Friday, December 5, 2014

Eyestrology: Happy Birthday Sagittarius! by Cici Psy-Chic

For the month of 11/22/14-12/23/14

Happy birthday to these celebrity November Sagittarians: Scarlett Johansson (11/22), Miley Cyrus (11/23), Katherine Heigl (11/24), Christina Applegate (11/25), Tina Turner (11/26), Jaleel White (11/27), Jon Stewart (11/28), Howie Mandel (11/29), Ben Stiller (11/30)

Celebrity December Sagittarians: Sarah Silverman (12/1), Britney Spears (12/2), Ozzy Osbourne (12/3), Jeff Bridges (12/4), Frankie Muniz (12/5), Judd Apatow (12/6), Aaron Carter (12/7), Nicki Minaj (12/8), Kirk Douglas (12/9), Raven Symone (12/10), Mo'Nique (12/11), Bob Barker (12/12), Taylor Swift (12/13), Patty Duke (12/14), Tim Conway (12/15), Benjamin Bratt (12/16), Pope Francis (12/17), Brad Pitt (12/18), Alyssa Milano (12/19), Jonah Hill (12/20), Samuel L. Jackson (12/21), Jordin Sparks (12/22), Eddie Vedder (12/23)

This holiday will rejuvenate most signs and see them filled with renewed confidence and joy. There will be sense of connection establishing relationships and rekindling old ones long past. Expect more casual parties in homes rather than elaborate nights out on the town. Earth and Water signs will be happiest hosting while Fire and Air will revel in being the guests. Communication is good so don't be shy among strangers and be open to small-talk by being curious or taking an interest in something new. Use this communal energy to create harmony.

Friday, November 21, 2014


The Cherpumple is an original recipe from the Charles Phoenix Test Kitchen, and the most talked about new dessert to come along in years.
It’s a three-layer cake with a pie stuffed in each layer. YUM! Cherpumple is short for CHERry, PUMpkin and apPLE pie. The apple pie is baked in spice cake, the pumpkin in yellow and the cherry in white. I DARE YOU TO TRY IT AT HOME!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

If you sneeze you will miss MY TWO CENTS by Leena Deneroff

Hungry and need to rest your weary feet after a jaunt at LACMA, the La Brea Tarpits or the Peterson Museum?  Feel like being an Urban Explorer?  Then follow me folks and we are on our way to some amazing modern soul comfort food.
If you sneeze, you will miss this place and that is something you do NOT want to do.  Tucked away in a mini-mall on Pico and Curson, you will find this little gem My Two Cents.  They are now coining this hood Wilshire Vista and lots of cool independent shops, cafes, and bakeries are beginning to emerge.  Allow yourself to explore East on Pico after you chow down and dont miss .

But let me not digress!

Chef, and I do mean chef, Alisa Reynolds has hauled her butt back to LA  from NY to partner with her sister, Theresa Fountain, in this  cozy, fabulous food spot.  If you are looking for a place to call home away from home’” this is it folks!  When Chef Alisa gets wind that it is your first time and she can break away from the line, she comes out and greets you saying First Timer!, in her robust ,cheerful voice and clanging whatever she can get her hands on.  And if you are as lucky, as we were, you might get some FREE FOOD, which is always my fave.  Now thats what I call good hospitality.

So what do you eat here?  Or maybe I should say what dont you eat here?

I must admit I have not yet eaten my way through the menu, but Im on my way. I gotta watch my cholesterol so I went for the fried catfish, which is really pan sautéed, rolled in mulled cornmeal, no fillers.  All the fish is sustainably sourced, the chicken is organic and the meats are local and natural.

I went for the sweet potato pecan crumble and braised greens  as my sides, both of which are VEGAN.  The sweet potatoes are roasted with coconut, pecans and vegan butter.

I did bite into my friends fried, really fried chicken, drizzled with  bar-b-q sauce. I dont know what she coated that little bird in, but my oh my.  Get some grits on the side here and you have died and gone to heaven.

My eyes then ate the fried oyster Po' Boy which the guy next to me was devouring .  I must admit, I could never eat it solo and it seemed to be no problem for him. I can promise you this, girl scouts honor, next time that puppy is a special on the board Im in.

Should we or shouldnt we go all the way?  Oh what the heck. Bring on the homemade peach cobbler, with 3 forks and lets go girls.  All desserts are made daily by Theresa so be prepared to pig out.
All this coupled with BYOB and laughs and hugs from Chef Alisa make this a go to and go to again and again kind of place.
My Two Cents

5583 Pico Blvd
LA CA 90019

Service Hours:

WED.THURS 12- 4:30 and 6-9  FRI.SAT 12-4:30 and 6-10
SUNDAY kickass BRUNCH 11-4  $15.00
SUNDAY 6-9 Grits N Gumbo Night $18.00 with LIVE DJ

Plan your visit find out What's Going On Nearby


Friday, October 31, 2014

Dia de los Muertos Comes to Life at 24th STreet Theatre by M.R. Hunter

For well over a decade, Debbie Devine and her husband, Jay McAdams of 24th STreet Theatre have been making the Day of the Dead come to life at their theater. Located Downtown, near USC, just off the 10-Freeway, Dia de los Muertos is one of their annual events that literally stops traffic with its free block party featuring live music with this year being headlined by Louie Cruz Beltran and his Latin Jazz Orchestra. While the theater is open to the public, the main attractions are in the parking lot across the street with food vendors, face painting in the traditional calaveras makeup, (black-ringed eyes set in a white face), and arts and crafts featuring bright flowers (luminarias) and painted sugar skulls.

One of the most popular activities is the graveyard where visitors can paint on a cross to memorialize loved ones. Meeting McAdams in preparation for this event, he described how the community comes together in this special day of remembrance. He recalled one year in particular when he saw a couple sit down beside gang members working on a cross of their own. The couple painted a memorial to their child while the gang members made a tribute to their friend who had been shot earlier that year. Neither party disturbed the other. McAdams says both were able to share and experience their grief in a creative but respectful way. The graveyard becomes a colorful backdrop to the festivities and is a favorite of the event.

Artistic Director, Devine realized there was a need for this holiday to be observed in their neighborhood when as she was striking a set on Oct. 31, she saw how much the streets came to life. At first, 24th STreet Theatre recognized Halloween with the traditional spooky psychics, candy and costumes until she realized the holiday that needed to being recognized was actually Dia de los Muertos, and soon a tradition at the theater was born. All these years later, families from all over the area come to celebrate and take part in the free festivities which keeps growing and drawing a bigger crowd and notable performers each year.

Make Dia de los Muertos extra memorable by being a part of a tradition at 24th STreet Theatre.

Sunday, Nov. 2 from 6 – 10 p.m.
24th STreet Theatre
1117 West 24th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90007

(213) 745-6516 or
Join us on Facebook at
Follow us on Twitter: @24thST
Hashtag: #24thDDLM

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Vince’s Spaghetti Ontario, CA, 2014 by Charles Phoenix

The spaghetti of our lives! My fave is served at Vince's in my hometown of Ontario, CA. Vince's is the world's largest spaghetti restaurant. Homespun and family run, since 1945. Talk about hometown pride! I've been enjoying the spaghetti dining experience there for as long as I can remember.

Eyestrology: Happy Birthday Scorpio!

For the month of 10/22/14-11/22/14

Happy birthday to these celebrity October Scorpions: Christopher Lloyd (10/22), Ryan Reynolds (10/23), Kevin Kline (10/24), Katy Perry (10/25), Seth MacFarlane (10/26), Kelly Osbourne (10/27), Bill Gates (10/28), Gabrielle Union (10/29), Henry Winkler (10/30), Willow Smith (10/31)

Celebrity November Scorpions: Anthony Kiedis (11/1), Nelly (11/2), Roseanne (11/3), Sean Diddy Combs (11/4), Kris Jenner (11/5), Sally Field (11/6), Lorde (11/7), Gordon Ramsay (11/8), Eric Dane (11/9), Tracy Morgan (11/10), Leonardo DiCaprio (11/11), Anne Hathaway (11/12), Whoopi Goldberg (11/13), Josh Duhamel (11/14), Jonny Lee Miller (11/15), Lisa Bonet (11/16), Rachel McAdams (11/17), Owen Wilson (11/18), Jodie Foster (11/19), Joe Biden (11/20), Goldie Hawn (11/21), Scarlett Johansson (11/22)

Following Mercury's Retrograde, most signs will be very active professionally and socially. This is a good time to prioritize goals and readjust plans. Don't be surprised by flashes of insight or light bulb moments that can suddenly illuminate a problem with a handy solution. Dreams or omens can be fortuitous now so long as we pay attention. Earth and Water signs will enjoy bouts of good luck while Air and Fire should be focused on creating their own luck. This can be a very prosperous period with a bit of tenacity. Be willing to work hard and see great results!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Theme Building, LAX, 1961 by Charles Phoenix

The Theme Building rocks my world, always and without fail. Nothing reaches out and says, "Yooou've arriiived" in Los Angeles quite like this iconic, sci-fi styled superstar.
In 1961, it gracefully landed on earth as the centerpiece and crowning touch of the ultra modern jet-age expansion of LAX.  Much more than just an airport accessory, the space age structure houses a non-revolving, but helluva-view restaurant, and up top there's an observation deck with an even better view. Who knew?

Friday, September 26, 2014


There’s something interesting around every corner, no matter where u go.
And the corner of Bellflower and Artesia Blvds, is no exception. For it is there that, snuggled in the vast sea of suburbia, sits one SoCal’s most precious places. Chris’ & Pitt’s BBQ. This Bellflower beauty isn’t just any old BBQ joint, oh NO! ‘Tis the greatest streamline, modern. faux log cabin BBQ diner joint on the planet.
This sensational showstopper has been serving up mouthwatering meats since 1949. I’m not sure when it got lavished with that spellbindingly brilliant log cabin coat of paint. Whenever it was, this is faux painting fabulousness like I’ve never seen before. Not to mention, that well lit, wrap-around signage, the pair of red wagon wheels, all those turquoise scalloped window frames, and that gorgeous glittering neon sign. The overall color theory is genius, too.
All that and ham, beef, pork and ribs too. What, specials for $9.95? That’s a small price to pay for this delicious piece of history. No matter how you slice it, Chris’ & Pitt’s Bellflower is priceless. Long may it stand! Now, please pass the BBQ sauce!
BTW, this charmer and dozens of SoCals other underrated, unknown and misunderstood architectural gems and jewels, will be celebrated like they never have been before in my ARCHITECTURE IN LOS ANGELES – Live Slide Show Performance
Sunday, Oct 12
in Los Angeles
Think: Lost and Found Mid-Century Mod, Tiki, Googie, Theme Parks And Much More!
This one-night only show is your past and present guide to SoCal’s classic and kitschy drive-ins, coffee shops, supermarkets, bowling alleys, shopping centers, extreme houses, dingbat apartments, fast food stands, amusement parks, themed environments and more all in glorious color !!! … Be prepared for your local pride to swell!
Here’s to Chris’ & Pitt’s and YOU!
Charles Phoenix

Friday, September 19, 2014

Eyestrology: Happy Birthday Libra! by Cici Psy-Chic

For the month of 9/22/14-10/22/14

Happy birthday to these celebrity September Librans: Andrea Bocelli (9/22), Bruce Springsteen (9/23), Jackie Sandler (9/24), Will Smith (9/25), Olivia Newton John (9/26), Lil Wayne (9/27), Hilary Duff (9/28), Jerry Lee Lewis (9/29), Fran Drescher (9/30)

Celebrity October Librans: Julie Andrews (10/1), Sting (10/2), Gwen Stefani (10/3), Alicia Silverstone (10/4), Kate Winslet (10/5), Amy Jo Johnson (10/6), Simon Cowell (10/7), Bruno Mars (10/8), Scotty McCreery (10/9), Mario Lopez (10/10), Emily Deschanel (10/11), Hugh Jackman (10/12), Ashanti (10/13), Ralph Lauren (10/14), Penny Marshall (10/15), John Mayer (10/16), Eminem (10/17), Zac Efron (10/18), Michael Gambon (10/19), Snoop Dogg (10/20), Carrie Fisher (10/21), Christopher Lloyd (10/22)

The next few weeks will see most signs reviewing their goals and making shifts to their plans. This can be an illuminating period of insight, fortitude and faith. While Air and Earth signs will do best staying in, Water and Fire should be going out and about town. There's an uptick in energy for meeting new acquaintances and potential romantic partners in random, unexpected ways. The need to share our time and energy with others can reconnect old friendships or old flames. We should make an effort to go to fun events with a good pal. Two is one better so play better.

MERMAIDS in MONTANA, Great Falls, 2014

As if the turquoise upholstery, multi-colored, giant bubble carpet and grass shaky ceiling isn’t enough to count the Sip ‘n Dip as an honest to goodness great American kitsch classic, it is one of two remaining vintage bars in the country, with a window into a motel swimming pool.

And no you’re not having erotic, aquatic dreams. Mermaids abound around this who-even-knew-it-existed watering hole. If you need a room, no prob!

This mermaid manor is also a motel, the O’Hare Motor Inn, erected way back in 1962.

Where there are mermaids, there is music. In this case, lovely, live Hammond organ music played by “Piano Pat,” a Sip ‘n Dip legend. She’s been playing there for 50 years!
Life is full of wonderful surprises. Discovering this irresistible cocktail of Tiki, mermaids and Piano Pat music, in the last place we’d ever expect to find it is certainly one of them.
It’s high time I hop on my horse and head the Sip ‘n Dip way.
I can’t wait to say: “My, what a nice tail you have!”
Cheers to the mermaids, Piano Pat and YOU !!!

Friday, August 29, 2014

1958 Oldsmobile Fiesta Station Wagon, 2014 by Charles Phoneix

Long before this very 1958 Fiesta Station Wagon by Oldsmobile made it to the auction block, was a classic dream-car day I'll never forget.
One fateful Friday evening in the late 80s, I was going through the Recycler classified ads and found this uber-rare, space age spectacular listed for sale...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fiesta Hermosa Labor Day Weekend

Billed as the largest Arts and Crafts Festival in Southern California, Fiesta Hermosa, takes place Aug. 30 -Sept. 1st in Hermosa Beach 10AM – 6 PM each day.   

Approximately 300 artists and crafters will be featured, including painters, photographers, ceramicists, jewelers, sculptors, and handicrafters.

Fiesta Hermosa will also feature live music on two stages.  A full schedule is available at 
There will also be a food court with a wide variety of food choices including, Thai, Greek, Mexican and Tri-Tip sandwiches.   In addition, the Charity Beer & Wine Garden will offer beer and wine with proceeds benefiting a number of local charities.

The Kiddie Carnival features a 30 foot slide, mechanical rides and games for kids from 3 to 10 years old. Also included are Pony rides, a Petting Zoo, and face painters.  

Parking:  Free Shuttle Bus service will run daily – please check for more details and a shuttle bus map. 
 Hermosa Cyclery will offer a free bike valet service just south of the Hermosa Beach Pier, featuring an on-site diagnostic checkup. The lot is open from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily.   

Friday, August 22, 2014

Eyestrology: Happy Birthday Virgo! by Cici Psy-Chic

For the month of 8/22/14-9/22/14

Happy birthday to these celebrity August Virgos: Tori Amos (8/22), Barbara Eden (8/23), Dave Chappelle (8/24), Tim Burton (8/25), Macaulay Culkin (8/26), Paul Reubens (8/27), Jack Black (8/28), Lea Michele (8/29), Cameron Diaz (8/30), Chris Tucker (8/31)

Celebrity September Virgos: Gloria Estefan (9/1), Keanu Reeves (9/2), Shaun White (9/3), Beyonce Knowles (9/4), Michael Keaton (9/5), Rosie Perez (9/6), Corbin Bernsen (9/7), Pink (9/8), Adam Sandler (9/9), Colin Firth (9/10), Ludacris (9/11), Jennifer Hudson (9/12), Tyler Perry (9/13), Sam Neill (9/14), Tom Hardy (9/15), Flo Rida (9/16), Kyle Chandler (9/17), Jada Pinkett Smith (9/18), Jimmy Fallon (9/19), Phillip Phillips (9/20), Stephen King (9/21), Andrea Bocelli (9/22)

We need to be thankful this month and spread this feeling of appreciation wherever we go. This is a good time for us to conserve and share what we have in abundance by giving to charity. Many signs will need to express their thoughts but should take great care in being considerate. Communication can be too easy in that we may want to share too much information too quickly. At the same time, we may also feel as though we aren't being heard and this could lead to rows. Open dialogue but avoid saying more than is required. Let others have a chance to speak too.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Not Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing by Mark Share


Theatricum Botanicum's summer 2014 series revives Shakespeare's battle-of-the-sexes comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, which is receiving renewed attention following Joss Whedon's black-and-white movie version last year, starring his usual actors and filmed in a setting that looks like it could be a casual reading at his own house. Apparently, Whedon and friends enjoy an evening of reading a Shakespeare play together, something easier to do probably if one's friends are actors--I've tried this with a group of lawyers with mixed results--and this is a good, undemanding choice of play, for Theatricum too, which company is mostly about the camaraderie of a long-running troupe and the pleasant setting under the oaks.

The story is about an older gentleman (Robertson Dean perfectly embodying the vain, aging Benedick) who swears he will never marry, and a younger, sharp-tongued woman (Susan Angelo fine as Beatrice) who has made the same pronouncement. Their friends successfully conspire to bring them together. In contrast, a very young couple falls in love at first sight (the comic and clever Jackie Kiikvee and Colin Simon), but are thwarted by false rumors of her infidelity. The rumors are dispelled, and both couples are--plot spoiler--married at the end!

Our group, ages eleven to it's-impolite-to-state, all had a great time and could follow the story, including a teen who had never seen a Shakespeare play before. And yes, it's like old times to see the familiar players and magical setting.

Much Ado runs through September 28, 2014 at Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga. 310-455-3723.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Randy’s Donuts, Los Angeles, 2014 by Charles Phoenix

Its always time to drive thru Randy's Donuts, especially when you're taking a ride in a sparkly 1959 Caddy Coupe de Ville.  Speaking of Randy's, we might as well just get it out in the open. At the end of the day, and 150 years from now, when people who haven't even been born yet, are talking about architecture in Los Angeles, the most important structure in town is Randy's Donuts. This crazy carb castle is a mid-century, mod masterpiece of the highest order. AAAND there's a GIIIANT donut on the roof. Drive-thru or walk up to Randy's, conveniently located in Inglewood, near LAX, since 1953. YESSS giant donuts matter to us in SoCal !!! ...

Cheers to Randy's Donuts and YOU !!! ...

Charles Phoenix
Los Angeles, CA

Friday, August 1, 2014

“Visionary Man”: A Soulful Tribute at the Hudson by M.R. Hunter

The name J.B. Murray probably doesn't ring any bells of recognition. Born in 1908, Murray was a tenant farmer raising eleven children in a small town in Georgia and like most people of color in the area, could not read or write. At age 70, however, he experienced a vision from God which instructed him to paint, and create what was called "spirit-script," a wild scribbling he deciphered through a glass of well water, in effect making it holy. This otherwise simple man with no formal training, connections or money would become a respected American folk hero with his art work shown across the country. He died in 1988 having become a significant artist.

It's an impressive biography for a man who preferred to live without electricity in a shack. The world premiere musical at the Hudson adds color and life to J.B. Murray with a soulful libretto supported by a somewhat uneven but passionate cast. The story itself is worth seeing and themes of faith, persistence, hope and serendipity unfold quite lovingly and believably.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Eyestrology: Happy Birthday Leo! by Cici Psy-Chic

For the month of 7/22/14-8/22/14

Happy birthday to these celebrity July Leos: Selena Gomez (6/22), Daniel Radcliffe (7/23), Jennifer Lopez (7/24), Matt LeBlanc (7/25), Sandra Bullock (7/26), Norman Lear (7/27), Lori Loughlin (7/28), Josh Radnor (7/29), Vivica A. Fox (7/30), J.K. Rowling (7/31)

Celebrity August Leos: Coolio (8/1), Mary-Louise Parker (8/2), Martha Stewart (8/3), President Barack Obama (8/4), Maureen McCormick (8/5), Soleil Moon Frye (8/6), Charlize Theron (8/7), Dustin Hoffman (8/8), Sam Elliott (8/9), Antonio Banderas (8/10), Chris Hemsworth (8/11), George Hamilton (8/12), Danny Bonaduce (8/13), Mila Kunis (8/14), Jennifer Lawrence (8/15), Steve Carell (8/16), Robert De Niro (8/17), Edward Norton (8/18), John Stamos (8/19), Demi Lovato (8/20), Kenny Rogers (8/21), Tori Amos (8/22)

Most signs will be meeting new people and starting off romantic relationships through the rest of summer. Just when we least expect it, someone interesting will cross our paths if we pursue it. This is a good time to reconnect with old friends or take family vacations. Don't be surprised if someone from the past contacts out of the blue. We would do well to be open-minded and as flexible as possible. Be willing to hear another point of view even if it challenges our beliefs. For those who cannot travel too far, try to leave room enough for fun and play and lots of surprises.

Monday, July 21, 2014

“The Way You Look Tonight” is a Ménage of Laughs by M.R. Hunter

Emmy Award-winning writer Peter Lefcourt's world premiere stirs up romantic relations between a pair of divorcees rekindling their passions, much to the surprise of themselves and their oblivious partners. Light-hearted, sometimes saucy and farcical, the humor doesn't always manage to override the unbelievable plot twists, but most of the pleasure is in the ride itself.

Imaginatively directed by Terri Hanauer, this quatuor or unlikely foursome accompanied by a narrator, "call him Ishmael," are a contrast of opposites, which of course lends to the comedy. The characters come with enough baggage to illicit a few good chuckles based solely on their caricature qualities one finds in successful sitcoms. Lefcourt takes great pains to setup the wild romp when the exes agree to a dinner while showing off their newly minted arm candy trophies.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

No Age Punk Band Curates the Getty's Friday Flight 7/18


Friday Flights is a collaboration between the Getty and a featured musician or cultural tastemaker who creates a specially curated evening inspired by an exhibition on view at the Museum. The third flight this summer is inspired by The Scandalous Art of James Ensor and will be hosted by No Age, an experimental punk band that emerged from Los Angeles skate culture and DIY venues and now collaborates with contemporary artists on alternative performance concepts.
The series takes its inspiration from the format of a tasting flight, where several flavors, perhaps of wine or beer, or in this case art, can be sampled and compared. Each host is asked to invite friends and collaborators to develop the evening's program, bringing together a network of Los Angeles-based musicians, visual artists, and more for a vibrant evening of sounds and sights. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Strawberry Blast-Off Cake, Charles Phoenix Test Kitchen by Charles Phoenix

Frankly, I spend more time that I would care to admit daydreaming new cake recipes to try in my trustworthy Charles Phoenix Test Kitchen.

Recently I’ve been thinking of a very pink strawberry cake. Something cheerful that would be prefect served to cake-loving friends and family celebrating the July 4th Holiday. So I marched to the nearest supermarket and filled the basket with all things strawberry; fresh strawberries, frozen strawberries, strawberry cake mix and strawberry ice cream. YUM!

And because everybody knows strawberries go SO well with cheesecake, I threw in one of Sara Lee’s finest, too.

Ford Amphitheatre: Restored & Ready for Summer Shows by M.R. Hunter

Nestled in the Cahuenga Pass just off the 101 Freeway (across from the Hollywood Bowl), the John Anson Ford Theatres complex boasts a 1,196-seat amphitheatre in its verdant environs and an intimate, 87-seat indoor theater, deceptively obscured when viewed from the street by the foliage and the design which incorporates the architecture into the natural scenery. But for the eye-catching marquee overlooking the parking lot on Cahuenga Blvd., locals are not always aware of what or where the theatres are, let alone how much history is contained up in the hills. It's an interesting dilemma, one that lends further charm and otherworldliness to the grounds upon entering.

At almost a century old, the amphitheatre was first built in 1920 as a humble wooden stage. Christine Wetherill Stevenson, a writer and heiress of the Pittsburgh Paint Company purchased the land as the site for where The Pilgrimage Play would be performed until 1964. Erected in 1923, in honor of Miss Stevenson is the 32-foot-high cross which glows at night like a beacon and serves as a curious landmark between the boundary of Hollywood and Universal City.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Long Live the Queen: Ellen Geer as “Lear” by M.R. Hunter

Shakespeare's women are not shy about donning on a codpiece when necessary, but gender-reversals can bode uneasy misgivings and critical doubt from the outset as to how successful the sex-switcheroo might pan out. The title character of King Lear is not one so easily redressed given the patriarchal overtures and the blustery folly of a man steeped in ego and arrogance.

Having seen both Harry Groener and Dakin Matthews in the preeminent Antaeus production 4 years ago, I was a bit skeptical about this version starring the incomparable Ellen Geer as Lear. I didn't go charging up the hill to see it on opening weekend. It took awhile to mull the idea over. Queen Lear? I'm no purist, yet whenever gender trumps the integrity of a story, let alone a title character, it's been my experience that usually the idea is about provocation rather than insight.

I was wrong.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Eyestrology: Happy Birthday Cancer by Cici Psy-Chic

For the month of 6/21/14-7/22/14

Happy birthday to these celebrity June Cancers: Meryl Streep (6/22), Randy Jackson (6/23), Solange Knowles (6/24), Carly Simon (6/25), Sean Hayes (6/26), Khloe Kardashian (6/27), Kellie Pickler (6/28), Neil Perry (6/29), Michael Phelps (6/30)

Celebrity July Cancers: Missy Elliott (7/1), Ashley Tisdale (7/2), Tom Cruise (7/3), Neil Simon (7/4), Edie Falco (7/5), Kevin Hart (7/6), Ringo Starr (7/7), Kevin Bacon (7/8), Tom Hanks (7/9), Jessica Simpson (7/10), Lil' Kim (7/11), Bill Cosby (7/12), Harrison Ford (7/13), Jane Lynch (7/14), Forest Whitaker (7/15), Will Ferrell (7/16), Donald Sutherland (7/17), Vin Diesel (7/18), Benedict Cumberbatch (7/19), Sandra Oh (7/20), Robin Williams (7/21), Selena Gomez (7/22)

This will be a high energy, go-go-go kind of early summer. We'll be packing a lot into our weeks. Things can become stressful if we try to do too much both in work and play. Be selective about how to spend your free time. Now that Mercury is going direct, communication should be better. Stay on top of emails, texts and calls and try to be on top of all your daily correspondences now. Air and Fire signs should bite their tongue while Earth and Water could be more expressive about their needs. This is not an ideal period for being opinionated or stubborn. Blame the heat!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


OOH AAH - FIREWORKS! In our safety obsessed society, where no hang nail goes unlitigated, normally cautious people become momentarily unhinged with delight at the thought of lighting up a hot, sparkly, multicolored, illegal incendiary device on Independence Day. Play it safe, we have lots of recommendations for a fun and fiery fix.

Grand Park will again have a free July 4th celebration with fireworks in Downtown LA. The 4th of July Block Party starting at 4pm. Go Metro but watch for advisories.  This park has proved to be very popular and there may be some restrictions in accessing the park via the Metro Red Line watch for updates at the Grand Park site or at  

Whether you have a favorite “hot spot” to watch these patriotic displays or don’t know where to go, our annual list has them including some of our tips for getting the most for the least.  


El Paso BBQ in Tarzana

Good ol' American BBQ is often a matter of taste and style. Do you like it sweet, smokey, spicy? Do you prefer it Kansas, Missouri, Texas or Southern style.  And these are just a few of the variations out there. 

Cooking methods, sauces and rubs all play a role.  But I think the most important foundation for great Q is the quality of the meat.

The key to the food here is quality. The ribs are succulent, the brisket and the steaks are tender, salads are crisp and fresh.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Theater the Way It Should Be: “The Brothers Size” at the Fountain Theatre by M.R. Hunter

Following last year's widely acclaimed "In the Red and Brown Water," the second installment of Tarell Alvin McCraney's "Brother/Sister Plays" trilogy at the Fountain is impactful and stunning. One does not need to have seen the first play as each is a standalone piece relating to the themes of African Yoruba mythology, interpersonal relations, struggle, locale and McCraney's signature style of vocalizing the stage directions as a reminder that THIS is a theatrical art form.

And it is definitively theater—not pseudo-theater plaguing many underwritten, uninspired or creatively hesitant new plays as of late. McCraney's stories work on the stage because he writes FOR the stage instead of the other way around. From the melodic dialogue with its poetic underpinnings, mythological symbolism, multilayered characters filled with pathos, hubris and complexity, "The Brothers Size" is one of those rare gems of contemporary playwrighting that gives hope to the future of the craft. Being able to tell a story is a privilege most people enjoy. The art of storytelling however is a very exclusive ability and when it unfolds in such a way to leave one breathless and clamoring for more, then a certain respect must be paid to its talent.

McCraney infuses his work with folklore from Yoruba, located in southwestern Nigeria which made its way to the southern states of the U.S. This play is set in the rural Louisiana bayou in elder brother Ogun Henri Size's home and his auto shop. Younger brother, Oshoosi has just come home after being paroled from jail, struggling to adapt to his newfound freedom. Elegba, Oshoosi's friend infiltrates the tenuous relationship with his own secret agendas only Ogun can sense as he watches his brother fall into a seduction of good vs. evil, inevitably setting him free.

Friday, June 13, 2014

“The Human Spirit” at the Odyssey Has A Lot of Heart by M.R. Hunter

Nelson Mandela's death earlier this year elicited a worldwide outpouring of genuine admiration for a revolutionary but peaceful leader who after being imprisoned for 27 years, went on to become the first president of South Africa and championed tirelessly for a transition from a racially divided apartheid country to one working for progressive change. For all that Mandela was able to achieve, the roots of prejudice, fear, hate and political corruption are still ever present in the embittered colonized African countries. While it may seem another world away, the people still struggling to mend the fences and bloodshed after half a century of tyranny continues to affect us all.

This is Carole Eglash-Kosoff's primary mission with her play "The Human Spirit" based on her nonfiction book published in 2010 recounting the unlikely heroes of four women who banded together to make a difference in the community. These women nicknamed the "Mamas" comprised of two segregated locals (the charming Allison Reeves and exquisite singer Rea Segoati), a South African nun (Zuri Alexander) and a white Jewish sympathizer (Lisa Dobbyn). They invited great risk to ensure medication, basic essentials and food reached those who were in most desperate need of them and due to apartheid, were the ones least able to have access. Their journey and refusal to acquiesce under pressure, imprisonment and physical harm captures the enduring strength of compassion and fearlessness in the worst of times.

LACMA's World of Color – Expressionism, Mobiles, California, Futbol, and the Metropolis by M.R. Hunter

Bringing together some of the greatest painters of the early 20th century from Bonnard, Cézanne, Gauguin, Marc, Matisse to lesser notable names as Cuno Amiet, Heinrich Campendonk, and Edouard Vuillard along with a smattering of rare pieces by van Gogh into its recent exhibit running through September 14, one can see the fluidity of the expressionist movement and how it related from the work itself to the artists themselves in an open dialogue.

Friday, June 6, 2014

“Backyard” Isn’t For Pussies at Atwater Village Theater by M.R. Hunter

Let me open with a disclaimer: this show has copious amounts of violent and graphic situations, sex and comedy. In short, it's a real winner for those who have a high tolerance for gore. For sensitive audiences who can't stand the sight of blood, self-inflicted pain, or oral copulation, I recommend you see something else. "Backyard" isn't for pussies. That being said upfront, I will now tender my review to everyone who, like me, enjoys a theatrical brawl, KO style.

Mickey Birnbaum's examination of backyard wrestling has less to do with the realities of this teenage pastime and instead uses the topic as a symbol of society's penchant for anger, disillusionment and peacocking. In a lower middle class suburb on the border of Mexico near San Diego, a family "earns their blood" when they practice and stage a recorded wrestling match complete with ridiculous characters: The Destroyer, King of Tears, Hellgirl, The Traveler, The Mantis, and Komodo Dragon. The premise sounds a bit shaky and at times the storyline wanes from the absurd to the gratuitous to the downright silly but Birnbaum manages to always up the ante just when it seems nothing more could possibly be explored in this serrated cut vein dramedy.

In lesser hands, the script would still entertain but it could pose as a dangerous enterprise for any less capable theater company or actor lacking health insurance. The toll and demand on the ensemble is extraordinarily high as they whip around, belly flop, whack, kick, and pummel and grapple each other on a padded floor or the occasional pinball ricochet against a mattress. There are moments when the choreography hugs dangerously close to being too real but this cast proves sturdy and flexible enough to take the blows like champions. This alone is almost worth the price of admission, but the jaw-dropping humor and colorful characters combined gives this play real heft beyond shock value alone. Is it shocking? Oh, yes, and exhilarating.

Friday, May 30, 2014

“Gruesome Playground Injuries” is a Hard Pill to Swallow by M.R. Hunter

Rajiv Joseph's dark romantic comedy is a typical boy meets girl story with a twist: every defining moment boy spends with girl is marked by his injuries requiring trips to the school nurse's office, later a hospital, until he ends up incapable of bringing on more self-harm. The relationship that spans 30 years between them is as gauzy as bandages, wobbly as crutches, consistent as an IV drip and as constrictive as a wheelchair. They connect on the physical plane of pain and act as salves to their emotional hurts brought on by their choices and by each other.

It's an interesting concept but the lack of verisimilitude in the artificial setup undermines this grisly courtship with heavy-handed symbolism and an unsatisfying lack of resolve or epiphany. Further exacerbating the superficial appeal is the playwright's inscrutable demand of setting up scenes in a non-sequential order. The injuries, primarily inflicted by the white knight's brave but foolish boyhood antics such as jumping off the school roof on his bike or lighting firecrackers too close to his face are uncomfortably juxtaposed by mortal accidents like being struck by lightning.

This irony is lost in the tenuous cohesion of a timeline connecting these incidents by etching an age and a theme onto a small chalkboard. Towards the final two scenes, Joseph is forced by his own hand to collapse the chronology into a final conclusion riddled by query, vague sentiments and a lack of closure both for the characters point of view and the audience. It is frustrating because there is a lot of promise to the premise too orchestrated perhaps to escape its conceit.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Eyestrology: Happy Birthday Gemini! by Cici Psy-Chic

For the month of 5/21/14-6/21/14

Happy birthday to these celebrity May Gemini's: Naomi Campbell (5/22), Drew Carey (5/23), Bob Dylan (5/24), Ian McClellan (5/25), Lenny Kravitz (5/26), Christopher Lee (5/27), Gladys Knight (5/28), Daniel Tosh (5/29), Idina Menzel (5/30), Clint Eastwood (5/31)

Celebrity June Gemini's: Morgan Freeman (6/1), Justin Long (6/2), Anderson Cooper (6/3), Angelina Jolie (6/4), Mark Wahlberg (6/5), Robert Englund (6/6), Prince (6/7), Joan Rivers (6/8), Johnny Depp (6/9), Kate Upton (6/10), Shia LaBeouf (6/11), Ella Joyce (6/12), Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen (6/13), Donald Trump (6/14), Ice Cube (6/15), Abby Elliott (6/16), Venus Williams (6/17), Blake Shelton (6/18), Paula Abdul (6/19), Nicole Kidman (6/20), Prince William (6/21)

Although summer is upon us and most of us would like to be out catching the rays by dashing off to the beach, many signs will be feeling introspective and homebound in the next few weeks. Choose events and activities that stimulate the mind and lift the spirit but be prepared to cozy up with a Kindle or simply wile away the day in PJ's. There is a good opportunity for weekend trips, meeting new people or positive changes in career towards mid-June but for now take it easy. Use this time to plan, reorient or address anything requiring resolution and a sense of peace.

In-N-Out-Land, Baldwin Park, CA, 2014 by Charles Phoenix

The world's most honest-to-goodness hamburger chain has gifted us with a faithful replica of its iconic original 1948 drive-thru stand.

Everything about this replica is picture perfect. From the oh-so classic neon sign to the matching candy striped awnings and hand-painted menu board, every single dreamy detail seems authentic inside and out. There is even an old cigarette machine hanging from the signpost.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

“Pray to Ball” Makes a Bank Shot at the Skylight Theatre by M.R. Hunter

It isn't often when sports are realistically performed onstage. Spatial limitations along with unpredictable physical coordination generally rules out taking such dramatic risks, but Amir Abdullah's rousing play successfully incorporates the game of basketball into its enlightening drama concerning a friendship tested when one coverts to Islam.

The risky endeavors in terms of the subject matter and required athletic improvisation combined make for a rewarding payoff and an engaging storyline about two rising star NCAA players at University of Miami, Lou (Abdullah) and Hakeem (Y'Lan Noel) who seem to have the world by the tail. As they are surrounded by fans, groupie girls, and potential professional offers, the duo revel in their instant stardom until an unexpected loss forces Hakeem to reexamine his life and beliefs. A flyer inviting him to the Muslim Student Association sparks his interest and newfound discovery in Islam.

Lou rejects and undermines his best friend's efforts as Hakeem's budding faith grows under the guidance of an on-campus counselor and his Muslim tutor, Tamana (Ulka Simone Mohanty). The tension leads to frustrations both on and off the court, heated exchanges and seemingly impossible reconciliation as the men drift further apart until a career-changing accident takes one of them out for the season.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese Food Truck by Valerie Mitchell

The Stouffer's Food Truck made a special stop in Santa Monica!

It was an absolutely gorgeous day to be outside in the Southern California sun. The truck parked on Ocean Avenue near Santa Monica Blvd. The skies were blue and the view of the Pacific and Santa Monica Pier were stunning. It was a lovely day for a comfort food lunch.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Monorail, Disneyland, 1961 by Charles Phoenix

Whooshing by on the highway in the sky, passengers travel in supreme space-age style between the Disneyland Hotel and Tomorrowland. Hopefully they heard the "Please keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times" recording because there are no windows!

The monorail is like an airplane without wings, or a cross between a snake, shark and catfish. It also has a foot-long hot dog/Oscar Meyer Wienermobile feel to it. BTW, it's not too late for an Oscar Meyer sponsorship. They could called it the Oscar Meyer Weinermonorail!!!

Never have green tinted glass, ribbed stainless steel panels, lipstick red, and pinstriped white looked so great together. 

Go! National Theatre Live Screenings at L.A. Theatre Works by M.R. Hunter

Whether you're a theater lover or not, National Theatre in London reliably mounts the best productions in the world bar none. Unless you're flitting across the pond a few times a year, the chances of witnessing these outstanding, ground-breaking shows are slim. The NT productions are the kind of quality we can learn and be inspired from as artists regardless of our discipline. Unfortunately, some folks are reticent about attending a "screening." Theater purists for a lack of better word, reject the idea that a screening can be just as good as watching something live. Let me assure anyone with these misgivings of their error. It is as good and the cinematic quality put into these screenings allows even further appreciation, not less of both art forms (theater and film). These stagings will NOT be touring in the U.S. so there isn't much in the way of opportunity to see these shows unless you go to the screening (which is limited in its run and venues across the country).

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

“Fat Pig” is a Safe but Fair Revival at the Hudson Mainstage by M.R. Hunter

There's been an uptick in revivals for Neil LaBute's plays what with last year's L.A. Theatre Works' staging of "Reasons to Be Pretty" followed by the sequel "Reasons to Be Happy." "Fat Pig" now playing at the Hudson is a slightly tweaked version from its 2007 Los Angeles premiere at the Geffen Playhouse but in the intimate space the play still holds up, edited or not, and typifies the playwright's keen if not brutal insight into current sociological attitudes and conflicting mores.

The interest in LaBute most likely stems from his appalling yet accurate portrayal of Gen X'ers trying to maintain an uneasy balance between vapidity and a modern-age pragmatism that circumvents attachment and feeling in the quest for personal freedom, happiness or simply gain. Unlike some of his other works which takes an almost cynical tone amid a sparring showdown, "Fat Pig" is at its heart a tender love story wrought by outside influences and societal judgment.