Saturday, March 27, 2010

Google Search From Alaska

Google search for "Valdez Tea Party".

I must have something around here, somewhere....

How about this?

Left: Tea Party, from Flying Monkey Production's "Alice in Wonderland" (2008). Dodo (Joey Lemons), Waiter (not sure - I'm guessing Matt Iwasa), Dormouse (Aidan Ferreter), Mad Hatter (Riley O'Toole), Alice (Mayme O'Toole), and March Hare (Jonathan Tierney).

"Smokey Joe's Cafe" - Magic Circle Theatre

Saturday night, and what to do? I know! Go to Roseville and see "Smokey Joe's Cafe" (Stephen Hatcher, Director).

This was the first time for me seeing this show. Great fun! Strong performances by everyone!

Dannyelle Finch (Brenda): so long and lean - pretty!

Ryan Allen (Adrian) edged the other men in singing quality.

The real delight, however, was listening to Lorraine deArco (Patti). Such solid command of the songs! Such a great voice!

A duet featuring both Adrian and Patti ('Love Me Don't') was wonderful.

Jammy Bulaya (Victor) also sang well in 'I (Who Have Nothing)'.

The group numbers were full of sparkle and energy!

Left: Greeting the audience after the show. From left to right, Pepper Von (Frederick), Ryan Allen (Adrian), Danyelle Finch (Brenda), and Ali Llacer (Ken). Audience member with fedora - almost certainly, Rashad "Q" Grisby.

Stage Manager Sherrika Darnell, said she got to come out on stage as the rightmost 'suit'. Fun!

Who knew? Here is a YouTube video, posted in 2008, of Lorraine deArco singing one of the songs from "Smokey Joe's Cafe," 'Pearl's A Singer.'

Saving The World, One Roast At A Time

Stop the slaughter!:
EDINBURGH, Ind. -- A knife-wielding man was arrested earlier this week in what police called a meat massacre at a south-central Indiana supermarket.

Several people called 911 on Wednesday morning to report a man with a knife in the Jay C Food Store.

“We have a gentleman here cutting into the meat and throwing it onto the floor,” one caller said.

...When officers arrived, they found meat scattered everywhere in what Edinburgh police called one of the most bizarre cases they had ever investigated.

Police said Anthony Coffman, 28, used a hunting knife to cut through meat packages, throwing open containers of raw beef on the floor. He then poured dog food over some of the meat in hopes of contaminating it so it couldn’t be sold, said Edinburgh police Deputy Chief David Lutz.

A store employee tried to stop Coffman, but gave up when he threatened the employee with the knife, police said.

Coffman told police that he is a vegetarian and gets upset when others consume beef, telling the employee that God sent him to ruin the meat and that he was trying to save little girls from food he believes would make them “chubby.”

"He thought if he could save one chubby girl, he's done his job," Lutz said.

Police think an argument earlier in the day prompted the incident.

“He’d got into it with his grandmother. She was preparing a pot roast … and he was upset over that,” Lutz said. “Him and her had a few words, and then a couple hours later, he’s down there at the Jay C Food Store doing this.”

...Police said more than $200 worth of meat was destroyed.

Fever Dreams

Yesterday, I think I started to recover from my cold.

Last night, I must have been doing a lot of thrashing in my sleep, because the bed was a wreck when I awoke. I remembered an episodic dream featuring lots of DMTC folks, where I repeatedly swung from arrogant over-confidence, to panic, in a matter of seconds.

First, I dreamt I was walking in my Curtis Park neighborhood in Sacramento, looking at nice, sidewalk floral arrangements, cleverly designed by Thomas L. I walked all the way to City College looking at floral arrangements. Then, night fell.

I awoke in a crowded and dusty photo lab. It was 6 a.m., and Martin L., Giorggio S., and I were inside a student union building, getting ready to go to work. My job was to replace Scott G. for the day, in his regular job of being a poolside janitor.

Decked out in my Speedoes, I mopped all around the pool. There was a band of tape at the pool's edge, apparently there to keep athletes from losing their footing. Nevertheless, with little effort, soap-and-water sufficed to remove the tape. The tape was so easy to remove I couldn't understand why Scott G. hadn't removed all the tape before. So, shaking my head at Scott's lapses, I removed all the tape.

It was now sunset, and time to remove the magic pickup truck from the ocean (I hadn't realized until then that Sacramento was a coastal location!) The pickup truck had this remarkable property of being able to drive directly the on water - right on the tires! - but the nightly effort to remove it onshore was burdensome. So, Rick P. designed this apparatus to guide the pickup ashore. The apparatus consisted of a wooden plank sitting on top of an aluminum ladder, which would guide the driver's side tires up and onto a pier. Plus ropes - lots of ropes!

I sat in the bed of the pickup truck as people on the pier pulled the pickup truck up the guide, but then something went terribly wrong. The end of the aluminum ladder slipped from the edge of the pier. With the pickup's front tire now resting entirely on the end of the poorly-supported plank, the back end of the plank veered crazily upwards from the track provided by the aluminum ladder. I jumped into the water in order to hold the plank and the aluminum ladder together, which I could only do with the most powerful abdominal crunch of all time. With Jocelyn P. on the pier shouting "Abs!" I tried, and tried, and ....

Suddenly, I was back in my Curtis Park neighborhood again. I had inherited the title of one of the swankier houses in the neighborhood upon divorce (because, as lawyers all know, it is only upon divorce that husbands gain full title to property once held by the wife's father).

There was only one challenge in my new domain: a short-sighted raccoon that kept bumping into me when I walked barefoot across the lawn. The raccoon began nibbling on my toes, began giggling, and suddenly transformed into a giant, naked mole rat the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. I began to freak out, and ....

At that point, I finally awoke, drenched in sweat.

I don't have colds and fevers very often, which is just as well. People at the pool, in particular, can do without my absurd over-confidence....

Friday, March 26, 2010


I went to eat at the Spaghetti Factory with the DMTC folks this evening, but feeling a little anti-social with my cold, instead of seeing "Altar Boyz" at RSP with them, I chose instead to see "Greenberg" on opening night at the Tower Theatre.

A cohort of folks in the theater clearly knew Greta Gerwig. They erupted into applause upon first seeing her. Seeing her walk Mahler, the German Shepherd, someone in the audience said "That's so Greta!"

A large murmur arose in the audience at another point, where 'Florence' shows 'Greenberg' a picture of herself and her father. Presumably a number of people in the audience knows both Greta and her father. Presumably the picture is genuine (?)

The movie itself is a sort of rage-against-aging movie. When Greenberg seems to seethe against young people at a party, because he's heard how much different the younger generation is because of cell phones, MySpace, etc., it was interesting to see how easily the younger folks parried him, and how kind they were about it, too. Certainly youth is kind, in more ways than one! And Greenberg slowly, haltingly comes to terms with the need to take adult responsibility....

The movie seems to be a sort-of descendant of the angst-ridden Woody Allen movies of the 70's. A movie that focuses on minutiae. Not quite 'Annie Hall', but with a family resemblance - the branch of the neurotic family that happened to settle in LA.

P.S.: Taking note of Armond White's caustic review of "Greenberg", he states:
I liked Harris Savides’ image of Stiller barely swimming across a pool....
I really liked this imagery too, and the scene, but for different reasons than White does. The sound track features the sound of a distant mourning dove, then a crow. Living in Sacramento, I have to say nothing evokes life in California quite like that particular soundscape. It's perfect! Wonderful job!

If There's A Will, It's Not Roadkill

The breath of life:
Police said a man will be charged with public drunkenness after a witnesses saw him attempting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on a road-killed opossum.

State police said they charged Donald Wolfe, 55, of Brookville, Jefferson County, after they arrived at the scene on Route 36 in Oliver Township around 3 p.m. Thursday.

Trooper Jamie Levier said several witnesses saw Mr. Wolfe near the animal. The trooper said one person saw Mr. Wolfe kneeling before the animal and gesturing as though he were conducting a seance, while another saw the mouth-to-mouth attempt.

Trooper Levier said Wolfe was "extremely intoxicated" and "did have his mouth in the area of the animal's mouth, I guess."


Misunderstood, and very popular:
Salsa, in particular, has emerged as Mexico’s most misunderstood culinary export. In Paris, Mexican restaurants make it with minced cornichon pickles and ketchup; in Japan, with green shishito peppers and Kewpie mayonnaise; in American factories, with corn syrup and red bell peppers.

Soon after the United States “discovered” salsa in the 1980s, it soared to popularity, famously outselling ketchup by 1992. American cooks flirted with peach salsa and corn salsa, while supermarket salsa evolved into a thick, sweet mix.

But on its global journey, salsa as it is actually made in Mexico often became lost.

Irma Verdejo, an owner of Tulcingo del Valle in Hell’s Kitchen, said that her customers often see it as a generic mix-and-match condiment.

“I fight with people about salsa all the time,” she said. “They want to put this salsa with that dish, or they want it more spicy, or less spicy. And they always think it should be free.”

Javier Olmedo, a Oaxaca University student and aspiring chef, said: “Watching someone shovel in salsa with tortilla chips is strange to Mexicans. Like how an American would feel watching someone drink salad dressing out of the bottle.”

"Conservative Woodstock"

This looks like fun! My only comment is that Searchlight is neither small, or remote (by Nevada standards):
Tea Party activists are kicking off a grand national tour this weekend with an event targeting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in his small home town of Searchlight, Nevada -- an event that Tea Party Express describes as a "conservative Woodstock."

Tomorrow's "Showdown In Searchlight" event will feature none other than Sarah Palin, campaigning against the Senate Dem leader. A press release from Tea Party Express boasts of supporters arriving to camp out: "It doesn't get closer to a 'Conservative Woodstock' than this."

...There will also be musical entertainment, from acts that have toured the Tea Party circuit, such as Lloyd Marcus. In addition to Palin, other speakers include Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher, former Saturday Night Live actress Victoria Jackson, Andrew Breitbart and others.

Russell told TPMDC that organizers are expecting "an easy 10,000" attendees, though he was unable to comment on just how many may have arrived already. Keep in mind that Searchlight is a small, remote town with a population of only 738, according to the Clark County statistics. The local NBC station reports that the hotels in the surrounding area have already been filling up with reservations, much of it linked to this event.

...Late Update: Reid's campaign sends us this statement, from Reid himself: "Searchlight doesn't get many tourists so I'm glad they are choosing to bring all their out-of-state money to my hometown. The influx of money will do the town some good. I encourage everyone to drop by the Nugget to say hello to Verlie and grab a 10 cent cup of coffee."

On The Dole

Revolution is the sweeter, with a subsidy:
Mike Vanderboegh is the far-right activist from Alabama who gained sudden notoriety when he posted a message this week urging his fellow extremists to smash the windows of Democratic politicians to protest healthcare reform -- a wingnut Kristallnacht. In a revealing profile in today's Washington Post, Vanderboegh explains that throwing rocks was merely meant to warn of an impending "civil war" against Washington's infringements on poor honest folk like him.

...As a longtime "militia" organizer and Minuteman border patroller, he has advocated violence for many years without consequence. In a 2005 report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Vanderboegh was identified as a hard-line nativist, obsessed with the notion of instigating a civil war in the United States.

...There is often a darkly comical aspect to these sinister fringe figures. While Vanderboegh claims to be a militant "libertarian," a tribune of the oppressed white middle class, and a student of Friedrich von Hayek, he appears to be an ordinary welfare case. Claiming to be too ill for gainful employment, he apparently spends most of his time stirring up violence, with a nice federal subsidy.

According to the Post, he lives off his wife, who works at a forklift company -- and also gets a monthly disability check from our "Marxist" federal government.

Mark S. Allen From "Good Day Sacramento" Interviews Greta Gerwig

Homer Simpson, Wordsmith

The legacy of Homer Simpson:
EVEN by the most lenient interpretation, Homer Simpson is not Shakespeare. Slow-witted and inarticulate, his remaining cognitive function dulled by over-consumption of Duff beer, he nonetheless has had a marked influence on the way people speak.

Now "D'oh!", the grunt of dumb annoyance he made famous, has been voted the greatest contribution to the English language made by The Simpsons.

In a survey of international linguists marking 20 years of the world's longest-running sitcom, "D'oh!" (as in, "D'oh! Whoever thought a nuclear power plant would be so complicated?") beat such contenders as "introubulate" ("to get someone into trouble"), "craptacular" ("spectacularly crap") and "eat my shorts" (a dismissal in the same vein as "kiss my a***") for the title of the programme's most influential word or catchphrase.

"D'oh!" has already been accorded linguistic recognition. In 2001 it was added to the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary, with the definition: "Expressing frustration at the realisation that things have turned out badly or not as planned, or that one has just said or done something foolish."

...In the survey, which had 320 responses, "D'oh!" scored 37 per cent, followed by "introubulate" and "craptacular". "Eat my shorts" came fourth. The great Francophobic insult, "cheese-eating surrender monkeys", was ninth.

"Homer Simpson must be the most influential wordsmith since Shakespeare," said Jurga Zilinskiene, chief executive of Today Translations. "And thanks to The Simpsons, combined with the power of the internet, ours must be the greatest golden age for new words since Shakespeare's own."

Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, says that "D'oh!" was inspired by the Scottish actor Jimmy Finlayson, who used a more drawn-out "Dow" in the Laurel and Hardy films. Groening felt that Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer, should say it a bit faster to suit the timing of animation, and so it was shortened to "D'oh!".

Other celebrated Homerisms range from "lupper" (a large, fattening meal, midway between lunch and supper) to "sacrilicious" (meaning either deliciously sacrilegious or the delicious taste of eating something sacred).

Bart Simpson has also made his own contributions to language, with such phrases as "Don't have a cow, man".

With his sister Lisa, he is credited with the dismissive "Meh", defined as an expression of profound indifference, in the same spirit as the teenager's "Whatever".

Bart also coined the word "kwyjibo", when it enabled him to use all his letters in a game of Scrabble. Challenged by his father, he claimed that it meant "a big dumb balding Northern American ape with no chin".

Whether "D'oh!" will last is another question. David Crystal, Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor, and author of A Little Book of Language, said most catchphrases fade from use after the show which made them famous goes off the air. Occasionally, however, they outlast their origins, like "Me Tarzan, you Jane".

Professor Crystal said: "That never turned up in the films, but everyone knows it and everybody uses it still."

Spock With A Beard

After a long absence, Billmon drops out of alternative-reality cyberspace with opinions:
One of the things that’s always impressed me about the modern conservative movement -- going back to when Newt Gringrich drew up his list of buzz words to be relentlessly associated with liberals ("corrupt," "degenerate," "depraved," etc.) -- has been the movement’s enthusiastic embrace of propaganda techniques developed by the same political regimes it claims to oppose with its life’s breath.

I guess they’re trying to proving that what totalitarians can do, modern conservatives can also do better.

Karl Rove’s White House was, in many ways, the Olympian ideal of a disinformation operation -- a propaganda achievement that will probably never be topped, at least in American politics (God willing). But it looks as if the House Republicans are giving it the old college try.

Thus the rather amazing press conference Minority Whip Eric Cantor held earlier today, in which the Virginia Republican in effect accused the Democrats of inciting violence against all those innocent teabaggers out there who are simply expressing their sacred constitutional right to spit on black people and fax pictures of hangman’s nooses to their elected representatives.

Others, such as Daily Kos’s Jed Lewison, have already noted the Rovian philosophy behind Cantor’s press conference -- i.e. "the best defense is a good offense." But what’s going on here is actually a good deal more subtle (as in, KGB-style subtle) than that.

The specific disinformation technique in play is one I call "mirror image" (or, when I’m in a Star Trek mood, "Spock with a beard"). It consists of charging the opposing side (i.e. the enemies of the people) with doing exactly what you yourself have been accused of doing, typically with a hell of a lot more justification.

...I want to take a closer look at what Rep. Cantor actually said this morning. I’ll skip the gratuitous reference to his own religion (because we already know how much HCR supporters loathe the Jews), as well as his tardy revelation that a bullet was shot through the window of his campaign office two days ago (which is a completely accurate description of the incident, other than the fact that it wasn’t his campaign office, but rather a building in which a couple of his campaign consultants have offices -- and their windows weren’t the ones that were shot -- plus the fact that bullet had a downward trajectory, which means it was either a stray shot that happened to land in that particular window, or Rep. Cantor’s consultants were targeted by a sniper in a helicopter who decided to attack at 1 a.m. in the morning, when the building was completely empty, and who still couldn’t figure which window to shoot. And, of course, the alleged window shooting happened after the Democrats had won their big HCR victory -- which I suppose goes to show that those evil communists weren’t satisfied with destroying American constitutional liberty; they also wanted BLOOD.)

Anyway, if you ignore the utter nonsense of his specific allegations (which, of course, is what disinformation campaigns are all about) Cantor’s statement was brilliantly crafted –- evil, but nonetheless brilliant. This is the passage that really caught my eye:
DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen and DNC Chairman Tim Kaine in particular are dangerously fanning the flames by suggesting that these incidents be used as a political weapon. Security threats against members of Congress is not a partisan issue, and they should never be treated that way. To use such threats as political weapons is reprehensible. I'm not naive enough to think that letters, statements, or press releases will prevent anyone disturbed enough to commit violence from acting. But I do know that such letters, statements and press releases can very easily fan the flames by ratcheting up the rhetoric. Some will only inflame these situations to dangerous levels.
Considered as a rational argument, this is, of course, absurd -- bordering on incoherent. "I’m not na├»ve enough to think that letters, statements, or press releases will prevent anyone disturbed enough to commit violence from acting." What the fuck was that supposed to mean?

The correct answer is that it wasn’t supposed to mean anything. This isn’t about meaning. The real message of the statement is in the specific words and phrases Cantor uses -- and then repeats: "threats used as political weapons," "ratcheting up the rhetoric," "fanning the flames," "fan the flames," "inflame."

These are the sound bites Cantor’s operatives hope will make the evening news tonight. Why? Because they turn reality upside down. In Cantor’s alternate universe, it’s the Democrats who are using "threats" as "weapons," "ratcheting up the rhetoric" to "dangerous levels," and "fanning the flames" of violence.

The idea is to string those phrases together in such a way as to verbally associate the Democrats with the very same conduct the Republicans are actually guilty of (i.e. incitement) without ever making the accusation directly.

What makes this particular example so cunning are the specific words used. Liberals complain that conservative protestors have worn guns to teabagger rallies, or waved signs warning that if "Brown can’t stop this, a Browning can"? Well, now the Democrats also have been accused of using "weapons." Has the RNC stepped over the line by showing Nancy Pelosi burning in a sea of fire? Well, the Democrats are also "fanning the flames." Did the GOP House members encourage their followers to think of themselves as a revolutionary army by waving "Don’t Tread on Me" signs from the House balcony during the HCR vote? Well, the Democrats are also "ratcheting up the rhetoric."

This is pretty sophisticated stuff -- way beyond what I would expect from your typical hack GOP congressman. Which does make me wonder who’s writing Cantor’s stuff these days (Step on out from behind the curtain, Karl: We can see you.)

...The New York Times, tonight:

Accusations Fly Between Parties Over Threats and Vandalism

Eric Cantor, in my imagination:

"Mission accomplished, baby. Mission accomplished."

Tourette's Everywhere, It Appears

Sally called from the approach to the Bay Bridge; her early start to San Francisco has been stymied by an accident somewhere on the span. Her call from near the toll booth was laced with gratuitous advice about what other drivers cutting in front of her should do.

I'm Not The Only One Edging Towards Tourette's Syndrome

A woman bicycling down the alley this morning shouted "You don't even keep your word; you liar!"

If It Feels Good; Do It

Sleep was hard to come by last night, with my cold, and all. I awoke repeatedly in the early morning hours, but did my best to avoid coughing (because the phlegm is too tarry to evacuate without a massive, painful effort).

About 2 a.m., I got the urge to moan. Not necessarily because I had to, but because there is something soothing about moaning. So, I moaned, and felt comforted by doing so.

I've often thought that I'm just a step or two away from displaying symptoms of Tourette's Syndrome. I thought it would feel comfortable to babble nonsense at 2 a.m. So, I babbled, and felt comforted by doing so.

And people wonder why I have such a hard time getting up in the morning!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Over-Confident Fly Enters The Web

William Kristol decides the spider isn't that dangerous:
In a blog post for the Weekly Standard, which he edits, Kristol stuck to his guns. Quoting Obama as having said, "I welcome that fight. Because I don't believe the American people are going to put the insurance industry back in the driver's seat," Kristol wrote, "The insurance industry is a diverting talking point, but it’s not going to work. Republicans simply have to say: Barack Obama’s legislation would put the government in the driver’s seat of a giant, poorly-constructed bus in which we’re simply helpless passengers. Republican reforms would put American families in the driver’s seat of cars of their choice. Which do you prefer?"

He concluded by saying, "Republicans should take up the president on his dare. They should say, 'Thank you Mr. President, we are going for it. And we're going to win.'"
I like the bus analogy - we can do all kinds of warring "South American bus plunge accident" TV ads - because, after all, when it comes to health insurance, the American population is not driving in individual cars, but rather, these days, they are hapless passengers and the insurance companies are driving the bus. Time to change drivers!

David Frum Thrown Under The Bus

Two alternative explanations - both, or either, would work for me:
David Frum says he wasn't fired from his job at a right-wing think tank for declaring that the passage of health care reform was the GOP's "Waterloo," but many political observers seem to disagree.

What is known for certain is that, as of Thursday, Frum -- a long-time conservative columnist and a former speechwriter for George W. Bush credited with coining the term "axis of evil" -- is no longer at the American Enterprise Institute, where he had spent seven years.

...And what is also known is that in the last several days Frum has ruffled more than a few conservative feathers with a series of harsh criticisms of the Republican Party in the wake of the passage of the Democrats' landmark health care bill into law.

...But were his most recent criticisms the straw that broke the camel's back? Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post seems to think so.

"Three days after calling health-care reform a debacle for the Republicans, David Frum was forced out of his job at the American Enterprise Institute on Wednesday," Kurtz wrote.

...Jacob Heilbrunn at the Huffington Post takes an even more negative view. Heilbrunn argues that Frum's departure from the AEI is a sign that the conservative movement, "in Bolshevik fashion ... is devouring its own children."
Is Frum really an apostate, a ranks-breaker? No, he isn't. I haven't seen any evidence that Frum, a vigorous polemicist, has fundamentally deviated from traditional conservative positions when it comes to Israel or tax rates....
Frum's saga resembles in reverse the odyssey of the neoconservatives who used to argue that they hadn't left the Democratic party. It had left them. Now, it seems fair to say, Frum isn't leaving conservatism; rather, the conservative movement is rapidly leaving Frum behind.

Frum would disagree vigorously. In an interview with the Plum Line's Greg Sargent, Frum asserted it was financial problems at the AEI that forced him out.

AEI President Arthur Brooks "asked me if I'd like to work for AEI on a non salary basis," Frum told Sargent. "He said it had nothing to do with my work and that after all these are hard times."

What Are People Sharing Today Via E-Mail?

Cloud streets downwind of the Aleutian Islands.
What looks a little like a shore break is actually a NASA image of cloud formations over Alaska's Aleutian Islands. Turbulence caused by the wind passing over the highest points of the islands produces the pronounced eddies that swirl the clouds into a pattern called a vortex "street." In this example, the clouds have also aligned in parallel rows or streets.

Photo: Nasa / AP

Forecasts Suggest We'll Have Rain, Middle Of Next Week

That's good, because we are falling behind again.

We can still beat expectations!

"Go For It"

I remember medieval history class from back in college days (but a bit shakily after all these years). The French admired their sovereign, King Philip, because of his audacity when challenging King John of England (at that time, the King of France barely controlled Paris, and the English King controlled most of France). The French labelled their monarch 'The Spider King', for his clever, diabolical little plots with no satisfactory exits for the English. You can almost picture a garden spider's beautiful, and lethal, web!

Barack Obama has laid a trap for the GOP. It's not a particularly brilliant trap, like the garden spider's. Think a wolf spider's funnel, or a black widow spider's chaotic tangle. Then again, his opponents aren't that bright. So, each era gets the webs it deserves:
"Over the last year, there's been a lot of misinformation spread about health care reform. There's been plenty of fear-mongering, plenty of overheated rhetoric," Obama said. "You turn on the news, you'll see the same folks are still shouting about there's going to be an end of the world because this bill passed. I'm not exaggerating. Leaders of the Republican Party, they called the passage of this bill 'Armageddon.' Armageddon. 'End of freedom as we know it.'"

That part was in the prepared text. But then the president went off script, even miming the actions he described:
So after I signed the bill, I looked around to see if there [were] any asteroids falling or some cracks opening up in the Earth. It turned out it was a nice day. Birds were chirping. Folks were strolling down the Mall. People still have their doctors.
Later, Obama directly addressed the idea of repealing healthcare reform, which has become a rallying cry for Republicans. His response to that suggestion had more than a hint of post-victory swagger to it.

"Now that they passed it -- now that we passed it, they're already promising to repeal it. They're actually going to run on a platform of repeal in November. You've been hearing that. And my attitude is: Go for it," Obama said, continuing:
If these congressmen in Washington want to come here in Iowa and tell small business owners that they plan to take away their tax credits and essentially raise their taxes, be my guest. If they want to look Lauren Gallagher in the eye and tell her they plan to take away her father's health insurance, that's their right. If they want to make Darlyne Neff pay more money for her check-ups, her mammograms, they can run on that platform. If this young man out here thinks this is a bad bill, he can run to repeal it. If they want to have that fight, we can have it. Because I don't believe that the American people are going to put the insurance industry back in the driver's seat. We've already been there. We're not going back. This country is moving forward.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Remember That $5 Too!

At the ticket booth, at the Tower Theatre, for "Baghead"!

The Detroit News interviews Greta Gerwig:
According to, the average Ben Stiller movie has earned $76 million over his career.

And how much has the average Greta Gerwig movie earned?

"I think my average is five dollars," Gerwig says on the phone from San Francisco, where she's promoting "Greenberg."

"Actually, I honestly think it's in the hundreds of dollars. But give it 15 years -- we'll see who's the box-office king or queen then," she says with a laugh.

Over the past three years, Gerwig, 26, has become the princess of the "mumblecore" film movement, an ultra-indie, low-low budget approach to filmmaking that involves a lot of improvisation, perspiration and inspiration and not much in the way of earnings.

It's a do-it-yourself ethic that has seen Gerwig, born and raised in Sacramento but a New York City girl since attending Barnard College, working as a writer, director and actress on such little-seen but critically praised movies as "LOL," "Yeast," "Hannah Takes the Stairs" and the genre's "hit," the faux horror film "Baghead."

But with "Greenberg," in which Gerwig dazzles as a flighty L.A. personal assistant who finds herself falling into a relationship with Stiller's spoiled, 40ish, sometimes mental patient, she finds herself moving into the mainstream, or at least toward it.

"It's all relative, but this for me is big time," Gerwig says.

And chances are it will lead to even bigger times.

Gerwig is drawing raves for the sparkling realism she brings to the role, a naturalism that has drawn inevitable comparisons to Diane Keaton's breakthrough in Woody Allen's "Annie Hall."

Gerwig certainly doesn't mind the comparisons.

"I'm a huge fan of Diane Keaton. I used to dress up like Annie Hall all the time. I was a purveyor of men's wear, which my mom was not so excited about," she says.

Indeed, Gerwig says Allen and his films shaped her entire world view.

"I am a lover of Woody Allen. If you want to talk about ambition, a big ambition is to get myself in a Woody Allen film before he stops making films," she says.

"I grew up in Sacramento, and my impressions of New York and the intelligentsia and cocktail parties and witty banter all came from Woody Allen," she says.

"I spent a lot of time in junior high and high school imitating those people, which is why I didn't have a lot of friends," Gerwig says. "But then I went to New York for college, and I kind of found myself in the world that was so appealing to me on the screen."

Sinking Into A Puddle

I either have a cold, or bad hay fever.

Which reminds me, I have a recipe for mucus around here somewhere....

And no surprise, it's the asthma folks who've got it up on the Web!

Actually, it's quite remarkable: I skated through the entire winter without getting a cold. It figures that I would be struck down now; now that it's Spring!

Morlochs Are Attacking The Stones

The Georgia Guidestones, that is:
The nearly 20-foot high series of granite slabs known as the Georgia Guidestones are inscribed with a series of admonitions for a future "Age of Reason." Billed as "America's Stonehenge," it's an astronomically complex, 120-ton relic of Cold War fears, built to instruct survivors of an Armageddon that the mystery man feared was all too near.

The identity of the man who called himself "R.C. Christian" is a secret that Wyatt Martin, the banker who acted as his agent in Elberton, vows to take to his grave.

"He told me, 'If you were to tell who put the money up for this, it wouldn't be a mystery any more, and no one would come and read it.' That had to be part of the attraction, to get people to come and read his 10 rules that he came up with," Martin said.

People in Elberton, about 100 miles east of Atlanta, are proud of their eccentric landmark. But 30 years after its dedication, it has drawn the attention of a new generation of conspiracy theorists with very different fears.

...But it's the written messages of the Guidestones that have drawn the most criticism.

Most are innocuous, calling on readers to rule their passions with "tempered reason," avoid "petty laws and useless officials" and "prize truth, beauty, love ... seeking harmony with the infinite." They end with the advice, "Be not a cancer on the Earth -- leave room for nature."

But the first two -- which call for limiting human population to half a billion, less than 10 percent of today's numbers, and guiding reproduction "wisely" -- have led some to call the Guidestones a call to genocide and the "Ten Commandments of the Antichrist."

In recent years, the monument has been hit by vandals who see in it the creed of a shadowy "New World Order" bent on subjugating humanity. It has been tagged at least three times since 2008, leaving scrawls of "God is stronger than the NWO," vague threats of destruction and various crudities across the granite.

...The mystery man is dead now. Martin knows this because the man's son got in touch with him recently. Only two people in Elberton met him face-to-face -- Martin and Joe Fendley, the contractor who built the monument.

Fendley, who went on to become the town's mayor, is dead now, too. But Martin, now 79 and living a few towns down the road, said he remains bound by his pledge to keep the secret.

"That was a gentleman's agreement between us, and he lived with it and I've lived with it," he said. "When I'm dead and gone, nobody will ever know who put it there."

Record-Low New Home Sales

Chili Bomb

New Mexico chili grenades seem pretty weak tea compared to this:
GAUHATI, India – The Indian military has a new weapon against terrorism: the world's hottest chili.

After conducting tests, the military has decided to use the thumb-sized "bhut jolokia," or "ghost chili," to make tear gas-like hand grenades to immobilize suspects, defense officials said Tuesday.

The bhut jolokia was accepted by Guinness World Records in 2007 as the world's spiciest chili. It is grown and eaten in India's northeast for its taste, as a cure for stomach troubles and a way to fight the crippling summer heat.

It has more than 1,000,000 Scoville units, the scientific measurement of a chili's spiciness. Classic Tabasco sauce ranges from 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units, while jalapeno peppers measure anywhere from 2,500 to 8,000.

Senate Temper Tantrum

(image from here)

The Senate Republicans at work:
The Senate Armed Services Committee, for example, has scheduled some pretty important hearings this afternoon. Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) appeared on the Senate floor earlier, imploring his colleagues to let his hearings continue.
"We've had, we have three [U.S. military] commanders scheduled to testify this afternoon. They've been scheduled for a long time. They've come a long, long distance. One of them has come from Korea; one of them has come from Hawaii. And I would, therefore, ask unanimous consent that the previously scheduled and currently scheduled hearing of the Committee on Armed Services be allowed to proceed."
Levin added that the committee's ranking member, John McCain, also wants the hearing to proceed, and the hearing would not conflict with any scheduled floor votes. Among those scheduled to testify are Adm. Robert Willard, Navy Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command; Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command; and Gen. Walter Sharpe, Army Commander of U.S. forces in Korea.

All Levin needed was for the Senate to let the hearing occur, as would be normal on any other day. But that requires unanimous consent, and Sen. Richard Burr (R) of North Carolina rose to explain that there's "an objection on our side of the aisle."

So there will be no hearing, because the increasingly pathetic Republican caucus is miffed that the Senate majority voted for a bill the GOP didn't like.

Scheduled hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee have also been suspended, because they were slated to begin after 2, and the GOP refuses to allow the hearings to happen.

I've seen more maturity from second graders than from the Republican caucus of the United States Senate.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Showtimes For "Greenberg", Starting Friday

The Tower Theatre
2508 Landpark Drive, Sacramento, CA
Greenberg‎ - 1hr 47min‎‎ - Rated R‎‎ - Comedy/Drama‎
12:00 2:30 5:00 7:30 10:00pm

Hell No You Can't!

On March 18, "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer appeared on CNBC's "The Kudlow Report" and predicted that passage of healthcare reform would "topple the stock market."
"First, it is the single biggest impediment to the stock market going higher,"Cramer said. "And a lot of this has to do with what's not being talked about enough with how it's going to be paid and also about what it will do to small business formation. This bill is a disaster for both."
Five days later, on March 23, the day President Obama signed healthcare reform into law, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 102 points at 10,888.83, a new 17- month high.

Keep The Momentum Going!

Out of some kind of masochistic, even-handed fetish, poor J. gets E-Mails from the RNC. Today's E-Mail urges everyone to "keep the momentum going!"

J. asks:
Keep the momentum going? Um, would it break their hearts if we tell Steele that they lost?
Well, Michael Steele doesn't have time for OUR thoughts. Instead, he has to keep the momentum going, which, at this point, seeing how the momentum is going, is just fine with me:
From: Michael Steele, RNC Chairman
Subject: Keep the Momentum Going--Fire Nancy Pelosi!

Dear Albert,

...I'm grateful for your help, but we're not done yet. At 11:15 this morning, President Obama signed into law the Pelosi Health Care Takeover. This abomination means low-quality health care, higher taxes, and a declining standard of living for all Americans.

In response to President Obama signing this monstrous bill, the RNC is extending the Fire Pelosi Money Bomb for an extra 24 hours -- that's 24 more hours to ensure our Party has the resources needed to defeat 40 Democrat Representatives and bring Nancy Pelosi's iron-fisted reign to an end.

...Albert, this is a fight for the future of our nation -- and it's a fight Republicans must win. Your help is vital to fire Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the U.S. House. Donate to the RNC's money bomb now. Thank you.

Michael Steele
Chairman, Republican National Committee

Waterlogged Queensland

It's funny how times change!:
Southeast Queensland dams are bulging, with all Gold and Sunshine coast storages full. Brisbane's Somerset Dam is overflowing, North Pine 99.7 per cent and Wivenhoe 96.2.

'Awful Shock' Coming

Jack Welch on the economy, and the recent health care vote. During most of the interview he is fairly-retrograde on issues, particularly regulation and unions, but he bucks the corporate consensus and sees no big GOP win in November:
On CNBC Tuesday, former General Electric CEO Jack Welch warned Republicans expecting big gains in the midterm elections this fall that they'll "get a large shock."

Citing improved economic indicators, Welch said, "I don't think [the Democrats] are going to be wiped out," and said he expects them to have enough votes in Congress following the election to move forward on other parts of their agenda, like cap and trade.

Monday, March 22, 2010

"Kiss Me, Kate" Closes At DMTC

For the last few performances, and for videotaping purposes, Marguerite did her best to go over-the-top with her solos at the end of Act I.

The last performance was particularly notable for its silliness. When Martin tried to lasso Marguerite as she tried to escape, Martin's whip failed to reach her. She stopped abruptly nonetheless, as she HAD too! Martin then summoned her with a motion of his index finger and said, "Come here, you!" Sheer magnetism of personality sufficed where the whip failed. Silly!

Even sillier was what happened a few seconds later. There is a rapid back-and-forth sequence of lines between Martin and Marguerite, just before the handling the birds. The sequence is the fastest of the show. The correct sequence is:
Petruchio: So, kiss me, Kate.
Katharine: I'll crack your pate.
Petruchio: Oh please don't pout.
Katharine: I'll knock you out.
Petruchio: My priceless prize!
Katharine: I'll black your eyes.
Petruchio: Oh, kiss me quick!
Katharine: Your rump I'll kick.
Apparently what happened was that Martin jumped the line, forcing Marguerite to improvise instantaneously (note: anyone please correct if I've got this wrong):
Petruchio: So, kiss me, Kate.
Katharine: I'll crack your pate.
Petruchio: Oh please don't pout.
Katharine: I'll knock you out.
Petruchio: Oh, kiss me quick!
Katharine: I'll break your dick.
Petruchio: Oh, kiss me quick!
Katharine: Your rump I'll kick.
Hey, it rhymed! It was very hard, however, as part of the ensemble, and knowing how out-of-character it all was for Marguerite, to keep a straight face for the remainder of Act I!

"A Year With Frog And Toad" - DMTC YPT - Second Act

I caught the second act of "A Year With Frog And Toad" in their last performance Saturday afternoon, but it was so crowded that I had to observe from the light booth!

Frog (left, Noah P.) welcomes Toad (right, Wil F.) to his house for tea.


Petra F. as the Snowman, along with others.

Kailani C. as Snail.

Toad (Wil F.) invited Frog over to open Christmas presents, but Frog hasn't appeared.

Toad (Wil F.) gets apprehensive that Frog has met trouble on the road, so he prepares himself to look for Frog, by bringing a frying pan to intimidate wolves, and a rope with which to save Frog should he have fallen into a pit.

The littlest kids screamed with laughter when Frog (Noah P.), running late, startled Toad (Wil F.) as he imagined all the terrible things that could have befallen his friend Frog!

Birds preparing to fly south, interview Toad.

Birds, Frog and Toad.

Assembled cast at show's end, along with Directors Mary Jo Seminoff, and Emily Jo Seminoff.

Candidates Forum At The SCNA: State Assembly, District 9

Candidates for Assembly, District 9. Standing from left to right, Roger Dickinson, Kevin McCarty, Lauren Hammond, and Chris Garland. At right, former SCNA President Dan Murphy. Kneeling, Adam Sartain.

Left; Candidate Kevin McCarty answers a question.

Even though I live in the Curtis Park neighborhood, and consider myself to be civically-active, it's unlikely that I would have gone to this Candidate's Forum had not friend, and DMTC performer, Adam Sartain not been a candidate.

Somehow I haven't gotten as worked up as some of my neighbors about the issue that has galvanized so many others in my neighborhood - namely, the disposition of toxic wastes in the local UP railyard, and the development proposal of Paul Petrovich that falls short of what folks in the Sierra-Curtis Neighborhood Association (SCNA) would prefer. These issues are important, of course, but maybe I'm just more fatalistic than most.

The folks that did turn up, though, were the hard core of neighborhood activists and those really interested in the issues. Many had been involved in local issues for decades. For a novice candidate like Adam, it was a tough crowd.

Adam was encouraged that he got the audience to laugh. His theatrical skills will come into play in his series of radio ads that will come out shortly. Nevertheless, his meandering opening statement needs improvement, particularly when when compared to opening statements by veteran candidates like Lauren Hammond, who looked at everyone in the room, and simply said "You know me!"

There were times, however, when familiarity with the issues didn't necessarily improve one's position. Someone asked what the candidate's positions were on AB32. Adam didn't immediately know what that was (the recently-passed CA greenhouse gas control mandate). Chris Garland pounced, stating that he was intimately-familiar with every aspect of AB32. Nevertheless, his familiarity came off as something closer to zealotry, marking him as perhaps the most ideologically-liberal of the candidates.

Someone asked what the candidate's positions were regarding Proposition 8 (opposition to gay marriage). Everyone opposed Proposition 8, except, surprisingly, Adam, who argued that marriage was a matter of religious belief and that the government should have nothing to do with it at all.

Adam also mentioned that he supports increased taxation, but targeted only a rather small group for increases: landlords who increase rents inordinately (open to interpretation, of course). Not enough to close the state budget deficit, certainly, but it's an exceedingly-touchy subject - who gets the tax increase - and Adam is to be commended for his honesty here.

So, the folks in District 9 have good choices. Adam is my friend, and has my heart, of course. Lauren Hammond has lots of experience on the City Council, though. And the other candidates also have years of experience, and would serve Assembly District 9 well.

Candidates Forum At The SCNA: City Council, District 5

The Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association (SCNA) sponsored a candidates' forum on Saturday, March 20. The candidates for City Council are, from left to right, Leticia Hilbert, Patrick Kennedy, Henry Harry, Terre Johnson, and Jay Schenirer. At right, former SCNA President Dan Murphy.
The audience asks questions.

After the Assembly District 9 debate, I stayed for the District 5 City Council candidates.

The candidates seemed united on one subject: the Sierra-Curtis Neighborhood Association (SCNA) is awesome! At one point, after much mutual agreement regarding the insufficiencies of the Petrovich development proposal, someone leaned over and whispered sarcastically "I can't believe they agree on so much!" I replied "We just haven't found the issue to separate them yet."

So, I asked about my pet hobbyhorse: jumping city utility rates (I posted an analysis regarding these rates last month). Leticia Hilbert responded with a surprising suggestion for a solution: privatization. The other candidates, however, responded with variations on a theme: tailoring rates to usage. Henry Harry was concerned about the illegal diversion of rate-payer funds into the general fund (something that bothered me less, because the diversion was apparently done in order to deal with illegal dumping). Patrick Kennedy was angry that large users (such as the proposed Nestle's water-bottling plant) would be charged the same rates as individual households. Terre Johnson talked about rate triggers to flag unsupportable rate increases. Jay Schenirer favored differential rates depending on utilization of city services.

So, not quite enough to separate the candidates, but a start!

Prior to the forum, I had been split between supporting Terre Johnson and Jay Schenirer. I hoped the forum would help make the choice for me. Instead, I think the choice is more complicated now. Patrick Kennedy and Henry Harry also demonstrated formidable command of the issues. I'll have to think more about this....

Marcus Crowder Interviews Greta Gerwig

Marcus Crowder also got a brief run-down of Greta's stage appearances when she lived in Sacramento:
Seeing the 26-year-old dressed casually chic for a Friday night in a thick black sweater and long black leather skirt, the regulars at the Shady Lady might have thought, "She's not from around here." But she is. She was raised in River Park, across from Sacramento State, and her parents still live there. She went to Sutter Middle School and graduated from St. Francis High School.

Gerwig's mother, Christine, lists a who's who of area arts professionals her daughter was involved with growing up. She had classes with Ron Cunningham at the Sacramento Ballet and James Wheatley's dance group at Celebration Arts. She did plays with Ed Trafton at Jesuit High School.

"She worked with Doc Larson at CSUS when she was in the fourth grade," Christine Gerwig said.

Gerwig was also in musicals at the Woodland Opera House and spent a summer with Sacramento City College's Shakespeare in the Park the year it did "Merry Wives of Windsor."

"I only said one word, but I memorized everybody else's lines," Gerwig said.

She also studied with Ed Claudio as a child and later was in several productions at his Actor's Theatre of Sacramento on Del Paso Boulevard.

"Ed was really wonderful. He put all these plays on and let me be all these characters" including Desdemona" in "Othello."

Claudio remembers her well. "I worked with her all through high school and helped her with her college auditions, too," the veteran acting teacher said.

"She had it all the while, you could see that. You can't teach the talent, but you can give them opportunities to explore it. You teach them craft."

The Easy Part

Tropical Cyclone Ului made a mess:
FRUSTRATED residents of cyclone-ravaged Airlie Beach, on the fringe of the Great Barrier Reef, say surviving the storm may have been the ``easy part''

Tourists have scavenged in bins for food, and communities are at risk of running out of water after 200km/h winds from the category three cyclone, which crossed the north Queensland coast on Sunday morning, cut power to homes, businesses and utilities.

Generators have been deployed to Airlie Beach where water supplies remain critical.

While in Mackay more than 24,000 residents remain without power and have also been told to ration their water usage.

...Ergon Energy is continuing to work around the clock to restore electricity supplies to the Central Queensland region but it could be days before all homes have the power restored.

...Hotels at Airlie Beach are telling visitors to leave or brace for an uncomfortable stay as supplies run low.

``If we don't get the power back soon, we will look back at the cyclone as the easy part,'' Airlie Beach Hotel general manager Mark Bell told AAP.

Guests are being advised that there will be no running water or phone connections in Airlie Beach for some time.

The local Lions club put on a sausage sizzle after hearing of backpackers desperate to find food.

``We've had reports of people sifting through rubbish bins for food, so we've asked the Lions Club to come in and help out,'' Whitsunday mayor Mike Brunker said.

With only one service station in town vehicles were backed up for hundreds of metres waiting for fuel for up to one hour.

...On Monday afternoon ex-tropical cyclone Ului was east of Cloncurry and moving west, bringing localised heavy rain and thunderstorms.

Pushing The Pickup Truck Across J Street

A dead pickup truck was blocking the left hand lane on J Street, just east of 15th Street. One of the taxi cab drivers who loiter at that intersection was helping push the truck. I joined the effort (taking note of the McCain/Palin bumper sticker).

We pushed the truck across J Street, in order to park it (more-or-less legally). A cop on bicycle inquired what we were doing, then moved on. I continued on my way.

When I returned about 45 minutes later, the truck was gone. Presumably the breakdown was easily fixed.

Daniel Watts, Candidate For Davis City Council, Visits DMTC

One of the pleasures of having run for Governor in the 2003 California Gubernatorial Recall Election is catching up on the various activities of the other 135 official (plus 11 write-in) candidates for the office.

This year, the second-youngest, and among the most-promising of these candidates, Daniel Watts, a UCD law student, age 27, is running for a seat on the Davis City Council. Last Thursday, he received front-page coverage in the Davis Enterprise newspaper:
As a member of the council, Watts said, he will work to protect students' tenant rights, prevent student profiling and harassment by police, and annex on-campus student housing into the city, so students can vote in city elections.

Watts is no stranger to student issues. In 2003, when he was 20 years old, he entered the California gubernatorial election to force candidates to address the issue of increasing tuition fees.

"My goal then was not to get elected, but to raise awareness of the rising student fees issue," Watts said.

He had planned to join the race for governor again this year, but the $3,500 filing fee proved too steep this time around. He paid for it in 2003 with winnings from his stint on "Wheel of Fortune" earlier that year.

Although student rights are his primary objective, Watts is also concerned about all residents' constitutional rights. He said the city needs to repeal ordinances that clearly violate the First Amendment rights of free speech.
Since I already knew Daniel from the Governor's race, and since DMTC's relations with the Davis City Council have sometimes been rocky, I hastened to invite him Friday evening for a tour of the DMTC theater.

It turns out Daniel used to play piano for various musical theater groups in the San Jose area when he was in high school; at least, until he departed to San Diego for college. One summer, he played "The Sound of Music" for two groups - to the point where the dilemmas of the von Trapp family loomed large in his life.

Daniel much enjoyed the tour of DMTC's theater. Of course, as a 501(c)3 non-profit group, DMTC cannot endorse political candidates, and as a Sacramento resident my endorsement need not mean much to Davis residents. Nevertheless, Daniel's past experiences make him naturally sympathetic to the needs of a non-profit theaters, and I'm happy to extend to him my personal endorsement for his current campaign.

Afterwards, Daniel E-Mailed:
And I just noticed that the YPT did Starmites last year! I played Trinkulus/Shak Graa in that show during high school, and I loved it. That was the first time the musical theater class drafted me to play an onstage role instead of the piano.
Yes, a candidate naturally-attuned to the needs of non-profit theaters!

Scenes From The Defeat

Let the bitch-slapping start!:
For anyone trolling for pre-vote activity, the hottest action was on the grand balcony that runs along the Speakers Lobby on the south end of the Capitol. A members-only retreat, the balcony looked out over the gaggle of Tea Partiers and other anti-reform die-hards come to express their extreme distress over America’s impending plunge into communism (or “socialism” depending on which banners, shirts, and signs you favored). These were not people looking to debate the finer points of cost control or accessibility. These were folks itching to strap Pelosi to the back bumper of the nearest pickup. Angry and profane does not even begin to describe the scene.

...But it wasn’t until a couple of the old guys goaded Tea Party prom queen Michele Bachmann onto the balcony that the fun really got started. After only a second or two of faux resistance, Bachmann sidled up to the edge, clasped her hands together and shook them above each shoulder like some kind of pink-clad prize fighter. The crowd below went hog wild, and more than one member made a snorting reference to Bachman’s “Evita” moment. Soon, other Republicans began sliding out to stand beside her and bask in the reflected love.

Hours later, as the whole pre-vote back-and-forth really got rolling, Republicans were in no mood to sit still. They trotted out every parliamentary trick in the book to try and slow the process even further. They were quick to snicker, groan, and boo at Democats’ comments, and they’d shout down any member of the majority who went even a second over their allotted speaking time. And whenever one of their own team spoke, the remarks would be met with enthusiastic applause and cheers. Bachman took to shouting “Good job! Good job!” at colleagues, like she was a proud T-ball parent cheering from the sideline.

On some level, it was sweet of Bachmann to try and keep everyone’s spirits up in the face of what the party must realize is a grave injury. The GOP went all out to deliver President Obama a legislative Waterloo, and ultimately came up short. For a party that prides itself on being ruthless and efficient and competent, this is a particularly devastating blow, and we should probably cut members a little slack in dealing with it the best they could. In fact, earlier in the day, as I stood watching Wamp and Gerlach make their cute little sign for the protesters, Illinois’s John Shimkus stretched an arm up over my head to snap a picture of the two men with his cell phone. “I should really get them off the balcony,” he mused, more to himself than to me. We introduced ourselves, and I asked the congressman if he was having a good day. “Not really,” he said with a heavy sigh, eyes still glued to his colleague’s balcony antics. “But what are you gonna do?”

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Interesting Interview Regarding Disco

Alice Echols has written a book celebrating disco. I will have to read this book ASAP. Disco was, and is, a truly wonderful, magical musical form!
Yes, Lady Gaga is gender-bending, joyously synthetic and unabashedly fun, and after a decade in which hip-hop dominated pop music, she's bringing glitter back into the American mainstream. As Alice Echols argues in her new book, "Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture," she also signals a resurgence of disco -- and that the dance music trend that brought us Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby" and the Village People's "YMCA" is being repackaged for a new generation.

Echols, a former disco DJ and professor of American studies and history at Rutgers University, also believes that disco, which emerged from Motown and funk in the late '60s, deserves far more respect than it's received. As Echols explains in her readable and thoroughly entertaining book, disco played a crucial role in giving voice to female desire in American pop music, racially integrating the American dance floor and defining gay culture.

Salon spoke to Echols over the phone about Lady Gaga's outfits, how dancing caused the Stonewall Riots, and why the '60s are overrated.

Why do you think Lady Gaga signals a resurgence of disco?

I take a very expansive definition of disco. People who love rock music call everything from heavy metal to Little Richard rock. It's just assumed that it's a genre that can take in a lot of different styles. One of the things that annoys me about so much writing on disco is this idea that disco can only be talked about as the classic disco sound that lasted a few short years. Lady Gaga is disco to my ears. She's so great and conceptual, like disco David Bowie with a vagina. Plasticity is understood as a cool thing by Lady Gaga, and I think disco is the taproot source for this.

...You argue that the '70s, which have been maligned as the "Me Decade," got an unfair shake compared to the '60s, which was supposedly this time of transformation and great art. What are people missing about the '70s?

Honestly, if you were to look unflinchingly at some of those rock performances of the '60s today, like Joe Cocker at Woodstock, they're really kind of cringe-making. Obviously, there was great music at that moment, but the '60s have gotten the lion's share of attention both in popular and in scholarly histories, and it's been so outsized that it's made it hard for scholars to see what was unique about the decades that bookended it.

...Disco continued to be ridiculed and reviled by rock fans long after it disappeared from mainstream culture. Why has anti-disco sentiment lasted so long?

Rock music imported a lot of the ideas of musical authenticity from folk music, who really believed music should be natural and spontaneous and raw and filled with sincerity, and should not be commercial. If this is your standard, then disco flies in the face of that. It embraces artifice and the synthetic. People who love disco aren't going to say, "Oh man, can you believe the way Donna Summer sold out?"

I think there were different reasons why people hated disco, and it depended on the context. Because of disco's success and popularity, a lot of the local rock clubs closed down and became discos, which annoyed many people; disco appealed to a different constituency than the Rolling Stone crowd: women, gays and blacks. One of the reasons many men didn't like it, especially white guys, was that disco involved dancing.

And among some working-class whites in Detroit, for example, which was one of the epicenters of anti-disco, there was this idea of, "Hey, what happened to us and our music? It's being taken over by a bunch of black people!" Not everybody who hated disco was racist, obviously, but I think racism did inform the feelings of some people. There were white guys dressing up like the KKK at anti-disco rallies. There was also homophobia, and disco was the soundtrack of feminism, which was upsetting many men's lives.

What's your favorite disco song?

There are so many, but one of my very favorites is Diana Ross' "Love Hangover." I love it because it starts out slow so it's really challenging for the DJ. It's this incredibly lush-sounding song. She sounds so uninhibited for Diana Ross and so happy! There's just a kind of pleasure, and joy and infectiousness to that song and you really get the sense that she's somebody who's just had sex. I still remember so clearly dancing to it.

Tropical Cyclone Ului Plunges Quickly Into Queensland

Flooding and significant damage (such as houses losing roofs) from the category three storm, but so far no loss of life reported:
North Queensland residents cleaning up damage from Cyclone Ului now face the prospect of flooding with up to 450mm of rain reported in the area.

The Clarke range received 452mm in the 24 hours to 9am on Sunday, while 332mm fell on Finch Hatton and 169mm on Mackay.

"There's major flooding around Finch Hatton on Cattle Creek," said Ian Rocca at the Bureau of Meteorology flood warning centre.

"The floodwaters will reach Mackay during Sunday afternoon but they're not expected to exceed minor flood level."

It said moderate to heavy rainfall associated with the cyclone was forecast for coastal areas.