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.