Friday, April 06, 2007


Next weekend, Pulse Dance Ensemble, together with Never Been Done Dance Co., will present "Kaios", 'a dance concert of many styles created through Cirque-style entertainment!'

The concert will be held at Natomas High School in Sacramento, April 13th 7 p.m., and April 14th, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.. Tickets start at $10. More information at (916) 534-4000.
Body Bondo

No scalpel, just a trowel:
Scientists at Purdue University have developed a new material that begins as a liquid and then hardens to fill gaps in damaged or missing tissue. And the material may contain antibiotics to prevent infection, “growth factors” to promote tissue regeneration, or blood-clotting materials to aid in healing. Then as healthy tissue begins to grow, the material disintegrates.

“I can envision things like liquid bandages in conjunction with anesthetic delivery,” said Alyssa Panitch, lead scientist on the project. “Our main focuses right now are wound healing, [central nervous system] repair, vascular repair and orthopedic indications.”

The process works in a similar way to how the body creates tissue. Molecules called polysaccharides — basically starches or sugars — combine with peptides, the body’s protein building blocks, to create temporary tissue.

“The matrix can have any shape you want it to,” Panitch said in a statement. “It would solidify immediately to fill the defect.”
Formic Acid

The smell from blue cheese dressing. It's the same smell you get from lots of crushed ants. And now, a menace to the Salton Sea as well:
A train derailment in the Southern California desert spilled litres of blue cheese dressing into a canal leading to the Salton Sea.

...The spilled dressing and other materials flowed into the Coachella Canal about two kilometres from the north shore of the Salton Sea, hazardous materials specialist Robert Becker said.

"There was blue cheese - a lot of it," Becker said.

The canal was dammed and there was no threat to the salty Salton Sea, Becker said.

Oh, that's what that contraption along I-80 is, the Scandia Screamer!
SACRAMENTO -- No screaming on the Screamer!

A suburban amusement park has gotten so many complaints from neighbors about bloodcurdling screams that it has instituted a no-shrieking rule for its scary new thrill ride, the Scandia Screamer, a gigantic, windmill-like contraption that sends people plunging 16 stories to Earth at nearly 60 mph.

Riders who let out a screech -- or just about any other noise -- are pulled off and sent to the back of the line.

"After the first complaint, our rule was no profanity," said Steve Baddley, general manager at the Scandia Family Fun Center. "Then neighbors said it wasn't just that -- it was the crazy, excessive screaming. Then they said it was really all of it, the loud laughing, everything. Eventually, we said, 'Bag it, that's it -- no noise."'

The rule was imposed March 29, nearly three weeks after the ride opened.

As passengers are strapped into the two metal baskets, the operator recites this warning: "We are required to remove you from this ride if you make any noise. If you feel you might make a noise, please cover your mouth tightly with you hand, like this (The operator then covers mouth with hand). If we hear any noise through your hand, we will remove you from the ride. So please remain silent and enjoy the Screamer."

Those who dared the ride this week said keeping quiet is harder than it sounds.

"I think we were just talking loudly. I wouldn't say it was screaming," said 15-year-old Anna Matsoyan, after she and her little sister were pulled off the ride for what sounded more like a whimper. "It's kind of a bummer. It makes you want to scream."

The ban also can be confusing for the ride's operators. Last weekend, park employees stopped the Screamer only to realize it wasn't a rider who ran afoul of the new policy, but a customer on the park's miniature golf course who howled after hitting a hole-in-one.
Vegas Been Berry Berry Good To Me

George Maloof:
"I like Las Vegas," Maloof said. "If there's a top of the list (of opportunities), it's Las Vegas. What's great about Las Vegas is it's a fluid place. There are always opportunities, new things all the time. The strategy is to keep in the game."

Nelly Furtado-Powerless

Pop Song O' The Day

At first I was going to go with Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend":

Hey, hey, you, you
I don't like your girlfriend
No way, no way
I think you need a new one
Hey, hey, you, you
I could be your girlfriend

and then I was going to go with Nelly's "Stompin' On My Air Force Ones":

I keep it real dirty dirty you know how I do
Purple and gold with the Lakers, the Broncos, the orange and blue
I like floppy with ankle socks, lows, mids, and high tops
With the clear sole but it's Tims with fat laces when is cold
But when the winter go (brr) and the hot summer flow
Then it's back to the all-purpose with the lil' dots in the toe
Ain't nothing stopping this dough that I'm spending fo sho'
On those Nike Air Forces N, E behind the O

but I decided to settle on one of my favorites from 2003/04, Nelly Furtado's "Powerless".

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Downtown Springtime

The barking Labrador Retriever, waiting impatiently in the camper shell of his master's parked pickup....

The forgetful man with a cane, who left his belongings at the deli - and maybe hard-of-hearing too, since they had to yell to get his attention - but not in his seventies, in his THIRTIES....

The teenaged skateboarder who tripped, bounced hard on concrete, shrugged it off, and kept going....

The Aussie way:
WHEN the tsunami didn't happen this week, was I the only one disappointed?

Judging by the number of people left standing on clifftops holding cameras, apparently not.

...I have had apocalyptic fantasies for some time now, but it is difficult to tell when they began.

Perhaps after Ronald Reagan launched Star Wars or when my mother announced, with a straight face that if there was ever a nuclear war we could always live on the property my father had purchased near Lake Eucembene.

Maybe it's just a standard male thing. I'm not sure; I don't trust psychiatrists.

Whatever the case, my doomsday fantasies have, over the years, grown increasingly baroque.

My bunker is the centrepiece of my apocalypse survival plan, lists of who is and is not allowed inside it now occupying me in the way fantasy football teams obsess other, more healthy, individuals.

...There will be little room for sentiment. Therefore, although I love my parents, they are approaching an age of limited usefulness, and so will nobly volunteer (at my suggestion) to sacrifice themselves on the radioactive tundra to ease the burden on the youthful pioneers who will carry on their now-mutated genes.

We'll name a future city after them or something.

Women are, of course, welcome in my bunker - under the proviso they are prepared to have at least a dozen children.

In the apocalypse there will not, unfortunately, be much room for the professional woman, careers being limited for the most part to raiding parties on surrounding communities and stripping corpses of valuables.

The upside is that it will be the responsibility of mothers to train these hordes of children into an army of the future, which we will need in our on-going war against marauding bikie gangs and feral cats grown to the size of compact cars.

With so much talk of the apocalypse, the only thing worse than it happening is waiting for it.

I'm tired of waiting.
Our Gullible National Media

Excerpts from Glenn Greenwald regarding our hopelessly complicit national media (which just reinforces my decision to stop watching television altogether):
I had what I consider to be an illuminating discussion this morning with Jeffrey Schneider, Senior Vice President of ABC News, concerning the story published (and broadcast) by ABC's Brian Ross and Christopher Isham on Monday. That story claimed that "Iran has more than tripled its ability to produce enriched uranium in the last three months" and therefore "Iran could have enough material for a nuclear bomb by 2009."

...My principal criticism of the ABC story was that it was exclusively predicated on what ABC vaguely described only as "sources familiar with the dramatic upgrade." It did not include a single other piece of information about the identity of the "sources" who were making such dramatic, consequential, and potentially war-inflaming claims -- not even whether they were government or private sources, American or Iranian (or some other nationality), or whether they have any history that evinces a desire for regime change in or war against Iran. For that reason, the story seemed worthless, given that it was impossible for the reader to assess the credibility of the assertions.

...Schneider began by explaining that decisions about the use of anonymous sources in a story such as this one are "approved at very high levels" at ABC News. The sources for this specific story are, he claimed, ones with whom ABC has a "long relationship" and are ones they "find credible." He said that both ABC News itself and these specific reporters have proven "over a very long period of time" that they are reliable and credible journalists. He emphasized on several occasions that after I wrote my post on Tuesday, it was announced that Ross had been awarded a Peabody for a story he worked on last year. He said he found that "ironic" and specifically requested that I include Ross's new prize in whatever I wrote.

...In response to my central point -- that a story of this magnitude and potential impact should not be passed on without at least some information enabling an assessment of the credibility of the sources (or, at the very least, should include an explanation as to why such information was being concealed) -- Schneider's response was that there is a way for the reader to assess the credibility of the story. Namely, because ABC News and the reporters in question have "proven over a long period of time" that they are "very reliable" (Brian Ross won a Peabody Award), the fact that they have assessed this story as credible is, by itself, sufficient to render it newsworthy.

...Many Americans lack that trust -- not because of anything ABC News specifically did or did not do (like most news outlets, they do have journalists who have done good investigative work, including Ross). Instead, it is because, throughout the Bush presidency (and even before), the national American media as a whole has been extraordinarily gullible, if not outright complicit, in disseminating all sorts of patent falsehoods under the guise of unidentified agenda-driven sources.

...And at least one key reason for that distrust is both clear and compelling. Many Americans who more or less did trust the judgment of the country's most respectable media outlets were severely betrayed, when they supported an invasion of a sovereign country based exclusively on patently false claims that were uncritically though aggressively disseminated by the American press. For that reason, distrust of the media has been substantially heightened, and that is so particularly when it comes to stories -- like the ABC News one here -- that bolster the Bush administration's warnings of a "grave threat" posed by whatever country happens to be The New Nazi Enemy of the Month.

... UPDATE: Atrios points to the first of what I imagine will be many examples today rebutting the entitlement of trust touted by ABC News (and again, ABC is by no means unique, merely illustrative). And just to preempt the inevitable response, disgraceful incidents like the Jessica Lynch Fraud are not mere "mistakes" which "everyone makes" and therefore can just be corrected and then forgotten afterwards.

Instead, such incidents reflect a fundamental defect in how national journalists operate -- fueled by excessive, really mindless, trust in people who are not trustworthy, but instead are using them. And because they see those incidents only as isolated mistakes reflective of nothing, nothing ever changes.
The Non-Profit And The Big Donor

When I head to 'Step One' on Tuesday and Thursday evenings for aerobics class, I walk past the 'Birthing Project'. I marvel at all the activity there, which seems to consist of people sitting in a circle listening to informal talks about babies and families, and the like. The place looks quite lively.

The 'Birthing Project' is a non-profit organization, and like all non-profits, is often engaged in fundraising efforts. Missions aside, there is a bond with community theaters in that our fundraising experiences are often quite similar.

In today's Sacramento Bee City Section, the Birthing Project's founder, Kathryn Hall-Trujillo, discusses her mission, but also her experience with approaching the Holy Grail of non-profits, namely, the Big Donor:
Q: Will your job ever be done?

A: I hope.

The Birthing Project is trying to make sure that the girls born into the project are healthier than their moms were when their moms were 18, and that's really the way we reduce infant mortality rate in the long run.

Q: Do you ever just think that this problem could be solved if someone like Oprah Winfrey just put their power behind it?

A: (Laughs.) When I received the Essence Award in 1995, with Colin Powell and Janet Jackson, Oprah was the talent for that award (ceremony).

That was one of the worst experiences of my life. ... I cried through the whole thing because I was just thinking, 'When this is over, we're going to go back, and I'm going to close the clinic.'

I met people there, and I asked them if they would make a donation.

Colin Powell sent some money, other people sent some money, but everybody said you should really ask Oprah.

So I really asked Oprah.

Oprah sent me a letter back that basically said if I gave you money, it would be like pouring money down a hole because you are going to close.

At first I was so mad with Oprah. I put the letter on my refrigerator, and I kept it there, and I looked at it every day.

Then I realized, No. 1, that was Oprah's money.

And No. 2, if I wanted, and the women in this community wanted, this clinic, it was ours: It wasn't Oprah's. And we had to figure out how to get $10 here and $50 there.

But one day I looked up, and I wasn't mad with Oprah anymore. I took that letter down, and I don't even know where it is.

So in a way it would be nice if somebody came and saved us but, actually, the gift of this clinic is that we have saved ourselves.

Part of it is not just pouring money into it, but really helping people in the community understand what a life really means in our community.

Somehow or another, we have to bring whatever we have.

It's not easy. It's never become easy, but it's always on my heart.

I wish that Oprah did a little bit, but if she doesn't do a little bit, it will be all right because this belongs to us. That's the message that we pretty much have demonstrated to the whole country.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Beginning Of The End Of History

Francis Fukuyama gives up on the Americans:
To be sure, the desire to live in a modern society and to be free of tyranny is universal, or nearly so. This is demonstrated by the efforts of millions of people each year to move from the developing to the developed world, where they hope to find the political stability, job opportunities, health care, and education that they lack at home.

But this is different from saying that there is a universal desire to live in a liberal society - that is, a political order characterised by a sphere of individual rights and the rule of law. The desire to live in a liberal democracy is, indeed, something acquired over time, often as a byproduct of successful modernisation.

Moreover, the desire to live in a modern liberal democracy does not translate necessarily into an ability to actually do so. The Bush administration seems to have assumed in its approach to post-Saddam Iraq that both democracy and a market economy were default conditions to which societies would revert once oppressive tyranny was removed, rather than a series of complex, interdependent institutions that had to be painstakingly built over time.

Long before you have a liberal democracy, you have to have a functioning state (something that never disappeared in Germany or Japan after they were defeated in the second world war). This is something that cannot be taken for granted in countries like Iraq.

The End of History was never linked to a specifically American model of social or political organisation. Following Alexandre Kojève, the Russian-French philosopher who inspired my original argument, I believe that the European Union more accurately reflects what the world will look like at the end of history than the contemporary United States. The EU's attempt to transcend sovereignty and traditional power politics by establishing a transnational rule of law is much more in line with a "post-historical" world than the Americans' continuing belief in God, national sovereignty, and their military.

Finally, I never linked the global emergence of democracy to American agency, and particularly not to the exercise of American military power. Democratic transitions need to be driven by societies that want democracy, and since the latter requires institutions, it is usually a fairly long and drawn out process.
What Would Paris Do?

Well, sue, of course:
The sketch - due to air today - features Paris promoting her 'What Would Paris Do' bracelets in a fake infomercial.

In one clip, a blonde is pulled over by a police officer for drunk-driving and, after consulting her bracelet, starts grinding against the cop.

The blushing officer says: "I can't arrest you, you're too fabulous."

Paris, 26, shot the sketch before she was arrested for driving with a suspended licence on February 27.

The arrest violated the 36-month probation order she received after pleading no contest to alcohol-related reckless driving in January.

Last week, Paris' lawyers demanded the US music TV network delete the sketch from the comedy show or face legal action.
No One Ever Expects The Greenhouse Inquisition

In his odd, acerbic style, William Buckley recently addressed the Supreme Court's decision regarding the necessity of the U.S. government having to treat carbon dioxide as an air pollutant, and came up with - what, exactly, I don't know:
The heavy condemnatory breathing on the subject of global warming outdoes anything since high moments of the Inquisition. A respectable columnist (Thomas Friedman of The New York Times) opened his essay last week by writing, "Sometimes you read something about this administration that's just so shameful it takes your breath away."

What asphyxiated this critic was the discovery that a White House official had edited "government climate reports to play up uncertainty of a human role in global warming." The correspondent advises that the culprit had been an oil-industry lobbyist before joining the administration, and on leaving it he took a job with Exxon Mobil.
What many people objected to was untrained political hacks censoring the reports of highly-trained experts. Have we reached a low-point of servility where such objections are treated instead as the outrage, and not the original acts?

Speaking in regard to the oil industry:
Is the community engaged in oil production the contemporary equivalent of the makers of Zyklon B?
No, not at all. But then the Nazis never asked anyone to believe Zyklon B was merely a harmless byproduct of natural processes.
Critics are correct in insisting that human enterprises have an effect on climate. What they cannot at this point do is specify exactly how great the damage is, nor how much relief would be effected by specific acts of natural propitiation.
Many scientists have been doing exactly this, and it is their works that are in danger of being ignored by the government.
The whole business is eerily religious in feel. Back in the 15th century, the question was: Do you believe in Christ? It was required in Spain by the Inquisition that the answer should be affirmative, leaving to one side subsidiary specifications.

It is required today to believe that carbon-dioxide emissions threaten the basic ecological balance. The assumption then is that inasmuch as a large proportion of the damage is man-made, man-made solutions are necessary.
No one is asking anyone to believe in global warming without evidence. On the other hand, people are being asked to reject such belief without evidence. And tackling difficult projects is very much in the American tradition....

Here, Buckley changes his thrust of his argument to dicuss effectiveness of proposed remedies, and the way we approach the task:
To speak in very general terms, the United States is easily the principal offender, given the size of our country and the intensity of our use of fossil-fuel energy. But even accepting the high per-capita rate of consumption in the United States, we face the terrible inadequacy of ameliorative resources. If the United States were (we are dealing in hypotheses) to eliminate the use of oil or gas for power, would that forfeiture be decisive?

Well, no. It would produce about 23 percent global relief, and at a devastating cost to our economy.

As a practical matter, what have modern states undertaken with a view to diminishing greenhouse gases? The answer is: Not very much. What is being done gives off a kind of satisfaction, of the kind felt back then when prayers were recited as apostates were led to the stake to be burned. If you levied a 100 percent surtax on gasoline in the United States, you would certainly reduce the use of it, but the arbiter is there to say: What is a complementary sacrifice we can then expect from India and China? China will soon overtake the United States in the production of greenhouse gases.

At Kyoto, an effort was made 10 years ago to allocate proportional reductions nation by nation. The United States almost uniquely declined to subscribe to the Kyoto protocols. Canada, Japan and the countries of Western Europe subscribed, but some have already fallen short of their goals, and all of them are skeptical about the prospect of making future scheduled reductions. It is estimated that if the United States had subscribed to Kyoto, it would have cost us $100 billion to $400 billion per year.
Valid points, all, and we are no longer in Inquisition territory with these arguments. An argument based on effectiveness is not the same as one based on belief.

The following part will upset J., suggested recently in this blog that the IPCC's new estimates may be too low:
There is, now and then, offsetting good news. The next report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we have learned, will be less pessimistic than earlier reports. It will predict, e.g., a sea-level increase of up to 23 inches by the end of the century, substantially better than earlier IPCC predictions of 29 inches -- and light-years away from the 20 feet predicted by former Vice President Al Gore.
Here comes the 'looking on the bright side of life' part:
Meanwhile, the Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg said something outside the hearing of the outraged columnist. He noted solemnly that any increase in heat-related deaths should be balanced against the corresponding decrease in cold-related deaths. ... We need hope, and self-confidence.
So, the result of this terrible new Inquisition is to make people Pollyannas. Strange fruit for an Inquisition!
Bunny Seller Suspicious

The trouble with secrecy:
The fate of 12 German giant rabbits delivered to North Korea is in doubt. The breeder who sent them suspects they have been eaten by top officials rather than used to set up a bunny farm. Berlin's North Korean embassy denies the allegation. One thing is sure: the country will have to find another seller.

A German rabbit breeder who sold 12 rabbits to North Korea to breed giant bunnies said he won't be exporting any more to the reclusive communist country because he suspects they have been eaten.

Karl Szmolinsky, 68, sent the spectacularly huge rabbits, which are as big as dogs, to North Korea late last year and had said in January he might deliver more to assist the country's program to alleviate food shortages through rabbit breeding.

He had been due to travel to North Korea after Easter to provide advice on setting up a breeding facility for the rabbits, which can produce around seven kilos of meat.

But his trip was cancelled at short notice. Szmolinsky said he got a call from a North Korean official last Thursday informing him that the trip was off because the government was unhappy with the way in which a local Berlin newspaper had reported about the deal.

"I think the animals aren't alive anymore. I was due to go and inspect the animals and look at the facility. North Korea won't be getting anything from me any more, they shouldn't even bother asking," Szmolinsky told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "They kept delaying the trip. I would have liked to go."

The North Korean embassy in Berlin denied that the rabbits were dead and said no one at the embassy had contacted Szmolinsky. "The rabbits aren't intended to be eaten, they are for breeding purposes," a spokesman said.

...In the absence of better donor support, millions were vulnerable to hunger, the UN warned. North Korea suffered a famine in the mid-1990s that killed as many as 2.5 million people, and has since suffered chronic food shortages.

It had been unclear from the start how Szmolinsky's bunnies would help given their own voracious appetite for top-quality vegetables.
The Bird Man Of Fresno
Left: Photo by Mark Crosse of The Fresno Bee.

One man's nuisance is another man's apoptosis:
This is Gaines Carl Brogdon, 83, feeding pigeons next to busy Bullard Avenue as SUVs honk and parry to turn into a Target parking lot. This is the even-keeled Brogdon just chuckling about the time an annoyed worker from a nearby car lot tried to run over the birds with his car.

"He wasn't a bad guy. Just kind of shallow," he said. "And the birds are pretty skillful. Sure, they flew off. Then they circled around and came back to finish their dinner."

Brogdon started feeding the pigeons 25 years ago, back when Bullard was a two-lane road and his front yard didn't face a traffic jam.

..."This flock is one small segment of life on this planet, and life wouldn't be complete without them," Brogdon says. "It all adds up into the cycle of living. The Greeks had a word for it: apoptosis. It means the falling away and replacing of leaves every year. The fact that these birds are here and alive indicates there's hope for the continuation of life. These moments go on."

..."Bird word gets around: Come to Bullard and dine," says Brogdon.

It costs him about $400 a month to buy enough chicken scratch -- cracked corn and cracked wheat -- to spread out the bird buffet.

...But then again, eight months ago, when someone asked Brogdon to take in an abandoned baby pigeon, he said no. It was just too much, with his health problems.

But the bird was left on his front porch in September. Now, the pigeon is named Pete-O. He, or possibly she, lives in the backyard. Brogdon puts Pete-O to bed every night in a box he made cat-proof and hawk-proof with 1/2-inch steel mesh. The pigeon comes when called.

"He follows us around like a puppy," says Marjorie, as the pigeon does just that.

"The little feller grew on me," says Brogdon. "We didn't want him, but now we got him, so what are you going to do? You can't say ,'Go away.' "

He feels the same about his flock in front.

"It started off as a case of feeding them because they were hungry. Now I feed them because I'm glad to see them at this busy intersection. I'm glad to see them alive," he says. "Even with the war and everything else going on in the world, just the fact that the birds are alive. That's something."
Nanny State

You just know that her nickname in high school will be something like Edna:
Metallica may be a cool name for a heavy metal band, but a Swedish couple is struggling to convince officials it is also suitable for a baby girl.

Michael and Karolina Tomaro are locked in a court battle with Swedish authorities, which rejected their application to name their six-month-old child after the legendary rock band.

"It suits her," Karolina Tomaro, 27, said Tuesday of the name. "She's decisive and she knows what she wants."

Although little Metallica has already been baptized, the Swedish National Tax Board refused to register the name, saying it was associated with both the rock group and the word "metal."

Tomaro said the official handling the case also called the name "ugly."

The couple was backed by the County Administrative Court in Goteborg, which ruled on March 13 that there was no reason to block the name. It also noted that there already is a woman in Sweden with Metallica as a middle name.
Hitting The Mule Across The Forehead With A Baseball Bat

The mule is unhappy. I could tell - couldn't even find the WSJ for lunchtime reading today:
The 5-4 decision in the court's first-ever case on global warming forces the EPA to re-evaluate whether its regulation of tailpipe emissions should include carbon dioxide. It also adds momentum to congressional and state efforts to address climate change.

The opinion could ultimately affect whether automakers are required to build higher-mileage vehicles that emit less carbon dioxide. The court emphasized the link between increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and rising temperatures.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Forecast Looks Bright

For eastern Australia, and if it wasn't so damned dry right now, I might actually believe it.
Very Active Hurricane Season Forecast

Keeping in mind last year's season was normal, despite a similar very-active forecast:
Forecaster William Gray said he expects 17 named storms in all this year, five of them major hurricanes with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater. The probability of a major hurricane making landfall on the U.S. coast this year: 74 percent, compared with the average of 52 percent over the past century, he said.
RIP, Mildred Buzzell

Made it to age 94. A long life, well lived.

I was looking forward to a trip to Idaho Falls for Aunt Millie's memorial service, but it looks like the service, and the scattering of ashes, will be in Arizona instead, at a time and date to be determined.

Comic Book Hero - Final NYFA Cut

Stephanie Skewes just can't quite stay awake....


New Mexico goes for the tinsel:
There, in the shadow of the snow-capped Sandia Mountains, the aircraft-hangar-like buildings at Albuquerque Studios house part of a budding film industry that one local newspaper dubbed Tamalewood. This year, four more soundstages will be added to anchor a bustling movie production center equal in size to 10 large supermarkets.

..."We had a very simple strategy," Gov. Bill Richardson said. "Get ahead of every other state in terms of incentives, throw the kitchen sink at accommodating film companies — tax rebates, loans from the state, free state land, write-offs…. It's created hundreds of jobs."

...Richardson took "Wild Hogs" director Becker to dinner. Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez handed the director a proclamation honoring the film. And Strout helped set up meetings with residents in Madrid, a dusty former coal mining town off the Turquoise Trail where much of the film was shot.

Last summer, 200 crew members and celebrities, including John Travolta and Tim Allen, descended on the quirky community of artists, writers and gift shop owners. Production workers spruced up lawns, painted storefronts and built a diner on a lot next to a jewelry shop owned by Hugh and Honore Hackett. In return, they left the Hacketts the empty diner, which they used for storage. It's now a tourist attraction.

"We had 100 people here over the weekend wanting to take their pictures in front of the diner," Hackett said. "It's like we have a little piece of Hollywood right here in town."

Monday, April 02, 2007

Boy, That Was Fast!

New Century Financial Corporation goes bankrupt.

I wonder if that means they'll stop sending mail asking me to refinance, or whether they'll just redouble their efforts?
"Spamalot" in Vegas

'The Movable Buffet' liked it a lot.
"Amour" - The Musical

Courtesy of C.N., I've been listening to the cast album for the musical "Amour":
Though it was then known by the title of the Marcel Aymé 1943 short story on which it was based, Le passe-muraille, it told the same story as it does here, of the shy, unassuming clerk who develops the ability to walk through walls, and who challenges himself to stick to his moral center and change others' lives - and his own - as a result.

That man, Dusoleil (renamed from the original Dutilleul), is played by Malcolm Gets, decked out in conservative clothing (complete with a bowler hat), every bit the insecure Everyman necessary for the part. But he's blessed with the inner strength that makes his transformation into a legendary Paris crime figure (later known as Passepartou) believable. The scene where Dusoleil torments his sadistic boss (Bill Nolte) by popping his head through the wall, though taken from the original story, comes alive under Gets, who seems to develop daring and self-confidence before our very eyes.
This is a remarkably-pleasant musical! It's too bad it saw only 17 performances on Broadway. It needs a revival!
Australians Lucked Out

The tsunami generated by the earthquake in the Solomons didn't make it to the Australian coast:
"But if you want to have an earthquake that generated a tsunami that could impinge on Australia, this is one of the prime locations."

..."This is a one-in-100-year earthquake for this area," [tsunami expert Ted Bryant] said. "The motion of one plate pushing under the other is extremely conducive to changes on the sea floor that can cause a tsunami.

"The trench along where this rubbing of the plates occurs is very steep, creating the possibility of a huge undersea landslide. If that happens, that's when tsunamis can be huge."

Mr Gibson agreed a big tsunami could easily have headed Australia's way from that location. "We knew yesterday morning the earthquake was big enough, but we weren't sure for some hours if a tsunami heading toward Australia was going to result," he said.