Life of Pi

Life of Pi

by Yann Martel
a kate west favorite

A profoundly moving novel, "Life of Pi" will touch you like no other. Piscine Molitor Patel (PI, as in 3.14), loves his childhood in India. Not only does his father run a zoo, which is glorious, but he also has wise tutors and a loving family to help him become a man. He learns everything there is to know about animals, from an emotional and clinical perspective. No anthropomizing here. All of these experiences in imagination help him greatly when he needs them the most. It is also a novel that explores all aspects of humanity and delves into the nature of religion. And Pi studies them all.

The most amazing adventure of his life begins during the family migration to Canada (complete with menagerie). Pi ends up lost at sea. It is there where he can truly test his worth, in the most surreal, beautiful and savage way possible. The poetic prose is as lyric as the Pacific Ocean itself and Pi only has the words inside his own head to cling to. It would not be fair to describe the journey, or the aftermath, or any of the various conclusions you might come to as a reader. In spite of over three hundred pages of philosophizing, we still do not quite know what is real in the end. Better to read it for yourself and give Pi the ending you think he deserves.

First publised in 2001 and winner of the Man Booker Prize, "Life of Pi" is an unforgettable experience and you will reflect on it for months afterwards. Don't think about the fact that someone now wants to make a movie out of it. Enjoy the original.

On Amazon:
Life of Pi Read more!

An Inconvenient Truth

An Inconvenient Truth
a kate west reflection

If you haven't seen former Vice President Al Gore's movie by now, God help you when you're baking in the record-breaking heat each summer and freezing in unprecedented colder and colder winters. Our dependency on domestic and foreign oil will be our undoing as America consistently fails to be the environmental leader we know we should be. Other nations have adopted "green" standards and as the wealthiest superpower, we should have done so as well, a long time ago. Solar and wind power are only two options. More hybrid cars, more fuel alternatives - these are all no-brainers! To have to fight against corporate lobbyists who deny their countrymen the freedom to help the planet is criminal. Yes, global warming is real. The rest of the world is already well aware of it.

The movie is in documentary style, with charts and graphs and lectures by Al Gore and a team of scientists and it's all fascinating. And important. Hopefully, most of us already know most of this already - melting glaciers, disappearing species, more droughts, fires, heat waves, hurricanes and all kinds of other natural disasters coming our way. It's not too late to help the next generation though. Start today.

For more info, catch "The Green" on the Sundance Channel ( and "Planet Earth" on the Discovery Channel (

Listen to Al Gore - this time he really knows what he's talking about. You know that this, along with universal health care, will be the main political issues next election, right?

Directed by

Davis Guggenheim

Produced by
Lawrence Bender .... producer
Scott Z. Burns .... producer
Lesley Chilcott .... co-producer
Lesley Chilcott .... line producer
Davis Guggenheim .... executive producer
Jeffrey D. Ivers .... executive producer (as Jeff Ivers)
Laurie Lennard .... producer (as Laurie David)
Jeff Skoll .... executive producer
Ricky Strauss .... executive producer
Diane Weyermann .... executive producer Read more!

The Rockettes

Radio City Christmas Spectacular
starring The Rockettes
a kate west review
directed & choreographed by
Linda Haberman
musical director Mark Hummel
at Radio City Music Hall
1260 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10020

running Holidays November 2006 - January 2007
contact (212) 247-4777; OR

Looking for Americana holiday cheez at its best? Look no further than New York's own Radio City Music Hall, home of the legendary Rockettes, always sure to tap dance their little hearts out to sold out audiences.

Charles Edward Hall is Santa Claus and host spectacular. He narrates the basic Christmas story of bringing holiday cheer from the North Pole to New York City. Along the way, the girls perform their famous precision dances, jumping in and out of costume changes. You'll see a 3D projection of Santa's Sleigh, dancing bears in "The Nutcracker" scene, wooden soldiers (with the Rockettes falling on each other domino-style), multiple dancing Santas, real ice-skating and a reverent Nativity scene. Frank Krenz provides charming costuming while Scenic Designer Dawn Robyn Petrlik almost steals the show with revolving platforms, a pop-up ice skating rink and fast set changes.

It's a spectacular show, but fair warning – it's corny too. The show hasn't changed much since it's inception decades ago and it's even more popular today, as evidenced by the tedious long lines you'll have to stand in just to get into the lobby. It's something to see once in your life or to bring your out-of-town relatives, but you probably won't need to see it twice. The girls are great and Musical Director Mark Hummel keeps the tunes hopping with fine choreography by Linda Haberman, but again, you really have to be in the mood for old-fashioned holiday ideals, including a very traditional Christian look at December 25th. But there are real camels, donkeys and sheep, plus beautiful lighting by David Agress.

Thankfully, it is short, and your kids will definitely dig it. So if you're in need of commercial holiday immersion, go to it. And don't forget to try out those 3D glasses in your program. And of course, any aspiring little dancers will get a kick out of it. And maybe someone will even ask you, as they say in the popular local television commercial, "First show?" Read more!

Edward Scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands
a kate west review
directed & choreographed by Matthew Bourne
original story by Tim Burton
music & arrangements by Terry Davies
original themes by Danny Elfman
at the Ahmanson Theatre, 135 North Grand Ave, Los Angeles 90012
running December 2006; contact (213) 628-2772 / CenterTheatreGroup.Org

Brooding Goth man-child Tim Burton (with writer Caroline Thompson) created the cult film Edward Scissorhands, forever memorable for its childlike magical wonder. The decision to transition from screen to stage could only work with someone as in tune with childhood beauty and fantasy. Matthew Bourne, cult leader in his own right (from such innovative takes on “Swan Lake” and “The Nutcracker”), is the perfect choice. Both artists identify with the societal problems of being brilliant but different and their creative ingenuity match nicely.
For those unfamiliar with the story, Edward Scissorhands (Richard Winsor) is a boy with scissors for hands, created by an inventor as a companion in his old age. When his mentor dies, he is forced to fend for himself and discovers a retro-1950’s suburban heaven outside his dark castle.

Initially fearful of each other, Edward and the neighbors learn to co-exist, in no small part due to the acceptance of one of the prominent families, the Boggs. As an added bonus, Edward falls for their teenage daughter Kim (Kerry Biggin), and eventually wins her over. Meanwhile, Edward becomes the popular local hair stylist, at last finding one use for his talented scissorhands. His fearful nightmare appearance hides a fragile and vulnerable heart and it is this juxtaposition that makes the story so interesting. Kim’s boyfriend Jim (Adam Gabraith) is one of the people who misunderstands him, ultimately causing a series of disastrous events.

As usual, director/choregrapher Bourne uses no dialogue, relying instead on the emotion of the music and the passion of the dancers. The ensemble is strong, especially the two leads, Richard Winsor and Kerry Biggin, and their supporting cast delves delightfully into Bourne’s amazing choreography. Lez Brotherston’s set and costumes are a visual feast, with vibrant colors and fantastical shapes of hedges and landscaped manicured houses. Bourne’s trademark humor shows in many ways; for instance, in one scene the dancers walk in and out of tiny set houses. Terry Davies (“A Play Without Words”) maintains the musical integrity of Danny Elfman’s film score, while adding his own appropriate jazzy style. Also, Howard Harrison’s lighting sets the mood evenly between dark and light and in the end we even get snow.

Tim Burton’s essential cinematic story remains the same, from the old woman “narrator” to the man-eating husband stealer. Not only is it a modern fairy tale, but also a microcosm of social stereotypes. Edward, with his awkward appendages, is the least able to physically touch anyone but the most able to reach people with his heart. The rest of the townspeople don’t seem to learn this in the end with the exception of a few - so like life. Edward retires to his empty castle, leaving the others to wonder about him from time to time. Kim, of course, is profoundly changed, and becomes his guardian angel in the end.

The film and the play may be of different styles, but are alike in their touching tale of humanity. And both hold the essential appeal of a storybook romance. Plus Bourne's "Edward Scissorhands" is a great holiday event and appeals to all audiences, drawing a younger, newer crowd to Los Angeles theater, which is never a bad thing.

Burton's Original Movie:
Edward Scissorhands (Widescreen Anniversary Edition)

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Friendly Skies?

a kate west reflection

I'm sure everyone else agrees and that this issue has been talked about to death, but can I just say again that flying really sucks? Less and less leg room, more and more delays, longer and longer security lines and rude and harried staff. Talk about lousy customer service. They overbook to make money and then they lose your luggage? Is anyone old enough to remember when flying was a grand experience and people dressed up to make the journey, just like on a long ocean voyage? Those days are gone and no romantic travel is left, except maybe railway and that's just another commuter line. How did we let this happen? No business regulation? Airlines know we have to fly so they can pretty much treat us any way they want. Seems like we're pretty much trapped.

Although Virgin Atlantic now offers more space, plus a way to IM the cute guy in Row D. At least that way, you're distracted from everything else that's such a pain. Seems the coolest way to go. If you have to go at all, I suppose.

Still beyond frustrated? Go here: Read more!

Liz Martinez Nelson - Artist

Liz Martinez Nelson
a kate west recommendation

Liz Martinez Nelson is an up and coming fresh new voice in art hip. Her debut December show in San Diego featured some of her most interesting and best work, including "Pink Dress", a stunning portrait of a reclining woman, in vibrant pinks, blues and yellow-orange. Using acrylic and mixed media, her pieces are young and captivating. Deceptively simple, they draw you into their hidden emotional undercurrents.

(Pink Dress)

Art Show and Sale
Fri Dec 8th 6-10pm
5000 N Harbor Dr
San Diego, CA

(King Kitty) Read more!