Thursday, March 31, 2005

OBT: Another talent lost

Mitch Hedberg died today of an apparent overdose . . .

"The depressing thing about tennis is that no matter how much I play, I'll never be as good a a wall. I played a wall once. They're relentless."

"I got my hair highlighted, because I felt some strands were more important that others."

"I'm against picketing, but I don't know how to show it."

"I lke refried beans. I wanna try fried beans, because maybe they're just as good and we're just wasting time."

"I got into an argument with a girlfriend inside of a tent. That's a bad place for an argument, because I tried to walk out and slam the flap. How are you supposed to express your anger in this situation? Zipper it up real quick?"

"I was going to get my teeth whitened, but I said screw that, I'll just get a tan instead."

"I'm sick of following my dreams. I'm just going to ask them where they're going and hook up with them later."

"My friend said to me "You know what I like? Mashed poatoes," I was like, Dude, you gotta give me time to guess. If your ging to quiz me, you must put a pause in there."

"I was at the airport and this guy came up to me and said I saw you on tv last night. He didn't say if I was any good. He just told me where I was. So turned away for a minute and said Hey I saw you at the airport a minute ago. You were good."

"I get the Reese's candy bar, If you read it, there's an apostrophe. The candy bar is his. I didn't know that. Next time your eating a Reese's and some guy named Reese comes up to you and says let me have that. You better give it to him. I'm sorry Reece, I didn't think I would ever run into you."

"I've been working the colleges and I always buy the shirts from the college, because they're quality shirts. But people always get the wrong idea. I'm walking around wearing a Washington U shirt and someone says "Hey Washington U, Did you go there?" Yeah! It was a Wednesday."

OBT: Loss of a champion

Fred Korematsu, U.S. internee from the New York Times

Fred T. Korematsu, who lost a Supreme Court challenge in 1944 to the wartime internment of Japanese-Americans but gained vindication decades later when he was given the Medal of Freedom, died on Wednesday in Larkspur, Calif. Mr. Korematsu, who lived in San Leandro, Calif., was 86.

ATH: U.S. National Team splits

From the U.S. National Team Players Association newsletter:

The US Men's National Team faced two tough opponents this week in World Cup Qualifying. On Saturday, March 27, Mexico defeated the US 2-1 in Estadio Azteca. Eddie Lewis scored our only goal, in the 59th minute, and Kasey Keller made some great saves to keep the US in the game. Rebounding well from defeat, the US dominated Guatemala in Birmingham, Alabama last night. The US won 2-0 with goals from Eddie Johnson in the 11th minute and Steve Ralston in the 68th minute. Johnson extended his goal scoring spree to eight goals in as many games. This win puts the US in second place with six points, just one point behind Hexagonal stage leaders Mexico. Guatemala and Costa Rica are tied with four points in third place. Panama and Trinidad & Tobago round out the bottom of the table with two points and one point, respectively. The next World Cup Qualifier is scheduled for June 4, 2005 against Costa Rica in Salt Lake City. But first, the US will take on England in a friendly on May 28 in Chicago, Illinois.

COM: Continuing reads

Sad day all around . . .

The Pope
Given last rites from CNN
Fever, infection from MSNBC
Cardiac collapse from the New York Times

This may be soon. Worldwide mourning may cleanse the news docket of the ugliness of the last few weeks.

Terri Schiavo
Family forgiveness from CNN
Battle not over from MSNBC

While i have posted vigorously on the silliness of the circus, i have always felt conflicted internally (as i posted in my original notes on this), felt grief for both families, and i welled up at news of her actual death this morning.

I continue to feel anger at the hangers-on, the exploiters, the hypocrites, the professional camera-seekers, the hate-mongers, and the surrogate gods (see Mark. A.R. Kleiman via Kevin Drum).

Nevertheless, there is relief that she is gone, for her sake, and for the family's (every side). I am most particularly grateful for the forgiveness and humility of the Schindler family in the aftermath. Perhaps their priestly "spokesmen" and other bullhorns could learn some grace and class from them.

This is certainly not the end of the acrimony, but . . .

it's time to move on . . .

OBT: Robert Creeley dead

Teacher, beat poet Robert White Creeley . . .

from The Associated Press today:

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Robert White Creeley, a longtime university professor in Buffalo regarded as one of the great American poets of the last half-century, died Wednesday. He was 78.

Creeley, who was associated with the Beat generation, died of pneumonia at a hospital in Odessa, Texas, where he was a writer-in-residence, The Buffalo News reported in Thursday's editions.

Creeley taught English at the State University of New York at Buffalo for 37 years before leaving in 2003 to take a post at Brown University in Rhode Island.

He wrote more than 60 books of poetry and earned many honors, including the Bollingen Prize, of which past winners include e.e. cummings and Robert Frost.

Creeley was named New York state's poet laureate in 1989.

A native of Arlington, Mass., Creeley lost his left eye in a childhood accident. He later attended Harvard University but struggled academically and dropped out. In 1955, he received his degree from Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where he was one of the founders of the Black Mountain school of poetry that promoted an anti-academic writing form.

He befriended several of the best-known Beat writers including Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Creeley also became friends with painter Jackson Pollack, but not until after the pair nearly came to blows in a New York City tavern.

"His place in American poetry is enormous," said Charles Bernstein, a poet and former University of Buffalo colleague now at the University of Pennsylvania.

He will be laid to rest in the Cambridge, Mass. cemetery where fellow poets Oliver Wendell Holmes and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow are buried.

REV: Enron, the movie

The trailer, via Free Press International

COM: My competing selves

Watch this (thanks to skippy the bush kangaroo and protein feed)

There are bots competing for me (okay no one got this reference -- i feel like my soul is being spidered, the information there prioritized, and then news fed back to me [like Amazon's choosing for me things i should read -- which are about 95% things i've already read] the idea is that i am always expanding, always finding new, interesting things to read and experience, and this "choosing" of things based on my surfing history is totally counterproductive for me -- if it benefits anyone at all [and i doubt it does] it is only the very most shallow among us).

Paradigm 1: Says there is now too much information to absorb. That by clicking on a single blog, one of the ones whose information i cherish, i am signing on to an hour's worth of chasing down the track of locomotived information. It is endless, and i can't get enough. I no longer have the time to absorb, digest and comment. I work 12 hours a day at my job, and the rest is spent in pursuit of some kind of knowledge.

Paradigm 2: Blogs may succumb under their own weight.

Paradigm 3: I could be an expert at anything.

Paradigm 4: I do not want anyone choosing for me a) what to read, b) what to think. Recommendations are not what they seem.

Paradigm 5: I am afraid.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

COM: Shut my mouth . . .

Wick Allison, editor of D Magazine, lets fly on Burnt Orange Report. Here's an excerpt.

(Byron LaMasters) . . . Wick Allison has responded by saying that the Park Cities People editorial was correct as he stated via email that "Anglo society is superior to Hispanic society". I would say that such a statement is racially insensitve at best, and is reflective of the attitude held by many north Dallas and Park Cities Republicans that is usually said in private, but usually does not make waves into the mainstream media. Read the full email in the extended entry:

But it IS an unpleasant fact. Anglo society is superior to Hispanic society. Why do you think so many Hispanics want to be here? How many Anglos are fleeing the other direction? . . .

. . . It is a fine and wonderful thing to celebrate the different cultures that form our country, but it would be suicide to acquiesce to them. Hispanics flee their culture for a reason. The point of the editorial was to point out the dangers if we do not spend money now to educate and enculturate the new majority, which by the way increasingly consists of illegal aliens. I think the use of the word "alien" is interesting, because they are alien to our culture and way of thinking. So were the Jews and the Italians and the Irish at one time, but the nation made a whole-hearted effort to "Anglicize" them--that's why public education was started in the first place.
I was once of the opinion (as an idealistic youth) that the world evolving into an all-loving, all-supportive society was merely a matter of awaiting the death of all the old racist fuddy-duddies. I still harbor some of that idealism. Not that someone can't divest me of it on a daily basis.

Being a hermit never looked so good.

Read the rest here.

REV: American Idol vs. Broadway

Without me retracing to the source, i recommend checking out all the commentary and links provided by Alas, a blog to a running battle on differences/similarities in Idol and Broadway style singing.

Those who know me will wonder why i care. You're right; i am neither a fan of Idol nor Broadway, as both involve extremely talented people stuck in the rut of singing things we already know. However, this discussion has a lot to think about for those of my proteges looking to move on (and there are plenty thinking about both Broadway AND Idol).

ITM: The Crucible schedules more shows

Today's West Kerr Current has a nice article about the ITM crew winning district last week. You can read the story here.

Also note that in the runup to area competition on Saturday, April 9, they have scheduled two more public performances: Tuesday, April 5, and Thursday, April 7 at 7:30 p.m. at their new theatre next to the Ingram administrative offices. If you haven't seen them yet, this would be a good time to do so.

Lillian Beaudoin, District One-act Play All-Star Cast,
and Jonah Priour, District 27 One-act Play Best Actor.

ENV: Love darts

Cool article at The Loom about love darts, the mini-harpoon method snails use to jumpstart their sexual quarry. Those of you students and friends who have had some interest in my snail research will remember my own discussions about this, and the hermaphroditic system that mitigates local extinctions. If you scroll down the page to his micrographs you'll see the apparati of two of the species i have worked with, Xerarionta kelletti and Humboldtiana nuevoleonis.

Thanks to Pharyngula for the heads up.

COM: Okay, captions welcomed

Okay, perhaps it's just me, but these guys are meeting to oppose a gay pride festival? Seems a bit caricaturish . . .

Religious leaders met on Wednesday in Jerusalem in a united protest against a gay pride festival planned there in August. From left: Sheik Abed es- Salem Menasra, deputy mufti of Jerusalem; the Rev. Michel Sabbagh, the Latin patriarch; the Rev. Aris Shirvanian, the Armenian patriarch; Rabbi Shlomo Amar, the Sephardic chief rabbi; and Rabbi Yona Metzger, the Ashkenazi chief rabbi. The man at right was not identified.

COM: Conservative judge rebukes Congress

From the New York Times, hard words from an Appeals Circuit judge over the Administration and Legislature's attempts to intervene in the Schiavo case. And not just any judge, but one with a strongly conservative history, and one who was appointed by Bush Senior.

COM: Gutless, greedy . . .

In the pantheon of things that really tick me off is this:

When oil-by-the-barrel prices go up, we see a jump at the pump within 24-48 hours.

When oil prices go down, there is a two-week lag time before the consumer shares.

This can be nothing but profit-grabbing of the most insidious kind.

And that's why the Dow jumps at news of oil prices deflating -- there's is a huge skimming going on.

From CNN.

And other commentary on gas prices at OffTheKuff.

COM: Guns and boys

I guess there's some coolness about all this, but really . . .

Does the world need to find better ways to kill . . .

Automatic pistol

Shooting around corners (which being a gun-owner myself seems dangerous not to make straight-on eye identification with the target -- but i guess if you're in enemy territory you die like an enemy . . . hell, you might die just from the cheesy music)

Thanks to Free Press International for both of these.

COM: The living will, or the living hell . . .

Robert Friedman of the St. Petersburg Times (that's in Florida dudes) lays out the perfect Living Will to prevent a Living Hell.

An excerpt:

* I want my case to be turned into a circus by losers and crackpots from around the country who hope to bring meaning to their empty lives by investing the same transient emotion in me that they once reserved for Laci Peterson, Chandra Levy and that little girl who got stuck in a well.

* I want to be placed in a hospice where protesters can gather to bring further grief and disruption to the lives of dozens of dying patients and families whose stories are sadder than my own.

* I want total strangers - oily politicians, maudlin news anchors, ersatz friars and all other hangers-on - to start calling me "Bobby," as if they had known me since childhood.
Read the rest here.

COM: Pardon me for being cynical . . .

. . . but is this the most important thing our legislature has to deal with?

Bill would block Texas football teams from BCS
Senate bill calls for national championship tournament.

From the Austin American Statesman

Bill filed by the increasing inane Jeff Wentworth, San Antonio

COM: Marriages du jour

While the debate rages about who can marry who, i got to wondering which of these might be the stranger marriage (strangest of all time . . . ?).

Mary Matalin and James Carville?


Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson?

OBT: John Schmidt

Although i was in contact before this happened, i never heard an outcome until i thought to do a search today. John was a good friend, a good birder, and one of the most optimistic people i ever knew. His feeders hosted a pair of Broad-billed Hummingbirds for most of a summer when i was teaching at Sul Ross State. I am sorry that his passing did not get wider notice.

ALPINE — John R. Schmidt, 84, formerly of Alpine, retired Lt. Colonel USAF, died Tuesday, March 30, 2004. Services will be at 10 a.m. today at Redeemer Lutheran Church. Burial will be at Elm Grove Cemetery. Arrangements are by Niday Funeral Home of Houston. He was born in New Holstein, Wis. He was an Army Air Corps veteran of World War II. SURVIVORS: Daughter, Brenda Johnson and Bennetta Schmidt; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

ITM: Riley stable after wreck

Diamond Riley, Ingram athlete, all-around nice guy with the coolest name, and talented actor, was badly injured in a wreck Saturday near George West.

He runs track for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and was with the team as they returned from a meet in Austin.

The van he was in was hit head-on by an apparently intoxicated driver. Several folks in the van were injured when it rolled twice and caught fire. The driver of the truck that struck them was killed.

Riley, 18, is at Christus Spohn Memorial Hospital in Corpus where he's listed in serious bu tstable condition.

As reported in the Kerrville Daily Times print edition today.

Udpate: According to the Wed. West Kerr Current Diamond was rescued by his friends from the van just before it burned. Word in town is that he has a crushed ankle and broken leg, but that he is stable enough to come home tomorrow.

Read the Current story here.

OBT: Johnnie Cochran

It is most unfortunate that Johnnie Cochran will be remembered largely for his defense of O.J. Simpson. That's because of the lingering doubt in many people's minds that Simpson got away with murder, and it was Cochran who got him off. Few will remember his brilliant lawyering in that case.

What Cochran should be remembered for are his honesty, his persistence and his sense of charity. He pursued the case of a wrongfully convicted man for over 20 years, he went head on with bureaucracy in cases of racial-profiling, and was often first to jump on the case of poor defendants who could not afford high-profile counseling.

Were there only more Johnnie Cochran's in this world.

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Famed attorney Johnnie Cochran, perhaps best known for his defense of O.J. Simpson, died Tuesday afternoon after suffering from an inoperable brain tumor, his family said. He was 67.

"Johnnie Cochran was a loving, heartful human being who cared about everybody," said William Epps, pastor of the Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles, which Cochran attended for 18 years.

Cochran died at 12:30 p.m. PT (3:30 p.m. ET) at his home in Los Angeles. His family was by his side and he had been in a hospice, Epps said.

Cochran's family and members of his law firm issued a joint statement saying the "world has lost not only a legendary attorney, but an outstanding humanitarian."

"Johnnie's career will be noted as one marked by celebrity cases and clientele. But he and his family were most proud of the work he did on behalf of those in the community," the statement said.

"As Johnnie always said, 'An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' It was his rallying cry as he worked to right many wrongs, and as he provided a voice to those who needed to be heard. He was deeply committed to helping and inspiring others, especially young people."
Read the rest here at CNN

And a story at The New York Times

From 7 April 2005

The funeral from CNN

COM: About capitalism sorta

Okay, conservatives have to buy out media outlets, and legislate against universities . . .

Because the media is "liberal"


because there is a glut of "liberalism" in higher education.

Perhaps they're confusing "liberal" with "intellectual", "wise" or just plain "smart".

I believe it was Adlai Stevenson who pointed out that government was at its best when it kept the electorate ignorant, and that theocracy worked best in that climate.

The problem of course is that TV, followed by satellite, followed by cable, followed by the internet, has empowered the world with knowledge. Government is not so easy anymore, because people have knowledge (or something that passes for it).

That's also the reason for the rapidly developing divide (as in blogarithmically rapid the last 15 months) between the know-its and the know-littles.

We're probably in for a long, ugly, disheartening, dismantling of the good things about society.

Greed and power are the culprits. And they are the antithesis of informed debate -- whether it be in the media or in the classroom.

"As people do better, they start voting like Republicans...unless they have too much education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be too much of a good thing." -- Karl Rove

Check this stunning blast from Like Kryptonite to Stupid with which i totally agree. I've always said it's easy for me to choose to stand on the left because i can stand up and be smug about being right, always. Republicans are always groveling, apologizing and rationalizing their stands and that says just about everything.

And a lively, if short, discussion at Pharyngula

COM: Additional reads

Some additional reads on news stories of the past couple of weeks:

Red Lake
from CNN: Tribal chairman's son arrested
from The New York Times: Tribe dismayed over arrest

Terri Schiavo
from MSNBC: Original doctor on CT scan
an extensive discussion at Respectful of Otters
from Keith Olbermann

and not of such gravity, but discussed here previously:

from MSNBC: Disney-Miramax divorce

and some new stuff

from CNN: Burial of ashes

a paper that someone will find on the net someday and submit again for class credit . . . more here thanks to A Week of Kindness

kickin' bike video -- i think this kind of thing gives a whole new meaning to public art via Blogs, etc. who also shares this creepy biomimetic robot

REV: Sin City premiere

Sin City premieres in Austin, home of director Robert Rodriguez, on Thursday night at the Paramount. It is apparently sold out. In any case it opens widely on the 1st.

Here's some details: Austin Film Society

And an interview at the Austin American Statesman with Robert Rodriguez

Monday, March 28, 2005

C&G: Filming nearly complete

Today Peter and i nearly completed filming for his documentary Cold & Glass. We did the bulk of the interviews (i probably will come up with a few more questions for him) and have only the tour of the shed remaining. In addition the film will likely include some clips from D&D.

We also filmed some of the D&D nightmare clips today. Things are looking good all the way around.

And by the way, Peter is just an amazing kid, with an incredible story to tell. Glad we're friends. I expect this particular film to be done in the fall. I have to complete Ode to a River first, since it premieres in May, and then will get to editing on C&G.

MSC: Cody Schrank playing this weekend

Cody called to let me know he'll be playing Saturday at Patty's Pub at the Buckhorn Golf Resort on Goat Creek Road in Kerrville. It's a dinner show. He'll get back to me with times, etc.

Check him out, you won't be disappointed.

P.s. if you're reading this late, he also said Adam Carroll is at the Inn Pub tonight.

ENV: Another huge earthquake

At 8.7 a big one, although with only minor tsunamic swells reported. There must have been huge panic though.

Here's a new modeling site.

COM: Courage of something

Okay, it's the courage to go somewhere where scientists have dared not tread before (for fear of losing a grant or two) . . .

Editorial from Scientific American

via Too Much and Too Little and Alas, a blog

COM: Help of the best kind

Okay, i'm dumb, i post my name everywhere on the net. I have two blogs, and about 25 websites, etc. But i'm also a top-tier privacy fighter. I don't believe people should have access to anything about you that you don't want them to have.

So, i'm especially peeved about going to a website and having to "register". While most newspapers (who are the worst about this) claim to just want demographic info, and won't sell your vitals, etc. It just bugs the snot out of me that i even have to give them the info. If it's just demographic, why my name -- i feel like John Proctor in The Crucible here.

Well, they might say, we're providing you a service, a FREE service at that, the least you can do is give us your name . . . .

Well, i think paying for a paper, which is anonymous, is better than the free content. It's just that i have to drive 20 minutes to town to get a paper, and then find me anything from Washingon . . .

And it smacks of Patriot Act fanatics going through library and book store records. It's none of your dang business. Get it. Get out of my life. (And yeah i know about IPs . . . i'm still mad.)

So, rant, rant, rant. It just ticks me off. When i can i try to completely fake an ID and even better, even if i have to give a real name/email address i still completely fake everything in the demographics, just to skew your data -- so there.

And if that doesn't work, i just go elsewhere (and sometimes i don't even bother with the tricks, i just leave). I imagine a lot of other frustrated folks do the same. So, paperpeople, you're losing readers with this stupidity.

Can you tell i'm ticked off. Well, i am.

And that's why i'm beside myself at this gem which is a wonderful piece of ingenuity. It's only downside is that you have to go there everytime you want to bypass. Nevertheless, for important things you can't otherwise read, it's magic. If it's not that important, well paperpeople, you're still losing readers with this stupidity.

So thanks to you, whoever you are, and to Alas, a blog for pointing this out.

ENV: Big bird news

First, a new species of parrot, Aratinga pintoi was recently described from Brazil, though specimens have lain in collections for over a hundred years. It's common name will be Sulphur-breasted Parakeet. And a new species of rail, the Calayan Rail, Gallirallus calayanensis, has been described from the Babuyan Islands. And a new species of Woodcock, the Bukidnon Woodcock, Scolopax bukidnonensis, was described from the Philippines.

Second, one of the world's rarest birds (and one of those rare diamond kind of things -- you see it's picture and you know you want to find it), unseen since 1935, the Pink-headed Duck, Rhodonessa caryophyllacea, may have been observed in Burma in late 2004. An absolutely stunning discovery if correct. The team searching for the bird, and their sponsor are being guarded about the possibility.

And third, live photos have now been taken of one of the world's rarest birds, the Wetar Ground-Dove, Gallicolumba hoedti.

ENV: Signs of spring

A few things have sprung or arrived and are evidence that spring is really here. Purple Martins and Turkey Vultures have been in for weeks, and Barn Swallows arrived shortly thereafter, but the real hordes are just now beginning to show.

Cedar Waxwings are moving through en masse; flocks up to 30 birds.

The first Luna Moth (1) of the year was at Ingram ISD offices on March 22, 2005.

The first local Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (1) showed up March 23, 2005.

And while not a sign of spring, 2 Egyptian Geese showed up on the lawn here at RV on March 26, 2005. This is perhaps a further sign of their impending spread from large numbers of feral birds in Fredericksburg. They're being seen at more and more ranch ponds in the area and i think will become widespread.

Later additions:

Peregrine Falcon (1) at Kerr WMA on March 28, 2005

Two-tailed Swallowtail (1) at RV on March 28, 2005

American Rubyspot (1) at RV on March 30, 2005

Sunday, March 27, 2005

MSC: milkriverblog translations

Having trouble reading this blog? Here's translations for the linguistically advanced.


Clockwork Orange



from psyclops via Major Disaster

C&G: A tidbit of information . . .

. . . relative to the film.

From CNN: Test-tube baby pioneer

TEM: Another subject complete

Whitney Wilson and i completed her interviews today for The Extra Mile. She was elegant and eloquent and just plain a hoot to interview. This looks better all the time.

That makes us one step closer to completing the filming process on this one. Some of the boys still need to do their interviews, and i have one more partial interview with one of the girls and we'll be off to the races.

COM: Peacefile weighs in

Guest post at Peacefile by Susan van Haitsma weighs in on Red Lake and guns.

ATH: Final Four!

Another one seed in, another two seed out.

Here they are:

North Carolina (#1) vs.

Michigan State (#5)

Illinois (#1)vs.

Louisville (#4)

Short drive between any of them really, and to St. Louis.

REV: Sin City on the way!

Speaking of much anticipated movies, there's Sin City! which i've been in love-at-first-sight with since i saw the trailer several months ago. It's due out on April 1 (hope that's no omen), and looks headed for the local theatre, which is always a shock -- good film in Neanderville, TX!

The advance reviews are almost uniformly good, so here's hoping . . .

The advance scoop at Rotten Tomatoes.

Update, Sunday March 27: from MSNBC

EON: Publicity machine warming up

Everything or Nothing, the feature starring Natasha Melnick of Freaks and Geeks,will be showcased on the Austin Music Network's Austin Movie Show this Sunday, March 27. Melnick will make an appearance as will Director, GaryChason, and Writer, Sue Rock. There will also be a first glimpse of the movie's trailer. Shot in Austin last fall, the film is about one young woman's struggle to overcome drugaddiction and a lifestyle of prostitution. It is currently in post-production.

For more info,

From the acting listservs.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

D&D: Another day completed

Whitney Wilson was just magical (and giggly) in today's shooting of her phone conversation with "Colt". We used the interior of Alexa's Boutique in Kerrville (plug, plug -- really nice clothes for stylish young ladies). Many thanks to Lucretia Inscore, Joanne Gibbons, Ella Brown and Richelle Zimmerman for their help in allowing to use the space and patience with us while we were there!

Whitney will be filming some for The Extra Mile tomorrow, and Monday we'll be back at Diogenes with phone scenes for Graham Douglass at Ingram Dam and the argument scenes between Peter Navarra and Graham at the dam.

REV: Dogtown

When the trailer jumped up on the screen (the last one prior to the feature tonight -- a good sign) and The James Gangs' Funk #49 was blasting i knew that whatever film was about to preview was at least about good taste, and about my "era". It was.

And it was also about one of my most anticipated films -- The Lords of Dogtown. Based on the true life story of the Z-Boys, surfer/skater heroes of the down and out Dogtown at Venice Beach, the story itself has been daring someone to take hold and film it.

The legendary documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys notwithstanding, there is promise in the feats of these kids -- like Miracle, a story of triumph, unlike Miracle, about a group that not only conquered but literally changed the world they were a part of.

For one thing, and you know when i have a connection i let it fly, it is directed by Catherine Hardwicke. She's one of three classmates from "those" years who have gone off to make big in Hollywood. The others, Robert Roy Pool and Dan York, went straight at it as producers/writers. Catherine came the long way 'round, working as a production designer (for which she won awards and raves) before coming into her own film by way of her own story -- Thirteen.

That story was powerful enough to have apparently gained her an in as a director and this is her first resultant project. That it was about a group of my heroes (in the youth idolization sense) was gravy. And it's of Catherine's time as well, and judging by the brevity of the trailer she nailed the flavor in much the same way that Dazed & Confused (that other story of my formative years) did. I often wonder if everyone has a film or films that so accurately captures their own time, their own lives?

The trailer is ripe with flash, filled as one would expect of a surf/skate film, with broad vistas, sobering real life stunts, and the promise of youthful wildness and memory. Here's hoping that the film lives up to it. I can't wait.

Due June 3, 2005.

Official Site

Spin article genesis

REV: Guess Who and the state of comedy

Review: Guess Who (original title The Dinner Party), 26 March 2005, 2.5/4.0

All right, there are a lot of things to tackle on this film. Let me start first by saying that i enjoyed it. There were lots of legitimate laughs, some winning screen relationships, and i appreciate the tackling of tough subject matter, which mostly worked.

Many reviewers i suspect are doing one to three things: a) attacking the tired interracial comedy of it all; b) lambasting it as cliche; and/or c) going apoplectic over the acting chops of Ashton Kutcher.

As for tired interracial comedy, here's where it differs: it has taken a classic (if severely dated, not really good enough to be "classic", and now seemingly superficial and undaring) film and updated it by way of current thought and situations. And doing so, for the most part, without kowtowing to the usual stereotypes and "offensive" humor that make thinking folks wince.

Instead it shows (as the original intended to do) that what are the foibles of human nature cross all barriers. This was never so apparent as in the dinner scene in which Kutcher is goaded into telling "black" jokes he has heard. It's the reactions to the various "styles" of jokes that show this range. The humor is not the jokes themselves, but in the way different people view them in context of their own situations. And thus different cohorts of guests find various things funny.

As for cliche, well i think simply the genre "romantic comedy" is cliche. Beyond that, once one has acceded to make a movie of that type, one has to do some original things with it. And i think for the most part the filmmakers succeeded here, with the homage to Guess Who's Coming to Dinner coming only in the premise.

The entirety of the piece will be compared, i'm sure, to the Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers duet. While the first of those succeeded pretty much across the board, and the second also was funny if over the top and episodic, they both depended on sight gags, pratfalls, and neat little twists on the predictable. Guess Who has only the occasional pratfall and sight gag (a couple of them truly bad) but rises higher in the third category in that the twists on the predictable mine below the surface, are more than momentarily funny, and they further the relationships on the screen rather than simply use them as setups.

I can't make enough of the relationships. That between Bernie Mac and his wife, played by Judith Scott, that between Ashton Kutcher and his girlfriend (and the daughter), played by Zoe Saldana, that between Mac and Kutcher, and that between Saldana and her sister, played by Kellee Stewart, all are played with a profound depth of loving (sometimes grudging) respect even when they are at odds with each other.

Okay, so i used the word profound with regards to Ashton Kutcher. That brings up the third critic's object of scorn.

The fact is that Kutcher is no Brando. But this is a comedy. A freakin' romantic comedy. Does a guy have to go from enormous rage to intellectuality to tears in one flick to get any credit?

All right so i couldn't bear to watch any of his juvenile looking for cars things. He turned me off. But with Butterfly Effect (which i stumbled into without realizing who was in it) he gained some small acceptance from me. He can be funny. And best of all, it comes easy to him, he doesn't have to do stupid human tricks like Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey or any of the recent bumbling fools who i think just aren't funny (see below). His comedy is based on delivery, and it's smart, and it is truly funny. And he can act beyond spitting out a line. He is comfortable in this role. And from it i'd expect more out of him than i've seen in Owen Wilson, or Sandler; though Carrey, as obnoxious as he is, does have some minor chops himself.

The Show Details
Biospoilers -- There are only three birds picked up on the soundtrack. Two are nightbirds appropriately shown in night scenes, and the third is a day singer appropriately shown in the day. The first is a Whip-Poor-Will which would be okay for the New Jersey region of the film, and the season is okay for it as well. The cityscape might be iffy but not unheard of. Number two is the ubiquitous night owl of moviedom, a Boreal Owl, radically wrong for location at least at that season. The third is an unidentified passerine, probably a fringillid of some sort, but i can't place it and can't vouch for authenticity. Perhaps some reader can butt in. All three are foleyed in.

Cinematic notes: The filming was good overall. There were a couple of scenes that were blocked more like stagecraft than filmcraft but for most folks it won't seem too out of whack. Oddly the film is shot at what looks like 4:3.

Finally, there were times when i just wanted to scream FOCUS THE CAMERA. How is it, that with professional DPs someone can't either get the camera focused, or recognize that in dailies and reshoot?

Defining moment (Spoiler): Bernie Mac stealing Kutcher's halfness-wholeness explanation to regain his wife, leaving a fumbling Kutcher with nothing to say and setting up the soul-searching breakup.

Overall: A good, if not great film. Strengths -- honest laughs, deeper than usual relationships for a romantic comedy, mostly honest portrayals, the three female leads/support (while the two men get star billing, the women are uniformly excellent). Weaknesses -- inability to deal with adult sexula mores as easily as it dealt with race, inability to avoid stupidity like the song & dance number at the ceremony (choreographed waiters indeed), inability to avoid using fireworks (we don't need raging metaphors), one too many Kutcher as black linguist stunts, and the NASCAR thing just doesn't fly. If you go, don't miss the credits, with a continuing, funny gag.

The Log: From Rotten Tomatoes

The Extras
Let's return briefly to the unfunny comics of late. Starting with Jim Carrey who i simply can't abide. The problem there is he is a better actor than comedian, and as long as he sticks with things like Eternal Sunshine he may do well. His comedy, like Kutcher's, is best when it has some intelligence. Dumb and Dumber? Well, dumb. And not funny. And neither is all the toilet humor. Man in the Moon was promising except it too had to find the lowest common denominator.

The reason this is important now is that there were two trailers before Guess Who for comedies starring Will Ferrell. I don't watch TV so a lot of these people come to me first via movies. Ferrell i first saw and recognized for some humor in the parody clip of George Bush at his ranch. Very funny. Bu his other things that i sought out -- not funny. And so here're back-to-back trailers of him in comedies -- Kicking & Screaming and Bewitched.

Kicking and Screaming piqued my interest because it's about coaching soccer. Ferrell is the coach from hell. Bewitched is not so much a movie take on the old TV show as something of a parody, with the "actors" being a pompous divo and a real witch.

Here's the thing. Trailers are almost always funny, or dramatic, in a way that the movies themselves have trouble living up to. They are 60 second distillations of the best a film has to offer. So when there's NO laughs in a comedy trailer one doesn't have to wonder about paying the admission later. Neither of these were funny. Cross Ferrell off the list.

So, along that line it was interesting to find this article in the New York Times about the "funny cabal" of current comedians, which not only didn't mention Kutcher (i guess he's not in because he's got a hot date), but heaped praise on some of the most unfunny folks out there, including Owen Wilson (who not only was in another unfunny trailer tonight [Wedding Crashers], but whom i can no longer look at after i read a blog this week that called him penisnose).

Go figure.

Hollywood's Funniest Clique from the New York Times

More from the New York Times

Update: The show led the weekend box office, so i guess now it has to be critically savaged. Unfortunate.

ATH: The Dancing's nearly done

Illinois and Louisville, both in overtime. One #1 seed survives.

COM: Living part 4

Just continuing links.

Late Sunday, March 27:

Schindlers resigned MSNBC

Rainier conscious and stable MSNBC

Pope appears for Easter MSNBC

Purpose at Red Lake MSNBC

And just for a taste of cynicism i'd bet the Red Lake Nation is just excited as peaches to have the FBI running around in charge. FBI + Reservation = reservations.

Late Saturday, March 26:

Some acceptance CNN


Teaching us all about dignity CNN
and The Long Road to Healing New York Times

More irony, or is it just bad faith:

Is it possible this (New York Times) had something to do
with this? (Los Angeles Times)

And way too much of nothing way too late (Yahoo News).

Thanks to Crooked Timber and DailyKos for the outrage

On Terri Schiavo

Update: Billmon at Whiskey Bar in an eloquent discourse on exactly what i've been saying all along.



Kevin Drum -- HOLY COW!

More on that from Steve Gilliard
who has blogged extensively on the issue

Lean Left

My previous posts on this are at:

Living part 3
Living part 2

On Jeff Weise

Orcinus -- The Succubus

Orcinus -- The Fruits of Hate

Pandagon -- The Culture of White Life

My previous post on this is at:

Red Lake

COM: Anarchy from within

Some random thoughts and pictures . . .

There's something about the government ignoring the law. As in Jeb sending state police to do a kidnapping (that's too strong a word really but i can't come up with something more neutral that decribes the defiant aspect of it). And if he/they have gone to that extent why back down? (Actually i suspect the courtesy call, one cop to another, was an inside effort avoid a crisis, and a well called one -- but why do we have to leave it to law enforcement to keep chief executives in check?)

The only parallel i can come up with is the national guard aiding integration efforts in the south in the 60s.

Some feeling that any minute, should any of these overt government-rebelling-against-government actions actually succeed, that we'd be looking at an imminent implosion of government as we know it.

In the face of the anarchy of the governor, how could any case against the "trespassers" who stepped across a line to symbolically take water to Schiavo stand up in court.

An inkling that the gay marriage tiff was the instigating factor in all this, and that in the end analysis it may have been productive.

And anyone else wonder about the message sent by Terri Schiavo's condition being brought about by bulimia, itself self-starvation.

There is too much irony here to assimilate.

Speaking of which, Hesiod at American Street notes that in arguments before Judge Greer lawyers argued that stem cell research might eventually lead to a cure for Schiavo. (head scratch, dull questioning sigh, begins to sink in . . .).

COM: On the pope

One can probably dig around and find my leanings on this site. Nevertheless, and despite the conundra involved, it will be a very sad day in my life when Pope John Paul II passes on. And i want to say this before that time comes -- In a world full of agendas, of leaders with their own personal demons flailing about beneath masks of the "culture of life", there is only one person who actually embodies a purity of heart, of believing in every life-affirming statement and stand he makes. And that's this pope. I have full and absolute respect for him as having objected to war, objected to state-administered death, having stood up for those who could not speak and, perhaps most of all, for having made honest attempt after attempt to apologize for and mitigate the sins of the church over the centuries. He is, in my mind, truly a living symbol of peace. Here's hoping there is someone who can come close to filling his shoes.

Not that i want to participate in another deathwatch, but since he has spoken today about his time being near i am going to begin posting links here to articles that focus on his legacy.


The New York Times

From March 27, 2005
Pope appears for Easter from MSNBC

From March 31, 2005
Given last rites from CNN

Fever, infection from MSNBC

This may be soon. Worldwide mourning may cleanse the news docket of the ugliness of the last few weeks.

Cardiac collapse from the New York Times

COM: Words of . . . experience

Wil Wheaton, whose role in Stand By Me is one of my favorite kid parts, talks about being part of an ensemble. I hope all you "kids" acting for me take some time to read this.

Dimeatap and Spinal Tap

COM: Best of the best

The more i read of Orcinus (D. Neiwert) the more i am impressed by the possibilities of what blogging can be. What we have here is real journalism, in all its various guises. That it lacks a version on newsprint, midline staples, or a governing board does nothing to diminish the quality of writing or the quality of reporting. And there is a heart there as well as a mind -- which is to say wisdom. For those interested in politics, especially as regards civil rights, please give this a check. It has become one of only three or four blogs that i must check daily. And i am never disappointed.

COM: On educational poetry

Lengthy review from the New York Times on Camille Paglia's attempt to dissemble poetry for students.

MSC: Apotheosis Tivyite

Another local voice appears headed for recognition.

Dustin Lenard, a superbly talented singer hailing from Tivy High School, is now a part of Apotheosis, an all-male a cappella group out of Texas A&M.

I only know this because of a poster hanging at Hastings advertising a coming show in Kerrville. I forgot the details but will get them and post them here.

The subliminally deifying aspirations of the group's name made me think it was a Christian-oriented group. It may be, but their website seems to indicate a broader approach:

Since 1997, the Texas A&M campus has been exposed to a different kind of music through the vocal talents of the all-male group Apotheosis. With as few as 7 guys and as many as 12, this group performs contemporary a cappella music across the campus, state, and even across the nation. Their unique style of unaccompanied vocal arrangements from today's popular music scene including Pearl Jam, Counting Crows, Peter Gabriel and even Weezer, is always performed with energy, artistry and emotion and has thrilled audiences wherever Apotheosis performs.


This is Dustin's second semester with Apotheosis, and he currently resides as the Business Manager for the group. This summer he is working with the ministry team at the Kerrville Church of Christ. Amen.

Regardless, i imagine it will be a fun listen. More details to follow.

Update: The Tivy Aggie Mom's are sponsoring the show at 7:00 p.m. April 2 at Tivy High School.

Friday, March 25, 2005

COM: On the misogyny of blogging

I don't want to sound really stupid here, but . . .

Lots of talk on blogs on the dominance of "whales" (white males) in the blogosphere. Lots of fuming over the lack of ascendancy (looks real) and sheer numerical subservience (is real, but why?) of female (and minority) bloggers.

Much is made of cross-linking, cliquishness and blatant misogyny.

I only see elements of this from that hate-filled certain shrill faction that is its own worst enemy. And i avoid them anyway.

The problem with me, as i see it, is that i blogroll everything i like. And for the most part (i tested this by canvassing my own list) i don't have any clue what the sex is of any given blogger beyond those who blast it by name, like Kevin Drum, and certain others who sign their names (and then i'm possibly making assumptions i shouldn't make). Most blogger pseudonyms seem mighty ambiguous, or sexless, to me.

So, beyond my head-scratching over sheer numbers (this does seem to be wide-open to anyone, so there seems to be no barrier), i don't see where i personally can do any more than to be blind to who i link to.

I would be interested in someone else independently analyzing my blogroll for biases (besides the self-admitted obvious ones -- liberal, pro-rights, cinematic, musical, scientific -- and i hope those aren't Harvardy topics that by themselves are "inherently" biased, they're just what i like . . .).

COM: Sontag as metaphor

Well, i stole that of course. From Sontag herself Illness as Metaphor. Sontag, who died at Christmas, was a person whose passing i felt, but felt no particular need to celebrate obit-style. At least at the time. For one thing, she simply annoyed me. For all the weight of her reputation as one of the great minds of our time, i could never read past her outright pretentiousness and condescension -- two things that render writing superfluous in my mind. Why bother to enspell someone with your story if you begin by letting us know how great your story is? Turned me off quite frankly.

So, in fear of exposing what i thought might be a purely misogynist reaction on my part, i simply chose not to do any remembrance of her -- that would be for others.

But two things have happened in the meantime. First, outside of the major obits printed in the dailies, there has not been much of a heralding of her life or work. And that has struck me as odd.

Secondly, there was this piece, which i read today, courtesy of a tip on Slacker Friday, the weekly roundup of Eric Alterman at Altercation (MSNBC). I now figure my impressions (for i didn't know her) were not unreasonable, so i decided to post.

By Terry Castle at London Review of Books

But I’ve had the feeling the real reckoning has yet to begin. The reaction, to my mind, has been a bit perfunctory and stilted. A good part of her characteristic ‘effect’ – what one might call her novelistic charm – has not yet been put into words. Among other things, Sontag was a great comic character: Dickens or Flaubert or James would have had a field day with her. The carefully cultivated moral seriousness – strenuousness might be a better word – co-existed with a fantastical, Mrs Jellyby-like absurdity. Sontag’s complicated and charismatic sexuality was part of this comic side of her life. The high-mindedness, the high-handedness, commingled with a love of gossip, drollery and seductive acting out – and, when she was in a benign and unthreatened mood, a fair amount of ironic self-knowledge.

Read the rest here.

ATH: Tivy girls bow out

The Tivy girls soccer team had their season ended tonight by a very fast and deliberate New Braunfels squad. The final score was 5-1, which tells the story in an odd way.

First, the Tivy girls fairly dominated the first half and the first 15 minutes of the second half. Only in the last 25 minutes did they appear worn and unable to keep up the pace. However, all six goals were scored in that first three-quarters.

I suspect we're looking at some NB class as the reason the score did not grow.

I missed the first goal so can't speak for it except that it occurred very early in the game. The goal that made it 2-0 NB was a brilliant breakaway with a ball perfectly chipped over the top of an onrushing keeper. Tivy shortly ran it to 2-1 with a precisely returned rebound off a corner kick.

The third NB goal was on another breakaway and was slammed from the right side. That made three straight beautiful goals.

The fourth NB goal, just before halftime, resulted from a defensive error followed by a reluctance to charge by the keeper. It was simply an easy and not particularly pretty goal.

The only goal of the second half came off a penalty kick, a deserved one, from a takeout in the box.

Beyond that Tivy was a dominant offensive force, controlling their end of the field much of the game, but generally unable to unleash any shots. NB depended mostly on retaining defensive and midfield control and taking advantage of a crowded defensive third to break out. Their speed was the major deciding factor.

The Tivy girls, though knocked out in the first round this year, still maintained a perfect eight-year record of making the playoffs. That's every year the girls program has existed. If you count that the girls were playing on the boys' team until then, then there is a nine-year playoff stretch for them.

Coach Shannon Sletten is the guiding force behind this tremendous run and she is to be abundantly celebrated for what she has done with the program. She is the only coach in the program's history, is the longest tenured soccer coach at any level in Kerrville, and took in her 100th win this past week. Congrats to her and all the girls.

Update: from the Kerrville Daily Times

MSC: Church gets a couple of nods

Our presumed neighbor Thomas Haden Church is big in the news the last couple of days. First, he was named as the new villain character in the upcoming Spiderman 3.

Then he made the cover of Texas Monthly which i ran across today. Inside is a lengthy interview with him. A quite fascinating interview in fact, showing him to be about as down to earth as an actor might be.

In the interview he said his ranch is between Kerrville and Uvalde, and denies it's Ingram. Funny the way the question and answer were worded. In any case, he's around here somewhere.

ATH: Dancin' with the Big Dogs

#1 seed Duke is GONE!

#6 seed Wisconsin is IN.

#2 Kentucky hanging in there . . .

#1 North Carolina in trouble . . .


North Carolina ekes out a 1 point win over Villanova.

Kentucky hangs on for 10 point win over Utah.

The final eight for 2005 is North Carolina/Kentucky/Louisville/Illinois/Arizona/West Virginia/Wisconsin/Michigan State -- prettty eastern/central in flavor.

ENV: Philippine Tarsier

Here's looking at ya bushbaby . . .

D&D: Continuing schedule

Tentative updated schedule:
Saturday, March 26, 4:00 p.m. for 5:00 p.m. shoot, Katy's call in the store at Alexa's Boutique, Kerrville -- Whitney W., Lauren H., Lauren B., crew;

Sunday, March 27, 1:00 p.m., Peter and Connor skating, private half-pipe, Hunt -- Peter N., Connor O'Q., Shannon B., crew;

Monday, March 28, 1:00 p.m. Colt's call at the dam, argument at the dam, plus scenics -- Graham D., Peter N., crew; 1:00 p.m., Peter N. for Cold & Glass filming;

Dates still being scheduled:
6:00 p.m. Dusty's conversation (reshoot of scene 33), at Rio Vista -- Aaron H.;

8:00 p.m. at The Point dancing -- Lillian B., Whitney W., Graham D., Peter N.;

2:00 p.m. 12yos at playground and dam, meet at Guadalupe Park, by UGRA Dam, Kerrville -- Taylor F., Nolan B., Connor B., Wyndham B., Jacob L.; 8yos at playground and dam -- Faith D., Martha D., Derek B., Chris B., crew;

5:30 p.m. for 6:00 p.m. shoot, Cop scene at Kerrville Police Department -- Peter N., Leaman V., Chris V., crew;

6:00 p.m. Melissa's call from Colt, at an unknown house -- Lillian B.;

All Day - Four scenes in a high school hallway -- Peter N., Graham D., Lauren B., all support and extras, Holly R., Roy B., Marie C.Various scenics, one-shots, and nightmare sequences

COM: Living part 3

At New Donkey is a nice commentary on life distinctions in the Schiavo case.

I want to reiterate here (and as i've done on several other blogs): this is a politico-religious stand being made by a group that seems to have found new boldness in the Bush "mandate" -- a new light at the end of their theocratical aspirations tunnel.

While it's being couched in "right-to-life" terms, they only have standing at all because of the lack of a living will, and the subsequent use of the courts to impart a decision about whether or not life support should be withdrawn in an instance where there is familial disagreement.

If the issue really IS about the right to life: a) would those same folks be raising this stink in this very case IF there was a living will?; and if so, B) why aren't they doing so in the many other cases around the nation where the same issue is being played out?

Various sites report that either/both 35,000 other cases in the U.S. fall under this same general cloud, and/or up to 4,000 cases at any one time are undergoing routine disconnection from life support. However you parse those numbers they are significant, and yet where are the angry people if indeed this is about the "right to life".

By logic of the going argument, of which no one else seems to have any problem with the contradiction, IF there is a living will somehow the issue of the "cruelty/barbarism" of the starvation/dehydration routine seems to simply disappear.

At least the anti-abortion right-to-lifers picket any number of clinics and individuals they can find. How many hospices are being picketed?

Granted that many of these cases involve disconnecting a respirator which results in fairly rapid death, still a number of others do not. And in Terri Schiavo's case would not. So, faction, if there WAS a living will would you be so incensed? And if so, you better gear up for the many others out there once Schiavo passes on.

You know the answer as well as i do. And because of that, there is no conclusion other than this is about making a shrill public exhibition.

This is about a Bush brother's ability to make headlines, about TV cameras, and about political aspirations -- it is not and never was about any "right to life".

Having said that, i want to make clear that i know full well that there are indeed many people, of good heart and faith, for whom this really is a right to life issue. Nevertheless, have those same people been out protesting elsewhere or did they just jump on this bandwagon.

If you'll read my other short posts on this subject you'll note that i am personally unsettled by this case. However, i am not unsettled about the political hay being made, and the great damage being done to two families, and the quality of debate about bioethics in this country, not to mention the continued destruction of the constitution.

Commentary from Bull Moose and Maureen Dowd

Thanks to Wild Sects

Then, check this:

Sadly, even now we fail to see what lead us to this point. Many well-meaning people mistakenly believe this issue is about the “right-to-die.” But at its core, the Schiavo case is not about bioethics, living wills, or medial choices.


Well, this comment at Evangelical Outpost(!) says it's about bigamy and the sanctity of marriage . . . hmmm.

COM: Whiskey Bar serving

Welcome back in full, Billmon at Whiskey Bar!

MSC: SXSW Wrapup

Good look at South By Southwest from Splendid via tim O thompson.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

COM: Connections

Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast catches up with our bud Greg Moses here. Greg's the purveyor of the Texas Civil Rights Review, Peacefile and NonViolenceUSA which we regularly feature here. In my mind there are few more gifted voices for rights than Greg.

COM: The numbers of war

Check out The Lancet here.

Thanks to Eric Alterman and Altercation at MSNBC.

COM: Culture of Life

Matt Davies, The Journal News

via Darryl Cagle's Professional Cartoonists site

ATH: U.S. Soccer begins World Cup

The U.S. Soccer team begins World Cup qualifying with a big match against always tough Mexico on Sunday.

Here's a note from the U.S. Soccer Players Association:

On March 19, 2005, the US took on Honduras in an international friendly in Albuquerque, New Mexico in a final tune-up before traveling to Mexico City. Eddie Johnson notched his seventh goal in six games for the 1-0 win. That result extends the US unbeaten streak to 16 games, dating back to the 1-0 loss to Holland on February 18, 2004. The US has not lost a CONCACAF match-up in 31 games!

ITM: Gary Givens blog

Gary Givens, a member of the Ingram Tom Moore High School theatre troupe whose version of The Crucible won district one-act play competition last night, has started his own blog. Check it out here:

Gary plays the part of Judge Hathorne, and got raves from the judge for his portrayal.

ATH: The Big 'Ol Dance

#1 seed Washington gone.

#1 seed Illinois still breathing.

#6 seed Texas Tech hanging in there with #7 seed West Virginia.

#2 seed Oklahoma State struggling with #3 seed Arizona.

Updates soon.

Tech is OUT -- West Virginia by 5.

Oklahoma State is OUT -- Arizona by 1.

A&M is out of the NIT as well after a cold shooting night.

MSC: Just don't call me to help

Nerdier than 95% of all people.

ITM: Ingram wins OAP; Priour Best Actor

All right, i'm trying to compose this post in the wee morning after our return, and will add much more later (update: am keeping this near the top though it was originally posted early a.m. Thursday, the 23rd; updates posted as late as Friday the 25th). But for now, the Ingram Tom Moore High School One-Act Play of The Crucible advances to Area competition after the kids were smokin' flawless in their presentation tonight. Usual district winner, and several time state champion, Wimberley also advanced with their presentation of The Beggar's Opera, and Bandera finished third and will be the alternate with their rendition of Much Ado About Nothing. Jonah Priour was named Best Actor, Lillian Beaudoin was named to the All-Star cast, Wes Isenhower was named All-Star crew, and Cadi Hawkins was named Honorable Mention cast. A young lady who played Hester in Llano's By the Bog of Cats was named Best Actress.

Congrats to Holly, Roy and Marie and all the wonderful kids (& their parents) for a superbly done work of art.

Area competition is at Wimberley, Saturday, April 9th.

The rest of the story:

Well, you won't get anyone officially involved in all this to say it out loud, but i believe that ITM won the contest outright. And i have a list of evidence for that, but i'll spare you.

Here's why it's important though:

The word's been for several years that Wimberley has such a strong program (and it does) that it is pretty much guaranteed a spot. That has been twisted all too often to suggest some sort of graft or dishonesty on the part of a number of judges. I don't, and never did, buy that.

The fact is, they are just very good. Extremely well directed, with a slew of dedicated thespians, and some credit has to be given to the money coming into their program. They also have a revolving repertoire of pieces that are superbly suited to the style and whims of the directors.

And so, on an annual basis, in this district they are expected to move on to Area competition. And in my time of watching this district that is exactly what they have done. I don't know how many times they've won state, but it must be several.

The immediate result is that everyone else in district is essentially fighting for that second spot. Which is to say for second place, even though scores as such are not released and until the state finals there is no "first".

Why it makes a difference here, for discussion's sake, is that i believe ITM outright won district, and it was Wimberley that was battling the other schools for that second spot. And seeing as how the judge liked Bandera's Much Ado it may have been a squeaky win for Wimberley.

In any case, they were not invulnerable. And now everyone knows.

That aside, let me talk briefly about the various entries, starting with ITM's.

The Crucible was dang near flawless. In rehearsal over the past few weeks, the crew had come in anywhere from 20 to 40 seconds under the 40 minute limit and it's been a source of much nervousness trying to get the piece in under that time (which otherwise could result in disqualification). After a long, apparently-good-times-had-by-all, spring break, the group came back and could not get under 40, sometimes coming in two or three minutes LONG.

So nerves shot up. But in performance, aided by impeccable cues and reactions and tremendous set changes the play came in at 37 plus, two minutes faster than ever.

Jonah Priour, usually just dynamite onstage, somehow found a whole other level for his John Proctor and was simply remarkable. Lillian Beaudoin hit every note, low and high, for her Abigail. Cadi Hawkins won a lot of hearts, most notably the judges.

Aaron Hutto, Whitney Wilson, John Ferguson, Gary Givens, Patrick Wade, Mindy Cox, Meggie Nidever, Allyson Widener, Jeff Widener, Anthony Goodman, Suzanne Attridge, Mikaela Lewis, everyone was just dead on. And the big win was proof. It could not have happened to a nicer, more deserving crew.

Among those deserving credit who often don't get it are the behind the scenes crew of Kevin Chipman, Garrett Brown, Dustin Ficker and award-winning stage manager Wes Isenhower. Congrats.

Wimberley's production was one of their cookie-cutter period pieces -- The Beggar's Opera. They do these shows as non-stop masses of whirling dervishry. The dialogue is at lightning speed, pumped up and blasted out such that you never have time to catch your breath or gather your wits. They are delightful to watch, and exhausting (as the judge said) at the same time. I can't imagine sitting through a full production at this speed. In any case, they certainly do have something special going for them. Only at this meet high drama trumped tornadic comedy.

Bandera's Much Ado About Nothing was also a delight to watch. It was particularly fun for me to see as i'd been in a production of this very play with their director Roslyn Houghton at The Point Theatre, and i recognized much in the way of set, costumes and delivery. And yet she managed to raise it another level of farce. She also managed to make it understandable after the heavy cut needed to get it down to 40 minutes, and Much Ado is already a complex work. They'll be going as alternates to the next level.

Llano, with By the Bog of Cats, was actually my pick for alternate. This was a piece i'd never seen before and i was headily impressed both by the play and by the rendition Llano produced. Most impressive to me was the cast carrying a high Irish brogue and carrying it well throughout. The centerpiece of the play is Hester Swane, a semi-crazy woman of the bog, and she was adroitly handled by Chelsea Platt who won Best Actress for the portrayal. She was delightful. The rest of the cast was also very strong. I figured the dramatic strength, plus the overall strength of the cast would be enough for them to earn that third spot. But the judge (by way of his critique) knew the play, and hit them pretty hard for some things that those of us unfamiliar with the piece would not have known -- and that i believe was the difference. No matter, Bandera was an excellent choice, and if needed they'll make an excellent sub.

The other two pieces had their moments but suffered in different ways. Brady's The Bad Seed was a technical disaster -- someone seems to have missed out on some basics of stagecraft. However, there was no lack of either intensity or enthusiasm on the part of the kids. The Rhoda Penmark character was especially strong as the murderous bad seed of the title. Liberty Hill came up with Rivers and Ravines, an interesting static piece, lacking all but a modicum of props and no set pieces. Although it could be argued that it required a steady, droll delivery, having it come from all 15 characters made for a difficult 40 minutes of listening. Although by listening, it was easy to sink into the story and be fully enveloped by it the end. Where Brady lacked, it was technically near perfect, just boring.

Some pictures from the Llano Festival last week:

The whole crew!

Meggie Nidever still using the morning the correct way . . .

Aaron Hutto and Whitney Wilson just past making the
most of the morning . . .

Jonah Priour (left), District 27 Best Actor! with Anthony Goodman.

Lillian Beaudoin, District 27 All-Star Cast!

COM: The most misspelled Internet word

. . . is lightning.

And i'm tired of it -- on both CNN and MSNBC in the last few days. Professionals. Screwing this up. I'm tired of it.

Lightening is a good word, but it's different than lightning. And you confuse them.

Stop. You're hurting us.

COM: Reverse art thief

This is choice:

Artist smuggles art into museums.

Thanks to CNN

The Wooster Collective


COM: Dan Blocker

I went to Sul Ross for a while, watching summer musicals in the fantastic little outdoor Kokernot Theatre. The going bit of important SRSU trivia was that Dan Blocker, Bonanza's Hoss Cartwright had graduated from there. His nephews had been campers of mine at camp and so i knew the family.

Anyway, reminded of all that because of an interesting little ditty on the Dan Blocker museum in today's Austin Chronicle here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

REV: EW's list of the 20 best MPFC bits

Entertainment Weekly, honoring the new Broadway show Spamalot, produced a list of their 20 favorite Monty Python skits.

Check 'em out here

COM: Whoa, a CCA reversal?

Rather stunning that the uber-conservative Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (which has, by the way, a couple of really fine judges; but is dominated by some arch-factionites) remanded a death penalty case on technical terms. Maybe we truly are seeing a shift in attitudes. Maybe this IS "culture of life" week on top of disaster week.

COM: Living part 2

Predated to move to top of list until this resolves itself.

Hmm . . . aren't Congress and that certain shrill faction who are their own worst enemy acting as activist judges themselves here (and without even being judges?)

From Tues, March 22: The case went to a federal judge and he said no too. What now? Appeals?

Update: Yep, 11th Circuit in Atlanta.

Update 2: Another important read from the Columbia Journalism Review.

And another from Salon (advertising wait involved).

And from Dahlia Lithwick on Jurisprudence at

Update Wed, March 23rd: 11th Circuit rejects 2-1.

Appeal to 11th Circuit full panel rejects 10-2.

Florida Court rejects renewed attempt by Jeb Bush.

Supreme Court next to rule. What's left after that?

Stories from:


And background from The New England Journal of Medicine:

by Timothy E Quill

by George J. Annas

And commentary from Molly Ivins and Pandagon