When the term “Luxury Brand” comes to mind, one may conger up such labels as Gucci, Rolex, Chanel, or even Mercedes-Benz. But according to a marking research company report, those brands in fashion, jewelry, and automotive has a new name to go with them all, and it’s a brand that’s more common to be found. In fact, this writer actually owns a few of this company’s devices!

According to social analytics company NetBase in their annual Brand Passion Report, Apple has been ranked as the second most named luxury brand. (Louis Vuitton is at the top spot!) And this rank of the hippest electronic firm around today is just second rated worldwide. In the USA alone, it’s not near the top, it is AT the top and number one in all!

The report listed thirty brands that are deemed as “luxury” in terms of something that’s higher quality, higher prestige, and of course, higher priced and valued. The study evaluated two years worth of brand conversations that came across social media networks, review sites found in print and online, blogs posts and forums, and news media sites to evaluate luxury brands. According the the findings, Apple’s ever loving iPhone comes in at number seven, while the iPad is father down the list at number 28. Apple’s biggest competitor in terms of phones, Samsung, comes in at number 26.

It’s no real surprise that Apple would fall into the category where having access such a device is neat, cool, and has its own form of “bling-bling”, depending on the user of the product and how it’s used. Since the late Steve Jobs introduced the iPod, the first non computer device from Apple in the early 2000’s, the notion of a once stogy and rather geeky line of computer machines had shifted into a new light. Although there are more non Apple smart phones out there (just because there are more companies that make them outside of the Apple domain), using an iPhone brand has a sense of coolness. However, unlike a Gucci handbag or a piece of Tiffany jewelry that shows that the owner of such a product is upper crust (or wants to be one), using a iPhone or an iPad speaks out from its user to the world (or the world of the user) as if to say “I’ve got it!” without all of the stuffiness that goes along with being part of the top 10%.

Comparing to a Rolex watch that can cost too much for the average watch wearer, an Apple iPhone, as well as most of the company’s line of products, are rather affordable for what they are! Many mothers of kids of a certain age have their youngins use iPhones for their own use. Ditto for the iPad, a device that even a two year old can handle! This writer has seen countless kids that young or younger(?) use these pieces of electronics as toys, usually given to the kids by mom just to keep them occupied. This is more true for any post modern mom, one of the most wired types in urban based societies around! There are too many long forgotten Facebook posts by these “mom types” that have made some passing comment that deals with their survival in life thanks to their iPhones, iPads, or iMacs, both in a job setting, or at their homesteads. Many moms work at home as well, blurring to what’s professional and fun–if not pricey!

But luxury is more that just about brands alone. There are many things around that may be considered as luxury by some, while others may see this item as “eech…”! Not so long ago, this same writer was involved in a discussion over woman’s shoes–with another woman’ natch! Anyway, to make a very longer story short, this woman was harking over pricey shoe brands that yours truly never heard of, let alone paid any attention to. This gal was expressing on how she must have this brand and that variety in order to succeed. Although it was never reviled what she would succeed in if the had a pair of, let’s say Jimmy Choo shoes, but without this type of footwear, her results would come out pretty different!

As noted at the head of this article, yours truly (again) owns a selection of Apple products ranging from a few laptops, a pair of desktops, and even a few iPods. (There are no iPhones to be had by me, since I don’t use a smart phone at all–by choice!)     Nevertheless, I don’t feel that I’m in a luxury state of being. I use my Macs to get my work done. Sure, I could use a Windows device, but where’s the fun in that? Then again, there’s nobody to impress! But what does this writer know anyway? So much for the “bling-bling”!



     Continuing its run at Casa 0101 Theatre in Boyle Heights is Kathy Fisher & Josefina Lopez’s CLEAN START, a comic tale of where a loyal housekeeper takes in her former wealthy employer into her home, in spite of her family’s wishes.

Ingrid Oliu is Rosario Rodriguez. For the past twenty years, she was employed as the housekeeper (read: maid) for Parker Reed (Kim Chase), the wife of a self made man who made it big in stocks and investments, spreading his wealth with others offering investment opportunities that promised fortunes. Parker herself came from a well to do family that gave her privilege, never having to work a day in her life. That is, until her husband’s investment game plans went sour, turning what he did into a massive ponzi scheme while getting into trouble with the feds. Rosario, or known as “Rosebud”, took compassion for Parker taking her poor little rich lady into her humble home located in a barrio of East Los Angeles. Living within this home is Rosario’s mother Dona Maria (Marina Gonzalez Palmier), a feisty woman that takes in her TV novellas, and dabbles with her fortune telling and other notions of the slight supernatural. Also found in the household is her sister Blanca (Maria Russell), a fifteen going on thirty five year old curvy woman who is (was?) a model, and plans to have the Quinceanera she was suppose to have twenty years before. Dona isn’t too pleased to have a woman of privileged means living in her home, even if this same woman was the one that hired Rosario so she could financially support her own clan. Adding to this mix is the family handyman Vladimir, (Robert Jekabson) a Russian hunk of a man that Blanca falls head over heels over. Will Parker live to the fact that she will no longer be a member of the “One Percent” and possibly work for a living? Will Rosario find employment as a maid, the only profession she ever had? Will Dona put up with everyone, now that the family she raised is going down the toilet–something that her hard working daughter once cleaned? And will Blanca become the diva she feels she should be, having her Vladimir as her escort in the ultimate Quinceanera to end all Quinceaneras?

This original comedy by playwrights Kathy Fisher & Josefina Lopez is witty, fresh in concept, and offers some genuine laughs! It contains plenty of amusing gags and situations that sparkle with comical stereotypical characters that are funny in a good way. (That is what stereotypes are; an opportunity to laugh along with them rather than to laugh at them!) The cast of five players this stage work contains hold out on their own, each one showing off their characters that never overpower one another. Ingrid Oliu as Rosario is the humble worker that holds a good heart. Maria Russell as Blanca is the middle aged teenager that never grew up, and is too much into herself where she become her biggest fan. Marina Gonzalez Palmier as Dona Maria is the real head of the household that speaks her mind and doesn’t put up with anybody’s nonsense–to a point! Kim Chase as Parker Reed performs her role as the classic Beverly Hills socialite that lived within her own worlds of the so-called “rich and famous”, yet still keeps her faith toward her hard working employee. And rounding out the cast is Robert Jekabson as Vladimir, a handyman that serves as the only man about the house, keeping the home in near mechanically working order. Co-writer Kathy Fisher directs this play that maintains its comedy components throughout, lever allowing any lulls within the action and mostly importantly, its keenness factor–something that is quite rare in original stage comedies of late.

As to the on-stage work that makes this play what it is features Rees Pugh’s set design of the Rodriguez home–a 1920’s era stucco bungalow commonplace in East LA, and Dandi Dewey’s costuming worn by the cast that fits (no pun intended) each character as portrayed.

CLEAN START could be described as a fish-out-of-water saga, or as a tale where the Mexican tradition of faith in family still rings true, no matter what may occur. This theater piece offers plenty of comedy with a moral (of sorts) attached. It’s never too soon, nor too late, to begin again while keeping the dust off the furniture, and to have the toilets sparkling clean!

This play is a whole hearty gem!

CLEAN START, presented by and performs at Casa 0101 Theatre, 2102 East 1st Street, Boyle Heights (Los Angeles), until February 15th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday evenings at 5:00 PM. For ticket reservations, call (323) 263-7684, or online at


The local chapter of the International Animation Society, known as ASIFA-Hollywood, presented its 42nd annual ANNIE AWARDS, addressing honors for the best in animation programming in television, feature films, and related electronic media, took place on January 31st at Royce Hall located on the UCLA campus.

Among the awards extended for such categories as best student film, best story boards, and best video game animation among many other citations, special presentations were also bestowed.

The Winsor McCay Award, named after the cartoonist active in the early years of the 20th century and presented to an individual in the animation industry in recognition of career contribution to the art of animation, was received by Didier Brunner, Lee Mendelson, and Don Lusk.

The June Foray Award, named after the legionary cartoon voice artist and founder of the Annie Awards, recognizing an individual who has given significant and benevolent contributions to the art and industry of animation, was presented to Charles Solomon.

The Ub Iwerks Award, named after the animator that worked with Wart Disney in the 1920’s and continued involvement in animation for many decades after, presenting an award for technical advancement in the field of animation production, was given to Dreamworks Animation for their Apollo Software program.

And the Special Achievement Award, given to a group body that made significant enhancement within the craft of art and animation, was presented to The Walt Disney Family Museum, operated by the Walt Disney family and estate and based in San Francisco.

For a list of nominees and winners in all categories presented, visit the official ANNIE AWARDS website at




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