IS EVERYBODY STILL HAPPY?

The United Nations recently released their sixth annual World Happiness Report that measures how 155 world nations find their peoples being in the said element of content.
The measure of happiness as rated are based upon six different factors: Gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, healthy years of life expectancy, social support, trust of regional government and/or business, perceived freedom to make life decisions, and generosity toward commercial charities and from those through personal contact.
As far as what nations made the top-ten, Norway ranked in at number one with a score of 7.537. (Each element of the six factors are rated as a “10” as the highest score, and “0” as its lowest.) Denmark comes in second place with a score of 7.522. Number three, Iceland (7.504) Four, Switzerland (7.494). Five, Finland (7.469). Six, Netherlands (7.377), Seven, Canada (7.316), Eight, New Zealand (7.314), Nine, Australia (7.284), and Sweden rounds out the top ten at 7.284.
What nations hit the bottom ten? 146-Yemen (3.593), 147-South Sudan (3.591), 148. -Liberia (3.533), 149.-Guinea (3.507), 150-Togo (3.495), 151-Rwanda (3.471), 152- Syria (3.462), 153-Tanzania (3.349), 154-Burundi (2.905) and at 155-Central African Republic (2.693).
Oh yes! The good ol’ USA came in at number fourteen with a score of 6.993! That’s not too bad for what that is. Of course, it can be better! After all, what do those other nations have that the USA doesn’t? More happiness, that’s for sure!
Just about everyone living in the fourteenth happiest country in the world has their own personal ranking of what makes them happy. And those “happy points” can and do vary! For instance, this writer knows of a couple who enjoys wine and camping. (Not necessarily at the same moment!) They have a modest collection of wines, bottled up and kept on a wine rack or stored away in a special refrigerator that cools the wine at around 54 degrees. It’s much warmer that what a standard ice box can do, and much cooler that keeping the bottles at room temperature. They aren’t necessarily wine experts per se, but they know what type of wine is better than the other! They even read the labels just to make sure!
As to their version of camping. Although they do have a collection of camping gear that consists of tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, and those forms of camping props, they use this stuff on occasion. They real piece of equipment is a camper that consists of a smaller camper housing made by none other than Winnebago that is affixed on a Ford truck bed. The camper is the smallest of the Winnebago line. In fact, it’s called a “Mini Winnie”! But this couple, both in their latter 50’s and are empty nester parents, use their truck to go weekend “camping” along the beaches between Los Angeles proper and Santa Barbara. They don’t necessarily do anything on the beaches, but they find hanging out on a beach taking along a bit of their home with them as a be-all-to-end-all!
Now some of you may find these hobbies of theirs rather amusing. Others might find it dull and boring. However, this “boomer” aged couple enjoy these things. Are they happy when they camp on the beach in a Mini Winnie, or tasting exotic wines from various parts of northern California?  One would suppose so!
Now granted, what makes one happy would make another one rather miserable! This writer doesn’t care much for wine! (Sorry folks!) And camping along a beach in a large RV (even if it’s a “Mini-Winnie”), might be amusing for the moment, but would be rather boring after a while! But this writer isn’t the only one on a happiness measure. Many others do things that they enjoy that some might feel otherwise!
One notion of happiness are the many jobs that people partake in. Some do a job for the money. Others do a task became they have a limited choice! (Taking care of another person falls into this kind of occupational aspect!) And there are a few folks that have their “dream jobs”. This is a kind of work that they totally love. Never mind the fact that these “dream jobs” may draw little salary, if anything at all! Just as long as they love doing these assignments each day, week, month, or year, then they have their happy place!
This writer won’t ramble into details on how happiness works or not! (That’s what search engine discoveries are all about!)  Nevertheless, happiness is a state of being based upon how it’s treated. If one enjoys digging a ditch all day long, or taking a sip of some off-brand white wine of some sort, or driving a Mini-Winnie to the beaches of Lompoc, then that’s what happiness is! You get what you pay for!
This same writer is aware that some of these answers are being presented as somewhat of a cop out! But this writer finds that those same statements are to an extent, a sense of being happy! Get the picture?
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NEWS AND REVIEWS
The Victory Theatre Center’s Bare Bones presents the world premier of Lawrence Thelen’s PIE IN THE SHY, a dramity about a mother-daughter relationship and the baking of a pie to celebrate a birthday.
Taking place in the kitchen of a double-wide “manufactured home” located in Abilene, Texas, eighty-five year old Margaret a.k.a Mama (K Callan) decides to bake an apple pie to celebrate her daughter Dory (Laurie O’Brian) turning sixty-five. Mama gets started in baking the pie at 4:10 AM. Now that she got her daughter out of bed, Mama teaches her about her own method of baking the perfect apple pie. But her pre-dawn cooking lesson moves into different territories. As the crust is prepared, the “dry goods” are mixed, and the apples are peeled and sliced in a most delicate way, Mama and her mature child talk about a lot of issues. Many of these tales go back a number of years, (even decades), from Mama’s relationships with the men in her life, about Dory’s semi broken family, and other points of interest (to Mama anyway), that are reviled, perhaps for the first time! This mother-daughter bonding is set while the pie bakes. And how does the pie come out? The same way that Dory and Mama come out to each other, and maybe not as tasty!
This single act play by playwright Lawrence Thelen in a charming, perhaps bittersweet, perspective on how an eighty plus feisty woman gives her daughter a new look on life, even if that life is viewed on a virtual rear view mirror, rather than a gracious
vision through a front portal picture window. K Callan as Mama and Laurie O’Brian as Dory bring on their charm and grace through heady doses of Texas-style humor and pathos. They bicker as much as they bond, all revolving around a classic apple pie. One can really relate to these woman that might have seen their better times behind them, but still hold on to that glimmer of hope usually found in those romantic novels that cater to the character’s demographic. Marie Gobetti, co-artistic director of The Victory Theatre, directs this stage work as yet another example of a slice of life drama (no pun intended) that is served just as hot and hearty as an…well..apple pie!
And speaking of staging, Even Bartoletti designs a stage set that is simple and practical, consisting of a cramped kitchen decked out of furnishings one can find in any of those discount furniture places that tend to cater to a working class group. What makes the set more interesting is the c.1948 O’Keefe & Merritt stove that actually fuctions where it bakes a real apple pie as these two gals bond ‘n bicker, giving the theatre a pleasant aroma!
With its appropriate title, PIE IN THE SKY is a play that sets the pace when it comes to how food can be a way to bring people together. It’s also a way to bring the humor out on its surface, even if that surface has the expected skeletons neatly stashed away in the hall closet.

   PIE IN THE SKY, presented by The Victory Theatre’s Bare Bones, and performs at The Victory Theatre (The Little Victory), 3324 West Victory Blvd, one block east of Hollywood Way, Burbank, until May 21st. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 4:00 PM. For ticket reservations or for more information, call (818) 841-5422, or online at http://www.TheVictoryTheatreCentre.org
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The Falcon Theatre closes out their regular season for the 2016-17 year with THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF COMEDY (ABRIDGED), a fast paced program that tells the absolute saga of farce condensed, with a few points added for good measure!
In this show, three performers, Zehra, Marc, and Mark (Zehra Fazel, Marc Ginsberg, and Mark Jaconson respectfully), act out by way of comical sketches, their take on comedy from the early days to current times. Through fast paced and frantic pieces, this trio demonstrates how comedy was formed, taking note to some of those responsible of making audiences laugh, from asking the question on why the chicken crossed the road, to what is considered funny through satire and what could be offensive (or not), along with the real story behind mimes and their purpose of being! The “plot” that is taken within these comical bits is to explain everything by way of an ancient Chinese manuscript on the theories of comedy: Chapters one through twelve, out of its thirteen. Its last chapter is long lost, so it’s up to Zahra and the two Mar(c)(k)s to sum everything up as they search for the quest of “WWRD?”
This showcase, written by Reed Martin & Austin Tichenor, and directed by Jerry Kernion, is thin on the above noted “plot”, but thick on fast paced comic action, performed vaudeville style! The players play many roles, donning multiple change of costumes and characters while keeping up the rapid stance of getting to its punchline while never letting its pacing down and out. (The drama that was never intended in this show never arrives because it’s not suppose to because it’s comedy!) Although there is some audience participation presented in selected bits, they do keep that same audience in suspense with a threat of hitting somebody in the face with a pie! (Do they perform that deed? That’s the real joke!)
To add upon the flavor of a burlesque show, Stephen Gifford’s scenic design of the stage setting resembles a facade that would have been extracted from a vaudeville theatre house when comedians would don baggy outfits and would ramble on stage, telling old(er) jokes while hitting their fellow performers with pies in their face, if not squirting them through a seltzer bottle!
This show not only winds up The Falcon Theatre’s season, but is performed as the final program under The Falcon Theatre’s name. Later this year in time to introduce the 2017-18 season, this complex will be renamed The Gerry Marshall Theatre, named after its founder, comedy writer Garry Marshall who passed away last year. This renaming will play homage to the man and his long career. For those that desire to know where the name “Falcon” came from, it’s reviled in Garry Marshall’s autobiography, Wake Me Up When It’s Funny, first published in 1995, just a few scant years before The Falcon Theatre opened for business in 1997. This name change with also celebrate the theatre’s twentieth anniversary of its presence in Toluca Lake.

   THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF COMEDY (ABRIDGED), performs at The Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank, until April 23rd. Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 4:00 PM. For more information and for ticket reservations, call (818) 955-8101, or via online at http://www.FalconTheatre.com
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2017 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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