Thursday, May 31, 2007

Wednesday Vieux Carre a Day Late Blogging

Believe it or not, INOTBB doesn't just sit in front of the internets all day, reading and composing and obsessing over the stat counter, let alone considering tinkering with the fantasy baseball team by deciding what middle reliever to bring up to replace Joakim Soria (you kow the heartbreak of Soria, don't you?). At times there's other writing to be done, writing nominally paid for. And that takes time, when you can't just babble on like I'm doing right now. But that's why I'm writing Wednesday's entry on what weaker minds insist on calling Thursday. INOTBB is beyond time.

INOTBB also has to eat, and the other day while dining at an undisclosed downtown location we'll just call the Cungry Hat with the delectable Amy, we both enjoyed a cocktail called an Elysian Field, a sort of cross between a Sazerac and a Whisky Sour. That was good, but as usual with cocktails, it got me thinking about previous potent potables I'd poted (isn't that the verb form?), and led me to the coolest bar of all-time. If you've been to New Orleans and drinks matter to you and you know Pat O'Brien's hurricanes are for people for whom 4 years of fratdom wasn't enough, then you go elsewhere, and first and foremost, you go for a merry-go-round ride. For in the Monteleone Hotel, you can sit at the Carousel Bar, where you end up spinning even before you've had a drink. It's at the Monteleone, where Faulkner, among others, used to sit deep in his cups, that you can get a Vieux Carré, which takes the basic Sazerac (not that a Sazerac is anything to sneeze at) and jiggers it up a notch. Turns out you can make a nifty variation at home, especially if you delve into Ted Haigh/Dr. Cocktail's indispensible Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails:

Vieux Carré

1 oz. rye whiskey (Old Overcoat is fine--yes, straight rye, what else?)
1 oz. Cognac
1 oz. sweet vermouth
1/2 tsp. Benedictine
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashed Peychaud's bitters

Shake over ice in cocktail shaker, pour into chilled up glass. Garnish with lemon twist.

Oh, and don't tell me you don't have the bitters, and no, you can't substitute and you can't leave them out. They do matter. You can mail order from those purveyors of magic elixirs Fee Bros.--the "old-fashioned" bitters is Angostura, and get some orange bitters for those martinis--while Peychaud's, created back in the day when an apothecary couldn't do much for you medically but could still make you feel better, you can get from the Sazerac Company itself.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Scene Is No Longer the Beat, Beat, Beat of Tom, Tom

If it wasn't time already, with yesterday's resignation of Tom Jacobs--the last real writer on staff--it's time to turn out the lights at the News-Press. Jacobs was an impassioned, clever writer and perceptive interviewer who gave the Life section and Scene some real intellectual oomph; in fact some of his best writing was when the paper let him do some longer think pieces like those we've come to see from Frank Rich. Jacobs joked that his career loosely followed Rich's, moving from theater writing to political columns, but that does make clear his wide-ranging intellect and curiosity. Alas, the days of his thoughtful examinations were already long gone when the meltdown began last summer. Remember when he and Michael Todd were allowed to do a point-counterpoint about the ramifications of 9/11 four years later in 2005? When the paper actually had writing in it?

It's a sad day that Wendy and her minions (I picture flying monkees--how about you?) have driven out the last reasoned and reasonable voice from the News-Press. One of the hallmarks of Jacobs' fine preview articles was his ability to get people who are partially asked questions for a living to say something fresh and new--he always interviewed prepared, he shook people out of promo time auto-pilot. Most of all, he always listened. The arts community will be poorer without him. If it's true he's now a public information officer with the county of Ventura, Ventura is very lucky.

And I hope if he reads this entry he pardons me for the title pun that even he, an inveterate punster, would never have stooped to.

UPDATE (May 31, 10 am): Turns out that Tom isn't going to be working for the county of Ventura. Nope, he's crossed the Rubicon...He wrote to a friend of both Tom and INOTBB: "On June 11, I begin my new position as communications director of the Rubicon Theatre Company in Ventura - an organization that produces consistently excellent work in an atmosphere of creativity and collegiality. I look forward to joining that highly regarded team."

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Faces and Names, I Wish They Were the Same

How exciting--Wendy McCaw herself opted to write for her paper this past Sunday, as you've probably seen on the Independent or Craig Smith's Blog, since I assume none of my readers still take the News-Press and therefore can't read its lock-boxed website where all the holy of holies are kept. Seems McCaw needed to attack Lou Cannon, since he had the nerve to characterize the meltdown of her paper properly in the LA Times a couple of weeks ago (she was probably most mad the Times used the cover of the Indy with an unflattering image of her mug on it, but she didn't say that). As usual Craig Smith does a fine job dissecting the editorial line by line, but I want to chime in on this moment (italics are Wendy's words, non-ital are Craig's):

"In order to keep our paper running smoothly, we reviewed the two computers Mr. Roberts was using to determine where we could locate the stringers and freelancers, information that apparently was kept only on his computers." Excuse me but you pay those stringers and freelancers don't you? Wouldn't that information have been with human resources or your chief financial officer at the time, Randy Alcorn?

Evidently there's an argument that they actually don't always pay their stringers, or so rumors go, but separate from Craig's good point, don't the issues of the papers themselves make it clear who writes for the paper? After all, last week I ran a list of writers that generated plenty of discussion, but no one argued I put a name on the list that didn't belong there. I managed to do this just by looking on line at material not sequestered away behind the pay wall. I would hope that people at the N-P don't have to pay to have access to their own website (or else Jack Benny better move over and make room in punchlines for Wendy).

If that "read the paper to see who writes for it" method seems too tricky, don't section editors probably know what people write the work that goes into each section? Are we to assume that Josef Woodard, wearing Groucho glasses and moustache, leaves his half of each Friday's Scene in the stump of a hollow tree on the Douglas Family Preserve and Keri Bradford goes and picks it up and leaves a check in its place?

Just because McCaw and von (of Physiology) Weisenberger probably don't know the names or recognize the faces of any of their writers (after all, mere employees aren't invited on the yachting trips unless they're there to twist off the caps of bottled water for the tastings), that doesn't mean no one else in the building does.

Which means, of course, the only reason to pore over Jerry Roberts computer was to find (or place?) something incriminating. Which also means that even if there was bias in the News-Press once, it probably beats the out-and-out lying readers get there now.


Monday, May 28, 2007

Sis Team Chapel

Women rarely get to be warts and all. We tend to like them air-brushed, innocent, perfect or pretending to be. That's just one reason Friday night's concert at the Presidio Chapel (and let's ignore the irony of all the weight Catholicism has dumped on the feminine for a moment) was so refreshing. For all three artists--Angela Correa, Devon Sproule, and Victoria Williams--were brilliantly talented, but they also made lots of funny faces, stop-started performances, battled capos, acted goofy, sung sad but true.

Victoria Williams is so full of winning whimsy and warmth it almost doesn't matter she can sing such cool songs. She made it clear her stand-up bassist was new to the band, only knew a small selection of songs, then repeatedly played songs not part of his repertoire. (He followed along quite well, nonetheless.) Her voice is a slippery singsong that gives some folks fits if pretty is all they want in their singers, but if you like emotive playfulness, Vic is your woman. In a 50 minute set she managed to perform tunes from all her albums, all the way back to 1987's Happy Come Home, including "Happy" itself, a minute-long ditty about a woman everyone thinks is crazy because she's outside shouting "Happy!" all the time when it just turns out to be the name of her dog. That's Williams' worldview in a nutshell, one where it'd be insane not to be crazy, not to have a dog, not to shout happy every so often. We could shout it even more if she came to town more frequently.

Middle act Devon Sproule looks like a heroine from a Buster Keaton movie (think Our Hospitality), a wisp of a woman in a slip of a dress with short hair done up with flowers. Her songs, many of late from her period pitching musical woo to land her husband (fellow singer-songwriter Paul Curreri), tell tales so artfully you almost wonder if part of her pose is tongue-in-cheek, but she's probably just being who she is--a smart Southerner (Virginia), a bit wise, a bit wise-ass, as when she broke for a solo by saying, "Take it Sproule!" Indeed, she can pick, making fine lines out of her electric Gibson with a pick-up as old as her father, or so she said. Her music, folk-based but with a knowledge of jazz that keeps leading it from the country to some odder city bars or something, is lit by the joy of moonshine. Why yes, both kinds.

Opener Angela Correa has an angel's voice but a stage presence too self-deprecating by half. It didn't help that she had to go back stage before playing a tune to re-tune; she also admitted she hadn't played out for awhile so was rusty--you wanted to suggest she hire a guitarist and just handle the vocals herself. In general, though, it's best not to make faces when you screw up--it's amazing what you can get away with if you just plough through like all is well. (Rumor has it you can even avoid impeachment as president, but that's another kind of review, isn't it?)

Overall, it was an evening of warmth and women getting to be the multifarious things they are, no matter what we (yes, mostly us men) want. Credit goes to Brett Leigh Dicks for producing the evening, and here's hoping that the talk about Presidio Chapel concerts becoming a series isn't just talk.

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Good Fences Make Good Riders

Originally uploaded by dbking

Forget about broncos, Clem was the world chammpion fence buster three years running.

Random Flickr-blogging explained.


You've Got to Say Yes to Another Guiness

Originally uploaded by cardanid

Liam and the Stout-Hearted Men never understood why they only got gigs one day a year.


To the Day We No Longer Need Memorials

For the Union Dead

Relinquunt Omnia Servare Rem Publicam.

The old South Boston Aquarium stands
in a Sahara of snow now. Its broken windows are boarded.
The bronze weathervane cod has lost half its scales.
The airy tanks are dry.

Once my nose crawled like a snail on the glass;
my hand tingled
to burst the bubbles
drifting from the noses of the cowed, compliant fish.

My hand draws back. I often sigh still
for the dark downward and vegetating kingdom
of the fish and reptile. One morning last March,
I pressed against the new barbed and galvanized

fence on the Boston Common. Behind their cage,
yellow dinosaur steamshovels were grunting
as they cropped up tons of mush and grass
to gouge their underworld garage.

Parking spaces luxuriate like civic
sandpiles in the heart of Boston.
A girdle of orange, Puritan-pumpkin colored girders
braces the tingling Statehouse,

shaking over the excavations, as it faces Colonel Shaw
and his bell-cheeked Negro infantry
on St. Gaudens' shaking Civil War relief,
propped by a plank splint against the garage's earthquake.

Two months after marching through Boston,
half the regiment was dead;
at the dedication,
William James could almost hear the bronze Negroes breathe.

Their monument sticks like a fishbone
in the city's throat.
Its Colonel is as lean
as a compass-needle.

He has an angry wrenlike vigilance,
a greyhound's gently tautness;
he seems to wince at pleasure,
and suffocate for privacy.

He is out of bounds now. He rejoices in man's lovely,
peculiar power to choose life and die--
when he leads his black soldiers to death,
he cannot bend his back.

On a thousand small town New England greens,
the old white churches hold their air
of sparse, sincere rebellion; frayed flags
quilt the graveyards of the Grand Army of the Republic.

The stone statues of the abstract Union Soldier
grow slimmer and younger each year--
wasp-waisted, they doze over muskets
and muse through their sideburns . . .

Shaw's father wanted no monument
except the ditch,
where his son's body was thrown
and lost with his "niggers."

The ditch is nearer.
There are no statues for the last war here;
on Boylston Street, a commercial photograph
shows Hiroshima boiling

over a Mosler Safe, the "Rock of Ages"
that survived the blast. Space is nearer.
When I crouch to my television set,
the drained faces of Negro school-children rise like balloons.

Colonel Shaw
is riding on his bubble;
he waits
for the blessèd break.

The Aquarium is gone. Everywhere,
giant finned cars nose forward like fish;
a savage servility
slides by on grease.

(Poem by Robert Lowell; statue by Augustus St. Gaudens; endless war by human beings.)

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Friday, May 25, 2007

This Biting Life

Everyone else from Sara De la Guerra to Craig De la Smith have blogged about this already, but no one has pointed out the best part of the News-Press's ad on Craig's List for a restaurant critic:

Scene, the weekly arts and entertainment magazine of the Santa Barbara News-Press, is looking for a local writer with a foodie background to serve as its restaurant critic. The ideal candidate will have journalism experience and a food or restaurant background. We're looking for someone to write straightforward critiques of local restaurants, with an authoritative and unbiased voice that gives credit when it's due, but isn't afraid to explain why something just doesn't work. This is a freelance position. The writer-reporter will eat at each restaurant at least twice, and will conduct original research and interviews. One article will be published each week, for $125, which includes dining expenses.

I know it's the mantra over there--after a sneeze you probably have to say "May the unbiased God bless you"--but what in the world is a biased restaurant reviewer? One that likes the same food Mayor Blum likes? One that likes non-vegetarian food? One that criticizes the buffet at the Chumash Casino?

Well, at least they're looking for a local writer. Given recent hires it would be easy to assume they might hire some Englishman who could spend his column inches explaining to us what the royals would eat based on reading an establishment's website menu.


Friday Random Ten

K. McCarty "Hey Joe" Dead Dog's Eyeball
Pearl Jam "Spin the Black Circle" Vitalogy
Billy Bragg "The World Turned Upside Down" Back to Basics
Lucinda Williams "Righteously" Live @ the Fillmore
Louis Armstrong "Savoy Blues" Martin Scorsese Presents: The Blues
Geggy Tah & King Chango "Whoever You Are" Red Hot + Latin Redux
Tom Russell "Navajo Rug" Song of the West
Yo La Tengo "Flying Lessons (Hot Chicken #1)" Electr-O-Pura*
Big Star "Hot Thing" Big Star Small World
The Ordinaires "Chhotisi Mulaqat" Time for a Change--Bar/None Sampler #2

The Spanic Boys "Looks Good to Me" Spanic Boys

Much stronger cut for cut than most of these random runs, starting with a terrific Daniel Johnston cover, running through Lucinda's far-from a run-through of the rip-snorting "Righteously," on to one of my favorite Yo La Tengo cuts, especially because it reminds me of the several times they've done it rock and roll justice live. The Pearl Jam is Amy's, and Amy's from a past life.

*Mike, I got iTunes to play a NJ cut first, so I win. What was the prize--some salt water taffy from Seaside Heights?


Go Away Kid You're Bothering Me

For Dog Blog Friday: Mookie just doesn't want to share the couch some nights. But he will share his tongue.


Thursday, May 24, 2007


The AP reports, you shudder:

The Osmonds will reunite this summer for a TV special celebrating a half-century in the entertainment business. Seven Osmond siblings — Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Donny, Haley Joel, Latoya, Tito, Marie and Jimmy — are scheduled to be onstage Aug. 13-14 at The Orleans Hotel Showroom, publicist Kevin Sasaki said Thursday from Los Angeles.

And you thought it was hard to name the Seven Dwarves. Seriously, you have to assume Branson was booked for the weekend, so that's how they defaulted to Vegas. Either that or Missouri has better lawyers. I also hate to add that this will air on PBS--so now not only will we have to suffer through pledge periods, they will threaten to play this special again and again till you give.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wednesday Breakfast Blogging

Frankly I don't ask for breakfast to impress me as I'm just not up for a culinary show first thing in the morning. Heck, I'm generally barely up at all. I do want breakfast to comfort me, for it to say, "George, yes, you are awake, but things are still calm and restful and I'll please you without making you work too hard." (This is not an actual transcript from a talking breakfast, and no, as fond as I am of spirits of all sorts, I've never been too keen on brunch libations like mimosas or bloody Marys, so I'm not soused amidst the snap crackle and pop, promise.)

This is a long way to go to say there's a new breakfast spot in town and I'm fond of it after one visit. Jake's Cottage Cuisine Cafe is where Skanky Buffet used to be, 2911 De La Vina, so within easy tandem bike distance from our casa. It's nothing fancy, and that's exactly why it's pleasant. Sky blue walls, sea blue tablecloths, some inoffensive if unremarkable art on the walls. Some sidewalk tables if you want to stare up De La Vina and count the near-miss accidents going into the TJ's parking lot. Despite its slightly desperately alliterative name, it could more accurately be called Jake's Joint, back when that word meant worth and not either rundown or unhip. (OK, they do have wireless, so that's pretty hip.)

But you come to a place like this for the food, not the scenery. It's good. The problem with continuing my joint metaphor is a joint meets a greasy spoon in a darkened kitchen where few come out un-polyunsaturated. That's not the case here as it's a Santa Barbara joint, and therefore it offers food that's made from fresh produce (none of those waxy, pale tomatoes here). Just check out the salsa fresca you can get and you'll see it's so fresh you won't let it behind you as it might pinch your butt. Still, Jake's balances the high-quality ingredients mantra with a wise unfussiness--it's a bit of homemade green goddess (I'm pretty sure) that's swirled on the plate of the Mid-Western Omelet, not some foam or something you need to know French to pronounce correctly. And it makes the ripe cherry tomatoes even more yummy.

As for that omelet, my order, it achieved prime omelet consistency, fluffy without being airy, moist without any sop. While it was stuffed, it wasn't bursted (you remember actress Ellen Bursted, don't you?), with well sauteed green peppers, green onions, green chiles, tasty-tad-salty ham, grilled fresh corn (hello, summer, where you been?), Oaxaca cheese (nice touch, unusual but appropriately mild with so many other flavors to mix with) and epazote. Now, epazote doesn't seem particularly Mid-West to me, but it fits the omelet's profile and gives the same lift it gives to beans (if you don't know epazote, get some and drop even a few leaves into your next pot of beans and start writing your thank you comment now).

Amy had The Charleston, for she was a flapper in a previous life. Seriously, I assume it hails from South Carolina way as it comes with grits, but get that look off your face, these are delicious grits, rich and creamy. You also get 2 or 3 eggs your way with that--Amy's way was 2, scrambled--plus Canadian bacon she approved of so much I didn't get any.

The coffee was just fine, avoiding any of the flavors some places try to pass off. (If I want vanilla coffee I'll order affogato). The service was solid, and a guy I have to assume was Jake made the rounds to many tables and it seemed he knew many repeat customers, which should be a good sign.

There's lunch, too, but we really don't eat out that often so I can't report yet. I promise. Haven't even been to the Hungry Cat in over a week!

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Scientists Made Me Do It

From the very bottom of my, well, something, I can't tell you how happy this news from Reuters makes me:

Researchers from Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found men who drink four to seven glasses of red wine a week are only 52 percent as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer as those who don't drink red wine.

So in my case, that means I'm a good 104% as likely to get prostate cancer. The odds of me ending up prostrate any given night are much higher, of course.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Reid-y Or Not, Here I Bend Over

The AP reports:

Flinching in the face of a veto threat, Democratic congressional leaders neared agreement with the Bush administration Tuesday on legislation to pay for the Iraq war without setting a timeline for troop withdrawal.


Despite the concession, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters that the legislation would be the first war-funding bill sent to Bush since the U.S. invasion of Iraq "where he won't get a blank check."

Reid and other Democrats pointed to a provision that would set standards for the Iraqi government in developing a more democratic society. U.S. reconstruction aid would be conditioned on progress toward meeting the goals, but Bush would have authority to order the money to be spent regardless of how the government in Baghdad performed.

So how is his different than a parent telling his kid, "You don't get your allowance if you don't do your chores," but then giving the kid the bucks anyway?

Here we are with the Dems, in the majority (only somewhat in the Senate since Joe Lieberman is threatening to become a Republican in name as well as deed--how in the world did Gore pick him to be his Vice Presidential candidate?), with polls showing the American people are on their side, backing down from a fight with a president at 30% approval ratings and a scandal-per-week pace even Warren Harding couldn't have kept up. Reid even had the nerve, according to the AP to say "Democrats would look to a different defense bill later this summer to 'continue our battle — and that's what it is — to represent the American people like they want us to represent them, to change the course of the war in Iraq.'" I hope Reid and the Democratic leadership are on hand to greet and comfort the families of the 25 soliders a week who will die between now and the time the political fight continues. We surely wouldn't want an artificial timetable saying when our government actually chooses to represent us the way we ask them to.

Meanwhile, this afternoon I get an email from Howard Dean saying we need to show the Republicans the door. I wrote back, "When the Democrats show me a spine, I'll show them the money." Right now, I'm back to wondering what the differences between the two parties are, again. (Oh, yeah, one says they're against the war.)

In he meantime, I'm left wishing that Russ Feingold would reconsider his presidential bid. According to TPM, he has said:

Under the President’s Iraq policies, our military has been over-burdened, our national security has been jeopardized, and thousands of Americans have been killed or injured. Despite these realities, and the support of a majority of Americans for ending the President’s open-ended mission in Iraq, congressional leaders now propose a supplemental appropriations bill that does nothing to end this disastrous war. I cannot support a bill that contains nothing more than toothless benchmarks and that allows the President to continue what may be the greatest foreign policy blunder in our nation’s history. There has been a lot of tough talk from members of Congress about wanting to end this war, but it looks like the desire for political comfort won out over real action. Congress should have stood strong, acknowledged the will of the American people, and insisted on a bill requiring a real change of course in Iraq.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

A Week of Bought-Lines

Last week I concluded a post with the following:

Seven people quit since the last charge against Roberts. If another seven don't quit over the next few weeks, it's time to start calling writers out by name. Starting next Sunday, INOTBB will list every freelancer and writer on staff in the paper the previous week and then all of us in the blogosphere can ask these somehow still News-Pressers--why do you think Jerry Roberts should be attacked this way?

So I missed my schedule, but here we go, all the folks with bylines in the News-Press from May 15 - May 21 (based on what you can see on the website without paying for the paper). I realize some of these folks are still part of the 33-6 vote, fighting the good fight. But many are management (no union vote, no matter their sympathies, which are enough to get some folks fired--see Huebner, Andrea) and many are freelancers, who one would hope could find other places to make a buck.

Daniel Alef
Dennis Bateman
Tyler Blue
Karen Bridgers
Joseph D
Tynesha Daniels
Blake Dorfman
Sam Edelman
Hannah Guzik
Bethany Hopkins
Karna Hughes
Al(an) Hunt
Tom Jacobs
Marilyn McMahon
Ted Mills
Richard Mineards
Frank Newton
Alelia Parenteau
Mark Patton
Barry Punzal
Kendal A. Rautzhan
Dale Rim
Laura Schlessinger
Mindy Spar
Staff Report
Scott Steepleton
Justine Sutton
Mike Takeuchi
Chris Trenchard
Marty Wadsworth
Nora K. Wallace
Lorraine Wilson
Buddy Winston
Josef Woodard
Maria Zate

Then of course, there's:

Wendy McCaw
Arthur von Weisenberger
Travis Armstrong

The folks listed in Business:

Yolanda Apodaca
Graham Brown
Kathy Knobbe
Steve Nakutin
Bob Yznaga

The folks listed under Newsroom without bylines this week:

Charlotte Boechler
Keri Bradford
Charles Bucher

There might be others I've missed. For instance one emailer wrote "a couple people who are easy to overlook are Anthony Peck and Marcia Heller, who work for Travis laying out the editorial pages and vetting the letters." If there are other people like that, feel free to let me know in the comments.

Oh, and I am ignoring the Goleta Valley Voice, Blue Edge, and El Mexicano for now, as McCaw bought those up, so it's a bit harder to determine how connected any of them are to the Ampersand Empire. But, it is fascinating to see that while it seems the N-P only has a tiny handful of reporters, it certainly has a lot of writers. Make of that what you will.

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She Comes Down to Santa Barbara to Tell Us Everything Is Fine

Back 12 years ago for a really cool zine called Fond Affexxions (you have to miss print, you really do) I wrote a review about Victoria Williams' still-crowning triumph Loose which said this:

Acquired taste she is, but given this is by-far her best album (number three), getting turned on by Loose is like finally getting beluga at the Russian Tea Room after years of supermarket jars that only hinted at the wonderment of caviar. Wonderment is the key word, by the way: She comes off as a scat-singing Glenda the Good Witch, and that's all part of her charm. Williams helps make Van Dyke Parks' Amerikitsch make sense--the arrangements are as all-over as her voice. What else could they be, given it's her personality that holds together her mix of country, folk, gospel, pop, jazz, rock. And that personality is fighting her multiple sclerosis, the death of a best friend, the death of her dog. With all the ugliness, so much to bemoan, she sings about love--lots--and makes you believe it. I never thought I would call a record uplifting without falling out of my chair laughing at myself. Instead, I can only sit here and smile.

Seems those of us in Santa Barbara can sit in the chapel at the Presidio and smile this Friday, for Victoria Williams will be heading up a show with Devon Sproule and Angela Correa. Tickets are available at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation office, located on the Presidio, or by calling: (805) 965 0093. You won't want to miss this terrific, intimate night.

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Shore Leave

Originally posted by mkapple.

MacDuff snapped this photo a second too soon, just missing this fair lass getting dragged to a watery death by Nessie.

Monday random-Flickr blogging explained.


From Her to Paternity

Originally uploaded by jeughonk_blaattv.

Young Nathalie suddenly realizes what the word "da-da" means and exactly who it refers to.


Don't Leave Me Hanging

Originally uploaded by gin_able.

Further archaeological evidence that the Linesonians did worship the clothespin.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Another Party, Another Planet

Just to continue a line of thought that my fine, thoughtful commenters already advanced, there's a huge difference between a scene and a community, and if I get a vote I opt for the latter. After our somewhat off-putting experience Thursday night at Nights at the SBMA, on Friday night Amy and I attended the Fundraiser for Fire Disaster Relief for all the folks who lost their businesses and homes and cats a month ago. Local businesses pitched in donating food and drink; Spencer the Gardener with Nate Birkey played two terrific sets of music; people chatted and had fun and even John Palminteri made an appearance and joked about his very own Prime-Time-ness (he's such a big silly fish in the small Santa Barbara media pond). The mayor was there, as was Councilman Brian Barnwell, dancing with his wife Camilla Cohee as the accordion and horn-led sounds of the band echoed out from the historic Casa de la Guerra courtyard and bounced off the ever-increasingly distant News-Press building (it really seems to be merely a historic relic at this point). People seemed to be there because they cared, because they knew their $10 donation would help someone, not like the night before when it seemd as if people thought their $25 ticket would enter them in the "let's get laid" lottery of the very well dressed. Sure enough, David from Frameworks said a few words and stressed how their goal with the gallery was to make a community, to get around the idea that art was too expensive and too exclusive. While the fire certainly made things much harder, their dream has far from gone up in smoke--the community they made was there for them, hoping, helping, having a blast just a few blocks away from where everything had seemed to go so terrible wrong.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Blog of Our Nights

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art puts on this event called Nights every third Thursday from May to September and Amy and I finally decided we needed to see what all the hoopla was about. (Edhat has photos.) It helped that we won the tickets from KCRW, fully aware of how weird it is for Santa Barbarans to have to call an LA radio station to win tickets to a SB event. Supposedly we were going to be able to "Revel in the spirit of ancient and modern Mexico, inspired by the exhibition Tamayo: A Modern Icon Reinterpreted," but mostly we got to stand around, look at the people being gorgeous or trying hard to be gorgeous (so often botox and plastic surgery does leave one with a hard look), listen to KCRW DJ Jason Bentley over a really loud sound system (and see him on stage, if we could draw our eyes past the firedancers--this was outside and not in the museum itself so no canvas was threatened), and drink mixed drinks with whacky names like The Sauza® Red Mask Tequila-tini or whatever mine was called, I think it was Picasso's Penis or something (I don't want to know if it was his blue or rose period).

I have to admit these kind of things--Santa Barbara's beautiful looking beautiful for each other--isn't really my cup of martini, even if you get to do it standing next to a Chagall (if you wanted to pick up someone who could be rugged under their Friday night finest even on a Thursday, you could cozy up to them in the Ansel Adams gallery, I guess). When you're married, that kind of thing sort of loses its charge. The kind of fun part is there are arts and crafts stations set up throughout the galleries, so you can make stuff like the still-life folk altar I threw together pictured up top. Maybe it's my generally ornery nature, but making art in groups, dressed up, while drinking, where everyone gets to watch your process and you have to reach over each other's art-in-progress to get the glitter's fun and all, but makes art a parlor game. As parlor games go it's better than Monopoly, but has about as much to do with art as Monopoly has to do with becoming a real estate tycoon.

I know, I know, just relax already and have another $7 cocktail, which isn't a terrible price, but when you spend $25 to get in (we were glad we won our tickets), and the event has alcohol sponsors, I expect something more (at least more food--very paltry presentations, if you ask me). It's the kind of thing the Film Festival pulls off so well, for free, but to a much more exclusive audience. (Although the amount of Film Festival folks wandering around was quite high--guess they're missing the jacked-up party scene.)

Then again, it might be cool to hear someone do a slightly different cover of Jonathan Richman at one of the Nights events:

Some people try to pick up girls
And they get called an asshole
This never happened in front of a Pablo Picasso

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Johan, Johan, Why Have Thou Forsaken Me

Fantasy baseball makes it clear just how much luck is part of the game. Yesterday, my team has three starters going and here are the results:

18 ip, 30 k, 3 er

Add all that up (almost 2 strikeouts per inning!) and the record for the dominant trio? No wins, 1 loss. Two of their teams did win, in extras, but the loss went to Johan Santana, who got outdueled by the Tribes' Fausto Carmona, whose name sounds like the main character from Culture Clash's version of Goethe's epic.

Indeed, such baseball disappointment leads me to make even more obscure jokes than usual. My team better start getting wins or I might melt into a puddle of my own arcanity (rhymes with insanity).

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Friday Random Ten

Johnny Cash & Flea "I'm a Drifter" (version 2) Unearthed: Trouble in Mind
Kate Jacobs "Can You Promise?" Hydrangea
The Band with Bob Dylan "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" The Last Waltz
Calexico "Stucco" Feast of Wire
Helium "Superball" The Dirt of Luck
The Vanduras "Theme for Troubled Teens" In the Dark
Victoria Williams "TC" This Moment in Toronto
Blind Lemon Jefferson "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" Anthology of American Folk Music
Cesaria Evora "Carnaval de Sao Vicente" Cafe Atlantico
Tift Merritt "Ain't Looking Closely" This Is Americana

Ani DiFranco "Tamburitza Lingua" Revelling: Reckoning

So this week's edition is heavy on folkie-countrie with an alt twist, right down to a 20 second Calexico cut. That is a great Helium tune, though, and it's impossible not to see Brian Brooks Moving Company doing those incredible full body pops when hearing that Cesaria Evora cut.

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Greyhounds Go 45 MPH

For Dog Blog Friday: Mookie sez, Home, James. Of course no one named James is driving.


Thursday, May 17, 2007


It's time for one of those point, nod, and advise you "to go read the whole thing" entries, as Glenn Greenwald tells us what the Comey revelations mean....

James Comey's testimony amounts to a statement that -- even according to the administration's own loyal DOJ officials -- the President ordered still-unknown spying on Americans, and engaged in that spying for a full two-and-a-half-years, that was so blatantly and shockingly illegal that they were all ready to resign over it. And the President's Attorney General then lied to ensure that this episode remain concealed. Mere one-day calls for a Congressional investigation are woefully inadequate here.

There is clear and definitive evidence of deliberate lawbreaking. In addition to Congressional investigations, there is simply no excuse for anything other than the immediate commencement of a criminal investigation by a Special Prosecutor. And the administration ought to be pressured every day to account for what it did here. This is not a one-day or one-week fleeting scandal. These revelations amount to the most transparent and deliberate crimes -- felonies -- by our top government officials, not with regard to private and personal matters but with regard to how our government spies on us.

Ok, I will add one more thing--screw the Special Prosecutor, I think it's definitely pitchfork and torch time. After all, as Woody Allen says in Manhattan, "Well, a satirical piece in the Times is one thing, but bricks and baseball bats really get right to the point."

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So Long to a Salon of Beauty

Rents and the mercenary landlords who raise them have claimed another victim in Santa Barbara--Nicholas Salon of Beauty, better known as Nicky's, better known as the place to buy your George W. Bush toilet paper. The cheery shop at the corner of Anacapa and the one-block Arlington Avenue has been the place to get the unusual, the political, the flat-out most fun gifts and cards since about 1997. As for the owner, Nicolas Gekis, he not only stocked the shop but kept up the beauty shop, a place so ameniable that the few times my mom came out to visit and had to get her hair done (she was of that generation, after all, of the weekly set and monthly perm) she went there and left happy. Or, at least, happy as my mom got. And that wasn't easy, given she liked to find the one thing to complain about that for her would then ruin the whole experience (bitter coffee after a fine meal--the whole evening was terrible). Nicky's couldn't get a better testimonial than pleasing Marge.

Rumor has it that Nicky will be cutting hair somewhere in town, just not in his own shop, the one his father started in 1956. Meanwhile everyone on our Christmas list will have gifts all the less interesting, while the building's new owner better be happy hearing that ca-ching of cash. The store closes June 30, so be sure to stop in, say goodbye, and get a good buy at the sale. You can never have too many wind-up toys, you know.

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Reggie, Bar the Candy

On May 18, 1946 Reginald Martinez Jackson came into the world, but his parents didn't notice for 5 months and thus he got the nickname Baby October. Yes, Friday is the 61st birthday of the straw that stirs the drink, which is certainly better than calling yourself the stirrer that sucks the liquid--you have to admit, even in an egotistical moment life, Reggie had a way with words. That way wasn't as wonderful as his teammate Mickey Rivers' adventures in quotability; Rivers said during one contretemps with his slugging fellow Yank, "No wonder you're all mixed up. You got a white man's first name, a Spanish man's second name and a black man's third name." Mick the Quick also said, when someone commented that Jackson had an IQ of 160, "What, out of a thousand?" It's generally considered a good thing that Rivers could run fast. Of course, it might just have been the larger than life (and I mean that in the good pre-steroid way) Jackson just drew such comments, for it was fellow-A (gee, that looks weird) Darold Knowles who said, "There isn't enough mustard in the world to cover Reggie Jackson" (as if someone named Darold should relish in such a joke). That Grey Poupon did not immediately try to sign up Jackson and Knowles for a commerial shows the 1970s were really a simpler time.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wednesday White Wine Blogging

Maybe it's my politics leaking into my taste, but I generally prefer my wines Commie red as opposed to whiny white. There just seems to be more going on in reds, and while I admire anything that can get over on subtlety, I'm a sucker for big flavors that you can more easily find in a Zinfandel or Syrah, say, than a Chardonnay. It doesn't help that Chards have become dairy products at most California wineries--oaked to the point that they're all about butter. You'd think they would go better with popcorn than fish. (I do want to admit that I have become turned on to Rieslings, particularly those from J J Christoffel or Dr. Loosen, and Gewurztraminers, particularly those from Navarro and Lazy Creek, which isn't getting very far into the mix, I know, but if I like those and my Thai food likes them too, I don't need to explore too much. We'll leave Viogniers for another day's discussion, but as you can see, my ironclad "no whites if I can help it" stand has been undermined of late. Also note most of the white wines I like provide their own drunk test: when you can no longer spell them correctly you have to cut yourself off.)

That said, Amy and I opened a bottle of Chardonnay this Saturday that was one of the best wines--yes, that's a color-blind comment--I've ever had. Let me introduce you to the Williams Selyem 2002 Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay, and you could probably shake its hand as it had that much muscle, that much tone. It poured a perfect gold--it's what I'm hoping the bottle of Chateau Y'Quem I half own will be like when that gets opened. It's nose was a little exotic, suggesting places far off it could promise to transport you to, but it also smelled a bit of creme brulee, that caramel cooked to a secret better sweetness with some vanilla adding its own seductiveness.

The good news is we got to drink it, too. Just as only the best red wines do, this white seemed able to push your taste buds around so they would get the best view as it paraded by. It taught you how to like it, not that liking it could ever be in doubt. So full, so rich, stone fruits and citrus all there but balanced like some Leonard Bernstein had them under baton control. This lasted, and lasted some more.

It helped dinner was worthy of this feast in a bottle, as for something different we didn't go to the Hungry Cat. Nope, we cooked at home, from Suzanne Goin's Sunday Suppers at Lucques (her Sunday is our Saturday, I guess), and thereby kept it in the cool cat family, given Goin is married to head Hungry Catster David Lentz. There's a recipe for ricotta gnocchi with mushrooms and fresh corn in brown sage butter in the book and it was the first week for corn at the farmers' market, so what else could we do? BTW, if you have the cookbook, cut out the breadcrumbs, which just make things gritty to our tastes, and you can sub in oyster mushrooms for the chanterelles that are called for, if you can't find chanterelles or a loan to buy them.

After dinner I dug out the Williams Selyem newsletter for the Heintz release only to read Robert Parker's review that concludes, "This is one of the greatst Chardonnays I have ever tasted from California." Amy and I concluded we don't need no Robert Parker to know a brilliant wine, even when it's white. Sadly, I don't have another bottle of Heintz (I'll pass on the ketchup joke), not even from a different vintage. Then again, I'd hate to become one of those white wine drinkers.

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Death Becomes Her

It's hard to take seriously as a font of wisdom on the subject of violence a woman who has said, "The atomic bomb is a marvelous gift that was given to our country by a wise God." (The part left out, of course, is something like "and it took them damn commie Jews the Rosenbergs to give the bomb to the Soviet Union.") Yet, sweet Phyllis Schlafly has decided to mouth-off as to the cause of the Virginia Tech shootings. And here's the opening:

What was the motive behind 23-year-old Cho Seung-Hui's killing of 32 students and teachers at Virginia Tech? Why was he consumed with hate, resentment and bitterness?

Cho was an English Department major and senior. As a frequent lecturer on college campuses, I have discovered that the English Departments are often the weirdest and/or the most leftwing.

A look at the websites of Virginia Tech's English Department and of its professors reveals their mindset. We don't yet know which courses Cho took, but it could have been any of these.

It's hard to know where to start with these 3 two-sentence paragraphs (if you can't get your thoughts condensed, you just aren't cogitating, I guess). That "and/or" stands out, the one that automatically makes weirdest=leftwing. Her term "mindset" is also a hint, and proof Schlafly sort of misses the point of a university in the first place--it's about setting one's mind on explore and questioning. Later in her essay she'll attack the course taught by Professor Bernice Hausman called Introduction to Cultural Studies, and which features readings by Adorno, the man who wrote "the essay's innermost formal law is heresy" and could have been talking about academia too. (Shoot, I just connected academia to heresy--no wonder Schlafly is anti-academia. Maybe she can take Jerry Falwell's seat and run Liberty University and save the youth of America from thinking when they go to college. )

Alas, her critique, a collection of wild suppositions and unfounded stabs in the literary theory dark, just goes downhill from there. (For a fine examination of it, see Karen Houppert's blog at The Nation.) Overall, though, beyond the fierce anti-intellectualism one expects from a right-wing firebrand (hey, their hero is W.), what's most prominent in her argument is a distrust and dislike of feminist theory that could even make the guys in Spinal Tap finally realize the difference between sexy and sexist. Schlafly writes:

Other books Cho sold on the eBay-affiliated site included books by three authors whose writings were taught in his Contemporary Horror class. He sold Men, Women, and Chainsaws, The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Takes of Horror and the Macabre, and The Female of the Species: Tales of Mystery and Suspense.

It's quite possible, and I hate to say this as a former college teacher but...perhaps Cho sold these books because he never read them. But let's pretend he was a good student and did do his assigned reading. Why would he then sell these books? Perhaps because they offer suggestions he didn't want to hear (and, sadly enough, neither does Shlafly). For instance, writes about Men, Women, and Chainsaws, "Before Men, Women, and Chain Saws, most film critics assumed that horror (especially slasher) films entail a male viewer sadistically watching the plight of a female victim. Carol Clover argues convincingly that both male and female viewers not only identify with the victim, but experience, through the actions of the 'final girl,' a climactic moment of female power." As for that Female of the Species book it's by none other than Joyce Carol Oates, who calls herself a feminist.

But Schlafly plays this "ignore the author" game throughout her essay. At one point she writes:

Did Cho take Professor J.D. Stahl's senior seminar, English 4784, on "The City in Literature"? The assigned reading starts with a book about an urban prostitute who finally kills herself and a book about a violent man who kills his girlfriend.

OK, what are those horrible horrible books? The urban prostitute is the main character of Stephen Crane's Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. Now, you'd think given Schlafly's take on the world a prostitute should kill herself out of shame (she's taken part in not just sex out of wedlock but sex for money), but for the purposes of proving why Cho would go on a rampage, it's better just to focus on the violence. That book about the violent man who kills his girlfriend is Berlin Alexanderplatz, Alfred Doblin's epic about Berlin between the World Wars (made into the mind-blowing Fassbinder film). Sure it's dark, but to reduce a 400-page novel into merely this action is as silly as reducing Hamlet to "Some great Shakespearean scene/Where a ghost and a prince meet/And everyone ends in mincemeat." At least Dietz and Schwartz meant the Hamlet summary from "That's Entertainment" as a joke.

The saddest part is Cho was actually a killer in the Schlafly tradition. After all, the biggest clue he had psychological problems prior to his attack came from his stalking of female students. If only he had learned something from a class like Studies in Theory: Representing Female Bodies then maybe he wouldn't have been so messed up that way, and he might have had some human connection and not been as alienated and not become a headline.

Who knows, just as Schlafly writes "we don't yet know which courses Cho took," for all we know he read Eagle Forum religiously (pun intended) and thought the world of Schlafly. So much so he took her demeaning attitude towards her own sex and externalized it first to the women on the Virginia Tech campus, and then one day to everyone there. He did compare himself on one of his videotapes to Jesus and Moses. Perhaps it was the religious right that made Cho a killer?

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Minor Fall, the Major Lift

In light of George Carlin's 70th birthday on Saturday (one of my first lps was Class Clown--don't know how my parents let my sister buy it for me) and the death of Jerry Falwell today, here's a quote from Carlin that Scott Long over at The Juice Blog featured:

I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

The Russians Are Coming? No, They're Just Breathing Heavy

Ah, somebody used the Google Translator to turn my blog into Russian. Which now means the next time I'm in Moscow I know to say, "Просто остаться со мной, и я вас в свою очередь собратьев пить бесплатно," when I want to say, "I'm cheap and a whole lot more fun."

I hope it doesn't lose anything in translation ("filthy community infidel"?!).


Something Savage This Way Comes

A follow up to the News-Press entry from last night....

It seems I missed half the fun by not actually scrounging about for a copy of the print edition from Sunday, for INOTBB's favorite moral scourge Dr. (of Physiology) Laura had to put her two cents in about the Jerry Roberts accusations on page A2. Oh, and I don't mean to use a cliche when I say she put her two cents in--that's precisely what her notions are worth. According to Craig Smith, at the end of her column she writes:

I must say, however, that Mr. Roberts working at The Daily Nexus, which typically presents its own version of vulgar sexuality (check out the "Wednesday Hump" section looks bad . . .

Jerry Roberts was hired in late January 2007 to be publications director of UC Santa Barbara's Daily Nexus. The Nexus, although it has some advisory staff, is primarily student-run, and certainly student written and edited. It has run a sex column (not a section, as Dr. Laura called it, but then again, the people left in charge at the News-Press don't know their newsholes from a hole in the ground), called the Wednesday Hump, at least as far back as 2002, when then Hump-ster Beth Van Dyke was quoted in USA Today.

That USA Today article went on to say (starting with an amazing first clause that must warm the cockles of every non-free speech loving heart, but here I'm assuming Dr. Laura has one):

First Amendment issues aside, defenders say the columns address an issue important to its primary readers. "It's no secret that sex is a popular topic among college students and that, for a lot of us, it's our first chance to explore our sexuality," says Larry Griffin, editor of The Heights at Boston College. "It's worth it just to get the topic out there."

Given her own youthful indiscretions, you would think Dr. (of Physiology) Laura would have a bit more forgiveness for the perky, curious, and enthusiastic sexuality of those in college. It's less surprising she doesn't seem to care for First Amendment rights, which for her, and her employer Ms. McCaw, seems to mean, "Those who have the most money are first among equals, and therefore get to have the most right to speak." Why else would Schlessinger seem to think every blog should offer her a soapbox when we can hear her across the nation on Talk Radio Network stations?

And speaking of the company that sydicates her show, if she thinks Roberts somehow is besmirched by allowing college students to continue to write the paper they wrote before he came on board (some of which just happens to be about sex and gets specific about acts and uses dirty words and stuff--eww, gross!), should she also be calling out Chancellor Yang for allowing the paper to be published at UCSB? Or, perhaps we should ask--Dr. (of Physiology) Laura, you work for Talk Radio Network, who also represents Michael Savage, shouldn't that give you moral pause? To hit just some of his low-lights Michael Savage has:
  • Agreed 100% with a caller who said that gay rabbis would likely rape teen age boys
  • Blamed the Columbine shootings on sexual reassignment surgery
  • Said Condoleeza Rice was "pushed up the ladder all of her life because of social engineering"
  • Called "civil rights" a "con" and asserted: "It's a racket that is used to exploit primarily heterosexual, Christian, white males' birthright" (he did this on Martin Luther King Day)
  • Said of Larry King and Wolf Blitzer: "The two of them together look like the type that would have pushed Jewish children into the oven to stay alive one more day to entertain the Nazis"
  • Asserted after the 2004 tsunami: "Many of the countries and the areas in these countries that were hit by these tidal waves were hotbeds of radical Islam. Why should we be helping them destroy us?...I truthfully don't believe in foreign aid."
  • Told off a caller in 2003 with the lines, "Oh, you're one of the sodomites. You should only get AIDS and die, you pig."

This man, Michael Savage, is sold by the same people that sell you, Ms. Schlessinger. Tell me, if we're going to tar people with the blunt brush of association, who looks dirtiest now--you or Jerry Roberts?

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Don't Look Ethel!

Originally uploaded by vhtrc.

Mortimer knows if he gets passed by one more woman in this "strip race" he'll have to off his shorts and end up streaking.

Monday random Flickr-blogging explained.


Busted Chops for Dinner

Originally uploaded by adamthegladiator.

It was such a peaceful neighborhood, until that karate tournament showed up.


Rock Oww, Bye, Baby

Originally uploaded by cc_xuege.

One of the "highlights" from Faces of Death 12: Cliff-Diver Edition.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Requested Clarification to Partly Cloudy

If you're interested, you can go see the lamest CYA of all-time at the News-Press (if you buy the print paper, more on that in a bit). As everyone knows, they called Jerry Roberts a child porn connoiseur a few weeks back, and Roberts, rightfully, got a bit pissed. So today the N-P ran a front page "Requested Clarification." Yep, not a retraction, or a correction, but a "requested clarification"--i.e., "someone asked us for this statement because they didn't quite get it when we insulted them in the first place." As in, "we have to continue deniability, so the legal industry we keep afloat still has language to bicker over."

Here's all you can see if you go the N-P website:

REQUESTED CLARIFICATION: Our April 22 article on Jerry Roberts
On April 22, 2007, the News-Press published an article reporting that images of child pornography were found on the hard drive of a News-Press computer.

In today's column it says, how can anyone think we said it was Jerry Roberts and Roberts only who had the child porn on his computer? But look at today's "Clarification" it says the article was "on Jerry Roberts"! Isn't that proof enough they're slinging mud with a howitzer?

Note, too, that if you only look at the paper's website, where you can't get very far if you're not a subscriber, here's what you see if you look up the original charges:

News-Press seeks exam of computer used by ex-editor Roberts containing child porn
April 22, 2007 1:12 PM
Ampersand Publishing, owner of the Santa Barbara News-Press,

While other editors used the computer, and while the computer was bought used, and while the computer did not have sufficient security systems to be locked down, it is only identified--in a headline--as a computer used by Roberts.

What's sleazier than a person who looks at child porn? A person who accuses another of looking at child porn just to make them look bad.

And, after this latest "requested clarification" attack, it's time to pull the gloves off. If you still work at the News-Press, as a staff person or as a freelancer, you have accused Jerry Roberts of these terrible things. Yes, you are all "staff report" now, whether in news, life, or sports, as those of us out in reader-land have no way of knowing which staff made this report. How do you feel? What's your requested clarification about how you sleep every night?

Seven people quit since the last charge against Roberts. If another seven don't quit over the next few weeks, it's time to start calling writers out by name. Starting next Sunday, INOTBB will list every freelancer and writer on staff in the paper the previous week and then all of us in the blogosphere can ask these somehow still News-Pressers--why do you think Jerry Roberts should be attacked this way?


Friday, May 11, 2007

A Tale of Two Eaties

It's Friday, so we hit the town. The usual happy hour group hopes to try the new Downtown Brewing I've written about, mostly because I send out the happy hour email and the place is within walking distance of my house. Now, Downtown has only been open since Sunday, but still, you'd think they'd bother to hire some professional waitstaff. Or even better, enough waitstaff for their large lay-out. Or maybe decide it's not good customer relations to brew every pint to order (and sometimes deliver that beer in a cracked pint, too, but the receiver won't complain about some glass chips in his beer because it took so darn freaking long for the thing to show up in the first place). They mean well, they apologize for their incompetence sweetly, but I'd rather just go to the place that's competent. Plus the two folks who ordered food were not happy--a lukewarm hamburger, a chicken wrap that was dry in a wrap yet drier. The beer is good, but when you need to wait so long for each one to show up, you begin to expect they're a front for MADD and not really in the beer-selling business.

After that, Amy and I went downtown (not to be confused with Downtown) to hit the benefit for Frameworks, and missed buying a Tony Askew at a very good price at auction by this much (just getting you ready for the Get Smart film with Steve Carrell). Since Indigo is mere blocks away from The Hungry Cat, and since we hadn't eaten there since two Wednesdays ago....It's 8 pm, and we get a table instantly. Bevergage Manager Tim, who's fast becoming my favorite restaurant professional in Santa Barbara, quickly says hello and informs us of off-list wine specials. The waitress, who served us before, also recognizes us. It's like we're with family (ok, a family less dysfunctional than mine), not the sweet incompetents at Downtown Brewing.

Of course all the food is terrific. Oysters are great, and do go for the ones from Maryland if they have them, big and briny and with a finish a wine would kill for. Makor Pinot Blanc is a perfect steely complement. This time Amy went for the great braised clams I had the first night and that we made in the cooking class and I went for the crabcake, which only has enough of something to bind it but otherwise tastes totally crustacean, topped with sunnyside-up quail eggs that ooze their richness onto the crab and frisee and lift the dish from excellent to ecstatic. Our off list wines by the glass this time are a Tensley Lea Rose, made from Syrah and on its way to a sparkling shiraz from Australia, almost.

Of course of course we had THE dessert (the only one) as bread pudding from brioche, with a brulee topping and a chocolate bed, can never be bad. Tim also comped us some killer dessert wines, but I don't want to sound like I was bought off to write this. But ask for the orange-infused cognac if you want a treat.

What have we learned? The Hungry Cat is still all that. But Downtown Brewing will leave you stewing.

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Long Enough to Kill Lesser Cineastes!

Over at Something Awful (tagline: The Internet Makes You Stupid.) are a series of classic film posters re-done Grindhouse style. Go and giggle at them all (or jump to page 9 with Al Gore like you've never seen him before).

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This Week in Dog Blog Friday Grindhouse: Greyhound played by Nigel, Rat Terrier played by Ricky, Wishbone played by Felt Snake, soon to be missing its tongue (a scene claimed to inspire young filmmakers of today like Eli Roth). Bored extras played by Tillie and Dewey.

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Friday Random Ten

Pere Ubu "Drinking Wine Spodyody" Datapanik in the Year Zero: 1978-1979
Sufjan Stevens "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts" Come on Feel the Illinoise!
The Master Musicians of Jajouka "A Habibi Quajee T'Allel Allaiya" Apocalypse Across the Sky
Dinosaur Jr. "I Misunderstood" Beat the Retreat: Songs of Richard Thompson
Louis Armstrong "Blue Again" Ken Burns Jazz Collection: Louis Armstrong
Arturo Sandoval "Blues for Diz" For Love or Country
Marshall Crenshaw "Starting Tomorrow" Life's Too Short
Brian Eno & Jah Wobble "Marine Radio" Spinner
John Cale "Things" HoboSapiens
The Magnetic Fields "I Thought You Were My Boyfriend" I

Alison Krauss & Union Station "Daylight" New Favorite

In case you were wondering, J Mascis does misunderstand Richard Thompson, bludgeoning a great song and coming up with easily the worst cut on an otherwise fine covers collection. And while I've spent lots of time hyping my guitar heroes Robert Quine and Marc Ribot, I have to admit I'm a complete sucker for Jerry Douglas's dobro, too.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Foster Brooks Doesn't Shave

Friday would have been the 95th birthday of Foster Brooks, and just thinking about it makes me feel a lit bight-headed (hiccup). Brooks had one of the great careers in Hollywood, managing to turn his own battles with the bottle into a schtick that clicked; of course Deano probably kept him around as his antics made Martin always seem sober by comparison. (I don't know about you, but way back when I was single I always tried to stand next to the ugliest person I could find. Indeed, one night in a bar I thought I'd accomplished this particularly well until I realized I sat myself next to a mirror.)(Look, this is an entry about Foster Brooks--did you really expect any jokes not old enough to have been stolen by Jack Benny once?) Ah, for the days of yore and mine, when mothers weren't mad and one could laugh about Alcoholics Unanimous. You know, when we found our souses charming. Indeed, to help usher back the golden days of tipplers and the nighclub auidences who loved them, I'm working on a pilot for American Alco-Idol. Imagine the excitement as a stellar panel judges the slurs, trips, and gaffes of the best drunks in the country. Who will be the William Hung-over of the outtakes show? How great will it be that all the show's Glugmates won't have to ache with anticipation for their faves to come out of the closet? But making an American Alco-Idol From Justin to Kelly...that's just fucked up.

Here's a You Tube of Our Mr. Brooks discussing his 60th birthday.

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You've Got to Have Art

If you live in Santa Barbara, you should head over to Indigo, 1323 State Steet, Friday from 5:30 - 9:30 pm. They will be hosting a benefit for Caruso Woods Fine Art/The Frameworks, which as you probably know suffered a devastating fire a few weeks back (they lost both the business and their cat).

What's more, there will be a silent auction featuring donated work from many of the area's top artists (many of whom have shown at the Frameworks over the years), including Tony Askew, Marcia Burtt, Nell Campbell, May Heebner and more.

Great local art, good cause, silent auction (I'm a bit addicted to them)--if it's good for INOTBB, it's good for you.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

First Prize Is a 3% Raise
Second Prize Is a Set of Steak Knives
Third Place Is You're Fired

I want to take a crack at a local story before Travis Armstrong gets ahold of it in his no spin zone that makes Bill O'Reilly look like a poster child for sanity. (Of course, if the other blogs in town are right Armstrong has gone missing of late--perhaps he's in Cheney's undisclosed location, safe from the cabal, while Cheney is in Iraq in the secure Green Zone.) In today's Santa Barbara Newsroom Rob Kuznia reports, "The Santa Barbara school board laid off 48 teachers Tuesday night, largely in an effort to find money to give the rest of the K-12 school system’s 800-plus teachers a union-negotiated raise."

Union-haters are going to jump on that line and claim, "See, that's what unions do, get their own members canned." But as the full article points out, the real story isn't that simple. (Quick digression: of course in the News-Press the story would end with that sentence so as to better buttress editorial beliefs, which is why Kuznia has to be writing somewhere else right now.) Employers almost always try to play employees off each other, especially at the bargaining table. It happened with Unit 18 lecturers at the UC: when the Office of the President finally came through with something like a deal after years of bargaining, it helped lecturers who had taught for 6+ years and got through the legendary "eye of the needle" review (much of the work of tenure, all to get 3-year contracts instead of single year contracts), but didn't do as much for those with less seniority. Guess which group is in the majority. Guess which group was more invested in the first place and likely to be part of the bargaining team.

The same thing happened with the last grocery workers strike, when current employees got more benefits than new hires. This surely helps sell a contract, since future workers don't get a vote to ratify, but that's just the beginning of good rewards for the employer. It suddenly becomes less positive to be a new hire, so fewer people stick around. (Of course, the employer also believes there's an endless supply of talented employees, and losing people doesn't matter.) Of course now employees are split into two camps--the have-a-bits and the need-a-lots--so it's easier for the employer to negotiate with a much less unified union next time.

It's really surprising, given these patterns, that so many people aren't too fond of employers, no?

I feel for the teachers laid off, I do, but here's hoping they don't lose their jobs AND become evidence for the horribleness of unions, too. As the article says, "the raise--3 percent per year for three years--puts Santa Barbara teacher salaries more in line with others across the county." A 3% raise is nice, but it's certainly not anything out of line and indeed is behind what teachers would get if they were on Social Security (a 3.3% cost of living increase).

And don't think teachers make too much already. After all, if people don't learn, people can't work and our economy goes (further?) into the crapper. Here's what one impressive national think tank said last summer:

The College Board's Center for Innovative Thought, whose members include business and academic leaders, calls for a new education compact between America and its teachers, starting with the establishment of a public-private Teachers' Trust to finance an immediate pay increase of 15 to 20 percent and targeted programs to increase the number of qualified math and science teachers.

That call for change leaves us 12-17% behind annually. I don't even have children and that scares me.

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Wednesday Dueling Beer Bar Blog

To begin with a conclusion, Hollister Brewing Company wins, as it has Pizza Port Po' Man's Double IPA on one of its guest taps. To unpack the inference of that conclusion--the heart of the best CA microbrewing is still 200 miles to Santa Barbara's south, in north county San Diego (Stone, Port, Alesmith, Alpine, Green Flash). In Santa Barbara we get interesting places with promise (I hope), mediocre service, solid enough food (one straining, one happily aimed at pubby), and did I say promise?

As you might know, 2 new brewpubs opened this Sunday, Hollister Brewing out in the Camino Real Marketplace and Downtown Brewing on Upper State St. (i.e. my neighborhood). Hollister actually brews on site; Downtown contracts with Firestone-Walker and makes some of its own beer in its San Luis Obispo location (which is why its decidedly uptown SB location has a funny name). On a lovely Sunday afternoon Amy and I visited Downtown; tonight Big Table and Trekking Left and I visited Hollister. And here's the scoop....

Downtown Brewing has by far the better space, simply by not being dropped into a box mall. Really, do you think it would be good to beer-up at Hollister and then head over to Costco? If you do, leave your credit cards at home to prevent that impulse HDTV buy. Downtown seems to have a room for any mood, unless you're into dungeons or something--a pool room, a large bar, a lounge area with comfy chairs to hold your own Spanish Beerquisition, a room Santa Barbara old-time styled with red pleather booths (it's like Harry's without the wear and tear), and two outdoor patios in a city where summer never sleeps.

Alas, it has beer not quite as good. Amy and I tried the taster sampler to get the lay of the lager (I know the problem with that word choice, but can't pass up on the alliteration), and while each brew started at okey-dokey, none left us doing the hokey-pokey (that is, ending by saying, "that's what beer's all about!"). The best of the lot were the IPA, sort of on the Red Tail model, hoppy enough but it won't scare too many people off, and the porter, which had a pleasing richness. Other beers include a blueberry without any hint of bubblegum, a wheat that doesn't suck like most American wheats (what about Paulaner Hefeweizen is so hard to copy?), and a honey wheat you might call honey but wouldn't necessarily call for a second date.

Since we went in the early afternoon we only wanted some snacks, and oddly paired wings and hummus. The hummus will keep you safe from vampires and French kissers, packing a garlicky, flavorful punch. The wings have a pleasing if more than likely "synthetic" crust to them, but the bleu cheese dressing could use some more cheese and less dressing. There are pizzas, salads, burgers, steaks, all the usual pubspects. You'll get a further report when later studies come in from the lab known as my expanding waistline.

As for the service, everyone is startlingly nice. One guy who I think is part owner or at least manager actually sat at our table with us to discuss the place and I find that friendliness charming--after all, I want it to be my cheerful Cheers as it's 7 minutes away by foot. Of course, niceness does not automatically equal togetherness. We got our food way before our beer, and after an effusive apology we got our beer but were told we could send it back if it was too warm. That's an instant flag for beer snob me--your beer can't be good approaching room temperature?! Of course, it was the place's opening day, and everyone can't be the Hungry Cat, about which I have to admit I have a horrible thing for--if I can admit to mancrushes (oh, Johan!) can I also admit to restaurant crushes? I mean, I spent a good half hour at work today writing Hungry Cat in fancy calligraphy and circling the name with heart doodles....

Hollister clearly has some higher ambitions, as befits a place run by Marshall Rose, the former Executive Director of SB's Downtown Organization, and a man who looks enough like John Cullum that I keep expecting him to break into "Shenandoah" at some point. (Sorry that I paused to pander to the Broadway geeks who read my blog, as if I have any.) For instance on the menu the soup of the day is called, and I wish I were kidding, "Liquid Produce from the Farmers Market." Its Hollister Burger--what all 3 of us ordered--is a "formed Masami Kobe burger," which is American Kobe-style beef and does not score on your taste buds as much as something named Kobe should. It's a good burger, but it's no Hungry Cat pug burger (local #1), or Quantum burger (probably #1A), or Paradise burger (the old fave before the new burgers came to town).

Still, all the meal's details were off. You can order either avocado, bacon, or grilled onions on the burger for $1.50 extra, and following my taste buds and not my wallet I opted for onions. Half of those came on Big Table's plate, not one of them was warm (I guess that they didn't vouch for when they were grilled), and I could barely fill a thimble with the amount I got. If you can buy a pound of supposedly currently high-priced onions for $1.49, even with mark-up I'd say Hollister owes me a half pound o' onions.

And while I won't make a big deal out of the patty being too small for its roll (or vice versa), I will carp about the fries (Quantum wins that competition). Big Table joked they were "too potatoey", but I prefer to think they weren't "fry-y" enough. I like that crispy shell-i-ness, that contrast of textures. And I can't remember the last time I ordered fries and thought they needed salt.

It's almost like tasting a beer and thinking it needs balance, which is what happened with Hollister's Magic Clamp Weizenbach. The malts were full, but the beer had a certain uncertainty, a sharpness that wasn't hop tang as much as cellar must-y. Otherwise what we drank we liked quite a bit. The Blown Out Stout is on its way to imperial style, with pleasing flavors and mouthfeel, and the Inaugural Pale Ale (IPA, get it?) is much better than its name. That said, the Port Double IPA whipped out its hoppy thumping stick and pummeled the Hollister IPA into submission.

As for the help here, it could use some. Our waitress seemed a bit at a loss to pick up on humor (we are funny, really!), or even exactly our orders at times. We ordered a first round while waiting for our table--the place seems quite popular already, especially with the nearby UCSB crowd (you can stumble home to F-T!)--and ordered a second with our food. It came after our food. That's not good.

To summarize, Downtown seems to be aiming lower and therefore stands a better chance of hitting its goal. Hollister wants to be something more, but that ambition gets illuminated, a bit, in its "guest beer" program aimed to bring hard-to-find in SB brews. They have the good taste and sense to bring Port, Port's related Belgian-style Lost Abbey, and Russian River. But is it one of the amazing Russian River beers like Damnation or Salvation? No, they have Dead Leaf Green Pale Ale. That's like opting to take Kate Jackson as your first draft choice from the original Charlie's Angels.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Kid Stays Out of the Picture

According to my trusty counter, this evening someone from the organization "Playboy" in Los Angeles Googled my name and came to my blog. I'm sure they only did so looking to hire me to write some articles.


Fed Dicks Nix Dix Trix

Albania is so joining the Axis of Evil.

OK, seriously, 6 people get arrested but there are 2 paid informants (according to the CNN report). That means in any "terrorist" cell 33% of the folks are on our government's payroll. It's sort of a growth industry--mamas, do let your sons grow up to be snitches.

Also note "a law enforcement source told CNN the group played paintball." If we're going to crack down on violent video games, maybe we need to stop paintball, which is simply a breeding ground for killers of all stripes, or should I say splatters. Then again, I can see defenders claim if we outlaw paintball, only painters will have paint. In many cases there's no worse terror than a bad artist, and I'm looking at you Thomas Kinkade.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

I Don't Care If He's Batting .323

In lieu of something new, a quick baseball observation. On Sunday the Giants opted to bring up their prize pitching prospect Tim Lincecum, who learned it's easier to get AAA players out than major leaguers, even Phillies. Young pitchers will break your heart (or their hammies--right Yankee fans?). Of course, I have both Lincecum and Hughes on my fantasy team, cause I like 'em young, but that's not why I'm bitter.

It's that Bruce Bochy and the needing-a-rest Barry Bonds opted to sit Bonds on Sunday. Take a look at the Giants' line-up. Batting fifth--Bengie Molina. If I were a 22 year-old making my first start in the Bigs, I might give-up, too.

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He's an Un-jolly Felled Fellow

Originally uploaded by Olof92.

After felling a man with her plaid pants, the least Becki could do was try some CPR. As for that kid on the back in the left, after last week Becki is wise enough to know he's just hoping for some mouth-to-mouth as a cheap thrill.

Monday Random Flickr-Blogging explained.


My Moves Are as Natural as My Hair Color

Originally uploaded by ogdenville.

It wasn't until the interpretive dancing began that party-goers began to suspect there was vodka in the Arrowhead water bottles.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Shook It Like to Make It Break

Saturday night I got to coin the phrase "you come for the Gillian Welch and David Rawlings but you stay for the Bright Eyes" after a concert featuring said artists at the Arlington--which Connor Oberst insisting on calling "your Mexican villa"--here in Santa Barbara. Yes, a band named Oakley Hall opened the bill, but mostly they just proved there's a greater difference between tasteful and tasty than a tiny clutch of letters. OK, they also proved something much more personal, namely that I know Amy even better than I think. While the group's female lead singer Rachel Cox (they do the male-female vocal thing, but it's an in-unison approach, not a sneak up and attack like John Doe and Exene, or a heavenly harmony like Welch and Rawlings, for that matter) awkwardly shimmied about on one song I thought, "Amy's going to think she's goofy," and sure enough, post-show she said more or less that about Cox's dancing without any prompting. So while Oakley Hall was so-so musically, they did help make my marriage stronger. (They can even use that line on their website, if they want, if they can keep it from crashing my IE like it did a bit ago--watch trying to download those songs!)

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, on the other hand, were spectacular. It's easy to want to joke that it sounded as if they performed some new songs but it's hard to tell as they sounded like their old songs that sound like someone else's old songs--they aspire to a timless music that erases any concerns about whether Berklee-educated musicians can play the Appalachia way. And hell and brimstone rained from the thesaurus and musical clocks slid slow and the songs ran into songs and echoed like lost tunes and archaic words like revelator rang and rhymed and they even saved emancipator for a whole ‘nother cut (which they ddin't perform Saturday). Gillian Welch and David Rawlings’ hominy in the harmony soothes me, like a 78 of a dream of the country of the country, like James Agee with an arch-top Epiphone and sweetly clipped pipes. That a pretty preoccupied pre-twenty-year-old in front of us couldn't bother to raise her head from her text-messaging (and I am jealous my thumbs aren't that dexterous) only means you have to grow into some things, like death and country music. Both will be there when she's ready; both'll be there if she's never ready.

For a still twentysomething, Connor Oberst has a sense of the mortal coil, too, as befits someone who opens a show with "Clairaudients (Kill or Be Killed)" the opening track of his new CD Cassadaga. No matter his musings, which are at turns philosophical, poetic, political, borderline prolix, at least live he brings the musical oomph to power through, what with a mini-six-piece orchestra of strings and horns, another guitarist (who also played pedal steel), a bassist, a keyboardist/trumpet player, a drummer, and a percussionist/drummer, many of whom joined along in vocals, for that seems important to the Bright Eyes world view--we shall all sing together, or we shall all be silent and screwed separately. Certainly no one could claim he didn't get his money's worth, as the songs got clever fuller treatments compared to their recorded versions, everyone was fun to watch in their white outfit variations (although the violin player with the big hair needs to dump the hairband that makes him look like John McEnroe), and the backstage projections made me feel it was Bright Eyes and the Exploding Plastic Inevitable at times.

For his encores Oberst brought Welch and Rawlings back out and they ran through a perfect culmination of a live music event, making recorded music by both of them many times better. First just the trio performed Oberst's "Lua," which suddenly seemed full and lovely and not the puny-ish thing it is on I'm Wide Awake It's Morning when it's just Oberst alone (more proof that singing together really is a good thing--and it was clear they rehearsed, and as an audience-member, I appreciate that effort). Then most of the band came out and they made Welch's "Look at Miss Ohio" the stomper it always should have been with that great chorus line "she says I want to do right but not right now" really getting underlined with a couple drummers pounding it out. Finally, everyone kicked into "Road to Joy," in which Oberst gives the Bright Eyeball to Beethoven and the finger to anyone who gets in his way; needless to say, ending a concert with the lines: "I could have been a famous singer/If I had someone else's voice./But failure's always sounded better,/let's fuck it up boys, make some noise" leading into an all-out, feedback-fueled freak-out is a kind of statement. It's also a total blast as a way to head on out into a night.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Well Pound My Pavement

Matt at the Indy's Media Blog points out that the News-Press is hiring! Given at this point even the scabs are leaving the building, it's no surprise they could use a reporter (or 15). But the want ads on are still pretty funny. For instance the one for a reporter says:

The Santa Barbara News-Press, an award-winning 41,000-circulation daily on the beautiful South Coast, seeks multi-talented Reporters with a flair for clear, concise, colorful writing and a passion for pounding the pavement for stories. The right candidates will have the ability to give our Web site a boost by helping create the kind of interactive content that will have readers wanting to come back for more and check out our print edition.

First, how long can the N-P call itself award-winning? I mean George Chakiris is "award-winning" so I guess once you're award-winning you're award-winning for life, but.... Other folks have mentioned how that circulation figure is out of date, but one assumes that Amerpsand had to get the copy for this ad in before they knew everyone else would know they had lost 9.5% of their subscribers. After all, I assume it wasn't a surprise to them that people had been dropping the paper as if it came infected with herpes--figure if they can suggest people like child porn, we might as well sling some trash right back--but then again, with the number of employees that have left the paper, maybe there is no one left to do the accounting.

Second, there's the phrase "colorful writing and a passion for pounding the pavement for stories." If the paper's example in its own ad for colorful writing is relying on the hoary cliche "pounding the pavement," then at least a job candidate can suss out the bar for employment isn't set too high.

Third, they want a candidate to "help create [...] interactive content." Huh? Beyond their pathetic website--it's both ugly and unfriendly--only being ACTIVE for those who subscribe, right now there's nothing that's INTERactive. Will the News-Press have the guts to allow for comments on its website? Any and all comments? This could be really fun.

In other N-P news, both Barney Brantingham and Craig Smith have mentioned that people who have cancelled their subscriptions since the slime job on Jerry Roberts have received letters from none other than the Nipper himself. According to Barney the letter includes the following lines:

I am sorry to hear that you have cancelled your subscription to the Santa Barbara News-Press. It was especially distressing to read that it was Sunday’s story about child pornography found on a News-Press computer that influenced your decision. The article is not libelous; it is based on facts as presented in police reports and court documents.

Which leaves me wondering if it's the Baron (of Physiology) who is dumb or if he just thinks all his readers are. Most fiction is "based on facts." Nothing guarantees that inferences from facts are automatically factual. What's most amazing is how the Nipper in this letter claims "police reports" are good enough to base your facts on when Ampersand's argument to get the hard drives back is that the police aren't together enough to do the proper investigation.

Just thinking about all these facts gives me a huge headache.


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