Friday, August 22, 2014

California's Agony Continues

Now that we're heading towards late summer, I'm beginning to worry about water quality. The dregs are never the best. Here is this week's Drought Monitor:

DMTC's 30th Anniversary Gala Saturday Night!

Tomorrow night! Come see Jen Nachmanoff's updates to DMTC's scrapbooks. She's put an amazing amount of work into this! And Ben Bruening's historical video too!

Link to Davis Enterprise article.

Link to Bev's blog.

Link to DMTC for tickets:
The gala anniversary evening, at only $15 per ticket, will include hors d’oeuvres and a light dinner catered by Symposium Restaurant, followed by an evening of musical theater songs and highlights from dozens of productions that have been offered by DMTC over the years.

“I found people who performed from the beginning of the company,” says Jan, “so it will start off with ‘Oklahoma’ in 1987. Joe Anthony is coming back to perform ‘Oh what a Beautiful Morning.’ I picked selected songs from different decades. Mary Young is going to do ‘Everything’s Coming Up Roses’ from ‘Gypsy.’ Jay Joseph lives in Las Vegas and he’s coming back to sing ‘Buddy’s Blues’ from ‘Follies.’ The pi├Ęce de resistance of the evening is going to be Ben Bruening’s half hour movie tracing our history from the very beginning to now.”

...Statistics show that many community theaters which get off the ground and achieve some sort of success generally begin to peter out around 30. The founding members start to get older and can’t do what they did 30 years before, the younger members don’t have the dedication. Ultimately they call it quits, throw a big party to celebrate a long and productive life.

At 30, the Davis Musical Theater is just hitting its stride. Last year their house was amazingly 91% full and they expect to equal or surpass that this year. The company appears to be healthier than ever with exciting plans for the future.

...“There’s a real sense of family about the group,” says actress Dannette Vasser, who joined in 1997. “There’s not the backstage drama that you sometimes find in other theater groups. It’s a very comfortable place to be. Everybody gets along and a lot of that is due to the atmosphere Jan and Steve foster. They’ve created this to be a family place, where all different members of the community can work together to put on a show.”

“I consider DMTC my musical theater home,” says Mary Young, who has been with the company since she followed choreographer Ron Cisneros to Davis and performed Lady Thiang in the company’s second show, “The King and I.”.

...Young’s daughter Wendy was in the fourth grade when her mother joined the company, and she literally grew up with DMTC. “She was one of the children in 'King and I,'” Young said, “and I remember washing black hair dye out of her blond hair.”

Young has had an opportunity to perform with not only her daughter but also her grandchildren on the DMTC stage. In fact, the upcoming “Shrek” will feature 3 generations of Youngs. “I haven’t been able to perform with all three of my grandchildren,” she says, “But it’s on my bucket list.”

...Jen Nachmanoff is a mom who came to DMTC because her daughter Sophia wanted to perform. ”I’m a ceramic artist and have learned how to paint here at the theater, so I’m now a painter too. I didn’t know how to paint before I came here, but I’ve learned on the job. So I help with the scenic artistry. We find out we can do things we never knew we could do.”

...One thing that separates DMTC from many theater companies is it has been and remains an all-volunteer organization, and everyone works on everything. Actors know when they audition that they will be expected to help build sets or help in some other way.

“Except for the piano player we’re still all volunteer,” said Jan proudly. “We have the best volunteers around. People love it here. They’re here because they want to be here. It’s not a paid job. I always say we must be doing something right.”

...Henderson loves the DMTC family. “I don’t like to be with just old people. I like the diversity of age, I get to know what’s going on in the world. I’m not the retirement home kind of person.”

Hugo Got Pizza!

Making The Mountains Rise

Groundwater withdrawal is causing basins to sink, while at the same time weight loss is making the mountains rise. That steepening will destabilize landscapes when rains return.
We’re talking about a lot of water being lost: about 63 trillion gallons this year (picture a 3.9 inch pool of water over the entire West, or the amount being lost every year from Greenland’s melting ice sheet). Without that weight compressing Earth’s crust, the researchers explain, the ground itself appears to rise up “like an uncoiled spring.”

Pinning Hopes On Marie

It's driving me nuts, how there is this circus of tropical storms (Karina, Lowell, and now Marie) off the southwest coast of the U.S., and virtually no moisture for us (excepting small amounts for AZ & NM from Lowell). All these storms are heading too far west to help.

Nevertheless, as always with weather forecasts, there is a slim reed of hope. There is some indication that Karina's last sacrificial gasp will be to open the door for the remnants of Marie to move across northern California and make it rain around September 1st. So, now pinning hopes on Marie....

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Interesting Albuquerque Signs VII

FRom my February 2014 trip.

YCC Miscellany

Rose Huckins Memorial Sculpture

Crooked Attorney Hal Wright Heading To Jail For Six Months

(This is a repost from a few days ago, updated with a different, more-accurate link.)

The wheels of justice grind slow, but grind fine. I was pleased to hear that my former Crooked Attorney, Hal Wright (disbarred 5/23/14), formerly Board member and bass player at DMTC, and frequent bass player in many local shows, was sentenced in Yolo County Superior Court on Tuesday of this week to six months in jail. The breaches of law for which he was sentenced were only the egregious tip of an iceberg of theft and wrongdoing, waged mostly against volunteers in the Sacramento Musical Theatre community, for most of which (as in my case) he was not charged.

Nevertheless, I received reimbursement on 7/24/14 from the Client Security Fund (CSF), maintained by the California State Bar (plus 10% interest, at the order of California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye), specifically to reimburse people ripped off by crooked lawyers. I appear to have been the first reimbursed: other folks have not received payments yet. Hopefully those will come soon.

There may be other volunteers in the Sacramento Musical Theatre community who have not come forward yet and submitted claims. If so, please do. No reason to remain the victim.

Within the last couple of days a California Bar Journal Discipline Summary was issued for these cases:
California Bar Journal Discipline Summaries

Summaries from the California Bar Journal are based on discipline orders but are not the official records. Not all discipline actions have associated CBJ summaries. Copies of official attorney discipline records are available upon request.

June 23, 2014

Davis attorney disbarred over forgery and multiple thefts of client funds

A Northern California attorney has been stripped of his law license for misconduct that included pretending he was moving forward with a client’s personal injury suit and secretly siphoning his settlement money. HAL ERWIN WRIGHT [#157814], 60, of Davis was disbarred May 23, 2014 and ordered to comply with rule 9.20 of the California Rules of Court and make restitution.

Wright stipulated to misconduct in two client matters, including multiple acts of moral turpitude and failures to perform legal services with competence, promptly notify a client of the receipt of funds, refund unearned fees or render appropriate accounts to a client. He was ordered to pay $58,000 plus interest in restitution.

In 2010, Steve Isaacson suffered injuries in a fall at the Big Idea Theater in Sacramento and asked Wright to represent him in a personal injury suit. Unbeknownst to Isaacson, on April 1, 2011 Wright settled his claim with the theater for a sum of $40,000, far less than the suit was worth. That day, Wright forged Isaacson’s and Isaacson’s wife’s signature on a release and sent it to the Northland Insurance Co., which issued two checks to settle the claim.

Wright forged Isaacson and his wife’s signatures on the checks and deposited them into his client trust account, eventually moving the money to another checking account and spending it. He also told Isaacson he planned to file a suit for medical malpractice to address the care Isaacson received after his fall, but never did. Isaacson gave Wright a check for $390 written to the Sacramento County Superior Court to cover filing fees for the new case, but Wright altered the check to make it payable to him, taking the money for himself.

From the beginning of his representation of Isaacson in September 2010 until January 2013, he lied to his client on numerous occasions, saying he was working on his personal injury lawsuit when, in fact, he had never filed one.

On Oct. 9, 2012, for example, Wright sent Isaacson an email which said, “Hi Steve, still working on getting you some jingle.” In another email in January of that year he wrote, “It sickens me that you are still in pain and I’m trying my best with these ‘suits’ but thinking outside the box/bun is not their forte.”

Meanwhile, Isaacson, in his capacity as a board member and vice president of the Davis Musical Theater Company, hired Wright for another matter – to help obtain money that a patron had left the theater in her will. Once he received a check from the trustee of the estate, Wright paid Isaacson $3,000 of the $15,000 received, pocketing the rest. He never told Isaacson the money was from the trust, saying instead that it was a partial payment from the insurance company on the personal injury matter.

Wright’s other misconduct stemmed from a matter in which a couple hired him to obtain a trademark for their towing company. Steven and Kathleen Ramirez also retained Wright in 2010 to file paperwork for two limited liability corporations and to seek to vacate a judgment against them. The Ramirezes paid Wright $3,000 in advance for his services but he did not do any work on their behalf, lying to them by telling them he had sent in their copyright application when he had not.

In February 2012, Kathleen Ramirez emailed him requesting an accounting and a full refund, but he provided neither. The couple hired a new attorney who demanded the money from Wright. He only made one payment of $500 on June 8, 2012.

Wright had two prior records of discipline, the earliest of which was a 2003 private reproval for failures to perform, refund an unearned fee or maintain disputed funds in trust. On March 28, 2013, the State Bar Court recommended he receive an actual 18-month suspension for misconduct in two client matters including moral turpitude, misrepresenting to clients the status of their legal matters and falsely reporting his Minimum Continuing Legal Education requirements. At the time of his stipulation the case was on appeal.

Steve's 60th Birthday Party

Pleasant party in the Piazza's back yard.

"Tommy" - Missouri Street Theater

On Friday, August 15th, went with JS to see "Tommy" in Fairfield. I was curious to see the show. I was in DMTC's "Tommy" in 2001, choreographed by Pam Kay Lourentzos. I hadn't been in the Fairfield theater since 1993, when I saw Pam Kay Lourentzos' choreography in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner". And I had been a fan of this rock opera since I was a teen, in 1970.

There were some awkwardnesses. It was hard to move the doorway on and off, and the goose-stepping of the Nazi camp guards was over the top for me.

Nevertheless, the rest of the show was quite good. James Nassef was an excellent Tommy. JS remarked that he had an excellent English accent. And despite being suspended in the air and spinning head over heels, he could sustain a note.

Michael Cross was superb as Uncle Ernie.

I liked Staci Arriaga's choreography. It was different than Pam's, but I had trouble remembering exactly how. Perhaps more unison dancing. Trying to watch and register the moves I ended up watching Jenny Plasse a lot, since she is particularly good at robust dancing.

Kate Richardson was good at the Acid Queen, a particularly-hard character to get right. I was also watching several of the ensemble members I didn't know, but who seemed to have particularly good presences on stage.

Barely-Legal Pawn

"Breaking Bad" spoof on the eve of the 2014 Emmy Awards.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


The last several weeks have been fairly traumatic, starting up a new job and all.

I've been seeing strange things on the streets of Yuba City. I had stopped at a fast food restaurant and was about to drive out from the parking lot when I noticed a typical Californian scene: a vaguely homeless-looking man standing on a street corner cadging quarters from motorists who stopped for the light. Suddenly a woman came up to him - a woman with big biceps, looking a bit like Popeye. She jumped up, grabbed the man's head in a hammerlock, and started slugging him in the face. I could see her lecturing him as he struggled like a feeble insect to escape. She kept slugging him in the face. A mother with an eight year old boy walked past and tried to ignore the brawl. Popeye kept slugging the homeless man in the face. After a while, she released the him. Looking a bit stunned, he gathered his things and left.

Beware begging for quarters on busy street corners in Yuba City lest Popeye slug you in the face.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Maybe A Tropical Storm?

Getting excited by some of the weather forecasts over the next week. There is a possibility that a decaying tropical storm (Lowell) might come up to California, spraying rain on places that truly need them. It's still unclear exactly where Lowell might go: 1.) Santa Barbara, 2.) San Diego & LA, or 3.) The Imperial Valley and Arizona. But wherever it might go, it would be welcome.

Tropical Storm Karina is still way out there too, and she needs to decide whether to go to California, or go towards Hawaii instead.