This article is going to cover all three of the above topics, but not necessarily in the order it appears in.

     This week or next week will be the start of the school season for many of the school districts that exist in various communities, from basic education right up to college level. And those that will be attending school have already felt the cycle where summer antics are done and over with. For those parents and/or caregivers of those who raise kinds under the age of 18 (as well as those who have kids in college–assuming they are 18+), they have already began their mad scramble to get those school bound folks ready, willing, and able to be bright eyed and bushy tailed once that ol’ school bell rings for the first time in weeks!

     And according to the latest stats as reported in a report conducted for The National Retail Federation by the marketing group Prosper Insights & Analytics, the average family will spend some $669.28 this season, outfitting their young (and perhaps not-so-young) students with clothes, shoes, school supplies and essential electronics, increasing this spending 5% comparing to the previous start of the school year.

     Those families with kids attending high school will dole out the largest amount of spending, averaging around $683.00. This amount, according to the report, comes to the same amount of spending for households with middle school/junior high school kids–the “tweener” bunch! Those with kids in grade school plan to folk over $580.00 for their supplies.

     Of course, these elements are just for the so-called essentials that kids need (or want) once they enter that classroom. The two biggest elements that will be spent upon is clothing and electronics. Kids are rather fashion worthy, so they know what they feel they need to show themselves off to their peers. Although the parents will spend the lion’s share of the clothing bills, many kids will use their own money to get what they want. And when it comes to electronics, one can guess that laptops and pad devices will be part of the school supplies load. Pencils, pens, and notebooks might be used, but what’s the fun in those items?

     Those attending college see things in a slightly different light. Clothing may not be much of a concern, but the gadgets that those college bound students have been weaned on, will still be around. This time, it won’t necessarily be at their home. But that’s been a factor for quite a while, and the upper education schools, from community colleges to those ivy league joints, know what’s going on.

     But for those that aren’t shuffling their kids to school, or for those that have long completed their education, the notion of summer coming to its close has its marks for many. Usually, many people will take advantage of their vacation time, heading over to some little getaway for a bit of R&R. If these vacationeers aren’t trekking to some location, there is the “staycation”–that event where one vacations within their homestead, an activity that had its peak during the “great recession” years. And for those that have school aged folks within their household, this time would be the last gasp to get away before those kids in question spend the next few months in a classroom-type setting. (This family format does not apply to those clans that participate in the home schooling aspect, but that’s a whole new entry as that pans out!)

     Which leads this article to its final topic, the holiday that closes the lazy-hazy-crazy days of summer, Labor Day. This is the holiday where folks might take advantage of having a backyard BBQ–the one that is either a reprise to the cookout that occurred during the Memorial Day weekend, the Independence Day weekend, or a grill fest that should have happened during those other weekends but never did! It’s also the start of the football season, where the colleges (and high schools) have hit the Friday night, and Saturday gridiron fields, while the pros take over come Thursday night, Sunday, and Monday evenings. (Football widows take note!) Baseball sets up the pace for the playoffs and World Series, and everyone else is where they are at–whoever this “everyone else” tends to be!

     For those in the Labor force, it’s more of the grindstone antics. For those looking to get back into the labor force, the employment situation is slowly improving. Although the Labor Department’s reading notes that more companies are starting to hire, a recent survey filed by Gallop stated that some 35% of those polled said that this time is an ideal time to find a quality job. (“Quality” in this case, is a position that pays well, contains benefits, and other aspects that make this professional position a “career” rather than a “job”!) According to Gallop’s polling, this amount shows the highest response to this question since December of 2007 when 33% gave as their answer.

     Although those numbers do appear to be uplifting, this is conflicting to the 61% that stated that this time is a bad time to find a good job. But that reply is much better that the number reported back in May of this year (70%), and far better than the 90% reported back in late 2011.

     So as students are hitting the books–one that are printed on paper or stored electronically, folks getting away from those homes to do fun stuff, and while the rest are celebrating labor or just looking for some, we hearby give our farewell bid to summer! But don’t worry folks! It will be back, just like it has since anyone could remember! Isn’t that a kick?



     Jerry Mayer’s 2 ACROSS, a romantic comedy saga about a man and a woman that meet on a commuter train armed with a single game challenge in general to later develop into little lessons within life by the time of their arrival at the end of the line, opens at the Santa Monica Playhouse.

     Wendy Michaels and Kip Gilman are featured as a pair that embark on the same BART train in San Francisco. It’s just before dawn on a spring Saturday morning as the two get on board at the airport stop to travel for the line’s entire run. The woman is a bit concerned over something currently going on with her young adult son, while the man just got off his shift at the temp job he works at. He notices that she is working on the same crossword puzzle as he is. He begins a conversation with her, hoping he can get a clue to a crossword line he’s stuck on. But the meeting they have on a lonely train car isn’t just about crossword puzzles. While the two seem to have little in common outside of the same game printed in the local newspaper, they discover there’s more to life than concerns over issues that may not be as puzzling than the wager they’re playing on paper. They have an entire train ride to find out there’s more to past lives, current efforts, obscure poetry, and what really is the word asked for 92 down!

     This charming comedy by veteran comedy writer Jerry Mayer has everything one would want to find in so-called romantic comedies in this post modern age, such as wit, wisdom, characters and subplots that’s totally believable, and even a little bit of true romance that doesn’t involve casual bed hopping! Wendy Michaels as the woman and Kip Gilman as the man are totally into their stage roles. Kip as the man is the free sprit of the duo that sees to find life as a challenging game in the same focus to his crossword puzzles he ponders upon–assuming that he even come close to finishing his set. (Most CW players never finish!) Wendy Michaels as the woman take her life just as serious as the puzzle she mulls over, getting around to completing her paper word match using a pen so she can’t erase mistakes! This is the true formula on how romantic comedies get their point across (or is it down?) For a ninety minute one act presentation, the sprit and momentum never drags! Chris DeCarlo, artistic director of the Santa Monica Playhouse, directs this show that will please all, from those that follow romantic comedies to those that work on crossword puzzles–concluding them or otherwise!

     As to the behind the scenes efforts, Scott Heineman’s original set design as recreated by James Cooper is a resemblance to a typical(?) BART train interior, complete with seating arrangements to a series of metal cross bars designed to hold on for one’s safety. And although this production features only two on-stage performers, George Coe and Deborah Harman are also featured as the off stage voices of the train station announcers. Those two speak the least amusing lines of the entire play–for what that’s worth!

     2 ACROSS current presentation at this little theater commemorates its tenth anniversary, first performing in Santa Monica back in 2004. Although this writer was not able to review that show way back when, this same reviewer will state that it just got better with its decade long age. “Meet cutes” can occur nearly anywhere, including on commuter trains at 5:00 AM while attempting to figure a four letter word that means an end of a prayer while using an ink pen in the process! It doesn’t get any better than that!

     2 ACROSS, presented by and performs at the Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th Street, one quarter block south of Wilshire Blvd.-Santa Monica, until September 28th. Showtimes are Saturday nights at 7:30 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 3:30 PM. For tickets reservations and for more information, call (310) 394-9779 x 1, or online at http://www/


     SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR (Dimension/Weinstein) is a follow up to Frank Miller’s tales of the gloomy antics set within the underbelly of the title metropolis full of low life characters, sexy and dangerous woman, all peppered with sex, violence, and bent within a darken hellhole of a town secured within a parallel atmosphere.

     The quartet of short tales told are “Just Another Saturday Night,” when Marv (Mickey Rourke) finds himself in the center of violence as he tries to remember what went on in spite of placing himself within a trail of dead bodies and other forms of mayhem. The second anecdote “The Long, Bad Night” features Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) a wiseass youthful gambler taking his chances with Senator Roark (Powers Boothe), a corrupt politician that has the city of sin within the palm of his hand. Next up is “A Dame To Kill For,” where Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin) in his final match with Ava Lord (Eva Green), the woman that is both his ideal and one that is part of his nightmare, and rounding out the four is “Nancy’s Last Dance” where Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) is inside the rally of John Hartigan’s (Bruce Willis) self-sacrificing suicide, seeking revenge on what was behind this all. These episodes make up part of the eight million misrepresentations of the town everybody loves to hate and vise versa.

     A sequel of sorts to the nearly identical tiled 2005 release (without the subtitle that this new feature carries), has everything and them some that the first entry contained: dark alleys, ugly heroes and villains, vampy women in various shards of dress and undress, with plenty of smoking hot gunfire and spilled blood among as much booze and cigarette smoke one can stand! It’s this post modern generation’s answer to a 1940’s film noir feature, a 1950’s cheap trashy paperback fiction novel, and a 1990’s and beyond graphic novel aka “comic book for adults”. Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez teams up again directing this booze and blood soaked scenario created and penned by Frank Miller (who also wrote the screenplay) that always keep moving and never lets itself down. It features lots of plot, snappy and cocky dialogue, grotesque characters, with plenty of ever lovin’ sex and violence–not necessarily in that order! Much of what was shot (in stark reaching black and white with snatches of color added among the femme fetals), seems to have the human types existing within a fake looking urban setting. That’s because the special effects allow these players to act in front of a “green screen” (in Austin, Texas of all places), where the SFX folks added the grit and grime that pulp fiction burgs sport. That what makes this feature a guilty pleasure! It’s great to look at visual wise where the 3D effects adds to the surrealism this flick reeks with.

    It also boasts a full stocked cast o’ characters to boot, featuring the mugs of Dennis Haysbert, Martin Csokas , Rosario Dawson, Jamie Chung, Jamie King, Alexa Vega, Julia Garner, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven, Ray Liotta , Juno Temple, Christopher Lloyd, Stacy Keach, and Jude Ciccolella. These dudes and dames blend in through their means, either killing somebody or getting killed in the process; Take your pick!

     For those that enjoy their drama hot ‘n heavy, or for those fanboys that may be beyond the age of boyhood that are no longer interested in kid stuff super heroes, this feature is up one’s alley! It ain’t for everybody, and doesn’t try to please all in the process!

     This feature is rated “R” for obvious reasons. Now playing in selected multiplexes and perhaps a few grindhouse theaters nationwide.

————————————————————————————————————————————TIFFI’S FRIENDS SAY…

(As posted on her Facebook “wall”)

Have you ever tried to write historical romance with three painters squawking outside your office window? Their boom box is blaring country music so loud I want to fling open the door and yell, “Yeh haw!” Earplugs aren’t enough.


Just heard the FUNNIEST thing I’ve heard in days!!! OMFG. Thanks Layna ROFL


So, driving down a gravel road today. Car passes going in the opposite direction…then BAM! Like a rifle-shot, I take a rock to the windshield of my beloved Red Equinox. Sigh. Huge starburst crack right by the rearview mirror. Glass company will fix it on Monday. Consoling myself with a sugar free caramel mocha ice crema from Dunn Bros.


Nashville, here we come!


As of August 25th, Tiffi has 2,178 Facebook “friends” and counting!




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