Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Get a Mirror!

It's one of the abiding mysteries why too many stars trekking down the Red Carpet to the Academy Awards are so fashion challenged.  Seriously.  They're professionals working in a visual medium.  Their work depends on seeing.  Yet, oddly, too many of them suddenly go blind when looking in a mirror.  Surely, in Hollywood, everybody knows somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who knows basic fashion?  Or call up the costume designer on your last film and ask for help?  Or, if you can't afford to pay for that service, and if you're going to be on that red carpet, wouldn't you think you'd at least call a brutally honest friend to ask, "Does this dress make me look stupid?"

Like, did nobody have the heart to tell the beautiful Marion Cotillard that while wearing her very, very expensive white Dior gown she had apparently sat down on a very large patch of black duct tape that was now stuck to the bottom of her butt?

Granted, dressing women of a certain size and age can be a challenge.  But it can be done.  I give you two words:  Oprah Winfrey.  That Queen of Zoftig knows how to get Spanx-wrapped and go full out Diva. Not so lucky was Patricia Arquette.  She looked like she had been out in her yard in a too-large white tee-shirt and oversized black pants, her hair grabbed up in a scraggy bun to keep most of it out of her face while she washed the family's laundry in a big bucket, when the phone rang, reminding her it was the Red Carpet hour, so she dropped what she was doing and came as she was -- a hot mess. And take a closer look at her "gown" and you'll see something that looks like it was made at home using an old Singer, by someone who doesn't know how to sew very well -- cheap satin, seams showing. Oh Dear. 

If she actually paid somebody to make her look like that as she headed for the microphone to get her much deserved Oscar, then she should put a bucket of shame on their head. And one on her own. But, alas, too many stars believe their fashionista dressers (huge pay-off money in that let-me-pay-you-to-wear-my-loopy-designs business).  And the result is, too many beautiful ladies earn the ultimate, but much-deserved, acid critique: "Poor Dear, you just had to buy that dress, didn't you?" 

But there was one fashion stand out:  Neil Patrick Harris stripped down to his tighty-whities in a spoof of  Michael Keaton's underwear stroll down Broadway in "Birdman." Basic simplicity in fashion is never out of style and it doesn't get more basic than that.

As for the Oscar show itself, it was one of the best ones I've seen in a long time -- plenty of glitter, plenty of heart-felt and often genuinely sweet acceptance speeches, (Eddie Redmayne's spontaneous little kid  happy-dance at the microphone, Graham Moore's touching and encouraging speech to all the "weird, different kids" out there).  And, best of all, with so many great movies and nominations, all of them worthy,  it was impossible to feel too disappointed by any losses.  It was an embarrassment of riches. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Post

Keep your eyes open to your mercies.  The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life.
                                              Robert Louis Stevenson

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Post

The charm, one might say the genius, of memory is that it is choosy, chancy, and temperamental:  It rejects the edifying cathedral and indelibly photographs the small boy outside, chewing a hunk of melon in the dust. 
 Author Elizabeth Bowen

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Media Credibility LOL

An, poor Brian Williams.  Sent to Coventry without six months worth of nice salary, the chorus of "Boo, Boo! Booooo!" ringing in his ears, some of which are coming from his colleagues who've been waiting for his take down  for some time.  To them, he wasn't NBC's hyped-up "Most Trusted Newscaster in Television,"  he was an ego-puff in an expensive suit, That Guy who never lost an opportunity to remind everyone in the room of his Wonderfulness.  And for guys like that, it's just a matter of time.

Add in the fact that Williams is a very sharp, funny man and a terrific raconteur, and it was all just inevitable. The seduction of being a celebrity, of being the talk-show guest that everybody who's anybody is clamoring for is a temptation few can resist.  Add in the utterly unreliability of memory, the lure of embellishment when telling entertaining tales, and you have the  recipe for disaster:  Ego, spotlight, fungible memory, the unalterable demands of fiction.  It's the banana peel on the top of the stairs time.

Well, no harm, no foul.  The fake hero is disgraced and gets to eat humble pie, his fellow journalists get to preen in their (as yet) unsullied ethical mantles, NBC gets a lot of publicity, the public gets confirmation for their belief in the fakery and unreliability of all news organizations, cynically tossing babies and bathwater alike out the window (thereby making running the long con on them even easier), and stand-up comedians have a field day. 

And instead of using Williams as a wake-up call and demanding (and getting) better news, the public flips the channel and settles for stories of lost kittens and 24/7 coverage of sex-drenched murder trials.  Everything back to normal in Alzheimer Nation.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Oh, Dear God and Oh, Dear God, Not The BOS, Too.

Is there some virus, like measles, going around that seems to make "Christian Republicans" stupid?  Especially a former "Christian Republican Governor," like Jim Gilmore, and makes him stupider than usual?

Obama goes to a National Prayer Breakfast and talk about the high anxiety over "Muslim" anything and points out that evil deeds done in the name of "God" are nothing new.  Then goes on to say, "Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history."  And rather aptly points out that " . . . lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.  In our home country, salvery and Jim Crow all to often was justified in the name of Christ."

At that former Gov. Gilmore's head exploded and he said, "The president's comments this morning at the prayer breakfast are the most offensive I've ever heard a president make in my lifetime.  He has offended every believing Christian in the United States.  This goes further to the point that Mr. Obama does not believe in America or the values we all share.'

Seriously?  Gil, Baby, and all your fellow "Christians" need to get a grip.  It's clearly time that you  read up on your history! Being that willfully ignorant is just plain embarrasing.


Talk about viruses, it seems the famous LOCSD "crazy" germ has been transferred to COLAB (Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business) supporters and they're now appearing at the County Board of Supervisors to take over for the LOCSD Sewer Gang as the Favorite People the Board Loves to Growl At.  You know, those people?

But this time, anti-COLABers have both Tom Fulks, Bruce Gibson's political operative, AND Bruce Gibson, AND the Tribune editor in their corner.  It's a kind of political trifecta that promises much excitement just when the Sewer Wars were winding down and the BOS was about to return to its sleepy old comity.

No such luck. 

First, back on August 1, 2014, Ron Crawford posted a blog entry titled "Bruce Gibson's 'Evil Genius in the Back Room,' and Why I Predict Four Awkward Years in SLO County Government," at   all about Tom Fulks, Bruce Gibson's, uh, "political consultant/operative," who, uh, let us say, has an active presence in the politi-sphere.

Then, before you know it, up pops Tom as the Tribune's "liberal" half of a new "liberal/conservative" op/ed section. Before anyone can say,  "Huh, Whaaaa???" things get rolling.  On Feb 1, Tom rolls out a huge hit-piece on COLAB, railing against "secretive" folks who hide their identities and sneak around while taking pot shots at their political "enemies." (Which struck me as rather funny after reading Ron's piece about Tom's own alleged sneak-around operations?)

Somewhere between the first Op/Ed, and Tom's Feb 1 huge anti-COLAB take-down, the Tribune editor, Sandra Duerr gets an email from Ron asking whether or not the new Op/Ed kids were getting paid for their scribbling? And had Duerr read or was aware of Ron's Aug 1, 2014 Sewerwatch blog posting on Tom's ongoing paid professional/political activities?

The answer came on  Feb 5, with Ms. Duerr's Tribune editorial reply that "local people who are writing commentaries are not paid for contributions . . ." and noting that Tom's first op/ed piece included some background on each writer.  What went missing was the question concerning whether or not Tom is still acting  in any way on Gibson's behalf or is funded, in any way, by Gibson's campaign organization, etc.  In other words, full disclosure.

Then the fur really flew.  At Tuesday's BOS meeting, what should have been a routine changing of the guard (Whose turn was it to play Chairman.) turned into this weird battle over the "soul" of the BOS -- Liberal Coasters (Gibson, Hill) vs Conservative Rape & Pillage Evil Developers Fronting a Gang of "Lord of the Flies" brutish, Anonymous Malice-Spewing Bullies, Thugs & Hooded Goons. (Or so so alludeth Fulks in his Feb 1 Tribune piece.) That crowd is apparently headed up by the Dreaded Tea Partying Debbie Arnold.

Since things were apparently headed into World War III and because of this glitch in the rotation schedule (said glitch claimed by Gibson to have been caused by Gibson), Frank Mecham figured he'd head off the worst of the vitriol allegedly dumped on his head and so fell upon his sword for the Greater Good and stepped down so Debbie Arnold could get her turn at being Chairwoman in hopes that everyone would shut up and get back to working for the good of the community instead of squabbling over who got to bang the gavel for a year. He also wanted to end the perception of a "good ol' boys" Board and nominated Lynn Compton for Adam Hill's slot as Veep-Chair. So we get to have Ladies Nite for a year.  Apparently a lot of the folks in the audience were happy with that odd "compromise," and thanked Mecham for being a "gentleman" about this whole thing.  

Which should have settled the affair except on Feb 6 there was a Tribune editorial tossing brickbats to everyone and declaring that the whole thing stunk of politics while hurling a few brickbats at COLAB.  Meanwhile, on the next page was a long Viewpoint from Supervisor Gibson "apologizing" for allowing the routine rotation issue to get politicized.  He  took a few hefty swipes at "Supervisor Arnold, encouraged by her COLAB coaches and cheerleaders [who] has decided to thoroughly politize what was once a collegial, nonpartisan yearly rite of passage."  He then threw Frank Mecham under the bus with a hilarious bit of faux sorrow.  Said Gibson, "In any case, Frank Mecham, I'm sorry that my procedural oversight exposed you to this bulling and that you chose to abandon your chairmanship."

You lying, weasle-bellied, lilly-livered, waffle-spined, cowardly girly-man you!

So much for sleepy, calm, productive Board comity.  Now, how did Ron Crawford put it?  Oh, yes, "Why I Predict Four Awkward Years in SLO County Government."  Good call, Ron.  Good call.

As for me, I'm gonna open up a popcorn stand outside the BOS doors.  Make a mint. 

Monday, February 02, 2015

Morro Bay Clowns, Pirates, and Little Kids

Ah, Poor Morro Bay.  Last year the city hired Devin Weigant of Municipal Auditing Services (MAS) to pull an Inspector Javert on the city and track down anyone, including "outside vendors" who do business within the Morro Bay city limits and see if they have the proper business license.  Weigant and MAS will get 40% of whatever monies he can shake out of the pockets of the business community.

The reason for the sudden enforcement of what has been, apparently, a lax and sloppily administered law, was the city is, well, broke-ish and needs mo’ money.  But it turned out Inspector Javert’s ham-handed enforcement methods left a lot of business folks feeling insulted, threatened and, above all, totally confused and angry.

And now, Colin Rigley of New Times got his hands on 492 pages of emails between Weigant’s firm and the city staff, including the city’s new Manager, David Buckingham.  And, being New Times, “The Shredder” had to chime in as well.  I don’t think MAS will be amused.  Neither will the good folks of Morro Bay when they read what Mr. Weigant had to say about them in those emails.

Well, who can blame them? The original roll out of this enforcement effort wasn’t ready for prime time.  Even after some modifications, it still isn’t ready. 

This is one of those ordinances that’s been on the books for years, wasn’t really widely known or diligently enforced, and needed  considerable re-working and re-thinking before being turn-keyed. None of which happened here.

Instead, business owners woke up to what they perceived to be threats and bully-boy tactics when they tried to inquire or appeal.  They were faced with totally confusing information (at an early public meeting, officials didn’t know whether the income parameters were for net or gross).  They were also facing an ordinance filled with strange loopholes, exceptions, disparities that left the city staff scrambling to make patches, and soon these bungles started to reveal a poorly written and considered law that was filled with unintended consequences.

For example, the owner of one of the city’s consignment stores pointed out that her consigners really made so little selling their art or collectables  that if they had to cough up big bucks for a license, they’d simply leave town and she’d be out of business.  Artists chimed up to note that if they had a show in a Morro Bay gallery a couple of times a year, they’d be dinged with a huge bill for the license and 4 years of back fees, an untenable hit for an artist who may only sell a few pieces of work a year.
They too would leave town.  After all, why would any artist bring their work to any gallery in town, when no other gallery in the county requires such an expensive license?

Realizing they were faced with some unintended consequences heading their way, the City Council created a second tier of fees for artists, small crafters, etc.  But, I recently heard (unconfirmed) that thanks to some lobbying, musicians were now exempted while (visual) artists are still stuck with what could turn out to be fees totaling $160 just to hang a picture in town. If true, then clearly this cobbled together law still needs  more work.

Meantime, Weigant & Co’s emails have done nothing to improve the mood of the Morro Bay business community.  Calling them “scoflaws,” “child like” and “clowns” when they were just trying to make sense of, clarify and appeal what was so obviously a poorly written, confusing ordinance, is not a way to make friends or influence people.

And for a town that relies for so much of its tax money on small businesses, hiring MAS now looks like one of those penny wise, pound foolish desperate measures elected officials make when stressed over flagging budgets. 

Instead of doing the hard work of consulting with and understanding the communities’ business structure in order to construct and perhaps amend and improve on previous ordinances to enhance both small business and the city’s coffers, they just grabbed at a rain-making Inspector Javert who came roaring into town promising  that coins would fall out of the sky with little or no work on their part.

Knowing Morro Bay Politics, it’s a choice that’s likely to have consequences --unintended, many of them unhappy, few of them necessary. But then, in a city filled with “clowns,” what can you expect?  

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Sunday Morning

We are all looking for something of extraordinary importance whose nature we have forgotten.

                                                                                                       Eugene Ionesco