Saturday, March 22, 2008

"42nd Street" - CSU Sacramento

Left: Bows. Starting with Brad Bong (Billy Lawlor) on the left, left to right, Heather Kenyon (Peggy Sawyer), Paul Alary (Julian Marsh), Dorothy Brock (Annie Purvis), Carly Sisto (Maggie Jones), and Brian Watson (Bert Barry).

Wonderful, exciting, exacting show! 42nd Street has always struck me as almost a hothouse relict of 1930's New York, with an intensity so keen and wired-up that it is almost neurotic. Interestingly, many of the young dancers here learned their tapping skills, on the fly, specifically for this show. Cramming all that learning on top of the immense energy expediture required just to get to bows would make almost anyone neurotic. According to Jasmine Elfant-Strode, who was in an RCTC production of "42nd Street" (and thus should know), this show was very faithful to the 1980 script.

Five friends were in the show: Brad Bong, Tim Stewart, Shannon Kendall, Amanda Morish, and Andy Hyun. They were all precise and wonderful, particularly Brad Bong as the male lead, Billy Lawlor. In the lobby at intermission, Ryan Adame commented with wonder and amazement: "These are real, legit dance steps, and this is, like, real, legit dancing! Brad has been tap-dancing everywhere - we even argued about it in the supermarket!"

Sometimes it's good to have young folks even in the older roles. Carly Sisto (Maggie Jones) and Brian Watson (Bert Barry) were aided by their youth, turning in what I thought were more effective performances than the equivalent ones I saw in a 2005 touring company.

Annie Purvis as Dorothy Brock sang the best and had the most dramatic presence. Really awesome! Heather Kenyon was very effective as ingenue Peggy Sawyer in the first act; maybe a touch less so in the second act, where she has to step up to the dramatic weight of stardom, and balance the ingenue quality with an other-worldly star presence.

The one I had the most respect for was Tim Stewart. I understand he turned an ankle last night, but being the trouper he is, he carried on despite what might have been considerable discomfort (his dancing wasn't compromised in any way).

Left: I liked Shannon Kendall's bow (and her Betty Page look). Andy Hyun peeks out from the back row in both pictures.

Just one more weekend left! See it while you can! Remaining performances are at 8 p.m., March 28-29; at 2 p.m., March 23 and 30; and at 6:30 p.m., March 27.
Robot Drummer

And robot pole dancer too.

Australians are on the forefront of entertainment technology.
"Cabaret" - Runaway Stage Productions

Left: Amber Jean Moore Lazard as Sally Bowles.

Excellent production of the 1987 revival of "Cabaret".

Simple, efficient set design, apparently by Joshua James. Excellent, energetic choreography by Darryl Strohl (something of a reunion cast of last year's choreography-Elly-Award-winning "Chicago"). Well-balanced, full orchestral sound, as guided by Jesse Valerio. Beautiful costumes by Lillian Baxter.

Left: Bows. Joshua James (Master of Ceremonies) leads a final bow. Featured near the center, left to right, are Amber Jean Moore Lazard (Sally Bowles), Jessica Larrick (Fraulein Kost), Mary Young (Fraulein Schneider), Tevye Ditter (Clifford Bradshaw), and Patrick Coughenaur (Ernst Ludwig).

There are a few problems with the production. 'Tomorrow Belongs To Me' in the original version of "Cabaret" has a tremendous emotional punch because it evolves successively as an alien but beautiful intrusion (sung by outsiders), and then at once chillingly-evil as the Nazi wellspring is abruptly revealed by the emcee. Here, the song is sung by insiders (Kit Kat Klub waiters), slowly revealed with a stiff-arm salute by the waiters as Nazi-derived, and then subverted at the end by the emcee's mockery. The original approach is better. In addition, the social dancing in the party scene goes on for too long, and the lighting is rather dark (in the sense that it is sometimes hard to see what is going on).

Nevertheless, the strengths of this cast overawe any difficulties. Joshua James is stupendously good as the Emcee: full of boundless, wicked energy. Amber Jean Moore Lazard is glamorous, feckless, and beautiful as Sally Bowles. Tevye Ditter is earnest and tortured as Clifford Bradshaw (even though Tevye is featured in the added song 'Don't Go', his singing opportunities are somewhat restricted by the script).

The supporting cast has many good opportunities to shine. Mary Young was wonderful as Frau Schneider and Nicolas Maggio was warm and engaging as Herr Schultz. Kyle Young played a naughty Bobby.

The Kit Kat Klub dancers were all quite striking, and quite strong: Kacey Kamrin and Kay Hight as the Two Ladies; plus Sarah Waldo-Riley, Marissa Tidrick, Natalie Fong, and Kris Farhood.

The dancer who impressed me the most with her stage presence was Natalie Fong. Flirting with Scott Griffith in the corner during the party scene, she managed to hold my focus even though she was off in the corner of the stage, and farthest from the action.

This is the final weekend for the show - just two performances left! See it while you can!

Friday, March 21, 2008

In Memory Of Paul Scofield

(From the LA Times)
Paul Scofield, one of the giants of the British stage who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Sir Thomas More in the 1966 film "A Man for All Seasons," has died. He was 86.

Scofield, who had been suffering from leukemia, died Wednesday in a hospital near his home in Sussex, England, his agent, Rosalind Chatto, said in a statement.

Considered one of the most talented actors of his generation, the tall, craggy-faced Scofield had a memorably rich voice that movie director Fred Zinnemann likened to the sound of "a Rolls-Royce being started."

An admiring Richard Burton once said of his fellow actor, whose stage roles included Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth and Othello: "Of the 10 greatest moments in the theater, eight are Scofield's."

Ranked with stage greats Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud by British critics and actors in the 1950s and '60s, Scofield was praised by critic Kenneth Tynan for "his power to enlarge a role until it fits him, as a hatter will stretch a bowler."

Scofield originated the role of More, the morally courageous 16th century chancellor of England who defied King Henry VIII, in Robert Bolt's "A Man for All Seasons" on the London stage in 1960.

A year later, he was playing More on Broadway, a role for which he won a Tony Award for best actor in a play.

"With a kind of weary magnificence," a Time magazine writer observed, "Scofield sinks himself in the part, studiously underplays it, and somehow displays the inner mind of a man destined for sainthood."
Nights And Weekends

Greta Gerwig, with her new film, "Nights and Weekends."
YouTube Frustrates

I spend days watching fun videos, but I can't seem to get any of them to post, and there are no error messages. What worries me is that some odd Tuesday, they'll all post multiple times, all at once, causing mass hysteria (or at least causing me mass hysteria).
General Strike

How the Surge is endangered (with video):
In an investigation carried out by GuardianFilms for Channel 4, we uncover how thousands of Iraqis employed at $10 a day by the US to take on al-Qaida are threatening to go on strike because they say they have been used by the 'Americans to do their dirty work' and haven't been paid.
Bill Richardson Endorses Obama

From Richardson's speech:
My friends,

Earlier this week, an extraordinary American gave a historic speech.

Senator Barack Obama addressed the issue of race with the eloquence and sincerity and decency and optimism we have come to expect of him.

He did not seek to evade tough issues or to soothe us with comforting half-truths.

Rather, he inspired us by reminding us of the awesome potential residing in our own responsibility.

Senator Obama could have given a safer speech.

He is, after all, well ahead in the delegate count for our party's nomination.

He could have just waited for the controversy over the deplorable remarks of Reverend Wright to subside, as it surely would have.

Instead, Senator Obama showed us once again what kind of leader he is.

He spoke to us as adults.

He asked us to ponder the weight of our racially-divided past, to rise above it, and to seize the opportunity to carry forward the work of many patriots of all races, who struggled and died to bring us together.

Senator Obama reminded us that cynicism is not realism, and that hope is not folly.

He called upon us not just to dream about a less racially-divided America, but also to do the hard work needed to build such an America.

He asked every American to see the reality and the pain of other Americans, so that together we can rise above that which has divided us.

He appealed to the best in us.

As a Hispanic, I was particularly touched by his words.

I have been troubled by the demonization of immigrants--specifically Hispanics-- by too many in this country.

Hate crimes against Hispanics are rising as a direct result and now, in tough economic times, people look for scapegoats and I fear that people will continue to exploit our racial differences-and place blame on others not like them.

We all know the real culprit -- the disastrous economic policies of the Bush Administration!

Senator Obama has started a discussion in this country long overdue and rejects the politics of pitting race against race.

He understands clearly that only by bringing people together, only by bridging our differences can we all succeed together as Americans....
"Laughter On The 23rd Floor Thursday Night" Rehearsal

Left: Lauren Miller, Darryl Strohl, Kevin Caravalho, Jeff Labowitch, and Jason "Clocky" McDowell.

MikeMac sent a message a few days ago:

Hello everyone:
I just wanted to drop a note to let everyone know that I am directing Neil Simon's Laughter On The 23rd Floor with DMTC, opening on March 28th and running through April 6th. This is the first time DMTC is producing a straight play, and I'd like to encourage it as much as possible. Please consider coming -- it's absolutely hilarious and full of top-notch actors. The press release follows. Tickets are $10 each (you can buy tickets on their website -- and it will be at DMTC's theatre at 607 Pena Drive, Davis, CA 95618. For those of you who are in other shows, it will have matinee performances on the two Saturdays, so you'll have an opportunity to see it then.

Left: Joshua Smith, Paul Fearn, Brennen Cull, Lauren Miller, and Darryl Strohl

Laughter On The 23rd Floor
by Neil Simon

Neil Simon's inimitable comic style shines through in this hilarious story based on his time on the writing staff on the classic 1950's television variety show, Your Show Of Shows. Filled with a veritable who's who of comedians, including Larry Gelbart, Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner, the writer's room became legendary for its clashes of wits, jibes and sometimes fists. Simon succeeds brilliantly in recapturing the mayhem and non-stop gags of the writers and their boss.

As television begins expanding out of the cities and into rural areas, NBC begins pressuring its number one show, the jewel of television comedy, the Max Prince Show to make the show more appealing to these new viewers. Under this pressure, comic genius Max Prince begins to crack, and his team of misfit writers begin to see the strain and worry. As Max wages war on the network, his writers wage war on each other in a flurry of insults and jokes.

Left: Joshua Smith

With a cast of talented DMTC veterans, including Lauren Miller ("My Fair Lady", "Brigadoon"), Paul Fearn ("Pirates of Penzance", "Camelot") and Jason McDowell ("La Cage Aux Folles"), "Laughter" delivers just what it promises, just 23 stories lower. Performances are March 28th, 29th, April 4th and 5th at 8:15pm and March 29th, 30th, April 5th and 6th at 2:15pm. Tickets are $10, and are available for online ordering at

Left: Kevin Caravalho


Lucas ……. Josh Smith
Milt ……. Darryl Strohl
Val ……. Paul Fearn
Brian ……. Jason McDowell
Kenny ……. Brennen Cull
Carol ……. Lauren Miller
Max ……. Kevin Caravalho
Helen ……. Kris Farhood
Ira ……. Jeff Labowitch

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Fifth Anniversary Of The Iraq War

4,000 dead American soldiers, and many more wounded. But what is even more striking is just how worse-off Iraq is compared to Saddam's day. Twenty percent of the population of Iraq, five million people, have been forced, upon pain of death, to move. Half of those have moved out of the country altogether. Hundreds of thousands are dead, and continue dying. It would almost as if a terrible war had struck California, and the entire population of the Bay Area had to move, at gunpoint, to Siberia.

And the engineers of this war are proud of what they have done. They are co-equals with Saddam in creating suffering beyond measure. A perfect example is Fouad Ajami's triumphal reminiscence in the Wall Street Journal yesterday.

In the 80's and 90's, I had come to admire Ajami, a Lebanese-born Shiite academic, from his frequent appearances on PBS' MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour, and his eloquent essays in The New Republic. His hands are too bloodied by this war, however. The excerpt below is from Wikipedia:
In an August 2002 speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars, US Vice President Dick Cheney sought to assuage concerns about the anticipated US invasion of Iraq, stating: "As for the reaction of the Arab 'street,' the Middle East expert Professor Fouad Ajami predicts that after liberation, the streets in Basra and Baghdad are 'sure to erupt in joy in the same way the throngs in Kabul greeted the Americans.'"

Ajami cautioned the United States about the likely negative consequences of the Iraq War. In a 2003 essay in Foreign Affairs, "Iraq and the Arabs' Future," Ajami wrote, "There should be no illusions about the sort of Arab landscape that America is destined to find if, or when, it embarks on a war against the Iraqi regime. There would be no "hearts and minds" to be won in the Arab world, no public diplomacy that would convince the overwhelming majority of Arabs that this war would be a just war. An American expedition in the wake of thwarted UN inspections would be seen by the vast majority of Arabs as an imperial reach into their world, a favor to Israel, or a way for the United States to secure control over Iraq's oil. No hearing would be given to the great foreign power."

But he also goes on to say:

America ought to be able to live with this distrust and discount a good deal of this anti-Americanism as the "road rage" of a thwarted Arab world -- the congenital condition of a culture yet to take full responsibility for its self-inflicted wounds. There is no need to pay excessive deference to the political pieties and givens of the region. Indeed, this is one of those settings where a reforming foreign power's simpler guidelines offer a better way than the region's age-old prohibitions and defects.

Ajami retains a positive view of the war three years later. In a 2006 book on the invasion and its aftermath, he described it as a noble effort, and argues that despite many unhappy consequences, it is too soon to write it off as a failure.

Vice President Cheney cited Ajami again in an October 21, 2007 speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, stating, "We have no illusions about the road ahead. As Fouad Ajami said recently, Iraq is not yet 'a country at peace, and all its furies have not burned out, but a measure of order has begun to stick on the ground.'"
Here is some of what Ajami wrote in the WSJ (with emphases added):

Still, five years on, this endeavor in Iraq is taking hold. The U.S. military was invariably the great corrector. In their stoic acceptance of the mission given them and in the tender mercies they showed Iraqis on a daily basis, our soldiers held out the example of benevolent rule. (In extended travel in and out of Iraq over the last five years, I heard little talk of Abu Ghraib. The people of Iraq understood that Charles Graner and Lynndie England were psychopaths at odds with American military norms.)

In those five years, the scaffolding of the war came under steady assault. People said that there was no connection between al Qaeda and Saddam, that no "smoking gun" had been discovered, and that the invasion of Iraq had turned that country into a breeding ground of jihadists.

But those looking for that smoking gun did not understand that the distinction between secular and religious terror in that Arab landscape was a distinction without a difference. The impulse that took America from Kabul to Baghdad was a correct one. Radical Arabs attacked America on 9/11, and a war of deterrence had to be waged against Arab radicalism.

Baghdad was the proper return address, as a notice was served on the purveyors of terror that a price would be paid by those who aid and abet it. It was Saddam Hussein's choice -- and fate -- that he would not duck and stay out of harm's way in the aftermath of 9/11. We have not fully repaired the ways of the radicals in the intervening years. But the spectacle of the dictator's defeat, and the sight of him being sent to the gallows, have worked wonders on the temper of the Arab street.

So we did not turn Baghdad into a democratic city on a hill, and we learned that the dismantling of Sunni tyranny would leave the Arab world's Shiite stepchildren with primacy in Iraq. A better country has nonetheless risen, midwifed by this American war. It is not a flawless democracy. But compare it to the prison it was under Saddam, the tyranny next door in Damascus and the norms of the region, and we can have a measure of pride in what America has brought forth in Baghdad.

This is not a Shiite state that we uphold. True, the Shiite majority was emancipated from a long history of fear and servitude, but Iraq's Shiites have told us in every way they can that their country is not a "sister republic" of the Persian theocracy to their east. If anything, the custodians of political power in Iraq have signaled their long-term intentions: an extended American presence in their midst and the shoring up of an oil state in the orbit of American power.

...In the past five years, the passion has drained out of the war's defenders and critics alike. Our soldiers and envoys are there, but the public at home has moved onto other concerns. Still, the public is willing to grant this expedition time, and that's for the good. There is no taste in this country for imperial burdens and acquisitions in distant lands. But Americans also know that the lands and sea lanes of the Persian Gulf are too vital to be left to mayhem and petty tyrants.
May I remind Ajami that a war fought in Arab lands, against the will of the vast majority of Arabs, can't succeed in its goals in a permanent sense. Only an imperial power can impose its will in that way, making a mockery of Ajami's pretense of supposed American nobility. The failure of al-Maliki's government to bring Sunnis into the fold (a failure I can fully sympathize with, however, because of Sunni intransigence) means that Iraq is now a Shiite state, Ajami's demurrals notwithstanding. The prison of Saddam's Iraq, where most people stayed alive at the least, was preferrable to today's jailbreak Iraq, where so many more people have died. And Graner and England can hardly be construed as isolated psychopaths when George W. Bush himself vetoes bills seeking to limit torture on prisoners. The psychopaths are running this war!

Ajami's contempt for "the distinction between secular and religious terror in that Arab landscape was a distinction without a difference" fails to grasp that it is exactly the difference between a limited, focused war on Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, where success might be possible, and a quagmire in both Afghanistan and Iraq, where failure in both places is certain.

So, what we had then was a war of vengeance, against Saddam, and imperial conquest of oilfields (that we have trouble tapping because of the danger), at the cost of many billions of dollars and nearly countless lives: but not a war Ajami himself, nor American elites, were prepared to sacrifice for in any notable way. And the Arab street? Angrier than ever! And it's that anger we need to assuage to prevent future 9/11s.

Lots of luck keeping the spoils!
Fashion Police

Now, to me, this is a very pretty dress. I would like to have one for my own. So, why the antagonism?:
This dress? That Aubrey O’Day wore to Danity Kane’s album release party? Someone should die for this. We should find out who is responsible and murder that person. And maybe it would help clear up the fashion problem in LA.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Lemming Lives To Tell The Tale

Via this blog (she's a conservative, I'm not, but we seem to have similar tastes):
If your GPS device told you to drive off a cliff would you do it?

Norman Sussman nearly did. Mr. Sussman recently queried his GPS for an alternate route home after hitting traffic outside Santa Fe, N.M. Following the machine's directions, he veered up a winding mountain road, expecting to rejoin the interstate.

After a half-hour of hairpin turns, Mr. Sussman stepped on the brakes: The road ended at a guardrail and a 200-foot cliff. "It looked like a small version of the Grand Canyon," he says.
Control Your Appetites

I missed this news item, from September 6, 2006, when it first came out:
A 6m, 90kg python swallowed a pregnant ewe in the village of Kampung Jabor, about 200km east of Kuala Lumpur. It was too laden to move, and firemen easily caught it, the local newspaper reported.
The Wright Controversy

That creepy cynic Dick Morris takes a few minutes from his vices and opines about the Democratic primary:
(a) Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) has already won the Democratic nomination. It's over. Regardless of how the remaining primaries and caucuses go, including Michigan and even Florida, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) can never catch Obama in elected delegates. His current lead of 170 pledged delegates will not be overcome no matter what happens. Even if Clinton beats him by 10 points in each of these primaries, he will still lead among elected delegates by over 100. The superdelegates will not override the will of the voters unless Obama is in jail. They will not let themselves in for a civil war by overruling a black man who is beloved by the young by going over the heads of the electorate and naming the candidate that lost the primaries as the nominee. Regardless of how damaged Obama may be by the Wright tapes, it will not provide sufficient cover or cause for them to do so.

(b) Wright's rantings are not reflective of Obama's views on anything. Why did he stay in the church? Because he's a black Chicago politician who comes from a mixed marriage and went to Columbia and Harvard. Suspected of not being black enough or sufficiently tied to the minority community, he needed the networking opportunities Wright afforded him in his church to get elected. If he had not risen to the top of Chicago black politics, we would never have heard of him. But obviously, he can't say that. So what should he say?

He needs to get out of this mess with subtlety, the kind Bill Clinton should have used to escape the Monica Lewinsky scandal -- but didn't. As the controversy continues, Americans will gradually realize that Obama stuck by Wright as part of a need to get ahead. They will chalk up to pragmatism why he was so close to such a preacher. As they come to realize that Obama doesn't agree with Wright but used him to get started, they will be more forgiving.
Obama Skewers McCain

Ha! Ha! About time!.

The irony, of course, is that I'm sure McCain understands the Sunni/ Shia difference well enough (he's not George W. Bush, after all), but the condemnations of Al Qaeda have worked so well in American domestic politics for the last decade that, even though he knew he was talking about a different group of terrorists, he couldn't resist dipping into that poisoned well just one tiny more time.

Curmudgeon's not ready for prime-time! Not paying close enough attention. Phone call at 3 a.m. indeed!
McCain, the 71-year-old Arizona senator who touts his national security experience as a main reason why he should be elected, gave Democrats a line of attack to use against him on Tuesday.

On a Middle East and Europe swing, he got tangled up in stating which Islamic extremist group in Iraq that Iran is accused of supporting.

At a news conference in Amman, McCain said Iran supported the Sunni group al Qaeda in Iraq, until he was corrected by a colleague. U.S. officials believe Iran has been backing Shi'ite extremists in Iraq, not a Sunni group like al Qaeda.

It was the first stumble of note that McCain has made since clinching the Republican presidential nomination early this month.

"Just yesterday, we heard Senator McCain confuse Sunni and Shi'ite, Iran and al Qaeda," Obama said.

"Maybe that is why he voted to go to war with a country that had no al Qaeda ties. Maybe that is why he completely fails to understand that the war in Iraq has done more to embolden America's enemies than any strategic choice that we have made in decades," the Illinois senator said.

He also mocked McCain's oft-stated vow to follow Osama bin Laden to "the gates of hell" if elected, arguing the U.S. focus should have been on Afghanistan and Pakistan instead of Iraq.

"We have a security gap when candidates say they will follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell but refuse to follow him where he actually goes," Obama said.
Squirrel #3

Fattened by the seeds I leave out for the birds in the back alley, inattentive Squirrel #3 got squashed yesterday by a passing car.
Neanderthal Waltz

On the last afternoon of "My Fair Lady," after MikeMac, Trevor and I finished bracing the back stairs behind the grand stairs for the entry of the grandees attending the ball, and after we rolled the back stairs away, we aped our betters on stage. Hunched over, and with arms listlessly hanging, we did a slam-dancing version of the "Neanderthal Waltz" in the stage right wing.

Like MikeMac said, that was "on the record."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Flying Cars

Left: Dr. Paul Moller, and the M200M.

"As a young boy in the foothills of the mountains of western Canada, I would sometimes have to walk to school through snowdrifts taller than I was.

One day, a hummingbird got caught within one of our farm buildings. I caught it, and released it outside. It hovered for a few seconds, then vanished. I thought to myself, that would really help in getting to school."

The Explorit Science Center, almost across the street from DMTC, had a problem: their projected audience for the Skycar lecture would be too big for their facility. So, DMTC hosted the lecture this time around. Steve counted 155 attendees, but it looked like more to me - the DMTC theater was nearly full.

The Explorit Science Center explained the lecture thusly:

Explorit Science Center in Davis will host a Science Café on Tuesday, March 18 featuring Paul Moller, inventor of a flying car called a Skycar. The event is the third installment in Explorit's Science Café and Lecture Series, sponsored by Intel. The public is invited to attend the free event, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. with coffee, cookies and informal conversation. At 8 p.m., Moller will give a talk titled “Flying Cars and the Future of Travel.”

The event will take place at Explorit’s neighbor in east Davis, the Davis Musical Theatre Company, 607 Peña Drive. The first part of the evening will take place in the theater lobby. Guests will then proceed into the theater itself for the talk. One of Moller’s Skycars, a red two-passenger model called the M200M, will sit on the stage for viewing.

Moller is founder and chairman of the board of Moller International, which is developing and marketing the Skycar, now in flight-testing. According to its Web site,, the Skycar is formally known as a personal vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicle.

“You’ve always known it was just a matter of time before the world demanded some kind of flying machine which would replace the automobile,” the Web site says. “Of course, this machine would have to be capable of VTOL, be easy to maintain, cost effective and reliable. Well, we at Moller International believe we have come up with the solution. That solution is the volantor named M400 Skycar.”

At the Science Cafe, Moller will give an update on the Skycar’s progress toward the marketplace. The company is taking refundable deposits for the vehicles, which are expected to have a list price of close to $1 million.

The Skycar has has been featured on a number of TV programs including CBS’ “60 Minutes,” “Highway In the Sky”, NBC’s “Today” show, Today’s “American Story" and the History Channel’s “Greatest Movie Gadgets: Then and Now.”

Left: This prototype dates to about 1989. The vehicle has no frame - the exterior shell is the frame. Without engines (as here), the vehicle weighs 800 lbs.: with engines, it weighs 1,200 lbs. It is fueled with an ethanol fuel containing 30% water, so as to be safe in the event of a crash. Reliable, rotary Wankel engines power the fans.

Left: Take me to the food court, James!

The car is guided by software - the passengers do not pilot it. The car will simply travel too fast for human reflexes to be reliable.

Left: Greased Lightning.

As with all entrepreneurs on the frontier of technological development, Moller seemed haunted by the effort to raise money for what often amounted to an avocation than a vocation. He has succeeded in several businesses, but plowed as many of the proceeds as he could spare into flying car development.

Left: Steve helps out, by generating some theater fog.

Left and below: Informative slides.


Zeitgeist: The Movie

My sister wrote about the Bear Stearns collapse, and then:
I read in your blog about the Carlyle Group and others. Have you seen the Zeitgiest movie? Go to and watch the movie, it is very disturbing, it refers to the Carlyle Group and other banks, politicians, wars, etc....right up your alley.
Here is a basically sympathetic, yet critical, review of the movie:
The over-all temper of the video is rather like the John Birch Society on acid, with interludes by Harry Smith. Incongruously, after spending nearly two hours trying to scare the bejeezis out of its viewers, Zeitgeist ends on an oddly upbeat note, telling us that Love — not Fear — is the answer, We are all One, and featuring sound-bites from Ram Dass and Carl Sagan.

It’s a shame, really, that Zeitgeist is, ultimately, such a mess. There are plenty of legitimate questions about what transpired on 9/11, just as there are plenty of shady doings in international finance or puzzling aspects of religious history, for that matter. And what is coming down in the name of National Security is truly unnerving. Yet, bundling them all together in disjointed fashion does justice to none of them. Time and again, Zeitgeist maximizes emotional impact at the expense of a more reasoned weighing of evidence. But, perhaps that’s the intention.

I’ve often pondered about what it might take to snap everyone out of the walking dream we collectively entered on 9/11/01. Just as the fall of the Berlin Wall provided the emotional pivot for the end of the Cold War, only a collective experience of an intensity equal to that of 9/11 might jolt us awake as to what is really happening in the corridors of power and certain undisclosed locations.

It’s my hunch that Zeitgeist is one attempt to provide such a jolt, and it does indeed pack a certain punch. Too bad it also runs off in three directions at once, and is so indiscriminate in its sources and overly certain of its conclusions. Zeitgeist may be powerful, but its power is tainted with some simplistic and pernicious memes that have already received more propagation than they deserve. The video’s producer does inform us that “It is my hope that people will not take what is said in the film as the truth . . .”
I tend not to be a conspiracy theorist, but sometimes there are elements of truth to the alleged conspiracies. Actually, I’m surprised how slowly conspiracy theorists seized on 9/11 – probably a sign of just how scared people were that day, and willing to believe official explanations about anything, before ultimately becoming dissatisfied and reaching out to conspiracy theories.

What surprises me, when it comes to Bear Stearns, etc., is how fast everything happens. For months, they go “yup, everything is fine here,” and even just last week, they were saying “yup, everything is fine here,” then here comes the weekend, and BANG!, it’s all over! WTF? Guess we weren’t in on the details…..

I worry about this coming recession: the financial system is responding sluggishly to the Fed’s cuts in interest rates, and it may be that because the governmental debt is already so large, that the financial system simply won’t recover readily, but instead, start a downward spiral.

Remember that even during the worst times in the past, complete chaos never resulted. For example, during the Depression of the Thirties, society continued to function, however badly. Laws were enforced, people got married, had kids, etc. Same is true today. And our rulers are not all-seeing divine creatures, but rather terribly myopic hogs pushing buttons whose function they do not understand.

Bud I'm glad they used clips from Paddy Chayevsky's 1977 movie "Network" in "Zeitgeist: The Movie." So bracing! So inspiring!
Run for the Buns

A good cause!

Saturday, March 22, 2008, 8:00 – 11:00 am

Mail (before March 17) or bring to: Healthy Habits, 2224 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95816, telephone 916-444-7729.

Include payment by check or credit card. One individual or family per entry form. Individual entry includes 1 t-shirt; family entry includes 2 t-shirts. T-shirts and bunny ears will also be available for purchase. ($25 per individual before March 17, $35 per individual after; $40 per family before March 17, $50 per family after)

Day of Event Check in: Remember that this year’s event is self-timed, and you may start the fun run/walk at anytime between

8:00 – 11:00 am after checking in at Healthy Habits Studio.
Pepper Pep Talk

M: I've got more energy now that I'm taking a potassium supplement.

P: You might want to look after your B's too: Vitamin B-12, and the rest. A lot of time, those slip as well, and their absence is expressed as muscle fatigue.

Like I tell people, you shouldn't have to take vitamins and other supplements to be in good health. Everything we need for healthy bodies and lives is right here on the Earth. But we let our lives get complicated, so instead of reaching out and taking what we need from the environment, we have to go through the complicated machine of the economy. For example, it never occurred to the Indians to sell water - water is everywhere! - but we go out and buy bottled water, like this bottle I'm holding right here, and pay for the privilege. Pretty soon, people will be buying air, because they believe that's what they need to do.

We don't need caffeine and nicotine to wake us up in the morning. We don't need junk food. I mean, sure, we function OK even with these things, because the changes of the body with time are so slow. But time catches up. And if you've made your investment in living right when you are younger, then you get a payoff when you are older.

I ask people, why do you go to Starbucks? You don't need to go to Starbucks. And they tell me, well Pepper, it's the great advertising. And I tell them the people who create the great advertising are paid good incomes by you, and they send their children to Ivy League schools, to become great doctors, whom you will also pay when you get sick from your lifestyle when you are older.

People admire me for eating healthy and working out hard, but all I'm doing is what anyone can and should do.
Moron McCain

Like we're too stupid to understand that Shiite Iranians are quite unlikely to help Sunni Al Qaeda in any significant way:
AMMAN, Jordan -- Sen. John McCain, traveling in the Middle East to promote his foreign policy expertise, misidentified in remarks Tuesday which broad category of Iraqi extremists are allegedly receiving support from Iran.

He said several times that Iran, a predominately Shiite country, was supplying the mostly Sunni militant group, al-Qaeda. In fact, officials have said they believe Iran is helping Shiite extremists in Iraq.

Speaking to reporters in Amman, the Jordanian capital, McCain said he and two Senate colleagues traveling with him continue to be concerned about Iranian operatives "taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back."

Pressed to elaborate, McCain said it was "common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that's well known. And it's unfortunate." A few moments later, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, standing just behind McCain, stepped forward and whispered in the presidential candidate's ear. McCain then said: "I'm sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda."

The mistake threatened to undermine McCain's argument that his decades of foreign policy experience make him the natural choice to lead a country at war with terrorists. In recent days, McCain has repeatedly said his intimate knowledge of foreign policy make him the best equipped to answer a phone ringing in the White House late at night.
So True!

E. J. Dionne:
Never do I want to hear again from my conservative friends about how brilliant capitalists are, how much they deserve their seven-figure salaries and how government should keep its hands off the private economy.

The Wall Street titans have turned into a bunch of welfare clients. They are desperate to be bailed out by government from their own incompetence, and from the deregulatory regime for which they lobbied so hard. They have lost "confidence" in each other, you see, because none of these oh-so-wise captains of the universe have any idea what kinds of devalued securities sit in one another's portfolios.

So they have stopped investing. The biggest, most respected investment firms threaten to come crashing down. You can't have that. It's just fine to make it harder for the average Joe to file for bankruptcy, as did that wretched bankruptcy bill passed by Congress in 2005 at the request of the credit card industry. But the big guys are "too big to fail," because they could bring us all down with them.

...I don't fault Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, for being so interventionist in trying to save the economy. On the contrary, Bernanke deserves credit for ignoring all the extreme free-market bloviation. He doesn't want the economy to collapse on his watch, so he is willing to violate all the conservatives' shibboleths about the dangers of government intervention. As a voter once told the legendary political journalist Richard Rovere: "Sometimes you have to forget your principles to do what's right."

But if this near meltdown of capitalism doesn't encourage a lot of people to question the principles they have carried in their heads for the past three decades or so, nothing will.

...[I]n the enthusiasm for deregulation that took root in the late 1970s, flowered in the Reagan era and reached its apogee in the second Bush years, we forgot the lesson that government needs to keep a careful watch on what capitalists do. Of course, some deregulation can be salutary, and the market system is, on balance, a wondrous instrument -- when it works. But the free market is just that: an instrument, not a principle.

In 1996, back when he was a Republican senator from Maine, William Cohen told me: "We have been saying for so long that government is the enemy. Government is the enemy until you need a friend."
John's Getting Paranoid

But there are good reasons. For example:
Alan Dershowitz, writing last week in the Wall Street Journal, averred that the story of Spitzer's 'capture' doesn't entirely ring true to career prosecutors.

"There is no hard evidence that Eliot Spitzer was targeted for investigation, but the story of how he was caught does not ring entirely true to many experienced former prosecutors and current criminal lawyers," Dershowitz wrote. "The New York Times reported that the revelations began with a routine tax inquiry by revenue agents 'conducting a routine examination of suspicious financial transactions reported to them by banks.' This investigation allegedly found 'several unusual movements of cash involving the Governor of New York.' But the movement of the amounts of cash required to pay prostitutes, even high-priced prostitutes over a long period of time, does not commonly generate a full-scale investigation."

"We are talking about thousands, not millions, of dollars. We are also talking about a man who is a multimillionaire with numerous investments and purchases," he added. "The idea that federal investigators would focus on a few transactions to corporations -- that were not themselves under investigation -- raises as many questions as answers."
And also this:
This week, Bernanke’s Fed, for the first time in its history, loaned a selected coterie of banks one-fifth of a trillion dollars to guarantee these banks’ mortgage-backed junk bonds. The deluge of public loot was an eye-popping windfall to the very banking predators who have brought two million families to the brink of foreclosure.

Up until Wednesday, there was one single, lonely politician who stood in the way of this creepy little assignation at the bankers’ bordello: Eliot Spitzer.

Who are they kidding? Spitzer’s lynching and the bankers’ enriching are intimately tied.

How? Follow the money.

...Now, what kind of American is ‘sub-prime.’ Guess. No peeking. Here’s a hint: 73% of HIGH INCOME Black and Hispanic borrowers were given sub-prime loans versus 17% of similar-income Whites. Dark-skinned borrowers aren’t stupid – they had no choice. They were ‘steered’ as it’s called in the mortgage sharking business.

‘Steering,’ sub-prime loans with usurious kickers, fake inducements to over-borrow, called ‘fraudulent conveyance’ or ‘predatory lending’ under US law, were almost completely forbidden in the olden days (Clinton Administration and earlier) by federal regulators and state laws as nothing more than fancy loan-sharking.

But when the Bush regime took over, Countrywide and its banking brethren were told to party hardy – it was OK now to steer’m, fake’m, charge’m and take’m.

But there was this annoying party-pooper. The Attorney General of New York, Eliot Spitzer, who sued these guys to a fare-thee-well. Or tried to.

Instead of regulating the banks that had run amok, Bush’s regulators went on the warpath against Spitzer and states attempting to stop predatory practices. Making an unprecedented use of the legal power of “federal pre-emption,” Bush-bots ordered the states to NOT enforce their consumer protection laws.

Indeed, the feds actually filed a lawsuit to block Spitzer’s investigation of ugly racial mortgage steering. Bush’s banking buddies were especially steamed that Spitzer hammered bank practices across the nation using New York State laws.

Spitzer not only took on Countrywide, he took on their predatory enablers in the investment banking community. Behind Countrywide was the Mother Shark, its funder and now owner, Bank of America. Others joined the sharkfest: Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup’s Citibank made mortgage usury their major profit centers. They did this through a bit of financial legerdemain called “securitization.”

What that means is that they took a bunch of junk mortgages, like the Grinnings, loans about to go down the toilet and re-packaged them into “tranches” of bonds which were stamped “AAA” - top grade - by bond rating agencies. These gold-painted turds were sold as sparkling safe investments to US school district pension funds and town governments in Finland (really).

When the housing bubble burst and the paint flaked off, investors were left with the poop and the bankers were left with bonuses. Countrywide’s top man, Angelo Mozilo, will ‘earn’ a $77 million buy-out bonus this year on top of the $656 million - over half a billion dollars – he pulled in from 1998 through 2007.

But there were rumblings that the party would soon be over. Angry regulators, burned investors and the weight of millions of homes about to be boarded up were causing the sharks to sink. Countrywide’s stock was down 50%, and Citigroup was off 38%, not pleasing to the Gulf sheiks who now control its biggest share blocks.

Then, on Wednesday of this week, the unthinkable happened. Carlyle Capital went bankrupt. Who? That’s Carlyle as in Carlyle Group. James Baker, Senior Counsel. Notable partners, former and past: George Bush, the Bin Laden family and more dictators, potentates, pirates and presidents than you can count.

The Fed had to act. Bernanke opened the vault and dumped $200 billion on the poor little suffering bankers. They got the public treasure – and got to keep the Grinning’s house. There was no ‘quid’ of a foreclosure moratorium for the ‘pro quo’ of public bail-out. Not one family was saved – but not one banker was left behind.

Every mortgage sharking operation shot up in value. Mozilo’s Countrywide stock rose 17% in one day. The Citi sheiks saw their company’s stock rise $10 billion in an afternoon.

And that very same day the bail-out was decided – what a coinkydink! – the man called, ‘The Sheriff of Wall Street’ was cuffed. Spitzer was silenced.
MFL Cast Party

I wasn't surprised that K. was photographing the party cake, but instead of capturing the entire cake, she was photographing just her piece. How come?

"See how the letters T and C in 'DMTC' come together on this piece of cake and form the Greek letter 'pi'?"
Photos From Last Weekend Of "My Fair Lady"

Left: Dannette Vassar as Mrs. Pierce, Steve Isaacson as Henry Higgins, Lauren Miller as Eliza Doolittle, and Herb Shultz as Colonel Pickering.

Left: Trevor Hoffman as Alfred P. Doolittle.

Left: Herb Shultz as Colonel Pickering, Steve Isaacson as Henry Higgins, and Trevor Hoffman as Alfred P. Doolittle.

Left: Steve Isaacson as Henry Higgins and Lauren Miller as Eliza Doolittle.

Left: Professor Zoltan Karpathy (Joshua Smith) dances with Eliza Doolittle (Lauren Miller) at the Embassy Ball.

Left: The Embassy Ball.

Left: "Get Me To The Church On Time".

Left: "Get Me To The Church On Time", featuring Trevor Hoffman as Alfred P. Doolittle.

Left: "Get Me To The Church On Time".

Left: Trevor Hoffman as Alfred P. Doolittle and Herb Shultz as Colonel Pickering.

Left: "Get Me To The Church On Time".

Friends Jenny Parks and Marisa Casillas meet on the dance floor!

Left: Steve Isaacson as Henry Higgins and Lauren Miller as Eliza Doolittle.

Left: Lauren Miller as Eliza Doolittle and Steve Isaacson as Henry Higgins.

Left: Lauren Miller as Eliza Doolittle and Steve Isaacson as Henry Higgins.

"I know someone who would just love a strawberry tart!"

Left: Michael McElroy as Freddy Eynsford-Hill and Lauren Miller as Eliza Doolittle.

Left: "Get Me To The Church On Time".

Left: "Get Me To The Church On Time".

Left to right: Julie Kilpatrick, Bruce Warren, Eva Chu, Jabriel Shelton, Julie Kulmann, and Scott Sablan.

Left: Steve Isaacson as Henry Higgins, Jenny Parks as Mrs. Higgins, and Lauren Miller as Eliza Doolittle.

OK! OK! All right! Sheesh! Lost my focus, for chrissakes!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Big Crash Near Flagstaff, AZ

Whiteout conditions on a snowy I-40 (survivor testaments included in linked article):
Low visibility from blowing snow and slick roads led to multiple pileups involving more than 100 vehicles west of Flagstaff on Sunday, killing at least two people, seriously injuring 10 and sending a total of 53 people to the hospital.

The pileups happened on Interstate 40 about 3 miles west of Flagstaff near Bellemont shortly after noon, said Flagstaff Fire Department Battalion Chief Mark Wilson. A portion of Interstate 40, between milepost 171 to 190, was closed for up to nine hours. One of the accident victims was pronounced dead at the scene, while another died at FMC. No information on the deceased was available Sunday evening.

Four of the 10 listed as seriously injured required immediate surgery after being brought to FMC.

..."The magnitude of it was pretty severe," Wilson said. "We had a whiteout scene with the snow, and obviously a single-vehicle accident caused multiple-vehicle accidents, which continued to pile up due to the low visibility."

He said 15 people had to be extracted from their vehicles with hydraulic equipment or hand tools.

A total of 36 firefighters from Flagstaff, Summit and Highlands Fire Departments responded to the scene, providing emergency medical services to those injured in the pileups. No fires or hazardous material spills were reported, Wilson said.

The cause of the initial accident that led to chain reaction along both directions of the interstate is still under investigation, although unsafe speed was blamed as the primary cause for most of the collisions.

...National Weather Service meteorologist Clair Ketchum said whiteout conditions occurred off-and-on Sunday afternoon in the Flagstaff area and could occur overnight as a storm rolls across the state.

Ketchum said 3.8 inches of snow had fallen by 5 p.m. Sunday near where the collisions occurred.

...Jessica Naudziunas, 22, a University of Tulsa student, was on her way to California on spring break when she was caught in the middle of the pileup.

"Most of all you just heard brakes," she said via cellphone from the accident site, adding that she fishtailed in the slush but managed to stop without hitting anything.

It was only when she got out to look around that she realized the severity of the crashes directly in front of her and behind her.

"People were in shock -- they were crying," she said. "We were stepping in blood and oil."
Tornadoes In The Aiken, SC Area

Walt in South Carolina writes:

We had a pretty scary front with tornadoes come through here Saturday around 6 pm. It was serious enough that the local TV stations pre-empted normal programming to have about 90 minutes of nonstop weather coverage. As you can see from the atteched map, there were several tornado cells, spaced about 30 miles apart, and going ESE. In the vicinity of the tracks, there was 2 inches of rain. My house is between tracks; we got only 0.75 inches. The storm moved eastward at 55 miles per hour - I didn't know storms could move that fast.

I never heard so much thunder. For 10 minutes, it was continuous - there was not even one second without thunder. At one point, the wind blew strongly up the street, and then changed direction and blew strongly down the street. I thought - O Shit, here it comes - but it missed my neighborhood. We got hail, and one window was blown into my house, but no trees are down on my street, and we never lost power.

The tornado passed through the upper middle class development of Beaver Creek, 3 miles south of my house. Many trees down, several houses with missing roofs, and one tree which fell through a roof, all the way down to ground level. Nobdy was hurt; the people weren't home.

In the low-income town of Clearwater, a phone pole was snapped off. I figure it must be hard to blow down a phone pole; it doesn't present much surface area to the wind. Many houses without roofs, hundreds on trees down, and a post office messed up. The Red Cross set up in the Clearwater Bi-Lo, and gave out motel vouchers for the people with damaged homes.

You can see pictures at

I wonder how low the air pressure got?
Oooh! That is frightening! Nothing matches a tornado for completely changing people’s lives in a minute.

California is usually free of tornadoes, but I once saw a funnel cloud, hanging halfway to the ground, passing over the Davis/Woodland area. Apparently it finally reached the ground in an uninhabited area, miles to the north. And once, a small tornado hit some power lines near Cal Expo (CA State Fairgrounds), several miles from I work. I noticed the flickering, but didn’t think a thing of it, except to save my documents on the computer.

Nothing like what you experienced, though.
Cheap Seat To The Air Show

Left: A small stunt plane at Mather Field trails smoke as it arcs over and spirals in vertical descent, as seen from a great distance away (from Bradshaw Rd. & Highway 50, 1:30 p.m., Saturday, March 15, 2008).

I was over on the east side of town on Saturday, picking up Sparky pills, when I heard on the radio that this week's big air show at Mather Field would be starting at 1 p.m. I needed to get the oil changed in my car, but I realized that if I went to the Jiffy Lube at Mather Park Road and Folsom Blvd., rather than my usual Jiffy Lube at Capitol and 30th Streets, I could both see the nearby air show and attend to the oil-change chore. After all, air shows aren't small spectacles - the planes would fill the sky, and I wouldn't have to pay an entrance fee! This was brilliant, brilliant multi-tasking on my part!

So, I brought the car in to the Mather Field Jiffy Lube, and as I waited, I gazed into the southern skies for jet aircraft and all manner of stunt planes to appear. Boy, this would be great!

Nevertheless, nothing seemed to be happening. The cloud-filled southern skies remained devoid of all aircraft, not just stunt planes.

A half-hour later, the oil change technician returned my car, and dealt me a vast surprise: he recognized my car. "I used to work at the Capitol Jiffy Lube, and I recognize this car," he said. "No way!" I said. "Way!" he replied.

So, I started driving home, but at Folsom Blvd. & Bradshaw Rd., I heard a plane in the distance. Apparently the air show was starting with small stunt planes. Way, way in the distance, a teensy-weensy little stunt plane did loop-da-loops....
Monster Jam
"There is a pencil between your shoulder blades, and you must pinch it!"

"There is a walnut on your chest, and you must crack it!"

Who is putting these imaginary objects into my personal space, and why can't I just wave my hands to make them go away, rather than doing all this work?

Jingle mail:
Foreclosure used to be a last resort, something that hard-pressed homeowners would scrimp and plead to avoid. But as the subprime lending crisis sweeps up millions of borrowers nationwide, some are deliberately choosing foreclosure as an early option.

As their home values tumble and their mortgages rise, these "walk away homeowners" decide to cede their houses to their lenders.

"It's throwing good money away after bad" to pay an escalating mortgage on a home that's plunging in value, said Army Sgt. 1st Class Nicklaus Skaggs of Vacaville. He and his wife, Tishara, stopped paying their mortgage in February. They signed up with a new company called You Walk Away to help guide them through the multi-month foreclosure process.

The couple paid $455,000 for their Vacaville home almost three years ago, shortly after Nicklaus Skaggs returned from a year in Iraq. Now the home's value has dropped to $290,000. Their adjustable-rate mortgage, which started at about $3,000 a month, has reset twice, climbing to about $4,000.

...Walk-aways represent a profound shift in American attitudes toward homeownership - a shift that may have begun with the no-money-down subprime loans. People who don't have "skin in the game" - their own cash on the line - feel less attachment to their homes. People who bought homes expecting rapid appreciation may be quicker to dump them when they don't perform as expected.

The walk-away phenomenon is common enough that mailing in one's keys to the lender has earned its own nickname: jingle mail.

In California, purchase mortgages on residences are "nonrecourse," which means lenders cannot pursue foreclosed homeowners for additional money.

It is clear that many borrowers cede their homes without asking their lender for a break. More than half of foreclosures involve people who never spoke to their bank, studies show.

...But some financial experts, such as "mad man of Wall Street" Jim Cramer, say walking away makes economic sense.

"When your house drops 20 percent in value ... it's better to walk away, even if you're wealthy," he said on TV last summer. "Because you don't want to lose your credit card and you don't want to lose your car. Your house is the one thing that's fungible. It's smart to walk away."

...You Walk Away (, based in San Diego, began in January to assist homeowners who want to let their homes go into foreclosure.

"What if you could live payment free for up to 8 months or more and walk away without owing a penny?" its Web site asks prospective customers. "Unshackle yourself today from a losing investment and use our proven method to Walk Away."

...Maddox said 70 percent of his customers are financially floundering, while 30 percent made an economic decision to walk away.

"They don't care about their house anymore," he said. "It's a big weight around their neck. They're trying to get out of it and get their heads above water again. They're paying too much for the title of homeowner."

...Some homeowners are sufficiently savvy - and brash - to try to turn the housing meltdown to their advantage.

A Discovery Bay man who asked not to be identified said he is "upside down" on his house by about $260,000. Instead of bemoaning the situation, he plans to capitalize on it.

"I refinanced a couple of years ago and pulled out $100,000 and put in a fabulous pool," he said. "Now I've got this fabulous pool and fabulous house, but it's not worth anything. Why shouldn't I be building equity over the next four to five years instead of playing catch-up?"

The man said he has not made a mortgage payment for five months.

"I'm playing the bank game," he said. "I'm playing chicken with them. I already got them to agree to put (the unpaid) payments on the tail end of the loan. What I'm really pushing them to do is to (adjust my mortgage) for the current market value and write off the rest. I'd love (to have it) lopped down to a $450,000 basis rather than $710,000."

If the bank won't negotiate, he'll walk away, the man said.

That kind of story sends chills down bankers' spines. To date, most loan modifications have involved freezing interest rates or repayment plans for arrears.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Pretty Sunset Sky

Left: Arriving at the DMTC theater, Saturday, March 15th, 7:10 p.m. PDT