One thing that this writer looks forward to when attending a trade show or related convention are the items I get from exhibitors that attend the show. These items are better known as SWAG, the acronym that means “stuff we all get”-hence, the title of this article! This “stuff” usually consists of small items that are given away by the exhibiters in question that will remind the taker of the goods who exactly gave it to you. These items that are given away with the company’s name and logo affixed vary, depending on the company and the venue one is attending. For the most part, these goodies consists of pens, letter openers, t-shirts, cell phone stands, tote bags, and other similar items that are low cost of create, but it’s nice enough for the taker to grab them for its intended purposes.
Over the many years since this writer started to attend these said shows, I have collected a good number of these knickknacks where I grabbed them first, usually from the exhibitor’s booth or some related exhibitor’s event (an after party perhaps), only to wonder why I took the thing in the first place! Some I still have, while the others has since been disposed of or have been long forgotten where I no longer remember them and thus, don’t miss them to a beat! The items I did keep hold some practical usage such as the previously noted pens, letter openers, tote bags, and the like. Some items I have such as t-shirts are worn on occasion, although t-shirts themselves aren’t as common to find as they used to be. That is just as well since I have some t-shirts I have obtained from trade shows going back thirty years(!) that I have yet to wear! However, I do tend to be a bit picky on what I grab since whatever I take might be in use, or it might wind up in a box that I keep in case I have to give a gift to somebody for whatever reason. Never mind the fact that the goods I may give folks might have a company name and logo affixed to the item. As long as the item is nice and holds some form of practicality, then the receiver doesn’t seem to mind! To give an example, not so long ago, an in-law of mine had sold her home and moved into a smaller and yet easier to maintain condo-type apartment unit. (A classic example of “downsizing”!) To keep up with what she disposed of and what still had kept, she got herself an iPad mini device to allow her to keep tabs on all things. As a welcoming notion, I presented to her a padded wrap around slipcover for her device that was nicely gray trimmed in color with the name of a start up cable TV channel on its backside. The cover fit perfect on her new iPad and she was pleased. Whenever the fact that she noticed the name slapped on it was a whole other matter.
As stated before, much of the swag I received goes back to the days when I once attended such conventions as the Summer Consumer Electronic Show when it was held in Chicago around June. Its winter version of the CES still exists, and it’s the biggest trade show to take place in Las Vegas. Although I never can get away to attend the current CES, I’m sure that the swag there is something to take note of! However, the Summer CES is where many of my “antique” t-shirts came from. Most, if not all, of the products and services advertised on the items no longer exist, such as early video games, electronic accessories, as well as for a TV series called “The New Tech Times”, a series of programs that reported upon new technology that was then available or to be coming soon. (For the record, this series was carried by many PBS stations in the early 1980’s!)
Out of the many conventions I once attended that perhaps had the best selection of swag ever to be given out had been the 1994 Video Dealers Software Association trade show in Las Vegas. The VSDA was a trade group for video stores operators, dealers, wholesalers, and related associates. At this show, dozens of stuff were given away. There were the pens and t-shirts ‘natch, bet there were other things as well. Many videotapes of new releases were handed out, or at least tapes plugging new titles that were meant to be played through a video monitor at a video store as point of purchase advertising. A number of celebrities were in attendance to endorse or promote a new video release. Many of them were there to sign photos of themselves. I have a stack of these 8×10 black and white glossies picks. Sadly, I don’t have enough wall space to display them all! But the best part of waiting in line to get these picks is when the opportunity allows, one can take a brief moment to say a nice comment to the celebrity, and perhaps one will receive a pleasant and memorable reply. After waiting in line to receive a autographed picture of Dudley Moore at the Columbia/Tri-Star Home Video booth, it was my turn to go up to the counter to get Dudley’s picture signed and dedicated to me. As he was signing the pic, I said to him “I good friend of mine who collects 16mm films of features has a print of “Arthur” and that is his favorite movie”. After I said that line, Dudley replied in a soft voice, “Y’know, that’s my favorite movie, too!” and he gave me a playful wink! (PS…I still have the signed photo filed away somewhere in a file cabinet!)
I can go on about attending other trade shows that gave away nifty swag. Sadly, many of these shows as to the Summer CES and the VSDA, no longer exist. However, much of the swag I received from long forgotten conventions advertising long forgotten products and services still remain. They exist to remind me of those times when I were able to get away to attend these steal-a-thons and to take home goods that I could use, give away, or wind up with while scratching my head still wondering why did I take these items in the first place! But even in these days of the ‘net where info on companies, products, and services can be found through a click of the mouse or through a tap on the screen, trade shows and the swag that they come from will still exist. And perhaps I’ll wear that t-shirt that was given to me from a company that attended the Spring Internet World show that later became a victim of the dot com bust! (Ah, the good ol’ days!!)
NEWS AND REVIEWS
The Glendale Centre Theatre present another full fledged musical with ANYTHING GOES, a mirthful tale than involves a classic boy-meets-girl scenario, along with a Wall Street broker, a nightclub singer, some mistaken identities, and a comical gangster set within an ocean liner cruise.
Billy Crocker (Bobby Burkich) is the assistant to Elisha Whitney (Stephan O’Hara), a rather successful banker on Wall Street. Billy’s boss is about to set sail on the S.S. American, an ocean liner traveling between New York and London. Before the ship sets off, Billy hops on board to deliver Elisha’s passport, winding up as an unintentional stowaway. Meanwhile, Reno Sweeney (Sarah Vanek) an evangelist turned nightclub torch singer, is a passenger on the boat. Billy and Reno were once involved with one another. Billy holds a romantic flame with debutant Hope Harcourt (Katie Moya) who is also on board with her fiancé Lord Evelyn Oakleigh,(John David Wallis) a wealthy Englishman. Tagging along is Hope’s mother Evangeline Harcourt. (Cindy Bullock) Hope and Evelyn plan to marry once arriving at port in London. Adding to this mix is a gangster on the lam, Moonface Martin (David Gallic) and his moll Erma Latour (Colette Peters). With these characters on board, along with a comical blend of time tested hijinks, show stopping dance numbers, along with an energetic musical score by Core Porter, one has a classic 1930’s-era screwball comedy set on stage!
And indeed it is a very upbeat and lively musical! Based upon the original 1934 stage musical from the original book by Guy Bolton, P.G. Woodhouse, Howard Lindsey, and Russell Crouse, this revised version conceived by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman, keeps much of the genuine plotting intact. What really makes this musical appealing is the selection of tunes created by Cole Porter that is part of what’s been called as The Great American Songbook. With such musical tidbits as You’re The Top, Easy To Love, Let’s Misbehave, Friendship, along with the title tune among the many other hits presented, one has a score that is very appealing that stands out as its own! The comical pacing never lets itself down, always moving in a frantic yet controlled stride.
In addition to the diverting action and dialog, there’s the dancing–and plenty of it as well! Paul Reid’s choreography includes an appealing blend of tap and ballroom dance numbers, along with a high spirited ensemble to provide the hoofing by way of Steve Applegate’s transcribed musical scoring! Angela Manke’s costuming has the entire cast donned in their best period threads that is serious enough to be conceived as priceless. Mark Knowles’ stage direction keeps up with the liveliness involved, making this show a real crowd pleaser!
And with such a showpiece, there is a rather robust ensemble cast involved. As noted, this review only has so much space to work with where there are too many other names to list as part of the players. But rest assured, each cast member did their part to make this performance as seen on the GCT stage a real treat to experience!
ANYTHING GOES is one of those musicals that do speak for a period where such shows were bright and cheery with heavy doses of pure escapism added for good measure! (Remember, the 1930’s wasn’t necessarily the best of times for many!) That said escapism has since turned into nostalgia. And with every musical presented within the confines of this unique theatre-in-the-round showcase that the GCT maintains, it is indeed an accurate description of stating to this facility that they are “the top”!
ANYTHING GOES, presented by and performs at the Glendale Centre Theatre. 324 North Orange Street, Glendale, until October 8th. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM, and Saturday matinees at 3:00 PM with Sunday afternoon performance at 3:00 PM on September 11th and 18th.
For more information and for ticket reservations, call (818) 244-8481, or visit the GCT’s web site at http://www.GlendaleCentreTheatre.com
The Falcon Theatre of Toluca Lake opens their 2016-17 season with the Mo Gaffney/Kathy Najimy comical review PARALLEL LIVES, starring Crista Flanagan and Alice Hunter.
This show consists of a selection of skits and two way monologues as Crista and Alice appear as a number of characters, some with names and others without, in plots and settings that resemble a standard life. Some bits are linked while others are isolated. The skits in question ranges from its opening scene consisting of two angels attempting to create the human beings that will populate the earth, a duo of youths from Brooklyn (or the Bronx) analyzing their lives after viewing West Wide Story, a pair of sisters at a funeral reception for their recently departed grandmother, two long-time elder friends attending a feminist review at an organic cafe, two teens attending a Bible youth camp, an encounter between two regulars at a honky-honk bar, as well as other backdrops and situations that are a bit off-kilter to what one would see in a so-called “real world”.
This review, written by Mo Gaffney & Kathy Najimy, is based upon related material that made up their showcase, called The Kathy & Mo Show, that had its theatre rounds in the early-middle 1990’s, both starring Mo and Kathy. Here, Crista Flanagan and Alice Hunter sub for Gaffney & Najimy as they play the spots that the for noted writers/performers originally did a generation before. As with stage anthologies such as this specific show, the quality and humor factor of the skits are of the hit-or-miss variety. Granted, every one of these mini-plays comprise of comical interludes. Some contain a bit of drama as well. The level of humor witnessed can be best described as quirky with a hint of cockiness added for “flavor”, making selected moments objective and may not be for all tastes. This is what makes this presentation live up to its title. It does demonstrate a parallel life it speaks for. Jenny Sullivan directs this show that guides the talented Crista Flanagan and Alice Hunter as a performing pair that is level with their comical timing. They don’t do slapstick, not do they show any tacky or cheesy cuteness. They hold their performance as humorous sans the belly laughs that may go along the process.
As to its stage look and presentation, Trefoni Michael Rizzi’s set design gives the performance arena a cosmic feel without being overly “outer spacey”. Although a majority of the skits themselves only takes up a few bits of floorboard space, most of the stage left/right/center air only contain set pieces and/or props. This method suggests that this production is a classic example of a small item nestled inside of a big package!
PARALLEL LIVES is a program for those that enjoy their comedy in small bits and bites. It’s a far cry to the level or comedy blackouts once seen and performed on a TV variety program from the 1960’s and 70‘s. But to see this show as it stands on stage in this post modern world is ideal, even on and in a wide(r) open area.
PS…Nearly another worth their pop culture salt already knows about the importance of what an “E-Ticket” is worth! So why bother explaining it all? Then again, that does speak for another era–right?
PARALLEL LIVES performs at The Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank, until September 18th. Showtimes are Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, with Sunday matinees at 4:00 PM. Talkback Thursdays, where the cast members discuss their roles to the audience while taking an informal question & answer session, takes place after the performances of September 1st, 8th, and 15th.
For ticket reservations and for more information, call (818) 955-8101, or visit online at http://www.FalconTheatre.com.
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All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!