Friday, December 21, 2012

"Junie B. Jones: Jingle Bells & Batman Smells" - DMTC - Final Dress Rehearsal

Pretty-Cool Time Lapse

Another Opportunity For The Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys To Fling Themselves Onto The Tarmac

Democrats never learn:
Repeatedly stressing that President Obama has come "more than halfway" in meeting Boehner's demands, Van Hollen stressed that the last offer from Obama had to become the new starting point for renewed negotiations. Why should "more than halfway" be the new starting point? So Obama can go more than three-quarters of the way? Or like during the during debt ceiling fight, when he went 98 percent of the way?

This is just insane. The last offer from Obama gave far too much away, and was obviously a negotiating disaster. And that's where Van Hollen wants to start from now?

...What happened to not negotiating with terrorists?

You Know What? I Blame The NRA

Americans are very, very, very good at shifting blame. It's become part of the national culture. No one ever takes responsibility for anything, ever.

Wayne LaPierre of the NRA blames the media for the Newtown massacre. He blames video games. He blames school administrators. Indeed, the NRA is as much a victim as the kids. The many decades of work that the NRA has engaged in to make it easy to get assault weaponry is unmentioned:
But I still didn’t expect to be as horrified by his ludicrous words as I was. I didn’t expect to be as chilled to the bone by his utterly inevitable suggestion that the solution to our national gun problem is more guns – nice and close to our kids.
You know what? I blame the NRA. I blame each and every member of the NRA personally for these murders. You can run, but you cannot hide, no matter how many weapons you own.

Vengeance is coming. The only honorable way out is for all NRA members to either resign, or commit suicide.

You know - take responsibility, for once.

Thursday, December 20, 2012 - Scream & Shout ft. Britney Spears

The Ball Is Again In Obama's Court

And here comes the cave yet again. There is still room for a grand deal between the Dems and a minority of the GOP. So, if anything, the danger is even greater than before. Who else will Obama sacrifice for the New Year?:
Boehner has two problems: one with President Obama and another with his conference. And to the extent that he meliorates one he exacerbates the other. He can return to fiscal cliff negotiations with an empowered Obama, and try to eke out the sort of deal he just rejected, then pass it through the House next week, on a bipartisan basis at but a huge risk to his Speakership.

That’s the course he told members he’d pursue in the conference meeting Thursday night.

And the White House is open to it. “The President’s main priority is to ensure that taxes don’t go up on 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses in just a few short days,” said Press Secretary Jay Carney. “The President will work with Congress to get this done and we are hopeful that we will be able to find a bipartisan solution quickly that protects the middle class and our economy.”

It sets up a scenario where Boehner’s old nemesis Nancy Pelosi is suddenly back in the driver’s seat, controlling the votes necessary to pass a deal.

Be With You - Kelsey B & Matt Fox (Official Video)

Reminds me of a highly-scrambled space-age version of the Southwestern Nutcracker, as done annually by my friends at Tucson Regional Ballet, except that instead of the Nutcracker waging battle on the Coyote on Clara's behalf, Clara and the Coyote join to wage war on the Nutcracker. Just a little subversive, this version.

Made The B3ta 'Best Of Week' List Again!

Woohoo! I'm on a roll! Twice this month: three times since Halloween!

The Question of the Week was:
Overcoming adversity
The Doveston asks: Have you ever fought back from a terrible illness? Got out of a job that was going nowhere? Secured a great victory against the odds through dishonesty and cheating? Warm our hearts, B3ta
I don't think people were particularly happy with this question. Thus, I was able to slip under the wire with a repost (aka 'pearoast') regarding my Australian lockout dilemma:
Stranded myself in a foreign land
As far as adversities go it was small, but it loomed large at the time: locking myself out just hours before an international trip.

At 1 a.m., I returned to Mt. Glorious, in the mountains outside of Brisbane, Australia, after an evening clubbing. My host left the country two days previously and I was all alone in his house. I prepared for my last sleepover by emptying my pockets.

Then, I remembered I had not yet studied southern constellations. So, I grabbed my southern star chart, walked out, and casually closed the front door. Instantly, I knew: I was locked out of the house!

I quickly ran around the house. All doors and windows were locked and secure. But I had to leave by 9 a.m. to make the noon flight. What was I going to do? For about one-and-a-half hours, I tried to pick locks, all the while jumping around so that the motion-sensitive outdoor lights would generate enough light to see. I found a tool tray in the garage, but it was guarded by a giant Huntsman Spider, so every time I reached into the tool tray I had to shoo the spider away.

Giving up on lock-picking, I decided I had to break a window. I decided to break the guest bathroom toilet window. I began cutting the outer screen of the window in preparation. Then I realized I was just too fat to fit through it. Plus, there was no time to see to the window's repair. So, I had to get help!

Even though this house was fairly-remote, there were a few neighbors nearby. But how could I bang on their front doors at 3 a.m.? They didn't know who I was and I had no identification. And my urgent insistence that I had to enter their absent neighbor's home might strike them as not credible.

The only thing that could work would be to find a locksmith. But how do I call anyone without a phone? I wondered whether there was a pay telephone in the village of Mt. Glorious, which was located about 2 kilometers away through the dark forest. I wasn't sure.

So off I went, tramping through the forest. The sky was overcast, so the darkness was nearly complete. I worried about stumbling over pythons or other animals in the dark. I tried to stay close to the slight glow emanating from the road's center dotted line, so that I might have at least have a last-second warning.

I found the village, utterly deserted at 3:30 a.m. Indeed, there was a phone booth there, but possessing no resources I was limited to toll-free numbers only.

I called "000", the Australian emergency number, and the Brisbane police reluctantly gave me the toll free number of Locksmith #1. He refused my appeal for help - there was little attraction to rescuing someone atop a mountain, 30 km outside of the big city. He referred me to Locksmith #2.

Locksmith #2 said he couldn't respond immediately. He was far away, but if I called back at 6 a.m., he would see what he could do.

I called back Locksmith #1, and again he refused - it was illegal to open locks for people who had confided they weren't the actual homeowner. He said that I should be grateful that Locksmith #2 hadn't turned me down cold.

These two locksmiths were the only two toll-free "express" locksmiths in Brisbane: I would need to find some coins to call others. There were toll-free glaziers, however, if I wanted to return to my host's house and break windows instead. At a loss, I lay down on a bench outside the restaurant and tried to sleep.

For reasons I didn't quite fathom at this semi-tropical locale, dawn came early. Birds like Australian King Parrots, kookaburras, and Sulfur-Crested Cockatoos were active, and I enjoyed listening to their treetop roar.

At 5:30 a.m., I called Locksmith #2 back. He sighed and asked if I had a mobile number. I said no, I had nothing. He said "look, there's nothing much I can do without a mobile number. I want to refer you to another locksmith who lives on that side of Brisbane, but I can't do it without a mobile number. You need to ask someone if you can use their mobile number." I said I was reluctant to ask before, because it had been dark. He said, "yes, but this is Australia. Everyone has a mobile number. And they'll help you too. But you need to ask."

"You need to ask." Walking past a house, I thought I heard some thumping inside. Summoning the courage, I knocked on their door. A young family and their five kids answered the door. They were new to town. They had moved into the house just the day before. The mother looked at her kids, then me, then asked "walking through the woods, weren't you afraid of dingoes?" "Dingoes!", I replied, "no, I was worried about pythons!" She said, "well, they removed dingoes from these hills a while ago and took them over to Moreton Island, but they've been filtering back, and they've been spotted again around here lately." I said "Wow, no I hadn't thought about dingoes!"

The family lent me their mobile phone and I made contact with Locksmith #3. The kids ran around the house and rounded up some coins, which they lent me to contact another locksmith, if needed. The husband decided to travel to the house to see if he could puzzle a way inside. I returned to waiting by the phone booth.

After just half an hour, Locksmith #3 arrived. We returned to the house and met the husband, who hadn't found a way into the house either. I returned his kids' coins to him.

By 8 a.m., the drama had concluded. I was in the house again and I left for the airport on time. Just the damage to the window screen to worry about (and a lingering fear of dingoes).

Tequila Break

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

OK, Everyone, Time To Vote For Piper Stoeckel Miss America!

Vote here for your favorite candidate for Miss America!

I am supporting Piper Stoeckel, Miss Arizona, for Miss America, because she is a lovely ballet dancer attending the University of Arizona in Tucson. (I recognize the big dance room at University of Arizona where her solo dance reel - partly seen here - was filmed). Bear Down, America, and support Piper Stoeckel!

Piper Stoeckel gets caught in an Arizona haboob:

Inspired By Scarlett O'Hara And A Half-Remembered Past, Desperate But Adaptable Greek Professionals Return To The Land

Forty Years Ago - The Last Men On The Moon

From Eb-Misfit:
At 5:55 EST on December 14, 1972, the excursion crew of Apollo 17, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt, lifted off from the Moon on their return trip home.

Deep Cover at The Pedestrian Crossing

At Sunrise Mall With E.

Food Court at Sunrise Mall, Citrus Heights, CA.

Ah yes, the simple pleasures of the consumer society!  A Heisenberg T-Shirt! (Christmas shopping at Hot Topic, Sunrise Mall, Citrus Heights, CA.)

(An interminable hour, trying to force a decision. Finally, E. takes several dresses into the fitting rooms at J.C. Penney's, in Sunrise Mall. E. emerges, to throw a pile of brand-new dresses on the floor and take a kick at them.)

E.: I HATE THIS! I HATE IT! It is so hot in there, and I was sweating and the dress was sticking on me and there was no one around to help. It makes me so mad! IT MAKES ME SO MAD! I hate; I HATE trying on clothes in the store!

M.: But you know exactly what will happen. If you buy a dress and take it home before trying it on, it won't fit, and you'll just have to return to try on another. I'm tired of playing that game. If you want me to buy a Christmas dress for you, you have to try it on in the store.

E.: (gesturing with her foot) Those two fit; those two don't.

M.: Good! Let's go to the Food Court!

Booby Traps

The dangers:

The amusement:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Lots Of Fiber On The Menu, I'm Sure

For the discerning European traveler:
Located on a small island between Antwerp and Ghent in Flanders, the hotel is shaped like a giant colon, complete with a giant replica of an anus, The Huffington Post reported.

Originally an art piece, Hotel CasAnus is the creation of Dutch designer Joep Van Lieshout.

...Travel blogger Tom Hall wrote, "It is as normal as sleeping in a slug-like space can be."

Piers Morgan Redeems Himself

I haven't liked Piers Morgan much, and especially not after the British hacking scandal, but all is now forgiven. Last night's interview on CNN was the best I have ever seen on the network, ever (but it's not posted on YouTube yet).

Here is the second-best interview, ever, from the night before last:

"Singin' In The Rain" - Stand Out Talent - Tower Theater

On Saturday, I joined DMTC friends in Roseville to see "Singin' In The Rain" as performed by Stand Out Talent. This fairly-new group now works out of the Tower Theater in Roseville. Since I was rehearsing sound effects with the Junie B. Jones cast at DMTC Saturday evening, I was seated late, just before 'Make Em Laugh'.

It was interesting to see what is basically a new theatrical group in town (and one that focuses on youth). I knew only one cast member (Haylie Roberts) and I didn't even recognize her at first, because of her wig. (Apparently Taylr Ashley was there too, but I don't really know her.)

The fellow playing Cosmo (Alex Crossland) moved well for his size, sang well, and was funny (but needs to improve general acting skills). Spencer Peterson and Olivia Lawrence made a fine Don Lockwood and Kathy Seldon. The best performance, however, was by 16-year-old Carli Meyer, especially as she sang 'What's Wrong With Me?', fracturing the English language while playing the character Lina Lamont. Spectacular!

It was odd, the way the rain fell from the pipes in the ceiling aloft in a perfectly geometric arrangement of four connected squares. An amazing meteorological phenomenon!

Missed the Cyd Charisse dancing interlude. Pity. Apparently due to small cast size for this show. They needed just one more dancer!

In any event, a great show!

E. Likes Nat King Cole

E.: MMMMMMMMAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRCCCCCCC! I LOVE Nat King Cole! When I was 13 years old, and lived in the Philippines, I used to listen to him on the radio. They had a radio show on at midnight, and I stayed awake just to listen to him!

M.: Yes, he's a good singer.

E.: That's what they call the Classic Music.

M.: ???

E.: Yes, the European composers used to compose the music, like Beethoven and his Fifth Movement, just for the singers like Nat King Cole.

M.: I think of Nat King Cole as more of a jazz singer. And Beethoven is known more for his symphonic music. The classical composers aren't known much for vocals, except maybe for Handel, and....

E.: Beethoven went deaf after his Fifth Movement, because the European musicians liked to play their music SO LOUD! Anyway, Elvis was a rock singer. They used to call him King Of The Rock.

M.: There's a difference between Classical Music and Classic Rock.

E.: Some people call Elvis King Of The Soft Rock, but I call him King Of The Hard Rock.

M.: Rock and Roll....

E.: And Michael Jackson! King Of The Pop! And Willie Nelson!

M.: Country....

E.: Yes, I LOVE Nat King Cole!

Think I'm Having Trouble With That Homeless Yo-Yo Again

I know, I know, it's all nice and private between the garbage cans in the alley behind my house, but could you resist the urge, and defecate somewhere else?

At The Arden Fair Mall, With E.

I'm A Star!

Ideology. Believe In Movement. 25% Off. At Macy's, now!

E.: MMMMMMMMAAAAAAARRRRRCCCCC! There are no good dresses at this Macy's!

M.: There aren't? Everywhere I look, I see dresses. There must be a good dress out there, somewhere.

E.: Somehow it's not the same! Can we go to Sunrise Mall, tomorrow?

M.: (sigh) OK.

DMTC's YPT "Pinocchio" 2012

Went and saw "Pinocchio" on Friday evening. Noa Solorio in the title role, and the rest of the YPT cast, did a fine job.

Interesting, the turnover in YPT folks. The half life of kids in the company is about three years, so I was amused that even someone like Tessa feels a bit alienated from the group now, since she knows so few people in the current cast.

Myself, I was feeling nostalgic for the November, 2004 "Pinocchio", remembering how brilliantly Meeka Craig played Signore Volpone, the Fox. I wish she was onstage again. That's really her natural habitat.

That Moist Tongue Is Now Licking The American Southwest

Why isn't it raining in New Mexico? According to Intellicast, the cloud tops are certainly cold enough. I know the NOGAPS forecast showed a persistent band of downward velocities just east of the Rockies that should suppress rain over eastern New Mexico, but I don't believe that crap. In any event, it should be raining there. But according to ABQ & Cannon AFB radar, nada.

I need to complain to the authorities about this.

Obama Decides To Throw Old People Under The Bus

Time to say no, and head over the cliff:
Late last night, the White House offered a plan with two major concessions to Republicans. First, it would hike taxes on the wealthy, but only on income above $400,000, instead of the current $250,000 threshold. Second, and far more controversially, Obama offered to change the formula used to calculate Social Security benefits in a way that would cut outlays to seniors slightly while saving the program $225 billion over a decade.

Mystery Of The Dazed Kestrel

Picture of a kestrel, from Wikipedia.

Per usual custom, I arrived at work late this morning (18th & J Streets in Sacramento), parked my car, and went around to the back of the car to open the trunk and retrieve my briefcase. Just then, I heard a distinct *thump* behind me.

Looking around, everything seemed normal, except for what looked like a bit of refuse on the pavement: like a feathered piece of wood lying just outside the parking lot fence, by my employer's back door. It looked like an American Indian in ceremonial regalia had tossed away a small, feathered pipe, or something.

Approaching, I realized it was a small hunting bird, in some kind of agony. Its back was arched, as if in pain. It was conscious, and breathing, and evidently alarmed by my approach. At first, I had trouble seeing its claws, but that was because they were partly-curled. I thought, "It's a kestrel!" I started cooing to it, hoping to ease its tension.

What happened? Apparently it had either flown into the building itself (confused by the lighting off the reflective exterior tile?), bounced off the side windows of the building (once again, confused lighting on the windows?), or had flown into the canopy over the back door. Or perhaps it had toppled off a perch on the building above the back door, onto the canopy, and onto the pavement. Whatever happened, it was quite an irregular event for a bird like this.

Not wanting to touch the bird, in the event it had West Nile virus, and out of an desire not the frighten it too much, and also because an injured hunting bird can inflict a variety of injuries from its claws and beak, I started calling the Wildlife Care Association on my cell phone.

After about two minutes, the frightened bird noticed I was distracted, rolled over, and flew away. It seemed to fly true and straight, so whatever impact it had endured was not immediately mortal.

I related the experience to several of my co-workers. Craig thought it was an omen of the impending Mayan Apocalypse this Friday. Gabe said "One in the hand is worth two in the bush!" Candy said the bird had too much Egg Nog (she didn't like the Apocalypse idea, and preferred to think positive).

[UPDATE: The fellow from the Wildlife Care Association called back after listening to my taped message. He said this sort of thing can happen. Birds from the foothills come into the valley for the winter, and perhaps this bird lacked city experience.]

Monday, December 17, 2012

How The Wild West Became The Not So Wild West

How exactly did folks in the Wild West put up with all the craziness and violence of the frontier?

Well, they didn't. They enforced sensible gun control laws like all sensible folk would do:
Frontier towns — places like Tombstone, Deadwood, and Dodge — actually had the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation.

In fact, many of those same cities have far less burdensome gun control today then they did back in the 1800s.

Guns were obviously widespread on the frontier. Out in the untamed wilderness, you needed a gun to be safe from bandits, natives, and wildlife. In the cities and towns of the West, however, the law often prohibited people from toting their guns around. A visitor arriving in Wichita, Kansas in 1873, the heart of the Wild West era, would have seen signs declaring, “Leave Your Revolvers At Police Headquarters, and Get a Check.”

A check? That’s right. When you entered a frontier town, you were legally required to leave your guns at the stables on the outskirts of town or drop them off with the sheriff, who would give you a token in exchange. You checked your guns then like you’d check your overcoat today at a Boston restaurant in winter. Visitors were welcome, but their guns were not.

In my new book, Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America, there’s a photograph taken in Dodge City in 1879. Everything looks exactly as you’d imagine: wide, dusty road; clapboard and brick buildings; horse ties in front of the saloon. Yet right in the middle of the street is something you’d never expect. There’s a huge wooden billboard announcing, “The Carrying of Firearms Strictly Prohibited.”

While people were allowed to have guns at home for self-protection, frontier towns usually barred anyone but law enforcement from carrying guns in public.

When Dodge City residents organized their municipal government, do you know what the very first law they passed was? A gun control law. They declared that “any person or persons found carrying concealed weapons in the city of Dodge or violating the laws of the State shall be dealt with according to law.” Many frontier towns, including Tombstone, Arizona–the site of the infamous “Shootout at the OK Corral”–also barred the carrying of guns openly.

Today in Tombstone, you don’t even need a permit to carry around a firearm. Gun rights advocates are pushing lawmakers in state after state to do away with nearly all limits on the ability of people to have guns in public.

Who's Been Naughty? Who's Been Nice?

Is It Just Me, Or Is That Tongue Of Tropical Moisture Moving Fast?

Interesting movement from the SW....

Saint Evil, The Mysterious Stranger

(h/t Kelsey)

Kelsey repeats that this video was banned from TV in the 80's. It's funny, but I'm sure I've seen this on TV before - probably Sunday morning religious hour TV, when people would expect it the least.

"Downton Abbey" Does "Breaking Bad"

(h/t Noel)

RIP - Jenni Rivera

I was channel surfing last night, and "A 4 Ruedas" from San Francisco was running concert footage of the late Jenni Rivera. I was completely unfamiliar with her, but developed a fondness just from watching her. It's clear why her fans are devastated:

(or this one - a crowd pleaser!)

Adele - "Skyfall"

I haven't seen the movie yet, but the theme song song strikes me as the best of the Bond series!

The American Dystopia Where We Will All Have To Own Guns


I was rather shocked when I first heard this report. Did I hear it correctly?

Josh Deaser of "Just Guns" - you know, near Denny's, on that seedy, semi-lawless stretch of Auburn Blvd. near Watt - said, with respect to the CT massacre:
"If somebody were to have a gun there, a concealed weapon, properly trained, know how to use it, the situation would not have gotten as far as it did."
Huh. Really!

Deaser says nothing, of course, about the mental stability of the concealed weapon carrier(s). We are heading to a dystopian future that only a gun shop owner could love, where everyone is required to be armed.

It strikes me the Nazis were more sensible about these things. Nazis wanted to euthanize the mentally ill, not train and arm as many as possible (and thus better-equipped to euthanize us all).

Of course, some in this country are fond of saying that when the Nazis took power, they disarmed the people, in order to keep them weak and helpless. That's false, however. The Nazis disarmed the Jews, but were happy to relax the rules for most everyone else. Triumphant Aryans had to be armed Aryans:
The 1938 German Weapons Act, the precursor of the current weapons law, superseded the 1928 law. As under the 1928 law, citizens were required to have a permit to carry a firearm and a separate permit to acquire a firearm. Furthermore, the law restricted ownership of firearms to "...persons whose trustworthiness is not in question and who can show a need for a (gun) permit." Under the new law:
  • Gun restriction laws applied only to handguns, not to long guns or ammunition. Writes Prof. Bernard Harcourt of the University of Chicago, "The 1938 revisions completely deregulated the acquisition and transfer of rifles and shotguns, as well as ammunition."
  • The groups of people who were exempt from the acquisition permit requirement expanded. Holders of annual hunting permits, government workers, and NSDAP party members were no longer subject to gun ownership restrictions. Prior to the 1938 law, only officials of the central government, the states, and employees of the German Reichsbahn Railways were exempted.
  • The age at which persons could own guns was lowered from 20 to 18.
  • The firearms carry permit was valid for three years instead of one year.
  • Jews were forbidden from the manufacturing or ownership of firearms and ammunition. 
I like Billmon's take:
I think the gun nuts are in somewhat the same bind now: Their movement rests on an absolute, or near-absolute reading of the Second Amendment as an individual right to bear firearms.
What that means—practically as well as theoretically—is that events like the Sandy Hook massacre can’t be stopped, or even slowed, by the tools presently available to law enforcement. ....
And so a logical deux ex machina: The solution to gun violence is to arm everybody! No need for tampering with the Second Amendment, or waiting around for tiny corpses to cool so that we can begin talking about whether we should be talking about eventually having a national conversation about guns.
All we need to do is make sure any would-be assassins die instantly in a hail of bullets from surrounding onlookers the moment they draw—without, of course, harming any innocent bystanders in the process. Piece of cake.
...But we can at least hope that the gun nuts are heading down the same road as the anti-abortion nuts: Finally alienating a generally, but not passionately, sympathetic public with their progressively more extreme positions.