Recently, the company known as Sears Holdings make another move in their retail business that was predicted by those that are involved within the measurement on how physical and cyberspace based retail is conducting the sale of good and services, with a heavy emphasis on the goods side. It filed for bankruptcy protection.
Over the past few years, Sears have been scaling down its many stores, most of them were located in shopping malls around the nation. The few free standing stores were the first ones to go as many of them closed their doors after being in their neighborhoods for decades. Its last store based in the city where it was founded, Chicago, closed after being at its same location since 1938. It was located in a Chicago neighborhood called “Five Corners”, since three major streets intersected. It was for many years the area where small and larger stores existed. Although when the shopping mall frenzy began in the 1970’s and continued through the 1990’s, that Sears store held out on its own. It was also the first first Sears outlet that had central air conditioning, something that took care of shoppers during those long hot summers that Chicago normally receives.
But Sears were very unique in their own ways. Although their store was not the first ones to offer a catalog (that was the late Montgomery-Wards that began their business in 1872, some fourteen years before Sears Roebuck began their retailing), many people awaited the grab their catalogs that were kept by folks to a point where it rival The Bible as the book to have at bay. At one time, they has a series of private brands that made Sears unique to what they were, the retailer that did “have everything” as their ads boasted for many a decade.
Up until the 1990’s, Sears was the biggest retailer in the nation in terms of goods sold and the outlets that were available. Although they did have plenty of competition in terms of department stores, including J.C. Pennys, the for noted Montgomery-Wards, as well as the many regional outlets that were part of a major city’s landmark, Sears was the get-go place for such goods as Craftsman tools, Die-Hard batteries, and the crown jewel of their portfolio, Kenmore appliances, known to be one of the best brands in the business. Many of their “white goods” such as washers/dryer units, stoves, refrigerators, etc. as well as the smaller appliances, were built to last! (This writer has held on to his Kenmore refrigerator and washer & dryer since purchased in 1996, Except for the ice maker to be replaced the previous year, none has yet to give up fail! Ditto for a built-in stove unit colored dark brown that was first dated as c.1966, but may be as old as a 1960 model!)
Walmart, the retailer that was more of a “discount department store” rather than a full fledged retail outlet, started to expand its footprint from being in rural and far suburban communities to extend to the urban city landscape in the 1990’s. Before long, folks were heading off the place home for “falling prices” with its famous (or infamous) yellow smiley face. By the turn of the 21st century, not only it becomes the biggest retailer in the nation, it later became the biggest non-government employer! (At one time, General Motors had the distinction of being the biggest employer in the USA where American autos really made a difference!)
But the all-mighty Walmart is experiencing its growing pains as well. Their main rival is not Target, a retailer that is similar to Walmart’s method of retailing, but it’s a retail outlet that mostly exists in cyberspace–Amazon. And Sears is even trying to get in connection with Amazon by offering many of its Kenmore appliances available though the Amazon portals.
But with the big holiday shopping season just about here, it’s a new change on how folks are going to get their goods for those gift-giving holidays that fall within the month of December. Last year at this time, the biggest retailer of toys, Toys-R-Us, made what would have been the final attempt to become part of the seasonal buying frenzy. They did stick it out, only to later dissolve their entire store universe months after the Christmas trees were long put away as well as the wrapping paper stuffed in trash and recycle bins.
As of this writing, Sears will still be around for this holiday season. Although physical retail outlets may be threatened by those that exist in cyberspace land, they will not totally go away! So the news of a physical retail store being “dead” is anything but!
It’s been many moons since the days when yours truly as a wee tot would be at a Sears store (with my mom, ‘natch) –a stand-alone store where I would find fake food inside of their Kenmore refrigerators, could grab a bag of freshly popped popcorn in bags that were long and narrow, and to head on over to the shoe department to grab my latest issue of March of Comics, a digest sized mini comic books published by Western Publishing Company (under the name of “Gold Key”) that had the license to offer comics feature the Looney Tunes characters (Bugs Bunny and the rest), Water Lanz (Woody Woodpecker, etc.), the Disney staple, as well as comic book versions of popular TV shows of the era. (The Man from U.N.C.L.E, The Beverly Hillbillies, and so on!)
Oh, yes! Inside of most of the Sears outlets had an office of Allstate Insurance where one can get details on home and auto insurance policies. It was indeed one-stop shopping, and my mom knew where to go to get whatever was needed in the family household! It couldn’t have been better than that!!
NEWS AND REVIEWS
The Sierre Madre Playhouse presents for the holiday season, A CHRISTMAS STORY, the beloved tale of a boy’s deep desire to wish for a cherished toy, only to discover that his wish isn’t at his command–or so it seems!
The place is the Parker household located in Hohman, Indiana, a working class community located between steel mills to the east, and the city of big shoulders to the west. It’s Christmastime, 1940. Nine year old Ralphie Parker (Andre Mora, alternating with Sawyer Valin) is on the quest for the Christmas gift to end all Christmas gifts-a genuine carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle with a built-in compass and sundial endorsed by comic strip cowboy Red Ryder. Rebuffed at every turn with a similar echoing response by his mom (Andrea Stadling) stating that “You’ll shoot your eye out”, and his “old man” (Richard Van Slyke) that knows better since he’s the head of the household, Ralphie schemes to achieve his desperate desire for the coveted BB gun come heck or high water!
This play, based upon the writings of humorist Jean Shepherd from his book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash as well as the screenplay of the feature film of the same name composed by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown, and Bob Clark with stage adaption by Phillip Grecian, is a charming nostalgic tale set during the Christmas season (when it was still known as “Christmas”) focusing upon a middle class domestic family and the little trials and tribulations that became part of one’s childhood–even if a little creative license was added for good intentions! In this stage version, Jackson Kendall plays the adult version of Ralph as he guides the audience on how his life was all about, and the material objects that would make it all happen, from the for noted carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle, to a table lamp the old man won in a newspaper contest.
The cast includes a mix of adult and youth players as part of the ensemble. Bradley Bundle, alternating with Kevin Yings, plays Ralphie’s younger sibling Randy. The neighborhood kids consists of Schwartz (Marshall Gluck, alternating with Myles Hutchinson), Flick (Jude Gomez, alternating with Lucas Lim), Helen (Kennedy Farr, alternating with Charlotte Li), Ester Jane (Zoe Cox, alternating with Jade Riley), and neighborhood bully Scut Farkas (Jax Malcolm, alternating with Griffin Sanford). The other on-stage adult player is Danon Dastugue as Miss Shields, Ralphie’s teacher.
Charles Erven is the scenic designer, dressing the stage with period pieces ranging from humble furnishings to a kitchen some twenty years behind the times, and Shon LeBlanc’s costuming is also fit from the era it speaks for.
Directed by Christian Lebano, A CHRISTMAS STORY is an appealing play that the entire family can enjoy. It will give the adults something to smile about, and it will teach the youth that Christmas (or “holiday”) gifts came from the heart. Although asking for BB guns that resemble real firearms may have fallen out of vogue in today’s landscape, it still competes with the notion of a family rising to their occasion with no batteries (or wifi) required!
A CHRISTMAS STORY, presented by and performed at The Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 West Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, until December 30th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, Saturday matinees on December 8th, 15th, and 22nd at 2:30 PM, and Sunday afternoons, December 9th, 16th, 23rd, and 30th at 2:30 PM.
Special performances on Wednesday and Thursday nights, December 19th and 20th at 7:00 PM.
For ticket reservations, call (626) 355-4318, or through the SMP website at
The Glendale Centre Theatre presents its annual production of Charles Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL, the beloved tale of how an old skinflint changed his heart in the outlook of the season, thanks to a trio of spirits that showed him otherwise.
Richard Malmos plays Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly man who runs a counting house in London. It’s Christmas, 1843, and everyone is making merry for the season except for Scrooge that won’t have any of it. He overworks his employee Bob Cratchit (Greg Hardash), and turns down anything that has to do with the season, replying with a “Bah Humbug!” On Christmas Eve, he is visited by the ghost of his deceased partner Jacob Marley (Rick Steele) warning him of a visit of other specters representing Christmas Past (Samantha Labercque), Christmas Present, (Shey Taylor) and Christmas yet to come. (Travis Dietlein) In spite of what the sprits foretold to Scrooge, he did learn his ways, as the lesson is to keep the season in one’s heart.
Every season for fifty three years, the GCT presents this tale that’s been passed through for many generations. And for this season, this production boasts a robust cast. Many of the players that appear in this program are part of this theater’s repertory company. Richard Malmos as the lead player has appeared in many other productions in the past, too many to mention! Other GCT regulars are Greg Hardash as Cratchit, Hisato Masuyama (who also serves as musical director), Kyle Kelly, Michael Dumas, and many others. As much as this writer would be honored to list every player in this show, space won’t allow. However, each performer fits to their roles down to its holly leaf.
James Betteridge adapted this stage production as well as serving as director. Steve Applegate arranged the transcribed music score. James Betteridge & Ashley Caven serves as set designers, and Angela Manke created the costumes that speak for the period.
The GCT has presented this time-tested classic for ages. Although each production may have differed through the many years, it’s always a refreshing moment to experience this show again. This reviewer has seen this presentation at the GCT starring the late Mario DiGregorio, and through the work of all of the players appearing in this show, his sprit lives on! No matter how one experiences this time of the year either as “Christmas”, “The Holidays”, or through other monikers, A CHRISTMAS CAROL is a program for all ages to enjoy for its first time, or for its first time again! Tiny Tim said it best by giving it a heady God bless everyone!
A CHRISTMAS CAROL, presented by and performs at the Glendale Centre Theatre. 324 North Orange Street, Glendale, until December 24th. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM, Saturday afternoons at 3:00 PM, Sunday matinees at 1:00 PM, and 5:00 PM December 16th and 23rd, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons December 4th, 5th, 11th, and 12th at 11:00 AM, and daily December 17th through the 24th (except the 23rd) at 8:00 PM.
For more details and for ticket reservations, call (818) 244-8481, or visit the GCT’s web site at http://www.GlendaleCentreTheatre.com. The website will also provide GCT’s full 2019 schedule of plays and musicals.
RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET (Disney) features the two characters from the first release “Wreck-It Ralph”; racer Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) and Ralph (John C. Reilly). Both live within their arcade games as content video game characters. Vanellope is looking for something new and different from her game Sugar Rush as she knows every twist and turn of the racing track in all of the game playing levels. Ralph doesn’t want his game to change as he is always wanted to wreck his buildings so Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer) can fix them. Things start taking a turn when the arcade they live in installs something called “wifi” that can connect those with an electronic device to “the internet”, something that Ralph and Vanellope isn’t too familiar with. When the steering column on the Sugar Rush game breaks off, the machine can’t be fixed as the company is no longer making the game and the cost to replace the wheel is too expensive. However, a replacement wheel is being sold on eBay for a price that the arcade manager doesn’t want to pay. Thus, the game will be turned permanently off leaving Vanellope to be gone forever, So Ralph and Vanellope decide to go to this place called the internet and to eBay to get the replacement wheel. Once in (on) the internet, they overbid on the wheel where they have to pay a high amount. In order to raise the funds, they become connected with J.P. Spamley, a character in charge of “click bate” where Ralph and Vanellope are lead to a multi-player game called “Slaughter Race” where muitle players can race among a post apocalypse city–a game that the sweet Vanellope finds as her real and true home.
This feature, also known as Wreck-It Ralph II, takes a fast paced and rather keen look on the ways of the ‘net as its related to a pair of video game caricatures that were supposedly created during the pre-internet days. (Ralph comes from the 1980’s as Vanellope is a 1990’s-esque video game star!) The concept of this feature with a screen play by Phil Johnson and Pamela Ribon, from a story by Rich Moore, Josie Trinidad, Jim Reardon, along with Johnston and Ribon, takes a number of liberties and inside gags to the concept of the ‘net, while it holds on to a side story on how Ralph and Vanellope cherishes their friendship without getting that notion as overly sappy. (Post-modern kids would appreciate this idea!)
Among the many fast paced comical moments that is featured in this title are the characters from “Slaughter Race”. Most notability, Shank (Gal Gadot), a kick-ass racer gal that admires Vanellope’s driving skills, even adapter her as a sister figure. (Driving through a destructive city isn’t as different than racing through Candy-land). Another treat to see is an encounter through a Disney-based website where Vanellope meets all of the Disney princesses! This meeting gives the maker of the feature, The Walt Disney Company, to poke a little fun of their princess characters, even though those same princesses are a big cash cow for the company!
There are a lot more elements that make this movie as a fun vehicle. (Pun?) However, this writer doesn’t want to create any spoilers–unless the ‘net has already done so, but we will state that it doesn’t take itself very seriously and rightly so! Rich Moore and Phil Johnson’s direction makes this feature amusing and entertaining for all ages. Kids will understand it (they are more tech savvy then those of voting age), as well as those adults that made it all happen!
Unlike a Pixar Studios animated film released close to the end of the year that contains more sentiment, this movie holds more comic relief than deep emotion. That is the theme to many of the other animated features of late. If this title pans out the way it should, there may be a third entry to this franchise. Just Google the name for any updates!
This feature film is rated “PG” for some action as for “rude humor”. Now playing in all multiplexes nationwide.
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