In yet another incident extracted from this writer’s so-called “stories from life” comes from a couple that my spouse and I recently had a chance to meet up with over non alcoholic beverages. (For the record, yours truly and my spouse are friends with this couple-Barbara and Mike, as the two wives are a middle age adult version of “BFFs”!)
     Among the idle conversation we engaged in raging from local gossip of people we all know of to to the struggles of getting by in today’s urban landscape, came to the subject on how we all spent our recent Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of the summer season.
     Expecting to hear about this couple’s mini adventures doing some sort of outdoorsy stuff as Mike enjoys going camping as well as some boating (he recently purchased a large boat and trailer for his amusement in spite of what Barb thought of it), Mike told me that he didn’t do any camping or boating over that three day weekend.
     “So, what did you two do?” I said in an off the cuff manner.
     “We just stayed home and did some binge watching!” Mike replied, getting Barb into this conversation. (She and my spouse were engaged in some kind of one on one chatting, only to be interrupted by Mike.)
     “Oh?” I replied. “So what did you watch?”
     “We got caught up on some show through Netflix. We streamed one episode one after another! It was great!” said Mike with his standard goofy grin on his face.
     After replying with a rather feeble “um-hmm”, the topic then changed into something else by Barb, apparently not too interested in speaking about watching their TV device for hours at a time.
     Mike and Barbara are one of many folks (couples or otherwise) that engage in binge watching, the art of viewing at least three or more episodes in one sitting. According to a report filed by Miner & Co. Studio, a New York City based marking firm, it noted that seven out of ten domestic TV viewers call themselves as “binge viewers”, those that watch continuos episodes of the same series in an additive method.
     The report also states that these binge watchers tend to overfeed themselves on a single series on a weekly basis as 63% confessed to this fact, based on 800 responses conducted by those age 18 through 54. 90% of bingers do this monthly, while 17% do this every day! Most of your binge watchers tend to be younger a la Millennium age (18-34) while 34% are non white. (Hispanic, black, etc.)
     The only caution to binge watching is personal hygiene! The report also notes that binge viewers are twice more likely than infrequent binge viewers to have skipped bathing or showering because of the bingeing. 27% said this marathon viewing made them feel sluggish, the same way that one would feel when binge eating, drinking, or performing related vices.
     This form of TV watching has been around for the last thirty five or so years, but only in isolated cases. In the early days of VCRs when people were able to record programming off the air only to tune in later, binge watching first came about when fans of Star Trek would record reruns from their local stations, only to watch them later if at all! Some folks would record there shows in order to “trade” tapes to other fans and collectors. This was spread to other programs, mostly in the sci-fi/fantasy genre, ranging from old Twilight Zone repeats to installments of Dr. Who, Space 1999, and other types of video titles. Unless one has access to these back episodes by either recording them off the air or to have tapes of off air shows, binge watching was limited to this group.
     In the 1990’s when the home video market expanded beyond feature films, some episodes of TV shows became commercially available, but only in a limited selection. Since a VHS tape could only hold some two hours of programming recorded in the best quality, only a pair of sixty minute shows or four half hour episodes could fit on one tape. It wouldn’t be practical for a program owner to offer an entire run of a series unless it would be packaged in a volume of twenty or so tapes. (It takes up too much space on a shelf, and the cost wouldn’t be cheap!) If there were any TV shows made available, it would only be selected episodes (a “greatest hits” collection), or it would be released a few installments at a time as what Paramount Home Video did for its Star Trek series, both the original run as well as its many spin offs. (Some budget titles were made available on thinner tape stock or recorded on a slower speed, but those were too far in between.)
     That changed with DVDs started to take hold in the late 1990’s. It was possible to offer as many as a dozen or so episodes onto one disk. And since disks take up way less space that a VHS tape would, it was quite possible to offer an entire run of episodes packed in a boxed set, complete with a booklet informing the owner a bit about the series and episodes enclosed. That marketing plan opened the floodgates to binge watching. Now it was quite possible to catch up on a show one missed during its original run, or to relive the program as before.
    And thanks to streaming video, it even makes binge watching much easier. One doesn’t have to bother changing disks ever four to six hours. All one does is to click on the icon on the website and have at it!
     Outside of the lack of cleaning up one’s self, binge watching in a great way to see program one enjoys and appreciates. Unlike a feature where it plays once and after 100+ minutes it’s all over, a TV program can express such notions as character development, writing changes, and tying in story arcs that would take weeks, months, and even years to make its point. Soap operas, known to take a basic plot line and stretch it on for years, only got away with that since it took so long to make a plot point established, it would in its own subtle way, recap itself every time it was ever referred to. That is why it was quite possible to follow a soap opera, leave it for a few months, only to tune in again where the story picks up where it left off! (Those soap opera writers just knew how to make an idea last! Perhaps this is a lost art?)
     By the way, this writer never asked Mike and Barb just what they was watching for those three long days. Then again, what does it matter? Just as long as they enjoyed themselves. The show probably didn’t appeal to yours truly’s tastes. Besides, this same writer is currently on a TV diet, and the equivalent of a “tea and toast” snack is making sure the TV machine is turned off and nothing more! But that’s show biz!!
     Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills presents the second of two shows currently performing in repertory with Norm Foster’s THE LOVE LIST, a comedy about a man who attempts to creates the perfect woman on paper, only to obtain what he desired.
     John Combs is Bill, a statistician by trade that just turned fifty. His best pal Leon (Martin Thompson), a novelist who’s seeking a comeback, gives Bill a unique birthday present; an offer to find the perfect woman! Seems that Bill’s been single for a while, long divorced from his ex, and Leon knows of a matchmaking service run by a Gypsy that can find the ideal woman through listing the ten qualities that makes a mate perfect. At first, Bill thinks that Leon is putting him on, so he goes along for the idea. After making a roster on a written list of what he believes is the choice woman, in walks Justine (Jennifer Lee Laks), a woman that possess those same personalities that happens to be on that list! She performs everything that’s written down. She’s not only perfect, but perhaps a little too perfect! Did Leon really help his pal Bill in finding a mate? Is Justine ideal for Bill? Is this “Gypsy” behind this match? And the most important question of them all: Is Justine for real, or is she something from Bill’s imagination?
     This play by Canadian playwright Norm Foster creates a comedy that is fresh, diverting, and is a farce that uses its comic appeal based on wit rather than physical pratfalls. Each of the three players that appear possess an amusing appeal where their interactions keep the comedy going. Howard Storm, a veteran of directing TV sitcoms, is on helm to direct this production (with Melanie McQueen as assistant director) that offers plenty of comical twists and turns, leading up to its final laughable crest.
    Perhaps the most obvious “moral” to this play is the theory that one should proceed with caution in fobbing off wishes ‘cuz you just might get ‘em! One will get plenty of delight in this play and production. And best of all, one doesn’t have to make any requests (or lists) because it’s all been granted! Who can wish for more?
     THE LOVE LIST, presented by Theater 40, and performs in the Reuben Corova Theater located on the campus of Beverly Hills High School, 241 South Moreno Drive (off Santa Monica Blvd.) Beverly Hills, until June 20th. Showtimes are Thursday, June 12th and 19th, Friday, June 13th and 20th, Saturday, June 7th, and 14th,  Monday, June 2nd, Tuesday, June 3rd, and Wednesday, June 4th and 18th at 8:00 PM. Sunday performances take place on June 8th at 2:00 PM, and 7:00 PM.
     This show performed in repertory with the production of Educating Rita. For review and details for this performance, see Vol. 19. No. 21.
     For ticket reservations or for more information, call (310) 364-0535, or via online at http://www.Theatre40.org
     Theatre West presents the second of two productions performing in repertory with Kres Mersky’s FLAG DAY, an original comedy about a holiday family get together that meets for the wrong reasons.
     It’s Flag Day, 1992 and the Harris clan are gathering together for the holiday. It’s not for Flag Day, but for Christmas! It seems that Mother Harris died on the previous December 25th at a local burn center in their hometown of Los Angeles. Not to break tradition, the family, along with a few “friends” of the family, make up for lost time to celebrate the season, complete with presents, decorations, and perhaps a bit of cheer. Margaret (Kres Mersky) the unofficial leader of the group, hope to spread a bit of that cheer some six months after the fact. But when families get together, chaos arises! Margaret is marred to Grover (George Toval), a vacuum cleaner sales manager who travels around attempting to sell vacuum cleaner devices that are just so-so in quality. She’s invited Jeffrey (Andrew Parks), a doctor at the burn center who is falling for Margaret thanks for the two having a bit of a fling, siblings Madeline (Saratogo Ballentine), Suzanne (Caitlin Gallogly) who is a high strung ad executive, Ed (Gerald Lancaster), teen age son Daniel (Michael Pammit), neighbor Brunetta (Diane Seller), and some family friends, teen girl Emma (Kylie Brakeman), Howard (Roger Kent Cruz), and Jonathan (Thomas Isao Morinaka). Since this is a post modern family, they have their own personal issues. They conflict with one another while not keeping with the season of peace on earth. But events progress from bad to worse when one of the invited guests congers a few plans of his own, making this Christmas an event and time to remember for many years to come–should they all survive to tell the tale!!
     This comedy written by playwright Kres Mersky who also performs as the lead role of Margaret, is funny in its own unique method. Its humor is based upon the characters that exist in urban families that’s been around long before the days when “political correctness” started to become in vogue! (This play takes place in 1992, the dawning era before technology started to take over modern society, and the for noted “PC” period was ready to kick within domestic life!) The cast of players hold their own singular personalities that use these temperaments as their humor factor, rather than telling one liners in a rapid fire method. In spite of its quirkiness that is seen within this play, it’s mostly based of fact, although the playwright look plenty of create license to create the characters as well as its situations projected within. But all-in-all, it shows a rather dysfunctional family that could be yours and mine–or any other family that the audience might has access to! Paul Gersten directs this show that is a comical caricature of such a group of folks that are related to one another through blood, marriage, or both!
     As to the behind the scenes aspects, Jeff G. Rack’s set design shows a rather comfortable homestead, complete with a pair of comfy sofas that serves as its living room space, enough to hold most of the family that does a lot of sitting down.
     Its title FLAG DAY presents the illusion that it’s about the holiday where one pays homage to the US flag. The real back story to this stage work that it pays tribute to all “F”-ed up families that live with one another through chose or through circumstance. That notion is enough to make this showcase worth running up the flagpole in order to salute! Oh yes! Merry Xmas to all and to all a good night!

     FLAG DAY, presented by and performs at Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. Los Angeles (Universal City adjacent) until June 22nd. Showtimes are Thursday, June 12th and 19th, Friday, June 13th and 20th, and Saturday, June 21st at 8:00 PM, with Sunday, June 15th and 22nd, at 2:00 PM.
     This show performed in repertory with the production of Against The Wall. For review and details for this performance, see Vol. 19. No. 21.
     For reservations and for further information, call (323) 851-7997, or via online at http://www.TheatreWest.org
     The Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena presents the world premier of COLD TANGERINES: THE PLAY, an adaptation of Shauna Niequist’s book or nearly the same name about the author’s life journey through her various highs and lows.
     In this stage work, Lynn Downey Braswell plays Shanna the narrator. She tells a selection of antidotes about appraisals of her life as disclosed by a trio of alter egos; Shea (Kira Shea, alternating with Aliza Pearl), is a perfectionist in every way by always being there and then; Anna (Betsy Roth, alternating with Emily Greco), the good wife and later good(er) mother, becoming the spouse/mater person that she is or should be; and Nadia (Susannah Hicks, alternating with Abby Lynn), who is concerned over her body and how she feels about her well being. Shana herself is the budding writer that desires to place worlds on paper in order to tell her saga to the world. She faces much of the trails and tribulations that a woman of her stature would encounter, from her marriage (with a small army of bridesmaids in tow), her relocation to a middle sized midwestern town (because of her husband’s career move), the notion of raising a child (something that is easier said than done), the sizing up of a basement space (how it’s kept and what’s in there), and other domestic challenges that are part of a post modern lifestyle.
     This is a play that isn’t a story told in a linear fashion, but sole “adventures” that are expressed by the narrator with the three others illustrating what Shanna is speaking about. It’s told in a way as if Shanna is thinking out loud while a small rep company is depicting the movie that plays within her head–a near quote that she states within her particular thoughts/writings/expressions. Lynn Downey Braswell adapted Sahuna Niequist’s memoirs into a stage piece that is very heartfelt and generally ministers in respect to a female based perspective. Or to be more specific, toward the type of woman who leads a middle class life that is God centered and although not mentioned or implied, would be a follower of the gospel according to Oprah. Karissa McKinney directs this show is is tragic and humorous in its various moments. The tragic elements are limited to small and personal exigencies, while the humor is the type that builds up carefully to its “climax”–the same form of comedy that caters toward its targeted demographic.
     COLD TANGERINES: THE PLAY is the type of show one can bring their chosen BFF to, and/or to use as a theatrical formatted supplement toward a book discussion group deliberation of the text (book) version of this title. Take plenty of notes and learn from the master!

     COLD TANGERINES: THE PLAY, presented by Little Candle Productions, and performs at the Fremont Centre Theatre, 1000 Fremont Avenue, South Pasadena, until June 29th. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8;00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. Special talk back sessions will take place after the Sunday, June 15th performance with playwright Lynn Downey Braswell and Susan Isaacs, author of Angry Conversations with God, and with Shauna Niequist, author of the book Cold Tangerines, following the Friday, June 20th performance.
     For ticket reservations and for more information, call (800) 811-4111, or via online at http://www.FremontCentreTheatre.com
     MALEFICENT (Disney) features Angelina Jolie as the title character. The tale begins once upon a time in a far away land where two kingdoms live. One consists of ferries and trolls, while the other lives humans living under the ruler ship of King Henry (Kenneth Cranham). The story begins with Maleficent as a winged fairy of sixteen years, living a content life of a fairy among the moors and forestry. She encounters a young boy, Stefan, a orphaned serf that come across Maleficent’s dwelling. They fall in love as he teachers the winged fairy about love’s true kiss. Stephan desires to be king one day to live a life of royalty, rather than being a lowly serf. As Maleficent becomes older, King Henry, with the notion of authority, has his team of mounted soldiers attempt to invade the moor land of the fairies. Thanks to her power and magic, she is able to stop King Henry’s army. The king himself seeks his revenge, offering a chance to rule on the throne to anyone who brings Maleficent’s wings. Stefen, now a young adult, completes this task and is named king. He and the queen bare a child named Aurora (Elle Fanning). Maleficent hears about the news, and in order to seek the revenge against King Stefan over the evil he committed by clipping her wings for the sake of being ruler, places a spell on Aurora where upon her sixteenth birthday, she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel only to fall into a deep sleep, never to be awoken. That is, unless she receives a true love kiss.
     If the above description describe a classic fairy tale, as well as an animated cartoon that was the first one released in 70 mm with a six track stereo soundtrack produced by somebody named Walt, one is only half right! This feature tells an alternative tale of not only the fairy tale that’s been around since the 15th century, as well as the for noted Disney feature that’s been around since 1959. In this version (c. 2014), it exists within a bevy of special effects where to seems that 90% of this feature is a CGI creation that surprisingly, doesn’t take over as much as one would expect. (It exists of course, but doesn’t “mug” the camera!) There are some live human players as well. King Stefan is played by Sharlto Copley, where he is more evil than one would expect. Sam Riley is Diaval, Maleficent’s personal servant who she changes into various animals (usually as a raven) in order to use as a spy or as a fighting beast when deemed necessary. Brenton Thwaites is Prince Phillip, the closest character than comes as a “Prince Charming” type, and Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, and Juno Temple appear as Flittle, Knotgrass, and Thistlewit respectfully, three fairies that take care of young Aurora from young babe to sweet sixteen. These trio of players are the closest to this film’s “comedy relief”!
     The real two stars in this feature are Elle Fanning as the teen Aurora, and Algelina as Maleficent. These pair of performers have a bonding toward one another that isn’t part of the so-called “Disney version” that most, if not all, fans of this classic fairy tale grew up with. The lead role’s persona was originally created by Marc Davis, one of the studio’s “Nine Old Men” who became the heart and soul in animation for W. D, and Algelina still keeps that look to her
     Even though this feature film has the magic that this studio can present itself with, the whole theme is a little on the dark side. Linda Wooverton’s script presents a story that offers more intense action and adventure than a traditional happy ending, and production designer Robert Stromberg is now in charge, making his feature film directing debut. WIth the aid to other behind the scenes folks, from Dean Semler’s cinematography, Gary Freeman and Dylan Cole’s production design, Anna B. Sheppard’s costuming, with Rick Baker’s makeup (aside from the army of special EFX folks that pixilated everything), one has an impressive looking film, either in IMAX, 3D, or in standard ratio.
     The question remains. Is this film suited for all audiences? Perhaps anyone over the ages of ten and up, as MALEFICENT can be rather freighting for anyone younger. That age limit cuts off quite a bit of the demographic that Disney would normally target to when in comes to marketing its characters for merchandising purposes. Although this feature is rated “PG” for its action battle violence and a few intense scenes, it’s best to leave the young kids at home–or at least keep them watching Frozen for the umpteenth time where they can “let it go”!
     Now playing in multiplexes nationwide, as well as in selected IMAX theaters. 
(As posted on her Facebook “wall”)
Having a great time hanging with my gal. Adriana and I had fun shopping at one of Sacramento’s largest malls yesterday. We restocked our makeup supplies at Bare Minerals, and I got a cool new pair of Crocs at the Crocs store. Today we watched the very first showing of Maleficent and both gave it two thumbs up.

WOOT!!! Checked my bank statement and it said “paid in full” so no more old mortgage. This time I got the house I wanted with Kelly Blue’s help.

the reading glasses work great! I’m back to more consistent reading. Before the glasses it was growing bothersome. Even when writing a grocery list, I had to hold the pad at arms length.

So, I bought some slippers, and Amazon said that customers who bought them also bought — wait for it — a cat toy! Funny!

Glad I don’t have to work tomorrow now, gonna catch up with Sierra and relax!
As of June 2nd, Tiffi has 2,070 Facebook “friends” and counting!
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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!



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