Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

Richard III - sociopath or a casualty of war?

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We had a great time Sunday afternoon at A Noise Within’s production of Shakespeare’s Richard III. The whole time, I thought it was about how people are just damned naïve and don’t want to believe there are sociopaths, like Richard, of Madoff, or whoever, in the world.

But director Geoff Elliott says it’s about the wartime mentality versus the peacetime mentality: Richard was useful during the war because warriors need to be somewhat sociopathic. But when peace comes, you better figure out a way to handle him.

I’ve posted an lightly-edited version of the interview, which includes the ultra-creepy wooing scene, where Richard woos Lady Anne after he’s killed her husband and she … well, listen and find out.

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Dudamel at the Hollywood Bowl

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We listened to Dudamel’s Bowl performance at home on KUSC. It was transcendent. We felt connected with everyone in Los Angeles. I am dying to find out how many listeners they had last night -- a stat this is now knowable because of Arbitron’s new People Meters. If KUSC’s weekly total in SoCal is 850,000 (as announced 8/31/2009), and only a few thousand could make it to the Bowl last night, could 250,000 or 500,000 have tuned in last night? More? It’s the Big Thing for their core audience.

My only complaint about the broadcast was that the announcers should have followed Ernie Harwell’s lead. When the Tigers won the pennant in 1968, and the crowd at Tiger Stadium went crazy, the Hall of Fame announcer simply said, “Just listen to the Bedlam,” and let us listen to the roar for many seconds before coming back in and talking. But when the final note of the complete Ninth arrived, and the Bowl erupted, the hosts jumped in right away and talked over the noise. Better to let it ride, so we could all share in the joy. That said, huge kudos to Dennis Bartel for asking Maestro Dudamel, “What kind of beer is that?” in the postgame interview. A wonderful moment.

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David Letterman’s Confession

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…As we sit and talk late at night over pie at House of Pies …

Did you see David Letterman’s confession?

The first thing I thought as I watched it today (yes, it took me that long) was how much he was telling the story as if he were Garrison Keillor. The face, the asides, the pauses, the self-deprecation. And then he mentioned that he’s a “towering pile of guilt,” which motivates everything he does, and his Midwest Lutheran upbringing. Yikes! (I suppose this has occurred to other people already. Forgive me.)

Then, I started wondering again exactly why Letterman was doing this. Some have said he announced it himself as a sort of pre-emptive PR strike. If he gets it all out there first, he gets to control the story. But I think that explains only part of it.

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County: One Type of Swine Flu Vaccine Coming by End of Next Week

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The Public Health Department announces one version of the H1N1 vaccine should be here by the end of next week. Here’s the release …

LOS ANGELES - First supplies of the pandemic H1N1 flu vaccine are estimated to arrive around October 9th-10th in some Los Angeles County clinics and doctor's offices. The initial delivery of H1N1 vaccine is expected to be relatively small, and in FluMist® nasal spray form. Additional larger batches of vaccine, the majority of which will be in injection form, are scheduled to arrive every week. It is estimated that by the end of October, doctors and other healthcare providers who ordered H1N1 vaccine should have received some doses.

"While the FluMist nasal spray vaccine may not be appropriate for everyone, we do encourage those who can receive this form of the vaccine to get it," said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. "We especially encourage eligible, school-aged children to receive the FluMist H1N1 vaccine. We had expected to see an increase in flu cases once the school year started, and those predictions have come true. Most cases of the pandemic H1N1 flu continue to present mild to moderate symptoms, but some individuals have had serious complications."

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