Jackie Houchin :: News & Reviews

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JULY 2010 


O beautiful for spacious skies, fxpro downloads For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea!


O beautiful for pilgrim feet Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty fxpro dealing desk in law!


O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness And every gain divine!


O beautiful for patriot dream That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea!


Happy 234th Birthday, fxpro server America!


Around Town: Old Town Montrose Hot Rod Show

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Nearly 200 outstanding automotive "beauties" joined the regular craft and food venders on Honolulu Street this July 4th, for the 9th Annual Old Town Montrose Hot Rod show.


The original idea of a "Block Party Hot Rod and Classic Car Show" came from John Drayman, the "Man from La Montrose," but the person who's made it happen all these years is Don Tubbs, one of the founders of the Early Rodders, a loose group of car enthusiasts who meet each Saturday morning at the La Canada UA Theater parking lot to sip java and show off their cars.* 


Tubbs carefully selected and invited 140 of the best Hot Rods in the area (Sunland/Tujunga, Burbank, Pasadena, etc) for a display of "eye candy" that never fails to draw a crowd.


He also invited five Vintage Dragsters (with names like "Mighty Mouse," "Revelation," "Spring Shot," and "Samurai"), plus a Bonneville Land Speed racing Street Roadster.  "We start them up twice during the day so people can experience the "raw sound" of up to 1,000 hp engines" (a throaty rumble that can be heard and felt for blocks).  


And for the second year, meticulously restored Classic Cars joined to the lineup, with Tom Russell in charge of selecting and inviting approximately 50 of those impressive old cars.



Dave Maher, a fellow Early Rodder who helped put this year's show together, will be taking over in 2011, as Tubbs becomes more involved with a Bonneville race car team.




Mark your calendars; and come celebrate Independence Day with another stunning collection of beautiful and powerful cars.










* To learn more about the Early Rodders visit:

http://tinyurl.com/2bo8sro (Show & Shine for Early Bird Car Enthusiasts)  

http://tinyurl.com/285kw2t (Hot Rodders join Firefighters in Spark of Love)



Last Updated on Thursday, 15 July 2010 23:10

Around Town: Sheila Lowe signs Last Writes

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LAST WRITES and the "Truth" in Miniature



When Sheila Lowe, author of the intriguing Forensic Handwriting Mysteries, signed copies of her newest installment, Last Writes, at Book 'em Mysteries in South Pasadena, her guests were in for a double treat.


Not only did they learn some intriguing facts about her new book, they got to see an example of the author's craftier side.  And two lucky visitors got to take home soft cuddly mementos.


No, Sheila Lowe hasn't switched to writing cozies, in fact that's the "bone of contention" she has with her new book jacket art.  She is afraid the homey scene depicted on the cover will send the wrong message to perspective buyers.


"My Claudia Rose books are psychological suspense, not cozies," she emphasizes. "Fans of the series could be turned off by the softer look, while cozy-mystery seekers might be offended by the content."


So Ms Lowe set about to make her own cover scene in miniature.  It's "similar to the book cover, but with the TRUTH."


If you look closely at the photo on the right, you'll see a similar kitchen scene in the miniature as well as the cover. But, did you notice the differences?  No chair is knocked over in Lowe's miniature tableau, indeed; there is an object ON the chair.  And that object is a major clue in the mystery her protagonist eventually solves.  Can you see what it is?


Now about those "soft cuddly mementos..." You guessed it, Lowe awarded two 4-inch, tan or blond, furry little bunnies, each with distinctive patches sewn on. 


I got one... and hey, I bought the book too!

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 July 2010 20:44

Guest: Hannah Preheim-2

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Hannah is a 13 year old California girl who likes to play team softball and basketball during school and  go to the beach, boogie board, or just swim in the waves in the summer. She also  plays tennis with her siblings (but just for fun). She likes hanging out with her friends, her youth group, and most of all her family (2 parents, 3 siblings and 1 dog).


The most important thing Hannah wants you to know about herself is, "I love God and I am a Christian."  She enjoys reading the Bible, and other books too. Here's what she says about this YA novel....




by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor 

280 pages

 Ivy June is a young seventh grade girl who enters an exchange program hoping to make new friends and see new things. When she gets to Lexington and meets Catherine, the other exchange student, she realizes they are almost the same besides all the fancy stuff that Thunder Creek, Ivy's hometown, doesn't have. Lexington has everything and she hopes her two weeks there won't change her.

Then it is Catherine's turn to try a new life in Thunder Creek for two weeks. But it is nothing but easy when Catherine's mom and Ivy's grandpa both go through BIG trials. As Catherine and Ivy wait and pray for good news they get to know each other much better. Do their loved ones live? Or will they be planning funerals?

I liked that author referred to both girls journals because then I understood both opinions. It did take a long time for the book to get to the point, but once it did I couldn't put it down. This book is for ages 10-14 and if you like books with rural settings you will definitely enjoy this.

Last Updated on Friday, 09 July 2010 21:32

Guest: Hannah Preheim-3

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Hannah is a 13 year old California girl who likes to play team softball and basketball during school and  go to the beach, boogie board, or just swim in the waves in the summer.


She also  plays tennis with her siblings (but just for fun). She likes hanging out with her friends, her youth group, and most of all her family (2 parents, 3 siblings and 1 dog). AND..... she likes playing the Wii.


The most important thing Hannah wants you to know about herself is, "I love God and I am a Christian."  She enjoys reading the Bible, and other books too.



Flashcards of my Life

by Charise Mericle Harper

235 pages

Emily is just like any other girl. She has friends, family and boy troubles. It is a bit easy for her when she starts writing down what is happening in her life on flashcards. The flashcards really help her sort things out in her life.

Life is still hard when her friend, Sandra, starts doing things behind Emily's back. Then there is Andrew, she can't tell if he likes her or just feels bad for her. Emily doesn't know if she will ever be able to trust Sandra again, and if she will ever have a guy like she does.

I thought this book was funny because Emily is a complete clutz, and her view of life is very different. I also liked that every page had a funny cartoon or doodle of what was happening.


I really enjoyed this book (I finished it in one day because I could not put it down), and you will too if you like reading silly books about a girl and her friends. I recommend this book for 13-14 year old girls.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 July 2010 13:26

Guest: Noah Preheim-9

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Noah Preheim is a 14-year-old, Southern California boy who loves camping, water sports ... and reading. 


He's a big fan of Fantasy, but he's willing to read all kinds of books, and to review them for my "News & Reviews" website.  

Here's his newest one... 




Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer

by John Grisham

263 pages

Theodore Boone is a thirteen year-old only child that lives in a town called Strattenburg. Both of his parents are lawyers and work in a firm called Boone and Boone. Theo hopes to follow in their footsteps, because he has a huge interest in law. Theo, when not in school, spends most of his time in courthouses listening to trials or in his office/closet in his parents firm.


Theo is in luck because the most exciting trial in Strattenburg is about to occur. A man named Peter Duffy is accused of killing his wife by strangling her. Theo is so excited to watch the trials and get involved, but it turns out he gets a little more involved than he'd like.


Theo is confronted with the only witness of the trial, but this witness could get in serious trouble if he gets involved because he is an illegal immigrant. If he doesn't testify, then the wrong verdict could be passed and a guilty man could be proved innocent. 


I recommend this book to kids and teens who would be interested in a legal thriller.

Last Updated on Monday, 12 July 2010 21:14


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ARCADIA, written by British playwright Tom Stoppard and playing at the Sierra Madre Playhouse in Sierra Madre, opens on a deceptively pastoral scene – the library of Sidley Park, an English country house in Derbyshire England in1809.  An expanse of garden can be glimpsed through the open double French doors.


Sitting at a long, desk-like table is Thomasina Coverly (Alexandra Goodman) a young teenage girl in soft, flower-sprigged voile quietly writing in her lesson book while her tutor, the handsome Septimus Hodge (T. J. Marchbank) lingers nearby. 


Once the play begins, however, this languid, Monet-esque scene amps into crisp, intellectually stimulating (and sometimes risqué) dialogue inside an elaborate plot so convoluted the brightest of mystery/history enthusiasts will be kept on their toes.


Miss Thomasina, a mathematical genius beyond her years (and century), believes she's good enough at algebra to write "a formula of the future." While she fills notebooks with her figures, Septimus fends off Ezra Chater (Phil Apoian), a visiting poet of questionable talent who has challenged him to a duel for "bedding" his wife, Charity.


Thomasina's mother, Lady Croom (Kendra Chell), whom Septimus is also bedding, and her brother, Captain Brice (Mark A. Cross), another paramour of Charity, join the fray.  Septimus' Oxford College mate Lord Byron is also visiting (though we never see him) and is somewhere in the mix. Both he and Chater mysteriously disappear.


Flash forward 200 years and the Coverly descendants – Lady Chloe (Felicia Tabrizi) and her brothers, Lord Valentine (Paul Romero) and the mute Lord Gus (Liam Swan) – are occupying the same lovely library.  Valentine constantly pounds away at his laptop, working from the other end on Thomasina's mathematical theory, hoping to publish a paper and become famous.


Meanwhile Valentine's smart-as-a-whip fiancée, Hannah (Gigi Bermingham) and visiting academic Bernard Nightingale (Benjamin Burdick) are researching what really happened that weekend when Lord Byron disappeared from the manor. Their opposing conclusions, as each "missing" document and clue is discovered and interpreted, are hilariously wrong as we see when we once again flash back to 1809 and view more of the drama.


Eventually the characters of both centuries overlap, some conversing in one part of the library while their counterparts argue in another.


Are the various mysteries solved? Well, some of them are...  But the romp through two centuries, the romantic misadventures in each, and the witty, mentally stimulating exchanges of theories and speculations are probably what make ARCADIA unique. 


(For regular SMP patrons who remember "Proof" and "The Importance of Being Ernest" in the 2009 season, think of ARCADIA as being a melding of those two plays.)


Especially brilliant performances are given by T.J. Marchbank (Septimus), Gigi Bermingham (Hannah), Paul Romeo (Valentine), and Benjamin Burdick (Nightingale).  Kudos to them and to Barbara Schofield for directing this marvelous cast.  The set design and period costumes provide eye appeal as well as continuity and clarity in the century jumps.


ARCADIA is not for the casual viewer or perhaps even someone studying English as a second language. But for those willing to sip that extra cup of Starbucks before the performance, the rewards are there.


ARCADIA runs Friday & Saturday evenings at 8 PM and Sundays at 2:30 PM through July 31. Tickets are $20, with discounts for seniors, students and kids 12 and under.


For credit card sales visit www.sierramadreplayhouse.org  For information and reservations call (626) 355-4318.


The Playhouse is located at 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, CA 91024.  There is plenty of free parking behind the theatre.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 June 2010 20:30

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