Sunday, November 30, 2014

Holiday Plans

It's that time again.  Time to grab the kids and head down to PCPA ( http://www.PCPA.ORG ) for their wonderful Christmas offering, "Christmas is Here Again," a new musical by Brad Carrol and Jeremy Mann.  This charmer is a wonderful mashup of Hans Christian Anderson's "Snow Queen," ("Frozen"), Peter Pan, (Clap if you believe in Peter Pan), and the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

The musical is an adaption of the 2007 animated feature film of the same name, and this production makes wonderful use of the original images from the film that are projected on the back screen.  It's a very effective device to set the scene, carry the story forward and give the production a unique "look" that honors the original film.

The story is simple: Years before, Christmas, Santa and the official Doler Out Of Lumps of Coal for naughty children (Krad, play by Billy Breed) had a falling out.  Santa didn't want any punishment for any kids while Krad demanded accountability in order to keep things in balance.  Santa won and in revenge, Krad stole away Santa's magic sack of toys thereby mading Christmas disappear.  Enter our heroine, Sophiana, a poor orphan who, armed with hope and faith and a magic star, sets off to retrieve the sack and bring back Christmas.  She's joined in her journey by an elf, a young reindeer (Prancer's grandson), a polar bear (hilariously played by Erik Stein) and a smooth-talking, raffish boulevardier fox (played by George Walker, who's worth the price of admission alone).

Together the little band confronts Krad, convinces him that Santa has seen the errors of his ways, that the universe needs both accountability as well as kindness and love, and, ta-da! Christmas again returns. 

Like everything PCA does, this show is wonderfully done and is a great way to kick off your Holiday.  So, grab the kids, or, if you don't have kids, become a kid yourself and take yourself down to Santa Maria to see it.

Meanwhile. . .

Saturday, Dec. 6, from noon to 4 pm.  SLO Roasted Coffee Company is having their annual Holiday Open House on Los Olivos St. here in Los Osos.  There's free coffee sampling, a roasting demonstration, raffle prizes, discount coupons for coffee purchases, and, if memory serves, a discount for all coffee purchased that day. 

And Saturday Dec 13, the Los Osos Christmas Parade, starting at 10 a.m. after which, head down to the Community Center for the annual Wish & Needs fund-raiser for the Maxine Lewis Homeless Shelter.  This is the big annual event that does Los Osos proud, so after the parade, be sure to go get a hot dog, check out the silent auction and other goodies, and stop off at the big donation jar and give generously.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ferguson, MO

Two lives ruined over a package of stolen Cigarillos. 

Doesn't get sadder or dumber than that.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Creepy Comic

Here's what I find the most puzzling about Bill Cosby's decades-long sexual proclivities:  The pills. 

If these women's reports are to be believed,--and there's so many of them it's impossible not to believe what they're describing -- then Cosby had some of them at "Hello."  So why pills?

I mean, famous star, willing dewy-eyed sweet young things, (or ambitious sweet young things with an eye on the main chance and a head full of fake promises), a trip to a hotel room, a dreamed up affair, "true love," and/or a good career move dancing in their heads.  A cocktail or two to loosen everyone up. That's the stock scenario for sweet young things, philandering old coots, smarmy lotharios, and Bill Cosby.

But. . . knock-out pills?  Is the guy into necrophilia?

If that's the case, while his career as a comedian is apparently tanking, perhaps he'll consider a few guest appearances on "The Walking Dead."That might be a more apt role than Cliff Huxtable.

So sad. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Winter Blessing

Spring's colt, now nearly as big as his Mum, feasts on the first greening.  A winter blessing after the long summer's drought.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Where Were You?

Nov 22, 1963.  Dallas.  A rifle.  A shot.  And the path of history changed in an instant.  If you are of a certain age, can you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing?  I sure do.

I was in college, had taken a semester off and was working in the shipping department of U.S. Electrical Motors in L.A..  One of the line workers came into the office and said, "The president's been shot."  In the shocked silence, a woman named Rugh, who worked on the motor serial desk, a rabid, racist Republican who would have fit in perfectly at a particularly looney Tea Party rally, leaned back in her chair, clapped her hands, laughed and said, "Well, they finally got that son of a bitch!"

The silence in the room went on forever.

It wasn't until years later that I began to comprehend exactly what she represented.  And while she has been long dead, her ghost never died.  It's alive and well and is operating overtime today. Some ugly things in America just never die.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ah, Politics, Politics

Well, good for Obama.  By issuing his executive orders on a segment of immigration policy, he’s given at least a little relief to millions of people . . . for now . . . and that’s a good thing. 

Republicans will now go back into their rooms, refuse to do anything  for the next two years, and sulkily blame Obama for their inaction.  Not that anybody will notice , since that’s what they’ve been doing for the past six years.  Since this is a Congress unfit to govern, then perhaps not governing is a very good thing.

Now, the interesting thing to see will be whether the friends of all those millions of people this executive order is helping (and/or their friends)  will vote Republican in 2016 or stay home in sizeable enough numbers that will help get a Republican congress AND Republican president elected. That will be something to see.  Serpents teeth, ungrateful children and all that.

Meanwhile in upstate New York, residents there have been buried under tons of snow, it’s going to heat up Monday when they’re likely going to be buried under tons of water.  So, here’s the question:  Are they paying attention to the issue of Climate change now? Is the rest of the country?

Speaking of Politics

The sad drama that played out in Arroyo Grande has come to a quiet end . . . . for now.  The Tribune reports that the A.G. city council accepted city manager Steve Adams’s resignation offer and placed him on immediate administrative leave.  If you recall, he and Community Development Director Teresa McClish were found by the cops alone together at City Hall late at night, apparently both sobering up enough to drive home after attending a social event.

The incident blew up into a melee and prompted an expensive outside investigation, which concluded that there was no evidence that the two were engaged in an “inappropriate or romantic relationship,” but , most interestingly, did find that “a significant number of city employees who were interviewed perceived that there was ‘something more than just a casual or business manager-subordinate relationship between the two.’”

Which gets us back to the eternal heart of the dangers that lurk along the pathways of all who serve in the public eye:  Caesar’s Wife.

She, you remember, understood well that not only did she need to actually be above suspicion, she had to appear to be above suspicion. In the real world, that’s often a hard, but necessary task.

Arroyo Grande resident Will Power was reported as saying that this whole brouhaha and the way it was handled created “’a cheap, cynical attitude toward city government [that] has affected many residents,’ leading to a stampede of judgment, which resulted in an expensive, unnecessary investigation.”

“Newly elected members to city government should know that you will be presumed guilty until proven innocent,” he said.”

Good advice from Mr. Power, even though I think he meant it as a criticism of what he views as an unfair state of politics.  I, on the other hand, take that advice as totally sound, something that should be taken seriously.

If you’re an elected official or are serving in the public eye, you should be presumed guilty until you can prove yourself to be otherwise. Failure to take Caesar’s Wife to heart is something you do at your own peril.  Perception IS reality.  It’s all simply part of the job description, so stop wining and mind your P’s and Q’s.

Being in the public eye, being in politics has always been a hard, unpredictable game for big boys and girls.  So, time to don those grownup panties.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Aw Dang!  I wanted President Obama to veto the Keystone XL pipeline bill so I could see Senator Mitch McConnell's head explode. But Congress beat me to it; the Senate defeated the bill . . . for now.  Dang!

Then I wanted President Obama to issue his executive order on immigration so I could watch John Boehner's head explode, but I guess I'll have a wait a bit for that. Maybe that will happen in time for Christmas.  What a present!

Of course, the immigration thing will also cause Senator Ted Cruz's head to explode, after which he'll start impeachment proceedings, which will cause all the Democrats' heads to explode.  Which is going to make the floors in Congress pretty messy, and that's why I'm now heavily investing in several major cleaning service businesses. 

I'll also have to wait for the Supreme Court to rule on the health care issue.  I want them to rule so that Obamacare can be totally dismantled so "Freeeeedom!" will prevail and all those millions of people who now have health care will lose it.  And everyone else can return to the good old days when they could be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, or be tossed off their insurance when their illnesses got too expensive, or go bankrupt when they got ill.  Since "everybody" hates Obamacare (except those who actually have it; most of them are satisfied with their coverage) I say, get rid of it and make the insurance companies very happy. Then everyone can return to harping about how awful our medical care system is while doing nothing about fixing it.  And we can go back to choosing between buying food or paying for our medicines.  Like God intended.

Once the Republicans take over both houses of Congress in January,  I'm hoping all regulations and restrictions on gas, coal, oil  are lifted (More Freeeeedom!) and we start burning every last bit of it -- especially that really, really dirty tar sand oil that the XL pipeline will be bringing across America to be sold overseas. I also want lots of oil spills from that pipeline.  Oil spills are job creators! 

And I want us to bring back the SUV!  We need to drive more!  It's Burn, America, Burn. And I want every nation on earth (especially China and India) do the same. The bigger the burn, the faster the weather will change.  And I want the weather to change because the sooner it does, the sooner Senator Jim Inhofe's beloved state (Oklahoma) will be wiped off the face of the earth by super tornadoes generated by Global Warming (which he doesn't believe in) and so I want to see if, standing amidst the rubble, he finally "gets it" and that causes his head to explode.

Right now, polar bear numbers are dropping by 40%.  We've got to do better than that, people.  There's oil under that ice so the quicker we get rid of the ice, the quicker we can get to that oil. It's a matter of national security now because we'll soon be fighting global Resource Wars -- food, water, energy, governmental collapse, massive immigration, disease -- so we'll need all the oil we can get.

Otherwise all our heads will explode and the only thing that will be left on our self-destroyed planet will be cockroaches and dead-battery iPhones.   

Monday, November 17, 2014


If you’ve ever seriously pursued the arts –- dance, music, theatre, fine arts , or been deeply committed to mastering a sport , or experienced a tough teacher who demanded nothing but your best and tolerated no excuses -- then Whiplash is a film that will resonate  powerfully with you.

It’s a familiar theme (think “Fame,” “Drumline”)— A musical drama about a talented, hot-shot kid (Miles Teller) attending “the finest musical school in the country,” determined to be the best at his art form (drumming) who learns a lesson about the often lethal demands The Muse and The Maestro (J. K. Simmons at his fearsome best) can make on their acolytes.

Add into this mix another question:  How far can/should a teacher go to ensure one of his students not only achieves his own personal best, but breaks through to “greatness?”

As those issues play out, the viewer is given a cringe-worthy glimpse into what it can take to master any art form that demands peak performance – the grinding, exhausting mastery of the basics, the harrowing discipline required, and the dreams broken by the cruel, inexorable winnowing of “good enough” from “excellent,” from  “great.”

And asks the hard questions:  Who pays the price for greatness?   What’s the cost of failure? And is it worth it?   

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

Intersteller Snoozing

Rule of thumb for moviemakers of big, block-busting Sci-Fi/Fantasy-type movies like the new Intersteller: 

Don't 'splain too much. 

Just toss out some reasonably techy-sounding argle-bargle, then get on it with it!  This is a Sci-Fi blockbuster, not a Stephen Hawking lecture.  There will be no test waiting n the lobby after the movie is over.  Plus, your audience has already seen enough Star Trek episodes that they already "get" all the time travel concepts needed to keep your basic story coherent.  Anything more is TMI and acts as a ginormous lead-footed Yak-Yak-Yak-Yak brake on a story that should be racing ahead at the speed of light.

And, Do Not, under any circumstance, have your various protagonists endlessly 'splaining lots of complicated quantum physics, time-travel concepts, and even expository plot points while engaged in a life and death struggle on the ledge of a snowy precipice.  Seriously?

Plus, most SciFi/Fantasy moviegoers have learned long ago:  Don't ask.  

And watch the music.  A Mormon Tabernacle-sized pipe organ operating full blast at every conceivable "dramatic moment" needlessly blows your audience out of their chairs and turns your movie into a comic thunderous mashup of Monty Python Meets Phantom of the Opera TA-DAH! moments.

New Times reviewer Jessica Pena ends her recent review by noting that "The story may be contrived, the dialogue may be clunky, but there are things in this movie you won't see anywhere else, and that makes Intersteller a significant achievement." While co-reviewer Rhys Heyden notes, "Every even year since 2006, everyone's favorite writer-director of humorless yet undeniably majestic magna opera has graced us with another one of his films.  . . . [which] is classic Nolan, playing to all of his strengths and acccentuating his weak spots."

Well, faint praise, but that about says it all.

And, spoiler alert, the world gets saved and love triumphs.  TA-DAH!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Seas of Red

For most of us, World War I is quaint, ancient history.  And to this day, few people, including historians, can come up with a half-way sane reason for its awful, pointless, brutal, lethal stupidity. In his book, "The Missing of the Somme," Geoff Dyer writes, "The exact number of people who died in the Great War will never be known.  France and Germany each lost more than a million and a half men; Russia, two million.  Three-quarters of a million of the dead were British -- a figure which rises to almost a million when the losses of the Empire as a whole are considered."

Those millions truly were a lost generation, and their loss would echo down the years, the war itself becoming the locus for the next one in an unholy cycle of death. But conceiving of "millions" is hard for the human mind to comprehend.  Which is why an art installation at the Tower of London to mark the centenary of the start of that awful war is so effective.  Try Googling "Seas of Red," and trail through the listings, some news stories and photos, the other listings video images. (  )

The piece consists of 888,246 three-feet tall red ceramic poppies -- the poppies of Flanders Fields fame, one for each of the Commonwealth soldiers who died in the Great War.  The poppies spill out of a window at the Tower of London (a place not unfamiliar with blood itself) like a river of blood, a river that floods the great moat.  The effect is visually arresting, creepy, appalling and beautiful, all at the same time.  It also gives the viewer a visceral, symbolic image of the scale of what was lost in those Flanders Fields.

And all the other Flanders Fields that came after it --  The never ending flood of war dead.

Armistice Day, 11/11/19, was originally set aside to commemorate the ending of this one, singularly unique "Great War." By 1954, there were too many other war-dead that needed inclusion so the name was changed to Veterans Day since it was clear that the war to end all wars was a misnomer.

And because it was a misnomer, perhaps it's time for every country to create their own Seas of Red to remind citizens in a very real way, of what  they continue to lose every time old men beat the war drums while young men and women march to their deaths. To start, I suggest a Sea of Red spilling out of the doors of Congress and running down the mall in a crimson flood to end at the doors of the Veterans Administration.  A pointed reminder that a good part of that red tide is the living war-wounded who are still bleeding.  And need our help.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Comic Opera

 Calhoun's Cannons for Nov 6,2014

The U.S. seems a country hell-bent on its own failure.
                                    Clive Crook

Well,, that election was a head scratcher.  From the first days of the Obama administration, Republicans determined that their number one priority was to become the Party of NO! And for years, voters caterwauled about this do-nothing Congress, yet when given a chance they elected even more Party of No Republicans and sent them back as a majority in both Congress and the Senate to do even more nothing. 

According to a Pew Research Center poll, likely voters disliked the Republican Party even more than they disliked the Democrats and 68% said they'd like to fire every incumbent. But when the chance came to do just that, they reelected the incumbents and sent even more of the "disliked" Republicans to Washington.

So either the voter's wails of discontent to the pollsters was all an act or the American voter has an inability to grasp the concept that if you don't like what A is doing, electing two more A's won't solve your problem.

The comedy got even better when Congressman Mitch McConnell gave his victory speech. "Just because we have a two-party system doesn't mean we have to be in perpetual conflict. . . We have an obligation to work together on the issues where we can agree," said the man who vowed that his number one priority in Congress was to make Obama a one term president by stopping anything the President proposed.  Now that Republicans have both houses, he is proposing comity with a straight face? It does not get any better than that.

Democrats, of course, are now covered in sackcloth, wringing their hands and wondering why they lost to a political party whose popularity rated lower than dog poo.  True, some of the losses came because of Republican gerrymandered districts and the new Republican efforts at voter suppression, but the real answer for the Democrats is in the numbers:  Not enough of them bothered to go vote. 

So either their wails of discontent to the pollsters was all an act as well, or Democrats are hazy on the concept that if you don't like what A is doing, and you have a chance to vote A out of office, sitting home on your couch on election day won't  solve your problem.    

What a country!

Well, good luck to 'em all.  McConnell has his work cut out for him -- herding Republican House cats, a gaggle of Tea party anti-government types wishing to burn the place down, ambitious men with knives, eyeing Caesar and dreaming, with El Gato Primo, Ted Cruz, being the biggest dreamer of them all. The President said he'd sit down to sip bourbon with McConnell. Good advice.  And bring a bottle of aspirin.  It's going to be a bumpy, comical two years.

Not so comical is that through all this nonsense,  Mother Nature's clock is ticking. A recent UN report on global warming has made it clear that we only have a narrow window of opportunity for major political and technical action to pivot away from carbon-based energy if we're to avert the worst of what's coming down on  us.   Recent polls have shown that global warming now has a majority of voters concerned, yet they just voted for a House and Senate controlled by the party of climate deniers, a party committed to King Coal and Big Oil, a party that will ensure two critical years will be lost while the Big Burn continues or accelerates.

So, either the American people really don't care about their future and are lying to the pollsters, or they don't understand the concept that Mother Nature does not negotiate.  Her terms are clear: Burn it now and your grandchildren will burn later.  Very simple.  And not funny at all.   

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

OMG! OMG! Sewer Wars Half-Over?

Poor Pandora.  Her efforts at getting her Boys (Storm, Baltimore, Tornatzky) elected to the CSD by trying to re-start the Hideous Sewer Wars with her letter-to-the-editor (Oct 23) attacking candidates Cesena and/or Swanson failed.  One of her targets (Cesena) got elected to serve alongside her two boys, Storm and Tornatzky.

The immediate result of this "voter's choice" is that the LOCSD's general manager's job is safe, for now, but the meetings will likely remain a bit testy, which is as it should be.  A too-cozy board is a board that's not doing its job. And a board that defers with too few questions to an administrator is also a board that's not doing its job. So, with this new slate, it's the CSD that's the winner, IF everyone takes a deep breath and takes as a given that this vote was an indication that the voters did, indeed, want everyone -- Tri-Wers and Move the  Sewerers -- to serve together on the Board and . . .  "move forward."

Congratulations to the winners (and my deepest sympathy -- now comes the hard part: governing this growling, contentious bear of a community) and thank you to all the candidates for running for a tough, thankless job. 

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

And Bones Will Fall From The Sky: The New Old Lemos Open for Business


Lemos Pet Store in Morro Bay is now back in its old site but in fine new rags.  The new building looks like a cross between a barn and an old timey railroad station, complete with a “rusty” metal roof and other fine details. All beautifully done.

There’s now a Dog Wash complete with various sizes and heights of metal tubs for scrubbing your pooch.


And plenty of room for a wide variety of stock, including dog dog beds


 And, of course, a cat corner.


But cat houses  held no interest for “Sarge,” a Mastiff/Geat Dane puppy who was checking the place out.

He was after  much more interesting game. 

As for the rest of the two-legged shoppers . . .


Sunday, November 02, 2014

Oooooo Nooooo, Not The Sewer Wars Redux

Aw, dang!  And things were going along so nicely here in Sewerville.  The sewer pipes are in, the sewer plant is a-building right along.  A new Los Osos CSD election was on its way.  The letters to the editor pages were filled with snarking about every other race but our own.  The CSD candidates' forum was very  informative and collegial and collectively respectful, the only "controversy" was over why two of the candidates apparently failed to contact the organizers (the local Democratic club and/or whoever was handling the arrangements) to say they couldn't attend and could we please set another night. But, everyone soldiered on nonetheless.

Then everything started to go sideways: The CSD decided that use of Channel 20 to broadcast the debate was verboten because the group organizing the debate was considered a "political" group, even though political affiliation has never been a part of the CSD candidate qualifications or of the CSD election itself.  So the debate had to air on You Tube, of all places, until it finally aired on AGP's Channel 21.

Then Pandora Nash-Karner fired an opening salvo in the pages of the Tribune, directly attacking two of the candidates, dredging up the Old Sewer Wars, then touting her own slate of candidates.  It was a letter that caused me to snort coffee out of my nose and think:  It is supremely delicious how the architect of the original disaster now points with faux-dismay at those who were left to deal with the inevitable cascading debacle that resulted from the original disaster.  Sudden concern about the fate of the CSD from the woman who demanded Roger Briggs fine the CSD out of existence?  Quel gall.  

But I said nary a word on this blog and hoped everyone else would zip-it.  A few days later a clone of Pandora's letter appeared.  Again, I posted nothing. And waited, with bated breath, but no counter letters appeared, so I figured maybe Pandora's targets and her Chosen Three would ALL rise above her baited opening salvo and stay focused on what's become our favorite mantra out here: A relentlessly smiley-faced "Moving Forward!

But, no such luck.  Saturday front page, the Sewer Wars erupted, with Pandora's Chosen Three now joined up and issuing a flier attacking their two opponents over the (ancient history) sewer while defending their own attack flier by saying that Cesena and Swanson are to blame since they criticized  the two incumbants over "not holding the [current] district's administration accountable."

Yikes!  Criticizing incumbents over current issues.  In an election, no less.  Who would have thought? 

Well,  you can see how splendidly our smiley-faced "Moving Forward!" mantra is working.  As is our loudly stated insistence on not dredging up the Bad Old Days, our relentlessly positive efforts to just focus on current-and-future CSD issues, so long as candidates don't disagree with or criticize any incumbents for present-day administrative difficulties?  

So, here we are once again in a fifth-grade Poo fight. With an added bonus: A Tribune front-page story that also tosses Mr. Storm's temper and obscene gesture issues front and center, a piece of information I doubt the average voter had been aware of prior to this.

Sigh.  More proof positive that knives in a knife fight have blades that can cut both ways.

Since a good many people in Los Osos use mail-in ballots and vote early, the CSD election may well have been decided after the candidate forum but before Pandora's first shot and/or the Tribune headlines and this morning's final tit-for-tat final two letters. Wouldn't that be interesting to contemplate? Well, two more days and we'll see what happens.  Good luck to all the candidates and thanks for running. 

Except for the Tribune's final parting shot: The CSD candidates didn't even rate an editorial recommendation.  Poor Los Osos.  Still the county's Red-Haired Stepchild.  

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Your Sunday Poem on a Saturday.

Soft rain, sweet rain
longed for rain, prayed for  rain
a blessing on the earth. 
Puddles of rain, gutters of rain
delicious on a run-out tongue,
tasting of  . . .  "More, please!" 
Thank you.