JR’s Marks 16 Years of New Year’s Eve Shows

| Community, Gazette | December 20, 2013

By Martha Michael

There will be plenty of cork-popping at Marie Callender’s Restaurant on New Year’s Eve, Tuesday, December 31. JR’s Comedy Club is celebrating 16 years of bringing laughter to locals in the SCV, including New Year’s Eve festivities every December 31.

Randy and Diana will both be on the scene, greeting guests at two seatings. The earlier, “East Coast” New Year’s celebration begins at 5:30 p.m. Guests will enjoy dinner and comedy until 9:00 p.m., when they will all react as though they were in New York’s Times Square, joining the thousands who congregate to collectively turn their calendars to 2014..

The later, “West Coast” New Year’s Eve celebrants will be seated in the restaurant side of Marie Callender’s at 8:30 p.m. and, following dinner, will head to the Comedy Club Showroom for the same experience as the first round, just enjoying New Year’s at midnight Pacific Time.

The shows that night are “double headers.” One of the headline comedic acts is Dennis Blair, who has appeared on The Tonight Show, the Academy Awards, and was the opening act for comedians George Carlin and Rodney Dangerfield. One of his signature styles is playing the guitar and singing, creating song parodies of virtually any musical artist the audience proposes. The second act on New Year’s Eve is young comic Tom Clark, who has appeared on Comedy Central and landed acting roles, such as guest starring on the TV show, “The Closer.”

The package for the entire evening includes dinner, a champagne toast, party favors, noise makers and the double headliner show for $68 per person.

Visit www.Comedyinvalencia.com or call (661) 259-2291.

Celebrating the Season.

| Community, Gazette | December 19, 2013

Santa Clarita residents continue to take part in events of the holiday season over the next few weeks.In the coming week there are Christmas services and dramas to attend, followed by a chance to ring in the New Year.

On December 22 at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Valencia United Methodist Church will feature “Love Lost and Found, a musical drama about the Healing Power of God’s Love.” The church is located at 25718 McBean Pkwy in Valencia. Visit www.umcv.org.

Both traditional services and those geared toward children are available all over town this year. Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Canyon Country will hold a Christmas Eve service especially for children at 5:30 p.m. on December 24, as well as a candlelight praise service at 7:00 p.m., and a candlelight service with traditional carols at 11:00 p.m. On Christmas Day the church will also hold a service at 10:00 a.m. The following week, on New Year’s Eve, December 31 at 7:00 p.m., Bethlehem Lutheran will gather to celebrate the holiday. It is located at 27265 Luther Drive in Canyon Country. Visit www.bethlehemscv.com.


Christ Lutheran Church in Valencia will hold family worship services at 4:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, December 24. The program will feature music by “Messenger” and an original drama, incorporating the work of professional animators. At 10:30 p.m. there will be instrumental music in the sanctuary, followed by a traditional Christmas Eve service at 11:00 p.m. The candlelight service will feature the chancel choir, including traditional carols. Christ Lutheran is located at 25816 Tournament Road in Valencia. Visit www.come2christ.com.

Hope Vineyard will hold Christmas services on Sunday, December 22 at Leona Cox Community School at 10:00 a.m. The Christmas celebration service will focus on the peace, joy and hope of Christmas. Hope Vineyard is located at 18643 Oakmoor Street in Canyon Country. Visit www.hopevineyard.com.

Newhall Church of the Nazarene will hold both a late Christmas Eve service and an early service geared toward children and families. On December 24 the public is invited to attend either the family oriented candlelight service at 5:30 p.m. or a “Music and Meditation” candlelight service at 11:00 p.m. The church is located at 23857 The Old Road in Newhall. Visit www.newnaz.org.

A children’s Christmas Pageant will be presented at Santa Clarita United Methodist Church on Christmas Eve at 5:00 p.m. Later on December 24 is a traditional worship service featuring orchestra, carols and candlelight at 11:00 p.m.

In addition to the traditional Christmas Eve service, Heart of the Canyons Church is hosting a “Christmas Eve Eve” service on December 23. The theme for the holiday season at HOTC is “Christmas…a Time for Forgiveness.” This Sunday, December 22 the congregation will meet in one service at 10:30 a.m. followed by a “Cookie Potluck.” The Christmas Eve Eve service will be held at 7:00 p.m. on December 23, and the Christmas Eve service will be held at 5:00 p.m. on December 24. Heart of the Canyons meets in the auditorium at La Mesa Junior High School, 26623 May Way in Santa Clarita. Visit www.heartofthecanyons.com.

Arts and Entertainment Corner The Gazette’s List of Must See A & E!

| Community, Gazette | December 13, 2013

By Michelle Sandoval

Are you all feeling the holiday spirit yet? My family is getting our Christmas tree this week and it’s always so much fun to have my nephews come over to help decorate. Although we’ve been bombarded with Christmas since October, it never really feels like the holidays until we have our own tree with twinkling lights. I’d love to see photos of your trees – feel free to send me some at michelle@scfree.net. This week I will be attending three theater shows, so I’ll be keeping myself busy (more about those next week)! Below you will find my review of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” info about a great show written by an SCV resident, and all the details on Breakfast with Santa. I hope this chilly weather isn’t discouraging you from going out and enjoying all the fantastic events going on in the arts and entertainment world – grab a scarf and enjoy the season!

Mom’s Gift
Lonny Chapman Theatre
10900 Burbank Blvd, North Hollywood

Phil Olsen, who has 13 published plays that have had over 300 productions, wrote this world premiere comedy…and he’s a Santa Clarita resident! His latest offering, “Mom’s Gift” tells the story of a mother who has been deceased for 11 months and shows up at her husband’s birthday celebration as a spirit. She comes with a mission, a mystery that has to be fixed and, with only her oldest daughter able to see and help her, it is no easy feat.

How great it is that a local writer has found such success in the theatre world! Make sure to show your support by checking out this great show, playing through January 19. And if you have a couple of girlfriends who appreciate the theater, every Friday night is “Ladies Night,” so tickets are 50 percent off.

Breakfast with Santa
Santa Clarita Sports Complex Activities Center
20880 Centre Pointe Parkway
Santa Clarita, CA
(661) 250-1182

Local families are invited to attend Breakfast with Santa this Saturday (12/14), where the man himself, along with Mrs. Claus, will be celebrating the season. There will be a buffet breakfast, a variety of crafts, holiday stories, and even cookie decorating at Mrs. Claus’ Cookie Kitchen! This fun holiday gathering is a great way to experience Christmas with the kids, friends and family, and make sure you put on your festive garb, as there will be plenty of photo opportunities. Ho ho ho!

Peter and the Starcatcher
Ahmanson Theatre
135 N. Grand Ave. in Los Angeles
The Ahmanson Theatre has been sprinkled with fairy dust this holiday season with its latest offering of “Peter and the Starcatcher.” Playing now through January 12, this playful production is full of enough magic and adventure to satisfy the child in all of us, as well as enough mature mischief to appeal to our naughty sides.

Written by Rick Elice, who also penned the hit “Jersey Boys,” ”Peter and the Starcatcher” is based on the novel by the same name. Aside from rave reviews since its debut in 2009, the show is the winner of five Tony Awards. It tells the story of an unfortunate orphan boy who travels to an island where he finds friends, family and, in the end, himself. There are pirates, mermaids, shipwrecks, sword fights, lots of “star stuff,” and plenty of excitement along the way, as we learn exactly how this orphan became the beloved Peter Pan.

The production is simply delightful, a true adventure on stage. The talented cast, many of whom play more than one character, used every inch of the stage during this magical journey and made sure the audience went right along with them. Using minimal props, like pieces of string, umbrellas, and small wooden boats, they transported us first to a pirate ship, and then eventually to the island that would become Never Never Land. And while things tended to be a bit chaotic at times, the charm of the production is never lost and the end result is sincerely bewitching.

The standout performance of the night was, by far, John Sanders as Black Stache, who would eventually become Captain Hook. There are many reasons to go see this show, but Sanders is the reason you simply MUST see it. He is hilarious as the flamboyant pirate captain, and he had the audience in stitches from the moment he stepped on stage. I really cannot remember the last time I laughed so much during a production, and all of those laughs can be attributed to him. He eloquently delivers rather difficult discourses in a perfect singsong voice, and I was in awe that he was able to do so with a straight face. He did lose that control once during the show, but even that small misstep was charming and memorable. He was an absolute pleasure to watch.

“Peter and the Starcatcher” is a magical show that feels more like a real adventure than a staged production. It is witty and whimsical, and overall just so much fun. So take a little trip to Never Never Land this holiday. I’m sure, much like Peter himself, you’ll never want to leave.

Remember to send me events you think I should check out by emailing me at: michelle@scfree.net. I look forward to hearing from you all!

The Canyon Theatre Guild’s “It’s A Wonderful Life”

| Community, Gazette | December 12, 2013

By Michelle Sandoval
Every holiday season I am reminded by friends and family how odd it is that I have never seen Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life.” There are so many great Christmas films that are a yearly tradition in my household, but this one just slipped through the cracks somehow. When I learned that the Canyon Theatre Guild was doing its own rendition, I knew that this would be the year I would finally find out exactly why George Bailey’s life was so wonderful, and why the sound of a ringing bell was significant.

Directed by Greg and Patti Finley, the duo present us with a heartwarming production full of Christmas spirit and hope. Leading the cast is Robert McCloy, who plays the charismatic George Bailey, a humble man who finds himself in such despair that he feels his only option is suicide. His guardian angel, played by John Morris, learns of this tragedy and makes his way down to Earth to show Mr. Bailey exactly how his life has affected the people around him in a positive way. Mary Hatch Bailey is played by Nicole Kowalski, and she did a fine job of portraying, first a smitten youngster, and then a loyal wife. There was a connection between McCloy and Kowalski that radiated on stage and simply pulled you into their love story.

My favorite performance of the show goes to Michael Levine as the evil Mr. Potter. I am always drawn to the Scrooges and the Grinches, so naturally I found him delightful. There is always so much depth to these villains, and Levine delivered a stellar performance of a greedy, aging man who loves nothing in the world but money. Also, he has one of the best maniacal laughs I’ve seen or heard on stage in a very long time.

The set was fantastic; my hat’s off to Jim Robinson and Carla Lombardo Bambo for painting the perfect picture of a quaint 1940s town. It felt like we were all a part of Bedford Falls on that snowy Christmas Eve.

“It’s A Wonderful Life” is playing through December 22 at the Canyon Theatre Guild. What better way to appreciate local theatre and all the hard work and time that goes into putting a production like this together than by taking your family down to Old Town Newhall on one of these cold, wintry evenings? Spend some time with the Finleys and their talented troupe, and celebrate the spirit of the season with this charming production.

For tickets or information call 661-799-2702 or visit www.canyontheatre.org.

Season of Mourning for Many Local Families

| Community, Gazette | December 6, 2013

By Martha Michael
A big part of the holiday season involves looking backwards to capture the sweet spirit of tradition. We also typically experience the bitter pang of sadness this time of year, when we remember those who left this world before us. While both aspects involve looking back in time, this year we are confronted right now, in the present, with so many loved ones lost recently.

The death of actor Paul Walker last week has brought the focus on grief to Santa Clarita, the site of Walker’s crash, but residents here in the SCV are experiencing enough loss of their own. Since the beginning of November, families are suffering from the deaths of sons, fathers and brothers, many of whom were active members of the community. George Guevara, Roger Presgrove, Nick Longshore, Julio Lemos, Devin Freeman and Tony Lombardi are just a few locals who have left mourning family and friends recently, some of them memorialized here in “The Gazette & Free Classifieds.”

The loss of Roger Presgrove, who was the head of local non-profit Help the Children, was publicized widely, including “The Gazette.” He lost his battle with cancer on Sunday, November 10, which seemed ironic, considering Presgrove had spearheaded medical support in Honduras specifically targeting cancer patients. Help the Children sponsored the “Love and Life Center,” which offered housing to 60+ children undergoing chemotherapy at a hospital next door.

In the following weeks, two young adults whose lives touched many in the SCV would also leave grieving families. An accident in Idaho on November 10 would take the life of Nick Longshore, son of DeAnn and the late Todd Longshore, brother to Courtney, Nate and Ben, and husband to Caroline Longshore. Nick and Caroline were expecting a child. His loss was a huge shock, and yet so similar to the death of another Canyon High School graduate, just five days later. Tony Lombardi, son of Margie and Al, and brother to Angie Lombardi Lynn, was hospitalized following an accident in Scottsdale, Arizona. The family gathered to spend the holiday with Tony, but he passed away on November 25, three days before Thanksgiving.

“Losing Tony is such a tragic loss. He had only been married a year and a half, moved into a new home, was so happy and had his whole life ahead of him,” said Margie Lombardi. “He was such a positive and caring person, and always had a smile on his face. There was never a day he did not call his dad and me at least once a day, and he always said he loved us before he would hang up. There will not be a minute that we will not have him in our thoughts. We were blessed to have him for 32 years.”

Both Tony Lombardi and Nick Longshore were in their 30s and their injuries resulted from accidents on recreational vehicles.

Another local man in his 30s, a sheriff’s deputy who worked as a resource officer at Sierra Vista Junior High and Canyon High School lost his battle with cancer on Thanksgiving Day. Deputy Devin Freeman was surrounded by family, including wife Meghan, his mother and daughters, in his home when he died from metastatic melanoma to the liver. He had originally been diagnosed with ocular melanoma in 2007.

As Christmas season began, the SCV lost more beloved friends. Julio Garcia Lemos passed away on Tuesday, December 3 after years of illness. He moved to Santa Clarita in 1985 from the San Fernando Valley, and was known for giving to this community, partly through his business, The Office of Julio Lemos.
“He provided so many different services,” explained Julio’s son, Jesus. “A lot of times he didn’t even charge people. Money was never the issue, it was always about helping. He may have been reading a letter, typing a letter, immigration filing, lawsuits. He knew how to do just about anything.”

While the business, operated by his children, continue to offer insurance and other services to all members of the community, Julio Lemos met a great need for Spanish speaking residents.

“His main priority was always to give back to the community, especially the Latino community,” said Jesus.

The holidays will be particularly difficult, said Jesus, who is a surviving son, along with two brothers, two sisters and Julio’s 10 grandchildren.

“That was the place to be – with my dad,” said Jesus. “He was always smiling, always happy, always helping others.”

Julio’s first liver transplant was on Thanksgiving of 2010. He awoke from that transplant on December 3 which, ironically, is the day he died in 2013.

The very next day, another friend of “The Gazette” passed away from illness. George Guevara, husband to Cyndie and father to Ryan and GJ, contracted a mysterious virus that required hospitalization last week. A week after being placed on life support in an attempt to let his body fight the virus, George died peacefully on December 4.

Gazette publisher Doug Sutton remembers George, a retired sheriff’s deputy, as a devoted family man. Others remember his involvement in Canyon High football, helping with pre-game lunches and attending games during the years his son Ryan played.

While we are sure there are more famililes who have lost loved ones this season, it is profound to consider so many so close to us lost in such a short time.

Hug your loved ones a little tighter this Christmas.

Arts and Entertainment Corner The Gazette’s List of Must See A & E!

| Community, Gazette | November 21, 2013

My weekend is full of theater and I’m really excited about seeing two great productions which both, coincidently, involve Lewis Carroll. “Alice Through the Looking Glass” will forever be one of my favorite reads, and since the author himself lived a fascinating life, it will be interesting to see him portrayed on stage. One show will pair him with Sherlock Holmes and the other with Charles Dickens – obviously the literary geek inside of me is doing somersaults! See below for all the details. Also, over at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center you can check out John Steinbeck’s classic “Of Mice and Men,” which will be playing through the weekend. Did you make it to the Festival of Trees this past weekend? If not, the trees will still be on display through Saturday. Have a great pre-Thanksgiving weekend! If you’re a huge procrastinator like me and find yourself without dinner plans for the holiday, make sure to check out our Thanksgiving reservation guide on page 13.

A Perfect Likeness
Fremont Centre Theatre
100 Fremont Avenue in Pasadena
Charles Dickens meets Lewis Carroll. What more could you ask for? Daniel Rover Singer, founder of the Reduced Shakespeare Company and co-creator of one of funniest shows I’ve seen – “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” – brings us this brand new comedy starring two literary greats. These two men were known to have very different personalities, and I can’t wait to see what happens when the grouchy Dickens sits for a portrait by the free-spirited Carroll. It will be my first time visiting this theatre, which is always exciting, so, couple that with the fact this show has been receiving rave reviews, and I am in for a very entertaining Saturday evening. “A Perfect Likeness” is playing through December 22 and tickets are available through the website. Short review to follow!

Sherlock Through the Looking-Glass
The Odyssey Theatre
2055 S. Sepulveda Boulevard in Santa Monica
I’ve seen quite a few shows at the Odyssey and have enjoyed them all. The theatre always does a fantastic job of filling its seasons with unique productions that won’t be found anywhere else. Once I saw a show there called “Dark,” which took place completely in…(wait for it)…the dark! I’ve never experienced anything like it.
This Sunday I’ve been asked to attend “Sherlock Through the Looking-Glass,” which is a mystery involving Sherlock Holmes. Here are a few words from the press release : “In 1885 London, seemingly disparate citizens are falling victim to a plague of madness which continually evokes, in increasingly curious ways, the whimsical worlds of Lewis Carroll. But, what happens when Sherlock Holmes — the world’s foremost logician — enters a realm where logic does not exist? Surprising, dark, humorous, and classically-minded, “Sherlock Through The Looking-Glass” explores the nature of reality, the choices we make, and the legacy we leave.” Madness, mystery, whimsical worlds? Yes, please. Check back for my review in the next couple of weeks.

Of Mice and Men
Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center

We all know this classic tale of friendship between George and Lenny, and whether we were forced to read Steinbeck’s novel by a professor or chose to of our own free will, the powerful impact the novel resonates is undeniable. Watch the story come to life on stage this weekend at the SCPAC that, including this, has a very exciting and impressive holiday schedule. “Of Mice and Men” is playing at various times through Sunday (11/24). Tickets are only $5 to $10.

Keep sending me events you think I should check out by emailing me at: michelle@scfree.net. I’d love to know how you and the family will be partaking in the arts this holiday season!

It’s That Time of Year, Boutiques!

| Community, Gazette | November 15, 2013

Craft & Horse Tack Sale

If anyone on your Christmas list likes anything involving a mane and tail, you can find what you are looking for at Oak Creek Corral’s Craft and Horse Tack Sale. Vendors will have enticing handmade gifts, along with Western themed gear and décor on Sunday, November 24 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Some of the goodies include jewelry, women’s apparel, baby clothes, hair adornments, upscale kitchen items, wooden home décor, horseshoe wine racks, gourmet treats, and new and used horse tack and supplies. If you’d like to be a vendor or want more information, contact the organizer: message Michelle Lewis on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/bowerslewis?fref=ts.

Boutique Benefits Santa Clarita Elementary School

The public is invited to Christmas shop at an upcoming boutique, where proceeds will go to the Santa Clarita Elementary School PTC (parent-teacher club). On Saturday, December 7 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. crafters and vendors will gather crowds with handmade items and gifts for sale. Proceeds will finance such programs as art, student activities, technology, and will replace classroom supplies. Due to governmental budget cuts, the group is offering as much support to the children’s needs as possible.

The Santa Clarita Elementary School PTC is a 100% volunteer driven non-profit parent group dedicated to improving the quality of education in a public school format. The sale will be held at Santa Clarita Elementary School, 27177 Seco Canyon Road in Saugus.

Arts and Entertainment Corner The Gazette’s List of Must See A & E!

| Community, Gazette | November 14, 2013

By Michelle Sandoval

Have you guys visited Main Street in Newhall since they adorned the streets with Christmas lights and other decorations? It is so pretty, and even when I drive past it quickly, my eyes are drawn to the twinkling lights in the trees! Christmas is definitely in the air and we’re very lucky to live in a town that is overflowing with holiday spirit. This weekend marks the beginning of the 11th annual Festival of Trees that brings us 10 days of enjoyment – more details are below. In the Gazette this week we have a directory of restaurants that are hosting Thanksgiving dinner so you can spend more time with the family and less time slaving away in the kitchen. Check out page 15 to start making your reservations today. Also below is a short review of a great play I saw a couple of weeks ago and all the info about a country artist performing at LPAC this Sunday.

The Intergalactic Nemesis – Book 1: Target Earth
Royce Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles

Somewhere in a galaxy far away lives a race of monsters called the Zygonians. They are evil, slimy and determined to destroy the human race. Recently the Center of Performing Arts at UCLA received a visit from these sludge-covered nasties in Jason Neulander’s “The Intergalactic Nemesis.” The show is marketed as a live-action graphic novel and, as a huge fan of both theater and comic books, I naturally jumped at the chance to attend. This one-of-a-kind show blasted off at light speed, taking the audience on a whirlwind adventure through space and time that I’m sure pleased the kid (or geek) in all of us.

The story takes place in 1933, where we meet Molly Sloan, an acclaimed journalist, and her stalwart assistant, Timmy Mendez. They soon team up with Ben Wilcott, a mysterious librarian, and with the help of some friends along the way – a most charming Algerian freedom fighter named Jean-Pierre Desperois and some robots from the Robot Planet – they embark on a journey to save Earth from the evil Zygonians.

The storytelling approach is what really makes the show a stand out. The comic book images are displayed on a screen behind the stage while three talented voice actors play out the scenes. They are joined by a Foley artist (sound effects guru) and one pianist, who provide all the sound effects. Nothing is pre-recorded; what you see and hear before you is what you get. And what you get is one truly awesome performance.

There are so many remarkable components to this production. From the beautiful artwork to the talented voice actors to the expert sound effects, Neulander has pulled out all the stops to ensure this show is one you will never forget. His choice to present it in true comic book form, with performances released in a serial format, means we have more in store from “The Intergalactic Nemesis.” They are currently on tour, so make sure to check out their website for details.

Festival of Trees
Westfield Valencia Town Center, Valencia

This Friday (11/15) marks the beginning of the 10-day Festival of Trees, a charity event benefitting the Boys & Girls Club. Intricately decorated Christmas trees will line The Patios at the Town Center mall and range in height from three to ten feet. I’ve attended this in the past and these trees are definitely worth seeing – they are all so beautiful and you can tell that a lot of thought and effort went into creating them. There will be various activities taking place throughout the weekend, starting with the Jingle Jam Swing on Friday, so make sure you bring your dancing shoes. Other events include two Hocus Pocus magic shows, live music, cookie decorating, carolers, elaborate gingerbread houses and so much more! Santa will also be on hand to take pictures with the kids.

All of the trees will be available for purchase and all are unique and adorned with beautiful decorations, and even special surprises like event tickets, jewelry and even furniture! If the dazzling tree isn’t enough to make you grab your wallet remember that it is all for a fantastic cause, as it benefits a great local organization that helps thousands of children every year.

Uncle Kracker
Lancaster Performing Arts Center

Who doesn’t love a little country rock? This Sunday (11/17) Uncle Kracker will perform at the LPAC in Lancaster and tickets are still available and on sale now! Popular singles like “Smile” and “Drift Away,” as well as his latest hit, “Blue Skies,” have helped this talented musician make a name for himself in the country world. Recently completing a hot summer tour with Kid Rock, he is now bringing his soulful music to the Antelope Valley, where he will perform songs form his latest album, “Midnight Special,” and popular hits from his past records. Tickets range from $29 to $35 and can be purchased by visiting the website.

Listen up, fellow A&E lovers! Keep sending me events you think I should check out by emailing me at: michelle@scfree.net. I always appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

Selling Physical Products on Amazon This Holiday Season

| Community, Gazette | November 8, 2013

After reading this column for the past year or so, you may think of me as someone who works exclusively with digital products and other electronics in my business. The truth is that I also dabble in physical products in a serious way, and this month I am gearing up for the holiday season and beyond. I’ll share exactly how I am doing this so you can see if this opportunity is for you.

Amazon offers us an excellent opportunity for you with something called FBA, which stand for Fulfillment By Amazon. This means that you can source products from a supplier and Amazon will list them for sale for you. It’s a smooth process that people from around the world are profiting from all year around.

If you have ever sold anything on eBay, know that this is completely different. I sold toys for a couple of months on eBay more than 10 years ago and it was not very much fun. I had to source the products, have them delivered to my house, set up my sales on their site, and then package up the toys and get them to the post office. My profit margins were small, so I was working for barely more than minimum wage.

Amazon works in an entirely different way. I source products from somewhere in the United States (you can get them from China but that involves another level of complexity) and they are sent directly to Amazon’s distribution center. I have a sample overnighted to me to be sure about what I will be selling. Then I set up a product page on Amazon to describe the product in greater detail, add some pictures, and they approve it within just a day or two. Even highly competitive products do well in this huge marketplace. And, you are paid by direct deposit every two weeks.

If this sounds enticing to you, I recommend that you visit Amazon and go through their categories. Search for the top 100 bestselling products in each category to see what’s available and how popular it is. Then choose a dozen or so products you would be interested in selling and do a search on Google to find out where the suppliers are located.

This is a business you can ultimately run in just a few hours a week from the comfort of your home. Getting a friend or family member involved makes it even more fun. The outlay of capital to get started is less than a thousand dollars, and most of that is for inventory that will be sold in the coming weeks of your business. The idea of having family members and close friends help you is also attractive, as many people are in need of additional income to pay their expenses these days. You may think of this as a holiday endeavor, or find it to be so lucrative that you will continue it into the new year, as I intend to do.

As with any new business endeavor, discuss this with your family to see if it is right for you. When I explored this opportunity for myself I was most concerned with the time it would take to learn and set up this new business. After deciding that I could learn 90 percent of what I needed to know within a month, it made perfect sense for me to jump in and begin. Now I see this as an excellent way to add significant revenue to my bottom line, and it’s fun to be selling physical products along with the digital part of my business.

Keep your questions coming, and best of success with your online marketing endeavors.

Connie Ragen Green lives in Saugus and has been working exclusively on the Internet since 2006. Her ninth book, Living the Internet Lifestyle, was recently released by Hunter’s Moon Publishing and is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Find out more by visiting http://HugeProfitsTinyList.com.

Questions? Email Connie at crgreencrgreen@yahoo.com and be sure to put Home Business Question in the subject line. Your question and answer will be included in a future article.

Arts and Entertainment Corner

| Community, Gazette | November 7, 2013

By Michelle Sandoval
Everywhere I look these days I have Christmas thrown in my face…and I’m perfectly OK with that. While I feel that Thanksgiving is always overlooked, and sometimes the yuletide spirit is embraced too soon, we can’t ignore the fact that Christmas is right around the corner. The City of Santa Clarita is wasting no time helping us celebrate the season with a tree lighting ceremony on Main Street this weekend, more info to follow below. Also, read on for a review of some great theater I saw this past Sunday, and all the info about the City of Lancaster’s craft beer festival taking place this Saturday!

The Mystery of Irma Vep
Falcon Theatre
4252 Riverside Drive in Burbank

Halloween may be behind us, but mystery, mayhem and monsters can still be found at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank. Playing through November 17, “The Mystery of Irma Vep” is a hilariously cagey production put on by two very talented actors playing collective roles that take the audience on a whirlwind adventure through stormy nights, haunted mansions and plenty of delightful comedic horror.

Written by Charles Ludlam, the play is a caricature of several genres. Gothic Victorian melodrama, classic movie monsters and Hitchcock all find a role in this popular production and blend perfectly for a story that is as much fun as it is clever. Lord Edgar and Lady Enid are the newlyweds and masters of the haunted mansion. Jane Twisden and Nicodemus are their house staff members, and together they try to unfold the mysteries of the estate, which include murder, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, Egyptian lore and so many things in between that you will have to see it for yourself to believe it.

Resting on the shoulders of two actors, “The Mystery of Irma Vep” is brought to life on stage by Matthew Floyd Miller and Jamie Torcellini. They feverously switch roles between eight characters and, while at times seem out of breath (rightfully so), their transitions are almost seamless, and any small error or misstep only adds to the overall charm of the production.

It is obvious from the very beginning that the script is not an easy one to tackle. Many of the actor’s exit lines are timed with his other character’s entrance and several times delivered from backstage, where costume changes are still happening. Miller and Torcellini more than succeed at this task and play off of each other’s energy throughout the night with such genuine spirit and enthusiasm that it emanates through the endless laughter of the audience. Under the tactful direction of Jenny Sullivan, these two deliver a performance that is full of farcical genius.

Light Up Main Street and Block Party
Main Street in Newhall
www.oldtownBP.com (see below)

The streets of Old Town Newhall will kick off the holiday season this Saturday as the City hosts a tree lighting ceremony on Main Street. The 23-foot Christmas tree will be in front of the Old Town Newhall Library and Mayor Bob Kellar and members of the city council will be on hand to officially illuminate the tree at 6 p.m.! There will also be a block party taking place prior to the tree lighting, so make sure to take the family down and experience everything that Old Town Newhall has to offer. Several of the merchants will be offering refreshments, special promotions and there will even be a passport you can take from store to store for a chance to win great prizes. There will also be several children’s activities scheduled at the library, holiday music, tours of Hart mansion, fashion shows, cooking class demonstrations and much more. The festivities start at 11 a.m. and there will be free transportation on the Hometown Trolley with on/off stops to get you and your loved ones from point A to point B. Ho ho ho!

The community is invited to a free event to kick off the holiday season in Old Town Newhall this Saturday. Thousands of lights, a 23-foot Christmas Tree, and a lighted Santa are illuminated as part of the City’s first “Light Up Main Street” event at 6:00 p.m. The free event, which will take place between Lyons Avenue and 9th Street on Main Street, will include visits with Santa, seasonal refreshments, holiday music, and photo opportunities on the holiday themed Hometown Trolley.

The party begins long before the lighting, however, in local businesses in Old Town Newhall. Join the block party from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. OutWest Boutique on 6th Street will serve refreshments, and dozens of other stores will be offering promotions and treats as well. There will be a passbook customers can complete to win free gifts. In addition, there will be activities scheduled at the Old Town Newhall Library for the kids, cooking classes and demonstrations, specialty fitness trainings, a fashion show, a taco bar on Main Street between Market and 6th, tours of the Hart Mansion and free transportation on the holiday themed Trolley, which will offer convenient on/off stops in Old Town Newhall. The event is being organized and supported by several business owners, including representatives from The Boutique, Fresh, Ma Maison, Luscious Soul, Tribute Beauty Lounge, Results Fitness, Mirror Mirror, Fleur Wellness Spa, W.O.L.V.E.S. Surf Shop, and the Spice in Life. 

Tree Lighting Block Party in Newhall
For years the City has decked the street with twinkling lights for the holiday season, but this is the first year the City has worked with a holiday décor company to create a more extensive light and décor display. The Santa Clarita Valley Automobile Dealers Association and Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital are supporters of the event, as the hospital will not host its regular tree lighting celebration this year due to construction. The hospital is sponsoring several elements at the lighting event, including Santa and refreshments, and the opportunity to support the “Gift of Life” donation program. The Old Town Newhall Association is also supporting the event, providing free refreshments for attendees. 

Free public parking for the Old Town Newhall Block Party and Light Up Main Street event is available at the Old Town Newhall Library, Metrolink Station, and at several public lots on and around Main Street.

For more information about the Light Up Main Street event, please contact the City of Santa Clarita’s Communications Division at (661) 255-4939 or visit Santa-Clarita.com.

Field of Drafts
Lancaster Municipal Stadium
45116 Valley Central Way in Lancaster

I have one word for all of you – BEER. This Saturday (11/9) from 1 to 5 p.m., the home of the Lancaster JetHawks will play host to a fantastic craft beer festival. There will be dozens of brewers, live entertainment, football on the jumbotron, games and food. Come on now…what more could you ask for? Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased for $30.

Remember, fellow A&E lovers, send me events you think I should check out by emailing me at: michelle@scfree.net

Veterans Day Ceremony Monday, November 11

| Community, Gazette | November 7, 2013

The City of Santa Clarita invites community members to join the Santa Clarita City Council for a special Veterans Day Ceremony on Monday, November 11, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. at the Veterans Historical Plaza, located at 24275 N. Walnut Street in Newhall. The ceremony will honor veterans, currently-serving military and their families, and will take place rain or shine. 

The ceremony will include a reading by Dale Turner as a sign of respect for those who are missing in action (MIA) or prisoners of war (POW). Following the reading, the ceremony will continue with the changing of the flags by the Knights of Columbus Santa Clarita Assembly and representatives from various armed services recruiting offices. Featured local speakers include the Santa Clarita City Council, Veteran Bill Reynolds, Pastor John Shaver and Marine Corps Veteran Dick Jeffrey, who will serve as the Master of Ceremonies. The event will also feature patriotic performances of the “National Anthem” by The Men of Harmony, and “Proud to be an American” by local singer Bob Zachar. 

“We owe so much to the honorable and heroic men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our great nation and our freedom,” commented Mayor Bob Kellar. “The City is proud to partner with other local organizations to host the Veterans Day Ceremony to remember those we’ve lost, and honor those who have so bravely vowed to protect and serve our country.”

The Veterans Day Ceremony is a partnership between the City of Santa Clarita and the Veterans’ Historical Committee, the SCV Chapter 91 Blue Star Moms, Blue Star Moms of the Canyons Chapter 82, Prayer Angels for the Military, and the Knights of Columbus. 

Parking will be available at William S. Hart Park and Veterans Historical Plaza. Due to construction of the Newhall roundabout, the City is asking guests to plan ahead for traffic detours.  

For more information about the Veterans Day Ceremony, contact the City’s Arts and Events Office at (661) 250-3787. 

Arts & Entertainment Corner

| Community, Gazette | November 1, 2013

By Michelle Sandoval
Hello, fellow entertainment seekers – I hope you all enjoyed your last days of October! As for myself, I sprained my ankle at the Zac Brown Band concert on Friday night and was laid up in bed. I was devastated to miss out on all the fun activities this past Halloween weekend, but I’ll be back on my feet by Thursday to take my nephews trick-or-treating, which will more than make up for it. Read on for a heads up on what is going on in town and beyond this coming week, and keep sending your suggestions my way!

Fall Festival & Movie Under the Stars
COC – Canyon Country Campus
17200 Sierra Highway, Canyon Country
This Friday night make your way out to the Canyon Country COC campus for a fun-filled night with the family. The Canyon Country Business Association will be hosting this great event that will feature face painting, pumpkin decorating, crafts, raffles and a screening of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” This special screening is the perfect setting for the Spielberg classic, as it will be presented outside underneath the stars. Make sure you bring plenty of blankets to cozy up with your loved ones. While the event itself is free, there will be vendors on site selling food and snacks. The event starts at 5pm – get there early to grab a prime viewing spot!
Santa Clarita Marathon & Health/Fitness Expo
Valencia Town Center and Hyatt Valencia
I know that a marathon is not really your basic arts and entertainment activity, but I had to mention the SC Marathon that is taking place this weekend. The event kicks off on Saturday with a Health and Fitness Expo that will feature health related vendors and booths. The expo is free and is taking place at the Hyatt from 9-5pm. The races begin on Sunday (11/3) at 7 a.m. and will include a full and a half marathon, a 5K, a kids’ 5K and the Mayor’s Walk. A friend of mine will be participating in the full marathon and I will be there to cheer him on, so remember that you don’t actually have to participate in the races to be part of the excitement. Make spectator signs (“Run like you stole something!”) and support your friends and family as they race their way to the finish line!

“Dia de los Muertos” Festival
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles
Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday celebrated around the world. The holiday focuses on gathering to remember friends and family members who have passed away. Traditions include building private altars (ofrendas), honoring the deceased using sugar skulls and flowers, mainly marigolds, and visiting graves with these as gifts. This event, now in its 14th year, will take place on Saturday, November 2 from 12 p.m. to midnight. You are encouraged to dress in costume, so whip out your best skeletal make-up and flower headbands! There will be live music, arts and crafts, Aztec rituals and dance performances, food trucks and much more. This year’s theme is “The Magical World of Alebrijes,” which are brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures, so you know the festival will be vibrant with art and color. What an excellent way to celebrate the memories of our loved ones, no sad faces here, just a lot of good cheer and happy memories!

Remember the Mark & Brian Show on KLOS?
Well, Brian Phelps, one part of the popular duo, will be on the Gazette Radio Hour this Friday! The popular “Mark & Brian” radio show blended comedy sketches, listener phone calls, interviews with in-studio guests, and the occasional road trip, and was always so much fun to listen to. Make sure you tune in this Friday from 1-2 p.m. to listen to what this popular disc jockey has been up to. You can listen to KHTS on 1220 AM, so make sure you tune in.

Remember, fellow A&E lovers, send me events you think I should check out by emailing me at: michelle@scfree.net

Holiday Returns for Candymakers

| Community, Gazette | October 30, 2013

Candy may be dandy, but most parents stress the excess, especially at Halloween. Thanks to a local chiropractor, every year families in the SCV get some relief from the holiday candy build-up.

Dr. Roger De Sesa, a local representative from the non-profit Foundation for Wellness Professionals, also a wellness chiropractor and champion of healthy habits, will once again reward candy “turn-ins.” The “Candy to Music” program means that Friday, November 1 and Monday, November 4 anyone – clients or not – can drop off excess candy in exchange for a raffle for an iPod Shuffle. At the deadline for the last drop off—Monday, November 4 at 6 p.m.—a winner will be drawn.

“We want to do everything we can to eliminate childhood obesity and diabetes, so we really wanted our candy return to make a statement,” said Dr. De Sesa. “After we’ve collected all the candy, we’ll be returning it to the candymaker with a personal note.”

The note to the candymaker will say (paraphrase): “Here at De Sesa Chiropractic we are doing what we can to reduce the incidence of childhood obesity and diabetes. In exchange for your candy, we gave away an iPod Shuffle. Here is your candy back.”

Candy can be donated Friday, November 1 or Monday, November 4 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 3 to 6 p.m. De Sesa’s office is located at 27674 Newhall Ranch Road, Suite 65 in Valencia.

The Foundation for Wellness Professionals (FWP) is a non-profit organization made up of more than 1,000 doctors and other healthcare professionals nationwide. Its purpose is to offer up-to-date, safe and effective natural solutions to common healthcare concerns through free workshops and screenings. The foundation’s underlying goal is to build a community of healthier and happier individuals. For more information, email DrRogerDeSesa@WellnessSpeakers.org or inspired4optimalhealth@gmail.com, or visit http://wellnessspeakers.org/.

Arts and Entertainment Corner

| Community, Gazette | October 26, 2013

By Michelle Sandoval

Halloween is next week, so this article will be dedicated entirely to haunted thrills! I attended two haunted attractions last week in L.A. that are definitely worth the drive for you scare enthusiasts – mini reviews are below. If you have to choose only one, go with “Delusion,” but be warned that it is not for the faint of heart – they even make you sign a waiver before entering. I hope you have all had a great, festive and spooky month…and feel free to drop off any extra trick or treat candy at our offices!

Delusion: Masque of Mortality
Bethany Presbyterian Church
1629 Griffith Park Blvd in Los Angeles

This is my second year attending “Delusion,” and honestly the one attraction I was looking forward to most, based on last year’s performance. “Delusion” bills itself as an interactive horror experience, and if you’re looking for psychological thrills, an intriguing story, frightening characters, impressive special effects and phenomenal sets, this haunted attraction has it all.

The story is one of sickness and despair, of a land ravaged by the plague, from which you and your friends seem to be immune. You arrive at the scene, an abandoned and spectacularly spooky church, seeking refuge from it all, and you encounter a group of “doctors” with promises of health, but after time deliver nothing but despair.

The whole experience lasts about an hour and you will be led through with a small group, one you will become very close with during the night. At times you will find yourself separated from the safety of your new friends and asked to perform specific tasks, which will definitely pull you outside of your comfort level.

“Delusion” is not your typical haunted house, rather a haunted theatrical experience…one unique and revolutionary in its time. It will pull you into crevices of fear you might not even know existed, but you will enjoy every minute of it. It is one of the most creative, jaw-dropping, truly frightening haunts I have ever encountered. It runs through November 23, and tickets are selling out fast – so make sure to grab yours now!

Blumhouse of Horrors – The Purge: Fear the Night
Variety Arts Theater
940 S. Figueroa Street in Los Angeles.

“The Purge: Fear the Night” is created by Blumhouse Productions, the horror masterminds behind “Paranormal Activity” and “Insidious.” It is based on the film ”The Purge,” which was released earlier this year and takes place in a world that is crime free, due to a yearly one-day “purge,” where all emergency services are cut off and everyone can wreak havoc without repercussions. In this interactive recreation, participants find themselves in the middle of The Purge, thrown into the horror of the experience and trying to make it out alive.

The action starts the second you walk in, when you are introduced to the New Founders of America organization and issued a membership badge. You will then be pushed (alone!) through a pitch-black corridor that will eventually lead you to an auditorium where you will await your adventure. Here you will listen to actors on stage praise The Purge and its accomplishments and rebuke the rebels, who you will be running from in due time. The set up so far was impressive, but the events that followed were perhaps a bit too chaotic, even for a story that is founded on chaos.

“The Purge” takes place in an old vaudeville theater with six floors and 70,000 square feet to utilize. You will be led through the night by a number of actors who continuously shout demands and point guns at you. Your group will need to perform tasks to advance in the story, but the majority of the time, my group was left in confusion about what to do next.

I can say this about “The Purge: Fear the Night,” which will set it apart from the rest of the L.A. attractions; it does not rely on the supernatural to invoke scares. Rather, it emphasizes the natural cruelty and madness of the human spirit and offers us a glimpse into a world that may not be as inconsequential as we imagine. It runs through November 2 and tickets start at $39.

Heritage Haunt
William S. Hart Park
2401 Newhall Ave in Newhall

For those of you looking to stay local for your haunts, make sure to check out the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society’s Heritage Haunt, which has been scaring the SCV since 2007. Running 10/25 and 10/26 from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m., it will feature two terrifying mazes, a spirit graveyard and much more. Admission is $10, but if you bring two canned food items to be donated to the SCV Food Pantry, you will receive $5 off your admission. There is also an option to enhance your experience by participating in the annual Ghost Hunt! For $65 you can join the SCV Ghost Hunters for an evening of spirit seeking.

Remember fellow A&E lovers, send me events you think I should check out by emailing me at: michelle@scfree.net.

Honoring “Jack Jack” with Music Benefit for Brain Tumor Research at CHLA

| Community, Gazette | October 25, 2013

“Jack’s (very) BIG Music Benefit” is the name of a very special fundraiser next month, sponsored by Jack’s Angels. The public is invited to attend a concert, held at the West Ranch High School Performing Arts Center on Sunday, November 24 from 4-8 p.m., featuring world class classical and contemporary music artists.

Proceeds will go to pediatric brain tumor research, in honor of James-William “Jack” Demeter of Acton, who died when he was just under four years old. The event offers awareness and support for research of DIPG, a pediatric brainstem tumor, comprising roughly 10 percent of pediatric brain tumor incidents, yet 80 percent of pediatric brain tumor deaths, says Janet Demeter, Jack’s mother and president of Jack’s Angels.

Peter Marsh, violinist and a founder of Chamber Music America, as well as “Trudeau LA”, a Los Angeles band comprised of world-class musicians, along with several performances from promising young artists, will highlight the evening, including a raffle, fine art displays, and food from local vendors.

The Performing Arts Center is located at 26255 Valencia Blvd. in Stevenson Ranch. Ticket reservations can be made online at:  www.jacktickets.org, and more information is available at www.musicforjack.org.

Jack’s Angels is in its first year as a 501(c)3 public charity, dedicated to raising awareness for DIPG and funding research for, like Jack, the 200-300 new children diagnosed with DIPG each year in the U.S. alone.

Assistance League Celebrates 25th Anniversary and 6th Annual “Sunset in the Vineyard”

| Community, Gazette | October 24, 2013

Amanda Hezel, Jeannie Carpenter, and Marca Johnson at Compa Vineyard planning for Assistance League of Santa Clarita’s sixth annual Sunset In The Vineyard

While celebrating its “silver anniversary” of 25 years since its formation, Assistance League® Santa Clarita announces will hold the 6th Annual “Sunset in the Vineyard” next month.

Held in Newhall’s Compa Vineyard, located on the property of Jeannie and Chris Carpenter and Tim Carpenter, the event will take place Sunday, November 3 from 2:00 to 5:00 PM. Locally crafted wine, beer and food will be served, and music will add to the atmosphere. Proceeds directly benefit Assistance League Programs serving the Santa Clarita Valley.

During the 2012 -13 fiscal year, $164,000 was spent on philanthropic programs by the non-profit group, which directly impacted the lives of 3,163 members of the Santa Clarita Valley. The Assistance League’s signature program, Operation School Bell ®, provided clothes and shoes to 2,050 students, reflecting a 50 percent increase in the number of junior high students served.

Assistance League’s newest program, Board Buddies, served 90 students at Newhall Elementary School.  Member volunteers spent an hour a month playing board games with students in the after-school program. Teddy Bear Patrol provided comforting teddy bears to 300 children experiencing a traumatic event via local fire departments, emergency rooms, police departments and social service organizations. Two hundred residents at the Santa Clarita Convalescent Center enjoyed monthly home cooked meals in a festive atmosphere, along with birthday and holiday gifts. Through the Emergency Community Assistance Program, 23 people were provided assistance with clothing, food and necessities to help get through challenging situations. Assistance League also worked with community junior high schools to provide much needed supplies to students, such as notebooks, backpacks, pens, and pencils. Sheet music, programs and supplies for home economics were also provided to the schools to help keep programs running smoothly.

Said chairpersons Amanda Hezel and Marca Johnson, “We look forward to welcoming members of the community on November third from 2 to 5 p.m., as we pay homage to the amazing talents of our local wine and beer makers, while enjoying lovely food offerings in a beautiful vineyard, all while helping Assistance League continue to increase our philanthropic efforts.”

For more information, contact Ellie Hull at 661-755-9478 or e-mail info@assistanceleaguesantaclarita.org. Tickets are $75 in advance or $85 at the door and includes a souvenir crystal wine glass and complimentary valet parking. They can be purchased by going to www.assistanceleaguesantaclarita.org.  Follow the group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sunsetinthevineyard.

Local Artist Exhibits

| Community, Gazette | October 18, 2013

Local artist Laura Wambsgans has artwork all over the southland. Closest to home, she is a part of the Santa Clarita Art Classic XXIV, where she will have one painting, “Canyon Trail,” this year. The annual art show is this weekend, October 19-20. The Art Exhibit Opening Gala is on Saturday from 2-5 p.m. Dressy attire and tickets are required for the event. The public is invited for free, however, on Sunday, October 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to view the art, at William S. Hart Hall, 24151 Newhall Avenue in Newhall. For information visit www.santaclaritaartists.org.

Wambsgans’ artwork will also be featured this weekend at the 22nd Annual Craftsman Weekend Exposition in Pasadena.  This will be her fourth year participating and it draws crowds who favor the Craftsman style of décor. It will be held on Saturday, Oct. 19 – Sunday Oct. 20 from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. at the Pasadena Convention Center, Exhibit Hall A, at 300 E. Green St. in Pasadena. Visit www.pasadenaheritage.org/craftsmanweekend.

A little later on the calendar, you can find Wambsgans’ paintings at La Galeria Gitana in the exhibit, “Glorious California: The Lay of Its Land.” The show will run from November 2 – December 21, 2013. The first day, November 2, is the opening reception, and the second day, November 3, is a free concert featuring the Kadima String Quartet at 2:00 p.m. La Galeria Gitana is located at 120 N. Maclay Ave. in San Fernando. Contact the gallery to reserve a free seat by calling (818) 898-7708.

Canyon Theatre Guild’s “Dial M for Murder” Slashes Through the SCV

| Community, Gazette | October 18, 2013

By Michelle Sandoval

Treachery, lies, deceit and murder have plagued our peaceful town, and The Canyon Theatre Guild is to blame. The theatre group’s current run of Frederick Knott’s “Dial M for Murder” is playing through November 8 and promises theatergoers a chilling good time. Armed with a classic screenplay and a talented cast, this production is a great way to spend a weekend evening with your spouse – infidelity and murder aside, of course.

The plot centers on Margot and Tony Wendice, played by McKy Brazina and Gabe Lawrence, a married couple living in London. After Margot has a tryst with American television crime writer Max Haliday, played by Cruze Flores, the marriage, which was never based on love (Tony openly admits he married for money) takes a turn for the worse with blackmail, lies and a convoluted plot for murder. When Tony coerces Captain Lesgate (Tom Lund) to murder his wife, the plan goes awry and ultimately ends up with the murderer getting murdered, the victim condemned to hang, and the evil mastermind behind it all free of charges. But in a story that thrives off thrills, twists and suspense, no one is safe and the surprises keep on coming.

Alfred Hitchcock adapted “Dial M for Murder” in the 1950s, and it became an instant whodunit classic starring Grace Kelly. The plot itself should really be quite simple, but the writing style of the author turns it into a long, complicated, almost unnecessary labyrinth of dialogue and abstruseness. The CTG, in its version, sticks closely to the original screenplay and offers us an enjoyable three-hour show.

The actors all do a fine job portraying their respective characters. Brazina shines as the wealthy wife who finds herself on death row, and Lawrence is alluringly evil as her conniving husband. Flores does a fine job playing Haliday, but at times I was left wondering whether or not his dopey demeaner was a play off of the belief that the English view some Americans as unsophisticated.

The real star of the night was perhaps not one of the actors themselves but the telephone, which the story revolves around – it is, after all, “DIAL M for Murder.” The actors used the prop quite a bit, and their conversations were broadcast to the audience from pre-recordings. There were a number of times when the timing was off, sometimes resulting in questions being answered before the actual question was asked, actors being cut off by the recording, or the telephone ringing while the actors were already using it. The end result was highly entertaining and brought laughter to the austere storyline.

“Dial M for Murder” is definitely an enjoyable experience, its strength being faithfulness to the original script. Overall, the Canyon Theatre Guild delivers a fine show, one whose flaws are outdone by the charm they bring to this delightful murder mystery.

“Dial M for Murder” is playing at Canyon Theatre Guild, 24242 Main Street, Newhall, through November 8. For tickets or information call 661-799-2702 or visit www.canyontheatre.org.

Six Flags Fright Fest

| Community, Gazette | October 18, 2013

By Michelle Sandoval

Every October Six Flags’ Magic Mountain turns off the lights, conjures up the undead and invites everyone into the haunted world of “Fright Fest.” Running through the end of the month, this Halloween attraction offers spook enthusiasts a night full of haunted mazes, devilish scare zones, scary stage shows and enough bone-chilling fun to drive even the Looney Tunes loonier!

I was invited to attend Fright Fest this past weekend and naturally jumped at the opportunity – I can never say no to a good scare. Unlike most haunted theme park attractions, Six Flags allows park goers who are already enjoying the rides during the day to pay a small additional fee for the night frights.

For others, they close and reopen the park to a whole new set of guests who have to pay the full admission again, plus a hefty additional fee. So, for one low price you can enjoy, as the motto promises, “thrills by day,” and “frights by night.”

Fright Fest offers up eight haunted mazes this year, and a handy “Fright Guide” ranks them on a scare level of 1-10 for us. I headed to the highest on the scare scale first. “The Aftermath,” a post-apocalyptic city overrun with nomad warriors was given a 10. The scenes and backdrops in this maze were impressive and very professional – it truly invoked an end-of-the-world feel. The actors did a fine job of scaring us, but the real horror was in the environment around us. It was chilling and frightening in a realistic way – no cheap scares needed here.

“Toyz of Terror” was also given a 10, and in a maze that is “not intended for children under 12,” I could appreciate the irony. We were guided through a defunct toy factory where the inventor had gone mad and added benevolent spirits to all of his creations. Dolls, wind-ups, jack-in-the-boxes, and teddy bears all run rampant in this maze, terrorizing the guests. It was a great homage to our childhood memories tainted with devilish nightmares.

“Willoughby’s Resurrected” took me on a trip through the family’s Victorian mansion that has long been inhabited by evil spirits. Now, I’ve been to dozens of haunted houses in my life, and this one has to be one of my favorites. There is literally a scare around every single corner – in front of you, beside you and behind you there is always someone waiting to scare you. You won’t even be able to finish one frightened yelp before you are hit with another. And it works every single time! I don’t think I’ve screamed and jumped so many times in a span of a couple of minutes ever before. After a while, you won’t know whether to laugh, cry or keep screaming, but the only thing that matters is how much fun you’re having. If you’re able to take in the scenery around you it is really quite beautiful, with hints of gothic Victorian charm throughout.

New to the park this year is “Total Darkness,” which is exactly what the name promises. You will be led in a small group through a pitch black maze in the back of one of the park’s theaters. You will encounter some spirits along the way, and even though you won’t be able to see them, it is the mere fact that they are out there in the dark waiting for you that makes this all the more frightening. You won’t want to miss this one.

Other mazes include “Weepy Hills INSANEtorium,” “Black Widow,” “Chupacabra” and “Cursed.” Make sure you schedule time to check them all out, as they are all deserving of your shrieks.

There are seven scare zones scattered around the park, which make the monsters almost impossible to avoid. Prepare to meet demons, zombies, barbarian humanoids, werewolves, 10-foot tall ghouls, evil gypsies and everything in between as you make your way to the attractions. Six Flags really did a great job of making sure the actors were not only professional in demeanor, but also that their make-up and costumes were realistic and exceptionally horrific. My witch hat goes off to them!

In addition to all of these delightful horrors, there are a number of regular attractions that offer up a little added scare. You can ride most of the roller coasters in the dark and even ride the famous Colossus backwards! Make sure you make time between the mazes to try a couple of these out.

Halloween is my all-time favorite time of year. I adore monsters and things that go bump in the night. I have been fascinated by all things horror since I was a little girl and was highly impressed by the work put into this event. The realism and overall respect and admiration for the horror genre is evident in everything you will see. Six Flags set out to scare their visitors and in doing so created an event that is highly worthy of our screams. And scream you will.

For information or tickets to “Fright Fest,” visit www.frightfest.sixflags.com.

Arts and Entertainment Corner The Gazette’s List of Must See A & E!

| Community, Gazette | October 17, 2013

By Michelle Sandoval

As I sit here writing this, I wonder how it could possibly already be the middle of October…where did the month go? Well, mine so far has been full of haunted houses, theatre, Dodgers’ playoff games, and everything in between! There are still two weeks left until this spooky month is over, which means there is still plenty to do. So, read on, entertainment seekers, to see my entertainment suggestions for the coming week. Also, make sure to check out my full reviews in this week’s Gazette on the Canyon Theatre Guild’s “Dial M for Murder” and Magic Mountain’s Fright Fest, which I had the pleasure of attending this past weekend.

Boo at the Zoo
5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles
For the next two weekends the LA Zoo will host its annual Boo at the Zoo, where you and your family are invited to wear costumes and enjoy trick-or-treating throughout the park. Partake in pumpkin carving demonstrations, arts and crafts, creepy-crawly animal encounters, Chomp ‘n’ Stomp animal feedings and a picturesque pumpkin patch, all while enjoying the everyday fun the Zoo offers. The event takes place October 19, 20, 26 & 27 from 10-4 p.m., so break out those costumes and join the other beasties and crawlies at the Los Angeles Zoo.

Main St. Zombie March
Old Town Newhall
This Saturday, Brave New World Comics (corner of Lyons Ave. and Chestnut St. in Newhall) is having its annual Main St. Zombie March. Aside from a fun excuse to don your best zombie make-up (do we really ever need an excuse to do that?), this great event is a fundraiser and canned food drive to benefit the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry. In addition, the popular comic book store is partnering with Heritage Haunt at the historic Heritage Junction to provide free admission tickets for the first 100 registered zombie participants to make a donation to the Food Pantry. Registration will begin at noon at Brave New World; no pre-registration is required. Participants can drop their donations off, pick up their goody bags and even get their make-up applied there by a professional (YES!). The walk begins at 6 p.m., so make sure to have your zombie fighting gear on if you’re anywhere near Old Town Newhall this weekend, because the streets will be invaded with the undead!

Renaissance Festival
California City Central Park
10400 Heather Ave., California City
Celebrate the era of Queen Elizabeth I of England this weekend at California City’s Renaissance Festival, where you and the family can enjoy a day full of food, music, crafts, games and live steel combat…yes, LIVE STEEL COMBAT. Take a trip back in time, when the lords and ladies spent their afternoons drinking ale and reading Shakespeare, all while taking in the culture of this historical period. Admission is only $5 per person and if you have a copy of last week’s Gazette, take advantage of the 2-for-1 coupon. Huzzah!

Remember fellow A&E lovers, send me events you think I should check out by emailing me at: michelle@scfree.net. I’d also love to see photos of you and your family enjoying yourselves this fall, so send those along as well.

Two Events from SCV Sheriff’s Deputies

| Community, Gazette | October 17, 2013

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station “10-33” Benefit Ride

The first annual Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station “10-33” Benefit Ride will be held on Saturday October 26th, 2013, starting at 9:00am.

The ride will start at Glendale Harley Davidson. The caravanning motorcycles will then be escorted by law enforcement personnel to Route 66 Classic Grill in Santa Clarita. The party will begin immediately at the conclusion of the ride with live entertainment, wonderful raffle prizes, and great food.

Custom, classic, or hot rod vehicles are welcome to participate, driving behind all of the motorcycles. For those of you who cannot participate in the ride, we welcome you to come and enjoy the fun at Route 66 Grill.

All motorcycle riders are welcome, however no outlaw motorcycle colors shall be worn and all laws will be enforced at this event. The mission of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station “10-33” Benefit Ride fund is to provide assistance to the families of peace officers and fire fighters who have been killed or seriously injured in the line of duty, or who have a life threatening or incapacitating illness.

For further information please visit http://www.sct10-33ride.com

24th Annual SCV Station Haunted Jailhouse

For almost a quarter century the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Department has hosted children from all over in the community for a special Halloween event. The annual Haunted Jailhouse promises to be a spooky experience again this year on Sunday, October 27 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Held at the local jail, this year will include the popular Halloween Costume contest for the children, and trophies will be awarded for each age category. They are scheduled as follows: Children under 2 years old will be judged at 12:30 pm; ages 2 to 4 years old at 1:00 pm; ages 5 to 7 years old at 1:30 pm; ages 8 to 10 years old at 2:00 pm; ages 11 to 12 at 2:30 pm; and ages 13 to Adults at 3:00 pm.

Also, children over age 6 and their parents should not forget to tour the Sheriff’s Haunted Jailhouse decorated by the SCV Boys and Girls Club. A separate Halloween tour area, which is specifically designed for children under age 6, will also be available. A $1.00 donation to the SCV Boys and Girls Club is requested at the entry gate.

Deputy Joshua Dubin and AM 1220 http://www.HometownStation.Com News Director Perry Smith will be broadcasting live from the SCV Sheriff’s Station on AM 1220 from 11am until 1pm the day of the event.

For further information contact Deputy Joe Trejo at 661-255-1121 – Ext 5160 or at jltrejo@lasd.org.

Ask the Real Estate Coach

| Community, Gazette | October 7, 2013

Dear Coach,
I have noticed that interest rates seem to be increasing. How much would my payment change if interest rates increase one percent, or even two percent, before I find my $400k home?
Dear William,
Based on your $400k purchase price, if you were to put 20 percent down with a conventional loan and interest rates rose just one percent, you would see an increase in your monthly payment of $184. If the interest rates spiked a full two percent, your payment would be affected by $379.98/month. This translates to additional money out-of-pocket to the tune of about $30,654 over 10 years when referring to the one percent increase, and $61,963 higher interest rate cost when calculating the two percent increase in interest rate.
Interest rates had been on the rise to nearly five percent, but have settled down to the mid fours so, if you are in a position to make your move, I would encourage you to get pre-approved for your loan to see what you will qualify for and start looking for your dream home. You want to keep as much money in your pocket as possible!
If you have a Dear Coach question you’d like answered in this column, email it to dearcoachbecky@gmail.com or contact me at becky@beckysill.com for an immediate response.

The Return of “The Nutcracker”

| Community, Gazette | October 7, 2013

Christmas is all about traditions for many Santa Clarita residents, and attending the annual production of “The Nutcracker” is one of them. Tickets are already on sale for the Santa Clarita Ballet Company’s performances, which are on December 21-22. They are held at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons.

The Santa Clarita Ballet Company is celebrating 18 years of ballet in the Santa Clarita Valley. Their performances give many talented and career bound young dancers the opportunity to perform with professional guest artists. The Academy’s program is based on the syllabus provided by the Royal Academy of Dance in London.The COCPAC is located at 26455 Rockwell Canyon in Valencia. Performances of “The Nutcracker” are at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 21 and 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 22. Tickets are $39 for orchestra/box seats and $28 for balcony seats. Children under 10 and seniors 65 and older are $26 for any seat. To purchase tickets call (661) 251-0366. Visit www.santaclaritaballet.net.

College of the Canyons SBDC

| Community, Gazette | October 6, 2013

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC), hosted by College of the Canyons, has hired two new business advisors—Sylvia Martini and Miriam Aguilar—to help the SBDC meet the growing demands for its free consulting services.

“We are very pleased to welcome Sylvia and Miriam to the SBDC team at College of the Canyons,” said SBDC Executive Director Steve Tannehill. “Sylvia joins us as we expand the export support services we offer through our Center for International Trade Development (CITD), while Miriam will assist us with expanding our services to the Spanish-speaking community.”

A German native, Martini earned her degree in industrial engineering from the University of Media in Stuttgart, Germany and an International Business certificate from Santa Barbara City College.

With more than 20 years of experience in international marketing and sales, Martini has worked for an automotive company and two publishing companies.

“I am pleased to assist SBDC clients in the areas of international trade, marketing, sales, public relations and web communications,” said Martini, who is a NASBITE Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP).

Martini is a member of the German American Business Association (GABA), the Outstanding Professionals Employment Network (OPEN), the Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation and Soroptimist International of Camarillo.

“Sylvia and Miriam’s years of experience and vast expertise will provide significant benefits to the business community in the Santa Clarita, San Fernando and Antelope Valleys,” said Catherine Grooms, SBDC assistant director. “With the addition of Sylvia and Miriam, we have expanded our team to 18 advisors and are now able to serve clients in nine different languages, including Spanish, Armenian, Arabic, French, Italian, Greek, German and American Sign Language.”
A certified QuickBooks Pro advisor, Aguilar will be assisting SBDC clients with business plans, business start-up assistance and QuickBooks, including the Simple Start, Pro and Premier versions. In 2006, Aguilar launched her own business, GerenciaTeam Inc., which offers training and consulting in Spanish for the Latino business community.

“I am happy to join the team of business advisors at the COC Small Business Development Center,” said Aguilar. “I look forward to assisting clients – especially Spanish speaking clients – start and grow their businesses.”

Aguilar has taught business courses at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Extension, Cal Poly Pomona, East Los Angeles Community College and Cerritos Community College. Aguilar earned a bachelor’s degree from UCLA and is currently working towards a certificate in General Business Studies at UCLA Extension.

The SBDC hosted by College of the Canyons was launched in January of 2006. SBDC business advisors assist prospective and existing small business owners start, grow or expand their businesses by providing workshops, one-on-one consulting, trainings and other resources to the business community.

The SBDC’s main offices are located in the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center on the College of the Canyons Valencia campus.

SBDC services are also available at nine satellite locations throughout the San Fernando and Antelope Valleys.

For more information about the SBDC hosted by College of the Canyons, contact the SBDC at (661) 362-5900 or sbdc@canyons.edu, or visit www.cocsbdc.org.

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