Saturday, January 08, 2011

Cause And Effect


(What are the chances anyone could take the use of crosshairs imagery as an invitation to violence?)


Perhaps some of the right-leaning folks are correct that we are leaning too hard on the use of rhetoric that implies or suggests violence. Why not bully others as a regular part of political discourse?

Words have consequences. In politics, words can have terrible and immediate consquences. We should have learned that in 1995, with the Oklahoma City bombing following the use of incendiary rhetoric in the 1994 Congressional elections. It's a perennial lesson we have to learn anew all the time, as if it's new. "Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?"

Like they say, know your enemy:
When asked by the New York Post whether his daughter had any enemies, Giffords' father, through tears, responded: "Yeah, the whole tea party."
This appears to be how Sarah Palin and the rest of the GOP does business. No surprise if she and they receive in-kind. From "The Untouchables" :
Malone: You said you wanted to get Capone. Do you really wanna get him? You see what I'm saying is, what are you prepared to do?

Ness: Anything within the law.

Malone: And *then* what are you prepared to do? If you open the can on these worms you must be prepared to go all the way. Because they're not gonna give up the fight, until one of you is dead.

Ness: I want to get Capone! I don't know how to do it.

Malone: You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. *That's* the *Chicago* way! And that's how you get Capone. Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that? I'm offering you a deal. Do you want this deal?

Just A Guy With A Gun

Friend John from Oklahoma expresses his thoughts about today's events in Tucson:
I just finished watching the news conference from Tucson. It's really starting to seem familiar. A bit less than 15 years ago we had a similar example of an angry and disturbed individual expressing his rage through violence here in Oklahoma. The pattern is the same: a prolonged period of political warfare with hate-filled, vitriolic rhetoric which climaxes in an act of obscene violence. The only real differences are that this time the body count is lower and the perpetrator of the crime is more mentally disturbed than an unhinged ideologue as was the man who set off his bomb here.

It seems to me that the last 50 years or so have been dominated by a series of events of this sort, events that have shaped the course of history to an appalling degree. And I just have to wonder what the future holds for a system that is controlled by such events.

We all think that we elect presidents by popular vote or even by the electoral college but has that really been the case during our lifetimes? Think about it. Who elected Lyndon Johnson? The voters did in 1964--but he was put in office by a lone gunman in Dallas. Who elected Nixon? A psychotic gunman in Los Angeles. Who guaranteed Nixon's reelection? A schizophrenic gunman in Maryland. Who guaranteed the election or Reagan? A disturbed and fiery fundamentalist leader in Iran. Who did so much to raise Reagan to legendary status? A delusional rich kid with a gun in Washington D.C. And who guaranteed the reelection of Clinton? An angry decorated veteran--decorated for shooting Iraqi soldiers who were trying to surrender--who decided he could lead a new American revolution by bombing a building full of innocent people. One can argue the validity of some of these observations, of course, but in general that has been the course of recent American history. How did we arrive at a point where the will of the voters, the power of the military, the good works of the huge majority of decent people and the economic power of our nation have been rendered subservient the the criminal acts of a handful of individuals who are obviously disturbed? I don't have any answers. But I just wonder about the future of a system that allows itself to be driven by such events.
Well put. There are obvious beneficiaries to violence and there are advantages to reducing the incentives.

So, Congresswoman Gifford was in Sarah Palin's "crosshairs". I wonder if Sarah Palin would appreciate being in the "crosshairs" of someone's minions. As always, the swaggering bullies of the GOP may have overreached.

I lived in Tucson from 1980 to 1988. It's strange seeing University of Arizona in the news today (to whose hospital the victims were taken). I never spent time that I recall at the Ina & Oracle Safeway - most of my trips in Tucson were east-west rather than north-south, and I usually didn't go that way (except maybe on hiking trips) - but it's not far from old stomping grounds. And they were having a press conference this evening at the Westward Look Resort. I spent many happy evenings there....

Watching Jared Loughner's videos, it appears he has an illogical person's intense interest in logic.

Evil times in Arizona....

Friday, January 07, 2011

"Chess" - DMTC - Wednesday Night Rehearsal

(Camera shutter not open fully)


Options For Roseville Patrons

The Roseville Press-Tribune takes note of three local theaters that have offered to make room for Civic Theater West season ticket holders: Bob and Ro Productions, Runaway Stage Productions, and DMTC.

I think Bob and Ro Productions and DMTC are fully-responsive to CTW patron needs - CTW patrons paid for shows and they will get shows - but RSP's limited two-for-one offer is not (since it requires the outlay of more money). Nevertheless, given that there is a limit to how many new folks any theater can accomodate, and how far a theater can bend, all the deals outlined are better than nothing, which is what CTW patrons have been left with up till now.

Things I Did Not Know

There is a Mazeppa National Park, in Queensland, Australia:
Remnant brigalow and gidgee scrubs and eucalypt woodland. Wildlife refuge.



M.: OOOWWWW! There are ants all over my head, and they are biting me!

E.: There are ants all over your shirt too!

M.: I noticed a line of ants heading into the cupboard, so I took a look. They had invaded a bag of tortilla chips, and when I tried to pull the plastic bag down from the cupboard, the plastic caught on the cupboard, and then released, spraying ants all over my face and head!


M.: What happened to the ants?

E.: I filled the bag of chips with dishwashing soap, and used dishwashing soap to wipe the cupboard and attack the ants and kill them all! They do not attack anyone without me getting my revenge on them! I know he made all creatures, but why did God ever make such things like ants and skunks and earthworms? Do they know whom am I? I AM the Green Destiny! Bow before me and beg for your mercy!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

RAP NEWS 5: News World Order - the war on journalism (ft. Julian Assange)

These guys are SO lucky! They got Julian Assange just before everyone was trying to get Julian Assange!

"I Touch Myself"

This video is placed here for initial comments.

Jetta wants to do comedy. I'm helping out. This is our first venture as a comedy team. Conception is hers (parthenogenesis, you know)....

T.D. on camera....

Oversized Promises From Abu Dhabi Weather Mod

Remember, the 2010 monsoon season was unusually strong - remarkably so in the Himalayas, but strong elsewhere too. I am very suspicious of these promises:
Fifty rainstorms were created last year in the state's eastern Al Ain region using technology designed to control the weather.

Most of the storms were at the height of the summer in July and August when there is no rain at all.

People living in Abu Dhabi were baffled by the rainfall which sometimes turned into hail and included gales and lightening.


The Metro System scientists used ionisers to produce negatively charged particles called electrons.

They have a natural tendency to attach to tiny specks of dust which are ever-present in the atmosphere in the desert-regions.

These are then carried up from the emitters by convection - upward currents of air generated by the heat release from sunlight as it hits the ground.

Once the dust particles reach the right height for cloud formation, the charges will attract water molecules floating in the air which then start to condense around them.

If there is sufficient moisture in the air, it induces billions of droplets to form which finally means cloud and rain.

The scientists have been working secretly for United Arab Emirates president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

They have been using giant ionisers, shaped like stripped down lampshades on steel poles, to generate fields of negatively charged particles.

These promote cloud formation and researchers hoped they could then produce rain.

In a confidential company video, the founder of the Swiss company in charge of the project, Metro Systems International, boasted of success.

Helmut Fluhrer said: 'We have achieved a number of rainfalls.'

It is believed to be the first time the system has produced rain from clear skies, according to the Sunday Times.

In the past, China and other countries have used chemicals for cloud-seeding to both induce and prevent rain falling.

Last June Metro Systems built five ionising sites each with 20 emitters which can send trillions of cloud-forming ions into the atmosphere.

Over four summer months the emitters were switched on when the required atmospheric level of humidity reached 30 per cent or more.

While the country's weather experts predicted no clouds or rain in the Al Ain region, rain fell on FIFTY-TWO occasions.

Veteran Richard Cohen Mulls Today's Military

Heading down a similar road to the British Empire:
Talking about the picture, what exactly is wrong with it? A couple of things. First, this distant Army enables us to fight wars about which the general public is largely indifferent. Had there been a draft, the war in Iraq might never have been fought - or would have produced the civil protests of the Vietnam War era. The Iraq debacle was made possible by a professional military and by going into debt. George W. Bush didn't need your body or, in the short run, your money. Southerners would fight, and foreigners would buy the bonds. For understandable reasons, no great songs have come out of the war in Iraq.

The other problem is that the military has become something of a priesthood. It is virtually worshipped for its admirable qualities while its less admirable ones are hardly mentioned or known.

...Little wars tend to metastasize. They are nourished by chaos. Government employees in Nevada direct drones to kill insurgents in Afghanistan. The repercussions can be felt years later. We kill coldly, for reasons of policy - omitting, for reasons of taste, that line from Mafia movies: Nothing personal. But revenge comes back hot and furious. It's personal, and we no longer remember why.

The Great Afghanistan Reassessment has come and gone and, outside of certain circles, no one much paid attention. In this respect, the United States has become like Rome or the British Empire, able to fight nonessential wars with a professional military in places like Iraq. Ultimately, this will drain us financially and, in a sense, spiritually as well. "War is too important to be left to the generals," the wise saying goes. Too horrible, too.

Tomorrow's Detroits

Really interesting, brand-new instant ghost towns:
Potential candidates for long-term decline named by the study are the areas hit hardest by the drop in home prices in recent years. They include several inland California metropolitan areas that grew rapidly during the boom, including Stockton, Modesto, Fresno, Riverside and San Bernardino. Las Vegas and Miami also made the list.

...Instead of eroding a particular industry, however, the housing bust left a glut of homes because of overbuilding and the foreclosure crisis. Follain argues that the future of these cities is threatened in similar ways to that of Rust Belt cities.

"Long-vacant neighborhoods are going to develop, and we can imagine what can happen," he said, including potentially higher crime and lower property taxes.

..."The housing boom elevated home prices in a number of areas far, far above what can be supported by the economic fundamentals, and so prices have fallen significantly, and they will remain below their previous peaks easily for a decade, or even two decades," Chen said.

Some experts contend that foreclosures, which have pierced neighborhoods of all income levels throughout the country, are quickly turning developments on the outskirts of metropolitan areas into the nation's newest slums.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Opera Australia "The Pirates Of Penzance" DVD

Finally watched this last night. Very, very fun! They did not include the fun little bits where the cast changed the set during intermission, but hey, you can't have everything!

"With cat-like tread, upon our prey we steal..."

So Much For That Brilliant Idea

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

John sends this cartoon, originally published in 1921:

The Only Wonder Is Why It Doesn't Happen All The Time

The Onion goes to Broadway:
NEW YORK—In yet another setback for the $65 million dollar Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark—a production plagued by multiple delays, poor early reviews, and severe injuries to its cast and crew—a thermonuclear device detonated during the first act of Tuesday night's preview performance. "The bomb should not have gone off at all," said lead producer Michael Cohl, adding that the explosion that vaporized most of Manhattan was "not that unusual" for a major Broadway show still in development.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

If You Get Too Close To The Fire, You Get Burned

Discotheques are wonderful places, and raves are even wonderfuller, and mega-raves must be as close to heaven as one can get on this Earth. So it's interesting to look at LA, where everyone apparently has adamant and diametrically opposed points of view about how to regulate heaven so it doesn't hurt and kill people, and wonder if there are better ways to do this:

The megaraves are nothing like the more modest, nonpermitted warehouse raves, which, ironically, many Coliseum commissioners — including L.A. City Councilman Bernard Parks and L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky — oppose. But now all raves, even the smaller ones, might suffer, thanks to the Coliseum Commission's inability to control mobs at the Coliseum and Sports Arena.

Last week, California Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, a San Francisco Democrat, introduced legislation to ban raves on public property and require that private events be licensed.

Ma cited the deaths at Electric Daisy and the Cow Palace: "In June a 15-year-old girl died and over 100 people were hospitalized. If I was on the [Coliseum Commission], I would not have made the decision to do this again." And she slammed the "big money" that's driving public officials to push for mass events at L.A.'s two huge, taxpayer-owned venues.

"One of the things that's most impressive is the volume of patients all coming at one time," says Marc Futernick, director of emergency services at downtown's California Hospital Medical Center, which received about 70 medical transports from Electric Daisy. "It has been horrible every year." ... Some medical professionals said the casualties were like those seen in war.

...The Coliseum Commission won't disclose how much it reaped from rave fees last year. But the money has turned straitlaced politicians into scolds who wave off the warnings of concerned medical professionals.

"We are under financial stress this year that we were not under last year," explains commission President Barry Sanders, who backs the raves, speaking at the board's December meeting.

...But Rotella scored a PR triumph at the hearing. The officials, who had never been to raves, began calling them "festivals." Then they voted unanimously to continue embracing them.

...Marcus Gaede, 27, from the slightly older crowd that's outgrowing E, is an electronic dance-music aficionado. He became an anti-Ecstasy crusader after coming across a dying girl at the 2007 Halloween rave Monster Massive at the Coliseum Commission-controlled Sports Arena, near USC.

..."For over 35 minutes we were waiting with a security guard for medical attention," he says. "Her mouth was, like, wired shut and she was, like, choking on the water. She was going to drown. ... As the drugs kept taking more effect, she started having seizures."

...Veteran L.A. rave promoter Tef Foo, who got his start promoting raves and techno clubs 20 years ago, says dangerous drug use has subsided. But at L.A.'s government-backed raves, "They lease out booths to concession people — the guy who sells the T-shirts and the glow-in-the-dark items and all that stuff," he says, and many booth operators are "the source of drugs."

...[Former Los Angeles Police Department narcotics officer Trinka Porrata] says she's seen security guards let partygoers in for a cash bribe in return for not checking their backpacks. She taped video footage of "drug deal after drug deal" inside a Coliseum rave, and estimates that about 85 percent of rave crowds are taking Ecstasy or other drugs.

...The politicos' ignorance about megaraves plays a key role in their embrace of the events. Essentially, the oldsters on the Coliseum Commission think county-backed megaraves are concerts, just bigger. And some of them bristle as the deaths and bad PR mount on their watch. L.A. City Councilman Parks, the former LAPD chief of police, who supports the government-backed events, is so defensive now that he stops people in midsentence if they call them raves.

...Johnston and other docs understand something that Sanders, Parks, Knabe, Yaroslavsky and the other commissioners don't seem to grasp: Many new, young ravers don't comprehend the dangers of Ecstasy, displaying a level of ignorance that's a big change within the rave culture. Jonathan Fielding, who runs the county Department of Health, says, "Over the last four or five years, concern about Ecstasy has gone down. You have a new generation of people who haven't learned from the prior one."

...But Yaroslavsky and his commission colleagues hold to the "harm reduction" theory that if kids are going to do bad things, adults should be there to supervise and catch them when they fall. "What I'm inclined to do is to de-rave the raves, and take as much of the rave aspect out of the electronic-music concerts and emphasize the music," Yaroslavsky says.

...But at least the all-night parties allow some people to sober up, former officer Porrata says. Shutting them down at midnight, as Yaroslavsky has proposed, would thus be a bad idea, she says — another example of how out of touch the Coliseum Commission members are.

...The politicians who say their embrace of megaraves provides safe havens for kids who would be in danger at smaller events are "full of crap — they're completely full of crap," says former LAPD narcotics cop Porrata. "Most of the kids end up laying around on the ground," she says. "There are such masses of them it's hard to even see what's going on. The vast majority of them are on drugs."

...Barkett says there's no factual foundation for the "safe haven" theory. "It was felt it was in the best interest of society to have these events in places that have the best preventative measures," but after seeing the Ecstasy ODs at the Cow Palace in Daly City, he told his board of directors he was "unable to tell you with any confidence that any increased level of security or other measure will prevent these kinds of overdoses from occurring."

Detroit Ruins Photo Gallery

These pictures are quite spooky!

When I dream at night, I sometimes dream I have cavernous spaces (just like this one) on level upon level underneath my house....

Detroit is slowly becoming natural again....

Ohio Judge Decides To Go All Medieval On The Collective Ass Of The Banks

And it's about time too:
That’s pretty hardcore. Basically it makes it nearly impossible to do anything but use verifiable documents and signatures, without risking sanctions and the dismissal of the foreclosure case.

As 4closure fraud, which first noticed the affidavit policy of the court, said, “This is all we ever asked for, the rule of law, that is already in place, be followed.”

Courts are slowly but gradually codifying policies that put much greater burden on mortgage lenders and their counsels to actually follow the law. We’ve seen in recent years that the banks cannot be expected to do that. So something’s gotta give.

Memorial Auditorium On Inaugural Day

On January 3, 2011, Sacramento's Memorial Auditorium was the setting for the inauguration of California's new (and former) Governor, Jerry Brown (plus several other state officials as well).

I was passing by on an errand, so I took a few photos. When I first passed by, everyone who was anyone was inside watching the ceremonies.

The media are HERE!

Keeping in touch with that precious satellite!

TV reporters rehearsing their precious TV talking points.

The Governor's new residence, across the street from Memorial Auditorium.

On my return trip, everyone was leaving, and crowding the sidewalks.

Folks linger afterwards on the steps.

At this point, a street preacher saw an opportunity, and in a few seconds started regaling the departing politicos with exhortations of various sorts.

Once again, a TV reporter practices his talking points.

"Internet Just Isn't Very Popular Right Now"

MikeMac noted this Onion piece a few days ago on Facebook. It's just so funny!:
SEATTLE—Employees at—an online service that enables users to find and communicate with people from their past for a monthly fee—have done everything in their power to keep the company's CEO from finding out about the wildly popular social networking site Facebook. "He knows something is going on," web coder Josh Krzysch said while combing his boss's newspaper and removing any offending articles. "The other day he asked me why people aren't interested in getting in touch with old friends anymore, and I told him that the Internet just isn't very popular right now. What else was I supposed to say?" Employees claim that unless things somehow miraculously improve by next month, they plan to quietly pack up their desks and leave in the middle of the night.

"Failure To Thrive" - Brian's Story

One of the best radio shows on the air these days is NPR's "This American Life".

On New Year's Eve, 12/31/10, I listened to this moving program:
Act One. How To Write A Note.

This story wasn't originally made to broadcast on a radio show. It's a tape made by a guy named Jake Warga, who'd never put anything together for radio. He made it to give to his friend Brian, who wanted to kill himself. After Brian tried to overdose, Jake took him out to a park bench to talk, and brought along a recorder. Later, Jake decided to edit the conversation down and give it to Brian as a gift, hoping that if Brian heard what he was saying, if he heard how he sounded, it might stop him from trying again. To learn how to edit and mix the audio, Jake visited the website, where his story first appeared. (24 minutes)
For me, the most-moving part of the show was when Brian clinically-analyzes his condition as a long-delayed case of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): a "failure to thrive."

Since geography is never far from my mind, I kept trying to figure out where these events occurred. They gave some clues in the story, but probably to protect privacy, they didn't say. Based on the clues, I suddenly realized this story is local - it happened here. So, that added some impact to the story.

I had a friend die under circumstances that pointed to suicide. The sad event always leaves friends and loved ones with a million questions, and despite clinical approaches to the questions, no good answers.

And You Think The U.S. Has Problems

The daily parade of mayhem on El Blog del Narco constantly begs the question how the Mexican political system can survive the daily assault upon its existence. This story bothers me, particularly (translated by the software provided):
During the afternoon an armed group broke into the home of Erastus Valencia Ortiz, director of the Penitentiary System in Sonora State.

The gunmen placed the officer and shot him repeatedly in the head and chest until he was seriously injured.

The Red Cross paramedics received a distress call, he immediately went to the home located in a gated community called Villa Bonita, where he gave first aid to the official who was only 12 days in office.

Could move the wounded to the International Center of Advanced Medicine, but was unable to survive and died.

Meanwhile, authorities of the State Police Investigator attended the scene to collect evidence of the violent event.

New Year's Day At The Henderson's

79-year-old George Knutson on bagpipes.

Jan and Jerry MacKenzie

Left: Maya Rothman sings "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina".

Below: Adam Sartain and Cameron Scott fashion a tune together.

Alec Henderson leads Neil Henderson, Bill anderson, and Cameron Scott in some spirited piping.

Duncan MacMartin and Jan MacKenzie.

Neil Henderson, Bill Anderson, and the indefatigable Alec Henderson.

Duncan MacMartin and Jan MacKenzie.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Deborah Wishes Everyone A Happy New Year!

Egging The Insane GOP On

The responsible side of me that says we must all act responsibly for posterity and rather likes currently-high stock prices says "don't do it!", but the devilish side of me that wants to see the GOP destroy the world and get 100% of the blame for it too says "please proceed!":
Top White House economic advisor Austan Goolsbee warned Sunday that a congressional failure to rise the nation's debt limit early this year would be "catastrophic."

"It pains me that we would even be talking about this," Goolsbee told ABC's "This Week."

"This is not a game. You know, the debt ceiling is not something to toy with. … If we hit the debt ceiling, that's essentially defaulting on our obligations, which is totally unprecedented in American history. The impact on the economy would be catastrophic. I mean, that would be a worse financial economic crisis than anything we saw in 2008."

..."If we get to the point where you've damaged the full faith and credit of the United States, that would be the first default in history caused purely by insanity," he said.

Disney's "Tangled"

A very charming animated retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale.

"Miracles" SNL Parody

I missed this when it came out in April. It just slays me!

Winter Is Changing Gears This Week

It looks like the split flow is coming to an end, so we'll be under a ridge for the week, meaning no rain, but likely fog here in the Sacramento Valley. I wonder if things are going to seriously start drying out now? After all, it is a La Niña winter, and it's bit unusual to have it so wet!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

"Black Swan"

First, it's important to note that Black Swans are actually quite common in Australia....

I saw "Black Swan" today (or at least most of it - we arrived late because wrong show times were posted in the Enterprise). I liked the movie, but it's one strange duckling: a complex mix of "Showgirls" (the most-reviled yet brilliant movie of the 90's) and "The Red Shoes" (over-praised, but still wonderful).

Here is an article from Slate wondering if "Black Swan" is camp:
Black Swan, a schizoid piece of high-minded trash that seems to divide audiences on how seriously it is ultimately meant to be taken, raises the interesting question of what it means for camp to fail—keeping in mind that it is, in Sontag's famous formulation, "a sensibility of failed seriousness."

...There's no denying that Black Swan is a riot: Aronofsky piles on the nutty hysterics, and while Portman is obliged to play it straight, the supporting actors make a feast of their hammy roles (Vincent Cassell's curled-lip maestro, Mila Kunis' swaggering bad girl, Barbara Hershey's Kabuki-ghoul stage mother). But the film also illustrates the pitfalls of intentional camp, especially in the hands of someone who thinks of it simply as a lowly form. A signal quality of camp is that it blurs high and low, good and bad. For the creator of conscious camp, this sometimes translates to an optimistic—or, worse still, opportunistic—belief that "bad" can pass for "good," as long as it's tarted up the right way.

Sontag claimed that camp is either "wholly conscious" or "completely naive." Black Swan is both. On one level, Aronofsky relishes the freedom of camp. An all-purpose permission slip, camp excuses the half-baked Freudian clichés that pass for psychology. ... Some might say that Showgirls was a similarly cynical use of camp (others would contend that it was clueless), but in any case, it's possible to view Paul Verhoeven's pointedly vulgar film as a coherent satire: a star-is-born showbiz fable bluntly recast as a tale of prostitution. Tawdry as it is, Black Swan—set at Lincoln Center and not at the Stardust or the Cheetah Strip Club—aims higher than trash. It has grand statements and dark ideas to get across about artistic sacrifice and the price of perfectionism, but the more serious it tries to be, the sillier it gets—an attribute, one might say, of pure camp.

Except that Aronofsky misses one of camp's most essential qualities: its tenderness. There is nothing resembling love in his depiction of dance, which—perhaps by necessity, given the reliance on ballet doubles—is mostly filmed in choppy convulsions, with minimal attention paid to the human form.

...But Aronofsky, to put it bluntly, just loves a freak show. The repulsions of Black Swan—sundry toe and cuticle injuries, plus Hershey gets her fingers slammed in a door and Ryder even stabs her face with a nail file—are in keeping with the grotesque abasements of his other films: the amputation and sex-show horrors of the your-brain-on-drugs extravaganza Requiem for a Dream and the staple-gun and meat-slicer mutilations of the Christ parable The Wrestler.

...The problem with Black Swan is not that it "sees everything in quotation marks." It sees camp itself in quotation marks. A discussion of camp that predates Sontag's by a decade can be found in Christopher Isherwood's 1954 novel The World in the Evening, in which one gay man introduces another to the pleasure garden of camp. He explains its nuances ("You're not making fun of it; you're making fun out of it") and distinguishes between Low Camp and High Camp. An example of the former would be a Marlene Dietrich impersonator. Expanding on the latter, he says, "Baroque art is largely camp about religion. The ballet is camp about love." Not so ballet in Aronofsky's film, and certainly not so the film itself. Turns out all those mirrors are an apt visual metaphor: Black Swan, at most, is camp about camp.

The folks at the Sacramento Bee asked the dancers at the Sacramento Ballet what they thought about the movie:
Isha Lloyd, 21, sitting and stretching next to Cunningham, agreed that the film is "overdone." For instance, she deadpanned, "We don't have webbed toes."

...Ultimately, the Sac Ballet dancers found "Swan" as representative of professional ballet as "Psycho" was of the motel industry. Yet they enjoyed it as a piece of cinema and found nuggets of recognition within the film. A few even said that – if one stretches a bit – the picture might attract new dance fans.

..."What it did showcase is, we are our own worst enemies most of the time," said Sacramento Ballet dancer Christopher Nachtrab, 26. "People can tell us we do something well, or motivate us, but we are so hard on ourselves. (The film) takes it to the extreme level."

...Nor is French actor Vincent Cassel's imperious artistic director a figure the dancers recognize. Calka said he laughed at how "this kind of monarch comes into the room, and the dancers immediately take off their warm-ups" and stand at attention.

"When Carinne and I come in the room, they always keep their leg warmers on," the affable Cunningham said of the Sac Ballet dancers. "And I howled at the part where (the Cassel character) said, 'Those dancers I touch stay for rehearsal!' "

New Year's Gala At DMTC

A good time was had by all! The preview of "Chess" was excellent!

I've been to most of the New Year's Galas since 2000, and this performance was the smoothest, and best, of all of them!

1,000 Blackbirds

An Arkansas mystery. So specific too:
Wildlife officials are trying to determine what caused more than 1,000 blackbirds to die and fall from the sky over an Arkansas town.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said Saturday that it began receiving reports about the dead birds about 11:30 p.m. the previous night. The birds fell over a 1-mile area of Beebe, and an aerial survey indicated that no other dead birds were found outside of that area.

Commission ornithologist Karen Rowe said the birds showed physical trauma, and she speculated that "the flock could have been hit by lightning or high-altitude hail."

...Rowe said that similar events have occurred elsewhere and that test results "usually were inconclusive." She said she doubted the birds were poisoned.

Bill Richardson Says No

And it's a good thing too:
"I have decided not to pardon Billy the Kid because of a lack of conclusiveness, and also the historical ambiguity as to why Governor Wallace reneged on his pardon," Richardson said of the convicted murderer who in 1881 killed two guards as he escaped the gallows, only to be shot and killed that summer by Sheriff Pat Garrett in New Mexico.

"I felt I could not rewrite history," Richardson told the Associated Press after the broadcast about the man sometimes known as William H. Bonney, Henry Antrim or Henry McCarty.
At this late date I would have no qualms about pardoning Billy the Kid for the murder of Sheriff Brady (Lincoln County was the most corrupt place in the Universe at that time and a pardon makes sense). Nevertheless, I wouldn't want the Kid to be pardoned for the murder of deputies Bell and Ollinger, who were killed in the line of duty as simple jailers. Whatever your opinion about the Lincoln County War, and whatever your opinion about politics, in general, the Rule of Law demands that jailers be protected when they perform their official function. My understanding is that Richardson understood this, and the proposal he mulled over would have recognized the distinction, but there is always the possibility of confusion. Better to let the matter slide....

"Chess" - DMTC - Thursday Dress Rehearsal

(note: Sorry, I don't know everyone's name in the cast yet.)


Anatoly Sergievsky (Tevye Ditter), Ivan Molokov (Roger Clark), The Arbiter (Elio Gutierrez), Walter Anderson (Jeffrey Lloyd Heatherly), Freddie Trumper (David Holmes), Florence Vassy (Andrea Eve Thorpe), and Mariana Seda.

Florence Vassy (Andrea Eve Thorpe).

Anatoly Sergievsky (Tevye Ditter), Florence Vassy (Andrea Eve Thorpe), and Freddie Trumper (David Holmes).

Anatoly Sergievsky (Tevye Ditter).

"Nobody's Side"

Florence Vassy (Andrea Eve Thorpe), Juliana Leone, and x.

>"Nobody's Side"

Florence Vassy (Andrea Eve Thorpe), together with (left to right):

Left; x, Kara Sheldon, K, Mariana Seda, Jan Isaacson. Right; Dannette Vassar, Stacy Sheehan, Laura Sitts, x ,x.

Florence Vassy (Andrea Eve Thorpe), escorted by Agent (Nick Thompson).

Anatoly Sergievsky (Tevye Ditter) and Florence Vassy (Andrea Eve Thorpe).

"Hungarian Folk Song"

Florence Vassy (Andrea Eve Thorpe).

Tennessee Reporter (Amanda Yount) and Freddie Trumper (David Holmes).

Anatoly Sergievsky (Tevye Ditter) and Florence Vassy (Andrea Eve Thorpe).

Anatoly Sergievsky (Tevye Ditter) and Svetlana Sergievsky (Eimi Taormina).

Anatoly Sergievsky (Tevye Ditter) and Ivan Molokov (Roger Clark).

Nikolai (John Ewing), Anatoly Sergievsky (Tevye Ditter) and Ivan Molokov (Roger Clark).

"Let's Work Together"

Ivan Molokov (Roger Clark) and Walter Anderson (Jeffrey Lloyd Heatherly).

Florence Vassy (Andrea Eve Thorpe).

"Let's Work Together"

Ivan Molokov (Roger Clark) and Walter Anderson (Jeffrey Lloyd Heatherly).

Anatoly Sergievsky (Tevye Ditter) and Florence Vassy (Andrea Eve Thorpe).

Florence Vassy (Andrea Eve Thorpe).

Ivan Molokov (Roger Clark) and Svetlana Sergievsky (Eimi Taormina).

"I Know Him So Well"

Foreground: Florence Vassy (Andrea Eve Thorpe) and Svetlana Sergievsky (Eimi Taormina).

Background: Juliana Leone and Karina Selvaggio.

TV Interview. Freddie Trumper (David Holmes), Jan Isaacson, Nick Thompson, David 'Turtle' Akona, and x.

Florence Vassy (Andrea Eve Thorpe) and Freddie Trumper (David Holmes).

"Pity The Child"

Freddie Trumper (David Holmes).


Foreground: x, Stacy Sheehan, K, x, Brittany Bickel, Kara Sheldon, Jan Isaacson, Nick Thompson, Dannette Vassar, Giorgio Selvaggio, and x.