STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS

It’s the moment where we present our report on what we here at Accessibly Live Off-Line has been doing since we started our fiscal year last July 1st, and how we will end that same year come June 30th.

About a year ago, the pandemic was still going strong. It was not as deep as it was the previous year, but was still in the middle of the “is it over or not?” phase, and many folks were judging that option for themselves.

That option even affected how we were running this same news service. We didn’t have a lot of reviews to write about outside of feature films and the occasional TV series and perhaps book title. Live theater in Los Angeles was slowly getting its act together. (Is there a pun within that last line? You judge for yourself!) Many of these same theaters were attempting to make their comeback. A few had already taken their final curtain never to return. This also affected our editorial policy in how many reviews we would present in a given week. And since this news service is generally run like a one-man band, that would mean that this writer would be the one that would not only hack out reviews in a given week, but would have to take the time to get to the theater to see the show in order to hack out the review. Ditto for feature films as I would try to make a feeble attempt to review whatever movie fell into my lap, so to speak!

Lucky for me, seeing new titles online made this effort a whole lot easier. This also goes for some of the smaller releasing companies that do not have the same budgets to host a screening of their films by either renting out a theater or perhaps a screening room, send invites to journalists to see this flick at these theaters they rented out, and perhaps those in attendance would actually get around to write something for the flick. (Many of them didn’t!!)

But getting back to ALOL for this moment. Within the past year, we have been selected in what we can see and how the subject matter fits within our editorial scope. And since working from home has been the end-all-to-be-all when it comes to the journalistic workforce, it makes it a whole lot easier to churn out an issue each week.

Since this news service began over twenty five years ago, we have been based in Los Angeles, the so-called entertainment capital of the nation, if not the world. And if one wanted to write about such entertainment, one had to be in the middle of it all. That has been the case since within our earlier years. After all, if you wanted to gain access to the “stars”, you had to come to them. And those “stars”, as well as the folks working behind the scenes, were mostly based in Hollywood and adjacent.

Thanks to modern technology, it is quite possible to write about “Hollywood” and not necessarily be in it. Movies and TV Shows play just about everywhere, and one can write a piece about a feature or video program from afar. I should know that fact because I created reviews for movies and TV stuff when I was based in the Midwest. And if you want to interview a star or somebody related, you can do that via phone call. I did that as well. It wasn’t anything face-to-face, but as long as I was able to hear their words on what they had to say, then it all worked out.

During our last fiscal year, ALOL did set up shop at a location in the Midwest far, far away from Hollywood and all of that so-called glitter that comes with Hollywood. We actually churned out a few issues from our remote location while yours truly was getting all of the “I”s crossed and the “T” dotted–or something like that!! And we did that all with the aid of our ol’ trusted MacBook Air, our Samsung smartphone device, and a wireless Internet connection that made it all happen. Thus, we were working from home far away from home.

As of this writing, we have not made a decision on when (or if) this news service will head out to those greener pastures. There would be a major advantage of leaving Los Angeles and California. And that advantage is it’s a lot cheaper to do business. After all, the basic rule of business is to make as much money one could get away with. And if one can do it while being smaller and faster, that would mean we can have more pennies in our pockets.

That is what we have been doing since our last SOTU address. So what’s going on for the next year? Well, doing business is costing us much more thanks to inflation that isn’t getting better, so we will still be doing what we have been doing. It just won’t be as much as we have done. We were kicking the idea of either running advertising, or perhaps place this service behind a paywall meaning that our news won’t be on the house. Some major publications, such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and a host of other news sources charge for their service, even if one subscribes to their daily rundown of their news that is fit to print, or placed as an email or text message!! However, we haven’t gotten to that level yet, so as of this writing, you will still gain access to what we write about without annoying ads posted throughout based on those ever loving “cookies” that companies place within your browser! So if you do an online search for a toilet plunger, you will get ads for toilet plungers and perhaps other plumbing supplies available through their online portals.

And speaking of portals, we are also within the process of perhaps adding more audio/visual content ranging from still and moving imagery to even creating a podcast. More news on those functions will be presented as options make their way. Stay tuned!

Lastly, we have been teetering on the idea of placing specific entries from each edition of ALOL as separate categories. Presently, each entry is divided into editions for the week as this edition is known as Volume 27-No. 27, as part of the Volume 27 series.

If we let’s say write about a specific review of a theater piece of a feature film, one can look up the review of the play or movie by its title, rather than in the edition the review may be placed. Once a format is established, that method of reclassification will be phased in through the next year, either as a fiscal or calendar year change.

But as for now, expect the standard editorial content we have been presenting since the middle 1990’s. It may not be as much as it used to be! Nevertheless, you will gain access to new installments of ALOL each week between Friday through Sunday.

As we end one year and start off the next, we will say a thank you for allowing us to be part of your day. Or to be precise, your week! The news may be “low-tech”, but the spirit and gumption is just as fast and furious as to a high speed ‘net connection located in the heart of Hollywood or the heartland of middle America. It’s all about when you are here, you are there as well!

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Santa Monica’s City Garage Theatre continues its run of Harold Pinter’s THE BIRTHDAY PARTY, a play about man living in a rundown boarding house that has the title event, only to have his shady past return to haunt his personal state of being.

Isaac Stackonis portrays Stanley, whose career is as a piano player. He lives in a boarding house that has seen its better days and is located in a British seaside community. The place is run by Meg (Peggy Flood), an older lady living with her husband Peaty (Andy Kallok). Stanley is a quiet person who is a bit on the neurotic side, not having any trust in strangers. His birthday is coming up, so Meg throws a birthday celebration for him. But uninvited strangers show up; Goldberg (Troy Dunn) and McCann. (Gifford Irvine). They arrive not for the festivities, but to discipline Stanley for some offense he committed or not! The “birthday party” itself isn’t a festive event. There are no party hats, birthday cake, or even a feeble retention of “Happy Birthday”. But the reasons behind this event and the two men that are out to get him become darker and mysterious. Also bringing in place is Lulu (Savannah Stackonis) a younger woman who attends the party that provides Stanley a gift that consists of a toy drum, a musical instrument that Stanley doesn’t play professionally, or at all! This whole event turns out to be a birthday that could be one as happy or otherwise!

This play composed by the playwright in the late 1950’s has been labeled in various forms and methods as a “comedy of menace”, perhaps a British term for a “comedy of errors”. This is rightly so as this play consists of short and to the point dialogue that holds a lot of enigma throughout its formation. It’s told in a semi-linear fashion that doesn’t answer its questions and doesn’t question its answers. It’s just a sad tale of a man that experiences a birthday with a team of guests that are out to serve him for his purpose, and that purpose isn’t with ice cream and cake!

As to this production at City Garage. The cast of six players are seen as hard ridden and unexplainable. They show off their characters they represent on stage for a reason that is up to the theater audience to figure out. Frederique Michel directs this production with a sense of pace, taking its time to develop its characters as they progress, leading up to a climax that lands much softer than expected.

Charles Duncombe provides the set and lighting design that shows off the boarding house as one that isn’t the Ritz. It never was an elite place, and never will be one! And Josephine Poinsot’s costuming enhances the characters that don their duds. This is rightly so with Troy Dunn Gifford Irvine as Goldberg and McCann as they are the “men in black” that arrive on a mission with a purpose.

Granted, THE BIRTHDAY PARTY is open for a lot of interpretations for its real meanings. Even if one doesn’t win in this guessing game, the stage presentation at City Garage makes great theater as viewed on its intimate stage. As to birthdays themselves, it’s been stated beforehand that they must be good for you since the more you have, the more you live longer–or something to that effect!

THE BIRTHDAY PARTY, presented by and performs at City Garage Theatre, 26th Street Arts Center, 2525 Michigan Avenue., Building T1, Santa Monica, until July 23rd. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 4:00 PM. A special “talkback” session featuring the cast, the producer, and the director will take place following the Sunday, July 10th performance.

For tickets and for more information, call (310) 453-9939, or via online at http://www.CityGarage.org

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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE
is a presentation of Linear Cycle Productions

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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2022 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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