Wednesday, February 28, 2007

How I Wish My Blogging, Didn't Hurt So Much

It might have been the Hendrick's Martini (cucumber-y gin, who woulda thunk it?), but I'm more or less sure that the "sha-la-la-la-la-la"s at the end of Alejandro Escovedo's "Pissed Off 2 A.M." are pretty much one of the best musical handshakes to seal the deal of a song. So sweet, so tentative, so hopeful, like any late night pointing back towards its day, falling fast towards its morning.

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All Your Wrongs Will Be News-Pressed

Sure, it's hard to take seriously a Santa Barbara paper that:

1) Features as "Local" stories on its website that include:

Fla. football mom works to bring artificial turf to Alaska tundra
28 hurt, dozens of vehicles crash as more snow hits Colorado

plus other stories from San Francisco, Humboldt, and Nevada.

2) Features an editorial that begins, "Does Santa Barbara City Hall really care to hear from you, particularly if you disagree with the City Council and administration on whatever political hot potato is before them?" on a letters page that has never included a single voice despairing of what's happened to the paper for the past 8 months.

3) Promises to "detail in future editorials the abuses throughout the [county housing] program," as if the editorial page is the rightful home of investigative journalism. (Well, it is when you don't have any reporters and you hope to "investigate" via innuendo.)

That's just some of the latest fun in the past two days in the paper formerly known as the News-Press (I can't include the glyph the paper now uses, as it's too rude--a giant middle finger aimed at the community of Santa Barbara).

But the most striking thing could be this, on Tuesday Scott Steepleton wrote an article entitled: "BUS STATION: STOP OR GO? Options for transit center include moving it or creating housing, shops nearby." In that article, he said the following:

One option that doesn't seem to make sense is using the area near the Amtrak station, at 209 State St.

"While that location would enhance bus/rail connections, it would negatively impact local transit efficiency and cannot accommodate the number of bus bays needed to meet future needs," states the study's executive summary [ed. note: I will refrain from joking he only read the executive summary]. "The site is constrained by the freeway and railroad tracks, and many streets in the area are not designed to accommodate heavy bus travel."

And because the station is far from Santa Barbara's "governmental and business center," according to the document, riders would have to transfer to get there, making for longer travel times.

Note that first sentence isn't in quotes, isn't attributed to anyone--it's a free-floating claim.

Now today Travis Armstrong opines (or is that investigatively journalizes?) in an editorial entitled: "Our Opinion: Council gives up on commuter rail?" the following:

The most recent example of the City Council's lack of concern for the success of commuter rail came yesterday afternoon when the panel dismissed the Amtrak depot as a site for a "transit hub." This site off Highway 101 could be a location to link regional rail and bus services with city transit lines.

Getting hundreds or thousands of people to commute via rail will require offering quick shuttle service to their jobs once they get off the trains.

So, you have to wonder, now that he's contradicted the mighty, if seemingly ever-shrinking, editorial We edict, is Scott Steepleton the next writer to be thrown under the bus?


It's a Hard World for Little Things

Since we got accused of jejunosity in comments the other day (gee, we were flip about the Oscars! shocking), we thought it was time to both adopt the royal We and look at something serious, even if it's not quite our nature to do so seriously. After all, we'd have to write this entry just to share that UNICEF has a "Innocenti Research Centre." That centre, however, seems far from innocent, for it has just released the report Child Poverty in Perspective: An overview of child well-being in rich countries. Now, it's good to see them call the countries rich countries and not just bandy about some acronym like OECD, probably coupled with SES, which only leads to reader's ZZZZs. Indeed, the report kicks off with the assertion:

The true measure of a nation’s standing is how well it attends to its children – their health and safety, their material security, their education and socialization, and their sense of being loved, valued, and included in the families and societies into which they are born.

Now, any right-winger who thinks the UN building is too many stories short of useful will snort, "Oh, we only worry about them when they're born, do we?" but let's get beyond that--those of us on the left worry about them after. Turns out we have a lot to worry about.
  • The United Kingdom and the United States find themselves in the bottom third of the rankings for five of the six dimensions reviewed.
  • There is no obvious relationship between levels of child well-being and GDP per capita. The Czech Republic, for example, achieves a higher overall rank for child well-being than several much wealthier countries including France, Austria, the United States and the United Kingdom.
We're number 20! We're number 20! Thank god for our buddies the UK; they make us look good with kids and Iraq. (Oh, wait, get back here!)

It's an embarrassment, all our wealth and so little to show for it but the Walton family, and I don't mean John-Boy. Oh, and the Bush Dynasty, whose motto might as well be "with sympathy and justice for none."

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Pa Cheney's Black Bottom

Sorry, the title is a non-sequitur, but that doesn't change that the AP reports:

A suicide bomber attacked the entrance to the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan on Tuesday during a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney, killing up to 23 people and wounding 20.

Cheney was unhurt in the attack, which was claimed by the Taliban and was the closest that militants have come to a top U.S. official visiting Afghanistan. At least one U.S. soldier, an American contractor and a South Korean soldier were among the dead, NATO said.

Cheney said the attackers were trying "to find ways to question the authority of the central government." The Taliban said Cheney was the target.

About two hours after the blast, American lawyer and quail-shot target Harry Whittington flew to Afghanistan to coach the wounded 20 in the best way to apologize to Vice President Cheney for ruining his trip.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Between a Quadrophenia and a Syriana

Another reason to love my job: I just found out there's a publication called Rorschachiana.

Now, tell me what you see in that joke.

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Won't Get Gored Again

In stunning news today, the U.S. Supreme Court convened for a special session and by a 6-3 decision voted to rescind the Best Documentary Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth. Chief Justice John Roberts said, "First, I'd like to thank William Rehnquist for stepping down, even if he had to die to do so. Second, we determined that for the good of the nation we had to act and save them from the uncertainty we have about global warming. The best way to do that, we thought, was to prevent them from seeing anything that might make them think global warming exists. It turns out the voting in Palm Beach in particular largely went for the powerful doc Pat Buchanan's Ten Ways to a Better Bris and then there were the hanging Chads--both Lowe and Everett didn't seem to vote. Third, we had a good long talk with James Baker, who was happy to be listened to again after the Iraq Study Report."

Antonin Scalia went even further with his comments, claiming, "We're also going to take away Melissa Etheridge's Oscar and give it to Mary Cheney. Right-wing, VP-sired, Coors-working lesbians we can tolerate, but all the other ones...."

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A Birth Is Born

Originally uploaded by ulisesarcia.

Something told Freddo that perhaps going the midwife route would not be the most soothing way to culminate his pregnancy.

Monday Random Flickr-Blogging explained.


A Claude Rains Is Going to Fall

Originally uploaded by Jenn Walsh.

Invisible Yarn Girl's head slumps to the left as she sadly realizes she forgot to knit herself pants.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Grouch's Oscars

INOTBB fan* alert:

I'm going to try to do some live Oscar-blogging, assuming someone says something stupid, wears something ugly, or dances with Snow White. After all, anything I do will be anti-climatic now that they've spent 5 minutes with Celine Dion on the red carpet.
4:40 pm

Was that the first time Stan Brakhage got name-dropped at the Oscars?
5:36 pm

Note to self: never wear a flesh-colored microphone--makes it look like you have a big boil. Oh, and is Jack Black just Buddy Hackett for goyim?
5:57 pm

And Jessica Biel proves you can be in a Texas Chainsaw Massacre film and still present an Oscar. Emphasis on present.
6:19 pm

Yowza--Magnetic Fields used in a dog food ad, The The in a spot for M&M's...this is the most depressing Academy Awards ever. Oh, and then the Pogues for Cadillac. Because Shane MacGowan drives one.
6:42 pm & later, too

As one of my co-watchers just said, watching Sherry Lansing, UC Regent, get an honorary Oscar: "She's my boss. She got an award." Oh, her "husband Billy" is William Friedkin, who oddly enough, has been invited twice to UCSB to do film and filmmaker events. Wonder if Sherry came along and the chancellor got to schmooze.
7:11 pm

Wow, Chinese spoken at the Academy Awards. I don't know about you, but I was hungry for another thank you ten minutes later.
7:45 pm

It's been bugging me all night, trying to figure out who Jack Nicholson looks like this evening, but now I get it. He must be auditioning for Daddy Warbucks for a Jupiter Dinner Theater production of Annie.
8:45 pm

Is it just me, or will Reese Witherspoon grow up to be Jay Leno? Check out that chin!
9:02 pm

Is it over? I just woke up.
10 pm

*Intentionally singular, as I'm trying to figure out who you are, now that my wife has her own blog to obsess about.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

It's Better to Have Beer Near than Near Beer

I hesitate to make this post, for I don't want people to expect actual reporting at INOTBB too much, but given this is about beer, I figured I could pour in a quick follow-up to Wednesday's Brew Pub Blogging. Turns out I did get a response from Nathan Boudin, one of the partners in the local venture, which makes me like them already. Here's the news:

We plan to have our opening date on St. Patrick's Day, Saturday March 17th. I am not sure if you have been able to attend either of our other locations but we will serve the same menu and price point, with a few variations (like pizzas and higher end steaks), but we will not be brewing on site here in Santa Barbara. Our beer is brewed in San Luis and Paso Robles. As for the live shows, we do not have plans to book large shows like those at our San Luis location because we are located on the same premises as the hotel and within a few blocks from your neighborhood.

So now you know and get ready to welcome Downtown Brewing to SB in three weeks. I'll be the one dressed as a leprechaun. You need a beer already, don't you.


Onward Christian Dodgers

Ghosts of Dodgers Past Tommy Lasorda gave what the Los Angeles Times called "an impassioned motivational speech" at Spring Training yesterday, particular gathering attention for trailing a chain hooked with the over-worked arms of Ramon Martinez and others behind him. Looking as serious as an 80-year-old man in a baseball uniform can look, "Lasorda also put in a plug for the easygoing" current manager of the Dodgers, Grady Little, telling the players, "If you don't like this guy, you don't like Easter and Christmas."

He then paused, scanned the room, and said, "That Shawn Green isn't still with the club, is he?"

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Friday Random Ten

Sly & the Family Stone "M'lady" Greatest Hits
Joy Division "She's Lost Control" Substance 1977-1980
Fountains of Wayne "Places" Out-of-State Plates
Robert Johnson "Drunken Hearted Man" (Alternate Take) The Complete Recordings
Tom Waits "Cemetery Polka" Rain Dogs
Urge Overkill "And You'll Say" Exit the Dragon
Rilo Kiley "Love and War (11/11/46)" More Adventurous
Miles Davis "Sanctuary" Bitches Brew
Rob Wasserman "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction (Bass Trilogy Part 2)" Trios
Ani DiFranco "O.K." Revelling/Reckoning

Bill Nelson's Orchestra Arcana "Always Looking Forward to Tomorrow" Optimism

That's certainly all over the musical map, but generally with a bit of funk. Joy Division is too (I mean also, not much) funky, at least on this cut, particularly for a group named after women sexually abused in German death camps and led by a guy who'd commit suicide at 24.

Have a great Friday!

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What's Not to Lick

For Dog Blog Friday: These two don't even wait for Happy Hour.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Mutton to Sneeze At

It was 10 years ago today that scientists sang "Hello, Dolly" and announced that they had cloned a sheep. A little known fact is they chose to clone a sheep out of all the barnyard animals because they liked the fact that the word "sheep" is both singular and plural so no matter how many they had they only had one word to worry about. That's elegance of design for ewe. If Dolly were a boy sheep, her name would have been Bob Hope, since she was cloned from another sheep's breast (you know young lambs--they often turn into nice racks), and the lab repeatedly sang "Thanks for the Mammaries." Instead, she got named after Dolly Parton, which means someday there will be a very interesting sheep Dollywood theme park that people will flock to but it will cost too much and park-goers might feel fleeced. Then no one would go, for you know how people titter. Alas, poor Dolly died at the age of 6, which might be old if you're an ovine in the vicinity of mint jelly, but is actually young for a sheep not shorn of its life for a kebab's sake. Scientists speculate she might have been "born" at age 6, since that was the age of the genetic material used to clone her. She aged before her time, and sad to say, there is no plastic surgery for wool. Maybe scientists should work on that, if they could just get past fixing the erectile dysfunction problem, but now I've stuck a penis joke into my sheep tale and never even got around to referencing Gene Wilder, Woody Allen, and Woollite.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Diversity, Social Justice--Yes
Starshine--Not So Much

One of the last remaining bastions of real journalism at the News-Press had been the Life and Scene sections, which seemingly remained out of the line of Wendy McCaw's wild fire, except when book reviewers chose to skewer self-righteous, or that should be self-wrongeous, Dr. (of Physiology) Laura. Tom Jacobs, the paper's best flat-out writer still prints there, for instance. But today we got to see more bias creep up in an article entitled "Women's lit (on the)101: The Women's Literary Festival celebrates diversity, literacy and social justice." (No link, because a sharing of ideas is not what Wendy is about. Not only do you have to have ideas for that--and blaming 9/11 and everything else on the Teamsters doesn't count as an idea--but you have to think someone else in the world matters.)

It seems the festival might celebrate diversity, literacy, and social justice, but the N-P article surely doesn't. For while it twice lists the speakers the event includes, the one name missing both times is former News-Press columnist Starshine Roshell. I can't imagine she was left off just by accident, or because someone hated all musicals and especially Hair. Nope, it's most likely because the Women's Literary Festival website bio for Roshell includes the following:

Starshine was one of many newsroom staffers who left the News-Press after eight editors resigned in protest in July of 2006. Her resignation letter, posted at, is regarded as poignant and candidly accurate.

You would think that in a 1042 word article, you might be able to work in a mention of a well-known local writer, especially when she's the only local presenting. Somehow Carolyn See got mentioned twice, even though the festival website announces that she's had a medical emergency and won't attend.

So, who operated on the article, and made excising any mention of the renegade Roshell essential? Was it the writer Bethany Hopkins, who was just an intern when the first 6 left the paper in July? Recently appointed assistant Life editor Charlotte Boechler, who is married to Scott Steepleton, since pouring the fuel of conflicts of interest on the bias bonfire seems like nothing to this compromised crew? Or was it Steepleton himself, still upset Roshell used a dirty word when she quit and her very name makes him get the vapors?

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Wednesday Brew Pub Blogging

If I had an enterprising bone in my body I would try to open a Santa Barbara equivalent to Santa Monica's Father's Office, a bar anchored by great food (a killer burger and sweet potato fries, cause you need some fried stuff with beer, just good fried stuff to justify the grease) but starring a wall of micro taps. Alas, not only do I lack the drive to pull off something like that, but I also drink too much beer to do more than dream. Still, I quickly notice signs of beer-stirrings in Santa Barbara, especially when one appears within blocks of my home. Oddly enough that sign, in an area known as upper State Street (the main thoroughfare for our town), trumpets the coming of the Downtown Brewing Company. At first I was worried this geographical snafu meant the owners imbibed too much of their own product, but instead it turns out that we're getting the third branch of a brewpub based up the coast in San Luis Obispo (a town happy to be called SLO--this is California, after all).

An article in January from the SLO Tribune--we don't just import our beer, we import our news in Santa Barbara--about the business wrote:

When Korie and Todd Newman took over the old SLO Brew a little over a year ago, locals quickly took notice of their efforts to beef up the entertainment scene.

Soon after their arrival, the newly revamped restaurant/bar/brewery brought in big-name acts, like Dick Dale, Sir Mix-a-Lot and Hank Williams III. And the establishment, now known as Downtown Brewing Co., was revitalized.

That new vigor has obviously been good for business, because now the Newmans, with partner Darren Smith, have opened a second Downtown Brewing Co. in Paso Robles. If that wasn’t enough, a third one is set to open next month in Santa Barbara.

Last evening after dinner Amy and I decided it was time for some reconnaissance, so leashed up the pups--there's no better way to sneak up on people than with greyhounds in tow, or more precisely, towing you--and walked to the site. It's going into a restaurant space near the Sandman Inn, a spot that's been home to numerous other failed ventures, so here's hoping it's not jinxed. It does have a lot going for it, though--two areas for outdoor seating, which is always a plus in idyllic SB, plenty of parking, room for a long bar. But as for the place opening by the end of February, which the brewery's website announces, well, I wouldn't bet a beer on it. There was no sign of taps installed and things were in such an early state that the doors were left wide-open and the lightas were bright; it seemed as if people working on the site left for a minute but figured there was nothing for anyone to take so why lock up?

Only time and a few downed ales will tell if the Downtown Uptown will be a hit, shipping in its beer from up the coast, and perhaps offering one more place for some interesting live music. (No one bothered to email me back when I queried them about their plans, but that's bar owners for you.)


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Sound of Your Voice Yanks My Neck on the Chain

It's hard not to half suspect if you see Neko Case live she won't be able to pull it off. If I have to explain "it" you just need to go listen--there's a reason her 2006 album Fox Confessor Brings the Flood floated onto so many album of the year lists, and that reason begins with her voice. It's one thing to list all the different folks it can suggest, from Patsy Cline here to Dusty Springfield there, but its sum is much more than any reference. Somehow she can intimately belt, draw you near and blow you away all at once. Of course there's beauty to it, but there's ever an edge, a bend or a smear of that perfect note, another woman's voice joining in to up the volume, ante up the angst. It's easy to imagine she pulls this off through studio trickery, or at the least through endless takes added up to get that seemingly simple effort (if I remember right, that's how they had to piece together Linda Thompson's vocal for "Walking on a Wire" on the incomparable Shoot Out the Lights, as she was suffering from panic/anxiety attacks).

Well, Case can do it live, folks, and how. This Saturday at the Henry Fonda in Los Angeles she performed a flawless set, to the point of running through back-to-back-to-back songs that would have been enough of a show for me: "Maybe Sparrow," "The Tigers Have Spoken," and "I Wish I Was the Moon." That's: a moving metaphor folk tune with some surprising force about how the world is tough for little things (and I didn't cry, but my throat lumped but good at song's end); a jangly (it's an overused term, but nothing fits that catchy guitar figure better) alt-rock song about how the world is tough for big fearsome but tender things; and a country torch and twang number about how the world is tough on Neko Case, but she can sure still belt about it. Those "be the one"s that repeat near the end of "I Wish"--how could any lover forsake her? Perhaps they are just too much need for one to survive in life, if not too much for performance, and it's a real danger to mix the two.

Opening act Eric Bachmann had the nerve to perform while so many concert-goers were trying to have conversations. It's a real shame, though, for Bachmann has put out many of the best songs of the past 13 years, first as the leader of Archers of Loaf (the Voidoids of the '90s), then as the major digit of Crooked Fingers, and now his first true solo album (and that's ignoring the two Barry Black discs that are terrific instrumental forays). He performed solo, but still projected, speeding up his acoustic-guitar based songs just a teensy bit. He's sort of become an American Richard Thompson 20 years younger--made his name in a band, writes great songs, plays electric and acoustic marvelously, has a voice that's not pretty (in Bachmann's case, think Neil Diamond's pipes bristled with Brillo), but matches perfectly with the songs. Plus he closed with "New Drink for the Old Drunk," one of the grandest wallows in recorded music.

The night also featured one of those made in the marketing department moments, as between sets we got a half-hour visit from Case's new label mate at Anti-, country music legend Porter Wagoner, with an assist from Marty Stuart, who showed up not only with his mandolin, sadly over-reverbed, but also with Rod Stewart's hair from 1982. I use the country music legend billing entirely intentionally, for he might be cruising on the legend more than talent at this point, but he's still charming at 79, even if he can't remember lyrics, or seem to want to read them from the music stand in front of him. Perhaps his days "In the Rubber Room" left more of a mark than anyone would care to discuss. Still, his purple spangled suit was resplendent, at least until he called out his "band" of Dwight Yoakam on bass (playing parts I could play) and drummer Billy Bob Thornton, in a Nudie jacket that looked like it needed batteries. The only thing that topped its glare were his teeth, for he couldn't stop grinning like the cat that ate the Jolie-nary. That's what happens when LA meets the grand Ole Opry. I have to assume Billy Bob tried to pick up Neko backstage.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Bows, Bangles, and BLAHs

Originally uploaded by Dudley Manlove.

Why I will never, ever attend a high school reunion.

Monday Random Flickr-blogging explained.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Q: Is Spring Icumen In?
A: No, It's Just Breathing Heavy

It might not feel like spring most places (it does here in Santa Barbara, not to rub it in), but there's nothing more a harbinger of hope than guys gingerly stretching, grabbing their sticks, and hoping for their first good pokes of the year.

Of course pitchers and catchers report today, and I think you know what I mean. No, I mean the other thing. Are we on the same page now? (BTW, do you think Mark Foley ever said that line to one of his colleagues? Ba-dum-bum.) (OK. sorry for working a bum in there.)

All that said, Spring Training might be toughest on the managers, as they are older than the players, not to mention further removed from their days taking restorative steroids.

Indeed, here we see White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen pull his face muscles as he makes his first outrageous quotes of the season to reporters. Gotta warm up next time, Ozzie.

And on the North Side (sure, they're in Arizona now, but we all know the Chicago geography), new manager Lou Pinella throws his first fit answering a question about why Neiffi Perez is still on a major league roster. Pinella was tossed by the umpire from his own press conference.


Boys, a Beach, a Ball--Beautiful

For Dog Blog Friday: A rising tide lifts all greyhounds.

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Friday Random Ten

Joni Mitchell "California" Blue
Alison Krauss & Union Station "Stay" Live
Pixies "The Navajo Know" Trompe le Monde
The Rumors "Hold Me Now" Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the Original Psychedelic Era
Penelope Huston and Her Band "On Borrowed Time" Acoustic Music Project
They Might Be Giants "The House at the Top of the Tree" No!
Old 97's "Can't Get a Line" Satellite Rides
Bill Nelson "Quit Dreaming and Get on the Beam" Quit Dreaming and Get on the Beam
PJ Harvey "Electric Light" Is This Desire?
Guided by Voices "Ester's Day" Bee Thousand

Rex Hobart & the Misery Boys "Black Iron Bridge" Empty House

With 18, 744 songs, anything can happen. Good to see the women making a comeback this week.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Cutting Off Your News to Spite Your Facts

It seems as if the next lawsuit for Wendy McCaw will be the University of Missouri-Columbia*. A Reuters summary of what will be sure to bring a new screed rising from the poison pen of Travis Armstrong says:

U.S. newspapers that spend more money on their newsrooms will make more money, according to a study released on Wednesday, which questioned the wisdom of the media industry's trend of cutting jobs to save costs.

The school examined 10 years of financial data, but we all know they released the results now because they have direct connections to Susan Rose (who is no longer a county supervisor just so she has more time to bring down the News-Press). Clearly the article didn't examine what it means if you have to cut your news staff down to 2 because everyone else failed their loyalty test.

The article also offers the following:

"I am delighted to see them post proof that quality precedes profit," Philip Meyer, a professor at the University of North Carolina and author of the book The Vanishing Newspaper [editor's note: this is not the News-Press story, believe it or not], said of the study.

"I don't share the authors' confidence that the industry will appreciate the importance of their result and act on it," he added. "Too many owners are more interested in harvesting than investing."

The harvester on De La Guerra Plaza is certainly a Grim Reaper for journalists and a paper of record for Santa Barbara.

*It's the alma mater of one of the first people actually fired in the purges, and you know that's not a coincidence. Probably is a hotbed of Teamsters making phone calls about spreading nails or damaging trucks too.

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Not a Chants

It would be easy to begin by saying that this Friday 59 years ago Miranda, the famous moon of Uranus, was first photographed in all its glory, but I want to leave such humor behind. So instead I'll put my nose to the jokestone, which might leave the jokestone damp, given my nose has been running a bit of late, so naturally my thoughts turn to Pope Gregory. You probably know Gregory best for his famous controversy with Patriarch Eutychius of Constantinople (those were fine quarreling times), but Gregory is also the first person to say, "God bless you" after a sneeze--in fact, he did it for the first time 1407 years ago this Friday, if the Catholics can be trusted, and of course they can, because I want to be a Democratic candidate's official blogger someday. Needless to say, when a pope blesses you, that's nothing to sneeze at, and the new phrase was an improvement over the older, "God save the sleeve!"--remember, these were in the days before even generic tissues, let alone Kleenex, since the X had yet to be invented. Of course, Gregory hoped his blessing would keep those blessed from getting the plague, and few noticed with their respectfully downturned faces that he would not only say the phrase, but spray rat poison while saying it. In those days the plague death rate dropped, but many died from an indeterminate contagion. Times were tough in the Dark Ages, although the Pope called into question the science that claimed it was the Dark Ages, and proposed more studies to be run out of the office of his second in command, Cardinal Dickus Cheneyus.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I Am Spartacus

I tried to write this on the comment thread over at Shakes, but the server is so overloaded I kept getting kicked off.

Sis, I'm so sorry that all of this has happened--sorry that someone so fit for a job has to leave it, sorry that there are so many religious who somehow hate in the name of Christ, sorry that the MSM acted like a megaphone for a whacked-out bigot, sorry that church can't leave state alone, despite what America is supposed to be about, sorry that so much bitterness has been focused upon one of the nicest people on the internets.

Go see Driftglass for an explanation of the Spartacus project.

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Blood Orange Wednesday

Photo lifted from Flickr.

We were lucky that our citrus trees seemed to come through the January freeze that did so much damage elsewhere in California--perhaps one of the advantages of living only 3 miles from the Pacific (you can imagine the others). So that means we're still rich in blood oranges, and even if you try, and we pretty much do, you can't make cocktails out of them all. So we also cook with them, and I thought you might like to know how to make a simple glaze that is wonderful on pork chops, chicken thighs, and pretty much any fish (well, maybe not Stanley or Abe Vigoda). Last night I smeared a frying pan with good virign olive oil and dumped in some chopped shallot till they got a bit soft. Then I added the chicken thighs, salted and peppered and dusted with some fresh thyme. Let them brown, flipped them, cooked the other side (it's about 8 minutes each side), then lacquered them with the blood orange glaze. Put the thighs in the oven for 3 minutes with the carrots that were roasting at 375, took them out, re-applied the last of the glaze, back into the oven for 3 more minutes, and the result was as gorgeous as it was delicious.

Blood Orange Glaze
(coats 2 pork chops or 4 chicken thighs)

2TBS + 1 TBS. butter
2 TBS. shallots minced
3/4 cup fresh blood orange juice, strained
1/8 cup Grand Marnier
1 TBS. fresh thyme chopped
salt & pepper

Melt the 2 TBS. butter over medium low heat in a small saucepan. Add the shallots and let soften. Add the juice, Grand Marnier, thyme, salt & pepper to taste. Turn up the heat and reduce till thickened, stirring frequently to test consistency and avoid sticking. At very end add final TBS. butter.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Auto Tootle

Hey, look! Back in December INOTBB made it to the Columbia Journalism Review Daily, and they don't even have a police blotter!

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Wendy McCaw, A.G.?

It seems that when Wendy McCaw is done dismantling the News-Press, she might have a futute as the Attorney General of the U.S. (Quick aside--let's have a 50/50 pool to pick the date the paper folds; the winner gets half the pot and the rest of the money goes to start a real newspaper!) In case you didn't see it this morning, Talking Points Memo presented the latest news about the Bush Administration's firings of seven federal prosecutors.

Before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty explained that six of the seven federal prosecutors who were suddenly dismissed last December were axed for "performance related" issues.

Today, McClatchy reports that of those six, five of them "received positive job evaluations before they were ordered to step down." But there's an explanation:

A Justice Department official who spoke on behalf of the administration said the dispute might simply be a matter of "semantics."

"Performance-related can mean many things," said the official, who asked to remain anonymous because the Privacy Act bars officials from discussing personnel decisions. "Policy is set at a national level. Individual U.S. attorneys around the country can't just make up their policy agenda."

So "performance-related" doesn't necessarily mean that the prosecutors performed badly -- it's just a coded way of saying they were not sufficiently lockstep with policy at the "national level."

Making folks be lockstep is what McCaw is all about, so she would certainly fit in with the Bush crowd. After all, it doesn't matter how good you are at your job in a Bush-McCaw World, all that's needed is the ability to kiss endless tuchas.

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Two One-Liners

Yesterday, at a school to film some B-roll of kindergarteners at play for a upcoming presentation, I managed to catch myself just before saying while signing in as a visitor at the office, "I'm here to meet someone and shoot the children."

At home, we have a new birdfeeder but so far our thistle feeder has not been thuthessful.

Hey, I'm here all week...I've got a wife, two dogs, and a blog to feed, so tip me and not your waitresses.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Can't We Take a Print?

As Craig Smith has reported, the News-Press has basically become Bugs Bunny baseball--catching, Scott Steepleton, leftfield, Scott Steepleton, rightfield, Scott Steepleton.... Sure enough, that's one cartoonish way to cover the news and an insult to the community. Despite what some say, a newspaper isn't just a business: what if someone called a hospital just a business? the water company just a business? a university just a business? How is a newspaper not also a public service, answering the crucial need that allows the public to remain informed and wise citizens? And since when do businesses get to operate solely in their own self-interest--shouldn't we expect some morality from them, no matter? (Ah, I dream. Sorry, got moved a bit by the Obama speech this weekend. Damn people keep giving me hope we might be able to save this country.)

That said, we all need to show up at this event:

Wednesday, February 21, 12 noon, De La Guerra Plaza
Organized by community members

Had Enough? Join Your Friends to Support a Free Press and Worker Rights. Bring picket signs stating your concerns, whether they are to reinstate unfairly fired reporters, to urge Wendy McCaw to bargain in good faith with the Teamsters, to ask readers to cancel their subscriptions, to call for a boycott of News-Press advertisers, or to demand the termination of Travis Armstrong.

Make a sign, grab some noisemakers, and come down to De La Guerra Plaza. We will form a picket line in front of the News-Press building and ask newspaper customers to do business with other publications. This is our opportunity to organize our community around this serious issue. We’ll have a short program with speakers and also offer ways to get more involved.

And then there's this brilliant idea from someone who used to work for the paper. Right now they can afford a hit in circulation, even losing some advertising, for the News-Press owns one very profitable arm no one has discussed enough yet. In addition to printing the ever-shrinking (almost wrote shirking) paper, and all the small locals Wendy bought up and mostly gutted (Goleta Valley Voice, El Mexicano, Blue Edge), the printing plant out in Goleta does jobs for hire. That's good easy money, running others' product, and we have to pressure those folks to go elsewhere. It's a project someone could take on, pairing these publications with new printers.

Anybody out there up for it?

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Lactose Intolerant

Originally uploaded by doctortina.

The Cheese could try to stand alone, but not if Alpine Mouse had his way.

Monday (more or less) Random Flickr-Blogging explained.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Wall Street Weak

Wall Street retreated sharply Friday as investors glumly absorbed the news that Anna Nicole Smith had died. "Sure there was a spike in oil prices, and two Federal Reserve officials commented that unexpected economic growth could prompt an interest rate hike," said stockbroker and longtime Playboy reader Jack S. Pecious, "but Anna--my god. Where will the tragedy end?"

Clearly the mood at the New York Stock Exchange was focused on inflation, peak oil, and silicone implants. One broker, who insisted on remaining anonymous, particularly after making a tasteless joke about how sad he was that now he would never get to do any "insider trading" with Smith, claimed, "I guess first everyone has to clear out pharmaceuticals from their portfolio. Second, the companies who own magazines like People and the Star are going to be scrambling until the next talentless bimbo comes along. This really hurts."

Pecious said through his tears, "She was a symbol for our nation, a beaming dyed blond light that anyone could become anything, if by anything you mean a reality TV star and centerfold. She was clearly our generation's Susan B. Anthony, except Anthony wasn't hot. I mean, you totally know why they replaced her dollar with Sacagawea--grrrr."

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Friday Random Ten

Yo La Tengo "Feel Like Going Home" I'm Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
Yo La Tengo "Autumn Sweater: Tortoise Remix" Autumn Sweater CD single
Run On "Sinnerman" No Way
Built to Spill "Else" Keep It Like a Secret
Brian Eno "Through Hollow Lands (For Harold Budd)" Before and After Science
The Blind Boys of Alabama "Precious Lord" Higher Ground
Ensemble Romulo Larrea & Veronica Larc "Valsisimo" Collection un Siecle de Tango--Astor Piazzolla
Ornette Coleman "Law Years" Ken Burns Jazz: Ornette Coleman
Billy Bragg & Wilco "Hesitating Beauty" Mermaid Avenue
Michael Tilson Thomas: Orchestra of St. Luke's "Contredanse No. 11" Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 "Eroica"

Brian Eno "The True Wheel" Taking Tiger Mountain

Odd, odd, odd. At least it ends with one of my favorite Eno cuts ("row, row, row").

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A Nigel at Rest Remains at Arm Rest

For Dog Blog Friday: Comfy, thy name is greyhound.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

This Frankie's Gone to Hollywood

If I had any guts, I'd begin by pointing out tomorrow would be the 188th birthday of William True Sleeper, who, besides having the best fantasy sports name of all-time, was a Congregationalist minister who put the him in the hymn "Jesus, I Come," thereby uniting organists and "oh, god, oh jesus" orgasmists for years to, uh, come. But I won't begin that way, because if I did I would never be able to be part of a presidential campaign, goddamit. Not that John Edwards is calling, but my guess is Vilsack, whatever his first name is, could use the help.

Nope, I'd rather talk about a secular hymn from the 1980s, that brilliant hit, "Relax," and its ever handy advice "don't do it, when you want to come," made even more helpful by its 80s-takes-disco-and-throttles-it beat (all thanks to Trevor Horn, whose artful noise also killed the radio star). This Friday is the 47 birthday of Holly Johnson, the lead singer of Frankie Goes to Hollywood. FGTH was to the '80s what the Monkees were to the '60s--created, marketed, huge because of their hugeness--but only if you can imagine Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork in a leather bar, which leaves me with very twisted dreams of that Brady Bunch episode when Davy Jones takes Marcia to the prom. There's just so much twisted promise of better culture out there (if I were in charge--I'm working on it, as soon as Vilsack gives me a call). At least we have FGTH in DePalma's slice-(drill?)-off-the-old-Hitch Body Double in a porn film scene, romping their way through "Relax" with Melanie Griffith--who really can't interest them much, anyway, so it's a good thing they have their own suggestive dancing to do, although why did all decadence seem to freeze around some notion that you can't top "Cabaret"? And it's Griffith in her something wild sexy days before she became a botoxed, siliconed humanoid who will no doubt star as the monster in the fifth Alien film.

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One Wright Makes a Wrong

As you know, I'm a huge Mets fan, and one of my Mets faves is David Wright, who I've rooted for since he was in the minors; I grabbed him for my fantasy team as soon as he was MLB eligible. I'll never forget during that first half season of his when the evil Atlanta Brave then-closer John Smoltz struck him out to end a game and I knew he was going to be special--Smoltz kept throwing that nasty, dropping out of the strike-zone slider of his, and Wright kept fouling them off. Smoltz finally got him on a questionable inside corner called strike, but you could see Smoltz shaking his head before that. And as for Wright, he didn't fight the call, didn't give the ump guff, he just walked away from the plate. That kind of skill, judgment, and respect is rare in any player, let alone a then-21-year-old.

So I have to admit huge disappointment in this news:

David Wright knows he is living the dream, but nothing off the field can compare with this past Monday night when Wright was quietly invited to the White House to have dinner with President Bush.

In his still kid-like way, the single Wright brought his father Rhon (rheally, it's Rhon) as his date.

"The president had something in common with David," Rhon said. "They talked about working out, strength and conditioning, that sort of thing."


Noted David, "I was genuinely touched by how warm and inviting President Bush and his wife were. Knowing how busy the president is, for him to spend that much time with us was really something special."

Bush isn't busy, David, he spent his three hours being the decider on Iraq weeks ago, and now has lots of time to devote to working out.

I'm just sad that Carlos Delgado didn't get invited to the White House--now that would have been a much more interesting conversation.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

From Salsipuedes to Quarantina

It seems being filthy rich makes it mighty easy to ignore anyone else, as if each added zero to one's wealth squeezes out any sense of empathy. (It also seems that this disease can extend to those who drink too much bottled water, or just the corporate kool-aid.) Wicked Witch Wendy McCaw learns of a banner flown above the freeway and in a snit tells six more veteran journalists to hit the highway. Now before Nelville Flynn or some equally snide psuedonymster shows up and says, "It's her paper, she can do what she wants with it," let me say, "But she can't do whatever she wants to employees." Do people really believe employers are all-powerful and that employees must bend to their every whim? That people give up their free will, sense of reason, and personal and professional values when they walk into their place of employment? Sure, they can get out of there while they can. Or they can try to fix things, make things better, for themselves, the workplace, the product. Speaking of that, a newspaper is no ordinary product--it owes something to its community, too. But it seems Wendy and her minions feel like they owe nothing to nobody.

But I've got an idea. While McCaw doesn't seem to care if she has no writers, or if anyone respects the paper, or if she's become a national laughing stock, or if the whole town drops its subscriptions, she has to have news to cover. After all, in both her letters and Travis's editorials, they talk about their desire to cover more local news. So what we need to do is quarantine the News-Press.

What would happen if every news source refused to deal with the N-P until she agreed to sit down and bargain with the union and cut out the vituperative, vengeful bs? What if not a single newsmaker agreed to be interviewed by a N-P reporter? If all arts organizations didn't set up interviews, provide tickets for reviewers, ship in their information for the calendar? Sure, a reporter could still cover open meetings, but without any access, what could they really write about?

Of course, right now it's unclear who could write any N-P stories, with the newsroom so short. But starving the paper from news--and it's our news, our events, so we can control them--right Wendy?--might be one way to get her attention. In some ways she's quarantining herself, as it's impossible to establish the usual, steady, helpful realtionships that generally form between writers and news sources, when, for example, the paper burns through 3 higher education reporters in 9 months. It's hard even to know who to pitch stories to, let alone learn how to be most helpful.

So right now some tough love, as Dr. (of Physiology) Laura might put it, is necessary. Newsmakers, let's act like the News-Press doesn't exist. Maybe then someone might notice she does need other people a teensy bit.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Idiot Moi

No, I'm not an idiot because I haven't been able to write that send off for my mom I want to, have to, need to write. It's not because now I've got to write one for Molly Ivins, too, but it seems wrong to do hers before my mom's. It's not because I don't know what to write about the latest News-Press insanity--three more folks fired yesterday, two down and one on the way today--since mostly I just want to shout obscenities. Perhaps this is the ultimate McCaw plan: keep being so outrageous that her critics can only respond with stunned silence at her sheer meanness and stupidity.

No, I've earned my stupidity quite directly, with one quick rip thorugh the middle of an envelope. Like many of you, I'm sure, we get lots of offers from folks to refinance the house. Like many of you, most likely, you just rip these in two and put them into the recycle bin. Unlike many of you, though, I was waiting for a check involved with my mom's estate, and the Merrill Lynch return address didn't jog my memory fast enough to stop my ripping. Sure, there are too many reasons I wasn't thinking well, including: 1) I don't think well, 2) I've averaged 4 hours sleep a night for almost 2 weeks, 3) my alcohol consumption might also have averaged 4 a night for almost 2 weeks, 4) it's a check I didn't want to have to get, after all, a cashing out I don't want to own up to.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Ted's a Lucky Man...

Originally uploaded by mills70.

...but I took this photo, so we know who she's looking at.

Yeah yeah, the camera.

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Wild Glyph

The AFP headline trumpets:

Soggy throng delights in Prince's Purple Rain performance

and I've never felt so thankful for an "r."

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Thrills, Chills, and Coffee Spills

Originally uploaded by jstorage.

And if you thought the presentation itself was all that and a bag of chips, wait till you see the photos....

Monday Random Flickr-blogging explained.


Sunday, February 04, 2007

A Blogger and a Gentleman

Penultimate moment of the day--having Ed Asner say to me after I had to thank him for doing a photo op (and I paraphrase a bit): "I fucking hate having my picture taken. Back when we had to do the promo shots for Mary Tyler Moore and they would all be beaming with their fucking implants showing their ivories and I'd have to show my gap teeth...."

Ultimate moment: Getting caught up in a conversation about the 2007 baseball season with ex-Expo Warren Cromartie and Louis Gossett, Jr.

The weird week just gets weirder, and the go-go girls don't gyrate away.

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Al Gore Blogging

The Vice President meets the Vice President.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Friday Random Ten

Habib Koite & Bamada "I Mada" Ma Ya
Graham Parker and the Rumour "Protection" (live) Squeezing Out Sparks & Live Sparks
Wake Ooloo "Get Caught Up" Stop the Ride
Yo La Tengo "Did I Tell You" President Yo La Tengo / New Wave Hot Dogs
They Might Be Giants "Spider" Dial-a-Song: 20 Years of They Might Be Giants
Bjork "I've Seen It All" Selmasongs
Freedy Johnston "The Lucky One" Can You Fly
X-Ray Spex "The Day the World Turned Day-Glo" Germfree Adolescents
Kathleen Edwards "Away" Back to Me
Miracle Legion "Academy Fight Song" A Matter of Degrees (soundtrack)

Yo La Tengo "Take Care" Summer Sun

That sure has a Hoboken flavor to it. But it's a flavor I like. BTW, has anyone seen the movie A Matter of Degrees? Does it even exist?

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A Greyhound Ain't Nothing but a Sandwich

For Dog Blog Friday: "Hey, Dorie, what do you want for breakfast?" "Nigel sandwich!"


Wasted Blogs and Wasted Nights

Still dragging a bit after a night of silhouetted go-go girls (see above--image courtesy Edhat), eating food that will appear on Food Network's Dinner: Impossible (air date tba), as chef Robert's assignment was catering our party for 350, and meeting Kofi Annan. Well, the actor who played him at the Mark Taper in David Hare's terrific Stuff Happens. (He also played Lisa's dad on Saved by the Bell, for those of you not into the the-a-tur.)

It's a weird life.

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