Friday, July 29, 2011

Bradley Relieved Of Duties

The United States Soccer Federation announced on Thursday that Bob Bradley is no longer the coach of the US National Team. No replacement was announced.

“We want to thank Bob Bradley for his service and dedication to U.S. Soccer during the past five years,” Gulati said in a press statement. “During his time as the head coach of our Men’s National Team he led the team to a number of accomplishments, but we felt now was the right time for us to make a change. It is always hard to make these decisions, especially when it involves someone we respect as much as Bob. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

Thursday, July 28, 2011

MLS All-Stars 0 - Manchester United 4

Manchester United had no problem finding their offense on Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena, with their defense shutting out the MLS All-Stars. Anderson opened the scoring for United n the 20th minute, with All-Star Most Valuable Player Ji-Sung Park scoring in the 45th minute. In the second-half, Dimitar Berbatov knocked in a ball that rebounded off the crossbar in the 52nd minute. Danny Welbeck finished off the scoring in the 68th. The All-Stars out-shot Manchester United 13 to 11, but United had the better accuracy putting six of their shots on frame to five for the All-Stars.

"Even if you lose 4-0, I can say I'm quite pleased with the performance," All-Stars coach Hans Backe said. "The first half is a very, very even first half. Possessionwise it's, I don't know, 50-50."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Victory for evolution in Texas

National Center for Science Education, July 22nd, 2011

Pop the champagne corks. The Texas Board of Education has unanimously come down on the side of evolution. In a 14-0* vote, the board today approved scientifically accurate high school biology textbook supplements from established mainstream publishers — and did not approve the creationist-backed supplements from International Databases, LLC.

"This is a huge victory for Texas students and teachers," said Josh Rosenau, NCSE programs and policy director, who testified at the hearings this week. In his testimony, Rosenau urged the board to approve the supplements — recommended by a review panel largely composed of scientists and science educators — without amendments, and to reject International Databases' creationist submission. The board did just that, and asked for only minimal changes to the approved supplements.

In hearings yesterday, NCSE members and allies showed up in force. At least four times as many people testified in favor of the supplements as written, versus those opposing the supplements or demanding significant changes.

One hot button: the supplement from Holt McDougal. A creationist member of the review panel released a list of Holt's supposed errors involving evolution and common descent. But in today's hearing, the Texas Education Agency pointed out that the full membership of the review panel had not signed off on the list.

Ultimately, the board approved the Holt supplement, and directed Commissioner of Education Robert Scott to review the list of supposed errors, and to develop amended language for Holt to incorporate. NCSE and Texas education groups are confident Scott's revisions will reflect the current state of evolutionary biology, and not any creationist alternatives.

Dr. Eugenie Scott, NCSE's Executive Director, is celebrating the decision. "These supplements reflect the overwhelming scientific consensus that evolution is the core of modern biology, and is a central and vital concept in any biology class. That these supplements were adopted unanimously reflects a long overdue change in the board. I commend the board for its refusal to politicize science education."

* Correction: This story initially reported the vote as 8-0. The board has 15 members, with one (Mary Helen Berlanga) away on vacation.

The United States fell six spots to 30th in the July 2011 FIFA Rankings released on Wednesday. Mexico's three and out performance in the Copa America dropped them 11 places to 20th. Uruguay winning the tournament moved them up 13 spots to 5th.

Monday, July 18, 2011

and a third:

a second one:

Some really nice game analyses coming up:

The Drought vs. The Frio

. . . check out this video:

Full Northern Exposure: The Rugged Intimacy and Gold-Rush Enthusiasm of the Yukon’s Dawson City Music Festival

When The Persuasions, a cappella icons and fifty-year touring veterans, got out of the bus atop the Midnight Dome overlooking the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers, they broke into tears at the view. Under a midnight sun, while eagle-sized ravens soared overhead, the Persuasions looked down at a tiny town of gold rush-era buildings, where the 2,000 inhabitants of Dawson City waited eagerly for their arrival.

Welcome to the Dawson City Music Festival (July 15-17, 2011;, dubbed “Canada’s tiny, perfect festival” (Georgia Straight).

The remote Yukon town doubles in size for the festival each year, as visitors fly in on prop planes, drive down the Top of the World Highway, or canoe for ten days up the majestic, northward-flowing Yukon River. Upon arrival, the dirt streets grow dusty from the enthusiastic feet of musicians and audience members exploring the culture, architecture, and good spirits in this gold-rush town. Impromptu jam sessions spring up on all corners, lasting well past the festival’s 2 AM curfew; neither the world-class musicians nor the spirited audience members want to stop playing.

“For locals, it’s insane,” exclaims Tim Jones, festival producer. “Hordes of interesting and arty people descend on our sleepy gold mining town. For visitors, our small size (1200 tickets) creates an incredible intimacy. People get to know the volunteers and the locals. The musicians are everywhere – in the same bars and restaurants as the patrons. You feel a real personal involvement in the community that you‘d never feel at a huge commercial music fest.”

It started, like many Canadian festivals, with a little party—a private goat roast on the banks of the Yukon River, paying its visiting musicians with flakes of gold—that was too much fun to keep quiet about. It grew into a festival able to woo and wow major talent, both established and up-and-coming: Bruce Cockburn, Barenaked Ladies, Jane Siberry, and indie darling Basia Bulat. Bulat was so refreshed and inspired by her time in Dawson that she centered her latest album, Heart of My Own, on the experience.

Artists rarely leave without a story: hitching a five-hour ride on a Porta-Potty truck when their flight was overbooked or playing their way up the Yukon at tiny hamlets with just a gas station and a motel. And sometimes, they decide to stay for good.

“Performers sometimes drop everything and move here,” Jones notes, himself a recent and very willing transplant to the area. “One year, the Ontario alt-country band Jon-Rae and the River came. Right after the festival, they broke up and the singer moved to Dawson City. She got a job with the local First Nations band and organized a powwow the next summer.”

What draws and inspires people is Dawson City’s peculiar Northern spirit: a self-reliant egalitarianism and modest openness bred of a powerful place—grizzlies outnumber people by nearly 3-to-1 in the Yukon—and relative isolation.

The Yukon is a challenging place to keep a band going, with distance and difficult travel a part of life–but the Territory is still crawling with musicians, driven by a local culture built around supporting the arts and live music. In addition to big-name international artists, Dawson’s Festival showcases dedicated, creative musicians, from First Nations singer songwriters to local soul outfits. The Festival is especially fond of the esoteric: Whitehorse’s all-female metal band Carnal Romance take their lyrics from Harlequin novels and will roar and moan at this year’s festival.

At year-round live shows and at the festival itself, it’s not surprising to catch the town’s mayor between a mechanic from the gold mine and a hipster from Montreal in town for seasonal work. Grubby hardworking crews fresh from setting up the stage have been caught singing back-up with a sprightly children’s folk performer. People have been known to crowd surf to bluegrass.

“Dawson has the most enthusiastic and open-minded audience I’ve ever seen anywhere. They are thrilled to hear live music – since it’s so rare up here, after all - and want to hear something they’ve never heard before,” Jones explains. “You’ll have miners and seniors listening intently to a noisy new music ensemble [Bell Orchestre, 2008, featuring members of Arcade Fire] or an avant-jazz sax improviser from Harlem. They’re ready for anything.”

“Buddy Rocks The Point”

A CURRENT REVIEW by Jacquie Bovée

Pick up your phone, call 367-5121 and make reservations to see “The Buddy Holly Story,” now playing at the Point Outdoor Theatre. The classy, fun-filled production is a must-see ticket, and the way the packed-solid house was jumping last Saturday night . . . it’s mighty lucky the Point Outdoor Theatre’s flooring is concrete.

With a book by Alan Janes and music and lyrics by Buddy Holly, the storyline showcases the last three years of the Texas boy’s life. Even without Janes’ well written book, the dynamite musical performances are well worth the price of the ticket. To be specific . . . the show’s terrific!

“The Buddy Holly Story’s” London opening in 1989 ran for over 12 years for a total of 5000 performances, making it one of the longest-running musicals in London history. Paul McCartney (who owned the copyrights to Holly’s music) objected to the inaccuracy of the 1978 movie and contributed greatly to the show’s U.K. success. Humm, Crickets . . . Beatles?

Much of the credit to the smashing production at T
he Point goes to Chris Huber’s sensational portrayal of Buddy Holly, and Adrian Aguilar and Mark Beushausen’s brief, but fabulous, renditions of Ritchie Valens and “Big Booper” Richardson. Greig Bitkower, who also turns in some dynamite guitar playing as the fourth Cricket, has done a superb job as musical director. Listening to Huber, one also appreciates the outstanding work Lynda Ables contributed as his vocal coach.

Holly’s short but accelerated raise began in Lubbock, Texas in 1956 were he insisted on playing his unique rock style on the local country western radio station. Holly and his pals, drummer Jerry Allison (Michael Martin) and Joe B. Mauldin (Brad Shearhart) on bass, moved on to Tennessee.

It was in New Mexico, with producer Norman Petty (exceptionally well played by Luke Cummings) and his keyboard-tickling wife Vi (hilarious played by Karen Billingsley), that Holly & the Crickets recorded their first hit, “That’ll Be the Day.”

As Act one ends, the group ends up booked into New York’s Harlem hot spot, the Apollo Theatre. The MC (Naomi Exum) and singer Frankie Lyman’s (Ruben Exum) scepticism quickly disappears when the “white” guys rock n’ roll.

Act two deals with Holly’s marriage to Maria Elena (superbly portrayed by talented Emily Houghton), the break up with the Crickets and Holly’s final appearance at the 1959 Winter Dance Party in Clear Lake, Iowa, with Ritchie Valens and Big Booper. The show ends, just before they board the small plane during a blizzard, with Holly, Ritchie’s “La Bamba” and Booper’s “Chantilly Lace” bringing down the house.

HCAF’s Executive Director, David Cockrell, does a phenomenal job of casting, designing and directing the musical. Cockerell’s work plus technical direction by Bobby Dale Sands, lighting design by Lorenzo Nichols, sound design by Dana Rochelle Paul, scenic design by Johna Sewell, choreography by Jessica Roberts and costume design by Ellen Bithkower make for one hell of a show.
James Morris as Hipockets Duncan, Trevor Stewart as Moondust DJ & Clear Lake MC, Lance Billingsley as Murray Deutch round out the talented cast.

Another winner is Krista Turner, appearing as Mary Lou Sokolof, who belts out a incredible “Star Spangled Banner.” And, if one listens very carefully, they may even hear the Synth on Bitkower’s guitar softly playing a sweet tenor sax.

See you at the Theatre!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011



EFX Performance and Warner Bros. Continue to Work Together to Release Harry Potter Themed Bracelets

MISSION VIEJO, Calif. (July 6, 2011) - EFX Performance recently announced its new partnership with Warner Bros. Entertainment and commemorated the event by introducing special Green Lantern themed performance bands. Word of possible future endeavors, such as the making of custom-designed bracelets to promote the upcoming Harry Potter movie, circulated soon afterward.
Plans to offer specially-designed Harry Potter bands have been confirmed today, just in time for the premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, the final installment of the enchanting series. Fans will be able to choose from three different designs - Hogwarts, Gryffindor, or Slytherin - to show their enthusiasm and House loyalty.
In addition, EFX Performance will generously give each person who purchases one of these custom bands from a free AMC Gold Experience Ticket to go watch the long-anticipated summer blockbuster.
"What better is way is there for fans to show their 'house' allegiances?" asked Randy Largent, CEO of EFX Performance. "Not only are Harry Potter enthusiasts getting a stylish bracelet to accentuate their enthusiasm, they're getting to see the movie for free."
Fans may choose from one of three custom bands which will feature either Hogwarts, Gryffindor or Slytherin colors and logos. Each band will have EFX's proprietary holograms embedded.
Though they signed a licensing agreement only a short time ago, EFX Performance and Warner Bros. are already proving to be a promising pair. More custom bands featuring characters from DC Comics, such as Batman and Superman, are already in the design process.

Friday, July 01, 2011

REV: Sleeping Beauty

As published in the West Kerr Current, 23 June 2011

Sleeping Beauty

A Current Review by Tony Gallucci

If one were to judge an entire show by its opening number then the Point Theatre’s production of Sleeping Beauty knocks it out of the park. The three fairies, Marigold, Lilac and Daisy, portrayed respectively by Maikenzy DeZarn, Krista Turner and Marjorie Williams, sound like a soprano fairy rebirth of Crosby, Stills and Nash as their trio of gorgeous voices perfectly execute the interwoven harmonies of “It Starts With One”.

In fact, the biggest highlight, of many in the show, is the array of voices and songs delivered well, especially in the difficult ensemble pieces. Only an occasional solo falls flat. Kudos right off the bat to Musical Director Michael Kahl.

This thoroughly familiar tale is well-delivered, with Jessica Roberts’ direction unfailingly bringing out the motive nuances in each of the major characters. Her staging is spot on, with several numbers delightfully choreographed. I’m not privy to the script so am unaware how much of the subtle humor and visual effects are written in, but I suspect more than a little of the really fine moments are the product of Roberts’ and her creative team’s imaginations. Well done.

Zach Salcich’s dual Prince characters, separated by a hundred years, were each similar enough to be believably related, but different enough to pull off the distance in time. And his voice soars, bringing some warm humanity to what otherwise can come off as a wooden character in the hands of lesser actors.

Kayla Rohrbach’s Briar Rose was suitably naive at times, curious at others, and above all enticing as the Prince’s object of affection. She flits from moment to moment, afloat in the wonder of everything around her.

Wisteria and Falcon, played by Andrea DeLeon and Trevor Stewart, were brilliantly wrought, towering above most every scene they were in. The royal parental units, played by Luke Cummings and Breanne Lawrence kept me in stitches much of the show, both through their actions and the cleverness of their repartee – it takes more than reading dialogue to make conversation real.

It won’t do here to single out all the roles as there were many, but a blanket congratulations would be well-deserved for a cast that seemed never out of character and was animatedly involved throughout without ever distracting from the action.

I suppose this might be something of a spoiler, so you can tune out briefly, but the show is enlivened by the tossing in of a number of anachronisms and a heavily referential dose of pop culture. One must think this was done to keep the adults as engaged and entertained as much as the children are by the staging of a favorite story. King Stefan’s Borat-ish vocals constantly took me back to scenes from other places, doubling my pleasure in the moments.

The show is not without problems, hardly a community theatre production is. Chief among them is a sound system that always sounds sup-par, and Friday night’s show was no exception, with one or two microphones always limiting out, and others with persistent, annoying buzzes.

My other criticisms are minor however: I could wish for one magical character with a strong dialect to be certainly intelligible, especially in the adrenaline rush of the early scenes – I missed an entire setup.

The rock number via guitar created a visual disconnect – while the costume was grunge-ish, and the song begged for the same, the attitude and delivery was more on the side of soft-pop. I suppose it could appropriately go either way, but delivered without authority one way or the other made it schizophrenic.

Among the highlights, besides the singing, were a deliciously colored castle hinting of candy canes (and although they are beautifully executed, the forested drops have hit the end of their recyclable life – they remind too much of other shows).

The costumes were stunning, the best I’ve seen on that stage since Beauty and the Beast, and not for some time before that. The dragon was fantastic in execution, and brilliantly manipulated by its trio of handlers.

The band, which in these productions often feels either weak and thin or distractingly overpowering, was instead just solid enough to propel the action, without being overwhelming. Another ‘well done’ to the band.

All in all the show was a delight. Director Roberts, and her staff of directors and managers – TJ Ashabranner, Kahl, Bobby Dale Sands, Lorenzo Nichols and Johna Sewell should take no small pride in having produced this show.

It’s appropriate for children of all ages – even the scary scenes are delivered with humor and fall short of terrifying – and isn’t too long or slow, at two hours, to bore anyone.

Three shows remain, this week Thursday through Saturday at 8:30 pm, tickets are $15 and reservations are highly recommended. Call 367-5121.

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