BACK TO SCHOOL AGAIN?

Although this month kicks off the so-called “dog days” of summer, many of those of a certain age–this time those age 22 and younger–will be attending some form of organized schooling come the start of the new season either by chose or through circumstance. The ones attending college or the notion of college level, will be starting off between late August through middle late September. Those entering high school and under will be starting off around the same time, although most will have their rears parked behind a school desk by the Tuesday after Labor Day. (This article will speak for those attending classroom type settings located outside of the home base, so those that will be home schooled don’t count nor apply!)

What may bring attention to the hearts of students, as well as those parents and/or caretakers of those students, are the reminders set by retailers that the “Back to School” sales are underway. This means that it’s time to stock up with all of the traditional materials, (pen, pencils, notebook paper, etc.) as well as the modern tools to get and gain an education, mostly in the form of electronics. (Laptops, electronic pads, etc.) The attention in this case isn’t so much of the notion to buy and of these items or the cost it brings, but the element of the summer antics that’s been taking place since June, will slowly yet surly come to its end.

Although the ritual of going back to school after a summertime period is part of seasonal antics that those parents/caretakers of kids do each and every year, its tough for the parent(s) since they must get their little Johnny and Janie (or to speak for kids living in their post modern world, the Hunters and Baylees) ready to face their teachers once the first day back arrives. For the kids, that means that all of the freedom once had by not showing up to a classroom five (or six) days a week is going to cease. Then again, kids of this same post modern society has been so busy getting involved in other things, from sports to more schooling, may not notice. They can see their schoolmates again, unless social media did all of that for one’s self, to get back to a structured schedule that holds tighter time limits, as well as performing some kind of assignment presented in a physical sense, rather than as a virtual idea.

The real culprit of these reminders of back to school isn’t from the parents/caregivers nor the schools themselves. It’s the retailers that sell all of the nonsense. The classic discount departments stores such as Target and Walmart arrange huge displays that feature all of the paper goods and writing instruments. Electronic outlets such as Best Buy hawk laptops and E-pads that is ideal for the school aged student. And the office supply outlets are going to do their thing as well. Staples, perhaps the biggest office supply retailer around, took one step further by pushing a back to school sale on June 29th-about three weeks after most school districts ended their school year, and about two days after some school districts in the Boston area (where Staples is headquartered) called it quits for the summer.

Staples, along with many other physical outlets both franchised and local, has seen their business erode over the past few years thanks to the efforts of online outlets. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Amazon ate away in Staple’s business for back to school sales, forcing the visible retailer to push their BTC season earlier than ever before! (Last year, it began around July 10th.)

This writer has been out of the regular schooling notion for quite a while, so yours truly can’t really grasp the notion of what “back to school” reminders are all about in this day and age. But to wax poetic for a moment, yours truly would be placed in terror when a radio, TV, or newspaper ad would come around reminding the viewer/listener/reader that it’s time to take advantage of the sales going on to get your kid (or “a” kid) ready for work once the school bell rings for the first time since June. Although I tolerated school for what it was, I would have rather be anywhere that wasn’t a classroom where I was forced to sit on a hard seat chair propped behind a small desk that opened from the top (the same way that a hood of a car opened) placed in rows facing the front of the room where Miss Nutplugg (if not “Mrs. Nutplugg”) would lead the class with subjects I found dull and boring. And this would go on for the next nine months! But during the summer, I would be free from all of that, doing what I wanted to do and when! Even if what i did was to catch up with all of my daytime TV programs, the idea of me doing whatever the hell I wanted stayed tried and true!

But if you ask today’s kids, many of these leaders of tomorrow (so to speak) don’t seem to be phased in going back to school. In fact, they even look forward to it! Today kids have it better(?) then yours truly when I was of their age since they have access to anything that suits their interests and tastes, even if that something has more of an educational stance to it.

In the mean time, for those that don’t have any worries that “the end is near”, enjoy the summer for what it is! You can learn a lot by taking advantage to what’s around, and there won’t be a pop quiz attached to it either! It’s when the livin’ is really easy!

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NEWS AND REVIEWS

The Eclectic Company Theatre presents ECLECT-A-FEST, a series consisting of an anthology of short plays spread over two separate sessions.

The pair of entries, labeled as “Program A” and “Program B” perform on two different days. Each segment consists of a choice of plays with as running time of about ten minutes each–give or take! The segments themselves range from comedy, drama, with a bit of each in between.

Program A’s selection consist of Jeff Folschinsky’s “A Pill by Any Other Name”, featuring Paul Duffy, Carissa Gipprich, Paul Messinger, and Elliot Troop, about a man’s self decoration of being a homebound Czar with plans to run his household with an iron fist. (Directed by Justin T. Bower.), “Snugglebunnies on MyFace” by Caroline Marshall, directed by Madelyne Heyman, and stars Rosie De Candia and Cynthia Holloway about a woman stalking an ex-boyfriend through social media while it’s getting the best of her; “Touch” by Justin T. Bowler, directed by Madelyne Heyman and stars Luke Baldridge and Olivia Gadson about a woman’s visit to a local masseur while she recovers from injuries she encounter both physical and emotional; Steve B. Green’s “Three Really Offensive Scenes About the Founding Fathers” starring Kerr Lordygan, Paul Messinger, and Jon Mullich, where John Adams and Thomas Jefferson are attempting to write a decoration of independence without much luck, but George Washington comes to aid them with a little help of a new crop he plans to raise. (Directed by Thomas Ashworth); “Tartine” by Kerr Lordygan, with Doug Mattingly, Jessicah Neufeld, and Susan Priver, about a man that can’t endure his sister’s mysterious female lover (directed by Warren Davis); “The Yo-Yo Pilgrimage” by Taylor Ashbrook, directed by Warren Davis and stars Joy Darash, Carissa Gipprich, and Ben Hensley takes place in the not too distant future about a pair of travelers heading back to Earth aka ‘The Old Country’ that’s totally different that their controlled society where they currently dwell, and rounding out this selection is Kerr Lordygan’s “Private Conversations”, with Jane Kim and Doug Mattingly about a married couple whose relationship is crumbling, but keeps in touch through modern technology while apart, hoping to create a compromise.

Program B’s line up consists of Kerr Lordygan’s “The Aftersex”, directed by Justin T. Bowler and features Elliot Davis, Olivia Gadson, Collin Gaveck, Diane Kelber, Jane Kim, Jaret Martino, Paul Messinger, Veronica Mistry, Erin Treanor, and Price Adam Troche, Jr. , about five couples of different ages, lifestyles, and status that converse with one another right after their particular moment of sexual bliss: “Frankenstud” written and directed by Caroline Marshall, features Edward Alvarado, Roslyn Cohn, and Susan Priver that speaks about a woman into new age-style yoga, is seeking a man for herself while her gal pal introduces her to a cupcake; Kerr Lordygan’s “Bread, Butter & Marmalade”, fearing Sonia Cruz, Lillana Iselia, Catitlin Lowerre, Derek Meeker, and Erin Treamor, about a group of selected woman in Berlin around the time of the fall of Nazi Germany (Directed by Derek Long); “Magical Realism” by Taylor Ashbrook and directed by Steve B. Green, stars Luke Wesley Baldridge and Paul Messinger about one man’s recap of New Year’s Day with another man that might be real or not; and rounding out the series is Kerr Lordygan’s “More on the Moron”, with Scott Gerard, Collin Gaveck, Carissa Gipprich, Che Landon, Jaret Martino, Scott Pretty, and Thomas Prosser about a gay man that seeks revenge on an arrogant cyberbully. (Directed by Matt Ritchey).

This anthology of plays, either riotously funny or dramatic with a touch of charm, possesses one element in common, They are quirky and slightly off-kilter within their own right! The comedy’s defiantly not sitcom level, and the drama isn’t an overbearing melodramatic work. It’s a mixed bag for sure, but unlike other shorter plays that might make the theater rounds, this selection may appear somewhere (when and where is anyone’s guess), or they just might disappear for good, never to be performed on any stage ever again! This is what makes this remarkable series appealing. It’s new, different, and will make one laugh, give one a somber emotion, and even present both all at the same time!

For nearly a decade, The Eclectic Company Theatre presented a short play festival during the months of July and August under the name of Hurricane Season, where a evaluation of shorts were performed, and the audience would vote on the best of the selection. After a tally, the three winning plays would appear as its closing performance weekend. ECLECT-A-FEST replaces the contest aspect. However, the themes of something slightly off kilter abides. This new concept might be distinctive, but all of its original flavor remains intact!

For those that are seeking something peerless in their theater going and might not hold an attention span to maintain an entire full length play, this collection is one’s choice. One will experience a laff riot, receive a bit or dramatics, and grab a bit of both all in one neat and tidy package. Compare this showcase as a box of chocolates with the wisdom of Forrest Gump attached, and one can get the idea of what ECLECT-A-FEST is all about!

 

    ECLECT-A-FEST, presented by and performs at The Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd. (between Chandler and Magnolia Blvd.) Valley Village, through September 7th. Showtimes for Program A are Thursday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Program B runs on Friday nights at 8:00 PM and Sunday evenings at 7:00 PM. Special “pay-what-you-can” performances are Wednesday, August 13th and Sunday, August 24th at 2:00 PM (Program A), and on Saturday, August 9th at 3:00 PM and Wednesday, August 27th at 8:00 PM (Program B). For further information and for ticket reservations, call (818) 508-3003, or via on line at http://www.EclecticCompanyTheatre.org

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Making its world premier at the NoHo Arts Center in North Hollywood is THE MAX FACTOR FACTOR, a bright and cheerful musical romp that tells the saga of two leading film stars working at rival studios that fall for one another, in spite of what their fiancés, the studio moguls, as well as the head of the movie decency league may strike to say!

The place in Tinseltown, USA. The year is 1936. In spite of the Great Depression and a global threat of war breaking out, Hollywood is into their own personal wars and great depression. Lance Grant (Jeff Scot Carey) and Hoyt Baxtor (Jeffrey Christopher Tood) are the two hottest stars of the big screen, contracted to competing movie studios. They also have their two leading ladies, Alice Fern (Jessica Howell) and Clara Burns (Jessica Snow Wilson). Lance and Hoyt are pictured in the press with their spouses to be (Alice and Clara) as planed and arranged by the heads of the two studios Hank Whittles (Kevin McIntyer) and Fred Berkson (Kevin Michael Moran). But Lance and Hoyt find somebody else–each other! Cordelia Goodwife (Heather Ott) head of the Legion of Rectitude, a group that’s out to clean up moving pictures from depictions of evil and sin, find something a bit oft kilter to this relationship. She works in alliance with Eva Gallaghor (Jordan Kai Burnett) over this issue. Eva is just another actress that wants to move beyond playing unnoticeable bit parts to becoming a lead star, and happens to be the niece to one of the studio moguls! But Eva and Cordelia are drifting in their own personal alliance as well. And as they said when talkies became the rage, you ain’t seen nor heard nothing yet!

This musical, with book by Adrian Bewley and score by Joe Blodgett (music) and Chana Wise (lyrics) is funny, witty, and very romantic to say the least! It performs within the same vein as a “screwball” comedy that was popular in the 1930’s and 40’s that contained one comical mishap after another that concludes on a cheerful note by the final reel! The cast of players are just as outstanding as the musical concoction witnessed on stage. Jeff Scot Carey and Jeffrey Christopher Tood as Lance and Hoyt have the appeal of Hollywood-type leading men that would make the woman swoon, although it’s not the woman folk that would be doing the swooning! Jessica Howell and Jessica Snow Wilson as Alice and Claira have that “leading dame” allure. They are more snarky than somebody with grace and charm–the kind of movie stars that the public loved back then to later carry that same glamour to generations forward. And they all can sing and dance very well, too! Palmer Davis choreographs a tight musical that never lets its humor and charisma down. Daniel Mahler’s costuming speaks of the era, full of pin stripe suits for the men, lavish gowns for the woman folks, and all in between! (Ditto for the hair and makeup as provided by Elegance International.) And Bryan Blaskie’s musical direction takes hold to the roster of songs that is equally diverting as he leads his three piece “orchestra” consisting of Eric McCann on bass, Brian Cannady on percussion, and Blaskie on keyboards.

Also appearing within this show is Stefan Rich as Johnny Strong, an up and coming  good looking and handsome Hollywood star that has the magnetism as the leading men (and a better body to back that fact up), with Trevor Shor, Everjohn Feliciano, and Alex Boling in a variety of roles, from Greek chorus to members of the press to the trio that are part of Max Factor’s makeup store, where powder and blush can make anyone ready for their next close up!

Directed by Michael A. Shepperd, THE MAX FACTOR FACTOR is one of the most (if not the most) original musical ever to hit the local stage scene in quite a while. It has just about anything one would want in a screwball musical; A stage/film setting that is richly entertaining, captivating, and is just one big gay romp–using the two known meanings of the term “gay”! There’s plenty of “boffo” found in this musical, and will sport lots of “BO”! (The show biz use of the term of “BO”.) And best of all, there is a happy ending to it all! Who says that they don’t make ‘em like they used to??

     THE MAX FACTOR FACTOR, presented by New Musicals, Inc. in association with Celebration Theatre, performs at the NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd. (at Lankershim), North Hollywood, until August 31st. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 3:00 PM. For ticket reservations or for more information, call (818) 506-8500, or on line at http://www.MNI.org

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MEET & GREET, a new comedy play by Stan Zimmerman & Christian McLaughlin about four actresses that meet at the same casting office to audition for a pat in a sitcom, currently performs at Theatre Asylum-Elephant Space, in Hollywood.

The setting takes place at a casting director’s office located off Ventura Blvd. in the San Fernando Valley. A quartet of actresses, all of a mature age, arrive to audition for a part in a new sitcom. The four that arrive are Margo Jane Marsden (Carolyn Hennesy), a seasoned Broadway stage actress who flew in from New York whose peak within her career is behind her and hopes that appearing on TV may revise her public presence, Brlinda Reid (Vicki Lewis) who once was the star of a sitcom over a decade before where she costarred with another actress Teri Valentine (Teresa Ganzel) that just so happens to be present to audition for the same role; Brinda now lives a post-hippy lifestyle and Teri kept her “dumb blond” persona and is presently making a meager living selling “natural” face creams and herbal supplements on home shopping TV channels, and Desiree White (Daniele Gaither), a sassy “getto black” star of a reality series. They are met by the casting assistant (Brendan Robinson) an energetic and gay (both terms of “gay”) man who runs the place keeping everything in check. While they wait their turn hoping to meet the studio bigwigs with their craft, the team of four bicker with one another, especially between Brinda and Teri who were once costars but also have seen their better days long behind them! But before anyone is actually cast, they discover a notion that will change their lives (and their acting roles) for a long time!

This one act comedy was one of many shows that first made its appearance at the annual Hollywood Fringe Festival that occurs every June at theaters located in Hollywood’s “Theatre Row” (Generally, along Santa Monica Blvd. east of La Brea and west of El Centro Avenue.) Now it has been developed into a full fledged piece that contains wacky and cartoonish characters with plenty of gags and one-liners presentable for a sitcom, and is funnier as performed on stage! The cast of five players make their roles ideal for who they portray, from Carolyn Hennesy as the Broadway starlet in the same vein as a Angela Lansbury-type, Vicki Lewis as the aging hippy seeking another big break, Teresa Ganze as the ditzy kind donning blond hair, speaking in a high pitched voice while sporting big breasts, Daniele Gaither as the jive talking “chocolate bitch” from the ‘hood, and Brendan Robinson that is more of the “boy toy” variety, complete with wearing a cherry red shirt and black skinny tie. Stan Zimmerman directs this show that could be based upon real characters seeking real jobs at real casting agencies found all over Studio City and North Hollywood. That’s what makes this show so enjoyable as it takes a sharp poke of the cattle call sessions one would find out by way of an ad in Backstage West, or (if one is lucky enough to have one), through their agent!

MEET & GREET is a funny show proving that show business is still the place where one can love it as much as hate it! This show brings more of the love (and laughs) that is all about the biz!

     MEET & GREET, presented by Combined Artform, and performs at Theatre Asylum-Elephant Space, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd. (between Lillian and Vine Streets), Hollywood, until September 21st. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 4:00 PM. 

     For tickets and information, visit http://www.TheatreAsylum-la.com

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GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (Marvel/Disney) is another (and latest) entry to the super hero feature genre, this time presenting a comic series that has never been presented on the big screen before. The Guardians of the Galaxy, a team that’s lead by Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) a man from 20th century America who as a kid following the death of his mother from an illness that could be cancer, is abducted by forces from another world. He is now living in the 31st century defending the said galaxy. It seems that Peter, still holding on to some of his things he possessed when he was a kid, most notably, a 1980’s vintage Sony Walkman portable cassette player, complete with a “mix tape” of hits from the previous decade (i.e. the 1970’s), obtains an “antique” metallic like orb device that is coveted by Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) for purposes that are evil like. So Peter gathers his team to work together but not necessarily is a friendly manor, in order to keep this orb out of the clutches from Ronan. The team consists of Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a gun toting raccoon, Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), a blue colored goon with a body lined with cryptic tattoos and a slow anger to match, and Groot (Vin Diesel), a treelike plant with human characteristics. The orb they are defending has more power than first thought, but it’s up to this ragtag set of players to serve what’s correct, as well as to defend the galaxy as its presented.

For those that are not to be in the know within the world of comics, these characters first made its appearance as part of the new entry of the “Merry Marvel Marching Society” at the tale end of comicdom’s silver age. (1960’s). Created by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan, this title had changed its way through its many years, finally morphing to its current version in 2008–the kind that’s depicted in this picture. As with many comic titles, there are the standard elements that one would find in such a film, such as the main characters speaking in sarcastic tones, sporting plenty of action packed moments while loving in what they do (what would they be doing otherwise?), and fighting through their times thanks to an overload of special effects! This film has all of that and then some! As one would also suspect, some of the characters depicted both major and minor, appear as CGI created creatures, especially Rocket the raccoon and Groot. (Although it states in the above paragraph that Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel “perform” as those roles, it’s just their voices heard rather than seeing them act out!) It also has other performers that are just as “good” as the rest. (More of the explanation of the meaning of “good” in just as moment!) Zoe Saldana appears as Gamora, a green colored assassin (and briefly appears as Peter’s love interest), Karen Gillan is Nebula, another assassin (this time colored blue) who is Gamora’s adapted sister, Djimom Hounsou is Korath, one of Roman’s solders ready for a kill, Michael Rooker appears as Yondu, surrogate father to Peter (and is also colored blue), Benicio Del Toro is Taneleer Tivan aka “The Collector”, a being that holds a vast accumulation of fauna, most of witch is unidentifiable with the exception of a Soviet cosmodog (played by “Fred”), Glen Close as Nova Prime, the authoritative head of Nova Corps that the titled Guardians of the Galaxy is part of, and rounding out the cast is John C. Reilly as Rhomann Dey, a corpsman of the Nova Corps who speaks in a slightly goofy stance that reminds this reviewer as a voice heard on Stan Freberg comedy records(!). And good ol’ Stan Lee makes his upteenth cameo in a Marvel film. This time, he doesn’t speak any lines for what that’s worth!

As to the movie itself, James Gunn directed and co-wrote the screenplay with Nicole Pearlman, that’s loud, fast paced, loaded with interesting and amusing characters and episodes, but is (to this writer anyway) stupid yet entertaining. That’s the “good” part-a movie that’s good not because it has great acting and story plot, but because it’s rip roaringly numskulled! Just as long as one doesn’t take this movie seriously, one will have themselves a great time, especially if one sees this flick in the large screen IMAX format! It also boasts a 1970’s era soundtrack (go figure), and is in 3-D, although much of the 3-D effects tend to get lost in the slower moments of this title.

This movie will appeal to the fanboys (and fangirls) that tend to follow these kind of flicks that are brimming, beefheaded, and profitable! (Heavy on the profitable!) In fact, the last title that appears right before the long end credits (it takes a lot of folks to do all of that CGI nonsense) stated that “The Defenders of the Galaxy will return”! That means to look out for a sequel to this series within the next year–give or take a few months!

This flick is rated “PG-13” for cartoon type violence and mild cussing. Now playing at all of the usual multiplexes nation and worldwide.

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TIFFI’S FRIENDS SAY…

(As posted on her Facebook “wall”)

Alone day tomorrow. Writing a to do list now so that I stay focused and get some work done. What do you think, Kelly? Good plan??

-Laurie

Heard at 6 AM, when Bob’s alarm went off after four hours sleep. “Shiloh, your trusty sidekick is supposed to help you get up, not stand on top of you.”

-Cheryle

It’s easy to love a man like Marty who makes a special trip to the store to bring me Tillamook Peanut Butter and Chocolate ice cream! Love you, babe!

-Lynette

We let Clark sleep in until 10:30. I didn’t get up till 10, still have that migraine just sitting there. Jeffrey has been up since 6:30 doing all kinds of things despite having a migraine starting. We have two events this afternoon we’d like to go to but not sure–we’ll see. Just discovered our water heater is still on Vacation mode–just like us lol! But now the temp is turned back up! About to start laundry load number 3

-Carrie

Thankfully Justin’s here to help me set up my new computer. 

-Susan

As of August 4th, Tiffi has 2,171 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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