Friday, November 03, 2006

The Blame Game

Leading neo-cons bail on the Iraq War, leaving the soldiers to pick up the pieces.

Won't anyone from their group take responsibility? After all, it was their war!
Janis Ian At "The Palms"

It's unusual when I urge people NOT to see an artist perform, but that's what I'll do with Janis Ian and her show this weekend at "The Palms." Her music can be so relentlessly negative, with its indulgence of self-worthlessness, that it is positively destructive. Twenty-seven years ago, a friend of mine, a Janis Ian fan, committed suicide, and I hold a grudge against her for contributing to my friend's hopeless state-of-mind. Of course, times change, and perhaps she has as well, but like I say, 27 years later, I still hold a grudge (From 'At Seventeen'):
To those of us who know the pain
Of valentines that never came
And those whose names were never called
When choosing sides for basketball

It was long ago and far away
The world was younger than today
And dreams were all they gave for free
To ugly duckling girls like me

Recently, a friend of mine spent the night at Sutter General Hospital after being poisoned. Two women found him crawling on the sidewalk pleading for help, and they called an ambulance.

My friend had eaten a number of raw almonds that fell off of a transport truck heading to the Blue Diamond nut processing facility here in Sacramento. The truck driver waved his arms and tried to dissuade my friend from eating the almonds, but my friend ate the almonds anyway, and that's apparently a BIG no-no.

I thought the poisoning might have been from hydrocyanic poisoning - there's a small amount of cyanide compounds in almonds, and if small children eat lots of almonds (and if adults eat even more on an empty stomach), poisoning has been known to occur.

Nevertheless, discussing the matter with co-workers who know how nuts are processed, I've discovered there are other poisoning candidates. These days, methyl bromide is no longer widely used as a fumigant, having been largely-replaced by aluminum and magnesium phosphides. These (and possibly other) chemical substances on nuts might also induce poisoning.

So, don't eat nuts off the street.

Next, reasons not to eat tomatoes that roll off of transport trucks and accumulate at interstate highway on-ramps. Tempting roadside treats in the autumn, especially in Yolo County!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

AVN Awards Moving

To the Mandalay Bay. I'm trying to think of a joke: Mammary Mia! is the best I can come up with.
Librarian Humor

Gabe got this through the librarian listserv:
Subject: Overdue notice (very mild humor)

I just sent an overdue notice for this book:

Execution: the discipline of getting things done, by Bossidy et al.

and this is the email I received back from the person who has it:

No I'm still reading it.
American Right-Wing Thought-Porn

Prosecutor Hugh Hewitt and fawning Mark Halperin.
Suicide Rather Than Dishonor

Sometimes people choose to kill themselves rather than participate in evil. In the Balkans wars in the mid-90's, I thought the only Serbian to come out of Bosnia with her integrity intact was the suicidal daughter of that genocidal monster, General Ratko Mladic.

America now has its own heroine: Alyssa Peterson, from Flagstaff, AZ, a 27-year-old devout Mormon who chose suicide rather than torturing prisoners.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Ann Coulter Gets Snippy

Over that voting probe:
Conservative columnist Ann Coulter has refused to cooperate in an investigation into whether she voted in the wrong precinct, so the case will probably be turned over to prosecutors, Palm Beach County's elections chief said Wednesday.

Knowingly voting in the wrong precinct is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Elections Supervisor Arthur Anderson said his office has been looking into the matter for nearly nine months, and he would turn over the case to the state attorney's office by Friday.

Anderson added that Coulter, since the allegations surfaced, made "efforts to distract and divert focus on the process regarding this complaint. ... I did express my frustration to the state attorney in a recent meeting and warned him I may need his services," according to an article in the Palm Beach Post.

... Anderson's office received a complaint in February that Coulter voted in the wrong precinct during a Feb. 7 Palm Beach town council election.

Anderson, a Democrat, said a letter was sent to Coulter on March 27 requesting that she clarify her address for the voting records "or face the possibility of her voter registration being rescinded." Three more letters were sent to Coulter and her attorney, but she has yet to respond with the information requested, Anderson said.

In July, Anderson said, he received a letter from Coulter's attorney, Marcos Daniel Jimenez D'Clouet. The letter said the attorney would only discuss the matter in person or by telephone because, he complained, Anderson had given details to the media. Anderson said the matter had to be discussed in writing.
Democratic Wave Building

And with the Iraq War approaching the length of World War II in a few days, it's little surprise.
PayPal Blast

Someone is disgruntled:
An explosive device shattered an office window at eBay's PayPal headquarters in San Jose Tuesday evening, but no one was injured, police said.

"It was definitely not an accident. There was some kind of device," San Jose Police Sgt. Nick Muyo said of the 7:20 p.m. blast. "There was no advance warning, no threats, no indication there would be an event like this. ... It completely took everybody by surprise."

... Muyo said San Jose police are working with the FBI and investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to determine what the device was made of and who set it there.

At the time of the explosion, about 45 employees were in the building and the office adjacent to it, which are both located on the 2200 block of North First Street, Muyo said. None of the employees was close to the blast, he added.

Muyo said eBay employees are currently working from home, and the company is asking them to check their e-mail or call the number on their employee ID cards for information on when they should report to work. EBay expects the offices to reopen Thursday, police said.
Flag Contest

Idle Brits tossing around ideas, but this one (from 'Grunty') is the best in my book, for the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Secret Mission

Time to report for duty:
WASHINGTON, DC—In a televised address to the nation Monday, President Bush announced that the U.S. is in "desperate need of thousands of registered Democrats" to conduct what he called an "extremely important mission" to begin immediately and continue at least until the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

... "We are calling on the most stalwart Democrats in the land," Bush said. "In fact, they are the only ones capable of making it a success."

Although details were limited, an unnamed administration official revealed that, on Wednesday, November 1, registered Democrats will be asked to report to designated government rendezvous points such as post offices and military recruiting centers. Once there, they will be registered, fingerprinted, and issued one-piece jumpsuits, bedding, and canteens of drinking water, then directed to board brown school buses bound for an undisclosed location or locations.

... While Bush said any registered Democrat is eligible to participate, those who reside in Arizona's Fifth, Ohio's First, and Pennsylvania's Eighth Congressional Districts are most needed to ensure the mission's success. Democrats from New Jersey, Missouri, Tennessee, and "especially Virginia" were also strongly encouraged to volunteer.

... “I am delighted that, in this arduous midterm election season, the White House is finally reaching across the aisle to these fine, vigilant individuals,” said Sen. Rick Santorum (R–PA), who is up for re-election around the same time as the proposed mission. "Despite our differences, I know the Democrats of my home state are the kinds of folks the president is talking about—strong, devoted, caring people who support stem-cell research and stronger gun laws."
Bechtel Wraps Up

Time to leave Iraq.

The Australian climate can be just brutal. Farmers near Adelaide are beginning to panic:
THE Murray River could dwindle to a trickle in just 24 weeks.

It would have catastrophic consequences for farmers and towns along the river and potentially cut off Adelaide's main water supply.

Official storage estimates from the Murray Darling Basin Commission show that just 2500 gigalitres remain in the system and its two main dams - the Hume and Dartmouth - are likely to be dry in months.

The Murray Darling Water Crisis Management Council - a group of farmers, shires and water experts - warned the Howard Government in Canberra yesterday that a crisis was building.

"The commission should be telling the public we are heading for an enormous disaster," Wakool Land Association president John Lolocato told the Herald Sun.

... The group told MPs there had to be an immediate moratorium on environmental flows until the crisis passed.

It also urged the construction of a low-level weir in Wellington, South Australia, to stop water flowing into Alexandrina and Albert lakes - playground of many of Adelaide's rich.

Barham farmer Neil Eagle warned Adelaide would be without water unless a weir was built.

"We've got to stop pouring water into wetlands that would be dry in a normal drought like this," he said.
Waiting For The "Second Coming"?

Via Juan Cole and Obsidian Wings - "Mission Accomplished" has apparently gummed things up for some millenialists:
Voters should oust congressional Republican leaders because U.S. foreign policy is delaying the second coming of Jesus Christ, according to a evangelical preacher trying to influence closely contested political races.

K.A. Paul railed against the war in Iraq on Sunday before a crowd of 1,000 at the New Spirit Revival Center in Cleveland Heights, his first stop on what he hopes is a 30-city campaign.

The Houston-based preacher said he believes that the Bush administration has delayed the second coming because U.S. foreign policy has blocked Christian missionaries from working in Iraq, Iran and Syria.

"Somebody needs to say enough is enough," he said to worshippers who stood, waved and called out in support.

... Paul, who claimed to support conservative political leaders in the past, is launching "a crusade to save America from the wrath of God and Republicans abusing their power," according to his press materials.

... "God is mad at this country," Paul told the congregation. He described the war in Iraq as "unnecessary genocide."
Musical Paranoia

The new technology: YouTube, camera phones, laptops, I-pods, blogs. It's a nightmare for a musician - you DARE NOT try out new songs at a concert anymore!:
And White knows exactly who to blame for this consumption frenzy: you. OK, maybe not you specifically, but the idea of you. You're caught in a dead sprint with other hipsters and music geeks to discover the latest band, the latest track, the latest sound bite before anyone else. You're desperate for it. You scrounge the Internet. You download podcasts. You read every review. And someone has to outfit your search, supplying all the insta-facts and quick-take columns you're drooling to consume.
Abandoning A Soldier

Is this "stay the course" or another example of "flexibility"?: the U.S. abandons a captured American soldier:
The U.S. military does not have a tradition of abandoning its own soldiers to foreign militias, or of taking orders from foreign governments. No commander-in-chief who actually walks the walk, rather than swaggering the swagger, would acquiesce to such a thing. The soldier appears to be of Iraqi descent who is married to an Iraqi woman. Who authorized abandoning him to the enemy? Who is really giving the orders to the U.S. military in Iraq?
Lost And Found

Pepper Von is enthusiastically promoting this show - he serves as choreographer. The director has Broadway experience. Pepper says "bring lots of tissue" (I don't like weeping while watching musicals, but apparently it's a tearjerker. Lots of singing and dancing. Location is in Carmichael, on Manzanita, just south of Madison (map), and the show goes for two weekends.
Lost and Found
Searchlight Theatre Project
November 3, 4, 5 - 10, 11, 12
Friday and Saturday - 7 p.m.
Sunday - 4 p.m.
Zokku Halloween

Driving past Zokku at 4th and J St. this evening at 11 p.m., something seemed wrong. Dozens of Angels and Devils milled around the sidewalk as a humorless cop announced over the bullhorn that the bar was closed and that everyone should go home. I wonder what happened? Dunking for caramel apples turned into waterboarding? What?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Just Say No

The Bush Administration feels it is a good use of taxpayer money to encourage adults up to age 29 to just stop having sex.

The Libertarians have always struck me as way bizarre in their worries about the government in the bedroom, but that was before Dubya came to Washington....
The federal government's "no sex without marriage" message isn't just for kids anymore.

Now the government is targeting unmarried adults up to age 29 as part of its abstinence-only programs, which include millions of dollars in federal money that will be available to the states under revised federal grant guidelines for 2007.

The government says the change is a clarification. But critics say it's a clear signal of a more directed policy targeting the sexual behavior of adults.

"They've stepped over the line of common sense," said James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that supports sex education. "To be preaching abstinence when 90% of people are having sex is in essence to lose touch with reality. It's an ideological campaign. It has nothing to do with public health."

... But Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at the Department of Health and Human Services, said the revision is aimed at 19- to 29-year-olds because more unmarried women in that age group are having children.

Government data released last month show that 998,262 births in 2004 were to unmarried women 19-29, the ages with the most births to unmarried women.

"The message is 'It's better to wait until you're married to bear or father children,' " Horn said. "The only 100% effective way of getting there is abstinence."

Monday, October 30, 2006


Did anyone see where that candy corn bon bon ended up?
Canine Substance Abuse

No locations are mentioned, probably to protect the innocent, but here's a strange story of a dog with .... a problem ....

I know I'll spend my retirement something like this Roseville woman:
69-year-old Inga Walen's refrigerator was top heavy and as she leaned in to open the fridge door, it fell forward, toppling her.

Inga tried calling for help any way she could. At first she grabbed some shattered glass pieces that fell on top of her during the accident, and she threw them at her kitchen window to draw attention and make noise. After that didn't work, she then managed to grab a wooden spoon and a pressure cooker lid, and banged the two together as she called for help.

Luckily by the fourth day, Greg Allen, a politician running for the Placer County Water Board, heard Inga's call for help while going door-to-door campaigning. He found an unlocked door and ran in to save Inga's life.

Inga suffered a broken collar bone, and injured both legs as a result of the accident. She says that she doesn't care which political party Allen represents, she's voting for him either way.
All Dressed Up, And Someplace To Go

Guest editor of the December issue of Vogue Australia.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Big Five-O

On Saturday, the folks at DMTC helped me celebrate my 50th birthday (actual date: October 30th), with a pleasant party at the Hoblit Performing Arts Center.

Interestingly, I'm not the only one shares that date - of the folks there that night, two others, Bethany Pedersen and Rich Kulmann, also share that same birth date (plus other DMTC regulars who weren't there, like Gil Sebastian), but I was the only one there with a major milestone birthday that night.

Nice food and wonderful companionship - William Hedge and Scott Griffith; the Kulmanns; Linda Abrille; Abby and Andy and Clocky and Bethany; Lauren and Mike McElroy; Monique McKisson; Emily Beal; Steve and Jan; Jeannie and Alec; and others! Arthur and Dannette, dressed as the lead characters from 'Pirates of the Caribbean' entered the theater dueling in a mock sword fight. Such fun!

Steve and Jan assembled fragments from six shows to put together a tribute DVD of some of my DMTC performances (monologue as Eugene in 2003's 'Grease'; dance with Lori Holmes in 2001's 'Oliver'; dialogue with Lauren McElroy in 2006's 'Titanic'; monologue as Bobby in 2003's 'A Chorus Line'; dance with Stephanie Skewes in 2001's 'Carousel'; playing Mr. Gatch with Lauren McElroy and Mr. Ovington with Arthur Vassar in 2003's "How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying').

The DVD began with my opening oration as Eugene Florcyck, from DMTC's 2003 production of 'Grease', as I welcome the Class of 1959 back to a Rydell High School class reunion. I had rather forgotten that freneto-spastic performance! In the darkness of the theater, we all heard a shaken MikeMac mutter "Dear Lord, save us!" The highest praise!

A great decade - well begun!
"Fiddler On The Roof" - Woodland Opera House

Friday night brought a wave of nostalgia, watching "Fiddler On The Roof" at the Woodland Opera House. The first musical theatrical production I ever had the joy to appear in was the same show, on the same stage, in 1997. Indeed, several of the same people were involved in this production as last time: Joe Schulte as Lazar Wolf (previously, 'Tevye') and Micail Buse as The Rabbi (both shows!). In addition, Jon Mounts played Avram the Bookseller in this show as well as the 2003 DMTC production of 'Fiddler.' Jeff Kean directed both productions.

Darryl Strohl was a fine Bottle Dancer - he's limber and energetic. I really liked Monika Neal's double (or was it triple?) inside pirouette during her dance - it's freakin' scary to do that so close to the stage's edge! In general, though, the dancing in this production was considerably more conservative than in the 1997 production, including the 'Bottle Dance', and 'To Life'. To some, this was a blessing: Micail Buse broke his nose during 'To Life' in 1997, forcing him to use gobs of latex to cover the wound in 'The Dream' (which follows 'To Life', after the intermission). Not surprisingly, Micail said he preferred the 2006 'Fiddler' to the 1997 production (although, as he should recall, the 1997 nosebreak did correct an even earlier nosebreak, which for many years had limited nasal breathing to just one nostril, and finally allowed him to breathe again freely out of both nostrils).

Eva Sarry is listed as choreographer (or actually not as choreographer, but rather in standard MTI-contract language as 'original choreography reproduced by'). I prefer every show to have a choreographer - I think even if a 'traditional' show, there is no merit to mindlessly follow past practices. In 1997, Pam Kay Lourentzos was choreographer. A standard criticism of Pam's methods has been that she over-choreographs shows, but I think that's preferable to the alternative of not trying new things out.

I liked Bethany Pedersen (Tzeitel) and Monika Neal (Chava) just fine, but of Tevye's primary daughters, on Friday night, I thought Julia Mosby (Hodel) was the most effective - perhaps it was because she was more sombre than the others. I thought that Bethany had trouble with the acting as she pleaded with Tevye to allow her to marry Motel, The Tailor - she seemed tentative in hugging Tevye's legs. But apparently there was some backstage drama there - on Saturday I learned that Bethany had been battling illness earlier that week, and so we were lucky to have her there at all.

Regarding Motel, the Tailor, there is a fine line he has to tread, to neither be over-intimidated by Tevye, nor too belligerent in speaking back. I thought Clocky McDowell played the role a shade too belligerent, not waiting long enough to speak back to Tevye. Nevertheless, and as always, Clocky's energetic interpretation of the role commanded admiring attention!

I was surprised to learn Buffee Gillihan played Fruma-Sarah - did not recognize her! Her entrance, from below, was very powerful, but unlike other productions, she was not portrayed as a giantess, which had the benefit of allowing more movement, but also stripped away her intimidating aura.

In 'To Life', the role of Sasha was split with Kyle Hadley (as Fyedka) handling the singing, and Darryl Strohl doing the dancing.

Scott Woodard played Perchick a bit too in-the-moment for my taste - the puritanical idealism was overshadowed by too much enjoyment. To me, Perchick is best played as somewhat stiff and humorless - a proto-Strelnikoff (from Pasternak's book and the 1964 movie 'Dr. Zhivago').

Jeff Nauer played a fine Tevye - a different interpretation than most, but very well done. Nancy Agee has a fine voice for Golde, but I thought she was a bit imperious (maybe to compensate for Jeff Nauer's lack of imperiousness as Tevye???)

In general, this production was very 'goyish' - sounding off-key on a lot of Jewish themes, but that was a major criticism of the 1997 production as well (indeed, in 1997, Lenore Sebastian left the production during rehearsals, in protest). The problem, then and now, isn't a lack of goodwill, it's a lack of Jews. Yolo County theater is just a little too WASPish for some shows - too few Jews, blacks, Hispanics, gays - gays? Gays? Nah, I think we're OK there......

The music was wonderful (there was an accordion!) - I liked watching Erik Daniell's lilting hands against the lit stage as he conducted the orchestra.

In addition to actors from 1997, there were other DMTC favorites (Bruce Wallace, Jon Mounts) and WOH favorites (Matt Taloff).

Joelle Wirth played a fine Yente. I thought she wasn't quite ethnic enough, and too young, but she attacked the role with humor and energy.