Saturday, October 15, 2011
"Houdini: Art and Magic" is attracting the curious at the "Contemporary Jewish Museum" in the San Francisco bay area.
The intriguing exhibition features black and white photographs of the artist, one-of-a-kind art nouveau promotional posters from by-gone eras, personal diaries, theatrical playbills, magic tools of Houdini's mysterious smoke & mirrors trade, steamer trunks designed to create mystifying illusions, straight jackets, and trick handcuffs (about 160 objects in total).
Houdini buffs will be hankering to check out a replica of the master magician's "water cell" in which the clever escape artist performed one of his legendary illusions.
After being bound and lowered into the "torture chamber" headfirst - and submerged under water - Houdini would miraculously emerge moments later unscathed by the near death-defying feat.
In his day, the legendary magician was quite the promoter also, who milked the publicity machine for all its worth.
And, his ballsy bold-faced bravado paid off handsomely, too.
At the height of his professional career, Houdini was a celebrity of high rank, who rubbed shoulders with the tony elite and courted Kings and Presidents!
For magic buffs, the Houdini exhibit is a must see!
Houdini was born in Budapest (Hungary) on March 24th (1874) and his birth name was originally Erich Weiss.
When he was four years old, his family moved to America.
Houdini toyed with magic when he was just a lad.
Surprisingly, when he first tried his hand at the craft, he was not successful right off-the-bat.
According to biographers, Houdini tried every type of magic for about five years - from card manipulations (he was billed as the "King of Cards") - to intriguing illusions - and run-of-the-mill box escapes.
His one big success was the "Needle Trick", a grisly effect involving the swallowing of dozens of needles and thread, then the regurgitation of the thread with all the needles neatly threaded on.
This effect would be a cornerstone of his act throughout his life.
In 1900, Harry sailed to England without any gigs lined up and with only enough money to survive a week.
However, an engagement at a London theater, his big breakthrough came when he successfully broke free after being wrapped around a pillar and handcuffed at Scotland Yard.
The publicity propelled Houdini into the spotlight and his fame quickly spread.
Sold-out engagements followed in Germany and throughout Europe.
Over the years, the consummate showman developed quite a few challenge acts, which elevated him to a sort-of cult status and International fame.
In fact, in 1960 Harry Houdini was given a star on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The star is located at 7001 Hollywood Boulevard (across the street from Grauman's Chinese Theater).
Just recently, I stumbled on a new beverage at Walgreens that really quenched my thirst on a sweltering-hot day that was also reasonably-priced.
Actually, two companies market the "coconut water" (with pulp & electrolytes) under a couple of brand different names.
The one product - which comes in a tall nifty-looking can - was selling for 99 cents.
Another - packaged in a highly-decorative plastic container - was being flogged for $1.29.
One day, out-of-the-blue - when I was checking out at the cash register - I noticed that my bill appeared to be higher that what it should have been based on the cost of the individual items I was purchasing.
Upon close scrutiny, I discovered that the coconut water that was originally $1.29 had soared to $1.79 overnight without warning from Walgreens.
Also, just this morning, I noticed that the 99 cent product had skyrocketed to $1.99 as well!
The scenario reminded me of an old cliche often depicted in cheesy Hollywood B movies.
The local dope dealer offers a "taste" of an illicit drug for free - or at a reduced price - to lure an innocent in.
Then, once they're hooked on the "product", they up the cost to guarantee a hefty profit at the victim's expense.
When shopping at Walgreens:
Friday, October 14, 2011
A little bird twittered and swore that they heard the following announcement in Kmart the other day in a retail outlet back east:
"Attention Kmart Shopper Michelle Obama! Fall fashion ensembles fifty-percent off in aisle 5 for the next thirty minutes."
Did Michelle hot-foot it over there at lightning speed?
Only the 1st Lady and my spies know for sure!
Because quite a few high-profile events are slated for this weekend, for some, it may be a toughie narrowing it down to one or two eclectic soirees to attend.
For lovers of classical musical, however, it will be a cinch.
After all, the "San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music" is presenting a (free) day-long series of concerts at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park on Sunday October 16th which can't be beat.
33 of the finest classical, world, and jazz ensembles are slated to perform throughout the intimate galleries sequestered here-and-there about the Museum including: the Alexander String Quartet, the Delphi Trio, Real Vocal String Quartet, Voices of Music, RW3, the Rob Reich Trio, Quartet San Francisco, Nils Bultmann Duo, the Chamber Music Marketplace, and Rootstock Percussion (to name a few).
de Young Museum
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
San Francisco, CA
Male shoppers at Safeway in San Francisco (Church & Market) were in for a rude embarrassing jolt (with dick literally in hand) when a gruff squat overweight security guard (a bull dyke?) swaggered in to the men's room unannounced (without provocation) and barked out at two individuals holed up in closed toilet stalls:
Then, the ill-mannered piece of white trash proceeded to give the "evil eye" to customers innocently washing and drying their hands at a row of double-sinks.
Surely mmanagement hasn't taken the position that because the security guard in question is obviously not interested in the male anatomy (i.e. "a cock") that it is perfectly okay for her to saunter in at whim for no good reason whenever she pleases?
On the contrary, shoppers - male and female (children, too) - are entitled to privacy without this kind of outrageous intrustion by a member of the opposite sex (?!).
I trust that the "suits" at Safeway will agree that male patrons suffered a gross violation of their rights today, and that there will be bold swift action to ensure citizens are not subjected to this kind of offensive conduct in the future!
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Officials in Amsterdam have announced their intention to reclassify potent pot that packs a wallop!
The new policy signals a trend away from the tolerant attitudes the Dutch were once well-known for in the free-wheeling heady days of yesteryear in Europe.
Back in the seventies (!) I recall tracking down a weed "cafe" in Amsterdam with an ex-lover which happened to be one of two given the city's blessing to operate under specific guidelines.
Obviously, we were a long way from Kansas, Toto!
Today, the police in the Netherlands do not generally bust and/or prosecute casual pot smokers for being in possession of small quantities of the evil weed.
The policy making waves now pertains to marijuana that has been cured with THC and where the active ingredient is upwards of 15%.
Under the new law, THC laced pot will be viewed as a hard-core drug alongside cocaine and heroine.
Smoke one of those doobies - and I just betcha - it will knock 'ya on your ass!
Heh, Arnold, don't Bogart that joint!
Commuters cruising down Wilshire Boulevard have been doing double-takes in recent weeks after they spied a ubiquitous sign posted on the front lawn of one of the city's oldest Houses of Worship.
"Church for Sale"
Times must really be tough!
Have the banks foreclosed on the good Lord, too?
News at 11!
Treasure Island Music Festival..."Death Cab for Cutie" takes stage! Music buffs ready to party-hearty!
Swarms of music fans are expected to swoop into the San Francisco bay area this weekend to catch the annual "Treasure Island Music Festival".
The two-day celebration runs October 15th thru October 16th and is featuring a slew of bands that appeal to a myriad of eclectic musical tastes.
Highlights include "Death Cab for Cutie" (Sunday @ 8:45 p.m - 9:30 p.m. set), Weekend, Thee Oh Sees, Death from Above 1979, to name a few.
See 'ya there!
Explosions in the Sky
In the event Republican candidate Herman Cain (Numero Uno in the polls as of yesterday afternoon) wins his bid for the White House, at least one old familiar slogan will be updated to keep abreast of the times.
Instead of "a chicken in every pot", Mr. Cain will undoubtedly be promising a pizza in every oven!
Make mine Hawaiian with plenty of pineapple topping, Herman!
Yesterday, I was channel-surfing, when I stumbled on a cooking segment in which a Celebrity Chef was teaching "out" gay talk-show host Nate Berkus how to rustle up scrumptious French Toast.
Since the delicious breakfast treat is one of my own personal favorites, I was inclined to stay tuned in the event there were a few pointers worth taking note of for my next culinary adventure in the kitchen.
But, something happened out-of-the-blue which totally turned my stomach!
When the tasty-looking serving was ready, Nate scooped up a bite-size piece and offered it up to a guest plucked up from the studio audience.
Then, a few seconds later - after spoon-feeding the woman - Nate proceeded to use the same fork (!) to gobble down another portion for himself.
The lapse in proper etiquette (and mind-boggling bad manners) begs the question.
Was Nate raised in the back hills of a rural community somewhere or is he just ignorant about table manners?
News at 11!
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Susan Boyle graced the stage of "Dancing with the Stars" as a guest artist last night and unwisely elected to perform "Unchained Melody" live.
The old standard - which is capable of packing an emotional wallop - can (and has) tripped-up the best of singers and such was the case with Ms. Boyle when she took a stab at it.
The Righteous Brothers' hit should start slow, but strong, then build.
Unfortunately, Boyle faltered into the first few bars, and the chance for recovery was lost after that.
Occasionally, the feisty Brit also made a few musical choices which were misguided.
From my perch, it appeared that the celebrated contest-winner from yesteryear took the easy way out for fear of missing higher octaves.
As for the notes?
A dozen-or-so of 'em were unpleasant when they fell on the ears.
In a couple of instances, they grated on the nerves, and came mighty-close to sounding a lot like nails on a chalkboard.
Boyle's stage persona, on the other hand, was quite polished and mainly due to a coiffed "do", a nip-and-tuck here-and-there, and a dash of makeup skillfully applied to her radiant skin.
The popular DIVA dazzled in a tasteful gown in midnight blue which sparkled in the light when she turned this-way-and-that to work the rapt audience.
This was the crux of it really.
Ms. Boyle has gone Hollywood!
Today, the vocalist appears to be focusing the attention on her appearance on stage, when it would be better spent on fine-tuning the musical instrument that brought her precious gold and widespread acclaim.
When trying to fathom the phenomenon of the "Occupy Wall Street" protests in recent days, a Newt Gingrich musing triggered the quote of the day.
"It's the education system is in this country. It teaches dumb ideas!"
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
One of the City's most highly-anticipated star-studded soiree - TNDC's Celebrity Pool Toss - kicks off tonight at the Phoenix Hotel in downtown San Francisco in the Tenderloin district.
The event - which organizers promise will be wild, outrageous, and over-the-top - benefits programs for kids and their families in the Tenderloin Neighborhood.
In sum, it's a wacky night of entertainment with a celebrity auction conducted by Bonhams Auctioneers.
A hot-little ticket guarantees guests poolside entertainment including performances by The Fabulous Bud E. Luv Show, DJ Rafa, The Laugh Box, and Samba do Coracao (to name just a few).
Delectable treats will also be offered up by Aidells Sausage Company, Americano Restuarant & Bar, the Annabelle Candy Company, Chambers Eat + Drink, Ciao Bella Gelato, Destino, Donsuemor Madeleines, First Crush Restaurant, Wine Bar & Lounge, Ginger Fruit, Gott's Roadside, Latin Grill Express, Medjool Restuarant & Lounge, Waterbar, Anchor Brewing Company, Calistoga Mineral Water, Cumaica Coffee, DBI Beverage San Francisco, Enologix, Nestle Pure Life, Purity.Organic Fruit & Juices, Saintsbury Winery, and Young's Market Company.
Gold's Gym will also be providing beefy lifeguards in the event you swill a little too much vino and end up head-over-heels in the pool!
Named for 2010 Top Tossee
Sponsored by VEEV
See 'ya there!
The film was rife with cliches, stretched credulity, and featured one of the dullest (surface) performances of George Clooney's acting career.
Of course, I am referring to Mr. Clooney's latest directorial effort - The Ides of March - a political thriller (of sorts) that resonates more-often-than-not.
Essentially, the fast-paced flick is a behind-the-scenes gander at the ugly (fictional?) underbelly of a political race between two crafty candidates vying for the top slot in the primaries.
At times the material appears to have been ripped from the front pages of major dailies around the country - in fact, so much so - that the lines between reality and illusion often become blurred.
But, don't be fooled by the slick writing (that manipulates), the well-crafted script (which drags 'ya in), or the earnestness of the actors on the silver screen (who touch).
In a nutshell?
It's Hollywood pap all the way.
But, the cast is spellbinding to watch from the get-go, you betcha.
For example, Philip Semour Hoffman snaps back in a role that is seamless and truly authentic after taking a miserable acting drubbing in "Moneyball" earlier this year (what a waste of talent there!).
And, Paul Giamatti is at his sleazy smarmy best!
But, it is Ryan Gosling who makes the star-turn - and in the process - not only steals the flick out-from-under the stellar cast but also establishes his full potential as a leading man.
3 1/2 stars!
When news broke last week in the frenzied media that POP DIVA Cher was slated to turn up at "Dancing with the Stars" for Monday night's segment (October 10th) to support her son Chaz, many wondered aloud in what capacity the Vegas headliner would appear.
Would Cher make a big splashy entrance - and more importantly - would producers try to capitalize on the superstar persona in their midst???
To the disappointment of a cynical few, the answer was a definite no, in respect to both potentially titillating scenarios (which didn't go down aw shucks).
The cameras were conspicuously "off" Cher throughout the night's dazzling entertaining bill-of-fare.
In fact, it wasn't until Chaz charged into his off-the-rope performance as "Rocky" that the searing spotlight finally sought out Cher.
Right on cue, the Oscar-winning Actress's eyes welled up - at which point (the oft outspoken sixties legend) - rooted for the apple of her eye.
In a nutshell?
The dance routine (if 'ya could call it that) was amateurish as all - um - heck!
It was only a performance that a mother could love!
I pray that Momma likes it!
Bad hair day for Pop Diva Cher!
Sunday, October 9, 2011
At a lecture at the de Yeung Museum the other evening, Dr. Paula J. Birnbaum unveiled her just-published book:
"Women Artists in Interwar France"
The hardback book - featuring 58 color plates and 48 Black & White prints - sheds an insightful spotlight on a school of female artists who were prevalent on the scene in France in the heady 1930's.
The illustrious (but mostly forgotten) visionaries were known as the:
"Societe des Femmes Artists Moderne"
During her exhausting research, Dr. Birnbaum turned up fascinating background material on three of the group's most famous members - SuzanneValadon, Marie Laurencin, and Tamara de Lempicka - and in the process determined that FAM artists were primarily responsible for ushering in prominent themes of female embodiment, the self-portrait, motherhood and the female nude.
In a fascinating twist, Birnbaum (University of San Francisco) was able to theorize how FAM painters came to be excluded from historical reference (in respect to modern art in particular) despite the fact the group was highly-acclaimed by critics during the era.
"If an artist didn't fall exactly into an "ism" - such as cubism, surrealism, or impressionsim - their work was usually passed over and rarely included in museum collections," she noted in so many words.
Dr. Birnbaum - a charismatic articulate young woman with a gift for research - managed to drum up reviews of the artist's works from dusty periodicals, fill in the gaps with one-on-one interviews with a handful of relatives in the FAM group - and ultimately - establish the relevance of their contributions in the Interwar Years in France.
Women Artists in Interwar France
San Francisco...Blue Angels Air Show wow record crowds! Dazzling fireworks crown glorious Columbus holiday celebrations!
And, if what they say is true, yesterday's record crowds at the "Blue Angels Air Show" were a sure indication that there is something about a man in a uniform that intrigues!
Yesterday afternoon, for instance, handsome military men posed for excited tourists, the Blue Angel pilots wowed all in attendance with daring gravity-defying maneuvers in a baby blue cloudless sky above, and vendors beamed as carefree patrons munched on delectable snacks, sipped on chilled wine, and snapped up keepsakes to trek home with under their arms.
When darkness fell, and as a captivating moon romanced couples below, the harbour exploded into a spectacular display of eye-catching fireworks that literally crowned a perfect day!
There will be a repeat of the "Blue Angels Air Show" this afternoon, and an opportunity to tour navy ships resting at peace in the bay, for those who missed the upbeat festivities yesterday.
There's no life like it!