Friday, April 01, 2011

Bicyclist Struck At Ninth & J Streets

I hate when stuff like this happens. I missed the accident, but caught the response. A bystander said she thought the bicyclist's leg might be broken.

Afterwards, City of Sacramento firemen locked up the bicyclist's battered bicycle. He won't need it for awhile....

Camping Trip

Noel says she likes my boyhood stories. Sometimes I remember just snippets of episodes, but sometimes I remember more-coherent narratives. So, time to mine the memory....

My mother liked to keep a bit of distance between her and the rest of her family, but she always admired her family's zest to take their families camping. On their occasional visits, my aunts and uncles showed us lots of photos of kids in canoes, kids in forests, and the like. That looked appealing.

In theory, my father liked camping too: closer to nature, and all that. In 1969, we purchased a Datsun station wagon: a thrifty vehicle, but perhaps suitable enough for the family to go camping with. So, in the summer of 1970 (when I was age 13) it was time - past time, really - to go camping!

But first, we had to get supplies. From somewhere we got a big canvas tent, and a Coleman stove. I planned a big itinerary, to hit all the major national parks of the Southwest, in just four days. There was only one possible impediment: our inexperience.

Time management is always a big problem with big auto trips. First night was supposed to be at the Grand Canyon - but it was 400 miles away, to the west, and we didn't quite grasp how far away that was. Following Highway 66/Interstate 40, we first stopped off in Gallup, and drove through Petrified Forest National Park, but we lost time by doing so. Sunset happened before we got to Flagstaff. So, the first decision was, do we press on to the Grand Canyon, or camp outside of Flagstaff?

We drove through a crowded campground - the only easily-available one I could identify on my roadmap - but there was no space for us. Reluctantly, we pressed on to the Grand Canyon.

At Grand Canyon Village, there was no space either. Tourist season was in full swing and every campsite was full. But, at 11 p.m., we finally located an undesirable spot at the distant end of a trailer park and pitched our tent. We ate a hasty meal, and collapsed.

At 6 a.m., a stupendous, alarming clatter and whine woke us all up. Panicstricken, we stumbled outside. We were camped adjacent to the Grand Canyon Heliport! Every tourist in the world wanted to see a Grand Canyon sunrise from the air - right now! Whether we liked it, or not, more sleep was not to be had.

We spent the bleary-eyed morning staring blankly into the big void of the Grand Canyon. But we had to press on. So, we drove into Navajo and Hopi country to the east. We ate a gut-wrenching meal at the Dairy Queen in Tuba City, Arizona, and pressed on.

We stopped to spend the night at a gorgeous spot in Monument Valley, just south of the Utah border. Beautiful place! But in the middle of the night, a fierce thunderstorm hit the area. A portion of the floor got wet, and part of the tent collapsed. Not much sleep this night! But the real danger we didn't appreciate until the next morning. A late-arriving camping vehicle parked in the space next to ours while the storm was raging. The vehicle almost ran over the collapsed portion of our tent. The driver couldn't see well and never knew we were there.

By the third day, we were getting the hang of the rhythm of the road. Sleep-deprived, we pressed on, to Four Corners National Monument, and then to Mesa Verde National Park, in southwestern Colorado. Nothing traumatic transpired there: we were grateful for the scenery, and the chance to maybe look around. But the fourth day arrived too soon, and we had to press on south, back to Albuquerque. Never got that close to nature. Nature could have slapped us in the face with a big fish, but we would have never noticed in our state of numbed exhaustion.

Nevertheless, this 1970 trip was useful. It was a sort-of trial run for the biggest moving adventure of our lives: the abortive move from Albuquerque to San Diego to Santa Fe and back to Albuquerque in the summer and fall of 1971.

This song was on the radio during the Big Camping Trip of 1970 - the hottest song of the summer of 1970. To this day, this song reminds me of the anxiety of finding a camping space in the dark and crowded forest north of Flagstaff:

Maybe Nicki?

This would be an excellent move!:

TMZ has learned Britney Spears has lasered in on Nicki Minaj as her opening act for her upcoming concert tour ... and lawyers for the two are in "serious talks."

Nicki is currently on tour with Lil Wayne -- those concerts end on April 28. Britney's tour begins June 17 in Sacramento.

It's A Long Road Back

Center For Biological Diversity Is Teh Funny

On the earnest 'Save Our Planet From Destruction' E-Mail front, some humor:

Rural residents of northwestern Idaho stayed indoors this week after a 15-member pack, known as a "squish," of endangered giant Palouse earthworms was spotted rampaging through a neighborhood bar. Previous accounts of the species had asserted that the earthworms grow up to three feet long, smell like lilies and spit a harmless liquid short distances, but recent reports say the newly emerged worms are eight-footers that purposefully spit flesh-corroding juices up to 12 feet and carry a faint stench of man BO.

Though the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denied the Center for Biological Diversity's petition to protect the giant Palouse earthworm, maintaining it was too rare to even deserve the adjective "rare," the unexpected appearance of these even more giant earthworms has forced the feds to admit to the species' inconvenient existence. Unfortunately, the feds have also said they're likely to issue an all-too-common "warranted-but-precluded" finding on the species due to its lack of being cute and the aforementioned body odor.

Eyewitnesses say the squish killed five cats and one miniature horse with their acidic projectile saliva and were last seen fighting over an 18-pack of Keystone Light.

Second Thoughts About The Police Party

Last night, as is my usual procedure, I arrived home about 11 p.m., crossed through the house from the back stairs and went down the front stairs in order to gather the daily mail. I was already down to the mailbox when I noticed a police cruiser with its lights out stationed directly across the street. Odd, I thought.

When I returned to the house, I informed E. (still quite ill with either bronchitis or pneumonia) about the police vehicle. In five minutes, the one police cruiser had become three police cruisers. In fact, there seemed to be a kind of police tailgate party going on directly in front of my house. There was lots of laughter, and they were taking flash photos of something in one of their trunks. The hubbub was alarming enough that E. came from her sickbed to check it out.

All was not well. One of my new neighbors in the apartment building to my west was beginning to wail, to shout at a compatriot in the police car, and to approach the police party. One of the cops told her, "I'm sorry, you are not allowed to come. We have no discretion in the matter." My neighbor shouted, "I'm not going to press charges!" So, presumably this was a domestic issue that got out-of-control, or something. Apparently my neighbor was having second thoughts about having called the police, but what is done, is done.

Even though it was a Very Bad Night for my neighbor, it was just another evening for the cops. Policing is mostly pretty-solitary work, and I'm sure it was nice for them to meet their colleagues and gab a bit (after all, they had no discretion in this case).

Revived a bit, E. started commenting about the situation. Sensing her need to criticize something, and hoping to distract her from criticizing the neighbors, I whipped out my new, exciting "Lady Gaga at Power Balance Pavilion" DVD (apparently 'gaga' means crazy in Tagalog, or something akin to that). E. amused herself with Gaga criticisms like: "She's ugly; completely dry; no musical sense whatsoever; she's just pounding that piano - I bet she can't even play; not as good as Madonna", and other such spot-on sentiments.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lewis Black Pumps For Donald Trump

OK Senator Graham, If You Are So Unhappy With Gadhafi, Why Are You His Pal?

Like John McCain, Lindsay Graham (reminiscent of 'Casablanca') professes to be shocked! shocked! that we aren't up for regime change in Libya. After all, Gadhafi is a monster, right? Right?

Here is 2009 video of a lot of our precious Senators, including Lindsay Graham, enjoying Gadhafi's hospitality:

Congress Starting To Go All Constitutional On Obama

I empathize with Congress trying to keep tabs on the Executive, but the War-Powers horse left through the open Constitutional gate on this issue a long, long, long time ago: since World War II, actually. The need to keep apace with the speed that nuclear weapons can be unleashed is a big part of this problem, but so too is Congress' damnable myopic irresponsibility when confronted with novel situations like surprise wars on the other side of the world. Congress Critters protect their own turf first, and do not think of the greater whole. It's a good way to protect their little horde of beans, and a good way to get people killed too. And it doesn't help that they are so fickle: eagerly promoting Executive overreach when their party has the White House and eagerly decrying it when they don't. Sad to say, we need a massive update to the Constitution, or a new Constitution altogether. Something more-flexible, that incorporates just the leaders of Congress in fast-moving situations. Maybe a hierarchical system. A system sort-of like we have in an informal sense right now. Time has moved on, and we haven't:
Gates spent most of his time during the hearing being grilled by Republican and Democrats alike about the administration's decision not to seek collaborative cooperation from Congress before the air strikes began, instead spending most of his time trying to secure international support for instituting a no-fly zone. Last night in a classified briefing with lawmakers on Libya, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Obama and the administration would not necessarily abide by any resolutions Congress might pass constraining the President's ability to take military action or continue it in Libya. She said only that the administration would keep Congress informed through reports and consultations. The statements enraged some administration critics who believe the White House has violated basic tenets of the 1973 War Powers Act, which require Congressional approval to engage U.S. military forces overseas combat. The last time Congress declared war was during WWII, and a long line of presidents have essentially ignored the act, arguing that it places unconstitutional shackles on the President's role as commander-in-chief. Congress "has been left out in the cold on this one," said Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), a longtime opponent of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. "There has been no consultation at all." "We read about it in the newspapers and then we ask questions about it," said Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH). "I think that's concerning to the Congress and I think it's concerning to the American people, and I believe rightly so."

Donovan: Live in L.A

When I was twelve years old, I rediscovered the transistor AM radio my father had purchased during the Cuban Missile Crisis to help our family survive nuclear annihilation.

The plan was, after fleeing from the nuked city of Albuquerque, we would regroup about 80 miles NNW, in the town of Cuba, NM, where presumably supplies might be available. The radio would help provide news.

Fortunately, we never learned whether there was any provision made for refugees in Cuba, or not. (I always wondered whether the only news the radio would ultimately carry was "you're screwed".)

While playing with the AM radio while outside watching contrails from distant military jets during Corrales sunsets, I learned that I could hear surprisingly-distant radio stations: LA, Minneapolis, Des Moines, Dallas, Denver, (and that obnoxious Wolfman Jack, in that undisclosed location that you just knew had to be Tijuana). It was quite entrancing and entertaining. And I started listening to rock 'n roll too....

Donovan's 'Hurdy Gurdy Man' was one of my four earliest favorite songs.

The little town of Cuba might be desolate solace for Albuquerque refugees, but the Psychedelic Revolution you could hear on the radio suggested that California might approach paradise....

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Accurate Prophets

Predicting the future accurately is very, very hard to do, but some people get it almost dead-on accurate, like Roger Ebert in 1987:
We will have high-definition, wide-screen television sets and a push-button dialing system to order the movie you want at the time you want it. You'll not go to a video store but instead order a movie on demand and then pay for it. Videocassette tapes as we know them now will be obsolete both for showing prerecorded movies and for recording movies. People will record films on 8mm and will play them back using laser-disk/CD technology. I also am very, very excited by the fact that before long, alternative films will penetrate the entire country. Today seventy-five percent of the gross from a typical art film in America comes from as few as six --six-- different theaters in six different cities. Ninety percent of the American motion-picture marketplace never shows art films. With this revolution in delivery and distribution, anyone, in any size town or hamlet, will see the movies he or she wants to see.

Jetta Finally Returns From LA

So, how did the X-Factor auditions in Los Angeles go? Jetta has her tale:
(April 1st - I am temporarily removing Jetta's tale, so as not to interfere with her competition status with X-Factor. I will restore her tale if her status changes back to non-competitor - Marc)
Jetta called later to add:
I can't believe this crazy message I got on my answering machine. My friend called to say don't go to LA: X-Factor auditions are coming to the Wells Fargo Pavilion in Sacramento!
And so they are!:
The X Factor™ , FOX's hottest new International sensation from American Idol producer Simon Cowell has landed in America! And we're looking for the Valley's most talented performers to send to the FOX The X Factor™ Auditions in Seattle! The X Factor ™ is coming this Fall to FOX40. Thousands have turned out for FOX40 American Idol and Glee auditions in the past, and The X Factor ™ promises to be even bigger!
And Jetta says:
Believe me, I'll be there too.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

OK, This Is Much More Like It!

Remind the Feckless Rich that they have An Obligation:
Sacramento city officials Monday fired off a terse letter to the city of Anaheim warning it to cease negotiations with the Sacramento Kings. The city went on to say it will seek state legislation to block Anaheim from issuing any inducements to lure the Kings -- unless Sacramento is first assured that the Kings will pay off the estimated $77 million they owe Sacramento.

...The Sacramento letter, emailed Monday afternoon to Anaheim City Manager Thomas Wood, warns that Anaheim's actions could cause "irreparable harm" financially to the City of Sacramento. In the two-page letter, Sacramento Assistant City Manager John Dangberg asks the Anaheim City Council not to vote on the bonds Tuesday or take any other actions aimed at attracting the Kings.

The Rug Cop

I must admit, my combover is less than formidable when compared to this toupee.

Little Girls In The Wrestling Arena

The time is now!

Entertained To The Point Of Death

Springtime is the Time For Shows, and 2011 doesn't disappoint! I'm getting tired, though. What have I seen since "Guys and Dolls" at DMTC closed?:

  • Saturday: "Stuart Little" (YPT at DMTC);

  • Wednesday: "Lady Gaga" at Power Balance Pavilion;

  • Thursday: CORE's "Silent Noise" at the Crocker Art Museum;

  • Friday: "Urinetown" at the 24th street Theatre (Runaway Stage Productions);

  • Saturday: "The Sound of Music" at the Woodland Opera House;

  • Sunday: "Sherlock Holmes And The Case Of The Jersey Lily" at Chautauqua Playhouse.

Amidst all the hubbub, I missed Sacramento Ballet's most-recent production at the Community Center - not because I didn't want to go see it but because there is just too darn much else going on!

Stop the madness! It's gotta stop!

"Sherlock Holmes And The Case Of The Jersey Lily" - Chatauqua Playhouse

On Sunday afternoon, I went to see "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily" - Chatauqua Playhouse.

I always have a hard time following intricate mysteries. Years of doing musicals have deadened all my critical faculties, particularly those involving an attention span lasting longer than three seconds. Nevertheless, it was an absorbing good time at Chautauqua Playhouse.

Walter Thompson played Sherlock Holmes, Michael Walker played Dr. Watson, Julie Bock played Lillie Langtry, and Rodger Hoopman played Professor Moriarty. Chris Whitlock played Mrs. McGlynn/Mrs. Tory, and either Alvis Legate or Jimmy McCammon played Smythe/Abdul Karim.

For the most part, the acting was fine.

The real treat, however, was Shawn O'Neal playing Oscar Wilde. Just a delightful portrayal!

Very Pleased With The Libyan Military Intervention (So Far)

It's still early, but so far Obama's intervention into the Libyan crisis is nearly picture-perfect (as far as these messy things ever get).

Obama is aligning the U.S. with a significant sectional and tribal portion of the country, and earning their gratitude. He is aligning the United States with a portion of the transnational Arab revolt, which has momentum and ultimately will prevail, which helps secure the long-term interests of the United States. He is also helping secure Europe's oil interests. Obama is using U.S. capabilities with the minimum of necessary force. He has cover from the Arab League and NATO. The hard fighting is being done by Libyans, not Americans. He is not seeking regime change, leaving that to the Libyans, should they choose or be capable of it. And Obama is sidelining feckless Republicans, like John McCain, who today is urging regime change, but 18 months ago was helping sell arms to Libya. Plus, a civilian slaughter was averted in Benghazi.

The next part is harder. The danger is that the battle could grind into a stalemate. The rebels need arms and they need professional help applying air power in tactical battle. Small teams of American specialists may be able to enter Libya and help matters immensely. It's important to remember that war is politics by other means: we don't need an unconditional surrender. For the U.S., it matters little whether Gadhafi survives, or not. We have bigger fish to fry.

It is one hellacious mess, but so far, Obama is doing great!:

As by far the pre-eminent player in NATO, and a nation historically reluctant to put its forces under operational foreign command, the United States will not be taking a back seat in the campaign even as its profile diminishes for public consumption. NATO partners are bringing more into the fight. But the same "unique capabilities" that made the U.S. the inevitable leader out of the gate will continue to be in demand. They include a range of attack aircraft, refueling tankers that can keep aircraft airborne for lengthy periods, surveillance aircraft that can detect when Libyans even try to get a plane airborne, and, as Obama said, planes loaded with electronic gear that can gather intelligence or jam enemy communications and radars.

...Even as the U.S. steps back as the nominal leader, reduces some assets and fires a declining number of cruise missiles, the scope of the mission appears to be expanding and the end game remains unclear. Despite insistences that the operation is only to protect civilians, the airstrikes now are undeniably helping the rebels to advance. U.S. officials acknowledge that the effect of air attacks on Gadhafi's forces -- and on the supply and communications links that support them -- is useful if not crucial to the rebels. "Clearly they're achieving a benefit from the actions that we're taking," Navy Vice Adm. William Gortney, staff director for the Joint Chiefs, said Monday. The Pentagon has been turning to air power of a kind more useful than high-flying bombers in engaging Libyan ground forces. So far these have included low-flying Air Force AC-130 and A-10 attack aircraft, and the Pentagon is considering adding armed drones and helicopters. Obama said "we continue to pursue the broader goal of a Libya that belongs not to a dictator, but to its people," but spoke of achieving that through diplomacy and political pressure, not force of U.S. arms.

Picking Up Furniture For "How To Succeed..."

Rand Martin and Steve Isaacson on 9th Street in downtown Sacramento, practicing deep breathing and hyperflexing their knees and otherwise getting a good work out.

James' Review Of 'Color' Goes Viral

Deborah in Phoenix relates that James (also in Phoenix) wrote a review of the new App 'Color'. The review is proving very popular. Here is a summary:
It had massive media coverage and $41 million in funding. Folks said it would redefine mobile social networking. Some claimed it could usurp Facebook and Twitter to become one of the sleekest, most clever way to connect with those around you. And once it was released and the public got a look at it, like the Segway, it was laughed out of contention. Color -- the cross-platform app which allows users to share recently snapped photos with others in their vicinity -- had a solid idea behind it. Similar to Twitter, user content is automatically public and ready to share. But rather than sharing photos with those who figuratively "follow" you, they're shared with those who literally follow you. Anyone in your vicinity -- in this version, within 150 feet -- would be able to view your photos. Party photos, for example, would be instantly shared with everyone in the apartment.
Here is James' review. It is hilarious! No wonder it's going viral! Jetta frequently says to me "Don't you understand? We have to make our YouTube videos go viral!" And I reply: "There are people who say that every day. But to make something go viral, you have to uniquely fulfill a need people can't even articulate. It's impossible to engineer something like that." So congratulations are in order for James!

What If I Have The Walking Pneumonia?

E. Mmmmmaaaarrrccccc (cough, cough, cough)! I want to go to the Emergency Room!

M. It's midnight. Wouldn't you rather go to sleep?

E. I've been sleeping for days, and it doesn't do any good. What if I have 'The Walking Pneumonia'?

M. We'll be there for hours. We won't get any sleep.

E. Mmmmmmaaaaaarrrrrccccccc!

M. (Sigh)

[UPDATE: And sure enough, the docs at the Emergency Room diagnose early stages of pneumonia.]

Monday, March 28, 2011

Jetta Is Still At X-Factor In LA

Jetta's apparently moved up to the next level of auditions, so her return has been delayed:
"L.A. is known for producing amazing talent," said executive producer Andrew Linares, against the soundtrack of hopefuls crooning and/or screaming for show cameras capturing footage to be included when "The X Factor" premieres in the fall. "People usually head to L.A. to try and make it. So we're very hopeful that in the midst of all these people are some potential contenders."

...The big prize on these shores will be a $5 million Sony Music record deal. But that's not the only thing setting the series apart from other talent competition shows. Both solo artists and vocal groups are welcome to audition. And unlike "American Idol," which just recently lowered the bottom end of its age range from 16 to 15 (and up to 28), "The X Factor" is more inclusive. The show is open to those as young as 12 and has no upper age limit — a factor that delighted 59-year-old Pat Garnes.