's about midway through his college career when he began working part time at his old high school.
And the more I thought about all of this after returning home tonight, the prouder I felt. Blogging friend Eric commented after my August 1 post that referenced my older son Bill that "the apple falls not far from the tree." Perhaps he is right.
While tonight's ceremony was called a "culmination," it is more of a "near the beginning" for Alicia who will carry her talents and passion to serving the needs of Jewish college students. And when Seth "completes" the requirements for his credential, it will mark the "launching point" of what is likely to be a long and successful teaching career. I guess my reflections tonight are those of parents who just may have done a few things right.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
I must confess that my reading list is often determined by the discounted paperbacks available at the local Costco. But I have found some of my favorite mystery and thriller writers there. A few weeks ago, they had a whole array of books by David Baldacci. I had previously read his Absolute Power, Total Control and The Camel Club. It’s fun, easy reading and I like his characters and take on the Secret Service, FBI and other law enforcement type agencies.
So I picked up two more of his books. Currently, I am reading Split Second and that will be followed by Hour Game. Both feature ex-secret service agents Sean King and Michelle Maxwell.
I should also mention that Baldacci is cofounder, with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, a non-profit that promotes family literacy. On that basis alone I would have given Baldacci novels a try. It’s a plus that I like them and they make the morning walks go a little smoother.
Monday, August 6, 2007
Below is the full cast during curtain call followed by some shots taken during various scenes:
L to R: Blake Anthony, Laurie Baron, Dean Edward, Donna Donnelly and Eric Billitzer
The Good Doctor runs 2 more weekends at 2:00 p.m. in Paul Carlson Park in Culver City, preceded at 12:00 noon on each Saturday and Sunday by the CCPT Children's Popcorn Theatre production of King Midas.
I got slowed up a bit this morning just 2 blocks from home but it was worth it. There was a magnificent peacock strutting across the street and I had to wait for him. He had a full complement of tail feathers although he did not fan them out for me. But he was a beauty and I did get a couple of pictures.
Saturday, August 4, 2007
Friday, August 3, 2007
I finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows tonight. It was, like the earlier volumes, a pleasant, enjoyable, quick read. Now I have read all 7 volumes and seen none of the films.
One very nice thing about not being in rehearsals is that I do have time to read again. Now to decide what book comes next.
The CCPT Children's Popcorn Theatre production continues for the next 3 weekends. Below are a few pictures taken at the July 28 performance by company member Laura Boccaletti who reveals herself to be as good a photographer as she is an actress. (In the absence of a full cast photo, all the cast members are pictured below.)
Front : Tmolus (Teresa Waxer), King Midas (Ancient One), Princess (Shannon Pritchard)
Rear: Friculous (Bethany Hilliard), Fraculous (Sharon Savene)
Apollo (Frantz Delsoin), Pan (Laurie Baron)
Performances are at Paul Carlson Park at the corner of Motor and Braddock in Culver City. King Midas begins at noon and The Good Doctor follows at 2:00 p.m.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
If that person revisits this site, perhaps he/she will leave me a comment. The exact time was 4:07:14 pm PDT.
I'm just a curious kind of guy.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Last month I wrote about the 40th birthday of my oldest son Bill. In that missive, I made no mention of the fact that he is a poet, and a very good one at that. As it happens, today his post over at BillyBlog was about a new "feature" he was starting called Poetry Wednesday. I mention this because yesterday, while rummaging through some papers, I came across something I wrote on February 3, 1997, shortly after Bill and Mel told us that they were taking our very little 1st granddaughter and moving to New York from Los Angeles. So, in the spirit of the initiation of Poetry Wednesdays, I offer the following, 10½ years after it was written:
Move on Young Poet
A poet is a rare, endangered species;
One who moves emotions is rarer yet
We lucky ones who have a personal poet close up
never really appreciate the full measure of what we possess.
And now our poet moves on, taking with him the intimacy
of the past decade, the transitions in our lives, and the
culmination of his own love. He begins anew the journey
to fill out the spaces in his own life, to seek his way in the world,
to continue to grow as a poet must if the poetry is to continue to flow.
Our own personal poet will be missed more than he can fathom.
His soft words, his wondrous wit, the joy on his face
whenever he looks upon and cares for the child he helped create.
The absence of his very being whose poetry has lit our lives will
leave a void as our lives continue on through time
Go forth young poet. Go forth as you must, as generations before you
have gone, as generations to come will follow. Your physical presence
will be missed though we know we will never lose touch with you and yours.
Move on young poet. Share your vision with those who up to now have not
been blessed with the beauty and impact of your words. Let others discover
the incredible soul that burns within you.
The light within our home will dim without you here.
But your voice will still be heard and your words
will transcend the distance that is coming between us.
And you must understand that no matter where you are,
you continue to be our personal poet; one who has
eternally engraved his presence in our hearts and souls.
© 1997, L.S.Cohen