Archive for July 2013

Fame – The Musical at the Warner Grand

July 22, 2013

This post is two reviews in one. The first part is about the Warner Grand Theater in San Pedro. The second is about the production of “Fame – The Musical”.

The Warner Grand Theater on 6th St in San Pedro was built in 1931. It was designed by the architect B. Marcus Priteca and designer Anthony Heinsbergen in an Art-Deco style.

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It fell into disrepair by the 1990’s. Efforts to restore the theater started in the late 1990’s. The theater is currently used for film festivals, stage and music productions.

Here are some pictures of the interior. I sometimes get distracted looking at the beautiful art-deco facades and ceiling panels.

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Go to the Wikipedia entry on the Grand for more detail.

Paula and I were at the Grand on Saturday night for the Scalawag Productions “Fame – The Musical”. Scalawag Productions is a non-profit group that provides professional theater training for teens and young adults (ages 14-22).

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Okay, Fame is not one of my all time favorite musicals. I don’t walk out of theater with any of the tunes stuck in my head. For instance, in “Les Miz” or “Chicago”, I was hooked at the get go. But that being said, I loved this production. The kids in the cast were all fantastic. One standout was Kyra DeCastro who played “Miss Sherman” the english teacher. Kyra is 14 years old. She nailed the part.


It is so nice to have the opportunity to attend productions like this at reasonable prices. I look forward to more productions from Scalawag.

Finally, here is the link to the Wiki entry for “Fame – The Musical”

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

July 19, 2013

So last night I was watching Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show”. The guest for July 17 was Reza Aslan, author of “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth”. I found the interview compelling. Click here for the video. So, off to Amazon to download the sample of the Kindle edition.

Then I bit the bullet and bought the Kindle edition for $14. I always been struggling to understand more about the life and times of Jesus. Somehow, just reading the Bible doesn’t quite give one the complete picture of the how’s and why’s of Jesus’ life.

The book does an excellent job of giving life what it was like in the Middle East 2000 years ago. After reading the following quote from the prologue, I thought to myself “Oh, I get it now.”

Consider This: Crucifixion was a punishment the Rome reserved almost exclusively for the crime of sedition. The plaque that the Romans placed over Jesus’s head while he writhed in pain – “King of the Jews” – was called a “titulus” and despite common perception, was not meant to be sarcastic. Every criminal who hung on a cross received a plaque declaring the specific crime for which he was being executed. Jesus’s crime, in the eyes of Rome, was striving for kingly rule (i.e. treason), the same crime that nearly every other messianic aspirant of the time was killed. Nor did Jesus die alone. The gospels claim that on either side of Jesus hung men who in Greek are called “lestai”, a word often rendered in English as “thieves” but actually means “bandits” and was the most common Roman designation for an insurrectionist or rebel.

Back when I was a lad, the good Jesuits never quite explained it this way. I haven’t quite finished the book, but so far I am enjoying it immensely. So, go take a look at the interview video and then download the book.


Crossword Puzzles

July 15, 2013

So you think you might want to try your hand at doing crossword puzzles? Seem overwhelming?  I have been doing crossword puzzles for many years now. Here’s my handy dandy guide to doing crossword puzzles.

  1. Start on Monday. Many crossword puzzle providers start easy on Monday and then work up in difficulty as the week goes on. I usually can do the NY Times Monday puzzle in about 5 minutes. The Saturday puzzle usually takes me 30 minutes or longer. Sunday puzzles generally take me around 45 minutes or so.
  2. Use a pencil with an eraser if you use the printed puzzles. Don’t be afraid to enter a clue. Try it and see if it agrees with the corresponding across or down clues.
  3. If you like to solve online, use the program “AcrossLite”. It’s available for Windows and Mac. There are also several apps for smart phones and tablets. I use an app from Standalone Software on my iPad.
  4. Daily puzzles are (in the U.S.) a 15×15 grid. Sunday puzzles are a 21×21 grid. The grid is (almost always) symmetrical along the SW to NE axis.
  5. Puzzles with a large amounts of open space are always harder.
  6. Here is a link to some good tips on crossword clues.

Finally, here are a few articles or books on word puzzles worth looking at:

  1. Article about Will Shortz (NY Times puzzle editor)
  2. Book by Eugene Maleska called “Pleasure in Words” [no longer in print] You’ll either have to buy used or go to the public library. Maleska is the former NY Times puzzle editor.

South Bay Greek Festival

July 13, 2013

Today we all went up to Redondo Beach to attend the South Bay Greek Festival at St Stephen’s Greek Orthodox Church. We arranged to meet Theresa and Jonathan for the festivities, This is an annual affair that has been running since 1964, See

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If you missed it, you still have time. It runs through tomorrow (Sunday 7/14). Costs $2 ($1 for seniors) to get in or free if you print the coupon on the website..

I’d say that 80% of the fair is food related, That’s not a bad thing. The smell is awesome. There is just about any greek food you can imagine. Non-food items include jewelry, boutique stuff, t shirts, etc.

I started the day with a cup of greek coffee. Strong, sweet and hot. Then we got a sampler of appetizers, a plate of Loukoumathes (think donut holes only better) and a plate of lamb chops, sausage and french fries.  Then we got a few glasses of wine to wash it down with. Alas, it was California wine. I had a tasty Merlot.

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Here’s Jonathan munching on a french fry and some pita bread. Sitting at the table like a big boy.

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After lunch, we headed over to the kids’ section, where they had set up a moon walk and slide for kids to play on. Jonathan wasn’t quite up to doing the slide, but he got inside the moon walk and bounced around with all the other kids. He had a blast.

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While we were at the kids section, we ran into Theresa’s cousin Eric and family. Finally, after bouncing around we went and got a plate of Greek desserts (BaklavaThiples, and the like). I got another cup of Greek coffee.

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Then we all went home and had a nap.



Red Sox vs Oakland 7-12-13

July 13, 2013

Last night was the first time in a while that I had the time to sit down and score an entire game. This was partly due it being a west coast game with start time of 7:00pm local time and the fact that Paula and her mother were out at an OES meeting. So I had the TV all to myself.

John Lackey was on the mound for the Red Sox. Lackey is really looking so much better this year. Looks like he has slimmed down a good bit. Seven strong innings with 5 strike-outs but 4 BB’s.

Mike Napoli went 2 for 4 with a single and a triple. Dustin Pedroia also 2 for 4 with two singles.

Defense was looking good. The Sox turned three double plays with one particularly sharp play started by Pedroia in the 5th inning.

This road trip is turning into a pretty good trip for the sox especially after a disappointing start against the Angels.

Game was played at the coliseum in Oakland. What is “”?

Here’s the pointer to the scorecard:  Bos vs Oak 07-12-2013

Anthony’s Pier 4

July 5, 2013

I just read in the Boston Globe that Anthony’s Pier 4 will be closing in August. So sad. It was a wonderful restaurant. I haven’t dined their for a long time, but when we did it was a wonderful treat.

In an interview this week, Anthony’s owners, the sons of late founder Anthony Athanas, confirmed that the business famous for hosting generations of Brahmins, Beacon Hill powerbrokers, old-school celebrities, and ordinary families will be shuttered in August. Business isn’t what it used to be. Just a few dozen people wandered in for lunch on a recent weekday, sparsely populating a dining room that seats 500. Meanwhile, the neighborhood, a wasteland of rotting piers and dirt lots when Anthony’s opened in 1963, is teeming with development, including sleek office towers and several hot new restaurants. [Boston Globe 7/5/2013]

Probably the most memorable treat was attending my brother Rich’s wedding reception at the ship Peter Stuyvesant that was moored next to Pier 4. But that was way back in 1973. The ship was used for parties, receptions and the like. Alas, the ship sank during the blizzard of 1978. That was one hell of a party. It was a pity that the bride and groom missed most of the party. Here’s a picture of the ship after the storm.

Blizzard of 1978 - Peter Stuyyesant sank next to Anthony's Pier 4 Restaurant - Boston, MA

Take a look at the Pier 4 web site (while it’s still there). The site is loaded with pictures of the many famous people who dined there. Alas, my picture is not among the collection.

– Joe

Independence Day

July 5, 2013

Dinner with Mike & Theresa yesterday afternoon. Too much good food to eat. Jonathan was as cute as ever.

After dinner we headed over to Muller House (San Pedro Historical Society) to watch the fireworks at Cabrillo beach. Muller House is ideally suited for fireworks viewing. Excellent view of LA Harbor and surrounding area. It was a good show, but not as good as Boston’s Esplanade show.


Unfortunately, CBS decided not to broadcast the show this year, so you only see it local to Boston. Such a pity. Here’s a youtube clip of fireworks with the finale to the 1812 Overture.

Finally, here’s a few pictures from the US Dept of the Interior.

Vietnam Vet MemorialVietnam Veterans’ Memorial

Grand Teton Wyoming

Grand Teton Wyoming

Statue of LibertyStatue of Liberty

St Marks National Wildlife Refuge FloridaSt Marks National Wildlife Refuge Florida

Organ Pipes National Monument ArizonaOrgan Pipes Arizona

Golden GateGolden Gate Bridge San Francisco