THE SHACK GETS THE SHAFT

     Last month, Radio Shack, the Ft. Worth, Texas based retailer of electronic gizmos and other related paraphernalia, announced on its corporate investor relations web site that it will close as many as 1100 underproductive stores over the next few months in order to allow the company to regroup itself, as well as to keep losses at bay. The company lost some $166.1 million during the fourth quarter of 2013, with retail store sales down 19% as driven by traffic declines and soft performances in cell phone sales. The company is going through a plan where it will shift its sales in mobile devices in the for noted cell phones, as well as offering electronic pads and other related devices.
     In spite of this change of business, it’s a far cry to what these stores were once was back in its so-called glory days: A place where one can get just about any electronic device ranging from diodes, ham and CB radios, RC toys, and other related objects that was the place to go that the do it yourself person (or “DIY” in post modern lingo speak) can find and need!
     Many of the Radio Shacks are in malls, although there are many free standing outlets. This was the joint where this writer would trek off to if a specific cable adapter was needed while working on a media project. (More on that in a moment!)
     Since the turn of the 21st century, Radio Shack began to shift gears from offering the standard electronic devices, such as TV sets, radios (of course), turntables, as well as the for noted diodes and cable adapters, to cell phones and laptops when such devices were becoming more common but still holding on to its novelty and specialty status. As these devices grew in popularity, as well as the growth of other places that offered the same things (online as well as the “brick and mortar” outlets), Radio Shack was changing from the “go to” place to the “go to if it’s convient” location. Sadly, the DIY devices were taking a back seat in the business. Although some devices are still made available, much of what was there in the stores were now limited to an online sale, meaning that if one wanted to get its Archer brand outdoor aerial, one had to order it online! Anyone that has a big screen high def TV monitor is aware of the fact that such a device–a traditional TV antenna–will not only receive local stations, but will pick up high def signals cleaner than what a cable or satellite provider can provide.
     Radio Shack is one of a number of once strong retailers that didn’t advance fast enough through the annals of time. Thanks to the progression of technology that changed nearly everything in terms of business strategies and leisure activities that came about within the last twenty or so years, the way one conducts monetary business as well as one’s personal affairs were given a new face. Many corporate businesses were created through this era, as well as other establishments that were either changed drastically or outright destroyed! Meanwhile, the ways one conducts their living aspects in a standard, and even boring domestic life, has also seen that change! Back in the “good old days” c.1994, if one wanted to plan their day, one would pull out a Day Runner–that midsize three ring binder–and write down important notes and sources on its blank lined pages, from a meeting with corporate management to an upcoming gathering by the local PTA group. There would be a list of phone numbers, addresses, and other facts jotted down made handy for the user. If one wanted to call a number listed, one could do so through a home and/or a office phone. If that person was outside of the home and/or office, one can head to a local pay phone. However, if the person wasn’t available to take the call, there was an answering device. Nevertheless, it would take time for the person to call back once the person had access to the message.
     In today’s period, that day runner device would be changed to a smart phone, where one can keep track of meetings and other social affairs. All phone numbers, addresses (physical, and e-mail), as well as Twitter handles, would all be included! One can call anyone, and mostly likely, that call would go to another cell phone. However, one can’t escape the answer device if the called person can’t take the live communication.
     But getting back to Radio Shack for the moment. The company will still operate and still keep its stores. However, there won’t be a lot of obscure cables and other parts available. Either one has to order it online, or find it somewhere else!
     As to how Radio Shack saved my rear end? When I was involved in video production a generation or so ago, I was in constant need of audio and/or video cables to conduct my production and post production elements. When I was at a remote location and I needed a special cable adapter (RCA male to BNC female), I would head on over to a nearby Radio Shack, find by adaptor, and was on my way! I always took advantage of their Battery Club where I can get a free Radio Shack brand standard battery per visit! (I usually took 9 volt or AA size). I kept a few in my camera bag to use for mics that used battery power. Over time and tide, I stockpiled a load of these cables and adapters for my media  use. Today, I still have each and every cable and adapter. However, I rarely use them now, but you never know when they still come in handy!
     So don’t say “good buy” to Radio Shack quite yet. They haven’t gone away, they just changed just like the 1980’s eventually did! (PS…I still can use open reel audio splicing tape! If anyone has some, please contact me! Thanx!)
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NEWS AND REVIEWS
     Theatre Palisades presents the French comedy farce DON’T DRESS FOR DINNER, a tale about a married couple having their flings while trying to hide their affairs at the same moment set to a dinner party taking place all at the identical time!
     Bernard (Michael Allen) and Jacqueline (Maria Pavone) are a married couple living in a country home just outside of Paris. Jacqueline is planing to go off to her mother’s place for the weekend, while Bernard is hosting a visit at home with an old friend Robert (Drew Fitzsimmons). Bernard has even hired a cordon bleu chef Suzette (Holly Sidell) to prepare a gourmet meal. Things get a bit complicated when Jacqueline cancels her visit since she and Robert are having a little fling, while Bernard is also fooling around on the side with Suzanne (Maria O’Connor) who was coming over to celebrate her birthday, along other “celebrations”! Before long, each guest at the “dinner” party must hide each other’s reasons on why they are there, in addition for having cook Suzette masquerading as Bernard’s “niece” as an alibi, blending within the many misadventures that go along with a group that mixes together for all the wrong reasons!
     This frantic piece written by March Camoletti, who has penned many a French stage satire in French (Robin Hawdon provides its English adaptation), has all of the expected elements one would find in such a comedy, from running in and out of doors, mistaken identities, kinky humor, and frenzied slapstick that creates a stage work that is downright comical in its own method! The cast of six players (including Rodney K. Carrington as George, Suzette’s spouse), have their comic timing set to a “T”. Although the humor isn’t anything “highbrow”, the wild frenzy that takes place on the floorboards makes up for all the difference, thanks to Theatre Palisades resident director Sherman Wayne. He, along with the cast, knows their physical comedy down pat while each player shuffles from one little comic situation to the next without missing a beat.
     In addition to his directing and comedy skills, Mr. Wayne also provides the set and lighting design, showing off a rather charming farm house turned country estate, complete with a small bar to the side (as the French have their desires to consume sprits) as well as a series of set doors where the cast enters and exits on diverting cue.
     DON’T DRESS FOR DINNER is one of those laughable plays that can be taken as a so-called “guilty pleasure” since its humor aspects is far from sophisticated or intellectual, but its downright entertaining! As with French comedies, it’s also a bit kinky, but in a playful state of matter! Then again, affairs tend to be playful, so its themes are not far from the truth. And as the French may add to all of this flippancy, Viva la difference!!

     DON’T DRESS FOR DINNER, presented by Theater Palisades, performs at the Pierson Playhouse, 941 Temescal Canyon Road (off Sunset Blvd.), Pacific Palisades, until Mat 11th Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. For more information, call (310) 454-1970, or visit online at http://www.TheatrePalisades.com
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     Currently playing at the Glendale Center Theatre is Michael Cooney’s CASH ON DELIVERY, a comedy set in the frantic mode about one man’s feeble attempt to cash in on government benefits, only to have his scheme unravel faster than expected.
     The story focuses upon Eric Swan (Michael Sartain) a man living in East London who lost his job some time before but is seeking work with little success. In order to support himself, he has been taking the identity of a former tenant in his building who moved out of the country two years before in order to obtain his government benefits, from his social security payments, his disability, child support, and even maternal premiums–as Eric knows of all the loopholes! His wife Linda (Danni Wheller) isn’t aware of Eric’s scheme, even though that the social security office send in an agent named Jenkins (Tom Killam) to visit him at home in condition to check up on his status and to have him sign a few more forms to receive more benefits! In order to keep his fib in line, he cons an actual tenant Normal McDonald (Collin McCarthy) to claim that he is Eric and Eric as the tenant. From that point, this little lie turns out to be a big one and Eric realizes that he’s been pulling a rather complicated method of getting money that he wasn’t eligible for in the first place.
     This farcical parody by playwright Michael Cooney, known for his madcap comical farces, creates a play that is funny, fast, and frantic, containing many of the ingredients one would expect to see portrayed in such a breakneck paced piece, from the mistaken identities (as there are lot of this), to the running in and out of doors (again, plenty of this type of action in supply) to a variety of other plot points, from dead bodies to cross dressing! Unlike other comic farces, there are no scantly clan characters, but there is a playful hint of kinkiness noted, but kept on a family friendly level! As to this production, the cast of performers, many of them GCT rep players, are masterful when it comes to frenzied action as seen on the theatre-in-the-round stage, as each one holds a sense of amusing believability. (Sure, the plot itself may be a silly, but still holds a charm of its own!) Director Zoe Bright, who also appears as Ms. Cowper, another social service agent who arrives at Eric’s home to check up on things, directs this ensemble of performers that keep their comic timing upbeat without never letting any of the spirit of the play down! Assistant director Tosca Minotto adds to the furious action that adds a good part of the fun.
     As to the others in the cast, this play also features Kyle Kelly as Uncle George, who is also duped into Eric’s laughable purposes, Kelly Smith as Sally Chessington, another agent from the welfare board, Don Woodruff as Dr. Chapman, a relationship councilor whose also checking in on Eric’s situations for yet more benefits, Tom Allen as undertaker Mr. Forbright, and rounding out the cast is Kay Rosin as Brenda Dixon, Norman’s fiancé.
     In addition to the players, CGT regular Angela Wood from Glendale Costumes provides the contemporary outfits donned by the group, and CGT artistic director and producer Tim Dietlein provides the set decoration of the Swan living room setting where all of the action takes place, if not for the running in and out of doors!
     Comedy farces were never known for its witty humor. However, CASH ON DELIVERY offers its laughs in a classic way through quick comic timing and slapstick absurdness. That’s the best way to gain joyfulness in such a play. Even within the director’s notes, it states that the team of performers had a great time getting this piece together for the stage, and it shows off this fact within this GCT presentation. After all, it’s only money!

     CASH ON DELIVERY, presented by and performs at the Glendale Centre Theatre. 324 North Orange Street, Glendale, until May 10th. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM, with Saturday matinees at 3:00 PM, with Sunday matinee taking place on April 13th at 3:00 PM. 
     For reservations or information, call (818) 244-8481, or visit the web site at http://www.GlendaleCentreTheatre.com
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TIFFI’S FRIENDS SAY…
(As posted on her Facebook “wall”)
I’ve been cooking chicken and dumplings. (Thanks Susan for the recipe.)
-Cristie

Call the Midwife, Selfridges, Game of Thrones. Glorious evening at home with the love of my life, Paul
-Kris

Tiny shaker…reminds me of home if it was nearby, prob a 3.
-April

Just ate graham crackers with peanut butter for the first time ever. This isn’t good, people. Not good at all.
-April

As of April 7th, Tiffi has 2,010 Facebook “friends” and counting!
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2014 Linear Cycle Productions.
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