Thursday, December 27, 2007

Beta Version Of DMTC Master Cast List Ready

After five years of messing around with this thing, I've finished a beta version of a computerized version of a DMTC Master Cast List. Anyone who was a cast member, crew member, played in the orchestra, or otherwise had anything to do with any regular-season DMTC or YPT show is included.

Currently, there are 15,654 entries in the list, encompassing the 2,683 people, plus an assortment of dogs, laptop computers, and even a hawk, that have made DMTC function over the years (covering the period June 1984 through December 2007).

The list is about 98% complete, meaning there were only a handful of programs that I wasn't able to obtain to help compile the list. These missing programs (all involving the Young Performers' Theatre) are:

MUSIC MAN: MAR 94 Missing program altogether
PETER PAN: MAR 96 Missing program altogether

If anyone has these programs, I'd very much appreciate if you'd let me know, so we can make copies for our files and pop the names into the list as well!

Not all shows are included. Occasional fundraisers, or shows outside the regular season (like last summer's "Tommy") are not included, nor are Summer YPT Workshops. These shows need a list of their own, at some future date.....

After combing through the Master Cast List for lingering errors, we will convert the Master Cast List spreadsheet into a more-facile database format and pop it up on the DMTC Web Site for general public access.
A Metaphorical Dream

Last night, I dreamt that Ron Cisneros took me on vacation with him and his friends to Indonesia, where the hotel rooms featured ocean access, so one could swim into and out of your room whenever one pleased, and where I could swim with the bright tropical fish.....
Hell's Wrath In Pakistan

Benazir Bhutto is assassinated and chaos will ensue. Indeed, speculation is already rife that Musharraf had her snuffed:
PAKISTANI opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was killed in a gun and bomb attack after a rally in the city of Rawalpindi today, her party said.

"She has been martyred," party official Rehman Malik said.

Mrs Bhutto, 54, died in hospital in Rawalpindi. Ary-One Television said she had been shot in the head.

Police said a suicide bomber fired shots at Mrs Bhutto as she was leaving the rally venue in a park before blowing himself up.

"The man first fired at Bhutto's vehicle. She ducked and then he blew himself up," police officer Mohammad Shahid said.

Police said 16 people had been killed in the blast.
"Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street"

Left: Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd, aka Benjamin Barker.

A quote from imdb:
When filming began, there was to be an inclusion of the ghosts of Sweeney Todd's victims (including actors Anthony Head and Christopher Lee), who would sing "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd", its reprises, and the "Epilogue". These songs were recorded, but eventually cut before filming began, since director Tim Burton felt that the songs were too theatrical for the film.
Timothy Burton apparently wanted to rid Sweeney Todd of some of its more theatrical excesses, and make the movie more of a character study. In that light, the movie is a great success. But for some of us who thrive on theatrical excesses, the movie seems to collapse in on itself, becoming, in the end, a smaller enterprise than it had promised to be - less operatic, less apocalyptic, and more like Quentin Tarantino on a bad weekend in Las Vegas. In particular, the ensemble songs are missing or pared down (The Ballad of Sweeney Todd, City On Fire, More Hot Pies), which is to be lamented.

Timothy Burton's trademark, which he shares with filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, and explains a lot of his appeal, is the sense of the lonely child, lost in a heartless world. This lonely kid theme reappears time and again in Burton's movies, movies like "A Nightmare Before Christmas" and "The Corpse Bride." Thus, it was interesting that the character of Toby (Ed Sanders) was cast with an actual kid, rather than a simpleton adult, as in the play. The lost, lonely child as surviving witness appealed to Burton. Interesting too how young Anthony (Jamie Campbell Bower) and Johanna (Jayne Wisener) are cast as well - young enough to be lost, lonely children, surviving in a heartless world.

So, good movie, but could have been better. Too bad the character of Pirelli didn't survive to teach Burton a few Mediterranean tricks. Too bad Timothy Burton himself isn't italiano - now those folks know something about operatic excess!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2007

Fun list of the people we love to hate, 2007.
Queensland Weather Forecasters Take Heed

Itsa comin'!:
BRISBANE'S parched dams could finally be in for a big drink, with forecasters last night predicting a "high" chance of a cyclone developing off the Queensland coast this weekend.

Despite cooler weather across the state over the Christmas and Boxing Day break, the weather bureau last night said a low pressure system was expected to develop in the Coral Sea off Mackay today and move southeast tomorrow before potentially forming into a cyclone over the weekend.

Forecasters said the best estimate was that any cyclone would remain out to sea, off Fraser Island. But the last cyclone to cross the coast near Fraser Island was the system which filled the Somerset Dam and led to Brisbane's 1974 floods.

The combined dam levels of Brisbane's main dams dropped below 20 per cent again over Christmas.

Forecaster Craig Mitchell said the only certainty last night was that the state's coastal waters were in for a wild weekend. A coastal wind warning had already been issued between Cardwell in north Queensland and Hervey Bay.

"It's going to cause some dangerous conditions around the coastal beaches, bringing with it large swells which will be dangerous for swimmers and for boaties generally around the southeast," Mr Mitchell said.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Ruthless Like Scrooge

You try to save money, but somehow it never quite works out, and you try to live within your means, but you can't help but expand beyond those narrow confines, and you try not to charge anything on your credit card, but woah, look at that balance! Does it mean you are weak, or bad?

A friend of mine is becoming something of a nuisance in the local press, because she publicly doles out advice to thousands of readers to live frugally, and invest your money, and avoid using the credit card - all good things, surely - but she also has begun offering her personal history as an example of the virtues of what she preaches.

Only trouble is, her personal history, as related in the press, is incomplete:
  • When she was married, she also had the advantage of a two-income household - the only solid way most people have to advance beyond subsistence, after all, but which she never mentions; and,
  • When her husband contracted a virus and went blind, she divorced his sorry ass and sent him back to live with his parents.
More than most people realize, advances in personal finance depend on a ruthless, determined energy. Personal finance columns never mention this aspect of life. Anyone in your life with any problems? Gotta throw those folks under the bus! Not only must you clip coupons, you must avoid getting sick. Only losers get sick, after all.

Does baby need new shoes? Does baby need new shoes? Time to park the car at the nearest freeway exit and drop kick baby towards the closest truck stop. That'll teach baby some personal responsibility!

Remember Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," when Ebenezer Scrooge was approached by his kindly but careless mentor, Mr. Fezziwig, for a loan? Not for a second did Scrooge even consider saying yes.

Why are romance novels like "Forever Amber" or "Gone With The Wind" so popular? The fascinating, ruthless heroine is willing to do what is necessary to succeed, whether it seems Christian, or appropriate, or whatever. Most people are made of lesser stuff and we are fascinated by the willful rulebreaker, even as we condemn her.

With all the Southern plantations in ruins after the War Between The States, and the region crawling with boll weevils, you just know Scarlett O'Hara's Tara will prosper, because she'll cut any corner and make any deal she has to to make it so.

Meanwhile, people like me will join Rhett Butler and exclaim that, frankly, we don't give a damn. Even if we, secretly, do give a damn. Because society has to rein these folks in from time to time, and we had better give a damn if society won't mutate into something radioactively unpleasant, and unrecognizable.


Please forgive me for not providing any names, or links. Because this person, for all her faults, is lots of fun, and dances well.....kind of like Scarlett O'Hara! And I wouldn't want to burn any bridges. Because, like Scarlett says at the end of "Gone With The Wind," 'tomorrow is another day!'
Wishing Everyone A Merry Sparky Christmas!
Twisting And Turning In The Wind

For the last year, two large, broken branches have hung from the tree over my house. Because of their height, I haven't been able to successfully pull them down. So there they remained, twisting and turning in the wind, almost like accusatory fingers pointing downwards, saying to all passersby, 'the weird haunted house on the block is here.'

Yesterday, I stood atop a tall ladder, cleaning gutters underneath the broken branches. It's hard work cleaning gutters, digging through the advanced ecosystems that have developed over the past year or two, complete with flora (clover), fauna (worms, spiders), and lots of wet soil from all the decayed leaves. Sometime you find interesting things, like the year I found a spent bullet in the gutter. Where did that come from? But this year, all I found was a stake that Adam had glued into the gutter for some inscrutable reason.

But I also noticed the connections between branches and tree were now looking a little threadbare. So, it was time to try again.

So, there I stood with a long, long hook, trying to get a purchase on the bigger branch high above, and twisting it around, while standing on top of a 12-foot ladder.....


I look up and see rapidly-approaching, ginormous expanse of tree bark filling my field of vision. "Ooooh, this is going to hurt," I thought.

BANG! The tree branch slammed into my shoulder, giving me a nice, throbbing bruise there, and ripping my "Pirates of Penzance" sweatshirt in the process as well. But because the blow was still a glancing blow, considering the weight, I didn't fall. Instead I remained, atop a tall ladder, trying to reach the second branch, which I was just able to do, reaching upwards and grasping with my left hand, and twisting, twisting.....


For the briefest second, I held a fifteen-foot long witching rod at the end of my outstretched arm, almost like an enormous wand. Then it too came crashing down, fortunately not hitting me on the way past, since I was able to push it away as it fell.

So, with those two accidents-waiting-to-happen out of the way, I'm farther from the lawsuit frontier, and I feel much happier.

And now, for the aspirin.....
NOGAPS Really Going Nuts

Rains are quieting in Australia, except along tropical coasts. The NOGAPS model is trying to nucleate three tropical cyclones in the general Australian area, however, including the one mentioned before, along the Queensland coast, by December 30th.

Awesomely wet on the crocodile frontier!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Interesting, But Ambiguous Australian Weather Forecast

The weather model I most prefer, NOGAPS, is suggesting that a tropical cyclone will soon develop off of Queensland, and come ashore somewhere in the vicinity of the Sunshine Coast, on or about December 30th. The forecast is a little too long range to be necessarily reliable: the Australian Bureau of Meteorology doesn’t yet forecast such an event. And the NOGAPS threshold for the development of tropical cyclones tends to be too low anyway. Nevertheless, even if no such storm occurs, it might be quite rainy anyway.

Credit card weakness everywhere:
Americans are falling behind on their credit card payments at an alarming rate, sending delinquencies and defaults surging by double-digit percentages in the last year and prompting warnings of worse to come.

..."Debt eventually leaks into other areas, whether it starts with the mortgage and goes to the credit card or vice versa," said Cliff Tan, a visiting scholar at Stanford University and an expert on credit risk. "We're starting to see leaks now."

...Until recently, credit card default rates had been running close to record lows, providing one of the few profit growth areas for the nation's banks, which continue to flood Americans' mailboxes with billions of letters monthly offering easy sign-ups for new plastic.

Even after the recent spike in bad loans, the credit card business is still quite lucrative, thanks to interest rates that can run as high as 36 percent, plus late fees and other penalties.

But what is coming into sharper focus from the detailed monthly SEC filings from the trusts is a snapshot of the worrisome state of Americans' ability to juggle growing and expensive credit card debt.

...Economists also cite America's long-standing attitude that debt - even high-interest credit card debt - is not a big deal.

"The desires of consumers to want, want, want, spend, spend, spend - it's the fabric of our nation," said Howard Dvorkin, founder of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which has advised more than 5 million people in debt. "But you always have to pay the piper, and that can be a very painful process."

Filing for bankruptcy is no longer a solution for many Americans because of a 2005 change to federal law that made it harder to walk away from debt. Those with above-average incomes are barred from declaring Chapter 7 - where debts can be wiped out entirely - except under special circumstances and must instead file a repayment plan under the more restrictive Chapter 13.

...In the wake of the jump in defaults on subprime mortgage loans made to borrowers with poor credit histories, banks have been less willing to allow consumers to consolidate credit card debt into home equity loans or refinanced mortgages. That is leaving some with no option but to miss payments, economists said.

Investors also are backing away from buying securitized credit-card debt, said Moshe Orenbuch, managing director at Credit Suisse. But that probably has more to do with concerns about the overall health of the U.S. economy, he said.

"It's been getting tougher to finance any kind of structured finance - mortgages, automobile loans, credit cards, student loans," said Orenbuch, who specializes in the credit industry.

...Many personal financial coaches expect this trend to accelerate in 2008 - particularly among people who took out untraditional loans whose interest rate has risen, requiring owners to pay mortgages several hundred dollars more than just a year ago.

"You're looking at more and more distress - consumers desperately trying to preserve their credit lines, but there's nowhere else to go," said Robert Manning, director of the Center for Consumer Financial Services at Rochester Institute of Technology. "It's like a game of dominoes."
Finding A Consultant

Cruising the makeup counters at Arden Fair Mall:
"Is there anything we can help you with?"

"Yes, actually, I um..... I - I need some help with full drag makeup?"

(With the most diabolically-delicious grin) "We have just the person to help you!"
Enter, the Reverend Mother Joseph....

Dentist Sketch - The Carol Burnett Show

Carolyn sent this - as funny as ever!