Saturday, June 02, 2007
Paging through my high school year book (West Mesa High School Mustangs, Class of 1974), I turned the page and beheld a drama student with her eyes beatifically closed, as someone else applied makeup to her face. Someone else, writing in red ink, had carefully inscribed a little Hitler mustache on her pretty picture.
Now who would do that?
Unfortunately, 33 years have passed, so it's likely the malefactor will escape unscathed.
Friday, June 01, 2007
As she regaled me with stories, I could tell she was distracted: she pick up her knight from one square, waved it around inconclusively, and set it down on an adjacent square. She also took her own black pawn with her own black bishop. Maybe this was my chance!
There was the story about the boy with the bad cut: his mother said it came from reaching into a vending machine, but the boy said it came from playing with a knife. Someone was lying, but who? Then there was girl who put a staple in her finger, and who screamed and screamed, until it became a school-wide crisis. Finally, the girl's mother drove up, grabbed the girl's hand, and took the staple out herself.
Sure enough, after a number of errors, I was able to eke out a victory - my first in months....
This took me by surprise - Tropical Storm Barry, right at Tampa's doorstep!
The center is trying to get organized now, SW of Tampa. So far, only a rainy hazard, and not too much wind. Hopefully it will slip by in the night before causing too much trouble....
First day of the hurricane season too!
by David Baker:
That’s us pointing to the clouds. Those are clouds
of birds, now we see, one whole cloud of birds.
There we are, pointing out the car windows.
October. Gray-blue-white olio of birds.
Never-ending birds, you called the first time—
years we say it, the three of us, any
two of us, one of those just endearments.
Apt clarities. Kiss on the lips of hope.
I have another house. Now you have two.
That’s us pointing with our delible whorls
into the faraway, the true-born blue-
white unfeathering cloud of another year.
Another sheet of their never ending.
There’s your mother wetting back your wild curl.
I’m your father. That’s us three, pointing up.
Dear girl. They will not—it’s we who do—end.
From the "Onion" :
An estimated 150 million people continued to be without social lives Tuesday as a massive system failure at MySpace.com entered its third day.
...The outage, which occurred late Saturday night, is believed to be the result of a complicated wallpaper upload for the page of a former VH1 I Love New York contestant, which triggered a chain reaction of web browser crashes and server shutdowns.
...However, because the sudden lack of friends has deprived MySpace users of comments, bulletin posts, and searches for elementary school crushes, it is feared that the ordeal could inflict long-term psychological damage. In Chicago alone, an estimated 50,000 people remain trapped in their apartments, with no way of contacting the outside world about new bands, Adult Swim cartoons, or the latest video games.
"I lost 6,456 of my best friends in an instant," said Minneapolis resident Peter Steinberg, 20, who has loyally befriended as many profiles as possible over the past two years. "Nothing can describe how devastated I feel. Some of these people I've exchanged two, even three comments with, and I can't tell you how many ROTFLMAOs we've shared, too."
...Other stranded, friendless citizens are doing their best to cope, but are finding it harder and harder to go on.
"I've just been wandering in and out of my cubicle in a daze, not knowing what to say and who to talk to," said Upper Darby, PA data-entry technician Patrick "Smiley457" Mancuso, 31. "I thought about asking someone at work or in my apartment building if they'd join my friend group. But how am I supposed to tell which ones I will like and which ones I won't? It's too overwhelming."
Corey "Aqualad" Friesen, 18, of Danville, IL appeared to share Mancuso's fears about manual and analog socializing. "I vaguely remember trying to make friends pre-MySpace, but in 16 years, I only made three real friends," Friesen said. "If I have to revert back to face-to-face friend gathering, I would be middle-aged before I built that number into the double digits. I'd definitely never get back into the hundreds again."
..."Without an 'About Me' section, I've lost all sense of self," said Imbrescia, 17, who depends on the site to convey his innermost thoughts to millions of extended-network friends. "Do I want kids? How tall am I? What's my body type? These are questions I can't answer anymore. I'd pray to a god for help, but I've lost my religion field."
A handful of relief organizations have begun to offer some assistance to MySpace refugees. The American Red Cross is currently setting up a network of approximately 60 smaller-sized "fill-in" sites, where lonely MySpace users can post abbreviated profiles and receive instant messages from aid workers in half-hour increments. But because it's only intended as a temporary stopgap, user options are austere: MySpace members cannot list hobbies and interests, upload MP3s, or link to favorite YouTube clips, making friendship compatibility and popularity nearly impossible to predetermine.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Because once we started moving around, they could relax:
"The traditional theory of human origins states that we evolved to walk upright from ancestors who walked on all fours when on the forest floor. This new study suggests the opposite. Upright walking evolved in the ancestors of all apes, including humans, as a means of foraging for food in the small branches of the tropical forests and these techniques were later used by human ancestors to allow them to adapt to walking on two feet on the ground."
The story gets stranger the more details are revealed:
A globe-trotting Atlanta lawyer with a dangerous strain of tuberculosis was allowed back into the U.S. by a border inspector who disregarded a computer warning to stop him and don protective gear, officials said Thursday.
The unidentified inspector explained that he was no doctor but that the infected man seemed perfectly healthy and that he thought the warning was merely "discretionary," officials briefed on the case told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter is still under investigation.
The patient was identified as Andrew Speaker, a 31-year-old personal injury lawyer who returned last week from his wedding and honeymoon trip through Italy, the Greek isles and other spots in Europe. His new father-in-law, Robert C. Cooksey, is a CDC microbiologist whose specialty is TB and other bacteria.
Cooksey would not comment on whether he reported his son-in-law to federal health authorities. Nor did the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explain how the case came to their attention. However, Cooksey said that neither he nor his CDC laboratory was the source of his son-in-law's TB.
Speaker is now under quarantine at a hospital in Denver. He is the first infected person to be quarantined by the U.S. government since 1963.
The disclosure that the patient is a lawyer – and specifically a personal injury lawyer – outraged many people on the Internet and elsewhere. Some travelers who flew on the same planes with Speaker angrily accused him of selfishly putting hundreds of people's lives in danger.
"It's still very scary," 21-year-old Laney Wiggins, one of more than two dozen University of South Carolina-Aiken students who are getting skin tests for TB. "That is an outrageous number of people that he was very reckless with their health. It's not fair. It's selfish."
Speaker said in a newspaper interview that he knew he had TB when he flew from Atlanta to Europe in mid-May for his wedding and honeymoon, but that he did not find out until he was already in Rome that it was an extensively drug-resistant strain considered especially dangerous.
Despite warnings from federal health officials not to board another long flight, he flew home for treatment, fearing he wouldn't survive if he didn't reach the U.S., he said. He said he tried to sneak home by way of Canada instead of flying directly into the U.S.
He was quarantined May 25, a day after he was allowed to pass through the border crossing at Champlain, N.Y., along the Canadian border.
The inspector ran Speaker's passport through a computer, and a warning – including instructions to hold the traveler, don a protective mask in dealing with him, and telephone health authorities – popped up, officials said. About a minute later, Speaker was instead cleared to continue on his journey, according to officials familiar with the records.
Darn it, the Queensland jinx is making next Wednesday's rain forecast deteriorate. On the other hand, this weekend's rain forecast is beginning to look better.
Much depends on the behavior of the cutoff low developing over southern Australia. Cutoff lows are notoriously hard to forecast, however, so nothing will be definitive until it happens. And why is the region of positive vorticity advection shown on the 500 mb chart so distant from the region of forecast rainfall on the surface chart? I keep thinking it's gotta rain more than the forecast is showing.
May the rain(s), wherever they are, be plentiful!
Utah Republican Party stalwarts want to amend the party's platform plank on immigration with some tough talk:
A separate resolution on immigration says a "certain percentage" of "these illegals are trained terrorists," and the federal government should move "vigorously and ... immediately" to find and deport the "most undesirable element of illegals."
Stories like this one, from LA, just kill me. I remember once playing to an audience of four people, but at least it wasn't professional theater:
Hello? Where are those Angelenos who advocate a higher profile for L.A. theater? I’m asking because only two of us were at last Sunday’s matinee of The Dog in the Manger, at the Ricardo Montalbán Theatre.
That’s the landmark venue, previously known as the Doolittle and the Huntington Hartford, just south of Hollywood and Vine. It could seat audiences as large as 1,000. Yet on Sunday afternoon, 13 actors performed for two audience members. A third individual watched the first of three acts, but he worked behind the concession counter during the intermissions, so he doesn’t really count. The other spectator told me he personally knows some of the actors. I was probably the only person in the building who didn’t.
Several dozen others had attended each of the previous two performances of opening weekend, and more were expected Sunday evening, a producer told me. I also was told that only 99 seats per performance are actually available for sale. The production is, in part, a workshop for a possible full-fledged production next year. Marketing was limited to posters, postcards, and press releases.
Still, unlike a couple of previous 99-seat productions in this space recently, this one is played out to the main auditorium, not in a black-box configuration that keeps the audience on the stage. And the acting style of Tiger Reel’s cast is big enough to embrace the big hall.
...People who run L.A.’s small theaters often toy with the idea of taking successful productions to bigger, more visible venues, but few take the plunge, fearing the greater costs. But those costs can be contained if Actors’ Equity, the actors’ union, allows less expensive actors’ salaries as part of an effort to stimulate interest in the largely dormant Montalbán. With more marketing, this new Dog ought to attract Hollywood tourists, as well as those L.A. theatergoers who would like to see more prominent and (eventually) wage-paying productions.
Busy at work, and still feeling ill. For entertainment, I'm reading vapid Aussie girl talk. The question of the day is:
Why do girls resort to nicknames for men they've just met?and one reply is:
I have no comment - I went through “Deli Boy”, got dumped by “Esk Races Numnuts”, blew off “Scottish Backpacker” and now I’m very happy with “My I.T. Toyboy”.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Looking at the weather forecasts, there's still some indication that a cutoff low that will form over central Australia early in the week will bring substantial rainfall to interior Queensland and NSW, from the northwest, by mid-week.
Just hoping that this forecast doesn't turn to dust as mid-week approaches!
You get lucid, accurate, spot-on, but nevertheless too obscure, nails-on-the-blackboard analyses like this (Via Matthew Yglesias):
As far as other candidates go, the key clearly is to stake out multiple, positive distinctions from Clinton, and then to perform well in the early states. This won't be easy, given Clinton's shrewd and currently effective blurring strategy. To get incredibly geeky for a moment, I think a useful analogy would come from Dune. In order to win the nomination, a non-Clinton candidate needs to be something of a Democratic Kwisatz Haderach who can tap into something so deep inside the collective Democratic unconscious that he can trasmute our rank and file's version of the water of life in a way that a Bene Gesserit like Clinton simply cannot.
Via SkyNoise, apparently there is an entire genre of foreign sci fi worth watching, oh, after midnight some weekend, or on a slow Sunday afternoon. Starcrash is Italian/American (David Hasselhoff stars, as does Christopher Plummer), but there are also Brazilian, and particularly Turkish films, nearly as ...... good.
Via Obsidian Wings:
In Utah, you may not have a vanity license plate with the word MERLOT on it because that is the name of a wine and you might corrupt everyone who sees it.
But you may have a license plate holder that says "Happiness is a Dead Child" with no repercussions because that is a free speech issue.
A group heading into Macy's at 7800 South and 3200 West noticed the offensive message on the custom-made license plate holder of a red Cadillac; they were appalled.
One notified the state Division of Motor Vehicles, which recently canceled a previously issued MERLOT license plate, and was told the state has no control over license plate holders, only government-issued license plates.
That, of course, is true. But compared to the First Amendment-protected message on the license plate holder, MERLOT seems mild.
Meanwhile: While going through his mail, Kelly Anderson of Salt Lake City recently discovered the personalized license plate on his 1978 Jeep for seven years was being recalled by the state Division of Motor Vehicles.
Why? The license plate bears just one letter: "X." The DMV says that violates a state rule against plates "with combinations of letters associated with illicit drugs."
Tax Commission spokesman Charlie Roberts says the license was revoked because the letter X is commonly used as a street name for the illegal drug ecstasy.
But Anderson says he is appealing the revocation because someone has to stand up for the rights of the letter "X" as a reputable member of the alphabet community.
"If indeed the single letter 'X' is hopelessly intertwined and bound together with drug use," Anderson wrote, "I would ask the rhetorical question, why does the state of Utah continue to subject innocent children throughout our public school system to that evil letter [when teaching the alphabet]?"
They drive me nuts. Plausible future rainstorms, highlighted a week in advance, melt into manure as the week passes by. The place remains - dry!
Anyway, the current forecast shows a strange merging of cutoff lows a week from now over interior Australia, bringing rain to interior Queensland.
One can hope, if nothing else. Here's hoping it's not manure.....
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Paul Campos talks to a former student, and demonstrates yet again why Iraq is like Vietnam:
She's not a particularly demonstrative person, but it was easy to detect the rage, frustration and anxiety in her voice as she described the logistics of what's involved in getting shipped off to fight George W. Bush's war against Islamoterrofascism, or whatever it's being called this week.
It can't be repeated often enough that the only reason we're still in Iraq is because the American elites have almost no personal investment in this war. A president who displays the emotional sensitivity of a serial killer as he sends other people's children off to die is being enabled by a cowardly Congress, many of whose members are willing to sacrifice the lives of American soldiers in return for slightly increasing their already astronomical odds of re-election.
It's a sickening and shameful spectacle, made all the more so by the total cynicism that envelops the political debate about Iraq, with all its phony posturing about "deadlines," and "benchmarks," and "the next few months."
I always thought she was something of a loose cannon, and in a way, I'm glad she's decided to put peace activism behind her. Effective politics is not for the impatient, or the zealous (and when zealots ARE effective, like John Brown was just before the Civil War, WATCH OUT!) Activists like Michael Moore are more effective for the long haul. But Cindy Sheehan's energy will be missed, particularly with regards to focusing ire against the Bush Administration.
Last night, I dreamt that I was trying to find images of Friend Gabe to post on my Web Log. According to the dream, Gabe had spent much of his early education, what he now called "The Lost Years", at a Sacramento-area community college so obscure that Google couldn't find it. The images were said to show younger Gabe with all the nuts, bolts, block-and-tackle, and other hardware required to "Keep His Head Screwed On Straight".
But I couldn't find the images! Desperate, I started cruising the Sacramento-area freeways, from the Pocket area all the way out to Carmichael, looking for the obscure community college, and looking for the images.
I can't find the images, Gabe! I can't find the images!
It wasn't even 5 a.m. when I awoke. The bed was completely thrashed: apparently I had been kicking off the blankets as I dreamt. Asleep on the floor in the next room, Sparky the Dog quivered and yipped as he dreamt in his own sleep, no doubt fighting similar demons.
Left: Final bows. On the bench, Pseudolus (Paul Fearn). In the foreground, the courtesans - left to right: Vibrata (Katherine Folsom), Tintinabula (Janey Pintar), the Gemini Twins (Amber Pierce and Kate Richardson), Panacea (Cassie March), Gymnasia (Bethany Pedersen).
This is a fun show. It brought back fond memories: I was a Protean in Woodland Opera House's "Forum", directed (I believe) by Pamela Kay Lourentzos, in 1999.
The show is done in the round at the Tower Theater in Roseville, which causes problems right away, since it is impossible to design traditional, imposing sets for the Houses of Senex, Erronius and Marcus Lycus. The Magic Circle folks used two corner stage entrances, and the primary stage entrance, for the entrances to the three Houses, and compensated for the lack of sets by painting the stage in a nice Italianate motif. Still, the spare sets and the remarkably spare stage (just two marblish benches) means the cast has to be unusually active and appealing in order to compensate for the loss.
A nice cast: unusually short, though - even Miles Gloriosus (Larry Rehrer) isn't that tall. Philia (Jenna Cook) and Hero (David McDaniel) were appealing as the ingenue leads (Jenna looks a lot like Pheonix Vaughn - Pheonix played Philia in DMTC's 2002 Forum). Brent Null was funny as Hysterium.
A fine trio of active Proteans - David "Turtle" Akona, John Large, and Ricky Zimmerman. Their cutting up was fun to watch, particularly as the Marx Bros., plus Charlie Chaplin. Unfortunately, since the roles are mostly physical in nature, with the exception of one scene (caught gambling) Zimmerman wasn't able to display his remarkable talent for mimicry.
Paul Fearn was energetic and appealing as Pseudolus, sometimes thrashing, always vociferous.
Of the dancers in the House of Marcus Lycus, I most liked Panacea (Cassie March) and Vibrata (Katherine Folsom), but with a respectful bow to the others. I really liked that Josephine-Baker-inspired double step back that Folsom's Vibrata had.
Domina (Michelle Pabst) was great! Darryl Petrig's Erronius was whimsical and enjoyable.
For some reason - perhaps the music was not loud enough? - some singers had trouble tracking the music.
I kept thinking back to the 1999 WOH Forum. One excellent thing that Pam Kay Lourentzos did with that show was to expand the "Everyone Ought To Have A Maid" number into a full-blown dance number, featuring all the women dressed as French Maids. This is what I call Progress! At least in the movie version of Forum from the 60's , and apparently also in the original Broadway script, it was just the four key men who danced and sang.
Regrettably, the Magic Circle people decided to follow the original script.
Hello, People! If we don't follow Progress, we'll all end up back in the Dark Ages of Musical Theater, living barefoot in squalid huts, singing hymnals, and dancing for farm animals! Remember the last line in the movie The Great Ziegfield (1936) :
“I’ve got to get more steps. I need more steps. I’ve got to get higher, higher!”Hmmm....sounds like Pam Kay Lourentzos' philosophy...Don't remember that line, remember this line, regarding what might be described as Florenz Ziegfeld's philosophy, from the New York Star in 1909:
"Girls, girls, and then more girls!"
Monday, May 28, 2007
It was 1987, J. and myself were next to the clear blue flowing waters of the Santa Cruz River, near Marana, northwest of Tucson, and we came upon a 13-year-old boy hunting jackrabbits with his 22-caliber rifle. We were startled - we hadn't even realized the boy was there: the winding, deeply-incised 20-foot deep channel of the riverbed restricted visibility. Nervous, we made small talk:
Us: Are you from around here?How apropos! Groundwater pumping in the Tucson area had long stopped the free flow of the Santa Cruz River. The only reason there was flowing water here (unbeknownst to the boy) was because it was downstream of the Roger Road Sewage Treatment Plant. The water was treated sewer water, flowing northwestward and sinking into the riverbed, disappearing altogether near Marana.
Boy: I'm from Marana.
Us: Isn't it amazing that there's water here? There's no water further upstream.
Boy: I guess. It always flows here.
Us: Do you know what this stream is called?
Boy: I call it "Shit Creek."
Still, at least the treated sewer water didn't stink.
But not all is well in Tucson these days. The whole city is smelling like sewage. And the reason is striking - population growth, together with sewage over-centralization, means more sewage is traveling farther across the city, and therefore ripening more before it ever reaches the treatment plant, which means - problems everywhere!:
No longer limited to a 2-mile circle around the Roger Road plant, the range of complaints now reaches down to Barrio Viejo south of Downtown, north to near La Encantada shopping center in the Catalina Foothills, and as far east as East Grant Road and North Alvernon Way.
...The county has spent $4.5 million over 20 separate projects — and another $400,000 on consultants — to control odors in the sewer system.
...But Fairbanks, who lives a half a mile away from the Roger Road plant, said this fall was the worst it had ever been since she moved to her home in 1999.
"I came in every day and I told the engineers, 'It smelled worse this year than any year. It was really, really bad last night.' "
Growth has contributed to the odor problems, but not in the ways you might think.
It's not a matter of sewage overloads, but of distance and growth patterns that undermined previous attempts to get the problem under control.
The department expanded the Ina Road treatment plant, expecting the Northwest area to grow. But the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan limited growth in the Northwest and shifted it to the Southeast and Southwest.
The sewage from the new homes was flowing into the Roger Road plant, and the longer sewage travels the smellier it gets. It can take as long as 24 hours for the contents of a toilet flushed in Vail to reach the plant.
"We couldn't keep up with the faraway flows that were being added," Fairbanks said.
Those changes created ripple effects throughout the system.
"What starts over here in one neighborhood on the far East Side is going to impact odors down here which is going to impact odors here, which is going to make things worse at the plant," Fairbanks said. "It is like the knee bone is connected to the leg bone kind of thing."
I'm promoting The Derren Raser Band, in concert with young performers Anna Miles and Caitlin Humphries, at DMTC's Hoblit Performing Arts Center, on Saturday, June 9, 2007. Tickets are on sale now at http://www.dmtc.org.
Here's Derren Raser from last year, at the B. Sharp Showcase, together with Billy Joel's saxaphonist, Richie Cannata.
Extreme ratings versus extreme need:
NO reality television program has played for such high stakes: three nervous candidates will be competing in front of a prime-time audience this week for a life-saving kidney operation, as the Big Brother format gives way to The Big Donor Show.
The macabre contest will be broadcast in the Netherlands on Friday.
...Lisa, 37, a terminally ill cancer patient, has agreed to donate a healthy kidney.
She was unhappy about anonymous donation and wanted to establish a connection to a deserving person with kidney disease: that way her family could feel that her death had helped to keep someone else alive.
But how, said Lisa, could she choose one life over another? How could she make the process less random?
The choice has been left to the television audience. A short film will be shown about each candidate depicting his or her life, family and friends.
...Politicians across the party spectrum are enraged and flabbergasted.
The issue is to be discussed this week in parliamentary question time, with pressure mounting on BNN, the private broadcaster, to drop the show.
...The broadcaster, whose target audience is young people, has a reputation for being provocative. Its track record includes showing an anchorman taking the drug LSD, a supposedly educational program on sex, entitled This is How You Screw and a weight-loss competition Help! My Dog’s as Fat as Me.
There is more than a sliver of suspicion that it is exploiting illness for ratings.
...“The contestants in the show have a 33 per cent chance,” said Laurens Drillich, BNN chairman. “That’s a much larger chance than if they were on the organ waiting list.”
Although some politicians are calling the show unethical, the main argument is that it violates good taste and is pushing the boundaries of acceptability.
I've noticed that I do better at the casino when I'm feeling tired or ill. I think it's because it puts me in a more pessimistic frame of mind; i.e., closer to reality. As a rule, gamblers are far too optimistic.
The theory came close to success. I was $900 ahead at Thunder Valley. But I lingered a half hour too long - was I feeling better, perhaps?
In any event, final loss Sunday evening was $350.
The teenager was dressed in blue, with a spangly collar and tap shoes, hoofing away Saturday afternoon behind the Veteran's Memorial Theater in Davis, as the "Happy Feet" tap recital was underway inside. Oblivious to the world, she marked various routines, sometimes extending her arms, and sometimes smiling, but also making a clatter, as tappers always do.