Friday, May 09, 2014

The Great Gatsby - Young and Beautiful Soundtrack Scene

HBO has been running "The Great Gatsby", which garnered all sorts of mixed reviews when it came out last year. I have all sorts of issues with Baz Luhrmann's methods and style, but sometimes he gets it exactly right:

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Reasons Why Phoenix Is So Bad

Cockroaches. They line up in the grass outside the house, waiting for the concrete to cool after the sun goes down so they can enter. You put out lines of boric acid on the sidewalks to slow their advance, and they find the weak points:
Sure, it was 109 degrees the other day, but we have our air conditioning and our TVs and we’ll survive, even if the electric bills average $400 per month. “It’s a dry heat,” we mutter through our blistered, sunburned lips, blandly reminding ourselves of our trademarked postcard platitude.

But then mid July rolls around. The monsoon season is lackluster, as usual, and does nothing to combat our “urban heat island,” which cooks the asphalt like a pierogi, blasting scorching waves back out at night. Now, even after sunset, the heat won’t escape, and suddenly it’s 105 degrees at 1 AM. ... The heat is in your clothes. It’s in your hair. You feel your dreams evaporating as you sleep. Even swimming or air conditioning provides only brief relief from the perpetual sauna before you’re glossed in sweat again. And you have another two months of this to look forward to.

"A Million Ways To Die In The West"

Looks intriguing, but irredeemably sophomoric - Sarah Silverman as a bar girl, for chrissakes. UBBFT's Jackamoe Buzzell is in it too, as the "Other Cowboy". Lots of New Mexico locations:
Filming locations include Jemez Pueblo, Shiprock, Bonanza Creek and Chama. The production will employ more than 1200 New Mexico crew members, 2000 New Mexico background talent and about 20 New Mexico principal actors.

Stealing Grease

In darkened alleyways, a slimy cat-and-mouse game is playing out in Texas and across America.

Men in trucks are fighting over a dirty and sometimes foul-smelling substance that restaurants once paid to get hauled off. Now it can be worth thousands per truckload. Liquid gold, some in the trade call it.

It’s grease — used kitchen cooking oil from deep fryers at KFC and the seasoned saucepans of the fanciest French restaurant.

The increasingly consolidated industry, ranging from mom and pop operations to publicly traded giants, is marked by cutthroat competition to claim restaurant accounts. And all of them have to grab their grease before a ragtag swarm of thieves gets there first.

...“You can pull in and drive off in five minutes. It can be $500 a night, $2,500 a week,” said Carrillo-Miranda, 37, a beefy man in a black T-shirt and jean shorts. “Even if your truck gets impounded, that’s $500. You’re still ahead $2,000 for the week.”

A 15-year veteran of the oil-recycling business, he spends several nights a month on stakeouts behind restaurants that contract with his employer. He has lost count of the locks he’s replaced because of thieves with bolt cutters. His boss, Brian Smith, says a Burleson man was caught using the firefighters’ Jaws of Life to break into tanks.

Licensed collectors have used surveillance cameras, extra-heavy metal lids and off-duty cops to protect their routes while lobbying for better local enforcement and stronger state laws. In a sign of how aggressive the grease war has become, a dozen production companies are looking into creating reality TV episodes.

I Gotta See This Lucha VaVoom

Too much to see and do in LA:It's hard to say which zany circus-like act wins over the audience at Lucha VaVoom.

Perhaps it's the transvestite wrestler who swan-dives from a third-story balcony to pin his opponent to the concrete floor, a move equal parts stunning and stupid. It could be the two female high-wire acrobats who strip nearly naked and spin high above the arena secured only by scarves. Or maybe it's the three-person masked wrestling tag teams each composed of a man, a woman and a dwarf.

Whatever it is, there's little question that the esoteric hybrid of American burlesque and Mexican wrestling is an outrageous hit that could be coming to a theater near you.

Secret CIA Arms Cache Near San Antonio

I wonder if these get shipped to the Mexican cartels?:
From the facility, located somewhere in the United States, the C.I.A. has stockpiled and distributed untraceable weapons linked to preparations for the Bay of Pigs invasion and the arming of rebels and resistance fighters from Angola to Nicaragua to Afghanistan.

...But three years ago, it became public that the C.I.A. had some kind of secret location at Camp Stanley, an Army weapons depot just north of San Antonio and the former Kelly Air Force Base, though its purpose was unclear. And now, a retired C.I.A. analyst, Allen Thomson, has assembled a mosaic of documentation suggesting that it is most likely the home of Midwest Depot.

Dems Spending Money In GOP Races Is Dangerous

It backfired in the 2002 California Gubernatorial race, when Gray Davis intervened to promote the campaign of the weaker campaign of Dick Simon over that of Richard Riordan. The only reason it won't backfire here is that there were two prominent weaker GOP candidates, not just one:
But the warnings didn’t come from any of the seven opponents Tillis will face in Tuesday’s GOP primary, where he has been regularly attacked as not conservative enough. Instead, they were paid for by Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat who will face the eventual GOP nominee in November.

Hagan supports the health-care law but she is taking the unusual step of spending money on advertisements designed to appeal to Republican voters who are skeptical of the measure. The maneuver is apparently intended to undermine enthusiasm in the GOP base for the Republican who is considered her strongest potential challenger in November.

In attacking a possible rival still embroiled in a primary contest, Hagan is embracing at least a variation of a tactic other vulnerable Democratic senators have used successfully in recent elections. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.), who initially faced difficult reelection odds in 2010 and 2012, respectively, found ways to reach into GOP primaries and help weaker candidates emerge as their challengers.

...A vocal critic of the health-care law, Tillis said Hagan is seeking to have an impact on Tuesday’s primary. During the February radio interview that has become the basis for Hagan’s attack ads, Tillis was highly critical of the measure before concluding that it was a “great idea that can’t be paid for” — a quote he says was sarcasm that Hagan took out of context.

“They’ve meddled in the campaign. . . . They’ll be meddling in the campaign all the way to Tuesday. And if we have a runoff, they’ll be meddling again,” Tillis said as he greeted Republicans arriving to vote early at a library in Charlotte on Saturday. “They do not want to see me face off against Kay Hagan in November.”

Desperation 2014

Because the GOP has NOTHING going for it!

Washington Post Article On El Santuario de Chimayo

With its thick adobe walls, two bell towers and six-foot crucifix, the church is considered a prime example of Spanish Colonial architecture. But it’s probably best known for the supposedly curative powers of the “holy dirt” that’s found in its sacristy.

Each year, more than 300,000 Native Americans, Hispanics and people of other cultures visit the church. Some come in faith, some out of curiosity, but most come hoping to find miracle cures for their physical or emotional pains, illnesses or disabilities. It has been reported that during Holy Week, pilgrims walk the 30 miles from Santa Fe to the sanctuary; some even walk from as far as Albuquerque, about 90 miles away.

The church has been compared to Lourdes, and the National Park Service has called it “one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage centers in the United States.” In 1970, it became a National Historic Landmark.

...A door at the left of the nave opens to a small prayer room, with an amazing number of discarded crutches lining the walls. Above them, the walls are covered with photos and letters from people testifying to the healing power of the holy dirt, which is found in an even smaller adjoining room. The size of a walk-in closet, this room houses a tiny well, called el pocito, dug into the ground and holding the fine soil.

I stepped inside to get a glimpse of el pocito. I hadn’t come to get some dirt, but on an impulse, I decided to take some with me in case my achy knee worsened during the last days of our visit to New Mexico. But I worried that if I knelt down to reach the well, I’d have trouble getting back up.

...Back at home, I did some research on the holy dirt to learn more about its properties. The first thing I learned is that el pocito isn’t a bottomless pit. It has to be refilled each day by church workers who collect the dirt from the nearby hillsides in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Visitors haul away an estimated 25 to 30 tons each year.

...My knee, knock wood, hasn’t given me any trouble since my visit.


Big Day Of Giving A Big Success!

Rehearsal for "Les Miserables" at DMTC on May 6, 2014.

Wow! More than 3 million dollars was raised in the Sacramento area! I think one million dollars was the goal.

I was very much surprised that DMTC and California Musical Theatre (CMT) were running neck-and-neck all afternoon. Ultimately, DMTC won. DMTC pulled in $19,815, nearly-double the unrealistically-high goal of $10,000, compared to $17,695 for CMT. $91,776 was raised by Sac Ballet!

Why was this event a success? Why do people like to give as part of campaigns, and not all the time as a matter of habit? (Don't really understand people at all....)

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Neck And Neck!

I'm very much surprised that DMTC and California Musical Theatre (CMT) have been running neck-and-neck all afternoon on the Big Day of Giving. Who will win? It's exciting!

Curtis Mayfield ~ Freddies Dead

TNR Makes Feeble Efforts To Recover Its Integrity

Articles like this help, but they have a long way to go:
When it came time to put White House press secretary Jay Carney in the hot seat, reporters for smaller outlets—whose correspondents are consigned to the back rows of the briefing room—were interested in real, unfolding dramas: Ukraine, the Affordable Care Act, the Snowden disclosures, and so on.

But when Carney moved to the big-name journalists at the front of the room, the only thing anyone seemed to care about was Benghazi.

...And that raises an interesting question, because in covering the story as a political scandal, just as Republicans want them to, the only scalps the media has really collected are their own. ... It suggests that something other (or more) than a zest for producing informative news is driving them.

...Put it all together, and you get this weird phenomenon where less-prominent beat reporters have their eyes on the balls that are actually bouncing in front of them, and the press corps' celebrities are fixated on one that popped a year ago.

These VSPs Make Me Ill

And yet, the New Republic types, and their ilk appeal to our conscience just the same. There just isn't an adequate name for this kind of evil:
But there’s another dimension of our foreign-policy problems that almost everyone but me has been too polite to mention: A small chorus of critics who are themselves damaged - gnarled, frightened, and waving Salome-like veils of erudition and idealism to disguise their obsession with a world they seem driven to remind us is colder, darker, and harder than Obama and feckless liberals ever imagined.

Wieseltier and Brooks are members of this “blame the feckless liberals” chorus, and they put themselves on display last week in a manner so predictable and annoying that it begs a little deconstruction.

Because of Obama, Wieseltier explained then and again last week, we are “abandoning the world to its chaos and its cruelty, and disqualifying ourselves from acting on behalf of the largest and the most liberating ideals.”

What none of the prophets has noticed is that we no longer have an army with a large pool of fit recruits, or an adequate budget, or even a national will, owing partly and inescapably to stances that these blowhards of American Destiny have urged us to take since before 9/11 and owing to the associations and compromises they’ve made.

“The weakness with any democratic foreign policy is the problem of motivation,” Brooks frets. “How do you get the electorate to support the constant burden of defending the liberal system?”

How, indeed, when ”Americans Want to Pull Back From World Stage,” as the Wall Street Journal reports, citing a WSJ/NBC poll showing that 47% of Americans “called for a less-active role in world affairs,… a much larger share than in similar polling in 2001, 1997, and 1995.”

How, indeed, to motivate the electorate when, as the poll also reports, Americans are “disenchanted with a U.S. economic system that many believe is stacked against them.”?

How can Brooks and Wieseltier motivate anyone after spending years serving a movement and powerful interests that can’t reconcile their supposed commitment to republican-ordered liberty with their knee-jerk service to a casino-financed, predatory-marketing juggernaut that’s dissolving republican virtues, morale, and even sovereignty? Nationalist nostalgia and scapegoating are their timeless resorts.

Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Unconstitutional

As if there ever was any question about that:
Citing research on the incidence of in-person voter fraud in American elections, Adelman notes that, in eight years of Wisconsin elections—2004, 2008, 2010, and 2012—researchers could identify only “one case of voter-impersonation fraud.” And in that case, it was a man who “applied for and cast his recently deceased wife’s absentee ballot.” Likewise, after “comparing a database of deceased registered voters to a database of persons who had cast ballots in a recent election,” in Georgia, another researcher found “no evidence of ballots being illegally cast in the name of deceased voters.”

Adelman even notes the sheer difficulty of committing in-person voter fraud, throwing water on the claim that this could ever be common. “To commit voter-impersonation fraud,” he says, “a person would need to know the name of another person who is registered at a particular polling place, know the address of that person, know that the person has not yet voted, and also know that no one at the polls will realize that the impersonator is not the individual being impersonated.” He ends with a note that sounds like sarcasm, “Given that a person would have to be insane to commit voter-impersonation fraud, [the law] cannot be deemed a reasonable response to a potential problem.”

He also makes a key point about public perception: Insofar that anyone believes that in-person voter fraud is a problem, it’s because elected officials—almost all of them Republican—treat it as such, as they push for these laws. Put simply, voter impersonation is a fake problem that doesn’t need a solution.

The Beygency

Thankfully, I have no issues with the Queen.

Honored To Have Helped Tiia Fangirl Quest!

To'hajiilee is a long way from the UK!

Rick Grimes vs Walter White. Epic Rap Battles of History Season 3

Monday, May 05, 2014

Curtis Park May 5th City Council Candidates' Forum

Went to the Candidates' Forum at the Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association (SCNA), to listen to Jay Schenirer and Ali Cooper present their positions.

Despite their differences in temperament (Schenirer thoughtful; Cooper younger and more strident) I was struck by the general agreement between the candidates. Their differences are more a matter of emphasis than anything else. There were two cases, however, where the candidates disagreed:

1.) Schenirer agrees with the general idea of a Strong Mayor system for Sacramento, and Cooper disagrees (I agree with Cooper); and,
2.) Cooper thinks that City Council members should be paid full-time, and Schenirer disagrees (I agree with Schenirer).

So, these differences are hardly decisive. My main concern is the rapidly-rising cost for City utilities, and both candidates seemed to have a fatalistic attitude about that.

So, I'll sleep on it....

The Big Day Of Giving Is May 6th!

Join us on May 6th at DMTC in Davis (607 Pena Dr.)! Donate via the portal.

7:00am-10:00am Free coffee and donuts
12:00pm-1:30pm Entertainment in the lobby
4:30pm-6:30pm Entertainment in the lobby
5:00pm-7:00pm Happy Hour-hors d'oeuvres and drinks (bar will be open)
7:30pm-10:00pm Les Misérables "Sneak Peak" (sit in on rehearsal)
11:00am-11:00pm Theatre tours

I Missed The Kylie Minogue AMA On Reddit


Guess I'll Have To Learn This Book Business

Got a postcard from Guerilla Graphix in Albuquerque, expressing interest! I'll call them tomorrow.

Also shipped an experimental box of ten to Frank Sandoval in Albuquerque for him to sell on his Breaking Bad RV tours.

But the details matter, and I'm a newbie....

Takes Me Right Back To The School Bus In High School

Playing on Cash DuHigg's portable radio.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

After A Chorus Line Weekend At DMTC, Can't Help But Sing To Montage 4!

"A New Brain" - Green Valley Theater Company

What a great show! Amazingly-strong singing!

From Wikipedia:
A New Brain is a musical with music and lyrics by William Finn and book by Finn and James Lapine. Though many of Finn's previous musicals were to some extent autobiographical, A New Brain dealt directly with his own harrowing experience with arteriovenous malformation and the healing power of art.[1] The hero of the musical, Gordo, worries that he may not live to complete his work. Finn wrote many of the songs soon after his release from the hospital. The musical premiered Off-Broadway in 1998 and has been revived in the U.S., England and elsewhere.


Gordo Schwinn, a talented young songwriter, works at his piano to meet a deadline. Gordo is irritated because he must write a song about Spring for a children's television entertainer who dresses as a frog. He takes a break from his writing and meets his agent Rhoda at a restaurant for pasta. During lunch, Gordo clutches his head and falls face first into his meal. Rhoda calls an ambulance, and Gordo is taken to the hospital. He learns that he has an arteriovenous malformation. Gordo needs an operation, and if he doesn't have it, he could die or never regain the use of his faculties.

While in the hospital, Gordo contemplates his situation. His greatest fear is dying with his greatest songs still inside of him; and so from his hospital bed, and while in a coma, and all throughout his ordeal, he begins writing the songs. He also has several hallucinations that involve various people whom he has encountered. In particular, a homeless lady that he met on his way to get pasta with Rhoda continually pops up.

Gordo eventually has the surgery and recovers completely. The creative block he was experiencing before his ordeal lifts, and he gains new insights. His near death experience encourages him to re-evaluate and better appreciate the people and relationships in his life.

Craig Howard takes a bow. Left to right in the arc: Owen Smith, Lizzy Poore, Scott Minor, Nephi Speer, Martha Kight, Eimi Taormina, Joelle Robertson, Mike Yee, Ryan Allen.
I'm not familiar with this musical, but fortunately there is help on YouTube:

"The Emperor's New Clothes" Is Now Open! - DMTC YPT