CONVICTED OF ESPIONAGE: Cayla is a Snitch

Attention all 8-year olds! Your friend Cayla is a snitch!

According to BBC News, Germany’s telecommunications regulator, Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), has finally sounded the alarm. The multi national talking doll that hails from Dutscheland was revealed two years ago to be vulnerable. Back in the UK, the Retailers Association isn’t worried even though researchers have been able to talk to children from up to 33 feet away. They’ve even been able to accomplish this THROUGH WALLS!

Speaking of walls, Germans on both sides are, again according to the BBC, very suspicious and intolerant of surveillance. Penalties for possessing banned surveillance devices can result in up to two years in the big house.

Parents have been advised to destroy Cayla. She poses and a friend but may be your enemy.

 

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“Sitting Bull’s Last Waltz” – Catch it Where YouCan

The Hollywood Fringe is an annual festival of live theater that brings players from all over the world to small theaters throughout Hollywood. It’s mostly centered on theater row on Santa Monica Boulevard between La Brea and El Centro, but several other small theaters are also involved. It offers a chance to take in a live experience and to see something unique. After all these years in Los Angeles, and being an actress, for crying out loud – and I’d never been to the festival before last Sunday!

I heard about “Sitting Bull’s Last Waltz” through an actor in the play named Alan Tafoya. I ran into him at Callenders Grill during their groovy jazz evening on Fridays and we got to talking. Turns out he’s an Apache from near my neck of the woods in northern New Mexico. He told me about the play and I went on down for opening night to find that it’s part of the Fringe.

“I wish it to be remembered that I was the last man of my tribe to surrender my rifle”

– so said the defiant Chief Sitting Bull of the Hunkpapa Lakota. 

Sitting Bull, also a holy man of his people, had many visions, including the defeat of General Custer and his bunch of marauders at the battle of Little Big Horn. Later, a meadowlark spoke to him in a vision of his own death at the hands of his own people.

Sitting Bull had a really bad rep with the U.S. government. He was super worried for his people since they were often starving after having their food supply purposely eliminated or being kicked out of their homes or murdered outright. Custer may have lost back in 1890, but the descendants of the Europeans were coming out west by the hundreds of thousands and stealing land from the Lakota Sioux right and left. Someone came up with a nice word to call them – “settlers.”

Sitting Bull was a real thorn in their side because he could tell a whopper of a story with a song. The Sioux people love that. People were inspired by him to continue to resist. Then came the Ghost Dance. The Indians have always been big on ceremonies and this one turned into a movement. The Ghost Dance was a ceremony that promised that the Indian people would get their way of life back so it was pretty popular as you might imagine. The idea that the Indians could get their way of life back was also very threatening to the occupiers since that would interfere with their own plans for their destiny being made manifest.

The actors of “Sitting Bull’s Last Waltz” tell the story of the men and women from this piece of our country’s history with visible passion and remarkable talent. The story is narrated throughout by Little Sure Shot herself, an effective theatrical device, which makes for an interesting angle. What unfolds beautifully before us in the small theater is a story that is heartbreaking to be sure but it is also an inspiring example of resistance to oppression and of a love for a life that is whole and unbroken.

The tone of this resistance is mostly told through the art of song. Described as a “post-punk musical,” the score brilliantly and viscerally depicts the passion of the conflicts; and the power of the relationships between the various characters and the land itself.

This show is bound to go places. The writing is superb and the musical pieces are excellently written and performed. I’d love to see the soundtrack come out. I’ll keep City Watch readers informed of that eventuality. This is an important performance piece. Not only because it causes us to know who we are as a country but because its’ message of the struggle against wanton oppression boldly resonates today as we stand on the brink of the destruction of our planet.

In the words of Black Elk on the massacre at Wounded Knee, which took place not too long after Sitting Bull was murdered:

“I did not know then how much was ended….I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream.”

We need to learn from that dream.

 

More Than A shame, It Should Be a Crime

This is very bad news for my avator’s namesake — our friends The bees. Makers of life. That’s why I’m voting for Bernie Sanders. Last night, at a rally in Los Angeles, he said we need to learn from the native people of this land that a part of living is to preserve our environment for generations to come. We’ve got to stand up to this reckless greed!

http://www.sierraclub.org/california/capitol-voice-june-2016#bees

5 Reasons Why “Preacher” Will Deliver [No spoilers here. I know nothing]

My prediction is that there will be a helluva lot to say about this show that premiers TONIGHT on AMC and there’s gonna be a helluva lot of folks saying’ it! Here are five reasons why:

  1. Tongue in the cheek Shenanigans and “Say what” situations
  2. A badass clergy member we are dying to understand
  3. Freaky supernatural forces at play
  4. A multi-national cast of characters from around the globe
  5. A story than transports our hero back to childhood, so everyone can feel like theirs was not so bad

 

Community Theater for the Community

Slide1

I don’t get out to the theater much; but, when I do, of course I hope it will be a treat. I’ll tell you what; you really couldn’t do better than to grab your last chance this weekend to take in the wistful-sweet “Sábado Mornings” at the Studio/Stage theater on Western Avenue in Hollywood. I heard about the play from a special invitation from director Melvin Ishmael Johnson and House Manager Earlean Anthony back in April when the show was in previews.

Melvin is a tireless creative powerhouse. He hosts the Quamran Report, which aired for over two hundred segments at Skid Row Studios in downtown Los Angeles. Skid Row is a community radio station that features stories affecting our diverse communities and especially in downtown. It encourages community participation in producing news, politics and culture. Their motto is “Where Anyone Can Do Radio.” Tune in now to check out a discussion on the state of community theater on the last segment of the Quamran Report at Skid Row. It features one of the actors from “Sábado Mornings.” Meanwhile, I’ll keep everyone posted on what’s happening at Skid Row as well as where the Quamran Report is headed next.

Melvin is also a playwright, a community activist and the founder of Veterans Community Theater Workshop. I’d been wanting to see Melvin’s work for a few years now. On Sunday, about an hour prior to curtain, I was working on my one woman show when I got a call from a writer/director friend reminding me about the performance. It was a lickity split decision. I said to myself, “Damn! The time is now!” Out the door I went.

The theater is a small, intimate affair – perfect for the poignant story of Eddie and Rosa played beautifully by Jonaton Wyne and Judith E. Ex LAPD cop Eddie is dealing with his demons when he meets Mexican-American immigrant Rosa, the shy but strong waitress who has some secrets of her own. I really don’t want to say too much about the show because it unfolds so beautifully and anyway I’m not a theater critic. Let’s just say, SEE IT!

There’s plenty of fun to be had both before and after the play with the friendly folks running the show. Prior to the taking our seats, we had a nice glass of red wine…

ORGANIC AND FROM FRANCE, I MIGHT ADD…

… a nice touch, not to mention the delicious tamales on offer at the end of the show.

DIRECT FROM MAMA’S HOT TAMALES!

Mama’s is a not for profit collective where you can sample tamales of various styles from several different countries. Until you know the difference between a Mexican tamale and a Salvadorean tamale, well, you really haven’t lived!

ONE TAMALE, TWO TAMALE…

There were one tamale and two tamale plates, with rice and beans. The one tamale plate was just six bucks and plenty for me – mighty tasty too, as was the stream of jokes from an actor named Isaac who was in attendance.

If you’re lucky, Isaac will be there again, passing out jokes in abundance. But you won’t need any luck to catch the memorable performances of Judith and Jonaton in “Sábado Mornings” and to chat with the creative duo Melvin Johnson and Earlean Anthony. Enjoy!

NEED TO KNOW:

Studio/Stage Theater

520 N. Western Ave.

between Clinton St. and Maplewood Ave.

For more information: 213-908-5032

Tickets are $24 General Admission; $15 for Seniors/Students/Military

Friday, May 13 – 8 pm

Saturday, May 14, 8 pm

Sunday , May 15, 5 pm

 

AT LONG LAST: A DOGGY POST – FROM CITY WATCH LA!

INDOOR POTTY INSURANCE FOR FIDO – ONLY $50 A MONTH

by Jennifer Caldwell

Frenchie from Doggy and the City

Let’s face it. Doggy peeps can get plenty stressed when it comes to the well being of our furry/hairy friends. One challenge every working person faces is making sure our friends can relieve themselves when nature calls without making a mess in our homes. The day I became less of an unemployed actor and more of a day job-ee, I found myself in quite a pickle. Although my little Mo was never going to pee on the floor, I hated to think of him in a painful position for any amount of time.

WHEN YA GOTTA GO, YA GOTTA GO!

Friends offered to help – from near and far; some paid, some unpaid; with some I bartered. Each one worked out for a while but, in the end, I couldn’t rely on that method to be sure that my little friend wouldn’t be hurting to do his business. Dog walkers and doggy day care can run into hundreds of dollars a month; and with dog walkers, you’re basically giving a stranger access to your home. What’s a privacy prone broke girl to do?

ENTER CENTER STAGE: DOGGY AND THE CITY!

This aptly named service is a lifesaver for several reasons:

  • $50 a month gets me a strip of self absorbent grass of approximately 5 sq. ft. delivered to my front door every other week. For bigger canines, $60 will get you a strip of about 10 sq. ft.
  • $100 a month for small / $120 for large gets you weekly delivery
  • I can change the strip in a jiffy, but a full service option is also available. That means, a service rep will change your strip for you.

This service changed my life! Little Mojito is very well trained and would never think of going in the house; so, it did take a while. At first, he refused to go inside – no way no how. But after patient training, he got the message that it was okay to go on his inside grass.

I’VE NEVER HAD AN ISSUE WITH ODOR!

When I was choosing my service, I did find another one that delivers hydroponic grass. I considered this option but in the end, I was sold on Doggy. The soil that comes with their strips is naturally absorbent. I followed the instructions on where to place the box that the strip sits in and I’ve never had any problems with bad smells. 

HAKUNA MATATA!

Since, I got this service, the quality of life for me and Mojito is vastly improved. He still prefers to go outside and I still take him; but, we both know that when Mom’s away, it’s okay to go in the box.

Well folks, that’s enough potty talk for today. If you’re inclined, give Doggy and the City a call. Dave or Matt will set you up in no time. Here’s what you need to know:

DOGGY AND THE CITY

Indoor dog potty and dog grass delivery service

818-282-3449

doggieandthecity.com

 

 

“KILLER BEES:” SAVING THEMSELVES, SAVING US

Saving Themselves, Saving the Planetphoto credit: “http://www.flickr.com/photos/greyarea via http://photopin.com”

In the interest of dishin’ out the skinny on what’s what and why on my site here, I want to tell the story of my avatar – the warrior bees.

As many of you probably know, we are once again getting bad news about the demise of millions of bees. Even in my own neighborhood, I’ve noticed patches of foliage where, every year in times gone by, bees could be found swarming around the tiny little flowers growing there. I’d have to stop my dog from pooping there because I didn’t want him to pollute the bees’ area or to get his butt stung and cost me a bundle at the vet.

This year, I’ve been lucky to see one bee.

Many neighbors have said the same thing.

An interesting thing I’ve been reading about concerns these so called “killer bees” we sometimes get all worked up about. Turns out these bees are surviving far better than their  domesticated cousins that the Spaniards dragged over here when they came looking for gold and whatever other riches they could get their hands on.

Come to think of it, I’m not sure about that story either. How could the Spaniards have actually brought bees over? Well, that sounds like a story for another day. Suffice it to say that it seems these bees have got a bad rap being called “killer” bees when in fact the number of deaths actually caused by them is super small. 

Maybe the real crime these bees are committing is refusing to submit to human intervention. 

THESE BEES ARE SASSY

“Africanized” or “Killer” bees (very suspicious terminology here) are basically rebels. They  don’t want to be captured or forced to live in trays. They refuse to allow humans to take out their queen and insert their own. They don’t want to be told where they will build their home or how they will work. They resist being drowned in antibiotics followed by pesticides. They are not amused at the idea of being the subject of experiments.

The other part of the story is that they are not falling to disease. They are not dealing with “colony collapse disorder” – a big contributing factor to the death of the domestic bees. They are hearty and healthy and occasionally scaring the poop out of everybody with the help of the corporate media.

One of the most interesting articles I read on the bees is from a website called honeybee teacher.com. I also saw an excellent film about the bees called “More Than Honey.” That film explains a whole lot about the bees, why they are important and what is happening to them. Come to find out, it’s really not a mystery after all. There’s the link to the official website: http://buy.morethanhoneyfilm.com/?gclid=CK_9kL6i9cUCFc-FfgodW2EAiQ

This is my story of how I came to choose a symbol for Recession Cafe – the fighting “killer” bee. This bee just might save us all in the process of saving himself.

I’m rooting for the bees.

I’m rooting for us.

American Crime – Who Killed Matt Skokie? [SPOILER ALERT]

BINGE WATCHING

It’s a work night about two months ago. I’m just about ready to hit the hay, when I decide to cap off my night by catching a new show I’d been hearing about on ABC called, “American Crime.” I was interested in the show for these reasons:

  1. The billboard on the show over there where Olympic/Fairfax and San Vicente meet looked gritty and seedy, just like real American crime.
  2. The billboard had a bi-racial couple on it.
  3. The show is written by John Ridley, who wrote “Undercover Brother,” starring Dave Chapelle – one of the funniest damn people on the planet. Here’s a scene from that movie, which is one of my faves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubV3t9_CwDc
  4. I think Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton are dang good actors.

WOW!

I was pretty tired. When I started, I thought I might even just catch part of the pilot, but DAMN! – this story woke me right up! Here is a network television show, hitting it hard with issues of race, gender and class, right here in the doggone US of A. So, of course, there was nothing to do but BINGE…

… which I did with great fervor.

Still, a working girl’s gotta get some kip. Fast forward to…

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND

Turns out, I’ve got a four-day weekend on hand here; so, on Thursday night, I got all caught up with the show and witnessed the shocking finale. Here’s my run down on the whole thing:

  1. Who killed Matt Skokie? Could have been just about anybody. His family didn’t want to admit it, but Matt Skokie was a sadistic, bigoted, violent criminal. He had many enemies. I’m pretty sure Rick and his gang on “The Walking Dead” would have had to kill him.
  2. The most likely killer that we actually met during the show: Aubrey. The most shocking thing to me is how Matt’s family was so certain it could not have been that poor messed up junkie.who did it. Her story stood up.
  3. Hooray for Hector. He got a lucky break in Mexico. He got back together with his girlfriend/wife and kid. He got the job that depended on his bi-lingual skills. He is ready for a new start
  4. Mr. Gutierrez also appeared to manage to get off his old school funk long enough to really meet minds with his troubled son Tony – and good ole Jenny will probably do fine with Aunt Commie and Uncle Socialist.
  5. Definitive question of the series (maybe) raised by Mark Skokie’s Asian fiancee, Richelle: “You’ve got to decide what you want from this life. Do you want hate?” Even though it isn’t her biological family, Richelle is obviously super dedicated to relations with the in-laws – perhaps another cultural comment in and of itself.

The big lose is Carter and Aubrey. Although innocent of killing Matt Skokie (I believe), Carter’s short life was marked with turmoil. It’s worth noting that the sole reason Carter is released is the political pressure brought to bear by Carter’s sister Aliyah and the Black community.

WITHOUT A POLITICAL MOVEMENT, HE WOULD HAVE BEEN JUST ANOTHER BLACK MAN IN JAIL – OR DEAD.

Carter had just begun go clean and to re-assess his options when he is cut down by a white man who could not believe, in spite of all the evidence, that it wasn’t Carter that killed his son.

Aubrey: quite the complex character. Everyone knows drug addicts lie, right? Still, no one ever believed Aubrey – or at least no one wanted to. After her stint in the foster care system, she was probably disturbed before she ever came into the Taylor home.

In real life, The U.S. Foster Care system is messed up.

Last year, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors declared the system a “State of Emergency.” According to an LA Times article on April 10, 2014, some 40 infants per day are reported as possible victims of abuse and neglect.

This after a blue ribbon commission was appointed in 2013 to bring reform to the system after the death of an 8-year-old who was found “with his skull cracked, three ribs broken, bruised and burned skin, and BB pellets embedded in his lung and groin.” Apparently, as of this writing, the changes recommended by the commission have yet to be implemented. A cursory look at the internet reveals this to be epidemic all over the United States.

Now, do you believe Aubrey?

John Ridley’s American Crime isn’t your usual crime story. It explores the root of crime. What precedes crime? Where are no easy answers.

Broken GlassWho do you think killed Matt Skokie?

MAD MEN: THE FINAL HOUR

SpyThe final episode of Mad Men is coming up this Sunday. I’d say that Matthew Weiner is a pretty awesome story teller. The show has been an incredible journey and I’m really happy I played a part in creating it. You’ll find out exactly what kind of a part I played in my latest article for City Watch LA.  It’s all about where to go if you live in LA, to catch the series finale and enjoy a cocktail just like all the folks on Mad Men did for seven seasons.

Enjoy! And if you’re going out to catch the show, maybe I’ll see you there!

Talking Turkey – Farm Raised Turkey

So, in case you haven’t heard, GOP communications director Elizabeth Lauten has resigned over the flap she caused when she started talking smack about the Obama daughters and the faces they were making during the White House turkey pardon ceremony,

I don’t know.

My first thought, when I saw one of the photos taken during the proceeding, was that the girls seemed to be reacting to the grossly large breasts on that turkey.  It looks like that guy is having a hard time walking.

Anyways, I did a little poking around to find out what happens to the pardoned turkeys. I guess the whole idea stated under Harry Truman in 1947. Wikipedia says that Eisenhower ate the turkeys presented to him and Reagan didn’t pardon any during his last year as president.

The post-ceremony saga is pretty sad. The turkeys really have been raised to eat and not to live happily, so they really need a lot of special care if they’re going to survive long and apparently they never get it. They usually don’t live more than a year after their pardon.

A Huffington Post article I read said that, until 2005, the turkeys went to a place called Frying Pan Park until they died. Sounds comfortable. Starting in 2005, they started going to Disney World or Disney Land until animal rights groups asked that they not be sent there because of the treatment they were receiving.

In recent years, a place called Farm Sancutary has pledged to nurture the birds to four – five more years of life on its’ 175-acre refuge. The “spared” birds have also been invited to live out their days at the Wild Turkey Bourbon farm, languishing on 750 acres. Instead, they are now being sent to Mount Vernon where Peace, one of the 2011 turkeys was euthanized.