Saturday, September 19, 2009

In The Jungle Of Nool, By The River Walloo

The Whos, left to right: Riley S., Jeffrey Lloyd Heatherly, Elena L., Jennifer Berry, Ana C. (JoJo), Jason Hammond (The Mayor of Whoville), and William C.

[Update] Here are a few pictures from Saturday and Sunday.

Great opening last night (Friday night)!

I've never seen people with so much built-up tension and excitement just before opening night curtain - nearly paralyzed with excitement!

There were a few problems, of course. The Elephant Bird sprang out much too soon, for example. And there were other glitches. But people really enjoyed themselves and laughed themselves silly, and we are off to a strong start!

Dance number, featuring Ryan L., and Jessica Kersten.

"It's Possible (In McElligot's Pool)".

The Cat in the Hat (Kevin Caravalho), Thing 2 (Devon H.), JoJo (Ana C.), and Thing 1 (Linnea L.).

The Cat In The Hat as Dr. Dake (Kevin Caravalho) and Gertrude McFuzz (Emily Jo Seminoff).

The four Bird Girls (Eimi Stokes, Christina Rae, Chanel Charity, and Monica Parisi).

The Whos, left to right: Karina Summers, Riley S., Jeffrey Lloyd Heatherly, Elena L., Christine Deamer, Ana C. (JoJo), Jason Hammond (The Mayor of Whoville), William C., and Kristofer Y.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Final Rehearsal Pictures - "Seussical The Musical"

Final pose.
Emily Jo Seminoff as Gertrude McFuzz (and Bird Girl Monica Parisi).
Kyle Hadley (Horton the Elephant) and the four Bird Girls (Eimi Stokes, Christina Rae, Monica Parisi, and Chanel Charity).
Kyle Hadley (Horton the Elephant), Deborah Douglas Hammond (Sour Kangaroo) and two of the four Bird Girls (Eimi Stokes and Chanel Charity).
Horton the Elephant (Kyle Hadley), The Cat in the Hat (Kevin Caravalho), and JoJo (Ana C.).
General Schmitz's troops. (Not quite sure: Kendyl I., x, x, x, Megan Rynott, x, Ryan L., Riley S., Jessica Kersten, Matthew Kohrt, Brittany Bickel?).
Mr. & Mrs. Mayor (Jason Hammond and Erin Renfree), and daughter Elena L. (Cindy Lou Who).
The Wickersham Brothers (Cole Y., Matthew Kohrt, Kendyl I., and Ryan L.).
Kyle Hadley as 'Horton' and Emily Jo Seminoff as Gertrude McFuzz (with Bird Girls Eimi Stokes, Christna Rae, Chanel Charity, and Monica Parisi).
Final number.

Sac Bee Ticket Feature On DMTC

Jan explained the concept:
"I told Steve, 'We're going to have nice, big casts with kids, teens, adults, and seniors onstage and the rest of the community in the audience cheering us on,' " Isaacson says.

"Plaguers" Trailer

Out on DVD (with Stephanie Skewes) on December 15th.

And People Wonder Why We Have An Illegal Immigration Problem

It's because we talk the talk, but we don't walk the walk. And it's actually more human of us that we don't walk the walk either. We are willing to get all medieval on illegal immigrants, but only as long as the folks remain faceless. Once there is a face attached to the pain, it's all a different story. So, Joe Wilson may be a hypocrite, but a hypocrite in a humane sense:
The anti-illegal immigration movement is singing Congressman Joe Wilson’s praises, but the lawmaker who was rebuked by the House this week recently helped extend the stay of one of those very “illegals” the activists hope to remove from the country.

...Two months before he heckled Obama, he introduced legislation to keep Sainey Fatty, an illegal immigrant from Gambia, in the country. Fatty came to the U.S. for school in the early ’90s and lived here for seven years while under a deportation order, according to his friend Bill Cook’s blog.

In his bill, Wilson asks Congress to forgive Fatty’s immigration woes, drop the deportation order against Fatty and allow him to remain in the country legally.

Wilson’s communications director Ryan Murphy told Raw Story in an e-mail that “Congressman Wilson does not support illegal immigrants getting access to a government taxpayer funded health insurance program.” He did not respond to questions about what motivated Wilson to keep Fatty in the country or whether Wilson supports Fatty’s ability to receive medical care in the U.S.

...Fatty’s friend Cook says in his blog that Fatty is allegedly a Christian convert who abandoned his Muslim roots. Cook did not respond to Raw Story’s request for comments, and restricted the public’s ability to view his blog after Raw Story left a voice-mail message at his office. Government workers familiar with the process in which members of Congress fight deportation orders say many undocumented people file asylum claims stating they would face violence if they return to their native countries after converting to Christianity.

After South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham followed Wilson’s lead, Fatty gets to stay in the U.S. for at least the next 15 months. Graham introduced legislation similar to Wilson’s in the Senate, which essentially gives Fatty an automatic stay on the deportation order to give the Senate time to act on Graham’s bill. Fatty is now allowed to remain in the U.S. until the 111th session of Congress adjourns.

“By the grace of God, Fatty has been granted a stay on his deportation,” his friend Cook’s blog reported last month. “…Congressman Wilson and others reached out to Senators DeMint and Graham, who were able to secure a temporary stay–word reached Fatty less than 30 minutes before his flight out of the U.S. was slated to leave today. Praise God for His kindness!”

...Fatty did not respond to requests for comment, but the company website for HIS International, a South Carolina group that bills itself as a non-denominational Christian organization, lists him as an employee since 2003.

The group’s website says it helps foreign students with practical matters like getting driver’s licenses and gives these students the “option” of joining them for Bible study sessions and retreats. They also provide help accessing medical care.


(Shouting from different rooms)

M.: We open our show in Davis tonight.

E.: What show are you doing now?

M.: We are doing "Suessical, The Musical": (singing) 'A person's a person, no matter how small....'

E.: Oh....

(Later, listening to her experimenting with the tune...)

E.: Suzy-Q, Suzy-Q, A person's a person, no matter how big....

Space Census

How many people are there in space right now? I mean, right now?

Six, at this instant.

Music Of The Birds

Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

A delightful idea!:
Reading a newspaper, I saw a picture of birds on the electric wires. I cut out the photo and decided to make a song, using the exact location of the birds as notes (no Photoshop edit). I knew it wasn't the most original idea in the universe. I was just curious to hear what melody the birds were creating.

Dating Montage From The 1980's

I wonder where they are now?

Most Of The Debt Remains

Interesting series of three graphs at Calculated Risk regarding home equity. Here's one graph....

The percentage of home equity virtually defines the middle class and so seems like a good proxy for the economic health of the middle class:
This graph shows homeowner percent equity since 1952.

Household percent equity (of household real estate) was up to 43% from the all time low last quarter of 41.9%. The increase was due to a slight increase in the value of household real estate and a decline in mortgage debt - and also a decline in overall GDP (so the ratio increases).

When prices were increasing dramatically, the percent homeowner equity was stable or declining because homeowners were extracting equity from their homes. Now, with prices falling, the percent homeowner equity has been cliff diving.

Note: approximately 31% of households do not have a mortgage. So the 50+ million households with mortgages have far less than 43% equity.

...After a bubble, the value of assets decline, but most of the debt remains.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"Seussical" - Wednesday Night Rehearsal

General Genghis Khan Schmitz (Jeffrey Lloyd Heatherly) and his troops (Jessica Kersten, Matthew Kohrt, and others) meet the Whos.
General Schmitz's troops (Not quite sure: Kendyl I., x, x, x, Ryan L., Riley S., Jessica Kersten, Matthew Kohrt, Helen Spangler?).
Kevin Caravalho (The Cat in the Hat) as Dr. Dake and Emily Jo Seminoff as Gertrude McFuzz.
Kevin Caravalho (The Cat in the Hat) as Dr. Dake, Emily Jo Seminoff as Gertrude McFuzz, Linnea L. (Thing 1) and Devon H. (Thing 2).

Kevin Caravalho as the 'Cat In The Hat', Kyle Hadley as 'Horton', Kay Hight as 'Mayzie LaBird', Linnea L. as 'Thing 1' and Devon H. as 'Thing 2'.
Kyle Hadley as 'Horton the Elephant'.
Left: General Genghis Khan Schmitz (Jeff Lloyd Heatherly) and his troops meet the Whos (Michael Yambrovich and Christine Deamer, obscured; and jason Hammond (The Mayor of Whoville).

Below: Kevin Caravalho as the 'Cat In The Hat'.

"Hunches". Linnea L. (Thing 1) and Devon H. (Thing 2), Ana C. as 'Jojo' and Kevin Caravalho as 'The Cat In The Hat'.
"Hunches". Linnea L. (Thing 1), Devon H. (Thing 2), Ana C. as 'Jojo' and Kevin Caravalho as 'The Cat In The Hat', and Hunches (Gerald Shearman, Christine Deamer, Megan Rynott, and Jennifer Berry).

The Whos (background) struggle to make themselves heard. The Whos, left to right: Christine Deamer, Riley S., Jennifer Berry, Elena L., Ana C., Jason Hammond (The Mayor of Whoville), William C., and Erin Renfree-Davis.

Foreground: Helen Spangler (Court Marshall).
Kevin Caravalho as 'The Cat In The Hat'.

Kyle Hadley as 'Horton' and Emily Jo Seminoff as Gertrude McFuzz (with Bird Girl Monica Parisi).
Final number.
Final number.

Yay! The Mobile Home is SOLD!

I'm happy: my sister is feeling a twinge of sadness, however, because there's no going back - it's a permanent, permanent milestone.

Blogs, And Their Problems

One of the most unexpected joys of blogging here at Marc Valdez Weblog is just how few real problems I've had since 2002 with with people flaming each other in the comments section. That was unexpected, because there are so many people with clashing temperaments in the Sacramento Community Musical Theatre scene, and some flaming might have been expected. But no, everyone's been real, real civil over the last seven years, even if the antagonisms might have been deep at times.

Today is a bit different, however. Since I've churned out so many blogposts over the years, however, I won't point to the problem, but effectively bury it. Since I respect both the flamer and the flamed I won't delete the comments either, at least, not yet, but simply worry over them.

If you are a spammer, however, I'm gonna $&^*#@ kill you!

Mobile Home Sale Might Be Imminent

My sister says the buyer might have trouble paying some excise fees, or something. All I say is "get it done!"

Two - TWO! - Hindenburg-Sized Egos, Under The Same Roof, At The Same Time!

Grotesque doesn't even begin to describe what lays in wait for us! Mothra and Godzilla of the musical world!

Kanye West and Lady Gaga, at Arco Arena, on November 20th!

Should we go, or should we take the cue from the helpless massed denizens of Tokyo, and flee for the hills?

Ladies Gaelic Football Class Organizing Via Craigslist

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Egregious Rush Limbaugh Poisons National Discourse Again

Not for the first time, and I hope for the last, Rush Limbaugh's enormous ass is scraping bottom, again, this time with this black/white school bus incident and some conservatives finally see the danger in giving him any more leeway:
It has since come out that the police officer who initially described the beating as racial has changed his mind. It appears it was just bullies being bullies, which is bad enough, but not as bad as we first thought.

But that's not why I took down the item and the link to the video. I took it down because now we have Rush Limbaugh blaming Obama for black kids beating up a white kid on a school bus. This is what happens in "Obama's America," he said today on his radio show.

How low will these people go? Look, I think it's important to talk about black male violence, or at least as important as it is to talk about any other important social trend. I don't think we should be squeamish about discussing it in a responsible and fair-minded way, despite what the politically correct say. But good grief, Limbaugh is up to something wicked. He's plainly trying to rally white conservatives into thinking that now that we have a black president, blacks are rising up to attack white kids! Christ have mercy, what is wrong with these people?

I won't have anything to do with it, not even tangentially, which is why I took down the post. I can't see this as anything other than Limbaugh deliberately trying to whip up racial fear and loathing of the president. This goes far, far beyond tough criticism of Obama. Does that man Limbaugh have any idea what rough beast he's calling forth?

On his deathbed not too many years ago, a relative of mine confessed to having been part of a white lynch mob in the 1930s, which strung up a black man after he was caught having sex with a white woman. She accused him of rape. The sheriff led the lynch mob. There was no need for a trial; what a black man did to a white woman was considered so horrifying that nobody could wait for a trial and a verdict. After the black man was murdered, the guilt-stricken white woman confessed that the man had been her lover, and she called him a rapist to protect her honor.

None of us ever knew this about my kinsman, until in his dying days, he admitted it because it tortured him. It had been on his heart all his life. I pray that his repentance in the face of eternity helped him find mercy. It unnerved me, though, to think that that kindly old man had once fallen under the sway of race hatred to that degree, a race hatred that was part of the society into which he was born and raised. It still does, because that world seems like a thousand years ago. But it only seems so far away because many people worked too hard -- and some even gave their lives -- to drive those demons out. And now here is Limbaugh, of Palm Beach, and his ilk, calling them back insouciantly, for political advantage. This is evil.

It's undeniably true that black males, as a group, are disproportionately responsible for violent crimes today (and blacks are disproportionately victims, too). This is important to talk about. This means something. I hate the kind of political correctness that demands we pretend not to see what we see. But as far as I'm concerned, if the Limbaughs of the world are going to be doing this kind of thing, and trying to blame, with no logical grounds whatsoever, a black president for black-on-white violence, and if they're going to do this in an increasingly hysterical atmosphere of protest against that black president, I don't want to talk about these things at all. Now is not the time. With this kind of inflammatory rhetoric, they are quite simply tearing the country apart.

Where do they think this is going to go?

The Blue Dogs Get Their Health Care Reform Package

But does anyone else like it?

Myself, I don't know how this health insurance mandate is supposed to work. Requiring everyone to have health insurance would be fine if we also required everyone to have money, but as we know, not all do.

Nope, this is a long-term, multi-year battle. Baucus' bill is just the first salvo.....

Quensland History Is Full Of Stuff Like This Too

Out-of-control roos:
AN Atherton psychologist got the fright of her life yesterday when a large kangaroo busted into her office and forced her to leap on to a desk for safety.

The 1.5m roo created more than six minutes of havoc at the office shared by psychologist Suzanne Habib and disability employment agency, Commonwealth Rehabilitation Services Australia.

But the drama did not end there.

The escaping roo bolted out of the office and nearly knocked over an elderly woman using a walking fame to make her way along Railway Lane before the frightened animal headed up Jack St.

Abortion Lightning Rod

I remember reading a primer on Queensland history, and being struck at how traditionally conservative, even authoritarian, the politics there have been.

That tradition is highlighted with the abortion lightning-rod Leach case:
A teenager faces seven years in prison after being ordered to stand trial for organising her own home abortion in the first such prosecution in Australia in over half a century.

Tegan Leach, 19, from the north Queensland city of Cairns, was committed to trial today in Cairns District Court. Her boyfriend, Sergie Brennan, 21, who has been charged with supplying drugs to procure an abortion, faces three years in jail.

The court heard that police found empty pharmaceutical blister packets alleged to have contained contraband abortion drugs obtained in Ukraine, along with a Russian doctor's instructions, during a search of the couple's Cairns home in relation to another matter in February.

Police allege that Ms Leach took the drugs, a Chinese version of the abortion pill RU486, to induce a miscarriage because she and her partner believed that they were too young to raise a child.

...The case has caused controversy in Queensland, and polarised the debate on abortion in Australia, under whose Victorian-era laws it remains a crime in most states including Queensland.

So heated has the debate become that Ms Leach and her boyfriend have been forced into hiding after their home was fire-bombed and Mr Brennan's car was attacked.

RU486 was allowed into Australia just three years ago and can be administered only under medical supervision, but the laws surrounding its use are so uncertain that a number of doctors have stopped prescribing the drug altogether for fear of prosecution.

...Queensland hospitals recently suspended drug-induced abortions after the Leach case and insurance companies in the state said that they would withdraw cover from doctors who aided medical abortions. Their decision forced dozens of women over the border into New South Wales for terminations.

After doctors there, too, refused to perform abortions for fear of being prosecuted a number of women were left in limbo until the Queensland government rushed through Parliament changes to the law to clarify the legality of medical abortions.

Now, all sides will be watching the outcome of the Leach case with tremendous interest.

Yeah, But What About Those Campers Who Brought The Dos Equis?

Paranoia in the woods is understandable these days, but the growers generally try NOT to call attention to themselves, and certainly not by playing music of any sort. It's the mystery folks in the woods whom one must look out for.

I like the quote "Federal employees don't often have the opportunity to be engaged in activities outside the home":
DENVER — The U.S. Forest Service has apologized for suggesting that campers who eat tortillas, drink Tecate beer and play Spanish music may be armed marijuana growers, calling it "regrettable" and "insensitive."

...The Forest Service issued a warning about armed drug growers last month amid an investigation into how much marijuana is being cultivated in national forests in Colorado. Officials retracted it two days later amid heavy criticism.

..."We sincerely apologize to the Hispanic community and anyone else we may have offended. That was not our intent. Our goal was to inform the public of these activities and create safety awareness among the hunters and hikers who travel to our remote backcountry areas and who may come upon these illegal operations," he said in a statement.

Polly Baca, co-chair of the Colorado Latino Forum, said meeting was productive and a good start on mending relations after the Forest Service has promised to conduct sensitivity training for its agents.

"It was obvious the staff did not have the cultural awareness they need. Federal employees don't often have the opportunity to be engaged in activities outside the home," she said.

...The warnings were issued following the recent discovery of more than 14,000 plants in Pike National Forest. Forest Service officials said they believe illegal immigrants are being brought to Colorado by Latin American drug cartels for mass cultivation of marijuana.

Debt Collectors

Every flippin' ding-danged morning, the debt collectors call, starting promptly at 8 a.m. And since I go to bed late and sleep late, annoying doesn't even come close to being the right adjective. It's not even me they want, but with robo-calls, they'll call and call and call until the universes' entropy death (forecast to be some 15 billion+ years away).

Let's just say I'm sympathetic to these victims:
Tampa, Florida-- Stanley McLeod was a man family members say always tried to pay his bills on time.

But, after a massive heart attack, the Sears employee had to quit work and fell behind on his mortgage payment, prompting calls from a debt collector.

"There were about ten to twelve calls a day," says Stanley's wife, Dianne McLeod.

But the calls were far from ordinary. In fact, a first of its kind lawsuit filed by Tampa based law firm Morgan and Morgan alleges the company's calls were so frequent and harassing, McLeod's blood pressure and stress levels shot through the roof, enough to ultimately contribute to his death.

"He'd get very red in the face and short of breath," recalls Mrs. McLeod of the calls her husband would often take while she was at work. "I believe it contributed to his death, I really do."

The McLeod's saved tapes with some of the messages left on their home answering machine. A male debt collector can be heard commenting on the expensive helicopter ride that saved Stanley's life:

"Get your act together and make the payments on your mortgage. Why don't you have that helicopter pick you up and bring that payment to the office."

That recording eventually made its way to Tampa attorney Billy Howard, who heads the consumer protection unit of Florida mega firm Morgan and Morgan.

"They don't care, they just want to make money," said Howard, who says his office has started receiving hundreds of complaints about overly aggressive debt collectors. "No one has held them accountable."

..."It's time to fight back against the banks and debt collectors and make them responsible for their conduct," Howard says. "The way to stop them is in the pocketbook."

The McLeod case is not an isolated one. Howard provided us with a CD full of similar calls, many containing profane language and even racial slurs.

In one of the calls, the debt collector can be heard calling a man the "n-word" after threatening to dig deep into his background.

...Howard says while debt collection companies have every right to go after money owed to banks and other companies, a Florida law protects consumers from calls considered harassing.

"You have to do it in a nice manner, period," says Howard, who adds most Floridians don't know their rights in these type cases.

He also adds, in some cases, people don't even owe money, and are either victims of identity theft or mistakes on the part of the collection agency.

"These people are innocent, and they can't get the calls to stop," Howard says.

On one of Howard's cases from July, he says, a debt collector called the best friend of a woman suggesting the friend had died. Ericka Cartagena of Winter Springs says her friend frantically called her brother, throwing her entire family into a panic when they couldn't reach her by phone.

"Everyone thought I was dead!" said an angry Cartagena who, to this day, has no idea why the debt collection company called. She is making payments on a used car, but says she previously made all her payments on time.

She and her attorney believe the statement suggesting her death may have been a mistake, but is often a deliberate attempt by collection companies to prompt an immediate call back from unsuspecting family members.

"To use something like that against somebody is the most egregious collection abuse that is imaginable," Howard says.

A spokesperson for the debt collection industry says he believes cases involving harassment are isolated.

"I think it's the rare exception. Every customer has the right to be treated with dignity and respect," says spokesman Adam Peterman, director of government affairs for the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals (ACA).

But Dianne McLeod says her husband, while still alive, was treated with anything but dignity and respect.

"They humiliated him, they harassed him, and they didn't care," says McLeod. "You know that if things had been handled differently by this company, he may still be here."

Now, she wants to collect, from the company she blames for harassing her husband to death.

Orly Taitz Won't Apologize Either

And she's probably headed towards sanction land, with a judge who could be sympathetic if she wasn't such an ass:
"This is so outrageous what this judge did -- it goes in the face of law and order," said Taitz, reached at her office in Mission Viego, CA. "Not every judge is as corrupt as Judge Land. Some judges believe in the Constitution. And some judges believe in the rule of law."

Land's withering 14-page order tossed out a "birther soldier" case brought by Taitz and Army Capt. Connie Rhodes, who wants to defy a deployment order because she believes Barack Obama does not legitimately possess the presidency.

A clearly frustrated Land called Taitz's suit -- the second filed in the Middle District of Georgia -- "frivolous" and threatened her with sanctions if she kept at it.

I asked Taitz what she will do next with the Rhodes case, which was filed and tossed out in another district before it was refiled with Land. "This is the decision of Connie," she said. "I will be talking to her and making a decision."

And if Rhodes is open to continuing the fight, would Taitz go along?

"Oh absolutely, absolutely," she said. "Listen, Nelson Mandela stayed in prison for years in order to get to the truth and justice."

And Taitz brushed off the possibility of sanctions. "I'm not afraid of sanctions. Because I know this is not frivolous. I know this is extremely important -- the most important issue in this country today."

"Judge Land is a typical puppet of the regime -- just like in the Soviet Union," she said.

Birther Smack Down

Birther leader Orly Taitz gets her ass handed back to her, by a Bush-appointed judge, no less:
Acknowledging the existence of a document that shows the President was born in Hawaii, Plaintiff alleges that the document “cannot be verified as genuine, and should be presumed fraudulent.” In further support of her claim, Plaintiff relies upon “the general opinion in the rest of the world” that “Barack Hussein Obama has, in essence, slipped through the guardrails to become President.” (Id. ¶ 128.) Moreover, as though the “general opinion in the rest of the world” were not enough, Plaintiff alleges in her Complaint that according to an “AOL poll 85% of Americans believe that Obama was not vetted, needs to be vetted and his vital records need to be produced.” Finally, in a remarkable shifting of the traditional legal burden of proof, Plaintiff unashamedly alleges that Defendant has the burden to prove his “natural born” status. (Id. ¶¶ 136-138, 148.) Thus, Plaintiff’s counsel, who champions herself as a defender of liberty and freedom, seeks to use the power of the judiciary to compel a citizen, albeit the President of the United States, to “prove his innocence” to “charges” that are based upon conjecture and speculation. Any middle school civics student would readily recognize the irony of abandoning fundamental principles upon which our Country was founded in order to purportedly “protect and preserve” those very principles ....

Plaintiff’s complaint is not plausible on its face. To the extent that it alleges any “facts,” the Complaint does not connect those facts to any actual violation of Plaintiff’s individual constitutional rights. Unlike in Alice in Wonderland, simply saying something is so does not make it so.

"The War Boys" Trailer

The War Boys Trailer from Brandon Roots on Vimeo.

Aha! Here is a trailer for the movie they partially-filmed in my Dad's trailer park in Albuquerque. (Is that too many trailers for one sentence?) I don't see any trailers in the trailer, though, so I'm slightly miffed. Nevertheless, there are bound to be trailers in the motion picture, so I'm jazzed to see this.

"Gamer" Is Apparently Now In The Theaters

And downtown Albuquerque never looked so different.

Can't Tell Me Nothin'

Via Eschaton.

Do you think Kanye West cares about what you think about his episode with Taylor Swift? A jerk's gotta do what a jerk's gotta do!

Galifianakis and Oldham have a better take....

Sarah Palin Opera

This current-events trend in opera is all John Adams' fault. Once he demonstrated what great material current-events provides, with "Nixon In China", then the flood gates were open:
“Say It Ain’t So, Joe,” a presentation by Guerilla Opera, opens Saturday at Boston Conservatory’s Zack Box Theater. The work is composer Curtis Hughes’ musical take on America’s favorite moose-hunting winker, you betcha. It focuses on that contentious - and sometimes comical - debate from October 2008 between Palin and Joe Biden, though the show also includes cameos from Hillary Clinton, Gwen Ifill, Diane Sawyer and, of course, the right-wing’s favorite Everyman, Joe the Plumber.

“My primary interest was the music,” Hughes said. “I was struck by the contrast of the two styles - Biden’s and Palin’s - and the music in their voices. Of course I have strong political sentiments, but this is not about my sentiments.”

...“I didn’t have much time,” Hughes said by phone. “But some years ago I had sketched out ideas after the Kerry-Bush debates. I couldn’t get a handle on the contrasts between those two voices, and I ended up rejecting that project. But here, not only is there enormous subject matter in the debates, but the different styles are interesting.”

...“It is a tragedy about Palin,” he said. “Both characters view themselves as saviors of America. And even though I’m not trying to hammer people on the head with a single interpretation, you know that Biden will triumph in the end. But the central figure certainly is Sarah Palin. I found myself having this odd pathos for her, a pathos I would not have felt if I were not writing music for her.”

"Seussical The Musical" - Tuesday Rehearsal At DMTC

Opening number. Left to right, Kay Hight (Mayzie LaBird), Kristofer Y., Mina A., Linnea L. (Thing 1), Kyle Hadley (Horton the Elephant), Kevin Caravalho (The Cat in the Hat), Jeffrey Lloyd Heatherly (Genghis Khan Schmitz), Riley S., Jennifer Berry (obscured), Devon H. (Thing 2), Ana C. (JoJo).
The Wickersham Brothers (Kendyl I., Ryan L., Matthew Kohrt, Cole Y.), Horton's Nest Tree, and the Sour Kangaroo (Deborah Douglas Hammond).
The Whos (background) struggle to make themselves heard to a skeptical Court (foreground). The Whos, left to right: Karina Summers, Christine Deamer, Riley S., Jennifer Berry, Elena L., Jason Hammond (The Mayor of Whoville), Ana C. (JoJo), Erin Renfree-Davis (Mrs. Mayor), William C., Kristofer, Y., Jan Isaacson, Micheal Yambrovich.

Near foreground: Kyle Hadley (Horton the Elephant), Devon Hayakawa (Thing 2), Linnea Lampinen (Thing 1), and Helen Spangler (Court Marshal).

Far foreground: Three of the four Bird Girls (Christina Rae, Chanel Charity, and Monica Parisi).

Deborah Douglas-Hammond as the 'Sour Kangaroo'.
Jojo (Ana Chan) and her mighty 'Yopp'! The Whos, left to right: Karina Summers, Christine Deamer, Riley S., Jennifer Berry, Elena L., Jason Hammond (The Mayor of Whoville), Ana C. (JoJo), Erin Renfree-Davis (Mrs. Mayor, obscured), William C. (obscured), and Jan Isaacson.

Near foreground: Devon Hayakawa (Thing 2), Linnea Lampinen (Thing 1), and Helen Spangler (Court Marshal).

Far foreground: Emily Jo Seminoff (Gertrude McFuzz), and two of the four Bird Girls (Chanel Charity and Monica Parisi).

'I Do Not Like Green Eggs And Ham'
The Whos (background) struggle to make themselves heard to a skeptical Court (foreground). The Whos, left to right: Christine Deamer, Riley S., Jennifer Berry, Elena L., Jason Hammond (The Mayor of Whoville), Ana C. (JoJo), Erin Renfree-Davis (Mrs. Mayor, obscured), and William C. (obscured).

Near foreground: Devon Hayakawa (Thing 2) and Linnea Lampinen (Thing 1).

Far foreground: one of the four Bird Girls (Monica Parisi).

Horton encourages the Whos. Near foreground: Kyle Hadley (Horton the Elephant), Devon Hayakawa (Thing 2) and Linnea Lampinen (Thing 1).

Far foreground: Emily Jo Seminoff (Gertrude McFuzz), and the four Bird Girls (Eimi Stokes, Christina Rae, Chanel Charity, and Monica Parisi).

Background: Whos (Karina Summers and Riley S.).
Gertrude McFuzz (Emily Jo Seminoff) tries to impress dutiful Horton the Elephant (Kyle Hadley).
Kevin Caravalho as the 'Cat In The Hat'.
Kevin Caravalho as the 'Cat In The Hat'

Mr. & Mrs. Mayor (Jason Hammond and Erin Renfree), and Elena L. (Cindy Lou Who).

General Genghis Khan Schmitz (Jeffrey Lloyd Heatherly) and his troops (Matthew Kohrt, Jessica Kersten, among others) meet the Whos (Michael Yambrovich, Christine Deamer, William C., Jan Isaacson, Jason Hammond, Elena L., and Erin Renfree-Davis. Facing away, The Cat in the Hat (Kevin Caravalho).
The Cat In The Hat (Kevin Caravalho) plays Palm Beach José to Mayzie LaBird (Kay Hight).
Horton the Elephant (Kyle Hadley) hears a Who.
Bird Girls (Eimi Stokes, Christina Rae, Chanel Charity, and Monica Parisi).
Opening number. Left to right, Mina A., Linnea L. (Thing 1), Kyle Hadley (Horton the Elephant), Kevin Caravalho (The Cat in the Hat), Jeffrey Lloyd Heatherly (Genghis Khan Schmitz), Riley S., Jennifer Berry (obscured), Devon H. (Thing 2), Ana C. (JoJo), Emily Jo Seminoff (Gertrude McFuzz), Jessica Kersten, and Helen Spangler.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Puzzled By The High Profile

This morning's Bee featured the arrest of a disability pension applicant:
A state worker who applied for a disability pension claiming that anxiety, chronic pain, and fatigue left her virtually unable to leave home or lift a coffee cup to her lips has been arrested after she was videotaped bowling in Elk Grove.

Lisa Trevino-Angelo, 38, was arrested without fanfare and charged by the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office on Aug. 8. She will be arraigned Thursday.

The former Department of Motor Vehicles personnel specialist faces a misdemeanor count of filing a false claim and one count of making false statements and submitting false information to get benefits from the California Public Employees' Retirement System, court documents show.

...Brad Pacheco, a CalPERS spokesman, declined to comment because the case is in the courts but said criminal charges are rare in disability frauds. "Most are handled administratively," Pacheco said.

A CalPERS investigation report stapled to Trevino-Angelo's arrest warrant says she applied for a disability pension in July 2008 after working part time at DMV since 2001.

She started full time at the DMV in 1992. Her health deteriorated, and she stopped working altogether in 2007, the CalPERS report states.

When Trevino-Angelo applied for the disability pension, she complained of chronic, debilitating "head-to-toe pain" that impaired her memory and made it hard for her to focus or work, medical reports show.

When she underwent independent medical evaluations in December and January, the woman told doctors that her fibromyalgia and other ailments left her so weak that she couldn't hold a pen or her baby, cradle a phone to her neck or lift a coffee cup.

She told doctors she felt like "a hostage in her own home" because anxiety and depression made it hard to leave it.

When members of CalPERS investigations unit caught up with Trevino-Angelo in December 2008, she was videotaped bowling and eating pizza at Strikes Bowling Alley in Elk Grove.

They also videotaped her shopping "in high energy fashion" at Target, Old Navy and Barnes & Noble, carrying bags, a CalPERS report states.

CalPERS investigators also videotaped Trevino-Angelo chasing and lifting a toddler in and out of an SUV, and chatting on a cell phone. One video shows her jumping up at a soccer game "to celebrate some achievement by kids on the field," CalPERS report states.
It struck me as strange that this case was getting such a high profile in the newspaper. Is CALPERS getting medieval on all its applicants? Are squads of investigators chasing after every applicant? After all, she had yet to receive any benefits, as far as the article relates. Is CALPERS making an example out of her? The response seems disproportionate.

In my hometown of Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Journal now features an insert where prominent pictures of all your friends and neighbors are displayed after their Drunk driving arrests, but at least they wait for convictions before humiliating everyone in your Rolodex in the local media. I guess CALPERS is different.

Vegas Scrambling

The casino's pain is your gain! It's something of a bargain hunter's paradise right now. I hope to be back there to see Kylie in early October to re-recheck it out.

I read somewhere that $8.00/gallon gasoline would effectively kill Vegas' business model. I hope that doesn't happen for a good while yet...:
The Strip's business model for the 21st century, which was to tap into an ever-expanding supply of free-spending visitors clamoring for first-class hotel rooms, four-star restaurant fare and high-priced shows, has been shattered by its worst recession in decades.

...Tourism is down for the second year in a row, and the people who come aren't spending with the abandon of the past. ... In 2007, the peak year, 39.2 million people visited. Last year 37.5 million visitors came to town. Tourism officials say convention business is down about 27% from a year ago. If current trends continue, Vegas may barely break 35 million visits this year, the lowest level since 1999.

...Room rates on the Strip are so steeply discounted that the top resorts will put you up today for the same price that downscale hotels charged two years ago.

At the Encore, which Vegas impresario Steve Wynn opened in December as an extension of his luxe Wynn resort, some customers were offered two-night stays this summer for $99. For some nights this fall, promotional rates as low as $90 are being offered at Bellagio, a premier Strip hotel where rooms customarily can reach $500 or more.

...Cirque du Soleil, the acrobatics juggernaut that dominates the Strip with six shows, has done something that veteran Vegas watchers find more mind-blowing than anything it presents onstage: It's knocking as much as 40% off ticket packages for two.

"Cirque never discounted for anyone," says Anthony Curtis, the publisher of Las Vegas Advisor, an insider's guide to deals.

...Not only has the economic collapse been more extensive and severe than in the past, but the town has much more at stake. In 2001, Las Vegas had 125,000 hotel rooms to fill; at year-end 2008 the inventory was 141,000. An additional 16,000 have been scheduled to open in the next two years.

As a rule of thumb, an increase of 200,000 new visitors per year is required to fill every 1,000 new rooms -- meaning that 3.2 million new visitors would have to come to town to absorb the new construction.

Failure to reverse that trend would shatter one of the town's articles of faith: that new, glitzier properties always generate the tourism to fill them.

That axiom has held since Wynn opened the 3,000-room Mirage in 1989. Many then doubted his glossy property could make enough to pay off its heavy debt. Instead it was a roaring success. A wave of themed resorts followed.

..The most graphic illustration of the conflict on the Strip between high expectations and harsh economic reality is an 88-acre lot across from Wynn Las Vegas, an expanse of sandy waste harboring rusting steel frameworks. This is the site of Echelon, which was launched as a $4-billion luxury resort by Boyd Gaming Corp.

...Boyd acquired and imploded the storied Stardust hotel. By the time of Echelon's groundbreaking in June 2007, the project had expanded into a complex of four hotels totaling 5,300 rooms, a convention center, two theaters and a luxury retail mall. Its new price tag of $4.8 billion made it the second-costliest project on the Strip, behind only the $8.4-billion CityCenter.

One year later, after investing $700 million in the project, Boyd shut it down. At the time, the company cited "economic conditions" and the credit freeze, but although both have begun to moderate, it hasn't reconsidered its decision.

"We continue to look at the project, and we don't see a natural restarting point," Boyd Chief Executive Keith Smith said in an interview. "We're taking the rest of 2009 to analyze our options."

...Some casino industry experts fear that continued heavy discounting will dim the Vegas aura for the longer term.

"You've got to drop your rates, but you don't want to create a sense that this is a discount experience or that the experience itself has been diminished," says Billy Vassiliadis, chief executive of R&R Partners, the Las Vegas public relations firm that created the renowned "What happens here, stays here" marketing campaign. "It's been a real dilemma."

Another concern is that bargain hunters lured to the Strip by cut-rate rooms may not belong to the market segment that its business model -- a symbiosis of expensive accommodations, gourmet dining and entertainment -- relies on. Rather than dining at a hotel's high-margin Wolfgang Puck restaurant, for example, they may hop across the street for a fast-food meal.

Supposedly-Liberal Hollywood Won't Distribute "Creation"

We live under the shadow of fundamentalist thought. It's amazing that most Americans won't be able to see this film:

Creation, starring Paul Bettany, details Darwin's "struggle between faith and reason" as he wrote On The Origin of Species. It depicts him as a man who loses faith in God following the death of his beloved 10-year-old daughter, Annie.

The film was chosen to open the Toronto Film Festival and has its British premiere on Sunday. It has been sold in almost every territory around the world, from Australia to Scandinavia.

However, US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution., an influential site which reviews films from a Christian perspective, described Darwin as the father of eugenics and denounced him as "a racist, a bigot and an 1800s naturalist whose legacy is mass murder". His "half-baked theory" directly influenced Adolf Hitler and led to "atrocities, crimes against humanity, cloning and genetic engineering", the site stated.

The film has sparked fierce debate on US Christian websites, with a typical comment dismissing evolution as "a silly theory with a serious lack of evidence to support it despite over a century of trying".

Jeremy Thomas, the Oscar-winning producer of Creation, said he was astonished that such attitudes exist 150 years after On The Origin of Species was published.

"That's what we're up against. In 2009. It's amazing," he said.

"The film has no distributor in America. It has got a deal everywhere else in the world but in the US, and it's because of what the film is about. People have been saying this is the best film they've seen all year, yet nobody in the US has picked it up.

"It is unbelievable to us that this is still a really hot potato in America. There's still a great belief that He made the world in six days. It's quite difficult for we in the UK to imagine religion in America. We live in a country which is no longer so religious. But in the US, outside of New York and LA, religion rules.

"Charles Darwin is, I suppose, the hero of the film. But we tried to make the film in a very even-handed way. Darwin wasn't saying 'kill all religion', he never said such a thing, but he is a totem for people."

RIP, Patrick Swayze

"Ghost" was fabulous, of course, but I always liked his skit with the inimitable Chris Farley.

Promotional Caps

Like Sacramento with its infamous Wii radio contest, South Africa also has trouble with safeguarding participants in commercial contests:
Tragedy struck at the annual Royal Reed Dance in KwaNongoma on Saturday, when one of the maidens was crushed to death during a stampede that broke out following a scramble for promotional caps.

Another maiden is in a critical condition while 10 others were seriously injured as the event turned into pandemonium.

The incident happened around noon, arts and culture spokesman Vukani Mbhele said in a statement.

A promotional vehicle had apparently stopped outside the palace as maidens were returning from laying their reeds. The occupants of the vehicle handed out caps to them. A scramble ensued as maidens pushed each other to obtain the caps.

The vehicle had been parked near a stack of logs which apparently tumbled as the maidens jostled each other.

The full report on the dead woman and her identity were not immediately available on Saturday. However, initial reports suggested that she had suffered head injuries.

Others fell over the logs, breaking limbs in the process.

Premier Zweli Mkhize, who is a qualified doctor, had to trade in his VIP status and return to his original profession as he helped to stabilise some of the maidens.

Mark Williams Emerges As Teabagger Spokesman

Sacramento's own Talk Radio DJ (formerly with KFBK) Mark Williams! Not doing that well in the glare of the national limelight, but there he is, all the same!

What strikes me most about the Teabagger protests is their manufactured, ersatz nature. Perhaps that's true of all protests - political machinery is full of windbaggery and creaking gears and trying to avoid looking at the men behind the curtain. Still, it strikes me there isn't that much of a groundswell with the Teabaggers. It's mostly directed from above, from national conservative media, and in particular, from FOX News. The participants are mostly suburban, comfortably late-middle-aged, white, and in many cases, fat, gauging from the one Teabag protest I saw here in Sacramento. A very important constituency, to be sure, politically influential, but certainly not a representative American cross-section.

Grudge Match Over Wilson Disapproval Resolution

A long history of racial disrespect:
In the run-up to today's disapproval resolution against Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), it's become clear that House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) has taken the lead in pushing for the resolution, even over Speaker Pelosi's initial inclination to see that matter as closed. But it's also clear that Clyburn's push for a formal apology from Wilson is rooted in a long and troubled relationship between the most senior African-American politician in South Carolina and a four-term congressman who until recently was best known as a die-hard proponent of keeping the Confederate flag flying over the State Capitol in Columbia.

Indeed, the friction has popped up quite recently. Clyburn recently told the Washington Post that he was particularly incensed when Wilson held a town hall at a high school in Columbia -- which Clyburn says is in his district, and is the place where his children went to school. "He came into my district, the high school where my kids went, where I was an officer in the [Parent Teacher Association], and that was on purpose," Clyburn said. "That was as unethical as one can be, and he didn't say one word to me about it."

(Ed.Note: A search of Google Earth and the House site's district finder shows that the high school -- identified in the local media as having been W.J. Keenan High School -- appears to actually be in Wilson's district, not Clyburn's. At least that's what the nine-digit ZIP code seems to suggest. But it is in fact just a few blocks from Clyburn's house. Clyburn lives right near the district border, and we can probably take him at his word that his kids went there, that he served on the PTA, and that he didn't take kindly to a right-wing GOP House member holding a town hall at that particular venue.)

The day after Wilson made a written apology to the White House, Clyburn said it wasn't good enough, pushing for the apology from the House floor that Wilson has refused to give. "That's a cowardly way to do it," Clyburn said. "He ought to man up and go down to the well of the House and say, I acted with a lack of decorum the last evening, and I apologize to the President of the United States, and I apologize to my colleagues in both bodies, and I apologize to the people of South Carolina for having done so."

As the Politico reported, Clyburn also personally asked Wilson on the House floor for an apology -- asking three times in the course of their confrontation. Wilson rebuffed Clyburn, who has nine years of seniority over him, and since then Clyburn has been leading the fight against Wilson.

The Washington Post also points out that while Clyburn has not directly called Wilson's outburst racist, he did tell reporters immediately after the speech that Obama was the only president to have been treated in this manner -- and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus have been more direct in alleging a racial element.

Clyburn also told Maureen Dowd: "A lot of these outbursts have to do with delegitimizing him as a president."

Clyburn also said that cracking down on Wilson is a matter surviving in the cut-throat politics of South Carolina. "In South Carolina politics, I learned that the olive branch works very seldom," said Clyburn. "You have to come at these things from a position of strength. My father used to say, 'Son, always remember that silence gives consent.'"

Feline Magnet

Last night, towards the end of the first act in "Suessical" rehearsal, we opened the back stage door in order to ventilate the theater. While almost everyone was performing onstage, several of us backstage were surprised when a cat with a dark, luxurious, short-hair pelt wandered in and started trying to insinuate itself into the show from stage right. At one point, the cat even ventured onstage during the show to see what was going on.

According the Stacy, the cat is apparently the Davis Waste Removal house cat, but I think the cat is actually a long-lost acquaintance of Kevin Caravalho (The Cat In The Hat) looking to reestablish an old friendship.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tech Week Starts For DMTC's "Seussical The Musical"

Tech week begins for DMTC's "Seussical The Musical"!

Kyle Hadley as 'Horton the Elephant'.

Kevin Caravalho as the 'Cat In The Hat', Kyle Hadley as 'Horton the Elephant', and Kay Hight as 'Mayzie LaBird'

Ana Chan as 'JoJo'.

Deborah Douglas Hammond as the 'Sour Kangaroo'. In the background, three of the four Bird Girls (Monica Parisi, Chanel Charity, and Christina Rae).

The Whos (background) struggle to make themselves heard to a skeptical Court. The Whos, left to right: Jeffrey Lloyd Heatherly, Karina Summers, Christine Deamer, Riley S., Jennifer Berry, Elena L., Jason Hammond (The Mayor of Whoville), Ana C., William C., Erin Renfree-Davis, Kristofer, Y., Jan Isaacson.

Near foreground: Kyle Hadley (Horton the Elephant), Devon Hayakawa (Thing 2) and Linnea Lampinen (Thing 1).

Far foreground: Bird Girls (Eimi Stokes, Christina Rae, Chanel Charity, and Monica Parisi).