A Honeymoon (With Theater) In Korea

Robyn and I are now back in L.A., returned from our beautiful and very special honeymoon in Korea, which also included the chance to see seven of my one-act plays being produced in Korean translations in a production at the Incheon Arts Platform.

Besides the time with our new theater friends in Incheon, we criss-crossed the country by high-speed rail and express bus to see the spectacular natural sites in Seoraksan National Park, saw ancient burial mounds, temples, and shrines in Gyeongju, and visited the mountain-top Seokguram Grotto where monks were leading a service in front of a centuries-old statue of the Buddha.

We also had a too-brief overnight stay in Seoul, where we saw the Secret Garden at Changdeokgung Palace, visited artisanal workshops in the Bukchon Hanok Village, strolled along the stream-side Cheong-gye-cheon promenade, and, much to Robyn’s enjoyment and my mild chagrin, visited a cat café with actual cats on Insa-dong Street.

We can’t say enough to thank extraordinarily tireless and resourceful theater producer Gunyoung Kuon, who extended the invitation for us to come and was so gracious and friendly to us throughout. Special thanks also to our patient translators Jina and Edi, and to all the directors, actors, and stage crew who came together over three days at the Incheon Arts Platform to create some truly magical theater – as a writer, these are the kind of imaginative, creative, and skilled performances you always want your work to receive, in any language.

Tom Negrino Memorial Fund

Dori Smith is a wonderful writer and IT specialist and not incidentally someone who was a high school friend of mine in the Southern California beach community where we both grew up. Having lost track of each other for decades, we reconnected at long-distance last year through the routine magic of social media.

Dori’s husband Tom Negrino, an author and Mac authority and someone whose work I had been reading years ago without realizing that he was married to my long-ago high school friend, passed away last week. I never met Tom and haven’t seen Dori in decades, but from reading blog posts such as this and following Dori on Facebook and Twitter, it seems that the two of them faced his illness together with uncommon courage, candor, love, and wit.

Dori is suggesting that donations be made in Tom’s name to App Camp for Girls, which has the mission of introducing middle-school aged girls to software development. Especially in these times, it seems a particularly appropriate and meaningful cause to be supporting in honor of both of them…

The Cat and the Fiddle Returns!

The Cat and the Fiddle’s new location on Highland Avenue.

The Cat and the Fiddle was the first bar I used to frequent with friends on a regular basis after moving back to Los Angeles from New York City in the mid-1980’s. In those days before microbreweries and brewpubs, it was the place where I first learned to appreciate ales and stouts and British pub fare. It was a gastropub before they were called that.

It quickly became a favorite hang-out, and a couple years later the place where my grad school friends and I would most often go for food and drinks. While students in the Directing, Producing, and Cinematography disciplines were on most Friday nights beginning grueling week-long shoots that would determine their future at the school, my fellow Writing students and I would roll out of James Hosney’s film studies course and head to The Cat and the Fiddle for beer and food and bad jokes. Some of my AFI friends probably still remember me as the guy who always ordered Bass and chips.

The growth of brewpubs and nightlife over the years meant that The Cat and the Fiddle was no longer one of the only places you could go to in Los Angeles for a good beer in a pleasant location. In my own neighborhood, The Fat Dog offers the kind of casual urban atmosphere that was almost entirely missing from the L.A. of the 80’s and early 90’s. But The Cat and the Fiddle remained a favorite of mine until the closing of its Sunset Blvd location just a couple years ago – ironically, a victim of rising rents as a result of the Hollywood renaissance that in some sense it helped pioneer.

Happily, the owners are now bringing back The Cat and the Fiddle with a projected March opening, and even happier for me, its new location is right across the street from where I work. It’s the space I still think of as the old Highland Grounds cafe, though it has been through many other iterations both before and after that. There will be an outer patio, though I can’t imagine it will quite match the charm of the 1920’s Spanish-style courtyard of the Sunset location. And though I no longer consume beer, carbs, and sodium quite so unconcernedly as I used to, I imagine at least every once in a while I will drop in to the new location after work for ale and chips. Happy Hour, anybody?

Ars Technica On Clinton E-Mails

Ars Technica always does an excellent job of examining the convergence of IT issues and politics – their piece on Narwal, the Romney campaign’s bug-ridden attempt at voter management software, was one of the my favorite pieces of journalism to come out of the 2012 election cycle.

Even more valuable is Sean Gallagher’s “Ignorance and indifference: Delving deep into the Clinton e-mail saga.” It’s the first piece of reporting on this story that gives me the feeling of understanding what happened and why. His conclusions are not as benign as would be desired by most Clinton supporters, but not nearly as damning as would be hoped for by Republicans – Hillary Clinton comes off as something like your somewhat cranky older relative who likes e-mail and her old Blackberry but who doesn’t really understand how the internet works, either.

I’m far from an avid Clintonite, but as seems usual in these circumstances over the past three decades, the Republicans allege crime, murder, and treason, and all that emerges are a few personal embarrassments or bureaucratic mistakes.