Saturday, August 21, 2010


Saturday evening, I tried to drive to Woodland, but was thwarted by a massive leak of radiator coolant. I was barely able to limp home. I am now trapped at home. No escape!

(via iPhone)

Home Improvement Kind Of Day

Busy day rebuilding the porch. When Joe bid the job at $600, I thought he was nuts. Unsurprisingly, just the supplies have cost more. At the end of the day, Joe and his helper had some kind of falling out that I don't understand, but probably has something to do with low pay. Many similar jobs with Joe have ended with the same kind of instability. It's probably the cheap bastard who hired Joe.

Towards the end of the day I was surprised by the appearance of an illegal looking for work. How did he find our job? It's not like we are advertising, or anything. I guess you don't need to look for them; they will find you!

(via iPhone)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Home Repair - Stage 1 - Out With The Old

Today, it's time to bid farewell to the porch top!

Ask along that man who's wearing a carnation.
Bring every single person
From Victoria station.
Go into that hospital
And bring nurses and patients.
Everyone go home and fetch your relations!

Come to this house;
Be one of this family's people.
Lovely bright home...
Dancing all night, never sleeping.

Sir, there's more at the door.

There's more at the door.
There's more at the door.
There's more at the door.

There's more at the door.
There's more at the door.
There's more at the door.
There's more at the door.
There's more ...

I'm sure there hasn't been sunshine in the basement for decades!

Fundraiser For DMTC At Bistro 33

Left: Foreground, Karen and Shannon Mo.

Tonight, DMTC held a fundraiser at Bistro 33 in Davis.

Left: Nice facilities at Davis' Bistro 33!

In general, DMTC holds fundraisers and similar events at DMTC's Theater, but this time we wanted to experiment a bit with the manner of the fundraiser, and the venue. Specifically, we wanted to go upscale a bit....

Left: Yolo County Supervisor Jim Provenza and District 8 California State Assemblymember Mariko Yamada.

Tonight, Yolo County Supervisor Jim Provenza and State Assemblymember Mariko Yamada came to share stories and hors d'oeuvres with DMTC.

District 8 California State Assemblymember Mariko Yamada.

Left: Steve Isaacson, Jim Provenza, and Mark S. Allen.

Sarah x, Mike Ball, Sue Sheldon, Mark S. Allen, and Rand Martin.
Left: News 10 Anchor Sharon Ito.

We were also graced by the presence of Mark S. Allen of CW 31's "Good Day Sacramento" (courtesy of the invitation of fellow co-worker and DMTC actor Michael Ball), and News 10's anchor Sharon Ito (courtesy of so many of her family members, who are now heavily-involved in DMTC, particularly it's Young Performers' Theatre).

Left and Below: CW 31's Mark S. Allen.

Left: DMTC Co-Producers Jan and Steve Isaacson.

A good time was had by all!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

More Unnecessary Advice From A Former Half-Term Governor About What You Can Call People In Public

Does "spaz" work, or is that insensitive?:
Sarah Palin continues to defend Dr. Laura Schlessinger's use of the word "n****r" and blame liberals for forcing the controversial conservative radio show off the air. But just a few months ago Palin was adamant that using the "N-word," and other offensive terms, should be a firing offense...if you're a Democrat.

"I would ask the president to show decency in this process by eliminating one member of [his] inner circle, Mr. Rahm Emanuel," Palin wrote in February. "The Obama Administration's Chief of Staff scolded [liberal critics] calling them, 'F---ing retarded,' according to several participants, as reported in the Wall Street Journal. Just as we'd be appalled if any public figure of Rahm's stature ever used the "N-word" or other such inappropriate language, Rahm's slur on all God's children with cognitive and developmental disabilities - and the people who love them - is unacceptable, and it's heartbreaking."

Joe The Plumber Returns

For the last several years, Joe The Plumber saw his fortunes improve. He had his own house, had lots of money coming in, and had too many jobs to handle. As a result, I've seen him almost not at all for the last two years. Much, much better than back in the homeless days of the early 2000's!

But as the recession has lengthened, the jobs became scarcer and scarcer. So, it's back to lean times again. I ran into him at the post office two days ago. He was passing out fliers advertising his services. He and his Labrador Retriever Bela came over and helped me with my kitchen drain (it was making too much of a gurgling sound as a result of grease buildup in the pipes).

Nevertheless, I very much need the top surface of my front porch replaced. He's available.... He's thrifty.... I'm thrifty.... He needs the work.... He makes E. anxious and apprehensive....

OK, I'll do it! Starting tomorrow!

What worries me are the things we don't know about porch. Once the lumber comes off, ignorance becomes knowledge, and as we all know, ignorance is bliss!

64th Annual Japanese Food & Cultural Bazaar - Performances

Here are two videos from the 64th Annual Japanese Food & Cultural Bazaar, August 15, 2010.

Sally's Japanese folk dance group (named Sakura Minyo Do Ko Kai) performed at the festival. Most of the dances involved a lot of participants. This dance, however, involved just two dancers:

Japanese Folk Dance - Sakura Minyo Do Ko Kai - Sacramento, CA

I hadn't seen Dwight O. for a long time (rarely, since we used to do ballet at Sally's studio in the early 90's), and I was surprised to learn he volunteers with Sacramento Taiko Dan now.

The English name of the piece is "Camellias At Full Bloom" (referring to samuari warriors falling in battle at the peak of their strength, but also referring to Sacramento's official flower). The Japanese name is something like "Tsubaki no ha ka zakadi" (unfortunately I don't speak Japanese).

Sacramento Taiko Dan - "Camellias At Full Bloom"

It To Used Get Never Will I

"Give It A Giggle" Contest

Jetta called, her voice filled with excitement. "I can do this contest!; this is the contest I want to do!" What contest is that?:
Did you know only 1% of us are doing what makes us happy at any given moment? JELL-O wants to bring the fun and smiles to people every day. So this summer, we're bringing out the giggles with our nationwide JELL-O "Give it a Giggle" tour.

...Participants will be vying for an opportunity to have their giggle featured in a national television advertising spot later this year, selected by entertainer Bill Cosby.

...You can submit a video that gives us your best giggle. All you need to do is enter your date of birth below to get started. Remember -- the audition closes August 31, 2010 - so enter today!
So, over the last two days, I've been videoing Jetta giggling in several different locations. Last night, we were satisfied, and submitted her five-second video. I tried my giggle too (more of a laugh). Here is a nine-second video:

That Japanese Influence

So, what's new over at WTF Japan, Seriously?

How about eating out at Silver Sushi?

And after dinner, we can check out Funky Forest at the cinema!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Baffling British Taste In Road Trip Music

Well, whatever:
UK firm HPI has some of the most intriguing customers in the business. The firm, akin to CarFax, provides a vetted history of a used car so buyers know what they're really getting. It has just concluded a survey of its customers to find out what they like most for road trip jams, and out of all the classic rock tracks being laid down in 1974, Lynyrd Skynyrd's distinctly non-British Sweet Home Alabama took the top spot.

Intervention In The Sky

Flying with infants can be trying:
America's latest folk-hero flight attendant may be the one on a Southwest Airlines jet who took a 13-month-old baby from her mother after the woman slapped the crying child for kicking her.

The flight attendant's actions, however, set off an intense debate: When and how should bystanders intervene?

"We live in such a 'mind your own business' and `I'll sue you for getting involved' society that I feel we're afraid to stand up sometimes for the right thing," said Jen Reynolds, 38, a stay-at-home mom to 15-year-old and 16-month-old boys in Sandwich, Ill.

"We don't want to be yelled at or told to butt out," she said. "The flight attendant is definitely my hero."

Parents on both sides of the corporal punishment debate agreed that hitting a baby that young was wrong. But they also empathized with the mother, saying they've been exactly where she found herself on Monday on the Dallas-to-Seattle flight: stressed, and trapped on an airplane, with virtually no way to distract or console a child.

"My biggest question is why didn't anybody else say anything before it got to the point of the baby being slapped," Reynolds said.

The federal laws that give crew members broad power to ensure safety can be invoked in situations like the one that unfolded on the flight, said Jerry Sterns, a San Francisco attorney specializing in aviation cases. But those rules don't allow non-airline employees to intervene.

...Flight attendant Beverly McCurley told officers that she saw the mother hit the child on the face with her open hand while the father yelled at the mother to stop screaming at the girl. She noted the girl had a black eye. The parents said the bruise was from a dog bite.

...The flight attendant said she took the baby and walked to the rear of the plane. She said the father came back, took the child and stood there with her until she fell asleep. The father told McCurley the parents had several arguments about the mother hitting the child.

...At the request of the airline, authorities met the parents when the flight landed at the Albuquerque airport, a scheduled stop. Paramedics checked out the child, and the family boarded another flight to continue their trip.

...Jackie Lantry, a Rehoboth, Mass., mother of four well-traveled children now in their teens and 20s, said she has intervened on behalf of other children in public.

"Once the mother nearly took my head off in the street, and once the mother gratefully accepted my offer of help in an airport. The key is to be sympathetic with `Can I help?' and not be judgmental. Let the mom or parent know that you've been there."

The Himalayas Have Been Really Rockin' With Rain This Summer!

Leading to no end of troubles:
Even as the world's attention was focused on the floods in Pakistan, a rare and extreme cloudburst devastated the Himalayan town of Leh in Ladakh, India – normally one of the driest regions on Earth.

Heavy rainfall is common elsewhere in the Himalayas, but not in Ladakh. The region lies in the rain shadow of the high mountains, making it a cold, high-altitude desert. According to the Indian Meteorological Department, Ladakh receives an average of about 15 millimetres of rain during August.

But between 1.30 and 2 am on 6 August, a cloudburst hit Leh. It led to flash floods and mudslides, washing away houses that weren't built to withstand such rainfall. More than 150 people have died and hundreds more are missing.

The rainstorm was so focussed that it missed a nearby weather station, so the total rainfall is not known.

Top 10 Right-Wing Conspiracy Theories Include Leftie Conspiracy Theories Too

I wanted to see what the Top-10 right-wing conspiracy theories were, but found a few left-wing conspiracy theories too. (I found this a difficult Web Site to work with, and suspect a monitoring plot to report back on my keystrokes.)

For example, I've always thought of the chemtrails as a leftie worry, but the author clearly thinks they belong over on the right. In truth, it's a perfectly-ecumenical conspiracy theory, equally at home on both sides of the fence. There are virtually no other conspiracy theories for which that works as well!:
Who, exactly, is responsible for the program? There are conflicting schools of thought here as well. But among Patriot groups it is generally agreed that some alignment of New World Order lords -- sometimes referred to as the Illuminati -- is busy spraying cities and towns with pathogens. In the grimmest of the scenarios, the spraying represents the first of a two-stage depopulation program. Stage one involves spreading pathogens to weaken humanity's collective immune system; once general T-cell weakness is attained, goes the theory, we can expect aerial dispersal of smallpox or anthrax to finish us off.
Number 6 on the list, 9/11 conspiracy theories, also strikes me as an ecumenical worry:
Who was responsible? The U.S. government, of course. On the far left, the reason seen for attacking the American people was to justify a perpetual state of war; on the far right, it provided an excuse for the government to, at long last, institute a police state.
Several other of the conspiracy theories the author lists also seem to fall in an ideological gray zone (like this business about HAARP). Indeed, wherever and whenever technology mixes with secrecy, conspiracy theories proliferate. It matters little what one's political leanings are!

Still, the nation is happier when we all respond together to the same wacky concerns.

Learning The Hard Way

Laura Schlessinger seems surprised that her use of a word steeped in a history of hatred elicits hatred towards herself. She blames changes in society, but I think she just never understood society very well in the first place. That seething well of hatred has always been there - indeed, it was deeper and more poisonous 60 years ago - and she is finally becoming acquainted with it.

Nevertheless, it is interesting how the use of the n-word seems to change every decade, or two. In rap music in particular, its use is tolerated (and nevertheless deplored by folks like the NAACP) as a form of self-deprecation. But that doesn't mean outsiders (particularly white folks) are welcome to use the word.

Dr. Laura may feel it is an injustice not to have the full freedom to use the English language as she pleases, but that's just the way it is. We don't tolerate curse words on the radio for analogous reasons, and George Carlin notwithstanding, most people manage to adapt. She can fight that tyranny if she pleases, but she won't be able to keep her advertisers, or many of her listeners.:
A week after igniting controversy with racially charged comments on her nationally syndicated radio show, advice guru Laura Schlessinger went on "Larry King Live" Tuesday evening to announce that she plans to leave the program when her contract runs out at the end of the year.

"I want my 1st Amendment rights back, which I can't have on radio without the threat of attack on my advertisers and stations," Schlessinger said.

...Schlessinger drew fire last week when she got into a discussion with a woman who called in to get advice on what to do about racial comments made by relatives. Schlessinger suggested the caller was "hypersensitive" to racism and observed that many African Americans use the very racial epithet that they hate hearing non-African American use. Schlessinger used the N-word repeatedly in making her case.

Schlessinger apologized the next day, saying her behavior had been wrong. But she said on her program Monday that "as the media have rebroadcast my error again and again and again and again, compounding the damage which I shouldn't have done — and never intended to do in the first place — the effect has been that my words have offended many, many, many, many more people and there are many who are saying they will not accept my apology."

In that statement, which she also posted on her website, Schlessinger reiterated her apology, saying that "I made the promise that it will never happen again." But she complained of receiving "hate-filled diatribes" and reflected on how society has changed.

"When I first started out in radio," she said, "people would disagree — they disagreed, they didn't hate. They didn't try to censor, they didn't try to destroy an opposing point of view. Instead, they just argued and debated, and argued and disagreed, and debated and argued." Now, she continued, "self-appointed activist types breed hate, breed anger, breed destruction should anyone hold up a mirror or dare to disagree." She added that the phenomenon could be observed in all aspects of society, from politics to education to the workplace.

The President Unites LA

Obama visits Los Angeles, and his retinue's mere presence causes traffic chaos:
A Brentwood resident's two-mile jaunt took 45 minutes. An Echo Park couple who left home at 5:30 p.m. found their usual 20-minute drive west to Olympic and Rimpau boulevards took a whopping hour and 15 minutes. An attorney left his Miracle Mile-area office at 5:45 p.m. and sat unmoving in traffic for 45 minutes.

No matter their politics, Los Angeles residents found themselves united. "It was a beautiful thing," said Brentwood resident Myles Berkowitz, commiserating with his neighbors on Montana Avenue. "Young, old, black, white — everyone was pissed off."

Teletubbies Dance To 'Snap Yo Fingers' - Lil' Jon & Sean Paul

The strangest stuff is on YouTube! I wanted to find the perfect hip hop/crunk dancing video to 'Snap Yo Fingers', and found this strange video instead....

It's Over - DJ Scott Mann featuring Amuka

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Foreign Menace Stopped By Customs

A perfect disguise!:
A teddy bear sent from England to Australia has been quarantined in case it was bringing diseases or exotic pests into the country.

...Caroline Rothwell, 26, posted the toy from her home in Stoke, Staffordshire, to childhood best friend and Stoke City fan Natalie Kinnaird, in her new home of Perth, in Western Australia.

But when the parcel, which also included baby clothes, arrived at Natalie's home the bear was missing - except for a note stating it was quarantined and not allowed into the country.

Now Natalie has been informed she must pay 41 Australian dollars to send the bear back to Britain.

Stunned support worker Caroline explained: 'The bear was a gift from my one-year-old daughter Isabelle to Natalie's new baby son James.

'Natalie has been over to visit me in Stoke a few times and I thought it would be nice to send the new baby something from here.

...Australia prides itself on its rigid border police - the Customs and Border Protection Service - and it's diligent quarantine unit, called the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service.

...The country is deemed to be one of the toughest to enter in the world, with a no-nonsense immigration policy based on a skills and points tally.

...Quarantine rules stipulate that animal matter - including wool and furs, as well as stuffed animals - are not allowed into the country.

...A spokeswoman for DAFF, speaking from Canberra, in Australia, said that officials could have been concerned about the woolly jumper the bear was wearing, or possibly the stuffing material. ...'We have a very enviable bio-security status so we do take security very seriously.

2009-10 Elly Award Nominations

Left: SARTA's Leslie Addiego points the way.

After the jolly Buddhist festival Sunday afternoon, it was time to pay penance. Serious penance. We all need a little self-flagellation, now and then, and the 2009-10 Elly Award nominations ceremony seemed like the perfect ticket.

Since 2002, DMTC no longer gathers much in the way of Elly Award nominations. The reasons are complicated, but include:

  • As it has for years, SARTA insists on pitting Solano Community College's musical theater program, with its much-larger show budgets, against community musical theaters like DMTC, RSP, & Magic Circle, disadvantaging all of them in the process;
  • Professionals are increasingly gathering nominations, which takes away from the community nature of SARTA's supposed mission;
  • SARTA keeps expanding its geographic domain, to the point where it is increasingly-difficult for any one theater to get nominations;
  • At this time, SARTA appears to be deliberately-favoring either smaller, newer theaters, or bigger-budget larger theaters, skipping over others in the process;
  • DMTC does not compete with "Adults in Young People's Plays" categories at all, which further restricts the scope of DMTC's competitiveness (that's a deliberate choice, by the way, but could change, depending on the availability of resources);
  • SARTA's judging bench is thin and not terribly expert;
  • Plus, I believe SARTA judges have a bias against DMTC, in general, which just makes things worse.
Thus, what DMTC generally gets in the way of nominations is usually very little. Elly Award nomination time is usually a time for debate about whether DMTC should even participate, since we send away nearly $500.00 a year, for very little. I was particularly shocked last year, upon seeing our actors passed over, in favor of mediocrities from other theaters.

SARTA's judging process, which minimizes consultation of judges in favor of scorekeeping - supposedly done in the name of fairness - is not robust enough to prevent inequities from entering the process. No end of inequities can be buried when scoring is the top priority! I'm of the opinion that SARTA does what is best for SARTA, and at this time fairness is not their highest priority.

Sunday evening provided no real surprises. DMTC gathered four nominations.

Afterwards, I mentioned to G. that small theaters seemed to be the priority this year. He thought that ethnic-oriented theaters were favored. I suggested that we should start a small, ethnic theater whose sole purpose would be to gather Elly Award nominations. He noted we both had ethnic blood. I suggested that it's home should be a large closet (in order to keep its demand on resources small). He suggested it should be called "The Melting Pot".

I was happy that friends at other theaters got nominations. I was impressed that Lillian Baxter at RSP got so many costuming nominations, particularly in the Young People's Play category. So, I posed the question:
Why is it that Lillian walks on water?
The answer I got back was:

Because she knows where the stones are!
Sounds about right!

And as always, just to make clear that I speak on behalf of myself and not DMTC, my standard disclaimer:

Marc Valdez, not Davis Musical Theatre Company (DMTC), is responsible for the content of this Web Site.

64th Annual Japanese Food & Cultural Bazaar

On Sunday afternoon, Sally and I went down to the 64th Annual Japanese Food & Cultural Bazaar. We were there primarily to see her Japanese folk dance group perform, but also to take in the sights, sounds, and tastes of the bazaar. I particularly liked the red bean pastries on sale. I took some video - I'll see if I can upload them over the next few days.

The tent provided shade, and air was circulating, but it was still pretty hot.
Sacramento's Taiko Dan drum group also performed. Here, performers wear camellia-themed robes.
When evanescent fundraising activities are carried out within and amongst more-permanent religious structures, you sometimes get strange incongruities....

Aerial Dancing Looks Like Fun!

Here's a way to upgrade base-jumping into an art!:
Aerial dancers from Project Bandaloop perform a dance as they rappel down the side of Thanksgiving Tower Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010 in Dallas , Texas.

Friday The 13th Picked Its Victim

No worries for me last Friday the 13th, but not everyone was so lucky:
A 13-year-old boy was struck by lightning — at 13:13 hours on Friday the 13th, according to reports.

The teen was watching an air show at Lowestoft, England, when he was struck and was later treated for burns to his shoulder, the U.K.'s Mirror newspaper said. He is expected to fully recover.

Monday, August 16, 2010

"Disney's Beauty And The Beast - DMTC YPT Summer Production

No Juggalo Love For Tila

Oh, this is a tragic missed opportunity! Why vent against Tila when so many others (think, Dr. Laura) escape unscathed?:
Reality TV star Tila Tequila suffered facial cuts when she was pelted with rocks and bottles while performing at a music festival in Illinois early Saturday, according to a witness and a law enforcement official.

"She's pretty cut up," said a performer who saw the violence at the "Gathering of the Juggalos" in rural Hardin County, Illinois. The witness asked not to be identified so that he does not anger the juggalos.

Tequila, a Playboy model who also sings, posted a Twitter message Saturday, saying she would sue the festival, which is organized for fans of the hip-hop group Insane Clown Posse.

"Pretty soon, the owners who run the juggalos will be bankrupt," she tweeted.

...The performer said a mob of hundreds chased Tequila from the stage and surrounded the trailer where she sought refuge. They rocked the trailer and smashed its windows, the witness said.

Tequila eventually escaped, but only after windows in her SUV were smashed, he said.

..."I went onstage and immediately, before I even got on stage, dudes were throwing huge stone rocks in my face, beer bottles that slit my eye open, almost burnt my hair ... cuz they threw fire crackers on stage," she wrote.

The witness, who was standing in the rear of the stage, said the crowd of about 2,000 was immediately angry toward Tequila and she was unable to turn them around.

"She was taunting them," he said. "She didn't know how to handle them. She didn't understand the dynamic."

The rocks and bottles flew harder and faster when Tequila bared her breasts, he said.

"She took her top off and they got really violent," he said.

Tequila continued to perform even after her face started bleeding, he said. "She was holding a towel to her head, blood pouring down her face," he said.

"It was scary as hell!" Tequila wrote.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Doing My Part To Keep Entropy From Increasing

Today, I had a large, uninterrupted block of time, so I vowed to start a painting job on my house. I did not want to paint the entire house, but there are three places that I have to do something before the rainy season - the paint is peeling so bad:
  • west side of the garage, particularly near the ground;
  • both sides, and the crumbling top, of the front porch;
  • east side of my bedroom, above the tool shed.

Nine years ago, when Joe the Plumber assembled his crack team of Homeless Painters, house painting was much more exciting: the fights, the chaos, the bad faith. This year is much more tedious, but I get to do the job at my own deliberate pace, and I get to do it right, for a change. I miss the fun, but it's better this way....

Today, I finished the first must-do job (and it took me all day too).

Out front, the top of the porch is a mess, and needs replacing, but this year, there is no money, so paint will have to do. (I worry about people stepping through the crumbling wood, so I have to make it resistant to all but the most accident-prone visitors). Today, I started working on that.

Gotta finish before November 1st: for me, the offical start of the California rainy season!