Thursday, January 31, 2008

NAT: Koasati Language Archiving

National Anthropological Archives and the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana Collaborate on Language Digitization Project

The National Anthropological Archives and the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana are collaborating on a project to digitize more than 11,000 pages of Koasati (the Coushatta tribal language) manuscripts in the archives. The project is partially supported by a Documenting Endangered Languages grant awarded to the Coushattas by the National Science Foundation in 2007. Digital surrogates of the collection will be available through SIRIS, the Smithsonian's online catalog, as well as in the Coushatta Heritage Center that the Tribal Council is building in Allen Parish, Louisiana, to preserve its heritage and revitalize its language.

"The Heritage Center will use state-of-the-art technology to preserve the Coushatta Tribe's native language for future generations," said Dr. Linda Langley, a research professor in anthropology at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA. Working with Dr. Langley on the Koasati language project is her husband, Bertney Langley, a native Koasati speaker, and Dr. Jay Precht, a post-doctoral research associate who recently received his Ph.D. in history from Arizona State University after completing his dissertation on the 20th century history of the Coushatta Tribe.

Some of the materials being developed are books, tapes, computer games and a "talking" audio-dictionary. The Tribe is also locating and digitizing photographs, maps, explorers’ accounts, correspondence and other records related to their history and culture. Utilizing these materials, Dr. Langley said the Tribe will be able to develop Koasati history and language booklets, which can be used in local schools, as well as in the community and online, to teach the history and culture of the tribe. She said these efforts would provide a model for other communities initiating similar projects.

"Language is power," said Dr. Langley. "A culture must have language to survive.” Kevin Sickey, the Tribal Chairman, put it another way: "We need to draw strength from our past, while doing everything we can to preserve our future. Our partnership with the National Anthropological Archives provides us with an important opportunity for achieving our overall project goals.” This concept is echoed in the slogan of the Koasati Language Committee, which states: “Skon-na-ka-than-nan Koasati: Koasati Na-thi-hil-kah We Must Not Lose Our Koasati Language: We Must All Speak Koasati.”

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

ENV: Circus of hte Spineless #29 Submission time . . .

Time to get your Circus of the Spineless submissions in. Issue #29 is being hosted by Andrea’s Buzzing About:

send your submissions by January 31, 2008 to araychandler(at)

Future Circuses will be at:

#30 will be at A D.C. Birding Blog

send your submissions by February 27, 2008 to empidonax(at)

#31 will be at Archaea to Zeaxanthol

send your submissions by March 30, 2008 to jim.lemire(at)

And of course, we’re looking for hosts for April and beyond!

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

COM: The Arcadia project evolving . . . again

Study to be done on Arcadia costs
By Jeff Wright, The Daily Times, Published January 24, 2008

The Kerrville City Council on Tuesday authorized the city to spend as much as $15,000 on a feasibility study to analyze the cost of operating the Arcadia Theatre as an open-air facility, as proposed by the Cailloux Foundation.

The decision was made following a report from city manager Paul Hofmann, whom council had directed to meet with foundation representatives about restoring the historic theater at no cost to the city.

Hofmann said the foundation is “at least a year away” from having enough funds to restore the theater. The foundation suggested the city use the $286,000 in its Arcadia Theater account (hotel/motel funds) to begin the first phase of the renovation — the theater’s facade.

Councilman Scott Gross said the facade work would not be “a piece of cake” and that “double” the funds in the theater account might be needed to complete the work.

Councilman Todd Bock suggested the feasibility study, saying the city needs to know the operational cost of a remodeled, open-air theater.

The council agreed to hire VenuTech to conduct the study. The city in 2006 hired the company to produce a business plan to develop the Arcadia Theater. But it focused on a four-walled building.

Hofmann said the amphitheater concept “warrants analysis.”

The council wants a quick turn-around time on the study. “As soon as possible,” mayor Gene Smith said.

He reiterated his displeasure with the “open-air” concept, saying it’s “stupid” because it compromises the theater’s acoustics.

“I hate to go against the Cailloux, but the suggestion is not feasible,” said the mayor.

He was against any theater account money going toward the amphitheater.

Gross, who initiated the partnership with the foundation, said, “those people are not going to put up junk. I think we’re in great hands.”

Hofmann said the foundation was “very receptive” to the idea of renovating the theater. But it thought the operator of the facility shouldn’t be limited to a non-profit organization, as the council had suggested.

Gross said he was “OK” with the notion of a for-profit or non-profit operating group.

Kerrville resident Carolyn Lipscomb pointed out that droppings from blackbirds in the area of the Arcadia Theatre could be a problem if the open-air theater isn’t “screened.” She said the feasibility study should examine “the cost of cleaning.”

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ENV: I and the Bird #67

From Mike Bergin at 10,000 Birds

January has the potential to be a particularly special month for birders. Not only do the holidays often bring new books and toys to play with, but those of us who keep year lists acquire a gift more precious even than Swarovski optics (well, maybe not THAT precious!) Once the previous year's tally is archived and the new record resets to zero, we have a reason to really look at prosaic birds again. Every common duck and dove we regularly look past in hope of rarer fare becomes noteworthy again, at least for a moment.

It is in such a moment that one might realize that the Mallard drake, ubiquitous though it is, cuts a handsome figure indeed and that the equally abundant Mourning Dove is daubed in all the colors of sunrise. And how about titular trash birds like the Blue Jay and its western cousin, Steller's Jay? These raucous rapscallions are far too striking in their unusual shades of cerulean, azure, and midnight to be considered commonplace. Even an international sensation like the Raven, a familiar friend from the deserts of Arizona to the heights of the Himalayas, deserves respect, considering it's a brilliant, mischievous, tool-using mimic.

To preserve that "new bird" feeling throughout the year, it helps to realize that your everyday avians are someone else's feathered fantasies and vice versa. For example, most of the world's birders might think that a person could never tire of colorful beauties like parrots and lorikeets or exotics like honeyeaters and thornbills. Yet, someone who deals with gangs of Galahs on a regular basis might envy American birdes their retiring robins and chattering chickadees. Then again, others like Trevor Hampel seem to appreciate their everyday birds every day. Making his home in South Australia, Trevor documents his encounters with an enviable array of avifauna with smarts, style, and sensational photos. Even if parrots and pardalotes are part of your regular cast of characters (not very likely for most) Trevor's Birding will make them new to you again. Today promises novel sightings for everyone since Trevor is leading an international I and the Bird #67 birding holiday.

The best bird bloggers make us feel as if we're seeing each avian for the first time when we see them through their eyes. Show the audience of I and the Bird what you've seen. The next edition will be hosted by Nick Sly of Biological Ramblings. Send your link and summary to me or Nick (nds22 AT cornell DOT edu) by Tuesday, February 5.

NOTE: Have you heard about the Nature Blog Network , the new toplist for the nature blog community? This site is shaping up to be a phenomenal resource for readers and publishers alike in identifying the very best nature blogs on the net. If you write about birds, bugs, plants, herps, hiking, mollusks, mushrooms, ecosystems, or any other natural topic, adding your blog to this toplist is the perfect way to reach new readers interested in exactly what you have to offer. As a bonus, you'll get to see where your site falls amongst those of your respected peers. I cordially invite you to join now and tell your friends!

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

OBT: Javier Paredes & Chuck Komppa

Javier Paredes & Chuck Komppa Memorial Plaque Dedication
Ingram Tom Moore High School, 20 November 2007

Two graduates of Ingram Tom Moore High School have been killed in action in the last year plus. ITM officials began a memorial wall to honor those who have died in service to the country. The school was constructed in 1982, so Iraq represents the first full scale war that involves ITM students. On November 20, 2007 we had the first ceremony dedicating plaques to these fine young men.

Javier Paredes is not only an ITM graduate but a graduate of the Hill Country Youth Ranch where i work. Chuck Komppa was a star basketball player for ITM in the late 80's to 1990 when he graduated and i watched him play against Shaq O'Neal in the first ITM gym which featured a carpeted court.

Charles V. “Chuck” Komppa, a 1990 graduate of Ingram Tom Moore High School, was killed by a roadside explosive device in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, on October 25, 2006. He was awarded the Purple Heart. Chuck is survived by his wife Delisa, and their children Alicia, 14, and Gary, 11. He was laid to rest in Absarokee, Montana, where the family still resides. His father Gary is a resident of Ingram, Texas.

Javier G. Paredes is an Ingram Tom Moore High School and Hill Country Youth Ranch graduate. He was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade while rescuing a wounded soldier in Baghdad, Iraq on September 5, 2007 in his capacity as an army medic. President Bush honored Javier posthumously with the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. Javier’s brothers are also in the service operating out of Iraq and Afghanistan. He was laid to rest on Septmber 14, 2007 at San Antonio’s Fort Sam Houston.

Special thanks to Worthy Carpenter, Bruce Faust and Rhonda Boerner of Ingram ISD; Gary Komppa; and Gary and Carol Priour, Michael Gustin, Marcy Dorman, Olivia Navarro, Michael Joe and Jesse James of HCYR.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

OBT: Heath Ledger dead

crap. two of the finest young actors of this era dead in a week . . .

-- Actor Heath Ledger has been found dead in a Manhattan apartment, New York police tell CNN.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Actor Heath Ledger is dead, the New York Police Department said Tuesday.

Heath Ledger was found dead in his Manhattan apartment.

The Academy Award nominated actor was 28.

Ledger's housekeeper found him dead in his Manhattan apartment, New York police said.

He died at 3:26 p.m., they said.

The New York Fire Department received a call at 2:27 Tuesday responding to a "cardiac arrest call" in New York.

They found an unresponsive male dead at the scene.

In 2005, the actor played Ennis Del Mar in "Brokeback Mountain," about two cowboys who had a secret relationship.

The role earned him the Oscar nomination.

Ledger was born in Perth, Australia.

Heath Ledger found dead in NYC apartment
MSNBC News Services

NEW YORK - Heath Ledger was found dead Tuesday at a downtown Manhattan residence in a possible drug-related death, police said. He was 28.

According to WNBC, Ledger was found with pills strewn all around him.

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said Ledger had an appointment for a massage at the Manhattan apartment believed to be his home. The housekeeper, who went to let Ledger know the masseuse was there, found him unconscious at approximately 3:30 p.m. ET, according to the New York Times. After receiving no response from the actor after shaking him, they called authorities.

The Australian-born actor was nominated for an Oscar for “Brokeback Mountain,” where he met his wife, actress Michelle Williams, in 2005. Ledger and Williams had lived in Brooklyn and had a daughter, Matilda, until they split up last year.

Ledger was to appear as the Joker this year in “The Dark Night,” a sequel to 2005’s “Batman Begins.” He’s had starring roles in “A Knight’s Tale” and “The Patriot,” and played the suicidal son of Billy Bob Thornton in “Monster’s Ball.”

Ledger grew up in Perth, and began doing amateur theater at age 10. At 16, he moved to Sydney to pursue an acting career, quickly landing TV movie roles and guest spots on Australian television.

After several independent films and a starring role in the short-lived Fox TV series “Roar,” Ledger moved to Los Angeles and co-starred in “10 Things I Hate About You,” a teen comedy reworking of “The Taming of the Shrew.”

Offers for other teen flicks came his way, but Ledger turned them down, preferring to remain idle than sign on for projects he didn’t like.

“It wasn’t a hard decision for me,” Ledger told the Associated Press in 2001. “It was hard for everyone else around me to understand. Agents were like, ‘You’re crazy,’ my parents were like, ‘Come on, you have to eat.”’

His latest role was in “I’m Not There,” in which he played one of the many incarnations of Bob Dylan — as did Cate Blanchett, whose performance in that film earned an Oscar nomination Tuesday for best supporting actress.

Police probe actor Heath Ledger’s death
Associated Press

NEW YORK - Fans of Heath Ledger left flowers and candles Wednesday outside the apartment building where the body of the Oscar-nominated star of “Brokeback Mountain” was found with sleeping pills nearby.

Authorities said the death of the 28-year-old actor was a possible overdose, but they were awaiting results of an autopsy set for Wednesday.

There was no obvious indication that the Australian-born Ledger had committed suicide, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said Tuesday.
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Ledger’s publicist, Mara Buxbaum, issued a statement this Tuesday night, saying, “We are all deeply saddened and shocked by this accident. This is an extremely difficult time for his loved ones and we are asking the media to please respect the family’s privacy.”

Khaled Ali, 41, a stage manager for a Broadway show, dropped off a candle outside the downtown SoHo building on his way to work. He said he and his fellow cast members were devastated by the news of Ledger’s death.

“I felt a connection with him as an actor, as a fellow in the theater community,” he said. “With ‘Brokeback Mountain’ he touched me personally in telling the story of my community. It was very touching.”

Ledger was known for grueling, intense roles that became his trademark after he got his start in teen movies like “10 Things I Hate About You.”

The Australian-born actor was found dead Tuesday by his housekeeper and masseuse — lying naked and face-down at the foot of his bed, with prescription sleeping pills nearby, police said.

It was a shocking end to a career built on unpredictability. Ledger avoided the safe path in favor of roles that forced him to bury his Australian accent and downplay his leading-man looks: a tormented gay cowboy in “Brokeback Mountain,” a drug addict in “Candy,” an incarnation of Bob Dylan in “I’m Not There.”

In what may be his final finished performance, he took a rare role in a guaranteed summer blockbuster, playing Batman’s nemesis, the Joker, in the upcoming “The Dark Knight.” But the role was nothing he could phone in; it forced him to rebrand a character last played on the big screen by Jack Nicholson.

“I had such great hope for him,” Mel Gibson, who played Ledger’s father in “The Patriot,” said in a statement. “He was just taking off and to lose his life at such a young age is a tragic loss.”

Ledger split last year with Michelle Williams, who played his wife on the set of “Brokeback Mountain.” The two had a daughter, the now 2-year-old Matilda, and had lived together in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill neighborhood.

Early Wednesday, Williams and Matilda left Trollhattan, Sweden, where the 27-year-old actress had been shooting scenes for the upcoming film “Mammoth,” said Martin Stromberg, a spokesman for film production company Memfis Film.

“She received the news at her hotel late last night,” Stromberg said, adding he had not spoken to the actress after she learned of Ledger’s death.

The actor’s personal strife was accompanied by professional anxiety.

‘Stressed out a little too much’
Ledger said in an interview in November that “Dark Knight” and last year’s “I’m Not There,” took a heavy toll. He said he “stressed out a little too much” during the Dylan film, and had trouble sleeping while portraying the Joker, whom he called a “psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy.”

“Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night,” Ledger told The New York Times. “I couldn’t stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.” He said he took two Ambien pills, which only worked for an hour.

News of Ledger’s death spread quickly, from the crowd of 300 people that gathered Tuesday outside his Manhattan apartment to the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, where those with close ties to the actor included Naomi Watts, who dated him after they met on the set of “Lords of Dogtown,” a fictionalized story about the birth of modern skateboarding.

Ledger was born in 1979 in the western Australian city of Perth to a mining engineer and a French teacher, and got his first acting role playing Peter Pan at age 10 at a local theater company. He began acting in independent films as a 16-year-old in Sydney and played a cyclist hoping to land a spot on an Olympic team in a 1996 television show, “Seat.”

Speaking in Perth, Ledger’s father called the actor’s death “tragic, untimely and accidental.”

Kim Ledger called his son “down-to-earth, generous, kind-hearted, life-loving, unselfish” and “extremely inspirational to many.”

“Heath has touched so many people on so many different levels during his short life,” he said. “Please now respect our family’s need to grieve and come to terms with our loss privately.”

After several independent films, Ledger moved to Los Angeles at age 19 and starred opposite Julia Stiles in “10 Things I Hate About You,” a reworking of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” Offers for other teen flicks came his way, but Ledger turned them down, preferring to remain idle than sign on for projects he didn’t like.

“It wasn’t a hard decision for me,” Ledger told The Associated Press in 2001. “It was hard for everyone else around me to understand. Agents were like, ‘You’re crazy,’ my parents were like, ‘Come on, you have to eat.”’

He began to gravitate toward more independent films after roles in “Monster’s Ball,” “The Patriot” and “A Knight’s Tale.” His work in 2005’s “Brokeback Mountain” earned him an Academy Award nomination for best actor.

‘Handled his career incredibly well’
In the 2006 film “Candy,” Ledger played a poet wrestling with a heroin addiction along with his girlfriend. Neil Armfield, who directed Ledger in the film, said the actor had “handled his career incredibly well,” steering himself toward more challenging roles.

“He made a decision about four years ago to stop being led by producers and managers

He brought the same intensity to “The Dark Knight.” Glimpsed in early teaser trailers, Ledger is more depraved and dark than comical. The film’s director, Christopher Nolan, said this month that Ledger’s Joker would be wildly different from Nicholson’s.

“It was a very great challenge for Heath,” Nolan said. “He’s extremely original, extremely frightening, tremendously edgy. A very young character, a very anarchic presence that taps into a lot of our basic fears and panic.”

Ledger was a widely recognized figure in his SoHo neighborhood, where Michelle Vella said she frequently saw him carrying his 2-year-old daughter on his shoulders, or having ice cream with her.

“It’s a shock; he’s so young,” said Taren Dolbashian, who also had seen Ledger with his daughter. “He always seems so happy.”

Near the entrance to the building housing his loft, about two dozen bouquets and a dozen candles formed a makeshift memorial.

One note said, “I couldn’t find anything bad about you.”

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COM: New show opens Thursday

I'm a last minute replacement in this show and am scrambling/engulfed in learning lines. Anyway, come on out if you're in the area . . .

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REV: The Linguists at Sundance

Linguists the talk of the town at Sundance
By Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter

PARK CITY, Utah (Hollywood Reporter) - Indiana Jones' spirit certainly infects the intrepid heroes of "The Linguists." These are bold academics who plunge into the jungles and backwater villages of the world to rescue living tongues about to go extinct.

There are more than 7,000 languages spoken in the world. Yet we lose a language every two weeks thanks to colonialization, globalization and indifference.

David Harrison and Gregory Anderson are scientists in a race against time. They trek deep into sometimes dangerous territories to record nearly dead languages, a thing that is at the heart of culture and knowledge.

Clocking in at a little more than an hour, director-producers Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller and Jeremy S. Newberger's "Linguists" watches three of these fascinating and at times treacherous linguistic expeditions. The film should perform marvelously on television once it completes a festival run that begins at Sundance.

In Siberia, the linguists search fruitlessly for speakers of the Chulym language only to discover their driver, who at first won't admit he speaks Chulym, is fluent. This speaks volumes of a tyrannical Soviet regime that tried to suppress much of native culture and languages.

In the Indian state of Orissa, tribal children attend boarding schools where they learn Hindi and English. This is practical, of course, but a disaster for native languages.

In Bolivia, the men seek the less than 100 speakers of Kallawaya language in the Andes, a language tied into the rituals and practices of medicine and not a language learned as a child. They also find themselves in a sticky situation when they botch an act of gift-giving.

The film has a perhaps unintended subtext of cultural misunderstandings where well-meaning but sometimes impatient and naive Westerners confront ways of thinking and behaving totally antithetical to their own. For instance, when Harrison insists on spending a night in a remote Indian village where bandits lurk, he not only endangers himself but also embarrasses his disapproving middle-class Indian hosts. Yet guileless bravery and full-throttle enthusiasm see the linguists through these scrapes.

Jumping from one expedition to another while throwing in an excursion to an American Indian reservation in Arizona causes the viewer to lose the thread of the individual quests. But this does help identify patterns in language disuse and subsequent extinction. The film certainly makes a compelling case for this particular kind of academic derring-do.

Director-producers: Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, Jeremy S. Newberger; Writer: Daniel Miller; Director of photography: Seth Kramer, Jeremy S. Newberger; Music: Brian Hawlk; Editors: Seth Kramer, Anne Barliant.

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REV: Oscar Nominations

a few surprises . . . sad to see some missing performances, and Hairspray being completely snubbed is ludicrous. . .

‘Old Men,’ ‘Blood’ top Oscar nominations
Films receive eight nods each; Cate Blanchett gets two nominations
The Associated Press, Tues., Jan. 22, 2008

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood” led with eight Academy Awards nominations each Tuesday, among them best picture and acting honors for Daniel Day-Lewis and Javier Bardem — but it remained in doubt whether any stars would cross striking writers’ picket lines to attend the ceremony.

“No Country for Old Men,” a crime saga about a drug deal gone bad, and “There Will Be Blood,” a historical epic set in California’s oil boom years, will compete for best picture against the melancholy romance “Atonement,” the pregnancy comedy “Juno” and the legal drama “Michael Clayton.”

“Atonement” and “Michael Clayton” trailed with seven nominations each, including best actor for George Clooney in the title role of “Clayton.” The lead players in “Atonement,” Keira Knightley and James McAvoy, were shut out on nominations, however, with teenager Saoirse Ronin the only performer nominated for that film, for supporting actress.

Past Oscar winner Cate Blanchett had two nominations as best actress for the historical pageant “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” and as supporting actress for the Bob Dylan tale “I’m Not There.”

On strike since Nov. 5, the Writers Guild of America refused to let its members work on the Golden Globes, which prompted stars to avoid the show in solidarity. Globe organizers were forced to scrap their glitzy telecast and instead announce winners in a swift, humdrum news conference, without anyone on hand to accept the prizes.

Guild leaders have said that if the strike continues, they will not allow writers to work on the Oscars, either, which might leave nominees and other celebrities forced to choose between attending the biggest night in show business on Feb. 24 or staying home to avoid crossing picket lines.

“I would never cross a picket line ever. I couldn’t,” said Tony Gilroy, a directing nominee for “Michael Clayton.” “I’m a 20-year member of the Writers Guild. I think whatever they work out is going to be one way or the other but no, I could never cross a picket line. I think there’s a lot of people who feel that way.”

Viggo Mortenson, who received a best-acting bid for his performance as a Russian mob member in “Eastern Promises,” he won’t go if the strike is still on.

“But I have a feeling they’ll solve it,” he said. “I hope they do. I’m sure my mom would like to see my on TV and so forth. But if there’s a strike I’m not crossing the line.”

The acting categories generally played out as expected — with a few surprises, including best actress nominee Laura Linney for “The Savages” and best-actor nominee Tommy Lee Jones for “In the Valley of Elah.” Neither performance had been high on the awards radar so far this Oscar season.

Best actress looks like a two-person duel between Julie Christie, an Oscar winner for “Darling,” as a woman succumbing to Alzheimer’s in “Away From Her” and Marion Cotillard as singer Edith Piaf in “La Vie En Rose.” Both won Golden Globes, Christie for dramatic actress, Cotillard for musical or comedy actress. Yet they face strong competition from Blanchett, Linney and relative newcomer Ellen Page as a whip-smart pregnant teen in “Juno.”

Day-Lewis, an Oscar winner for “My Left Foot,” grabbed another best-actor nomination as a flamboyant oil baron in “There Will Be Blood,” for which he could emerge as the favorite.

Along with Day-Lewis, Clooney, Mortenson and Jones, the other nominee was Johnny Depp, who won the Globe for musical or comedy actor as the vengeful barber in “Sweeney Todd.”

With a Golden Globe and universal acclaim for his performance as a relentless killer, Bardem looks like the closest thing to a front-runner this Oscar season, which is unusually wide open for best picture and other top categories.

Bardem is up against Casey Affleck, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”; Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Charlie Wilson’s War”; Hal Holbrook, “Into the Wild”; Tom Wilkinson, “Michael Clayton.”

Joining Blanchett and Ronin in the supporting actress category were Ruby Dee for “American Gangster,” Amy Ryan for “Gone Baby Gone” and Tilda Swinton for “Michael Clayton.”

Snubbed along with Knightley and McAvoy was “Atonement” director Joe Wright. Besides Gilroy, the directing nominees were Paul Thomas Anderson, “There Will Be Blood”; Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, “No Country for Old Men”; Jason Reitman, “Juno”; and Julian Schnabel, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.”

The Coens and Anderson also were nominated for writing the screenplay adaptations of their films.

The wide-open awards season had left the field up in question, and some other notable prospects were shut out, including past Oscar winner Angelina Jolie for “A Mighty Heart,” Helen Bonham Carter for “Sweeney Todd,” and Emile Hirsch for “Into the Wild.” Sean Penn also missed out on a directing nod for “Into the Wild,” as did Eddie Vedder, who was shut out in music categories.

Also left out of the Oscars completely was the hit musical “Hairspray.”

The fairy-tale comedy “Enchanted” had three of the five best song nominations.

Michael Moore — who castigated President Bush over the Iraq War in his best-documentary acceptance speech for “Bowling for Columbine” in 2003 — is back in Oscar contention with his health-care documentary “Sicko.”

War-on-terror documentaries dominated the category, with “Sicko” up against “No End in Sight,” “Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience” and “Taxi to the Dark Side.”

Even if the strike lingers, Oscar organizers insist their show will go on, with or without writers.

“We’re dealing with contingencies but we’re thrusting ahead. The point is, we’re going to have a show, and we’re going to give these incredible artists what they’re due. We’re going to present the Oscars on Feb. 24, and that is the important thing. Artists are giving their fellow artists a one-time event in many of their entire lives,” said Sid Ganis, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

A glimmer of hope arose late last week as the Directors Guild of America reached a deal with producers for a new contract. Many in Hollywood are counting on that deal to help resuscitate negotiations between writers and producers, who walked away from the table Dec. 7.

If the two sides settle their differences in time for the Oscars, the ceremony would become a dual celebration, honoring the best in Hollywood from the previous year and the end of a season of labor discontent that idled TV shows, delayed some movies and threw thousands of production workers into unemployment.

The tentative contract for directors addressed a key issue for writers — pay for films and TV shows that end up on the Internet and other new media. But whether the terms of the directors’ deal would satisfy writers remains uncertain.

Oscar nominees are chosen in most categories by specific branches of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, such as actors, writers and directors. The academy’s full membership of about 5,800 was eligible to vote for best-picture nominations and can cast ballots for the winners in all categories at the Oscar ceremony itself.

Assuming the show comes off as scheduled, ABC will broadcast the Oscars live Feb. 24 from Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre. Jon Stewart — who recently resumed “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, but without the help of his striking writers — will serve as Oscar host, a job he also filled two years ago.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

NAT: Last Wichita Speaker

Last fluent speaker of Wichita tribal language preserves what's left
In the end, one woman passes on what's left
By PAUL MEYER, The Dallas Morning News, 12:00 AM CST on Sunday, January 20, 2008

In the times of the beginning there was no sun, no stars, nor anything else as it is now. ... Man-never-known-on-Earth made a man whose name was Having-Power-to-Carry-Light. He also made a woman for the man, and her name was Bright-Shining-Woman. ... They dreamed that things were made for them and when they woke they had the things of which they had dreamed.

At 80, Doris McLemore is the last fluent speaker of the Wichita language. The tribe once numbered tens of thousands from Central and North Texas to Kansas.

– The beginning, according to Wichita myth

ANADARKO, Okla. – The silence can't be far off now, Doris knows. She'll die and an old Indian language will die and the world will move on slightly smaller than before.

No, she never expected to be the last one, the fair-skinned illegitimate daughter of a Wichita woman and white father. But everyone just kept disappearing: her mom, Mae, and brother, Newton, and tribal elders like Bertha Provost and then Vivian McCurdy five Decembers ago.

Now it's just her, Doris Jean Lamar McLemore, the 80-year-old last fluent speaker of the Wichita language, driving alone through the dense fog of an early November morning to preserve what's left. Like most Fridays of late, she left her small house behind a budget motel before 8 a.m., rattling in a white Ford Escort wagon down a two-lane highway to the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes complex.

There she parks and limps inside a brown portable building that doubles as a kitchen where most mornings she makes biscuits and gravy for tribal workers. But today she sits dutifully at the table with the plastic pumpkin tablecloth until Terri Parton arrives with the laptop, connects a microphone and begins to record a list of words and phrases.

Ant. Automobile. Beer. Black horse. Doris says each once in English and three times in her native tongue, the words a staccato series of halting consonants and dancing vowels. Each seems a memory of things past. Of tribal dances down by Camp Creek. Of a once-bustling town called Anadarko, self-described "Indian Capital of the Nation," where Geronimo marched a century ago in the Fourth of July parade. Of a time before Doris got old with diabetes and her heart started to fail.

"How about a boy?" Terri asks.

"Boy. Wiyasaks. Wiyasaks. Wiyasaks. And there's that other word."

"OK, say it the other way now."

"Boy. Wi:ks. Wi:ks. Wi:ks."

"Is there a difference from saying one way or the other?"

Doris tries to explain it in English, can't and gives up.

"So, I don't know who we can ask."

They laugh, resigned.

Terri, the tribe's enrollment clerk, understands. She has watched the number of full-blooded Wichita members – including the Waco, Tawakoni and Keechi bands – fall to just 41 today after once numbering tens of thousands scattered in villages from Central and North Texas to Kansas.

They've tried language classes to teach adults how to say a little, and still hold classes for kids, but the language is too hard and resources too spare to ever resurrect it.

When Doris is gone, the silence will be larger than one woman.

"Any chance of us ever being fluent in it again ... that dies," Terri says.

Then later: "We lose our identity."

Doris, however, does not think much about these things, nor about the decades of economic pressure and persecution that foretold this day. It's just the way life moves.

Languages die all the time, even more lately as the world keeps shrinking. And Oklahoma, with its large Indian population, is one of the places losing them faster than anywhere else.

"If you look at language as a kind of mirror on cognitive function and ways the brain can organize the world ... different languages can do this in different ways," says David Rood, a University of Colorado linguist who has studied Wichita for four decades.

"We're going to lose the knowledge that this is one way that people can function, can think."

The woman was given an ear of corn, whose use she did not know, but this was revealed to her in her heart; that it was to be her food; that it was Mother-Corn; that it was to be the food of the people who should exist in the future, to be used generation after generation.

Doris bends over the slender silver microphone, serious-looking with her thin, unsmiling lips, steeply arched eyebrows, creased skin and silver hair rolled in the back.

"OK, now say, 'I'm in the way,' " Terri tells her.

Doris says it in Wichita, then pauses.

"That sounds strange," she says in a creaky Oklahoma twang. "I haven't said that in forever."

She was born Doris Lamar in 1927, left by her mom with grandparents on their 160-acre allotment just outside Anadarko, along a narrow red earth road flanked by head-high weeds.

By that time, nearly all the Wichita had been forced with six other tribes to the Indian Territory of south-central Oklahoma. The old ways were already vanishing: the deer dances and funeral rites and ritual tattooing of eyelids and construction of intricate beehive houses thatched with swamp grass.

Doris' grandparents lived inside a little white frame house with green trim and a pair of cedar trees outside. Her grandfather, Walter Lamar, broke broncos and drove a team of two burgundy horses, Buddy and Rex, in an uncovered wagon, his two spindly braids spilling from a black Stetson. Her grandmother, Hush-se-ah, was illiterate and spoke only Wichita – an herbal healer who tended a big garden down by a lake, ripe with corn, onions, beans, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes and traditional pumpkins.

And ever since Doris had a memory, she could speak Wichita and English. But she didn't seem to belong much in either world. For one, she had blond hair, hair that her grandmother would incessantly cover with a hat. Years later, at Indian high school, students would chide her as a half-breed.

But in the white world, she was still Indian, evident on trips to a small town nearby where she translated for her grandmother, a place she still remembers simply as that "ugly little prejudiced town."

"She'd dress in the Indian way, and I was with her all the time because she couldn't speak English. And when she would shop, I would be right at her elbow to tell her what this costs and that costs, and if she went into a café to eat, we were together. ...

"In those days, see, they spoke the language and a lot of them didn't know English, and they would get punished for talking their own language."

It was rough all the way around, Doris says.

She graduated from Riverside Indian School near Anadarko in 1947 and waitressed in a little café where she met her first husband, a white man who worked in the oil fields. By that time, the number of Wichita had grown so small you couldn't date within the tribe, elders warned, without risk of marrying a relative.

Her grandfather died in 1954, about the time the tourist attraction Indian City U.S.A. opened nearby. A few years later, Doris divorced; she later remarried, raising a family that was more white than Wichita. Her children only learned to speak English, and even her first husband would forget about Doris' roots, reminded only when she would speak with her grandmother.

"You know, I never think of you being an Indian until I hear you talk," he'd say.

Generation after generation the corn was to be used. And if the time should come that they planted corn and something else than corn came up, it would be a sign that the end of the world was at hand.

"Say, 'Ha ha.' Do you know how to say that?" Terri asks of the expression for laughter.

"No. What does it say?"

Terri struggles to pronounce the written Wichita word and gives up.

Doris shrugs. She says she hasn't laughed in a good while.

"Nothing to laugh about."

In the summer of 1964, Dr. Rood first came to Anadarko, a 24-year-old Berkeley grad student looking for a language to study. At the time, there were maybe 200 fluent Wichita speakers, including some elders who didn't know English well.

"In those days, it was thriving," he remembers of his first summer with the tribe.

He didn't realize it at the time, but the transmission of the language from parents to children had already stopped. Learning it, after all, would no longer help land you a job or find you a date. The last generation of speakers had been born, and Dr. Rood had unwittingly begun four decades recording the death of a language.

In those early years, with tribal elder Bertha Provost as his primary assistant, he only met Doris once. She had moved a couple of towns away, working in a little school in El Reno. She divorced her second husband in 1962, a year after her grandmother died, never to remarry.

"If ... I hadn't gotten a divorce, I'd just be a little old white woman somewhere," she still jokes.

Instead, she returned to Anadarko and her Wichita roots, even as the tribe's speakers dwindled. In 1983, Bertha died. Three years later, Dr. Rood returned for another summer.

"I was quite amazed at how few speakers were left at that point. Amazed," he says.

With Bertha gone, he approached Doris and her mother. He quickly found they knew words and meanings that nobody else did.

By 1991, only about a dozen people spoke the language. Three years later, there were no longer any living Wichita-only speakers.

Those who still spoke it occasionally were left with a strange loneliness that comes with having no one who really understands. Things that were funny in Wichita weren't as funny in English. The same with serious things.

"I used to wonder what my mother meant when she said there's no one to talk to," says tribal elder Shirley Davilla, who knows some of the language.

Doris' mom died in 1997 at 92 years old. Soon, Doris was the only one left. Dr. Rood would come every few years for weeks at a time to record Doris, who by that time had retired from a career working at Riverside Indian School in student housing.

One summer, after days of recording inside her house and listening to tapes of dead speakers, a voice started calling to her in dreams.

"Calling me hard. 'Doris! Doris!' I'd go back to sleep and they'd call me again. ...

"I said, 'You know what? Maybe these people don't want me doing this.' "

The next day, she cleansed her house, smoking it with cedar and sage from one end to another. The voices never returned.

At the end, the supply of the necessaries of life will run short. People will no longer accomplish anything. As the time approaches Mother-Corn will cease to grow, and in her stead will appear some despised weed.

There is a word in Wichita meaning that which does not die out. But so many things seem to have disappeared generation after generation: the town Doris remembers as a child, the old dances, and ceremonies and songs – some of which have already lost their meaning. The language, really, is one of the few things left. An identity.

"How many Native Americans have perished? I mean, tribes just cease to exist. Probably in a small way it affects a lot of other people," says Stuart Owings, a tribal elder and singer who still maintains a traditional garden on his land.

"There's a lot of tribes in the United States now that are tribes, but they have no dances, they have no songs. They've lost everything."

In town, word has spread that Indian City has been up for sale, its canary yellow sign long faded. Nearby at the Anadarko Heritage Museum, director Robin Willis remembers when thousands would pass through each year, drawn to town by the seven tribes nearby. Now she's lucky to get 700. "I'm not sure why. I guess things just kind of move on, you know," she says.

Doris knows. On a recent autumn day, she drives through the old landmarks of her life, pausing on the old red earth road near her family's land.

"This place right here," she says pointing to the countryside. "This was the most beautiful place you ever did see. The house is just caved in. No, you can't even see it, can you? I guess it's all caved in."

Doris too will move on one of these days. She believes in heaven and in God, and doesn't figure there's much difference whether it's the Wichita or Christian creator. But if she gets a choice of language in the next world, it would be the one of her mother and grandparents and their parents.

"I'll be speakin' Wichita, I hope," she says.

She wants to be buried where they are, in the old Wichita cemetery with the gopher mounds and tall Johnson grass on a country road near Rock Springs Indian Baptist Church. Everyone will come. Even Dr. Rood, who struggles with funerals, has decided he will attend. Doris deserves it, he says.

Doris still proudly shows the proclamation the linguist gave her at the 2006 tribal dance where she was an honored elder.

"Because of her cooperation, future generations of Wichitas and linguists will know about the wonders and beauty of the Wichita language," he wrote, "information that would have been lost forever without her willingness to share what she knows."

For now, Doris sits inside the portable building, leaning over that microphone, entombing the last of a language.

"My voice will be down in all those lessons for however many years those things last," Doris says. "Who else is going to do it? After me, who else is going to put that stuff down? There's nobody who can."

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OBT: Roy Kendall

Thanks to Dan Hardy for passing this on:

Roy O'Neal Kendall, age 95, passed away January 19, 2008. He was born May 21, 1912, in Ingalls, Gray County, Kansas. He is preceded in death by his wife Conway B. Alford Kendall (Connie)of 44 years, and stepson G. L. Montgomery. He is survived by another stepson Bobby G. Montgomery, two grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews. He retired in 1972 from the Federal Civil Service, having worked for the U.S. Army 1941--1953 and Air Force 1954--1972. He served in World War II in Northern France and Central Europe campaigns. He will be best remembered by his friends and colleagues for his outstanding contributions to the study of moths and butterflies. He and his wife Connie made many road trips deep into Mexico and all over Texas, amassing a huge and well-documented collection of moths and butterflies of significant value to the scientific community. That collection was donated and transfered to the Entomology Department at Texas A&M University in recent years. He published numerous scholarly papers on the life history of these insects in scientific journals. He documented the life cycles of more than 500 butterflies and moths of Mexico and especially Texas, and preserved research material of each stage for future workers. He discovered many new kinds of moths and butterflies, and several of those were named by others in his honor. In addition to several awards by the scientific community, he was honored with the Presidential Certificate for Services Rendered to the Nation on October 16, 1940. Mr. Kendall carried out undergraduate studies at Louisiana State University, and night courses at Trinity University in 1951-1956. He was an active member of the Lepidopterists' Society, and had research associate affiliations with Welder Wildlife Refuge (Sinton, Texas) and Florida State Museum. He and his work with butterflies were featured in October 1982 in Texas Monthly magazine, and for many years he was the leading authority on Texas butterflies.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

ATH: Tivy Firday Soccer

Tivy hits Greyhound wall
From staff reports, The Daily Times, Published January 19, 2008

It was a loss, but in the loss, the Tivy boys soccer team may have found something important.

“I don’t like the outcome, but I have nothing but respect for the squad,” Antlers coach David Swonke said after his team’s 3-0 loss to Boerne at Antler Stadium. “They kept after it. Tonight, they became a team.”

Call it trial by fire.

The Greyhounds grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first half, using their speed to find the back of the net just nine minutes into the match.

“It was a little eye-opener early with their speed,” Swonke said. “I turned to (assistant coach Gary Miears) and said, ‘Was that a 4.2 (40-yard dash time)? And he said, ‘No, faster.’

“They use their speed very well. They trap on the fly at fullspeed and turn and go on you. They have very high skill-level kids, the kind who play soccer year-round.”

Still, the Antlers stayed in the game, penetrating the Boerne defense a number of times. But, it was off a quick transition in the second half when the Greyhounds scored again. They added another goal in the closing minutes.

“We kept playing hard, but they kept running quality player after quality player in, and their 18 players wore down our 14.

“I am very proud of the way the kids played — with a lot of heart. There was a lot of emotion after the game. They wanted it pretty badly, so they took it pretty hard.”

Tivy travels to Wimberley on Tuesday.

Antlers learn tough lesson
From Staff Reports, The Daily Times, Published January 19, 2008

BOERNE — The Tivy girls soccer team Friday got a taste of life when facing a ranked opponent.

And while the Antlers were not particularly pleased with their 3-0 loss to Boerne, they did learn one thing.

“We know now, for the next time, we can’t start out scared,” Tivy coach Shannon Sletten said after her team fell to 4-2 overall and 1-1 in District 27-4A. “Next time, we’ll know going in that we can compete because if we don’t play scared, we play better.”

The Greyhounds — ranked in Region IV — offered an intimidating challenge, and showed why they are ranked with a pair of quick goals early in the first half.

“We had a starter out at fullback and had to reshuffle our lineup back there,” Sletten said. “They took advantage of our lack of starters. They found a little weakness and exploited it pretty quickly.”

Boerne added a goal just before halftime, but from that point on Tivy held its own.

“The first half, we were a little intimidated by their ranking,” Sletten said. “It was cold, wet and a little slippery, and we played a little afraid.

“But, after that, it was a good match. There was a lot of back-and-forth in momentum. We got good opportunities, we just didn’t make good on them. The thing now is we have to learn from this and know what we have to do next time out.”

Tivy hosts Wimberley in a district match Tuesday at Antler Stadium.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

ATH: Tivy Tuesday Soccer

Tivy 'rains' over Fredericksburg
By Aaron Anderson, The Daily Times, Published January 16, 2008

The weather over Antler Stadium Tuesday night was enough to conjure escapist visions of warm sands and Sinatra singing: “Summertime, and the livin’s easy…”

However, the members of Tivy’s girls soccer team were not likely thinking of lads in Panama hats and low-lit lounges. Perhaps that is because of their generational distance from the Rat Pack, but more likely because the Antlers were focused on beating district foe and uber-rival, Fredericksburg, 3-0.

The match marked the District 27-4A opener for both teams, and the home opener for Tivy. A short, but hard blast of rain began to fall in the ninth minute, and was enough to soak the players and fans.

The cold and damp conditions did little to deter the Antlers, though, as Tivy dominated possession and put constant pressure on the Billies’ defense for the entire game. Time spent on Fredericksburg’s half of the field translated into 12 corner kicks earned and a barrage of shots from within the 18-foot box.

Tivy coach Shannon Sletten attributed the constant offensive to her center midfield, as they sent the ball “back down (Fredericksburg’s) throat.”

Tivy did not break through until the 28th minute, but afterward the Billie defense gave in to the attacks like Frank to the good life, as they conceded two more goals before the 33rd minute.

The first goal belonged to senior forward Amanda Brock, who took a beautiful precision through-pass from midfield by senior Lindsey Avery and took a shot that glanced off the Fredericksburg keeper and into the back of the net. The score gave Brock her 56th career goal, placing her second on the Tivy all-time career goals list.

Brock added her second of the night and 57th career goal just three minutes later by taking a crisp pass from freshman Dani Walker and jetting into the box for an easy shot low. Brock’s speed and ball handling proved troublesome for the Billies all night.

Sletten heaped praise on her star forward, saying Brock “clearly (outplayed)” the Fredericksburg defense and had “a strong will to score ... definitely a superior player out there.”

Tivy’s third goal came less than a minute after the second on a searching low cross from Hailey Olden that eventually found Avery, who slipped the ball past the keeper. The goal was Tivy’s last for the first half and proved to be all the Antlers needed. The second half saw more offensive pressure from Tivy, but the Antlers were unable to get more goals.

Though mostly untroubled during the game, Tivy’s fullback line faced a couple of serious threats from Fredericksburg’s transition offense. The defense, captained by senior Rachael Ashley, was able to hold firm when it needed to.

After the game, the ladies and their coach were pleased to have a victory. However, the weather proved that the season is far from summertime and the team’s remaining schedule shows that the Antlers are far from easy livin’. Of their remaining 17 games, 15 will be hotly contested district bouts.

The difficult road continues in Boerne this Friday night.

“Boerne’s going to be tough. ... They are going to be very hard to beat,” Sletten said. “Hopefully we’ll have a little sense of urgency to put the ball away early.”

With that sense of urgency, a relentless offense, and a little luck, the Antlers could find themselves at the top of District 27-4A, entertaining thoughts of a long playoff run.

Warm and inviting as a trip to Palm Springs.

Antlers can't catch a break
From staff reports, The Daily Times, Published January 16, 2008

FREDERICKSBURG — With a young team, what David Swonke needs is a break now and then. What the Tivy boys soccer coach did not need Tuesday was a break going against him.

But, a 1-1 match broke open after Fredericksburg scored on a penalty kick late in the second half, and the Billies rode that momentum to a 3-1 win.

With the loss, Tivy falls to 0-4 on the season and 0-1 in District 27-4A.

David Long scored on a breakaway in the first half to tie the match for the Antlers.

But, after the PK, Tivy struggled.

“That was the game, right there,” Swonke said. “We sort of deflated after that. We had worked and worked to get back into the match, and that goal allowed Fredericksburg to apply steady pressure the rest of the way.”

Tivy hosts Boerne on Friday.

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OBT: Shannon Heffernan

Shannon Scott Heffernan
Services Wednesday

CAMP VERDE — Shannon Scott Heffernan, 30, of Camp Verde, passed away Sunday, Jan. 13, 2008, at his residence. He was born July 30, 1977, in Kerrville, where he lived his whole life.

He leaves behind his family, who will love him and miss him forever. He is survived by two daughters, Kyra of Canada and Riley of Kerrville; his mother, Linda Heffernan of Camp Verde; father, Zac Heffernan of Center Point; one brother, Shane Heffernan and wife, Mandy, of Kerrville; grandmother, Leoma Heffernan of Kerrville; two nephews, Cade and Peyton of Kerrville; uncles, Mannie Lackey, Bubba Lackey and Michael Lackey; aunt, Aleta Lackey; and many cousins and many, many friends.

Visitation will be Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2008, 5-7 p.m. at Grimes Funeral Chapels.

Graveside services will be Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008, 10 a.m. at Camp Verde Cemetery officiated by the Rev. Mike Burrows.

Honorary pallbearers will be Jeremy Kenney, Joey Paine, Wesley Haines, David Andrews, Yuri Lackey, Willie Hyatt, Lesley Lackey, J.W. Lackey and Jack Davenport.

The family invites you to send condolences at by selecting the “Send Condolences” link.

Funeral arrangements are entrusted to Grimes Funeral Chapels of Kerrville.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

OBT: Karl Bajoris

Karl Barron Bajoris Jr. 1942 - 2008

Karl Barron Bajoris Jr at the age of 65 passed away on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2008 at his home in Kerrville, Texas. He was born on Feb. 18, 1942 in Hartford, Conn. to Karl Bajoris Sr. and Virginia (Madigan) Bajoris. Karl served in the U.S. Air Force from 1963 till 1967. He married Judy Johnson on Nov. 17, 1996 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Karl was a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Hill Country, he has lived in the Hill Country for 3 1/2 years. He is preceded in death by his parents. Karl is survived by his wife of 11 years Judy Bajoris of Kerrville; son Alex Bajoris and wife Kam McEvoy of Austin, Texas; step son Marcos Osorno and wife Mary of VA.; step daughter Jenifer Fahey and husband Sean of Maryland; sister Karen Hoy and husband Joe of MS.; 2 grandchildren Ana and Ellie Fahey both of Maryland and many other family members and friends who love him will miss him. Memorial services will be held 2pm, Sunday, Jan 20, 2008 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Hill Country (960 Barnett Kerrville, Tx. 78028).

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OBT: Brad Renfro

Troubled Actor Brad Renfro Dies at 25
Found Dead in His Los Angeles Home at Age 25

Actor Brad Renfro, whose career began promisingly with a childhood role in "The Client" but rapidly faded as he struggled with drugs and alcohol, was found dead Tuesday in his home. He was 25.

Paramedics pronounced him dead at 9 a.m., said Craig Harvey, chief investigator for the Los Angeles County coroner's office. The cause of death was not immediately determined, Harvey said, but an autopsy could be conducted as early as Wednesday.

Renfro had reportedly been drinking with friends the evening before his death, Harvey said.

Renfro's lawyer, Richard Kaplan, said he did not know whether the death was connected to any problems with addiction.

"He was working hard on his sobriety," Kaplan said. "He was doing well. He was a nice person."

Renfro recently completed a role in "The Informers," a film adaptation of a Bret Easton Ellis novel that stars Winona Ryder, Brandon Routh and Billy Bob Thornton.

"Brad was an exceptionally talented young actor and our time spent with him was thoroughly enjoyable," Marco Weber, president of the film's production house, Senator Entertainment, said in a statement.

The actor served 10 days in jail in May 2006 after pleading no contest to driving while intoxicated and guilty to attempted possession of heroin.

The latter charge stemmed from his arrest in Los Angeles' Skid Row area, when he attempted to buy heroin from an undercover officer in 2005.

For several years he was better known for that drug bust and the resulting criminal case than for acting.

After one court appearance, he talked to reporters about drug rehabilitation, saying he was "tired of paying the consequences" for drinking and drug use and eager to get clean.

"It's definitely been an eye-opener," he said of his rehabilitation program.

Other run-ins with the law included a 1998 charge of cocaine and marijuana possession, for which he avoided jail time in a plea deal. He was also placed on probation in January 2001 and ordered to pay $4,000 for repairs to a 45-foot yacht he and a friend tried to steal in Florida in August 2000.

He was arrested again in May 2001 and charged with underage drinking, violating the terms of his probation, and was ordered into alcohol rehabilitation the following March.

A native of Knoxville, Tenn., Renfro's film career began when he was 12, acting opposite Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones in "The Client." His other credits included "Sleepers," "Deuces Wild," "Apt Pupil" and "The Jacket."

Brad Renfro, Former Child Movie Actor, Dies at 25
New York Times, Published: January 16, 2008

Brad Renfro, the former child star who played a witness to a mob lawyer’s suicide in the 1994 legal thriller “The Client” and a suburban youth tutored in evil by an elderly Nazi war criminal in the 1998 film “Apt Pupil,” was found dead Tuesday morning in his Los Angeles home. He was 25.

Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images
Brad Renfro in 2005.

Mr. Renfro’s girlfriend discovered his body, and the Los Angeles Police Department did not suspect foul play, The Los Angeles Times reported.

In recent years, Mr. Renfro was known as much for his legal troubles as for his acting career. He was charged with marijuana and cocaine possession in 1998, avoiding jail because of a plea bargain, according to The Associated Press. Mr. Renfro was an admitted heroin and methadone user who was photographed being arrested by Los Angeles police officers during a Christmas 2005 sweep of that city’s Skid Row. He was sentenced to three years’ probation for attempted possession of heroin and entered a drug rehabilitation program.

His career was short, but busy and varied. He was plucked from obscurity to play a frightened but resilient witness opposite Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones in “The Client,” an adaptation of a John Grisham best seller.

In a 1994 profile of Mr. Renfro in The New York Times, Joel Schumacher, director of “The Client,” said he was looking for “a tough and savvy survivor, a kid with an authentic Southern accent, a kid from a trailer park, like the character in the movie.”

He found Mr. Renfro, then all of 10, through the Knoxville Police Department. He had a reputation as a troublemaker and had recently played a drug dealer in a school production of an antidrug play. The film’s casting director, Mali Finn, said she intended to let Mr. Renfro audition for 10 to 15 minutes, but ended up letting the tape run for an hour. Mr. Schumacher told The Times that when he viewed the tape, “I was struck by the maturity and sadness of his eyes,” adding: “I couldn’t believe a 10-year-old that good-looking and smart who had a difficult life could actually act on the screen. It was too good to believe.”

Over the next decade Mr. Renfro carved out a niche playing inarticulate, vulnerable, alienated youths in everything from glossy Hollywood blockbusters to hardscrabble independent dramas. His acting was naturalistic and emotionally transparent; he played humiliation and frustration with disarming and sometimes upsetting frankness.

As Todd Bowden, the title character of “Apt Pupil,” a Stephen King adaptation by the filmmaker Bryan Singer, Mr. Renfro answered the spidery malevolence of his co-star Ian McKellen with a roiling, implosive blankness. Janet Maslin wrote in The Times that Mr. Renfro “put a diabolically wholesome face on Todd’s budding viciousness.”

In the 2001 Larry Clark drama “Bully,” about bored, amoral teenagers drawn into a murder conspiracy, Mr. Renfro was affecting as Marty Puccio, a sexually confused surfer seeking revenge against the title character (Nick Stahl), his peer group’s abusive alpha-male leader.

In the profile published before “The Client,” opened, the 12-year-old actor was asked how appearing in the film would change his life. “I’ll always be Brad Renfro, born on July 25, 1982,” he said. “Nothing’s going to change that. It won’t be any different.”

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Monday, January 14, 2008

REV: Greg Holden, songwriter

At the recommendation of another YouTuber i listened to this kid songwriter from England and really like what he has to offer. Besides having a really fine voice, he has a sublime touch with language and image. If you like these check him out at YouTube here:

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COM: Blogarithmic #232

First things first . . . Karl Bajoris, one of theatre regulars around here, and a funny, funny man died Saturday morning after being ill for several weeks. He was new to the area and new on stage when we appeared in The Diviners ta the Point a few years ago. Lately he's been in about every other show at the Cailloux Center. Nice to a fault, and as i said one of those guys who seemed to have humor in everything he said. I will post an obit when it becomes available.

I found out about this through attending the Earnie Awards on Saturday evening. Karl won a Volunteer of the Year Award and Jeff and Heather made sure the family knew about it Friday evening. They let him know about the award that evening. What a great gesture all the way around.

Quite a few folks i know, have worked with, and/or have been associated with GSQ won awards.

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ATH: Weekend Tivy Soccer

After a stumble, things go right for Antlers
From staff reports, The Daily Times, Published January 14, 2008

BRENHAM — For all the things that went right, it was the way her team reacted to the one thing that went wrong that had Shannon Sletten encouraged.

“The first match was very disappointing,” the Tivy girls soccer coach said of the Antlers’ 6-0 loss to Denton Guyer in the first match of the Brenham tournament on Friday. “We were still trying to put things together and it was our first real game.

“After that first game, the feeling was sort of, ‘Where do we go from here?’ Well, the answer was we pick ourselves up and go on to the next game.”

And following the lead of senior Amanda Brock, on to three straight wins.

With Brock scoring 10 goals over the next three matches, the Antlers rebounded to win the consolation bracket at the season-opening weekend tournament.

Brock scored four goals as Tivy bounced back to blank B.F. Terry 6-0, repeated the feat as the Antlers slammed Hunstville 7-0 and added two more goals in a 4-1 win over St. Michael’s in the consolation final.

“We knew that first match was going to be a battle,” Sletten said of Guyer, which went on to play in the championship match. “I think what it showed is that you have to give a lot of credit to that Denton team. As the tournament went on, it was obvious that it was a truly quality side.”

The same could be said for Sletten’s side. The lone goal Tivy allowed came on a penalty kick in the closing minutes of the consolation final.

“The nice thing is, in our next three games, we did not give up a true goal, only the one ‘PK’ score,” Sletten said. “In the first game, (senior goalkeeper Jannel Gonzalez) struggled a little, but she came right back and played well in the next three matches.”

Very well, in fact. While Brock scored at will, the Tivy defense choked off the opposition the final three matches. Gonzalez had four saves and Kayla Blair three in the win over B.F. Terry, and Gonzalez needed to make only two saves before turning things over late in the second half to Blair in the win over Huntsville.

“The first win was proof that we are a quality team, too, but we’re just going to have to work hard to win games,” Sletten said. “It’s not just going to happen, it’s going to take effort on our part.”

Hailey Olden had a goal in two matches, as did Katlyn Powell. Rebekah Collins and Tatum Thompson also had goals in the win over Huntsville.

“It was great for our confidence for all the young players we have,” Sletten said of her team’s comeback. “They were able to get out and get over the jitters, the missed traps and misplays from the first match, and settle down. Of course, scoring goals definitely helps boost your confidence.”

Tivy opens District 27-4A play Tuesday, when it hosts Fredericksburg at Antler Stadium.

Tough lessons for Antlers
From staff reports, The Daily Times, Published January 14, 2008

BUDA — The season got off to a rocky start for the Tivy boys soccer team, with the Antlers dropping three matches at the Rebel Cup tournament at Buda Hays.

Tivy dropped its opening match with Anderson 3-0 — despite holding its opponent to just four shots — then fell to host Hays 2-0 and 2-1 to Lake Travis.

“The goal total was not good,” Antlers coach David Swonke said. “It was not a bad effort, but there are things we need to improve on. It was a learning experience.”

David Long scored the lone goal of the weekend for the Antlers.

We were in it for a while there in the third match, but we just ran out of gas,” Swonke said. “Playing three (matches) over three days can be tough.

“We still have things we have to put together. We’ve got to eliminate mistakes. Experience is very critical with a young team, especially in game situations. We’ll learn from this and come back ready this week.”

Tivy opens District 27-4A play Tuesday at Fredericksburg.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

MSC: Will Owen-Gage, Moellers, Rex Foster

I put up some music vids this weekend, some new stuff and some old stuff i've just gotten around to.

Check out the vids i made of Will Owen-Gage with Jay Boy Adams, Flaco Jimenez and Ronnie Leatherman at the Bluebonnet Blues Festival in April of 2006. Then see the stuff from Rex Foster's visit to the Cailloux Charter School last week. And finally there's a couple of vids from the Moeller Brothers (of the Fabulous Thunderbirds) also from Bluebonnet Blues in April 2006.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

ATH: Team America History

From just after my time . . .

History: Team America, 1976

01/09/2008 10:35 AM

WASHINGTON DC (January 9, 2008) USSoccerPlayers -- Seven years before the season-long Team America experiment in Washington DC ended in tears, another line-up under the same name appeared in an international summer tournament to mark the USA’s bicentenary. The hybrid of North American Soccer League foreign pros and a handful of US players played three games and lost them all, scoring just once.

This was forgivable to some extent as the opponents could hardly have been of a higher caliber -- Brazil, Italy and England, all former World Champions, and all three of whom had appeared in a World Cup Final over the previous decade. Italy and England were free, however, because they had both failed to qualify for the final eight of that summer’s European Nations’ Cup.

Despite its name, Team America boasted just four US players, and two of them were goalkeepers, Arnie Mausser (35 US caps, but who didn’t actually play a game at the tournament) and Bob Rigby (seven US caps, but two games for Team America). The other two were defenders -- 2007 Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Smith (18 US caps, who turned out in all three games), and the Hartford Bi-Centennials’ Peter Chandler, who had already won all of his three US caps by this point, and whose pro career lasted only four years.

There were a number of naturalized US citizens in the squad too, including Julie Veee, who played later in the US World Cup qualifiers, scoring in a 2-0 win over Canada. But as preparation for that campaign, which ultimately failed, the Bicentennial Tournament was of little use. And it’s arguable that fielding the proper US National Team against such quality opponents would have done little for the team’s confidence, or have in any way prepared them for playing Canada and Mexico.

Taking the rest of its players from the NASL, Team America wasn’t short on international class. Pelé played, for starters, as did England’s 1966 World Cup winning captain Bobby Moore, not to mention the charming Giorgio Chinaglia. George Best and Rodney Marsh were slated to appear, but the irrepressible mavericks pulled out before the start, supposedly because coach Ken Furphy refused to guarantee them starting spots. It’s debatable whether they would have added much in the way of team spirit and tactical cohesiveness.

The tournament was played in league format, each side playing the other team once. Team America kicked off against Italy at RFK Stadium in DC in front of a 33,000 plus crowd. They lost 4-0 against a side featuring Dino Zoff, Marco Tardelli, Romeo Benetti and current England manager Fabio Capello. The result was as good as you might expect when a hotchpotch of players of wildly varying standards are thrown together with no time to prepare.

Against Brazil in Seattle in the side’s second game, they acquitted themselves twice as well, losing only 2-0. Pelé wasn’t picked for this one (presumably citing conflict of interest), but Liverpool and Tampa Bay henchman Tommy Smith was, doubtless as a damage limitation measure. Brazil played a young Zico (at that time, “the new Pelé”) and the explosively named striker Roberto Dinamite, though it was Gil who got the goals.

In the final game against England, played out in front of just over 16,000 fans at 102,000 capacity JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, Pelé returned to the line-up, and the team even managed to score one. By that time, however, they were already three goals down. Veteran Scot Stewart Scullion, who played for five years in the NASL at Tampa Bay and Portland, has the distinction of being this brand of Team America’s only ever scorer. A brace by Kevin Keegan and a sole strike by captain Gerry Francis accounted for England’s three goals.

Having beaten England in their opening game, Brazil sealed the tournament title by beating Italy 4-1 in a bad-tempered repeat of the 1970 World Cup final, this time in New Haven, Connecticut. There were three players sent off -- Franco Causio and Roberto Bettega of Italy, and Lula of Brazil -- and Gil again scored twice, aided by one apiece from Zico and Dinamite.

How seriously were the English taking this tournament? When they lost their opener to Brazil through a last minute goal in LA, manager Don Revie called it “the most disappointing result in 14 years [as a manager]. It was a great performance and I was proud of every one of my players.”

Against Italy in Yankee Stadium, he was happy that his side came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2, although the game turned ill-tempered in the second half and three Italians were booked. Revie saw the game as worthy preparation for the coming World Cup qualifiers against the same team, but in the end it was the Italians who made it to Argentina 78, and England stayed at home.

*Curious historical footnote, courtesy of the website England Football Online. The English Football Association classified its game against Team America as "a training game," whereas Italy and Brazil both counted their games against TA as full internationals. In 2001, FIFA retroactively declassified such games as being full internationals (only games between two FIFA members count as full internationals), including games England had previously played against Rest of the World and Rest of Europe XIs. The English FA, idiosyncratic as ever, still insists in recognizing these games as worthy of full international status.

May 23: Brazil 1 (Dinamite) England 0
Italy 4 (Capello, Pulici PK, Graziani, Rocca) Team America 0
May 28: Brazil 2 (Gil 2) Team America 0
England 3 (Channon 2, Thompson) Italy 2 (Graziani 2)
May 31: England 3 (Keegan 2, Francis) Team America 1 (Scullion)
Brazil 4 (Gil 2, Zico, Dinamite) Italy 1 (Capello)

Brazil 6pts
England 4
Italy 2
Team America 0

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NAT: Video in the Villages

Video in the Villages collection

This also appeared as an article:

The Video in the Villages Project: Videomaking with and by Brazilian Indians
Patricia Aufderheide
Visual Anthropology Review
Fall 1995, Vol. 11, No. 2, pp. 83-93

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ENV: Paraguayan Parks

Surveys reveal riches of San Rafael
BirdLife International, 07-01-2008

Ten years of survey work in the San Rafael National Park in Paraguay have established that it is “as important for both avian diversity and threatened species as any other location in South America”. The 405 species recorded so far include 70 Atlantic Forest endemics, and 16 Near Threatened and 12 globally threatened species, including the Endangered Black-fronted Piping-Guan Pipile jacutinga and Marsh Seedeater Sporophila palustris.

San Rafael has more of the 79 Atlantic Forest species recorded in Paraguay than any other Paraguayan site, and its overall avian diversity is comparable to much larger Atlantic Forest sites in Brazil (for example, the Tibagi River Basin in the state of Parana, which is 30 times larger than San Rafael, has 476 species). “Many Brazilian IBAs include a larger altitudinal gradient and greater area than San Rafael while containing a similar number of threatened and endemic species”, say the authors of a recent paper The avifauana of San Rafael National Park, Paraguay.

San Rafael is also important for grassland birds, with 93 species recorded, of which 14 were only found in this habitat, including the Vulnerable Saffron-cowled Blackbird Xanthopsar flavus, and the Vulnerable Chestnut Seedeater Sporophila cinnamomea, which like the Marsh Seedeater is a Mesopotamian Grasslands endemic.

Although San Rafael was decreed a national park in 1992, the boundaries were only delimited in 1997, and still have to be legally recognised. BirdLife Partner Guyra Paraguay raised the money to buy 6,200 hectares of near-pristine Atlantic Forest, but the majority of the park’s 748km2 are unprotected and suffering encroachment from agriculture, particularly soybean cultivation and cattle grazing.

For birds like Black-fronted Piping-Guan and the near threatened Solitary Tinamou Tinamus solitarius, hunting is probably the main threat, with both birds found well away from areas of settlement and urban encroachment.

“The consolidation of the entire 748km2 must be considered an urgent priority for conservation in Paraguay”, say the authors of the BCI paper. They add that a further expansion in the number of forest rangers (recently increased from four to nine, with a resulting decrease in deliberate grassland fires, and an increase in threatened grassland species reported) should be the first step.

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ENV: Tri-colored Blackbirds

Dark future is feared for tricolor blackbirds
The Central Valley fixture could be on path to extinction
By Carrie Peyton Dahlberg, Sacramento Bee, Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, January 9, 2008

For tricolor blackbirds that swoop and gather in Central Valley fields, the past breeding season turned unexpectedly into a nearly silent summer.

By the tens of thousands, the birds courted, built nests and waited – then abandoned nests en masse as females failed to produce eggs.

Robert Meese, a UC Davis researcher who tracks the trademark California bird with its blaze of red and white on the wings, hopes biologists are seeing just a temporary setback, fueled by dry weather that depleted a vital supply of insects.

"If this is the beginning of a trend rather than a one-time event we might really be in trouble with the tricolor," said Meese. "The bird is making its last stand, and it's making its last stand primarily in the Central Valley."

Meese, who has tracked tricolors in all seasons, even hearing a field erupt with the odd, mewing cry the males utter only when courting, will discuss the bird's life and perils tonight in Davis.

Most of the world's tricolor blackbirds live in California, and federal and state officials are watching closely: The birds that once filled California skies have been in a decades-long decline, although they are not listed as threatened or endangered.

Instead, it is a bird of "conservation concern," which could face greater peril if steps are not taken to slow its decline, said Michael Green, a bird biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Portland.

Tricolor blackbirds look a little like red-winged blackbirds, with an added slash of white below the red in males. But tricolors act completely differently, in ways that could be contributing to their hard times.

"They're the most colonial land bird in North America," Green said. They congregate to breed in large flocks that can leave huge numbers of birds imperiled if anything goes wrong at their chosen site.

"It's just an amazing sight; it's a spectacle," Green said.

"In a farmer's 100-acre field you can have 30 percent of the world's population. That's what makes them somewhat vulnerable."

Green is hoping the bird just endured the "bust" period in a "boom-bust" cycle that may be typical for such a colonial bird – although no one is sure yet.

Federal wildlife officials conduct detailed surveys of the tricolor's population only once every three years. It should learn more this year because the next triennial survey is scheduled for April.

The Audubon Society is still looking for experienced bird watchers to help with that survey, particularly in Solano, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, and Fresno counties, said Graham Chisholm, director of conservation for Audubon California.

Audubon plans to dispatch volunteers to where the bird has been known to congregate, and will ask people to estimate the numbers of any colonies they find.

"What's unusual about the tricolor blackbird," said Chisholm, "is that 95 percent of the tricolor blackbirds in the world occur in California. Our responsibility for its conservation is extraordinarily high."

Well over 1 million birds were once reported in the Sacramento Valley, and in the 1930s 500,000 tricolor blackbirds nested in the area now covered by Lake Natoma, said UC Davis' Meese. They filled the coastal marshes of Southern California.

Now there are an estimated 250,000 to 300,000. They've taken to agricultural sites, scooping fat aquatic beetles out of rice fields and feasting on grains.

Often they nest in triticale, a wheat-rye hybrid grown as livestock feed. Its thick stalks can support a tricolor blackbird's nest, replacing marsh reeds.

The switch to triticale means trouble, though, when a grower is ready to harvest before hatchlings have fledged. A multiagency working group organized to help save the bird is negotiating with growers to protect breeding fields until baby birds have flown.

While adult males and non-breeding females will eat either grain or bugs, female tricolor blackbirds need to switch to insects when they're ready to lay eggs.

The bugs provide amino acids and essential fatty acids needed to produce viable eggs in healthy numbers, Meese said.

He thinks summer of 2007 may have been especially bad for tricolors because an unusually dry winter was followed by a badly timed spring cold snap, decimating insect populations.

"I'm pretty sure it's lack of bugs. I don't suspect pollutants because it's way too widespread," Meese said.

He and colleagues monitored 27 colonies of tricolor blackbirds in the Central Valley in 2007, and only three produced average numbers of young. Two small colonies in the San Diego area apparently reproduced normally, but still face significant threats because of their size, Meese said.

"The bird is in trouble in Southern California, huge trouble," he said, even though it used to be one of the most abundant birds in south state coastal marshes.

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