Continuing the time tested question asking if modern technology is helping or hurting society as we know it, a survey study was recently released asking those on their reliance to their portable communication device, better known as the smartphone.

     This research, conducted by Braun Research in cahoots with Bank of America, asked 1000 adults aged eighteen and over that has some form of financial relationship with BofA that reside within the states and communities of California, Florida, Texas, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, NC (where BofA is headquartered), Chicago, and New York City over their habits of their smartphone use. And based upon the findings, these people that replied do more with these devices than just send and receive basic phone calls.

     Among the findings in the report, 85% check their phone a few times a day and 35% of those check it continually. 34% feel that they feel “naked” is they don’t have access to their phones after 24 hours. (13% can’t last and hour while 16% can go on with life indefinitely!)

     Other stats in terms to addition. If their phone was lost and/or stolen, some 68% stated they be concerned by not being able to connect with family and/or friends while waiting for a replacement. The notion of losing one’s contact lists as well as identity/security information was also heavy at 79%. Missing important phone calls rank at 68% and losing stored photos/videos came in at 72%. (No social media access trailed in last at 35%)

     How is a smart phone important in one’s daily life? 91% of those stated that their phone  is a key source of daily living, behind a toothbrush (95%), internet access (93%) and tied with using a car and deodorant (91%), while far ahead of a laptop (90%), a TV set (76%), a microwave oven (74%), coffee (60%), and social media in general (48%). Millennials, those born after 1980, find their phones to be the most important device at 96%, far ahead of a toothbrush, deodorant, a car, and coffee.

     To those that check their phones, the times and places where following up is deemed annoying or obnoxious? 35% noted that checking a phone while operating a vehicle is annoying and even dangerous, 15% stated where the user insists of sharing ever little detail on their life via social media apps, (residents in California reported this overuse the most), 15% stated those speaking loudly in a pubic place,12% using/checking a phone while in a face to face conversation, 7% checking a phone during meal times, and 5% during a meeting as well as attending a live performance or while at the movies.

     And if their phone were to be taken away, what other vice would people give up to get their phone back? 45% would give up alcohol,  34% would give up chocolate

22% shopping, 16% TV/movies, 13%  sex, and 8% would give up driving their car. Not too surprising, but men would give up chocolate more than women. (42% vs. 27% respectfully.)

     BofA also asked about people’s habits of banking with their phone as well (60% would NOT use their phones as a virtual “wallet”), but these findings prove once again when the smart phone may not be as smart as one would suspect!

     Since the iPhone was first introduced by Steve Jobs during the annual Macworld event in San Francisco in January of 2007 with the first iPhones being made available six month later, this little device changed the habits of those living in a domestic society that a majority of us dwell and exist. With some two thirds of those that have access to a cell phone, use one that can be labeled as a “smartphone”. This so-called important tool is for many not just a thing where one can call friends to say (or text) “what’s up?”, but a device where anything and everything important to the user is housed within, from phone numbers, photos, to other personal details such as financial statements. (Credit card payments, banking, etc.) For others, it’s a pacifier, a plaything to have when there isn’t anything else to do! (According to the report, New Yorkers feel bored without their smart phones while Bostonians are most reliant on them!) There are a few that still find these things a novelty, now being able to call somebody at a near moment’s notice no matter where they may be! Even thought cell phone in their modern state of being has become part of the mainstream since the turn of the 21st century, a few will still hold out from this form of electronic nonsense. As to round up the survey report, those residing in Florida are those that are least likely to adopt emerging technology!  (Is this fact a surprise?  Maybe–or maybe not!!)

    The real sad notion to all of this is the addiction to smartphone use and abuse isn’t going to get better. It’s either going to stay the same or it’s going to get worse! And just with any other element that stands to addition, one can’t blame those involved in the creation of the source. It’s the basic cause of the user! Many of those that own a smartphone know just when to quit! They will make a call, take a message, and perhaps text a message or two, but that’s it! They don’t load their phone with apps that serve little to no purpose, they don’t text message that can rival the Gettysburg Address, and they don’t take enough Selfies to fill a full issue of Life Magazine! (For those that aren’t in the know, Life was a magazine published on paper and issued on a weekly and later monthly basis that was loaded with photos taken with dedicated cameras that used film!)  

     To prove to you readers out there if this writer is indeed practicing what he is preaching, this same writer does own a cell phone (who doesn’t nowadays), but it is a five year old Samsung flip phone that can send calls, receive calls–and that’s it! Nothing more! It has text messaging capacities, but that was disconnected a few months ago–by choice! This is not to state that this humble smartless phone owner won’t adapt to newer technology, it’s just because in order to not become addictive to anything, one should not start that addition in the first place! One might state that yours truly fell off the wagon before he actually got on the wagon. Is that fate at work, or is there an app for that?



     At the Complex Theatre in Hollywood, The Drama Guild presented their presentation of Loraine Hansberry’s A RAISIN IN THE SUN at the Complex Theatre, located in the heart of LA’s Theatre Row-the stretch of Santa Monica Blvd. roughly between La Brea from west to El Centro Avenue to the east.

     Raisin is a drama about a family living in a segregated urban neighborhood that holds the opportunity to move up in society in spite what fate and circumstance may decree.

     Linda Walton plays Lena Younger aka “Mama”. She is the head of the Younger clan, taking the household reins from the recent death of her husband. She and the rest of her family live in a cramped yet humble apartment located in Chicago’s south side where generations of blacks has resided. Her late spouse was fortunate to have a life insurance policy, where the insurance carrier would pay a generous sum to the surviving family–an amount that is more that this kin has ever encountered. Mama’s son Walter (Lorenzo Frank) has some ideas on what could be used with their payout. Working in a blue collar job as a chauffeur, he has his eye on investing with two others in a liquor store located in the area, as he feels that such a business earns large profits. But Mama has her own plans to make better use for the money. She desires to place a down payment for a house in the community of Clybourne Park, an all white neighborhood. Walter’s spouse Ruth (Shalonda Shaw) who also keep things in check with the homestead, feels that Mama’s plans for moving up and out would not only do better for the clan, but would perhaps save her marriage to Walter, already on unleveled ground. The household faces plenty of challenges in this issue. Some of which as internal (dealing with other living in the home) to external (the Clybourne Park community “representative” feels that The Younger family would not find their living there ideal due to their “lineage”.) 

     This play was first composed and performed in the late 1950’s where race relations in the USA were not within its best measure. If fact, it was rather heated! This play was one of the first artistic measures, if not the first, to vocalize about issues that were real yet unspoken. In this production, the cast of players brings new life into this stage work. Linda Walton as Mama performs her role as sweet and mannerly but knows how to keep things in check. Lorenzo Frank who appears as Walter (who also directed this production), is eager to move up as well, but shows a bit of being naive. He wants to do the best for all, but his eagerness will take the best of him. Shalonda Shaw as Ruth brings out his faith in her spouse, in spite of the fact that she appears to be more worn (physically and emotionally) that her true age allows. 

     The additional cast members also include Akira Houston as Beneatha, Walter’s younger sibling who is attending college hoping to not only make better for herself, but for her family as she is the sole college bound person that the relations will ever experience. Beneatha courts George Murchison (Rodney Minor ) a older yet well off man in terms of intelligence and financial status who doesn’t desire for her to become free thinking, and would rather see her and others of her type to fit into a controlled standard. Theodore Mark Martinez is Joseph Asagai, a student of Nigerian decent that finds Beneatha appealing. He shares his African roots (as well as hers) encouraging her to take part of his Nigerian customs, from dress to dance. Mike Virgil as Karl Lindner, the rep for the Clybourne Park community group that informs Mama and the rest that his neighborhood should maintain its racial status, is more of a mousy character whose enforcement of his community’s policies is really forced upon him. And rounding out the characters depicted is Andre Henry as Bobo, Walter’s alleged liquor store business partner, and Nzinga Frank as Tracy, Walter and Ruth’s young daughter.

     This play by Loraine Hansberry has been called a modern classic that speaks for issues that existed then, and although times may have modified, many of the elements this play expressed remains stalled to this very day. It isn’t necessarily living upon the rule of “The more things change the more things stay the same”, but in today’s era, the so-called “American Dream” has taken a major hit, especially to those within the African American community. Living a better life has been the notion that clans of all races and lifestyles keep close to their hearts and minds and will remain so. This play reinstates this quest, in spite of the defiances that those same clans face during the progressive decade of domestic 21st century styles and attitudes. 


     Editor’s note: As this issue went to press, The Drama Guild’s presentation of A Raisin In The Sun has since completed its short stretch at The Complex Theatre that ran from August 7th through the 10th.


    Currently performing as a guest production at The Odyssey Theatre in West Los Angeles is the west coast premier of Heathcoat Williams’ SACRED ELEPHANT, featuring Jeremy Crutchley as he speaks upon the Earth’s largest land mammal and the conflicts it faces upon nature, both as natural and through human desires.     

     The mammal in this case is Elephantidae , or simply, the Elephant. Known from its two separate species originating from the continents of Asia and Africa, this creature has been used for many purposes from commerce for its natural output, to its place in assisting humans in transport, work environments, and even for food. And there is the aspect of entertainment value, identifying these majestic creatures in such places as zoos and three ring circuses. In this solo performance, Jeremy verbalizes upon this creature where he serves as the voice for the being upon aspects that are not just facts (a few are presented, but it’s not the focus), but as drawn within a tone that gives this animal a sense of praise, wonder, and makes quests for its ever known existence.

     Based upon the poetry of Heathcoat Williams, this stage presentation as adapted by performer Jeremy Crutchley and director Geoffrey Hyland, presents itself in a realm of wonderment and awe, adding gentle touches of mystery and perplexity with just a trace of fear and angst, as many (humans mostly) find this being to be a creature that sports large flapping ears and a trunk just to prove itself. As to the production, this British bred performer speaks in emotions that fit within a Shakespearian piece, keeping his words and phrases in contemporary meanings and standards. His character (known as “The Other”) takes on a costume as designed by Ilka Louw, that could be mistaken as one for a homeless soul. Donning an oversized gray colored and tagged suit complete with a just as ragtag hairstyle and off white face makeup, Jeremy stands out for his (and the elephant’s) own. If one even looks closely, one just might see his sprit calling to Joseph Merrick, the British freak of nature known as “The Elephant Man” who was more of a deformed person that held the resemblance as the creature in question. But there isn’t any grotesque within Jeremy’s appearance or stage presence. Dressed in the fornoted gray tattered uniform while standing within the stage field consisting of a backdrop made of cheesecloth material with just three hollow wooden cubes used as a place setting (as designed by director Geoffrey Hyland), he presents his verbalization in poetic style, keeping to the sprit and vital force to the true meaning of the blending of this so-called “man vs. beast” wager. 

      In addition to Jeremy’s vocal moods, Robert Jeffrey provides the transcribed background music score, and Alan Committe serves as associate director.

     Although the performance itself is rather short just clocking in at around seventy minutes, SACRED ELEPHANTS will give one a whole new entry to this monarchical being that’s been on treading on the face of the earth before the beginning of time. The elephant may not necessarily be king, but all royalty falls upon this performance expressed in a simplistic and secure theater plane.

     SACRED ELEPHANT, presented by SheerNerve Productions and Buy Art, performs at The Odyssey Theatre, 2055 South Sepulveda Blvd. (north of Olympic and south of Santa Monica Blvds.), West Los Angeles, until August 17th. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. For ticket reservations or information, call (310) 477-2055, or via online at http://www.OdysseyTheatre.com. 

     Visit the official website at http://www.SacredElephantPlay.com


    Currently performing at North Hollywood’s T.U. Studios is THE TEMPEST, William Shakespeare’s tale of intrigue, revenge, fantasy, riddlement, political conflict, with a healthy dose of romance, thrills, and a bit of comic interludes.

     The basic story line, for those not too familiar with the writings attributed to The Bard, tells the epic saga of a ship originating from Italy becomes lost in a storm and is shipwrecked on an island, where Prospero, a conjurer, and his daughter Miranda dwell. Prospero was once the Duke of Milan and was taken down by his brother Antonio conspiring with Alonso, the King of Naples, who with his crew, happened to be on board the shipwrecked vessel. From there, there are the plot points that make Shakespeare just what it is; a stage piece that holds vast interludes from drama, engagement, comedy, flirtation, and the happy ending that made this evergreen piece an audience favorite.

     In this performance, the production company hosting this showcase (Jamaica Moon Productions and the Gloria Gifford Conservatory) takes those Shakespearian counterpoints and makes it more “audience friendly” by adding a number of lines and praises adapted by John Crowther’s No Fear Shakespeare series of renditions of The Bard’s work, and translates those pieces into more contemporary stylings; accepting selections of the lines that were common of the era (in this case, c.1610), while paraphrasing those same lines into expressions that seen fitting to 20th/21st century style English. It also takes a five act play and condenses those scenes and stanzas into a neat and tidy two act package. Although the lines and scene sets may have been slightly altered, the plot and characters all remain intact. As with plays of this era (Shakespearian or otherwise), it boasts a robust cast of characters performed by an equal number of players. (Some characters are performed by a rotating cast as noted.) Those players consists of Jeff Hamasaki Brown as Alonso, Christian Maltez as Sebastian, Billy Budinich/ Chad Doreck/Keith Walker (rotating) as Ferdinand, Robert May as Prospero, Glenn Fancher as Antonio, Abigail Kochunas/Lucy Walsh (rotating), as Ariel, Kasia Pilewicz/ Lauren Plaxco (rotating) as Miranda, Kevin Ferris as Gonzalo, Francis Lansang/Haile D’Alan (rotating) as Caliban, Alex Miller as Trinculo, Justin Truesdale as Stephano, Haile D’Alan/Joshua Farmer as Boatswain, Joshua Farmer/Chris Jones/Cody Bruno (rotating) as Adran & Francisco, and Akeda Abrams, Leana Chavez, Cynthia San Luis, Jade Warner, and Sabrina Won as Iris, Ceres, Juno, and Nymphs that exist on this mysterious island.

     The stage setting, small in scope, is there to contain the story line. Jeffrey Casciano’s set design shows the island as a tropical place, but it’s the cast that takes center stage with their prose that congers up the feel and ability that creates classic theater just what it is.

     Directed by Gloria Gifford, THE TEMPEST is still a great work in spite of the fact that it is 400 years old! There is indeed nothing to fear about watching such stage pieces as it’s very pleasing to those that didn’t brush up on their Shakespeare. Something to consider: thanks to modern media, getting shipwrecked on a intriguing island while encountering sibling rivalries among imaginativeness elements has never gone out of style! One can guess that there’s more programing harking to this kind coming one’s way to be consumed on any form of a screen that support visual moving images.

     THE TEMPEST, presented by Jamaica Mood Productions and the Gloria Gifford Conservatory, performs at the T.U. Studios, 10943 Camarillo Blvd. (at Lankershim), North Hollywood, until August 24th. Showtimes are Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday evenings at 7:30 PM. For ticket reservations, call (310) 366-5506, or online at http://www.tix.com


     THE HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY (Touchstone) tells the tale of the Kadam family of East India. This clan operated a restaurant that served up dishes common to their part of the nation. The father, known as Papa (Om Puri) is part of the multi generation of restauranteurs that made sure that his customers were well fed. His eldest son Hassan (Manish Dayal) ia the next in line to keep the family business going. But things make a turn for the worst where the family is forced to flee their native land due to political unrest where angry mobs riot, destroying their restaurant in the process. With all their worldly posses stuffed in an old van, they make it to Europe, looking to start a new life. While traveling through the south of France, their van breaks down in a small village that happens to be a rather picturesque community. Papa discovers a site to what was once a restaurant up for sale. He see this place as an opportunity to open an Indian restaurant serving the same dishes they created back home. However, it just so happens to be right across the street (rather, a narrow dirt road just one hundred feet away) to a one star establishment run by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren) that serves classic French cuisine to a well grounded cliental. Seeing the Kadam family building their restaurant that serves food that is far beneath her station, this grand dame will make sure that her direct competition is taken care of i.e. gotten rid of! However, this restaurant war takes a different turn as she and her staff, lead by sous chef Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon) begins to realize how unique her neighbor’s food of choice is, and how a rivalry can turn into an alliance.

     This is a feature that speaks about how something exceptional can bring nay sayers into a new light, from business conflict to culture clash. The lead cast of players are amusing to experience on the screen; Nothing special, but charming in their own right. Helen Mirren, the biggest name star in this picture, plays her role that is ideal for an actress within her caliber, somewhat within the same vein as a Judi Dench but not as refined as a Merrill Streep as the latter name isn’t British. The rest of the players would fall somewhere between character performers to those that appeared in films that very few people have seen, let alone heard of! There’s noting wrong with that, but that’s beside the point.

     But the real star of this title is the food itself! There are plenty of scenes where dishes from India as well as France are served up in mouth watering plates, enough to make anyone hungry! Steven Knight serves up the screenplay (pun intended?) based upon Richard C. Morais’s book of the same name that features a mix of drama, mild humor, milder thrills, with a sprinkling of romance between Hassan and Margueruite that is far below a “hot and heavy” love affair seen in a Lifetime TV movie. Lasse Hallström, director for another “foodie” title Chocolat, keeps the pace going like a four course meal where each entry is appreciated from first appetizer to final dessert.

     August is the month of the year for movies where the tent pole special effects charged blockbuster features are slowly playing themselves out, and the smaller drama laden titles that cater to Academy voting members begin to become phased in. This feature title is also one of those movies that is targeted to a female demographic that’s too seasoned for standard “chick flick” fodder. In fact, its driven to those those gals that would be followers of Oprah. Coincidentally, she, along with her film buddy Steven Spielberg, are the producers (along with Juliet Blake) of this movie. That is what’s on the menu, although the spice factor is more mild than wild! (PS..this book title was once a select pick of Oprah’s Book Cub–or did you know that already?)

     This feature film is rated “PG” for family friendly violence and sexuality. Now playing at the usual set of multiplexes nationwide.



(As posted on her Facebook “wall”)

Another Sunday of organization going on. The bookshelves are all dusted and shuffled around, dvd collection moved and organized, and James is combing through his sheet music collection to thin it down. Feels good to make some dents in the to-do list.


Shakesphere and Co yesterday, Legends game tonight, Louisville Zoo tomorrow and Kings Island on Thursday. This stay – cation is turning out pretty good! 


Real-life people can NOT sing “I Will Always Love You” without making you run for cover. Lindsey Payne is not a real-life people. She rocked that song.


I was on target for a major parenting win tonight. Randy is out of town, so I decided to take the girls to dinner at their favorite (and pricey!) restaurant. Then, I took them for back to school haircuts. Everyone was happy. Then, I decided we all needed some exercise, and since The Dog is having a great night, we brought the dog. However, through a series of unfortunate events on the walk, aka I was being a parent, I now have two girls upstairs crying. Such is the life of a mother of hormonal girls. Unfortunately, mommy is also hormonal, which means I would also like to cry. Well, actually I want to eat ice cream. But since I can’t eat ice cream, I want to cry.


Tonight on Hallmark, Stranded in Paradise. based on a novel by Lori Copeland


As of August 11th, Tiffi has 2,176 Facebook “friends” and counting!




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