Ex-Director Pierson

She represents the type of government we all fear. Uncaring. Unconcered. Unmoved by the effects of her actions.

Secret Service Congressional HearingDid you see the director of the Secret Service resigned? Julia Pierson was more likely pushed then jumped. Same result.

She was promoted to clean up the mess from the South American prostitution scandal. Instead, the Secret Service’s ability to do its main job is now in question.

The only perfect security systems are run by villains in James Bond movies. Even those go down in the end. No one’s perfect. But today the Secret Service doesn’t seem to rise to mediocre.

I watched some of Director Pierson’s testimony before Congress yesterday. She represents the type of government we all fear. Uncaring. Unconcered. Unmoved by the effects of her own actions.

She danced around questions, copping an attitude. It was horrible. I was stunned.

I’ll say it. She didn’t give a shit.

Nobody wants to experience the humiliation Ms. Pierson experienced yesterday, but I can think of few more appropriate occasions.

I’m hoping for better in the future.

(Photo from RollCall who has excellent coverage here).

Ross Ching

Ross and I have known each other via the Internet for a few years. Until this evening we’d never met.

While Stef and Helaine were bowling tonight (Ray Romano. Next lane. “Oddly attractive in designer jeans,” reports Stef) I was driving to Westwood to meet Ross Ching. I am a fan.

Ross and I have known each other via the Internet for a few years. Until this evening we’d never met.

I marvel at his meticulous work in time lapse. His videos have been seen millions of times online. He is the master of this genre and smart enough to see he has to keep ahead of the pack.

Smart is the part of Ross that’s most impressive. He has a better ‘big picture’ view of life than I had… than I think most 24 year olds have.

He started as a teenager making skateboarding videos with his friends. They were slick for high school level production. People were impressed. He kept moving.

Ross began shooting time lapse using a DSLR, a still camera, with an intervalometer to control the shutter. He shot the low hanging fruit–clouds, stars, the graceful motion of water. With his series of Eclectic videos and the help of Twitter and Digg he became well known. Again he kept moving.

A film school graduate from San Diego State and Ross works for a production house here in Los Angeles. He shoots music videos and commercials. He keeps adding to his technique.

While we sat drinking coffee I watched his video for Kina Grannis’ “Valentine.” Then I watched again. The second time through was spent hitting pause and quizzing him on the shoot and how he achieved what was on the screen. Though post-production is sometimes looked upon as a magic bullet this shoot’s success was cemented in pre-production and detailed planning.

I suspect Ross is organized in ‘real life,’ maybe obsessively so. He’s definitely organized as a director. I wonder if he understands how valuable that is?

I gave him some advice: Don’t worry about money. If you’re good the money will find you. Enjoy what you’re doing. That’s much more important. Successful people are nearly always doing what they enjoy.

Soupy Sales Was A Big Part Of My Childhood

That was the attraction. He really was putting on a show. And he was doing it live and virtually unscripted under the most rudimentary of conditions in a media just reaching puberty.

The Soupy Sales Show.jpgSoupy Sales died tonight. He was a comic genius–a term I do not throw around lightly. Though it’s unexpected for someone on the news to say this, he was a guiding force in what I do on-the-air.

I watched Soupy every afternoon on Channel 5. This caused constant conflict with my sister who had other viewing ideas in our one TV family¹.

Soupy’s show was done live from the Channel 5 studios at 205 East 67th Street.

I didn’t look that address up. Anyone around my age who grew up in New York City knows it. It was always said as “Two oh five” and it was the entry address for dozens… maybe hundreds of contests on Channel 5.

Soupy was on in the late afternoon and he was live. It was silly, sophomoric comedy performed with one off screen voice and a studio full of technicians whose laughter was part of the show. Soupy didn’t need a laughtrack. If something was funny all inhibitions were off.

Twenty some odd years ago I hosted the Easter Seal Telethon with Diane Smth. Pre-show we went to “Telethon School” in Las Vegas. As I was being brought around someone introduced me to the director.

“Geoff, this is Arthur Forrest,” he said.

I smiled.

“Artie Forrest?” I asked and smiled some more.

Artie Forrest was Soupy’s director and Soupy was always talking to him or about him on-the-air. Same thing with the make-up man, Carmen Gebbia and someone named Eddie Bezzares (sp?).

It’s forty five years ago, right? I remember the names. Indelible.

The show was live–an hour of shtick daily. But, of course, the rub was you couldn’t write an hour of shtick every day. Even if you could there was no budget on this show.

As awful as the material was it was treated like gold. The set-up for a one liner could take five or six minutes as Soupy went into comedic tangents and stage managers and cameramen giggled.

The show was for kids, but performed for and in front of adults. Much of what went on went on at two levels. Even as a kid I knew that. My job was to try and understand the stuff for adults. Who knows how successful I was (or wasn’t)?

There were a handful of characters Soupy dealt with all played by Frank Nastasi. He never appeared on camera. He was Pookie (a puppet), White Fang and Black Tooth (only a single clawed paw and furry arm was seen for either) and a zillion voices on the radio and telephone.

Often there would be a knock at the door. Soupy would walk over, open it and begin a conversation with whomever was on the other side. But, of course, we saw no one. The voice was Nastasi’s. The set-up to punchline had begun.

When he was in California Soupy threw pies with major celebs. In New York on this local kid’s show there were few guests and all the pies hit Soupy.

The scope of his job is more than I can fathom. He was on live every weekday and then, again, on Saturday with a more scripted and produced show. On Saturdays he even appeared in a pre-produced continuing detective serial as “Philo Kvetch.”

Soupy became hot nationally with a release of “The Mouse.”

Hey, do the mouse, yeah,

Hey, you can do it in your house yeah,

On the rug, or on the wall

If your folks get bugged do it in the hall

Do the Mouse yeah let’s do the mouse

Come-on do the mouse with me

It was not Soupy’s finest moment though he probably made a mint. He performed “The Mouse” on the Ed Sullivan Show! He hosted a live rock show at the New York Paramount.

Soupy never stopped working when he was delivering comedy. As he weaved along he’d spot openings to divert. That was the attraction. He really was putting on a show. And he was doing it live and virtually unscripted under the most rudimentary of conditions in a media just reaching puberty.

If you watch me on TV (thanks if you do) and you hear me talk to the director or one of the guys on he floor–that’s Soupy. If you hear me stop in the middle of a sentence and go off on a tangent, only to come back and finish my point–that’s Soupy too.

We never met. I wish we had. We spent a lot of time together.

¹ – How old school is that? One TV!

They’re Back

As of tonight I’ll have to be more diligent as freshmen figure out how to get served, get drunk and get home.

Helaine and I just returned from our walk up Sleeping Giant. We walked it yesterday with Tracey, a director from work and her dog Tallulah, who we will be watching this weekend.

Note to Tallulah: Be prepared to have your photo taken–a lot.

Tallulah is a tiny dachshund with short legs. Seeing her walk the trail was like watching a wind-up toy in action. Our Tallulah/Tracey walk was at a slower pace which finally allowed us to see that the speed we achieve has a lot to do with our aerobic outcome. At yesterday’s pace it was as if the mountain had been flattened!

quinnipiac_campus.jpgWe were back today to press harder. No sooner had we turned onto Mt. Carmel Avenue than we saw this was a different day. Quinnipac University is letting their students back in the dorms and there was a long line of cars–stopped!

We squeezed to the left of the line, driving with the dashed yellow under the center of my car. People had their engines off. Some were sitting atop their vehicle. You could see the SUVs and trucks were packed to the gills.

Though a mile away, we’re not really affected by QU up in my neighborhood on the hill. I do pass off-campus student housing and a few bars on my way home from work. It’s been quiet this summer. As of tonight I’ll have to be more diligent as freshmen figure out how to get served, get drunk and get home.

So, What Did You Do At Work Today?

By the time we rejoined regular programming, I’d been on-the-air live for a little over an hour straight.

I got to work this afternoon as thunderstorms were firing. No surprise there. They had been well forecast by me (and everyone I would hope). As the afternoon progressed the storms increased in intensity until, just before 6:00 PM, we went to a Tornado Warning for Fairfield and New Haven Counties.

It might be different in the Midwest, but here we go wall-to-wall with Tornado Warnings and so we dropped what was scheduled for our newscast and began to do live weather.

When you start live coverage, you have no idea how long it will last–I certainly didn’t. Ten minutes in, Gil Simmons (our morning meteorologist) came in. He wasn’t dressed for TV, but he strapped on a mic and helped out off-camera. I can’t begin to tell you how helpful he was.

By the time we rejoined regular programming, I’d been on-the-air live for a little over an hour straight. It was all ad lib for me… and everyone else. You’ve got to remember, the producers, director and crew were trying to make sure we were all heading in the same direction, though we really couldn’t speak directly to each other. They were amazing–probably more than they realize.

I don’t think there were any tornadoes this afternoon. I’d rather have it work out that way. But while it was happening, who could tell?

My Friday Nighttime At Nightline

The Nightline set is, to be kind, tiny. The street traffic behind the anchor plays off a server and is shown on a rear projection TV. Is nothing real?

When I came to WTNH the director of our evening newscasts was a young guy named Jeff Winn&#185. He had the thankless task of directing our newscasts on a chromakey set. This is much too complex to explain here except to say any mistake Jeff made was glaringly obvious to even a casual viewer. It was that obvious. Luckily, Jeff was good at what he did. Mistakes were few.

He left us and went on to bigger things. Again, too complex to explain here, plus if I thought about his career versus mine I’d openly weep. Jeff has seven Emmys, as do I. His are the much larger, heavier, impressive, national ones. Jeff won most of them directing “Real Sports” on HBO. He still does that on a monthly basis.

Jeff’s day night job is directing ABC News Nightline. Originally Ted Koppel’s nightly wrap-up of the Iranian Hostage Crisis and then a daily single subject half hour of hard news, Nightline post-Ted is flashier, lighter and more feature oriented. It’s also stronger in the ratings than it’s been in years, recently beating Letterman.

I’ve been meaning to watch Jeff direct for years but never had the chance. I went last night.

The drive to New York was speedy and without incident until the Bronx. What had been a wide open highway became a slow moving bumper-to-bumper grind. I broke free, headed down the West Side Highway and pulled into an open and totally legal parking space on Columbus Avenue directly across the street from ABC’s entrance.

Really–I found legal on-street parking in Manhattan. I’m available for autographs later.

When Nightline first went to its rotating three anchor configuration it came from a windowed studio above Times Square. Even now you can watch the traffic behind the anchor. Don’t be fooled (as I was). They moved around a year ago and now come from TV-3, the same studio as World News with Charlie Gibson. The Nightline set is, to be kind, tiny. The street traffic behind the anchor plays off a server and is shown on a rear projection TV. Is nothing real?

For much of the evening Jeff is ‘on a leash,’ even when there’s nothing to do. If a major story broke, he would direct live coverage across the full network. That is no small responsibility. ABC has standby staff just-in-case 24/7.

We took the grand tour to the control room passing through Nightline’s sparsely staffed offices. Most of the action happens here during the day. The show is anchored live, but the packages are mainly pre-produced at a more convenient hour. TV work isn’t as glamorous when you consider so much of it is “second shift.”

ABC’s New York headquarters is a confusing collection of mainly connected buildings on Manhattan’s West Side between 66th and 67th from Columbus Avenue to Central Park West. There are a few apartment buildings interspresed, but most of the block is ABC’s.

Back when I did some freelance work at the network (weather fill-ins on Good Morning America–you never call anymore–I’m crushed) I never ventured far from my studio (TV-2) lest I get lost! In some of the interconnections the floors don’t even line up!

The control room itself is very impressive with two rows of arena type seating, a few individual positions farther back and a separate audio booth. The production crew face a winged wall of large high definition flat panel monitors. Each monitor is split to show individual inputs as needed. Most are pretty standard cameras and servers, but I also saw tie-lines to Washington and Europe (feeding Arab language broadcasts back to New York last night).

Jeff sat down and with the technical director and assistant director went through the show’s scripts page-by-page making sure each input was properly marked and available. As far as I could tell only one small change was made during this run-through. A courtesy font for a photograph came positioned over the person’s face. It was moved to air in a less intrusive spot.

As 11:35 PM approached more and more people drifted in. By airtime there were around a dozen people at work. Actually, the show starts 15 seconds early as an animated countdown streams to the network. I’m hoping that’s a tradition carried over from the good old days, because by now the affiliates had better have synchronized clocks, wouldn’t you think?

One floor down Martin Bashir anchored. His only contact with the upstairs crew was electronic. I enjoyed when he read about someone being taken to the hospital and in his British English left out the article “the.” “He was taken to hospital,” was what the audience heard.

The show was flawless… at least it looked flawless to me. In many ways the production resembled a local newscast, but with longer packages, no live shots and more help. The producer even shuffled extra promo content in to help fill the show’s scheduled time.

Jeff and the team were relaxed and playful as the show aired. These are people working together every night. They know their jobs and at this level I suspect screw-ups aren’t tolerated long.

A little after midnight we were done.

&#185 – Our other director was Tom O’Brien, who moved out of directing to sales and then management. He is now general manager at WNBC in New York after a long stay as GM at KXAS Dallas.

Judging’s Not For Me

Right now, I would like to take a nap. My whole body is bloated. I wish I had some Alka Seltzer

I did a live shot on-the-air this evening. That’s become more of a rarity as my boss strives to separate ‘Fun Geoff’ from ‘Weather Geoff’.

PIC-0088This was the annual “Taste of the Nation,” which benefits the Connecticut Food Bank and other charitable endeavors. It all took place at the Omni Hotel at Yale, in Downtown New Haven.

The live hits were fun, for a variety of reasons. First, I enjoy having the opportunity to play around a little while on-camera. Second, I tried to solve a techno challenge and succeeded.

Until now, there was no way to control my weather equipment from the field. I’d cue the director, who would cue the floor manager, who would push my weather graphics button. Often, there was missed communication, which took me out of sync with what was on the screen.

This evening, I brought in a laptop, connected using the venue’s wireless Internet cloud, and used logmein.com to bring my weather computer’s screen and controls to the laptop in the field. Though it won’t show me the actual high-res graphic I’m displaying on the air, every other part of the system’s back end was there.

This was a huge burden off my shoulders. It worked perfectly.

PIC-0090After the news, I assumed my second job of the evening – judging the food. I had been volunteered for the job. Who knew how difficult judging is?

I’m not talking about the qualitative judgement. That’s not the tough part of judging. The tough part is the shear quantity of restaurants and food. I had to sample some of everything!

Right now, I would like to take a nap. My whole body is bloated. I wish I had some Alka Seltzer.

I guess I’m the wrong guy to recommend for Iron Chef.

I’ll Be Bushed For Christmas

We are still really short of people at work. It’s no one’s fault. I can deal with working a little extra from time-to-time. I am exhausted.

Last night I worked through 11:35 PM. Today, I was in for the noon news.

It is Christmas. The TV station carried NBA basketball all afternoon and much of the evening. I had lots of time between the noon show and 10:00 PM.

As is the tradition, we went to the movies (with Stef) and then had Chinese food! The restaurant was full of other ‘treeless’ people.

Today’s movie was Juno, from director Jason Reitman. This is a quirky movie with interesting production techniques. It’s the story of a 16 year old girl from Mankato, Minnesota who gets pregnant.

This is a dark comedy, artfully written with clever dialog. The words and thoughts may be too sophisticated for a 16 year old, but I bought into it anyway.

Ellen Page as Juno was perfectly cast.

This is not a movie for kids or a picture to be taken lightly. And, though the ending isn’t exactly storybook… and with the subject matter, how could it be… it was a very satisfying film.

Tragedy In Bangladesh

The news coming out of Bangladesh is minimal tonight. The AP reports ‘at least’ 41 people dead from Cyclone Sidr, which came ashore Thursday.

That number will surely rise after this powerful storm hit one of the world’s most susceptible points.

Around 20 years ago, I was invited to Western Connecticut State University by Dr. Mel Goldstein to listen to Dr. Bob Sheets, former director of the National Hurricane Center.

Sheets talked about the potential for tragedy in Bangladesh… the futility of knowing a storm was coming, but there was nothing to do and nowhere to go.

The Ganges River Delta, where Bangladesh meets the Bay of Bengal, is low lying land. Storm tides easily wash well inland and up the river toward Dhaka, a city of 6,500,000.

This is a country of poor people, living in mainly flimsily constructed homes and shacks. Many people live directly on the water.

Sheets said one of the things done was build earthen berms, allowing people to rise above incoming water. It was low tech and not totally effective, but it was better than nothing.

Today’s solutions seem similar:

My Beef With The Hurricane Center

Since Friday, I have traded emails with Ed Rappaport, director of the National Hurricane Center down in South Florida. He responded after I sent an email to two of his forecasters.

I was upset… No, I was livid the National Hurricane Center had decided to stop tracking and issuing bulletins and forecasts on Hurricane Noel Friday at 5:00 PM.

I’ve attached their final forecast discussion below. Two things to note. First, when they stopped their forecasting, Noel had already begun to take on non-tropical characteristics.


Second, and much more importantly. Noel was going to get stronger!


From a purely meteorological standpoint, NHC was correct. Noel was no longer a tropical system. They cover tropical systems – period.

That misses the point. The Hurricane Center’s job is to protect lives, not be meteorological purists.

When they stopped issuing forecasts, advisories, bulletins and maps, the job moved to the local forecast offices, like Taunton, MA and Upton, NY. Those offices have very capable forecasters (some of whom I’ve known for two decades).

Again, that’s missing the point.

By changing Hurricane Noel to an unnamed extratropical low, NHC signaled a diminished threat to the untrained public. That just wasn’t so.

There is already enough concern for public perception that the term “minimal hurricane” is no longer used in public bulletins.

Public safety officers, emergency managers and even broadcast meteorologists know exactly when and where to get data on tropical systems. It is specific and very different data than any other forecast product we get. The data from the local offices is totally different.

In the case of broadcasters, we all have equipment which automatically produces maps as the Hurricane Center’s data comes in! When that stopped, the ability to produce the most compelling and illuminating maps stopped. These maps made the case Noel meant business.

Based on the response I received from the director, I wonder if a “Hurricane of ’38” scenario would also see the Hurricane Center back off!

Something’s got to be done. That’s the bad news. The good news is, these are very bright people. I hope they find a way to change their policies before someone gets hurt.

Continue reading “My Beef With The Hurricane Center”

More Hurricane Center Tumult

Wow! Bill Roenza’s gotta go as the director of the National Hurricane Center.

I didn’t think so when I wrote an entry on Tuesday, but the Miami Herald has advanced its earlier story with additional comments from lead forecasters. There’s no internal confidence for Proenza from those guys.

‘I don’t think that Bill can continue here,” said James Franklin, one of five senior forecasters at the center. “I don’t think he can be an effective leader.”

Two others — Richard Pasch and Rick Knabb — told The Miami Herald that they concur.

”We need a change of leadership here at the hurricane center,” Pasch said. “It’s pretty much as simple as that.”

Part of what Proenza did was plead for a replacement for the soon-to-die Quickscat satellite. Then he quantified a value NHC’s accuracy would fall if Quickscat was gone.

I thought his number was way off mark then. The hurricane forecasters at NHC seem to agree.

Obviously, every piece of observational equipment is important, but by the time a storm threatens land there are better tools than Quickscat, which only covers a given area a few times a day.

If you’re NOAA, can you promote one of the insiders to replace Proenza (if he goes)? Doesn’t that just legitimize this mutiny?

This story’s not over.

Yesterday’s Weather Fears

I’m never happy to be right about severe weather. The storms came yesterday afternoon under that ominous “Tornado Watch.”

Let me pause for a moment. A little tangent.

The Weather Service has watches and warnings and advisories. There are too many descriptions for too many different events. It is confusing to the public, in spite of the fact the whole idea is to inform the public.

Last night, by storm’s end, over 50,000 customers were without power. That’s a misleading number, because of home (one customer) might contain four or five or more people. There were tree down all over the place.

I started getting emails with tornado claims. There’s really no way to tell unless you’re in a Kansas type situation where the tornado is ‘in the clear’ and easily seen. We don’t get that here.

Early in the afternoon, as I’d gotten ready to go on for a quick live report, our director had pointed to an image on one of our remote cameras. It looked like a funnel.

I quickly made the decision not to mention that. I couldn’t be sure what it was from our distant camera shot and it wasn’t reaching down toward the ground.

More importantly, I thought the verbal warnings and instructions I was giving would have been proper in a tornado and there was no reason to cause panic.

Should I have mentioned the funnel? Based on what I knew then, I still think I made the right decision.

Now I have more information.

That photo on the left came via email from someone name Ted in Milford. Though I’d normally enhance a shot like this to bring out the contrast, this is ‘as is.’ It looks like it was shot through a window, hence the reflection of a fluorescent light fixture on the right.

All the experts who’ve seen it say it’s a funnel cloud. A tornado is a funnel cloud that reaches toward the ground. This was close and could have grown to be one.

After a day like yesterday, I usually look back to think about what I did and said. I wasn’t perfectly smooth – but who ever is? I think my info was good and appropriate and I respected the fact that every time I came on, I was interrupting someone’s viewing.

My job is to prepare the viewers, not panic them.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated

We just subscribed to Netflix. Helaine and I are not a huge DVD watching couple, but we thought this might be an interesting experiment. We’re on the plan where you get one movie at a time, with a new one as often as you send the old one back.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated was at the top of our queue and came yesterday. With me currently alone, the timing was right. This film is a documentary and Helaine’s not usually inclined to see docs.

I originally became aware of this film on my way home from October’s trip to Maine. While I drove, and Bob tried to sleep, I listened to director Kirby Dick being interviewed on NPR.

The premise of the movie is, the MPAA movie ratings (The G, PG, R and NC17) are arbitrarily assigned, in a system which benefits big studios and penalizes independents. Dick also concludes homosexual sex is much more harshly treated than similar heterosexual sex acts.

The movie was shot after Dick had already come to a conclusion. That’s not to say he was wrong. It just isn’t an evenhanded presentation. He’s looking to justify his conclusions, nothing more.

The board that assigns the ratings is secret. It’s rules are secret. Everything about the system is secret. And, this secrecy is portrayed as a smarmy kind of underhanded cabal.

The movie goes out of its way to unmask the people involved, using private detectives. I understand the point and method, but I felt these people had their privacy unfairly invaded. Maybe I’m being overly sensitive here, but I felt uncomfortable watching the detective work in progress.

After all, Kirby Dick’s problem is with the MPAA, not their employees.

A few quick notes before I end:

I found the interviews with directors, specifically John Waters&#185, Matt Stone and Kevin Smith, fascinating. Forget wanting to meet your favorite stars. The interesting people in Hollywood direct.

Also, in a Q&A session from the SXSW Film Festival that’s part of the “extras,” I felt there was gratuitous closeup B-roll of Harry Knowles, proprietor of Aint It Cool News, a movie fan site. Harry never asked a question, nor was he identified. Why shows him… and show him again?

Before the film was released, but after the Q&A, Harry wrote:

Kirby Dick’s film is genius. It completely reveals the hypocrisy of the system, and pulls back the curtain to reveal a sacred set of lies that the industry’s “wizard” had been operating behind.

Harry’s words would mean so much more if he were a totally dispassionate bystander. Did they really have to kiss up to him and cast doubt on his imparitality?

Netflix asks you to rate the movie you have just seen (so they can better recommend other films). I gave this doc 4 of 5 stars. If there was a 3.5, I would have given it that instead.

Glad I got it.

&#185 – Could he be any more weird… even if he tried?

Killing The Messenger

The headline itself was typical Drudge hyperbole. In red type: ‘GLOBAL WARMING’ PROTESTERS CALL FOR RESIGNATION OF HURRICANE CENTER DIRECTOR… And sure enough, they do.

Drudge reprinted (as I’m about to) their entire press release.


My Creative Family

We are a very small family. Even then, I am only in touch with a smaller subset of my relatives. Outside my immediate family, my closest relative is Cousin Michael. He and his family live in California – in the OC.

Michael is our most educated Fox. He has a closet full of bachelor and masters degrees, plus a law degree and PhD.

When he was in high school, he wanted to be a farmer&#185. That’s not the normal career path for someone born within walking distance of the Flushing El, who could see the Empire State Building from the front steps of his Queens apartment building.

If I remember correctly (and he’s not shy about correcting) he then studied library science, and of course, law. I’m sure I’m leaving something out.

He ended up working for the federal government as a staff attorney for the Labor Board in Washington. I remember visiting his office in a government building so depressingly institutional, linoleum and green wall paint would have classed the joint up.

At some point in Washington, he got hooked on theater. I don’t know how that happened, because Michael and I were out of touch for many of those years, but he got the bug. Michael gravitated to directing.

Though he taught and occasionally did ‘lawyer work,’ directing was obviously his vocational passion.

I have never seen Michael’s work, but now I’ve gotten to read about it. His latest production, Samuel Beckett’s “Endgame” is in the midst of a short run in Santa Ana, CA.

The Orange County Register’s reviewer was very positive.

This could be some bizarre, post-nuclear world where everyone struggles for survival, or it could simply be the extreme result of societies that value ideologies or materialism over human life. The time, place and context are never specified because, as director Michael David Fox’s staging proves, Beckett’s ideas transcend such specifics, creating disturbing images while raising philosophical questions deeply troubling once dwelled upon.

Beckett means for us to dwell on these issues, and Fox and company oblige with a compact staging that, like “Godot,” can be achingly funny one moment, stark and bleak the next.

I wish I could pop on down to Southern California to see it. The show runs through May 20, Friday and Saturday evenings and a Sunday matin