Showing posts from June, 2005

LA Scene: Pasadena Pops at Descanso Gardens

The LA Phil isn't the only game in town when it comes to orchestral ensembles. There is the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra led by John Mauceri. There is the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

Last Sunday, I got a chance to hear the Pasadena Pops Orchestra under the baton of their artistic director Rachael Worby. They hold their summer series at Descanso Gardens.

The event ran with the title, "MOZART, McCARTNEY AND MORE!" and was a special event funded by Rusnak Auto Group for their customers and employees.

The event theme was all kinds of music by composers starting with the letter M. Worby seemed to genuinely enjoy hamming it up for the audience and later bantering with Joely Fisher who was the headlining vocalist.

The program with the "M" theme included classical excerpts like the Clarinet Concerto by Mozart with solo by Andrew Leonard a talented clarinetist from the USC School of Music, Mendelssohn's famed Violin Concerto with teenage sensation Kenneth Hamao w…

June Gloom: The beginning of the end of the Dodger season?

That was ugly. It had everything that has been going wrong with the Dodger season. Decent pitching but no run support and runs given up by fielding problems.

The sports radio hosts and callers are on a ledge and there is blame all around.

However, what can you say when the facts are these:

The original cast and crew was supposed to be this:
Catcher - Jason Philips - He has been a pleasant surprise
First Base - Hee Seop Choi and Olmedo Saenz - Doing about what was expected
Second Base - Jeff Kent - Doing what was expected
Third Base - Jose Valentin - on the DL
Shortstop - Caesar Izturis - Doing about what was expected
Left Field - Jason Werth - still not 100% after being on DL
Center Field - Milton Bradley - on the DL
Right Field - J.D. Drew - injured but not yet on the DL

Out of 8 position players, 4 are either on the DL, came off the DL or are heading to the DL. And these four were supposed to be the big boppers in the lineup.

And of course the huge hole in the relief corp is Gagne on the DL…

Random ramblings...

First off, what do you think of the new layout?

Decided it was time to change the template. Hope you all like it.

Good sports day for Dodger fans. A come from behind win against the NL West leading Padres! Dodgers split the four games down in Petco. The team after EIGHT losses in a row was left for dead. Well, they are still in bad shape but they are still kicking. Three big games against the Angels. The Dodgers need to know they can beat top level teams to have some confidence going forward. After the three-game series with the Angels, it is three more with the Padres.

Game SEVEN. Nothing like those two words in all of sports. The NBA powers-that-be must be pleased that the championship went the full seven. Great game tonight with solid defense and clutch plays by the big names. The Spurs just had a little more left in the tank and it showed in the fourth quarter.

Congrats to the Spurs on their third title. Truly, a team effort with big plays from Duncan, Horry and Ginobli…

Seen on the Web: Grocery Store Wars

I am probably a little late on this but it finally got to me.

This item arrived in my emailbox.

It's hilarious!

Anyway, this parody of Star Wars applied to the Organic Foods Movement is creative at the very least.


@ the movies: Crash

Reviewers have been generally positive about Crash. Most agree it is "strong coffee" which some found contrived and others refreshing.

The film follows a mix of characters in one and half days in Los Angeles in its full racial diversity. These seemingly separate lives intersect in dramatic and unexpected ways.

Of the many members of the ensemble cast, I'd say Michael Pena might garner a nomination for supporting actor.

I walked away from the film with mixed feelings. It is a hard edged film that allows characters to be fully "politically incorrect" and to say what some might think but are afraid to say in polite company. I felt it presents the state of race relations in Los Angeles and by extension America as very bleak ... too bleak in my opinion. And so, at that level, I found it disturbing. My own personal experience as an ethnic minority in Los Angeles and America is not a bleak as the film portrays. However, I recognize that my life is somewhat "…

LA Dining: Glendale's Best - Fish King and Portos Bakery

My latest is up over at LA.foodblogging.

I highlight two of my favorite specialty food places.

Portos Bakery
315 North Brand Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91203
tel. (818) 956-5996
fax (818) 956-0696

Fish King
720 North Glendale Avenue
Glendale, California 91206
Phone: (818) 244-2161

@ the Movies: Waiting for the Clouds

Went to the Los Angeles Film Festival and saw Waiting for the Clouds.

The showing I saw was co-sponsored with Amnesty International. A second showing of the film was co-sponsored with Human Rights Watch.

A representative from Amnesty International spoke briefly before the film sharing that it is often through independent film-making that stories of past injustices can be made known to the world.

I am only vaguely familiar with the more recent conflict over Cyprus between the Turkish and Greeks. The film looks at an event I didn't know and I suspect most people don't: the Turkish expulsion of the Pontian Greeks.

It is often in works of fiction, in an intimate tale of just a few people, that a larger story is told. Saving Private Ryan was a fictional story but the telling of that story highlights the larger true story of World War II and D-Day and the heroism of that great generation.

Waiting for the Clouds is a small story. We are introduced to a mysterious sad older woman who …

Stick a Fork in 'Em? Are the Dodgers Done?

As of this writing, the Dodgers are down 3 1/2 games. They play MLB best White Sox in tonight's ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. The Dodgers will face the NL West leading Padres SEVEN times in the next two weeks. The Pods could deal a knockout punch to the Dodger season.

Here's hoping the Dodgers find that timely hitting that got them off to a great start and that has been sorely lacking the last two months.

LAT's Plaschke on Dodgers and Gagne

Plaschke reminds us why the Gagne story has that deja vu all over again feeling. Excerpts:June 17, 2005 
Bill Plaschke

Somebody Should Have Saved Gagne

When taking the mound for his first game this spring, baseball's toughest pitcher didn't swagger, he limped.

When throwing his first pitch to an opposing hitter this spring, baseball's most fearless pitcher didn't fling, he lobbed.

Why didn't I rail about the lob?

After Eric Gagne's first appearance in late March, in the quiet of the Vero Beach clubhouse, I approached him with the intention of writing a column.

He was altering his mechanics to compensate for an injured knee. He should stop pitching immediately or risk damaging his arm.

I had seen it a dozen times before. It was Baseball 101. The story was clear.
Today, Eric Gagne, with a torn elbow, is on the verge of a surgery that could change a career, alter a season and spark an eternally Blue question.

It is the same question asked in 1990 when another Dod…

Dodger Stats - How are some of DePodesta's picks doing?

On sports talk-radio here in LA, one host likes to call Dodger GM, Paul De-Stupid-Podesta.

Some other hosts are a bit more willing to give the student of Billy "Moneyball" Beane a chance.

Let's take a quick look at the stats of some key players that DePodesta moved out and brought in and see how those choices have turned out. The stats for the players are as of June 15, 2005.

DePodesta took a lot of heat for giving up Paul LoDuca. He was a fan favorite. And certainly, at the time, giving up LoDuca and Mota for Penny (who got injured) and Choi (who did nothing late last season) looked pretty bad. But how about now?

Penny is the #2 starter on the team and Choi is doing much better.

But back to the catcher's spot. Here are LoDuca's numbers: 200 AB, 22 R, 2 HR, 26 RBI, .295 AVE and .345 OBP.

DePodesta picked up Jason Philips during spring training and here are his numbers: 176 AB, 17 R, 4 HR, 28 RBI, .273 AVE and .320 OBP.

No complaints here. LoDuca's numbers …

Dodger Blogging

Found this item of Dodger blogging. I'd have to agree that all the fire Jim Tracey talk is pre-mature.

For that matter, I'll go out on a limb and say that all the Paul De-stupid-Podesta talk is also overblown.

Since I've been blogging I have come across Dodger Thoughts and 6-4-2. I also came across Sarah Morris' Dodger Place because of Bill Plaschke's column a few years ago. Morris now writes a periodic column for the Dodger official web page. And finally, I noticed on the official Dodger web page that Tommy Lasorda has a blog.

Gagne to DL and possible season ending surgery

The news doesn't look good. Quote: The Los Angeles Times reported that Gagne has a partial tear of the elbow ligament and may need season-ending surgery.

LA Dining: Rib blogging over at LA.foodblogging

My latest is up where I mention four different rib places. I'm looking forward to the comments from the readership to discover new places.

I mention Mr. Cecil's, Dr. Hoggly Woggly's, the Pig and Zeke's Smokehouse.

Dr. Hoggly Woggly’s Tyler Texas BBQ
8136 Sepulveda Blvd (near Roscoe)
Van Nuys, CA 91402-4305
Phone: (818) 902-9046

Mr. Cecil’s California Ribs
12244 Pico Blvd (Amherst Avenue)
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 442-1550

The Pig
612 N La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036 View Map
(323) 935-1116
Cross Street: Clinton Street

Zeke's Smokehouse
Montrose Location
2209 Honolulu Avenue
Montrose, CA 91020
T: 818.957.7045

W. Hollywood Location
7100 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90046
T: 323.850.9353

This is LA Baseball: Dodgers 6 Twins 5

Attended my sixth game of the season.

The Dodgers and Twins last met in Dodger's stadium 40 years ago in the 1965 MLB Championship. Koufax didn't pitch in game one because it fell on Yom Kippur. Drysdale started and got shelled. The Dodgers dropped game two and headed back to LA with their backs to the wall. They took three straight in LA, lost game six but Koufax finished off the Twins in game seven. In the pre-game, players from that championship season were introduced.

Tonight, a very dramatic game. The Dodgers jumped to a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the first. The Twins cut the lead to 4-3 in the top of the second and then took the lead 5-4 in the top of the third. The Dodgers managed to tie it in the bottom of the sixth. Sanchez took care of the seventh, Brazoban took care of the eighth and Gange took care of the ninth.

Hee-Seop Choi stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth and whacked the first pitch! The fans in our lower reserve section rose as one to …

A few of my favorite things

Am mesmerized by John Coltrane's jazzy version of My Favorite Things.

Thus, it was natural to use that as a basis for planning my birthday celebration.

Am doing birthday baseball, bicycle and bbq ribs ... a few of my favorite things and I'll be sharing them with a few of my favorite people ... that crazy quilt of friends that God has brought into my life.

Will be seeing the Dodgers vs. Twins who haven't played each other since the 1965 World Series. I love baseball. Call me old-fashioned but there is something about the pace of the game that matches the rhythm of life. And there is something soothing about the vastness of the ballpark.

Am going bike riding as well. Thank God for good health and the opportunity to enjoy Southern California.

And having dinner at Zeke's Smokehouse. I'm a carnivore. I admit it!

And of course, all this with various friends.

Have to say as I ponder marking off another birthday, I find the thoughts written by Sherry seem right about where …

LA Dining: Darya Restaurant

Have foodblogged over at about the Persian restaurant, Darya on Santa Monica Blvd. and Bundy. A fine looking place with good food and attentive service, go give it a try.

What is love?

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Where does that come from?

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ... a passage in that good old book the Bible.

Heard it hundreds of time and it still hits home. Heard it again this past Sunday at church.

Dodger Update

Well, the Dodgers are hovering around .500 which was what was expected by experts at the beginning of the season.

Went to my fifth game last night where the Dodgers lost to the Brewers 7-5. The home run hurt the Dodgers as the Brewer runs came on a grand slam before their was one out and a three-run blast in the eigth.

Tonight, the Dodgers managed to win 2-1. Emergency starter, D.J. Houlton gave up 1 run in 5 1/3. The relief of Wunch, Sanchez and Brazoban held the lead and Gagne got the save.

If the radar gun is accurate, Gagne is definitely not quite up to full speed yet as his fastball was at 92 mph and he threw a lot of change ups clocking at 84 mph.

I've seen the Dodgers beat the Giants and Colorado and lose to Arizona, Atlanta and Milwaukee. Hopefully, when I see my sixth game they will win bringing my viewing record to 3-3 which would mirror about where they are anyway.

Dodger offense has slipped from earlier in the year when they were near the top in run scoring. But the ot…

@ the movies: Cinderella Man

Russell Crowe as Braddock with Paul Giamatti who plays Braddock's manager and trainer.

Thumbs up. Make that two thumbs up. My friend and I agree that the film was great!

Three stars out a possible four.

Based on a true story, Crowe plays James Braddock, an aging boxer injured in the ring who had to scratch out a living on the docks during the Depression. Zellweger plays his wife, Mae who exhibits love and strength as she and Braddock struggle to raise their three children during one of the most difficult times in America. Faced with poverty, Braddock does whatever he can to provide for his family. Out of the blue, he is offered a chance to return to the ring, as a publicity stunt by the promoters, where he fought to provide for his family and unexpectedly wins and became an inspiration to the downtrodden of the Depression Era. This isn't a boxing movie but rather it is a film about a life well lived that happens to have boxing in it.

Braddock (Crowe) with his eldest son play…

Days of our lives

If there is someone in your life who you love and who loves you, that together the two of you do good for others and happiness flows between you, thank your God and that special person.

And if you would, give a little extra grace and understanding to those who don't have what you have.

Here are some thoughts from a single person:
There are certain days on the calendar that are awful: New Years, Valentine's day, birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

New Years: no girlfriend to kiss to ring in the New Years.

Valentine's day: my dream of proposing and giving her an engagement ring remains a mirage in the distant desert horizon as I taste the sand and sweat of my solo journey.

Birthday: no wife who feels that the date of my birth is a big deal because that was the day her husband came into this world.

Thanksgiving: no falling on my knees thanking God that my wife will soon be the mother of our child.

Christmas: no video cameras to take to the school play where my kid is the Christm…

Life: Taxi Driver Tips

As a resident of Los Angeles, I rarely ride the taxi.

But the other day, I had my car in the repair shop. I was planning to walk back to the shop (about 2 miles) but I got off work too late to start walking to show up to claim my car before the service bay closed.

Thus, I called for a taxi.

The stereotype is the talkative taxi driver. In my limited experience, there are indeed such chatty cabbies.

We started talking about whatever and I soon found he wasn't a silent steerer of the sedan though he was far from talking up a storm.

Somehow, we got onto the economics of being a cab driver. He mentioned that each day the cab company gets the first $120 of fares. The rest are his.

He dropped me off and my fare with tip came out to $10 for a 20 minute ride.

If he gets three such fares in one hour, he gets $30/hour and he pays off the cab company in four hours and the rest of the day's passengers provide his wages. If he drives an additional eight hours that is $240 for the day. Do…