With the UCLA-USC football game looming Dec. 6, the rivalry is heating up in workplaces across Los Angeles.

Take Cramster.com, a Pasadena startup that provides online study assistance for students. The company was co-founded by Robert Angarita, a USC graduate, and Aaron Hawkey, who went to UCLA. They've been friends since high school, but rivals since college.

"It hasn't been easy for me," admitted Cramster Chief Executive Hawkey, 31. "Since the company's been founded, the Bruins haven't done well against the Trojans."

There's a lot of work to do with a startup, but they claim they must lay waste to about five hours a week arguing over how many national championships USC has won since Coach Pete Carroll took over. After all, there was that split championship in 2004.

"Oh, it's definitely one," needled Hawkey.

Answered 30-year-old Angarita, the company's president, "I keep explaining to him that everyone says it's two."

Know when to fold 'em

Cherri Dokken is one of the world's few female poker tournament directors in a sport traditionally ruled by men. So, she said, she didn't smile for her first two years on the job. "I had to gain their respect.

"They called me 'The Enforcer' for a long time, then the 'Queen Bee,'" Dokken added. "I think they were being polite."

The Queen Bee, 61, recently retired after a 17-year career at the Commerce Casino in Commerce.

"We bought two acres in Tennessee and we're moving on Thanksgiving Day," says Dokken, whose husband retired a decade ago.

The only drawback in Tennessee, Dokken said, is its lack of gambling, but not to worry. "It's legal in (nearby) Mississippi, so we'll play a little" down there.


Red-carpet Rose

When moviegoers head to theaters soon to see the biopic "Milk," they can thank Rose Shiner for helping to make the Gus Van Sant movie happen. A Los Angeles film finance attorney at Bingham McCutchen LLP, Shiner finalized the loan documents for Comerica Inc., which was a lender on the film and monitored the financing. "The lawyers make sure that everything is teed up," Shiner said. "Or the loans can't close and the money doesn't flow out of the bank."

Shiner also worked as the key attorney on financing deals for the Oliver Stone film "W" and Sylvester Stallone's action picture "Rambo 4." Shiner said there are nice perks, too, like premieres. "We get invited to some, like 'Rambo 4,'" she said. "That was a big premiere in Vegas."

Staff reporters Charles Proctor, David Haldane and Alexa Hyland contributed to this column. Page 3 is compiled by Editor Charles Crumpley. He can be reached at ccrumpley@labusinessjournal.com.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.