Saturday, December 08, 2007

"No Country For Old Men"

"Let's go see the new Coen Brothers movie!" I urged. Taking my cue, we all went to see the new movie, "No Country For Old Men".

Roger Ebert says it all:
"No Country for Old Men" is as good a film as the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, have ever made, and they made "Fargo." It involves elements of the thriller and the chase but is essentially a character study, an examination of how its people meet and deal with a man so bad, cruel and unfeeling that there is simply no comprehending him. Chigurh is so evil, he is almost funny sometimes. "He has his principles," says the bounty hunter, who has knowledge of him.

Consider another scene in which the dialogue is as good as any you will hear this year. Chigurh enters a rundown gas station in the middle of wilderness and begins to play a word game with the old man (Gene Jones) behind the cash register, who becomes very nervous. It is clear they are talking about whether Chigurh will kill him. Chigurh has by no means made up his mind. Without explaining why, he asks the man to call the flip of a coin. Listen to what they say, how they say it, how they imply the stakes. Listen to their timing. You want to applaud the writing, which comes from the Coen brothers, out of McCarthy.

...This movie is a masterful evocation of time, place, character, moral choices, immoral certainties, human nature and fate. It is also, in the photography by Roger Deakins, the editing by the Coens and the music by Carter Burwell, startlingly beautiful, stark and lonely. As McCarthy does with the Judge, the hairless exterminator in his "Blood Meridian" (Ridley Scott's next film), and as in his "Suttree," especially in the scene where the riverbank caves in, the movie demonstrates how pitiful ordinary human feelings are in the face of implacable injustice. The movie also loves some of its characters, and pities them, and has an ear for dialog not as it is spoken but as it is dreamed.

Many of the scenes in "No Country for Old Men" are so flawlessly constructed that you want them to simply continue, and yet they create an emotional suction drawing you to the next scene. Another movie that made me feel that way was "Fargo." To make one such film is a miracle. Here is another.
Chigurh's ruthless implacability reminds one very much of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Cyborg in the Terminator series of movies - nothing can stop him!

Many of the scenes were filmed in New Mexico. The El Paso scenes were clearly filmed on East Central Avenue in Albuquerque, just west of San Mateo Blvd. Other sites include Eagle Pass and Marfa, Texas, and Las Vegas, New Mexico.

According to Wikipedia:
The film was shot mainly on location in New Mexico, including Las Vegas, which largely doubled as the border town of Del Rio. The US-Mexico border crossing bridge was actually a freeway overpass in Las Vegas. Some scenes were filmed around Marfa and Sadisiar in West Texas and the scene in the town square was filmed in Piedras Negras, Coahuila in Mexico.
Here's an interesting Coen Brothers interview regarding the movie (especially the part about the blood).

Halo wars trailer

What will this look like once Hollywood finishes what they do? And what will the various shooting sites (downtown Albuquerque, Socorro, UNM, and White Sands) look like?

Don't Startle My Sister Late At Night

Left: Reason No. 1: A Ruger Mark III Target Pistol. Michelle has other reasons as well, but she didn't want me popping them up on the Internet.

Michelle says:
I love target shooting, but every time we have one of these massacres, like in Omaha, Second Amendment rights come into question - every single time. You never know if, one day, the gun police will show up at the door, wanting to confiscate what I've got.
What did she think of Dick Cheney shooting his friend in the face?:

Man, I didn't think that was funny at all. Those kinds of accidents can happen even to the most-seasoned hunters.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Albuquerque, After The Apocalypse

Left: We were warned not to take any photos of the movie set for "Game" (I did take a few). So, here is just one photo, taken from a considerable distance, showing the back of one of the facades, and showing no significant detail.

The movie, "Game" is based on the popular futuristic, dystopian video game "Halo", and stars "300's" hero, Gerard Butler. The movie set, located on Silver Blvd. between 4th & 2nd) consisted of two blocks of bombed-out buildings, burned vehicles, ruined vehicles (including a former SunTrans bus), and other strange ruins. According to the security guard, most of the shooting is now done (including what he described as a spectacular rollerblade sequence), but they missed a few shots, so shooting will continue, for now).
Albuquerque Paraphernalia

Pictures of assorted businesses and other sights.....

Left: Bank building moire.

Two interesting murals on 1st Street SW, near the train station.

Left: The Sanitary Tortilla Factory is a long-established business in downtown Albuquerque.

Left: When I think Vietnamese cuisine, I think lumberjacks.
Steve Zaintz' "Jasmine Thai And Sushi House"

Left: Sister Michelle, together with Steve Zaintz, in front of the Jasmine Thai and Sushi House.

Today, the theme was, "what are Ira Gershin's friends up to these days?" In particular, what are Steve Zaintz and Jeff Brofsky up to these days? These two people, and myself, form a college-friend cohort of Ira's, and we've been meeting approximately every two years in Las Vegas, for the purpose of celebrating the bat and bar mitzvah's of Ira's kids. The next scheduled meeting is in July, 2008, for Daniel's bar mitzvah. Nevertheless, I've never visited Steve's and Jeff's Albuquerque businesses before.

Left: Steve Zaintz.

For many years, Steve ran the Bangkok Cafe on Central Avenue in Albuquerque, before opening his new restaurant this July. Steve Zaintz and I were in high school physics class together, and we have several friends in common, beyond Ira, such as Walt.

Met Steve, his wife Noy, and their daughter. Wonderful food, in a posh new setting. Cashew chicken and pineapple chicken curry. C'est magnifique!

Left: Comic book cover.

Later, we traveled to Tall Tales Comic Books and saw Jeff's business for the first time. Jeff has run the Tall Tales Comic Book Store, on Wyoming Blvd, for the last twenty years. The place is stuffed with comic books, and pop culture paraphernalia of sorts (I liked the plastic, self-assembled Jabba the Hutt model). Jeff said he was going to eat at Steve's place later that evening. We said we had eaten at Steve's place earlier that day. Great minds think alike!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

"Game" Being Filmed In Downtown Albuquerque

This action-adventure movie is being filmed in downtown Albuquerque now. I must check it out!:
Set in a future-world where humans can control other humans in mass-scale, multi-player online gaming environments, a star player (Butler) from a game called "Slayers" looks to regain his independence while taking down the game's mastermind (Hall).
The Movie In My Dad's Trailer Park

For some amazing reason, the upcoming movie "War Boys", a movie about illegal immigration, used my dad's trailer park in Albuquerque as a filming location (sticking to long-established habit, my dad stayed inside the day they filmed all around his trailer):
Three young vigilantes huddle on la linea ready to chase illegals back across the border into Mexico... but they soon learn that there are borderlines deep within each one of them that each of them has to cross.
Raking Leaves In New Mexico

Left: Ken, with bags o' leaves at my dad's place.

...or, raking leaves in Albuquerque. Elsewhere in New Mexico, people do more sensible things with leaves, like burn them.....
Of Seed Jars And Animal Refuges

On the flight to Albuquerque, I sat next next to SS, who told tales of volunteering with a zoo in Folsom that specializes in rescuing injured animals. In particular she talked of caring for cougars, and we shared cougar attack stories (like this one).

She was heading to northern NM, to participate in a workshop regarding indigenous craft techniques (e.g., making musical instruments for native plants, making fire from deer ligaments, etc.) at Ojo Caliente (I think the workshop in question is described in greater detail here). She was also going to check on property near Abiquiu.

Great company!
Passing Through The Airport Metal Detector While Wearing A "Brigadoon" Sweatshirt

TSA: "Please remove all jackets before passing through the detector. Sir, no need to remove your sweatshirt."

TSA: "Sir, please step through the detector while displaying your boarding pass. No, it is not necessary to display your driver's license as well."


TSA: "Sir, please back up and pass through the detector again, this time making sure not to brush against the detector while passing through."

(no ding)

TSA: "Sir, your 'Brigadoon' sweatshirt: in our high school production, I was Harry Beaton."

Marc: "Really?"

TSA: "Yes, sir. (smile) Next please!"

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Brief Hiatus

With "La Cage Aux Folles" coming up at New Year's Eve, it looks like I won't be able to travel to New Mexico over the holidays, so I'm going to take several days right now to fly to Albuquerque and see the folks. Posting may be spotty until Sunday, or Monday....

I was supposed to go today, but my co-workers couldn't spare me the day :(

"La Cage Aux Folles" rehearsals at DMTC are going well, and, after recruiting several male dancers, it looks like the Cagelles are now a fixed group. Indeed, it may be that we have too many male dancers for some purposes, which is something of a novelty. The main burden right now is learning the show adequately-enough over the Christmas period to open New Year's Eve.

I'll post, 'ere long!
Republican Paranoia About Who Can Ask Questions

Useful rebuke to those who are overly-concerned about Democratic "plants" asking questions:
The incessant whining last week over the non-story about how some Democrats were allowed to ask Republican candidates legitimate questions during the CNN/YouTube debate was as revealing as it was embarrassing. When did Republican bloggers conclude that their candidates were so brittle and fragile that they had to be protected from unnecessary exposure to everyday citizens?

...It's all part of the bloggers' attempt to create a parallel universe of sorts, where their own facts don't have to collide with harsh reality. It's a world where inquisitive Democrats who submit video questions to candidates are denounced as "plants," part of an elaborate media scheme to derail Republicans. How, you ask? By posing legitimate, factual questions about the pressing issues of the day. That's what produced last week's shrieking, the-sky-is-falling hysteria across the right-wing blogosphere, with some even making childish demands of "A Do Over" and frantically waving petitions around, insisting that CNN executives be fired for their unpardonable sin.

...In fact, following the earlier Democratic debate hosted by CNN last month in Las Vegas, right-wing bloggers crowed about the "scandal" they had uncovered: CNN allowed Democrats in the audience to ask questions to Democratic candidates. More on that later.

But where did this far-right fantasy spring from that only registered Republicans are allowed to ask Republicans questions at nationally televised debates? And that it's the media's fault if that precious bubble is penetrated?

...Then again, this debate season has been punctuated by the refusal of most Republican candidates to debate in front of black or Latino audiences, presumably because it would include too many non-Republicans; too many people who might be hostile to what the candidates say. And sure enough, on the eve of the CNN/YouTube debate, anxious online conservatives demanded to know how CNN executives would protect Republican candidates from having to answer questions from non-Republicans.

And no, this is not just like the Democrats' decision to boycott Fox News debates earlier this year. That was never about the questions being asked, or the candidates being afraid of the Fox News crew. It was, in my mind, a brilliant, blogger-led initiative to de-brand Fox News, to publicly declare that the organization itself is not an independent news forum. Just as Democrats would never sanction the National Review or Rush Limbaugh to host one of their debates, there's no reason to let Fox News do the same.

Of course, if Republicans want to boycott CNN or MSNBC by claiming that neither are legitimate news organizations, they're free do to so. I think it's telling that none of the candidates have tried to make that fanciful claim.

The truth is that Democratic candidates have faced hundreds of debate questions to date and haven't waged media campaigns protesting the fact that not all the people who asked the questions were not knee-jerk supporters. (Progressives have, however, complained when some of the questions were factually inaccurate.)

Frankly, I'd be embarrassed if Democratic candidates for the highest office in the land, or their staunch online supporters, ran around complaining that questions asked at a CNN debate were unfair based solely on the fact that the person posing them were not registered Democrats.

In fact, as the Los Angeles Times reported last week, one of the questioners at the Democratic YouTube debate was an obvious Rudy Giuliani supporter. And it didn't take an Einstein to figure that out; it was postered on the questioner's MySpace page. Also, the query he posed to Clinton -- "How do you think you would be taken seriously" by Arab and Muslim nations that treat women as "second-class citizens"? -- made his political allegiance clear. But guess what? She simply answered the question and not a single supporter cried foul. Because that's how a democracy works.

...To put the right-wing bloggers' media paranoia into perspective you have to go back to the previous Democratic debate, when conservatives online -- in a preview of last week's YouTube nonsense -- whipped themselves into a post-debate frenzy, claiming CNN had allowed Democrats in the audience of the Las Vegas debate to ask the Democratic candidates questions. I kid you not, and that deserves repeating: Following the debate, the MRC's NewsBusters site announced it had had uncovered a vast, liberal media conspiracy in which CNN allowed Democrats in the audience to ask questions at a Democratic debate.

The NewsBusters crew and their friends online raised the red flag because during the debate CNN's host claimed the questions from the Las Vegas audience would be asked by "undecided voters." But after much digging, the online sleuths discovered one questioner had once served as an intern for a Democratic senator, another was in a labor union, and a third was a "prominent Muslim leader."

...The bloggers' next step was depressingly predictable; attack the citizens who asked the questions at the Las Vegas debate:

...If that doesn't creep you out, I don't know what will. A college student asked a question at a CNN presidential debate, and furious right-wing bloggers, hunting for proof of a liberal media bias, commenced with a cyber deep-dive and quickly posted unflattering information about the student's family.

I'll say it again: GOP bloggers are so afraid of democracy that they spend their days and nights blaming the press for allowing it to take place.
What Does The White House Value?

Dan Bartlett on the lack of independence of right-wing blogs:
That’s what I mean by influential. I mean, talk about a direct IV into the vein of your support. It’s a very efficient way to communicate. They regurgitate exactly and put up on their blogs what you said to them. It is something that we’ve cultivated and have really tried to put quite a bit of focus on.
The Pope Weighs In About "Progress"

Gabe tracked down an interesting quote by Pope Benedict XVI.

The Pope doesn't blame the Spice Girls specifically for anything, but warns "If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man's ethical formation, in man's inner growth, then it is not progress at all":
Again, we find ourselves facing the question: what may we hope? A self-critique of modernity is needed in dialogue with Christianity and its concept of hope. In this dialogue Christians too, in the context of their knowledge and experience, must learn anew in what their hope truly consists, what they have to offer to the world and what they cannot offer. Flowing into this self-critique of the modern age there also has to be a self-critique of modern Christianity, which must constantly renew its self-understanding setting out from its roots. On this subject, all we can attempt here are a few brief observations. First we must ask ourselves: what does “progress” really mean; what does it promise and what does it not promise? In the nineteenth century, faith in progress was already subject to critique. In the twentieth century, Theodor W. Adorno formulated the problem of faith in progress quite drastically: he said that progress, seen accurately, is progress from the sling to the atom bomb. Now this is certainly an aspect of progress that must not be concealed. To put it another way: the ambiguity of progress becomes evident. Without doubt, it offers new possibilities for good, but it also opens up appalling possibilities for evil—possibilities that formerly did not exist. We have all witnessed the way in which progress, in the wrong hands, can become and has indeed become a terrifying progress in evil. If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man's ethical formation, in man's inner growth (cf. Eph 3:16; 2 Cor 4:16), then it is not progress at all, but a threat for man and for the world.
Let's Blame The Spice Girls For Everything

The disappointments of Progress, as seen from a feminist point-of-view:
FORGIVE me for being blunt but if a generation of our young womanhood has taken to binge drinking, Saturday night sluttishness and "happy-slappings", I blame the Spice Girls.

There are other factors such as the cult of consumerism, the decline of religion, easy credit, alco-pops, morning-after pills and the rest but, if we're going to look for scapegoats, Posh, Ginger, Sporty, Baby and Scary are obvious candidates.

Though some will no doubt disagree and argue that the Spice Girls are simply a slice of bubblegum pop history, I believe the aspirations and attitudes of these five women go hand-in-hand with the decline of our culture over the past decade.

...But what we thought was the ultimate triumph of feminism was, in fact, its death knell. Girl Power was a sham and its five proponents nothing more than desperate wannabes.

Now they're on tour again, but this time the image they project is obviously and entirely contrived, with all that youthful zest replaced by weary cynicism.

The difference between those five breezily-sexual, energetic, bouncy girls singing about Girl Power and the five air-brushed, painfully-thin, desperate mums-on-tour is clear to see.

Seeing them strutting about the stage in weird aluminium foil-style corsets - like trussed-up festive turkeys - in Canada this week, I found myself wishing this reunion had never taken place. I was embarrassed for them.

I'm embarrassed for them because, despite the fact that they already have so much, they are still desperately clinging on by their brittle, lacquered acrylic nails to the fame which they so craved when they were young.

Somehow, they make rather a pathetic spectacle, these Spice Women (no longer Spice Girls) clinging to youth, celebrity, a tiny bum and the fading memory of a fabulous and fortuitous meeting with the then zeitgeist, when they sang about friends and love - and all the little girls (and the big ones, too) sang along.

It all seemed so empowering at the time: the idea that girls should take charge of their own sexuality. But did anyone stop to think what would happen next? Now, with the dubious privilege of hindsight, we have the answer.

...They have been hammered into a kind of robotic perfection, every curve calculated and every move choreographed. But every smile seems false; every gesture of togetherness suspect.

With their tumbling hair, spiced-up smiles and carved cheekbones, the girls who once raged about Girl Power now seem desperate for male approval.

They may brandish the whips and tight leather of the S&M dungeon on stage, but the act just comes across as risible.

I'm saddened for the feminist movement because Posh, Ginger, Sporty, Baby and Scary were once meant to be Girl Power role models - independent, sexy, high achievers. Look at them now.
Bringing The Cirque Style Into The Clubs

This article brought home the source of one of the appeals of leading pop artists like Madonna, or Kylie Monogue. In their own special ways, their acts are circuses, extravaganzas that endeavor to entertain at every level, especially the visual.

The special Cirque du Soleil style is filtering down to nightclubs. This is a great development!
SAN FRANCISCO -- The DNA Lounge was a real circus the night The Mutaytor came to town. The Los Angeles-based band looked like a bunch of clowns. Young contortionists folded their limbs like fortune cookies above and around the stage.

The 500 or so cognoscenti who paid $20 each to watch acrobats and aerialists on ropes perform to a live percussive beat weren't complaining. Once a month, the techno dance club hosts the Bohemian Carnival, an informal gathering of troupes from the Bay Area's underground circus scene and a bellwether of a subculture trend taking hold in a city near you.

"People are ready to be entertained on a much more visceral and darker level. There is this hunger to see something fancier," said Mutaytor front man Buck Down, explaining why the group made clown costumes, fire spinners and jugglers part of its trance music act. "It pushes a button, and it's a very primal button."

Inspired by Cirque du Soleil and possessed of an advanced sense of the absurd, young adults who got their first taste of trapezes, tightropes and red noses at Burning Man or other indie art festivals are joining a growing number of small, alternative circuses with Big Top dreams.

..."I think of it as 'omnitainment,'" said Robbie Kowal, a San Francisco disc jockey and music promoter who helps put on the Bohemian Carnival. "There are very few firsts left in music. The answer is visual stimulants."

...Dream Rockwell, who founded the Lucent Dossier Vaudeville Cirque two years ago, also has built her troupe more around amateurs than seasoned professionals. The company, whose members range in age from 4 to 53, appeared in a circus-themed music video with the electronica band Panic! At the Disco, which won MTV's video of the year. It also did a commercial for Farmer's Insurance and has been hired to entertain at the official Grammy Awards post-party in February.

"I wanted to start something where it was possible for people who were unusual, who didn't have the right training or the right body or the right look (for Hollywood) to achieve their dreams," said Rockwell. "Every child has some kind of strange fantasy to grow up and join the circus or carnival and run away."

Their avant-garde sensibilities aside, the small urban circus groups are actually part of a rich tradition, according to Janet Davis, a professor of American studies at the University of Texas at Austin who studies the role circus has played in society.

"We tend to think of subversive youth culture as being indicative of trangressiveness and all that is edgy," Davis said. "Yet 100 years ago, the circus was a place where gays and lesbians found work. The whole idea of the female impersonator or the strong woman, this kind of bending of traditional categories. That tradition is still very much alive and has carried over."

Downs, of The Mutaytor, said the underground circuses may be edgy, but their art is as mainstream as it gets.

"So much of what is considered indie and cool is predicated on, 'I know something you don't. This is predicated on something that is old as dirt," he said. "Take the most terminally unhip person out there, take your grandmother. They get clowns. They get circus."

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The NIE And The Pundits

Haven't we learned yet just how much our lying newspaper pundits thrive on war, and how they will use their newspaper columns to favor war at all times, whether war is a useful option, or not?

If ever an institution deserved an anthrax attack, the Washington Post, in particular, has earned it:
Press reports so far have suggested that the belated release of the National Intelligence Estimate yesterday throwing cold water on oft-repeated claims of a rampant Iranian nuclear weapons program has deeply embarrassed, or at least chastened, public officials and policymakers who have promoted this line for years. Gaining little attention so far: Many in the media have made these same claims, often extravagantly, which promoted (deliberately or not) the tubthumping for striking Iran.

Surely you remember Sen. John McCain's inspired Beach Boys' parody, a YouTube favorite, "Bomb-bomb-bomb, Bomb-bomb Iran"? That was the least of it. ... Who can forget Norman Podhoretz's call for an immediate attack on Iran, in the pages of the Wall Street Journal last May, as he argued that "the plain and brutal truth is that if Iran is to be prevented from developing a nuclear arsenal, there is no alternative to the actual use of military force -- any more than there was an alternative to force if Hitler was to be stopped in 1938."

...With much effort, I've already found this beauty from David Brooks of The New York Times from Jan. 22, 2006, when he declared that "despite administration hopes, there is scant reason to believe that imagined Iranian cosmopolitans would shut down the nuclear program, or could if they wanted to, or could do it in time - before Israel forced the issue to a crisis point. This is going to be a lengthy and tortured debate, dividing both parties. We'll probably be engaged in it up to the moment the Iranian bombs are built and fully functioning."

As recently as this past June, Thomas Friedman of The Times wrote: "Iran is about to go nuclear."

Even more recently, on October 23, 2007, Richard Cohen (like Brooks and Friedman, a big backer of the attack on Iraq) of The Washington Post, wrote: "Sadly, it is simply not possible to dismiss the Iranian threat. Not only is Iran proceeding with a nuclear program, but it projects a pugnacious, somewhat nutty, profile to the world."

...Another Post columnist, Jim Hoagland, exactly one month ago summarized his year-long travels and study surrounding this issue, declaring "unmistakable effort by Iran to develop nuclear weapons....That Iran has gone to great, secretive lengths to create and push forward a bomb-building capability is not a Bush delusion." He added the warning that "time is running out on the diplomatic track."

One week before that, reporting on his trip to Moscow, Hoagland noted Putin's doubts that Tehran will be able to turn enriched uranium into a usable weapon -- but called that failure "implausible."

We'd be remiss if we left out William Kristol, the hawk's hawk on Iran, who for the July 14, 2006 issue of The Weekly Standard called for a "military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Why wait? Does anyone think a nuclear Iran can be contained? That the current regime will negotiate in good faith? It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions--and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement."

...Here is the latest, from a Sept. 26, 2007 editorial in the Post (by Fred Hiatt), which flatly denounced Iran's "race for a bomb":

"As France's new foreign minister has recognized, the danger is growing that the United States and its allies could face a choice between allowing Iran to acquire the capacity to build a nuclear weapon and going to war to prevent it.

"The only way to avoid facing that terrible decision is effective diplomacy -- that is, a mix of sanctions and incentives that will induce Mr. Ahmadinejad's superiors to suspend their race for a bomb. ...
Even if Tehran provides satisfactory answers, its uranium enrichment -- and thus its progress toward a bomb -- will continue. That doesn't trouble Mr. ElBaradei, who hasn't hidden his view that the world should stop trying to prevent Iran from enriching uranium and should concentrate instead on blocking U.S. military action ...

"European diplomats say they are worried that escalating tensions between the United States and Iran, if fueled by more sanctions, could lead to war. What they don't make clear is how the government Mr. Ahmadinejad represents will be induced to change its policy if it has nothing to fear from the West."
Demanding Historical Coherency From Musicals

Come on, folks, it's fantasy!:
Publicists for Johnny Depp's film must be crying into their beer at their big boob.

In a poster for his new movie Johnny Depp sits by an attic skylight, with the Big Ben clock tower visible through the glass.

Unfortunately the film, about Sweeney Todd, is set in the early 19th century - 50 years before the famous tower was built.

Now the ad campaign has been scrapped and a new poster is being produced to publicise next month's release of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street.

Tim Burton's film is based on Stephen Sondheim's Broadway musical and also stars Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman and Sacha Baron Cohen.
Interesting Rap Video

Haunting, and very dark video by "New Adventures In Folklore".

Kent "Toast" French, The World's Fastest Clapper

Give it up for a unique skill!

The Future of Computers

Ooooh! Technology!!!!!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Jihad Against The Landscaping

A saw succeeded where persuasion failed:
HENDERSON, NEV. -- Cloaked by darkness, a saw tucked under his jacket, Douglas Hoffman skulked through suburbia, methodically killing trees.

He severed some. Others he sliced just enough so they would slowly die. In a year's time, authorities said, he wiped out more than 500 trees near an upscale retirement community just south of Las Vegas.

In November, a jury convicted Hoffman, 60, on 10 charges in the destruction of nearly $250,000 worth of mesquite and other trees. He will likely face sentencing next month and could get as much as 35 years in prison.

...The retirement haven of Sun City Anthem is typical of the neighborhoods that have ballooned Henderson's population from almost 65,000 in 1990 to more than 240,000 last year. The development's 7,000 or so homes are governed by a lengthy list of rules that took a real estate agent more than an hour to explain, said Charles Davis, a resident who runs a Sun City website.

...Five years ago, Hoffman and his wife, Debbie -- who live most of the year in Goodyear, Ariz. -- bought a 1,632-square-foot home on Colvin Run Drive.

Hoffman, who had retired from military base construction work, had taken landscaping classes and spent hours pruning in his Henderson yard.

"Plant life is precious to him," said Debbie Hoffman, 44. "It's not a human life, but it's a life. When a bush would die, he wouldn't be crying-upset, but he'd be upset."

Sun City was in its infancy when they moved into their home, with a back deck that overlooked the peaks rimming the valley and the Strip. Soon the trees, some of which had grown 8 feet tall, marred the couple's view. The Hoffmans asked if they could swap them out for shrubs but were told no, Davis said

In October 2004, the tops of about 60 trees were lopped off.

"We thought it was a fluke thing, maybe teenagers," said Sasha Jackowich, a spokeswoman for the community's developer, Pulte Homes.

Over the next year, even more trees -- some worth $1,450 apiece -- were felled.

...When they searched his home, they found a seven-page screed against the community's landscaping. Hoffman's wife told them that her husband had whacked back some branches in order to get a better view of the Strip. The foliage slaughter that followed was Hoffman's plan to cover up his initial chopping, Deputy Dist. Atty. Josh Tomsheck said.

...Hoffman, attorney Joseph Sciscento argued, was made into a scapegoat by panicked neighbors who thought they were immune from crime.

"It was a witch hunt," said Debbie Hoffman.

Her husband, who is being held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center, could not be reached for comment.
Basically A Calculating Type

Hillary has gone after Barack Obama with a vengeance for an essay he wrote in kindergarten about wanting to be President:


Today in Iowa, Senator Barack Obama said: "I have not been planning to run for President for however number of years some of the other candidates have been planning for.”

Oh really?

“Senator Obama’s comment today is fundamentally at odds with what his teachers, family, classmates and staff have said about his plans to run for President,” Clinton spokesperson Phil Singer said. “Senator Obama’s campaign rhetoric is getting in the way of his reality.”


In third grade, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled 'I Want To Be a President.' His third grade teacher: Fermina Katarina Sinaga "asked her class to write an essay titled 'My dream: What I want to be in the future.' Senator Obama wrote 'I want to be a President,' she said." [The Los Angeles Times, 3/15/07]

In kindergarten, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled 'I Want to Become President.’ "Iis Darmawan, 63, Senator Obama's kindergarten teacher, remembers him as an exceptionally tall and curly haired child who quickly picked up the local language and had sharp math skills. He wrote an essay titled, 'I Want To Become President,' the teacher said." [AP, 1/25/07 ]
That Hillary, always on the prowl for the ambitious kids!

(When I was five years old, I couldn't decide whether it would be better to be President, or a Train Engineer. By age six, and right after JFK got shot, I decided President would be better.)
Dog On The Run

Moneyed pets, and their woes:
A PAMPERED pooch who inherited $US12 million ($13.5 million) from a late US hotel magnate earlier this year has fled to Florida under an assumed name after receiving death threats, a report said.

Trouble, a white Maltese who belonged to billionaire Leona Helmsley until her death in August, was flown by private jet under tight security two months ago after receiving around 20 such threats, the New York Post reported.

...The paper did not say who was suspected of being behind the threats, but Trouble is said to have earned countless enemies due to a penchant for biting.

John Codey, who is in charge of the pampered pooch's trust fund, told US television network CBS last week that there had been threats to kidnap the dog.

He added that the cost of Trouble's round-the-clock security detail, medical care, chef-cooked meals and grooming were an estimated $US300,000 ($339,847) a year. The dog was previously living at a 28-room estate in Connecticut.

Fiona And Tommy, 2046

Sid Caesar and Nanette Fabray (Your Show Of Shows)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

DMTC's "Brigadoon" Closes

Left: A happy ending (Brennen Cull as Tommy Allbright, and Caitlin Kiley as Fiona MacLaren). Below: Caitlin Kiley as Fiona MacLaren.

Courtesy of Bruce Warren, a photo of Virginia Shaw, together with her art work, the cover of the Brigadoon "book".

Left: "Go Back To Bonnie Jean" ballet.

Left: Michael "MikeMac" McElroy, sits down.

Left: "Come To Me, Bend To Me" ballet.

Left: Michael "MikeMac" McElroy, as the comic foil, Jeff Douglas.

Left: Run away! Charlie Dalrymple approaches! (Katherine Coppola as Jeanne MacLaren).

Left: Not slightly "nutty". Fiona MacLaren (Caitlin Kiley) and Tommy Allbright) Brennen Cull. Below: Tony Gabrielson, with his "package".

Nice Visit

It was great seeing Kelly Daniells and Ian Cullity at DMTC on Saturday night. Best of luck to them both on the Great White Way!