Saturday, July 30, 2005

Friday, July 29, 2005

Kuiper Belt Objects

Suddenly, two!
Seven-To-One Year Rule Update

Apparently the ages of dogs (and other domestic animals) don't scale exactly seven-to-one to human ages, legend notwithstanding:

Modern Advertising for Vegans

Stuff yourself like an omnivore!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Weird Traditions

Here is B3ta's question of the week: What weird stuff have you been made to do "because it's a tradition." Here is my reply...I hope to have more replies before the week is up:
Enter The Rabbit
Every night, when I arrive home and enter the yard, the dog pops his head out of the garage and barks. Alerted, the rabbit comes out of hiding and she chases me and the dog up the backstairs into the house. Inside, the dog and I run around screaming, closing doors, while the rabbit hurriedly tries to enter every room, particularly the bathroom, spraying pee and dropping pellets as she goes. Then we entice the rabbit outside again with a banana, and proceed to clean up.

Every household needs a daily ritual.
The "Other" Vietnam Syndrome

Excellent post over at Legal Fiction. Why is it that being right about any issue, particularly war and peace, automatically disqualifies you from national office? Why are we condemned to be ruled by dunces?
Name That Cult


Angela Yee WILL be a triathalon competitor!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Astonishing!

The southwestern U.S. monsoon disappoints at times, like it did for Ahwatukee, adjacent to Phoenix, AZ, last night. Some places, however know how to do monsoons! - vast Mumbai, Maharashtra, India:
The city's weather bureau said that Mumbai received 944.2 millimeters (37.1 inches) of rainfall in a 24-hour period, the most rainfall ever in a single day in Indian history and beating the previous record from July 1910.
Scofflaw

But LA will miss this water!:
An Inyo County judge ordered the city of Los Angeles' water department Monday to either act on repeated court orders to restore the Lower Owens River or stop pumping water from it.
Cow Emission Update

So it's the cows! They must secure permits or be removed from the San Joaquin Valley Air Basin:
To Mitloehner's surprise, the first results from that study show the presence of smog-causing compounds dropped significantly after the cows left the chamber, even though they left fresh manure behind.

"We thought it was the waste that would lead to the majority of emissions, but it seemed to have been the animals," he said.

The chief offender appears to be the ruminating process. After a cow eats, the food is briefly deposited in its bathtub-sized stomach. There it mixes with bacteria, begins to break down and produces methane, a greenhouse gas. About 20 minutes later, the food comes up again as cud. As the cow chews it, the methane is released into the air. The process also emits methanol and ethanol, both VOCs.

For some in the industry, the results indicate that dairy farmers who may be forced to mitigate pollution may be trying to fight nature.

"Is this something that we really want to do, try to regulate a living thing?" said J.P. Cativiela, a program coordinator for Dairy CARES, an industry-funded environmental group. "All living things have emissions, plants, animals, even, people. It absolutely makes sense to regulate the industrial part of a dairy. Are we really seriously talking about regulating animals?"
Clear Connection

The liberal blogosphere has been making this point for a year and a quarter: the techniques used at a specialized prison like Guantanamo, where many of the prisoners were combatants, are not at all appropriate for the larger, mass-population prison of Abu Ghraib, where many of the prisoners are innocent civilians caught up curfew sweeps (evil idiots: Rumsfeld, Cambone, Feith, etc.):
The former warden of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq testified Wednesday that he attended a meeting in which the then-commander of the Guantanamo Bay prison recommended using military dogs for interrogation.

Maj. David Dinenna testified at the end of a preliminary hearing for two Army dog handlers accused of abusing Iraqi detainees. Dinenna said at a September 2003 meeting, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, the Guantanamo Bay commander, talked about the effectiveness of using the dogs.

"We understood that he was sent over by the secretary of defense," Dinenna testified.

He said teams of trainers were sent to Abu Ghraib "to take these interrogation techniques, other techniques they learned at Guantanamo Bay and try to incorporate them in Iraq."

The statements bolstered defense claims that the use of dogs to terrify inmates were sanctioned high up the chain of command and were not the actions of a few rogue soldiers, as the government claims.

...A defense lawyer told reporters the approval came from top officials as the Army tried to bring to Iraq some of the techniques that human-rights advocates have criticized at Guantanamo Bay.

"They were trying to Gitmo-ize Abu Ghraib," said Harvey J. Volzer, civilian attorney for Cardona, 31.
Minimum Payments

Digby highlights the disaster this news poses to so many people:
Within the next month, Bank of America, MBNA and Citigroup will raise minimum monthly payments on their cards from 2 percent of the balance to up to 4 percent, not including interest. Other card issuers are expected to make similar changes by the end of the year.
As Digby states:
Where does the government sponsored MNBA tough-love end? The bankruptcy bill wasn't enough, apparently. They now want to drive people who are struggling in a weak labor market into bankruptcy by abruptly doubling their monthly credit card bills. I guess there's no use wasting time in getting people into their properly indentured forever status.

...This sounds like a good campaign issue to me. It hits home --- it's like Gray Davis doubling the car tax in California; it's an increase everybody notices. If the Bush administration is actually pushing it, the Democrats ought to staple this little GOP corporate collusion right on the foreheads of Republicans everywhere in the '06 election.

...The credit card companies get "hurt" by a slight dip in their usurious profits and the individual working stiff gets to learn a lesson in not eating.
Orwellian Makeover Time

Quietly trying to change slogans on the "War on Terror": a term we should have never started using in the first place, since terror is a perennial in warfare, like a war on unpreparedness, or sloth:
The Bush administration is retooling its slogan for the fight against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, pushing the idea that the long-term struggle is as much an ideological battle as a military mission, according to senior administration and military officials.

In recent speeches and news conferences, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the country's top military officer have spoken of "a global struggle against violent extremism" rather than "the global war on terror," which had been the catchphrase of choice.

Administration officials say the earlier phrase may have outlived its usefulness, because it focused attention solely, and incorrectly, on the military campaign.
Not Enough Wind

Here is an interesting meteorological problem that has crept up on coastal Californians, and one that I would never have suspected existed, since we got more than our normal spring rainfall this year, and which I thought meant stormy: there hasn't been enough wind along the coast recently, which means less overturning of cold water from the deep, which means warming of the water and less fertilization of plankton, and thus the starvation of all marine creatures:
Marine biologists are spotting ominous signs all along the Pacific Coast this year: higher nearshore ocean temperatures, plummeting catches of groundfish, an explosion of dead birds on coastal beaches, and perhaps most disturbing, very few plankton - the tiny critters that form the basis of the ocean's intricate food web.

From California to British Columbia, unusual weather patterns have disrupted the marine ecosystem, scientists say. The normal northerly winds failed to show up this year, preventing the usual upwelling of colder water that sustains the plankton, and in turn, many other species from anchovies to cormorants to whales.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Air Quality Publicity

Air quality issues tend to be complex, but still, I wonder why it takes a big push to drive home obvious points in the press. I guess we all tend to overlook the mundane, and have to be jarred into recognizing them again. Tom Cahill is to be commended for his patience:
Largely ignored because of their relatively small numbers, cars that blow smoke from their tailpipes actually are responsible for a significant and highly toxic share of urban traffic emissions, recent scientific studies show.

"Smoking cars appear to be getting a free ride, and they are much more important in terms of the material (they emit) and toxicity than are big diesel trucks," said Tom Cahill, an atmospheric physicist at the University of California, Davis. "These cars should be controlled."

...The pollution largely has escaped attention because the state's program for controlling emissions from passenger cars and light-duty trucks, Smog Check, focuses on the ingredients of the pollutant ozone.

..."It is possible for a smoking car to pass the smog test," said Russ Heimerich, chief of public affairs for the Department of Consumer Affairs, which runs the Smog Check program.

...Cackette said the air board staff is aware of the smoking car problem and is proposing to add to the smog test a check for smoke. The proposal is part of a draft report on Smog Check that has yet to be approved by the air board.

Adding a test to the program won't be simple. It requires a change in law, Cackette said.

California's motor vehicle code already prohibits excessive smoke - smoke that issues from the vehicle for more than 10 seconds - but enforcement is catch as catch can.
And Speaking About The Rumsey Tribe...

From the July 21st Davis Enterprise:
The Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians has announced its 2005 third-quarter charitable donations totaling $337,130 to strengthen regional programs and services in Yolo County and surrounding areas. Of the total amount, $55,000 was pledged as multi-year commitments.

The Rumsey Community Fund, a philanthropic branch of tribal government, has given more than $6.7 million since its inception in October 2000 to local organizations supporting education, community health, arts and humanities, environment, community development and social services.

...Other recipients of Rumsey Community Fund third-quarter donations include Beamer Park Elementary School, Boys and Girls Club of Greater California, Cache Creek High School, Center for Land Based Learning, CommuniCare Health Centers, Cortina Wintun Environmental Protection Agency, Crocker Art Museum, Davis Musical Theatre Company, Dingle Elementary School, Explorit Science Center, First Tee of Greater Sacramento, Firefighters Kids Camp, NorCal Center on Deafness, Plainfield Elementary School, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, RISE Inc., River City Student Athletes Inc., Sacramento Tree Foundation, Supported Life Institute, UC Davis Gorman Museum, WIND Youth Center, Woodland Recreation Foundation, Woodlanders Reaching Out and Karing, Yolo Crisis Nursery and Youth in Focus. The tribe also will be distributing pledge payments to Kiwanis Family House and Children's Receiving Home of Sacramento.
The DMTC grant (I think) is $2,500 (I haven't seen the check yet, although I'm sure it's coming). Congratulations to Ben Wormeli's hard work on the grant application! Makes all those hazy nights in the Cache Creek Casino, playing blackjack, particularly during my busy years there (1995-98) seem - worthwhile!
Obnoxious Paternalism

I had to agree with Paula Lorenzo of the Rumsey Tribe that Dave Cox, Tom McClintock, and other state Republicans were unforgivably insulting by equating tribal sovereignty with private property rights (in the July 16th Sacramento Bee): the two concepts are very distinct, and have long, storied, and most importantly, separate histories. Using supposed high principle in order to conflate the two concepts, especially for base political purposes, is very bad to the reputation of statewide Republicans. McClintock, in particular, has no excuse for his grotesque error:
Cox said Friday he had "placed a call" to Lorenzo and would assure her he meant no offense when he compared the government's seizure of tribal lands at gunpoint in the 19th century to Yolo County's eminent domain action against developer Steve Gidaro and other investors in Conaway Ranch.

At Wednesday's hearing, Cox told a visibly fuming Lorenzo that he "was very disappointed in the Rumsey band for participating in what I consider to be an abuse of power, where you're taking land from an unwilling seller."

...In her letter, Lorenzo called Cox's analogy between the national and state governments' historical treatment of her ancestors - which included paying bounties for their scalps - and the county's eminent-domain action "nothing short of obscene."

"First, our land was taken without any compensation, let alone just compensation, as required by the eminent domain provisions of the United States Constitution and California law," Lorenzo wrote. "More importantly, the purpose for taking our land was to facilitate the genocide of our people."

...McClintock, an outspoken defender of private property rights, told Lorenzo he felt "inexpressible dismay, distrust and sadness" at seeing an Indian tribe associated with an eminent-domain action. He asserted that the notion of tribal sovereignty was an outgrowth of private property rights.

"For you (Cox) and Sen. McClintock to lecture me, a tribal official and descendent of the few survivors of the 19th century holocaust of our people, about the nature of sovereignty and what is in the tribe's interest is the height of arrogance and paternalism," Lorenzo wrote.

...But McClintock made no apologies for his remarks. In a Friday interview, he said he has spent many years defending the sovereign rights of Indian tribes. In the 1980s, he said, he backed a San Diego-area tribe that wanted to build a landfill on its land.

"It was one of the saddest days of my legislative career to see one of those tribes trying to deny the same rights to others that I spent a quarter of a century trying to maintain for them," McClintock said.

...The Rumsey Band, flush with profits from its Cache Creek casino, recently boosted the county over a major hurdle when it said it would help pay for the Conaway property, which Gidaro's group bought for an estimated $60 million last year.

"The Rumsey folks have a sterling reputation," Cox said. "They're the ones who are supplying the money for this eminent domain, and I just take exception to that. But this is not about Rumsey. This is about the eminent-domain proceedings."
Latest Ode to Insomnia

Dannii Minogue twists and turns all night:
Resorting to the sex sells theory for her latest video clip, Ms Minogue appears buck naked, that is, apart from a brown leather eye mask. Australian fans will have to wait until later this year to see the clip for the single, I Can't Sleep At Night.
Apart from the fashionable eye mask, and the bacchic overtones, and the soundtrack, and the publicity machine, it sounds like one of my sleepless summer nights.
Overconfident Rock Star

Not Christian Bale with the help of Hollywood stuntmen and digital effect: not very high, but still, headfirst.
Down With The DLC

Excellent post by Digby regarding recent DLC claptrap purveyed by Will Marshall. Digby concludes:
Being lectured all the time by effete DC Democrats on "patriotism" because I don't back their reflexively hawkish foreign policy is not only insulting it's dumb. It plays into stereotypes that only serve the Republicans by turning this into a dick measuring contest when we should be turning the conversation into who can get the job done. I would submit that if anyone's been traumatized by the Vietnam experience it's the tired Democratic national security hawks who are always rushing to support military action, no matter how insanely counterproductive, because some Republican somewhere might call him a pussy. They've been around since the 60's too. Hell, they've been around forever.
We COULD have signed on to the war-hawk patriot plan IF the WMD danger from Iraq had been accurately characterized by the Bush Administration. "Trust us," they said, and despite our doubts, we mostly did.

After the lurid WMD scare was shown to be utter bunk in April, 2003, war-hawkery is now utterly dead as a viable project for the Democratic future - this isn't 1960 anymore - heck, it isn't even 2004! Anyone who signs on to warhawkery is a fool AND a loser: old lies expire quickly in the market of American politics!

Since Sept. 11th, our highest-profile (even if not most-important) national security problem is Al Qaeda, not Iraq, and America will reward the party with the best, most-innovative approaches on THAT front. Republican warhawkery is ineffective and bankrupt: Democrats can do better!
Today's Monsoon Forecast for Phoenix

Looked like mild relief yesterday! Hope it was nice!

Today, the great spinning wheel of the SW upper level high has brought the dryline nearly E-W across the state of AZ: from Lake Havasu to Holbrook, and right across the Flagstaff/Oak Creek Canyon area. I bet today's best storms will be up there, plus further down the Rim as well.

Thunderstorms are likely to come from the NW or north today, just as they tended to come from the SW yesterday, and ESE the day before (that great spinning wheel in action). Tomorrow, storms are likely to come from the east.

It's important to acknowledge Ghost Emily in continuing to provide moisture to the SW as she decays away SW of San Diego.

Exasperating Gert looks determined to head west, rather than NW, across Mexico. The cavalry charge is strong, but heading in the wrong direction to be of much immediate use to Arizonans.

The great spinning wheel will likely shut the door to rainfall on Thursday, but on Friday the door will open again and scattered Gert moisture, plus wrap-around moisture from NM, will help fire up storms coming from the SE.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Skin Of One's Teeth

Recent air traffic control highlight:
With his plane hurtling down a Kennedy International Airport runway at nearly 100 miles per hour, the first officer of a DC-8 cargo jet looked ahead through the darkness and driving rain and asked the captain sitting at his left, "Is that an aircraft in front of us?"

The captain who gave the account was acting as the co-pilot, and as his eyes alternated between the windows and the instrument panel, he looked ahead but did not see anything. But the first officer saw what he thought were lights, the captain said, and asked again, "Is that an aircraft in front of us?" He swiftly took action, pulling back on the yoke and lifting the roaring jet's nose sharply into the air.
Payola

Now this makes some sense. Last year, I got a J Lo CD from the record club, because I didn't turn in the card on time, so I listened to it, and I thought it was shockingly bad. How could such a CD rise to any prominence when it was clearly junk?
Take Jennifer Lopez's awful record, "Get Right," with its shrill horn and lifted rap. It's now clear that was a "bought" sensation when it was released last winter. So, too, were her previous "hits" "I'm Glad" and "I'm Real," according to the memos. All were obtained by Sony laying out dough and incentives. It's no surprise. There isn't a person alive who could hum any of those "songs" now. Not even J-Lo herself.

...Black-and-white evidence of plasma TVs, laptop computers and PlayStation 2 players being sent to DJs and radio programmers in exchange for getting records on the air. And not just electronic gifts went to these people either. According to the papers released today, the same people also received expensive trips, limousines and lots of other incentives to clutter the airwaves with the disposable junk that now passes for pop music.

...Nice, huh? How many times have I written in this column about talented and deserving artists who get no airplay, and no attention from their record companies? Yet dozens of records with little or no artistic merit are all over the radio, and racked in displays at the remaining record stores with great prominence. Thanks to Spitzer's investigation, we now get a taste of what's been happening.
The Green Fairy...

Strikes again, this time with helping arrange the overseas travel of an orphaned Sri Lankan children's theater ensemble:
The Children of the Sea is based on Shakespeare's play, Pericles, about a fisherman who thinks he has lost his family to the sea only for them to be reunited years later.

Gough, the director, has adapted the theme of the play to cover the striking of the tsunami, which devastated the east coast of Sri Lanka killing 31,000, making 500,000 homeless and leaving thousands of children orphans.

Minogue has sponsored Amali Range, a 14-year-old orphan who takes the lead role in the production. Amali lost her father in the Sri Lankan civil war and her mother in the tsunami.
Weekend Checklist
  • Replaced the stolen pooper-scooper at Western Feed. The theft happened several months ago - the crowd at the store was incredulous that the scooper was stolen in the first place;
  • Found one young, dead possum in yard, and sighted another live one in the driveway: Ugly! Last week, Sparky had alerted me to a young possum hiding under the lawn mower (probably the one that turned up dead - Sparky probably knows more about how that happened than he's comfortable talking about);
  • Washed Sparky, and combed him, in an effort to control a flea infestation;
  • Took risks, but succeeded in using an inadequate step ladder placed on top of the shed attached to the house in order to mount my roof. Unlike Christian Bale in "Batman Begins," who swung from rooftop to fire escape to train top, I was very careful getting on top and getting off the roof. I didn't want to end up like my first ballet instructor, George Zoritch. One day, around 1987 or so, he showed up to dance class with his arm in a sling, limping, with black eyes and bruises. He had fallen off his roof during the weekend. I bet an active guy like himself had been overconfident - like Christian Bale in the movie! My roof is tall, though, and a fall would really, really hurt!;
  • Replaced the duct tape holding together the crumbling brick chimney on top of the house, for the first time in two years;
  • Trimmed the overhanging tree limbs immediately above house and reset the rotating duct fan;
  • Fixed a gutter; and,
  • Tried to see the IMAX version of "Batman Begins," in order to revel in the dangers I had just slipped past on my own roof, but walked out after an hour, feeling tired and queasy after having been in the sun all afternoon.
Swearing Off AM/PM

So I'm a "failed nerd." Hmmphhh! I think I'm a successful nerd!
Metastasizing Arizona Blandness

Kind of a schizophrenic forecast. The National Weather Service was right: there is a upper-level ridge moving in, and strengthening, which will tend to suppress weather. The forecasts a week from now show upper-level conditions which are amazingly bland, and thus not hospitable to storm development. In addition, the air may dry out to some extent. Right now, the satellite pictures show what looks like a hostile situation.

Nevertheless, the precipitation forecasts are surprisingly cheerful and plentiful. It's baffling. There is still more than enough humidity to generate storms, and so maybe the storms that do develop will be the small, orographic (mountain-forced) random kind of thunderstorms Arizona is known for. There is a strong dryline extending from Grand Junction, CO, to San Diego, CA, and so the storms that do develop best will likely be along that line, particularly in NW AZ: Kingman, Prescott, Flagstaff, the Kaibab Plateau.

There will be new moisture moving in later in the week: some from Mexico, and surprisingly, some wrapping around from the east, from NM and TX. The remnants of Tropical Storm Gert may be too small and too far away to cope effectively with the deteriorating upper-level situation in AZ, though. The southern cavalry may arrive late, and weak....

I'm not sure I believe any of this too much: metastasizing blandness is a rare and untrustworthy characteristic in the atmosphere. But we'll see what happens....

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Black and White: Two Local Reviews of WOH's "Nunsense"

The glass is either half-empty, or half-full, depending on one's point-of-view.....

Woodland Daily Democrat Review of WOH's "Nunsense"
'Nunsense' garners plenty of laughs
By ANNAMARIE BARROS/Democrat Play Reviewer

In the 1980s Dan Goggin turned a comic greeting card figure of a nun into a cabaret show that debuted in New York City in 1983.

From that show came "Nunsense" and in 1985 it became a successful off-Broadway show. Goggin received the 1986 Outer Critics' Circle Award for Best Musical, Best Book and Best Music and it has led to five sequels.

The Woodland Opera House is now presenting the original "Nunsense" for two more weekends and it is a must see, laugh-a-minute, stress-reducing, talent-laden production.

The laughter begins while the audience is being seated and some of the cast members, in their habits, come out and chat with the attendees. They ask questions such as: Are you Catholic? Would you like to become a nun? or just make small talk. The play within a play begins with a rollicking number called "Nunsense is Habit Forming" performed by Sister Mary Regina (Nancy Agee), Sister Mary Herbert (Elizabeth Monet Nielsen), Sister Robert Anne (Robin Hushbeck), Sister Mary Amnesia (Kelly Daniells), Sister Mary Leo (Jinn Schroeder) and Sister Mary Achie (Naomi Berg) at the piano.

All of the 29 skits and musical numbers were very entertaining. And each of the ladies did several numbers alone and with others.

The dancing reflected the great talent of choreographer Pamela "Pam" K. Lourentzos. It was lively and physically demanding. In many instances the cast has to sing while they danced. No small feat in nun's habits with waist-length wimples.

It would be difficult to single out any one performance over another, but some numbers deserve a special mention. Nancy Agee was superb as the Reverend Mother. She went from serious to hilarious. She danced and sang up a storm and made everyone laugh. Her comedic talent made her the perfect foil for the others. She and Elizabeth Nielsen did a rousing song and dance duet that was very different from their roles in "Ragtime."

Jinn Schroeder did a delightful interpretation of "The Dying Nun Ballet." She looked like Sally Field as the "Flying Nun" and even evoked Sally's acceptance of her Academy Award by saying "They liked me, they really liked me!"

The biggest surprise was Elizabeth Monet Nielsen doing a torch number to "Holier Than Thou." I hardly recognized the very prim and proper Anna of "Anna and the King of Siam." I didn't know Elizabeth could do it. She was great.

Robin Hushbeck was a standout as one "Just Wants to be a Star." She belted out the number like she owned it. This is her first WOH production and I'm sure she'll be back.

Kelly Daniells was a joy to watch and hear. I first noticed her in "Cinderella" and knew she was a real talent. And she proved it as Sister Mary Amnesia. She has tremendous vocal range, dancing ability and a personality that would charm anyone.

All of this talent was ably assisted by Naomi Berg at the piano. Jeff Kean did a very excellent job as director. He got the most out of all those great ladies on stage, ably assisted by Elizabeth Nielsen as music director.

So make plans to come see all this "nonsense from 'Nunsense.'" It will make the heat bearable for awhile and you'll have some great laughs.

Tickets are on sale now at $16 for adults, $14 for seniors and $8 for ages 17 and younger. Call the WOH box office at 666-9617.

Performances are on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. through July 31.

Davis Enterprise Review of WOH's "Nunsense"
Indulging in a few bad habits
Top-notch cast undercut by dated material, risky jokes

By David Burmester, Enterprise drama critic
Published: July 19, 2005

What happens when you put six talented performers together with an indifferent piece of material?

To find out, one need go no farther than the Woodland Opera House, where Dan Goggin's community theater warhorse, "Nunsense," is the current offering.

"Nunsense," a big hit in 1985, undoubtedly generated huge crowds because it blended almost every nun cliché in the world with some lively music into what must have seemed, at the time, like an irreverent look at a reverend mother and her flock.

But in 1985, of course, most nuns still wore traditional habits, which might account for a musical about singing sisters: I guess it's pretty funny to see women in medieval garb singing and dancing like a cabaret act. This year's WOH nuns still are wearing anachronistic black and white. (After all, what's funny about a nun wearing regular clothes ... as most of them do these days?)

The play's basic premise — established early on, and generally beaten to death for the next two hours — is that 52 members of the Little Sisters of Hoboken accidentally have succumbed to botulism poisoning at the hands of the cook, Sister Julia, Child of God.

Gotta give credit, it's a good pun ... so good, in fact, that we get to hear it about 10 more times, each time accompanied by an obligatory sign of the cross.

Unfortunately, before all 52 sisters can be buried, Mother Superior uses some of the treasury to buy a new DVD player, and so four nuns currently are laid out in the kitchen freezer until funds can be raised to bury them ... and hence the evening's "benefit." Pretty funny stuff, huh?

I didn't laugh very often.

In fairness, though, I should report that other audience members did laugh. Occasionally.

I feel duty-bound to acknowledge that I belong to the church in question. That said, I found the humor less offensive than predictable. Nuns are an easy target, but few nuns these days fit the stereotype of — say — Sister Mary Hubert, Mistress of Novices, who greets entering audience members while slapping her palm with a wooden ruler.

The show includes plenty of harmless digs at things Catholic, but also occasional attempts at humor guaranteed to offend, many of them in a sketch called "Cooking with the BVM" (BVM being the "Blessed Virgin Mary"). I can't think of a better way to get a Catholic's back up ... other than, perhaps, making a crude joke about the immaculate conception (which "Nunsense" also does).

Call me thin-skinned, but I also find Polish jokes offensive, and I'm not Polish.

Still, "Nunsense" provokes some good, honest laughs, many deriving from names. Sister Mary Achi is the pianist, and Sister Mary Annette is a very bossy hand puppet. The puppet is wielded with authority by one of the most compelling performers I've seen in a long time: Kelly Daniels, playing Sister Mary Amnesia, who lost her memory when — buh-dum-bum — a crucifix fell on her.

Daniels has a riveting presence. She's pretty and lively, has a huge voice, and moves better than anyone else in the cast. Moreover, she nails her character: an appealing innocent who has no idea how appealing her innocence actually is. When she's on stage, it's hard to look at anyone else.

Despite everything I've said about this show, I'd must add, "Run, don't walk" to see Kelly Daniels. She's just brilliant.

In fact, the entire ensemble does a nice job with some pretty unfortunate material. Of special note is Robin Hushbeck as Sister Robert Anne, whose poignant second act opener, "Growing Up Catholic," is the show's best number. Hushbeck has a good voice, and she can belt with the best of them when necessary.

Nancy Agee, Elizabeth Monet Nilsen and Jinn Schroeder round out the on-stage quintet of nuns; each turns in a polished performance. Naomi Berg is a formidable presence on piano. Director Jeff Kean moves his cast around fluidly and paces the show so that slow moments are rare.

What I really wish is that the Woodland Opera House had found a better showcase for this particular cast. "Nunsense" doesn't make much sense at all for this gifted ensemble.

Copyright, 2005, The Davis Enterprise. All Rights Reserved.
DMTC Adults Acting Workshop

At the DMTC rehearsal space, July 23, 2005. Various scenes and monologues.


Jemimah Knight (Guinevere) listens intently as Ryan Adame (King Arthur) describes removing the sword Excalibur from the stone (dialogue from the musical "Camelot").

Which brings to mind political advice I posted half a year ago, from Patriot Paradox, originally from the muck-gathering peasants of Monty Python's Holy Grail:
Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
Perhaps Guinevere agrees with the peasants???


John Hancock (Mr. Potter) listens skeptically to Steve Isaacson (George Bailey) talk about civic virtues (monologue from the movie "It's a Wonderful Life").


Jean Henderson (DMTC costumer) and a Siamese hat (from the musical "The King and I").
Gert Cometh!

Came back after 12 hours or so.... Bullseye! Big mesoscale convective complex (MCC) over the Phoenix area! Surprisingly, they aren't reporting much precipitation, at least yet, except over NW Phoenix: Wickenburg, for example. It sure looks like it could have cranked out the rain though!

I suspect things will continue like this for much of the next week. National Weather Service Phoenix feels things will calm down a little bit, but that might not happen, especially with that nasty group of former Yucatan thunderstorms (which the National Hurricane Center now calls Tropical Storm Gert) following Emily's path to NW Mexico, by late-week.