Gordon & Barbara in Paris

Gordon & Barbara in Paris
Here's Looking at YOU

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mark Gerry Celebrity Roast

(B)I am not a martial artist, but because I'm married to one I have been introduced to a wonderful group of talented and remarkable people. The Mark Gerry Roast was entertaining for me on many levels, but started late and went a little long. It was nice to see our good friend Frank Dux on stage and to get a warm hug from him after the show. It was a doubly pleasant surprise to see my husband get his tribute award for his novel and to see his face on the big screen during the Dux introduction presentation, as Gordon makes a cameo appearance in the recently released "Put Up Your Dux" documentary. The Ernie Reyes Performance group and Team International performances were extraordinary!

(G)Thanks to the World Martial Arts Masters, The Golden State Karate Association and Tiger Claw, Barbara and I were granted VIP access to the Master Mark Gerry Celebrity Roast on June 17th, 2011. As you might suspect, it was as much a party as it was entertainment for the five hundred or so in attendance. Though, I have to say, the entertainment supplied by The USA International Team and Ernie Reyes’ Youth Performers (with a special performance by Ernie Reyes, Sr.) were definitely highlights of the evening, it was great to see the star-studded dais get together for this delightful tribute. Panel members included Cynthia Rothrock, Eric Lee, James Lew, Art Camacho, Ernie Reyes, Frank Dux, Harry Mok, Sonny Sison and Nicole Gerry (Mark’s daughter and Miss California Model of the Year). Comedian jeff Applebaum warmed up the crowd with an excellent set.
Most of the celebrities put some thought and effort into the roasting and the audience was treated to a video introduction for each of the dais members in attendance, as well. However, Team International and the Ernie Reyes performers were awe-inspiring. I wondered how the great stunt and competition champions who were on stage felt about the performances, which were as technically good as any martial arts demonstrations that I’ve ever seen. In the “olden days” when I participated in competitions (or when the on stage stars were performing) some of the things that were being routinely done by these kids were merely fantasy! “Great job,” to all the performers (especially Ernie Reyes, who is still participating with the kids at age 60).

I did not have a chance to speak with any of the celebrity roasters afterward, but the two standing ovations spoke volumes about the level of appreciation by all. The show lasted a little longer than expected, but I did get a chance to accept my Legends of the Martial Arts Hall of Fame Award from Cynthia Rothrock and Eric Kovaleski, for both the Journalism and Book of the Year categories after the event.

Cynthia Rothrock and Eric Kovaleski were kind enough to peel themselves away from the after show flash of cameras to hand me my award that Eric had taken the trouble to carry from Pennsylvania to California for the Gerry Roast and the Syd Campbell Memorial Martial Arts Open Tournament that took place the next day, June 18th. I was humbled that Master Kovaleski wanted to personally hand me this plaque during a weekend of festivities that was really meant to honor a living legend (Mark Gerry) and one who has just passed (Syd Campbell). Thanks again for allowing Barbara and I to attend the show.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bifocal Reviews--Central Park Carriage Ride

Bifocal Review of Central Park Carriage Ride
Barbara and Gordon Richiusa

(G) The video that follows is our tribute to the horse and buggy ride through Central Park. This is a romantic adventure that has been featured in scores of novels and in movies. The cost at the time of our ride was $50 for 20 minutes and took us past some beautiful scenery. If you get to New York and are interested in taking a tour (you also have the choice of having a human being on a bicycle wheel you around) you will see a "line up" of buggies at a few locations along on the perimeter and through the center of The Park. Even though the line of carriages seems endless (and horse and carriage color preference notwithstanding), etiquette dictates that you take the first carriage in the line. The horse does the rest.
(B) I was born and raised in New Jersey, so I frequented New York and the sight of a horse-driven carriage through Central Park was a childhood dream. The sound of the hooves on the street invites a romantic picture that cannot be duplicated in print or on video. We hope you enjoy the following.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

BURN THE FLOOR--Sagerstrom Center for the Arts

BURN THE FLOOR—Ballroom. Reinvented/ filed 6-10-2011--Billed as “The New Broadway Production” on a limited run at Segerstrom Center for the Arts (Costa Mesa, CA)—Dancers (in program order): Anya Garnis, Pasha Kovalev, Kevin Clifton, Santo Costa, Igor Dogoter, Sasha Farber, Natalia Gorshkova, Karen Hauer, Faye Huddleston, Ash Leigh Hunter, Robbie Kmetoni, Janette Manrara, Giselle Peacock, Damien Samuel, Aljaz Skorjanec, Emma Slater, Sarah Soriano, and Gary Wright/vocalist(s) Peter Saul, Vonzell Solomon/percussionist(s) Joseph Malone, Henry Soriano/ Director&Choreographer, Jason Gilkison/ Scenic Designer, Ray Klausen/ Lighting Designer, Rick Belzer/ Costume Designer, Janet Hine/Sound Designer, Peter J. Fitzgerald/Production Stage Manager, Bruce Fossey Bolton/1hr.50min with one 15 minute intermission.

Bifocal Review by Barbara Richiusa and Gordon Richiusa

(B) I love dancing! Music and dancing are like a marriage: some are good and some are not. I found this show had more bad marriages. There were too many songs I did not recognize and some songs did not fit the dance. The ones that did work, worked well.
The dancers were non-stop. It was astounding how much energy was put forth in almost two hours. I’m sure a huge amount of practice went into this program that had at least twenty or thirty different numbers. I give them so much credit just to remember the steps of one dance let alone several dance numbers. I have to agree with Gordon as far as not feeling a connection because there was no dialog or a pause to make an announcement of what was to come or even an MC to tell a few jokes and connect the audience with the dancers. Our seats were good but not close enough to see the facial expressions that add meaning to the dance. I have to add that we did take advantage of “rush pricing” by getting our seats at the last minute for a reduced rate, and let’s face it. Sometimes when you roll the dice you miss the point. I also noticed, upon researching the past and Broadway performances, that this performance was somewhat different than previous ones. I'm not sure if EVERY show is different, but I can’t bring myself to give more than two binoculars for the performance that I saw, but I would give three for the dancers alone.

(G) This truly is a dancer’s dream. If you are interested in Ballroom or International Style competition (and according to the latest Neilson rating, and the popularity of Dancing with the Stars, many people ARE) then this show might hold your interest. For me, however, I have to say that while I was not displeased, I did see that having a Celebrity MC, wacky judges or even a loosely connecting storyline are essentials for making a dance into a show. There was absolutely NO dialogue or clearly identifiable, central characters in the nearly two hours of non-stop dancing. At a few points, the dancers came close to acting (as in the Bullfighting scene or during some of the Jive or Tango sequences) and the audience responded with enthusiasm, but a wiggling finger or a scowling look doth not a stage production make (to paraphrase Shakespeare). Don’t get me wrong. There were definitely moments and the vocalists did an adequate job in most cases. I even enjoyed Solomon’s rendition of Knights in White Satin, but I could have closed my eyes and enjoyed the number just as much. Honestly, the few songs that I recognized all seemed out of place for the type of dancing, but that is an observation that Barbara has made to me about DWTS, so now I notice it. I did come away from this with a realization that the male partner, especially in the Latin dances, is really the featured (and more important) member of the team. All in all, I have to give this one two binoculars out of four. I wanted more but was happy to see my lovely wife enjoying herself. In the end, we all gotta “dance with the one who brung us.”

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Who Will Reign Supreme?

Gordon and Barbara lend their voices to the Laguna Woods BATTLE OF THE FITNESS CENTERS' quest to have some fun with the seniors at Laguna Woods Village.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


MIDNIGHT IN PARIS—Directed and Written by Woody Allen/Starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kurt Fuller/rated PG-13/100 minutes

A Bifocal Review by Barbara and Gordon Richiusa

(G) I absolutely LOVED it! To me this was quintessential Woody Allen, in the same way that TETRO epitomized Coppola’s career (for me) and many believe The TEMPEST represents a culmination of Shakespeare’s playwriting…That’s William Shakespeare, or, as the self-possess pseudo intellectual character Paul, played by Michael Sheen in Midnight in Paris would call him…The Bard. This might seem like a needless aside to some of you (that’s a literary term that you’ll have to look up if you don’t understand it), but understanding that what is commonplace today was someone’s insightful observation in the past and, as Midnight In Paris points out: the people who are happiest are those who accept the “now” and make today their favorite time in history...that’s something that ALL of us can benefit from. In the same way, we see in this film that the line between genius and conceit lay pretty much in our ability to relate as an audience. In other words, we are all more apt to enjoy something that we can relate to on a personal level. Indeed, Midnight is Woody Allen’s finest film in years in that HE is relating to the characters and the storyline on every level. It just so happens that most of us can also relate, and that is the genius part.
Woody Allen is in every character (as usual) and his quirky way of thinking is in every line of dialogue, theme and idea without effort. Watching this film we know his likes and dislikes about himself and the world around him as each character and situation plays out like another note of another instrument of a symphony. In other words, it was well orchestrated. I loved it. I give it the highest rating I can give: Four Binoculars!

(B) Being a huge fan of nostalgia (you can take a look at an archived Bifocal Review when we visited Nostalgia-ville, USA: http://youtu.be/NHctHseSvqc) this film took me where I love to go…the past. I would have continued on this journey to more eras gone by if I could, but of course time would not permit. I found myself in awe just as much as Owen Wilson’s character as he spent his midnight escapades with heroes of the past, even though I knew it was just a movie. Marion Cotillard was so convincing in her role (as usual) and of course, Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein, could do no harm in my eyes. This film was brilliantly cast and everyone did an excellent job. I loved the music, which was lilting and set the mood perfectly. I was glad to see a Woody Allen film that wasn’t silly, but rather wonderful and amusing. The scenery is Paris, Paris by day, Paris at night, Paris dry and Paris in the rain, Paris in the present and Paris in various bygone eras. Woody Allen makes a point of juxtaposing opinions and perspectives about the city and the level of romanticism that it seems to stir in people. Kudos to you Woody. I'm not as literary as Gordon, but I still give this one a THREE.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


The Hangover Part II: Directed by Todd Phillips. Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis/written by Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong, Todd Phillips, from characters by Jon Lucas, Scott Moore/ rated R/1 hr 42 min.

Bifocal Review by Barbara and Gordon Richiusa

(B) I’ve heard of pushing the envelope, but this ripped up the envelope and threw it away. Since the first Hangover was such a success (and very funny), I guess they had to see how far they could go before it was TOO far. In my opinion, they found out. I’m not a fan of this kind of film. I’m not too fond of a movie that has to resort to male, full-frontal nudity (and every joke and comedy situation that goes along with that set-up) over and over again as the main source of humor (although, I have to admit, that this obsession with the penis, does make this a realistic film for most men). My favorite scene in the film was the morning after “the Hangover” and the reaction of Ed Helms to finding out what he had done the night before (you’ll have to see the movie to find out what that is—I’m not fond of spoilers, either). I am also not happy with the development of Galifianakis’ character from the first film as an oddball that I could sympathize with to a guy who is cruel to his parents and has some sort of undefined mental disorder. As a mother, I especially didn’t like the way his character treated his own mother. I give this one a two.

(G) The first thing that came to my mind, as I walked out the theater doors, immediately after seeing THE HANGOVER Part II, was the punch line to one of my own, “reoccurring themed” jokes: “I hate it when that happens.” I give it a THREE BINOCS! With Barbara’s two and some kind of math function, I think that averages out to 2.5 on the binocular scale. I have to add that the scenery was fantastic and a couple of cameos (including a cigarette smoking monkey that we’ve all seen on the internet) made this as much fun (on a different level) as the first Hangover, in my opinion. I know that there is a third offering in the works. So, I have to wonder what new direction the franchise will go since it is obvious that they are trying to outdo themselves while staying true to the basic simple-minded formula of adult, male humor that make the Hangover movies enjoyable.