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Friday, December 30, 2011

Woa, Nellie

            Stephen Spielberg’s new movie, “War Horse,” has jumped the shark, galloped off into the ditch, and in doing so, I think he’s invented a new genre first pioneered by Mel Brooks:  The World’s Worst Mash Up.

            Think, “Springtime for Hitler.” Think “National Velvet's Longest Day.” Think, “Winnie the Pooh in Auschwitz.”

            I mean, before this there’s been children’s stories, then there’s been realistic adult stories about brutal trench warfare in WWI.  But now, thanks to Spielberg, we have a heart-warming PG-13 tale in a new film that combines both! You’ll laugh. You’ll cry.  Mostly you’ll cringe! 

            Worse, Spielberg seems to think his audience consists of dolts so he has long pauses filled with . . . .  meaningful . . . looks: boy gazes soulfully at horse, horse gazes at camera,  English officers gaze at one another as they contemplate death in a muddy ditch or being shot to  pieces on the wires, horses gaze at one another.  All this mooning and staring and gazing is supposed to convey the high “seriousness” of this whole misbegotten project. Oh, and let’s not forget, the endless times when everyone stares at the horse and reminds the audience that that sure is a very special horse, that is. Yessir.
            And did I forget to mention John Williams’ score, there at every possible moment to goose the tear-ducts, in case some inattentive audience member forgot to feel his heart-strings tugged at the pre-designated spots?
            In short, from beginning to the appalling end – lifted straight from “Gone With The Wind.”  You remember that famous, melodramatic tableux, the hyper-saturated blazing orange evening sky, Scarlett O’Hara in silhouette, fist raised holding a radish?  Yes, that one – the movie is utterly dishonest --one long mash-up of rigged clichés, all of them hoary.

            Or utterly phony.  Take the scene of the British cavalry mustering on the training field to practice their sabres-drawn, full battle charges.  It's a bright sunny day.  Not a cloud in the sky.  Suddenly, the screen is filled with fog, out of which thunders the charging horses.  Very dramatic, but . . . fog?  The establishing shot showed it was a bright sunny day.  Where did the fog come from?  Worse,  as the camera pans back we can see the bright sunny sky all around the bellowing patch of fog. Unless the audience is to believe that the British high command would regularly require fake smoke machines during their practice cavalry maneuvers, then the only reason for the fake fog is simply this:  Spielberg goosing the audience with phony, whiz-bang dramatic tableaux simply because it looked waaaaayyy cool.

        This sorry willingness to put an irrestible single swell moment above the coherence of the narrative appears in more apalling form as our heroic horse completes his spectaculrly filmed scenes fleeing across no man's land only to get horribly tangled and trapped in the barbed wire.  There he founders, cut and suffering.  It's an awful moment until both British and German soldiers realize the animal's agonizing entrapment and, under a white flag, go out to cut him free.  When the German soldier calls to his mates for wire cutters, out of the trenches flies a half dozen, into the air to land with comic thumps.  The audience laughs uproariously, utterly forgetting the poor horse, the hero of this film, who is muzzle down in the mud.  And so a powerful dramatic, moving moment was lost because Spielberg couldn't resist a bit of comic business that better belonged in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. And so it went, the fake foundering the real, with silly Spielbergian indulgences breaking the narrative and knocking the willing suspension of disbelief out of the the theatre.
            I should have known.  In his “Schindler’s List,” a work of high seriousness (It was filmed in black and white so we’d know how highly serious it was), Spielberg went for pure kitsch.  In a long-shot of Jews being herded down the street, he colorized the coat on a little girl in near subliminal palest rose.  At first I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, so I saw the film again.  Nope.  Little girl in palest rose coat, the only color in the scene. It was akin to pasting a huge blinking  neon sign over her in order to make sure the audience got the message: “ Oh, Look, It’s a Pathetic Child. You must weep now.”
            Imagine that scene running again and again and again for well over two hours.  That’s “War Horse.” 
            And it's time that nag was sent to the knacker-man.

         

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Gumbo

            It was one of those pre-Christmas Dinner, San Pasquale moments that had me thinking, Hmmm, I wonder if Round Table Pizza is going to be open? I was right in the middle of making up a big pot of Chicken and Sausage Gumbo and praying to San Pasquale, the patron saint of cooking, when I spied that the recipe said to take a cup of oil and a cup of all-purpose flour and stir them together over medium heat, whisking constantly, for about 20 minutes, until the flour roux browned to the color of milk chocolate.

            A CUP of oil?  WTF???

            As the cauldron-like wok full of dangerously hot oil boiled away furiously, filling the house with the weird smell of browning flour, that’s when I thought about Round Table Pizza.  I mean a whole cup of oil?  Really??

            But the whole thing came together, one guest came with a big pile of hush-puppies, another with a sweet potato/pecan pie and everyone started humming “Jambalaya Jingle Bells.”

            When I planned the Christmas Dinner menu, I got curious about Gumbo.  I hadn’t made any for over thirty years.  So, I hit Wikipedia and came to find out that gumbo is a stew or soupish stew that came from southern Louisiana during the 18th century.  It’s basically a stock of some type, a thickener, and “the vegetable holy trinity of celery, bell peppers and onions.”  The thickener is either the African vegetable okra, the Choctaw spice filé, which is ground from the leaves of the sassafras tree leaves, or roux, the French base made of browned flour and fat.  Or all three.  The name comes from either the Bantu word for okra (Ki ngombo) or the Choctaw word for filé (kombo.)

            But the one key thing bout Gumbo is that there are as many recipes as there are people making it.  Some use okra, some filé, some both, some use meat and/or shellfish.  Some call for tomatoes, others, not. There’s even a Lenten version made with no meat but with every kind of green you can think of. 

            If you’d like to try the recipe, which is perfect for a cold winter’s evening, here it is, with modifications.  In future, I’m going to brown up a whole bunch of flour in the heavy wok before hand and open all the doors and windows and set a fan going.  Then I can keep the browned flour on hand in a sealed container, maybe even toss it in the freezer, for any roux making in future.  I’ve also cut the amount down to ½ cup each since I don’t use a lot of oil in cooking.  You can adjust accordingly. Filé powder can be found in the spice section of the market.  Okra, frozen or fresh will work.  I used boned chicken thighs and a wonderful semi-spicy chicken sausage I found at Costco. (Hilshire Farms kielbasa & etc. will work just fine too) The recipe is from Bon Appetite.



Chicken and Sausage Gumbo



1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp paprika

½ tsp cayenne pepper

3 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs

½ c. oil

1 lb andouille or other spick smoked susage, cut into ½” rounds

½ c all purpose flour

2 medium onions, finely chopped

4 scallions, thinkly sliced (green parts used for garnish)

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

2 green bell peppers, finely chopped (I used red and yellow sweet peppers)

2 tsp chopped garlic

8 cuts low-salt chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1 tsp chopped fresh thyme

2 cups sliced okra, divided

1 ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp hot sauce

1 tsp file powder, plus more (optional

Steamed rice



            Season chicken with salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, and sear chicken until golden brown. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces.   Transfer to a plate, Add sausage to pot, cook until browned, add to chicken.

            Strain drippings from pot to measuring cup, add whatever more oil to make ½ c.  Re-heat drippings/ oil over medium heat.  Whisk in flour and whisk continuously for about 20 minutes until the roux is the color of milk chocolate. (or, if you’ve browned the flower before hand, whisk with equal amounts of butter or oil until well mixed) Add onions.  Cook until soft.  Stir in scallions, celery, peppers, garlic.  Cook until soft.

            Slowly whisk in the broth.  Add bay leaf, thyme, (and any other spices you want to toss in), add reserved chicken and sausage.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer about 45 minutes.

            Add 1 cup okra, Worcestershire, hot sauce.  Simmer another 30 min.  Add remaining okra and cook about 5 more minutes, until last batch of okra is crisp-tender. 

            Remove from heat, add filé powder.  (Don’t ever boil file powder as it will get bitter and stringy, which is why you add it at the last minute.)

            Serve over rice, with cornbread and a salad.  And enjoy. 

   
Christmas Gumbo

            It was one of those pre-Christmas Dinner, San Pasquale moments that had me thinking, Hmmm, I wonder if Round Table Pizza is going to be open? I was right in the middle of making up a big pot of Chicken and Sausage Gumbo and praying to San Pasquale, the patron saint of cooking, when I spied that the recipe said to take a cup of oil and a cup of all-purpose flour and stir them together over medium heat, whisking constantly, for about 20 minutes, until the flour roux browned to the color of milk chocolate.
            A CUP of oil?  WTF???
            As the cauldron-like wok full of dangerously hot oil boiled away furiously, filling the house with the weird smell of browning flour, that’s when I thought about Round Table Pizza.  I mean a whole cup of oil?  Really??
            But the whole thing came together, one guest came with a big pile of hush-puppies, another with a sweet potato/pecan pie and everyone started humming “Jambalaya Jingle Bells.”
            When I planned the Christmas Dinner menu, I got curious about Gumbo.  I hadn’t made any for over thirty years.  So, I hit Wikipedia and came to find out that gumbo is a stew or soupish stew that came from southern Louisiana during the 18th century.  It’s basically a stock of some type, a thickener, and “the vegetable holy trinity of celery, bell peppers and onions.”  The thickener is either the African vegetable okra, the Choctaw spice filé, which is ground from the leaves of the sassafras tree leaves, or roux, the French base made of browned flour and fat.  Or all three.  The name comes from either the Bantu word for okra (Ki ngombo) or the Choctaw word for filé (kombo.)
            But the one key thing bout Gumbo is that there are as many recipes as there are people making it.  Some use okra, some filé, some both, some use meat and/or shellfish.  Some call for tomatoes, others, not. There’s even a Lenten version made with no meat but with every kind of green you can think of. 
            If you’d like to try the recipe, which is perfect for a cold winter’s evening, here it is, with modifications.  In future, I’m going to brown up a whole bunch of flour in the heavy wok before hand and open all the doors and windows and set a fan going.  Then I can keep the browned flour on hand in a sealed container, maybe even toss it in the freezer, for any roux making in future.  I’ve also cut the amount down to ½ cup each since I don’t use a lot of oil in cooking.  You can adjust accordingly. Filé powder can be found in the spice section of the market.  Okra, frozen or fresh will work.  I used boned chicken thighs and a wonderful semi-spicy chicken sausage I found at Costco. (Hilshire Farms kielbasa & etc. will work just fine too) The recipe is from Bon Appetite.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper
3 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
½ c. oil
1 lb andouille or other spick smoked susage, cut into ½” rounds
½ c all purpose flour
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 scallions, thinkly sliced (green parts used for garnish)
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 green bell peppers, finely chopped (I used red and yellow sweet peppers)
2 tsp chopped garlic
8 cuts low-salt chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 cups sliced okra, divided
1 ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp file powder, plus more (optional
Steamed rice

            Season chicken with salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, and sear chicken until golden brown. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces.   Transfer to a plate, Add sausage to pot, cook until browned, add to chicken.
            Strain drippings from pot to measuring cup, add whatever more oil to make ½ c.  Re-heat drippings/ oil over medium heat.  Whisk in flour and whisk continuously for about 20 minutes until the roux is the color of milk chocolate. (or, if you’ve browned the flower before hand, whisk with equal amounts of butter or oil until well mixed) Add onions.  Cook until soft.  Stir in scallions, celery, peppers, garlic.  Cook until soft.
            Slowly whisk in the broth.  Add bay leaf, thyme, (and any other spices you want to toss in), add reserved chicken and sausage.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer about 45 minutes.
            Add 1 cup okra, Worcestershire, hot sauce.  Simmer another 30 min.  Add remaining okra and cook about 5 more minutes, until last batch of okra is crisp-tender. 
            Remove from heat, add filé powder.  (Don’t ever boil file powder as it will get bitter and stringy, which is why you add it at the last minute.)
            Serve over rice, with cornbread and a salad.  And enjoy. 


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Your Christmas Poem

This by Berthold Brecht.  I wish you all a glorious day.

The night when she first gave birth
Had been cold.  But in later years
She quite forgot
The frost in the dingy beams and the smoking stove
And the pressure of the afterbirth towards morning.
But above all she forgot the humiliation
Of having no privacy
Common among the poor.
That was the main reason
Why in later years it became a holiday for all
To take part in.
The shepherds' coarse chatter fell silent.
Later they turned into the Kings of the story.
The wind, which was very cold,
Turned into the singing of angels.
Indeed, of the hole in the roof that let in the
     frost nothing remained
But the star that peeped through it.
All this was due to the vision of her son,
     who was easy,
Was fond of singing
Surrounded himself with poor folk
And was in the habit of mixing with kings
And of seeing a star above his head
    at night time.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Dear Santa

I know you're busy packing, the sleigh jammed with toys and goodies, but I wanted to add a couple of things to my list before you take off.

Please bring some brains, or at least common sense, to the Tea Partier Grover Norquistian Republicans in Congress.  For some reason, they've all lost their marbles.  Come to think of it, most of the world seems to be in the same condition.  So, can we have some brains all 'round?

And while you're packing some sense, please send some to our own district 1 Supervisor, Frank Mecham.  He popped up in the Dec 22 Bay News commenting on the recent expenditure of $7.68 million for contract management on the Hideous Sewer project.  Frank is quoted in the Bay News as saying he "would continue to support the project only if the construction bids are low."  He's been saying that for several years now, right before he votes on what is now one of the world's most expensive sewer projecst, one that is likely to force a good chunk of the community to sell and move because they can't afford it.  Right now the costs are pegged at $155 a month. 

Apparently, Frank must think that price is "low" because, so far, he keeps voting for every step of it, no matter how much the price goes up.  And since he's only one of 5 Sups, even if he decided that $155 a month is now too high, his "no" vote would meaning nothing. So I guess his support and comments are just another meaningless mantra that makes him sound concerned without requiring that he actually do anything about those concerns. Typical Pol.

So, let's see, brains and common sense.  That's a start.  In Washington, a sufficient number of Pols came to their senses and voted to give working people a few more pennies in their pockets via the last minute continued tax cuts, so maybe more little kids will have that the toy they wanted will show up under their tree. So that's good.  Unfortunately, those same nincompoops will be returning to Congress after the holidays so the level of mean and stupid will rise once again.  Maybe you've got some Sugar & Spice & Nice pills in your pack that you can sprinkle all over Washington?  Worth a try?

Come to think of it, some Peace & Goodwill to all the nations of the world would be a great gift.  Not sure your sleigh is large enough to accomodate the sheer amount of Goodwill that would be needed in a world hell-bent on self destruction, but every little bit helps, so give it a go.  I know, I can hear Rudolph grumbling already.  It's is a heavy lift.  Promise him more cookies when he gets home Sunday night.

In closing, I want to thank you for all the gifts you've already brought me--  My dogs, my friends, my family.  I am truly blessed.

So, have a Merry Christmas.  And look out for all the jets planes getting everyone home in time to celebrate.  It's a zoo out there.

 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Moon

 Calhoun’s Cannons for Dec 16.2011

            I would sing some Solstice carols, but I don’t think I know any.  The glorious moon is full now, the only light in the darkest season of the year.  And the recent cold snap has laid flat a good swath of nasturtiums in the back yard.  The poor dears never learn.  Fall falls and they set their seeds and dry up.  Then at the first rain the seeds hatch, their new leaf rounds appearing over the sandy yard like an invading army of little double-wide green umbrellas.  Then comes the frost and their enthusiasm is harshly tempered. But that doesn’t stop them from trying again. Busy little teachers with their chipper little lessons of endurance and renewal on the longest of nights.  

            The Rogers Red grapevines went out in a blaze of scarlet glory, their leaves burning red in the waning sun, waiting for the first windstorm to scatter their finery all over the yard.  And after their spectacular finish, they’re ready to tuck up their twig-tips for a long winter’s nap and dream of summer’s green.

            The ghosts of the long-dead Basenjis are all around the yard.  My own little troop of Jacob Marleys, whispering wraiths, ghosts of Christmas Past and all the long summers gone, their ashes taken up into the blazing grape leaves by now, and present in the pungent sage bushes or glowing in the white beauty of the rock roses.  Everywhere I look, a yard of little graves full of transformed life.  All the Basenjis but one who, wrapped in a sweater to warm her old bones, now sniffs and pees in salute on the resting places of her kin.  All gone now, while the seasons turn and she too will be but a memory, whispering.

            Inside the house the nutcrackers are all in their places, holly garlands and wreaths and lights girdle the room.  A tacky Kinkaid clock chimes Christmas Carols every hour on the hour, while across the kitchen my John Deere clock chimes John Deere engine noises, also on the hour.  The effect startles visitors who think it odd that “God Rest Ye Merry” should have “ta pockata-pockata-pockata” in the middle of it. I find the sounds deliciously disturbing, a reminder that the world is a very noisy place filled with dissonance, until you stand back very far and squint.  Then it hums with lovely weird music.

            Including the scrabble of the tall dogs’ toenails on the floor as they titter-tatter in circles, yipping and eager for their walk in the cold morning sun.  Since adding another rescued Greyhound to the pack, I have to take them out in batches since Archibald McDawg, the resident butthead, is ADD-afflicted and infects the other dogs with his crazed hyper-vigilance.  Those left for the second walk will howl their Anvil Chorus of woe that I can hear half-way down the block.  I often think about timing our leave taking when both clocks are going off just to hear what that comic coda would sound like.

            On the political front, the year has not lacked in comic effect either.  I can’t help but think God has a wicked sense of humor. In the midst of such economic woe, with Mother Nature poised within a few carbon-points of taking her terrible, irreversible revenge on us all for our heedless but successful efforts at turning her once beautiful world into a global heat sink, we get clowns.  Clowns.  Clowns with bad comb-overs, clowns  popping out of pizzas, clowns leaping up at Come-to-Jesus political rallies, clowns spilling out of a paralyzed Congress and fiddling on their little violins while the circus tent burns down.  It’s a Christmas mummers’ masque, the last futile dance macabre before the bell towers fall and the Black Death arrives in the morning.  More carbon-loaded Yule Logs for the fires!  Wassail!

            Well, nothing much to do, really, once the fine gears have clicked into place and the great wheel begins to turn.  And turn it will.  Since the lessons of Scrooge remain unlearned, the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come will start arriving soon. And as Scrooge found out, it won’t be pretty.

            But at this moment, I am shivering in the dark cold of early morning.  Looking west, I watch the setting moon go dark and red with eclipse.  It is a glorious planetary dance that has gone on for millions of year, but still causes wonder at its beauty.  To my left a rooster crows.  He has seen.  Behind me, the sun is rising in a pink-streaked dawn.

             Inside the house, the dogs are restless.  They want their walk, their breakfast.  And there’s still Christmas chores for me to finish.  In the backyard, the nasturtium seeds are once again pushing their green leaves out into the pale warmth of the sun.  Another year has begun.

            Hallelujah!  




           


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

O.K. Muslims, It's Your Turn In The Stupid Barrel

            Has Lowe’s lost its marbles?  Some little band of idiots, the Florida Family Assn, “a Christian group that lobbies companies to promote ‘traditional, biblical values,” decided that TLC’s new reality show, “All-American Muslim,” DIDN’T show the muslim family as violent jihadis, bombers, child-rapers, wife-beating religious fanatics  and so they threatened to boycott Lowe’s.

            What’s that you say?  Yes.  A show about an All-American family living in middle America, shopping at, well Lowe’s, or WalMart, going to school, sitting around the dining room table, attending mosque, all typical shots in a “reality show” that has cameras living with someone in their home, and apparently those perfectly nomal, boring, everyday scenes didn’t jibe with spokesperson David Canton’s ignorant and bigoted ideas about Muslims, and he objected because the show conflicted with his belief structures.  So, of course, the show had to go.

            And Lowe’s, being apparently headed up by IDIOTS, caved into the opinions of this small wackadoodle group.

            Really.  Has Lowe’s lost its marbles?  It’s embarrassing to see a huge, national Company behaving so stupidly.  Some small, bigoted, ignorant group calling itself “Christians” has its bigotry challenged by a TV show, so it whines and threatens, and Lowe’s caves. Pathetic.         

            Well, push-back came soon enough.  Jon Stewart had a field day.  The required Famous Celebrity (Mia Farrow) started a Tweetathon and California State Senator, Ted Lieu, demanded an apology from Lowe’s, pointing out, “The show is basically about Americans who happen to be Muslim.  For Lowe’s to say that the show is dangerous, or agree that it’s dangerous or somehow showing anything other than American Muslims as normal, is quite outrageous.”  He’s planning a boycott of his own and is drafting a legislative resolution denouncing the company’s action.  (Oh, yeah, like elected officials would sign on to anything that might indicate that they believe that Muslims are anything other than terrorists out of fear that some bigoted “Christian” somewhere might object?)

            And a petition on www.SignOn.org has showed up so people could send a messge to Lowe’s that they’re IDIOTS.  And so it goes. 

            All of which is yet another reason why most of the rest of the world thinks Americans are complete fools, knuckle-dragging xenophobic Christers, uneducated, paranoid, bigoted fools.  And when you read of idiot stuff like this, it’s hard not to agree.

            Really.  Embarrassing.  When did we become such cowards?  And so pathetically ignorant?  And, sadly, where are the real Christians when crap like this happens?  Their voice should be leading the pack in denouncing their fellow co-religionists as the bigoted ignoramuses they are.  Were I a “Christian,” I’d think it was paper-bag-on-the-head time.  Again.



Happy Solstice

Longest day of the year and Hanukkah begins.  So, light the lights.  The season of cold and dark and glowing candles begins!

      


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Your Sunday Poem

This wickedly sly poem is by Charles Simic. 

One-Man Circus

Juggler of hats and live hand grenades,
Tumbler, contortionist, impersonator,
Living statue, wire walker, escape artist,
Amateur ventriloquist and mind reader,

Doing all that without being detected
While leisurely strolling down the street,
Buying a newsaper on some corner,
Bending down to pat a blind man's dog,

Or sitting across from your wife at dinner,
While she prattles about the weather,
Concentrating instead on a trapeze in your head,
The tigers pacing angrily in their cage.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Last Year at Marienbad meets On the Beach

             “Melancholia,” now playing at the Palm, is a powerful, haunting, beautiful, spectacular failure of a film.  A perfect example of the Auteur in need of a sharp-elbowed minder at his side to constantly hiss at him, “Very nice, Lars, now let’s move along.”  Well, director/writer Lars von Trier’s Danish, so maybe many of the film’s problems are that Scandinavian thing.

            Or maybe Lars just got so entranced by his new camera he started falling in love with all his images, like a kid who goes through a whole role of film shooting the same flower from every angle, then pastes them all into his album.  Lars forgot that images in a film are carriers of the story and require a certain pace to work properly; get too many repetitive shots and the audience starts wool gathering and you’ve lost them.

            Which is a shame for this movie has some beautifully realized use of image-as-conveyor of story.  And Trier uses slo-mo, dream-like images at the opening of the film that beautifully foreshadow both the story and what is coming at the end – a pair of  fantastic cinematic book ends that will stay with you long after the film’s over.

            Basically, the story is an end-of-the-world tale and/or (take your pick) an outward representation of the inner condition of profound depression – the hopeless, helpless, relentless coming apart of the sufferer’s inner world. (von Tries suffered from severe depression, so is familiar with that state.)  In this world,  (Kirsten Dunst) is at the estate of her wealthy brother-in-law (Keifer Sutherland) who’s paid big bucks for her elaborate wedding, which her sister, Clair, has planned.  After endless wedding party shots, with no explanation, Dunst dumps hubby and with a scene change, she’s deep into a helpless depression and returning to the estate so her sister can care for her.  While Dunst recuperates with her little isolated family (sister, brother-in-law, their young son, the sister’s much beloved horses) the audience is further informed that the little new star seen in the sky during the wedding is, in reality, a planet headed our way.

             At first, Sutherland bustles about all scientific and engaged, convincing his frightened wife that the planet will fly by.  Before long (after endless more scenes of everyone mooning around staring at one another in that artysy European art film way), the wife learns the truth – it won’t be a fly-by, her husband was lying to them.  By that time, he’s committed suicide, leaving his family to their fate alone, the sister grabs her son and attempts to flee but there is nowhere to escape to, and it finally falls to Dunst to remind her little, terrified nephew that he’s not to be afraid, that she’s Aunty Steel-breaker (at least that’s what it sounded like) and she has powers to protect them all in a “magic cave,”  which she proceeds to build, a teepee frame into which she brings her sister and nephew to wait until the planet crashes into them.

            Certainly a fair enough story to tell.  Which Triers does tell in those brilliant opening foreshadowing images; eerie, haunting shots of this giant planet glowing in the night sky; a super slo-mo shot of Dunst in her elaborate wedding dress fleeing through a thick forest filled with entangling vines clinging to her legs as she flees their clutches; a black horse suddenly falling, falling, falling to the ground; the sister clutching her son as she runs across what looks like a soft stretch of  grass that horrifyingly turns to soft mud, sinking her up to her knees with each step, incapable of moving forward, and finally, Dunst, shot in such a way that she resembled a colossus while behind her lightning was streaking out of the dark clouds as she slowly raised her hands, her face as serene as a powerful and terrifying goddess, and watched with calm interest as lightning started flowing out of her fingers.

            With those symbolic images, von Triers retells them in the film itself in more realistic fashion – the husband dumped at the wedding party, the killer planet approaching, the estate’s beloved horses which the audience knows are doomed, the mother fleeing in a golf cart in a futile attempt to save her son, and finally, Dunst remaining the only character left with the power, grace and courage to shield her loved ones from the final horror hurtling out of the sky.

            Unfortunately, too much of the stuff in between these amazing book ends was so repetitive, self-indulgent, distracting and annoying that I suspect most of the audience was praying – praying – that that killer planet would just hurry up and arrive and get it over with.

            Which is hardly the frame of mind a filmmaker should want his audience to have while watching his Masterpiece.  And which is a shame as well, since clearly von Trier has in his artistic paint box some pretty spectacular movie-making skills and the understanding that film and dreams and poetry all operate on a far different level in our brains than other art forms.  It’s too bad he lacked the hard, focused, disciplined eye that would have allowed him to winnow his rich assortment of “moving pictures” in order to tell his story in a far better fashion.

            So, is this a film worth seeing?  As painful as so much of it was to sit through, I’m actually glad I went because I’m glad I now have those amazing images firmly planted in my head.  And the memory of how cleverly the film-maker book-ended that film. So, if you love movies, those things may well be worth the price of admission. And since there’s no such thing as a free lunch, I guess all the self-indulgent crap in the middle was the price I had to pay for the good stuff. 

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Why Frank Luntz Is The Most Dangerous Man In America

If you want a glimpse at why language matters and why so much of what passes for political discourse today is either mere hollering or deliberately perverted language, take a read of George Lakoff's essay, "Words that don't work, at http://www.readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/8777-focus-words-that-dont-work

Pollster and Republican strategist and language meister Frank Luntz is paid big bucks not to illumnate or 'splain or clarify.  He's paid big bucks to use "focus groups" to suss out the perfect words that he can advise his bosses to use disguise, decieve, misdirect, obfuscate and falsify.  And when people believe the deceptions, the misdirections, the falsification, they make decisions based on those lies and that rarely turns out well for them.  But it always turns out well for those manipulating the languge in order to get the action they want.

Luntz will be working overtime in the election of 2012.  And the stakes couldn't be higher. Pay attention.  If you thought "death panels" was brilliant, you ain't seen nothing yet.

At at the same site, check out another essay at http://www.readersupportednews.org/opinion2/269-36/8774-the-most-important-speech-of-his-presidency   That also will be the key issue in 2012 -- a decision by the voters on whether and how and how far they want to re-balance The Value of The Commons.  That's the question the Occupy Wall Streeters, the 99%ers are asking.  The American voters will have to decide.  Unfortunately, with Frank Luntz at work, their decisions will be made that much more difficult.  But, it needs to be done if we even have a shot at re-balancing a country gone off the rails.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Samcro Santas

It was Sunday, the first Sunday of December, so it was time for the 30th annual Avila to Creston San Luis Toy Run.  Along the waterfront at Avila, as far as the eye could see, motorcycles.  Fabulous motorcycles, polished and gleaming. 
 

And being a very public run, time for some suitable sartorial splendor.


And the showing of colors.










Lots of colors.








Including a Sons of Anarchy look alike.

 

All you needed to particpate in the run was a toy strapped to your ride. Or, if you were driving up, a toy in your car.  



At 10:30, the bikes streamed out of Avila in an endless ribbon, roaring up the road, astonishing in their numbers, toys and flags and the whole resplendent leather aesthetic on dark display.  It was a prefect day for a ride and in less than an hour, the whole grand parade ended up at the Loading Chute in Creston where the toys were loaded into a huge van to be distributed to needy kids this Christmas.  Then it was barbeque time, beer time (what else on a motorcycle run?) and plenty of music.


 

All in all, a splendid day with a whole bunch of nice people willing to go that extra mile to lend a hand and make sure a whole lot of kids had some toys for Christmas.
 SAMCRO aesthetic: Death's head holding a child's fluffy sof-sof toy.  

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Your Sunday Poem

This from my favorite poet, Billy Collins, from his book, "The Art of Drowning."  Support your favorite poets.  This Christmas, give your friends books of poetry along with the usual poinsettia.

Days

Each one is a gift, no doubt,
mysteriously placed in your waking hand
or set upon your forehead
moments before you open your eyes.

Today begins cold and bright,
the ground heavy with snow
and the thick masonry of ice,
the sun glinting off the turrets of clouds.

Through the calm eye of the window
everything is in its place
but so precariously
this day might be resting somehow

on the one before it,
all the days of the past stacked high
like the impossible tower of dishes
entertainers used to build on stage.

No wonder you find yourself
perched on the top of a tall ladder
hoping to add one more.
Just another Wednesday

you whisper,
then holding your breast,
place this cup on yesterday's saucer
without the slightest clink.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Oh, Put It To Bed, Please

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for December 2, 2011

            O.K, we’re in a grumpy mood, despite Christmas cheer wafting around in the Santa Ana winds that are blowing Los Angeles into the sea. We’re unemployed, we’re poor, we’re cranky.  Well, at least 99% of us are.  But in the gloom, there may be a shining glimmer of hope.  As reported in the Dec 2nd The Week, “As recently as 2002, 60 percent of U.S. citizens surveyed said they agreed with the statement, ‘Our people are not perfect but our culture is superior to others.’  But with our economy in tatters, our debt rising, and our foreign interventions producing frustration, American’s belief in our innate superiority has fallen to 49 percent, below a majority for the first time.”

To which I can only say, “It’s about time.”  This phony belief in “American Exceptionalism” was always a dangerous notion, useful for deluding school children and a handy tool used by demagogues hoping to fool the lumpen proletariat. Recently, we’ve heard a great deal of huffing about it from Republican candidates who take gassy umbrage at President Obama whenever he dares to gently point out America’s clay-footed reality, as if pointing out clay feet to a world keenly aware of those giant muddy brogans is nothing more than stating the obvious.

Ronald Reagan’s political ad men really cranked up that “shining city on a hill”  hokum and it’s been the Holy Grail of conservative mythmaking ever since.  True, America was seen as a New Jerusalem to a small band of early immigrants, but to vast numbers of other arrivals, America was never a City of God but a Wide Open City Of Main Chances.  It was a place where boomers and strivers, the greedy, the ambitious, the talented and the lucky could find a place to make their dreams come true.  It was also a welcoming home for the rapacious thieves and scalliwags who came to prey, not pray.

And they almost all did very well for themselves. But it does not take too long reading real history, not the fake kind we love so well, to discover that Tolstoy’s dictum, “Behind every great fortune is a great crime,” applies to many of our most revered American Heroes.  You don’t have to look very deeply inside our cherished “American Exceptionalism” to find slave holders, shady land deals, a few duels, genocide, broken treaties, outright theft, treason, and the endless litany of sleazy ethically-compromised “sausage-making” that constitutes how our Congress gets anything done.  Shining City?  Washington?  As if.

No, America isn’t exceptional, and it isn’t singularly blessed by God to be a beacon to the world, and it isn’t a New Jerusalem.  Its founders brilliantly created some distinctly unique wrinkles in self-governance that greatly improved the chances that a democracy of and by and for the people could survive and even thrive, but governments and nations are living things – fallible, finite, fragile.  They need constant care, but the care must be founded on a cool-eyed, realistic assessment of how things are actually operating.

I mean, it’s no good handing a mechanically-challenged, muddle-headed, ideologue a brand new Rolls Royce. If he believes that it’s God Made and hence Perfect in all its parts and forms, he won’t hear that the engine is running a bit rough.  Or see that the wheel bearings need repacking. And if you point out those realities, it will only earn you a thrashing as a Commie or a “person who hates America.”  And if you silence and cow the realists long enough, the very real engine block will seize up, the wheels will fall off and that gorgeous Rolls will go off into the ditch.  

So, please.  Enough with this fake American Exceptionalism.  Dump it.  God had nothing to do with the disasters we create.  In this latest mess, God’s in the clear.  He didn’t do it. A whole bunch of war mongers, greedy rapacious gamblers and wholly-owned Corporate Boss Tweedian Pols and a citizenry cowed or deluded by shining cities on hills or just asleep at the switch failed to pay attention to the engine light that came on.

And now the country’s grumpy.  Good.  Maybe this time, they’ll pay attention and will call in a whole bunch of realistic mechanics who know what a real engine “ping” sounds like and just how to fix it.           

                   

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Herman, Herman, Herman


Oh, Hermie, Baby.  Give it up. You went about this all wrong.  You should have put on your pimp hat and shiny suit and trotted out all your stable of ladies – those you harassed and now your long-time mistress. 

Go ahead.  Play the race card.  Be bold.  Claim them all as your Ladies.  Then tell your rich white Republican pals that they wouldn’t understand, it’s a Black Thing.

Instead, you wimped out.  Denied everything then grabbed the Wussy White Pol’s classic cop out – “If I do quit, it’ll be . . . for the sake of my family.”

For the sake of your family?  Oh, pluuueeeze.  Your wife should have handed you a slice of pizza and told you to “eat your vegetable,” then booted your sorry behind out the door years ago.

Now, Shoo.  Go away.  Thank you.


Speaking of Running 

Run – do not walk or saunter – run down to Santa Maria to the John Hancock College’s Marian Theatre for PCPA’s new production of “A Christmas Carol.” 

The play, with Music and lyrics by David De Berry, was directed by Mark Booher, and is wonderfully different than any other production of “Carol” that I’d seen before.  It’s a musical but not the usual big Broadway boomer.  Instead, the songs, many of which sound like old Victorian Christmas carols, or were adapted from same, acted as a fully integrated enrichment to support Dicken’s wonderful language and dialogue, not upstage it. The result is a perfect blend of music and text. Add in a terrific cast at the top of its form, a fabulous set design, beautifully designed costumes and choreography, and superb lighting that becomes a critical part of the drama and you have a truly outstanding production.

I’ve never seen a bad play at PCPA and this one was one of the best.  Do yourself a favor and go see it.  Perfect way to start the holiday season with a happy heart.  www.PCPA.org.  It’s running through Dec 23.    

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Trip



If you've got holiday company and are alooking for a nice morning trip, I suggest a drive up to San Miguel Mission.  The restoration work to repair the damage from the earthquake a few years ago is done.  Even the experts at the Getty got involved to preserve the lovely 1820 frescoes.


   

You can stroll around the courtyards, and grounds.  They even have two mud ovens, though none that look like a giant bear.






There's even a rather bare and sad cemetery where over 2,000 Mission Indians are buried.


And, of course, the requesite antique-looking adobe fountain.




Then Go See Hugo

If  you love movies, Martin Scorsese's new film, Hugo is a must-see.  Avatar and now Hugo are two films where the filmakers really understood how to fully utilize the visual mechanics and qualities of 3-D.  For too many films, 3-D is simply an excuse to add a few bucks to the ticket and throw a few things at the audience.  Or, worse yet, ignore the story altogether and spend the big bucks, not on a great script, but on whiz-bang roller-coaster effects which become as repetitive and uninteresting as a Whirly-Gig ride at the fair after a few minutes.

Not James Cameron, not Martin Scorsese.  They're storytelling makers of moving pictures first and formost and in both films they have created an entire world and invited the viewer to step into that world, not merely sit in a theatre seat and have things tossed out at them.  Huge difference.

As USA Today puts it, Hugo is "a wonderous blend of fantasy and mystery that will appeal to adults as well as children."

But be warned.  There were previews before the movie and it seems George Lucas intends on 3-D-ing his first (actually 3rd) Star Wars movie, (Phantom Menace.)  Trust me, no amount of 3-D can save that film. Or the next one.  I mean, does anyone think 3-D will improve Jar-Jar Binks?  Me thinks not.

And the original, 1977 first Star Wars is perfect as it is.  Gilding that perfect lily is a waste of time.

And if you're in the mood for a far darker film, catch "Take Shelter" at the Palm.  This acting tour de force is compelling, disturbing, riveting portrait of a man coming undone.  Or is he?  Take shelter, indeed.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Take a breath, take a walk, hug your kids, hug your dog, visit a neighbor, call a friend, bless the day, bless the food, bless the world. 

And have a happy thanksgiving.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Yossarian Lives!

 Ron Crawford, over at Sewerwatch ( www.Sewerwatch.blogspot.com  ) has completed a hilarious second round of puzzle-solving.  This one involving former BOS Katcho Kachadjian, he of the public crocodile tears and private “as little as possible” Chinatown ethos.

  Well, who can blame him.  Katcho’s punched his Ambition Ticket and moved on up to play with the big boys in Sacramento and you don’t get into that game unless you’re willing to ask no questions, and when asked to request a very simple, highly focused audit to answer a few simple questions on the State Revolving Fund (all fully documented with supporting documentation), your response will be to do “as little as possible,” or, preferably, nothing at all.  

If you want to know why The 99% hate “government,” Ron’s posting will show you why.  The public, official letters contrasted with the semi-private, wink-nudge casual e-mail exchanges are particularly telling.  It’s all a delicious mash-up of Through the Looking Glass and Catch 22.  Part III of this funny/tragic story will pick up again on January first, when Ron contacts the new “independent” state auditor and starts his “Waltz me Around Again, Willie” round of inquiries.  My bet is the nice lady heading up the new office is already firmly in the Chinatown loop. 

As usual, the local media, Tribune, New Times, Cal Coast News, all of ‘em are also into Chinatown mode.  For a politician, doing as little as possible, especially when it’s all about covering one’s ass, is understandable.  But for the “ watchdog press?”   

Spray Your Troubles Away

I love American snark.  No sooner had campus policeman Lt. John Pike sprayed seated, non-violent, non-threatening Occupy Wall Street protesters at the UC Davis campus, than some wag whipped out PhotoShop and there was Mr. Pike cakewalking through art history.  It was a deliciously satirical take to a needlessly savage act. ( at Huffington Post  www.huffingtonpost.com ) 

The visual symbolism of the real spraying is certainly telling – the absolute contempt, the indifference to the damage about to be done, the pain inflicted -- Mr. Pike as The Exterminator about to poison the bugs at his feet.  It was also an image that evoked the 1960’s, with Sheriff  Bull Connor blasting civil rights demonstrators with high-powered fire hoses.

As an icon of how the 1% views the 99%, Officer Pike dancing through art history doesn’t get any better than that. Let them eat cake. Pike is also a great reminder that things do not change much.  Power does what power does, even in a country whose government professes to derive its power from . . . We the People.  You know, those folks on the ground getting pepper sprayed in the face. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Creepy Time

You’re only as sick as your secrets, and after watching Clint Eastwood’s new movie, it’s obvious that J. Edgar Hoover was one sick puppy.  Dangerous, too boot.  So that old maxim should be changed to read. “You’re only as sick and dangerous as your secrets,” and Hoover hand and kept many, many secrets.
Clearly, Director Clint Eastwood in his old age hasn’t mellowed.  He seems to be getting downright flinty, Gran Torino-get-off-my-lawn crabby – gimlet-eyed comes to mind.  Which makes this film extremely odd. 
For over two hours, he absolutely savages Hoover with an unblinking eye.  The man was sick, obsessed, seriously weird, dangerous, phony. The movie is filmed in the cold, icy light and grey, washed-out color Eastwood used in a previous film, “Changeling,” which drops the temperature of the theatre to zero and makes all the characters look like the vampires from “Twilight” have already paid them a visit and sucked all the life and blood out of them.
Then, in the middle of this ice-cold, savagely, almost satirically cruel movie, Eastwood proceed to tell us a tender . . . love story. The effect is absolutely disorienting.
Worse, the relentless, intimate focus of the camera puts the viewer into the very uncomfortable position of being a voyeur watching two hours of  intimate, embarrassing unmasking of a failed, sad soul – his good deeds soon buried with him and his appalling weirdness left standing as his malign monument.  Then at the end, we’re supposed to be moved to sympathy for this twisted sister  because he supposedly had at least had one real, true thing in his life: His need for and love for his long-time companion Clyde Tolson.
 But even that romance was hard to believe because it was impossible for me to believe these characters were whole enough to feel anything called “love.”  Neurotic need, self-serving manipulation, folie a deux, toxic attachment, yes.  Love?  Not so much.
  Not to mention, I had real trouble overcoming all the surrounding  ice to see much of anything redeeming about any of these characters.  Hoover and Tolson lived a life of lies, Hoover’s assistant, Helen Gandy, (played by Naomi Watts) was a world-class enabler who stood by her boss as he trashed the law and trampled on the Constitution and grew to wield such power that he could threaten Presidents.
In his earlier movie, “Unforgiven,” a young man says to Easwtood’s character, after witnessing a killing, “Yeah, well, I guess he had it coming.”  To which Eastwood replied, “We all have it coming, Kid.”
In J. Edgar,  perhaps Eastwood has found the perfect illustration of what may be Clint’s ultimate pronouncement on the world.
Amazon Games

If you’ve ever ordered a book from Amazon and wondered about the “star” ratings and “reviews,” well, Los Osos writer Anne R. Allen has a great new blog on writing,  www.annerallen.blogspot.com and has posted a great tell-all as to how that system works. Publishing is changing quickly now, so if you’re still thinking Publishers, hard-bound books, bookstores, etc,.  here’s a chance to Zoom! into what’s really going on.  It's a great read.

          

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Your Sunday Haiku




Reddish morning sky . . .
    Rain for you today
    I guess,
Lucky little snail!
                   Issa

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Paper Bag Time

Calhoun’s Cannons for Nov 16, 11

I watched as many of the Republican debates as I could stand without having to arrest myself for cruel and inhumane punishment, something candidate Michelle Bachman is four-square in favor of. So it’s clear to me its paper-bag-over-the-head time because nobody has any sense of shame any more since most of the candidates are suffering from The Sarah Palin Syndrome: no real-world assessment of self except some glowing, aggrandized version of, “ Of course I’m qualified to be President! I’m Wonderful Me!”

Even worse, I don’t think the public has any sense of shame either, which likely comes from too many people watching too many Mean-Girl, Gong-Show “reality” programs. In that world, talent-bereft, unqualified, humiliation-proof narcissists are the norm. And when those shameless characters show up on the political/public stage, the voters clearly don’t hear alarm bells going off in their heads. I mean, in a sane world, most of the Republican candidates wouldn’t have any poll numbers higher than zero.

So, it’s paper bag time for cowboy Rick Perry. He can’t even remember what he’s supposed to be adamantly opposed to. This is a guy whose brain can barely manage to operate on bumper-sticker slogans. Paper bag over the head for him.

And Newt? Really? Newt? He’s a hack who truly knows no shame. His overweening sense of his own wonderfulness has allowed him to shamelessly spend years turning up like a bad penny to haul his tired old failed ideas out of his portmanteau for all who will listen, blissfully unaware that the sane people in his audience are rictus-smiling and nervously edging out of their seats. Shhh, don’t make any sudden moves. Keep smiling. The door’s that way. That guy has so much shameful baggage, he doesn’t need a paper bag. He needs a Luis Vuitton suitcase the size of New Jersey, all charged to his $500,000 revolving Tiffany account. Paper bag him.

Ditto for Herman Cain. He needs a whole lot of paper bags to carry the lists of names of all the ladies who are coming out of the woodwork to complain of his improper canoodling. Plus, during a sit-down with newspaper editors from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he apparently had trouble understanding which Lybia was under discussion. Oh, Gaddafi, right, you mean that Lybia? In a reasonable world, his polling numbers would be minus-zero

As for More Water-boarding Michelle? Please. Paper bag.

And it doesn’t stop with presidential candidates. Jack Abramoff has hired some big PR flaks and will soon be staging a comeback. You remember Casino Jack, corrupt and corrupting lobbyist who would sell his grandmother to his mother then sell them both down the river? Major player in Bush’s Washington who has been spending time in jail for his efforts? Well, he’s coming baaaaccckkkk. And, unlike Nixon’s hatchet-man, Charles Colson, who found God while in prison, while Jack is claming a similar enlightenment, he isn’t planning to return to a quiet life of private penance for his sins. Oh, no. Jack’s back. Shameless. No paper bags for him. But will the public care? Will they boo and hiss and demand he go away? Not likely. Not in “Jersey Shore America.”

Not in Penn State America, either. Before the growing list of victims has even been identified, the alleged molester, Jerry Sandusky, appears on TV brazenly soft-soaping and justifying his behavior as “horseplay,” while the first reaction to all this by some Penn State students was to riot to protest the firing of their legendary Coach who did “as little as possible” to protect the boys, thereby doing “as much as possible” to protect the man who was preying on them. And now everyone is changing their stories, scrambling to cover their bare behinds with gym towels that are now suddenly the size of a micron.

Have we really come to this? Has our common sense, our basic sense of decency, our critical sense of what’s real versus what’s fake been so corrupted that we no longer know the difference? Or care? If so, then it’s time to bring back the paper bag.

In the Nov. 24 Rolling Stone magazine article, Matt Taibbi observes that the Occupy Wall Street movement “was always about something much bigger than a movement against big banks and modern finance. It’s about providing a forum for people to show how tired they are not just of Wall Street, but everything. This is a visceral, impassioned, deep-seated rejection of the entire direction of our society, a refusal to take even one more step forward into the shallow commercial abyss of phoniness, short-term calculation, withered idealism and intellectual bankruptcy that American mass society has become. If there is such a thing as going on strike from one’s own culture, this is it.”

Gold star for Matt. He’s got it just about right.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Return to Camp Ocean Pines


Last year, volunteers showed up at Camp Ocean Pines in Cambria one weekend, to help decorate an ampitheatre that had also been built by volunteers.  The staff hosted a "thank you" lunch plus tours of the camground this Sunday. The patio even included a real live scarecrow to greet visitors. And, yes, I do mean "live."



The camp is an extraordinary place, a former YMCA camp, now transformed into a multiple-use site that brings school kids from all over te county to a beautiful natural area to learn about the environment and engage in hands-on outdoor lessons.  It's also an old-fashioned summer camp with volunteers constantly raising money to offer scholarships for undrprivledged kids so they too can have that valuable camp experience.  And it serves as a base for all sorts of retreats, conferences and special creative workshops. Including a mosaic workshop that culminated in the ampitheatre decorating project.


And volunteer, hands-on help is how the ampitheatre came to be built -- a special project of a group of engineers.  When the concrete seats were done and the flagstones mounted on it, that's when the mosaic volunteers moved in to decorate the cracks with all kinds of sparklies!




Both the tops of the seats are the stairs down to the stage were flagstone with all the mosaic placed inbetween. In additon, each of the rows of seats were all color coordinated, which makes it easy to direct bunch of people who can be told they're to sit in the blue row, or the green row.

The camp is busy planning new projects, including building needed bathrooms and -- how cool is this -- they're planning a zipline to take kids zooming throught he tree tops.

All of this incredible work depends on the support of volunteers and donors to keep this program going.  If you'd like to help support their activities -- like help sponsor a kid so he or she can have a camp experience that would be otherwise unavaible to them, visit http://www.campoceanpines.org/ or call (805)927-0254.  Christmas is comming as is the IRS end of charitible donations time period.  What better gift than to give a kid a Camp Ocean Pines experience. 

Red tailed hawk in his cage, watching visitors