Sunday, March 30, 2008

115,300 Fans in One Place – Batter Up!

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the Los Angeles Dodgers playing the San Diego Padres in the first Major League Baseball game ever played in China. In that post I also mentioned that Alicia and Seth were treating us to a game played yesterday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to commemorate the move of the Dodgers from Brooklyn 50 years ago.

We were there and, as it turned out, the official attendance for the game was an astounding 115,300 people who came to see an exhibition between the Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox. It was the largest crowd ever to see a major league game, another piece of baseball history. And, in truth, the day was more of a "happening" or a "spectacle" of which the actual baseball game was just one of several pieces.

Being intelligent or perhaps not knowing any better, we arrived at the coliseum at 12:00 noon, a full 7 hours before game time. That decision had as much to do with "beating the traffic" as it did with being there for the carnival-fair like atmosphere on the grounds. There were games to play for the kids, merchandise stands to spend on memorabilia, a stage from which there was entertainment and "surprises," a silent auction, book signings by former Dodgers Steve Garvey and Rick Monday, and (the pièce-de-resistance for diehard Dodger fans) an area where a rotating group of Dodger greats were signing autographs.

Among the diehards was Donna (who has tolerated The Ancient One's loyalty to the Detroit Tigers for more than 27 years) who waited patiently in line for over 3½ hours with Seth and friends to get autographs. When she reached the front of the line she collected signatures from Roger Craig, Tommy Davis, Jerry Reuss and Ken Landreaux. (True Dodger fans will recognize all 4 of those names. She would have liked to have met Duke Snider, who was signing when she joined the line but was just happy that her collection has grown so well.) The event meant so much to Donna for she remembers watching Dodger games in the Coliseum when they first came to L.A. and she was still in elementary school. Pictured below as they joined the autograph line are Donna with son Seth (on the left) and friend Patrick Smith.

I spent most of the afternoon walking and people watching. As it happened, at the time of the announced "surprise," I happened to be near the front of the stage with daughter Alicia. Several buses pulled up nearby and the crowd started roaring. From those buses came Dodger management and the entire Dodger and Red Sox teams; they went up on the stage and a lot of speeches were made. My favorite line was when new Dodger (and former Yankee) manager Joe Torre introduced Terry Francona, as manager of the "world champion Boston Red Sox" followed by the line, "I find that a lot easier to say now that I am in Los Angeles and out of New York." The crowd, of course, roared their approval!

Below is one of the pictures that I took of the folks who were on the stage. It is a "lucky picture" (from the many I took blindly by holding the camera high above my head and aiming in the general direction of the stage) mainly because I was able to crop out the little girl in front of me sitting on her father's shoulders. Those I immediately recognize as they head down from the stage are Tommy Lasorda, followed by pitcher Brad Penny and Dodger owner Frank McCourt in the white shirt and tie.

Finally, at 4:10 p.m. (still 3 hours before the first pitch) the gates to the Coliseum were opened and we could head to our seats, stopping for food along the way (before the lines got too long). As the stands filled, I wanted to offer pictures. I toyed with the idea of downloading shots from newspaper sites that showed the view from home plate looking out. But I decided to stay with what came from my own camera and the seat in which I was sitting, first just before the game would start and, second, as the Dodgers took the field and followed their tradition of autographing baseballs for children selected to follow them out to their positions:

There were long ceremonies before the game and between innings. Many presentations were made. One of those was a dedication of a placque to hang on the east portico of the Coliseum honoring longtime Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully, who started doing play-by-play announcing for the team while it was still in Brooklyn and continues on today. Vinnie, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, is generally recognized as the best that ever was. I say that with reverence because I have been blessed in my lifetime with also hearing the likes of Red Barber and Ernie Harwell. Below is a photo of the placque that I shot while it was shown on the jumbotron TV screen at our end of the field. Obviously from our seats, I couldn't get the real thing.

The game began, the Dodgers fell behind, and then rallied in the bottom of the 9th only to fall short and lose 7-4. But the game was almost incidental to the experience. And this was clearly the most festive crowd I have ever seen. The vagaries of playing baseball in a football coliseum lead to a left field line only 200 feat from home plate, about 125 less than in the smaller major league parks. To compensate for the short distance, a 60 foot fence was erected in left field. Fans wanted to see who could hit one over that fence and it happened twice on home runs by two first basemen, Kevin Youkilis of the Red Sox and James Loney of the Dodgers. The crowd went wild!

I'll share one more happening. As it happens, I am not a great admirer of "the Wave," that stadium phenomenon where fans in one section leap to their feet, raise there arms, scream and then sit down with the expectation that the fans in the adjoining section will follow suit and so on around the stadium. It gets its name from the wavelike appearance of the crowd and noise movement. Well, last night we had a group of exuberant young men sitting behind us. One of them, perhaps aided by the consumption of a fair amount of brew, decided that he would start the wave. And he tried, and he yelled and he cajoled. Good old Section 2 where we were sitting cooperated with his efforts, but our neighbors were slow to join in. But the young man was persistent; he moved down to aisle directly in front of us yelling, waving, shouting 1-2-3 and so on. Finally, there came a tipping point. (I hope Malcolm Gladwell will forgive me for use of the term here.) Another equally boisterous young fellow about 25 rows below us joined in as a leader urging on the patrons of the lower half of Section2. He was the tipping point. And suddenly the wave began.

Now this was no ordinary wave!! Once it started, it proceeded to circle the Coliseum a full 6 times. Even curmudgeonly old me was impressed. And being in a bowl like atmosphere (with no upper and lower decks like most baseball stadiums), it was truly a sight to see. It simply added to the fun everybody was having at this spectacular experience.

Well, the game ended and it was time to head home. I offer one more photo taken as we were leaving; one of the east entrance to the Coliseum which is always impressive but was more so because it was after dark and the Olympic Flame had been lit (and left burning) during one of the earlier ceremonies.

We had an easy exit because of where we were able to park and a relaxed end to a truly memorable day. Thank you Alicia and Seth for one of the best anniversary gifts we have ever received!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

In Sickness and In Health. . .

I'm in a bit of a daze at the moment and I find that I need to write about it. It began yesterday morning at 8:00 a.m. when the phone rang. When I answered, a familiar sounding voice announced, "Just wanted to let you know I'm having quadruple by-pass surgery in 30 minutes." The voice was that of my brother Andy in Houston. We talk maybe once or twice a year and this time he got my attention. The doctors had been after him for several years to have a single bypass but he kept putting them off. Yesterday he told me that he had was not given a choice this time and. . . Then he stopped, said someone had come into the room and that one of his sons would call me later and let me know how it went.

A few minutes later the phone rang again. This time it was a niece in Lansing, MI (my sister's daughter) calling to find out if I had heard about Andy's surgery. She had just heard from one of my brother's 3 daughters-in-law. Fran gave me a few more details and then said, "You do know that Sandy has been sick, don't you." My brother didn't have time to tell me that his wife has been hospitalized for some time with what we now know is MRSA, a virulent staph infection, and is in a different hospital than the one where he was having his surgery. Later, around noon, my Sister Bobby called from Detroit to fill me in on all that she knew. Later in the afternoon, I got an e-mail from Fran saying Andy was out of surgery and doing well. (That news had gone from Houston to the Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL area to Lansing to me. And I also got a call from Fran's brother Stave, my oldest nephew, in Arizona with the same news that he had gotten from Mike.

I was in a daze the rest of the day. I finally reached Mike, Andy's oldest son, late in the afternoon. He was able to tell me that the surgery went well. I started to tell him a few things to tell his dad that I learned when I had my bypass 3½ years ago and he stopped me saying, "Please, you tell that to Dad when you get a chance to talk to him!" I promised I would. Mike than filled me in on his mother's condition and the doctors' search for an antibiotic to which the infection would respond. He promised he would call me back today and fill us in on how both were doing.

Confusing, isn't it? But it does say something about our extended family. Although we are scattered all over the country, we make sure that the important news gets out ASAP. My brother has surgery in Houston and I hear from other family members in Michigan, Florida and Arizona. That's the way families are.

Last night I thought a lot about Andy and Sandy. They were high school sweethearts who were married when very young; I think they were both under 20 then. Most of the family felt they were too young and the union would never last. As it turns out, they had the best 1st marriage in our generation and have been married for 55 years!! Below is a copy of their wedding picture, followed by one taken at their 50th anniversary party:

Today, they continue their recoveries in separate hospitals. Andy and Sandy have always been there for each other in "sickness and in health." While they are not able to care for each other at the moment, I know that they both will recover well and thrive. Their long love for each other will provide them strength.

I will emerge from my daze gradually as I await further reports of recovery from their sons. Andy and Sandy are very much in my thoughts and prayers today.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

CCPT Sets 2008 Summer Season

It's been a while since I mentioned Culver City Public Theatre (CCPT), the company in which I am a member. Even though I haven't posted since the end of the 2007 season, we have been busy developing plans for the summer of 2008, our 10th year and the 22nd year of free outdoor theatre in Paul Carlson Park in Culver City. The season will open on July 19 and run through August 24. The selected plays with dates of performance are:

Children's Popcorn Theatre:

Sluefoot Sue and Pecos Bill – an original play by Heidi Dotson – 12:00 noon - July 19, 20, 26, 27, August 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23 and 24.

Main Stage Productions:

The Ideal Husband – by Oscar Wilde – 2:00 p.m. – July 19, 20, 26, 27, August 2 and 9.


To Kill a Mockingbird – based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Harper Lee; stage adaptation by Christopher Sergel. – 2:00 p.m. – August 9, 10, 16, 17, 23 and 24.

Open Auditions will be held Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday (May 14, 15 and 17) with Callbacks on Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday (May 20-21-22). Rehearsals begin June 2.

I first performed in Carlson Park in 1997. It is hard to explain the experience of performing outdoors with no amplification and competition from whatever else is going on in the park. The following photo, from the 2007 season gives a sense of what the performance area looks like from the back of the audience:

And, of course, The Ancient One gets in a little plug for himself with a photo from last year's production of Much Ado About Nothing in which he appeared as Dogberry (he's the one on the right in cape):

There will be much more on CCPT as the season approaches. If you are interested in outdoor summer theatre, stop by now and then. If you would like to be added to our mailing list, leave a comment or send an e-mail. "Summer time and the living is. . ."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Battle of the Ford Overpass - 1937

March 26, 1937 holds a place in the history of Detroit and the automobile industry as the day of The Battle of the Overpass (as described in the link to the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University). I write about this, even though it occurred 10 months before my birth) because of ties to my family.

Recently, when rummaging through old family photos, I came across several that were taken by my father 71 years ago today, March 23, 1937. They provide some visual evidence of the preparations for UAW (United Auto Workers) demonstrations going on at that time in their effort to unionize the assembly line workers at the Ford Motor Company. In scanning and posting these pictures, I leave dad's printed captions on them. I am not sure they are presented in the proper order but they do suggest the activities going on in the city in the days prior to the actual incident on the Miller Road pass.

As I recall from what I heard growing up, Richard Frankensteen, one of the UAW organizers beaten up that day by Ford "security personnel" was a client of my father's. About 12 years later, Walter Reuther, President of the UAW became a backyard neighbor of ours after an attempt on his life. I have fond memories of the Reuther's and their daughter. I remember the cherry tree in their back yard from which we were allowed to climb and gather fruit. I remember the security guards stationed at the house to protect against any further attacks on Reuther. As I grew older, I felt that, in a very small way, I had been part of the history of the UAW and its representation of the thousands of automobile workers in the Detroit area. Finding the pictures taken by my father brought back a lot of good memories from my childhood.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Wonderfully Staged Sweeney Todd

We saw the "revival" version of Sweeney Todd today at the Ahmanson Theatre. While I avoided the film version, this is the 4th staging of this "musical thriller" I have seen in the past 24 years. And this particular version is truly unique.

This production was directed by John Doyle, whose work is described on the TCG website as a "dazzling reinvention of a magnificent musical thriller—where the band of devilish characters are all musicians..." It was fascinating to watch as the actors, all of whom were on stage for the entire production, also provided the music with each member of the ensemble playing one or more instruments at some point in the play. The outstanding cast, pictured below, was headed by Judy Kaye as Mrs. Lovett and David Hess as Sweeney Todd.

As a sometimes actor myself, I was exhausted by the amount of work each of the company members carried out during the performance: acting, singing, providing music, moving set pieces, and on and on. Doyle's blocking was extremely intricate. It was almost like watching a human jigsaw puzzle being created and then rearranged over and over as the action was revealed to the audience. I can only imagine the amount of work that went into bringing such an intricate rendition of this great musical to life.

It was an extremely enjoyable afternoon at the theatre. Bravo to the director and cast!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Deep, But Not A Perfect, Storm

I just finished Lincoln Child's Deep Storm, a book that caught my eye while passing through the local Costco Warehouse store. It is billed accurately as a thriller, but in some ways it seems more like science fiction which is not one of my favored genres. The action takes place in "a top secret aquatic science facility," two miles below the ocean's surface. It is concealed by what appears to be an oil platform in the North Atlantic.

There is plenty of action. There is conflict between the military and scientific personnel and their differing goals as they drill down through the ocean floor toward. . . . I won't say what they are seeking; it would reveal too much about the plot line. Dr. Michael Crane is a likable, imaginative protagonist.

Suffice to say that this is an engaging, well told story. Parts of it are gripping. I enjoyed Deep Storm although it does not go high on my list of favorites; probably only 3 of 5 stars.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I Am Not Suffering. . .

I have a few pet peeves. One of them is the assumption many people make that if you have a chronic medical condition, you must be suffering. This has come to the surface a number of times recently.

A few days ago, I received a call from a representative of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) asking if I would take part in their "Friends and Family" campaign. They want to send me a package of materials and they ask that I send out a minimum of 10 letters with the materials in them to friends and family members asking them to make contributions to the Association and its efforts. I agreed to do so.

Then the woman asked me if anyone in my family had diabetes. I told her that I had Type 2 diabetes, to which she responded, "Oh, I am so sorry!" I assured her that there was no reason for her to be sorry, that I had been living an active life since being diagnosed about 18 years ago and that, for the most part, I maintained fairly tight glucose control through a combination of medication, diet and exercise. It seemed strange to me that someone calling me on behalf of the ADA, of which I am a member, would respond to me as if I must be suffering from a debilitating affliction.

Another example: I often participate in surveys over the internet. Invariably, when I check "diabetes" on the list of medical conditions I might have been diagnosed to have, the next question is: "How long have you suffered from diabetes?" Why do the researchers who write these survey instruments assume that people with diabetes suffer? Are they assuming that we don't consult doctors and, therefore, we do nothing to control our glucose levels? If that were the case, I guess I would suffer the consequences of being in denial and refusing to address the medical condition.

I wish I could say to the survey writers, "I don't suffer from diabetes, I live with it." Yes, I do without some foods that I would love to eat. Yes, I am always trying to lose a few more pounds. Yes, I regularly see an endocrinologist to determine whether my diet, exercise, medication regimen ought to be adjusted. But there really is absolutely nothing that I want to do in life that I cannot do because of diabetes. Really, I am not suffering!

Well, that's my rant for today. I have been thinking about this for some time. I don't understand how some people react. It seems to me that if you decide to continue to enjoy your life, you make the necessary adjustments and get on with it. And most of my friends who have chronic medical conditions are doing just that.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Peacock Out For A Stroll. . .

Stopped the car driving home today to take a couple of (cell phone) pictures of this colorful fellow strolling along the sidewalk.

He was truly a proud, handsome fellow. And he's even sporting a bit of the green in honor of St. Pat's day. Too bad the photo quality isn't better.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Baseball History is Being Made. . .

As I start writing this on the night of March 14, I am disappointed that I have been deprived of the opportunity to watch baseball history being made because of "technical difficulties." For once, the gremlins are not mine but those of a television feed fro China to the U.S.

It's only a pre-season exhibition game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres but it is being played in . . . Beijing. This is the first professional game ever played in China! And it was supposed to be aired at 10:00 p.m. PDT here in Los Angeles. But, alas, it is not being broadcast as promised. As it turns out, the game ended in a 3-3 tie and an account of it can be found here on

But this game has gotten me thinking about the changes in professional baseball in The Ancient One's lifetime. When I was born 7 decades ago, the Major Leagues had a total of 16 teams and all the players were white. Ten years later in 1948 Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier when he was brought up to the then Brooklyn Dodgers. Sixty years later, the Major Leagues have players from around the world. There are players from Aruba, Australia, Canada, Columbia, Cuba, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Taiwan and Venezuela. At the start of the 2007 season, 29% of all players on Major League rosters were born outside of the U.S.

As the new season approaches, Alicia and Seth are treating Donna and me to a special day. On March 29, we will be in the monstrous crowd watching the Dodgers play the Boston Red Sox in an exhibition game at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum where the Dodgers played when they moved here from Brooklyn (in 1955) and stayed until Dodger Stadium opened in 1957. What is most amazing about this nostalgic baseball setting is that over 90,000 tickets have been sold for this EXHIBITION GAME. And they are trying to find a way to add more seats to meet the demand for tickets.

And then the 2008 season will get under way for real. Go Dodgers! And, remembering my roots, Go Tigers!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Truly Machiavellian!

I had not read any of Allan Folsom's earlier novels before I picked up The Machiavelli Covenant. I am now a Folsom fan and will probably go back and read his previously published books.

The Machiavelli Covenant is truly a thriller and truly Machiavellian. While it is 690 pages long, I had a hard time putting it down.

The book's website included the following synopsis of the story line:

"For five hundred years, a despotic order of the supremely rich and powerful has kept a manuscript by political thinker Niccolo Machiavelli hidden away under heavy guard: The Covenant, a terrifying blueprint for the gaining and keeping of true political power. Bonded by complicity in ritual murder and dedicated to a singular vision of global domination, the group, guided by this document, has prospered far beyond any dreams of power and avarice.

"In Washington, DC, former LAPD rogue detective Nicholas Marten comes out of hiding to hunt down the killers of his childhood sweetheart. And in Europe, US President John Henry Harris flees for his life, afraid to trust anyone after a secret cabal within his own administration orders him to have the president of France and the chancellor of Germany assassinated. Harris joins forces with Marten and the beautiful but enigmatic French photo-journalist Demi Picard, and together they uncover the truth about the most powerful group the world has ever known. Outmanned, outnumbered, and outgunned, these three stand alone against the secrets and power of The Covenant."

I finished the book in a marathon reading session that ended about 2:00 a.m. I had to keep going! I had to know what happened next! I had to discover how it all ended! It is one of the best thrillers I have read, right to the final page. Even the ending of the epilogue was Machiavellian, leaving me wondering whether Folsom might be planning to write a sequel.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Evita at PVPHS

The first time I saw a musical directed by Jim Bell was over 20 years ago at Palos Verdes High School where he was then teaching. The production was of Sweeney Todd and, while it seemed ambitious for a high school cast, it was a phenomenal performance. We were there because a friend's son was playing in the band and I still remember how amazed I was at the level of talent on the stage.

Jim is still teaching high school drama, now at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School (PVPHS). While our children graduated from there long ago, we still see most of the plays and musicals because son Seth is the Technical Director. So, last Sunday afternoon we were in the audience for this year's production of Evita. Jim sure does like to challenge teenagers; this is a musical rarely done by high school drama programs.

I should point out that I am not a great fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber's music, but this was a fine production. For me, the highlight was Kirsten Chandler's choreography. While you often see talented girls dancing in high school shows, there always seems to be a lack of good movement among the boys. Not in this case! It was only the second time I can remember being mesmerized by the young men dancing in a musical production. They were outstanding and the choreography was imaginative and challenging.

Normally I don't like to single out individual actors when the entire cast does so well. But Jake Tieman in the role of Ché held the production together. I don't recall seeing him before this performance in which he demonstrated an outstanding stage presence as well as a fine voice. And I am going to mention one other cast member. Zach Barryte's family lives across the street from us. We have been friends with his entire family for many years and have watched Zach grow up. As a result, I noticed him more than I did most of the other ensemble members and was very impressed with the maturity of his onstage movement and how well he stayed in character throughout the performance.

It was truly an enjoyable afternoon and, once again, it was a pleasure seeing a Jim Bell directed production!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Interfaith Discovery Through Music

Here on the Palos Verdes Peninsula (and environs), we are fortunate to have the Dawn Unity Group, an interfaith organization that seeks to "find common ground for interfaith understanding at the local level." The participants are drawn from many congregations of faith in the region; Christian, Jewish, Islamic. This year has Dawn Unity has sponsored Interfaith Discover Series VII with a series of 4 interesting, provocative sessions.

Last night I attended the 3rd of this year's gatherings at the Rolling Hills United Methodist Church with the stated topic of "Easter and Passover Music." This is the 2nd year that music has been the focus of one of the Dawn Unity meetings and, like last year, the evening featured 3 choirs: 1) Rolling Hills United Methodist Church, directed by Charles Dickerson; 2) St. John Fisher Catholic Church, directed by Grant Hungerford; and 3) Congregation Ner Tamid, directed by Cantor Sam Radwine. I also had a personal reason for attending; Donna has been a member of the Ner Tamid choir since it was first formed by Cantor Radwine.

The voices were magnificent. As each choir took its turn, the director offered commentary and explanation which allowed us to put the music in a broader denominational context. And, the wonderful acoustics of the Rolling Hills Methodist sanctuary added to the quality of the aural experience. I tried to get some pictures but, as so often happens for me, the quality was very uneven. So I offer just one photograph; the three choirs jointly singing the evening's finale:

It was truly an uplifting evening!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Gremlins Strike Again. . .

There I was, a few minutes ago, doing a final read through before uploading a post about the wonderful concerts performed in Redondo Beach last week by Charlotte Diamond. She enthralled 2,400 preschool age children and their teachers. I was feeling good about what I had written and looked forward to sharing it with those who happened by.

And then the gremlins attacked! The computer froze. The saved copy of the file simply disappeared. The working copy could not be opened; all attempts to do so yielded a message that the file was "corrupt." How could that be?

Once again the technology reminds me that I am less in control than I think I ought to be. I don't know if I can recreate the post. It is getting late and I am tired.

As I say whenever the gremlins strike: Arghhhhhh!!!!!!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

More Signs of Spring – Banners 6

Yesterday I saw the flowers as I walked along the way. Today, an equally sunny and warm day, I raised my up eyes up from the ground and saw more signs of spring. The winter banners (or flags, if you will) were gone. In there place were lighter, brighter colors welcoming the spring.

Again I had my camera with me and offer the following as seen in my neighborhood:

And in honor of old St. Patrick and his soon to arrive day:

That's it for today. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Spring Has Sprung. . .

What a magnificent morning. Bright, warm sunshine greeted me for my morning walk through the neighborhood. All I could think of were the two lines I remember from an old jungle:

"Spring has sprung.

The flowers has ris…"

Fortunately, I had my camera with me. As I snapped pictures, I thought that maybe I could cheer up my blogging friend Eric Valentine who was bemoaning the length and severity of winter in his Ontario environs. I also thought once again about how lucky I am to be living in southern California at this time of year.

So below I offer perhaps too many pictures from this mornings walk. After the first one of 2 grapefruit resting on a wall, the rest are all floral and require no editorial comments.


These Old Bones. . .

I have never really had a sense of my own age. Having spent my professional life on college campuses, I think I always pictured my self as being younger than I really am. And my life has stayed active since I retired from higher education and continued doing some consulting and, of course, expanded my acting both on stage and in the background on film and TV.

But every now and then my body reminds me that I'm not as young as I would like to think I am. A few long days strung together and these old bones start to creak and moan and tell me to slow down. That's what happened to me earlier this week.

I was out of the house on Wednesday before 8:00 a.m. to work with one of my clients, Ronnie Silverstone of Bubble Rock Productions, at a pair of Charlotte Diamond concerts for a combined audience of 2400 preschool age children at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. (I'll be posting separately on this experience in a day or three.) By the time we were finished, packed up, and had a mid-afternoon lunch, I returned home for an hour or two before heading to Culver City for the monthly Culver City Public Theatre (CCPT). I was back home at a reasonable 9:30 p.m. but I was exhausted.

Thursday was equally busy, leaving at 7:30 a.m. for a dental appointment followed by my quarterly visit to the endocrinologist. Then back home, quick lunch and off to Hebrew Union College (near the USC campus) where, thanks to a recommendation by my daughter, I was a guest lecturer in a graduate seminar on the topic of preparing grant proposals. (I spent about half of my professional years directing pre-award grants offices on college campuses.) This was the first of 2 visits with this class and it really felt good to be back in front of a classroom again. But, by the time I got home, the old bones were really complaining.

Yesterday, I did get to my regular workout at the cardiac rehab center, back home, lunch, off to the podiatrist for my annual diabetic foot examination, run some errands, on to Ronnie's house to complete follow-up to the Wednesday concerts. Finally back home in mid-afternoon where I collapsed on the bed for a long, deep nap.

This morning, these old bones are still complaining and I do hope that I can maintain the weekend as a restful one. I mention all this because my body is reminding me that I do have some physical limitations. I like to tell people that I feel young until I get out of the bed in the morning and try to start moving while my body says, "Slow down old boy, you can't do it all any more." Yes, the pace of life is slowing down a bit with age but I'm an optimistic kind of guy. I'm having a lot more fun now than I did when I always burned the candle at both ends and faced a lot of daily work-related stress.

And now I get clear warning signs if I am overdoing it. These old bones remind me in no uncertain terms!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

When An Appeal Is Not All That Appealing

I just finished reading John Grisham's latest novel, The Appeal. Like all his books, it moves along quickly and is a relatively easy read. But, for me, it just was not that appealing.

Early on, I felt that Grisham was writing to a formula that covered an interesting trial and then would move on to a decision on appeal that would be satisfying in spite of all the roadblocks along the way. My problem is that I am sort of a Pollyanna; I like murder mysteries to be solved and legal thrillers to have happy endings. And that is what I expected of The Appeal. However, as the story unwound, it turned out to be less about trials and courts and the legal system and more about how electoral politics can be corrupted by too much money derived from questionable, but well hidden, sources. In the end, it was the result of an election that determined the outcome of the appeal.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the book and found it entertaining. I was just disappointed that it didn't have that special quality that I remember from many of Grisham's earlier efforts.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Sentinel Standing Guard

Every now and then, the imagination runs wild. For instance, while out walking the other morning, I saw this denuded eucalyptus (I think) tree in front a house along the way.

In my mind's eye, all I could think of was a sentinel standing guard and watching all of us who passed on by. Yes, that house is well protected. Hmmm!