Saturday, November 11, 2006

Clarifying The Law

The City Attorney Brad Jerbic won the case, but seems surprised by the spin on the victory. "The ordinance never banned lap dances," Jerbic says. Yes, but the Las Vegas law bans the sort of things one would expect in a lap dance. So, the spin seems justified.

So, what now? Will the Las Vegas economy collapse? Will the lure of the forbidden start a boom?

November 11, 1988: Sacramento first becomes acquainted with one of its more-colorful citizens, Dorothea Puente.
Oliver! Opening Night

Friday night was nice - full of strange surprises, though:

Ate dinner with Sally Forment at Morrison's in Woodland. Nice lamb sirloin. Never suspected this nice restaurant co-exists in the same town as Sonic (apologies to Sonic's ex-manager Eric - come back from Yuba City!)

The show was nice...a little ponderous at times, with some confusion in "Consider Yourself," but certainly better than many opening nights. The audience really like Brian and Monique! Blake Thomas is winning as Oliver and Chris Petersen energetically carries the show forward as The Artful Dodger.

At intermission, word came that none of the toilets worked, and indeed, no water was available in the theater at all. Trouble! So, several of us amateur sleuths spent the top of Act II staring at the befuddling circuitry for the New Theater pumps and trying to figure out why they had stopped working. Fagin himself came up and (without glasses) tried puzzling through the Owner's Manuals. Eventually, we succeeded in figuring out where the manual override switches were, and restored the water system.

Why the pumps stopped is a mystery. I suppose it's possible everyone flushed a toilet at the same instant and the pumps lost their prime, but why it hasn't happened before, I don't know.

Fred Brooks, a long-time Season Ticket holder, had a plan. Brooks, who years ago established the Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Department for the City of Davis, and now lives in retirement in Chico, wanted to honor Steve and Jan Isaacson for their dedication in establishing Community Theater in Davis. At the end of the show, we stopped the proceedings, and Fred Brooks presented his gorgeous plaque to honor Steve and Jan. The presentation had added impact because it was totally unexpected.

Brooks said:
It's very important to honor people for their hard work while they are still alive to appreciate it. Words of appreciation don't do much good after people die.
That's an excellent philosophy! Say "thank you" to the people around you today!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Oliver! Opens Tonight

Some pictures from dress rehearsal Thursday evening for tonight's opening at DMTC.

"I Shall Scream!" - Mr. Bumble (Brian McCann) and Widow Corney (Monique McKisson).

"Boy for Sale" - (Dan Petersen), Mr. Bumble (Brian McCann), and Oliver (Blake Thomas).

"That's Your Funeral" - Mr. Sowerberry (Mike Elfant), Oliver (Blake Thomas), and Mrs. Sowerberry (Dannette Vassar): Mr. Bumble (Brian McCann) in background.

"Pick-a-Pocket" - Fagin (Steve Isaacson).
Davis Chamber of Commerce Mixer

Thursday night..... Nice! Lots of people got to see the theater. Talked to J. P. Rai and Jon Fenske.
Angelic Spam, Devilish Spam

Lately, I've been getting Vietnamese art gallery spam. What a good idea! I mean, if you are getting unsolicited E-Mail, it may as well be something nice to look at....

I just got this spam E-Mail:
Show Your Devotion...Get Christian Ringtones. Personalize Your Cell Phone With Divine Inspiration!

Choose from categories like these:

- Gospel
- Pop
- Praise & Worship
- Acoustic
- And Many Others!
I suppose it could be Christian pop music they are referring to, but I suspect they put the pop category in there because they know I worship at the altar of Kylie, pop star goddess. Kylie's image was part of that pop-star Christmas nativity scene two years ago that the Vatican condemned and that even struck me as blasphemous, so I suppose worshipping Kylie is close to devil worship, but hey, it's commerce, and these days, religion never gets in the way of money. Besides, as William Baker points out in his book, "La, La, La," pop star worship has much in common with religious worship.

One cult I shy away from is the cell phone cult. I see people muttering away on the sidewalk like lunatics all day long. Better to communicate with art gallery spam. Or Kylie spam. I get a little of that too, as the image above attests, but they are offering Kylie ringtones for sale. Ringtones are the devil's work. Maybe I should get an I-Pod? That's the devil's work too, but it's better to sing into the void rather than mutter away like a lunatic.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Usual Suspects

From The Onion:
Republicans Blame Election Losses on Democrats

Remarkable, if true. Kylie has never done a Madonna cover, previously preferring to avoid vampirish Madonna like hantavirus. But it is timely, Kylie having guest-edited December's Vogue Australia, and there were signs during last year's European 'Showgirl' tour that the two pop stars had worked out a rapprochement, so we'll see.
The rumour that appears to have the biggest wings (so much so that it has made it into the US press) is the one in which Kylie will be performing a cover version of Madonna's 'Vogue', complete with dance routine. Already causing a furore amongst Madonna fans (Kylie and Madonna fans love a good bicker about their respective Queens of Pop), we're not at liberty to give away ANY facts about the show, as we all know there's nowt positive to be gained from spoilers, but rest assured that Showgirl has received one hell of a makeover!
Why Change Might Come

Because it is finally in Congress' interest to make it happen:
This election was about Iraq. Period. The exit polls may have listed corruption pretty high. Mike Pence may think that Republicans lost because they didn’t cut Medicaid enough. But they lost because of Iraq. And it was a stunning, two-by-four-to-the-face rebuke to what is generously known as Bush’s Iraq policy. Yes, it could have been worse for the GOP. But the mere fact that so many of these “safe” districts were close was itself a rebuke of the current Iraq policy.

... But the election will affect things for the better and for a very specific reason – the election has finally aligned politics and policy. In other words, the election has created political incentives for legislators to demand and implement change. Better policy is now politically rational, and sticking to bad policy is politically irrational.

To take a step back, I’ve developed a very cynical view of the motivations of our elected officials. I see them as purely rational actors. Everything that they do (as opposed to what they say) is motivated solely by the hopes of political benefit or the fear of political harm. Morals, patriotism, and other abstract concepts have no explanatory power in my world. If you want politicians to fix something, then you make them fear not fixing it. If you want to them to stop doing something, you make them fear not stopping it.

... Early in the summer of 2006, the magnitude of the failures in Iraq was even clearer than in 2004. ... But rather than do anything to try to force the administration to change, they all adopted the Super Genius’s strategy to run on “stay the course” in Iraq. That is, until the Democrats – in the move that won them the election – flipped it back on them. The cynicism of this initial strategy was breathtaking, and borders on black comedy. But it wasn’t irrational. At that moment, their inaction had only been rewarded. It had never been punished.

That’s why it’s a bit rich to hear poor Susan Collins moaning that the mean ol’ Democrats attacked “Linc” too hard. Susan Collins – sitting atop an important oversight committee – hasn’t lifted a finger in four years to demand accountability. Susan Collins has done precisely nothing to stop a policy that she surely knows is an absolute and complete failure. And neither have the rest of them. But again, you can’t really put all the blame on them. The voters didn’t make this sort of outrageousness a political liability.

Until yesterday.

And that’s what so great about it. In the grand scheme of things, what’s really important is not so much that the Democrats won, but how they won. By frontally attacking the GOP on “stay the course,” they made staying the course a political liability....

The bottom line is that, because of yesterday’s elections, legislators now have political incentives to change the course. It is rational for them to demand change. We no longer have to rely on their morals, or their reason, or their regard for the troops. We can rely on their desire to save their own ass, which is the best guarantee we can possibly have.

And you’re going to see this dynamic in the Senate too. Don’t think that this bloc of Southern Senators facing re-election in 2008 didn’t get a chill up their spine when the press declared Webb the winner. If a political nobody can beat a popular former governor and presidential candidate over Iraq in a Southern state, then they can get beat too. And they know it – and so they too will demand change.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Kylie launches a fragrance:
KYLIE Minogue's new perfume will be known as Darling around the world, but in Australia she expects people to call it just "Darl".
Handy Engineering Conversions

Via E-Mail chain:
Ratio of an igloo's circumference to its diameter: Eskimo Pi
2000 pounds of Chinese soup: Won ton
1 millionth of a mouthwash: 1 microscope
Time between slipping on a peel and smacking the pavement: 1bananosecond
Weight an evangelist carries with God: 1 billigram
Time it takes to sail 220 yards at 1 nautical mile per hour: Knot-furlong
365.25 days of drinking low-calorie beer because it's less filling: 1 lite year
16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone: 1 Rod Serling
Half of a large intestine: 1 semicolon
1000 aches: 1 kilohertz
Basic unit of laryngitis: 1 hoarsepower
Shortest distance between two jokes: A straight line (think about it for a moment)
453.6 graham crackers: 1 pound cake
1 million microphones: 1 megaphone
1 million bicycles: 2 megacycles
2000 mockingbirds: two kilomockingbirds (work on it....)
10 cards: 1 decacards
1 kilogram of falling figs: 1 Fig Newton
1000 cubic centimeters of wet socks: 1 literhosen
1 millionth of a fish: 1 microfiche
1 trillion pins: 1 terrapin
10 rations: 1 decoration
100 rations: 1 C-ration
2 monograms: 1 diagram
8 nickels: 2 paradigms
3 statute miles of intravenous surgical tubing at Yale University Hospital: 1 I.V. League
Wall Street Journal's Reaction To The Election

Over at OpinionJournal:
Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life
Reminds me of a song:
Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble, give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best...

...always look on the bright side
of life...

Always look on the light side
of life...

If life seems jolly rotten
There's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing
When you're feeling in the dumps
Don't be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle
- that's the thing.
And...always look on the bright
side of life...

Come on.

Always look on the right side
of life...

For life is quite absurd
And death's the final word
You must always face the curtain
with a bow
Forget about your sin - give the
audience a grin
Enjoy it - it's your last chance

So always look on the bright side
of death...

a-Just before you draw your terminal breath...

Life's a piece of shit, when you look at it
Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true
You'll see its all a show, keep 'em laughin as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you

Always look on the bright side
of life...

Always look on the right side
of life...

C'mon Brian, cheer up

Always look on the bright side
of life...

Always look on the bright side
of life...

Worse things happen at sea you know.

I mean - what have you got to lose?
You know, you come from nothing
- you're going back to nothing.
What have you lost? Nothing.

Always look on the right side
(I mean) of life...

what have you got to lose?
You know, you come from nothing
- you're going back to nothing.
What have you lost?

Always (Nothing.) look on the right side of life...

Nothing will come from nothing ya know what they say?
Cheer up ya old bugga c'mon give us a grin!
There ya go, see!

Always look on the right side of life...
(Cheer up ya old bugga c'mon give us a grin! At same time)

There ya go, see!
Ack! Again Ack!

Albuquerque is of two minds. Republican Wilson barely leads Democrat Madrid:
... But their fate is bound up in two sets of uncounted ballots totaling more than 5,500 votes.

One group consists of more than 2,000 ballots rejected by the ballot-reading machines. They were being hand-counted by weary poll workers this morning.

A second set includes the ballots of 2,698 provisional voters and another 1,058 who cast "in lieu of" votes. Those probably won't start to be counted until Thursday, according to the Bernalillo County Clerk's Office.

With 461 of 465 precincts reporting, unofficial results from the Associated Press gave Wilson 101,305 votes to Madrid's 100,257.
Remembering old times:
The last Democrat to represent the Albuquerque area was Thomas Morris, who was first elected in 1958 to the House, when the state's seat was chosen at-large. The seat was later divided into two positions, and a third seat was added in 1983.

Morris, 87, served until 1969, when Manuel Lujan Jr. was elected to the district.

Morris spent $11,600 on his first election and said Monday that he can't believe what the candidates are spending now. It took a day to fly to Washington. And the way to get the vote out was "by talking to people, and by having their neighbors talk to other people."

"Those were the days," he said.
How Times Change

Consider, New England is the historic home of the Republican Party. To have just one Republican Congressman left is amazing! Truly historic! It means the Republicans rule the South, but can't take their dominance for granted anywhere else.

Well, about time! Just so long as we don't get carried away with it!

I was struck by several things:
  • How close the Montana Senate Race and the NM Representative races were. I thought these would be blowouts by the Dems.
  • How much of a blowout the Rhode Island, Tennessee, and even the Missouri races were. I thought they would be razor-thin.
  • I hoped Webb would win Virginia, but I'm surprised he actually seems to have pulled it off.
  • Schwarzenegger's margin is freakin' huge. Angelides just couldn't get a grip.
  • Pombo's gone! Yay!
  • Lieberman's not gone! Damn!

In other news, Donald Rumsfeld has resigned. Both he, Bush, and Cheney never seemed to grasp that they were not fighting dead-enders in Iraq, and they did not have sufficient endurance and force on the ground to prevail. I wonder if they grasp that even now? Defeat comes hard to the proud!

Troop levels were deliberately kept low enough not to provoke a domestic Vietnam-style backlash, at least for a while, but imagine trying to control a violent country roughly the size of California with only 140,000 troops. It doesn't work. The Iraq War has now lasted as long as World War II. Stalemate or defeat are the only two options left, and stalemate is looking untenable.

The critical difference is knowing about the enemy and what makes them tick. In World War II, the American military leaders knew vast amounts about their Nazi counterparts (although much less about their Japanese foes). I wonder how many American military leaders know who their enemies are in Iraq, and who is Shiite and who is Sunni? Do they even care? Probably seems like an undifferentiated mass of crazy people to them, I suppose....

Cheney's apparently gone hunting again today. Take that frustration out on the quail. Show 'em who's boss.

Here are selections from Salon's coverage of the evening on Fox News:
There was denial. There was bargaining. There was lashing out. There was an apparition of the undead. There was a wacky racially coded moment. There was cannibalism (if only among liberals). But I could have encountered most of that in certain relatives' houses, where the drinks would have been better and the oaths more colorful.

Fox has never been so boring. For most of the evening, Brit Hume had the bemused, faintly condescending demeanor of the veteran TV newsman who has been reduced to anchoring the weekend local news in Bakersfield or Binghamton. He'd announce that yet another porcine congressional Republican was going down the slippery slide toward a future on K Street, defeated by some heartland Democrat nobody's ever heard of, as if he were discussing the garden show on Palisade Boulevard and the times for Sunday Mass at St. Stanislaus'. The first actual candidate we got to hear thank his family was Joe Lieberman. Yes, it was that boring.

... One-time right-wing hero Rick Santorum was the first Republican senator to fall, and beyond that first news bulletin his name was not mentioned during the five hours or so I watched of Fox's election coverage. Defeated Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine was barely mentioned either, although his victorious opponent, Rep. Sherrod Brown, was described by Hume, with evident distaste, as a "true-blue liberal" and an "out-and-out liberal."

... Barnes and Kondracke acted irritated by the whole evening, as if the historic electoral upheaval they were witnessing was essentially a routine event and anyway, dammit, if they didn't make their Georgetown dinner dates on time the merlot would all get drunk by other people (possibly Democrats). Barnes insisted that "there was no ideological component" to the GOP's ever-worsening defeat, and that the widely despised Iraq war was not an ideological issue. That sounds smart until you think about it. In plain English, I think that means: Absolutely everyone has finally grasped that the president is an idiot.

... Then, as must happen on all Fox News broadcasts, things took a bizarre turn. It was as if the producers suddenly realized that their political movement was about to be cast into the wilderness, that their core viewers were all at home eating their own gizzards, and that changing the mood somehow, anyhow, was mandatory. That meant hearing Brit Hume utter the word "blogosphere" (it's still funny!) and it meant bringing in Michelle Malkin, looking as if she had showed up to fill out an application at the Hawaiian Tropic theme restaurant and sat down at the wrong desk.

It was she who chirpily informed us that NewsBusters and other right-wing sites were blaming CBS News for Santorum's defeat in Pennsylvania (and, no doubt, for global warming and the North Korean nuclear bomb). Moving along briskly to the so-called left of the spectrum, Malkin announced that Ned Lamont's defeat by Lieberman had "really opened up some fissures in the Democrat Party. There's a lot of cannibalism out there among liberals." Is that so, Michelle? I can't say I'm surprised; they are liberals after all. But tell me, who gets to eat Al Sharpton?

Right after that, just before 10 p.m. Eastern, Hume had to announce the defeats of Gov. Bob Ehrlich and Senate candidate Michael Steele, two well-liked Republicans, in Maryland. Whether it was Malkin's outburst or those losses that threw him off, Hume lost all pretense of objectivity, and spent several minutes dolefully dwelling on a lone Republican hold in a close seat, the 13th Congressional District of Florida. He seemed terribly eager for analyst Michael Barone to tell him this was a harbinger of better things ahead, and not just a Proustian remembrance of glorious elections past.

... Normal TV manners reasserted themselves, and before long Sen. John McCain came on the show, supposedly to talk about how the Republicans would land on their feet. Of course this is the new, improved McCain, a pod person hatched in some Karl Rove greenhouse who at some point in 2005 replaced the old tough-as-nails, indie-Republican model. I have long felt that I'd actually prefer McCain to Hillary Clinton in '08, but, jeez Louise, have you seen this guy lately? He sits there in a chair with all the lifelike vividness of Lenin's corpse, smiling in this ghastly, dead way and reading from a script, with no evident conviction or even awareness. I'm not positive his lips move. Sca-a-ry.

... At 11:23 EST, Fox put up a graphic showing a cherry-picked selection of the incoming House leadership. Predictably, they'd found a photo of Nancy Pelosi with a bad puffball hairdo and a weird gape-grin. Below the speaker-presumptive were a few likely chairs of major committees: Charles Rangel, Alcee Hastings, John Conyers and Henry Waxman. These people were variously described as highly liberal (Rangel and Conyers), ethically challenged (Hastings) and overly aggressive (Waxman). No one on the show observed that the folks in the picture were a woman, three black guys and a Jew. (At least not out loud.)

Shortly before Hume's signoff at midnight, Kondracke asked him, "How do you keep track of all these blogs? There's a lot of them. It seems like anybody in their pajamas ..." He trailed off.

"It's a real marketplace of ideas, isn't it?" said Hume.

All night long, it had looked like George Allen was going to squeak it out in Virginia, and the Foxies were clinging to that apparent result. Bill Kristol kept wanting to call the race and then talking himself out of it, but he did repeatedly exclaim with boyish wonder over the fact that it might be Allen who saved the Republicans' bacon in the end. Hume got to tell his viewers, right before departing, that Allen's lead had finally evaporated, and that a recount, and possibly agonizing defeat, would come with the dawn.

By the next hour under Shep Smith, Fox had totally dropped the mode of lamentation and moved on to a new message: Let's end this partisan bickering and get stuff done! It's time for new ideas! Change! Competence! Like I said earlier, it's the message of those who just got a can of whup-ass opened all over them. (It looks like condensed cream of mushroom soup, but tastes even worse.)

"This is sort of a standard election," Kondracke said crossly in summing up. "There's always something in the sixth year [of a president's tenure], whether it's Watergate or Vietnam or a recession." Yeah, Mort. There's always something. Here's the something this year: That big plan for a permanent Republican majority? It crawled out into the Iraqi desert, rolled onto its bristly back and died.

Heather Wilson (R), Congressional Representative for the Albuquerque, NM area (District 1), is squeaking past Patricia Madrid (D)! The margin is trivial! Ack!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Virginia Is For Lovers

And for schizophrenics - Webb's margin is microscopic!
And I Thought It Was Just Another Election

Like Hillary says, it takes a village to raise a child.


Oh well, you can't please everyone.....

[Update: It looks like our values are going to be destroyed. Sad, that.]
Long Legs

Boy, what some will do for looks!:
China has banned the practice of leg-lengthening, a cosmetic surgery procedure popular among young professionals who believe height will help them to climb the career ladder, after a rash of botched operations has left patients disfigured.

Leg extension surgery looks like a procedure from the Middle Ages. A doctor breaks the patient's legs and inserts steel pins into the bones, just below the knees. The pins are attached to a metal frame and every day for months the patient tightens the knobs a small amount despite excruciating pain. By constantly forcing the ends of the broken bones apart before they can heal, more new bone comes to fill in the gaps.

... The operation costs some 100,000 yuan (£6,700) and it is often six months before the patient can walk without using a walking frame. Many can never run again.

... Chinese people's increased sensitivity about their appearance has seen a rash of cosmetic surgery clinics springing up around the country, offering a huge array of different kinds of surgery. Many of the clinics are run by doctors who abandon poorly paid work in the state-run medical system to cash in on the appetite for nips, tucks and leg extensions.

... Being tall has really only become an issue in China since the economic boom - the architect of the country's opening up, Deng Xiaoping, stood less than 5ft tall. But nowadays, many Chinese feel discriminated against in their jobs if they are not tall or good-looking enough. Men wear step heels, and television ads show the footwear with its inches-giving insoles.

... The technique of leg-lengthening was conceived by Italians in 1905, but the Russians can take credit for developing the concept. Much of the breakthrough work was done by Doctor Gavril Ilizarov, who used bicycle spokes to heal fractured bones broken by gunshots. He later adapted this technique to lengthening limbs. It is now used all over the world but is rarely allowed for cosmetic reasons.

The latest issue of EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, describes the use of satellite data to establish where the hottest land surface temperature (LST) on Earth is located. This is a little different than the location of the hottest air - that temperature is at 1.5 meters above the ground. Instead, this is the location of the foot-burningist surface temperature on Earth!

The 2004 (68.0 deg C: 154.4 deg F) and 2005 (70.7 deg C: 159.3 deg F), maxima were located in Iran's Lut Desert, on the Kerman Plateau, where temperatures get so hot that even bacteria can't survive.

But the 2003 maximum (69.3 deg C: 156.7 deg F) was located in Queensland, Australia, where I'm going in a week!

Looking at a map, the maximum Australian point seems to be in the upper regions of the Flinders River or the Diamantina watersheds, somewhere NW of Winton. The Flinders River drains into the Gulf of Carpenteria: the Diamantina drains into the interior. Pretty far from the ocean, and far from where I'm going, but still, I'm mystified why the maximum isn't farther west, at lower elevations, in the Simpson Desert, the Gibson Desert, the Great Victoria Desert, or in many other deserving locations in Australia. Maybe because the location is a little more tropical than the other places?

Oh well! Hot is hot! These temperatures make me yearn for summertime Death Valley, where at least bacteria are welcome!

I wonder whether bacteria can tough it out in Australia? Do Down-Under bacteria beat Persian bacteria?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Alaska Dust Storm

Nothing kicks up a good dust storm like exposing big expanses of glacial outwash loess to the wind! Imagine how dusty things must have been at the end of the last Ice Age!
Lame Election Predictions

Having no particular insight into what people are thinking, particularly since I get no Cable TV, and California is rather atypical of the nation as a whole, I'll stick with the general left-wing blogosphere consensus regarding who is likely to win in tomorrow's election. The most important thing happening this year is that the Northeast U.S. is defecting from the dominant southern wing of the Republican Party.

There has been lots of talk about a Democratic sweep this year, but I expect only incremental changes this year: sweeps will have to wait till 2008, until the Democrats actually have a coherent position on Iraq. Even then, Iraq is such a tarry gumball of woe, the Democrats may remain incoherent until the bitter end.

In California, I'll be voting for Angelides, but Schwarzenegger is likely to win.

Locally, I hope very much SMUD succeeds with its takeover of Yolo County (likely to save DMTC several hundred dollars - per month!)
HOUSE (231 R - 202 D)

Doolittle (R) beats Brown (D)

Madrid (D) beats Wilson (R)

SENATE (55 R - 45 D)

Minnesota: Klobuchar (D) wins
Michigan: Stabenow (D) wins
Washington: Cantwell (D) wins
New Jersey: Menendez (D) wins
Pennsylvania: Casey (D) wins
Ohio: Brown (D) wins
Maryland: Cardin (D) wins
Rhode Island: Whitehouse (D) wins
Montana: Tester (D) wins
Virginia: Webb (D) wins
Missouri: McCaskill (D) wins

Arizona: Kyl (R) wins
Tennessee: Corker (R) wins
Nevada: Ensign (R) wins

GOVERNOR (28 R - 22 D)

New York: Spitzer (D) wins
Massachusetts: Patrick (D) wins
Ohio: Strickland (D) wins
Colorado: Ritter (D) wins
Arkansas: Beebe (D) wins
Illinois: Blagojevich (D) wins
Michigan: Granholm (D) wins
Wisconsin: Doyle (D) wins
Oregon: Kulongoski (D) wins

Nevada: Gibbons (R) wins
California: Schwarzenegger (R) wins

Sunday, November 05, 2006

"Lost And Found"

I went to see the Sunday afternoon performance of "Lost And Found" in the 600-seat hall at the expanding Christ Community Church (CCC), in Carmichael. This was the third performance of the world premiere of this musical. The leading lights behind this new musical are Darin and Sheri Adams, both of whom have had formidable stage careers and who have settled into Carmichael to raise a family (not to be confused with Scott and Sherri Adams, another couple involved in Sacramento-area musical theater). Pepper Von is choreographer.

Darin Adams is Artistic Director of the Searchlight Theater project and Director of Arts and Worship at Christ Community Church. He has appeared at Music Circus (Capt. Brackett in 'South Pacific'), plus numerous other Bay Area (Peninsula Civic Light Opera in San Mateo, West Bay Opera, Berkeley Opera) productions. Sheri Adams has also done PCLO shows (among others), and they both spent nearly three years as lead vocalists and headline actors for Seabourn Cruise Lines.

The premise is entertaining enough: Sarah Foster's (Sheri Adams') music classroom of inner-city high-school kids are introduced to Paul (Darin Adams), an understudy opera singer who experiences the dream of succeeding the main singer and establishing a career of his own. Paul and Sarah strike up a romance and tutor the bright and sassy gospel, hip-hop, and opera-aware students, particularly the bright Timothy (Sequence Grisby), who has a troubled brother, Titus (Noah Hayes). Paul eventually drifts into an addiction with painkillers, and Sarah tries to save the marriage. Titus is killed in a drive-by shooting, and Timothy struggles to retain his relationship with his tutor, Paul.

The use of sung dialogue is reminiscent of Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals: reminded me of "Evita," in a way. I liked the use of hip-hop: not enough hip-hop in musicals! The gospel singing is great as well, particularly by Rose, Timothy's mother (Darlene Tellis). Chester Patterson played an excellent Reverend Frank Jackson.

For the most part, the ensemble does a very good job. Not enough dancing, but ably executed. Pepper Von's moves were evident (Assistant Choreographer Venetia James).

The violence came too quickly, with remarkably little foreshadowing (the words were there, but not the music). Dreamlike. The exposition in Act I is a bit labored, and could probably be improved by axing a song.

The problem with the show (and the premise as well) is Paul's overweening egotism. Paul is introduced to the classroom as an already-successful opera singer, which stretches credulity as to his dedication to the students' well-being right from the start. Darin Adams is well-aware of the problem, though: the students rebuke Paul's self-centeredness several times during the show. The problem could be easily fixed too. If Paul was another teacher in the same school, like an English teacher, or a music teacher in another nearby school, his drift into addiction could then be more poignant. He would already be a grounded member of the community who experiences the American-Idol-like arc of fame, rather than being an alien landing from Mars.

I had the sense that I was a watching a metaphor of the Adames own lives as successful performers. Talking with an audience member who belongs to the congregation, I learned that the Adamses have been in Carmichael for about two years now, and CCC nearly lost them to another city at one point. The folks at CCC are very appreciative that the Adamses are with their congregation.

But what must it be like from the other side, to have the world as your oyster, and then settle into a specific community, with all its inanities, insufficiencies and inadequacies - even as nice a community as Carmichael? To play the big house, and then deal with day-to-day idiocies? Like the farmers used to say, it's hard to keep the young folks on the farm once they've seen Gay Paree.

At one point, troubled Titus tells big-head Paul, "we aren't your special project." This is the central truth of the musical. And what happens to the truth-teller in theater? You've guessed it. When the drive-by hoodlums arrive, and the guns start firing, it's Truth-teller Titus who catches a bullet.

And yet, it's crystal-clear Adams is all-too-well-aware of this. Like Paul's students, the folks at CCC aren't Adams' special project either.

So, a flawed musical, but maybe one that generates more genuine thought because of its flaws than if it had been smoother from the start.

One more weekend to go! Give it a look! Location is in Carmichael, on Manzanita, just south of Madison (map).
Lost and Found
Searchlight Theatre Project
November 3, 4, 5 - 10, 11, 12
Friday and Saturday - 7 p.m.
Sunday - 4 p.m.
"Annie" - Runaway Stage Productions

Last show of RSP's 2006 season. Saturday's performance was wonderful! Tons of experience on stage! "Annie" is very smooth, with a hard, shiny luster. ("It's a dessert topping! It's a floor wax!")

Both Kaylynn Rothleder (Annie) and Lauren Miller (Lily St. Regis) had done these same roles at DMTC in the spring of 2005. Further, in the summer of 2005, Kaylynn survived very far into a rigorous audition process to find the lead child actress for the "Annie" national Broadway tour: Kaylynn was among the last dozen, or so, of some 500-600 girls who tried out. Ray Fisher (Daddy Warbucks) said this is the fourth time he's played the role. So, several of the lead players had far more experience in these roles than is commonly the case in community theater, or for that matter, professional theater. More pertinent "Annie" experience than you are ever likely to see again on a stage!

In addition, very strong players were chosen for some of the other lead characters: Darryl Strohl (Rooster Hannigan), for example. This was the first time I've seen Lillian Baxter sing - she's good! And Andrea St. Clair, with her strong singing and perfect characterization, is a natural for the role of Warbuck's secretary, Grace Farrell.

Set design by Dave Lack of the Warbuck's mansion was excellent. Darryl Strohl's choreography gave ample opportunity to show off the humor of the show, especially by Lauren Miller.

Very few bad points. Act I was brilliant, but the pacing at the top of Act II was a bit slow. The microphones had a few, fairly minor but predictable problems: some feedback, and "clipping", particularly when Andrea St. Clair would blow out the circuitry with her powerful voice.

One-and-a-half years after the DMTC show, I worried that Kaylynn would be too polished for the innocence demanded by the show, and for about a minute at the beginning of Act I, I thought my worries justified, but as soon as she swung into the opening number, "Maybe," her big smile came out, and the Kaylynn of old was back.

Doesn't Ray have a really great voice?

I felt a strange dissonance as Scott Horsfall went through FDR's lines. I played FDR in the 2005 DMTC show, and the dissonance came as my memory struggled to recover the lines from cobweb-covered neurons. Good performance: my only concern was that Scott should remain in character, in the wheelchair, during curtain call (it disturbs the audience to see FDR walking around so soon).

Great bell-kick, Dave!

"Annie" is the best show I've seen at Runaway Stage - really, I can't recommend it highly enough. After the show, I mentioned my highest-ever rating to Michael McElroy, and he said: "What about 'The Full Monty'? Wasn't that the best one ever?" As I backed down 24th Street, first slowly, then stumbling, and then sharply accelerating away, I shouted ever-louder: "The Full Monty? Oh, fine show! Fine....fine.....", as Mike Mac maniacally laughed .....

(unfortunately no pictures - camera not charged)