Although this week is technically the first full week of Summer, (It began last Saturday the 21st), many folks since the Memorial Day weekend (the “unofficial” start of the Summer season) has been planning to take that vacation; A trip to somewhere a distance from one’s homestead where for a day, week, or even longer, one can take part of a long leisurely time visiting an attraction that is not found in one’s neighborhood to relax, destress, and overall have a great time doing it, either by staying in a cabin nestled in the woods, hanging around a beach front, or taking advantage of some human created (formally “man made” if one is still on the “PC” route) sight, attraction, or event that is fun to see and do. (Amusement parks tend to fall within this range.)
     Within the last few years, a new type of vacation came into vogue. It was a period of time where one would not stray far from one’s home base to do the usual vacation antics. This form of major “R&R” was dubbed the “Staycation” where one mimicked the same traits and rituals one would do within a vacation time and place, except for the fact that this was done at home, or within a short distance from the homestead. Technically speaking, one was away from home on vacation while staying at home at the same time.
     This staycation became common not through popularity, but through circumstance. In the last few years, thanks to higher gas prices as well as the effects from The Great Recession, many people decided that not staying away from home was the notion to do. It was more economical to conduct this indication due to not spending as much within its process. It wasn’t really preferred by those that did pull a staycation, but having a little relaxation near or at home was a whole lot better than having none at all!
     However, the doom and gloom of staying at home for a vacation is appearing to fade away. Mintel, a consumer market research company based in London, recently released a report on American lifestyles and trends stating that folks are getting mighty tired of worrying about the economy and are having the desire to take a real vacation as they once did. Within the past year, more people are willing to spend for vacation times. According to the report, between 2012 and 2013, spending for vacations and tourism increased 4.6%. And steady growth on leisure spending is expected to increase. Just a few scant years ago, as much as 41% of those polled within the report stated they would cut back on leisure activities. In ‘13, that number fell to 30% and is expected to fall within time.
      Please are realizing that taking a trip outside of the home is for gaining an experience they would never obtain if they never went out anywhere! This is especially true for household families that consist of a group of two or more people living within the same dwelling space that are connected to one another, not necessarily based on blood or marriage lines. And the fact that vacations and trips to somewhere or someplace for sheer experience and for fond memories has been holding true for generations. One of the most common subjects found in personal photos collections has been the family vacation or trip. Among the vast photographs and home movies taken for decades, a selection of these images consist of the family (mom, dad, kids, and perhaps the family pet) photographed at someplace that wasn’t at or near their home. (The beach, a national park, a foreign country, an amusement park, and the list goes on!) This trend even exists in the post modern world where folks whip out their phones to take ever lovin’ selfies while standing in front of Old Faithful, the Eiffel Tower, or in one of many Disney parks based in Florida while posting away these same pix on various social media outlets.
     So it appears that folks will actually go somewhere for real for that time off. It doesn’t matter where one heads off to, just as long as it’s for that well deserved rest ‘n relaxation. And they will have enough pix and moving imagery to post to their Facebook friends to prove it all!
    Malibu Playhouse presents the world premier of Gene Franklyn Smith’s FLIM FLAM: HOUDINI AND THE HEREAFTER, a drama about the world’s greatest escape artist teaming with the creator of the world greatest detective over their challenge upon their communication with the sprit world.
     Rick D. Wasserman is Harry Houdini, a man who finds there is no lock is too hard to pick, no rope is too difficult to break free from, and where no straight jacket can ever hold him down. Melissa Kite is Bess Houdini. The pair are part of Harry’s stage show where they perform feats of magic and illusion. In 1922, Harry and his best friend, Sir Author Conan Doyle (Peter Van Norden) meet as part of their prospecting of psychic eminencies for Scientific American. Both of these master figures of their own craft hold interest in communication with the hereafter and the conversing with those that are no longer in a physical state of being. But fate sets aside when Arthur encounters Mina Crandon (Sabra Malkinson), whose claims of her ability to speak with the deceased are genuine. Houdini believes otherwise, contesting that she is a fake. That is, until she speaks with the master of escape’s long departed mother who Houdini was very close to. This communication became so real, Houdini himself is contested to the fact. The conflict speaks more than just magic and phantasm, as well as the sense of what is reliable or what is part of the flimflam that makes show business entertaining to an amused and perhaps gullible audience.
     This is a play that takes two real characters to life on stage and sets them into a world of psychic mystery, back within the era when the public at large held fascination over mediums that were not well understood yet showcased marvel and wonder–even if that wonder may involved a bit of trickery. Rick D. Wasserman as Houdini is ideal for his role. He has many of the same notions that the master in the art of escape would contain. Melissa Kits as Mrs. Houdini doesn’t have that same appeal when it comes to escape, but she knows each and every one of Harry’s tricks–perhaps the only one to ever know outside of Harry himself. Peter Van Norden as Sir Author Conan Doyle towers upon his companion of magic  through his personality and overall stature. And the others that round out the cast, Gigi Bermingham as Lady Jean Conan Doyle, and Cameron Mitchell, Jr. as Dr. Leroi Crandon are superb for their support that builds this play that holds on to the sprit (no pun intended) of magic, illusion, and the old fashioned art of fooling a paying audience of giving them what they want, even if that delivery involves a bit of flim flamery!
     As to the technical side of things, Erin Wally’s set design is basic and functional, showing the various selections of Houdini’s New York City home, the theater stage where his feats are presented, and the setting of specter advisor Crandon’s dwelling where her contact with the sprits are conducted. Claire Livingston’s costuming parleys of the period, adding to the flavor of the era it speaks for. Beverly Craveiro provides the musical direction as he performs on a tinkly piano off side stage providing musical sounds in the same style and method of the tunes presented in sync to a silent moving picture. And Jim Bentley provides the magic consulting with the selection of the tricks and illusions that is performed within this stage piece.
     Directed by Thomas James O’Leary, FLIM FLAM: HOUDINI AND THE HEREAFTER might discuss what’s real and what’s entertainment, but is far from being a piece of “flim flam”! It’s a solid play that takes its matter and escapes with it! (Pun indented!)
According to playwright Gene Franklyn Smith, who also happens to be artistic director to the Malibu Playhouse, much of what is savored on stage is based upon fact! Then again, many of Houdini’s secrets of his art died along with him. But if the tricks and escape feats became the marvels that they were, then it all must be true since truth is stranger that fiction with a bit of magic!

     FLIM FLAM: HOUDINI AND THE HEREAFTER, presented by and performs at the Malibu Playhouse, 29243 Pacific Coast Highway, (adjacent to Zuma Beach), Malibu, until August 3rd. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 3:00 PM. For more information and for ticket reservations, call (310) 589-1998, or visit the theater’s web site at http://www.MalibuPlayhouse.org
(As posted on her Facebook “wall”)
I’m seeing something lately that I haven’t seen in a long time. Lightening bugs! I remember when my best friend, Georganna and I would catch them and put them in jars. We were just little girls. But then they seemed to disappear. I just love them. Do you have them in your neighborhood?

Gene’s been fishing today. Looks like bass for supper! Now, if I just had some okra…..

Chuy’s Tex Mex before my trip. A tradition… just like Mexican food upon my return. I love Texas!

Thanks Robert Aten for my harley ride. You made my day:):):)
As of June 23rd, Tiffi has 2,095 Facebook “friends” and counting!
is a presentation of Linear Cycle Productions

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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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