Archive for October, 2010

Only one day left till All Hallow’s Eve and I would be hard pressed to think of anyone scarier than Joe McCarthy. He probably ruined more lives in his time than the Frankenstein monster, the Wolfman and Count Dracula put together.  And we’re talking real lives of writers, actors, movie producers, politicians, state employees, and of course, their families. He was so scary that a word was coined for his mind-set and modus operandi, “McCarthyism”. Here’s the definition, courtesy of Wikipedia:

McCarthyism is a term used to describe the making of accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s and characterized by heightened fears of communist influence on American institutions and espionage by Soviet agents. Originally coined to criticize the anti-communist pursuits of U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy, “McCarthyism” soon took on a broader meaning, describing the excesses of similar efforts. The term is also now used more generally to describe reckless, unsubstantiated accusations, as well as demagogic attacks on the character or patriotism of political adversaries.

Still with us in spirit?

There continues to be a good bit of this going on today. It was rampant during the buildup and execution of the Iraq war. Those who opposed the war were characterized as weak or unpatriotic. Today, those who favor universal health coverage are “socialists” or “communists”. Progressive groups are still likely to be the target of FBI investigations. This is one spirit I would love to see exorcised in my lifetime. Turning off Fox news would be a step in the right direction.


Patron of the Arts

If you are musically talented, funny and lean to the left politically, chances are I’m going to like you. Tommy Smothers certainly fills that bill. He resides in Sonoma County, at least part of the time, so that makes us neighbors. I’d love to have him over to the RV for a cup of  joe and a puff of mj sometime, but that’s unlikely, so I’ll just have to make do with keeping up with him in the newspapers.

Here’s an article that you might find interesting involving Tommy, his son, and another of my favorite guys, Steve Martin.

Tommy Smothers calls in a favor, wows Sonoma Academy


Published: Saturday, October 23, 2010 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 23, 2010 at 11:23 p.m.

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Jenifer Coté, formerly of 6th Street Playhouse and currently the theater director at Sonoma Academy, doesn’t normally get wiggy about celebrities.

But when she and a student actor spoke to Steve Martin on the phone the other day, oh man. “It was fantastic,” Jenifer said, “one of the more amazing moments of my adult theater life.”

Her idol was on the speaker phone from New York City because Sonoma Academy is producing a play that he wrote, “Picasso at the Lapin Agile.” A leading actor, in his first-ever stage role, is 17-year-old Bo Smothers of Glen Ellen.

A plot emerges!

Bo is serious about the production and his role as Albert Einstein (who, in the play, engages with Pablo Picasso at a bar in Paris). So Bo’s father, Tommy, gently asked friend Steve Martin, who got his start writing for “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” if he might care to speak with Bo and his teacher about how he envisioned the part of the Einstein role when he wrote the play.

Jenifer said her and Bo’s conversation with Martin was utterly fascinating and very helpful. As they hung up, she said, “we were both shaking.”

As smitten as she is with Steve Martin, she also has something to say about this kid of Tommy and Marcy Smothers. “I have to tell you, he’s crazy talented.”

Used to be more amazing.

Being a person of the asthmatic persuasion, I couldn’t help but admire the way a similarly afflicted human rose to tyrannical heights despite having difficulty breathing. That person being, of course, Darth Vader. But since, in the strictest sense, Darth is not a real human, being fictional and all, I’ll just have to go with David Prowse. He was one of the Darth Vader team. He provided the imposing infrastructure (body), while James Earl Jones provided the speaking voice, and another actor did the unhelmeted scenes.

David Prowse is now bitter because George Lucas has made him persona non grata at official Lucas functions, including Conventions and expos. He feels he shouldn’t be denied the worship of his fans just because George finds him annoying. I hope they can work this out. But other reports do seem to indicate that David can be really annoying at times. But let’s not dwell on negativity.

A rare version of the Darth outfit is going on the auction block very soon. Experts predict it may fetch upwards of $300,000. Can you believe it was 33 years ago that we stood in line for hours to watch “Star Wars” the fifth time? 

Darth Zany

My sincere apologies to all regular readers. I have been preoccupied with The World Series and I am getting way behind with my blog. Please be patient and I will resume the daily dose of Amazing Humans when tonights game is concluded. I am a couple of days behind and I’ll make up for that too. I have a severe case of Giants fever.

Be back soon. Go Giants!!!

Just another Betty Page drawing.

Other twelve year olds probably fantasized about Sandra Dee, Stella Stevens or other blondies, but not little Mickey Fisher. He found someone special in those torn cover, dead-letter mens’ mags (True Male Adventures, Man’s Life, etc.) that his dad sometimes brought home from the post office where he worked for most of his life. She was dark, curvy and playful looking, pure and naughty at the same time. She was Betty Page. Coming in a close second was Rita Moreno, who did a lot of cheesecake pictorials in the fifties.

Betty has been a cottage industry for graphic artists, her image graces everything: T-shirts, comic books, calendars, lunch boxes, figurines, movies. Her life is interesting reading. For a taste try wikipedia:

The link above will take you to an article in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that will give you all the details about Viktor Vekselberg,
and his Renova Group, a Russian conglomerate with interests in aluminum, oil, energy and telecommunications. They want to help our local tourist attraction, Fort Ross State Historic Park. When Viktor visited the park in June, he found out that the state’s shaky economy had prompted cuts in the services the park could offer. This was something he felt he could do something about and he and his conglomerate (I’m trying not to wince as I’m writing this word) have agreed to an unspecified amount of dollar donations for the next few years, just to keep this international piece of history operating in a manner befitting its beauty and cultural significance. I do not know Viktor personally and I have no reason to doubt his sincere philanthropic gesture, so I will not be cynical and allow my anti-corp sentiments to get in the way of being grateful.

Never had a fort as a child.

Besides all the good stuff mentioned in the article, Ft.Ross has for many years been the site of a beloved and valuable “living history” educational experience provided to the students of Sonoma County. For a few days the children can dress, work, and play as the Russian inhabitants of the Fort might have done in the early nineteenth century. It is an exciting trip, one made all the better by dedicated teachers and park staff who made it something memorable for my children and thousands of others over the years. One of those great educators who gave so much to this program was Monte Rio School teacher, Kathy Kane, who cherished the site so much that she requested that her wake be held there. Hundreds of former students turned up, food and some Kathy memoribilia were shared by all. It was a glorious day. Suffice it to say, you don’t have to be Russian to love Fort Ross.
I’ll bewitch you in a minute.

As my weird Uncle Wynott used to say, “Use your charismatic magic for good and you just might live for ever.” Marie LaVeau has certainly thrived since her death. This mysterious Voodoo Priestess and her equally mysterious daughter (Marie LaVeau ll) have combined to confect a rich  bio-gumbo of myth and fact that has been the focus of artists, writers, devotees, and tourists, ever increasing as the millenia pass.

When I went to Google’s image collection to get a model for my sketch, there were so many renderings, and each so unlike the others, that I had difficulty choosing. I opted instead to use Erykah Badu for my model. Why? Because I like Erykah, her music, her voice, her spirit; and besides she’s fun to watch.
Marie has recently appeared in a bunch of science-fiction and fantasy literature as well as films and comics. Wikipedia can tell you more specifically. I know her spirit has pervaded more than one of the novels of Isabel Allende.
Frankly I prefer her kind of witchcraft to that of Christine O’Donnell.
Note: Erykah Badu played a Marie Laveau type character in “Blues Brothers 2000”.