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Friday, December 31, 2004

It's Not Times Square
From KWQC:

Dick Clark will spend New Year's Eve in an unusual place for him -- a hospital bed.

Clark has been in the hospital since suffering a mild st[r]oke earlier this month, and he'll be there at least through New Year's Day....

The 75-year-old Clark says he'll watch stand-in Regis Philbin -- and as always, will kiss his wife at midnight.

Unfortunately, no one told the webmaster at Dick Clark Productions:

Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve
On December 31, 2004, Dick Clark will count down to midnight from Times Square for the 33rd consecutive year. Three consecutive specials begin at 10:30 pm and last into the New Year.

Because I live in an area of the United States that doesn't receive live programming, this officially hasn't happened here yet:

A century after the first New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square, close to a million revelers welcomed 2005 with wild cheering, confetti, fireworks and kisses, while also pausing to mourn the devastation of the South Asian tsunami.

The crowd was bathed in bright light as the electrified white ball began its drop at 11:59 p.m., when outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell, a native New Yorker, pressed a giant button with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The revelers powerfully counted down the last 20 seconds as they watched the 1,000-pound Waterford crystal-covered ball slump slowly from atop 1 Times Square.

As the clock struck midnight, a two-minute pyrotechnic display lit the sky and confetti fell from surrounding rooftops....

Springlike temperatures in the low to mid-50s helped draw the swelling crowds, who were protected by machine gun-toting police officers.

At 8:15 p.m., the crowd quieted to mark a moment of silence in Times Square to honor those killed in the earthquake and tsunami in South Asia....

For the first time in 32 years, the celebration took place without Dick Clark, the TV personality-producer who is recovering from a stroke. The daytime talk-show host Regis Philbin filled in for the 75-year-old Clark on ABC-TV’s “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.”

Philbin calls it “the greatest ‘temp job’ in the world.”...

In New York, as in recent years, police boats, helicopters, bomb squads and thousands of officers were on duty, and officers armed with radiation detectors and bomb-sniffing dogs patrolled Times Square.

At an office high-rise several blocks from Times Square, police arrested a man who was found carrying a loaded military-style rifle Friday evening. The incident briefly closed 33rd Street, but most revelers didn’t notice....

It’s been 100 years since revelers in New York first brought in the New Year in what was formerly known as Longacre Square. The tradition was started in 1904, by New York Times owner Adolph Ochs, who was building a new headquarters in the neighborhood.

The city had just renamed the oddly shaped “square” in the newspaper’s honor and at midnight Ochs had pyrotechnists illuminate his new building at One Times Square with fireworks shot from street level.

Three years later, when the city banned fireworks, Ochs brought in an illuminated iron and wooden ball, to be lowered from the building’s flagpole at midnight....

ABC had this to say:

Spring-like temperatures warmed close to a million revelers as they welcomed 2005 with wild cheering, confetti, fireworks and kisses a century after the first New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square.

The people, some wearing only sweaters or light jackets, were bathed in the bright lights of the so-called Crossroads of the World as the electrified white ball began its drop at 11:59 p.m. after outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell, a native New Yorker, pressed a giant button with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The crowd watched the 1,000-pound Waterford crystal-covered ball slump slowly from atop 1 Times Square, powerfully chanting each numeral of the last 20 seconds of the 60-second descent.

At midnight, a 2-minute city-sanctioned pyrotechnic display lit the sky as 3,000 pounds of confetti was released from rooftops of buildings throughout Times Square.

The new year arrived after the crowd listened to live music by Lindsay Lohan, Duran Duran and other performers, all setting the stage for Powell's moment....

With temperatures in the low to mid-50s, the swelling crowds were protected by machine gun-toting police officers led by Commissioner Ray Kelly, who said there were no new terrorism threats.

Some people heading to Times Square early in the evening were serenaded by police sirens as a mechanic at nearby 1 Penn Plaza was arrested at the 57-story office building when someone called police at 6:30 p.m. to say he was carrying a military-style rifle on the 12th floor.

Police said the man was arrested with the gun, which was loaded with a 10-round magazine. He was being interviewed by police, and charges were pending. The incident forced a brief closing of 33rd Street, next to Penn Station, which is across from the office building.

The incident went unnoticed by the bulk of the Times Square crowd, which paused as scheduled at 8:15 p.m. to observe a moment of silence to honor those killed in the earthquake and tsunami in South Asia....

Police boats monitored Staten Island ferries, long considered a possible target for potential attack. They also patrolled around Battery Park, the Brooklyn Bridge and the United Nations. Also, flights were banned below 4,000 feet from 23rd to 96th streets. Some subway platforms were closed, and plainclothes officers were on trains and street corners....

[OE 1/6/2006: Did God strike Dick Clark down for promoting dancing? Perhaps.]

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Thursday, December 30, 2004

Vic "The Brick" Jacobs
I first saw him back on the Channel 13 (Los Angeles) 10:00pm news years ago. His gimmick at the time was to throw a brick at anything he didn't like.

For those who haven't heard Vic the Brick, who primarily covers sports but also ventures into stock market coverage with hilarious results, has a broadcasting style that can best be described as "insane." Think of a Crazy Eddie who loves sports instead of electronics.

From his XTRA Sports 690/1150 biography:

If Jacobs is the future of sportscasting, traditionalists will have no one to blame but their local stations. Perhaps unconsciously, Jacobs has created a persona that is a brilliant, cutting protest against the hundreds of sportscasters named Scott and Kevin who wear their ties straight, blow-dry their hair according to regulation and read the scores cheerfully before chitchatting brainlessly with the weather nerd.

"America's kids have gotten so sophisticated… you can't just give 'em the score anymore or they'll tune you out," says Jacobs. "The networks are going crazy. They're asking, 'Why aren't they watching? Why are they all watching cable?' It's because the networks are staid and cable is alive and vibrant. Most sportscasters are still in the '50s and '60s, uptight with the polyester, give 'em the score, don't get emotionally involved. Me, I can't even explain what I'm doing."

Round, round, been around, he's been around:

Duckjake May 14th, 2004, 07:33 PM
There was a TV sports guy from Austin that moved to Phoenix years ago. Used to throw a foam brick at the camera. He was crazy. Vic was his first name. Anyone remember him and know if he is still working?
asuhoopsnut May 16th, 2004, 05:57 PM
That would be Vic "The Brick" Jacobs. He was a fixture for years in L.A.
television and radio. I believe that he is currently working for radio 690 XTRA out of San Diego. That's the same station that the pompous Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton works for.
Rats May 21st, 2004, 04:35 PM
Yeah Duck it was Vic Jacobs...he used to climb up on the desk throw rubber chickens saying the Astros were choking again...he was totally off the wall. He said once that they should let him do both weather and sports and the ratings would be off the charts. My brother and I cracked up everytime we watched the clown when we were going to college at Southwest Texas State below Austin. One of the funny memories that guy was.

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No Krystal Fernandez in San Francisco?
Blog traffic has again picked up, but I doubt that this is the cause:

Morning simulcast: KNBR (680 AM) has announced it will simulcast its morning show on sister station KTCT (1050 AM) beginning Jan. 3. The afternoon drive-time show with Ralph Barbieri and Tolbert also has a dual airing.

You can read two things into the morning-show move: 1) It's a vote of confidence for Tim Liotta and former Chronicle sportswriter Brian Murphy, who took over the morning-show duties last month. 2) It's a vote of no confidence for the Van Earl Wright-hosted Fox Sports Radio syndicated morning show, which has run on KTCT.

In October, Wright replaced Tony Bruno on the Fox program. If Bruno still had his job with Fox, it's pretty safe to assume the KNBR morning show wouldn't go the simulcast route.

However, the radio stations claim that all drive time sports is local:

San Francisco, California – The KNBR 680 Morning Show with Brian Murphy and Tim Liotta will be simulcast on KNBR 1050 beginning Monday, January 3, 2005.

"Since being paired together just one month ago, Brian and Tim have brought a fresh, local and very entertaining approach to the Morning Show on 680," said KNBR Program Director Bob Agnew in announcing the simulcast. "Listener reaction has been very positive."

"The nationally syndicated shows are perfect for the middle of the day on KNBR 1050, but we feel that our two most important day parts, morning and afternoons, must be live and very local," Agnew continued.

Agnew pointed out that KNBR did the same with "The Razor and Mr. T," Ralph Barbieri and Tom Tolbert, with a simulcast in the afternoon. "It has been a very successful move for us and we feel that the morning show simulcast will have the same results."

Tony Salvadore, Susquehanna San Francisco Market Manager and KNBR General Manager, called the move a strong statement of support for Brian and Tim. "We are committed to this Morning Show and are proving it by putting it on two 50,000 signals."

[OE UPDATE 1/14/2005: Poster mystery solved.]

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Beverage Department Image Transformation Initiative, Breasts, Tammy Faye Bakker, Jessica Hahn, and Jerry Falwell
From CNN, reported elsewhere:

A female bartender who refused to wear makeup at a Reno, Nevada, casino was not unfairly dismissed from her job, a U.S. federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

Darlene Jespersen, who had worked for nearly 20 years at a Harrah's Entertainment Inc casino bar in Reno, Nevada, objected to the company's revised policy that required female bartenders, but not men, to wear makeup.

A previously much-praised employee, Jespersen was fired in 2000 after the firm instituted a "Beverage Department Image Transformation" program and she sued, alleging sex discrimination.

In a 2-1 decision, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling in favor of Harrah's....

"We have previously held that grooming and appearance standards that apply differently to women and men do not constitute discrimination on the basis of sex," Judge Wallace Tashima wrote for the majority.

He cited the precedent of a 1974 case in which the court ruled that a company can require men to have short hair but allow long hair on women....

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Sidney Thomas backed the reasoning of the plaintiff. "Harrah's fired Jespersen because of her failure to conform to sex stereotypes, which is discrimination based on sex and is therefore impermissible under Title VII," he wrote.

"The distinction created by the majority opinion leaves men and women in services industries, who are more likely to be subject to policies like the Harrah's 'Personal Best' policy, without the protection that white-collar professionals receive," he wrote.

The Progressive has previously reported on this policy. It's more than just wearing makeup:

From the on-line edition of the Chicago Tribune on the new "mandatory makeover" policy for female cocktail waitresses at Harrah's Casino in Joliet, Illinois: "Unprecedented new appearance standards are part of the Las Vegas-based company's Beverage Department Image Transformation Initiative, a program officials say is needed as an antidote to the anything-goes attitude of the nineties. It goes so far as to say a woman who gives birth is expected to fit into her old uniform by the time the baby is twelve weeks old."

Obviously the Las Vegas Sun has also covered the issue:

Harrah's Entertainment Inc. of Las Vegas calls it a gift to employees.

The Culinary Union see it as a heavy-handed, Big Brother-like violation of employees' personal choice.

At issue is Harrah's new Beverage Department Image Transformation Initiative, a program requiring some employees to maintain personal appearance standards.

Under the program, the gaming giant's beverage employees -- mainly cocktail servers and bartenders -- will be required to maintain appearance standards established during company-sponsored personal improvement clinics and makeover sessions.

Harrah's spokesman Gary Thompson said the move to standardize employees' appearances is a necessary ingredient in the company's efforts to establish consistency at its properties nationwide.

"We've acquired a number of properties over the last few years, and we see this effort as an important step in branding ourselves as a corporation," said Thompson.

"We want to make sure our customers can expect a consistent level and quality of service at all of our properties."

The makeover initiative will be gradually rolled out to 15 Harrah's-branded properties; the Rio Suites hotel-casino is not currently included in the program, although the initiative may eventually include Harrah's Showboat-brand casinos.

The program establishes "personal best" appearance guidelines for each beverage department employee, and requires them to maintain those standards for the duration of their employment....

D. Taylor, staff director for Las Vegas' Culinary Workers Local 226, criticized the program, labelling it "intrusive and an invasion of individual choice."

"The idea that the company thinks it can impose an image is outrageous," he said. "Their new corporate (image) policy is tantamount to saying working mothers need not apply."

Taylor strongly objected to a requirement in the program that women returning from 12-week maternity leave fit into their old uniforms.

"Under our union contract, women would have 18 months maternity leave," he said.

"We would hope the company would consider changing this policy before they bring it to Las Vegas."...

The projected cost of the makeover initiative is expected to be about $3,000 per employee. Included in that cost will be uniforms and personalized image consulting advice for each employee.

Thompson likened the standardized appearance requirements to those found in the fast food industry.

"It's not unlike (the consistency) you would expect at McDonald's," he said. "You wouldn't want burgers and fries served to you by somebody who hasn't washed in weeks."

Taylor disagreed with the analogy.

"People are individuals, not McDonald's hamburgers," he said. "We expect our members to be treated as the individual employees that they are."...

Marden said about one month before she -- along with a cadre of freelance clinicians and makeup consultants -- arrive at a property, beverage managers provide written outlines of the program to their employees.

"When we begin, we hold personal clinics and image sessions that go beyond just things like makeup," she said.

"For men, we offer men's grooming clinics that look at issues such as hairstyling and maintaining proper care of their nails and hands."

Image guidelines for male beverage employees also deal with topics such as facial hair and proper footwear.

All told, beverage employees receive between four to six hours of image consultation.

A "personal best" photo is taken upon completion of the program; supervisors monitor employees progress after the program is over.

However, the self-improvement initiative doesn't end with completion of the consultation process.

"Every quarter after completion of the program, (beverage) employees at each property are required to choose a personal development topic to help them with their self-improvement," said Marden....

So, it's been four years since this wonderful program was launched by the management team at Harrah's:

Gary Loveman, President/CEO

Tom Jenkin, President, Western Division

Rich Mirman, Senior Vice President of Business Development

Ginny Shanks, Senior Vice President of Acquisition Marketing

Jan Jones, Senior Vice President, Communications & Government Relations (We'll meet her again a little later.)

And here's one of the performers at Harrah's Las Vegas casino:

Mac King, The Mac King Comedy Magic Show

So, people are probably wondering what Darlene Jespersen looks like, whether she has huge moles on her head, etc. Here is what former beverage dispenser Darlene Jespersen looks like (at least this is what she looked like four years ago):

While the Nevada labor website that published these photos has an obvious anti-Ronald Raygun bias, it does have some valid points:

For 21 years, Darlene Jespersen worked hard for Harrah's-Reno. Then came the new, ironically named "Personal Best" program. Jesperson's best was not good enough and she was fired.

Her crime? Refusal to paint herself up like a whore....

Darlene Jespersen was flown to Las Vegas for a live appearance on "CBS This Morning."

Speaking for Harrah's was none other than former Las Vegas Mayor and current VP in Charge of Looking Out the Window Jan Laverty Jones Scheutz.

The gambling-industrial complex has adopted the public relations strategy of big tobacco. Hire a pleasant-looking, smiling woman to put a pretty face on your gruesome, exploitive business.

Notwithstanding a political career promoting herself as defender of women's rights, the two-time Democratic gubernatorial candidate disgraced herself.

First and foremost, she baldfacedly asserted that "over 74 positions" were available to Jespersen which paid the same but did not require makeup.

Jespersen twice refuted her, stating "I was reassigned back to personnel. I had 30 days to find another job. For those 30 days, I was not being paid. None (of the jobs) would support me and makeup would be an issue again," she politely noted....

Earlier, she observed "if I were a man, this would be a non-issue."

Indeed, male employees are forbidden from wearing makeup in the new policy.

The Personal Best policy is cruel and unusual. Once you're photographed after your Miss Muffin Makeover, you are expected to remain that way the rest of your life. Your work clothes sizes can only be altered if you've had a boob job. (Ironically, actress Mariel Hemingway underwent breast implantation surgery before starring in a movie entitled "Personal Best.")...

I've not only met Darlene Jespersen, I've seen her Personal Best makeover photos. She's a polite and attractive woman. The pictures are quite flattering....

Supposedly setting the standard she is supposed to meet forevermore, she wears no makeup in those photos. You'd never know it. Her natural coloring is fine, her eyelashes and eyebrows need no enhancement.

Alas, in the Jan Jones world, successful women wear makeup....


About a decade ago, Ms. Magazine stopped accepting advertising when Revlon backed out of a major commitment after years of sales effort to accommodate the cosmetics giant.

The reason for Revlon's reluctance: a cover photo promoting a story about the innovative young female doctors of the new Russia. The four featured MD's were wearing no makeup. Unacceptable. Successful women wear makeup, dammit. (Most physicians in Russia are women.)

Ms. lost the ads. Darlene Jespersen lost her job. Jan Jones sold her soul.

Jespersen's looking for a lawyer to make good her damages. I don't know where Jones can go to redeem herself.

Wasn't it the Billy Crystal "Fernando" character that said that it is better to look good than to feel good?

Jan Jones is the one on the left (back in 1998, when she was Mayor of Las Vegas). The woman in the middle probably couldn't get a job in Harrah's, even though she was (at the time) Second Lady of the United States. They appeared together at a breast cancer run:

The mayor, who is recovering from breast cancer, ran alongside the vice president and Tipper Gore the entire race.

Jones, the Gores and other celebrities led 50,000 runners and walkers, including almost 3,000 cancer survivors, at the National Race for the Cure....

Jones and other cancer survivors were issued special pink T-shirts.

The mayor, who underwent a lumpectomy earlier in the year, recalled all she's been through with the cancer.

"Last year, at this time, I was on vacation with no knowledge at all that my whole life was going to change," she said.

Jones, who is running for Nevada governor, planned to meet later in the day with officials at the Democratic National Committee and then return to Las Vegas today.

After the race, she donned a hat, pinned her hair, put on makeup and was filmed by a camera crew hired by her campaign. A publicity photographer snapped pictures at the same time....

Aha - I just found someone who would meet Harrah's standards of employment:

Unfortunately, Tammy Faye probably isn't so big on the gambling part:

Q: Tell me about Heritage U.S.A.? It was the fourth largest amusement park in the world, very successful but building it ultimately destroyed so much. What was it about?

A: People love Las Vegas. They go there to do their thing and that's great for them but for a lot of Christian people, it's not so great. They could come to Heritage U.S.A. and shop, their kids could be kept busy, go to all the services they wanted to, and they could be entertained. In other words, they could have a lot of fun Vegas-type fun—but without the drinking or gambling.

The interviewer asked the one question that everyone wants to ask Tammy Faye:

Q: Tell me about the make-up?

A: (Laughs) Make-up is fun and I think your face is your own personal thing and no one has a right to tell you what to do with your face. It's your face, and if you're comfortable with a face lift, go get a face lift. Look the way you want to look. It's the one thing in life that we can have the way we want it and no one has the right to tell you what to do with it. My son has a lot of tattoos and body piercings and I have no right to tell him anything, it's his body. I love his tattoos, I think they're beautiful.

Q: You always tried for a sexy look.

A: (Cackles) Can't Christians be sexy too? Why not? Just because you ask Jesus in your life doesn't mean you're not a girl or a woman. Christians love sex, and I love to be sexy. If I walked around in an old ratty dress, without my hair done and no make-up, I could have preached all day long and nobody would want what I had. Instead, they would say, "Brother, if I have to look like that, forget about it!"

But when they found out that you could wear make-up and you can be sexy and have a lot of fun, the Gospel was more palatable to them because they realized that you don't have to give up everything. You don't have to give up fun to serve God.

She then discussed the end of PTL:

Q: How are you and your former husband Jim Bakker getting along?

A: We get along just fine. We're really good friends. We were friends for 30 years and we'll always be friends. We are like spirits, we really are,(Tammy's voice cracks for a moment) but the hurt that happened between us was so great that I couldn't forgive. That's a horrible thing to admit, especially if you're a Christian. But I knew I could forgive if I could just get away from the situation and remain good friends.

Q: When I saw The Eyes of Tammy Faye, I realized you had forgiven everyone including Reverend Jerry Falwell.

A: The greatest gift you can give yourself is to forgive. If I want to be forgiven for my mess up's, then I have to forgive everyone else when they mess up. That's why I believe I was able to go through cancer, and I am alive today.

Q: You had terminal colon cancer. How is it?

A: It's gone. I'm cured. I chose not to do chemotherapy because I have an awesome immune system, and I didn't want to destroy it. Now I'm reading about second cancers caused by the chemo and the radiation! I went the vitamin route and my faith in God.

Q: How could you handle the scandal? It would have killed most people.

A: You don't know what to do. I felt I was a good wife and did everything, but I didn't realize that a wife has the option to say no. Jim wouldn't listen to me. He listened to everyone who was around him, but he was paying everyone around him! We had 3,000 employees and someone would come up and tell him how fabulous and wonderful he was but no one would tell him the truth.

People knew about his affair with Jessica Hahn and held it over his head for years. Therefore, anything they did, Jim allowed it because he was afraid if I found out about it, I'd leave him. I wouldn't have left him. Everyone knew about it but me.

Q: Have you ever talked to Jessica?

A: One time I was on a radio show and she called in. We both started crying and I told her I didn't blame her. If I saw her today, I'd put my arms around her and hug her.

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Confusing My Mythical Texas Towns
I saw that someone arrived at my blog by searching for Quirksville. Somehow I got confused and was thinking of Brimbaw. For the record, Quirksville is not Brimbaw.

Speaking of Texas towns, there is a non-mythical town in Texas named Dido.

And, of course, the true stories from Virgil, Texas are based upon Weekly World News articles. What goes around comes around. Circle of life and all that.

But this didn't happen in Texas:

When Dido was five years old she stole a recorder (a flute-like instrument) from school. Dido didn't end up behind bars, but a year later her recorder practice helped land her a spot at the Guildhall School of Music in London, England. Dido was quite a musician - she played the piano, violin, and of course the recorder, by the time she was 10.

Returning to Texas, I just learned a few unusual things about Ross Perot:

In 1969...Perot attempted to take control, through a stock swap, of the Collins Radio Company, an Iowa-based CIA and military contractor....Perot approached Collins with merger plans that called for Perot assuming control of any combined company. Arthur Collins, the company's founder, was strangely determined that Perot not take over his company....Within weeks, Collins feared that the only way to prevent the takeover was by merging with, it seemed, any other company but Perot's....In 1971, after talks with TRW fell through, North American Rockwell (which later became Rockwell International) finally stepped in with an investment offer that was finalized in September. Despite its initial promise to keep Collins management intact, Rockwell replaced Arthur Collins as president at the end of the first quarter of fiscal year 1972. Collins resigned January 14, 1972, and started a new company. In the end, he lost control of his thirty-nine-year-old company. After a three-year struggle, Collins succeeded only in saving it from Perot....

[I]n the early 1970s, Perot met a young Marine officer whose name would later become infamous in the minds of most Americans. Oliver North wanted to come to work for EDS, but Perot convinced him to stay in the Marines, which led to his later becoming the main villain in the Iran-Contra scandal. It would not be the last time Perot and North crossed paths, however....In the early 1980s, Perot became a member of Ronald Reagan's President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB). The PFIAB is a little known, very powerful group of presidential appointees whose approval is required for all U.S. covert operations worldwide....It was while serving on the spooky PFIAB that Perot again met up with Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, who by this time was on the National Security Council staff. North asked Perot to help finance the rescue of U.S. Brigadier General James Dozier, who had been kidnapped by the Red Brigade in Italy. The mission succeeded before Perot's $500,000 was used....Perot continued to established himself as someone who could bankroll Oliver North's off-the-shelf adventures. These involved more rescue attempts, many of which failed. They included the 1985 attempt that resulted in the murder of William Buckley, chief of the CIA station in Lebanon. Perot's money often ended up in the hands of foreign terrorists and drug dealers with nothing gained in return....

Meanwhile, there's always Paris...

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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Fremont Street Experience
More pictures from our trip to Las Vegas can be found below (yes, I'm still using the system). As I previously mentioned, this was my first trip to downtown Las Vegas itself (on previous trips I was either on the Strip, or east of the Strip). Fremont Street has received the Times Square treatment and is all prettified now - all that's missing is a Disney outlet. Although I don't have the capability to take good pictures at night (when the Experience can be Experienced), here are some morning pictures taken in the area.

Fremont Street Experience is five blocks of thrills in the heart of Las Vegas. Ten casinos. 10,000 slots. More than sixty restaurants. Uncountable bars and lounges. All under Viva Vision - the biggest big screen on the planet, 90 feet overhead, blasting state-of-the-art light and sound shows every night....

Dazzling Displays. Superior Sound. Viva Vision! Beginning June 14, 2004, the famous Fremont Street Experience Light and Sound show reached new peaks of technological wonder with a brand new creation: Viva Vision! Created by LG CNS Co., Ltd., the industry's foremost authority on dazzling, state-of-the-art light and animation display technology, this $17 million phenomena has delighted visitors with larger-than-life animations, integrated live video feeds, and synchronized music – all delivered on a high-tech overhead canopy that extends the length of more than five football fields! Once the Vegas sun has set, visitors can peer upward to experience over 12.5 million synchronized LED modules offering crisp, high-resolution images and astounding special affects [sic] – all synched to a lively sound-track fed through a state-of-the-art, 550,000-watt, concert-quality sound system.

Both first-time visitors and those who have witnessed and enjoyed the original Fremont Street Experience Light and Sound Show will be amazed by the technological wonders of this one-of-a-kind experience. Three brand new Viva Vision productions are currently airing nightly: “The Drop,” a mythical underwater journey created by Hollywood design agency, Imaginary Forces; “Area 51,” a peak at a fantastical alien world created by Fremont Street Experience's own design team; and “American Freedom,” a patriotic salute to the Red, White and Blue. As always, the shows are free and can be viewed from just about any angle along the five-block pedestrian promenade....

Here's the show that I saw on the evening of December 27:

"Area 51" takes viewers from Fremont Street deep into outer space for a brief moment of silence and celestial beauty filled with images of twinkling stars, comets and colorful gas clouds. Suddenly, the earth forces and alien armada enter the canopy from opposite ends and prepare for battle. . .

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While walking along Fremont Street on the morning of December 27, I took several pictures from a bridge on the east side of the Fremont Street Experience. This picture looks west toward the Fremont Street Experience itself. During the evening, pictures are projected onto the white over-thingy once an hour as part of a sound and light show. I saw the "Area 51" presentation later that same evening. Posted by Hello

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While walking along Fremont Street on the morning of December 27, I took several pictures from a bridge on the east side of the Fremont Street Experience. This picture, looking northeast from the bridge, is probably not what the Chamber of Commerce wants you to see. Posted by Hello

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As I previously mentioned in the blog, we stayed in Binion's Horseshoe in downtown Las Vegas. This is a view of the casino from the Fremont Street Experience area. Posted by Hello

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This picture was taken along the Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas, Nevada on the morning of December 27. Proving the statement that Las Vegas never closes, there is a 24 hour Starbucks on the route. Posted by Hello

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Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
(OK, I think I've hit on the system - publish the photos first via hello.com, then write the text about the photos. This way, the text will appear before the photos in the blog. Of course, I reserve the right to change this "system" five seconds from now.)

During our recent trip to Las Vegas, we spent the afternoon of December 27 at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area...[is] probably the best kept secret in Las Vegas. We receive nearly 1.2 million visitors every year....Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area is located 17 miles West of the strip on Charleston Boulevard (also shown as Highway 159 on some maps).

The Bureau of Land Management is charged with the stewardship and protection of this national treasure. Our two non-profit partner organizations, Friends of Red Rock Canyon and Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association, assist the BLM with both substantial volunteer as well as financial contributions.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area holds a special place in the hearts of thousands of Las Vegans. In marked contrast to a town geared to entertainment and gaming, Red Rock Canyon offers enticements of a different nature. Peace, serenity and beauty are just a few words that will barely begin to describe what you will experience here. The Mojave Desert is not barren as you might think. It is teeming with life and beauty that in my opinion is rare and unique.

Petrified sand dunes, frozen in time, offer you a unique perspective of nature as well as the effects of the passing of millions of years. The excitement of suddenly appearing waterfalls, cascading into the canyons, will make you appreciate the mysteries and the hidden dangers of the Mojave. Red tailed hawks search for their next meal while drifting on air currents high above the desert floor....

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Interesting rock formation in Red Rock Canyon. (I'm finally starting to get the hang of this hello.com stuff.) Posted by Hello

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Another picture from the Red Rock Canyon area. Even in the midst of the desert, small amounts of water gather and can be found by animals and vegetation. Posted by Hello

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Red Rock Canyon scenic view. Posted by Hello

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Here are some additional pictures is an additional picture (still trying to figure out this hello.com stuff) from our visit to Red Rock Canyon NCA on Monday, December 27, 2004. Red Rock Canyon is a few miles west of Las Vegas, Nevada. Posted by Hello

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Here's some output from the new digital camera that I got for Christmas. The picture was taken at Red Rock Canyon NCA outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. (I'm the one on the right.) Posted by Hello

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Saturday, December 25, 2004

Stop Dragging My Pop Tart Around
Yes, I was the one that wrote "People out there turning music into coal" before quoting an article mentioning Jim Stewart. No, I did not confuse him with John Stewart (emphasis mine):

Biography by William Ruhlmann

John Stewart first gained recognition as a songwriter when his songs were recorded by the Kingston Trio. In 1960, he formed the Cumberland Three, which recorded three albums for Roulette. The following year, he joined the Kingston Trio, replacing Dave Guard, and stayed with them until 1967. His song "Daydream Believer" was a #1 hit for the Monkees at the end of that year. Stewart traveled with Senator Robert Kennedy on his 1968 Presidential campaign, an experience that affected him deeply. In 1969, he released his classic album California Bloodlines, the first of seven solo albums to reach the charts through 1980. Stewart found his biggest commercial success with the Top Ten album Bombs Away Dream Babies and its single "Gold" in 1979. He released several of his albums and albums by others on his own Homecoming label starting in the 1980s.

Those who remember that Stevie Nicks sang on "Gold" won't be surprised to learn that a longer John Stewart biography can be found on fleetwoodmac.net. Here's the portion that covers the 1979 album:

The commercial highlight of his career to date came with 1979's top-10 album Bombs Away Dream Babies on which John established his musical relationship with Lindsey Buckingham. John sought out Lindsey's involvement on the record after admiring his guitar and production work on the Fleetwood Mac albums, and on Walter Egan's album Not Shy. Lindsey played guitar, sang backing vocals on several tracks on John's 1979 album, and helped produce it, while Stevie Nicks also contributed backing vocals on two songs. That album spawned the hit singles "Midnight Wind," "Lost Her In The Sun," and the top-5 hit, "Gold." John credited Buckingham's studio prowess with much of album's sound and direction and regards Lindsey as "the only genius I've ever worked with in the studio . . . . A few people I know of really know how to make that mystical 'thing' happen with a record. Brian Wilson is one; Lindsey Buckingham is the master at it."

So let's 'splain the title:

Major hit singles like "Dreams" and "Rhiannon" made [Stevie] Nicks a focal point of Fleetwood Mac, and in 1981 she took time off from the group to record her solo debut, Bella Donna, which hit Number One on the strength of the Top 20 hits "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" (a duet with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), "Leather and Lace" (a duet with Don Henley) and "Edge of Seventeen (Just Like the White Winged Dove)."

And, the Kellogg's Pop Tarts official website is here.

The website that mentions Nicole Steen and Vicki M. can be found here. They're people out there turning art into silver.

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Krystal Fernandez Gay? Doesn't Appear To Be.
Regarding the whole "Krystal Fernandez Gay" "Krystal Fernandez Lesbian" brouhaha.

I am unfortunately the source of some misguided searches hitting Stephanie's web site. She explains:

Who is Krystal Fernandez and why for the last few days have all my Google search been on whether she is gay? I find it highly unlikely that I've ever blogged about someone who I've never even heard of. What is UP with Google?

Matthew put two and two together, and got four:

You made a post not too long ago, which had the word gay in it....

In the comments section, Ontario Emperor mentioned Krystal Fernandez. If I remember his/her comment correctly, I think she's a sportscaster. At any rate, the way I found this out was to do a Google search for:

Krystal Fernandez gay

... and your particular post that I gave the link for is the # 1 return. All Google does is do searches for relevant words, and apparently your blog is the most read web address with the combination of those three particular words. :-)

So, what did I say that caused all of this?

I think it all started from her assumption that if you like sports, you must not be truly female. I can't stand for that, especially since...

[m]any of my blog hits from search engines are from fans of female sportscaster Krystal Fernandez (although I'm not sure that they like her because of her winning percentage of Monday Night Football picks)....

So, why are there all of these 'Net searches for "Krystal Fernandez Gay"? Perhaps it has to do with the sound bite that the Fox Morning Extravaganza is frequently playing, in which Krystal Fernandez says, "I am a gay woman" or something like that. I didn't hear how that sound bite originated, other than it having to do with an airline promotion or sumfin.

Well, I did some research:

Airline Offers Gays, Lesbians Travel Discounts
POSTED: 2:49 pm EST November 30, 2004

PHOENIX, Calif. --

Phoenix, California? I think Channel Cincinnati needs to hire some geographers.

It pays to be gay when flying America West Airlines.

With a few points and clicks on the airline's Web site, gay and lesbian travelers can find some perks -- including 10 percent discounts.

For the 10 percent airfare discount to a gay pride event anywhere in the United States, travelers have to log on to the airline's Web site.

The airline offers the reduced-price fares using an honor system. There's not a check in place with which the airline can confirm a traveler's sexual orientation, of course.

National statistics suggest that the gay and lesbian community spent $581 million last year to travel.

Some industry experts said many gay travelers, who may not have children and can be more flexible in travel plans, are a valuable economic community to attract....

In the past, gays and lesbians booked most of their flights on so-called gay-friendly airlines, including American. America West hopes to change that with its new promotion, but some travelers said the special offers aren't fair.

"I just feel, if you do it for one, you do it for all. I doubt that will ever happen," traveler Meredith Jaramillo said.

But that's not true, according to America West.

"Any group that has research that shows they have a high disposable income, frequent travelers and tend not to choose America West, we would be very interested in that data," said Elise Eberwein of America West Airlines.

Link: America West Airlines Web site

I don't know if this was the specific promotion to which the show was referring - the implication on the show was that you would buy tickets at a ticket counter, not online - but perhaps that's what's going on.

Anyway, all that we know is what was reported in Sports By Brooks back in 2003:

Don Barrett reports that KCBS-TV's Lisa Joyner was hosting a radio talk show on KLSX-FM in Los Angeles recently and her topic recently was whether partners know if the other is cheating.

During an on-air chat with sports broadcaster Krystal Fernandez, Krystal owned up to being the cheater in a relationship.

"Men don't queue into things like that as easily as women do. I think we know what to look for. Men leave more clues, like Bill Clinton. Hillary knew what was going on. I'm sorry."

[OE update: Plus, she's not in San Francisco.]
[OE UPDATE 1/14/2005: Poster mystery solved.]

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Target Your Demographic
This is addressed to the men who are reading this blog (for reasons that will become clear shortly).

There are advertisers who want to advertise to you, and to make sure that they aren't wasting their advertising dollars on women. In the past, advertisers could just associate their ads with sporting events, but the Zany Sports Lady and Stephanie prove that there are female sports fans out there.

Well, advertisers can move - and have moved - into the men's restroom. VisionBurst is one of the least controversial practitioners of this advertising form. They concentrate in Florida, but similar firms are doing business out here.

Indoor Media is one of the most popular forms of Captive Audience Marketing.

Full-color poster ads are displayed in attractive frames in restrooms, elevators, and other areas of popular nightclubs, restaurants, health clubs, arenas, office buildings, hotels, department stores, shopping malls, theaters, gas stations, and day care centers across South Florida.

Benefits of Indoor Media:

Captures consumer attention for 1-6 minutes.
Display for a captive audience: No channels to change... No pages to turn!
Target your exact market by demographics, gender, and shopping habits.
Waste no money advertising to the wrong consumers.

But if you really want to cater to a target audience (you may groan now), turn to Swisher. Tiny Pineapple discussed Swisher's advertising tactics back in 2002:

It started as corporate self-promotion. Those little plastic screens that you find in the bottom of urinals used to simply say:

Sanitized by Swisher

…but it soon evolved into lifestyle advice:

Sanitized by Swisher
Say No To Drugs

I’m sure that there were quite a few heroin addicts who were persuaded to reform after being lectured by a bathroom fixture, but I resent the rather sexist implication that urinal users are the only ones in need of drug-free advice. I hope that the tampon dispensers in the Ladies’ room carry the same words of wisdom.

Then they decided that you would take investment advice from a urinal:

Sanitized by Swisher
A Publicly Traded Company

After hearing his colleagues brag about their portfolios all afternoon, Mr. Robertson excused himself from the table and strode toward the bathroom. “I need a new investment strategy,” he muttered under his breath. “I have an impeccably balanced portfolio with asset allocations in line with my personal goals and retirement time line, but something seems to be missing. Hmm… Perhaps the world’s leading restroom hygiene service provider holds the key to my financial future....

But Swisher wasn't really getting the message across effectively enough. Urinal.net (don't ask) documents the addition of audio into the advertising equation:


NASHVILLE – October 6, 2004 – “Target marketing” has taken on a whole new meaning in the first-ever viral marketing use of an “interactive urinal communicator” in America.

To help create buzz for its new landmark television event, CMT OUTLAWS concert and countdown specials premiering Friday, Oct. 29, CMT will target men at bathroom urinals in bars, concert venues, colleges and radio stations with the – Wizmark® – the world’s first and only device of its kind. The deodorizing urinal drain filter cover – featuring a waterproof anti-glare lenticular viewing display, pre-recorded audio and flashing lights – is motion-activated: step up to the urinal and the unit starts flashing, talking and alternating pictures. The units are designed to last more than 10,000 flushes.

“We’re always looking for innovative ways of reaching viewers, in this case the male audience,” says James Hitchcock, Vice President, Creative and Marketing, CMT. “The new interactive urinal communicator from Wizmark enables CMT to target a very captive and vulnerable audience with our humorous pre-recorded message – recorded by a woman – that commands, ‘Don’t miss OUTLAWS on CMT. You seem to miss everything else!’”

“The social protocols of the use of a urinal – the unwritten rule not to look left or right – guarantees undivided and undistracted visual attention along with the concurrent audio delivery of the ‘Don’t miss OUTLAWS on CMT’ tune-in message,” says Hitchcock. “This new marketing tool is unexpected, unapologetic and good humored.”

CMT’s new original specials being promoted by the Wizmark focus on country greats who make their music and live their lives according to their own rules. CMT GREATEST OUTLAWS: THE DIRTY DOZEN, a countdown of country’s original rule breakers, premieres Friday, Oct. 29 at 8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT.

Country Music Television (CMT) is an MTV network

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Southern Black Catholic With a Broken Heart
Checked my recent search engine hits and found the following:

25/12/2004 22:48:26 %22i had a dream%22 remix %22martin luther%22 billy (Google)

I don't know Billy, but I know Paul and Andy, and the OMD album The Pacific Age (now apparently out of print). Track 6 on this album is entitled "Southern," and features some Martin Luther King speeches (including his last speech) with an OMD musical background.

Why King? Why not? Those English guys spent a lot of time singing about Southern blacks, including "88 Seconds in Greensboro" on Crush, which refers to this incident:

It could be called a dark Southern tale: right-wing extremists and left-wing extremists in a gun battle in Greensboro, North Carolina. In 88 seconds, five are left dead. Tonight on FRONTLINE, an inside story behind those 88 seconds in Greensboro.

Six Klansmen and American Nazis went on trial for the Greensboro killings two years ago. They were acquitted by an all-white jury. The jury was persuaded that they had fired in self-defense at the Communist demonstrators who were also armed.

Once I found that link, I pursued the Wiki about the last years of the star reporter on that Frontline episode:

Critics and old-school broadcasters felt that [Jessica Savitch] lacked the experience for national network news; David Brinkley is said to have called her "the dumbest woman I have ever met" in public. But audiences loved her, and she soon became one of the most popular NBC anchors.

As her career skyrocketed however, her unstable personal life became increasingly messy.

She continued an on-again, off-again affair with Ron Kershaw, a reporter who reportedly gave her beatings that even NBC's make-up artists couldn't conceal. After breaking up with Kershaw, Jessica was married twice; once to elderly millionaire Mel Korn, then to her gynecologist, Donald Payne, who committed suicide.

Rumors and allegations were spread about her bizarre behavior on and off the set; screaming rants, cocaine binges, and promiscuity have been alleged. By 1983 Connie Chung had replaced her on the Saturday edition of NBC Nightly News, and "Frontline" had nearly eliminated her on-screen appearances.

The most bizarre incident in her career was a one-minute prime-time news update on the night of October 3, 1983. Savitch's delivery of the news report was slurred and incoherent. Savitch told her bosses that her teleprompter had gone out, but her agent claimed that she was on medication for a head injury.

On the evening of Sunday, October 23, 1983, Savitch had a date with Martin Fischbein, Vice President of the New York Post. They drove from her apartment in New York City to the small village of New Hope, Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia. They drove home with Fischbein behind the wheel and Jessica in the back seat with her dog, Chewy. Either ignoring or not seeing the "No Vehicles" signs in the pouring rain, Fischbein drove out of the wrong exit and up the towpath of the old Delaware Canal. He veered too far to the left and the car went over the edge into the shallow water. The station wagon fell about 15 feet and landed upside-down, sinking into deep mud which sealed the doors shut, trapping the occupants inside as the water poured in. The wreck was discovered by a local resident at about 11:30 that night....

88 seconds...60 seconds...the difference is 28 seconds. (Sorry, not 27.)

Back on topic...OMD has an official website. Here's an excerpt from their biography that discusses the "Crush"/"Pacific Age" period:

Producer Stephen Hague was drafted in for the 1985 album 'Crush' and the subsequent 1986 album 'The Pacific Age'. Hague managed to give the songs on both albums a polished edge, while retaining an essential energy that was vital to the songs. Singles such as 'So In Love' and '(Forever) Live & Die' drew on OMD's flair for writing engaging melodies, while demonstrating that they were taking much more of a traditionalist approach to song production.

This period also saw the band touring extensively in North America and finally achieving the chart success that had eluded them for so long in the USA. 'If You Leave', specifically written for the John Hughes movie 'Pretty In Pink', was a huge success globally (although strangely not in the UK). However, the consistent schedule of touring took a toll on the band both professionally as well as personally and 'Dreaming', released in 1988, was to be the last single written by Humphreys and McCluskey.

OMD ended an era in 1989 with the departure of Humphreys, Holmes and Cooper leaving Andy McCluskey to forge ahead under the OMD banner....

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More on Skinheads
Months and months ago, I wrote this based upon my reading about skinheads. Michael Hanscom bookmarked it, then finally posted his own personal experiences with skinheads in Anchorage. Recommended reading.

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I Originally Thought that the Following Post Would Be Inoffensive to People of All Religions...
...but then I remembered the following:

Jehovah's Witnesses, like everyone else, get older. They just don't celebrate birthdays--theirs or anyone else's. They say that the origin of birthdays is connected to astrology, which the prophet Isaiah mocks as sorcery (47:13). And the only two birthdays that the Bible mentions are associated with death: Pharaoh's, when his chief baker is hanged (Genesis 40:20-23), and Herod's, when John the Baptist is beheaded (Matthew 14:6). Jehovah's Witnesses are so adamantly anti-birthday that they don't celebrate Christmas, which, of course, is Jesus' birthday.

Well, for those who are not Jehovah's Witnesses, I'll let you know that tomorrow (December 26th) will be my 43rd birthday.

There is one advantage to having a post-Christmas birthday; when everyone else has opened all of their presents on Christmas Day, you know that you have at least one present waiting for you.

We will celebrate my birthday by driving up north to Binion's Horseshoe. I've never been to downtown Las Vegas before, so this should be fun.

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Busy time. Last night, we visited the extremely controversial Christmas on Euclid displays. (For the record, the Bahais had a display on Euclid also.) From there we went to my aunt's (on my wife's father's side) for Christmas Eve, but were too tired to go to Christmas Eve services afterwards. Today we spent the afternoon at my brother in laws, where I watched most of the soap opera unfold.

One item of note that may affect blog readers - i got a digital camera for Christmas. Once I take pictures of interesting things, you may see them here. Until then, look at Eddykins' blog for some pictures of the English countryside.

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Friday, December 24, 2004

An Interesting Premise
Take the initial chapters of Genesis, stick them somewhere after the events of The Return of the King, and you get The Nephilim Age. Comments are requested.

The home site of the author, Falconmyst, is here.

I'm not sure how Tolkien, a Christian who nevertheless loved the Norse myths, would have reacted...Half-Elves as the opponents of Noah?

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Raise Hell An' Eat Cornbread An' Dis The One After 909
All I can say is...DANG.

J, your trendy phrase deserves to blanket the galaxy.

The ...scoop:

I just got off the phone with my girl Moo Cow Jen....

Jen says, "Guess what everyone is saying on campus? It's your favorite saying, you started the trend baby.."

I paused and then burst into laughter.
"Raise hell an' eat cornbread!"

"That's right girl!! Everyone is saying it! It's awesome!"

I think I made that little phrase up right around the time of the cow incident. I actually still say it to this day. I was so tickled to see that my tradition stuck.

Read http://simplerambles.blogspot.com/2004/12/raise-hell-and-eat-cornbread_22.html for more particulars, including this pointless comment:

The Inland Empire area of Southern California (where I live) is derided by the snooties in the Westside etc. as a hick area (one radio show constantly makes fun of the "909," our area code). I'm now inspired to put on my best overalls, shine my sneakers, and go to one of them high falutin' pavilion thingies over in Bel Air or somewheres and scream "Raise hell an' eat cornbread!" at the top of my lungs. But they'd probably throw Grey Poupon at me.

Tangential - People out there turning music into coal (and yes, I know the article author's name is Jim, but I had to say it, even though a reference to an old Beatles song is more appropriate):

Western Riverside County will escape the 909 on Saturday, but it will remain in "The Valley of the Dirt People.' DJs at Los Angeles radio station KROQ-FM (106.7) will continue to ensure that.

San Bernardino County will remain in the area code that has come to be not so affectionately known as "the 909' while its rival to the south will hang up a new banner: 951.

"We're calling it a cultural change,' Loretta Lynch, a member of the state Public Utilities Commission, on Kevin and Bean's radio show Tuesday morning....

Western Riverside County residents want to befriend those of Los Angeles and "the OC' again. Families want to reunite with relatives south and west. And business owners want to expand into once barred territory.

In just 12 years, since San Bernardino and Riverside counties switched from 714 to 909, the area code has developed a reputation some can't wait to escape.

"The only ones it really makes a difference to is the people of Riverside,' San Bernardino Councilwoman Esther Estrada said. "There has always been that desire to have themselves get closer or be viewed closer to Orange County. (They think) the further you remove them from San Bernardino County, the perception will be better.'

While the PUC frequently hears people complaining about area-code splits, Riversiders are excited to leave the cursed area code.

But can a new area code really create a new beginning and image for a notoriously maligned area?

Many, such as longtime tormentors Kevin and Bean, don't seem to think so.

"You can call a pig a ballerina, but you can't make it dance,' Bean wrote in an e-mail to The Sun last week.

The morning duo, Fox's "The OC' and shops and bars in Los Angeles and Orange counties continually belittle "the 909,' referencing everything from drugs and crime to mullets and cow manure.

The area-code ranking segment in the 1996 movie "Swingers' inspired the bashing, Bean has said.

On Tuesday morning's show, Kevin and Bean said, "Riverside is the capital of the 909,' and the two area codes will be synonymous because it's still "The Valley of the Dirt People.'

"Riverside, you are fooling yourselves,' Kevin said. "951 equals 909.'

But even 909 residents like Colton's Jim Stewart, author of "The 909: The Book,' said the change won't help the area's well-engrained image and will be expensive for businesses.

"I think a lot of people hope it will start a new beginning,' Stewart said. "But everyone who will be part of the 951 probably wishes it was changing back to 714. Culturally, I don't think it will make any difference at all.'

Stewart had the chance to talk to Kevin and Bean about his novel, which praises the 909 for its sense of community and family-oriented lifestyle, around the time of its release in May 2003.

"I felt violated,' he said. "They were like attacking me. You can only talk so fast to five people.

"Kevin told me, 'Riverside is the gem of my (butt).''

Though the condescending phenomenon has been around for years, the radio team has made it well known, Stewart said.

But whether any of them are credible sources could be contested: Stewart grew up in Orange County, Bean lives in and broadcasts from Seattle and one of the morning radio show's assistants is from Fontana.

"It's just a good-natured rivalry,' Stewart said. "But a lot of my professional colleagues didn't even know there was a negative connotation out here it's more of a youth culture type thing.'...

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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Two more blogs to check out
Long long ago in a aviary far far away, Alli Deluxe linked to two blogs:

Electric Bugaloo (Mikey)

Tenth Muse (Joelle)

Both are enjoyable reads. I'd add them to my ever-growing template, but I need to start vacation and like stuff. Vegas, baby (but not until my birthday)....

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Surfin' Safari
So I started at Dear Buster, reading this. Turns out that I'm not the only one who wonders about the search terms that people use to get to my blog. Take it away, Buster:

10. "Pictures of Mark Walberg Showing His Dick in Boogie Nights". It kills me when I see people who don't understand web search terminology....but if it helps, it was a prosthetic device....

So I replied:

10. Blame Ask Jeeves (which never worked for me). Perhaps some day a search engine will develop a true AI method of communicating with the searcher.

SEARCHER: Yo, where can I find some hot pix of that rapper/actor who used to dance in his underwear? Like, I really want a pic from that movie where he flashed his schlong.

SEARCH ENGINE: Do you mean Mark "Marky Mark" Wahlberg in "Boogie Nights"?

SEARCHER: Yeah, that sounds about right.

SEARCH ENGINE: I can show you some links, but if I were you I wouldn't bother. It was a prosthetic device.

SEARCHER: OK, how about that chick in The Incredibles? I love to watch a comic strip.

SEARCH ENGINE: Error 404, dude.

Kept on reading Buster, and found the following reply:

Alli Deluxe said...
I just ravished myself whilst reading this. I did however, refrain from hickies because I don't like incriminating evidence.

Which led me to surf to Tof Reknin Day and find a post about my hometown that had nothing to do with Bruce Springsteen:

So Mike and I went to see this movie called Sideways a few weeks ago in Ontario. Thats Cali, not Canada....[W]hen we got there we realized we'd an hour til the movie started, so we headed over to the Rainforest Cafe for a stiff drink, of which I partook easily. So at like 10, we head over to the theater where HE proceeds to nearly pass out....

I've been to that Rainforest Cafe, but didn't drink, and I've been to one of the two movie theaters in that area, but it was back when "The Prince of Egypt" was playing.

Anyway, I surfed on to a blog called RIP. Sample entry:

RIP Johnny Cash
He fell into a burning ring of fire. He went down down down and the flames rose higher. And he burned burned burned....in the ring of fire...the ring of fire....

...so does that mean he's in hell? : ( poor johnny.

Actually, Johnny didn't write the song; June did. Before she was married to Johnny. So the fire is in June's heart, as Rolling Stone indicates:

Ring of Fire

Written by: June Carter, Merle Kilgore
Produced by: Don Law
Released: May '63 on Columbia
Charts: 13 weeks
Top spot: No. 17

Carter wrote this song while driving around aimlessly one night, worried about Cash's wildman ways -- and aware that she couldn't resist him. "There is no way to be in that kind of hell, no way to extinguish a flame that burns, burns, burns," she wrote. Not long after hearing June's sister Anita's take on the song, Cash had a dream that he was singing it with mariachi horns. Cash's version became one of his biggest hits, and his marriage to June four years later helped save his life.

Aside: Stan Ridgway used the horns again on his solo song "Piledriver." The link to Cash is obvious (emphasis mine):

Ridgway's tributes to country and western are many in his music. In interviews Ridgway has said he grew up listening to country and western music....Merle Travis's "Sixteen Tons"--made a hit by Tennessee Ernie Ford--has been a staple of his live shows...

Sorry for the interruption, but I just wanted to point out that my old song "Deeper in Debt" borrowed its title (and nothing else) from the song above.

...and while his one man show, rock & roll version of Rex Allen's "Foggy River" (written by Fred Rose), the B-side of the UK 7" "The Big Heat (Remix)," does not purposely try to obscure his country and western roots, it does reveal the kinds of demands his music puts on his listener. Ridgway expects those of us of his generation to know his sources; this is one of the risks his music always takes. One has to listen a long time, and hard, for instance, to hear "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky" in Ridgway's "Lonely Town," but it is in there, nonetheless.

I have alluded to Johnny Cash throughout this essay, and I'm referring here to his rendition of "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky" from the Silver album (1979). Evidence of Ridgway's admiration of Cash began with WOV, of course, in the band's rendition of "Ring of Fire." Cash, however, did not write the song; the songwriters of "Ring of Fire" are June Carter and Merle Kilgore. "Ring of Fire" was first recorded in 1962 by Anita Carter (as "(Love's) Ring of Fire" on Folk Songs Old and New), but the song failed to hit. According to legend, Johnny Cash had a dream in which he heard "Ring of Fire" using brass accompaniment, woke up and announced that he was going record "(Love's) Ring of Fire" using Mexican horns--atypical country instrumentation.

When WOV recorded "Ring of Fire" years ago, they dropped the horns. The Mexican horn riff from "Ring of Fire" returned virtually intact, however, years later when Ridgway recorded his marvellous "Piledriver" (on The Big Heat). And so when I say I hear "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky" in "Lonely Town," I mean, to be precise, that I hear Cash's rendition of "Ghost Riders" in Ridgway's "Lonely Town." In fact, I hear much of Cash's album Silver in Mosquitos, and I say this knowing that it is entirely possible that Ridgway has never heard Silver....

Before I return to my surfing safari, let me note that Silver is a nearly bluegrass album for Cash, a time when he stepped away from mariachi bands and rock bands and everything else and wallowed in Appalachia. This was the first album in which I heard the song "Muddy Waters," and many of the other songs are excellent.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, I was looking at the RIP blog. Then I surfed over to Shark for Brains. Like, read it.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Lakers Roasting on an Open Fire (Turn Up The Heat)
Ah, Christmas - the time when many of us celebrate the birth of our Lord, and the time when people in Southern Florida and Southern California will be glued to their TV sets, watching a soap opera.

Here is some recent coverage of the Shaquille O'Neal - Kobe Bryant story.

From Jim Litke:

Asked whether he expected Bryant to challenge him by driving the lane, Shaq’s first response was, “No. Not at all. It’s not something that I have time to think about, because I’m not that type of player.”

But given a moment to think about it, he couldn’t resist adding. “But of course, when you’ve got a Corvette (Kobe) that runs into a brick wall (him), you know what’s going to happen.”

O’Neal was smiling slyly when he said it, but that little cautionary tale works at several levels. First, it puts Bryant on notice that business is just that — business — and that anyone else who tried to drive the lane would get the same.

Not surprising, it also fixes the differences between the two in terms most favorable to Shaq. It says one of them is fast and flashy — that would be the same guy O’Neal nicknamed “Showboat” not long after they started playing together — and the other is solid; that one is high-maintenance and the other decidedly low-tech....

Winning is still about making everyone play better. While his own numbers are down slightly this season, Wade’s are up across the board — points, minutes, assists, even rebounds. And with Shaq taking Tuesday night off to rest up for the weekend, Wade produced a 33-point, 11-assist performance to lead the Heat past the Celtics, extend their season-best winning streak to nine games and improve their Eastern Conference-leading record to 20-9.

The Lakers, meanwhile, are at 13-11 and still smarting over consecutive defeats by Washington, for the first time in a dozen years, and Memphis, which hadn’t won in 18 tries in Los Angeles, dating to when the franchise began play in Vancouver in 1995.

Their shortcomings are evident, but none are more glaring than the weakness in the middle. Bryant still thinks he can play — or, worse yet, talk — his way out of any jam, and so he tries to paper over the holes by playing at a triple-double pace every night. But all he’s proved is that five guys will almost always beat one. That was Phil Jackson’s mantra, too, and when Bryant finally tired of hearing it, he simply ran off the coach.

Just before O’Neal met the same fate, he warned Lakers owner Jerry Buss that hanging on to Bryant at all costs would come back to haunt the franchise....

From another story:

Lakers star Kobe Bryant wants to apologize to former teammate Shaquille O'Neal for mentioning his name during a police interview last year.

O'Neal was told about Bryant's apology offer, and was asked if he had a reply.
"No," O'Neal told the Miami Herald. "None whatsoever."

Bryant appeared on ESPN's "Pardon The Interruption" and "NBA Shootaround" on Wednesday and said he never meant to bring up O'Neal's name when he was being interrogated by police officers. The interview came after a woman accused Bryant of raping her.

"I would apologize for any harm that I brought him and his family," Bryant said of O'Neal.

The Heat will play the Lakers on Christmas Day, the first meeting of the two teams since O'Neal was traded. Bryant wants to speak to O'Neal then.

O'Neal told The Herald he has nothing to prove to Bryant or the Lakers.

''I don't have to make a point,'' O'Neal said. "I'm George Bush. I'm the president. I built that arena, so I don't have to make a point. I think it'll take us out of what we're trying to do for me to go in there and try to make points.''

O'Neal also that many people whom he was closely associated with on the Lakers are no longer with the team. And he does not consider that a coincidence.

''Listen, everybody that had something to do with me has been fired or traded or cut,'' O'Neal said. "My boy Rick Fox was cut, and he's out there doing [bad] movies.''...

During Bryant's interview with [Colorado] investigators [in the Katelyn Faber matter], he said he heard O'Neal had paid up to $1 million to various women to keep quiet about situations like his own. O'Neal, who now plays for the Miami Heat, dismissed those allegations as "ridiculous." There have been no published reports of O'Neal ever being accused of any sex crimes.

The former Lakers center was informed of Bryant's allegation last September, and the relationship between the two was strained throughout the 2003-04 season. After the season, O'Neal demanded to be traded.

"I never intended in any way to mix him into my troubles and difficulties that were going on at the time," Bryant said Wednesday. "Things kind of got blown out of proportion and people really ran with that stuff. I just apologize to him for that."

Bryant said he has passed the word to O'Neal through a mutual friend that he would like to discuss the matter.

"December 25 sounds like a good day to me to kind of talk to him and tell him I never meant in any kind of way to bring any of his personal business out," Bryant said....

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Ellen Simonetti on ZDNet
Ellen Simonetti ("Queen of Sky") has taken her case to ZDNet in this December 17, 2004 commentary:

...I had been a flight attendant for Delta Air Lines for almost eight years when I started my blog, or online diary, in January of this year. I entitled it "Diary of a Flight Attendant."

On Saturday, Sept. 25, I came home to flashing messages on my answering machine.

"Ellen, I need you to call me back. It's about your trip tomorrow," repeated the urgent-sounding voice on the tape.

The voice was that of a Delta Air Lines in-flight supervisor. I immediately dialed the number on the messages, thinking perhaps my Rome flight the next day had been cancelled. What the supervisor told me, however, left me shocked and sick to my stomach.

"You won't be able to fly your trip tomorrow...it's about some pictures on the Web."...

I began to hear stories about people like Heather B. Armstrong, of dooce.com, who was fired because of her blog in 2002. Then there was "the Washingtonienne," who was fired earlier this year because of comments she entered in her blog.

As my story spread on the Web, I started receiving all kinds of e-mails from people on both sides of the Atlantic that employer blog backlash had gotten to. One, a comedian who wished to remain anonymous, told me she was fired from her day job after making a joke about co-workers on her blog.

The very first thing I did after the phone call from Delta was delete all of the photographs from my blog that I thought my employer could possibly have a problem with. That included all of the pictures of me and fellow crew members posing in Delta Air Lines uniforms.

It was not until the meeting with human resources and my supervisor on Wednesday, Oct. 6, that I learned the official reason for my suspension: "inappropriate" pictures. The unofficial reason (implied through an intimidating interrogation): blogging....

After that meeting, I went home and got online and found plenty of pictures of male Delta Air Lines employees in uniform on the Web. I then searched for a specific company policy prohibiting posting pictures on the Web or blogging, which I could not find.

I had an excellent employment record with Delta Air Lines and had never been previously disciplined. Therefore, I find it odd that I was not at least given a warning before my suspension. I am still trying to figure out why I was singled out. In fact, two days after that meeting with Delta Air Lines management, I filed a sex discrimination complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Delta Air Lines....

I have decided to continue to blog and spread my story about employer blog backlash. If it is to be defeated, we all have to stand up to this silent and arbitrary foe, one that should never again be allowed to rear its ugly head.

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Itanium News
Some comments (dated December 20, 2004) on the contractual relationship between HP and Intel:

The IT press was having a field day earlier this week as rumors were circulating about that a staff of chip designers that Hewlett Packard Co has had stationed in Fort Collins, Colorado assisting with the design of the Itanium chips with partner Intel Corp had been moved to Intel. The interpretation of what this small move meant was nearly uniform - that HP was in back-handed way washing its hands of Itanium - and it was also completely ass backwards.

There's a reason why those Colorado chip creators have been moved to Intel, and while neither HP nor Intel will come out and say why, this is very likely the reason: Intel has no choice but to take them as part of the complex and secret contract between HP and Intel that created the Itanium chip....Intel...would have probably killed off Itanium a year or two ago (we surmise) if it were not for one fact: Intel has a contractual arrangement that forces it to supply HP with Itanium chips, probably so long as HP desires them. And with HP-UX and now OpenVMS ported to and soon to be only available on Itanium, HP most definitely wants those Itanium chips for its Integrity-based servers. If Intel kills Itanium, then HP will sue it for breach of contract.

This is the only explanation that makes sense. And when I ran the idea past Don Jenkins, vice president of marketing for HP's Business Critical Systems unit, he said that this was absolutely correct. "Yes, absolutely, Intel has a long-term commitment to supply the Itanium," he said. And...he said that there is absolutely a legal contract that assures that Intel has to supply HP with chips....HP's commitment to Itanium, regardless of all the naysayers, is precisely as strong as the unavoidable fact that its HP-UX, OpenVMS, and NonStop operating systems are only going to be available on Itanium chips in Integrity systems in the not-too-distant future....

However, this may only be part of the story:

"The cost reduction that HP sees by moving the Itanium team to Intel is about $50 million a year," Gartner analyst Martin Reynolds told internetnews.com. "This is insignificant against a billion dollar market development expense. HP is clearly confident about Intel's commitment to Itanium or they would not have done this."

HP's exit from Itanium's design, however, ends a 16-year semiconductor design relationship between the two Silicon Valley powerhouses. The shift away from contributing to Itanium follows HP's decision to no longer put Itanium processors in its high-performance workstations.

"They are done with what they hoped to accomplish with Itanium," John Enck, an analyst with Gartner told internetnews.com. "HP needed to replace their PA-RISC systems and include attributes like support for Non-Stop and Open VMS to survive processor failovers in their high-end systems. Now that the Intel roadmap has all of those aspects on it going forward, I would argue that is why they are getting out of the design process."

The departure does make it easier for Intel to sell its Itanium chip designs to other high-end computing companies like IBM, and Fujitsu....

Reynolds suggests HP's departure bodes well in for Itanium as a whole since, "Its performance progresses in fits and starts, and Intel should be able to sort this out now that it owns both teams," he said.

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Dark Mondays Supporters
From the Green Party of California:

For immediate release: Thursday, Dec. 14, 2004

Cres Vellucci, State Press Office, 916-996-1970, civillib@cwnet.com
Beth Moore Haines, GPCA Spokesperson, 530-277-0610, beth@greens.org
Kevin McKeown, GPCA Spokesperson, 310-393-3639, kevin@mckeown.net

SACRAMENTO (Dec. 14, 2004) – The Green Party of California today officially endorsed a boycott of gasoline purchases on Mondays to protest the denial of driver's licenses to millions of immigrants in the state, and urged the more than 160,000 registered Green voters and all Californians to honor the boycott immediately.

At dramatic news conferences held in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento Monday, the Mexican American Political Association and a coalition of other Latino groups announced the boycott that they have dubbed "Dark Mondays."

MAPA is calling on the public to not purchase gasoline one day a week, on Monday, to demonstrate support to immigrants and the right to obtain a driver's license in California without regard to immigration status.

"Dark Mondays will continue for the remainder of this year and continue throughout 2005 until California becomes a hospitable state to immigrants and grants them the right to obtain a driver's license, as was the case prior to 1994," said Nativo V. Lopez, MAPA President, the oldest Latino political organization in the state.

Lopez re-registered Green from Democrat a few months ago, and has urged that Green and MAPA members merge throughout the state and form a stronger alliance for justice.

"We Greens are excited to endorse, support and promote, this boycott," said Hugo Vera, a spokesperson for the Green Party and MAPA in Sacramento. "All Californians must send a message to the Governor, and the Legislature, that we cannot continue to insult our Latino brothers and sisters who work by our side daily and contribute so much to this state."

Other organizations participating in the MAPA coalition include the California Coalition for Immigrant's Rights and Against Raids, Centro Azteca de Informacion, the Council of Mexican Federations, Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana, Centro CSO and MAPA Youth Leadership.


The Green Party of California
P.O. Box 2828, Sacramento, CA 95812
Phone: (916) 448-3437

No press release at mapa.org. As previously mentioned, no press release at hermanadadmexicana.com.

Regarding Nativo Lopez's membership in the Green Party:


September 8, 2004

Contact: Beth Moore Haines, spokesperson 530.277.0610 beth@ncws.com
Sara Amir, spokesperson 310.270.7106 saraamir@earthlink.net
Cres Vellucci, State Press Office, 916.996.9170 cres@greens.org
Nativo Lopez, MAPA, 323.269-1575 or (cell) 714.423-4800

Major Mexican-American political leader Nativo Lopez re-registers, urges statewide Latino support for Green Party candidates in Fall elections.

SACRAMENTO - The influential president of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) - one of the oldest, and largest political organizations of its kind in the state and U.S. - said Wednesday he has lost patience with the Democratic Party and is throwing his support to the Green Party.

That decision could result in tens of thousands of Latino voters switching to the Green Party, according to the Green Party of California.

Nativo Lopez - who made the dramatic disclosure and formally re-registered Green at the Secretary of State's office Wednesday - said he traveling throughout the state urging MAPA members and Latinos statewide to also re-register Green and to form MAPA/Green organizations.

The announcement is a coup for the Green Party. For years, Greens have been urging under-represented voter groups to abandon the Democratic Party, which has done little for those groups, and in fact, taken their votes for granted.

"We are no better off than a generation ago. The Democrats have not helped us. This needs to change," said Lopez, who added he is planning joint voter registration efforts with the Green Party, and expects MAPA to endorse Green candidates.

"The two major parties say they believe in capitalism, but they do not want competition in politics. The big corporate dollars have helped the parties to lock up the districts...they do not want to wake the Latino voter up because they are afraid we will change the system," said Lopez.

"We are excited about the opportunity to work closely with Nativo and MAPA to promote issues and legislationto benefit the Latino community and all Californians," said Peggy Lewis, a Green Party state and national steering committee member.

MAPA is a multi-partisan advocacy group, formed in 1960, with chapters throughout the state and U.S. representing the Mexican, Mexican-American and Latino communities.

For more information, see www.MAPA.org.

Dr. Victor Rodriguez explains:

The first step toward disengaging Latinos from the Democratic embrace was taken by one of California’s best known Latino community activists: Nativo Lopez. Recently, Lopez, National Director of Hermandad Mexicana Latino Americana and President of the Mexican American Political Association re-registered as a member of the California Green Party.

California’s alternative and left wing political organizations, like the California Green Party, are not known for their ethnic diversity, in general, progressive and environmental issues have historically been the province of white middle and upper middle class constituencies. However, ironically, ethnic groups like African American and Latinos are usually the ones who suffer the brunt of most of the environmental and economic problems arising out of decisions made by non-Latinos in the centers of power who see these communities as disposable and powerless.

Traditionally, white constituencies have been the ones visibly behind environmental issues. But most of the time it is ethnic neighborhoods who suffer since many are built over abandoned toxic dumps or are chosen for the building of prisons, or trash incinerators which cause a host of respiratory diseases.

Some years ago a group of Latina women formed the now well known community organization, the “Mothers of East L.A.” as a local response to some of these issues. But despite the national prominence of Peter Camejo, the 2000 Latino vice presidential candidate for the national greens, Latinos and progressive and environmental issues were not associated in the public mind. Nativo Lopez is working to change that perception; the Democratic Party is making it easier for him to achieve that.

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