Friday, November 14, 2008

"Man Of La Mancha" Opens Tonight!

Left: Sancho Panza (Jason Hammond) and Aldonza/ Dulcinea (Lauren Miller).

Wednesday and Thursday pictures!

Left: Aldonza/ Dulcinea (Lauren Miller) and Don Quixote (Tae Kim).

Below: Padre Perez (Michael Manley).

Left: Don Quixote (Tae Kim).

Below: "The Impossible Dream". Don Quixote (Tae Kim) and Aldonza/Dulcinea (Lauren Miller).

Left: Governor/Innkeeper (Steve Isaacson) and Don Quixote (Tae Kim).

Left: Governor/Innkeeper (Steve Isaacson) and Don Quixote (Tae Kim).

Left: Aldonza/ Dulcinea (Lauren Miller).

Below: Horse (Brennan Ballard), Mule (Monica Parisi), and Aldonza/ Dulcinea (Lauren Miller).

Left: Horse (Brennan Ballard), Mule (Monica Parisi), and Aldonza/ Dulcinea (Lauren Miller).

Left: Sancho Panza (Jason Hammond).

Left: Sancho Panza (Jason Hammond).

Left: Sancho Panza (Jason Hammond) and Aldonza/ Dulcinea (Lauren Miller).
Real Estate Downfall

"It's different here."
You Know It's A Bad Day On Wall Street....

When they keep running photos of this one guy!

I wonder who he is? He's a budding star! He is my hero!

Left: Today, in The New York Times.

Left: Courtesy of The Evil Beet, from Sad Guys On Trading Floors, last month.
And Who Says Diplomacy Isn't Funny?

How French President Sarkozy barely managed to save the gonads of Georgian President Saakashvili last summer:
With Russian tanks only 30 miles from Tbilisi on August 12, Mr Sarkozy told Mr Putin that the world would not accept the overthrow of Georgia’s Government. According to Mr Levitte, the Russian seemed unconcerned by international reaction. “I am going to hang Saakashvili by the balls,” Mr Putin declared.

Mr Sarkozy thought he had misheard. “Hang him?” — he asked. “Why not?” Mr Putin replied. “The Americans hanged Saddam Hussein.”

Mr Sarkozy, using the familiar tu, tried to reason with him: “Yes but do you want to end up like [President] Bush?” Mr Putin was briefly lost for words, then said: “Ah — you have scored a point there.”
"I'd Buy That For A Dollar!"

Getting a bit carried away here:
ANTI-poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof charged $100,000 to come to Melbourne and give a speech about world suffering.
Keep The Focus On The Money

Leave the individuals alone to the extent possible - positive persuasion works best with people - but go after the wells of support, where negative persuasion is more effective. Carrots and sticks; sticks and carrots:
"People are determining who their friends are, and who are not their friends," said Fred Karger, a Los Angeles resident and retired political consultant. "I think people need to be held accountable for their financial support."

...Hundreds of protesters converged on El Coyote on Beverly Boulevard on Wednesday night, and the picketing got so heated that LAPD officers in riot gear had to be called.

All because Marjorie Christoffersen, a manager there and a daughter of El Coyote's owner, had contributed $100 to the Yes on 8 campaign.

Christoffersen, who is Mormon, met with protesters Wednesday and at one point broke down in tears, said Arnoldo Archila, another El Coyote manager. But the activists were not satisfied with her explanation and continued to post protests about her on the Web.

"She had a chance to make nice and blew it. I was almost feeling a tiny bit of sympathy for her. Not no more!!" wrote one blog poster, who also listed competing Mexican restaurants where diners should go instead of El Coyote.

By Thursday, Christoffersen had left town, said Archila, who said El Coyote employees -- some of whom are gay -- were left staggered by the protests, including more than 50 calls a day criticizing the restaurant.

"We are all a family," Archila said. "If this is going to affect the business, its going to affect them. There are people who have to feed children and pay mortgages."

Some activists are now turning their attention to Texas-based Cinemark, one of America's largest theater chains, whose chief executive contributed nearly $10,000 to Yes on 8.

A prolonged protest could cause trouble for the Sundance Film Festival, which uses Cinemark screens to show movies during the January event in Park City, Utah. The state of Utah is a focus of some boycotts because the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has its headquarters there, marshaled millions of dollars in contributions from its members for the Yes on 8 campaign.

..."Our position is that we have a festival that is essentially three months away," Addicott said. "We are committed to having our 25th festival; it's a celebration for us. We would be incredibly disappointed if people decided not to come because of a boycott."

...One business affected by the campaign is Lassen's, a family-owned chain of nine health food stores throughout California, from Bakersfield to Thousand Oaks. Lassen's owners gave $27,500 to the Yes on 8 campaign.

Scott Parvel, general manager of the Ventura store, said the contribution was a "private donation" by family members who are Mormon.

...Since the election, the stores have received angry calls about Proposition 8 as well as comments from customers. "They have a right to their views, but they should take it up with the person who did it, not the people who work here. . . . We're providing a business, that's all we do," said Parvel, who has worked for the company since 2001.

Robert Hoehn was another person who made Karger's "dishonor roll." Hoehn, vice president of the Carlsbad-based Hoehn Motors, gave $25,000 of his own money to the Yes on 8 campaign in February. And he called what followed "a really, really ugly experience."

...Next time, he said, he will be "smarter" about how he gives such a donation, possibly in a way that doesn't require listing his business. "I wouldn't not do it because of fear," he said. "I am not ashamed of it, but it has been a very educational experience."

Despite the criticism, activists say they plan to continue applying pressure. "It doesn't matter if it's the CEO or if it's the hostess that greets you at El Coyote. It really makes no difference," said Gerry Moylan, 47, a Los Angeles Realtor who planned a night of picketing in front of the restaurant Thursday.

"If I'm going to eat dinner at El Coyote and part of my money is going to pay the hostess' pay and she turns around and uses her pay to promote a proposition that takes away my rights, then I'm going to stop paying my money to her."
Sparky Update

After Sparky's collapse Tuesday night, people have been asking about his health. He seems to be improving a bit as the week winds up.

We generally have three standard walks: short, medium, and long. Tuesday night, he couldn't even do the short walk, and we had to go around the block instead. Wednesday night, Sparky did the short walk, and last night he did the medium walk.

Yesterday, the back yard gate was somehow left open, and Sparky slipped out and started wandering along the alley. My next door neighbor found him, gave him some water, and kept him company until we could be reunited.

One key is to keep Sparky properly medicated. He's devised several ingenious methods to avoid taking his pills, and I have to watch him carefully.

Tuesday night, I was convinced Sparky would have to be put under immediately, but mercifully that judgment has proved premature....
"I Find My Lack Of Faith Disturbing"

There, there, in life, we are all seekers after truth. I understand that whole galactic empire path proved to be a disappointment in the end, and so maybe there are alternatives....

Amusing investigation of a guerilla marketing strategy:
One weekend, I trekked down to South Jersey to visit my parents in my hometown of Glassboro. The town sits about 30 minutes southeast of Philadelphia and has a population of less than 20,000. As I drove past my old high school, my deal-hunting subconscious noticed something bizarre. Stuck in the grass by the curb was a white lawn sign about a foot tall with a very simple message in black Times New Roman: “Single? www.GlassboroSingles.ORG”

It looked like something the local contractor would ask to stick in your front yard while he replaced your roof. Except… well, it was plugging a dating website. I had about a million questions, but two immediately simmered to the top:
  • Glassboro is a tiny market of nominal interest to even local advertisers. Who would register a domain, let alone build a website, to target our tiny population?
  • Who in their right mind advertises websites with lawn signs?
By the time I pulled into my parents’ driveway, I had convinced myself that the site was the product of some overzealous local entrepreneur. I wrote off the lawn sign as an amateurish stab at guerilla marketing. When I drove out of town the next day, the sign was gone.

Fast forward a few weeks. I was back in New York, rushing up 5th Avenue on my way to work in Midtown. As I wedged myself through the usual crowd, something stopped me in my tracks. Eight feet in the air, tied to a lamp post, was a white sign with black Times New Roman: “Single? www.FifthAvenueSingles.COM”

I promptly morphed into one of those sidewalk-obstructing idiots who stares up into the sky and infuriates the people who actually have to be somewhere. Aside from the URL, this sign was identical to the one I had seen in Glassboro. By the time I got to my work, I decided that there were four possibilities:
  • This was a complete coincidence and these were the efforts of two completely separate businesses with identically unorthodox advertising methods (unlikely).
  • The overzealous Glassboro entrepreneur had loaded up his car with lawn signs and decided to extend his guerilla marketing scheme to the Big Apple (less likely).
  • Some NY-based business had done some marketing in the tri-state area and decided Glassboro was a ripe market (even less likely).
  • There was something bigger going on. This struck me as the most likely case, but raised a question that made my head hurt: if whoever is doing this has the ability to target New York City but somehow made their way down to Glassboro, how many of the towns in between have also been hit?
Not long after, I stumbled onto another clue. I was in Central New Jersey on my way to give a guest lecture at Princeton University, which is about the geographical midpoint between New York and Glassboro. As my cab rolled through neighboring West Windsor Township, I saw a familiar-looking lawn sign wedged in the grass alongside the road: “Single? www.WindsorSingles.ORG”.

That one did it for me. At the absolute least, I was now convinced that this lawn sign business had its tentacles stretched into almost every town in the state of New Jersey. It was worth spending some time to learn more....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Stroll Down Historical Lane - The Kind Of Polarization That Doesn't Work Well

I reproduce here the Sacramento Bee article from October 12, 1991 that illustrates the kind of gay-activist polarization that really doesn't work well in winning friends and influencing people. By trying to force resolution of the Proposition 8 controversy now by dividing people into hostile camps, there is the risk of losing potential allies. Persuasion is the key.

As I mentioned in comments in the previous post, I witnessed some of this 1991 antagonism on the K Street Mall, and it was pretty ugly. Just as the gay activists were approaching the Capitol, at noon, and passing through the K Street Mall, the huge funeral for Bishop Alphonse Gallegos, who had been killed in an auto crash, was letting out at the Cathedral on the K Street Mall. Large families of somber, black-clad, mostly-Hispanic Catholics spilled out into the Mall, recoiled at the sight of an approaching army, quickly gathered their children, and fled in panicked, huddled groups, pursued by bands of shouting, belligerent, aggressive young men. I've never seen a more-graphic illustration of polarization at work!

The Proposition 8 rallies this year so far seem much, much more civil, and I hope they remain so, because there is no use driving away potential allies. The proponents of Proposition 8 have a weak coalition, with all the strength of Swiss cheese. Keep cool! Persuasion ultimately will break the coalition!

We can do much better by understanding and learning from the past. For me, it's an immediate past, but for others, perhaps more remote.

Wow, this article makes me nostalgic! Noise, fighting, shouting - isn't that what life's all about?:


OCTOBER 12, 1991
Section: MAIN NEWS
Page: A1

By Andy Furillo, Robert Davila & Patrick Hoge Bee Staff Writers

--Thousands of defiant gay men and lesbians took over much of downtown Sacramento on Friday in a day-and-night protest that included blocking city streets, surrounding the Capitol and making a run at Interstate 5. They were kept off the freeway by club-swinging officers in a noisy demonstration against Gov. Wilson's veto of a gay rights bill. At least six demonstrators were booked on suspicion of assault on a peace officer, resisting arrest and related charges on a day in which protesters also burned the American flag, smashed car windows and engaged in tense confrontations with police.

There were also isolated clashes with Christian fundamentalists who confronted the protesters and with onlookers at the K Street Mall, where marchers chanted, We're here, we're queer, and we're not going shopping!

While an estimated 4,000 demonstrators blew whistles and air horns, and listened to speakers outside the Capitol during the afternoon, Gov. Wilson hunkered down inside behind drawn curtains.

A spokesman for the governor, James Lee, said Wilson, facing a bill-signing deadline of Monday night and 500 pieces of legislation, worked all day in his office and never heard the ruckus outside. Wilson issued no comment on the demonstration.

State Police officers provided a heavy security cover for the governor's office all day, and his home was placed under the protection of sheriff's deputies.

The day of gay protest got under way with demonstrators blocking traffic at the intersection of 10th and L streets at 10:15 a.m. It concluded about 11 hours later when about 200 activists broke off from a group of 1,500 people marching through Old Sacramento to attempt to block Interstate 5.

California Highway Patrol officers who formed a line at the I Street freeway on-ramp near Old Sacramento were rushed by some of the demonstrators. A squad of motorcycle-riding officers sped through the crowd to provide backup. Some of the officers flailed at the marchers with their batons, stopping the charge.

One officer struck a protester several times, knocking him to the ground. The protester, identified by a friend as Keith Jensen, was handcuffed and taken away.

It's civil disobedience, said one demonstrator, Jerry Royse, 40, of Sacramento, in describing why the march headed toward the freeway. We want the public to know we're here. We want to let people know we've been shafted.

It would have been difficult on Friday for people in Sacramento not to know something was going on with the gay community, starting with the street closure at 10th and L, and continuing with the massive rally on the Capitol's west steps, a midafternoon march winding through downtown and another rally on the east steps of the Capitol.

Demonstrators gathered at Winn Park, 28th and P streets, at 6:30 p.m. and chanted their way through the midtown area back to the Capitol, where at 7 p.m., they formed on the east steps. Protesters set fire to the American flag while chanting, Civil rights or civil riot.

Marchers then circled the building and proceeded down Capital Mall to Tower Bridge for a wild, drum-driven dance over the Sacramento River in a celebration of their sexual orientation. That was followed by a trip through Old Sacramento stopping and screaming in bars and restaurants along the way.

Earlier in the day, protesters gathered on the west steps of the Capitol, which was draped with a three-story, rainbow-striped gay pride flag. The banner was displayed under an agreement between the Legislature's Joint Rules Committee and the governor's office, officials said.

Many activists had come to Sacramento on chartered buses and in organized caravans from Los Angeles, Orange County, the San Francisco Bay Area and other parts of California. Thousands of them waved signs and wore X-rated T-shirts that voiced vehement displeasure with the governor's veto on Sept. 29 of AB 101, a bill banning job discrimination against gays. He said the bill was unnecessary because of existing laws and would burden businesses.

The demonstration coincided with National Coming Out Day, in which gay men and lesbians across the country were encouraged to express their sexual orientation.

We want to thank Pete Wilson for bringing us all together, said Jim Hormell, the national representative for National Coming Out Day and one of many speakers who addressed the crowd. He's made clear the high price we pay for our closets.

Protesters listened to speakers for more than an hour at a noisy midday rally virtually free of incidents. The gay activists also chased away two fundamentalist Christians one handing out literature, the other toting a cross bearing anti-gay messages.

About 100 State Police and another 100 CHP officers, all of whom were equipped with riot gear, guarded Capitol entrances all day. Demonstrators succeeded in removing several barricades before officers wearing latex gloves pushed them back.

I'm sorry about the violence, but we recognize the necessity for it, said Larry Gibson, 47, a Los Angeles building inspector. I understand the heterosexuals don't like it, but they don't like anything we do. They have to recognize that if they treat us like human beings, we'll settle down, be quiet and be good boys and girls.

The day's sporadic violence and vandalism began when about 75 protesters blocked the intersection at 10th and L streets, snarling downtown traffic for more than an hour.

Noisy protesters from groups such as Queer Nation and the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power sat in front of automobiles and screamed in the faces of about a dozen Sacramento police officers. The police remained calm.

A guard with AMPB Security who was monitoring activity for RT Metro had the windshield of his truck smashed out and his vehicle rocked back and forth. These people said this was going to be a peaceful demonstration, but the first thing they do is start smashing things, said Al Rosenbloom, the firm's general manager.

Meanwhile, a group of protesters forced their way into the building at 11th and L streets that houses the Rev. Louis Sheldon's Traditional Values Coalition, a conservative Anaheim-based organization that staunchly opposed the gay rights bill.

The crowd then moved to the Capitol for a rally and afterward headed downtown. Demonstrators jammed the streets during the hourlong parade, bringing pedestrians, cars and Regional Transit trolleys to a halt. RT rerouted buses around the area.

Although no permits were issued for the march, Sacramento police held up vehicle traffic and did not stop the demonstrators from pouring into the streets. We just decided that when you have this many people determined to march in the street, the best thing to do is let them, said the city's Gary Little.

The demonstrators received numerous signs of support during their march through downtown Sacramento from people perched in windowsills. But at a light-rail stop on the mall, an angry splinter group lunged toward a woman and her three children who had just left the funeral of Auxiliary Bishop Alphonse Gallegos at the nearby Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. The woman, Mary Stember of Fair Oaks, said the mob attacked after she refused to take a flier from a marcher.

Several reporters escorted the family to a restaurant as chasing demonstrators shouted, Gays bash back!

I just said, "I'm not interested. I don't want to get AIDS, it's all over the place with you,' Stember said. They were using filthy language . . . and they jumped on top of us.

Bee staff writers Dale Vargas and Edgar Sanchez contributed to this report.
Wow, Just One Company!

Spam craters today:
The volume of junk e-mail sent worldwide dropped drastically today after a Web hosting firm identified by the computer security community as a major host of organizations allegedy engaged in spam activity was taken offline, according to security firms that monitor spam distribution online.

While its gleaming, state-of-the-art, 30-story office tower in downtown San Jose, Calif., hardly looks like the staging ground for what could be called a full-scale cyber crime offensive, security experts have found that a relatively small firm at that location is home to servers that serve as a gateway for a significant portion of the world's junk e-mail.

The servers are operated by McColo Corp., which these experts say has emerged as a major U.S. hosting service for international firms and syndicates that are involved in everything from the remote management of millions of compromised computers to the sale of counterfeit pharmaceuticals and designer goods, fake security products and child pornography via email.

But the company's web site was not accessible today, when two Internet providers cut off MoColo's connectivity to the Internet, security experts said. Immediately after McColo was unplugged, security companies charted a precipitous drop in spam volumes worldwide. E-mail security firm IronPort said spam levels fell by roughly 66 percent as of Tuesday evening.
Anti-Proposition 8 Protest

Two a.m., and another quiet night in Sacramento.....

E.: MMMMMAAAARRRRCCCCC! Do you know that place where you get off the Capitol City Freeway, over there by P Street, where they have the Light-Rail station, and the parking lot with all those buses, over there where you get off the Capitol City Freeway - you know, the P Street exit - where the people wait for the Light-Rail, and that bus stop with the benches, where the people run across the street and wait next to all those buses, and the buses run all night long, and they wash them too, because you can see them dripping water, next to where you get off the Capitol City Freeway......

M.: Yes, I know that place.

E.: MMMMMAAAARRRRCCCCC they had lots of people there, carrying signs and planning a riot!

M.: A protest? Really, at two in the morning? That seems like a strange time. Maybe they are from out-of-town. What are they protesting about?

E.: They had a BIG American flag, and signs. One of the signs said "Equality For All".

M.: Really? It's probably a Proposition 8 protest. But two in the morning seems like a strange time for that.

E.: Maybe they plan to riot at the State Capitol!

(Apparently this silent rally is what E. noted...)
Scott Eckern's Resignation

Wow, front-page headline in today's Bee! Jeebus, it's even in The New York Times!

Not a good development, since the pro-Prop. 8 forces now have a martyr. Anyone who looks at Middle East politics can see how well that whole martyr business works out.

Rebuke against Eckern should have remained contained, and focused on a monetary penalty. Keep it focused, keep it small! But maybe that was too much to expect with the close vote, and its polarized nature. The urban/suburban-and-rural split of the vote means that people are much more likely to know and be among like-minded people. Anti-Prop. 8 folks reacted badly to defeat - how could that happen when everyone they knew was against it? And pro-Prop. 8 folks are baffled the debate's intensity is only increasing after the election - why can't "they" take defeat gracefully?

The Bee article suggests Eckern's donation may have been associated with his Mormon faith. Mormons too make contributions to art, even in California.

What next? I look forward to stagings of suicide bombings, rendered as tasteful, well-choreographed, color-coordinated, multi-media performance art.
Ben Affleck As Keith Olbermann

Courtesy of Gabe (who looks upon Olbermann's success with a little skepticism).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rumors Of Adrienne Bailon's Publicity Stunt

Pretty dumb, if true:
Bailon's (now ex) Hollywood publicist Jonathon Jaxson admitted to that after the laptop was stolen he and the 25-year-old decided to "juice up" the story by saying "nude pictures could have possibly been stolen".

"Adrienne's tour with Cheetah Girls will be over December 22nd, so she is then free to pursue other projects and wanted to be seen as more adult and sexy," Jaxson said.

"So after the laptop was stolen we used it as an opportunity to drum up some publicity and start speculating about nude photos, but we never expected anything to get out."

Jaxson said the photos were then taken from the starlet's Sidekick phone, not her laptop, and he suspects the actress may have played a part in making them public.

"Adrienne and her boyfriend (Kim Kardashian's younger brother Robert) swear they didn't leak them, but it wouldn't surprise me if Adrienne did," he said.

"It's either her or someone very close to her," Jaxson added. "Things are pretty ugly, what should have been an image boost has really turned around and bitten her in the butt."
"Great Oafs From Little Icons Grow"

Cute phrase - I must remember it....

Blogger Andrew Sullivan has his moments. Can't disagree too much about Sarah Palin. Glad to see he finally dropped his slavish fealty to George W. Bush.

Still, a few quibbles. Sarah Palin's education is inadequate, true, but it's not high-school dropout level. It's sorority-sister undergraduate level. Sorority sisters have long known how to turn feigned ignorance into a tool to get what they want:
Let's be real in a way the national media seems incapable of: this person should never have been placed on a national ticket in a mature democracy. She was incapable of running a town in Alaska competently. The impulsive, unvetted selection of a total unknown, with no knowledge of or interest in the wider world, as a replacement president remains one of the most disturbing events in modern American history. That the press felt required to maintain a facade of normalcy for two months - and not to declare the whole thing a farce from start to finish - is a sign of their total loss of nerve. That the Palin absurdity should follow the two-term presidency of another individual utterly out of his depth in national government is particularly troubling. 46 percent of Americans voted for the possibility of this blank slate as president because she somehow echoed their own sense of religious or cultural "identity". Until we figure out how this happened, we will not be able to prevent it from happening again. And we have to find a way to prevent this from recurring.

It happened because John McCain is an incompetent and a cynic and reckless beyond measure. To have picked someone he'd only met once before, without any serious vetting procedure, revealed McCain as an utterly unserious character, a man whose devotion to the shallowest form of political gamesmanship trumped concern for his country's or his party's interest. We need a full accounting of the vetting process: who was responsible for this act of political malpractice? How could a veep not be vetted in any serious way? Why was she not asked to withdraw as soon as the facts of her massive ignorance and delusional psyche were revealed?

The Palin nightmare also happened because a tiny faction of political professionals has far too much sway in the GOP and conservative circles. This was Bill Kristol's achievement.

It was a final product of the now-exhausted strategy of fomenting fundamentalist resentment to elect politicians dedicated to the defense of Israel and the extension of American military hegemony in every corner of the globe. Palin was the reductio ad absurdum of this mindset: a mannequin candidate, easily controlled ideologically, deployed to fool and corral the resentful and the frightened, removed from serious scrutiny and sold on propaganda networks like a food product.

This deluded and delusional woman still doesn't understand what happened to her; still has no self-awareness; and has never been forced to accept her obvious limitations. She cannot keep even the most trivial story straight; she repeats untruths with a ferocity and calm that is reserved only to the clinically unhinged; she has the educational level of a high school drop-out; and regards ignorance as some kind of achievement. It is excruciating to watch her - but more excruciating to watch those who feel obliged to defend her.

...My point is not to persecute or hound some random person. I wish I had never heard of Sarah Palin. I wish this nightmare had never happened. I wish totally innocent by-standers, like Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston and Heather Bruce and Trig Palin, had not had their lives disrupted by this circus. It's distressing to everyone, which is why most journalists left many aspects of this charade alone. But Palin is claiming vindication, is on every cable show, is at the National Governors Association Conference, and is touted as a future leader of the GOP. There comes a point at which you have to simply call a time out and insist that this farce cease and some basic accountability and transparency be restored to the process.
Alaska Senate - Dem Takes The Lead!

Whoopee! A three-vote lead!:
Stevens (R) 125,016
Begich (D) 125,019
The lead looks unassailable to me!
How Says Missouri?

Mute, as yet:
Missouri remains the only state where it's officially unclear which candidate carried the state. And it may take another two or three weeks before a winner is declared.

McCain's latest lead is 4,968 votes, out of more than 2.9 million cast.

...Yet to be counted: an estimated 7,000 provisional ballots — most cast in Obama-leaning areas — that are just now being examined to determine which ones were cast by properly registered voters in the correct polling place.
Deadline Pressure

I hope Baz works best under stress:
Oscar-nominated director Baz Luhrmann's $130-million epic film "Australia" is due to make its world premiere in Sydney on Tuesday -- but the director says he has not finished it yet.

Luhrmann, who was honored at The Museum of Modern Art's Film Benefit in New York on Monday, is flying back to Sydney with a day to spare to complete the film he has spent four years working on.

"I'm going back to the mixing desk to finish it in 24 hours," the Australian director told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday just before he left for the airport.

"It's right on the edge, we're right up against it. I literally have to on Friday night push that button," he said. "This is really dangerous, I hope there's no problem with the plane going back."

Luhrmann said a rough cut of the film, starring Australian actors Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, had so far only been shown to U.S. talk show host Oprah Winfrey and her audience, and "Good Morning America" host Diane Sawyer.

Kidman and Jackman appeared on an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on Monday that was dedicated to the film and Winfrey praised the film, saying: "I have not been this excited about a movie since I don't know when."

"Our hearts are all swelling because, my God, it's just the film we needed to see," she told Luhrmann, who appeared on the show via the Internet.

"Australia" is Luhrmann's fourth film. "Strictly Ballroom" (1992), "Romeo + Juliet" (1996) and "Moulin Rouge!" (2001), which was nominated for a best picture Academy Award, have earned $390 million worldwide.

..."I wrote six endings and I shot three," said Luhrmann, adding that he decided not to use the ending where Jackman's character dies. "There is a death at the end of this film, but it's a surprise how that works."

"Australia" opens in the United States and Australia on November 26 and in Britain on December 26.

My dog Sparky's health has been deteriorating for several years from heart disease, despite a heavy investment in drugs. Age (I've had him 14.5 years, and he may be 15.5 years old), and perhaps the usual suspects - a sedentary lifestyle, a fatty diet, and perhaps a genetic predisposition - are to blame.

Last night, Sparky skipped dinner, and he seemed rather listless. On his customary nighttime walk, Sparky walked unusually sluggishly, so we circled only one city block, rather than the five or six as we do in more-normal times.

The last part of the walk is running up the back porch steps. Sparky has been having trouble with these steps lately, and so, as often as not, I carry him up the back porch steps.

Nevertheless, last night, he summoned his reserves of energy, and ran up the steps. He was barely able to do it, and he struggled mightily to make the last step. He did it, though, and I was proud of his grit and determination.

Entering the house (2:50 a.m.), I saw all four of Sparky's legs abruptly start shaking. He toppled over and collapsed in front of the kitchen stove. He let out a plaintive howl and lay motionless, except for labored breathing. I placed my hand to his chest, and I could feel his heart racing.

So, this is the end! A heart attack! I decided that, in the morning, I would take him to the vet and have him put under. He lived a good dog life, but if he can't even walk, his quality of life is over. I carried him into my bedroom, prepared a final bed, and tried to go to sleep. I hardly slept at all (probably fell asleep at 5 a.m.)

At dawn, Sparky started stirring. A bathroom break? I took him downstairs and left him in his bed there. During the morning, I could hear him at his frequent pasttime, barking at phantoms outside the yard.

Leaving home late this morning, I left food with Sparky, which he promptly began eating. He was walking about, however listlessly.

So, not yet........
The French Fight Against Terror

Time to ditch the unilateral Bush approach and follow the French:
PARIS — As President-elect Barack Obama prepares to revamp American counter-terrorism programs and close down the Bush administration's controversial prison camps at Guantánamo Bay, the incoming Democratic leader could find a few building blocks in what France calls its "fight against terror."

Relying on extensive intelligence, far-reaching domestic terrorism laws and close coordination with the United States, France has established an efficient strategy that's won public support and begrudging respect even from critics, who argue that Paris is rounding up too many people and risking a Muslim backlash.

"We don't agree with the concept of 'war on terror,' " said Jean-Louis Bruguiere, who served as France's best-known counter-terrorism judge for more than 20 years and helped capture the infamous terrorist Carlos the Jackal in 1994.

"We call it the fight against terror," said Bruguiere, who's now helping the European Union examine terrorist financing. "It's not a war. A war implies the use of military forces and we can't use military forces inside the country, so it's necessary to use other, nonmilitary means."

The biggest lesson the United States can learn from France is to build broad public support for a more open counter-terrorism strategy, said Jeremy Shapiro, a fellow at the Brookings Institution research center who specializes in Europe and national-security issues.

By denying suspects their day in court and having a network of secret prisons, the Bush administration provoked public skepticism, Shapiro said.

"It's very shortsighted when you fail to generate a societal consensus for what is a very real and long-term problem," he said. "The problem isn't rendition itself, it's . . . doing these things by executive fiat. Rendition, if well-supervised, could be a useful tool."

Supporters of the French approach note that while neighboring Spain and England have sustained deadly terrorist attacks in recent years, France so far has been immune.

The French model relies on sophisticated intelligence cooperation and broad laws that allow the police to imprison suspects with only tangential terrorist ties.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bacon, Family-Style

A cardiac-arresting culinary pleasure!:
And this month, we saw the unveiling of breaded, deep-fried bacon -- dressed in country gravy -- at Risque Cafe in Lake View.

If we know anything about these strips of cured and smoked meat, it's this: Bacon is the new black.

...At Risque Cafe, 3419 N. Clark, country-fried bacon ($6) is on the appetizer menu. Raw bacon strips are put in an egg wash, dredged in a heavily peppered flour and then deep fried in vegetable oil, says chef Andrew Niemeyer.

A white gravy is served on the side. What you have is something that sounds very much like chicken fried steak, which fits in well with the barbecue smoke shack theme Risque is going for.

"It's something my friends and I tossed around when I was in culinary school," says Niemeyer, a 2005 graduate of the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. "Just hearing about it makes your heart skip a beat."
The Seven Aphorisms

Yes, let's get some clarification here:
Michael Daniels, the Mayor of Pleasant Grove City, Utah, is dancing on a tightrope as he explains why the City accepted "an imposing red granite monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments" for display in a city park, but won't accept for display a monument that depicts the Seven Aphorisms of the Summum religion. A similar dance will be performed in the Supreme Court tomorrow as the Court hears argument about the constitutionality of that choice.
As Always, Good Suggestions

From Jim McElroy:

Once again, complicated things made simple:

Uh Oh, Drama! Witch Hunt Time!

Left: I saw this sign in a car window, but it finds its best use as an all-purpose incendiary device.

Things were all hunky-dory in Musical Theater land, and "The Impossible Dream" was echoing inside my head, and then I saw this in this morning's paper:

Gay and lesbian artists called Monday for an artistic and audience boycott of California Musical Theatre after learning that its artistic director donated $1,000 to a campaign that backed banning gay marriage in California.

Scott Eckern was not available for comment Monday as the revelation has gained stunning momentum on the blogosphere. The California Musical Theatre produces the Music Circus, presents Broadway Sacramento, and recently opened "Forever Plaid" at the capital's newest performing venue, the Cosmopolitan Cabaret.

Richard Lewis, the organization's executive producer, said the board of directors will conduct an emergency meeting on the matter this afternoon. He said it was too early to tell how this would affect Eckern's 25-year employment with California Musical Theatre.

In a statement released Monday, Lewis said: "Any political action or the opinion of Scott Eckern is not shared by California Musical Theatre. We have a long history of appreciation for the LGBT community and are truly grateful for their longstanding support."

...Local openly gay composer Gregg Coffin, who has written nationally produced musicals "Convenience" and "Five Course Love," found it initially difficult to express his feelings about the situation.

"I feel so sad that someone from within my field and someone from within my community, who actually knows me, would contribute to an initiative that reduces me to second-class citizenship," Coffin said.

"I feel so sorry that he chose to support divisiveness and hatred rather than equality and inclusion; especially a man of the theater who works with gay actors, dancers, directors, designers and staff at CMT. The duplicity of it makes me so incredibly sad."

..."Hairspray" composer Marc Shaiman called Eckern Thursday to discuss his donation. "Hairspray" closed this summer's Music Circus season.

In a post on one Web site, Shaiman relayed what he told Eckern: "The idea that your donation came from a salary that for a short amount of time was drawn from profits from a show I wrote upsets me terribly and I would never allow anything I write to play there and will encourage my colleagues to consider doing the same."

Shaiman has contacted colleagues in the theater, including Jeff Whitty, whose show "Avenue Q" comes to Broadway Sacramento next spring. Whitty's Web site,, details a telephone conversation he had with Eckern on Friday.

"There's a great degree of hue and cry over getting Mr. Eckern fired," Whitty wrote. "I've searched my soul about this. I'm instinctively not comfortable with the idea of his dismissal, though my activist side still whispers, 'Punish!'

"I fear for what Mr. Eckern's dismissal would say about theater: that there's only room for the pro-gay crowd. In a way, if we only allow people we agree with, if we only allow people who share a broad sympathy for the human condition, then we become one of those dreaded fantasy 'elites.' "
OK, so what do I think?

My first instinct is please don't take your anger out on California Musical Theatre! Theater is a collective effort, much larger than a single person (even if that person is the artistic director and chief operating officer). Too many blameless people will get stung by the lash of revenge!

Still, I can't help but wonder "what was Eckern thinking?" Political donations are public information (as they should be). Large political donations can have inordinate power, particularly when they come from influential people (as Mr. Eckern is). He was certainly aware how the LGBT community felt about Prop. 8 and just how hurtful his actions would appear. Was he driven by a conflict with his faith, or by something else? Was he somehow not aware that CMT would fall under a cloud of suspicion as well?

Interesting comments over at And Susan Egan's letter.

Since this controversy is partly about money, the appropriate response is not to fire Mr. Eckern, but to punish him, by withholding salary for a specified time - perhaps a month. If the controversy persists (as it very well might) and materially interferes with CMT's ability to secure performance rights or conduct business, then he will have to be let go.
So Close!

The Minnesota Senate race:
Six days after the election, unofficial results showed Republican senator Coleman leading Democratic challenger Franken by 206 votes, a difference of about 1/100th of 1% that sets the stage for the automatic hand recount that will begin next week.

Biden - verb

To be better than everybody at something but get no credit for it because you aren't the "rock star"
He's way more qualified for the job, he's not as young or good-looking, so he got bidened.

To plagiarize. To lift wholesale from someone else's work or biography, and apply it to one's self, as if it were part of one's own past.
He then began to biden liberally from his idol's letters and accounts of his childhood, fashioning these into a new identity for himself

And I suppose we can add our own....

Biden - adjective

Garrulous cluelessness.
We finally stopped the little biden by shouting "TMI! TMI!"

And who can forget?:
"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," Biden said. "I mean, that's a storybook, man."
DMTC's "Man Of La Mancha" - Monday Night Rehearsal

Left: "The Impossible Dream". Don Quixote (Tae Kim) and Aldonza/Dulcinea (Lauren Miller).

Left: "The Impossible Dream". Don Quixote (Tae Kim) and Aldonza/Dulcinea (Lauren Miller).

Left: Don Quixote (Tae Kim).

Below: Aldonza (Lauren Miller) and Mule (Monica Parisi).

Left: Sancho Panza (Jason Hammond), Aldonza (Lauren Miller) and Innkeeper's Wife (Monica Parisi).

From The Urban Dictionary. Myself, I can hardly wait for the 2012 updates:
Palin - verb

To abandon one's principles for short term gain.
Tom, a devout vegan, palined when he consumed a happy meal solely to obtain the collectible toy it contained.

To embarrass yourself and your associates with a string of gaffes and exposed secrets.
'Dude, you shouldn't have told those jokes about the bride. And you really Palinned when you told her dad she gave you crabs.'

To finish something quickly without checking the work and being screwed.
That girl told me I'm the baby's daddy...she totally Palined me.
I blew through the exam so I could get out of class quickly...after I turned it in I realized I was probably Palined.

Palin - noun

Pejorative term that refers to an incompetent, impractical, irrelevant or incapable person who has been appointed to a position of great importance.
A person who holds authority disproportionate to his or her requisite ethics and qualifications.

John was recently made principal, but everybody thinks he's a Palin who can't do the job.
My new boss is such a Palin - he took my deserved place because the CEO is
his personal friend.

An applicant lacking even basic job skills. Someone supremely un-self-aware or lacking any relative sense of what he/she does or doesn't know.
HR sent me another Palin for the marketing manager job.
I can't believed you hired him. He doesn't have a driver's license and can't even ride a bicycle.... How in hell is he going to deliver the pizzas? What a palin.

A mistake of colossal proportions.
McCain really pulled a Palin with his VP pick.

One whose behavior or actions cause unwanted negative attention to the group. A desperate gamble.
'That girl's got so many skeletons in her closet, she's a real Palin.'

Palin - adjective

"I know I'm a little palin, but I really want this job."

"Ma'am unfortunately we are looking for an applicant who is less palin."
Interesting Driver's Ed Idea

From Texas:
Imagine a 16-year-old zipping through traffic while text-messaging and searching for a song on one of those dinky MP3 things. The image makes my neck hurt.

Toyota hopes to offer some help by offering a free driving course next weekend at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie that puts young drivers through real-world training as well as a "distraction course."

As part of the Toyota Driving Expectations sessions, teens and their parents will navigate a course at Lone Star Park while talking, texting on a cellphone and listening to loud music to learn about the hazards of distractions.

"Our goal is to prepare teens with the critical skills and knowledge to handle real-world driving situations and to give parents some guidelines to be an effective coach and mentor," said Michael Rouse, vice president for philanthropy and community affairs at Toyota.
Joe Scarborough And The F-Bomb

Monday, November 10, 2008

Haute Couture

RNC loves me; RNC loves me not:
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin spent part of the weekend going through her clothing to determine what belongs to the Republican Party after it spent $150,000-plus on a wardrobe for the vice presidential nominee, according to Palin's father.

...Palin's father, Chuck Heath, said his daughter spent the day Saturday trying to figure out what belongs to the RNC.

"She was just frantically ... trying to sort stuff out," Heath said. "That's the problem, you know, the kids lose underwear, and everything has to be accounted for.

...Heath dismissed the clothes controversy as "ridiculous," and said his daughter told him the only clothing or accessories she had personally purchased in the last four months was a pair of shoes.

RNC lawyers have been discussing with Palin whether what's left of the clothing and accessories purchased for her on the campaign trail will go to charity, back to stores or be paid for by Palin, a McCain-Palin campaign official said Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the campaign hadn't authorized comment.

...In Wasilla, her hometown backers welcomed her, putting aside their disappointment over her unsuccessful bid.

Jessica Steele can't wait to see what Sarah Palin does next — not with her political career, but with her hair.

"That's something I want to talk to her about: What's our vision for her hair?" says Steele, proprietor of the Beehive Beauty Shop and keeper of the governor's up-do since 2002. "I can't wait to see her and say, 'OK, I've got you alone for three hours. Just relax, and how are you, really?'"
RIP, Mars' Phoenix Lander

Fighting the encroaching Martian winter, it ultimately expires.

We need more of these spacecraft!
Trying Diplomacy, For A Change

TPM Reader DG: "I can't believe Obama is already sitting down with an unpopular, aggressive world leader without preconditions."
Circuit Village No Longer Even A Village

More like an unincorporated town:
Circuit City Stores Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection Monday, heading into the busy holiday season hoping the move will help the nation's second-biggest electronics retailer will be able to survive.

The company said it made the filing because it was facing pressure from vendors who threatened to withhold products during the holiday period. The company also said it cut 700 more jobs at its headquarters, after announcing a week ago that it would close 20 percent of its stores and lay off thousands of workers.

Circuit City filed for Chapter 11 protection, which will allow it to keep operating while it develops a reorganization plan. Its Canadian operations also filed for similar protection.
DMTC's "Man Of La Mancha" Sunday Tech Rehearsal

Left: Don Quixote (Tae Kim) and Aldonza/ Dulcinea (Lauren Miller).

Left: Don Quixote (Tae Kim) and Aldonza/ Dulcinea (Lauren Miller).

Left: Padre Perez (Michael Manley) and Dr. Carrasco (Mark Ettensohn).

Left: Aldonza/ Dulcinea (Lauren Miller).

Below: Padre Perez (Michael Manley).

Left: Horse (Brennan Ballard), Mule (Monica Parisi), and Aldonza/ Dulcinea (Lauren Miller).

Left: Sancho Panza (Jason Hammond) and Aldonza/ Dulcinea (Lauren Miller).
Rhinoceros Beetle

With a lemon-flavored syrup filling.

Bon apetit!
Working On DMTC's "Man Of La Mancha" Set

I'm Mad, You're Mad, We're All Mad
Annual Company Dinner

Left: Candy Tong and Tom Andrews

Below: Symbolic California

Left: The Firehouse Restaurant in Old Sacramento.

Left: A Five-Spice Pork Chop.
Interesting But Provocative Sign....

In a car window....
American Ballet Theater II At The Mondavi

Left: April Giangeruso, and "Pebbles"

ABT II, the youth company associated with American Ballet Theater, performed at the Mondavi Center in Davis, CA on Friday evening, Nov. 7, 2008.

Five dances were presented: George Balanchine's "Allegro Brillante", Jerome Robbins' "Interplay", Marius Petipa's Swan Lake Act II and Don Quixote pas de deuxs, and Petipa's "Carnival of Venice".

Among the featured dancers were Sae Eun Park, Jose Sebastian, Meaghan Hinkis and Joseph Gorak.

Everyone was very impressed by the girls' fabulous extensions. I was also impressed by Interplay's interesting and rapid chaine turns. Sae Eun Park is one fine dancer and Meaghan Hinkis takes command of the stage!

Left: Question and answer panel after the show. Left to right, dancer April Giangeruso, ABT II Artistic Director Wes Chapman, Sacramento's favorite Ruth Rosenberg, ABT's Executive Director Rachel S. Moore, and dancer Brian Waldrep.

An audience member asked April Giangeruso, with a mixture of envy and awe, "Have you always been that flexible?" Not wanting to boast, but also not wanting to lie, Giangeruso replied with a nervous giggle, "Yes!" "Brian?" Wes Chapman said, directing the same question to April's partner, Brian Waldrep. He hesitated, and then said "Not at all!", to general laughter.

Left: April Giangeruso's mom flew in from Maryland, bearing a bouquet with a swan puppet, celebrating her daughter's first performance of the Swan (Act II), from "Swan Lake". April's partner, Brian Waldrep, was also dancing Prince Siegfried for the first time.

I was very impressed by April's calm, deliberate, self-assured manner on toe: certainly a lot more calm than I can manage on flat!

Left: The Mondavi Center. Surprisingly, this was my first visit ever to the Mondavi.

ABT II is next heading to Mesa, AZ.