Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Ancient One Dances in Brooklyn

Yesterday was wonderful. Granddaughter Jolee did a magnificent job on her Bat Mitzvah day. She was articulate, eloquent and beautiful. The synagogue service was most enjoyable and the Hawaiian themed party last night was joyful and fun. Wonderful memories will be carried away and more will be written about the day in the future.

One unusual happening at the party last night was the sight of The Ancient One dancing with Donna. Son Seth recorded the event by grabbing the camera and capturing his parents gliding (?) along the dance floor. Thanks Seth!

Now on to our last full day of celebration with all the children and grandchildren here in Bay Ridge. . .

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Random Views in NYC

Donna and The Ancient One have completed the first 2 full days of their visit to New York. These were the try to "see things days" prior to the "family event days" beginning tomorrow. The highlight of the visit will be the Bat Mitzvah of granddaughter #1 on Saturday.

Yesterday was spent in "the City," more specifically in midtown Manhattan. After lunch with son Bill (father of the Bat Mitzvah girl), we wandered and walked and walked and wandered leading up to the evening's highlight, a wonderful performance of Altar Boyz. A few pictures were taken, 2 of which are offered here. First, a kind stranger shot a photo of The Ancient One and Donna just after their ride on the Merry-Go- Round in Bryant Park. (Those who know her will truly appreciate that Donna is astride a frog, rather than a horse):

Then, as we wandered up 5th Avenue, we spotted the spires of St Patrick's Cathedral and decided to stop by for a visit. In this picture I sort of like the juxtaposition of this great edifice with the glass high rise behind it.

Today we wandered through the area where son Bill and family live and where our hotel is located, the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn. We did have some good food and visited a lot of stores and The Ancient One took just one photo along the way. It is of a rather common stone urn on the porch of a home on 86th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenue. Why this picture? Well, there were 2 flower urns just like it in front of the house in which The Ancient Grew did much of his growing up, on Chicago Boulevard in Detroit (ages 7-21 from 1945 to 1959). It just hit me when I saw it and the photo became necessary.

And the day ended on a high note as The Ancient One was surrounded by Donna, all 3 of his children and both of his granddaughters this evening at the Brooklyn Cohen's residence in Bay Ridge. The next few days will surely bring forth many tears of joy. This is one of those wonderful weeks we occasionally get to experience to the fullest extent possible.

Such are the random thoughts and views of the first part of our visit.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

YCTIWY Portrait – CCPT 2009

Here is a portrait of most of the cast members (mugging for the camera) in the Culver City Public Theatre (CCPT) production of You Can't Take It With You which closes with 2 final performances on Saturday and Sunday, August 1-2 at 2:00 p.m. in Paul Carlson Park:

Seated in front is Grandpa Martin Vanderhof (The Ancient One); leaning on his knee is Mr. Di Pinna (J.T. Moyé)

The row behind him L/R: Kolenkhov (Robert Kane), Essie (Hilary Chen), Alice (Katrina Straub), Penny (Donna Donnelly) and Rheba (Megan Beasley)

Back row L/R: Ed (John Glass), Tony (Kenny Seliger), Paul (Clyde FT Small), Donald (Jonathan Sherman) and Mr. Kirby (Jacques Freydont)

Missing from the photo, but equally important to the cast, are: Henderson/Mac (J-Man) (John Gutterman), Gay Wellington/Grand Duchess Olga Katrina (Laura Boccaletti), Mrs. Kirby (Melissa Skirboll), J-Man (Kamel Dickinson) and Jim (J-Man) (Chris Bonanno)

The Ancient One thanks Director John Glass for casting him in this wonderful play with such a talented cast. Thanks also to Assistant Directors Michele Howden & Elaine Russell, the "world's best" Stage Manager Suze Campagna, special effects master Paul Porter and Producer Milton Chen. What a great production team!!

As we draw this run to a close, all I can think of are the words of Grandpa, uttered 3 times in the play in totally different contexts, "WELL, WELL, WELL!"

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Where Have All the Peafowl Gone?

A few years back there was a nasty political fight in the neighborhood over the number of peafowl gracing our streets, lawns, rooftops, yards, etc. It seemed that people either loved these regal birds or hated them. The Ancient One fell in the "love 'em" category. Yes, I know they are loud, almost like a baby crying in the night. Yes, I hear neighbors complain about how messy they are and how destructive they are of plant life. Well, my garden hasn't suffered and, quite frankly, I find the flocks of crows to be far messier.

Anyway, the fight went all the way to the City Council and an ordinance was passed that allowed for a "thinning out" of the flock. The city, apparently, would supervise the trapping of peafowl and shipping them off to what was described as a "sanctuary" in Colorado. The peafowl population dropped and neighbors started being pleasant to each other again.

But since that happened, the flock has been growing. This past Spring it was larger than I had ever seen and The Ancient One just knew that the fight would start again. This time, maybe because there were so many peafowl about, there was no public fight. Even I had to admit that it might be wise to "thin out" the flock a bit. And sure enough, while not becoming major news, there were references in the local weekly that the City Council had passed a couple of ordinances. One made it a crime, a misdemeanor I'm sure, for citizens to feed the birds. The other provided for the trapping and shipping of the birds in order to reduce the crop. This, by the way, raised a question in The Ancient One's simple mind. How were the peafowl lured into the traps? Was food placed inside these cage like structures to entice them? If so, were city employees breaking the law by feeding peafowl? Or, as agents of the government, were they exempt from the provisions of the anti-feeding regulations?

Anyway, this program must have been carried out successfully. Although I saw no public announcement about the "trap them and ship them" campaign, almost overnight peafowl disappeared. Only a few remain like this lonely peacock I spotted the other day:

In addition, I have seen only 2 or 3 peahens, one of whom had 3 of the smallest peachicks (Is that the right word?) I have ever seen with her. The disappearance of so many peafowl has made The Ancient One wonder if the goal was to eliminate the flock rather than just thin it out. In the absence of a public outcry, I guess I'll never know.

At least a few of these beloved birds remain in the neighborhood. And when they are spotted, they will continue to bring a smile to The Ancient One's face.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

CCPT 2009 Season – Weekend 1

What a week it was! The final dress rehearsals and then into Carlson Park for the opening weekend of Culver City Public Theatre's (CCPT) 2009 season. A bit of drama on the opening day when there were problems getting power for the sound system. Finally, everything was up and running 20 minutes before "curtain."

The weekend opened with the CCPT Children's Popcorn Theatre production of Aunt Fondeen and the Lost Dutchman Goldmine (written by Heidi Dotson, a CCPT member of several years. The audience loved it both days. Only 2 pictures are offered here (with apologies to all cast members not pictured).

Harold (Stefan Tabencki) and Aunt Fondeen (Osa Danam) riding off in Betsy Hacklebarney

Crazy Walt (Kamel Dickinson) and P. Pierpoint Ragright (Josh Gren)

The main stage production of Kaufman and Hart's You Can't Take It With You, directed by John Glass followed. It also was greeted by an appreciative audience that was entertained by both the antics on the stage and the special effects emanating from back stage. Since The Ancient One was in the cast, Milton Chen graciously agreed to take pictures, 2 of which follow (with a plan to bring forth more at a later date).

Grandpa (The Ancient One) with Ed (John Glass) and Essie Hilary Chen) Carmichael

Penny (Donna Donnelly), Tony (Kenny Seliger), Mr. De Pinna (J.T. Moye) and Grandpa

All in all it was a truly wonderful weekend with a combined audience of about 240. Now on to the rest of the season. And, of course, a shameless plug: Information can be found at .

Sunday, July 12, 2009

6 Days and Counting (CCPT)

Only 6 days until the opening of Culver City Public Theatre's (CCPT) 2009 season. The Ancient One will be appearing as Grandpa Martin Vanderhof in You Can't Take It With You, a Pulitzer Prize winning comedy by Hart and Kaufman.

The Tech Weekend in Carlson Park went well. We actually completed a complete run through of the play today and it felt good. The Ancient One has really enjoyed working with such a talented cast and feels that the 3 weekend, 6 performance run will be a success. Now we just have our final 4 rehearsals to polish the performance, costumes and (numerous) props and we will be ready for those wonderful audiences that appear in Culver City's Carlson Park every summer.

You Can't Take It With You goes up every Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. starting July 18 and closing August 2. It will be preceded at noon each performance day by the CCPT Children's Popcorn Theatre production of Aunt Fondeen and the Lost Dutchman Goldmine, another 1 hour play written by Heidi Dotson. Aunt Fondeen. . . will continue for 3 additional weekends (August 8 -23). On those dates it will be followed by Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer.

For additional information, go online and visit The Ancient One looks forward to seeing at Carlson Park this summer. Be sure to say hello!

Monday, July 6, 2009

It Was the 4th That Was

We had a relaxing, and somewhat different, 4th of July this year that was a lot of fun, brought back some old memories and led The Ancient One to some thoughts about Independence and Freedom.

Of course, the morning walk took precedence and it was a beautiful day without the "marine layer" that seems to have been hanging over the peninsula for so long. A special treat came about because the city of Palos Verdes Estates moved their 4th of July Celebration from Malaga Cove to the grounds of Lunada Bay School. This resulted in a panoramic overview along the morning's route. (Unfortunately, the camera was not in hand). While my vantage point was from well above the site and from afar, the crowd and lines of flags could be seen. And voices carried well on the morning air as I listened to a young woman singing My Country Tis of Thee. . . and heard a couple of the orators holding forth.

Later in the day we joined some friends who were staying at the new, recently opened Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, less than 6 miles from our home. It was pleasant walking the grounds as Jim and Diane gave us the grand tour and then enjoying a wonderful dinner in one of the many restaurants before returning to our own home. It was at Terranea that old memories came flooding back.

This new resort is built on the land that was Marineland many years ago. When Alicia and Seth were pre-school age (she'll be 28 later this month and he's 26) we had season tickets to Marineland. We would often pack a picnic lunch and spend an hour or two there, generally seeing one of the shows (Orky and Corky were the resident performing killer whales) and always stopping by the marine hospital that cared for wounded sea life (especially sea lions), nursed them back to health and returned them to the ocean just below the cliffs. That was the pleasant part of the memories. The less than pleasant part came when the company that owned Sea World in San Diego bought Marineland and then suddenly shut it down, marked by the spiriting away of the many sea animals in the middle of the night. Folks around here have never quite gotten over that bit of corporate chicanery. It's nice to have this sparkling new resort but it isn't the same.

At various points during the day and evening, The Ancient One's thoughts turned to the meaning of the 4th of July, reflections on independence and freedom and what is happening in the world today. Now I appreciate the flying of the flag, the wearing of lapel pins and all the patriotic speeches as much as anyone. But they are only the out trappings of freedom and patriotism. When I look at the level of intolerance around me in this country it seems that there is a disconnect between the outward symbols of patriotism and what so many of our citizens believe. Some examples.

When referenda are passed that take rights away from a minority of citizens, we hear that it must be honored because we are a democracy based upon majority rule. But those majoritarians forget the other half of the democratic principle that guarantees inalienable rights to everyone, including minorities, regardless of what the majority wants. The drafters of our constitution added a Bill of Rights for that reason although it took a long time for that ideal to start to take hold and it generally has been the judiciary that has had to take on the mantle of defining and protecting minority rights.

The Ancient One is similarly puzzled when our citizens and some political leaders insist that it is our destiny to impose their definition of democracy on other countries and cultures. It seems to me that the heart of America's own fight for independence was to reject having someone else's system of governing imposed on us. Our earliest settlers escaped persecution and came to a land where they could live their lives within their own belief systems. In a line in the play You Can't Take It With You, Grandpa tells his granddaughter, "who says that they're right and we're wrong." I might add that the reverse is equally true, "Who says that we're right and they're wrong."

The essence of America ideally is tolerance, respect for others and their way of life. We believe in freedom. I remember an old saying that "one man's freedom ends when his fist reaches another man's nose." It seems to The Ancient One that this should apply to other countries as well. We no more have the right to impose our system on other nations than they have in trying to impose their systems on us. The ability to live together in a complex world and respect those whose beliefs are different than ours is the essence of patriotism.

Okay, time to get off my soapbox and get back to my daily life.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

You Can’t Take It With You at CCPT

The Culver City Public Theatre's (CCPT) 2009 season opens July 18 in Carlson Park. The Ancient One has been in rehearsal in the role of Grandpa In Hart and Kaufman's, You Can't Take it With You, a delightfully raucous comedy first staged on Broadway in 1936.

This story is about a family whose members just want to live their lives in their own way without bothering anybody else. There's Martin Vanderhof (aka Grandpa), his daughter Penny and her husband Paul Sycamore, their daughters' Alice and Essie (who is married to Ed Carmichael). There's also an assortment of other characters, some who live in the house and some who don't.

The Ancient One is doing his best to get "off-book" as the Grandpa and enjoys both the richness of the character and the opportunity to play an age-appropriate character. There aren't a lot of really wonderful curmudgeons out there, but Grandpa certainly is one.

For the moment, the only photo being offered is one of the family taken at a recent rehearsal.

L-R: Grandpa (The Ancient One), Penny (Donna Donnelly), Paul (Clyde Little), Alice (Katrina Straub), Ed (John Glass) and Essie (Hilary Chen)

You Can't Take it With You is one of the funniest American plays ever written and is guaranteed to provide an afternoon of fun and hilarity. The Ancient One will look for friends in the audience. So come and enjoy free theatre this summer in Culver City.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Clearing Brush in Palos Verdes

As The Ancient One reached a turnaround point on one of his walks last week, something looked quite different. He gazed down canyon at the end of a cul-de-sac and was greeted with this view:

What were all those white spots? Aging eyes weren't quite sure but he was sure that some of them were sprouting legs. With the help of the modest zoom feature on his camera and the editing capabilities on the computer, the view became a bit more clear and focused. A "modern" of clearing the brush had come to Palos Verdes in an effort to protect against brush fires.

Yes, those are goats. A herd of them had been transported into the canyon to feed themselves to distraction. They were consuming, and thereby clearing away, the heavy brush. I guess that even with transportation costs, using goats to prevent brush fires is far faster and less expensive than employing human labor.

A modern solution to a potentially serious hazard!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Wall of Fire. . .

Well, not really! Just a wall of bushes with brilliant red blossoms that I have been passing on my daily walk.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Reunion and its Consequences

We were in San Diego for 4 days for a Brenner family reunion. Relatives were there from Missouri, Florida and across southern California. Part of the reunion was a celebration of Sy's 87th birthday. It was a wonderful long weekend even though there was less than an hour of sunshine the whole time.

Like any good family reunion, most of the activity was carried out in the midst of food. Dinner Friday at Harbor House in Seaport Village, Saturday night at the Jamacha Grille in El Cajon, Sunday brunch at our hotel with deli brought in from D.Z. Akin's, and a serendipitous dinner Sunday night at Brian's Eatery in downtown San Diego. Food, food and more food! Talk, talk and more talk! Memories galore. Remembering places and people long forgotten.

Oh, was it fun. Oh, was the food good. Do you think The Ancient One's cardiologist will believe him when he says that he really lost weight over the past three months . . . but then gained 8 pounds just by attending a family reunion? Well, we'll see what happens at this afternoon's appointment.

I mean, how can you go to a family reunion and not overeat? It's part of a full life. You understand, don't you Doctor?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Just Ducky

There wasn't much sunshine yesterday but the ducks frolicking in the pond at Seaport Village in San Diego caught my camera's eye.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Visitor #9000

The 9000th visitor to The Ancient One stopped by about 11:15 p.m. PDT last night. Not positive who it was but the hit came from the Denver, CO area and was the result of a Google search on the name of a good friend of ours whose son lives in that vicinity.

If that was you David, thanks for being #9000.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Data Lost. . .and Found

This is a true fable in the life of The Ancient One. It is a fable of the age of technology in which we live and how precarious data are.

The story begins a few weeks ago when Donna could not find her Palm Tungsten E2. She looked for it for several days to no avail; it was gone. As it happened, she was not happy with her current cell phone and was eligible for one of those special deal upgrades that the various providers of mobile service offer their loyal customers. So off she went and got a great deal on a Palm Centro. Now she had a combination phone/PDA and could HotSync all her data from her Palm Desktop (which she did).

As often happens, a few days after getting her new phone/PDA, Donna found the lost PDA. It also happens that my Palm Tungsten T/X had gone berserk; while I could HotSync it with the desktop, I couldn't bring up the screens. I would touch the appropriate spot on its little screen and it would act as if I touched another part of the screen. The Ancient One thought that it would be nice to get a Centro too but he is not eligible for a special deal until next January. But Donna said he could have her E2 if that would help. Of course it would. But, whenever he tried to HotSync it with his desktop, it refused to do so. Once an identity has been established on a Palm PDA, you can't just change it even though you can have several identities on the desktop.

Then The Ancient One had a brilliant idea. He would do what is called a "hard reset" on the E2, wiping it clean so he could then set it up in his identity with his data. Fair enough. But he also did a couple of other things that turned out to be less than smart. First, he thought he would try to resurrect his T/X by doing a hard reset on it, which he did. However, while that wiped the PDA clean, it did not solve the problem of the device thinking that it was being poked at distance locations on the screen from where it was being tapped. So he declared the T/X dead and got ready to HotSync his desktop to the E2.

Now here is where it gets really stupid! Before starting the HotSync, The Ancient One looked at the Palm website and found that there was an updated version of the desktop available for downloading. We all know that with technology newer is better. Right? Well, not necessarily. He downloaded the new software and installed it. It easily replaced the earlier version. Then he moved on to carry out the HotSync only to discover that there were no data to move from the desktop to the handheld. ALL THE DATA WERE GONE!

So, for the past week-and-a-half, The Ancient One has been searching for his data. He knew that the address book, datebook, and memo and notepads were somewhere on his computer. But, oh my, they were hidden well and he had nightmares about how long it was going to take to rebuild those data files. Finally, this afternoon he got lucky and found the files. It took a couple of hours but he did figure out how to transfer all those hidden backup files on to the new Palm Desktop and eventually was able to HotSync them with the handheld.

And just in time too! The next doctors' appointments are coming up in the next couple of weeks and The Ancient One really didn't want to call the various offices and try to explain why he had no idea when the appointments were.

As with all good fables, this one had a happy ending and The Ancient One is smiling again. : - D

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Election Day?

Today was Election Day in California. . .and hardly anybody noticed! With the exception of a handful of contests to fill vacant offices around the state, the primary purpose for voters was to decide on 6 statewide propositions supported by the Governor and legislative leaders. A "Yes" vote was supposed to address the State's enormous deficit and avoid greater shortfalls and further reductions in state programs.

It was a curious campaign. There were few TV commercials; I guess that was a blessing. The Governor occasionally was seen claiming that layoffs and program reductions would result from a no vote. The Governor voted by emergency absentee ballot before he headed off to Washington, D.C. to attend a press conference in the Rose Garden today. I had trouble finding much information on the election in today's newspapers; I think it was on page 3 of the Los Angeles Times. While I felt no great enthusiasm for the election, I did vote this afternoon and had very little wait in a very short line at the polling place. Last I heard estimated turnout was about 8% of the registered voters in the state.

But my cynicism took hold in this election. I actually believe that when the Governor threatened more layoffs of state workers and more program reductions, he wanted voters to vote know so he could blame what he wanted to do on the ballot box rather than himself and the legislature. When the first news show I turned on tonight did not report on the election results until 15 minutes had passed in the broadcast (an aftershock of last Sunday's earthquake was the lead story), it reflected that "we don't give a damn" attitude that seems to permeate the state. Yes, the elected leaders of the great progressive state of California proposed more tax increases and a lot of gobbledygook and said that they expected people who were already suffering from the economy to buy it. But I think they wanted us to vote no and it appears we did; in the early returns the NO votes exceeded 60%. It seems that one proposition is going to pass. Among other things, that one will stop salary payments to state political leaders when there is a budget deficit (or something like that).

I can hear the Governor and legislative leaders as I write this. When they decimate our schools and needed services, I can hear them saying, "The voters left us no choice." I am saddened by the total lack of leadership in what historically has been a progressive state.

These are the views held tonight by The Ancient One who generally has had a relatively positive view of those who hold political office through his 71+ years on this planet. It is a sad day in California, not because it appears that 5 of the 6 propositions failed but because the absence of leadership led to their being on the ballot in the first place.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

All Shook Up

It was just about an hour ago, about 8:45 p.m. PDT. I was walking down the hallway in our house. I heard a noise, like something falling. Then there was a jolt followed by a few seconds of violent shaking.

As was confirmed via "Breaking News" on the TV a few minutes later, it was an earthquake. Its magnitude was 5.0. And more important to us, the epicenter was in the Hawthorne/Lennox area, only about 15 miles from our home. Fortunately, nothing appears to have been damaged in our home. I did find one table clock that tipped over on its face, but that's it. Not even a power surge.

All is quiet now. But we are alert, waiting to see if there are any aftershocks that might be felt here. I grew up in tornado country. And although I have been through about a half dozen shakers since moving to the Los Angeles area, they still scare me more than the twisters ever did. For Donna, the California native, it's just the opposite.

And soon to bed. Just another day here in southern California.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

CCPT 2009 Season

Culver City Public Theatre (CCPT) has announced its 2009 summer season and The Ancient One is excited. Please treat this post as a blatant advertisement for CCPT's upcoming season.

Here's the line-up:

Children's Popcorn Theatre

Aunt Fondeen and the Lost Dutchman Goldmine
Written by Heidi Dotson
Directed by Sharon Savene
Saturdays & Sundays from July 18th-August 23rd at 12pm

Main Stage Productions

You Can't Take It With You
Written by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart
Directed by John Glass
Saturdays & Sundays from July 18th-August 2nd at 2pm

She Stoops to Conquer
Written by Oliver Goldsmith
Directed by Alex Wells
Saturdays & Sundays from August 8th-August 23rd at 2pm

All shows are presented admission free at Dr. Paul Carlson Memorial Park ON THE CORNER OF Braddock and Motor in Culver City, CA 90232.

For those interested, auditions are scheduled for: May 13 & 14, 7:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. and Saturday, May 16, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. at The Veterans Memorial Complex, 4117 Overland Avenue in Culver City (the corner of Overland and Culver Blvd.) You will be asked to do a 2-minute monologue of your choosing OR one provided to you from the play scripts. Please bring 4 headshots.

Okay, that's the ad for the season. It's going to be a very enjoyable one with much hilarity in all the productions. The Ancient One hopes to see some of you in the L.A. area at next week's auditions.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Enumerating Colors – Banners 17

Well, The Ancient One's job as an enumerator for the Census Bureau is over. The crew he was on completed canvassing addresses in their assigned areas in less than 6 weeks, far less than the 10 weeks allotted for the task. The credentials and hand held computer have been returned to the government.

Completing this temporary part-time job is not all bad. My legs are very happy to not be spending any more 6-hour work days climbing up and down the hills of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. And this job ended just in time for me to take on a short consulting gig with a long time client of mine.

Since the canvassing took The Ancient One outside of his own neighborhood, he was able to view many flags and banners he had not previously come across. Three of them are now offered up as examples of the colors seen along the enumerating way.

Now on to look for other earning adventures. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Remembering Bea Arthur (1922 – 2009)

I met Bea Arthur on January 31, 2004 at the James Armstrong Theatre in Torrance, CA where she had performed in her Tony nominated show Just Between Friends. It was a wonderful evening and was, in part, a benefit for the South Bay Conservatory and its scholarship program.

After the performance, Ms. Arthur graciously came out to the lobby to give autographs and chat with audience members. As I waited in line, I could hear those ahead of me telling her how much they loved her work, usually mentioning either Maude or Golden Girls. When I reached the head of the line and handed her my Playbill (pictured above with her autograph), I mentioned that my favorite line of hers came from the 1970 movie Lovers and Other Strangers where she played the role of Bea Vecchio, a stereotypical Italian mother. At the wedding of one of her sons in the film, another son and his wife told her that they were getting a divorce. She kept asking why and finally they said simply that it was because they were not happy. Her reply was, "You should never look for happiness, it will only make you miserable." I saw that movie at a particularly low moment in my own life and that comment truly lifted my spirits.

I would like to think that Ms. Arthur appreciated someone remembering a performance of hers other than those most often associated with her career. She did laugh when I quoted the line and she mentioned having fun doing that movie. Some 34 years after I had seen Lovers and Other Strangers, she once again brought a smile to my face. That evening in 2004 was magical. I will cherish Bea Arthur's memory and the joy she brought to all of us who saw her perform whether on stage, TV or film.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bright Colors on a Dreary Day

Yesterday was dark and bleak as I went out for my morning walk. It was quite a contrast from the sun and heat of the beginning of the weak. Suddenly, my eyes were assaulted with brilliant flowery colors. I took just one photo that represents what I saw.

Ah, those roses certainly brightened an otherwise dreary day. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Views of the Bridge

I'm finally getting some time to post photos from the trip back east we took earlier this month. The day before coming home, we visited Older Son (aka BillyBlog), Melanie and granddaughters Jolee and Shayne in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn. I may even post some pictures of them later. But today, I only offer up 2 views of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. (I think that's the correct name. . .or was at one time.)

The first was taken when Bill and I went out for a walk in the rain. I believe we stopped at Shore Drive.

The 2nd was taken from their living room window after the rain stopped.

Enjoy! More soon. . .

Monday, April 20, 2009

Peafowl Escorts

The past few days of my address canvassing for the 2010 census have been in my own neighborhood. This morning, a number of the peafowl seemed to be escorting me as I moved from house to house in their territory. The following 2 photos were the best that I could get.

Aren't they beautiful?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

More Everyman the Musical

Well, the first weekend of Everyman the Musical is over at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) and there is one more week to go. Finally, a few pictures can be offered for view. They were taken by Tom Marinello, a fine photographer, who has taken pictures at most of the CSUDH theatre productions for several years. The full set of his Everyman photos can be found at

First is a picture of the full cast (with The Ancient One at the top right) Notice especially the great costumes/makeup of the Calacas (front):

Next are the "blatant self-promotion" photos of The Ancient One in his 2 roles (the god Yahweh and Knowledge in full academic regalia):

The gods are (l-r): Zeus (Barry Maxwell), Yemaja (Joyce Johnson), Yahweh, Quetzacotl (Percival Arcibal), Ms. Hamid [special assistant to Allah] (Shonni Albritton) and Saraswati (Alexandra Clark)

(l-r) Beauty (Natalie Hickman), Knowledge, Greediness (Barry Maxwell) and EveryWoman (Dre'a Courtney)

Now, resting up through Wednesday, a brush-up rehearsal on Thursday and the final 3 performances Friday-Sunday. CSUDH University Theatre, 1000 E. Victoria Street, Carson, CA 90747. Box Office: 310-243-3589.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Everyman the Musical

The Ancient One is flying tonight. He just got home from the world premiere performance of Everyman the Musical at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). The script is based on the 15th century play Everyman. A project of the Dominguez Bridge Theatre Company, It was written by Bill DeLuca, with music included, to include recognition of the good work carried out by community organizations throughout the South Bay of Los Angeles County.

This is a special play for The Ancient One. He performs 2 roles; Yahweh (one of the gods) in Act I and Knowledge (a professor) in one of the 3 Act IIs. After the first act, the audience is divided into separate groups that rotate between each of the 2nd acts before returning to the main theatre for Act III. It is made more special being directed by Naomi Buckley whom The Ancient One met on this same stage in his first acting performance ever in A Shayna Maidel in 1994; Naomi was a first semester freshman at the time and they have performed together in 3 other plays since then.

Everyman the Musical continues at the CSUDH University Theatre (1000 E. Victoria Street, Carson, CA) April 18, 24 and 25 at 8:00 p.m. and April 26 at 2:00 p.m.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Opening Day at Chavez Ravine

Thanks to son Seth, The Ancient One and Donna had tickets for today's home opener for the L.A. Dodgers. Our seats were in the Left Field Pavilion and offered a panoramic view of the entire stadium. The beloved Dodgers were playing the hated Giants and the 11-1 final score was to the liking of all but a few fans in the seats today.

The game's highlights were noteworthy. The paid attendance of 57,009 (I may be off by a few) was the largest in Dodger Stadium history. Newly acquired 2nd baseman Orlando Hudson (O-Dog) hit for the cycle, the first Dodger to do so since Wes Parker in 1970 AND the first Dodger to ever do so in Dodger Stadium. Right fielder Andre Ethier contributed 2 home runs. Pitcher Chad Billingsley struck out 11 batters and gave up only 5 hits in his 7 innings on the mound. Every batter in the Dodger starting lineup had at least one hit. (Note: None of the few Giant highlights are mentioned here. After all, The Ancient One is a Dodger fan.)

Below are 3 pre-game photos. The first shows the players and coaches from both teams lined up along the baselines after being introduced, an opening day tradition in all major league ballparks.

Next is a view of the field after the flag was unfurled by the line of sailors and marines seen in the above photo.

Finally, a rear-view shot of the great Manny Ramirez (#99) warming up before the start of the 1st inning.

It was truly a glorious day and the first "opener" anywhere ever attended by The Ancient One. Thank you Seth!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Back on the Street Where I Live

We have returned from a wonderful 5 day trip to Wilmington/Newark, Delaware; the Brandywine Valley of Pennsylvania; and Brooklyn, New York. Even a rather sideways landing at LAX tonight could not dampen the joy we have felt the past few days spending time and the Passover Seders with Daughter Alicia. . .and the side trip yesterday to Brooklyn to see #1 son Bill and Mel and our granddaughters Jolee and Shayna.

There will be later posts about different parts of the trip (along with a few photos). But now to get some rest and prepare to attend the LA Dodgers' home opener tomorrow afternoon. And then dress rehearsals for my next on stage appearance in Everyman, The Musical at California State University, Dominguez Hills. We open Friday night and run for 2 weekends.

Such a wonderful week and so much more to come. But it does feel good to be back on the street where I live preparing to get some sleep in my own bed. Good night all! More soon.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Memory Evoked

The Ancient One arrived in Wilmington, Delaware to visit daughter Alicia for the beginning of Passover. She and her radiant smile looked great to me. We had a pleasant dinner and saw her apartment and then back to the hotel.

This morning is beautiful; bright sunshine, cloudless sky and cool (!) temperatures (just under 40 degrees). As I stepped outside, I was greeted with a sight I haven't seen in nearly 30 years. There was a Robin Red Breast hopping along the ground outside our door. It evoked memories of long ago when the appearance of the first robin was a true sign of spring. But we don't have robins in southern California, at least none that I have seen in the nearly 3 decades I have lived on the left coast.

What a wonderful way to start the day and our visit to Delaware!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Elevating Fiction to Fact

When I was in college, over 50 years ago, I recall seeing a debate between our campus team and a visiting team from England. One of our bright lads buttressed his arguments with quote after quote from published writers. Not to be outdone, the first English debater stepped forward and proclaimed, "The quickest way to elevate fiction to fact is to quote someone else as having said it." I never forgot that moment.

About 30 years later, I discovered what I believed to be the quantitative corollary to the English debater's premise, to wit, "The quickest way to elevate fiction to fact is to hand someone a computer printout." People seemed to accept without question what computers spewed out, forgetting that the results were only as accurate as the data some human being fed into the computer.

A similar corollary is one that I heard from the professor on the first day of my first statistics class. He opened his lecture with the declaration, "You can prove anything you want with statistics; it's just a matter of selecting the right ones." I always think of that during election campaigns and the flow of political and economic discourse.

I don't know why I have been thinking about these things today but I have and decided to share them.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Realities of Enumerating

Well, The Ancient One has completed his first week (actually 3½ days) in the field as an Enumerator or Lister or Address Canvasser for the U.S Census Bureau and he has made some discoveries about work and life.

First, he had forgotten how much he has enjoyed his retirement where he has controlled the calendar. Although this work is part-time (no more than 30 hours per week), it's been hard adjusting to the concept of "being required" to at a specified place at a specified time. Second, it is strange having someone else as a work supervisor after several years of pretty much being his own boss.

Third, walking the streets confirming addresses of housing units is tiring to old legs, especially in this area where it seems there are not many level streets. Some of the hills are real challenges. And the amount of walking adds up. The very accurate pedometer worn on the belt is getting a workout; normal days (before enumerating) ran from the target minimum of 10,000 up to about 12,000 steps a day. On the 4 days worked this week, the pedometer tallied about 16,000 steps on 2 days and over 20,000 yesterday and today. If nothing else, The Ancient One should be in pretty good shape when the job ends in about 3 months. And there are indications that all this walking and hill climbing will also move the weight downwards. . .at last.

Most of the "counting" has been fun. I've talked to a lot of interesting people who seem to be disappointed that we aren't asking a lot of questions; only those that are necessary to make sure we are counting the correct number of housing units on a property. That can be tricky in neighborhoods where many houses have an apartment out back or above the garage. We can't miss those multi-unit properties or hidden housing units (HHUs) In some ways, I'm lucky; with the exception of one small area, almost all the housing units I have counted are single family residences. And I haven't come upon a new condominium development that wasn't standing 10 years ago. That poor enumerator had no housing units listed on the HHC (hand held computer) and had to add them all.

All-in-all, I'm enjoying myself although I'm tired. I also tried to get a few extra hours in this week since I will be gone most of next week to spend the Passover holiday with daughter Alicia in Delaware, with a "side trip" to see Bill, Melanie and the granddaughters in Brooklyn.

Now off to sleep; it's going to be a busy weekend even without counting housing units.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Trashman Stoppeth

The Ancient One, as many know, does much of his reading on his morning walks through the neighborhood. Only on rare occasions does it pose a physical threat, usually the result of walking into a parked car while engrossed in a compelling scene of a murder mystery. Now and then other walkers or neighbors wake him from his reverie with comments or questions about the reading material.

Having been noticed regularly by others as he passed along the way, he wasn't really prepared the other morning when the trash truck stopped to pick up the greenwaste as I was leaving for work. After emptying the barrels, the driver turned and came up the driveway. With a big smile and a heavy accent, he said that he often noticed my reading habit as I walked along the street. He asked what types of books I read and I gave him my standard answer about mystery novels and thrillers. Then he surprised me.

"Reading is good," he said. With a wonderful, wide smile on his face, he continued, "I always have a book with me on the truck and I always read during my lunch hour and breaks. I learn so much from reading." I must confess that he proved to me once again how much people in all walks of life want to learn and that books provide an excellent vehicle to do so. And I was delighted to know that it was the printed word on paper that helped enlighten his day.

Yes, The Ancient One agrees. Reading is good for everyone!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Enumerating. . .

It’s been a quiet writing month but The Ancient One has been busy. This week, for example, he began work for the U.S. Bureau of the Census as an “Enumerator” or should I say and “enumerator in training.” The 4 days of classroom work ended today and tomorrow is field training. If all goes well, the real enumerating begins on Monday.

At this point in the year before the decennial census, the enumerators count and confirm listings of housing units. To assist us in this process, we have been training on HHCs, which in English means Hand-Held Computers. They are marvelous little machines using cellular technology (I think) and they include GPS capabilities. We’ve been running exercises on them for 4 days and now we get to show that we know what we learned. Assignments for the blocks where I am responsible for “address canvassing” will be downloaded mysteriously to my HHC and off I will go. At least all enumerators are assigned to “crews” in the area where they live and don’t have to travel far and wide across the land.

The Ancient One has learned a lot this week. But he is very tired. It is the first time he has worked a full-time week since he retired in 2006. Yeah, there have been a couple of 12-14 hour days on TV shoots but they never add up to a week of full-time, detailed work. This may be the most tiring week because once the real job begins, it won’t be full-time and it will last only for about 12 weeks. By then, it is hoped that the nationwide army of enumerators will have every possible housing unit listed on computer-based maps to be used by the “people counters” during the actual census next year.

So, “Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to enumerating I go.” That’s just one reason there have been so few posts this month! The Ancient One will offer up additional comments on this new working experience in the weeks to come. Yawnnnnnnnn. . . And now to get some sleep.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

An Amazing Fiddler. . .on the Roof

The Ancient One has seen 2 performances of Fiddler on the Roof at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School this week and is scheduled to see 2 more before the production completes its run on Sunday, March 22. Why see it so many times? Well, son Seth is the Director and it is his 1st musical direction effort and. . .

But I am a biased observer so I won't talk about the quality of the direction here. I won't mention the outstanding casting, selection of musical and vocal directors, choreographer, technical director and costumers. You see, my son the Director gives them all the credit, ignoring the fact that he selected the production team and cast. But I know better, even if I am a proud father who is just a little bit biased.

Instead, I will talk about the quality of the performances I witnessed although I am not sure where to begin. I guess, when you are talking about Fiddler you have to begin with Tevye. I have seen Jake Tieman perform before and I was a fan of his before this production. But I was still totally excited watching him perform. He was Tevye! He became the character and took charge of the stage. He is both an outstanding singer and actor and showed us both his skills and Tevye's soul. I particularly liked the twinkle is his eye when he had his conversations with God.

The rest of the cast was also outstanding. Golde (Kate Graham) looked like Tevye's wife and her singing voice complemented his very well. The singing and characterizations presented by the 3 older daughters Tzeitel (Mackenzie Gomez), Hodel (Samantha Hill) and Chava (Katie Segal) were outstanding and you just knew that they were sisters. Zach Barryte (Motel the Tailor) is a wonderful comic actor and provided a delightfully nuanced characterization of the bumbling young tailor. (I talked about Zach's comedy last December in my post on The Face on the Barroom Floor.) And then there was Koray Tarhan (Fyedka), the young Russian displaying both wonderful singing and dancing in the tavern. Finally, the choreography inThe Dream was brilliant, the best I have seen in any production of Fiddler, and the entire scene was made even better by Grandma Tzeitel (Dorothy Hayden) and Fruma Sarah (Christina Leslie).

I don't think I have ever singled out for plaudits so many actors in a single production. And then The Ancient One reminds himself that this was a cast of high school students. And while I have mentioned 8 performers by name, I personally want to congratulate the entire cast/ensemble for providing us with a wonderful performance. (If you click on the list below, you will get a more readable view.)

This production of Fiddler has 4 more performances, Thursday, March 19 through Sunday, March 22. There may be a few tickets left. If you are in the area, check at to select seats and buy tickets.

L'Chaim!!!!! And, again, CONGRATULATIONS to the cast, crew, director and entire production team!!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

2 Years and 400 posts

I just realized that I flew past 2 milestones over the past 2 weeks. February 26 was the 2nd blogiversary for The Ancient One and the 400 post mark has been achieved. In a way it is all very surprising. While my writing pace has slowed down, the cantankerous old curmudgeon is still here although not quite as curmudgeonly as he expected to be.

Thank you to all who have passed this way, especially those who return on a regular basis.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Brenda Arrieta Killian (1977-2009)

I was scanning my home page on Facebook Friday night when a message popped up on the screen. It was from a young woman who had been stage manager for a play I did several years ago at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). She asked, "Have you heard about Brenda." When I answered "No," she told me, as gently as possible, that Brenda had died of cancer that morning.

I first met Brenda at CSUDH when we were both cast in the play Boy by Diana Son. I was Papa Uber Alles and she was one of my daughters. Brenda was a wonderful actress and a better person. It seemed she always had a big unforgettable smile on her face. After she graduated in 2001, she went off to England where she obtained a Master's degree. When she returned, I first saw her when she walked into the lobby at Palos Verdes Players one night when I was working the box office. She was there to review the play for a local newspaper. We talked for a while, reminiscing about her trip to England, our time on stage together and a friend of mine at PV Players who had been her high school drama teacher.

The next time I saw Brenda was the fall of 2007 when I was cast at CSUDH in a new play, The Little College on a Hill which she had co-written for the Dominguez Bridge Theatre Company (DBTC). There was that huge smile and a warm hug for Papa from one of his many stage daughters. After the play closed, I saw Brenda one last time the late winter (or early spring) of 2008 when she told us at a DBTC meeting that her family was moving to Oregon. After that my only contact with her was when we became "friends" on Facebook and exchanged a note or two.

Brenda was too young and too bright to be taken from our midst. Her 2 young children lost their wonderful mother much too soon. There are a lot of us who have been struggling through this weekend trying to cope with this tragic, enormous loss. A full obituary written by Don Colburn of The Oregonian can be found here. It included this picture taken by Stephanie Yao Long of The Oregonian.

Look at that smile!! I'll never forget it or the young woman behind it! RIP Brenda. . . .