Monday, December 28, 2015

Holiday Newsletter 2015 from David and Pat Westbay

Hello again, friends. Can it be that another year has flown by? Considering what an eventful year 2015 has been for Pat and me, it is hard to believe that it is almost over. Below is a recap of our year to date. 

The most significant occurrences for us this past year were our losses. It actually started at the end of 2014, when Pat’s dad, Robert Morris, passed away on December 26. He had been fighting cancer for several years, and developed heart issues in the last months of 2014 which finally caught up with him. He was a wonderful father to Pat and her brother Bill, as well as husband to his wife Adele who passed in 2006, and grandfather to our son Ben. We miss him every day. We also lost my mom, Shirley Westbay, who left us on August 3, 2015.  She became ill the previous day, was admitted to the hospital and sedated to stabilize her condition, and did not recover. The doctors were unable to pinpoint the cause of death. She did not suffer, for which we are grateful. All seven of her children, plus her surviving sister, sons- and daughters-in-law, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and numerous other relatives and friends miss her loving and joyful spirit.

Our life here has stayed on a fairly even keel. Pat continues to attend her Spanish classes. I have been acting periodically, including more murder-mystery dinner shows and some background work for a couple of TV shows. I also performed for Sci-Fest LA, in their fundraiser performance of “The War of the Worlds” in January and in “The Lunchtime Show,” one of the one-act plays in the run of the festival in May. I am currently on their newly created Festival Board and am working on fundraising and promotion for the 2016 Sci-Fest LA festival. Be sure to check their website at if you want more information.

Travel is still our favorite thing, and we took several trips this year. As usual, we went back to Grapevine to visit Ben a few times. He is still living in our old house in Grapevine and working for Fidelity Investment Services. He got a promotion in the summer and has become a very highly regarded member of his work group. One of our trips to see him was over Thanksgiving, which featured a joint family dinner with Ben’s girlfriend Lisa and her parents and brother. A wonderful time was had by all. Another trip was a cruise with our friends from Cruise Trek, this time to the Caribbean, visiting Haiti, Jamaica, and Cozumel, Mexico. I also took a short cruise which featured my favorite band, Yes, and other bands that play music in the same genre.

Since Pat’s dad’s passing, we have been spending a good bit of time settling his estate and cleaning out his house in Culver City. We have been taking that slowly, but are now very near the start of renovations on the house, after which we plan to move in. We expect the remodeling to start sometime in January, and for the work to take several months. Living in that house will put us closer to Pat’s brother Bill, whom we have been having over for dinner once a week at the Culver City house to keep up the tradition that he had with his dad these past years.

We wish you peace, harmony and joy this holiday season and in the New Year! Please keep in touch!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sci-Fest LA 2015, and Getting Back into the Game

In a few days, Sci-Fest LA 2015 will wrap up its run with the final performance of Program B on May 31. I have had the great good fortune to be a participant in this festival, on multiple levels and in multiple roles. When I first heard about Sci-Fest in the spring of 2014, I got very excited to find out that a one-act  festival of science fiction plays would be produced right here in Los Angeles, just a few months after I had moved back here from Texas. Little did I know how involved I would get, and how Sci-Fest would inspire me to get serious again about acting and theater.

After donating some money towards their first Kickstarter campaign and helping as a volunteer to promote Sci-Fest in 2014, I was invited by co-producer and Sci-Fest mastermind David Dean Bottrell (“DDB”) to join their marketing committee for the 2015 festival. I jumped at the chance, because I attended both programs of the 2014 edition and was blown away by the stellar level of excellence in all aspects of the production. I knew that I wanted to continue working with this amazing group and contribute in some small way to the next festival. I attended committee meetings, met other supporters, and learned a lot about how a festival is organized and publicized. Along the way, I took a month of acting classes from DDB and really enjoyed that. I also volunteered to read some of the scripts that had been submitted for the 2015 festival. That was a fascinating process; I read a lot of science fiction plays about a wide range of stories, characters and settings. At least one of the plays that I passed along as a “possibility” ended up being chosen for production in the 2015 festival.

In the fall of 2014, a fundraising event was announced: a staged reading of the original 1938 radio broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” as produced by the Mercury Radio Theater and directed by Orson Welles. The one-time-only performance would star a long list of well-known actors from Star Trek, the X-Files, and other sci-fi-related shows. Plus, a few very generous donors would have the opportunity to actually be on stage, in the performance, playing very small roles alongside the all-star cast.  I made the required donation to get two tickets to this can’t-miss event so my wife and I could see it. After some deep thought, however, I decided that I could not pass up the chance to take one of those donor roles. After all, what were the chances that I would ever get to act in the same play as some of my favorite actors such as Walter Koenig, Wil Wheaton, Armin Shimerman, Tim Russ, Rene Auberjonois, Michael Dorn, Linda Park, Dean Haglund, and Jason Ritter? I upgraded my original donation and secured one of the cameo roles. Rehearsing and performing with these people was one of the highlights of my acting career, at least so far. Apparently I did a reasonable job in my brief role; I think what followed in the coming months may have been partly a result of my involvement with “The War of the Worlds.”

Not long after “The War of the Worlds,” the Indiegogo campaign for Sci-Fest LA 2015 was kicked off. All of us involved in the promotion of the festival started posting countless Facebook notes and contacting everyone we could think of who could help us tell the world that this year’s festival was coming and needed plenty of financial support. As the dates of the festival drew closer, and the casting process for the plays began, DDB emailed me saying that he wanted to offer me a small role in one of the plays that had been chosen for Program A of the 2015 festival, as well as the chance to understudy a lead role in one of the plays in Program B. I was rather shocked; I assumed that the producers would recruit from the cream of the crop of Los Angeles actors, which I have not quite joined yet. I suspect that DDB asking me to be in the cast of this play stemmed from a number of factors: my support of the festival, both financial and in time and effort; my participation in “The War of the Worlds”; and my having attended his acting class. I guess he decided that he could trust me to get in front of an audience and not embarrass myself or the festival. Before he could change his mind, I accepted the offers. Soon I had a script for “The Lunchtime Show” and found that my character may not have a lot of lines, but he is very important to the story. I didn’t think of Tourist # 1 as a small part at all. Before long, we started rehearsing and I met the director and my fellow cast members. All turned out to be great people and fine artists. I would love to work with each and every one of them in the future; I hope that most of them would be willing to work with me again too. I also attended a few rehearsals of “A Billion Tuesday Mornings” for which I would understudy the role of Gerald, an autistic man who invents a device that could change the world. Another great group of people, whom I wish I had had the chance to know better.

Rehearsing and performing “The Lunchtime Show” has been a lot of work but even more fun. Besides the excellent cast and crew of our show, I also got to meet the casts and crews of the other Program A plays; all terrific people as well, who put on four incredible shows in addition to ours. But wait; that’s not all! About halfway into the run of the festival, DDB emailed me asking if I would be available for “Sci-Fest LA Radio Theatre” which was scheduled for Act II of Program B for their second set of performances. They had offered some small roles for big donors again but had not had as many takers as they had hoped. Once again, I chalk up this opportunity to having done the same thing for “The War of the Worlds” as well as my willingness to help out when asked. I accepted and will be going on in Program B for three performances during the final weekend of the festival. I have attended one rehearsal and look forward to joining the all-star cast for the performances.

Being around so many professional actors, directors, technical artists and others during Sci-Fest LA has offered me a number of lessons about the entertainment industry. I have been away from L.A. for over 20 years; I have forgotten many things about the business, and have discovered that a lot has changed in those years. I stayed active in performing while I was away, but almost exclusively in amateur productions. There is a lot that I have to learn or relearn now that I am back in a town where virtually everyone is better informed and more experienced than I am. Some of the differences that I am noticing may go against the habits that I developed in my community theater years, and I’m not sure that the changes that may seem necessary here will sit well with me. I am a bit of an old dog now, and I will have to see how well I can learn some new tricks without compromising who I am at heart. I am hoping that some of the fine folks that I have met through Sci-Fest LA will help me out now and then as I stick my toes into the waters of the L.A. show business ocean.

When I heard about Sci-Fest in 2014, I just hoped to have the chance to see their productions and tell others about them if they were good, which they most certainly were. Having become a member of the Sci-Fest LA “family,” if I can claim that privilege, has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me. I sincerely hope that Sci-Fest LA will continue for many years into the future, growing and expanding until it TAKES OVER THE UNIVERSE, BWAHAHAH!!! And I hope I can continue to be a part of it along the way.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Holiday Newsletter 2014 from David and Pat Westbay

Greetings, friends! Another year is drawing to an end, and another holiday season is upon us. It must be time to send out our news for the past 12 months or so. Read on if you want to know what we have been up to.

Back in January, we left our home of the past 23+ years in Grapevine TX to move back to Thousand Oaks CA, into the townhouse where we lived before moving to Texas and which we had been renting out. The relocation went smoothly and we got settled back into our townhouse fairly quickly. We reacquainted ourselves with Thousand Oaks and the surrounding area, discovering how much has changed and how much has stayed the same. Pat found some classes to take through the local adult school and senior center. David connected with the Los Angeles branch of a murder-mystery company that he worked with in Texas, and has performed with them a number of times this year. He also registered with a couple of companies that cast extras for films and TV shows, and he has worked as a “background” actor a couple of times. He hopes to do more acting work in the coming year. He is also volunteering on the marketing committee for Sci-Fest LA, a one-act science fiction play festival which will be produced in May of next year. Go to for more information about that.

We also took a few trips this year. We went back to Grapevine to visit Ben, who is still living in our old house in Grapevine. He got a job as a contractor with Fidelity Investment Services back in February, and that led to a full-time permanent position with them which started in the summer. He is doing very well there and enjoying it. Our big trip was a cruise of the British Isles area in July. We had wanted to sail this itinerary for several years, and the opportunity came up for us to go with our friends from Cruise Trek, a group we have sailed with before. We visited Paris, France; the Channel islands; Cobh and Dublin, Ireland; Glasgow, Scotland; Holyhead, Wales; and Liverpool and London, England. It was a fabulous trip that lived up to or exceeded our hopes.

Another large part of our lives is visiting with and helping Pat’s dad in Culver City. We drive to his place frequently, take him out to eat, drive him to doctor’s appointments, and generally lend him a hand when he needs it. Being closer to him was one of the main reasons we moved out here, and we are glad to have the chance to spend time with him and offer him any assistance we can. We had a very nice Thanksgiving with him and Pat’s brother Bill.

We will be flying back to Grapevine near the end of the year to spend some holiday time with Ben. We don’t know everything that 2015 holds for us, but we will make it the best year we can.

We wish you peace, harmony and joy this holiday season and in the new year! Please keep in touch!

David and Pat Westbay
texas [dot] westbay [at] verizon [dot] net
We are both on Facebook too!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Sci-Fest 2014, “Evening A” – Science Fiction Lives On Stage

As some of you may have noticed, I have posted a number of items on my Facebook page and Twitter account promoting a one-act play festival called “Sci-Fest” here in Los Angeles. I first heard about the festival back in February; I think it was from one of those “Suggested Page” ads on Facebook that mentioned the Kickstarter campaign for the festival.

I have been a fan of both science fiction and live theater since I was young enough to be a junior Starfleet cadet. The idea that someone wanted to mount a festival combining two of my favorite things, and in the Los Angeles area where I had just returned after 23+ years away, was too appealing to pass up. I pledged some money to the campaign and said that I would be willing to help if the producers needed volunteers. David Dean Bottrell, one of those producers, contacted me and then put me in touch with their marketing director, Greg Hignight. Since then I have been trying to help spread the word about Sci-Fest with some Facebook and Twitter posts.

I don’t have any personal stake in the festival. I don’t have any friends involved; I’m not an “investor” since my Kickstarter pledge will not be repaid to me (nor did I expect it to be). I am just a lover of theater and science fiction, and I wanted to support this effort to bring those branches of the arts to area audiences. I honestly was not sure whether the festival, if it happened, would meet the expectations that I had for it. Last night, I had the opportunity to attend the second performance of “Evening A” of the festival (Evening B will premiere next week) to see the results of the producers’ efforts, and judge for myself.

I am very pleased to report that my expectations were exceeded, by several parsecs. Evening A consists of four short plays: “Forwarding Address” by John-Paul Nickel; “Freedom of Speech” by Adam Esquenazi Douglas; “The Ringer” by Minnesota Plates; and “Kaleidoscope” by Ray Bradbury. All four plays came off very well in every way. “Forwarding Address” is a serio-comic piece about two engaged couples and a disturbing message for them that might come from the future. “Freedom of Speech” is a twist on the one-character-on-stage device; it concerns a day-after-tomorrow criminal justice issue which might not be far from today’s reality. “The Ringer” is right out of the “Twilight Zone” with its unseen horrors lurking just outside and our characters slowly revealing the predicament they are in. “Kaleidoscope” is vintage Bradbury; a group of astronauts must face their destinies after their spaceship suffers a catastrophic accident.

Each play was impeccably performed by its respective cast. I hesitate to point out individual performances, because each play, and the production as a whole, is a true ensemble piece. The design elements, from the sets to the lighting to the sound to everything else, were right on target. There are several video screens above and around the stage which are used before the show begins, during the interludes between plays, and occasionally during the plays; the integration of these video effects truly enhanced the production rather than distracting from it. The videos were especially useful during the unavoidably lengthy set changes, providing a way to keep the audience engaged.

Science fiction and its related genres have been huge players in film and television for many years. They have not had nearly the foothold in live theater. Production challenges have probably contributed to the lack of theatrical presentations of science fiction material. But I believe that this inaugural edition of Sci-Fest proves that high-quality, thought-provoking, enjoyable productions of genre plays are indeed possible and deserve our support. I recommend that anyone who is able to do so should make the effort to attend Sci-Fest, to help make it the success it should be, and to demonstrate that science fiction belongs on the stage just as surely as any other type of production. I, for one, can’t wait until I get to see the plays in the Evening B program.

Get your tickets now before they are gone:

Monday, February 03, 2014

New chapter

Considering that I have just gone through one of the major “life events” that people experience, i.e. moving to a new home, I thought it would be a good time to begin writing something on a semi-regular basis. I don’t know how frequent these entries will be, or how substantial, or what they will be about, but I know that I have wanted to put things on virtual paper for some time now. Maybe this fresh start in a new location will give me some inspiration.

If you are unaware of the reason for our move, Pat and I wanted to be closer to her dad and brother. We both took early retirement from our jobs within the past couple of years, and our son Ben graduated from college (University of Oklahoma) last August, so we decided last year that the time was right to make the move. Ben decided to stay in our house in Grapevine, to take advantage of the job opportunities in the area and the lower cost of living than here in California. Having a girlfriend there also factored into his decision. We will miss him, but will be in touch with him often and will be back for visits.

We arrived in California January 18, having driven from our former home in Grapevine TX starting Jan. 16. It feels strange referring to Grapevine as my “former” home, and I know it will take some time to get accustomed to saying and hearing that. The drive out here was the longest trip that I have ever taken by car where I was behind the wheel the whole way. Fortunately, we had very nice weather the whole trip. The scenery was mega-boring in west Texas, but got more interesting in New Mexico and Arizona with hills and the occasional fascinating rock formation to break up the monotony. We even had time to take a short side trip through Saguaro National Park outside of Tucson AZ. That was a beautiful place, and we wished we had had more time to spend there. 

Saguaro National Park, Arizona

When we finally got to CA, we were several days ahead of the moving truck’s scheduled delivery, so we stayed with Pat’s dad until the truck got to our home in Thousand Oaks Jan. 23. Since that day, our lives have consisted almost entirely of unpacking, shopping, more unpacking, and meeting various technicians whom we engaged to install phone service, satellite TV, etc. And then, some more unpacking. As of today, just over a week after the truck made its delivery, we have cleared the boxes out of almost every room, have most of the furniture where we want it, and are getting an idea of what everyday life here might be like. It will be an ongoing process as we adjust to the house, the neighborhood, our neighbors, and the community. I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all, but the stress of the moving experience is dissipating more with each new day. Pat suggested that we start looking at all of the opportunities that the Southern California area offers, figure out which of them we want to take advantage of, and make plans to do so. I signed on to that course of action immediately. We are both excited to jump in and enjoy ourselves in this wonderful region in which to live.

Besides all the things there are to see and do, there are also people here for us to catch up with. Some are friends and relatives that we have kept in touch with since we moved to Texas, and some are friends and relatives that we are hoping to renew ties with. That process will begin very soon. If you are reading this and would like to reach out to us, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment (without including any personal information, you know, to be safe), or better yet send an email to the address you will find in the left sidebar to let us know how to get in touch with you.

We are excited about this new chapter in our lives. I will try to record some of my thoughts and impressions as time goes on. With luck, it won’t be too boring.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

2013 Westbay Year-End Newsletter and Moving Notice

The Westbays are on the move! Details below!

Now that we have your attention: We wish you all a very happy holiday season, whatever you celebrate and wherever you are. It has been another year of milestones and changes for us here, and we aren't done quite yet.

The year began with Pat and David both retired from their previous jobs. David started looking for acting opportunities, and soon found some with two companies, doing shows with Keith & Margo’s Murder Mysteries and gunfighter performances with Lagniappe Productions. While these jobs didn't constitute full-time work, they were a lot of fun. Pat continued to take Spanish classes at Tarrant County College, and David took a Spanish class there too in the fall. Both of us are enjoying retirement quite a bit.

Meanwhile, Ben finished his senior year at the University of Oklahoma, graduating officially in August after completing a few summer session courses. He made the Honor Roll again in both the spring and summer sessions, which we are very proud of. He is now back home here in Grapevine, working at Sun and Ski Sports for the holiday season while looking for a permanent full-time job in the financial services field.

The biggest change of all is in the works and has been in the planning stages for several months. Pat and David are moving back to Thousand Oaks, California, in January. They will be moving into the townhome that they lived in before moving to Texas, and which they have been renting out since the move in 1990. The main reason for the move is to be closer to Pat’s dad, who lives in Culver City (on the west side of Los Angeles) and who has some health issues. We are excited to be going back to where Pat’s roots are, and to where David spent a lot of great years before moving to Texas.

Ben will stay here in Grapevine for now and live in our house while he continues his job search. The job market in North Texas is good, and the cost of living is lower than in CA. Also, Ben has a girlfriend here, which is certainly a factor. J Pat and David expect to come back to Texas regularly to visit Ben, as well as friends we have made here over the past 23 years.

We have not set a specific move date yet, but we are targeting the middle of January for it to happen. We will post updates to our Facebook pages, and send official change of address notices when our move-in date is confirmed. We will be here in Grapevine until the move, and Ben will be here after that. If you want to be sure that we notify you of our new address, please email us at the address below and we will send you our new address when it becomes effective.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and please keep in touch!

David, Pat and Ben Westbay – texas [dot] westbay [at] verizon [dot] net

Monday, December 10, 2012

2012 Westbay Family Newsletter

The holidays are upon us already, and so it is time to write up our family news for 2012. It has been a year of milestones for us; read on for the details.

Ben, Pat & David
At the start of the year, Pat had been retired from Verizon for just over a year, and David was still working for Hewlett-Packard (HP) supporting the Belk Department Store client’s telephone systems. Ben was entering the spring semester of his junior year at the University of Oklahoma (OU). We were all in our routines and life went along just fine through the spring.
First milestone: On June 13, David and Pat celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. We had been trying to decide on what to do to commemorate the occasion, and eventually settled on a trip to see Niagara Falls. David had been there before but Pat had not, though she had wanted to go for a long time. We flew to Buffalo NY and stayed there, since it is an easy drive to the Falls from there. We visited both the American and Canadian falls; the Rainbow Bridge over the Niagara River has a pedestrian walk which allowed us to park our rental car on the US side and walk over to the Canadian side to see things from over there. You can find some photos from the trip here. While we were there, we got to visit with David’s brother Phil and sister-in-law Bev. They drove down from their home in Burlington, ON, and took us on a drive through the beautiful town Niagara-on-the-Lake and then to their house. We had a really nice visit, but much too short. All told, it was a fun anniversary trip.

Second milestone: In June, HP announced that they needed to cut expenses, and part of that effort would include reducing their workforce. They put together an Enhanced Early Retirement program to try to give some of the more senior employees an incentive to leave the company. They offered a bonus payout based on years of age and years of seniority, plus other enhanced benefits. David qualified for the program; after lengthy discussions, we decided that he should go ahead and apply. At the end of June, he received confirmation that he was accepted in the program, and would retire as of October 31, 2012. Thus, as this message is written, David has been retired for about a month and a half. It has been strange not having to get up early and work five days a week, but the adjustment is coming along well.

Third milestone: On August 12, Ben turned 21. It is hard to believe how fast he has grown up. He is now in his senior year at OU and doing very well. His major is Economics, and we are counting on him to straighten out the US economy as soon as he graduates. J Ben has grown into a fine young man, and we are very proud of him.

Other assorted news: Pat has been visiting her dad regularly in Los Angeles, helping him with errands and keeping him company. She has also been taking some Spanish classes at the local community college here and is enjoying brushing up on that. David and Pat recently went to Las Vegas, where David played in a poker tournament with friends from the poker blogger community. You can read more about that in David’s poker blog here. David has acted in a couple of community theater productions, and hopes to do more of that in the coming year now that his schedule is a bit more open.
We feel blessed to have had a wonderful year in 2012, and look forward to another good one in 2013. You can reach us on Facebook, or via e-mail at texas DOT westbay AT verizon DOT net. We wish you all a peaceful and joyous holiday season, and the best New Year ever!