Friday, October 30, 2009

Birthday Dinner At Biba's

Nice dinner (pork chop, in Italian)!  Even met Biba!  Fun!

Crushed By The Money

Gavin Newsom decides to throw in the towel:
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom made a surprise announcement Friday afternoon that he was dropping out of the gubernatorial race, leaving the Democrats with no declared candidate for the top statewide office.

Attorney General Jerry Brown has opened an exploratory committee for governor but has yet to formally announce his candidacy.

Nonetheless, Brown has opened a wide lead over Newsom in both fund-raising and in polls.

"You Must Always Blow On The Pie"

...[P]olice dog handler Guy Baldwin, who was captured on camera dishing out unusual advice to a late-night car jacker caught in the act.

When the teenage criminal claimed hunger as an alibi, saying he was just on his way to the petrol station to buy a meat pie, the sergeant came up with this quick-witted reply.

"Three o'clock in the morning, that pie has probably been in the warming drawer for about 12 hours.

"It will be thermo-nuclear - always blow on the pie. Safer communities together," Baldwin said, using the long-standing New Zealand Police slogan.

Wall Street Cratering Today

It's those Black Tuesday Anniversary Blues!

Actually, the stock market has been running on fumes, and it's about time someone noticed.
Stocks plunged Friday, erasing all of the previous day's big gains, as a drop in consumer spending fanned worries that the economic recovery won't be sustainable.

Major stock indexes tumbled more than 2 percent in afternoon trading, including the Dow Jones industrials, which gave back all of Thursday's 200-point gain. The biggest declines were among banks, energy and materials companies.

As stocks fell, investors moved to safer assets like the dollar and Treasurys. At the same time, the Chicago Board Options Exchange's Volatility Index, known as the market's fear gauge, soared nearly 25 percent to 30.88, the highest since early July. Its historical average is 18-20. It hit a record 89.5 a year ago.

The decline in stocks marked an about-face for the market, which had rallied on Thursday after the government reported a 3.5 percent jump in gross domestic product in the third quarter.

Investors started shedding stocks after the Labor Department said personal spending fell 0.5 percent in September. Though the decline was in line with forecasts, it was the largest drop in nine months and followed a 1.3 percent jump in August fueled by the government's popular Cash for Clunkers car rebate program.

The day's report cast further doubt on the economy's recovery, which many economists fear has been driven by the government stimulus measures. Without a rebound in consumer spending, which makes up a major part of the U.S. economy, investors worry the recovery won't last.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Weather Guess

In a week, a weather system is forecast to develop north of the Hawaiian Islands.  That might be a good place to start to bring rain to California in, say, two weeks from now....

Changing The Channel

Jerry reports the latest:
Political Comment?

The McDonald's in downtown San Jose has changed the channels on its TVs from Fox News to the Cartoon Channel.
I reply:
Yes, I bet it is a political comment! Sometimes the politics gets a bit much, particularly for a commercial establishment that caters to the public.

I knew some kind of watershed had been reached when, immediately after the 2005 election, local Sacramento Talk Radio station KFBK gave inflammatory DJ Mark Williams the boot, and started emphasizing sports and finance in its coverage. I don't know why that election - Arnold lost his ballot initiatives that year and so maybe it was an intraparty bloodletting of some sort - but it made the airwaves more-tolerable. Now Williams is trying to be one of the national leaders of the Teabaggers, but at least I don't have to listen to him all the time.

May the Cartoon Channel reign supreme forevermore at the downtown San Jose McDonald's!
Jerry replies:
And nobody noticed the change!

Daily Reach

Figures don't lie (but do liars figure?)

Disobedient Toddler

Cults pose perils:
Home video of Javon Thompson and his mother Ria Ramkissoon doesn't hint at the dark future awaiting them, when they became swept up in the religious cult of Queen Antoinette.

Authorities say cult members starved 1-year-old Javon Thompson because the boy did not say "Amen" after meals.

Today Is The 80th Anniversary Of Black Tuesday

And the start of the Great Depression!

Coyotes Attack!

Coyotes attack! I would never have believed such a thing was possible:
A PROMISING young Canadian musician has been attacked and killed by coyotes while on a tour promoting her new album.

Taylor Mitchell, 19, was considered a rising star of the folk music scene, having just earned a Canadian Folk Music Awards nomination.

She was hiking alone on the Syline Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park when a pair of coyotes attacked her.

Tourists rushed to her aid when they heard her screams and found Mitchell bleeding heavily from mulitple wounds "all over her body", according to The Canadian Press.

"She was losing a considerable amount of blood from her wounds," paramedic Paul Maynard told TCP.

One of the animals was later shot by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, but the other got away.

Park officials said it was highly unusual for coyotes to be involved in such an aggressive attack.

Mitchell was due to play at a concert after her hike and was on her first tour of the Candaian east coast.


It's late October, which means Deborah has slipped into Halloween mode - Merrrorrrw!:
When you're driving those lonely Arizona highways and see a hitchhiker on the side of the road look at the phase the moon is in. You never know who or what you're picking up!

Standup At T2's (aka Trino's)

After Improv class, Jetta called to do a little post-mortem on the improv sketch that failed:

Jetta: Why didn't you catch on to what I was doing?

Marc: Because I couldn't figure it out!

Jetta: What's to figure out? I addressed you as 'Harry', and then got down on my knee to propose marriage to you, and then said this was going to cause trouble with our parents. So the natural conclusion

Marc: Is what? I couldn't figure it out!

Jetta: The natural conclusion is that I'm a man! Proposing gay marriage!

Marc: But you're not a man! I couldn't make that connection!

Jetta: But why?

Marc: Because you're not a man!

Jetta: You'll have to think faster than that if we're going to work on a routine. Now, since I'm having dental work done on Friday I want to sing karaoke tonight, but you instead should check out Trino's. They have an open mike there on Wednesday night and I figure we could do an improv routine there next week. Do you know about Trino's? You sometimes see strange things there. It's a place for swingers.

Marc: Like swing dancers?

Jetta: No, like wife-swappers. I wonder if they have secret rooms there. Go and check out the standup at Trino's.
I had a very hazy recollection of a hazy memory from the early 90's about some kind of swingers' club in the news. This club must be the place. Do people still do that? It sounds like like a very Seventies thing to do. Or a Sixties thing. Or something. But, hey, I'm into nostalgia!

So, feeling a bit dubious about the whole idea, after doing aerobics and eating dinner, I headed out to find Trino's on Fulton Avenue, and worried whether I might be the appetizer, the entree, or the dessert.

I opened the door to a nearly-empty club and was greeted by a one-eyed surfer dude. The odd thing is that I thought I recognized him. But then I think I recognize everyone. I notice that as I age nearly everyone looks slightly familiar (I'll end up like those folks in the nursing home who wave and smile at every passerby), and decided soon afterwards that I had no idea who he was at all.

The club was decked out in Halloween splendor, with slightly racy paintings on the wall. The evening was slow starting (poor turnout). There were no signs of secret rooms (except maybe some kind of a locker under lock and key).

"It's group sex night here at T2's tonight," one of the MCs helpfully announced. "We'll be playing Twister shortly! We have Crisco and baby oil for everyone!" Funny! But the temperature was about 55 degrees F (the door to the patio was open) so it would be a brisk and very invigorating group sex experience for everybody - if anyone showed up.

One of the other MC's came over and talked. He had been doing standup for several years and recommended as a source for locations and dates of open mike nights, and other standup venues, in the Bay Area, and Sacramento too. Wednesday night meant open mike at Trino's. Speaking about this club, he added: "Friday is couples' night."

Ah, "couples' night"!

After a while, several comics showed up. So, three guests (four if you counted surfer dude), plus about six comics. The humor was a bit rough, and amazingly crude. Sometimes funny too!

All the while, the comics looked at me and tried to figure out what my game was.

At the end of the evening, one of the MCs did the unexpected and handed me the mike. I jumped up and identified myself as 'Marc Valdez'. The Latino comic with the funny jokes about la migra said "Valdez? We figured you were Jewish!" I smiled and launched into my (crude) story about a late-night walk on the Las Vegas Strip, about 1980. They liked the story and applauded. I thanked them for helping me lose my standup virginity and promised to return next week.

Afterwards, I talked to one comic who had been complaining about being unemployed. I suddenly realized he had been travelling the standup circuit - he had been, until recently, touring and getting paid to do standup, so unemployment was a different experience for him than for most people. "I don't know anything about standup, " I said. "No one does," he said, "until you do it, and then it's too late!"

The club owner was passing out flyers announced the club's name change, from Trino's to T2. He had just purchased the place, and it was time to announce the change to the world!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

We're Going To Need A Bigger Boat

The Queensland coast is rattled by evidence that a particularly large shark is out there, somewhere, and the urgent calls to remove existing protections against sharks because of the toll on dolphins, turtles, and whales is falling on deaf ears:
A 'monster' great white shark measuring up to 20 ft long is on the prowl off a popular Queensland beach, according to officials.

Swimmers were warned to stay out of the water off Stradbroke Island after the shark mauled another smaller great white which had been hooked on a baited drum line.

The 10-foot great white was almost bitten in half.

The fictional shark at the centre of the Steven Spielberg blockbuster Jaws was estimated to be just five feet longer.

...News of the shocking attack on the smaller shark has sent jitters along the Queensland coast from Stradbroke Island, near Brisbane, to the Sunshine Coast further north down to the tourist mecca of Surfers Paradise, south of Brisbane.

'Whatever attacked and took chunks out of this big shark must be massive,' said 19-year-old surfer Ashton Smith. 'I've heard about the big one that's lurking out there somewhere.

...Many of the popular beaches in Queensland are protected by nets and what are known as drumlines - a series of baited hooks that hang from buoys placed in a line about 500 yards from beaches.

...The Queensland State Government has been under pressure in recent weeks to scale down the shark net and drumline programme because environmentalists say that whales and other big fish are becoming trapped in the nets.

But Fisheries Minister Tim Mulherin said the capture of the badly injured 10ft shark - and the indication of a much larger one being in the area - showed the necessity to keep the nets and drumlines in place.

Darren Kindleysides, director of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, said the nets were working but at huge cost to whales, dolphins and turtles.

When Roadkill Gets The Last Laugh

Egads! With pictures too!:
When a brother and sister struck a coyote at 75mph they assumed they had killed the animal and drove on.

They didn't realise this was the toughest creature ever to survive a hit-and-run.

Eight hours, two fuel stops, and 600 miles later they found the wild animal embedded in their front fender - and very much alive.

And - as if to prove the point - the wily coyote later escaped from where it was being kept to recover.

From "The Onion"

More Americans Falling For 'Get Rich Slowly Over A Lifetime Of Hard Work' Schemes

A report released Monday by the Omaha-based public-interest group Aurora indicates that increasing numbers of Americans are being defrauded by schemes that offer financial reward for a lifetime of hard work. "People don't realize that long-term savings and loyalty to one company don't pan out," said Sylvia Girouard, the study's author. Girouard added that steady employment which claims to offer long-term financial gain in the form of a pension plan is nothing more than an elaborate Ponzi scheme.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Suze Orman Likes The Debtor Revolt Idea

Of course, E. is way ahead of them. She stopped paying her credit cards years ago. So, it's time to at least think about doing the same.

Peak Unemployment Generally Comes Two Years After Recession Ends

And our recession has barely ended yet.

So It's Really Come To This

The Governator tells legislators: "F*** You".

Yes, Ahnold was that breath of fresh air we really needed....

You Can't Make Fun Of Us, And Make A Profit Too

But isn't that the American Way? So, what we end up with is the ultimate frivolous lawsuit. Tort reform, anyone?:
In one of the more well-executed and sophisticated pranks in modern memory, the Yes Men faked a press conference on Oct. 19, announcing that the Chamber had changed its position on climate change. Some big-name news organizations, including the New York Times and Reuters, fell for the stunt. The result: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is spitting mad, and on Monday the organization filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C., seeking redress for "the Defendants' fraudulent acts and misappropriation of its valuable intellectual property."

You might think that an organization boasting as long a history and as much accumulated savvy about how the American political system works as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would know better than to pick a fight with satirical hoaxsters who will only gain from more publicity. This is not the kind of behavior we expect from such an august institution. As Corynne McSherry, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing the Yes Men in its legal battle with the Chamber, told Salon, "We are surprised and disappointed that the Chamber of Commerce has chosen to go to court over obvious political criticism."

But the foundation of the Chamber's complaint is that the Yes Men are not engaging in legitimate political criticism, that in fact their real aim is to commercially profit from their Chamber impersonation.

From the complaint (Italics mine):

Defendants had a common plan to engage in acts that violated multiple laws. These acts deceived the press and public, and caused injury to the Chamber, while promoting the commercial ventures of certain of the Defendants who trade under the name "The Yes Men." The acts are nothing less than commercial identity theft masquerading as social activism. These infringing and fraudulent acts are antithetical to public debate on important issues, because they prevent the public and the press from knowing the true position of the intellectual property owner whose trademarks and copyrights were used without permission, and they disguise the true motives of the persons who took that property. In short, such conduct is destructive of public discourse, and cannot be tolerated under the law.

Some might argue that the Chamber of Commerce, which has been fighting tooth and nail to hamstring government efforts at accomplishing both financial sector reform and limiting greenhouse gas emissions, has done more damage to public discourse through its self-interested lobbying than anything that a handful of comedians might have accomplished. Others might wonder whether, deep in the woods of the 21st century, when every possible aspect of human civilization has been commodified and commercialized, any meaningful contradiction still exists between the goals of social activism and the goals of commercial profit. A social activist still has to eat, right? Isn't it in the best tradition of American entrepreneurship that one should be able to capitalize on one's political activity? Doesn't that fit in with the Chamber's (trademarked) slogan "The Spirit of Enterprise"?

But following the twists and turns of this truly postmodern case will be interesting, because, at least judging from the Chamber's complaint (which is far more informative about how the hoax was accomplished than any news report I've seen has yet managed to put together), the Yes Men did explicitly set up their prank as part of the publicity for a new movie,"The Yes Men Fix the World," that premiered days afterward. And the Yes Men do stand to profit from their successful impersonation.

More from the complaint:

Defendant Servin's and Defendant Vamos are actors, screenwriters, directors, and entrepreneurs whose ventures include multiple web sites, blogs, an online store, a book, and two motion pictures. Whether operating under one of their many individual aliases or collectively as the "Yes Men," the tactics of Servin and Vamos are designed to drive business to their ventures and generate sales of merchandise, including t-shirts ($20.00), DVD's of their 2004 movie, "The Yes Men" ($20.00), the Yes Men book, -- signed by the authors -- ($14.95) and movie posters ($20.00). For those inclined to purchase, the Yes Men's store accepts MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Diner's Club.

Is the implication here that if you accept major credit cards, you undermine the integrity of your political activism? Does anyone at the Chamber understand the ludicrous irony of a lobbying organization that exists to protect the profits of its clients against all encroachment criticizing others for their pecuniary motivations?

The Chamber claims that it has suffered monetary damages from the Yes Men's satire, and it is asking not only that the Court order the Yes Men to cease any or all activities referencing the Chamber's activities, but that the Chamber be granted a portion of whatever profits the Yes Men reap in the future. This is the equivalent of a multi-car irony pileup.

But the funniest part of this whole story is the Chamber's complaint that the Yes Men's parody "has caused harm to the reputation and goodwill of the Chamber."

Sorry, guys, but you pulled off that feat all by your lonesome.

Likin' The Opt-Out

That speed bump of condensed evil, Joseph Lieberman, is up to his tricks today, so who knows if Opt-Out will ever come to pass, but Andrew Sullivan sees the problems it provides to conservatives:
Imagine Republicans in state legislatures having to argue and posture against an affordable health insurance plan for the folks, as O'Reilly calls them, while evil liberals provide it elsewhere. Now, of course, if the public option is a disaster in some states, this argument could work in the long run. But in the short run? It's political nightmare for the right as it is currently constituted. In fact, I can see a public option becoming the equivalent of Medicare in the public psyche if it works as it should. Try running against Medicare.

The genius of the opt-out is that it coopts the states' rights argument (just as ending the prohibition on marijuana does); it has the potential to make "liberalism' popular again; it has easily demonized opponents - the health insurance industry; and it forces Republicans not to rail against socialism in the abstract but to oppose actual benefits for the working poor in reality.

It's a brutal, Chicago-style political maneuver. And Obama appears not to be the person really pushing it.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Initially it looks like a good deal - better than liberals might have first expected. It may force red staters to make good on their anti-Washington rhetoric by sacrificing real money, and thus lose the pleasant rhetorical world they have long inhabited, where they could say whatever and never have a cost attached to it:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced what we've been reporting today - the merged health care bill will include a public option allowing states to opt-out.

"Under this concept states will be able to determine whether the public option works best for them," Reid told reporters. He said it was the "fairest" way to go.

Reid (D-NV) said after "countless hours" of talking to his caucus, there is a "strong consensus" for this plan. He said he will not submit a plan with a triggered public option to the Congressional Budget Office.

"As we've gone through this process, I've concluded, with the support of the White House and Senators. Dodd and Baucus, that the best way to move forward is to include a public option with an opt out provision for states," Reid said.

Reid said he was "disappointed" the public option had "frightened" Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) but that he hoped she would "come back."

"I spoke to Olympia on Friday...and at this stage she does not like the public option of any kind. And so, we'll have to move forward on this, and there will come a time I hope, where she sees the wisdom of supporting a health care bill," he said.

"We hope Olympia will come back, she's worked hard, she's a very good legislator," Reid added.

He also blasted Republicans, saying he can count the moderates in the GOP on "two fingers."

"Thriller" In Citrus Heights

Because zombies rule!:
In the end, no records were broken. But for a few minutes late Sunday afternoon, zombies stomped out the steps of a familiar dance in a courtyard between shops at the Marketplace at Birdcage, welcoming Halloween early.

The community participation dance, patterned after Michael Jackson's 1983 "Thriller" video, drew 79 dancers, from the very young to the elderly, and a whole lot of observers.

...Why "Thriller"? Why now?

..."Michael Jackson is one of my favorite singers," said Czeslawa. "And I really like the dance."

"You Become The Pig"

This sounds like fun - being a chainsaw-wielding pig at Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights:
During my first solo attempt at attacking the passing Terror Tram, I failed badly. It took five tugs to start the chainsaw. Flustered, I rushed out to the tram and flailed aimlessly at the confused passengers. The long hair from the mask covered my face, obscuring my view. I stumbled on a fallen branch. Nobody was scared.

Winded and defeated, I plodded back into the woods and plopped down on the log.
“Any advice?” I asked Cullen.

“You’ve got to rev the engine more,” he said, in apt understatement.

I watched Cullen and Vawtor, studying their technique: the hidden sound of the rip-snorting engine chortling to life, the frightening sudden charge toward the tram, the lunging and lurching swings of the saw from a menacing crouched position. It was like a choreographed dance of death and destruction that lasted only 15 seconds.

As the night progressed, my scare skills improved.

WaMu - The Bottom Of The Barrel

Just how bad was Washington Mutual with respect to the housing crisis? Via Andrew Leonard, the Seattle Times has been looking into the matter (Part I, Part II):
"I don't think Killinger intentionally set out to cut corners," said one senior executive who spoke on condition of anonymity. "But he certainly created an atmosphere in which doing the easy thing rather than the hard thing was OK."

Even the most notorious murder case of the 1990s made a cameo appearance, as Chapman learned in early 2007.

"Someone in Florida had made a second-mortgage loan to O.J. Simpson, and I just about blew my top, because there was this huge judgment against him from his wife's parents," she recalled. Simpson had been acquitted of killing his wife Nicole and her friend but was later found liable for their deaths in a civil lawsuit; that judgment took precedence over other debts, such as if Simpson defaulted on his WaMu loan.

"When I asked how we could possibly foreclose on it, they said there was a letter in the file from O.J. Simpson saying 'the judgment is no good, because I didn't do it.' "

Maybe A Learning Situation?

Nothing promotes learning like having everyone in town repeatedly kick your ass:
TAOS, N.M. – Larry Whitten marched into this northern New Mexico town in late July on a mission: resurrect a failing hotel.

The tough-talking former Marine immediately laid down some new rules. Among them, he forbade the Hispanic workers at the run-down, Southwestern adobe-style hotel from speaking Spanish in his presence (he thought they'd be talking about him), and ordered some to Anglicize their names.

No more Martin (Mahr-TEEN). It was plain-old Martin. No more Marcos. Now it would be Mark.

Whitten's management style had worked for him as he's turned around other distressed hotels he bought in recent years across the country.

The 63-year-old Texan, however, wasn't prepared for what followed.

His rules and his firing of several Hispanic employees angered his employees and many in this liberal enclave of 5,000 residents at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, where the most alternative of lifestyles can find a home and where Spanish language, culture and traditions have a long and revered history.

"I came into this landmine of Anglos versus Spanish versus Mexicans versus Indians versus everybody up here. I'm just doing what I've always done," he says.

Former workers, their relatives and some town residents picketed across the street from the hotel.

"I do feel he's a racist, but he's a racist out of ignorance. He doesn't know that what he's doing is wrong," says protester Juanito Burns Jr., who identified himself as prime minister of an activist group called Los Brown Berets de Nuevo Mexico.

The Virginia-born Whitten had spent 40 years in the hotel business, turning around more than 20 hotels in Texas, Oklahoma, Florida and South Carolina, before moving with his wife to Taos from Abilene, Texas. He had visited Taos before, and liked its beauty. When Whitten saw that the Paragon Inn was up for sale, he jumped at it.

...After he arrived, Whitten met with the employees. He says he immediately noticed that they were hostile to his management style and worried they might start talking about him in Spanish.

"Because of that, I asked the people in my presence to speak only English because I do not understand Spanish," Whitten says. "I've been working 24 years in Texas and we have a lot of Spanish people there. I've never had to ask anyone to speak only English in front of me because I've never had a reason to."

Some employees were fired, Whitten says, because they were hostile and insubordinate. He says they called him "a white (N-word)."

Fired hotel manager Kathy Archuleta says the workers initially tried to adjust to his style. "We had already gone through four or five owners before him, so we knew what to expect," Archuleta says. "I told (the workers) we needed to give him a chance."

Then Whitten told some employees he was changing their Spanish first names. Whitten says it's a routine practice at his hotels to change first names of employees who work the front desk phones or deal directly with guests if their names are difficult to understand or pronounce.

"It has nothing to do with racism. I'm not doing it for any reason other than for the satisfaction of my guests, because people calling from all over America don't know the Spanish accents or the Spanish culture or Spanish anything," Whitten says.

Martin Gutierrez, another fired employee, says he felt disrespected when he was told to use the unaccented Martin as his name. He says he told Whitten that Spanish was spoken in New Mexico before English. "He told me he didn't care what I thought because this was his business," Gutierrez says.

"I don't have to change my name and language or heritage," he says. "I'm professional the way I am."

After the firings, the New Mexico chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, a national civil rights group, sent Whitten a letter, raising concerns about treatment of Hispanic workers. Whitten says he sent them a letter and posted messages on the hotel marquee, alleging that the group referred to him with a racial slur. LULAC denied the charge.

The messages and comments he made in interviews with local media, including referring to townsfolk as "mountain people" and "potheads who escaped society," further enflamed tensions.

Taos Mayor Darren Cordova says Whitten wasn't doing anything illegal. But he says Whitten failed to better familiarize himself with the town and its culture before deciding to buy the hotel for $2 million. "Taos is so unique that you would not do anything in Taos that you would do elsewhere," he says.

Whitten grew subdued as a two-hour interview with The Associated Press progressed. He said he was sorry for the misunderstanding and insisted he has never been against any culture.

"What kind of fool or idiot or poor businessman would I be to orchestrate this whole crazy thing that's costed me a lot of time, money and aggravation?" Whitten said.

Whitten should have dealt with the situation differently, especially in a majority Hispanic town, said 71-year-old Taos artist Ken O'Neil, while sipping his afternoon coffee on the town's historic plaza.

"To make demands like he did just seems over the top," he says. "Nobody won here. It's not always about winning. Sometimes, it's about what you learn."

All Alone On The Bus

I don't know for sure (maybe John can illuminate me), but from this graph, I'm guessing it sucks to ride the bus in Oklahoma City.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Kylie Serendipity

Posting my ten Kylie Las Vegas YouTube videos has been a great experience! I have gathered two correspondents; one from El Paso, and one from Albuquerque.

Besides having a great pre-show story, the El Paso correspondent mentioned meeting two people from Albuquerque. So I E-Mailed the Albuquerque correspondent:
Say, through YouTube E-mail, Ive been in contact with a fellow from El Paso who was at the Las Vegas Kylie concert and says he met two guys from Albuquerque. As far as I can tell, both you and he were near the stage in about the same place. I am curious whether you recognize yourself in his description. Of course, there may have been other people from Albuquerque nearby too, but it would be pretty cool if you were the same fellow.

The Albuquerque correspondent replied:
LMAO that was us.. i kept opening the ittle rope for the dancers and stuff and after the cute boys finished coming thru i let him take it over! he was right there with us the whole time.. nice guy!

The Who Who Knew Too Much

Last night, I dreamt that I stumbled across Mrs. Mayor of Whoville, in my basement, shredding documents.

Vegan Restaurant

Jetta: The restaurant is in Carmichael near College Oaks and Auburn. My friends will meet us there. Tonight is half-off night: they don't do coupons there, but everything is half-off. It's 100% vegan and it's great. You can't order any meat or dairy or egg product. I know that is very unusual for you and will make your mouth fall off.

Marc: Can I order any baby back spare ribs?

Jetta: No, you can't order any baby back spare ribs. This restaurant has only real food, the stuff you should have been eating all along, and not the artificial crap that you are used to eating everywhere else. You'll love it.

Marc: Can I order a milkshake?

Jetta: No, you can't order a milkshake. But they do have tofu and eggplant. Do you like tofu and eggplant?

Marc: I don't like eggplant and I'm so-so about tofu.

Jetta: You'll love it!

(pulling into the parking lot)

Marc: Is that the restaurant there, the one with the "Donut Happy" sign?

Jetta (sarcastically): That's right, they put a vegan restaurant in a donut shop! No, it's over there, labelled "vegetarian restaurant"!
(Apparently the place is called Noble Vegetarian).

The food was excellent, including the eggplant, and the noodle plate with the vegebeef strips that I had. And half-off, the price was more than reasonable. Afterwards, we decided to all become rich by patenting tofu donuts.

Stick Management

This afternoon, I spent time sweepeing leaves and clipping small branches and various sticks from the trees and bushes around my house. Can't say I even properly started - the tree canopy is still full of broken stuff I can't reach. And most of the leaves are still up in the trees.

The neighbor lady is moving out to West Sacramento - like all the other next-door tenants, the high rent here eventually killed her.

Autumn is here and it's now crystal clear: 2009 was a banner year for sticks!

Capital Choreography Competition

In a special tribute at the Capital Choreography Competition (the emotional heart of the spectacle), Sacramento Ballet's great ballerina Kirsten Bloom danced the Rose Adagio from Act I of Tchaikovsky's 'Sleeping Beauty' (before departing for maternity leave).

Here, at left, she accepts the audience's standing ovation, and below, a standing ovation from her fellow dancers.

Nice show tonight (and also, previously, on Oct. 17th) at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento! Three works were premiered, in this order:

  • "Almost A Story Ballet", by Viktor Kabaniaev;
  • "On Frail Wings", by Amy Seiwart; and,
  • "The Ratio", by Matthew Neenan.

  • In the audience voting portion of the show, I reasoned that when the audience was presented with three works of approximately equal merit, at voting time, the audience would always favor the third one, because it was the last work presented and the freshest in their mind. The third work was the odds-on favorite, all else being equal. So, to be fair, in my mind, it was important to vote for the first work presented.

    Nevertheless, the audience tripped me up. The audience ultimately favored the second work presented. The judges, however, chose the last work presented as the contest's winner.

    In all fairness, all three works were great! Everyone's a winner in a show like this!

    I Doubt This Ended Well

    Tonight in West Sacramento, driving into Sacramento from the west on Highway 50, I could see and smell lots of smoke pouring out a car being towed by Jack's Towing Company. The back of the towed car had been smashed and the smoke seemed to be pouring from the rear wheel wells. Perhaps the car was in 'park' rather than 'neutral', or maybe the wheel wells were damaged, or the parking brake was on? In any event, nighttime and all, the driver of the tow truck was blithely ignorant of the catastrophe developing immediately behind him.

    I pulled up beside the tow truck on the right and started flashing my high beams, and honking. But before I actually got the driver's attention I was compelled to exit the highway (the right lane there is a must exit for Jefferson Blvd.)

    I wonder what transpired from all that?