For those that have visited a restaurant within recent times, one may have noticed an amusing pattern that been going on. It seems that when people are at an eating establishment from the simple “local” diner to those fancy white tablecloth joints, either one that is unique in nature or just another one of those sit-down franchised places that have the same look and feel to the for noted unique in nature houses, somebody within the group from a couple to a small army of folks that hold a common bond, there will be somebody within the group that will be playing with their phone during the course of the meal–or at least will have their phone out in the open ready, willing, and able to use it at a moment’s notice.

     It appears that when people are within a social gathering with family, friends, or with those that the person knows or knows of, the good ol’ smartphone, that amazing device that changed the way that people communicate with one another–remotely and in-person, will be part of the moment out. This use of this phone isn’t implied that a doctor, lawyer, or somebody of importance that’s part of this social gathering must keep in communication with their work at all times, but this is where people use their phones to text, look up some information based upon immediate need or through boredom, and to use their device to snap digital pictures of just about anything that surrounds them, from the people they are with to their food entry!

     For some reason or another, the notion to taking pictures of their food served is big on anyone’s list. It’s quite understood that taking a picture of an entry that’s made up as a work of art is ideal to take, since this work of art isn’t going to last (it’s meant to be eaten!), and having the picture is a keepsake to itself. But when it comes to another entry that may look good but isn’t as fancy as it could be, snapping a pic of it just serves as a reminder of what the photo taker had for breakfast/lunch/dinner, or as a remembrance of the moment out at the place with the group in question.

     And thanks to social media, it’s a whole lot easier to share the pic of the entry served to pass on to friends, “friends”, and anyone else the sender feels that the world should know about it! Trolling through endless posts of Facebook, one will not go too far to see a picture or two and more of somebody’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Picture posting places such as Instragram, Pinterest, and countless others hold massive entries of just food dishes taken by those that have the desire to share their dining experience. Much of these gallery photos whose quality range from near studio-like portraits to fuzzy and blurry spur-at-the-moment takes, doesn’t necessarily state what kind of meals the pics showcase, what eatery serves this masterpiece on a china plate, or how the food even tastes! (Isn’t that element the real reason why people order items found on a menu in the first place?) All of the images are just laid out as a series of stock photos of served food. Keeping and displaying pics as such has its moments, but after a while, it becomes rather dull, if not just mildly amusing.

     And what do restaurant operators feel about this new trend in eating? They have their mixed reactions to this phase of eating behavior. Of course, taking a rave picture of some entry only to post it somewhere in cyberspace land is a great way to advertise the product, especially if somebody (the photographer?) raves about the meal in a positive light. (“Check out this pasta dish that The Olive Garden serves!!”) Some people will take a picture only to give a beef about it! (No pun intended!!) However, it appears that these food selfies play a bit of havoc to the restaurants themselves and the experience that comes from being at the joint., one of many magazine-type places found on the ‘net, recently featured an article written by Alison Griswold about how the smartphone is changing the restaurant aspect either for the good or otherwise. Instead of yours truly requoting facts found in the write up, we hereby invite the reader to read it in full for yourself through the link below:    

     Of course, having a camera on hand while eating out with family and friends is far from new. Many pictures taken of a group seated around a table setting has been part of family photo collections since the dawn of amateur photography. However, those pictures usually consist of a group seated at their table, standing near their table, or posed in front of the restaurant, mostly in static poses that show as many smiles among the folks depicted as there are deadpan expressions. However, there are very little (if any) pictures of the dishes themselves! Perhaps the outcome to this is the fact that the real reason of taking photos is to set a record or memory of the event and the people involved. Taking a picture of a rib eye steak with a backed potato and a roll on the side might have been part of the event, but serves no purpose on a scale to recall that dinner out with Uncle Looie and Aunt Gloria, or to document the celebration of that life milestone occurrence. (Birthday/Graduation/Bar-Bat Mitzvah/Confirmation/Wedding/ etc.). If a cake was served, there would be a single picture (usually taken in flat lighting) of the cake itself, but that was about it! But film and photo processing was expensive, and wasting a single picture of a dish served wasn’t worth the effort. Besides, a pic of Cousin Debbie holds more sentimental value than a likeness of a burger sitting on a plate!

     So the next time you head on over to an eatery, try to spot how many tables full of folks have their smartphone in hand either stuffed in a pocket, nestled in one’s hand, sitting on a tabletop, or a combination of all three! You can win bets on this spot checking, donning enough wage wins (and selfies) that one can stand!



     Theatre Palisades presents Agatha Christie’s BLACK COFFEE, a classic murder mystery that introduced Christie’s best known detective to the theater stage in a vivid massive form.

     A characteristic country estate in England is tossed into disorder following the murder of eccentric inventor and physicist Sir Claud Amory (Kenneth Steven Bernfield), and the theft of his new formula for a device that just might change the world. Apparently, somebody bumped off Sir Claude with a deadly mix of poisons added to his coffee as served as a post dinner beverage. Gathered together within the dinner party is the dark, uneasy, inscrutable, and suspiciously bleak Lucia (Tanya Gorlow), the Italian wife of the late Sir Claud’s snappish son Richard (Nick Thompson); the ever-perky maiden aunt Miss Caroline Amory (Susan Hardie); dipsy niece Barbara (Courtney Long); and the livid personal secretary Edward Raynor (J.W. Cooper). Adding to the suspects that were present at the dinner around the time of the killing is Mrs.Treadwell (Anne Chaikowsky La Voie) and the suave Italian Dr Carelli (Lorenzo Bastien). However, in order to solve this ghastly homicide is another foreigner, a Belgian gentleman named Hercule Poirot (Robert Stanley Drake). With the assistance of his first aide, Captain Hastings (Todd Christian Elliot), Poirot discovers that the possible mistrusted person isn’t what was first suspected, but somebody else that eventually comes clean in the end.

     This play was the first penned by Christie c. 1930 who was best known for her printed novels written in long form. It was also the only theater piece written by the Queen of murder yarns to present the petite man with the thick accent that became so popular with her fans, this famous (and fictitious) detective even had his obituary written in The New York Times when he “died”! (And not because of murder!) This production as presented by Theatre Palisades is a charm to see. The cast of players that appear fit right in to the sport that occurs where one becomes a suspect to the next! Although it does boast a rather robust cast that also featuring Sherry Coon as Dr. Graham, Phil Apoian as Inspector Japp, with Jonathan Aleman as police Constable Johnson, the real star here is Robert Stanley Drake as Hercule Poirot. His appearance seems precise in his character that contains a hidden dash of added light humor. Although his part is played rather straight, he does interject a wisp of comic relief sans the obvious bellylaughts. (After all, murder isn’t deemed as comedy per se!) Ken Macfarelane directs this show that features a longer second act that the first; The former act is the murder itself while the latter scenario is the trail leading to the final whodunit. This play was originally written as a three act production as with many stage plays that were penned back in the era before movies became the primary visual entertainment. This is rather acceptable in today’s aspect as it does take time to discover who is indeed the guilty party.

      As to the visual side of things, Theatre Palisades rep regular Sherman Wayne creates the set and lighting design of the stately home, while Lauren Billingsley provides the period costuming that adds to the flair of the age it represents.

     The ever telling saga of foul play and related mayhem has never gone out of style, no matter what form of visuals are used to depict this type of lowly act. BLACK COFFEE is a murder mystery that has every element one would want in such a tale. And it isn’t a real spoiler to note by this writer that the butler didn’t do it! Then again, perhaps the butler isn’t really the butler–just somebody who might have served the cup of the deadly joe! Whatever the theory, this show will aim to kill and thrill!

     BLACK COFFEE, presented by Theater Palisades, performs at the Pierson Playhouse, 941 Temescal Canyon Road (off Sunset Blvd.), Pacific Palisades, until October 12th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. For more information, call (310) 454-1970, or visit online at


     The Falcon Theatre in Burbank opens their 2014-15 season of plays and performances with Impro Theater’s THE WESTERN UNSCRIPTED, a production that pays homage to a classic western that is created right before the audience’s very eyes.

     In this showcase, a team of seven to eight cast members appearing in rotation emerge in a western-esk setting, complete with good guys in white hats, bad guys in black hats, along with town sheriffs, frontier women, cattle rustlers, painted saloon gals, and other related sidewinders as they deal with the aspects that (un)tamed the west! Unlike sagas and epics that’s been portrayed on the big screen as well as the little one, these shows are performed as they progress sans a script, outline, or even characters! Each presentation only have two elements to work with based upon an audience suggestion! (Before each show begins, the theater audience may be asked to name a family heirloom and a life milestone event that serves as the basis to the narrative depicted.) And since there is no outline, each scene, each plot point, and every single rootin’’ tootin’ shootout is totally different. No two shows are ever alike! One might see a horse opera in the style of a John Ford open air saga. Perhaps one will witness an invisible western movie that could star John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, or Gary Cooper. Perhaps one will see a 1930’s and 40’s-style’ “B” oater that could feature Roy Rogers or Gene Autry with comical sidekicks tagging along while finding the time to sing a song or two as the bad guys are put to justice! It’s all based on how this talented group of improv players that do it all!

     The cast members appearing in each performance are as selected to the western yarn presented on stage. That team consists of (listed in their alphabetical order), Daniel Binkoff, Kari Coleman, Ted Cannon, Robert Covarubbias, Lisa Fredrickson, Kelly Holden-Bashar, Stephen Kearin, Brian Lohmann, Rebecca Lowman, Michael Manuel, Nick Massouh, Jo McGinley, Dan O’Connor, Edi Patterson, Mike Rock, Paul Rogan, Ryan Smith, Michele Spears, Floyed VanBuskirk, and Patty Wortham. Dan O’Connor & Stephan Kearin directs this cast as they churn out each and every form of stereotype one has seen in westerns since the beginning of moving imagery. Characters might take part in punch down drag out barroom brawls. They may exchange gunfire at high noon. They could have battles with savage injins! They can just have scenes where there’s a lot of talking about a la Gunsmoke, or they just might save the day by getting the W-T-F Ranch returned to their rightful owners from the desperadoes as quick as a Gabby Hayes can cackle “Yes-sir-ree-bob! Yer dern tootin”!

     There are other visuals that’s seen on stage as well! Sandra Burns provides the set and costume design making those folks on the prairie stage looking purdy good as they stand among a western style town facade, and Leigh Allen provides the lighting, changing as the action unfolds!

     Westerns, both seen in the moving picture houses as well as on a TV set might come from another era, but that doesn’t mean that westerns are totally gone! WESTERN UNSCRIPTED proves that tales from the ol’ west are indeed alive and living as a new epic that’s invented at each performance! If one misses a presentation on one day, another will premier, and another, and so on! Just get back on the saddle and ride the high iron under those clear western skies! Yee-Haw!

     THE WESTERN UNSCRIPTED, presented by Impro Theatre and performs at The Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank, until September 28th. Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 4:00 PM.

     For reservations and for more information, call (818) 955-8101, or online at

     Visit Impro Theatre online at



(As posted on her Facebook “wall”)

Yesterday was one of those days–PERFECT. Pete and I lazed around all morning. After the rain, while it was still a little cool, we took a short walk. Late afternoon our son called to see if the guest room was available for a few days in October. We didn’t have to think long and hard about that one. Pete is coming down for Tia’s wedding!!! After that we got together with friends for a pot luck. Delicious food and hearty laughter.


We have got so much sickness in the house that I can’t keep track of all the meds and supplements. We’re doing decongestants, cough suppressants, inhalers, EmergenC, probiotics, essential oils, tea, soup, greens. I just sent Kory to the store for ice cream. Covering all the bases.


my daughter Tami made the BEST stew I’ve ever had …and I need more please


I’m so sad. During the hustle of making sure everyone was safe I lost my football pin of Baron.


On plane headed to Orlando Florida


As of September 8th, Tiffi has 2,234 Facebook “friends” and counting!




is a presentation of Linear Cycle Productions

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