Saturday, July 01, 2006

"Oklahoma!" Weekend Shows

Friday night, Ryan had trouble with his hat. He tossed it into the audience by accident at the end of 'Kansas City'. When he bobbled it again in the ballet sequence, he overheard a woman in the audience say 'there goes that hat again!' When Bethany jumped into Robert's arms in the saloon part of the ballet, Robert was only able to grab one of Bethany's legs, and he nearly toppled as he struggled to get the other leg.

Dian's veil fell off when we threw her to the floor at the end of the saloon part of the ballet. Jamie reached it and tried to toss it offstage, but the flying veil apparently struck and stuck onto Aunt Eller's house: very symbolic, somehow, and eerily appropriate!

For some reason, that reminds me of that classic Johnny Carson "Tonight Show" footage from 1963, when Ed Ames, co-star of the new show "Daniel Boone", displayed his frontier skills by tossing a spinning hatchet (accompanied by Indian tom-tom music) at a board featuring an outline of a man. Completely unexpectedly, the spinning hatchet landed just right, with the handle pointing outwards, and the audience dissolved into fifteen minutes of hysterical laughter, forcing the show briefly off the air.

On Friday, Lora Kennedy came and got the tour. On Saturday, Ron Cisneros came, with friends.

Saturday just prior to the show featured a weird brouhaha with Davis Indoor Sports Complex (DISC), across the street from DMTC. They were having a roller derby over there, and many patrons jammed the lot we share with Peak Performance. We called the cops, and many DISC patrons were inconvenienced as they were forced to move their cars, but we didn't have much choice if we wanted our patrons to have parking spaces. This incident was unfortunate - DISC and ourselves have much to gain by working together. I'm glad they had a big event, though: DISC needs more traffic (as long as it doesn't inconvenience us too much!)

Saturday seemed like an unusually good show. Jamie coughed up beaucoup (stage) blood in the stabbing scene (what we affectionately call 'Jud blood').

On Sunday, prior to the show, Steve Isaacson presented YPT veteran Emily Jo Seminoff with DMTC's $500 college scholarship. Even though she is graduating from high school, Emily already attends Solano Jr. College, having entered before under the auspices of some program I don't quite fathom. She has an enviable background in theater, but apparently aspires to write as well.

On Sunday, in the ballet portion of the show, some of Dian's hair became entwined on a button on Jamie's vest, so when he threw her down to the floor - rip! Interestingly, she didn't notice for a few minutes, and only later dealt with the bloody patch on her scalp. In the excitement of the moment, on stage, people can suffer surprising injuries, and yet lumber on without noticing much pain. I often find strange, inexplicable bruises, scratches, and small cuts after a show, and I'm sure others do too.

Backstage on Sunday, Andy Hyun shook his head in wonderment as he listened to the music and said "that oboe player really kicks ass!" I hadn't been paying much attention, so I couldn't say, but I did like the image of the ass-kicking oboeist.

What else happened on Sunday?....Steve missed an entrance, in 'Scandal' (he was working box-office, apparently). Folks from Garbeau's showed up - Jerry Lee and Katie Murphy. Ah! How could I forget? Just before the show, Jabriel Shelton said "my do-rag is all messed up." When historians of the future look back on our era, amidst all the shout and tumult, there is a chance they'll overlook the really important things, like a "messed up" do-rag. We must remember, though, even if others forget, lest this dire event repeat itself in the future!

Friday, June 30, 2006

"An Inconvenient Truth" (second draft)

(Left: The last fragment of a glacier on Mt. Kiliminjaro, Kenya.)

I went last night with E2 to the Varsity Theater in Davis to see "An Inconvenient Truth", starring Al Gore. Young musical theater enthusiast Justin Biewer-Elstob (who starred last year as 'Conrad Birdie' in DMTC's YPT summer workshop, "Bye, Bye Birdie") was slinging sodas in the bright orange lobby of the Varsity Theater. The place was eerie: familiar, from having done so many shows there, but also weird, because of the new seats, and the many changes in decor from what we once knew.

My climatologist friend, Jerry, in San Jose, has been promoting this new movie, noting:
The map that indicates that the release of the movie is being restricted to "blue" areas -- what is the point in that? By the way, here is a favorable review from an Austin, TX paper. Here's my favorite reaction so far.
I thought it was a very good movie, but I worried, not so much about what Gore said, but by what he didn't say. People are very prone to confuse standard air pollution problems with the buildup of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere, and the movie didn't help on that score. But still, far better than what one usually gets from movies!

Gore does a far better job with his PowerPoint presentations than anyone I've ever seen - a Powerpoint master! His lecturing manner is lively and interesting. Nevertheless, I was worried about the simplifications Gore had to embrace to make his lecture clear.

The best part of the movie is when Gore discusses rotting and decaying ice shelves and glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland. Some of this information about breaking ice shelves on Antarctica's Ross Peninsula I had heard before, but never in such a compelling and interesting way. And some of the information, particularly on the decaying Greenland ice sheet, was genuinely new to me. The worst part of the movie was a poorly-edited fragment, discussing Pacific Islanders who've had to relocate to New Zealand because of rising sea levels. These islanders weren't really identified. Global warming victims make interesting news, but not if they remain faceless.

One of my bosses at work is a global warming skeptic. Politically, he's somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun and somewhere to the left of Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force. Once, just before a company dinner, we were vigorously discussing global warming, when the dinner bell rang, and he was forced to summarize the entire global warming skeptic position in ten seconds. His ten second complaint was that the argument on behalf of global warming was too simple: the Earth's climate engine has far too many cogs in it to expect it to respond uniformly to a single forcing agent like an increase in carbon dioxide concentration.

At first, I thought this was a strange argument. Scientists prefer simple explanations. Occam's razor maintains that the simplest argument that explains a phenomenon is often the correct one. Thus, simplicity is a virtue.

But there is a different way to look at global warming - not scientifically, but politically. Simple political explanations are appealing, because they can be easily grasped, and thus it is easier to mobilize people to carry out certain tasks. The ugly details can be left for later. Maybe the danger of simplicity isn't scientific, but political.

If I recall correctly, the first scientist who established that carbon dioxide absorbs infrared radiation was a German named Heinz, in the late 1880's. He immediately intuited from his experiments that the Industrial Revolution would lead to a warming of the Earth. Global warming is a simple enough idea that the very first scientist in the field grasped the key point immediately. The education revolution of the 20th Century has now made scientific thought much more widely available in the past, greatly expanding the pool of people who understand, and thus heightening the political impact of efforts to stop global warming. Everyone can now join in democratic action. But what exactly are we to do?

I never was that interested in climatology - too much statistics for a simple soul like myself. Nevertheless, I remember the late 1980's, when I was a graduate student in Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona. There was something of an academic political campaign to bring onto the faculty an experienced scientist, one with connections to NASA, and who had considerable global climate modeling capability, but he did not have much hands-on experience. We had another fellow on the faculty who did have a lot of experimental experience with aerosol particles (also of interest in climatology), but less modeling experience. The outside guy essentially routed the inside guy, and effectively replaced him: hands-on experience no longer seemed quite as important as political glad-handing.

I sensed that, behind it all, the National Science Foundation, among others, had quietly become politicized, and that global warming was now their favored cause, with global modeling the preferred vehicle for educating the nation and the world. The turnover in college faculty, nationwide as well as in AZ, was just a small skirmish in the new campaign, which might take decades to accomplish. Climatological modelers were to be favored, even if the climate models could benefit from the work of people who could actually calibrate the models with experimental evidence. Simplicity was in! Looking forward, though, it seemed like a shrewd bet: after all, carbon dioxide was relentlessly increasing, and there was unusual consensus in the scientific community regarding the implications.

All of this might be OK, but the kinds of things we need to do to get a handle on global warming are daunting. Carbon dioxide is inexorably increasing in the atmosphere - concentrations are already 15% higher than when I was born (380 vs. 315 ppmv). We have to seriously curtail our appetites for carbon fossil fuels, but our precious lifestyles hinge on the consumption of carbon fossil fuels. We are seriously, seriously addicted to petroleum products.

Al Gore spoke of the moral imperative of doing what we must to save our home, our Earth. Gore reminds me of a Preacher, trying to persuade people who've been alcoholics as long as they've been alive, that they should give up the bottle. People have no idea what is involved.
Q.: "Mr. Preacherman, what will happen if I give up alcohol?"
A.: "Well, Timmy, first you'll get the delerium tremens, better known as the DTs. You'll go through a period of what seems like insanity, featuring hallucinations. You'll see spiders on the walls, and your head will feel like it's full of maggots."
Q.: "Can't I have a beer instead, Mr. Preacherman?"
A.: "Well, Timmy, then you'll be part of the problem, rather than part of the solution!"
Q.: "It doesn't look that way from where I sit, Mr. Preacherman!"
So, what is the point? If you are a statesman (aka a politician), maybe you'll be happy enough to settle for second-best. People do not understand that carbon dioxide is not simply a typical air pollutant that can be handled by regulation - carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere, and regulation can only slow, not stop, the process. The danger is that people will become hurt and disillusioned, because they are engaged in a campaign that will likely lose the main battle, even if there are other sucesses elsewhere.

Indeed, after seeing the movie, E2 told me "I have a friend who is buying a natural-gas powered vehicle with near-zero emissions." "Well, that's good," I said, "but natural gas is still a fossil fuel, and the vehicle will contribute to global warming." "I bet you're mistaken," she said. I wish Gore had spoken on this point. The fact that he was silent suggests there are advantages to not making the point clear.

So, if people use more fuel-efficient autos, carbon dioxide will build up more slowly in the atmosphere, although it will still build up. Nevertheless, you might still get air pollution benefits by buying the newer fuel-efficient cars, and consume petroleum products from the Middle East at a slower rate, which might help political stability - all salutary goals - but you will still lose on the global warming front. Two steps forward, one step back - nevertheless, a good day for a statesman.

Our political system does a very poor job addressing long-term problems, and politics is all about the short-term. Global warming may very well be real - I'm a convert - but I suspect we'll burn every precious drop of oil, regardless, until it is all gone. Call me a cynic, but we are a world filled with addicts. The spirit may be willing, but the flesh is very, very weak!

Al Gore stated that if the Greenland ice cap, or the West Antarctic ice sheet melted, sea level would rise 20 feet. All I could think was, "well, the basement of my house is 23 feet, 8 inches above sea level." So, I'll be all right (unless BOTH ice sheets melt, in which case I'll be screwed and have to move back to New Mexico). That's one nice thing about being a mature adult, though. By the time all hell breaks loose, I'll be dead.
Gabe, The Information Warrior

Gabe takes issue with the information my sister sent the other day, and says there is no such thing as a national cell phone registry.

On the other hand, as I noticed previously with the Titanic Poseidon Adventure screening legend, tries to keep its fans on their toes by DELIBERATELY posting false information, so that no one gets too comfortable with their precious facts.

I don't know where the truth lies, only that it is in question.....

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Supreme Court Disses Bush's Ad Hoc Military Tribunals

A limited ruling, and very, very late, but one that spells out some of the painfully-obvious points about these military tribunals that were slammed together, in a hurry, in the law-free gulag playland the Bush Administration has put together there at Guantanamo.

Most significant is this:
3. That Common Article 3 of Geneva aplies as a matter of treaty obligation to the conflict against Al Qaeda. (See also the AMK concurrence: "The provision is part of a treaty the United States has ratified and thus accepted as binding law. By Act of Congress, moreover, violations of Common Article 3 are considered 'war crimes,' punishable as federal offenses, when committed by or against United States nationals and military personnel. See 18 U. S. C. § 2441.") This ruling has enormous implications for the Administration's detention and interrogation practices, because the Administration's legal conclusion that CA3 does not apply, and that we will not apply it as a matter of practice, was the key linchpin to the entire edifice of legal maneuvers that led to waterboarding, hypothermia, degradation, etc. See my post here. Per today's decision, the Administration appears to have been engaged in war crimes, which are subejct to the death penalty. Although I don't think due process would allow prosecution based on conduct previously undertaken on OLC's advice that CA3 did not apply (after all, the Chief Justice concluded, in the D.C. Circuit, that CA3 did not apply), practices going forward are bound to change, and quick. (I'm sure the memos are being drafted and distributed in the CIA and DOD even as we "speak.")
Here is the news from Reuters:
In a sharp rebuke of President George W. Bush's tactics in the war on terrorism, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down as illegal the military tribunal system set up to try Guantanamo prisoners.

By a 5-3 vote, the nation's highest court declared that the tribunals, which Bush created right after the September 11 attacks, violated the Geneva Conventions and U.S. military rules.

"We conclude that the military commission convened to try (Salim Ahmed) Hamdan lacks power to proceed because its structure and procedures violate" the international agreement that covers treatment of prisoners of war, as well as the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the court majority.

The decision was a stinging blow for the administration in a case brought by Hamdan, who was Osama bin Laden's driver in Afghanistan. Hamdan, captured in November 2001, is one of about 450 foreign terrorism suspects at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

... Stevens, at 86 the high court's longest-serving justice and a leading liberal, said the tribunals failed to provide one of the most fundamental protections under U.S. military rules, the right for a defendant to be present at all proceedings.

"The rules specified for Hamdan's trial are illegal," he said.

In a 73-page opinion, he also said there was no reason why Hamdan could not be tried by court-martial, which offers greater protections for defendants than the tribunal.

At the White House, Bush said he had not fully reviewed the ruling and would consult with the U.S. Congress to attain appropriate authority for military tribunals.

...A Pentagon spokesman reiterated the need for a U.S. facility to hold dangerous captives and Bush spokesman Tony Snow added, "This will not mean closing down Guantanamo."

...Civil liberties and human rights groups were also jubilant. Amnesty International said it "sends a clear message to President Bush that he cannot act unilaterally to create a system of law from thin air."

... Stevens said the military commissions were not authorized by the U.S. Congress. He did not address whether the government can detain Hamdan indefinitely but said the government must "comply with the rule of law" in seeking to try Hamdan and subject him to criminal punishment.

... He was joined by the other liberal justices David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, and moderate conservative Anthony Kennedy.

Breyer wrote in a separate opinion, "The court's conclusion ultimately rests on a single ground: Congress has not issued the executive a 'blank check.'"

The conservatives -- Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, who was appointed by Bush -- dissented.

The ninth member of the court, Chief Justice John Roberts, also appointed by Bush, removed himself because he was on the U.S. appeals court panel that ruled for the Bush administration in Hamdan's case.

Republican lawmakers vowed to act quickly in view of the ruling. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner of Virginia said his committee would consider revising laws governing the detention of enemy combatants.
Another Advantage Of Not Having A Cell Phone!

Via E-Mail from my sister:
JUST A REMINDER....4 days from today, all cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sale calls. YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS.... To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222. It is the National DO NOT CALL list. It will only take a minute of your time.It blocks your number for five (5) years. HELP OTHERS BY PASSING THIS ON TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS OR GO TO:
The Moron Speaks Again

Lee Siegel decides today that Jon Stewart is the problem with lack of participation in our democratic system, particularly by young people:
I don't want to hurt any more feelings out there, but I have to tell you: Jon Stewart's show is destroying democracy as we know it.

...a new study by two researchers at East Carolina University found that Stewart's cynicism has the effect of making viewers so disgusted with politics on both sides of the aisle that they feel too discouraged to vote. Constant ridicule seems to have the effect of turning the political system into one gigantic self-parodying freak show, with no sign of imminent change or relief.

That could be why all the pre-election talk about Jon Stewart sending his young viewers--though the average age of a "Daily Show" viewer is actually 47--to the polls in great numbers to vote for Kerry was just that--talk. It simply never happened.

So maybe ridicule and invective, though entertaining, and a refreshing alternative to the mainstream media's passivity and reserve, isn't the boon to democracy it's cracked up to be? Anyway, don't despair, and don't get enraged because that's just the bad news about Stewart. The good news is that he's not a fascist.
If Mr. Siegel bothered to actually watch the Daily Show, he could see that Jon Stewart does not heap "constant ridicule" on the political system. The Daily Show plays favorites - Thank God!

Atrios also has some feel-good points along the same lines.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Is The Translation Technically Correct?....

Or are the negative connotations so deep that the journalist should be cited for professional malpractice?:
A Spanish news agency has apologized for a report that describes an Arizona gubernatorial candidate's proposed work program for illegal immigrants as "concentration camps."

The story last week caused an international stir.

The news agency EFE quoted Republican Don Goldwater as saying he wanted to hold illegal immigrants in camps to use them "as labor in the construction of a wall and to clean the areas of the Arizona desert that they're polluting."
Pictures From The Ketchum-Wiggins Farewell Party

There is a room that's full of toys,
There are a hundred BOYS AND GIRLS,
Nobody shouts or talks too loud,
Not in my castle on a cloud.
(From 'Castle on a Cloud,' "Les Miserables")

Hopping around the cool inflatable castle! Just one of a bunch of photos taken on Sunday, June 4th, courtesy of Karyl Ketchum, who says:
...[L]ink to the pics from our going-away party. Thought I would have them up well before this but, to my complete frustration, our moving truck was delayed and I only just this past Sunday had access to my computer. Other than that, all is well here and we are enjoying the beach! Hail will be beginning La Jolla Playhouse’s Summer Conservatory in about a week and I am busy planning my courses for the fall. Hope all is well with you.
Alarm Bells...

...Go off at the Mirage during the new show there ('Love'), to the annoyance of the performers.
Today Might Be The Formal Start of the Arizona Monsoon Season

Despite the current low humidity. But we'll see (from the National Weather Service in Tucson):
Germany Staggers

Actually, it's the English that are staggering:
ENGLAND's massive army of World Cup fans is drinking Germany dry, it emerged yesterday.

Breweries warned beer could run out before the final because of huge demand from our supporters.

In Nuremberg, organisers revealed 70,000 England fans who flooded the city drank 1.2MILLION pints of beer - an average of 17 pints each.

Astonished bar keeper Herrmann Murr said: "Never have I seen so many drink so much in such little time."

His bar at a fans' tent in the city ran out after they drained all 32 of his 50-litre (11 gallon) barrels.

Herr Murr calculated Britons were shifting beer at a staggering rate of 200 pints per minute.

... A spokesman said: "It is incredible how much is being drunk but the hardest thing for the breweries is keeping up with the thirst of the English."

In Dortmund, where most fans for England's Gelsenkirchen clash against Portugal on Saturday are staying, the giant DAB brewery is bracing itself by ferrying in extra supplies to boost production.
Scary Weirdness

At Las Vegas' McCarran Airport.

That airport is one strange place. People are basically friendly, despite the sometimes zoolike conditions to get people checked onto airlines.

In 1992, when passing through the airport to my mother's funeral, I had several hours to kill there, and so I attempted to locate a Bible in the terminal. Oddly enough, there are no Bibles to be had anywhere in the airport. How strange is that?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

That Enabling Blue Pill

I wasn't going to touch this with more than a 10-foot-pole until the facts were in - after all, I am also a middle-aged man thinking about travelling overseas later this year - but I was overwhelmed by a bout of blogofascism:
I know that a good establishment liberal would refrain from even discussing the fact that Rush Limbaugh likes to go to one of the underage sex capitals of the world with a bottle of Viagra in one hand and God knows what in the other. Lee Siegel would find it wholly imappropriate of me to even bring it up. After all, Rush and his allies may have spent years harrassing Democrats for sexual indiscretions, but it's beneath the blogs to sink to his level and make a big deal out of this.

... Rush should be the poster boy for a new movement. It isn't right that he is the only man in America who can get his Daddy's Little Helpers prescribed in his doctor's name instead of his own. Many men, I'm sure, would be grateful not to have to deal with the embarrassment of a pharmacist knowing about his need for Viagra and now that he's known as a user, the least Rush can do is promote the right for all Americans to carry them without a prescription in their names, as he does.

Rush should be urged to share his story with America. Here's he is, an impotent, thrice divorced, ex-drug addict, conservative, parolee who went on a sex tour in the Caribbean and found himself rudely embarrassed for carrying recreational prescription drugs in his doctor's name. Who can't relate to that? This is a man who has been run through the mud and I think we would benefit from a thorough national conversation to try to understand Rush's urgent need for sex in one of the most poverty stricken countries in the world.
Backwards Bush

Because there are only so many seconds left to go.

Good thoughts by Josh Marshall:
More generally, I think the blogosphere, in contrast to more staid venues for writing is something like the much more popular and participatory sort of theater culture you had in the 19th and well into the 20th century (you may remember seeing some hint of this funned up in old Bugs Bunny cartoons) where, if the audience didn't like what they were hearing or seeing, they started booing. Or hooting. Or heck, maybe tossing raw vegetables. You get a sense of Siegel's reaction when he grandly opines that the blogosphere, "radiates democracy's dream of full participation but practices democracy's nightmare of populist crudity..."

Siegel is like some would-be Alexander Woollcott who thinks he's taking a seat at the Algonquin Table. But he's shown up on the stage at some freewheeling vaudeville theater. And when the crowd starts booing his pompous malarkey and he gets hit in the head with a ripe tomato, he imagines it's some world-historical event.

...I tried really hard to come up with something intelligent to say about this nonsense. But Siegel's foolishness defied me. And all I can do is keep giggling that this guy actually can write this stuff with a straight face.
Will The Supreme Court Decide CO2 Emissions Should Be Regulated?

Highly unlikely. U.S. laws governing air quality, including the Clean Air Act of 1990, are actually quite specific about not including carbon dioxide. To implement such a program, laws would have to be changed.

In any event, it has always seemed to me that greenhouse gas emissions can't easily be regulated. With other air pollution problems, if you regulate emissions, you regulate air quality, but with a cumulative problem like CO2, your efforts become increasingly ineffective with time, as concentrations inexorably build. There are better ways to address the problem (e.g., conservation and technological solutions) than through regulation.
Small Favors

George Bush decides to go after both Social Security and Medicare next year. In this 2006 election cycle, he's being less subtle than in the 2004 election cycle, which leaves Republican candidates even less wiggle room than in 2005:
If we can't get it done this year, I'm going to try next year. And if we can't get it done next year, I'm going to try the year after that, because it is the right thing to do. It's just so easy to say, let somebody else deal with it. Now is the time to solve the problems of Medicare and Social Security, and I want your help.
Hot Air

There's a special tropical disturbance statement out this afternoon for North Carolina. Several years ago, a storm like this, carrying strong thunderstorms but no circulation, would have passed with barely a comment, except from fishermen, but today, the Drudge Report is trumpeting the special announcement as a headline. Plus, there is a tropical wave 800 miles east of the southern Windward Islands (scary! scary!), but Drudge doesn't mention that the wave is disappearing, not gathering strength.

Whatever it takes to sell advertising, I guess. It's just as important not to overreact as to react too slowly.

For the most part, the Atlantic has been fairly quiet this season, so far....
Talking about underreaction, there is a new book out by Douglas Brinkley about Hurricane Katrina:
Well, it’s because you have widespread poverty in America, and there’s a real underclass to New Orleans, which the city boosters try to sweep under the rug. It’s a city teeming with poverty, and if the poor don’t have automobiles, it’s because they have a ticket or a traffic violation, and they haven’t paid it; or, the seniors are just too old to drive. Some people were caretakers -- a daughter who stayed because her mother was so sick that she couldn’t be moved. You had lonely people who were just stuck or waiting for their Social Security checks. They were supposed to get a check August 31, so on the 29th when the storm was coming, they didn’t want to leave town with no way out, no clear places to get buses, and with empty pockets. We make the assumption that we’re all watching the Weather Channel, we all have cable TV, and read newspapers, but there’s a whole segment of the population that just feel like “we don’t do hurricanes in New Orleans” so if they’ve lived there for 40 years and survived them all, then they’ll survive this one. They just weren’t prepared for the magnitude that occurred.
From Drudge...

Rush's big adventure:
Help Wanted...

Hey, I'm available anytime to appear at one of these paying gigs - after all, flights to Las Vegas on Southwest Airlines aren't that hard to come by:
In exchange for letting 'Jet' advertise her birthday party at the club in mass emails and on websites, [Kelly] Monaco and her entourage of eight were given first-class airfare from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, rooms at the Bellagio, free booze and a few thousand in chips to gamble. The deal was worth maybe $10,000.

"Everyone pays celebrities to come to their clubs," says Andrew Sasson, co-owner of Jet, as well as Light at the Bellagio. "It's all part of the marketing in this business. Anyone who tells you they don't is lying. The question is: Do you pay with cash, or provide a jet, a meal, drinks and hotel rooms?"

...To the club owners, it's cheap marketing. On any given Friday night as many as 5,000 people party at the nightclub Pure at Caesars Palace casino. Roughly half pay a $40 cover charge. At that rate the club can sometimes cover the cost of a celebrity before selling a drop of booze.

Nicky Hilton and her boyfriend, Kevin Connolly, were paid $75,000 each to host Pure's New Year's Eve party.

Fergie, a singer in the pop group The Black Eyed Peas, was paid $50,000 to have her birthday party at the club. Britney Spears' husband, Kevin Federline, got $30,000 to show up.

... George Maloof Jr. started the Hollywood trend in Vegas in 2001 with his Palms casino resort just off the Strip. Maloof courted stars like Britney Spears and Shaquille O'Neal, and his clubs Rain and Ghostbar flourished.

Victor Drai, managing partner of Tryst at Wynn Las Vegas, finds the trend ridiculous: "I don't pay celebrities anything. And if they want to drink here, they're going to pay. They're stars. They can afford it."
I wonder what Andrew Sasson would say to Mr. Drai?
Got Wood?

Indian cinema apparently has many capitals:
Bollywood, near Mumbai, is an enormous studio centre that has elevated schmaltz to an art form, churning out hundreds of saccharin films every year to an apparently insatiable audience.

You know the story: plot-free, fanciful scripts loaded with coquettish love scenes on lavish sets punctuated by syrupy song and dance routines involving casts of hundreds ... but there are more.

Kollywood, based in Chennai, produces similar films in Tamil language. Mollywood pumps out Malayalam language films in Kerala. Lollywood does the same in Lahore, Pakistan.

And then there is Tollywood.

Tollywood produces hundreds of movies in the southern Tegulu and Tamil languages and is based in Hyderabad, the capital of Andra Pradesh state and one of India's most unusual cities.
That Blogofascism Meme

The more out-of-control, the funnier (unlike, say, real fascism):
Q: Is Markos Marsupialopolis gay, as Instapundit graciously refrained from implying?

A: No. This is a common misconception, fostered by Hollywood’s deliberate policy of putting out that gay cowboy movie around about the same time they were putting out all those damn Hobbit movies. Let’s clear this up once and for all: cowboys are gay. Gay, gay, gay, gay, gay. Hobbits, on the other hand, just like going on extended backpacking holidays with their live-in male gardeners, during which they exchange soulful and significant glances and cry and hug and say “oh, Sam!” in a way which, if they were cowboys, would be totally gay, but, seeing as they are hobbits, just totally isn’t. Then the gardener marries the girl from scene 2 who didn’t get any lines, and then Frodo, the confirmed bachelor, goes on a permanent boating holiday with a bunch of “elves”. Dead butch behavior if you ask me.
"One man likes to push a plow, the other likes to chase a cow...."

Monday, June 26, 2006


Gotta satisfy them:
WEST PALM BEACH Sources have confirmed to CBS4 News that conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has been detained at Palm Beach International Airport for the possible possession of illegal prescription drugs Monday evening.
Maybe Alzheimer's After All

Ever since I was 38, I've had a terrible name remembering people's names, and indeed, with names of objects in general. And then there's this study, which shows, um, something important.....I forget!:
A study found that in a disturbing number of cases, embarrassing "senior moments" such as forgetting a recent conversation or drawing a blank on someone's name may really be a sign of Alzheimer's after all.

...Occasional forgetfulness is often written off as a normal part of growing old and nothing to get alarmed about. And in most cases, that is probably true.

But the scientists found to their surprise that the brains of more than one-third of the participants were riddled with waxy protein clumps and other signs of degeneration that are hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease.

...Participants in the study had amounts of brain deterioration similar to those found in Alzheimer's patients who were severely debilitated by the mind-robbing disease before their deaths. The researchers said that raises the question of why some afflicted people but not others can function normally.

"There's something about these people that allows them to have large amounts of pathology without obvious memory problems," said lead author Dr. David Bennett, an Alzheimer's researcher at Rush University Medical Center. "We need to understand why that is."

His theory, supported by earlier research, is that high levels of education and feelings of social connectedness can help preserve brain function. Bennett said he believes that helps create a "neural reserve" that enables people to tolerate Alzheimer's-induced brain deterioration without showing signs of dementia.

Some researchers believe that mentally stimulating tasks such as doing crossword puzzles, taking classes or reading can help prevent Alzheimer's. But Bennett said his new findings suggest that in some people, these tasks might also enable the brain to compensate for the disease.

...All had performed well on memory exams, although those whose autopsies showed Alzheimer's evidence had slightly lower scores on measures of episodic memory, which tested how well they recalled a story that had been recently read to them.

Episodic memory loss also includes things such as forgetting the name of a new acquaintance, a recent conversation, or an upcoming appointment.

People commonly undergo an age-related slowing of the ability to retrieve information. They might forget where they put their keys, but they usually remember eventually, Bennett said.

But when Alzheimer's is involved, new information is never properly stored, meaning the affected person never learned it well enough to be able to retrieve it, he said.

Lippa said the study bolsters the use-it-or-lose-it theory that says "if you don't keep yourself mentally challenged, your brain cells may die off," or be more subject to disease.
"Phantom" Opens in Vegas

This critic, who doesn't particularly like Andrew Lloyd Webber, likes this version of "Phantom."
Satan Tilts The Playing Field In Utah

Utah politics is a strange breed. Republican primary candidate John Jacob is having trouble with his campaign against sitting five-term Republican Congressman Chris Cannon, but Jacob suspects he knows who's at fault:
Regarding the devil, Jacob said Thursday that since he decided to run for Congress, Satan has bollixed his business deals, preventing him from putting as much money into the race as he had hoped.

Numerous business deals he had lined up have been delayed, freezing money he was counting on to finance his race.

"You know, you plan, you organize, you put your budget together and when you have 10 things fall through, not just one, there's some other, something else that is happening," Jacob said.

Asked if he actually believed that "something else" was indeed Satan, Jacob said: "I don't know who else it would be if it wasn't him. Now when that gets out in the paper, I'm going to be one of the screw-loose people."
Saddam's Hopes

There have been reports in the press lately that Saddam Hussein is hopeful that he will be released from prison, even if sentenced to death in an Iraqi court, because the U.S. needs someone to control Iraq and keep it out of Iranian hands, and he's the only one around with enough relevant experience to do the job.

Tanned, rested, and ready: the new Saddam!

How delusional are Saddam's hopes? It would make a complete and total mockery of all the U.S. efforts over the last three years, of course, but history has enough examples of stranger events (e.g., the pact between Hitler and Stalin prior to the invasion of Russia; the entire career of Napoleon) to make one hesitate.

Somehow, provided Saddam lives long enough (he's 69), I think his dream may come to pass.....

Sunday, June 25, 2006

High Spirits

Heading across the Yolo Causeway on I-80 to Davis for "Oklahoma!" this afternoon, a swarm of motorcyclists swooped up from behind, and began passing my car (I was going about 65 mph).

The lead motorcyclist took his feet off the pedals, placed his feet on the seat, and stood up on the seat (I believe he completely removed his hands from the handlebars, but I might be mistaken here). Then he sat back down and extended his feet outwards away from the pedals, in a sort of wishbone position (I've read accounts by physicists explaining that the wishbone position is very unstable on a bicycle, and presumably isn't such a good idea on a motorcycle either, but is probably more manageable because of the greater mass and rotational inertia of the motorized cycle). Then the fellow sat sidesaddle. Then he began repeating his three tricks for the benefit of his six or eight compatriots on motorcycles.

Judging from the red tail lights of the cars ahead of me, this impromptu performance was beginning to creep people out. The motorcyclists didn't care: they slipped through the gaps in between the cars and raced westwards.

I hope they reached their destination safely.
"Oklahoma!" - Weekend Shows

Shows four, five and six down! Second Friday went reasonably well. I didn't really get my dance groove on until after 'Kansas City' - forgot a couple of things - very much a second Friday sort of thing. A few things went awry. In the second act, Brad made his intrusive noise too soon, so he had to repeat it. Nice appreciative audience, though. Jennifer Bonomo (OK! Set Designer) was there. It was really nice to see YPT's Nora Unkel too!

The Saturday audience was large and noisy. There was a plethora of many loud RSP fans, as well as other local musical theater folks. Everybody was there: Ray Fisher and James Brave; Mike and Kim Jones, Andrea St. Clair (soon to be in "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers", opening July 7th at RSP); Jason Parsons, Meghan and Katherine Vanderford (Patty Simcox and Frenchie, respectively, in Flying Monkey's "Grease" at the Guild Theater), Julia Soto, WOH's Jinn Schneider; the list seemed endless. So many of the magical Sacramento theater folk turned out! Very nice to play to that house.

On Saturday, the dancing went well, but timing overall seemed to be an issue tonight. Bob Bugg tripped up on 'Scandal....', jumping a verse. The music tempo went awry during 'Oklahoma' and we had to feel our way. Even the auction felt strange, with ever so slight changes from usual. Lauren Miller and Brad Bong seemed unusually good on Saturday night, however - lots of energy!

Strangely, a few people in the audience laughed when Jud fell on his knife, both on Saturday as well as Sunday. People react strangely sometimes to well-simulated death scenes, as if they resist being pulled into action that looks just too real. Michael McElroy had a bit of blood him after that scene ('Jud Blood', apparently, although it looked real enough in the backstage half-light). Near the end, Robert tripped up on 'Curley's Surley'.

Saturday night was also the last performance for Ryan Favorite as Ike Skidmore (Steve Isaacson, recovering from knee surgery, returned to the role on Sunday). We will miss Ryan a great deal, although we understand he has better things to do soon, like busting up wedding receptions in "Fiddler..." at Music Circus.

On Sunday, timing issues momentarily sandbagged Mary Young (Aunt Eller) in 'Farmer and the Cowman.' We somehow muffed catching Brad Bong in 'Kansas City'. Steve was back as Ike Skidmore, but got distracted during the moment when he intervenes to prevent a clash between Jud and Curley, during the auction scene. Steve jumped in between the two protagonists, fumbled for the words, and managed to get them out, more or less, but he sounded less like a referee and more like William Shatner channeling Yoda for an improvised lounge singing act.

Helping carry Jud (Jamie Tvrdik) offstage after the knife scene is probably the hardest thing I do during the entire show, because Jud is supposed to appear dead, and can't assist with the lift in any way, such as by stiffening his body while being carried off, as Dream Curley (Ryan Adame) does while mimicking formal death during the ballet scene. On Sunday, leaning over to pick up Jud, my hat either fell, or was brushed off, and landed on Jud's belly and rolled around. "Oh crap," I whispered, in close proximity to the audience, and that slip sent everyone carrying Jud into paroxysms of suppressed giggles, especially Michael McElroy. Even Jud was biting his bloody lip and giggling. It's hard enough as it is to carry Jud offstage, but it's agonizingly harder when you can't breathe because you are suppressing screams of laughter!

Two weekends down; two to go!

In other news, I learned on Saturday that Carly Wielstein ('Cinderella', DMTC, Spring 2004 - Flying Monkeys' Benefit, February 2006), who attends Cal State Fullerton, will be teaching dance this summer at Ron Cisneros' studio in Sacramento, so get on down there soon to pick up the latest in lyrical ballet, plus whatever else they do in Southern California.