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My life, your life, our lives inside and outside of Los Angeles and its angels.
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Friday, November 14, 2014

GUEST BLOGGER BARBARA TIRA SURVIVES A DAY IN L.A.

AFI Poster Featuring Sophia Loren

This just in from my good friend Barbara Tira who experienced--as many of us do from time to time--A Day from Hell in L.A.--yesterday. I've wondered a long time why pain is so funny after the fact. It just is. 

Barbara and I went to a matinee in Hollywood (the REAL Hollywood, folks--Hollywood Blvd. at Highland which resembles now more than ever that opening scene in "Children of Paradise" on the Boulevard of Thieves in Paris, circa 18th Century). After the film, on our way out of the maze that is the indoor mall that houses Grauman's Chinese Theater, I stopped to ask a guard why there was a red carpet in front. Who were they expecting? He just shrugged and said, "Celebrities."

Two days later--yesterday--Barbara returned to experience her own little corner of Hades. If you've read "Day of the Locusts," you're already halfway there. Barbara, take it away:
***
Last night I found out (the hard way, of course) what the red carpet was for at AFI.  Against my better judgment, I agreed to meet Carolin there, ticketless, with highest hopes of somehow getting in to "Marriage Italian Style." As she was already on the west side, I thought it best to take the bus and meet her there and drive home together.  So much for good thoughts.  

I raced to Echo Park and Sunset and waited for the long overdue #2 bus.  Arriving at Sunset and Vermont, already being late,  and hearing the announcement for the Red Line, I thought to debus and hop the train to speed up the commute.  At the bottom of the stairs I realized I needed the lost-in-the paper-chaos-at-home TAP card to board.  Scurrying to the rants of a crazy young girl drinking a Red Bull, I headed upstairs to get back on the #2 bus that I just got off and paying once again to be even later.  After spinning around on the corner a few times, I caught sight of a #2 Bus and made it aboard.  I plunked in my 55 cents and was called back by a voice saying, "It's 75 cents."  

After a confusing interchange and learning that on Sept. 15 the senior fare was raised, I dug deep, encountered and entered a dime, when I realized I needed more.  Meanwhile, the foreign lady who boarded with me was also called back and called upon to cough up more coins.  The poor woman had no comprehension of what was going on.  I scrounged up the last remaining coin on my person, a quarter, and added it to the kitty, now over paying, but happy to have that last cent to not be thrown off the bus.  I noticed that eye exchange between the clueless foreigner and the determined driver and added,” Maybe she could get some credit from the extra I put in," while envisioning the poor woman being ejected from the bus.

Arriving at AFI and the all shenanigans going on there, I shouldered my way through the horde gathered.  Finally finding someone who could bother to talk to me, I was forcefully shooed away and forbade entrance.  

Carolin called, frantic.  "I'm at the parking garage and there's fire trucks all around and cops are yelling at me to leave, saying there's a fire.  I'm trying to get out but all the streets are blocked.  I don't know where I am.  I'll call you back when I can safely stop and see and use the phone."

As I walked the labyrinth through the Chinese Theater Complex searching for Hollywood Boulevard, there next to me, walking down the red carpet was the black beaded gowned, 4-man bodyguarded Sophia Loren, smiling, waving, signing autographs with each tentative step, probably wishing more than me to be outta there.

I thought only you, Marlan, could appreciate this Hollywood fiasco. 

=====================================================

Barbara Tira is longtime resident of Echo Park in L.A., Body Harmony and Family Constellation Practitioner/Healer, and the Author of the upcoming memoir (working title):
DETOUR: MY JOURNEY FROM CATHOLIC SCHOOL TO IMPRISONMENT TO FREEDOM.

Friday, November 7, 2014

"PROBATE!" SHE WROTE: Celia Conrad's brilliant Anglo-Italiano mystery "Murder in Hand" not for dummies




Lawyers aren't the most popular people, Miss Allen..."
Murder in Hand

     In her cerebral legal mystery, Murder in Hand, Celia Conrad pulls her feisty London Probate/Estate lawyer heroine, Alicia Allen, deeper into the quagmire world of unscrupulous attorneys, the unfortunates who work with them and their unsuspecting innocent victims. In this third book of the Alicia Allen Investigates Trilogy (AAI), Conrad hits her stride as a bona fide puzzle master in the tradition of Agatha Christie. The easy-to-follow plot line keeps readers guessing and the pages turning, while great pleasures lie in Conrad's refusal--or perhaps inability--to write for the lowest common denominator of brain power. Instead she aims for the highest.

     If you want to roll with Alicia Allen...better bring your A-Game (and some knowledge of the Classics wouldn't hurt).


     Murder in Hand could be enjoyed as a stand-alone book if readers don't mind not knowing the history between the justice-loving attorney Alicia Allen and her adoring cohort Alex Waterford; her investigator friends, Jo and Will; or her cultured elderly neighbor Dorothy. 


     The story takes off when Alicia's Italian American client Fabio confides that he believes someone is trying to kill him. Fabio's family ties span New York, England and Italy/Sicily; and when his sister is killed in the midst of doing some family estate research in Italy, Alicia embarks on a quest to find the killer.




"I can't leave you alone for a few hours without 
somebody else being murdered."Murder in Hand


     As in Books 1 and 2 (A Model Murder and Wilful Murder), Alicia leaps where proverbial angels fear to tread, resisting Alex's concerns for her safety. and soon he is helping her sort the puzzle pieces as the body count goes up (with the neat twist that as they hone in, it is lawyers or their assistants who are now dropping dead). Their relationship has matured into an easy partnership built on love, trust and the potato chip that rhymes with "Tingles." It provides a soothing stability that contrasts with the dark, random world of mayhem they are navigating together 



"I generally advise my clients to make both 
a British and an Italian Will."Murder in Hand

     All the AAI books turn on classical theater or operatic references or clues. Murder in Hand pays homage to Gianni Schicchi (which Puccini based on Danté's Divine Comedy), a comic opera about a dead man's Will gone wrong, schemers and estate swindlers. And it won't be spoiling too much to divulge that key action takes place in the Italian town that hosts an annual Puccini festival.

     The book's title is a double entendre. British police refer to an investigation in progress as "in hand." And as for the other meaning...well, you'll just have to read the book, won't you?

     (Hint: Bone up on your Puccini!)








Sunday, September 28, 2014

22nd Annual Thai Cultural Day: Los Angeles 8/21/14 - Photos by Marlan Warren


Thai Cultural Day happened last Sunday at Barnsdall Art Park in L.A. If you've never been, please try it next year. It's a photographer's paradise. And a chance to go to Thailand without a passport. Very warm, friendly, beautiful people! All photos here are by Marlan Warren, copyright protected.







































Sunday, September 14, 2014

FALL IN LOVE WITH THAILAND IN L.A.: 22nd Annual Thai Cultural Day, Sun. 9/21 11AM-5PM

   

Event: Thai Cultural Day
FREE
When: Sun., 9/21  11a.m.-5p.m. (Monks Alms Offering Ceremony starts 8:30 a.m.)
Where: Barnsdall Art Park 
Barnsdall Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd. , Los Angeles, CA 90027
(West of Vermont on South side) - Red Line Metro
More Info & Map for Free Kaiser Parking: http://www.thaiculturalcenter.org/events.html

When I asked a Thai American friend who does not live near L.A's Thai Town if he plans to go to the 22nd Annual Thai Cultural Day at Barnsdall Art Park on Sun., Sep. 21, he said, "Sounds interesting, I could maybe take my son. He doesn't know much about Thai culture." 

When I showed the poster to my Thai neighbor who could not read the English, my attempts to explain failed. She seemed to get that it had something to do with Thailand, but she looked relieved when our conversation ended. 

In fact, Thai Cultural Day is a cross-cultural event that welcomes anyone who would like to participate. Thai Town resident and businessman, Carl Percival--a London-born American is one of the many Angelenos who volunteer year after year. "I visited Thailand years ago," Percival said. "And I fell in love with the art." Percival moved to Thai Town to reap the benefits of Thai culture without a passport. "The people are warm and friendly...the food is terrific...and the art is just beautiful."

Carl Percival with the banner he made for 2014

Percival, who only gives his age as "you wouldn't believe it," is one of the festival's most enthusiastic promoters and organizers, as well as its Chief Decorator. Here are some photos of his meticulous craftsmanship featured at past festivals. They will be on display once again for all to enjoy. 

The front entrance of Barnsdall Art Park (a multi-arts facility public park donated to L.A. by the Barnsdall family) is quite nice, but it doesn't usually look like this:



No Thai Cultural Day would be complete without a Spirit House, and Percival enjoys building them. 



The origins of the spirit house are older than the Buddhist religion practiced in Thailand. They originate from the practice of animism, which is the very ancient belief that spirits, or souls, reside not only in humans, but in animals, plants, mountains, rivers and other inanimate objects. Thai people believe that the spirit of the land must be appeased through offerings made to the spirits who reside in the spirit house.



If all you know about Thailand, you learned from watching The King and I or getting a Thai massage, or ordering delicious curries off a menu, then you are in for a multi-layered treat. Thai Cultural Day is not restricted in any way. People of all walks of life, cultures and religions are welcome. 

"It's a free fun-time day on the grassy hill that was given to the citizens of Los Angeles by the Barnsdall family," said Percival.

The activities are listed below. Some take place outside in booths and on a stage. Others will happen inside the Barnsdall (200+ seat) Theater.

Before the family and artistic events begin, there is an "Food and Alms Offering Ceremony" for Thai Buddhist monks who arrive at 8 a.m. and offer a gratitude prayer. Donations are not required. And just as you don't have to be Jewish to love Kosher rye bread, you don't have to be Buddhist to come to the ceremony.

Here's the info from the Thai Cultural Center website at http://www.thaiculturalcenter.org/events.html. You can also follow them and the "22nd Annual Thai Cultural Day" on Faeebook.

  
Thai Community Arts and Cultural Center
 “To preserve and promote Thai culture”

22nd Annual Thai Cultural Day
Barnsdall Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd. , Los Angeles, CA 90027

Admission & Parking
     -Free Admission and Free Parking
      (Limited spaces at Barnsdall Art Park)
     -Local Line #2, #180, #181
     -Kaiser Parking Structure at
       1549 Edgemont St., Los Angeles, CA 90027      
Parking Map: http://www.thaiculturalcenter.org/events.html
     -Metro Station (Red Line): Sunset & Vermont

Cultural Activities
     -Thai Massage
     -Thai Antiques, Thai Art & Craft, Thai Silk
     -Cultural Demonstrations by E-san Association
     -Thai Kickboxing
     -Children's Activities
     -Thai Painting Exhibit/Demonstration

Other Booths and Activities
     -Preserve America Anniversary
     -California Telephone Access Program
     -Thai Town Rotary Club
     -Asian Pacific Health Care Venture
     -Thai American Chamber of Commerce of California
     -Tourism Authority of Thailand

Planned Program

Thai Traditional Dancing & Music


And Thai bands:


Costume Contests:


Ice Sculpture:


Thai Kickboxing:


And last, but certainly not at all least, Thai carvings from Carl Percival's Thai Wood Carving Collection will be exhibited. Here's a couple of samples of what you'll see:

LEFT: An intricate teak carving of the face of Buddha surrounded by teak candleholders, some eggs of different Thai hard woods and teak flowers.

RIGHT: Top - a buffalo neck adornment, teak buffalo neck bell and a teak window. Middle - a large teak tray for making sticky rice, a teak celestial dancer, and a teak gold panning dish. Front - some Teak roof decorations and a Teak Tray.





More will be revealed in this year's festival program where you will find an entertaining article by Percival. So come on down and get cultured the Thai way!

#IloveThaiTown 


Project Partners:
     Dept. of Cultural Affairs
     Team Thailand
     Thai Community Development Center
     Clean & Green
     Rotary Club of Thai Town
     Thai Association of Southern California
     Alliance for California Traditional Arts 






Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Barcham Books will kick off summer reading with "A Model Murder": Kindle Giveaway (7/1): "In strip clubs and law firms, no one can hear you scream."


Summary: On July 1, Barcham Books will gift summer readers with a free one-day-only Kindle download of Book 1 in th Alicia Allen Investigates trilogy, A Model Murder, riding on the law firm/strip club murder mystery’s June KDP success (over 4200 international downloads).




Title: A Model Murder (Book 1)
Series: Alicia Allen Investigates Trilogy
Author: Celia Conrad
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Barcham Books
Release Date: Sept. 15, 2011
Paperback Pages: 341
ISBN-13: 978-0954623326
E-Book: Kindle
ASIN: B00A0OKLIC

"He told me he was used to getting what he wanted."—A Model Murder

On July 1, Barcham Books will kick off summer beach reading with a one-day e-book giveaway of A Model Murder through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select program.

"We're still in awe of the success of the first giveaway in early June," said British author Celia Conrad. "Almost 4300 downloads in three days exceeded expectations to say the least."

A Model Murder features the murder of a young Australian model moonlighting as a stripper in London, and the harassed-at-work woman lawyer who sets out to bring the murderer to justice.

"A Model Murder draws uncomfortable parallels between strip clubs 
and law firms where Neanderthals still roam the earth."
—Dancing in the Experience Lane, Open Salon

The story taps into darker truths that are taboo to talk about in polite society,” said Jane Hall at Barcham Books. “That’s why we decided to go with the marketing tag line: In strip clubs and law firms, no one can hear you scream.

After A Model Murder was released in 2011, real life incidents echoed its plot points, said Conrad: "Last April, a stripper was found murdered after work in Atlanta. And last year there was a gender discrimination lawsuit brought against a prominent American law firm by its women lawyers."

Hall gave KDP a big thumbs-up. “It would be nice if the numbers were dollars,” she said. “But we are pleased with the visibility and attention the giveaways stimulate."


Celia Conrad
Conrad toiled as a lawyer in London law firms and dabbled in modeling. “The novel is autobiographical in parts,” she said. “The legal profession is still male dominated despite what we are told about more women qualifying or reaching top jobs.” While modeling, Conrad met a young model who was working in a “hostess club” to supplement her income. Years later, those experiences found their way into A Model Murder.

“While researching, I went to clubs and spoke to women who worked there,” said Conrad. “They told me they had to generate money by being nice, but how ‘nice’ came from the top. Some women felt pressured, others did not, depending on the boss."

Conrad's then-agent Paul Marsh at the Marsh Agency encouraged her to write a crime fiction series about her legal experiences. The second book, Wilful Murder, takes Alicia to Australia amid a slew of murdered relatives over an inheritance. The third, Murder in Hand, leads the Anglo-Italian heroine into the dark underbelly of corruption in Sicily.

"Sadly, Paul passed away before A Model Murder was published. Then I lost my mother not long after, so the books never had a proper launch amid all the turmoil,” said Conrad. “Before he died, Paul had read all the books and was really happy with them. He believed Alicia is a great character—she is a tough little cookie—and deserved to find her audience. That endorsement has always pushed me on.”

Contact:
Celia Conrad | barchambooks@btconnect.com
Facebook | Celia Conrad Author | 

Publicist | Book Publicity by Marlan | Marlan Warren  | http://bookpublicitybymarlan.blogspot.com





















Thursday, May 29, 2014

ZUMBATHON IN ARLETA, CA / FRI. 5/30/14 Tomorrow Evening! Only $10 for a Worthy Cause

EXPRESS YOURSELF THROUGH DANCE AND HELP A WORTHY CAUSE!

Details on this Zumbathon Benefit were not available at Press Time, but I understand the $10 goes to a great cause and you can dance the night away with Z-U-M-B-A-A-AH and wonderful Zumba instructors such as Dennis Guzman (featured elsewhere on this blog).  Great poster too!


Sunday, April 20, 2014

"Nothing can explain the feeling...": Muay Thai Fighter Ariana Gomez Victorious!


They came out fighting: Ariana (L) and Aileen (R)
Photo by © Melody De Leon 
My previous post celebrated the women and men of the Muay Thai Academy of America in North Hollywood, focusing attention on the two students who fought in last night's Girls Night Out Thai Boxing matches: Ariana "Pink Lady" Gomez and Aileen "The Marchine" Maquiraya. At the time of this posting, I don't have the details about the outcome of Maquiraya's fight (except for some stunning photos by Erica De Leon).

In her own words, here's the Pink Lady's victorious Facebook post today (SHE WON!):

Aileen "Pink Lady" Gomez and Troy Fisher
Photo by © Erica De Leon
"Nothing can explain the feeling I had stepping back into the ring yesterday and waking up this morning knowing I left everything in there. Sometimes we learn more from our falls than from our triumphs; it helps to value everything more. My opponent and I came to fight and I think it was evident in there. Thank you to those that didn't stop believing in me even after I wasn't at my best. Only a few know what was wrong last year, but that's why this fight just meant so much to me and after a year of not fighting and being on an emotional roller coaster, I finally feel like I found myself again."

Pink Lady: "I left everything in there." Photo by © Erica de Leon

"Everyone sees the win in the ring but all the work is put in months before and is a team effort. I couldn't have done it without God, the support of my parents, my bro, my coach and godfather Troy Fisher, conditioning coach Matt B, my cornermen Damon Bolder and Gabriel Saekson, and Muay Thai Academy for their support and all their girls for helping us push ourselves in sparring, Mr Julio Trana for doing my wraps, my team, friends, supporters, fans and I can't forget my sponsor Team TSN for keeping me strong and healthy along the way! This one was for me, my Family and my MTA family. We did it!

Falling down is part of life... Getting back up is living."

Congratulations to Ariana! So inspiring!  #AileenGomezwins

And Congratulations to Aileen! You look so fierce in these photos that you are every inch a winner. #AileenMaquirayaMuayThaifighter

Below are a couple of the many gorgeous photos taken by Erica De Leon of Vivar Photography. She has honed her craft as a skillful action photographer by shooting her fellow fighters. See her story in the previous post.

THE AMAZING AILEEN THE MACHINE

Aileen "The Machine" Maquiraya
Photo by © Erica De Leon



Aileen "The Machine" Maquiraya
Photo by © Erica De Leon







Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Muay Thai Boxing changed my entire life": Saturday Night's All Right for Girls Muay Thai Fighting (4/19 at 7pm) Hollywood Park Casino




Ever watched a Thai Boxing match between two women?

This Saturday night you will get your chance at 7pm when two beautiful young women--Ariana "Pink Lady" Gomez and Aileen "The Machine" Maquiraya--climb into the ring to practice their ferocious martial art known as Muay Thai (aka "Thai Boxing") during the Dennis Warner and In Sync Productions-sponsored "Girls Night Out" event at Hollywood Park Casino, 3883 W. Century Boulevard, Inglewood CA 90303.

Ariana and Aileen are both students at the Muay Thai Academy of America (MTAA) founded by Kru Puk who trains adults and children in North Hollywood. They will not be fighting each other.

"The Machine" will be making her amateur debut, and "The Pink Lady" will return to the ring after losing a championship belt. Ariana has been training hard for months to prepare for 3.3 min. rounds. 

"For me this fight is not about redemption," said Ariana, who also has a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and teaches 3rd Grade. "I love this sport and yes, this fight is super important for me on a different level than my past fights, but the reason is not to 'redeem myself.' It's much more than that. It's a journey I've been through especially this last year. It's about all the work I have put in. It's about inspiring, about empowerment."

We wish them both a great evening of fun and healthy competition!

Ariana Gomez (aka "Pink Lady") (Photo by Erica De Leon)
Aileen "The Machine" Maquiraya with sparring trophy.


Ariana "Pink Lady" Gomez (Photo by Erica De Leon)

THE PINK LADY
Aileen "The Machine" Maquiraya
THE MACHINE

The following is a photo essay to celebrate MTAA and the wonderfully strong people who make it happen. It's so common to read about victims of domestic violence, bullying, or worse in Los Angeles and everywhere. I'm happy to post this good news about strong women and men practicing a martial arts whose foundation, according to Puk, is based on "respect." Muay Thai Academy of America is located at 11024 Vanowen Street, North Hollywood, CA 91605.

All photos are by photographer, Erica De Leon, copyright protected. Here is her story:

"MTA changed my life from a depressed, lonely, and afraid girl to a more independent, outgoing, confident woman," said Erica. "MTAA became my family, teaching me more than a sport. It taught me respect for myself and others. Unity, loyalty, and help one another. I started shooting Ariana Gomez's training and fights, and through this, photography became my passion and work (Vivar Photography). Muay Thai changed my entire life."


Trainer Troy Fisher (L) with Damon Bolder (R)


Troy Fisher trains fighters at MTAA. He has a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and teaches kids twice a week in that martial art.

Barry Hawkins



Melody De Leon















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