Posts Tagged ‘Southern California’

Lucky We Are To Have Loving Families

Monday, July 15th, 2019

by Barry Jagoda

The Luckiest, now up at La Jolla Playhouse until July 28th, is one of the best short dramatic productions there in recent memory.

Playgoers may be slightly confused by the opening foreshadowing sequence of events which lead to the death of “Lissette’s” character.  She has suffered from numerous medically diagnosed illnesses, dooming her.  This is why we first see the brilliant actress, Aleque Reid, as “Lissette,” on stage briefly in a high tech wheelchair.

Below is Ms. Reid, funny, passionate, argumentative and loving, seen in the world premier of Melissa Ross’s fine and moving drama, directed by Jaime Castaneda.


Most of the 95-minute play, with no intermission, is taken up with arguments and love-talk among “Lissette,” her Mom, “Cheryl,” seen here effectively portrayed by Deirdre Lovejoy, and “Peter” the new family member/boyfriend, starring Reggie D. White, in a unforgettable performance.


The Luckiest is the heart-rending dramatic story of our families and the families we choose—-making clear how lucky any of us may be to have such deep relationships which will survive the most trying adversities of family separations and medical end of life situations.

The terrific drama gives one leaving the theater a deep appreciation for what Playhouse Artistic Director, Christopher Ashley, has written is that understanding from family is among the luckiest things one can possess.




Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

Our national pastime can be enjoyed in an unforgettable afternoon and evening by attending a California League game, at one of eight minor league stadiums, such as the wonderful venue in the little town of Lake Elsinore, in Riverside county—halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego.




There, on the late afternoon of July 2, 2016, the home club, Lake Elsinore STORM, hosted the Lancaster JETHAWKS, for a delightful and exciting game. The Storm won, 3-1, but for a charmed spectator the outcome was less important than the fun of watching major league prospects show their stuff. For example, a right-handed pitcher, Enyel De Los Santo, seen below, may someday soon join the San Diego Padres, as the Storm is one of the Padre minor league affiliates (farm team).



On this marvelous afternoon The Lancaster JETHAWKS, a Houston Astros minor league club, appropriately named also for its location in the California Antelope Valley, a region long associated with the aerospace industry, was the visiting ball team. Lancaster is about an hour north of Los Angeles.

For a fan who has had the privilege of seeing baseball in many major league parks around the nation and in Canada, this afternoon was as good as most of those experiences. Just to watch batting practice, followed by immaculate grounds keeping work to get the field in perfect playing shape was a treat. As the fans easily strolled into the stadium (with brief stops for what appeared to be serious security checks) the tarpaulins were removed to unveil a mix of perfectly manicured green turf, with brown base paths and a carefully measured pitcher’s mound.

Precisely at 6:05 pm the home plate umpire called, “Play Ball.” (There are two umpires running California League games, compared with four in the majors.) Soon the score was 3 to 1, on an early homerun by the Storm’s Fernando Perez, the designated hitter.

(In the lower minor leagues each team has a “designated hitter, “ a practice first employed in the American League of Major League baseball, giving the pitchers a chance to concentrate on that skill without having to worry about batting.)

As the game progressed—and the fans were clearly patronizing the concession stands for dinner or snacks—the Storm’s efficient media relations specialist, Tyler Zickel, also took to the field between innings to honor local kids and other dignitaries for civic activities. (This also provided a good chance for some fans to ignore the field and get food!)

Lake Elsinore itself, in a beautiful valley setting amid California hills and mountains, was named for a spectacular body of water quite visible from the stadium.   Now somewhat diminished by the terrible California drought, the lake is still a brilliant and lovely natural wonder. Team management schedules almost all games for very late afternoon when the heat of central and southern California has subsided.

If a spectator came to Lake Elsinore early enough to get a look around there were numerous fast food joints, but also three fine restaurants lined up to serve a more discerning taste—a Persian restaurant, next to a really good Mexican place, which was next door to an Italian restaurant with a welcoming and serious menu. For three diners at the Mexican eatery, the total tab came to under $30 for a full and memorable meal. This seemed typical of Lake Elsinore prices.

A nearby Spa advertised serious massage treatment, probably not up to the highest standards of LA or San Diego, but a tired driver could get relief there, before the game. Of course it would be difficult to be too worn out from driving since the time to get to Storm stadium from nearby big cities was a mere hour-and-a-half. Much less driving time would be required if a fan was coming from close in cities in Riverside County or Orange County, both important population centers in California.

The true designation of Riverside and adjoining counties is California’s “Inland Empire,” perhaps a bit of overstatement but one could get the royal treatment at Lake Elsinore just by purchasing a moderately priced ticket and going out to the ballgame!


Sunday, October 6th, 2013

by Barry Jagoda

What a splendid initiative, the just concluded third annual  “Atlantic Meets the Pacific conference again co-produced by the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and the Atlantic Magazine set in the beautiful oceanside environment of La Jolla, California.  As in previous years the event this year, Oct 2-4, brought a very eager and attentive audience of about 300 to a series of interviews by Atlantic journalists who are tasked with coaxing useful ideas from leading scholars and researchers.

This process of bringing experts to present before a well-educated large number of paying guests ($495 for the event) worked very well in the past but was not quite as effective this year because the conference program focused in a much more detailed way on developments and potential in health and medical research where earlier such events zeroed in on more general topics more easily comprehended by non-specialists.

Still the line-up of highly regarded authors, discoverers, medical researchers and health care reformers produced gee-whiz moments.  Much of the useful information came in discussion on topics such as “Big Data, Big Disease:  Mining for Medical Breakthroughs,” which featured a heavy emphasis on use of new understandings from the genome leading toward potential thwarting of unsolved medical mysteries.  A significant portion of the conference was devoted to developments in cancer research, but on this and other topics the experts might well have talking to themselves as the conversation often seemed to require more background for any sort of useful audience take-away.

Many of the major academic and industry players could be seen around the conference venue.  Hard to miss, for example, was Ian Shakil of AUGMEDIX because he jumped right out of the crowd demonstrating the most intriguing “Google Glasses.”  Given an opportunity to test-run this amazing device, one quickly learned ease of operation and within less than a minute of wearing, as seen below, this writer was able to “shoot, record and playback” a video with the entire operation taking place us the glasses.  Google strikes again!

“Atlantic Meets the Pacific” came upon the splendid idea of dividing conference participants into small groups for tours of five of the many biotechnology labs that are ubiquitous in the area of San Diego’s La Jolla neighborhood.  Most of these world-class facilities were set-up in the area because of the strong programs in science at UCSD.  Though in the realm of ideas “location” is far less important than the potential for collaborations, Inter-institutional work is a hallmark of the region and the conference planners have been very wise to set-up this annual meeting at La Jolla’s Pacific Ocean.

There was clearly a consensus of appreciation expressed by Conference attendees for a superbly organized program and flawless management of logistics including transportation and good food.  And, even for a generalist journalist, there was much food for thought.



Tuesday, September 15th, 2009


We have recently visited, in Southern California, two relatively new luxury hotels, each with world-class accommodations, superb golf courses and wonderful spas.  So there is no hesitation in recommending The Resort at Pelican Hill, near Newport Beach, and The Grand Del Mar, in north San Diego County.

Pelican Hill features architecture in the style of the Italian Palladium period.  Rooms come in two classes, bungalows and villas.   Both are pricey, in the range of $700 minimum per night.  The amenities are probably worth the high cost of an overnight stay, although both the golf course, spa and several dining rooms are open to passing guests.

Grand Del Mar is also very fancy, perhaps a little overdone, but really a delight.  One can start at the least costly access by having daily tea in the library (the old fashioned British service) or check-in to splendid rooms costing around under $400.  In any case the Spa at the Grand Del Mar is very deluxe, well worth its expensive service prices.  The hotel’s Addison Restaurant is one of the best in San Diego and the golf course is worth a detour to enjoy its challenge and beautiful features.

We have also had the pleasure of working at the Grand Del Mar in a convention type setting and there was clearly plenty of room for people doing business as well as overnight guests.  In retrospect, while we are happy to share the delights of both wonderful resorts, a visitor looking for luxury at a good rate can do no better than to enjoy a few days at the Grand Del Mar.