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T.V. Show Traces Evolution of Video Games

Atari was at the top of the video game business in the 1970s with arcade games like ‘Pong,’ ‘Space Invaders’ and ‘Asteroids’ and their home console, Atari 2600. But after the company’s founder Nolan Bushnell sold the company, and was later replaced as CEO, the company went downhill. Several engineers left to start other companies, including Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who began Apple Computer. By the ’80s, the company had to bury truckloads of its failed ‘E.T.’ game in the New Mexico desert. ”’Video Game Invasion: The History of a Global Obsession,’ a two-hour documentary executive-produced by Palisadian David Carr and his business partner David Comtois, traces the industry’s bursting upon the scene in the ’70s, followed by its many ups and downs. At age 39, Carr has lived through the evolution of video games from their infancy to today’s $20 billion-a-year industry. ”The documentary premieres Sunday night on GSN (formerly the Game Show Network) at 6 and 9 p.m. GSN (Channel 108), which is expanding beyond just game shows to video games, dating games and reality games, came up with the idea. ”Carr and Comtois lined up 40 interviews with video game pioneers and experts. ‘All these folks were off-the-wall, wildly colorful pioneers in a business with no boundaries,’ Carr told the Palisadian-Post. ‘We couldn’t have asked for better subjects.’ ”He traveled around the country to conduct many of the interviews. ‘There’s no consolidated place for the video game industry. There are little shops all over the world.’ ”The documentary, named on TV Guide’s ’10 Reasons to Stay Home This Week’ list, is hosted by professional skateboarder Tony Hawk, co-creator of ‘Tony Hawk’s Underground’ video game. ”Using archival photos, old-fashioned consoles and lots of video game footage, the documentary begins with the primitive video games which were created in the ’50s and ’60s. In 1972, the Magnavox Odyssey was introduced, a home TV console with a primitive ping-pong game. The kit came with plastic overlays to put over one’s TV screen and create different games. ”Around the same time, Nolan Bushnell founded Atari, and Al Alcorn developed ‘Pong.’ They built on the concept by adding sound and a score and the ability for the ball to speed up over time. ”’Pong’ was a hit in arcades and Atari’s ‘Space Invaders’ soon followed, which had the innovation of a high score display. Then came another Atari hit, ‘Asteroids.’ ”The Japanese game makers exploded onto the scene with ‘Pac-Man,’ which featured a memorable character that could be licensed. Nintendo came in with ‘Donkey Kong’ and ‘Mario Brothers,’ followed by ‘Super Mario Brothers.’ Meanwhile, several other companies joined the competition. ”The next important phase came in 1982, when the TV console was replaced by the personal computer as the most popular mode to play video games such as ‘Tetris.’ ”The documentary also covers the Senate hearings on violence in video games, which led to the rating system, and the next wave of TV consoles such as Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox. ”New and ever-more-inventive games, such as ‘Sims,’ which allows the player to create his or her own characters and run their lives, followed. And now a new generation of games is available on cell phones and PDAs. ”’The pioneers of video games’Trip Hawkins, the founder of Electronic Arts, the biggest publisher of video games, and John Romero, who created ‘Doom’ and ‘Quake”are now involved in cell-phone gaming,’ said Carr. ‘It’s the new frontier of video games. ”’These pioneers are used to working with rudimentary computer processors. Cell phones right now have a similar lack of computer power. ‘Tetris’ is a great computer cell-phone game.’ In Japan, Carr said, interactive cell-phone games are especially popular. ”Carr has lived in the Palisades for 12 years with his wife Carol and children Stephen, 10, and Jacqueline, 7, who attend St. Matthew’s School. The family is very active at St. Matthew’s Church. In addition, Carr is a coach in the Palisades Pony Baseball Association and the Santa Monica Bobby Sox girls’ softball league. ”Carr believes that video games are popular because of their increasingly lifelike graphics and audio and the interactivity of video games, compared to more passive media. ”As a parent of young kids who play video games, Carr hopes the documentary helps demystify the new world of video games for parents. ‘In general, there is a lot of fear among parents. It takes education. I love the movie ‘Raging Bull,’ but I won’t take my 10-year-old son to see it. I love ‘Halo,’ but I won’t let my son play it. As more people understand ratings and the different video game genres, parents can catch up a little bit.’ ”He and Comtois, who met at Boston University, founded Beantown Productions 13 years ago. The company specializes in creating marketing for television, and makes promos for shows like ‘Seinfeld,’ ‘The Simpsons,’ ‘Cops,’ ‘King of the Hill,’ ‘Pyramid’ and ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’ The two are currently working on a TV show that will allow viewers to play a video game within the context of the 30-minute program. In the course of this, Carr has rediscovered video games for the first time since playing Pac-Man in high school and has been playing them as research for his show. ”The producers also hired a full-time researcher to find old footage and photos of early video games. During the eight months of working on the documentary, they found numerous old consoles and video games on eBay and played them in order to get footage of the different games. ‘We created our own museum of the history of video games in our office,’ Carr said.

Defense is Dolphinsý First Priority

New Coach Calvin Parker Looks to Turn Palisades Softball Program Around

Senior Rachel Abraham will throw plenty of strikes as the Dolphinsý pitching ace this season.
Senior Rachel Abraham will throw plenty of strikes as the Dolphinsý pitching ace this season.
Photo by Rich Schmitt, Staff Photographer

Fundamentals are vital to the success of any team. And when it comes to a sport like softball, where one play can mean the difference between winning and losing, defense is particularly important. ”First-year Palisades High varsity coach Calvin Parker is optimistic about his Dolphins because they have shown so far that their strength is their defense’the aspect of the game he stresses most. ”’I’m really impressed with how we’ve started,’ said Parker, who coached the junior varsity last season. ‘I see major improvement over last year and we’ve got a lot of returning players with varsity experience. I expect us to go no less than .500 overall and maybe even make the upper division playoffs.’ ”Palisades has not qualified for the City’s championship (upper division) playoffs since 1998 and without a genuine infield to practice on, it is difficult for the Dolphins to compete with the City’s upper echelon teams. But Parker’s enthusiasm and lots of veteran leadership may be enough to reverse the team’s losing trend. ”’Westchester and Venice are the teams to beat in the Western League, definitely,’ Parker said. ‘Realistically, it’s hard to see us beating them right now. But I expect us to dominate everyone else and finish third. That should give us a shot at the City playoffs or at the very least a high seed in the lower [Invitational] bracket.’ ”Palisades will go as far as the arms of pitchers Rachel Abraham (senior) and Krystal Mitchell (sophomore) can take them. ‘Rachel is probably our No. 1 starter but I’ll alternate her and Krystal every game,’ Parker said. ‘We also have Paris Bellinger who can pitch and play outfield.’ ”When she’s not pitching, Mitchell will play short stop and when Mitchell is in the pitcher’s circle, senior Edith Quintero will play short stop. Freshman Stephanie Torres is the starter at third base, senior Katie Webber and junior Molly Burke will split time at first base, senior Jocelyn Mecham is at second (backed up by senior Adela Gonzalez) and junior Jennifer Wong is the catcher. ”The Dolphins’ outfield may be the most athletic in the league. ‘Joy Barnett has made some acrobatic catches in left field,’ Parker said. ‘She’s not letting anything fall out there.’ Michelle Castro is in right field, backed by Susanna Gaudado, and Dominique Neal plays center field, backed by Vanessa Escalana. ”After opening with a 9-2 loss to Washington, Palisades played Garfield in the Lincoln Tournament and lost 17-3. In the second round, however, Pali turned the tables on Washington with a 6-0 shut out. Pali closed out the tournament with an 11-3 loss to host Lincoln, a 9-2 loss to Cleveland and a 5-0 loss to Narbonne. Still, Parker saw a silver lining. ”The Dolphins’ hitting had been inconsistent until Tuesday when Pali routed Valley Alternative 13-0. Every player in the lineup got at least one hit’a big confidence booster heading into league play. ‘Stephanie [Torres] has made a huge impact at the plate,’ Parker said. ‘She can hit it to the scoreboard. Right now, though, we’re practicing on making contact and being aggressive.’

Pali Baseball Hits Stride

After scoring only one run in its first two games, the Palisades High baseball team has rebounded to win four straight, and the Dolphins have scored plenty of runs in the process. On Tuesday, Pali (4-2) held on to beat Taft 8-7 at George Robert Field, with Turhan Folse striking out four batters in the final two innings for the save. Taft, which plays in the West Valley League’the best league in the City Section’led 5-2 until the fourth inning, when the Dolphins scored six runs, including a solo home run by starting pitcher David Bromberg, who recorded his second win. Matt Skolnik was two-for-three and Monte Hickok added two hits and two RBIs for Pali in the nonleague game. The Dolphins wrapped up Westside Tournament play last week with back-to-back wins over local Southern Section teams. On Thursday, Pali shut down Brentwood 8-0 on the strength of Andrew Strassner’s complete game. He pitched a two-hitter with eight strikeouts and no walks for his first victory. Hickok scored on an error in the first inning, then the Dolphins scored five runs in the sixth, the keyt hit being a bases-loaded single by Hickok. Two days later, the Dolphins’ offense broke out with 11 base hits in a 17-3 rout of visiting Crossroads. Manny Perez bashed Roadrunner pitchers with two hits and three RBIs, Kevin Seto added two hits and two RBIs and Bromberg pitched three innings with six strikeouts for his first win of the season. Seto scored on a fielder’s choice in the first inning, then Pali scored eight runs in the second and fourth innings to blow the game open. In perhaps their most exciting game this season, Pali outlasted visiting Roosevelt 4-3 in eight innings last Tuesday to earn their first victory. Geoff Schwartz was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, forcing Alex Thompson home with the winning run in the extra frame. Steve Nirenberg had two hits and two RBIs for Palisades (1-2). The Dolphins host Crenshaw in their final nonleague game today at 3 p.m. at George Robert Field and travel to Fairfax for the Western League opener next Tuesday.’STEVE GALLUZZO

Loyola Volleyball Beats Mira Costa

Just hours after the NCAA announced the brackets for its men?s and women?s basketball tournaments, the Loyola High boys volleyball team took on Manhattan Beach Mira Costa in their own version of March Madness Saturday night. The annual showdown between two of the top-ranked teams in Southern California was moved to Loyola Marymount?s Gersten Pavilion and the Cubs prevailed in four games for the second straight year, 25-20, 23-25, 25-19, 25-23 before a crowd of over 2,000. The defending CIF champion Cubs (3-0), ranked No. 1 in Division I, got 13 kills from Palisadian C.J. Schellenberg, a junior outside hitter, and senior middle blocker Matt Hillier had 14 kills. Another Palisadian, Jeff Sause, played solid defense along with Rob Healy, to stem a late comeback by Mira Costa (1-1), ranked third in Division I. After dropping the second game, the Cubs fell behind 8-3 in the third before rallying to win. They built a sizeable lead in the fourth game and ended it on a resounding kill by Hillier. Loyola opened the season with sweeps over Mission League rivals Harvard-Westlake and Crespi and hosted fourth-ranked Santa Margarita on Tuesday. The Cubs retired the number of Palisadian Brian Beckwith, last year?s Division I Player of the Year, prior to Saturday?s match. Last May Beckwith, an All-CIF setter now at the University of Hawaii, led the Cubs to an undefeated season and their first Southern Section championship since 1995.?STEVE GALLUZZO

Spikers Rebound from Loss

The Palisades High boys volleyball team opened Western League play with a 25-11, 25-14, 22-25, 25-14 victory over Fairfax Monday, with Jason Schall, Brett Vegas and Nash Petrovic each pounding eight kills for the Dolphins. Petrovic added eight blocks and setter Rusty Barneson had 28 assists as Pali improved to 3-1. After opening the season with impressive three-game victories over San Pedro and Carson, the Palisades High boys volleyball team was riding high before its nonleague showdown at perennial City Section power Chatsworth last Thursday. But the Dolphins were quickly brought back down to earth, suffering their first loss, 25-15, 25-17, 25-20. Pali head coach Dave Smith was hoping a strong showing would earn Pali respect among opposing coaches come playoff seeding time, instead it served as a barometer for where the Dolphins are and where they need to get if they hope to challenge for the City championship in May. Jason Schall had eight kills for Palisades. Palisades opened Western League play at Westchester yesterday and plays at Hamilton next Tuesday.

Palisades Women’s Soccer Players Named All-League

Sophomore forward Lucy Miller, who led the Palisades High women’s soccer team in goals for the second straight season, was voted Western League most valuable player last week by a panel of league coaches. Midfielder Alex Michael, winger Nicole Angrisani, defender Diana Grubb and Laura Bailey were also named first-team All-League. Second-team honors went to Kirsten Schluter, Lauren Cutler, Madison Glantz, Sara McNees and Lauren Pugatch. At the team awards banquet March 9, Michael was named team most valuable player, Miller was the offensive most valuable player, Laura Bailey was the defensive most valuable player, Sara McNees was named rookie of the year and Tia Lebherz was the most improved player. Nicole Angrisani won the Lady Dolphin Award, Kaitlin Vining won the Held Family Award, Diana Grubb won the Unsung Hero Award and Laura Bailey was the recipient of the first Palisadian-Post Will to Win Award. Audrey Colossi was named the junior varsity’s most valuable player, Vivian Macario was voted offensive most valuable player, Rebecca Stein the defensive most valuable player, Chelsea Edmunds got the rookie of the year award and Kirsten Ray was most improved.

PPBA Starts 50th Season Saturday

By SUE PASCOE Special to the Palisadian-Post One of the biggest annual events in the Palisades will take place Saturday morning at Palisades Recreation Center as the Palisades Pony Baseball Association opens its season. As baseball music wafts through the park, the spring rite of passage will once again be celebrated with the traditional pancake breakfast, the throwing out of the first pitches, and the first games of the youth baseball season. All former PPBA coaches and board members are encouraged to join in the dedication of the recently-completed Field of Dreams complex. Pancake breakfast will be served from 7:30 to 11 a.m. for #3 a plate and the field dedication ceremony will begin promptly at 9 a.m. A slew of dignitaries, including Palisades’ honorable mayor, Steve Guttenberg, will be at the event. PPBA Commissioner Bob Benton promises many surprises during the ceremony. Back by popular demand, 12-year-old Bronco Orioles player Patrick Elder will sing the National Anthem. Fitness guru Jake Steinfeld and former gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon will throw out the first pitches. Organizers wish to thank the 99 Cent Only Store, which donated all the paper goods; Domino’s Pizza, which underwrote the printing for pancake tickets; Starbucks, which once again will keep the town awake with coffee; Carl’s Junior, which is donating all the sausage; and Ralphs, which not only sponsored a team, but also money towards orange juice and milk. Sponsors of the prizes for the top ticket sellers include the Pepperdine, Westside, and UCLA Baseball Camps, Benton’s Sport Shop, Palisades Skate Shop, Baskin-Robbins, Blockbuster Video, Domino’s Pizza, and UCLA and Pepperdine for bat boy/bat girl opportunities. After or in between the games, visit the west side of the fields, where the Bat and Grill will fire up the barbecue and serve hot dogs, hamburgers, peanuts, ice cream and the like at the complex’s brand new concession stand. The unsung heroes of insuring that every single citizen of the Palisades will have pancakes on their plate Saturday morning are: Lisa St. John who chaired the undertaking, Mary Elizabeth Horan Lutz who organized all the tickets, in charge of volunteers Tamara Bland, shopping and kitchen organizers Joan Kahn, Lori Kupfer, and Patty Smith, decorations are by Teresa Closson and Brooke Rasmussen. In charge of prizes for winning players was Lawry Meister. Keeping the java flowing are Kathy and Pat McRoskey and in charge of baseball school procurement was Denise DeSantis. The following local merchants have hit a home run in sponsoring teams: Benton’s Sport Shop, Denton’s Jewelers, DBL Realtors, Gelsons, Islands Surf Shop, Dr. Jacobson, Jakel’s Unocal Service, Kay N Dave’s, M.C. Skinner & Associates, Mort’s Palisades Deli, Norris Hardware, Optimist Club, Prime Times Sports, Ralph’s Fresh Faire, Regal Cleaners, Village Books, Baskin Robbins, Palisades Patrol, Morgan’s Cafe, Sports Mania, CBRE/The Pion Group, StorQuest Self Storage, Z Gallerie, and Village One-Hour Photo. Anyone still wishing to donate to the Field of Dreams fund should call Mike Skinner at 478-5041.

PRIDE of the Chaparral

Mountain lions have webbed skin and fur between their toes that allow them to move silently. Their claws are kept in (retracted) when they walk, but can be useful when climbing trees. Photo courtesy of the Mountain Lion Foundation
Mountain lions have webbed skin and fur between their toes that allow them to move silently. Their claws are kept in (retracted) when they walk, but can be useful when climbing trees. Photo courtesy of the Mountain Lion Foundation

Lions rule the African plains and their reputation as ‘King of the Jungle’ is legendary. ”Southern California, though, has its own lions and while they may not roar or have manes like their African neighbors, they are every bit as impressive. Listed in the dictionary under more names than any animal in the world, our local cat is classified by biologists ‘Felis concolor,’ which is Latin for ‘cat of one color.’ With over 30 subspecies, most designated by geographical region, the cat can be called a puma, cougar or panther. In California, it is most commonly known as the mountain lion, our state’s largest predator. Two of these majestic animals are known to live in the Santa Monica Mountains and have been sighted in the foothills above Pacific Palisades. So as not to get too attached to the animals, scientists have named them simply P1 and P2, the ‘P’ being an initial for puma. No mammal in the Western Hemisphere rivals the mountain lion in habitat diversity and range. ‘Our overall goal is to understand how these animals are using the landscape,’ says Seth Riley, Ph.D., a wildlife ecologist for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation area. ‘Because Los Angeles has urbanized so rapidly, it’s a good place to start in terms of learning more about how these lions adapt in areas of high population density. The work we’re doing can hopefully be applied to other fast-growing areas in the future.’ Often mistaken for bobcats, mountain lions are much larger, standing two to three feet high at the shoulders, and usually have tawny-colored, light brown fur with a whitish underside and dark brown or black-tipped ears. They are further distinguished by their long tails (over a third of their body length from nose to end of tail), which they use for balance, and their distinctive ‘M’ shaped paw pads. The males weigh between 120 and 190 pounds (females weigh 80 to 100 pounds). ‘These animals can readily adapt to their environment,’ says Michelle Cullens, director of conservation for the Mountain Lion Foundation, which is headquartered in Sacramento. ‘Just in our state alone, they can live from the bottom of Death Valley to the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevadas.’ Capable of hearing ultrasonic sound far beyond human range and equipped with ‘night vision,’ lions are adept at moving silently and sneeking up on their prey. When walking, a mountain lion’s hind foot steps in its fore track, creating a recognizable overlapping pattern. Mountain lions are capable of bounding 40 feet while running, leaping 15 feet up a tree and sprinting up to 50 miles per hour, all necessary skills to hunt their prey, which locally consists primarily of mule deer. A healthy lion will kill a deer every one to four weeks and return to feed on the carcass over a period of several days. Mountain lions are crepuscular creatures, meaning they are most active and do most of their hunting at night, dawn and dusk. Despite living in the vicinity of large human populations, lions in Southern California avoid people whenever possible yet are often misunderstood as vicious creatures that will attack humans and pets unprovoked. Scientists confirm nothing is further from the truth. ‘When you look at their patterns, you see they avoid areas frequented by people and if they have to cross a path or walk under a freeway, it’s almost always overnight when people are sleeping,’ Riley says. ‘We occasionally get reports about mountain lion sightings, but when we go out to investigate, it usually turns out to be something else, like a bobcat or a coyote. Lions have very distinct tracks so we can usually tell right away.’ It is illegal to kill mountain lions for sport in California. But as recently as 2000 there were 160 lions legally killed statewide under depredation permits for preying on pets (cats and dogs) or livestock (goats, sheep, ducks and chickens). Considering that the population of California is well over 30 million, encounters between people and lions are infrequent and attacks are extremely rare. Lions killed because of direct interaction with people average fewer than 10 a year. ‘Mountain lions are the top carnivore in Southern California,’ says Linda Sweanor, wildlife researcher with the University of California, Davis who recently concluded research on mountain lion and human interactions in San Diego. ‘Lions are a biological keystone for maintaining much of the beauty and richness of California’s landscapes.’ Mountain lions live on average 10 to 12 years in the wild. Females can bear up to four cubs at a time, but 50 percent die before the age of 2 as a result of road kill, falling, starvation or being eaten by other predators. Cutting-edge technology assists scientists in monitoring the lions’ movements better than ever before, primarily in the form of remote cameras, radio collars equipped with VHF (Very High Frequency) and GPS (Global Positioning System) units capable of transmitting accurate data at regular intervals. ‘The GPS readings are great because they come from a satellite,’ Riley said. ‘We receive downloads 150 times a month with precise GPS location points so we can track them pretty well. The collars, which weigh only two pounds, have built-in timers that can be programmed to drop off by themselves after a year. Once located and recovered, they can be reused. In fact, P1 has already been captured and recollared twice. ‘They can travel as far as 50 miles a day,’ says Charles Taylor, chief of external affairs for the Thousand Oaks branch of the National Parks service. ‘Generally, they won’t go nearly that far. But like any carnivore, they have to follow their food source.’ When P1 was first caught and radio-collared in July 2002, researches examined his teeth and determined his age to be between 5 and 7 years old, making him 7 to 9 now. At about 145 pounds, depending upon when he last fed, he is about as large as the species gets in California. P2 was 2 or 3 years old when caught and collared in October 2002, making her 4 or 5 now, and scientists have found no evidence of her having bred yet. Though their ranges overlap, Riley admits there is a distinct possibility that P1 and P2 will never meet and, therefore, never mate. ‘Being a male, P1 has a much larger range than P2,’ Riley said. ‘He roams from the Rustic Canyon/Topanga area all the way to Pt. Mugu State Park west of Malibu, but he spends most of his time in the same range as P2, who stays in the general vicinity of Malibu Creek State Park. So we know they’ve been near each other. But these are solitary animals for the most part. They don’t travel in prides like African lions do.’ Though Riley said there could be anywhere from three to seven mountain lions in the Santa Monicas, it is unlikely there is room for another male in P1’s home range, an area encompassing over 150 square miles. The lions’ constant movement and expansive territory make it difficult for researchers to accurately determine their numbers. Riley has collared two other lions, a juvenile male designated P3 and an adult female (P4). P3 was caught in the Simi Hills, north of the 101 freeway and south of the 118, while P4 is in the Santa Susana Mountains around the area of Interstate 5 and Highway 126. Though her entire range was burned by the wildfires in October, Riley said P4’s range has not dramatically changed. Because they are California’s largest predators, mountain lions are vital to the state’s ecosystem. ‘Studies have shown that when predators are present, herbivores are forced to keep moving and that improves the gene pool, seeds are spread in a natural way and the whole environment operates the way it should,’ says Lynn Sadler, Executive Director of the Mountain Lion Foundation. ‘Lions bring balance to the equation because it’s survival of the fittest.’ The mountain lion may not be ‘King of the Jungle’ in Southern California, but it is, as the Cherokee Indians call it, Klandagi, ‘Lord of the Forest”and pride of the chaparral. Residents interested in learning how to peacefully co-exist with mountain lions and other local wildlife should attend a free ‘People and Wildlife’ Program presented by On the Edge, a consortium of five wildlife organizations (including the Mountain Lion Foundation), next Thursday at 7 p.m. in the dining hall of Temescal Gateway Park.

Getty’s Perloff Illuminates Jewish Freedom in Lissitzky’s ‘Had Gadya’

When Peter, Paul and Mary used to sing ‘I Know an Old Lady,’ about the old lady who swallowed a cat, then a dog, then a goat, then a cow, and finally a horse, they would leave the children in the audience giggling over the tongue-twister. And when Jewish children sing the traditional folk song ‘Had Gadya’ (The Only Kid) at the Passover seder, the capricious nature of that ditty keeps the young ones entertained during the long Passover meal. Just as with ‘I Know An Old Lady,’ ‘Had Gadya’ is an add-on song with a cast of characters, each one following the last: a cat devours the kid, a dog gobbles up the cat, a stick beats the dog and so on until God slays the angel of death. While ‘Had Gadya’ was first introduced in the Passover service in the 15th century, it was not part of the service proper, but appeared at the end of the Haggadah, the text used during the seder. One of the most stunning versions of ‘Had Gadya’ was the brightly illustrated edition by the Russian avant-garde artist El Lissitzky, a typographer, book designer, architect and writer in the early 20th century. Lissitzky’s 1919 version was published by the Yiddish secular organization Kultur Lige in Kiev during a brief period in Russia (1917-1919) when the harsh laws against the Jews were relaxed (including the prohibition on printing of Hebrew or Yiddish words), sparking a whirlwind of activity by the Jewish presses. Seventy-five copies of Lissitzky’s beautifully rendered book were published, each bound by a three-paneled wraparound dust jacket. The Getty Research Institute, which owns an original copy, recently published a facsimile of Lissitzky’s book, with an introduction by Palisadian Nancy Perloff, who is collections curator of modern and new media. Perloff will be telling the tale of the ‘Had Gadya’ and promises to teach the song to Palisadians young and old at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 20 at Village Books, 1049 Swarthmore. Lissitzky took advantage of the linked structure of the story by designing each page of the book around a character. He arranged the words of the story to form a frame around the illustration, and connected the words to the story by color-coding the principal character with the word for that character in the Yiddish text. So, in Verse 1, for example, the ‘kid’ is yellow, as is the Yiddish word for ‘kid.’ ‘Lissitzky was interested in pictorial design,’ Perloff says. ‘He used symbols to convey meaning, so young people would be able to follow the story.’ While the artist’s illustrations have a folk-art, bold style reminiscent of Marc Chagall’s work, to convey the Jewish liberation based on the Exodus story, Lissitzky also intended his illustrations as an allegorical expression of freedom for the Russian people after the 1917 revolution. Perloff notes, for example, that the angel of death who kills the slaughterer in Verse 9, and who in turn is killed by the hand of God in the final verse, wears a crown, which resembles the czarist crowns. The implication is that the force of the revolution overthrew the czars. In 1999, Perloff curated an exhibition of El Lissitzky at the Getty entitled ‘Monuments of the Future,’ which displayed his Yiddish book designs including ‘Had Gadya.’ From that show, the Getty had the opportunity to buy the book, which it did, including the dust jacket, one of just three extant in the world. The facsimile, published by the Getty Research Institute, is a collaboration between Perloff, who provided background on the artist, and Arnold Band, a professor emeritus of Hebrew and comparative literature, whose knowledge of Hebrew, Yiddish and Aramaic was invaluable in providing the English translation of the ‘Had Gadya’ as well as the explanation of the iconography. Perloff herself is fluent in both French and German, which she found most useful in studying Lissitsky’s letters, most of which were written in his wife’s native language, German. ”Raised in an academic family’her parents, Palisadians Marjorie and Joe Perloff, are both professors’Nancy’s education combines language, art history and music. At the Getty Research Institute, she is one of six curators and focuses on acquisitions in European and Russian modernism and in postwar music and the visual arts. While Perloff enjoys the strong intellectual community at the Getty, on top of the hill in Brentwood, she expresses just a slight wistfulness about being so removed from the ‘real world.’ ‘I used to work at 401 Wilshire in Santa Monica,’ she says. ‘You could meet friends for lunch or do an errand or two. Here it’s hard to get away, and it makes it a bit more difficult especially if you have children.’ Perloff and her husband Rob Lempert, a senior research associate at Rand, have an 11-year-old son Ben, who is in sixth grade at Crossroads. So far, Ben is more interested in science than art, Nancy admits. ‘But, maybe it’s because I talk about art so much at home.’

Theater Review: ‘QUILTERS’

A Compelling Drama Sews the Fabric of Life

‘Strumming my pain with his fingers,’ a lyric from Roberta Flack’s 1973 hit song, describes so well the life challenges the women in ‘Quilters’ recount to the audience in the course of the musical now playing at the Morgan Wixson through April 4. Written by Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek, the Tony-Award winning ‘Quilters’ tells the story through music, dance, song, words and quilting, of the pioneer women who immigrated to and settled this country. Using the metaphor of a quilting bee, the play assembles a quilt, each piece a chapter in these women’s lives. Each square speaks to the hard times and life-threatening episodes, relived by serendipitous humor. The story opens on a stage featuring a tableaux of pioneer activities that make up life on the prairie. The matriarch of the family, Sarah (Harriet Losin) declares the quilt she’s working on will be her last, a family album of sorts that holds moving snapshots of her and her family’s experiences. The play is structured as one would piece together a quilt; each square represents a different story which is brought to life through song and dance. Vignettes range from weathering the harsh elements, such as tornadoes and drought, to the perils of bearing children. ‘Our ninth died of cholera,’ one character says, listing her offspring along with other prairie wives. ‘The 10th and 11th were the twins.’ Jody (Lauren Perry) wants to end her pregnancy because of the undue economic hardship on the family, but her doctor refuses to help. A well-meaning friend sends her an herbal solution to the problem which ends up being torture. No doubt life was tough for these sturdy pioneers. But, the play is relieved by the sweet voices of the performers and a fair share of humor. In one sequence, a mother tells her daughter in a fabric shop that they can get only a bit of the bright red calico she likes. ‘You know your father,’ she says. But her father, a Baptist minister reveals his devil-may-care side and buys them the entire bolt. Then there is little sister Dana (Megan Burns) who splashes a bit of vinegar on her older sister’s sweet Sunbonnet Sue quilts, which show sunny characters in wholesome variations of a watering can pose. Dana’s own version would have had Sue bitten by a snake, struck by lightning and stabbed through the heart. Director Anne Gesling has put together a strong cast of women, who through a variety of roles (men’s parts, too), tell the moving story from the snapshots of 19th-century lives. Of particular note are Sarah Jay, a senior at Hamilton Academy of Music, who plays Janie, and Hamilton junior Lauren Perry, who plays Jody. Each of these young women possess beautifully trained voices and accomplished acting skills. The onstage music (Dana McElwain on piano, Anne Gesling on flute/percussion and Mike Brick on banjo) infuses the stories with a sparseness to match the strong-willed women of the era. ”Quilters continues through Sunday, April 4, with performances Fridays and Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $12 for students. Contact: 828-7519.