Saturday, April 18, 2009

CORE - "Undefined Existence"

Left: Bows. The CORE Dance Collective, completely smeared with black paint, together with Artistic Director Kelli Leighton.

The CORE Web Site said it all:

We are proud to announce that CORE’s Undefined Existence is SOLD OUT for both nights. Thank you for all who bought tickets in advance. Unfortunately this means there will be no tickets being sold at the door. Sorry for those who will be unable to attend this exciting show. Thanks again for all of your support.
Well, this was no good. The most exciting dance show of the spring, and I can't go! No fun in that!

Well, I wasn't going to put up with that nonsense. I vowed to see if I could find a way to wedge myself into the hall, by hook or by crook, even if I had to stand in the back.

But first, I had to find the theater. I have some kind of brain glitch that always seems to prevent me from finding Natomas Charter School Auditorium until I first explore every street in North Natomas. That exploration took fifteen minutes. Lo and behold, the folks in the box office sold me a ticket anyway (they acted a bit dodgy, as if worried the ticket's true owner might show up), and I entered the hall slightly late (I did have to stand in the aisle, but I didn't care).

The first dance presentation 'Living for Today' featured a medley of Coldplay tunes: 'Clocks', 'Scientist', 'Fix You', and 'Viva la Vida'. The dance was joyous, very fast, athletic, challenging - just a real pleasure to watch. In particular, Blair Kendall danced well. The number must have taken forever to choreograph, though. Coldplay never sings short tunes, but rather long, extended numbers.

Many student dancers were also incorporated in this piece (CORE has been travelling in the community over the last year, offering master workshops, which has also allowed them to identify the best up-and-coming dancers in the Sacramento area and offer them chances to perform).

The second presentation, named 'Freedom of the Fire', was an update from an odd presentation in last year's show, "Imagine". The style has a name, I'm sure (but don't know it). Basically, the dancers are street characters in glad rags, dancing in an exaggerated, clown-like way (picture Carol Burnett as the cleaning woman on her variety show). The theme was boy-meets-girl and falls in love, told in the manner of a comedy. Very enjoyable, and I thought done better than last year. The central couple was (I believe) Kelli Leighton and Leandro Glory Damasco, Jr., and they were great. My eyes continuously strayed, however, to watch Tina DeVine's comic antics as part of the ensemble.

The third presentation was called 'Rising Undercurrent', featuring music from the 'Blood Diamond' motion picture soundtrack. Haunting work, with just a bit of Cirque du Soleil edge, that seemed to show the progression of some kind of curse, or disease, represented by smeared blood, or paint. Really unusual!

This is CORE's third show, in a year-and-a-half, and they get better every time. For some time, there has been a gap in the Sacramento dance scene for a good, community-based, modern/jazz/ballet/hip-hop dance group. In the early 90's, Bonnie McNeely filled the gap (though, to me, the group seemed have a cult-like edge) and in the late 90's Ruth Rosenberg filled the gap (until time moved on), but except for the periphery of the metropolitan area (e.g., Pamela Trokanski in Davis), that gap has often been empty. CORE fills the gap, and well (no signs of a cult and the dancers are young and enthusiastic).

CORE is the best group on the Sacramento scene these days and deserves our full support!

Left: Artistic Director Kelli Leighton.
Left: Assistant Artistic Director Blair Kendall (post-show, and smeared in paint).
Left: Assistant Artistic Director Anne David (also post-show).

Friday, April 17, 2009

Meanwhile, West Of Toowoomba....

Dropping an old car from the back of an airplane (video).
Shimmy Shake Coachella

This is the big festival weekend! Great bands hitting the stage right now!

Once again, I didn't get picked as a winner in B3ta's "Question of the Week". Try, try again!

This week's question was:
Nightclubs: Thinly-disguised entrances to Hell where bad things happen. Tell us your dancefloor disasters.
My reply, which was a worked-over retelling of a tale I put on the blog several years ago, was:
Stiletto Heel: I was dancing in a discotheque, looking all suave, when someone stepped on my foot. I didn't glance around and seek out the person at fault. Instead, I surmised I was just dancing too close to someone, and started boogeying away across the dance floor in order to find more space.

There was a problem, though. My foot still hurt. Indeed, the pain seemed to be increasing as I continued to dance. What could it be?

Finally, I looked down, and I was shocked: a woman's shoe was attached to my own. Someone's stiletto heel had slipped into the narrow gap between my shoe and my foot. Through bumptious dancing, I had managed to wrench her shoe off of her foot, and carried it away.

I looked up, and I was shocked again: a shoeless elegant beauty was limping across the floor, frantically trying to catch up to me as I boogied away across the floor with her shoe.

I tried to ceremoniously return the shoe to the elegant beauty, but she wouldn't go for any of the Cinderella crap.

Bruce is now living in Albuquerque, and he sends a shout out!
Pearls From Spam

Most spam is full of junk, but I liked this list, which was sent in spam earlier this week:

1. Blamestorming: Sitting around in a group discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.
2. Body Nazis: Hard-core exercise and weight-lifting fanatics who look down on anyone who doesn't work out obsessively.
3. Seagull Manager: A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, and then leaves.
4. Chainsaw Consultant: An outside expert brought in to reduce the employee headcount, leaving the top brass with clean hands.
5. Cube Farm: An office filled with cubicles.
6. Idea Hamsters: People who always seem to have their idea generators running.
7. Mouse Potato: The online, wired generation's answer to the couch potato.
8. Prairie Dogging: When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people's heads pop up over the walls to see what's going on.
9. SITCOMs: What yuppies turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids. Stands for Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage.
10. Squirt the Bird: To transmit a signal to a satellite.
11. Starter Marriage: A short-lived first marriage that ends in divorce with no kids, no property, and no regrets.
12. Stress Puppy: A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.
13. Swiped Out: An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because the magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.
14. Tourists: People who take training classes just to get a vacation from their jobs. "We had three serious students in class; the rest were just tourists."
15. Treeware: Hacker slang for documentation or other printed material.
16. Xerox Subsidy: Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one's workplace.
17. Going Postal: Euphemism for being totally stressed out, for losing it. Makes reference to the unfortunate track record of postal employees who have snapped and gone on shooting rampages.
18. Alpha Geek: The most knowledgeable, technically proficient person in an office or work group. "Ask Larry, he's the Alpha Geek around here.
19. Assmosis: The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.
20. Chips and Salsa: Chips = hardware, Salsa = software. "Well, first we gotta figure out if the problem is in your chips or your salsa."
21. Flight Risk: Used to describe employees who are suspected of planning to leave a company or department soon.
22. GOOD job: A "Get-Out-Of-Debt" job. A well-paying job people take in order to pay off their debts, one that they will quit as soon as they are solvent again.
23. Irritainment: Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying, but you find yourself unable to stop watching them. The O.J. trials were a prime example.
24. Percussive Maintenance: The fine art of attacking an electronic device to get it to work again.
25. Uninstalled: Euphemism for being fired. Heard on the voicemail of a Vice President at a downsizing computer firm: "You have reached the number of an uninstalled Vice President. Please dial our main number and ask the operator for assistance." See also Decruitment.
26. Vulcan Nerve Pinch: The taxing hand positions required to reach all the appropriate keys for commands. For instance, the warm re-boot for a Mac II computer involves simultaneously pressing the Control Key, the Command key, the Return key and the Power On key.

Deborah goes for the neon look.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Susan Boyle - Britain's Got Talent

Her performance went viral, and so it's no surprise I eventually noticed too.
Secession? Think Again

Left: Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, USA, in May 1865. The black ribbon around his left arm is a sign of mourning over President Lincoln's death. Portrait by Mathew Brady.

Hoping to capitalize on yesterday's Teabagger momentum, Texas' Governor Perry is openly thinking about secession.

Now, we've been here before. General William Tecumseh Sherman knew exactly who to blame for secession, and he made them suffer for it too. He was not one to suffer fools gladly:
On hearing of South Carolina's secession from the United States, Sherman observed to a close friend, Professor David F. Boyd of Virginia, an enthusiastic secessionist, almost perfectly describing the four years of war to come:
You people of the South don't know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don't know what you're talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it… Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth—right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail.
After the fall of Atlanta in 1864, Sherman ordered the city's evacuation. When the city council appealed to him to rescind that order, on the grounds that it would cause great hardship to women, children, the elderly, and others who bore no responsibility for the conduct of the war, Sherman sent a response in which he sought to articulate his conviction that a lasting peace would be possible only if the Union were restored, and that he was therefore prepared to do all he could do to quash the rebellion:
You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace. But you cannot have peace and a division of our country. If the United States submits to a division now, it will not stop, but will go on until we reap the fate of Mexico, which is eternal war.[...] I want peace, and believe it can only be reached through union and war, and I will ever conduct war with a view to perfect and early success. But, my dear sirs, when peace does come, you may call on me for anything. Then will I share with you the last cracker, and watch with you to shield your homes and families against danger from every quarter.
In May 1865, after the major Confederate armies had surrendered, Sherman wrote in a personal letter:
“ I confess, without shame, I am sick and tired of fighting—its glory is all moonshine; even success the most brilliant is over dead and mangled bodies, with the anguish and lamentations of distant families, appealing to me for sons, husbands and fathers ... tis only those who have never heard a shot, never heard the shriek and groans of the wounded and lacerated ... that cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation.
DMTC's Silver Anniversary

Left: 'No Coffee', from "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying", April, 1997.

Here is Bev's feature article!:
At 2 a.m. on March 2, 1984, Jan Isaacson woke husband Steve and told him it was time to start a family.

That's not exactly what she said, but after interviewing a number of people involved with the Davis Musical Theatre Company over the past 25 years, it's clear that this was what she meant ... whether or not she realized it at the time.

What she actually said was that they'd get up in the morning and start a musical theater company.

'It's going to involve kids, adults and senior citizens. We're only going to do musicals, and it's going to be called Davis Musical Theatre.'

Never one to argue, Steve said OK and went back to sleep. In the morning, they put the wheels in motion.

The seeds of this idea were planted back in 1973 at Miami Dade Junior College, where a painfully shy Steve was playing drum in a band. A clarinet player from Brooklyn introduced herself, stole his drum sticks and ran away.

'I thought, 'This must be flirting,' ' said Steve, who proposed to Jan three days later.

Steve was working on obtaining his master's degree in music, while teaching at Larry White Music School in Hialeah. Jan was an art major at Florida International University.

But they were miserable in Florida.

'I was sitting home one Saturday morning, just hating life and looking at the giant palmetto bugs - which are like dates with legs - and I said I gotta get outta here,' Steve remembered.

Then, by accident, he saw a news report about this little town in California that was 'doing something about air pollution.' Steve remembers being impressed by how young then-mayor Bob Black was.

Steve and Jan packed all their belongings into a VW squareback and headed for California. Jan had never been farther west than Pennsylvania. Their welcome to Davis was punctuated when the car's third gear went out, as they drove beneath the train bridge into the downtown area.

Steve soon joined a band playing at Central Park during the weekly Farmers' Market. Then he was called and asked to play drums for a production of 'Dames at Sea,' being mounted by West of Broadway. He agreed, and Jan helped back stage.

Just like that, they were set on a course that eventually would plunge them headlong into creating a Davis theater group dedicated to modern musicals.

1984 was, I vividly recall, a golden age of theater in Davis. My family was involved in the theater scene, and my husband Walt remembers an impressive nine to 10 shows performed during a 10-month span by the Davis Comic Opera Company, KMA Productions, the Davis Players, West of Broadway, and the Sunshine Children's Theater.

But Jan believed that Davis really needed 'a musical theater group that produces large-scale, family entertainment.' She also felt that ticket prices should be low: 'No more than $5. Why have ticket prices so high that nobody comes?'

'What we need,' she told Davis Enterprise entertainment editor Del McColm, 'is a musical that will have half the town acting on stage, and the other half applauding in the audience.'

People were invited to attend an organizational meeting.

'I said that if nobody shows up, we're not doing this,' Steve recalled.

But people did show up. Obviously, folks were interested in the new theater company.

They decided to start big, with a production of 'Peter Pan.' That debut show was directed by Bob Baxter, who had directed for Music Circus; music direction was handled by Jim Arnold, lead singer of The Four Lads.

My daughter, Jeri, was the stage manager; she remembers a lot of problems. The production had four large, heavy sets ... and almost no tech crew. For the most part, the cast members served as de facto tech crew, but that presented some difficulties during Act 3, while everyone was singing on stage. Behind the curtain, the set had to be changed from the bulky pirate ship back to the heavy pieces that made up the nursery ... in less than three minutes.

Jeri begged friends to come to the theater and help, because so few hands were available.

Walt also remembers that the opening night performance began while people still were building Act 3's pirate ship on the Veterans' Memorial Theater loading dock.

'You could hear Skilsaw noises in the theater,' he laughed.

The fledgling company was navigating some growing pains.


For its second show, DMTC chose 'The King and I.' Lady Thiang was played by Mary Young, whose most recent performance with DMTC was last year's 'The Sound of Music.'

Young had performed with Sacramento's Music Circus and, since she lived in Roseville, never expected to audition for a show in Davis. But she had worked with choreographer Ron Cisneros; when she learned he would be doing DMTC's 'The King and I,' she followed him.

Daughter Wendy was in the fourth grade at the time, and she literally grew up with DMTC.

'She was one of the children in 'King and I,' ' Young said, 'and I remember washing black hair dye out of her blond hair.'

Young also remembers when DMTC moved from the Veterans' Memorial Center into a small theater they built in the Davis Commerce Park on Second Street, near Sudwerk ... and being escorted out to the Port A Potties during evening rehearsals.

Walt still winces over the barber chair he designed for the first production of 'Sweeney Todd.'

'The chair had to collapse, so people could go down a slide after they were killed. I tested it with our son Tom, who was about 14 years old at the time, and it worked fine. But then we took it into the theater and put Vince DiCarlo in it. He was a big guy, and when we tried to collapse the chair, it didn't budge.

'I had to completely rebuild it.'

Rich and Julie Kulmann, who also still perform with DMTC, joined the company in 1988. Julie became part of the ensemble for 'Carousel,' and Rich came along with the next show, 'Fiddler on the Roof.' Both also have served on the company's board of directors.

Julie caught pneumonia during one production, and had to be taken to the hospital.

'Charlotte French saw me come off stage after the final number, and wouldn't let me go on for the curtain call,' she said. Julie recalls all the company members who visited her in the hospital, and being able to get into costume and make the final curtain call for the last performance.

'People were so caring,' Rich added.

Julie glows when she remembers the 70th birthday party Jan and Steve recently held for her, in the lobby of the Hoblit Performing Arts Center.

The landlord of the Second Street facility eventually raised the rent so high that DMTC had to think about finding a new place to perform. Bob Bowen, who met Jan and Steve while in the Davis Players, proved a valuable friend.

'When they built their first theater in rented space over on Second Street, I got involved. I also got involved when they approached the city for a loan.

'Since DMTC still owed money on that loan, we negotiated a deal for them to use the newly renovated Varsity Theater, beginning in January 1993, so they would remain viable. I acted as their Varsity landlord until the Davis City Council changed the Varsity back into an art film theater.'

Actress/lighting designer Dannette Vasser, a recent UC Davis graduate, came along in 1997, for a production of 'City of Angels.' She had auditioned for the previous show, but wasn't cast; even so, 'City of Angels' was one of her favorites, so she decided to give it another shot.

Second time lucky.

'I stuck around and never left,' Dannette said. 'The group is so warm and friendly; it really becomes a home for a lot of people. I met my husband here. Arthur and I had to schedule our marriage between shows, so that everybody could be there.'

In time, Steve Isaacson began teaching Dannette the intricacies of lighting design.

'He gave me the opportunities to learn lighting, and to design. It's a blast.'

Arthur was responsible for Ben Bruening joining the company in 1995. The two Davisites had been friends since they were 4 years old; when Vasser was cast for 'Brigadoon,' the shy Bruening thought, 'if Arthur can do it, maybe I can too.'

Bruening auditioned for 'Carousel' and wound up doing the next nine shows.

'Steve became one of my best friends over the course of a very short period of time,' Bruening said.

He also caught the eye of a young viola player during rehearsal for his eighth show.

'We sat together at Eppie's after opening night,' said Ben's wife, Noel. 'We rubbed elbows ... this was called flirting!'

'We're a DMTC love story,' Ben added.

'A lot of DMTC marriages have taken place over the years,' said Mary Young, underlying the sense of family felt by everyone involved with the company.


Young Kendyl Ito just performed Brigitta in the recent production of 'The Sound of Music.'

'It was her first experience at DMTC,' said her mother, Karen. 'Jan and Steve welcomed us with open arms.'

Kendyl, already a theater veteran, said, 'It's different here than other theaters. Even if you're new, it's very warm and fuzzy.

'I'm trying out for 'The Music Man.' '

Kennedy Wenning did her first DMTC Young People's Theatre show at age 13, and now regards DMTC as a second home.

'All my friends are here,' she said.

'It's like a family here; it's definitely strong,' said Adam Sartain, who played Cogsworth in the most recent production of 'Beauty and the Beast,' and also plays tuba in the orchestra.

Marc Valdez joined DMTC in 2000 for 'Evita,' and he stuck around to become the company treasurer in 2002.

'The challenges of the treasurer position, in this decade, have mostly revolved around trying to finance construction of the new theater. We're still in that position, and will remain so for years to come.'

Christine Totah's daughter, Camille, has performed with DMTC since she was very young. Son Adam, only 18 months younger, also wants to act, but he has autism. A collaboration among Dr. Blythe Corbett of UCD's Mind Institute, director Jenni Price, Totah and the Isaacsons has resulted in the SENSE program, which pairs 'typical kid' members of the Young Performers Theatre company with autistic counterparts.

The program is exploring the therapeutic effect of stage performance for autistic children, and early results are wonderfully promising.

'This could be the program that makes that happen,' Totah said. 'When you have a disability, you're often very isolated in the community; community theater is a great way to get involved with other people. Everybody walks away feeling a little bit better. Nobody walks away empty-handed.'

On that long-ago morning in 1984, Jan Isaacson thought she and Steve would create a theater company. Clearly, they've done that ... and much, much more.

'Jan and Steve just keep yanking at ya,' said my son Ned, also a DMTC alum, 'and more power to them. With DMTC, the show always goes on'

'If someone had told me, back in 1984, that DMTC would be around for 25 years, I'd have thought their gaffer's tape was wound too tightly,' Bowen said. 'I know how demanding and stressful it is to raise money and produce theater in Davis. For DMTC to produce a series of adult and children's shows - every year, and for a quarter of a century - is a testament to the their passion and energy for theater.

'Since Davis elementary school teachers these days rarely have the time and support necessary to produce plays and musicals, the DMTC Young Performers Theatre addresses a real need for Davis children to get involved.'
Mulan, Jr., Photos Now Posted At

It looks like the Disney folks posted four photos from Mulan, Jr. at their Web Site,!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lilo On The Prowl

Readied For Take Off

Like Deborah, I too have always yearned to drive to the moon.
The Perils Of The Twist

I went to aerobics class tonight, and the theme of the class was 'The Twist'. This particular dance, popular in the early 60's, is good for abs, and hard on them too. When I wake up tomorrow, I'm sure I will be twisting in pain.

That's how Rome was brought to its knees: through semaphore, the Ostrogoths along the north bank of the Danube River taught 'The Twist' to bored Roman Legionaires on the south bank, exhausting the underfed and underpaid soldiers, and preparing the way for the invasions that caused the Fall of the Roman Empire.

Beware 'The Twist'.
Dagnabit - Sold Out!

Darn it, I didn't reserve tickets in time and it looks like the CORE dance show 'Undefined Existence' is sold out.
More Teabagger Stuff From Sactown

I saw the tar-and-feathers guy, and 'Indians', and the O.B.A.M.A. sign:
On the steps of the Capitol building, the Fox News fan fest gave way to angry fist-pumping. A wholesome family of eight, ranging from infancy to middle-age, took turns shouting. Kim, a 43-year-old homemaker, bellowed: "You hurt my family!" She argued that, thank to taxes and the stimulus package, "We've had to cut our long distance and caller ID." Her 22-year-old daughter, Ashley, with her baby sister strapped to her chest, cut in: "We even got rid of Netflix!" Nearby lurked a man wearing sunglasses, a baseball cap with the brim pulled low and a fake black goatee and elaborately curled mustache. It was a disguise, he explained. "There's radicals on my job," said the 50-year-old, who declined to give his name. "If they see me on TV we could get in a fist fight."

Sartorial creativity of that sort was on full display. There was a man wearing a beekeeper suit who declared that he'd been "stung to death by taxes," a triad of 20-something dudes dressed up as Native Americans, complete with headdresses, and a pint-size blond girl wearing a cumbersome poster the size of her body with the instructions, "Read 'Atlas Shrugged.' It's prophetic." Among the costumed pageantry, however, Robert Charles Schell, a 46-year-old lawyer, managed to stand out. He wore a sharp black business suit covered in tar and feathers. "The suit represents the politicians in Washington," said the John McCain look-alike. He then turned around, bent over and pointed to a stick poking out of the seat of his pants. "And that represents what's happening to us, or what I wish would happen to these politicians!"

Schell, as with most folks at the event, simply does not believe that President Barack Obama has cut taxes for the majority of Americans: "I think that's a crock," he said. "I just instinctively know that it's not a tax cut." Again and again, protesters said: I don't believe it, that's a lie, it won't work. The truth, said 52-year-old Karen Zembower, who gripped a sign reading, "One Big Ass Mistake America," is that "they're trying to get rid of the middle class." In Sacramento, that Fox News version of the truth was the only one on display.
Games With Numbers

Neil Cavuto was apparently playing games with the Sacramento's rally's attendance numbers, starting at 5,000, and trying to double and triple those numbers.

Today's Teabagger rally, and the 11/23/08 Gay Rights rally, were of comparable sizes. I initially guessed 4,000 for the Gay Rights rally: the Sacramento Bee guessed 1,500 to 1,800. The Teabagger rally may have been slightly bigger - say 2,000 people. Of course, the Teabaggers were older and mostly overweight and so maybe they had more pounds per acre than the gays could muster. But hardly any more people.
Teabaggers Descend On The California State Capitol

Sacramento Bee's 'Capitol Alert' alerted me just before noon:

It's tea time.

At least that's what conservatives organizing tax day tea parties across the country are hoping, as they've promised droves of anti-tax advocates at rallies from Eureka to El Centro, California.

Here on the West Steps of the Capitol will be one of the signature rallies, with Fox News' Neil Cavuto broadcasting live, and talking heads Michael Reagan and Michelle Malkin rallying the crowd.

The goings on get started at noon. Among those slated to speak are Rep. Tom McClintock and Sen. George Runner

SALAZAR AND SCHWARZENGGER: One target of the anti-tax movement's ire in California is Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger -- and he won't be anywhere near the tea party on the Capitol steps.

Schwarzenegger will be a part of a press conference with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar about federal stimulus dollars headed toward California water projects. Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, and Reps. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, and Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Santa Fe Springs, will also be in attendance.
Dang! Time's-a-wastin'! Gotta go down and check it out!

Left: I wasn't able to get to the middle of the crowd (I arrived a little late, at 12:20 p.m.) So, I explored the periphery of the crowd, and gently probed the soft under-belly of California conservatism today for tea bags and whatever else I could find.

The crowd size was maybe slightly larger than for the big gay rally last November. It was a little hard to tell, though, because, for whatever reason, the speakers were not placed on the highest level of the steps on the Capitol's west side, but one level down, which shifted the distribution of the crowd.

Another way of looking at it. If gays are 3% of the population and conservatives are about 30%, they both put on comparable demonstrations - so maybe the gays are ten times as P.O.'d?

The demographic of the crowd was older than average, very white, and definitely suburban. There were some families (lots of kids too young to pay taxes carrying 'No More Taxes' signs), but it looked mostly like people in their 40's, 50's and 60's. Many well-fed guys sported well-trimmed salt-and-pepper beards: so many, in fact, that it's almost like a modern conservative fashion statement. From now on, whenever I see one of these beards coming down the sidewalk, I'll break wide!

At one point, talk show radio DJs Armstrong & Getty said something like 'Our opponents characterize you as 'fat cats'. You don't look like fat cats to me!' Looking around at all the sleek beer bulges and stumpy legs, I was tempted to think that the 'fat cats' label isn't far off the mark....

Left: Most people in the crowd could not see the speakers - big tents hemmed in the visual lines (unlike the less-organized, more-spontaneous big gay rally last November 23rd). So, people had to watch the Jumbotron to see what was going on. Here, 4th District Congressman Tom McClintock addresses the crowd.

According to the Sacramento Bee (and to McClintock's conservative credit), he has requested no earmarks for his district this year. But as former Congressman John Doolittle understood, the 4th District thrived on earmarks, and so we'll see what this new-found propriety portends. Conservative activist Lew Uhler also addressed the crowd.

Left: A clever sign.

As in all crowds, no one could always quite hear the speakers. One fellow started laughing when he understood someone to say 'Vote Out The Pope!' I heard the same thing - sound was a bit muffled in that corner there....

Left: More signs.

The most-popular chant was "We're ready for a tax revolt!" I thought that was a curiously-passive formulation: something like 'I'll follow if someone leads.' Also popular was "Vote Them Out!" which at least is more pro-active.

Still, just like for the gays last November, the election is past. All of this current activity is to build momentum for the future, not the present, but it's unclear what kind of future it will be. The speakers praised the crowd for their readiness to revolt, as well as for their law-abiding natures. Can't have both!

Basically, everyone today seemed to be in a pretty good mood, unlike the gays last November, who at least seemed genuinely mildly-peeved that Proposition Eight passed.

Left: Trying a bit of honesty with the persuasion. Rush would stomp on this dissonance in an instant.

Left: History lessons on a stick.

Somebody from the Coca-Cola Company was handing out free, chilled cans of Coke Zero. I suppose it's good marketing, and I drank the Kool-Aid willingly, so to speak, but the close connection to this political event made yearn for a Pepsi instead.

Left: Misreading the moment, I think.

Left: Posing for photos for an obscure cause. After all, singles get taxed at a higher rate than married people do.

Left: Plus, a big shout-out to Neal Cavuto and the astroturf masters at FOX News!
Karaoke At The Stoney Inn

After Tuesday's Improv class (six kids, plus others, dropped in) several of us went to the Stoney Inn for their progressive karaoke contest.

It was a slow Wednesday, so no contest, but it was fun trying out songs to sing.

I was a little wary of this place: Del Paso can be a chancy neighborhood. Several years ago, Joe the Plumber got his skull cracked at this very bar, and spent an inordinate amount of time recovering at UCD Med Center.

But like I say, Tuesday night was quiet everywhere and the people there were nice.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Threats Multiply In North Dakota

Even the most innocuous-looking substances can bite you on the ass:
BISMARCK, N.D. -- Scientists want to study the health effects of an asbestos-like mineral used widely in western North Dakota and linked to cancer elsewhere, but they're having a hard time finding volunteers for testing.

The state's top rock researcher and the state's chief fossil finder have signed up to find out if they've been harmed by long-term exposure to erionite, which can collect in the lungs of people who breathe it.

But not many others are biting in a part of the state where many of the roads are covered with erionite gravel mined from the nearby Killdeer Mountains.

...Eric Kehr, owner of the Buckskin Bar & Grill in Killdeer, predicts the government will have a tough time finding enough volunteers.

"Maybe we'd rather not know we have cancer, and if we stick our head in the sand maybe it will go away," he said. "What can anybody do about it anyway? There is no way to blacktop all these gravel roads, so practically speaking, it's an unsolvable problem."

State geologist Ed Murphy notified the EPA of the erionite in the region about three years ago, after he found that in Turkey, the mineral was linked to mesothelioma, an incurable form of lung cancer.

Erionite found in North Dakota differs slightly than the mineral found in Turkey, where it's a known carcinogen, Murphy said. Erionite found in North Dakota is more calcium-based; the mineral in Turkey is sodium-based.

The EPA says erionite is found in at least a dozen states in the West, but not at the levels in western North Dakota, where it's used on many rural roads. The EPA says U.S. studies also have shown that erionite causes cancer in lab rats, though the mineral is not regulated by the agency.

"I've been under cliff faces chipping out fossilized mammal bones with this stuff falling in my face, so of course I'm pretty curious to see what it's done to me," said John Hoganson, the state paleontologist.
Women In The UK Adjust To Harder Times

Funny, but I remember this is the same approach that women in the U.S. followed in adjusting to the 1982 recession:
WOMEN are lashing on the lipstick to kiss goodbye to the credit crunch.

Girly girls who cheer themselves up with a glamorous new look are sending make-up sales booming.

Foundation products have risen by a massive 15 per cent and sales of lippy by 2.5 per cent.

“Literally putting on a brave face is a psychological boost and helps people deal with the stress and strain of economic worries,” said psycho­therapist Lucy Beresford.

...A staggering 82 per cent of women said it “cheers them up” and helps them feel more confident, according to a survey for top beauty firm L’Oreal.

...Sales of two-in-one facewash have gone up by 5.4 per cent – and home hair-colouring kits have seen a 7 per cent rise in sales.

Sales of nail varnish have also gone up by 11.2 per cent as women choose home manicures over trips to a beauty salon.
Finally Nailing A Thug Celebrity

Convicting celebrities is nearly impossible, no matter how grievous the crime:
A Los Angeles jury convicted Phil Spector of second-degree murder Monday, making the legendary record producer who worked with the Beatles and a host of other pop stars the first celebrity found guilty of murder on Hollywood's home turf in at least 40 years.

The verdict read in a tense, standing-room-only courtroom came six years and two trials after police found Lana Clarkson, a statuesque blond actress, shot to death in a chair in Spector's 30-room Alhambra mansion.

...The verdict of second-degree murder -- the most severe option offered to jurors -- with the use of a firearm means the 69-year-old Spector faces a mandatory life prison term when he is sentenced May 29. He must serve at least 18 years before being eligible for parole.

The verdict was a cause for rejoicing in the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, where high-profile defeats in the murder trials of O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake still sting.

..."Celebrity cases are always a little different," said Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, who called the Blake jurors "incredibly stupid" after the actor's 2005 acquittal. "Sometimes the laws of gravity as we know them don't work in celebrity cases."

...Spector's attorney immediately said he would appeal. The lawyer asked that Spector remain free on $1-million bail until the sentence was imposed, but a prosecutor protested, citing Spector's history of menacing people with guns and his incentive to flee the jurisdiction.

...The verdict was an endorsement of the prosecutors' theory that Spector pulled a snub-nosed .38 Special revolver on Clarkson when she tried to leave his residence after several hours of drinking. During the trial, jurors heard from five women who said the producer drew weapons on them when he was drunk.

Weinberg said the judge's decision to allow those women to testify about events stretching back three decades would be among the grounds for appeal.

"We believe analytically there is absolutely no legal basis for the admissibility of that evidence," the lawyer said.

...Spector burst onto the music scene in 1958 when he recorded the hit "To Know Him Is to Love Him" with classmates from Fairfax High School. The title came from an inscription on the gravestone of Spector's father, who had committed suicide. He moved into producing and developed a new technique, known as the "Wall of Sound," in which tracks were layered over one another to produce a lush, symphonic effect that changed pop music.

He went on to work with musical acts including Tina Turner, the Ronettes, Darlene Love, the Beatles, the Ramones and Celine Dion.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. In later years, he has worked less and less, reportedly because of disputes with record companies and musicians about the pace of his work and his volatile temper.
Rush Makes An Odd Argument

As if that's a surprise! But it is an interesting question:
Now, a lot of people ask, "Rush, how come these ships aren't armed?" Everybody says just give some machine guns to the crew when you see the pirates showing up, wipe 'em out. You maritime captains out there can back me up on this, but the historical reason why you don't arm the crew on a cargo vessel is to guard against mutiny against the captain and the ship, 'cause you know how CEOs are hated today, and the captain of the ship is a CEO, and employees resent and they're being told to resent the boss.

So the boss makes you do some things on board, if you've got machine guns ostensibly to gun down the Somali pirates, you could conduct a mutiny. So that's one of the reasons that they aren't armed.
Well, I don't know why the merchant vessels aren't armed. Worrying about mutinies on these merchant vessels seems silly, however.

But I can think of one plausible reason why crews aren't armed: a substantial chunk of the traffic involves the transport of petroleum, and in that trade you do not want anyone, anywhere near the ship, to possess arms, for any reason, whatsoever. A second reason may be that, whether ships carry petroleum or not, carrying arms is guaranteed to escalate confrontations. To date, it's been cheaper and safer to ransom vessels and crews.

But of course, appeasement guarantees that piracy will continue, and will escalate. And so we are approaching armed confrontation anyway. There are dozens of merchant vessel crewmen already held hostage (Russians and Filipinos and others) and escalation of the conflict appears inevitable.

So far, the U.S. navy has been so involved with its Middle East adventures that it hasn't cared about the decay of maritime law right under its nose. The Indian navy has been most pro-active in pushing back against the Somali pirates. Whether the U.S. takes the lead now is unclear. Probably not, unless the pirates get cocky.
Astroturf Dissonance

I remember reading Godfrey Hodgson's, "America in Our Times: From World War II to Nixon" (New York: Doubleday, 1978), where he described how well the sixties radicals used the media, and how, if one approach seemed to fail, they quickly tried something else. They never kept pushing a failing meme.

The Republican radicals of the 80's and 90's were pretty good at this too. Failures were quickly and quietly dropped.

Since 2004, though, the Republican radicals have lost their touch. Granted, it's hard to carry these things out on the very big national stage. But still, times change, and even though they initially sound great when sitting around the living room coffee table, certain ideas are hard to push. These astroturf 'tea parties' are a failing meme and should be abandoned.
Take Me For A Ride In Your Car-Car

Deborah's working apace in her new medium.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Various YouTube Videos From The Britney Spears/Pussycat Dolls 4/11 ARCO Arena Concert

"When I Grow Up"

Montage, with a full account

"Hit Me Baby One More Time"

"Get Naked" - This was the most - how-you-say? - decadent, or Weimarish, number of the night. I like it mostly for its hypnotic chorus.

Can't get anything past the Colorado DMV:
Kelley Coffman-Lee's plan to advertise her love of tofu on a license plate ran afoul of censors at the Division of Motor Vehicles.

The 38-year-old mother of three asked the DMV to approve a special plate emblazoned with "ILVTOFU" for her Suzuki SL-7.

It was not 2 B.

..."My whole family is vegan, so tofu is like a staple for us. I was just going to have a cool license plate, and the DMV misinterpreted my message," the Centennial resident said.

...The rear of Coffman-Lee's vehicle is festooned with a multitude of bumper stickers that leave little question about her feelings on issues such as global warming and meat-eating.

As a vegan, she won't consume or wear anything that comes from an animal. "But it's not just about food. It is a philosophy of life. It means you have compassion for animals; it means that you don't want to see them performing or research done on them or them being eaten."

So far, Couch said, no carnivore has requested ILVMEAT.
Interview Fail - Don't Joke With Reporters

Because it ends up looking pretty lame on the TV news....
Cranston police have arrested an alleged cyberstalker.

Ann Bruno, a local costume shop owner, is accused of using a computer to harass a competitor.

NBC 10s Jim Taricani attempted to question her about it in what turned out to be an unusual interview.
Leavening The ASU Stew With Just A Touch Of Hypocrisy

The folks in Tempe are funny:
The mini-drama surrounding Arizona State University's refusal to award President Barack Obama an honorary degree may have a second act.

Obama is scheduled to deliver a commencement address at ASU next month, and last week, the university touched off a bit of controversy by suggesting that he hadn't "been in [his] field" for enough time to deserve an honorary degree just yet.

There were, unfortunately, some problems with that rationale.

But over the weekend, the university announced the formation of the "President Barack Obama Scholars" program. And, though they haven't decided to give Obama a degree, Politico's Jonathan Martin reported on Saturday that ASU President Michael Crow sent an email to faculty and students re-justifying that decision.

"Since my appointment," Crow wrote, "we have not awarded honorary degrees to sitting politicians, a practice based on the very practical realities of operating a public university in our political environment."

And that's, perhaps, the rationale they should have used in the first place...except that it's not completely true. Crow became ASU president on July 1, 2002 and on Dec. 19 of that year, ASU awarded an honorary agree to Robert Stump, a lame duck Arizona Congressman who was finishing up his last term in office.
Pedroia Says He Was Joking

Dustin Pedroia said in a lengthy interview with The Bee this morning that he was only joking when he called his hometown of Woodland "a dump" and that his comments were taken out of context.

..."I'm totally crushed by this, devastated, because I didn't mean it that way at all," Pedroia said. "The (Boston Magazine) writer doesn't know my personality. I kid around a lot, and that's what I was doing when I was talking about Woodland.

"That town raised me. I grew up there. I rode my bike there. I played high school ball there. Loved all of it. My family and best friends are still there. I love going home. This article made me seem like a jerk, and I'm not."

...Pedroia also denied that he called Alex Rodriguez "a dork," as he was quoted in the story.

"Come on, dude," Pedroia said. "I never said that."
It all sounds fishy to me. Since I don't know Pedroia personally I can't really say anything about his sense of humor. But there shouldn't be any question by now that there are certain classes of people with whom you don't joke: TSA agents, for one; Newspaper Reporters, for another.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Britney Spears "Circus" - ARCO Arena - April 11, 2009

I ended up with far more pictures of Britney's derriere than of her face - somehow "Piece of Me" now seems far less like a challenge and far more like a prophecy....

Left and Below: Britney's show featured many other highly-skilled performers.

Left: Certain color cues stimulate the baboon male (and truth be told, the human male as well....)

Left: The projections on the stage's big cylinder at the show's start were quite impressive!

Apparently this wicked-looking fellow is Perez Hilton.

I was experimenting with a video camera I borrowed and I got lots of really crappy video (one trouble with this camera is close-ups).

For 'Bows', however, I brought the zoom back in order to focus on the visual displays on the set, and those make interesting viewing....
Pussycat Dolls "Doll Domination" - ARCO Arena - April 11, 2009