Friday, February 28, 2014

Kind Of Disappointed With The Amount Of Rain

But pleased with the tornado warning. We don't get many around here. In 2003, I saw a funnel cloud between Davis and Woodland, which eventually touched down near Willows, but did no damage:
A tornado warning issued at 6:24 p.m. today by the National Weather Service for areas east of Woodland has expired.

The weather service issued the warning after a weather spotter reported a funnel cloud about six miles east of Woodland near Interstate 5. It was reported moving north at 25 mph. The warning expired at 7 p.m.

Pepper Von's New Year's 2014 Inspirational Video

Missed this when it came out. Pepper had a real challenging early 2013, but he bounced back in fine form.

'Ritz and Triscuit' Do A Video

And I get to be in it too!

The Ring

E.: C. got me an engagement ring.

M.: He did?

E.: It's kind-of disappointing. Three tiny diamonds. Ten-carat gold (the standard is 14-carat). The band was the wrong size, so they are trying to fix it. He couldn't just return it - he doesn't have much money.

M.: Still!

I Love Dancehall Promo Video

LaToya Bufford and Catherine Chiemelu are taking this on a quick tour of Northern California this weekend.

"South Pacific" - DMTC - Final Dress Rehearsal

Friday is opening night!

At Least The Gutters Are Useful For Something

Yesterday, various birds were taking baths in them, and robins were raiding them for worms.

Several days ago, there was a rare squashed squirrel. Smashed squirrels used to be common, but I thought natural selection had wiped out the stupid ones. Well, accidents DO happen!

V.I.C - Wobble Baby

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

RIP, "Sacramento Top 25"

Ever since I was aware of it, I've been trying to make Number One on the "Sacramento Top 25" Web site, maintained by John Bressler. I yearned for it, and yearned for it, even though it had no practical purpose at all, and may have, in fact, been a bad measure of Sacramento Top blogs.

Bressler lost interest in his project years ago and finally pulled the plug. Still, when "Sacramento Top 25" finally expired - lost, abandoned, and all-but-forgotten - guess which Sacramento blog was Number One?

Marc Valdez Weblog!

My Reactions To The 35th Annual Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Conference

Lots and lots of books!

Here are my reactions (in parentheses) to the various talks I attended at the conference - Popular and American Culture Studies: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow, February 19-22, 2014, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

It's been a long time since I've been to an academic conference, but this one was particularly-fun, because anyone can get excited by popular culture, whether they are an academic, or not. I wasn't actually presenting anything, and I wasn't in academia at all. Freed from any obligation to impress anyone, I asked lots of questions at most of the talks I attended.

My mission at this conference was to propagate among other academics an idée fixe of mine: namely, that there is a hidden Native-American subtext running through "Breaking Bad". So, I spoke at tiresome length about this at every opportunity. Since there were several distinct academic groups interested in "Breaking Bad" at this conference, not necessarily in close contact, some repetition was necessary.

1005 Breaking Bad 1 - Wed, 02/19/2014 - 1:00pm - 2:30pm, Enchantment D. Panel Chair: Bridget Roussell Cowlishaw
The Uncertainty: Chemical Control and Human Chaos in “Breaking Bad” - Eli Turner, University of Arizona
(I was a bit disappointed by Turner's talk, because he is not a physicist, and so thought his classical/quantum physics dichotomy to be tiresome. I pointed out there is a third approach, available since the 1980's, of Chaos Theory: noise constrained into self-replicating fractal patterns.)

1023 Breaking Bad 2 - Wed, 02/19/2014 - 2:45pm - 4:15pm, Enchantment D. Panel Chair: Bridget Roussell Cowlishaw
Panopticism and Paranoia in “Breaking Bad” - Jeff Pettis, Independent Scholar
My Bad Experience: Social Media Beyond Fan Engagement - Miguel S. Jaramillo, Independent Scholar
Baby Blue: A Uses and Gratifications Analysis of “Breaking Bad” Viewers - Nick Gerlich, West Texas A&M University

Nick Gerlich and Bridget Roussell Cowlishaw listen as Jeff Pettis presents "Panopticism and Paranoia in “Breaking Bad”.

(The most interesting talk of the entire conference was Pettis' presentation regarding Michel Foucault's concept of Panopticism and its application to Breaking Bad, with Walt's efforts to reach a panoptic point, Lydia's efforts to remain hidden, and Gus Fring hiding in plain sight. Pettis' concerns dovetailed very nicely with my idée fixe about Lydia pointing on a map at zone of radio silence, which is actually the location of the Ansazi's Pueblo Pintado, a crucial component of their lunar cycle observations, for which no panoptic point is possible.)

Miguel Jaramillo presents "My Bad Experience: Social Media Beyond Fan Engagement".

(I was there to cheer on Miguel!)

Nick Gerlich presents "Baby Blue: A Uses and Gratifications Analysis of “Breaking Bad” Viewers".

(I was surprised that Nick was presenting in this session - the Breaking Bad session 3 had apparently been cancelled. Lori Westermann, Nick's colleague from West Texas A&M University, had not yet arrived in town, and was as yet unavailable. Their projected future number of Breaking Bad Albuquerque visitors was high - 400,000? - and it disturbed me.

1052 Special Event: Fire and Ice Reception: Hosted by the Hyatt Regency - Wed, 02/19/2014 - 6:15pm - 7:45pm, Grand Pavilion 4-6. Panel Chair: Southwest PACA Executive Team
Come join our Executive Staff as we celebrate the official opening of the 35th annual meeting of the Southwest PCA/ACA. Hosted by the Hyatt Regency Hotel, light refreshments and beverages will be available, honoring our conference attendees.
(A social occasion, which was a bit of a challenge, because I didn't know anyone there. I ended up talking a lot with Chris Trujillo, Internet Tech from Chamita, near Española, whose dad is a neighbor of my former classmate, and renowned wildlife vet, Kathy Ramsey. Good guy, Chris!)

Screening "The Quiller Memorandum".

1053 James Bond, Espionage, and Eurospy: Screening and Discussion: “The Quiller Memorandum” (1966) - Wed, 02/19/2014 - 8:00pm, Grand Pavilion 1-2. Panel Chair: Michele Brittany
Shot on location in Berlin and at Pinewood Studios, this spy-thriller is based on the 1965 spy novel by Elleston Trevor titled The Berlin Memorandum. The film was distributed by Rank Organisation and 20th Century Fox in late 1966. It starred George Segal, Alec Guinness and Max von Sydow and was directed by Michael Anderson. The film score was composed by John Barry, who scored Thunderball and You Only Live Twice. The film received three BAFTA nominations for Best British Screenplay, Best British Art Direction, and Best British Film Editing.
A discussion will following with media experts: Ian Dawe, Independent Scholar; Nicholas Diak, Independent Scholar; Hannah Means-Shannon, Georgian Court University; and Robert G. Weiner, Texas Tech University Libraries.
(I was so tired at the end of the day, such that when the hero was drugged and carried off for interrogation in Max von Sydow's rambling mansion, I just had to leave and catch a nap).

2035 Theatre and Performance Studies 2: Cultural Force(s): Musical Theater and Stand Up Comedy - Thu, 02/20/2014 - 9:45am - 11:15am, Sage. Panel Chair: Lynn Sally
Guilty Pleasure: The Shaming of American Musical Theatre - Nicole Samsel, Independent Scholar
Contested Cultural Citizenship in “Bloody Blood Andrew Jackson” - Maria Patrice Amon, University of California, Irvine
Hearing Voices: Metadiscourse and Counterfactuals in the Stand-Up Comedy of Jim Gaffigan - Lynn Zimmerman, Notre Dame College
(What is a conference worth if it doesn't feature Musical Theater? Interesting talk by Nicole Samsel. I asked about Disney musicals and mentioned everyone should see Rent, Jr. I have never seen “Bloody Blood Andrew Jackson” but asked Maria Patrice Amon if she knew UCI alumnus Katherine Coppola: apparently not.)

2061 Classical Representations in Popular Culture 1: Tragic Representations - Thu, 02/20/2014 - 1:15pm - 2:45pm, Enchantment B. Panel Chair: Angeline Chiu
Pathei Meth-os: “Breaking Bad” and Elements of Greek Tragedy - Angeline Chiu, University of Vermont
(Charismatic Angeline Chiu had the second most-interesting talk of the conference; discussing the elements of classical Greek drama, as applied to "Breaking Bad". Once again, her talk dovetailed very nicely with my idée fixe. Apparently one concept in classical Greek drama is the idea of "Miasma", of how the drama occurs in the looming shadow of dark past events or legends. I pointed out that given the history of To'hajiilee, such a miasma exists in "Breaking Bad", which surprised her, since she is not a Southwestern historian, and made her eager for more information.)

2091 Theater and Performance Studies 3: Burlesque - Thu, 02/20/2014 - 3:00pm - 4:30pm, Sage. Panel Chair: Lynn Sally
Batman and Sparkly Underthings: Nerdlesque as a Distinct Subgenre of Neo-Burlesque Performance - Jessica Thorp, University of Toronto
Tit for Tat: Burlesque and Pop Culture. An Exploration of the Potential Benefits and Drawbacks to the Mutual Appropriation Between Mainstream Media and Neo-Burlesque - Adrienne Sowers, Independent Scholar
Going Gaga: Using the Gendered Body to Re(-)Present Gender Roles - Lynn Sally, Metropolitan College of New York
(I had never heard of Nerdlesque, and so was fascinated. I asked how narrow a slice a fandom one could utilize, using the example of a friend of mine, who nerded out on Auto Repair Manuals. Would that suffice as a starting point? Thorp replied she didn't know, but some very narrow fascinations have been used to good effect, using the example she saw of a Burlesque routine inspired by an addiction to Ikea.)

2107 Theatre and Performance Studies 4: Roundtable: Unlimited Ways to Strip: The Changing Performance of Burlesque - Thu, 02/20/2014 - 4:45pm - 6:15pm, Sage. Panel Chair: Lynn Sally
The burgeoning field of burlesque is quickly becoming populated with performers from many different backgrounds: acrobatics, modern dance, aerial, fire, belly dance, classical ballet, tap, to name only a few. As competition becomes stiff, performers work to be innovative. However, classic burlesque remains a staple, and sometimes a more desired performance. The tensions inherent in this change, and the addition of a plethora of male performers, adds richness and the variety to modern burlesque performance while expanding the philosophical underpinnings of this art.
This roundtable discussion will feature burlesque—and boylesque—performers for the southwest. Each performer has an in-depth understanding of the history and the current manifestations of burlesque.
The roundtable will be chaired by Dr. Anne Key, College of Southern Nevada, whose specialty is gender and religious studies. She is also a current burlesque performer in Albuquerque.
(Once again, a fascinating discussion! I was slow to realize that all the presenters were not just academics, but burlesque performers too. One scholar in the audience went TMI with a description of Nevada attractions. Hands on experience, so to speak!)

2112.5 Breaking Bad 3: Roundtable: Making Good with “Breaking Bad”
Thu, 02/20/2014 – 8:00pm, Grand Pavilion 3
Panel Chair: Nick Gerlich
This roundtable will be comprised of individuals from the Albuquerque area with these areas of expertise related to “Breaking Bad”: Location scouting, set design, character development, economic development, and the resulting local business ventures.
(I was on this panel, together with Ann Lerner of the ABQ Film Office, Miguel Jaramillo, and Andre and Keith from Bathing Bad. Other invitees - Marq Smith, Ed Candelaria, and Michael Flowers - didn't show up. Lots of fun, and interesting. I went on and on about my idée fixe, and people seemed very appreciative. Film Historian Tom Donnelly was in the audience, and he asked questions. It was interesting listening to Andre and Keith, refugees from the New Orleans business community, discuss Bathing Bad, and their current efforts to diversify.

After the panel, Nick Gerlich, Lori Westermann, Miguel Jaramillo, Jennie Rexer, and .... Nick's wife??? .... went over to Forque Restaurant in the Albuquerque Hyatt and had foo-foo drinks: or, at least, I did.)

3037 Alfred Hitchcock 3: Gender and Voyeurism - Fri, 02/21/2014 - 11:30am - 1:00pm, Enchantment A. Panel Chair: Michael Howarth
The Male Gaze From the “Rear Window”: Alfred Hitchcock’s Anticipation of Laura Mulvey’s Criticism - Nicholas Harl, California State University, Long Beach
(It's been so long since I saw "Rear Window" I had nothing to contribute.)

3049 Motor Culture and the Road 1: Car History, the Drive-In, and the American Experience - Fri, 02/21/2014 - 11:30am - 1:00pm, Enchantment F. Panel Chair: Carla Lesh
Standin’ on the Corner Park in Winslow, Arizona: A Uniquely American Sense of Place Through Song - Beth Grimes, Northern Arizona University
Fill ‘er Up: Mississippi Motoring - Erin Scott, University of Mississippi
(I related my story of finding a wallet in Winslow, AZ, and learning that a substantial component of the population winters in Winslow, but summers on the Navajo or Hopi Reservations to the north. Thus, there might be a substantial class or racial component to community remembrance of the Eagles' song. Grimes thought that was a good point. Scott was at the Breaking Bad panel, and she related that the Japanese have a particular resonance to Flanery O'Connor stories, which I thought strange. I told her about my travels through Meridian, MS in 1978, and about the the favorite ice cream parlor that was razed in favor of a McDonald's, and how the McDonald's decorated itself in the bric-a-brac from the ice cream parlor - a waste if there was one. Scott said that was in keeping with her understanding that a lot of colorful MS restaurants bit the dust in the wake of the oil embargo of the 70's.)

3064 Native American/Indigenous Studies 4: Native Peoples Depicting Themselves - Fri, 02/21/2014 - 1:15pm - 2:45pm, Fiesta 1. Panel Chair: Margaret Vaughan
Language and Land as Cultural Identity - Lauren Hatch, Western Washington University
(Interesting talk about language, specifically about Washington State. During discussions, interesting comparisons with Australian aborigines. I noted that Australian natural landscapes are simply louder than North American equivalents.)

3078 Film and History 4: Technology, Distribution, and Transatlantic Teardrops - Fri, 02/21/2014 - 3:00pm - 4:30pm, Grand Pavilion 6. Panel Chair: Brad L. Duren, Oklahoma Panhandle State University
Targeting Colonial Audiences: Film Distribution and Cinema-going in the 1930s British Caribbean - Karen Beasley, University of Texas at Arlington
Capturing the Full Dimension Stereo Realist Cameras in “Them!” and “Two for the Road” - Aaron Rich, New York University
A Matter of Past, Present and Future and 1946: Temporal and Transcultural Historical Significance in “It’s a Wonderful Life” - Tom Donnelly, Leeds Trinity University College
(Tom Donnelly was pleased to see me - he had attended the Breaking Bad panel. Not many people in attendance. Liked Donnelly's presentation, and wondered how Herbert Hoover would have reacted to “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Wondered if Caribbean newspaper sources were adequate to distinguish whether "Britishness" as a selling point was more effective in some places than others in the Caribbean.)

3082 Grateful Dead 10: The Music of the Dead: Songs and Solos, Jams and Performance - Fri, 02/21/2014 - 3:00pm - 4:30pm, Grand Pavilion 1-2. Panel Chair: Shaugn O’Donnell
Towards a Classification System of Jam Space Types in the Music of the Grateful Dead, Furthur, and Phish - Heather Laurel, The City College of New York
(Not sure if this is the presentation I saw. I entered late, and a visual map was on the screen describing a recorded Grateful Dead performance, as the presenter said now and then 'we're here now, at the bass counterpoint,' and the like. The diagram was strange: from the rear of the room it looked like a line drawing of a large mutant porcupine and small furry friends approaching a library card catalog. Since I arrived late, I had trouble following it. Nearby, an academic laid down on the chairs, and slept. Why was I hear? I didn't even really like the Grateful Dead. So, I left early.)

3101 Religion 3: Theology of "Breaking Bad" and Girl Geniuses - Fri, 02/21/2014 - 4:45pm - 6:15pm, Sendero 3. Panel Chair: Warren Kay, Merrimack College
“Breaking Bad” as Theological Text: A Process-Theological Reflection on Theodicy and Anthropodicy - Brent Hege, Butler University
Theology, Morality and Audience Participation in “Breaking Bad” - Sean Sagan, University of California, Riverside
Created Entities, Created Stories: The History and Reality of “Girl Genius’s” Jagermonsters - Cori Knight, University of California, Riverside
(Interesting and thought-provoking! Just before the talks, Bridget Roussell Cowlishaw and Susan Johnston, who had both attended the "Breaking Bad" panel discussion the previous evening, both urged me to write a Guidebook regarding "Breaking Bad" locations. Flattering! I was puzzled about the Hege's concept of 'divine lures' placed in order to lead Walter White away from his life of criminality. I made people laugh when I suggested that maybe God is just a heavenly version of Saul Goodman; a well-connected fellow, who knows a guy, who knows a guy, to drop divine lures now and then. "No, no, no," Hege replied, "it's more personal than that." I didn't know anything about “Girl Genius” or Jagermonsters, so learned a lot. Afterwards, I approached Sean Sagan, and even joined him briefly afterwards at Mahoney's bar, telling him about my idée fixe. He seemed intrigued. Turns out, Sagan is going to be doing his dissertation, in close collaboration with Cori Knight, on evangelical pamphlets (aka tracts, as my brother-in-law corrected me), with a heavy emphasis on Jack T. Chick, who apparently is still alive, in his 90's. Great choice!)

Awards Ceremony.

3106 Special Event: Peter C. Rollins Book Award Keynote Speech and Graduate Student Awards Ceremony - Fri, 02/21/2014 - 6:30pm - 8:00pm, Grand Pavilion 4-6. Panel Chair: Southwest PCA/ACA Executive Team
This signature event includes the presentation of the Rollins Book Awards for 2013 and the Rollins Book Award Keynote Address by Dr. Alisa Perren. She will discuss her most award winning book, Indie, Inc.: Miramax and the Transformation of Hollywood in the 1990s. Dr. Perren is an Associate Professor in the Department of Radio-TV-Film at the University of Texas at Austin. Her scholarly areas of specialty include media industry studies, television studies, and the history of US film/television. Her scholarship has appeared in Film Quarterly, Cinema Journal, the Journal of Film and Video, and the Journal of Popular Film and Television.
We will also announce the winners of our 2014 Graduate Student Awards for the best papers by graduate students on a variety of subjects. We welcome all presenters to attend, congratulating these scholars and recognizing their achievement and scholarly contributions to the study of Popular and American culture.
For the first time in the organization’s history, the Rollins Book Award Committee is proud to announce the recipients of the 2013 Peter C. Rollins Book Award in the following new subject categories:
 Popular Culture: Julie Anne Taddeo and Cynthia J. Miller, Steaming into a Victorian Future: A Steampunk Anthology (Scarecrow Press, 2012)
 Sequential Art/Comics and Animation Studies: Matthew J. Smith and Randy Duncan, Critical Approaches to Comics: Theories and Methods (Routledge, 2011)
Join us in honoring these outstanding individuals and our graduate student award recipients during our gala ceremony on Friday, February 21, 2014.
(I arrived late, but enjoyed the award presentations.)

(Early Saturday morning, I was woken from a sound sleep by partying Germans in hotel room next door. Loud, young, smoking-up-a-storm Germans. Hissed at them and thought about the war. And now, I'm sure I was not welcome at their party. Damned Germans....

So, sleepless, with just two hours of sleep, and quite unexpectedly for a late riser like myself, I was awake and available for attending sessions early on Saturday morning.)

4011 Science Fiction and Fantasy 21: "The Hunger Games" and Gender - Sat, 02/22/2014 - 8:00am - 9:30am, Grand Pavilion 3. Panel Chair: Kathleen Lacey
Hunger, History, and Heroines: Katniss Everdeen and Annie Oakley - Thomas DuBose, Louisiana State University in Shreveport
“As Usual, Ladies First”: Manners, Etiquette Manuals and “The Hunger Games” - Richmond Adams, Eastern Oklahoma State College
Katniss’s Choice: Reflections on Masculinity, Romance, and the Happy Ending - Kathleen Lacey, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
(AWESOME presentation by Thomas DuBose, comparing Katniss Everdeen with Annie Oakley. It works! I asked about Annie Oakley's heritage. Was she Southern or Northern? Turns out her family moved to Oklahoma from Ohio - Northern! This surprised me - I thought her adherence to some expectations regarding women's roles might be antebellum Southern in origin, but I was wrong. Richmond Adams' presentation was also superb: how Effie Trinket carries the ethos of 19th Century Victorian etiquette manuals virtually intact into the dystopian future of "The Hunger Games". I didn't really care much for Lacey's agonizing over Gale vs. Peeta - I'm a guy after all - but she did screen this awesome trailer, for which I'm very grateful:)

4030 Science Fiction and Fantasy 22: "The Hunger Games'" Influences - Sat, 02/22/2014 - 9:45am - 11:15am, Grand Pavilion 3. Panel Chair: Brian Cowlishaw
Bloodsuckers in Dystopia: The Vampire Tradition in “The Hunger Games” - Karen Eisman, Texas State University
Lambs to the Slaughter: The Depiction and Idealization of Innocence in Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games” - Lindsay Brown, University of Winnipeg
(OK talks, but more girl-oriented somehow, and for me less compelling. Wondered about the theme of the power of innocence.)