Head of Passes

We got a call from the Music Center warning us that there was something going on at the Chandler (Carmen), the Ahmanson (The Red Shoes), and the Taper (Head of Passes) and to plan to arrive early to get a decent parking place–or take public transportation. We couldn’t even make reservations at Kendall’s; they were completely booked. So we walked down to the Blue Cow; they had room. I ordered at glass of a red blend called Conundrum because it sounded interesting. It was awful–sort of like kerosene after it turned, not that I have actual experience. They were kind enough to let me exchange it for a Malbec. It wasn’t great but it was drinkable. I think this is a place where one should stick with mixed drinks or beer. But the food was great. Gordon had the tri-tip and I had the grilled shrimp with grits. Gordon asked me the difference between grits and polenta and I couldn’t tell him. I guess one is American. I enjoyed the food and the service was lovely so we’ll happily go back. I just won’t order wine. We had time to stop at Disney Hall to exchange some symphony tickets. Too bad the box office was closed. Guess we’ll have to exchange the tickets another time. We had time to listen to one lonely little doo-wop singer and talk to our neighbor. Actually, it was nice that she had time to talk to us. Jenna is now house manager of the Taper which doesn’t surprise me at all. She looked so professional in her Music Center jacket. We couldn’t talk much because she had to trouble shoot. I remember when Penny was pregnant with her. Little Jenna is all grown up.

Head of Passes by Tarell Alvin McCraney is, as far as I can tell, a discussion on what happens to faith when everything is taken from a person–sort of a Southern story of Job. And how much of that destruction is one person responsible for? The house (set) seems to be a metaphor for the family; looks good from the outside, easily destroyed when a storm hits. Phylicia Rashad plays Sheila, the family matriarch, and she’s amazing. The second act basically consists of her standing on an island in the middle of her destroyed house, challenging God. It’s a tour de force performance. But the whole cast is wonderful. I was trying to figure out if the name of the play was significant but it seems to be just the name of the town where the family lives. There’s so much else to think about I didn’t spend any brain cells on the title. Lots of questions to be asked even if no answers are possible. I can see why the author got a ‘genius’ grant. I appreciated the writing.

I wasn’t the only person who liked the show. The black lady in front of us stood up at the end, raised her hands in jubilation, and screamed (Ms. Rashad blinked at that). I heard some ‘Amens’ during parts of the play. But for the most part the audience was considerate of each other. My only cavil was I couldn’t understand what the actors were saying when they turned away from me. Gordon says he likes the fact that the actors aren’t miked at the Taper but I missed some dialogue.

Anyway, I thought it was an interesting, thought-provoking play. Maybe it’ll be filmed on PBS so I can get the rest of the dialogue. Just a thought.

I guess I should have taken the picture from the other side so the sign showed the title of the play we saw, Head of Passes. But I would have had to walk and I was too lazy. Heisenberg was a good play although I had little to do with the uncertainly principle. Think it was a metaphor. The Taper is big on metaphors.

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Gordon and I stopped at Delphine’s for a bite before going across the street to the Pantages to see Hamilton last night. Hmmm. I had always enjoyed a glass of wine and splitting a steak sandwich from the munchies menu while watching Jeopardy at the bar. No more. They don’t serve bar food until after 8 (after the show starts, of course) so we ordered from the main menu. The food was good but we didn’t need so much of it. I always fall asleep after eating that much. I understand that they want to make money on the theater patrons but I miss my steak sandwich. Oh well, the service was lovely and we watched Little League baseball instead of “news”, thank God. I had a cup of coffee for the caffeine then we walked across the street.

To tell the truth, I was dreading Hamilton. I know, it’s the hottest ticket in town but the hype has been so extreme I didn’t know how any show could live up to it. I was sure I was in for a disappointment. I was also dreading the political dimension that I was sure would be injected. I enjoyed Chernow’s book–which inspired the musical–because it honored a man who worked hard, educated himself, and rose to the heights of government even though he was a poverty-stricken bastard. Hamilton’s story exemplifies what’s good about America. So I was dreading the usual ‘bad Trump, evil Republican’ comments that seem to be necessary in the theater these days. I know the idiots in the cheap seats scream but those of us in the orchestra just endure the comments. There was none of that. Miranda honored the man and the American dream he lived. He also managed to distill the high points of a 1,000 page book into a coherent drama while keeping it involving and hugely entertaining–and that’s a major accomplishment. I don’t know much about hip-hop–I’m not the demo–but the lyrics were clever, informative, and engaging. And there were some lovely songs among the hip-hop. Gordon could understand all the lyrics so that tells you how good the actors were.  Miranda didn’t reprise his role out here but Michael Luwoye did a marvelous job as Hamilton; wonderful voice, wonderful movement, wonderful acting. The whole cast was superb. Solea Pfeiffer just broke my heart as Eliza, Hamilton’s wife. Joshua Henry made me feel sorry for Aaron Burr. Isaiah Johnson as Washington, Jordon Donica as Jefferson, Emmy Raver-Lampman as Angelica….just read the program. The whole cast was wonderful. I have to give Rory O’Malley as King George a special kudo. He was funny.

Anyway, it was a three hour show and the time flew by. The show actually lives up to its hype. I recommend it highly. Oh, and I saw on the news this morning that Kobe Bryant attended last night. I didn’t see him; I’m just glad he didn’t sit in front of me.

Going home was uneventful. I did have a Marilyn Monroe moment on the grate outside the Pantages. I was wearing a sun dress and the wind from the grate blew the skirt up. I managed to keep the important parts covered. I didn’t think anybody was interested in looking at my butt.

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Rehearsal for Gershwin Under the Stars

I went to the rehearsal for Gershwin Under the Stars at the Hollywood Bowl by myself today because Gordon was out of town on business. I thought about skipping but it was only 80 degrees outside and I didn’t want to miss a chance to hear a rehearsal without getting heat stroke. I still wore all my protective gear–BIG hat, long-sleeved shirt, light-weight pants, and sunglasses. I took my coffee cup and two crossword puzzle for  entertainment. I knew they’d give me water and a granola bar. I did puzzles while Bramwell Tovey, the musical director of the Vancouver Symphony, conducted Gershwin’s Strike Up the Band Overture, Duke Ellington’s The Handsome Traffic Policeman, Gershwin’s ‘I Got Rhythm’ Variations, Ellington’s Night Creature, and finished with Gershwin’s An American in Paris. You have to hand it to British conductors; they love jazz and offer a unique interpretation to American composers. Aaron Diehl was the pianist for the ‘I Got Rhythm’ Variations. His playing was precise but still emotive, if that’s actually possible. Lots of talent there. Elllington interpreted by an aging white Brit is very Noel Cowardly…Cowardy..Cowardish. Anyway, it was clever. And I’ve never heard such a polite British version of An American in Paris, even though they found a greasy sax section. Even the trumpet was greasy but it was still so civilized. I think this concert will be fun under the stars. It was fun under the sun even though I had to move to get away from two yakking old ladies. Why in the world are they even there? If they want to talk, go to a coffee shop. Let the rest of listen to the music in peace. I suppose I should have gone to war but I just didn’t have the energy. I’m also getting spoiled; the last time we attended a play at the Taper the guy sitting next to me complained to the management about the yakking old ladies behind us. The old ladies were quietly shushed by the house manager. Boy, were they pissed. “I’ve never been spoken to like before in my life!” huffed one old biddy. I loudly thanked the guy who complained. At least they shut up. Guess I’m not the only one who’s tired of it. But I digress…

I didn’t have Gordon to talk to so I had lots of time to notice things. I noticed that the orchestra was mostly kiddies, not the regular Phil musicians. The kids did very well and it’s good experience for them. I noticed three helicopters and one airplane droning overhead. I thought it was just the evening shows they dive-bombed. Irritating. I thought they were supposed to fly around the Bowl. I noticed five cowboy hats and I give Gordon credit for that. Last time we went to a rehearsal Gordon wore a chambray shirt, jeans, and his Brad Paisley cowboy hat. He looked like the Marlboro Man. He told me when he came back from a bathroom break that a big, black dude (don’t know if he was a donor or worked for the Phil) said, “Yeeha.” Gordon, in good cowboy fashion, just nodded. Cowboys don’t waste words. Anyway, he must have made a fashion statement because I’d never seen cowboys hats before and today there were five. One woman went full-out cowboy–hat, plaid shirt, denim shorts, wide leather belt, and $1,000 tote. I had to smile.

An additional treat was I got to park next to an open lane. Even though they stack parked, my Miata has such a tight turn radius I was able to back up two feet and get free. I was one of the first people out instead of the last! Yippee!

Another clear warm day at the Hollywood Bowl.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Gordon and I went to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time at the Ahmanson last night. Of course, Gordon wanted French onion soup so we stopped at Kendall’s before the show. The only thing going on at the Music Center was The Curious, etc. so our reservation was wasted. But we make a reservation anyway these days. We’re guaranteed a seat when a lot is going on. We even got our spot at the end of the bar–something which hasn’t happened in months. And we got to play Jeopardy! No CNN! No crap from the overlords who seem to have a fetish about the remote! And everybody at the bar played along. We were all equally stupid so we had a wonderful time. I don’t know why there was such a to-do about Jeopardy. Nobody wants to watch the news these days. Depressing and boring. Thanks to Chris, the bartender, for catering to the customers. He’s pretty good at Jeopardy so he probably enjoys playing, too.

We took our regular seats at the Ahmanson and admired the set–after being unsettled by the dead dog with a garden fork sticking out of him in the middle of the stage. That sight will get your onion soup roiling. I guess the dog stuck out–had a fork in him, get it?–because the rest of the set was so minimalist. Cubes served at furniture, cubbies in the set wall played refrigerators and drawers, and rear-screen projection served as a blackboard. The rest of the set was a grid of lights. The show is very imaginative, the choreography is exceptional, and the performances were stellar. From reading the playbill it seems that all of the actors are American but the play takes place in England so they all had wonderful Brit accents. The story is about an autistic kid who wants to find out who killed the dog who belonged to a neighbor. He becomes a detective even though he hates talking to people. He forces himself out of his comfort zone. As the play progresses we’re introduced to the main characters in the kid’s life. They’re normal but the kid seems to be the most un-screwed up of them all. I guess the point of the play is that we’re all good and bad at different things. The kid seems braver than his parents because he’s willing to move beyond the familiar to achieve what he wants. The parents are decent people but capable of great brutality. I guess the moral of the story is we all do the best we can with what circumstances we get. At the end of the play, the kid asks his teacher if he can accomplish anything he wants since he gets Ace Stars on his math tests. The teacher just holds up her hands without a word. Maybe. All any of us can do is try; there are no guarantees. It was a clever, touching production. Gordon stayed awake throughout so it gets no Zs on the snore scale. As a matter of fact, I didn’t see any nappers. And that says a lot because it’s a long show.

Oh, and they included a puppy at the end. Big “aawwwss” all around. I want the puppy.

This is the peace statue in front of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Music Center.


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Rehearsal at the Hollywood Bowl

One of the perks of being a donor to the Los Angeles Philharmonic is an invitation to a rehearsal. So Gordon and I put on our hats and other protective gear to attend a rehearsal of the concert to be presented tonight at the Hollywood Bowl. I knew the Phil was performing Wagner’s Greatest Hits (it’s summer; you expect the program to be dumbed down) but I didn’t think I’d like the show so much–especially since it was 98 degrees in the shade and there was no shade. Dudamel conducted the Phil and the Los Angeles Master Chorale (must have been almost 200 people on stage) as they performed excerpts from Tannheuser (is that spelled right? I can’t find the program), The Flying Dutchman, and Der Meistersingers of Nuremberg. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any of these pieces live before and the sound was stunning. I snickered through the Tannheuser piece because I first heard it performed by Bugs and Elmer in a cartoon. Gordon and I sang that version at a break, to the amusement of the people next to us.  The men’s section of the chorus thundered out the Flying Dutchman thing. What I know as the Wedding March from Meistersingers was absolutely glorious–loved the women’s voices in particular. My God, Wagner wrote some amazing music. It’s hard to reconcile the fact that the all this wonderful music came from the same sort of people who produced the Holocaust. I’m tempted to go back tonight to hear an uninterrupted version when I’m not trying to hear through heat stroke but no, this morning was enough. I hope they tape it and put it on PBS or something. Everybody should have a chance to hear this.

Hot, hot, hot! No shade anywhere.


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We survived the Fourth

Well, we made it through the 4th without a fire. The city attorney sent out a letter sternly warning of consequences for illegal fireworks. Well, the relatives of an old lady on the street brought in a U-Haul truck of fireworks. They started at 8:30 and went to 10:30. On the news, there were so many illegal fireworks displays that the media told people not to bother calling the police; they couldn’t cover any of it. Normally, I just go downstairs to get away from the noise but the hipsters across the alley were throwing a party and they started thumping at 7. Couldn’t go anywhere to get away from the noise. If Gordon’s band speakers were plugged in I’d have had a stereo war with them–haven’t lost yet with the band amps–but they’re stowed away. Sigh. We should probably leave for the 4th but we get so much detritus from the fireworks I seriously worry about a fire. And the M80s drove the cats nuts. They both hid out in their safe spots downstairs and appeared briefly when they needed comfort. This morning Gordon picked up beer cans and 3/4 of a bottle of wine left on our front yard. Annoying. And what’s really weird is I think the fireworks people think they’re doing the neighborhood a favor. One neighbor told me they spent over $5000 on fireworks. Wish they’d ask. I think thy only person who lives on the street and isn’t related to these people who likes the fireworks is Gordon. Oh, and the hipsters. They crawl up the hill and cheer. And sit on my lawn. Get off my lawn! I’m ready to move again. Although that seems a little drastic for one bad night. I should just find a hotel, I guess.

George when he’s not running from fireworks.

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More marketing

I got a nudge from Facebook noting that I hadn’t posted anything on a marketing page and I should get off my dead butt and put something up. I’m paraphrasing but they really did sound like my mother. So here’s a review. Look ma, I’m marketing!

Joyce Engleson was Editor-in-Chief for E.P. Dutton and editor-at-large for Crown Publishing, among many prestigious titles. She was also a best-selling author before her death in 2010. She was a highly accomplished woman. This is what she had to say about First Year. To order, go to: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JYIV9D6



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