A CASE OF CABIN FEVER

Observing the name, “Cabin Fever” isn’t an illness that can be caught as if were a cold bug. Nor is it something that one can get through family ties, or something that just “comes”, such as a cancer. And it has nothing to do with a wood shack nestled in the woods where one can settle among the trees, or to be born in such a place as with any noted pioneer that came from American history or through pop culture. (The song lyrics states that Davy Crockett was born on a mountain top in Tennessee. It was likely that that coonskin wearing ol’ coot was born in a cabin located on a mountain top, rather that being born in the outdoors. But we digress!)

“Cabin Fever” in its traditional sense, means that it’s the emotion one can get with being cooped up inside of one location for longer that the person wants to be. It is usually commonplace in a geographic area where the weather outside is frightful, while the fire may not necessarily be delightful!

When people may state “Baby it’s cold outside”, it’s the time of year to stay indoors where its warm(er), and there isn’t any snow and ice to mess with. That may be the best place to be at the moment. However, after a while, that state of staying indoors for a tad too long may get to be a bit bothersome, sometimes where one can became loaded with anxiety. This is especially true when somebody may be with another person where the other person, be it a domestic partner, a relative, or somebody else where after a while, the other person may spark an annoyance through the so-called “little things” that the other may do or not do. Think of this situation as a plot point found within a sitcom where two people (roommates, family members, spouses, romantic partners, etc.) may fight with one another, limited themselves to a battle that is created for comic relief.

Although Cabin Fever isn’t necessarily a seasonal trait, it usually starts around later January. In December, thanks to too many festive holidays that may take place in such a short time span, much of this fever business may not be felt, let alone noticed. Because of too much partying that’s going around, folks tend to be too busy indulging in the party atmosphere, nearly too engaged to even notice.

In January, the holidays and the parties that go along with them tend to stop. The Christmas tee is already sitting on the curb, the Chanukah candles have burned down it its stems, and the new year’s champaign has been long consumed. Now it’s the time to get back to some kind of normalcy only to look forward to the next festive time, assuming that there will be another festive time to look ahead for.

As the colder weather takes its toll, people start to get restless. They become anxious, frustrated, and even irate to those around them for no said reason. This is where Cabin Fever takes its toll. By the time it’s the end of January, it’s the moment to do something with their time by breaking away from the home base where things tend to get cooped up and to see what is available far beyond there they are holed up in.

And although this may be a cold weather thing, it’s not necessarily limited to where the temperature is below 45 degrees. It can take place in warmer climates as well! Here in southern California, it may not get down to below freezing, but the anxiety of sitting alone in your room with nothing to do may set its pace.

Of course, not everyone gets a dose of Cabin Fever. However, there is many ways to beat the feeling even when it does creep up inside of one’s craw.

One thing to do is to arrange a celebration of some sort. Since January doesn’t have a lot of holidays that call for a time of cheer, many turn toward February to beat the heat–or cold in this case! This is one of the reasons why people may host and/or attend a Super Bowl watching party. Granted, not everyone may be a football fan. They may not even care for the sport, let alone know who’s in the match! But since the bowl game takes place the first Sunday in February–a time where Cabin Fever is at its peak, its a great excuse to have a festive event in one’s home or at some kind of public place, such as a theme restaurant, a sorts bar, or some other location where the people attending are upbeat, the food and drinks are plentiful, and the TV device is at its biggest screen size!

Many folks that host or attend such watching events are present to mingle with others, eat, drink, and maybe even look at a play or two. If they do watch the game, they may take advantage of the half time show (sometimes more entertaining the game itself), or even to check out the commercials that are for the most part, mini epics that are lavish, sometimes dramatic, and even comical that are worth it’s 30 to 120 second running time. That of course, all depends on what product is being sold, and how much the advertiser forked over to get their message across to those that want to know!

So there you have it folks! You don’t have to ask “Dr. Google” to seek a cure for this fever that won’t give anyone a temperature, nor present an illness that could be the subject of some melodramatic media program. It’s just another emotion that is more of a state of mind.

By the way, anyone know of a decent Super Bowl watching party out there….?
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NEWS AND REVIEWS

The Sacred Fools Theatre Company presents the world premier of Bob Derosa’s GIFTED, a dramity about one woman’s unique talent, and how that talent would work for her as well as agent!

Kacie Rogers is Ashlyn. She is a single woman in her twenties that lives within her urban community. She works as a clerk at an independent bookstore, and spends much of her time at a local coffeehouse/tavern. From watching people, especially couples that are some kind of romantic track, she can predict the fate of these pairs–who will remain together, who will break up for whom, and so on. She doesn’t know why she has this uncanny knack, but she does. By chance, she speaks to the barista on duty about this talent, only to discover that the barista can predict what patrons will order on the menu before they speak up! Ashlyn is then invited to join a special group consisting of those that posses a skill to know about other notions through a special mental power, such as the color of other people’s undergarments! These mental abilities can be called “gifts”, since other people can’t perform the same aptitudes. This suits Ashlyn fine, until she meets Randy. (Ross Phillips) Before long, Ashlyn and Randy become a romantic couple–the same kind of couple that she can predict the future with. With this sense on hand, can Ashlyn predict her own future with Randy, or are the unintended hunches she feels remain as lucky guesses or as an impression of future doom?

This new play by Bob Derosa is a distinct character study on how one’s talent (or gift) can become a blessing (“They are meant for each other!”) or a curse! (“S/he won’t be a Ms/r. Right after all!”) The production itself has a very youthful sensation to it all where the characters, its settings, as well as the encounters that the protagonist faces reins toward a young adult (a.k.a. “Millennial”) based vibe. This form of youthfulness keeps this play moving in a rather rapid clip. Its pacing isn’t anything frantic where everyone is operating as a blur. Its progression is actually delivered as a continuous motion where the spirit of life is a road moving ahead than a trail left far behind! Rebecca Larsen directs this show in an even stand adding an equal and steady blend of humor and drama.

There are a number of aspects added to this production that are just as unique as the mental talents many of its characters represent. The production design by Madilyn Sweeten Durrie is very minimal, only consisting of a collection of very square table pieces that are moved about in a free flowing matter to represent various scenes. (Also note the various practical light fixtures on its upper celling!) The props ranges from simple items (bland colored cups/glasses, a solid colored bottle, etc), to ones that are invisible! Its only real prop of significance is a “Magic 8 ball”, a novelty item where one can “ask” the 8 ball about something in the future. (Not to be confused with an internet-based electronic device that is built upon an “A-I” platform!) And there’s some choreography added to this program as arranged by Tavi Muller that represents the visuals that the Ashlyn character can “see” within order to predict a couple’s fate! All of what’s witnessed on stage is presented in a theatre-in-the-round setting, a form of physical stage set that isn’t presented as much as it once was–if ever at all!

Appearing in this production includes and listed in their alphabetical order, Libby Baker, Marc Forget, Madeleine Heil, Jason Jin, Carrie Keranen, Alessendra Manon, and John Ellsworth Phillips.

Being “gifted” can become a joy or as a damnation, depending on who’s getting the joy and/or being damned! Many people possess some kind of ability that others may not have. Most of these potentials won’t save the world, let alone make any news headlines! All it can do is to win bar bets or act as a carnival side show! It’s been noted that everyone has a gift of some kind. And that is what being gifted is really all about!

GIFTED, presented by The Sacred Fools Theater Company and performs in the Broadwater Black Box, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd. (one block west of Vine Street at Lillian), Hollywood, until February 29th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, Sundays, February 2nd and 16th at 4:00 PM, and Monday, February 17th at 8:00 PM.

For ticket reservations, email the Sacred Fools Theatre Company at SFReservations@SacredFools.org, or go online at http://www.SacredFools.org
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The Odyssey Theatre presents THE UNSEEN HAND and KILLER’S HEAD, a pair of short plays written by legionary playwright Sam Shepard.

The first entry Killer’s Head has a middle aged man speaking (or actually, rambling) about a number of notions on “horsepower” maintenance–the mechanical and animal variety. This will be his last time thinking out loud as he’s only minutes away from being executed by way of the electric chair!

The second entry The Unseen Hand, takes place near a highway that was once known as Route 66 located somewhere outside of Azusa, California. Blue (Carl Weintraub), a one time cowpoke, is on a trip to nowhere by keeping home in his old ’51 Chevy convertible that is just as creaky as he is–perhaps creakier. He is met by a strange being that seems to have come from outer space, an alien that calls himself Willie. (Matt Curtin). Willie tells Blue of his tale of escaping from where he came where a powerful force is undergoing a mind control mission that would otherwise spell doom to his people. He finds Blue to be his only hope upon breaking free from this mind control operation. Willie also seek the aid of Blue’s pair of brothers, Cisco (Jordan Morrison) and Sycamore (Chris Payne Gilbert) two others from the wild west days who were brought back from the dead. These three gunslingers could be the method of bringing freedom to Willie’s galactic tribe! Added to this bunch is a teenager (Andrew Morrison) that just escaped from being harassed and roughed-up by a bunch of thugs from a rival high school just because he wasn’t “man enough” to play varsity football for Azusa High, only to serve as a male cheerleader. Will Blue, Cisco, and Sycamore save Willie and those that live in his galaxy from the alien force called “The Unseen Hand”? (And if so, how??) And will this kid from Azusa High bring triumph to his school team by his cheering them on to victory?

These two plays by Sam Shepard are presented not so much as a double feature, but as a feature with a “selected short subject” added to the bill. The first play Killer’s Head has a running time of about ten minutes, and is performed by a rotating ensemble of actors playing the man that has walked the last mile. (Steve Howey, Chris Payne Gilbert, Dermot Mulroney, Magnus Jackson Diehl, Jeff Kober, Darrell Larson, and Jonathan Medina in their order of scheduled appearance.) The second play The Unseen Hand is the featured presentation. This selection shows a group of characters that comes from different time and space eras. Blue, Cisco, and Sycamore originate from the late 1800’s. Willie comes from the future(?), while the high school kid appears to be from c.1960, donning a vintage varsity jacket, wearing a hairstyle that is a cross between Elvis and Rick Nelson, and is proud to live in a suburban bedroom community that has everything from A to Z in the USA (the actual origin of this community’s name!) from its drive-ins, bowling alleys, the Safeway, and KFWB! And all of this takes place in the 20th century or thereabouts.

What makes this latter play that can be billed as a comical drama or a dramatic comedy appealing is what is seen on its stage set. Son Yi Park’s set design consists of a roadside junk pile complete with a rusted front facade of a car that resembles a ’53 Ford than a ’51 Chevy–but this writer digresses! Denise Blasor’s costume design dresses up everyone from the eras they come from! Carl Weintraub as Blue first appears as a Gabby Hayes type, Jordan Morrison as Cisco appears to step out of a 1950’s TV western, while Chris Payne Gilbert as Sycamore is a dapper gent a la Bat Masterson. The outer space alien Willie as played by Matt Curtin is dressed in a black outfit where he isn’t necessarily the “bad guy” of the bunch, and Andrew Morrison just known as “Kid” dons a varsity jacket that represents Azusa High. (“Go Aztecs”!) Killer’s Head’s character only wears blue jeans and a t-shirt! All of these elements mash into a production that only a playwright as Sam Shepard could ever get away with! And he does it all in his own unique style.

Directed by Darrell Larson, the pair of plays that make up this Odyssey Theatre production these isn’t as well known as the other works from the portfolio of this respected American playwright. So it’s worth the time to see these two gems as presented. And as Gabby would say, “Yes-ser-ee-bob! Yer darn tootin’”!

THE UNSEEN HAND and KILLER’S HEAD. presented by and performs at The Odyssey Theatre, 2055 South Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, until March 8th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM, and performances on Wednesday, February 5th and March 4th, and Thursday, February 20th, also at 8:00 PM. Post-performance discussion with its cast and crew takes place on February 5th and 20th.

For ticket reservations or for more information, call (310) 477-2055 ext. 2, or online at http://www.OdysseyTheatre.com
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The 19th annual Final Draft Awards ceremony took place on January 21st at the Paramount Theatre, located on the Paramount Pictures studio lot in Hollywood.

Randy and Jason Sklar, better known as the comedy duo The Sklar Brothers, hosted the event where achievement awards were given for the craft of screenwriting for feature films and for television/video.

The New Voice Award for movies was presented to Lulu Wang by the writer and director of the film Parasite Bong Joon Ho for her independent film The Farewell. Steven Canals was awarded the New Voice Award in television/video by Mj Rodriguez and Angel Bismark Curiel from the FX series Pose, for Canals’ writing for the TV series of the same name.

The 2019 Grand Prize award for original screen work for film and for television was presented to Steven Anthopoulos for his feature screenplay My Summer in the Human Resistance, a sci-fi story about a man living within a world of robots, only to fall in love with a anti-robot revolutionary. Todd Goodlett won the Grand Prize for his TV pilot The Arsonist’s Handbook, a proposed series about a woman fire investigator hunting for a serialist arsonist, only to live a double life as an arsonist herself.

The Hall of Fame Award for an established screenwriter was awarded to Quentin Tarantino. The prize was presented to Tarantino by screenwriter Walter Hill.

Final Draft is a software program where its user can create and write a properly formatted screenplay. It is the leading software application for both desktop/laptop and for smartphone/electronic pads for writing screenplays for feature film and television formats.

More details on the award presentation, as well as for the Final Draft software can be found at http://www.FinalDraft.com
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The 47th ANNIE AWARDS, celebrating the best in animation in all moving image media, was presented on January 25th at Royce Hall, located on the campus of UCLA.

Among the many categories presented for animated television programs, feature films, and video games as well as a new category for virtual reality, were a selection of special awards to commemorate those that made their marks in the animation fields.

This year’s Annie Awards was dedicated to the late Richard Williams for his work in animation from designing animated titles for such films as What’s New Pussycat?, Casino Royale, The Charge of the Light Brigade, the Pink Panther movies from the 1970’s, his award of an Oscar for the short subject A Christmas Carol, and the creation of the revolutionary film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? that blended animation and live action.

The June Foray Award, going to the person that posed a significant and benevolent or charitable impact on the art and industry of animation, was presented to Jeanette Bonds for her involvement in supporting independent animators through a non-profit organization she founded entitled the Global Animation Syndicate. (GLAS)

The Ub Iwerks Award, for the technical advancement that made a significant impact on the art or industry of animation, was awarded to Jim Blinn for his pioneer research in computer generated animation through NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and created many elements that formed the current standards in CGI based animation and imagery.

The Winsor McCay Award, for the recognition for career contributions to the art of animation, was presented to three individuals. The first award was presented to Henry Selick for directing such features as James and the Giant Peach, Monkeybone, Caroline, and his best known feature, The Nightmare Before Christmas. The second award (shared) was presented to Ron Clements and John Musker for their involvement in the “Disney Renaissance” that brought the studio back into the animation limelight with such feature titles as The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, Treasure Planet, and The Princess and the Frog. And the third award went to the late Satoshi Kon for creating animation features and short subjects in his native Japan.

Out of the many titles nominated for their individual categories, the most notable program achieved at the awards was for the Netflix feature Klaus, that won every single award it was nominated for including Best Animated Feature.

For the entire list of nominees and winners, visit the official Annie Awards website https://annieawards.org/
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