THE GENERATION GAP REDUX

For many years, those involved in the media, be it TV, radio, and other outlets since created and wanting to make its debut, has been courting the younger adult demographic, those between the age of consent (18 years old in most cases) through their 30’s. This is the period within their lives where these young(er) adults have received their higher education, are starting to make it on their own within their lives, and hold fresh ideas, new methods of logic and thinking, and are very positive that life will be indeed better.

That’s the way its been going since the 1960’s, when one of the issues in domestic society was “The Generation Gap”. This so-called gap was an unofficial battle of conflict that was set between the “Baby Boomers” (those born from 1946 through 1964) and everyone else i.e. adults that know better! These BBs were the ones that became the first to embrace television, rock and roll, and learned to stand up for their rights. Many sitcoms of the era spoke about the generation gap in a comical sense (of course), and was the demographic that was looked up upon in terms of  starting out anew, even if that starting out wasn’t necessarily of the prime choice for the older folk–though born in the 1920’s, 30’s and the first half of the 1940’s–the parents and leaders of the era.

Today, those baby boomers are 50+. They are the ones that hold much of the money, power, and fame this society has to offer. They were the ones that passed their interests, including elements found in popular culture, to their predecessors. However, since those BBs are now being catered to such groups as the AARP, their youngness isn’t as young as it used to be. But those BB still feel that they are young in sprit and mind, rather than by physical age.

The latest market that is currently looked upon are the Millennials, those born after 1980 that were weaned on high tech, believe in making good for their world around them, and are very optimistic in their future. When it comes to power, they look forward to it but not in a threatening way. Fame is depending on who is seeking it, from show biz celebrity blasting all over social media, to providing the good for their world both physical and emotional. When it comes to money, that’s a whole different issue. Although the economy is doing a lot better than it was some five years ago, many of these eager folks can’t necessarily find work that pays well. In addition, if they recently graduated from college, then there is the student loan deal. Depending on how much college cost and how much was loaned, their debt can last for years after they received their diploma or its equivalent.

And the generation gap, that so-called “war” between those in the know and those that say they are in the know, has lessened itself over time and tide. Those on one end of the first series of conflicts that began in the latter part of the 1960’s are over the age of 70, are either still working or retired, and are proud of their kids that they contributed to fuel the baby boom era. Those baby boomers, the other end of the gap, also did well for themselves. They didn’t necessarily all went to college, although a college education was rather affordable for what it was, but managed to get ahead with their lives, careers, and family choices. Many sported out kids that became the Gen-Xers, those born between 1965 and ‘79. In the 1990’s when the gex-xers were young(er), they were the ones that were noted to have that raw deal in life and not getting the respected they felt they needed. So it seems that no matter how young you can be, its the ones fresh or fresher out of their teen years that are either admired, or those that their elders can’t (or won’t) understand.

Now there is talk toting the next generation to ponder upon calling itself “Generation Z”. These are the ones under the age of consent (18) that are not adults legally, but know what’s going on. Their parents and/or caregivers are either latter Gen Xers are early Millenniums that waited later in their lives to have access to kids. They are the ones that made them live in a high tech world, handing them access to anything electronic. Kids as young as eight have their own smartphones (the only kind of cell phones that matters) as well as pad devices, laptops, and anything that uses a wifi connection. Many do look at their futures as a great big beautiful tomorrow (as the Sherman Brothers wrote about many years before), but are still getting their growing pains. It’s just the classic method of passing the torch to those future leaders, even if that torch being passed has at least 8GB amount of power.

So as time marches onward, so will those living in demos that are pleasing to the media in terms of making a buck. There is nothing wrong with such. It’s just part of everyday domestic life that make things go round. Google it if you don’t take our word for it!

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NEWS AND REVIEWS

     Making its west coast premier at the Sacred Fools Theatre is ASTRO BOY AND THE GOD OF COMICS, Natsu Onada Power’s animated play about the title “god” and his best known creation, loosely based upon the god-in-subject’s own experience of life.

The god it speaks for is Osamu Tezuka (West Liang). Born in Japan in the late 1920’s, his parents exposed him to various forms of art, literature, theater, as well as the movies. He eventually became obsessed with the art of cartooning. At first, it was done is secrecy as Japan, currently involved in a massive world war, banned comics all together because such form of art wasn’t considered as patriotic. But this didn’t stop Osamu as he continued to create new ideals while drawing in the process, eventually developing his first ”magna” series while serving as a medical student. In this production, it’s told in twelve chapters in reverse chronological order. (More on that in a moment.) It first plays out as an episode of the cartoon series (known as “Mighty Atom” in the native country), then it progresses “forward” toward each chapter from twelve down to the first, where the life of Osamu and his ink “child” Astro Boy (Heather Schmidt) takes form and shape that speaks upon technology in both a positive and negative way, the use/anti-use of violence and force, and how the creator and creations becomes all in one.

This stage production not only presents itself as an animated, or “anime” type showcase, but uses clever and interactive multimedia visuals as projected onto the performance area. It also parleys traditional cartoon art drawn the classic way by method of using pen (or heavy bold ink markers in this case), and paper stock. The visual depicted as created by Anthony Backman is far superior to the original Astro Boy animation first seen in the 1960’s! (The reason for this? Creating animated graphics is easier and cheaper to do nowadays vs. proceeding the same element as Osamu Tezuka did fifty plus years before, even though his series was rather considered “low budget” as it was!) In addition to the animation, DeAnne Millais’ scenic design, Linda Muggeridge’s costuming, Matt Richter’s lighting, and Ryan Johnson’s original music score make this presentation not only informative, but gives this show a wash of color, light, motion, as well as being a part of very diverting theater.

Although there are only two players that portray dedicated characters-West Liang as Osamu Tezuka (the father figure) and Heather Schmidt as Astro Boy (the son profile), they work with an ensemble cast, consisting of Zack Brown, Megumi Kabe, Anthony Li, Mandi Moss, Jamie Puckett, and Marz Richards. This ensemble plays many other forms–human or otherwise–that become part of the god of comic’s life. And each one can actually draw for real, too!

This production as directed by Jamie Robledo, is a first real attempt (as far as this reviewer is aware of) to pay homage of a form of cartoon art that holds a different method and meaning in Japan vs. to what it holds in the USA. Magna comics in Japan are created for an adult audience that tells stories that may include graphic violence, illness, and death that is part of its method of storytelling. Sometimes its told without dialogue–only illustrations–akin to a domestic “graphic novel” title existing on a contemporary basis. Magnas are also read where the first page would be traditionally its last one, and read from right to left–the reason why this play is told from episode twelve down to episode one. (A stage play’s answer to a magna!) And in the 1960’s, (at least in North America), TV cartoons were aimed for kids. So when Astro Boy aired on a local TV station, it was packaged with other kidvid shows of the era, from Clutch Cargo to Mack & Myer for Hire. It would be years later (1980’s and after) that animie would be recognized and appreciated by and for adults. And taking that notion in mind, this show is recommended for those age ten and up as some issues expressed are more suited toward a mature audience.

ASTRO BOY AND THE GOD OF COMICS is very enchanting, creative, and are for those that appreciates the art and style of animation and how such bearing can be used to drive a number of important points and issues. It’s been a generation since anything that was labeled “Made in Japan” consisted of some device that was considered as cheap and flimsy. This show holds more value and construction that other pop culture-based stage works existing over time and tide. Hats off–or berets off–to Osamu Tezuka. O-kaeri nasai!

ASTRO BOY AND THE GOD OF COMICS, presented by and performs at The Sacred Fools Theatre, 600 North Heliotrope Drive (off Melrose Avenue), Los Angeles (Hollywood adjacent) until July 25th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday evenings at 7:00 PM. For ticket reservations, call (310) 281-8337

     The Sacred Fools Theatre Company also presents its series of long running late night 11:00 PM shows consisting of Ten Tops (Friday, June 26th), Fast & Loose (Saturday, July 4th and Saturday, August 1st) and its latest entry entitled The Box. (Running Saturdays, July 11th, 18th, & 25th). For more information on Astro Boy…, the late night series, and its complete 2015-16 season, visit the web site at http://www.SacretFools.org.

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INSIDE OUT (Disney/Pixar) tells the story about Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias), an eleven year old girl that grew up in a small town in Minnesota. Controlling this girl’s emotion are the little voices inside of her head, represented in humanist form as Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and Anger (Lewis Black). These figures work inside of her head that resembles a “space ship”, complete with a control board, along with a memory bank of past images set within spears that resemble marbles and are the size of a bowling ball, based upon the size of these human shaped emotions. When Riley’s family consisting of Mom (Diane Lane) and Dad (Kyle Maclachlan) makes a cross country move to San Francisco, Riley’s emotions begin to go out of control. With a new city to deal with, new friends to encounter, as well as keeping her love for playing hockey–something she developed while living in the Gopher State, Riley undergoes a phase. Meanwhile inside of “mission control”, Joy and Sadness ventures away from her control board, leaving the three remaining emotions (Fear, Anger, and Disgust) taking charge. Along their way, Joy and Sadness meets other emotions that are nestled within the girl’s head, including Bing Bong (Richard Kind), a comical looking creature that was Riley’s imagery friend from her developing years. It’s a amusing saga of how one’s emotions can have conflicts of their own–something that all folks of this ilk possess. This time, they are in human-esk form!

This long awaited release from the animation company that forever shaped the “cartoon” business, is a very entertaining and very imaginative feature. It’s loaded with a pack of sensory elements that animates (pun intended?) this title to a full fledged tilt. The story itself as written by Pete Docter (who also directs), Meg Lefauve, and Josh Cooley with story by Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen, presents itself as not only a tale on how one’s emotions can control a person (and vice versa), but also gives a crash course on how emotions work–or not! (Something for those psychology fans to muster over!) Adding to Michael Giacchino’s music score, along with Ralph Eggleston’s production design, one has a animated title that looks great, sounds even better, and as stated above, is very amusing and entertaining!

INSIDE OUT is ideal for kids of all ages. This means that the feature’s overall tone leans toward smart yet snarky humor that is fodder to post modern animated vehicles seen and consumed on the small TV/video screen as well as the big theater space. Of course, it’s not going to be the only GCI animated film released this year, but it can be the only one that matters! Then again, this writer is working upon his emotions–so there!

PS…Playing with this feature is LAVA, a Pixar short subject directed by

James Ford Murphy that tells a tale in song about a romance between two tropical volcanos that develops over a million year time span.

This feature is rated “PG” for rather mild (and barely noticeable) thematic elements and some action sequences. Now playing in both 2D and 3D at leading multiplexes nationwide.

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In the previous week’s review of Without Annette (Vol. 20-No. 24), the review failed to mark that Charlie Mount, Jason Frankovitz, and Andrew Villarreal were also part of the original 2014 production, in addition to the Klein boys as noted.

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