Saturday, April 14, 2012


I didn't get a picture of the lightning (or the thunder, for that matter) but we had both yesterday. They're rarities around here. I welcome them, calamities that they may seem to be. Or nature's thrills, if you'd rather.

It was a respectable storm. Nothing terrifying, but not a piddle. Kind of refreshing, like a glass of ice-water on a summer's day.

The last time John and I were in Illinois we got caught in a prairie rumbler the likes of which frightens even the locals. We were driving from DeKalb to Chicago, or at least we were trying to. The storm was so feral we had to pull over and wait for it to pass, and hope it didn't notice us. You can't see to drive in a storm like that, no matter how frantically your windshield wipers wham. Because the water does not fall in drops, it does not fall in sheets or blankets or even torrents but in thick gobs, poured from the sky's pitchers by wild giants who don't care what they hit. It's ice-water, though not so refreshing when it's beating on you like that.

But it's beautiful to see as it rolls over the plains, dark and cruel as only an unconscious thing can be. As long as your defroster is working and you get a good viewing spot under the overpass, there's no show like it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Today Special

I have no idea if the food is good at Luciano's. I've never eaten there, but I've got to try it. It's not just the menu that tempts me, though I do like the hand-written chalk board. It's not the setting--shopping mall across the from the hospital--that could be good and bad.

It's the tablecloths.

The red checkered cloth says "quaint" to me. It says "charming." It says "authentic." They knew that when they put them there.

I am such a sucker.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Le Petit Vendome

In yesterday's Guest Author post, Tara Samuel mentioned Le Petit Vendome in Pasadena. She and her partner Jon Rannells had done staged readings of their film scripts there. I didn't know exactly what Le Petit Vendome was.



and everything else, wines and liquors from all over the world, rows, tiers, piles, stacks--the good stuff, not the everyday brands from the grocery store--all nicely laid out so you get to gaze over it as though you were gazing over the cargo of a high-end cruise liner.

Cindy, the proprietor, welcomed me inside and allowed me to take pictures while she talked to a customer. Later we chatted; she remembered Tara and Jon and their readings. She's friendly and knowledgeable, the kind of person you feel like you could hang out with all day.

Le Petit Vendome is in the cul de sac at 906 Granite Drive, off of Lake. They'll be moving soon, perhaps as soon as the end of this month. Of course you must and should go for the grand opening at the new location at 102 South Lake Avenue. I'll let you know as soon as I have the info. Cindy promises tastings soon after that--not just of wines, but of scotches and tequilas and other fine liquors as well.

But go now before they move, because Granite Drive is such an interesting spot. And buy a few bottles so Cindy won't have so much to pack.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Guest Author: Tara Samuel

Tara Samuel is one of the reasons my husband John joined the independent film collective, We Make Movies. "She's good news," he says, and she is. I first saw Tara on screen in Ruby Booby, a film I told you about last fall, which she produced and starred in. She plays Ruby--quiet, unassuming, along for the ride and hoping not to get hurt. I can guess why Tara was attracted to the role--Ruby is her absolute opposite. Here's Tara: energetic, enthusiastic, a life force. I hope you enjoy her story.
The story of an independent director-producer team could be set in any city - but for us it was Pasadena. The filmmaking adventures of Jon Rannells and Tara Samuel are like a Family Circle map, dotting the Pasadena landscape: cross these train tracks to a fundraising evening of short scenes at the Rialto; jump this fence and attend a publicity stunt balloon launch at Lacy Park; run down this alleyway and find yourself at a wine & cheese screenplay reading at the Le Petit Vendome!

Our Film-Financing Coming Of Age story was set in Pasadena.

Curious about the balloon launch? But it's obvious isn't it? Jon and I decided that financing for his screenplay, Dream Box, could come from anywhere, including random places where balloons landed.  So we attached Dream Box "Evening of Short Scenes" invitations to balloons, launched the colorful carriers into the air and let fate take care of the rest. Would-be film financiers would find our charming postcards, and mark their calendars! Sit back and collect!

We knew of course that this savvy tactic would need to be complimented by door-to-door efforts. No face-to-face contact - not necessary - just your standard Dream Box Postcard gift bag - complete with Dream Box Pen - left on your lovely Pasadena front lawn. (Perhaps you, dear reader, are still in possession of one of these collector's items.) Each unsuspecting homeowner would be sure to light up at the sight of their bag, read the invitation, and be irresistibly drawn to us! Let the checks roll in!

Cut to the Rialto. Magical baroque setting, trademark sharp and original Jon Rannells script; intelligent and heartbreaking acting. 

Just a little low on audience members.

Cut to our next fundraiser - tucked behind Lake Ave. - hosted by the generous proprietors of the charming Le Petit Vendome! Never ones to give up - not ever - this event featured another outstanding screenplay written by Jon Rannells, Stand the Gaff. The setting was cozy and quaint. We were proud to be there. 

Just a little short on attendees.

And then, we ran out of patience. Waiting for a silly thing called a budget can get a filmmaker down. So we went into production. Held weekly candle-lit BBQ script readings in Jon's backyard under the Pasadena stars. Selected our shooting dates. Borrowed everything. Made our first feature film - - in the nooks and crannies of Pasadena. Now to fund the DVD prints, the festivals, the licensing…sigh…breathe…

My great awakening: Films need budgets. And the Independent Film Fundraiser in me will never die. Film-financing is a welcomed step; fence to jump; river to scout - in the HOW on the way to the far greater WHY. As my great friend John Sandel says: "These stories need to be released." John introduced me to California poet Gary Snyder: "We call them stories because that's where we store our wisdom."

So a group that I co-founded, - we are raising funds for five remarkable films. This is the new Hollywood model. And you, dear reader, are a part of it. Have your Film Financing Coming Of Age Awakening with me. I dare you to join the ride. This is just the beginning…

Tara Samuel

 Along with Tara and the WeMakeMovies crowd, John S. and I are hosting a fundraiser at our house this coming Sunday, April 15th for their upcoming slate of short films (including John's!). Donations can be small or large. If you'd like to meet these independent filmmakers and become a film financier, contact me for details.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

La Casita del Arroyo

That's the far west end of the historic Colorado Street Bridge out across the way. Between us and it lies Lower Arroyo Park. The Arroyo Seco runs deep here, with the trees you see growing tall from its depths and water, hikers, runners, dogs and horses you don't see coursing through it.

We're looking out of a window from La Casita Del Arroyo, a Pasadena Cultural Heritage Landmark "designed in 1932 by Architect Myron Hunt and built by unemployed workers during the depression," according to Pasadena Public Works.

You can rent La Casita, did you know that? I don't know this stuff until I want to post a picture. I have to do the research. I'm not a fountain of knowledge (there, now I've said it). I could guess about it, but then we'd be calling the blog Pasadena Daily Whatever (which has a nice ring to it on my lazy days).

If you have your event at La Casita you'll have some spectacular views, not least of which is the bridge at night. If you have your event during the day, you may have a hiker or two stopping by the buffet. But whenever you have it, you'll have it with a helping of history.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Zen Monday: #191

Zen Monday is the day you tell us what the photo's about, rather than me telling you. This time, I definitely have my questions.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


As I type, I'm sitting on the porch. I hear buzzing. It's not the neighbor's gardener, not this time. It's bees.

Maybe they're feeding on the rosemary, or having their way with the night-blooming jasmine. I'm not going to look. I'm going to leave them bee. I'm not going to touch their blooming victuals. All I ask is that they grant me the same courtesy and leave my cookie alone.

Happy spring. I hope the day is just as filling where you are.