Friday, April 28, 2006


It's sure striking how a story is reported, and the effect that has on one's perception. These two stories appear to be correct, but one sounds much worse than the other. Regarding Rush Limbaugh, Salon reports:
Limbaugh Arrested in Fla. on Drug Charges

April 28,2006 WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Rush Limbaugh was arrested Friday on prescription drug charges, law enforcement officials said.

Limbaugh turned himself in to authorities on a warrant issued by the state attorney's office, said agency spokeswoman Teri Barbera.

The conservative radio commentator came into the jail at about 4 p.m. with his attorney Roy Black and was released an hour later on $3,000 bail, Barbera said.

The warrant was for fraud to conceal information to obtain prescription, Barbera said.
But over at Rush-sympathizer Drudge, the headline is "Not Guilty" , and:

Settlement Agreement Ends State Investigation of Rush Limbaugh
Fri Apr 28 2006 18:59:55 ET

Palm Beach, FL – April 28, 2006 – In response to media and other inquiries, Roy Black, Rush Limbaugh’s attorney, released the following statement today concerning a settlement agreement with the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office to end the investigation of Mr. Limbaugh:

"I am pleased to announce that the State Attorney’s Office and Mr. Limbaugh have reached an agreement whereby a single count charge of doctor shopping filed today by the State Attorney will be dismissed in 18 months. As a primary condition of the dismissal, Mr. Limbaugh must continue to seek treatment from the doctor he has seen for the past two and one half years. This is the same doctor under whose care Mr. Limbaugh has remained free of his addiction without relapse.

“Mr. Limbaugh and I have maintained from the start that there was no doctor shopping, and we continue to hold this position. Accordingly, we filed today with the Court a plea of ‘Not Guilty’ to the charge filed by the State.

“As part of this agreement, Mr. Limbaugh also has agreed to make a $30,000 payment to the State of Florida to defray the public cost of the investigation. The agreement also provides that he must refrain from violating the law during this 18 months, must pay $30 per month for the cost of “supervision” and comply with other similar provisions of the agreement.

“Mr. Limbaugh had intended to remain in treatment. Thus, we believe the outcome for him personally will be much as if he had fought the charge and won.”

The actions taken today are as follows:

The State Attorney has filed a single charge of doctor shopping with the Court. The charge is being held in abeyance under the terms of an agreement between the State and Mr. Limbaugh.

Mr. Limbaugh has filed a plea of “Not Guilty” with the Court.

The formal agreement between Mr. Limbaugh and the State Attorney will be filed with the Court on Monday. The terms of the agreement are substantively as follows:

Ø Mr. Limbaugh will continue in treatment with the doctor he has seen for the past two and one half years.

Ø After Mr. Limbaugh completes an additional 18 months of treatment, the State Attorney has agreed to drop the charge.

Ø Mr. Limbaugh has agreed to make a $30,000 payment to the State of Florida to defray the public cost of the investigation.
No, No, No, Drama, Drama

Alex Powell and Andrew Lemons both agree, this song is .... well .... notable.
Can I Borrow Your Keys?

The stranger in the Del Taco parking lot seemed pretty sheepish. He began a long-winded explanation, telling me how he had locked his car keys in his car, but the locks really weren't keyed properly, so any thin key would suffice to open the door, and so, to make a long story short, could he borrow my car keys?

Hmmmmm - sounded implausible. Plus, I was unusually vulnerable, since I was carrying several thousands of DMTC dollars with me, as I prepared to make a bank deposit, in my capacity as DMTC Treasurer.

So - sure! Why not? I handed over my key chain, he opened his car and thanked me profusely, and we both went our separate ways.
Something Went Boom

April 4th, near San Clemente Island, but the Navy denies all:
A group of local scientists has uncovered some clues to the source of a mysterious disturbance that rattled San Diego County on the morning of April 4, shaking windows, doors and bookcases from the coast to the mountains.

The scientists, based at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, say the disturbance was caused by a sound wave that started over the ocean and petered out over the Imperial County desert. Using data from more than two dozen seismometers, they traced its likely origin to a spot roughly 120 miles off the San Diego coast.

That spot is in the general vicinity of Warning Area 291, a huge swath of ocean used for military training exercises. The Navy operates a live-fire range on San Clemente Island, which is within Warning Area 291 and sits about 65 miles from Mission Bay.

The researchers also have charted dozens of similar, if less dramatic, incidents that seem to have originated in the same general area of the ocean. They aren't sure what caused any of them.

Peter Shearer, a Scripps professor involved in the research, has no idea whether the April 4 disturbance was natural or made by humans. “I would guess it's either an explosion that somebody hasn't told us about or it could have been a meteor coming into the atmosphere,” he said. “But it was certainly a big disturbance in the atmosphere.”

Steve Fiebing, a Coronado-based Navy spokesman, said the live-fire range on San Clemente Island was inactive April 4. He also said there was no Navy or Marine Corps flight activity in Warning Area 291 on that day that would have caused a sonic boom or a countywide tremor.

The area, also known in military circles as Whiskey 291, covers 1 million square miles and is off-limits to civilian planes and ships, Fiebing said. “There was no unusual training that would have caused anything close to what people here felt,” he said.

Cmdr. William Fenick, another local Navy spokesman, said no San Diego-based warships were conducting operations in Warning Area 291 that day. “We don't know at this time where this earthquakelike sensation came from,” Fenick said.
Bill Kristol on the Colbert Report

Neocon wilts upon exposure to knowing, intelligent, savage humor.
Counseling Racket in Washington State

No qualifications? No problem!:
To be a manicurist in the state of Washington, you must take 600 hours of training and pass both a written exam and a skills demonstration. To cut hair, you need 1,000 hours of training and the two tests.

But to be a registered counselor, someone who will help guide troubled clients through some of their most difficult life challenges, you need take only a four-hour AIDS-awareness class. That's it — that and a $40 registration fee. You don't even need a high-school diploma. That sounds like an invitation for trouble — and it is.

... Washington legislators had good intentions when they created the registered-counselor credential nearly 20 years ago. Reports of sexual abuse and brainwashing by a fringe counseling group in Seattle spurred lawmakers to try to corral the burgeoning, unregulated practice of counseling. But instead, they flung open the gates.

The Legislature enacted exacting standards for mental-health counselors and for marriage and family therapists, requiring each to have a master's degree and thousands of hours of clinical training. But fearing they would put less-educated counselors out of work, lawmakers created a classification called "registered counselor," with minimal requirements.

... Joanne Brekke, the former state representative who spearheaded the registered-counselor law in 1987, said she envisioned the credential as a way to regulate already-practicing counselors. She never expected her bill would instead create a licensing expressway, welcoming thousands with unproven skills and unknown motives. "Our goal was to protect counseling clients from abuse," Brekke said. "What has happened since, now that may be a different story."

... "Counseling was the perfect setting for him," she said. "He was a predator and the prey just walked through the door."

I certainly hope this Capitol Hill drug and sex scandal has legs. It would be great if the CIA's Porter Goss is implicated. Goss was sent to the CIA to impose a thuggish discipline over an educated, restive, and abused staff there, and it would be his comeuppance. And the central figure, Brent Wilkes, is heavily involved with John Doolittle's various congressional campaigns. Republicans all, and corrupt to the core!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

"You May Have Already Won!" - John Hancock Does Damage Control

Not a winner? Say it ain't so, John!:
The California Channel, which broadcasts Legislative meetings on cable TV, on Wednesday became the second local entity to reveal that it is the victim of the British International Lottery scam.

People have received letters telling them they won $95,000 - and that to receive their winnings, they must first cash an enclosed check for $2,998 that appears to be from the California Channel.

... "My goal is to get this posted on the Internet, so people will know that this is a scam," said John Hancock, president of the nonprofit, California Channel.

Too bad about that scam. Sad - all those ripped-off people. No use feeling glum, though. In the meanwhile, I've WON 2.5 million pounds, a whole lot more than $95,000, and it doesn't involve the California Channel at all, so it must be legit!:
Ref: BAOL/19823108/05/DON
Batch: 23/012/4774

Attn: winner

We are pleased to announce to you the draw of the British American Online Lottery International programs held on the 4th of April 2006 (04/04/2006) in London. Your e-mail address attached to the following numbers listed below:

Ticket number: 2314759773 914
Serial Number: 19445/02
Drew the Lucky Numbers: 04-07-50-16-20-01

The above listed numbers subsequently make's you one of the bona fide winner of the lottery promo in the 2nd category. You have therefore been approved to claim a total sum of GBP£ 2,500,000.00 (Two Million, Five Hundred Thousand, British Pounds) in cash credited to file BAOL/19823108/05/DON.

Passing strange encounter with the Seattle Police:
A highly improbable shot left an officer's bullet in the cylinder of a gunman's revolver, and police say it's a pretty clear sign that the officers who shot the man faced a deadly threat.

"Physically, it is impossible to conclude anything other than the fact the suspect was pointing directly at the officers," Deputy Chief Clark Kimerer said Wednesday, adding, "I've not seen anything quite like that in my 24 years."
At Boondocks Edge, It'll Be Empty and Bankrupt

Rio Rancho, NM, plans some kind of fantasy district:
"So much of what we're trying to do will be focused on entertainment. It'll be restaurants. It'll be movie theaters. It'll be nightclubs. It'll be the kind of things that make it a true destination spot," said Palenick.
Phil Angelides For Governor

Angelide's been State Treasurer for some time now, and a real estate developer as well. He understands how the state works. I'm worried that he might be a bit too rigid or unimaginative, but better that than Steve Westly's misplaced, enamored response to Arnold Schwarzenegger. And Angelides understands that it's time to make investments in the state's infrastructure rather than focus just on budget-balancing. So, go Phil!
Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Fun article about how higher gasoline prices make both Democrats and Republicans just plain stupid.
Foreclosures Up

Realty Trac says foreclosures are up, particularly in Georgia, Colorado, and Indiana:
“The sharp increase in foreclosures in Q1 continues a steady upward trend that we’ve observed since the beginning of last year,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “Foreclosures have now increased in four consecutive quarters and are on track to go above 1.2 million in 2006, which would push the nation’s annual foreclosure rate to more than 1 percent of U.S. households.”

Saccacio noted that foreclosures actually dipped 13 percent from February to March, evidence that the nation’s foreclosure rate could be leveling off after the long run-up.
Despite the potential good news in the levelling off, Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings sees trouble ahead:
So, to summarize: we have an economy that's incredibly dependent on consumers' ability to acquire mortgage debt. We have consumers who are increasingly indebted. Moreover, their debts are much more likely than a few years ago to take this incredibly risky form: low payments for a few years, and then a huge increase in payments for the next few decades. People who would not assume these risks if they were prudent are doing so. If the housing market keeps soaring, they'll be fine; if not, they'll be screwed.
I certainly hope it all works out! My tuchus is on the line too!
Taking Aim At MP3 Streaming

Dianne Feinstein decides to torpedo MP3 streaming by folks like ShoutCast Internet radio.
Celebrity Statues

Apart from places like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, you don't find that many celebrity statues in public places in the U.S. Yet, Australian celebrities do get this honor:
Meanwhile, back home in Australia, it has been revealed that Kylie is set to be the fifth and final Australian 'legend' of the entertainment industry to be immortalised in the form of a larger-than-life bronze statue. The statue will stand alongside likenesses of Graham Kennedy, John Farnham, Dame Nellie Melba and Dame Edna Everage, the first two of which will be unveiled this Saturday night at a gala event at Waterfront City at Docklands.
Celebrities seem to occupy a more important, culturally-significant place in Australian public life than they do in U.S. public life.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Chart of Bush's Approval Rating

Over at Old Hippie's Groovy Blog, where folks learn from history, in order not to repeat it.
Dr. Frank Is Running Again!

I didn't realize until I got the Democratic primary ballot tonight in the mail that Dr. Frank Macaluso, Jr., from Visalia, is running for Governor again. Dr. Macaluso was one of the 135 candidates running for Governor in the 2003 California Gubernatorial Recall campaign. Dr. Macaluso is positioning himself as the budget-conscious Democratic choice in 2006. Certainly keep him in mind when Election Day comes in June!
"Oklahoma!" Callbacks

Lining up all the (rare and unusual) suspects (left to right: Ryan Favorite, Laura Woodruff, Clare Lawrence, Brennen Cull, Jill Wright, and Ryan Adame).
I'm Not A Boomer

I'm not!:
It's been inevitable for a while, I guess, that the Youth Culture of the baby boom generation would ripen, mellow, and then rot, despite the atypical abilities of a few Mick Jaggers to sell their Sympathy for the Devil for eternal muscle tone and dancing feet.

... But far worse than that scene is the prospect of hearing the rebellious and hormone-driven songs of one's youth reformatted for the different rigors of old age. Will hip-replacement ads for women soon feature a soothing version of Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady"? Is it a matter of time until Senior Mall Walks are spurred on by Easy Listening takes on the MC5's "Kick Out the Jams"?

... But when a young friend recently reminded me that I was listening to music recorded before she was born, I could only respond that her generation's remakes didn't sound any better than the originals.

I remain haunted by the prospect of being wheeled into Snack Time at the Assisted Living Center to the strains of "Free Bird." I hope I have the energy to raise a fist in protest.
Pink Toupee Collective

(Left) Hodge has trouble with his cutlery and is aided by the denizens of Le Carnaval des Imbéciles. From left to right: Linda Melvin as Whippa, The Beast Tamer; Jane Hastings as Sadie the Cotton Candy Lady; Jeff Madow as Hodge, The Sword of Swords; William Fuller as Aviáni Le Mystérieux; and Renee Gromacki as TikiTaka The Bird Lady. (Photography by Jack Hastings)

Dada? Dada? In performance? This looks like it might be fun:
The Pink Toupee Collective presents an original musical/theatrical/performance art piece entitled Miss Fortune and the Carnival of Fools, opening Friday, April 28, 2006 at “The Space” at California Stage. The work explores themes of nonconformity and the search for identity in our increasingly homogenized and media-dominated culture. Miss Fortune and the Carnival of Fools takes as its inspiration ideas from the Fluxus Movement in art which flourished from the early sixties to the mid-seventies. Fluxus (“a flow”) was known for its Dadaist leanings and its emphasis on artistic exploration and socio-political activism expressed through performance art pieces known as “Aktions.”
They're Not Illegal, Pete

They're incentives. Incentives for what, who can say, but if you had meant them for exploration and investment, you should have made that clear years ago:
WASHINGTON - With gasoline topping $3 a gallon, the Senate Energy Committee chairman's patience with oil companies has finally worn thin.

Sen. Pete Domenici, upset that oil companies are spending big profits on big payments for executives instead of exploration and investment, says he will back repealing $2 billion in tax incentives for the industry, authorizing tougher fuel economy standards and expanding federal authority to investigate price gouging.

"We're not going to let them get away with any kind of illegal activity," the Albuquerque Republican said.
Barely Made It Across In Time

Minutemen or not, automatic citizenship for the baby:
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- An 18-year-old woman who gave birth to a baby girl in the desert used nail clippers to cut her baby's umbilical cord before being rescued by U.S. Border Patrol agents, authorities said Wednesday.

The woman was spotted Monday night by a Border Patrol helicopter pilot about 25 miles north of Sasabe, said Ron Bellavia, commander of the Border Patrol's search, trauma and rescue operations in the agency's Tucson sector.

The woman, an apparent illegal immigrant identified as Maria Perez Perez, was with two other people, and all appeared in distress, agents said.

So sayeth the Loud, Opinionated Queen, regarding "Lestat", the recently-opened gay vampire musical:
Expectations had been low after a critically savaged trial run in San Francisco. History was also against "Lestat" after the failure of two previous vampire musicals, "Dance of the Vampires" in 2002 and "Dracula, the Musical" in 2004.

In a review headlined "Vampires, the musical kiss of death," The Washington Post's Peter Marks said the fixation with singing vampires had to stop. "Give the bloodsucker a ballad, and it's his show that joins the walking dead."
My Friend, The Deodorant Stick

The corrosion of MySpace begins....
One-Man Show

In the 1950's, in American industry, there was a job description called "calculator." Calculators were generally young, poorly-paid women with some mathematical training, who would perform tedious arithmetical calculations for teams of engineers.

The advent of the electronic computer was seen as a tremendous leap forward. The computer was said to be capable of doing the work of a "stadium full of calculators."

It soon became clear that computers were vulnerable to error. Their machinations were only as good as the programs and the people used to run them. They could do the work of a stadium full of calculators, but they could make more mistakes than a stadium full of calculators ever could.

Jumping forward, I remember a computer class I took in the spring of 1975. I was calculating the trajectory of motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel over a fanciful representation of the Snake River Canyon, using the college mainframe computer. Instead of calculating a nice parabola over the canyon, however, I ended up instead with two interlocked disjoint arcs. "Congratulations, you've made it across the Canyon!" the printed text mockingly informed me. Disgusted, I threw the computer output away, only to find, later that evening, the same computer output hung on the dorm room wall of one of my best college friends, who thought it hysterical. Computer errors might be inevitable, but in any event, they could certainly be entertaining!

Jumping forward, on Saturday, April 22, 2006, there was a small glitch regarding the eight pages of cast biographies included in DMTC's "Wizard of Oz" program. All audience members received this program. No biographies were included, however, and instead of pictures of the cast, there were eight pages of a grinning Steve Isaacson, posing with a can of Diet Coke.....

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Mayor Bloomberg

Is an ass:
A judge has ruled that use of the Internet is no more goofing off on the job than reading a newspaper or making a brief personal phone call.

"It should be observed that the Internet has become the modern equivalent of a telephone or a daily newspaper, providing a combination of communication and information that most employees use as frequently in their personal lives as for their work," Administrative Law Judge John Spooner said.

Spooner gave the lightest of all possible punishments to a New York City worker who was accused of disregarding warnings to stay off the Internet at work. The 14-year veteran of the Department of Education used his office computer to visit news and travel Web sites.

... Meanwhile, Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- a billionaire who knows what it is to put in a full day -- is upset with the judge's ruling. Mayor Bloomberg said city employees are working for the taxpayers, who expect people to work. He said spending hours surfing the Internet at your work desk is inappropriate.
Ain't It The Truth!

The Foxification of the press corps:
Catrett says being in the Washington press corps has changed since he started at CNN eight years ago and got into broadcast journalism 20 years ago.

"In the briefings and the presidential news conferences, I'm always thinking, 'Where's the follow-up? Where's the follow-up?' " Reporters are too concerned about access, worried about angering an important politician, he says.

"When I came into this business, people weren't afraid to insult somebody in power," he says.
Eastern New Mexico - Where To Now, Brown Cow?

The aquifer that sustains eastern New Mexico agriculture is thinning out (actually as expected, in line with old predictions that by mid-century it would be in perilous shape). If the aquifer goes, what happens next? Dust Bowl II, except this time without the dust? Depopulation, like the Dakotas have seen recently? Ghost towns of the high plains? What a strange future awaits!:
... Such was the case with a recent article from the Portales News-Tribune, located in eastern New Mexico's Roosevelt County, home of 80,000 dairy cattle. Hydro-geologist Amy Ewing reported at a public meeting (attended by exactly nine people) that the Ogallala Aquifer, upon which the area depends for its water, will be at an all-time low by 2020. Over the last 60 years, reported Ewing, the water table has dropped from about 18 feet below ground to 110 feet. When the saturation thickness of the aquifer's water (the amount of water from the aquifer's bottom to its top) reaches 30 feet, it becomes essentially undrinkable. According to Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega, Jr., "there are already areas in [Roosevelt] county where the saturation thickness ... is less than 40 feet." Ewing concluded by saying, "water levels are falling, and they are not going back up."

Who's the culprit? Ewing said irrigation agriculture (this includes dairies and the neighboring cheese plant) is responsible for most of the area's water usage. So that means the dairy industry's growth will be curtailed and forced to conserve water, right? Not according to the News-Tribune story. There are no plans at present to require irrigation farmers to conserve water or to even meter how much they use. If conservation is mandated, it will apparently fall on the backs of homeowners and non-agricultural businesses. The issue was summed up Irene Jones, a member of a Roosevelt County farming family: "The bottom line is the water will run out .... The land is not sustainable as cropland."
Revolution Imposed From Outside

Here is a pertinent historical analogy, comparing the Iraq War with Napoleon's conquests in Europe. In both cases, democratization was imposed from outside, and in both cases, for similar reasons, failure resulted:
But the Exodus story -- like that of the American Puritan migration and the civil-rights movement which it inspired -- shows us that oppressed people struggle to transform themselves and embark on their journey out of bondage with help only from God's “mighty hand and outstretched arm.” These are popular, bottom-up struggles, fraught with self-doubt and corruption but redeemed by indigenous spiritual and political leadership and the courage of countless ordinary people. No foreign army invaded Egypt to set off the Exodus, or England to loose the Puritan migration, or the American South to begin the civil-rights movement. (The federal marshals and National Guard troops in the South came long after the movement was well underway, and they were Americans.) And leaders such as Moses, John Winthrop, and Martin Luther King, Jr. came from the people they led. Bush is no Iraqi Moses, Dick Cheney no Aaron, Donald Rumsfeld no Joshua, Condoleezza Rice no Miriam.

A better model than the Exodus for Brooks’ sophistical exegesis of the Iraq War is Napoleon. Claiming the mantle of the French Revolution, he tried to use the French army to liberate other peoples who weren't ready to liberate themselves. Napoleon’s misappropriation of France’s already-fraught revolution resembles the Bush administration's use of the American republican tradition to justify its crusade to spread democracy to the Middle East. Brooks' conflation of Bush's crusade and American "national greatness" with the Hebraic covenantal tradition and its Puritan and American-revolutionary emulations is even more gross a miscarriage of any American civic-republican mission than Napoleon’s vision was of the France's revolution.

... If Berman, Krauthammer, Brooks, Beinart and other philo-tyrannical minds aren't going to keep on shouting triumphally about democracy amid the fog of war they helped to create, let them join Fukuyama in an exodus off the stage, rather than standing just inside the exit, bidding him good riddance. Let them stop deflecting their political and moral discomfort -- as some on the left have done, too -- into attacks on the few who’ve demonstrated some intellectual honesty amid so much intellectual disgrace.
The Chinese Rule, And We'd Better Get Used To It

Via Ray Fisher, comes this news story about just how little weight we carry with the Chinese. Just like the Americans swept the British out of financial power in the 20th Century, the Chinese seem set to do to us in the 21st, unless we stop destroying our manufacturing base, the ultimate source of economic power in an industrialized economy. Nationalized health care would help, removing a big monkey off the back of auto manufacturers, for example, and maybe even rein in health costs for the entire U.S. economy, but fat chance that happening until we actually destroy both Ford and GM in our current ideological pursuit of shrinking the national government until it can be "drowned in a bathtub."
Once again, President Bush had a difficult time wresting concessions from Chinese President Hu Jintao. And for good reason. Bush may be the leader of the world's only superpower, but when he talks to the Chinese, it's like discussing an overdue loan with his banker. There's not much leverage.

... At each of those meetings, the list of U.S. trade demands has been the same: China must stop unfairly depressing the value of its currency to gain trade advantages; it must halt rampant copyright piracy that is costing American companies billions of dollars in lost sales, and it must open its markets wider to U.S. exports.

The urgency of those demands has grown as America's trade deficit with China has soared; the trade imbalance hit another all-time high last year of $202 billion. That deficit, which represented more than one-fourth of America's record imbalance with the world in 2005, has sparked growing unrest on Capitol Hill and prompted a spate of bills to penalize China unless it halts trade practices that critics blame for contributing to the loss of nearly 3 million manufacturing jobs since Bush took office in 2001.

... But the blunt reality is that the Bush administration has little leverage to make China do more. Since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, the United States can no longer threaten to impose unilateral sanctions as the Clinton administration threatened to do in the mid-1990s in a copyright piracy fight of that era.

... The deficits have gotten so huge, that China's holdings have ballooned. China is now the second largest holder of U.S. government debt, with $265.2 billion in Treasury securities, and its total foreign reserves have just surpassed Japan's to become the largest in the world.

The willingness of the Chinese to hold that debt has helped to keep U.S. interest rates low, which has been a boon to American home buyers and other borrowers. But if for some reason the Chinese suddenly reversed policy and started dumping U.S. assets in favor of parking their reserves in other countries, that could have a serious impact on the U.S. economy by sending U.S. interest rates up sharply.
"Oklahoma!" Auditions

Went to Monday's audition. It was fun, although, because they're not doing any readings until Wednesday call-backs (just dance and singing Sunday and Monday nights), it lacked a bit of the buzz that builds after prolonged exposure to the theater crowd trying their best. These people, after all, know how to please! Sometimes the buzz gets overwhelming, and you have to retreat to places where inarticulate cave men grunt and scratch, in order to recover your equilibrium. In contrast, after tonight's efforts, we retreated to Baker's Square, where grunting and scratching seemed superfluous.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Musicals As Hell

This snippet from a review of "Cabaret" caught my eye:
We all see the same grinning, thumbs-in-suspenders hell onstage. We all witness the same grueling, psychotic meltdowns that afflict speakers mid-sentence, making them inhale deeply, turn to no one in particular and wail with embarrassing candor about their loneliness, all because an invisible piano told them to do it.
Sounds like it is time to reprint what Wallace Shawn once said in an interview with the New York Times Magazine (January 11, 2004):
Q. Do you follow Broadway theater?

A. No. I don't see that many plays, and for me, musicals are rarely pleasing. I feel the actors are being put through a kind of nightmarish labor. They're like animals being forced to pull heavy carts of vegetables at incredible speeds.

Q. Can't you make an exception for "Oklahoma" or "South Pacific"?

A. I saw "South Pacific" as a child and thought it was terrifying.
Ben And Jerry's Diss The Irish

And who says what Americans don't know about history won't hurt them?:
Ice cream makers Ben & Jerry's have apologized for causing offence by calling a new flavor "Black & Tan" ... "Any reference on our part to the British Army unit was absolutely unintentional and no ill-will was ever intended," said a Ben & Jerry's spokesman. "Ben & Jerry's was built on the philosophies of peace and love," he added.

The Black and Tans, so-called because of their two-tone uniforms, were recruited in the early 1920s to bolster the ranks of the police force in Ireland as anti-British sentiment grew. They quickly gained a reputation for brutality and mention of the militia still arouses strong feelings in Ireland.

"I can't believe that Ben & Jerry's would be so insensitive to call an ice cream such a name and to launch it as a celebration of Irishness ... it's an insult!" wrote one blogger on

...Ben & Jerry's, a unit of Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever Plc, prides itself on its commitment to friendly business. Its mission statement includes a pledge to show "a deep respect for human beings inside and outside our company and for the communities in which they live."
"Wizard Of Oz" - First Sunday Afternoon

Very impressive show! Excellent performances - Buffee Gillihan as the 'Wicked Witch,' Kevin Caravalho as the 'Scarecrow,' and Alissa Steiner as 'Dorothy' are just a few! I have very few complaints. Which is all the more remarkable when I remember watching a portion of the rehearsal, just a few days ago. Technical issues were still causing trouble then, and most of those seem to have been ironed out. Hard work, paying off!
"Thunder Strike"

Sledgehammer across the forehead. Repeat till dawn (Loss: about $1,360.00).
Loud Opinionated Queen Speaks Up

As I perused the selection at Tower Records, one person was hard to escape: an opinionated, earring-bedecked man in his 60's, with a quintessential queen-like manner. He decided to purchase the "Brokeback Mountain" DVD, and, by virtue of his loud, one-sided discussions with the store clerk, his decision was made known to all - I'm sure even the head-banging punkers listening to music samples on the store-provided headphones knew of it.

"That's quite a package you've assembled there," the man boomed longingly, as I bellied up to the checkout counter. Momentarily confused, I realized he meant my eclectic product selection, which included the movie "Rent", which is apparently now on DVD. The man then began expounding on the state of the movie musical.

He said "I haven't seen the movie 'Rent.' I saw the stage show, and I was sold!!! But I missed the movie." I said, "I don't think 'Rent' was in the theaters very long," and he began sipping the bitter venom in that injustice.

He continued, "They just stopped trying with movie musicals. I mean, the critics just don't give them a chance. I saw 'Phantom of the Opera, and I LOVED it, but the critics completely tore it apart. All because they made the Phantom handsome! Come on, people, it isn't a horror movie, IT'S A MUSICAL!!! When I was young, there were so many musicals. It was the Golden Age of movie musicals - 'Oklahoma!'; 'Sound of Music'; 'King and I'. Then they did 'Oliver!' in 1969, and then the 70's came, and THEN THEY JUST STOPPED TRYING!!!"

The clerk piped up, "there were some musicals in the 70's - 'Godspell'...," but the man was unpersuaded. Beginning again in the 60's, he continued "They gave Audrey Hepburn the role of Liza Doolittle in 'My Fair Lady', but what was that all about? - Julie Andrews OWNS that role!!! Then they started making mistakes - Barbara Streisand as 'Funny Girl': BOY WAS THAT EVER A MISTAKE! THEY STOPPED TRYING, and they hit a brick road (I think he meant a brick wall, but the stress of multitasking, talking and completing his credit card purchase, was leading him to start mixing metaphors).

Both him and the clerk wished me good luck as I left with my purchase, but I wondered later, what would the Loud Opinionated Queen be like, if inebriated? Or, say, in a court of law? Frankness can be funny: just ask my cousin, who took my recently-deceased nonagenarian aunt to the doctor, and she made the waiting room erupt in laughter, as she observed 'the girl behind the desk isn't doing any work at all!'

Everyone needs a Loud Opinionated Queen, if for nothing else, but to bounce decisions off of.