Squirt

Some explanation of the title of my blog is in order. Squirt is a feral tomcat who figured out the cat door. I think he’s been tortured (his tail is a mess) so he avoids people. But he likes the food, a particular pillow on the couch (I’ve had to cover the couch to protect it), and being around the house. We can’t touch him but he watches wistfully as we pet our cats. I think he wants affection but doesn’t know how to trust. Or maybe that’s wishful thinking; he’s probably thinking I’d make a good meal. I think I’d prefer not to die when Squirt’s around. Anyway, I feel sorry for him, except when he spraypaints our house with urine, and I admire his adaptability. I’ll work on gaining his trust until I can cut his fuzzy little nuts off. Until then, I’ll keep my ammonia bottle and kneepads handy for clean-ups. The Daily Squirt will try to reflect my impression of the cat himself. Cautious, adaptable, amusing…and sometimes it’ll stink on ice. Keep your ammonia bottle and kneepads handy.

Did I forget to mention that I’m a struggling writer with a novel, First Year, and a memoir, Greetings from Casa Cesspool to my credit? Read more about my work at my website, http://www.bagmlit.com.

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Too Much Fun

Gordon and I should have just gotten a hotel room in Hollywood last night. We went to On Your Feet at the Pantages last night and a rehearsal for the Hollywood Bowl this morning. In the good old days, it was a 10 minute drive to Hollywood. Now we’re lucky if we can get there in half an hour. Where did all these cars come from? And why are they in my way? MOVE! Oh dear.

We split a burger and salad at Delfine’s before going across the street. The food is pricey but good. And the wine is drinkable–although I can buy a whole bottle of Rodney Strong for less than what they charged me for a glass. But the convenience is worth something. The only problem was the regular bartender was off and nobody could figure out how to change the channel so we couldn’t watch Jeopardy. Poor Gordon. He had to talk to me instead. Actually he listened. It never ceases to amaze me that I can yak for an hour after saying, “I have absolutely nothing to say.” Gordon didn’t seem bothered. I guess he’s used to it.

On Your Feet is a biography of Gloria and Emilio Estefan. Of course, their music is a big part of their story so we get most of their hits–which are great. I didn’t know that Emilio left Cuba as a boy with his father; his mother and grandfather didn’t go with them. First they landed in Spain but Emilio was ambitious so the USA was the only place for him and he eventually made his way to Miami. Gloria’s father was a policeman in Havana before the family escaped to Miami. The father served as a soldier stationed in Vietnam then was struck with MS. But the family worked and dreamed and worked some more. I enjoyed watching the development of their distinctive Miami sound. And that sound is so much fun! The first act closed with ‘Conga’ being sung by the cast as they danced down the aisle. One silly woman jumped up to dance with them and one of the guys didn’t bat an eye; he twirled her around. She was thrilled.

The cast were all wonderful. Christie Prades is stunning as Gloria. Sing, dance, act–and she’s gorgeous. I’d hate her except she’s so damn good. Mauricio Martinez plays Emilio–another dilly. He originated the role for the Mexico City production and brought his act up here. He’s a Latin lover who can sing. He’s a cutie. I could go on about everybody–they were all stellar–but I’m lazy. Just read the Playbill. Or better yet, get tickets to the show. It’s so much fun I found myself salsa-ing during the standing ovation. Nice to know my hips still work.

The concert tonight at the Hollywood Bowl is a Russian tribute. Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Behzod Abduraimov–try to say that five times fast–as soloist will be followed by Pictures at an Exhibition. I was baking in the heat and still enjoyed the music. One new thing: the stage was miked so I found the sound a little uneven. I wonder why they’re using a sound system. I’d think the echoes would be more of a problem than they’re worth. Maybe bugs are being worked out. I don’t know. Gordon and I sat in a box far away from yakkers and did crossword puzzles. I was covered up–huge hat, long-sleeved white shirt and loose pants–but the heat was still stultifying. And of course, we had to listen to backing up dumps trucks, police helicopters, and Bowl staff dropping things–but what the hell, it was free. And they gave us water and peanuts. I was surprised at the age of some of the attendees. The crowd used to be pretty geriatric but at least a quarter of donors today were families. The kids were reasonably well-behaved in that broiler of a Bowl but when they got restless the parents took them out. Sort of like church. It’s nice to see younger people contributing and trying to educate their kiddies. These are the people you never see on the news. Anyway, it should be a great concert if you’re not being sautéed.

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Happy Fourth of July!

Gordon and I walked over to Dodger Stadium for the game last night. We went late so
we could enjoy the fireworks. Our butts get too sore if we sit for more than six innings. We ate our Dodger dogs, sang our songs, and the Dodgers even won! Interesting thing: two gorgeous young women sat next to Gordon. They were from England and were dressed to the nines; fashionably ripped jeans, 4-inch heels on their sandals….I wonder how they walked all over the stadium in those things. I was in my Dodger merchandize (Turner jersey) and tennies. Boy, did I feel like a slob. But they seemed to enjoy themselves. I noticed they ate a helmet of nachos–don’t know how they keep their figures. Well, they’re young. Gordon didn’t pay any attention to them. They asked him a question and he couldn’t understand them–thick accent. So I threw in my oar and answered them. I don’t think they appreciated that. I think they wanted to talk to Gordon. He’s too old for you, girls. Besides, he’s taken.

After the game the fireworks were accompanied by music. What really struck me was the sound of everyone in the stadium singing “I’m Proud to be an American.” A, it’s country/western and B, it’s patriotic. Normally, that sort of thing gets mocked in Los Angeles. I guess people don’t care what the ‘entertainment/information’ industry (you notice I used quotes; the industry neither entertains nor informs) think any more; we all sang with gusto. I was moved.

Gordon put our flag out today. I used to enjoy tormenting our neighbor; she’s a Liberal and she just hated our ‘jingoism’. Now she puts out a flag, too. It’s small but she lives alone and probably doesn’t know how to install a flag holder. The only tool she knows how to use is her phone. I know how to use a screwdriver. We should exchange skills.

We’re staying close to home today. We always do on the Fourth. Some people who used to live on the street usually come back and blow off fireworks. I heard they spent over $5,000 on fireworks last year. I think they think they’re doing a nice thing for the neighborhood. Unfortunately, I think most of us just hate it. The pets lose their marbles over the M-80s and I’m scared to death they’re going to start fires. It’s dry as a bone. We’ll see what happens. I’ve got my hose handy.

Happy Fourth of July!

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The Humans at the Ahmanson

Gordon and I stopped at Kendall’s for our soup and wine before going upstairs to the Ahmanson. I had the onion tart last time; it was good but I was glad to go back to the soup. We played Jeopardy with a couple who sit behind and down from us. We also talked about Soft Power. They liked it and I confessed that I didn’t. We both agreed the stage was too big for the show. It should have been staged at the Taper. Wow, a discussion without screaming and name-calling–I think that’s against the law in Los Angeles. Thank God no one from the LA Times was there; we’d have been crucified.

After dinner Gordon and I ducked under scaffolding to get to the theater. The entire plaza is being torn up. I have no idea what is being planned but it’s going to be big. I wonder when they’ll finish.

Now, The Humans: the Broadway cast reprised their roles and were wonderful. I enjoyed the writing with a few cavils about some of the plot points (c’mon, that wouldn’t happen in real life) but I can see why it got the Best Play Tony. It’s about a close-knit Irish-American family celebrating Thanksgiving together. I can’t really discuss the plot without giving the whole thing away but Gordon and I talked about it afterwards. It got us thinking. For example; one line from the play asks if monsters look at humans and see us as dangerous as we think they are? Are the monsters in all of us? And does a monstrous act mean we’re no longer human? Or is to be human to be a monster? Lots of questions. Oh, and it’s performed without intermission so make sure you pee before you go. But I liked it. Although I think it was too small a production to be in the Ahmanson. The program said it was performed at the Roundabout in New York which is a 400-seat theater. Should have been in the Taper…I’m glad our seats are close.

This is a short blog so I’m including a picture of our cat, Grace. She’s passed out after a night of murdering a rat. She left the rat for us to admire and clean up. Thanks, Gracie.

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The Joy Luck Club at the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse

Gordon and I drove over to San Gabriel to see the Joy Luck Club, the last offering of the Los Angeles Conservancy’s Last Remaining Seats program. I was really looking forward to seeing the theater again. I hadn’t been there in almost forty years. About seven years before the LA Conservancy started their program to show off our historic theaters, there was a summer program called Best Remaining Seats. Every week we went to a different theater that showcased old movies. The stars of these old movies usually provided a Q&A after the film. We got to see Lillian Gish at the Wiltern when The Wind played. I remember leaving the Q&A early because the theater was so hot. I was hanging around the front of the theater when Ms. Gish was escorted outside and placed in the backseat of a Honda. I looked at Gordon and said, “A Honda? How Hollywood has fallen.” We heard later that the limo driver misjudged the time he was supposed to return and Ms. Gish had to be protected from her adoring public. It made me laugh at the time. I wonder if the driver got fired.

We also got to see Ruby Keeler in 42nd Street (she was in a wheelchair; that’s what happened to hoofers in the bad old days), the final public appearance of Merle Oberon in Wuthering Heights at the Arlington theater in Santa Barbara, King Vidor at the Orpheum when The Big Parade was presented…I can’t remember them all. I particularly enjoyed the Douglas Fairbanks movie introduced by his son, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. at the Casino on Catalina. We attended the dance at the ballroom upstairs (they only open it up a few times a year). The dancers were so good it inspired us to take classes. I can’t remember what we saw at the San Gabriel Civic Auditorium, as it was called at the time, but I remember Malcolm McDowell wandering around at the strawberry/champagne reception. It was a wonderful summer and the program made a HUGE amount of money…which, rumor has it, was embezzled by the guy in charge. So it took seven years for the Conservancy to start the program up again. It’s a good fund-raiser.

Last night the program started with dragon dancers. They were a hoot. Then a production student, can’t remember her name, conducted a Q&A with Kieu Chinh, Tsai Chin, France Nuyen, and an Asian woman who helped produce the film. They shared memories of making the 26-year-old film and discussed the changes in Hollywood that made more diverse movies possible. It was interesting, particularly France Nuyen. The student kept trying to steer the actresses into a victimology theme, that’s big these days, and the actresses wanted to promote projects coming up; it was a marketing opportunity for them. They’re pros; they know they have to get butts in the seats. And Nuyen was rather tart about the changes in Hollywood. She said in the old days there was honor; you could make a deal on a handshake. And people could sleep with their doors open. Not any more. She certainly didn’t follow any script. My hat’s off to her.

Then The Joy Luck Club was presented. I’d read the book but I’d never seen the film. It was well-done, the performances were all wonderful, but I found it a little maudlin. Everybody around me was crying but I was deconstructing. I hate being manipulated. I liked the book better.

Looking forward to next year’s program. I might even break down and play Trivia at Clifton’s. Or maybe not.

The exterior of the Playhouse reflects the mission style.

And the Dragon dancers reflect the changing demographics of the area.

The interior shows Spanish, Mexican, and Native American influences. The theater contains a fully restored Wurlitzer organ, tapestries from the King of Spain, and painted ceiling with chandeliers that replicate lanterns used on Spanish galleons.

And this is me taking a picture of the proscenium arch. I have hair!

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Anniversary lunch

Gordon took me out for a pre-anniversary lunch at Fleming’s Downtown today–we had coupon. And it was delightful. We split a 20 oz. rib-eye, a baked potato, mushrooms, and a piece of turtle pie. I always seem to eat too much even though we split everything. But the service was wonderful. The waiter asked if our lunch was a special occasion and we told him it was almost our 38th anniversary. So the manager brought some truffles along with the turtle pie. We couldn’t even finish the turtle pie so I put the truffles in my purse and we’ll eat them later. They also put an anniversary message on the plate (see picture). It was lovely. I’m just trying to keep everything down right now.

When we staggered out of the restaurant we had to thread our way through the preparations for the BET Awards being held at the Microsoft Theater tonight. The security guards were all black, dressed in black suits, and all wore wrap-around sunglasses. And they were all HUGE. They made Gordon look small. It was like walking through a forest topped with belt buckles for me. I wonder what they’re expecting at the Awards.

It sort of looks like a lobster but it’s turtle pie. We just needed to add the crème fraiche (or however that’s spelled).

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Who Framed Roger Rabbit at the Los Angeles Theater

The Los Angeles Conservancy was showing Who Framed Roger Rabbit at the Los Angeles Theater this afternoon–The Birds is showing tonight. I guess they want to show off the Los Angeles Theater as much as possible. I don’t blame them; it’s the queen of the downtown movie palaces, in my opinion. Gordon and I left early so we could have lunch before the movie. Gordon knows all the cheap places to park that most people are excluded from so parking wasn’t a problem. We walked over to Grand Central Market to see if we could agree on a restaurant. I know Grand Central Market tends to be crowded but today it was a zoo. I felt like a pinball bumping off people. I was starting to go into poodle mode as we looked at menus. I don’t think I was the only one. I saw some wild-eyed people starting to quiver so we avoided them as much as possible. We finally decided on Japanese food. I had shrimp rolls and Gordon had ramen. I found a place downstairs that nobody seemed to know about so we could sit down. I enjoyed my shrimp and Gordon said his ramen was good but I think I’ll avoid Grand Central Market on Saturdays. I might bite someone and Gordon frowns on that.

We walked over to the Los Angeles Theater and took turns touring and admiring so we could save our seats. The Los Angeles Theater grand opening took place on January 30, 1931, featuring Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights, with Albert Einstein as guest of honor. I think the theater is Los Angeles’ answer to Versailles. Nowhere near as big but it’s fancy. I love watching people seeing it for the first time; they’re in awe.

The program started with an interview conducted by Don Hahn, one of the producers of Roger Rabbit, with Charles Fleischer, the voice of Roger Rabbit, and Joanna Cassidy who played Dolores. I don’t remember any particular stories; what I do remember is the girl with Fleischer. I don’t know if she was playing a human Jessica Rabbit or was just a date, but her flaming red hair was striking.

I’d seen the movie before of course. I remember when it first came out; everyone went nuts over the technology. Thirty years later it seems quaint. But it’s still entertaining. I enjoyed it. We went straight home afterwards. I’d been running around for almost five hours and I needed my nap.

This is the staircase as you enter the theater. I’m told the fountain at the top used to work.

I don’t know if you can tell from this picture but the grand drape is three-dimensional. It’s quite impressive. Oh, and the barber-shop quartet is called Bank of Harmony and they were a gas. They got huge applause and they deserved it. They do the sort of music you’d hear in Pitch Perfect–lots of fun.

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Dodger game

Gordon and I walked over to Dodger Stadium early so we could sing our songs. I’m glad we did. The USC relay team that won their meet got to ‘throw’ out the first ball. Actually, the girls relayed the ball around the bases. But before they did,  the last leg of the relay that won the meet was shown on the Jumbotron. Watching that astonishing last leg where the USC runner came out of nowhere to run down the Oregon runner was still amazing to watch. What a finish. The girls got a standing O and they seemed thrilled with the attention. Good for them. They deserved it.

We sang the Star Spangled Banner in a key that worked for Gordon but was too low for me. The celebrity was a singer/songwriter that I’d never heard of and I can’t remember his name. I do remember that he was a baritone. I’m not. We ate our Dodger dogs and settled in.

It was a pitcher’s duel. Cole Hamels was pitching for the Texas Rangers and Kente Meada pitched for the Dodgers. It was a slow game until Matt Kemp tried to run home and ran down the catcher who was blocking the plate. They started shoving each other, the benches cleared, and I thought we were in for a brawl. Apparently, Cole Hamels got Kemp in a bear hug from behind and the catcher was restrained by the other Rangers. Both players got tossed and the game started again. But it was a nice break of the pitching duel which can get a little dull.

At the end of the third inning (I think) we got another break when a military person was put on the field, and the Jumbotron, for public thanks and applause. He got a standing O too. I can’t remember his name but he saluted proudly. I remember after 9/11 when the owner of the Dodgers (at the time) first brought out a military member. People just ignored the poor guy which annoyed me. This was when Hollywood was making all those anti-war movies and the military wasn’t popular. Gordon was getting hotdogs; he wasn’t around to restrain me so I stood up, clapped my hand over my head, and yelled, “Screw Hollywood, we love you guys!” There were gasps all around but I just grinned defiantly and continued clapping. What were they going to do to me? I fight back. And I was really tired of gangster rappers getting feted and applauded and the poor bastards fighting and dying getting nothing. Now they get some appreciation. But I stood up first. And Gordon wasn’t there to be embarrassed by my antics. Good thing I love hotdogs. I’m patting myself on the back as I type.

We sang “Take me out to the Ballgame’ at the seventh inning and packed up for home. My butt was sore after sitting for 2 1/2 hours. We walked home and tried to finish the game there but it went into extra innings. I turned the channel during commercials but missed the finish which ended in the 11th inning when Hernandez snuck home. Long game. Glad we didn’t stay until the end.

We’re not going to another game for a month so we’ll store our peanuts and Red Vines. Love my baseball food.

Gordon took this picture in front of the Jackie Robinson statue. I’ve looked better. Sun was in my eyes.

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