Friday, October 20, 2006

Doug Knows His Canyon!

Doug Nering is getting to be a Grand Canyon expert! From a report sent by Deborah:
We found numerous petroglyphs (paintings on rock) and pictographs (pictures carved into a rock face), especially in Flip-Off Canyon. Doug also located a spring nearby, as well as an old “cowboy camp.” The last night we camped near an Anasazi (around 1200 AD) site. Our camp was underneath an overhanging Supai sandstone ledge which kept us totally dry during the rain throughout the night.
Check Out "Picnic"

Two-and-a-half years ago, friendly Athena Bergen performed in the ensemble for DMTC's "Guys and Dolls," but then as far as I could tell, vanished. But not forever - she's playing 'Madge' in "Picnic" over at River Stage:
Director Adrienne Sher finely finesses these moments so the audience really understands the context of the women’s anxieties and fears. Sher lingers on the small gestures while wisely relying on humor to lighten other issues. And she nurtures her talented cast, resulting in strong performances from the main characters as well as every single support player.

Bergen and Rife are quite believable as the town beauty and the misunderstood bad boy.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

"The Day Arnold Schwarzenegger Kicked My A**"

Left: Abner Zurd declares her candidacy in the 2003 California Recall Election, in her new film "The Day Arnold Schwarzenegger Kicked My A**".

One very nice evening!

Fellow Historical Figure (and current member of the California Mines and Geology Board) Cheryl Bly-Chester, her daughter Erica, and myself met with Becca Costello from Sacramento News and Review at the Pyramid Ale House on the K Street Mall in downtown Sacramento. Lorraine (Abner Zurd) Fontanes dropped in on the way to her screening, and said hello! We ate, and talked about the 2003 California Recall Election.

Then, at 7 p.m., we headed over to the Crest Theater to preview (for free!) Fellow Historical Figure Abner Zurd's new movie "The Day Arnold Schwarzenegger Kicked My A**" (promotional videos; music by New Maximum Donkey). Excellent documentary that captured perfectly the excitement and the apprehension of running for Governor in 2003. We all had different experiences, of course, but in many ways, all our experiences were analogous. It was heartening to see Fontanes face down a significant fear, that of being mocked in a national FOX TV News interview (her filmmaking experience had made her vulnerable to attack).

Also joining us was Gerald Gorman, another Fellow Historical Figure from the 2003 campaign. Afterwards, the four of us ex-candidates entertained questions from the audience.

There were just a handful of the other alternative candidates pictured in the film, all from the September 24, 2003 "Democracy Matters" Saratoga High School debate (near San Jose). Christopher Sproul, Jon Zellhoefer, and, yes!, Diana Foss (plus another candidate, probably Darrin Scheidle) were briefly shown. I was pleased that John Hancock, from the California Channel, also got a brief (and credited!) cameo.

Here is Graham Womack's promotional article in this week's Sacramento News and Review (SN&R). Check out Becca Costello's column in next week's Sacramento News and Review!

Support Abner Zurd in her upcoming Presidential bid!

Left: Afterwards, Lorraine Fontanes fields questions.

Left: From my files. Lorraine Fontanes on the campaign trail. September 24, 2003, at "Democracy Matters" Saratoga High School debate (near San Jose). Pictured, from left to right: a representative of John Burton's Socialist Party campaign, Libertarian Ned Roscoe, David Laughing Horse Robinson, Bill Vaughn, Darrin Scheidle, and Lorraine (Ab Zurd) Fontanes.
Hotel Workers Protest

Thursday evening, downtown Sacramento. Don't know what this is about (is it the Hyatt Regency again?), but there it is!

A helpful reminder from the Crest Theater newsletter. I'll be at the Pyramid Ale House at 6 p.m., with Cheryl and Becca, and whoever else, and then we'll walk over to the Crest at 7 p.m.:
Show time 7 p.m. FREE!

With $38 billion in debt, mounting job losses, a broken workers comp system, faltering infrastructure and a cold shoulder from the White House, what does the fifth largest economy in the world tell its governor? You’re fired! Using a musty old law from the progressive period in California politics, a handful of wealthy Republicans mount a campaign to recall Democratic governor Gray Davis. In the process, they open the doors to every registered voter who can pay $3500 and obtain 65 signatures to get on the ballot. Among those who qualified, Lorraine Abner Zurd Fontanes, decided to document her pursuit of California’s highest office on video. The resulting feature film is a naked, honest and, yes, absurd portrait of a novice politician who takes on Arnold in the glare of a bemused and skeptical media who denigrate the recall as a circus.
PERP - Bad Outreach Efforts?

These new air pollution regulations are bound to make waves in the air quality community. How much bite will the backlash have?:
When Amber Parsons and her husband started their modest concrete pumping business in Sacramento two years ago, she never expected to become the flag-bearer for an entire industry.

But that's before she bumped up against PERP, the state's registration program for portable, diesel-powered engines.

Officially known as the Portable Engine Registration Program, PERP has caused an outcry this year among hundreds of small businesses that serve California's construction industry.

Under the nine-year-old PERP program, those who operated portable, diesel-powered equipment were required to obtain a single, statewide permit to operate in California. The deadline for registering was Dec. 31, 2005.

... Fearing it will mean the end of her family-owned Performance Concrete Pumping business, as well as others in her predicament, Parsons said she wants to "bring attention to this before it ruins the state's construction industry." She's asking that PERP registration be reopened.

Parsons and construction industry leaders believe thousands do not know their engines and equipment are not in compliance with state regulations, even 10 months after the deadline elapsed for PERP registration.

"I was flabbergasted. Virtually a whole industry is not registered," said Mike Cusack, vice president of operations for Concord-based Conco Pumping and Belting, one of the state's largest concrete pumping firms, and a past president of the American Concrete Pumping Association. "Every single person I talked to didn't register their pumps and didn't know (about) it. I'm (part of) a $300 million-plus company. This is my job -- and I didn't know about it."

... "There wasn't any outreach, and there wasn't any enforcement. Lord knows, you can't hide a 150-foot crane," said Ed Puchi, treasurer and general counsel for MCM Construction, a highway construction firm based in North Highlands.

But the state Air Resources Board says it spent hundreds of hours trying to call, mail and e-mail contractors and others in the industry who would be affected. Gennet Paauwe, an Air Resources Board spokeswoman, said her staff is frustrated that some people still missed the message.

"We worked with every trade group, manufacturer (and) equipment association to get the word out," Paauwe said. "We talked with literally thousands. But you can't force them to read their mail or e-mail," she said.
Shots Fired Across From McClatchy High School

Apparently this happened this morning, in my immediate neighborhood, and fortunately it all seems under control now. A little unsettling: I ate at that restaurant, with Adam, just three months ago.
Why Does Washington, D.C. Feel So Claustrophobic?

There is so much deliquescent particulate matter floating in the air, and it's so humid besides, that it feels like you are wrestling helplessly inside a drippy ping-pong ball most of the time (and also, because there's so much nasty politics going on 24/7).....
If There's Smoke, Is There Fire?

Did Heather Wilson (R. - NM) cover up allegations regarding inappropriate touching against her own husband?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Party Like It's 2003!

You are all invited to a PARTY! The fun starts at 6 p.m., where Fellow Historical Figure (and current member of the Schwarzenegger Administration) Cheryl Bly-Chester and myself will play host to Becca Costello from Sacramento News and Review at the Pyramid Ale House on the K Street Mall in downtown Sacramento. Over fries and beer, Becca will ask a few questions about the 2003 California Gubernatorial Recall election campaign, and I'll show off a few mementoes.

Then, at 7 p.m., we'll head over to the Crest Theater to preview (for free!) Fellow Historical Figure Abner Zurd's new movie "The Day Arnold Schwarzenegger Kicked My A**".

Here are promotional videos: music by New Maximum Donkey.

A good time will be had by all!
Bad And Good Tolkien Analogies

Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum :
"As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else," Santorum told the Bucks County Courier Times. "It's being drawn to Iraq and it's not being drawn to the U.S. You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don't want the Eye to come back here to the United States."

It's a very, very inspired reading of Tolkien by Santorum (an anagram, a Salon staffer eerily points out, for "Mt. Sauron"!).
Remember, the hobbits were in Mordor to destroy the evil, corrupting Ring of Power ("One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them." ). Much better to place Sauron in Washington, D.C., with the Eye of Sauron drawn to Iraq, and not back to the U.S., where lefty blogging hobbits are working in the current election campaign....

Courtesy of Gabe, here is a conservatively-oriented, but nevertheless highly-amusing, satire of Micheal Moore's "Fahrenheit 911", called "Fellowship 911", featuring lots of JRR Tolkien references....
The Privilege Of Owning

Poor Steve Wynn! $139 million!:
Director and screenwriter Nora Ephron, who witnessed and related the incident in her blog on the Huffington Post Web site, said Wynn had raised his hand to show the group something about Picasso's 1932 portrait of his mistress Marie-Therese Walter.

"At that moment, his elbow crashed backward right through the canvas. There was a terrible noise," Ephron wrote, noting that Wynn has retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disease that damages peripheral vision.

"Smack in the middle ... was a black hole the size of a silver dollar. 'Oh shit,' he said. 'Look what I've done. Thank goodness it was me.'"
Taking "The Time Machine" Literally

Dr. Curry sounds like Dr. Frankenfurter (aka Tim Curry). But who says this isn't the world we already live in?:
Humanity may split into two sub-species in 100,000 years' time as predicted by HG Wells, an expert has said. Evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry of the London School of Economics expects a genetic upper class and a dim-witted underclass to emerge.

The human race would peak in the year 3000, he said - before a decline due to dependence on technology. People would become choosier about their sexual partners, causing humanity to divide into sub-species, he added.

The descendants of the genetic upper class would be tall, slim, healthy, attractive, intelligent, and creative and a far cry from the "underclass" humans who would have evolved into dim-witted, ugly, squat goblin-like creatures.

But in the nearer future, humans will evolve in 1,000 years into giants between 6ft and 7ft tall, he predicts, while life-spans will have extended to 120 years, Dr Curry claims. Physical appearance, driven by indicators of health, youth and fertility, will improve, he says, while men will exhibit symmetrical facial features, look athletic, and have squarer jaws, deeper voices and bigger penises.

Women, on the other hand, will develop lighter, smooth, hairless skin, large clear eyes, pert breasts, glossy hair, and even features, he adds. Racial differences will be ironed out by interbreeding, producing a uniform race of coffee-coloured people.

However, Dr Curry warns, in 10,000 years time humans may have paid a genetic price for relying on technology. Spoiled by gadgets designed to meet their every need, they could come to resemble domesticated animals.

Social skills, such as communicating and interacting with others, could be lost, along with emotions such as love, sympathy, trust and respect. People would become less able to care for others, or perform in teams. Physically, they would start to appear more juvenile. Chins would recede, as a result of having to chew less on processed food. There could also be health problems caused by reliance on medicine, resulting in weak immune systems. Preventing deaths would also help to preserve the genetic defects that cause cancer.

... The logical outcome would be two sub-species, "gracile" and "robust" humans similar to the Eloi and Morlocks foretold by HG Wells in his 1895 novel The Time Machine.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Use WSJ's Lame Brains For Fertilizer Instead

So, Cindy Sheehan decides to fertilize a bush in Crawford, TX, with her uterus, and the Wall Street Journal mocks her for it.

Such a big, important story - a very manly story! - something that will rock the world of finance and business!

Why the Wall Street Journal isn't treated on the same level as Weekly World News, I'll never know. There is so much other fertilizer being shoveled in Crawford, TX, you'd think they'd pay attention to that first.
October 16th - Maintenance Night At DMTC

"It was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen," Jan Isaacson said. "The community turning out on maintenance night. We counted 51 people!"

Jan's right, of course. It was beautiful, all the assembled people divvying up various little tasks, like painting over bruises on the walls, and laying carpet on the seating riser aisles.

Just one minor detail left to attend to....
Miss Dairy Baby, 1974

Sacramento Bee's Bob Sylva wrote up a really nice profile about everyone's favorite ballerina, Jennifer Lin, in the Sunday, October 8th issue. Jennifer, of course, was modest about the attention: "Does it make me sound like a dork?", was all she asked. Instead, she was worried that a lot of Sacramento Opera information didn't make it into the article. But a human interest story wouldn't - and shouldn't - focus too much just on an institution. Instead, it's nice to know that she's there, doing her part to promote good singing and theater in Sacramento:

Jennifer Lin is 32 years old. She is tall, slim, intelligent, alarmingly funny. Verbally adroit. And gifted. She plays the piano and violin. She knows all about art and literature. She can sing. She practices yoga and dances ballet. An amateur motorist, she has managed to negotiate the city's freeways unbruised in her Volkswagen Passat station wagon.

Lin is director of marketing and audience development for the Sacramento Opera. Which is to say she beats the timpani and sells tickets. She has been in Sacramento for two years. And has performed her job with some inventiveness. Still, in an era of file sharing and acoustic mayhem, opera has a demographic problem. Lin is probably half the age of her average patron.

"The stereotype of a large woman wearing horns on her head, singing forever and ever," says Lin. "There are preconceptions about opera. But it encompasses all art forms. It has a theatrical element. It's the whole package -- the lights, the stage, the actors, the passion and the tragedy."

Then, turning delightfully morbid, she notes, "Opera always has a death in the end."

And if Lin were to sing a role, what role would it be? "Let's see," she grins, considering. "Would I want to die -- or just suffer?" Thinking of her fate more, she mentions Puccini's "La Bohème" and sighs, "I think the role of Mimi is beautiful and tragic at the same time. But I don't have tuberculosis."

...Tickets for November's "Aida" are on sale. Jennifer Lin forgot to mention that.

Monday, October 16, 2006

How Convenient!

Verdict time coming up:
Meanwhile, a senior court official said a verdict against Saddam Hussein and seven co-defendants charged with crimes against humanity in connection with an anti-Shiite crackdown in the 1980s will be announced Nov. 5.

Saw DMTC's YPT version of "Grease" on Saturday night. A great show! I particularly liked the fact that there were lots of people on stage for the big musical numbers (the core "Grease" cast isn't really very large, which takes some of the punch away when it comes to big numbers). I also liked the fact that strong males were cast in the primary male roles (Scott Scholes as Danny, Cody Craven as Kenicke, Wyatt Floerke as Roger, Andrew Lemons as Doody, Mark Lillya as Sonny). Scott Scholes can really hit those high notes!

The traditional "Grease" script was edited to remove unsavory aspects from the show, which mostly-improves the show, in my opinion, since all that that supposedly-edgy raciness adds is seaminess and tackiness. The only downside is that motivations get lost, but, then again, it's a musical, and musicals can often thrive in a haze of illogical incoherence. Apparently, a couple of songs from the original version of "Grease" are excised from this young people's version, but were added back in DMTC's show (thus, the welcome illogic of "There Are Worse Things I Could Do.")

The primary female cast members (Emily Jo Seminoff as Sandy, Jocelyn Price as Rizzo, Caitlin Humphreys as Jan, Meeka Craig as Frenchy, Julia Spangler as Marty) are strong and experienced. Nora Unkel was fine as 'Vickie' Fontain, and Rachel Fader excelled as 'Teen Angel.' Kennedy Wenning tottered on as Miss Lynch, looking considerably older than her years (do musicals long enough, and look what happens to you!) Chris Petersen played Eugene as more-gregarious than I once played the role (it takes a nerd to know how best to play the role, and I'm afraid Chris is no nerd). My only disappointment was that I wished that stellar Meeka Craig had had more time on stage. The biggest surprise to me, however, was just how effective Meghan Vanderford was as irritatingly perky Patty Simcox. This is the first time I've seen Meghan really let loose in a role, and she did an excellent job!

In my corner of the house (left side of house, near the top), there was an anticipatory buzz when Caitlin Humphreys and Wyatt Floerke prepared to sing their sweet "Mooning." At first, I thought it might have been Caitlin's friends, but it may have also been Wyatt's fan club at work (tipoff: the group was mostly-female).

Emily Jo Seminoff sang "It's Raining On Prom Night" together with Rebecca Rudy at the beginning of Act II. Emily Jo also sang a second song from her bedroom: "Since I Don't Have You." According to Emily Jo, the song comes from the "Grease" Broadway revival, and thus isn't in the original.

During the big group number of "We Go Together," at the end of Act I, I spotted Nora Unkel near the back looking slightly uncomfortable. Slight discomfort is often a red flag for something dramatically wrong on stage - cast members falling while running with scissors, set pieces collapsing, light bulbs exploding; i.e., things that can terrify - but afterwards she said no big deal: her particular costume was just too constricting for the big movements of the dance number.

Very clever: 3-D glasses for the "Alone At A Drive-In Movie" scene!

Unfortunately, I have no photos (digital camera wasn't charged).
Listen, It's Just Unacceptable

The world is a messy place when you are G. W. Bush, and increasingly "unacceptable."
In the first nine months of this year, Bush declared more than twice as many events or outcomes "unacceptable" or "not acceptable" as he did in all of 2005, and nearly four times as many as he did in 2004. He is, in fact, at a presidential career high in denouncing events he considers intolerable. They number 37 so far this year, as opposed to five in 2003, 18 in 2002 and 14 in 2001.

... Having a president call something "unacceptable" is not the same as having him order U.S. troops into action. But foreign policy experts say the word is one of the strongest any leader can deploy, since it both broadcasts a national position and conveys an implicit threat to take action if his warnings are disregarded.

... Bush's targets expanded from 2003 to 2005 to include nine condemnations of "unacceptable" actions by Iraq and Iran, as well as the Social Security system and the administration's own response to the Katrina hurricane. This year, he has hurled the term "unacceptable" at actions by Iraqi insurgents and police, at supporters of a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, and at a U.S. law making the degrading treatment of detainees a war crime.

North Korea's planned firing of a missile was unacceptable, Bush said June 29; after Pyongyang fired several missiles July 4, Bush again labeled the action unacceptable on July 7 and July 10. He also deemed unacceptable the country's starving of its people, its use of concentration camps and its claimed nuclear test.

Using such a categorical term is not that surprising after a policy setback, according to Steven Kull, a political psychologist who directs the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes. Some people deal with failures, Kull said, "by intensifying an authoritarian posture and insisting that their preferences are equivalent to a moral imperative."

Asked at a news conference on Wednesday whether Washington risks looking feckless in making such categorical statements without taking decisive action, Bush said: "It's very important for the American people and North Korea to understand that that statement still stands. . . . I know this sounds [like] just saying it over and over again, but it's -- rhetoric and actions are all aimed at convincing others" to join Washington's effort to impede that country's weapons ambitions.

... Many foreigners think the United States is losing Iraq and are no longer in awe of U.S. military might, Naím said, and at home, Bush is so weak that Republican candidates are wary of appearing with him. "The world has noticed," Naím said. "What is happening is that a lot that was deemed unacceptable [by Bush] now has become normal and tolerable."

Bush's proclamations are not the only rhetorical evidence of his mounting frustrations. One of his favorite verbal tics has long been to instruct audiences bluntly to "listen" to what he is about to say, as in "Listen, America is respected" (Aug. 30) or "Listen, this economy is good" (May 24). This year, he made that request more often than he did in a comparable portion of 2005, a sign that he hasn't given up hope it might work.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A Rogue's Gallery Of Casinos

Left: The handsome new Wynn Casino.

Here are a few photos from my recent trip at the end of September to meet John Wright in Vegas (from the morning of Thursday, September 28, 2006). Some photos are from the fishbowl front of the top level of "The Deuce" double-decker bus:

Fountain at The Paris.

Lion at the MGM Grand. This lion is the largest bronze sculpture in the Western Hemisphere.

The Rio.

New York, New York.

Toni Braxton is big enough in Vegas to qualify as a rogue (even if not a casino).

Caesar's Palace.

The Mirage Hotel radiates as much 'Love!' as is safe for a casino to allow.
How Negritos Come To Fear The Forest

Tales of a Filipina childhood:

E.: One day, when I was nine years old, I came home from school, but everyone was gone - my parents and all my cousins - everyone was gone. I called out "Mama! Mama!", but no one answered. Where did they all go? I thought, "maybe everyone went next door to the nearby farm," so I walked over there. They grew lots of abaca (used for making rope), and coconut and banana trees there. The forest was thick there. As I got closer, I heard chopping, like with a machete, and I thought "maybe everyone is getting coconuts from the trees, and chopping them up to get coconut meat (copra), and so that's why everyone left." The forest was getting thicker and thicker. Then, the chopping stopped....

Suddenly, I was face-to-face with a negrito child - girl or boy, I don't know. M-a-a-a-r-r-r-c-c-c! The negrito was black, black, black, and real short! I looked at the negrito, and the negrito looked at me. I shouted to the top of my lungs "Aaaarrrrgggghhhhh!!!!!" and the negrito shouted back "Aaaarrrrgggghhhhh!!!!!" The negrito child turned and ran away as fast as it could, and I turned and ran away as fast as I could in the other direction."

M.: You shouted through the top of your lungs?

E.: I shouted TO the top of my lungs!!!! M-A-R-C! I never, ever saw a negrito before!!

M.: But there are lots of negritos in the Philippines.

E.: Yes, but I never knew any. All my friends would always tell me, "you are too snobby."

M.: Where did the negrito come from?

E.: I don't know - maybe the mountain, or the jungle, or the wild - derness.

M.: Poor negrito!

E.: I ran all the way home. When I got there, my mother and everyone was there. They said everyone had been there all along, and they hadn't gone anywhere. M-A-R-C! In the Philippines, we believe spirits can hide people!!!! I think the spirit of the duwende (dwarf) hid my mother and my family from sight!!!!