NETFLIX AND CHILL

     There has been a new(er) catch phrase that’s been going around for some time. It’s a term to describe how one would spend some intimate time at home or a place that presents an illusion of a “home”. And that phrase is gracing the above headline!
     According to the urban dictionary found at http://www.UrbanDictionary.com, the term “Netflix and Chill” means “..that you are going to go over to your partners house and f— with Netflix in the background”. (This is their definition–not ours!) To place this definition in more family friendly terms, this means that a person will be with another person to program a video title found on the streaming video service while engaging in intimate activities–not really paying attention to what’s going on the TV screen!
     We’ll get back to the not-watching-TV-but-doing-something-else bit in a moment. Thanks to the advancement of technology for the casual homesteader, more people are getting those big screen high def TV devices than ever before. Thanks to deep discounted bargains found over the previous Holiday (formally known as “Christmas”) season held on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Free Shipping Day, Boxing Day, and any other period popular enough to host a retail store sale, folks have been grabbing these sets than ever before. Many people are either getting additional sets or replacing their flat screens they grabbed only a few years before. By this period, folks have already dumped their classic tube sets a long time ago, placing those once hearty TV machines on the curb for anyone to pick up, assuming that somebody even wants those kind of TVs!
    And then there is the programming that’s fed through these machines. Sure, there’s cable and satellite TV services. However, those subscriptions are getting rather pricey for what they are. These subscribers pay anywhere from $50.00 per month up to well into the hundreds, are receiving more channels that they can watch. Their satisfaction with their services is falling off the wayside, so they are performing another act called “cord cutting”–the art of canceling a cable or satellite subscription service because of the cost, the form of service received, and the fact that with 100+ channels, there’s still “nothing on’!
     What’s the alternative for these folks sick and tired of paying enormous feels for TV? There’s the standard TV aerial, the proven method of receiving some kind of video signal that’s been around since the 1940’s. But the choice of channels  found over the air is very limited, in spite of what one pays for the programming. (Read: Free!) But there an alternative to receive unique programming via an internet based connection where one can receive programing in the same method of a cable/satellite service. But this time around, it’s a lot cheaper and its available when the viewer wants it!
     Thanks to those devices made by such companies as Roku, Apple, and a host of others, a little device that is a bit larger than a hockey puck and even resembles one,  connects to a TV set via a HDMI cable where one can view programming in high def streaming via an internet connection. It’s a new way to get TV minus the fees that a cable TV or satellite provider would charge. (One can buy this “box” for $50.00 to $100.00, depending on the make and model of the device!)
     Now, here’s the “Nextflix” part. Ever since this company that reinvented how people can rent DVDs in the same tradition as the (late) dedicated video store once offered, the gang at Netflix added a streaming service subscription. For around $10.00 per month, one can view thousands of titles available via a TV box and an internet connection, all on demand and available all day and all night a.k.a. “24/7”! Along with its competitors (Hulu Plus, Amazon TV, etc.) this is the new way to get TV and pay for it as well, far from the $100+ per month a local cable provider charges. However, unlike video on demand were one watches pre-captured programming, cable, satellite, and even over the air TV offers selected programming airing live raging from news, sports, as well as those celebrity laden award programs that are currently littering the TV landscape! But those kind of shows are just a fraction to what one can find via streaming whenever one wants it.
     Finally, let’s rundown the so-called “real” meaning of the “Netflix and Chill” episodes. Ever since the dawn of TV, many couples that were somewhat sweet to one another would arrange a time to watch TV as a pair, only to be sidetracked into doing something else that was better to what was seen on the screen! Becoming involved with spending time watching TV while not watching TV has taken many terms and situations. Many folks has at one time (assuming they wish to admit it), been involved where an evening (usually evenings, but this can occur during many dayparts) is planned to watch a specific program with a significant other only to become engaged with something more amusing that what’s programmed on the TV set. (This same writer can testify to his previous involvement in the no TV watching thing. Interestingly enough, it usually involved “not” watching one of those celebrity laden awards shows where prizes were handed out for the best movie/TV show/record/stage musical!) This method of watching TV without the watching can be dubbed as a second cousin as going upstairs and taking a look at a bunch of etchings.  
     Then again, not everyone who takes part in a “Netflix and Chill” session does engage themselves in some kind of  intimate activity. Some people actually do watch something on this or any streaming TV service and actually does “chill”–that is, takes it easy as relaxing. Amusing for what that is, it’s not as interesting to write about, unless it’s part of some kind of fictional program. How many romantic comedies exist where a scene is depicted where the lead character (usually a single woman in her 20s or early 30s) is seen sitting in front of the TV set all alone with a large container of ice cream and a tablespoon, eating right out of the package showing to the viewer a sign of the character’s depression, despair, or overall loneliness? The chill comes from the ice cream, and what the program the protagonist is watching depends of the plot points found in the movie/TV show! So much for clichés!
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                                      NEWS AND REVIEWS
     The NoHo Arts Center in North Hollywood presents the world premier of James Mellon’s solo show SISSY BOY, a tale that asks the musical question: Is the term “Sissy” a noun or a verb? That answer is both, and is taken with pride!
     In his performance, James unfolds his personal saga of being a boy who takes on feminism charms. He first discovered this unique trait while growing up in 1960’s Philadelphia. His parents brushed this aspect as just a phase that he would eventually get out of. Both of his parents adored James and his elder brother. His dad, who was one of Philly’s finest (he was a cop) was the real man of the family, taking no jive from James, although he and mom were Irish Catholics to the bone receiving their religion seriously. James knew that being a “sissy” was something to grow out of, but he kept it within. Through his school age years, he discovered both girls and boys in a similar sense. But his real calling was the theater–musical theater at that! He achieved his goal shining as bright as a bulb found on a theater marquee along the Great White Way, appearing in a number of musical show pieces. But being a sissy took on a whole new meaning. His life and the would around him changed for the better, from his personal success, his close failures, his view on love and loss through life, as well as discovering just who and what he is–sissy or otherwise!
     This single person presentation composed and performed by James Mellon is a fascinating epic as told by this man who donned many hats over his sixty or so years. He takes charge once he steps onto the floorboards with a story that must be true because nobody can really make up the kind of stuff he foretells! He is not only a great storyteller, but he is indeed a showman. He can sing, dance, as well as present bits of musical numbers. His performance isn’t really presented as a stage musical per se, although he does give an opportunity to show off a healthy sampling of how he can strut his stuff! It’s mostly a solo showcase where James acquaints his narrative within his natural habitat-the stage!
    Although James does take the stage with vengeance as his own, there are others who assist him providing his presence as he verbalizes with the occasional hoofing on the side. Ray Garcia provides the choreography with Luke Moyer dispensing the scenic and lighting design. Adding to the staging is Connie Tibbetts-Milner’s costuming where James sheds many an outfit during his characterizing, along with Ben Hawkins’ projection design, showing various photos and related graphic projected onto the stage backdrop, highlighting what James is getting across. (It’s easy to follow his true legend based on his speech, and the illustrations just enhance on what he drawls about!)
     Directed by Kevin Bailey, SISSY BOY is a self made chronicle that takes the title of “sissy” from a scarlet letter of shame to enhancing it as a badge of honor. Granted, he still may hold a bit of femininity in his soul, but he’s a sissy no more! One won’t have ask him to go “out” in order to provide his manhood. He has his own world, his personal spirit, and presently he is the man of his family! (His family and spiritual life is reserved for another solo show! Stay tuned!!)

     SISSY BOY, presented by and performs at the NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd. (at Lankershim), North Hollywood, until March 5th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM. For additional details and for ticket reservations, call (818) 508-7071 X6, or via online at http://www.NoHoAce.com
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     THIRD, Amy Wasserstein’s play about personal social status, gender role bending, and the political notion shirting between the red and the blue in a collegian setting, opens at North Hollywood’s Actors Workout Studio.
      Dolores Aguanno plays Laurie Jameson. Laurie has been a professor of English literature at a small prestigious New England liberal arts college for a number of years earning a tenure capacity, and the first woman at the school to ever reach that mark. As she begins another semester in the course she leads, she starts off with The Bard’s King Lear, expressing the minute counterpoints in this legionary work. One of the students enrolling in her class is Woodson Bull the Third (Drew Hellenthal). He’s at the school on an athletic scholarship. He doesn’t play football, basketball, or any other kind of team sports. He’s a wrester (not of the “professional” kind), and is hoping to exceed as being on the behind the scenes side of sports as an agent. Woodson, better known as his nicknamed ”Third”, is different than the other students that have gone in and out of Laurie’s classes. Although they do hold unique viewpoints in the current times of the early 21st century such as the Iraq war loaded with “shock and awe” if not with “weapons of mass distraction”, Laurie see this young man as a budding WASPish white American male with a pedigree. Third see the professor as a woman that was radically changed in the 1960’s and has never let herself go from the fact. As she assigns a theory report on King Lear to him and the rest of the class, there’s suspicion that he lifted too many passages in his report that calls for a plagiarism rap, eventually brings him before the Academic Council. Meanwhile, Laurie has her own back story. Her youngest daughter Emily (Taylor Solomon, alternating with Allegra Williams), is attending a different liberal arts college not too far away. Emily doesn’t want to be like her mom as she has her own personal agenda, so there is some advanced mother-daughter strife to take issue. And Laurie’s father Jack (Stephen Mendillo, alternating with Christopher Pennock) who once ran the family retail business, is in the progressive stages of dementia, barley knowing where he resides and who his family is. And Laurie’s best companion, fellow college professor Nancy Gordon (Irene Muzzy) is battling cancer.
     This play, the final one written by playwright Wendy Wasserstein and first performed shortly before she passed on from Lymphoma at age 55, that at the time of release was not taken to be one of her best. However, this play that expresses current political strife and the roles that society has taken through public acceptance and dictated by way of the so-called powers that be, has become more of a timely issue stage example than another tired period piece! And unlike other plays of this ilk that are usually performed in massive playhouses where the performances by the cast and its setting falls as a small production that’s inside a big package, The Actors Workout Studio theater space (indeed a small playhouse) holds enough space to make this show as a tight presence, allowing its cast to present the real scope and focus to what this play speaks for! The cast of five performers appearing shines through. Laurie Jameson as Professor Jameson could be the type found in a college that isn’t ivy league but resembles one. Dew Hellenthal as “Third” is the young freshly scrubbed baby faced kid that could have come from prestige stock–in spite of his “jockness”. Although everyone appearing shows their make in equal stance, these two leads make this play just what it is: A study of a relationship between a legacy leader and the person ready to carry the torch of progressive thought–or not! Robert Cicchini directs this production that is packed in presentation with a sense of warmness that interlocks a compassion for the labors of the characters.
     THIRD is an expressive look upon the method of what’s accepted in current society for the better or otherwise. Again, not everyone agrees with everyone as that’s diversity at work! And this performance could not have come at a better time. 2016 is an election year. Let those sort of antics make their mark as this play presents its own conclusions. And does this play hold a happy ending? That may be a spoiler, so this writer will end his statements right here!
    
     THIRD, presented by Actors Workout Studio and dee-Lightful Productions, performs at the Actors Workout Studio, 4735 Lankershim Blvd. (at Camarillo), North Hollywood, until March 6th. Showtimes are Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 3:00 PM. Special Friday night performance takes place on February 26th at 8:00 PM. No Sunday performance on February 28th.
     For more information and for tickets reservations, call (800) 838-3006, or via online at http://www.BrownPaperTickets.com
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2016 Linear Cycle Productions.
All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!  

        

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