Category Archives: events

Michelle Obama ‘Hugs George W. Bush’…And Hilarious Photoshop Edits Spring Up on Social Media (Photos)

first-lady-hugs-bush-with-trump-face

*Let’s just call this The hug felt around the world. Michelle Obama, who will go down in history as capturing a beauty we haven’t seen in a First Lady since….sound of crickets while I think…since…Ok maybe Jackie Kennedy on a certain level, has got to have the biggest heart. At the opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, saw former President George W. Bush, and gave him a hug.

The Original
The Original

Can we all just take a sec and say, “Aww…”

But of course such a gesture may have temporarily overshadowed the significance of Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture as Internet avengers rushed to their editing pages to create their own photoshop edits of the gesture; which had been captured by former chief White House photographer David Hume

And you’ve got to admit, some of the photos are humorous indeed. Like the one above showing the face of Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, replacing the Bush photo.

Others have the “photo editors” creating pictures that reimagine Bush as a sleeping baby…

bush-as-sleeping-baby

Bush as a “bush”…as in tree.

bush-as-a-bush

Huffington Post gives a glimpse of posts emanating from some of these reimagined pics; along with more photo edits that include actor John Travolta laying a kiss on the former president (wonder what that’s about and why him…but moving on); a pillow with some cute cartoon character replacing Bush; Mrs. Obama hugging herself…yeah, it starts to get stupid after a while; the First Lady hugging Brad Pitt.

OK, that’s enough.

Anyway, just look at this as a funny way to begin your work week. While taking a look at the historic opening of  Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Enjoy your week!

#thehugfeltaroundtheworld

Meet the Killer Women of ‘Life Without Parole’ (West Coast Premiere!), Plus Video Teaser

"Life Without Parole," playing at Vanguard University, centers around domestic violence survivors who've killed their abusers.
“Life Without Parole,” a scene from the Vanguard University production, centers around domestic violence survivors who’ve killed their abusers.

*The women of  Life Without Parole are real women. This is their story.

At a parole hearing at the California Institution for Women in Chino in 1999, Helen Broker must fight to regain her freedom. She’s been jailed for killing the abusive husband who beat her, threatened to rape her daughter, and who pointed a pistol at her.

She’s a member of a prison support group, CWAV (Convicted Women Against Violence). Her fellow group members are all women who have killed the husbands or boyfriends who beat them. According to the criminal justice system, they’re all guilty of second degree murder. But were they just defending themselves against perpetrators of domestic violence?

Life Without Parole is the story of Helen Broker and her fellow inmates who have all trod down this heartbreaking path. Where is justice for them?

Playwright Warren John Doody based his narrative on the research of the late Dr. Elizabeth Dermody Leonard, who interviewed over forty incarcerated women in the course of her research. Much of the play’s text consists of verbatim transcriptions of the women’s stories. Some scenes are re-enactments of actual events. Continue reading

Trial by Jury: The Case of The N-Word (Listen to Interview with Creator, Kyle D. Bowser)

trial-by-jury

*Santa Monica, CA, September 23, 2016 – The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica presents Trial by Jury: The Case of The N-Word a one-of-a-kind interactive event on October 17 at 7:30pm.  Trial by Jury: The Case of The N-Word, is an original fusion of dramatized litigation, deliberation and audience participation, which explores both sides of a very polarizing topic: the use of the “N-Word.”

PBS’ Tavis Smiley said, “I firmly believe dialogue is a device that greatly increases opportunity to reach understanding, appreciation, and respect.  In short, words have power.  Trial by Jury: The Case of The N-Word focuses on such an issue, as it probes the multiplicity of perspectives surrounding our nation’s most provocative word.  This impactful production presents opposing perspectives and a constructive forum for articulation, consideration, and rebuttal.”

In Trial by Jury: The Case of The N-Word, Tiffany Johnson, a 9-year-old girl learns the “N-Word” during a Black History Month lesson. The school’s choice to include the word in its elementary curriculum disturbs her parents, who had taken precautions to shield her from this epithet.

Continue reading

TNT Review: Ringling Bros New Show Is Truly Death-Defying, For Kids Of All Ages

photo_alexander-with-lions

*Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey circus ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson recently called their new show, Out of this World, “the greatest show on earth.” If that sounds like a tag line, it is, and they’ve been using it for decades.

Sometimes, though, there’s actual truth in advertising. And the tag line is absolutely apt in this case. The circus’ new production completely blew my mind. Ringling Bros has put together an amazing show for kids of ALL ages.

Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson and Paolo
Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson and Paolo

“With this new show,” Iverson said by phone, “we still have the world’s greatest menagerie — lions and tigers, rescue dogs, horses, donkeys, kangaroos, llamas, pigs…”

Let’s talk about those pigs. Having grown up in Detroit, I didn’t know pigs were so big. They’re “huge dog” big. Hell, they’re “small car” big!

And let’s talk about the lions and tigers. That part of the show was one of the moments when I was really afraid. I was certain that the cats’ trainer, Alexander, was going to get mauled for all to see. One of the felines, Susie, wasn’t in the best of moods during the performance and challenged Alexander more than a few times.  She was absolutely not feeling Alex.  Every time she growled with that mouth full of deadly incisors or raised her immense paw to the trainer’s head, I was frozen in my seat.

Speaking of being frozen, only Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey could bring a snowstorm and snowball fight to a hot late summer night in Sacramento, California. During that segment of the show, the visuals are so realistic you’ll believe the venue has bumped the AC up. And ONLY Ringling Bros could set the ice on fire — literally!

And let’s talk about another petrifying part of the show: those horsemen and women, riding quickly around a tight circle as they rotated over and under the galloping horses! They could have easily been trampled.

The trapeze artists! Yes, there was a net, but they were WAY up there! Continue reading

Pasadena Playhouse Moves 2nd Production of 2016-17 Season

Pasadena_Playhouse_2012-09-04_18-42-07

PASADENA, CA (September 21, 2016) – The Pasadena Playhouse announced today it will move the second production of its 2016-2017 Season to a later date in 2017 and will be cancelling M. BUTTERFLY. The decision was made after The Playhouse was unable to secure rights to present the play later in its season due to the Broadway revival in Spring 2017. Due to several production elements and without the rights for a later date, The Playhouse is cancelling the previously announced M. BUTTERFLY and has begun the planning to replace the production later in the 2016-2017 season.

The season will continue with the Panto at The Playhouse production of Lythgoe Family Panto’s A CINDERELLA CHRISTMAS in December. Tickets for the holiday show are currently on sale.

In a joint statement, Artistic Director Sheldon Epps and Executive/Artistic Director Danny Feldman said: “The Pasadena Playhouse is committed to bringing the best theatrical experience to its stages for our audiences. While we are disappointed that we could not present M. BUTTERFLY, we are working to find another production to add to our 2016-2017 Season.”

m-butterfly Continue reading

Gerald Albright’s Brilliant New Album is a Family Affair

image08238112703

*“Discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most.”

I saw that quote on jazz legend Gerald Albright’s Facebook page, and instantly fell in love with it. As it had no attribution, I called Albright to get the scoop on who was behind those wondrous words.

“I’m not sure who said it,” Albright confessed with a laugh, “but that is one of the main quotes from my life right now — on a lot of different levels, musical and otherwise.”

(As it turns out, the quote is from psychotherapist and yoga instructor Augusta F. Kantra…but I’ll have to tell you about her another time! When you have a jazz legend on the phone, and he mentions his musical path, you have to ask him about that! And when I did, I found out about Albright’s upcoming album, G.)

“Top to bottom,” Albright says, “I wanted my new album to take the listener on a musical journey with different textures, rhythms, chord progressions and moods. I want people to know where I’ve been and where I’m going, and to let them hear that I’m in a really good place in my life.”

After listening to G, I’ve concluded that Albright may be in the best place he’s ever been, as G may be the best album he’s ever released. The first track and lead single, “Taking Control,” is a rhythmic romp that has special meaning for Albright. Continue reading

Ringling Bros’ First African American Ringmaster — and His Son — Bring It!

iverson-and-paolo
Iverson and Paolo

*You may have heard that Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey has removed their trademark elephants, the ones that generations of circus fans have enjoyed, from the show.  Having been thrilled by the elephants for the first time decades ago, I was curious about how they’d fill that void.  When I caught up with ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson, he assured me that we’re in for a treat.  He also educated me about a longstanding circus tradition: evolution.

“There was a time when the greatest attraction at the circus was the incandescent lightbulb,” the 40-year-old Iverson told me by phone. “And people came from miles and miles to see it — we filled whole tents full of folks. When the elephants left, it presented an opportunity to do what we’ve always done. We’re always reinventing ourselves — that’s the beauty of the circus.”

“With this new show, we still have the world’s greatest menagerie — lions and tigers, rescue dogs, horses, donkeys, pigs, kangaroos, llamas…and ice! We have ice and ice skaters,” Iverson continued, with an enthusiasm that’s absolutely contagious.”

I was born and raised in Michigan, and I can honestly say I’d never been more excited about ice than I was when Iverson talked about it!

“It’s an intergalactic space odyssey, and there are great projections that reflect off of the ice that literally transport your imagination to the planet we’re going to — it’s stunning,” Iverson continued.  “I’m riding around in this space ship the whole time. It’s hilarious to me, because I’ve always been skeptical about black people going into space! I’ve been with the show for 20 years, and I’ve done everything from being a part of a living carousel to presenting fictional dragons, to now going to outer space! That can only be done at the circus.”

In case you missed that ethnic reference (or the picture at the beginning of this feature!), that’s right! The ringmaster of Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey circus is African American. He’s the first black ringmaster in the circus’ 200 year history. Continue reading

Batman’s Bike Is For Sale

74777795

*I’ve always been on #TeamSuperman, but ever since Adam West jumped in the 1960s-era Batmobile and said “Atomic batteries to power! Turbines to speed!” followed by Burt Ward’s “Roger!  Ready to move out!” I’ve wanted one of Batman’s vehicles.

Hell, I won’t front:  I’d have jumped on Batgirl’s cycle if given half a chance.  

Now I can have one of those Bat-toys!  

The Batpod was the only thing left from the destroyed Batmobile in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, and one of the bikes used in that flick and the follow-up The Dark Knight Rises is up for auction.  

The bike features fiberglass body panels, a custom-made chassis, 31-inch Hoosier tires, and a Honda 750 engine.  It also features a laser-targeting unit and (sadly) non-functioning cannons. Continue reading