Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Kerry's Back!

The review of Carousel's Beehive in today's Akron Beacon Journal featured the byline of Kerry Clawson. Welcome back, Kerry and here's to more theatre coverage from our only local paper. We are so fortunate to live in a community that supports so many arts groups. What a terrible shame that the Akron Beacon Journal chose to make us look like do-nothings living in a cultural vacuum.

If you are pleased to see Kerry writing theatre reviews, please send a letter or email to the features editor and say so. The editors need to know that folks around here care just as much for drama and symphonies as they do for sporting events. And until the ABJ relents and lets Kerry cover all the theatre that she used to, you can check out her blog from Stage to Page here. Kerry's been writing about the new NBC reality show in which the leads to a new B'way production of Grease are being selected over the course of a long auditions process.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Save the Highland Theatre campaign kicks off

A good size crowd of citizens met in the basement of Grace United Church this evening to make plans to save the venerable old movie house.

The meeting got off to a stellar start with the first ever public showing of 8 mm film shot by the wife of construction firm owner that built the Highland Theatre in 1937. The camera follows the building crew as they slither up and down beams and ropes. No hard hats and safety ropes to be seen. There were guys heating up rivets in big cans on the ground, slinging the hot rivets up to the guys on the beams. In the distance, tantazling shots of Highland Square homes and streets, a window back through time.

Three grandsons of the firm's founder were at the meeting: Nelson, Dick and Blaine Wallace. They gave very stirring speeches about how much the theatre meant to them. They told us their family had always lived in Highland Square since moving to Akron.

Members of the Highland Square Neighborhood Association facilitated the meeting. They are proposing a community arts center. They are looking for a private purchaser who would lease it to a non-profit organzation with a board made up of community members. Grants and targeted reliable programming: films, concerts, theatre productions (that would work on a basic platform stage), town hall meetings, charity events, private parties, seminars, and lecture hall. Local visual art could be on constant display in the lobby -- an artist co-op.

They've talked to the Cedar Lee in Cleveland and to arts organizations all over the city -- looking for ideas to make it a success. And have located two individuals interested in investing in the building.

Ron Higgins, Media Consultant gave us a run down on all the challenges ahead, from parking to rennovation. Parking is a huge issue and will need to be addressed, in my opinion. Long time residents seem to think that parking on streets within the immediate neighborhood of the theatre is good enough. It would be ideal if all the local businesses that close at 5 PM would go for double use. I'm not sure what double use entails? Does that mean evening parking might be paid parking in those lots? That might be a good idea, especially if the lots had attendants -- could help deter crime.

Speaking of which, an Akron detective was at the meeting to announce that a thief who's been breaking into cars in parking decks had been caught and they think this guy is one who has done a number of these smash and grabs up and down W Market St.

It was also intersting to hear the open acknowledgement of the differences in class and culture in the divide between north and south of W Market St in the square. Kids who live north of Market go to King Elementary while those living on the south side go to Portage Path Elementary.

Portage Path is another issue that impinges on all the theatre planning. It is supposed to be rebuilt on the same site. A number of people at the meeting asked if the school had to be rebuilt on that corner. Turns out the school is sitting on the very edge of its boundary line. Since the whole building has to be torn down, it would be just as easy to build on another piece of land, one more centrally located within the neighborhood it serves.

By great coincidence and amazing good fortune, a public planning session on the building of a new Portage Path Elementary School is to take place tomorrow (Wednesday) night at Portage Path School starting at 7 PM.

After all the information was shared, plenty of other Highland Squae residents spoke in support of the theatre. It was quite an electric grass roots kind of energy as many people stopped to chat in small groups and share their reactions after the meeting officially ended. An official email list was begun and if you want to join in the action to save the theatre, go to the HSNA web site to make contact and keep up with plans.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Theatre reviews to return to the ABJ?

The buzz around the Village Green is that Kerry Clawson's byline might be appearing on some theatre reviews in the Akron Beacon Journal very soon. This is great news for local theatre people who have been ill treated since the purchase of the former Knight-Ridder newspaper by a Canadian by the name of Black. Black indeed has been the mood hanging over our local theatres who contribute far more than mere entertainment to our community. The theatre is, as Shakespeare said, a little world -- society in a microcosm. A place for us to gather in the dark and contemplate tragedy, comedy, or absurdity as well as lots of acting, singing and dancing.

The Beacon's cost-cutting action was a blatant slap in the face to the arts community of Akron, which is large and has become increasingly vocal. So keep writing the letters in support of Kerry Clawson's return and for regular reviews for all the local theatre companies, because the ABJ will only be allowing a few reviews here and there.

The arts are integral to our lives -- and the Beacon needs to hear about it in order to believe it.

McCain Vs. McCain

Brave New Films (The same folks that brought us Out-Foxed and Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price) has a wonderful short clip of McCain auditioning for the role of Two-Face. Check out their The Real McCain website for all the John McCain duplicity revealed.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Town Meeting to Save the Highland Theatre

I had my doubts, but after attending a movie showing there this weekend, I'm leaning toward saving the theatre if possible. There's been some work put into the place over the years. It has a nice big platform stage down front and a night club/cabaret ambience at the back. It would be a nice concert venue if somebody made an effort to book some acts.

Why is it so difficult to create a sense of community? A community performing arts center is an idea that could help develop that sense of working toward and celebrating the common good. Providing a space where various community groups can meet and interact could only benefit the community. It might be the perfect place to try some Augusto Boal Forum Theatre.

I'm wondering about the financials. Will someone be writing grants? Will it go non-profit status? All communities should have something like this. Kenmore had one for a few months in an old church formerly called Benedictions, now for sale. Summit Art Space is growing into something substantial for the visual arts and theatre communities. It would be great to seee something permanent and community-positive grow out of the Highland Theatre.

If they can make a performing arts center happen, more power to them. Here is the info from the Highland Square Neighborhood Association web site:

Join the Highland Square Neighborhood Association for a

Town Hall Meeting about Saving the Highland Theater
& the possibility of a Community Performing Arts Center

Tuesday January 30 at 7 p.m.

at First Grace United Church of Christ
350 S. Portage Path

For more info, call 330-865-8422.

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

Says Michael Pollan in an excellent in-depth article entitled "Happy Meals" in the New York Times Magazine. Pollan is the author of "The Omnivore's Delight," (reviewed in a series of Village Green entries here here, here and here) who is making a lot of people rethink what human diet is really best for us. When he says "eat food," he is telling us to eat unprocessed plants for the most part, with some animal products on the side, but never as a main course.

Pollan presents an overview on how food was transformed into "nutrients" and how that has led us into obesity and "nutritionism." Along the way, we learn how the beef industry proved to be the death of Senator George McGovern's political career as well as how our reliance on chemical fertilizing has decreased the nutritional value of everything we eat, among many of the fascinating points Pollan continues to make about 21st century food chains.

"The Decider" or "The Dictator" -- What's the big difference?

Lots of great protesting went on yesterday and continues today. My friend in San Diego just called to tell me that he attended an Out of Iraq rally at Horton Plaza yesterday along with some 2,000 others to hear Daniel Ellsburg speak. Later Saturday night, Ellsberg spoke on "Truth-Telling In A Time of War: A Call to Civic Courage." From the Activist San Diego page:

"Daniel Ellsberg will speak on the need for a “Pentagon Papers” of the Middle East, a new ethic of patriotic whistle blowing, a resolution to the constitutional crisis due to the president’s abuses of power, and an enlightened and effective policy to prevent nuclear proliferation and further U.S. aggression.

Background Information

Daniel Ellsberg was former official in the Defense and State Departments, he released the Pentagon Papers to the press in 1971. These top-secret documents revealed that official accounts of U.S. decision-making in Vietnam were deliberate deceptions. His courageous act helped bring about the resignation of President Nixon and the end of the Vietnam War.

For the last 35 years Daniel has continued to be a leading voice of moral conscience and warning. "

Yes, we certainly could use some speaking truth to the lies that are destroying life and limb in Iraq. What do you do when the top official of the country you live in refuses to listen to the people's will? How many carriers must arrive in the Gulf region with missiles trained on Iran does it take before The Decider is carried off in a strait jacket? What does it take to get the congress and senate, our duly elected officials to understand that WE the People, want the war to end now. That's now, not later.

There are plans afoot to mass once again in Washington DC on Saturday, March 17. If that is the case, everybody who can get there ought to start making arrangements now.

Here's a portion of a stirring manifesto for the proposed March 17 march (tragically, the 4th anniversary of the Iraq War) from the New Hampshire Independent Media Center:


We will be in Washington on January 27 and we will come back on March 17. And when we come back in March, this time we must be prepared to stay there in the thousands to force Congress to vote NO on more war funding. If Congress tries to rush a vote on war funding before March 17, this time we must be prepared to come to Washington in mass to make sure that the war funding is voted down.


We are asking people to bring their medical, rent, heating and utility bills; student loan bills; credit card bills, and food bills that they can’t afford to pay as well as shut-off notices, mortgage foreclosures, eviction notices to the march on Washington. It must be made clear to Congress that feeding more money to the war while more and more people cannot pay for their basic living expenses is a crime. The cost of the war is not the only reason why we oppose the war. We oppose the war because it is an imperialist war for colonial conquest and plunder. Yet the cost of the war is important because it’s paid for by money stolen from providing social needs. The money that has paid for death and destruction in Iraq could have gone towards reconstruction in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

In his famous speech declaring his opposition to the Vietnam war almost 40 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “It is disgraceful that a Congress that can vote upwards of $35 billion a year for a senseless immoral war in Vietnam cannot vote a weak $2 billion dollars to carry on our all too feeble efforts to bind up the wound of our nation’s 35 million poor. This is nothing short of a Congress engaging in political guerilla warfare against the defenseless poor of our nation…”

Everybody knows it -- Bush is gunning for Iran next and will not listen to reason. He is either trapped by his own irrational brain or else is protecting the huge profits for those Big Business interests that backed and bought his presidency. Perhaps both forces are intertwined in a stranglehold of Bush's brain. Perhaps if he sees masses of citizens screaming oaths outside his White House barricades, he or his handlers might step back from the brink of outright nuclear war.

Or the elected officials might grow a spine. One of the Daily Kos diarists RenaRF has some great pictures of the giant spine paraded in front of the Capitol yesterday. Let's hope a bunch of our elected officials start growing them immediately.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Walmart to Elimate Fabric Department, Part 2

When last I went fabric shopping, I found out that Walmart is in the process of closing up most of their in-store fabric departments. So today I decided to stop at another local Walmart to see what was on sale. I talked to two women who work in that department.

Although the fabric wasn't marked down in this particular store, the women confirmed that their full-service fabric department would soon be gone and will be replaced by a few piles of pre-cut fabrics. Notions would remain, but would be combined with party goods in a new department to be called "Life Creations." Ugh.

The Corporate Bottom Liners want to get rid of the women who cut the fabric and trims. Those women have worked in the fabric department for many years. They'll still be employed with Walmart but will have to take whatever job is offered. It's such a brutal blow to the women who cut -- and to the women who sew. There is a bond between the sewer and the cutter. The cut must be true and on the generous side, yet not so generous that the business is cheated. The sewer and the cutter gaze upon the fabric as it is cut, imagining the flat expanse formed piece by piece into an attractive garment. They both look at the pattern and murmur how nice it will look when it is made up.

The ritual visit to the fabric store takes time. There are many steps, each involving making creative decisions about design, color, texture, washability, form and function. The fabric shopper begins by looking at the patterns, selecting one, then searching for the fabric and the accompanying "notions" such as color-matched thread, zipper, bias tape, buttons, snaps, and/or hooks and eyes. The women who work in fabric departments and stores invariably know and love their stock. If you need something in a damask or a wide-ribbed cordoroy -- they can tell you right away if they have it and where it is.

There's an online petition going on to stop Walmart from removing fabric departments. Interestingly enough, Walmart tried this once before in 2001 but was forced to bring the tables and friendly cutting crews back by customer rebellion! Read about it here.
So why are they going for it one more time? What didn't they understand about the mind of the fabric shopper? We hate waste and want to buy our 3 3/8 yard as per the pattern requirement. We do not want to have to piece a garment together using 2 yard sections of pre-cut panels.

So what is a local fabric shopper to do? There is always Price of Right Fabrics, 638 W. Tuscarawus in Barberton, which might have what you need -- but not always. The price there is indeed quite right. A good place to buy thread, velcro, and other essentials at a very reasonable price. Lots of great oddities can be found here.

Obtaining the best variety and price involves a long drive into Amish country, to Berlin, OH on state route 62 West in Holmes county. In town you'll find Zinck's Store (4799 E. Main St.) and the Outlet Store (4568 St Rt 39), the latter having the real deals, such as fill a very large bag full of remnants for $2. And bolts and bolts of stuff at 99 cents a yard. The outlet store has moved since I last visited -- it is closer to town and in a nice new warehouse type building. As usual, there are plenty of sturdy wagons for customers to haul their bolts of fabric around with as they shop. The shop in town has their nice goods, and lots of gorgeous quilting fabrics. There is an attic room full of bargain fabric that should always be checked for great deals.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Jon Stewart and Dick Cheney

I found this via Huffpost. First time I've tried using Comedy Central's video embed code. This clip shows the master political satirist at work on the always creepy vice president.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Demon Alcohol

Here's your late night Thursday Kinks-related video. It's an oddity -- a 70's animated cartoon set to a version of "Demon Alcohol." The wonderful Kinks song was always a huge cabaret performance hit in concert, with Ray balancing the beer bottle on top of his head. The tragic musical theatre tones are still in this version, but for some reason the animators came up with a happy ending. For more info, check this post at YouTube.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Landfill heating up -- does the OEPA have a plan?

I couldn't find a public domain image of a landfill burning underground, so we will have to use the accompanying photo as metaphor. Plastic is not just everywhere you look, it also lies buried under ground in huge toxic and potentially disasterous quantities.

According to an article in Wednesday's ABJ, infrared photographs show a landfill just south of here heating up underground. Bob Downing does a great job laying it all out.

What are the dangers from the fire? How about

"An underground fire would create a dangerous mixture of gases threatening landfill workers and neighbors. Burning plastics could create dioxins -- a known cancer-causing agent and the key ingredient in Agent Orange -- and furans, a possible human carcinogen. Burning auto fluff -- from shredded dashboards and seats -- could produce deadly chlorine gas.

High levels of benzene, a cancer-causing chemical, have been found in the landfill's gas-collection system."

Just think about all the stuff you throw away in your trash. Did you ever toss in a few double A batteries, thinking -- oh they are small, can't be too toxic. When those new energy-saving fluorescent bulbs finally burn out after 7 years, don't throw them in your trash either. Batteries and fluorescents are hazardous waste and need to go to places other than a landfill. Are human beings capable of mindful consumption or are we doomed because convenience will always win over sustainable living?

How do we get humans to live simply and create less waste? Will it take one or more exploding landfill fires contaminating air and water to make us all wake up?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Live blogging the state of the union...

...from my living room couch. Watching MSNBC with Olbermann and Mathews hosting. Hillary Clinton put herself out there upstaging the president. Her campaign tactics so far are brilliant.

Everybody's commenting about how extraordinary it is that Bush must actually face a room full of opposition. Why did it take them 6 long years to see through him and his gang of looters?

Some one leaned over to say to Bush on his grand entrance, "I'm saying a prayer for your success." If we have to resort to prayer for success we are in deep trouble.

Bush sucks up to Nancy at the beginning. Now the speech begins with the camera shot at first showing more of Cheney's face in the back. The camera quickly shifts over and tries to seek an exact balance of Cheney on the left and Pelosi on the right.

Who writes the president's speeches, I'm wondering? The rhythm is growing obnoxious. Make a promise -- pause for applause. The surreality of the dark robed supreme court members down front giving off an air of some dark church ritual as they sit silently without clapping.

Meanwhile Cheney in the back looks like he is concentrating on whatever is passing along his digestive track. Meanwhile Pelosi's tongue and jaw seem to trace patterns of word trains that will be let out loud once the speech is finished. She does a good job of containing obvious emotional facial responses.

Bush has gone through a litany of fat-ass capitalist pig jargon. I'm struck by the idea that rampant capitalism is the ideology that has brought us to the brink of global disasters. To make more money, new markets must always open up. Opposition to birth control and abortion is all about shoving more and more hungry consumers on to more expensive plots of real estate, struggling in factories to produce cheap goods to sell sell sell.

Now the bogey men are trotted out and Bush the Commander in Chief tries to convince the unconvinceable. Who wrote this crap? Oh clever insert -- "I ask you to support our troops in the field and those on the way." His writers knew he needed an ego boost right about then.

Condi's hawkish scan from side to side to see who is cheering loudest for her boss and who is sitting on her/his hands. Meanwhile, all the upping and downing of the audience must be taking a toll on the elder statespersons in attendance.

Well thank dog for the NBA for providing us with a genuine celebrity to tower over Laura Bush and relieve the tedium. It's been on an hour now and I'd rather be doing other things. Sorry to not stick it out until the end, but it all seems such a waste. The speech, the war, the last 6 years of runaway republican greed.

Slow Down Week Zoomed Right By Me

I completely forgot to put this up. Last week was the Official Slow Down Week as promoted by Adbusters:

"Still feeling frazzled from the December whirlwind of holiday shopping,
gift giving, and parties? Already burned out by extra hours at the
office in the New Year? Tired of spending more time in traffic than you
do with your family and friends?

It's not too late to slow down and renew your intentions for a saner,
more mindful way of life in 2007. If you’re ready to experiment with a
different, more fulfilling rhythm, join us in celebrating the second

For one week, instead of running to catch the bus or zipping in and out
of traffic, try walking to work. Instead of grabbing take-out on the
way home, cook a meal with your family. Leave the TV and computer off,
and play an old-fashioned board game, or just sit and catch up with
family and friends. If possible, take a day off work — and then while it
away with a long walk and an afternoon nap."

Unfortunately for me, last week was too full of very important things to be done. Oh well, let's hope it comes back around next year and that my To Do list has no looming deadlines on it.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Women Choose to Control Our Own Bodies

Blog for Choice Day - January 22, 2007
Today on this anniversery of Roe Vs. Wade, bloggers are asked to answer one simple question -- why do we support a woman's right to chose.

The answer is very simple. This is my body and I claim the right to do with it as I please. I will resist all attempts to legislate away my freedom to choose.

Yesterday was Right to Life Day for those who think every egg, sperm and embryo are so special they must be brought to full term. Over Right to Life weekend, 27 US soldiers were killed in Iraq. Their right to life wasn't so important to all the religionists and fundamentalist-pandering politicians. No, they are far more concerned with hapless unwanted embryos that were created by accident.

"Pro-Life" is false and misleading advertising, because those folks are not pro-life when it comes to executing people or sending young folks off to die in war. The only lives they care about are those blobs of invading cells that take over the female uterus.

There are six billion and counting human beings on this planet. Why the heck should we insist that countless more be born, especially those that are unwanted and unwelcomed?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Obama, Clinton, Richardson et al for President

The Village Green endorses Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, Bill Richardson, John Edwards, Joe Biden, Christopher Dodd, and Dennis Kucinch for Democratic presidential candidate to win in 2008. I'm afraid I can't endorse the one whose name begins with V because I know nothing about him. He may very well be a good guy and a decent candidate, but he's going to have to work harder to get my attention.

I don't think Kerry should run again, but if he does it will be to be a power broker in who ultimately wins. Ted Kennedy is backing Kerry, which is a very utilitarian thing to do. He and Kerry (who honestly can't think that he'd win the nomination) don't have to go out on a limb and can watch it all shake out while holding on to MA's votes.

As for Al Gore, he doesn't need to be president to accomplish his goals. Once whoever is elected is in office, Gore can be appointed to head up the Department of Climate Change. The rest of the field should be given first look for all key positions. The only way to solve all the problems and clean up all the messes left by the Greedy for Oil Party will be as a strong united front. Put Kucinich in as head of the Department of Peace. That department should always be at the forefront of resolving conflicts.

The day after Kerry lost to Bush, I cranked up my printer and made some Obama/Clinton in 2008 bumperstickers. I also made some that said Clinton/Obama in 2008. It didn't really matter to me at the time which was president and which was vice president. I wanted to strike fear in the hearts of Republicans throughout Akron and Summit county. I passed them out to friends here and yond. You can see mine is still readable and I hope it doesn't fade until after election day 2008. May it continue to strike fear in the hearts of local Republicans!

On Meet the Press this morning, Ted Kennedy dominated the interview, like the mighty tribal elder with words of powerful wisdom. This after the first half hour of McCain dodging bullets about the surge in Iraq as well as his well-documented flip flops on social issues.

It was a pleasure watching a master politician at the top of his game. Kennedy took each question and turned it into an opportunity to make point after point, relentlessly tearing down any rationale for troop build up in Iraq. I am pleased to see that Sherrod Brown is a co-sponsor of the Kennedy Iraq bill that would stop

I can't find today's appearance on YouTube, so you will have to go to NBC's page to view it. I did find a nice clip from Kennedy's appearance before the Press Club. That was a very stirring speech:

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Walmart to Eliminate Fabric Department

I try to avoid Walmart for all the good reasons -- the way it treats its employees, the way it squeezes its suppliers, and the way it has changed the landscapes of our towns and villages and helped to create the suburban mall sprawl. It is also a very depressing place to shop -- aisles piled with cheap goods from China and customers who are living on the downside of the American dream.

But today I had to buy a lot of patterns, fabric and notions to costume a huge show. Do you have any idea how much patterns sell for these days? They are in the range of $15 - $20 per pattern. Walmart sells them for half price. They can be found for similar rates online, but then you add in shipping and handling and the cost goes back up.

For the sake of my low budget theatre productions, I have continued to enter Walmart to buy patterns and to look over their dollar a yard fabric table as well. Today I found long lines of shoppers in the fabric store snapping up fabric by the bolt -- everything was 25% off. The clerks told us that Walmart is going through a big change which includes eliminating the sewing department. Except for four stores, the closest of which will be in Canton -- ack! I don't want to drive to Canton for patterns and fabric, but if I go to JoAnne's I'll be stuck paying the high prices. So I invested in a lot of patterns today! Some will be used on this show and some in future shows, I'm sure.

By the way, you can get vintage patterns like the one pictured above online. A pattern originally sold for 35 cents is now going for $22. Check your attics -- vintage patterns are apparently as collectable and expensive as comic books!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Time Out for a Commedia Side Show

Happy weekend! Here's a commedia dell'arte slideshow via YouTube. A young woman of 18 from São Paulo calling herself Boxcar Bertha put it togethe. It makes for some pleasant Friday evening viewing.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Response from ABJ to Actors' Summit Theatre

Neil Thackaberry had a response from the Beacon which he shared in a comment on my original November post on this topic. I'm re-posting it here for all to see:

"In response to the email I posted above, I received a response from the Beacon Journal. I replied as follows.


Thanks for getting back to me. I wish I could say that I found consolation or reassurance in your letter, but that would be untrue.

I stated that coverage of Actors' Summit no longer seemed to be a priority. That is exactly what was demonstrated by Elaine's choices for last weekend. I gather the three events you referred to were her reviews of two professional productions in Cleveland and one community theater production in Akron.

The Cleveland Play House, as one of the premiere regional Equity theaters in the country certainly deserves the Beacon Journal's attention, as does the Equity professional touring production of Light In the Piazza. But a choice was obviously made to cover two productions in Cleveland. That decision is an example of a priority, one that continues to denigrate the value of professional theater in the Beacon Journal's home market.

The question of priority is clearest in Elaine's decision to see Fat Pig at Bang & Clatter instead of QED at Actors' Summit. I'm glad that Fat Pig was reviewed. As a start up, semi-professional theater I'm delighted that Bang & Clatter is being covered. I'm also happy to see the Beacon continuing to cover Weathervane's community theatre efforts.

Neither of these ventures employ members of Actors' Equity, the international union of professional actors and stage managers. I believe that most of your newsroom staff are members of a union, as I am. Without just union compensation, healthcare and retirement benefits, it is impossible to sustain a community of artists capable of serving the highest aspirations of our community.

Elaine is working very hard to do an impossible task. While all of us involved in the theater are grateful for coverage of our productions, perhaps, given the paucity of resources the Beacon has committed to the arts, more care could be taken in allocating those resources. I would be happy to speak with you or any of the other editors or writers about suggestions you may have on how we can do a better job of keeping Elaine informed. The dates of all of our regular season productions are announced in late summer. We send press releases before each show opens. I have also contacted Elaine by email prior to each opening to remind her.

As for the possibility of Elaine's getting to QED during its final four performances, I'm afraid that any review she would write would have about the same relevance for the readers of the Beacon Journal as her dispatches from Florida -- coverage of performances that none of the readers will ever have a chance to see.

My original letter stated "I'm sorry that the Beacon Journal's priorities don't allow for consistent coverage of Actors' Summit, the only fully professional nonprofit theater in Summit County." My feeling is unchanged, and nothing in your letter leads me to believe that the Beacon Journal intends to establish policies or provide sufficient resources to change the situation.

I'm glad you read my letter and took the time to respond to it. I look forward to a time when we will be able to see more coverage of the professional theaters located within Summit County.


Neil Thackaberry
Artistic Director"

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Should the Highland Movie Theatre Be Preserved?

The Highland Theatre is the last of two remaining neighborhood movie houses in Akron. The owner has taken out a permit to wreck the back of the building, the part that houses the movie screen, according to an article in today's ABJ.

Many comments from the online readers today, run the spectrum from full capitalist glee in bulldozing down the past to lamenting communitarians who would seek tax dollars to save it for the community.

The only problem is, the community hasn't made good use of this theatre for decades. Various managers have taken it on only to fail due to classic reasons:

1. No parking except on the streets of the neighborhood.
2. The facility cannot compete with the suburban sprawl multiplexes. 12 screens going all day long vs. one screen -- it's a losing proposition.
3. Operating costs go through the roof -- the place consumes enormous amounts of energy to heat or air condition.
4. No matter the content, the community does not support it to make it operable.

It's sad to think of Highland Square without the Highland Theatre. I saw my first movie there as a child -- Bambi. Later on, the Highland became a very pleasurable way to spend a Saturday afternoon. All for a buck, you'd get a bunch of cartoons, some old time serials and then at least two features. I saw The Blob there and all those scary movies with the kids who had big eyes.

For awhile toward the end of the 20th century, rock and roll made an attempt to find a home at the theatre. Some remodeling with a night club theme was attempted to draw in a younger, hipper crowd, but it never seemed to work.

I always wanted it to run the movies that never showed up in Akron, the ones we have to drive up to the Cedar Lee in Cleveland to see. Back in the 60s, we used to be able to go the Art Theatre in the Falls to see underground stuff. But somehow, the customers for that venue vanished as well.

Highland Square is supposed to be "hip" but in reality there aren't enough of those folks to make it a viable operation. Can it really be called a landmark worthy of preservation? Certainly the Akron Civic Theatre is unique and worthy of every penny spent on its preservation. The Highland Theatre, however, is not an architectural gem. It doesn't serve anybody's needs anymore. The building does not meet current and future standards in terms of environmentally appropriate energy use. The cost of renovating it versus building a community center that provided programming that actually meets the needs of Highland Square residents has to be considered.

I have one idea, free to anyone who wants to try one more programming attempt to save the theatre. Since parking is a problem, residents within walking distance are the ones who need to be using the theatre. Walking to the theatre suggests an interest in maintaining physical fitness. I suggest that the place is loaded with fitness equipment, machines and free weights. On screen, one can show endless movies for people to watch as they row, cycle and walk their treadmills. Call it the Highland Theatre of Fitness, sell monthly passes and you are on your way to providing a real service while making the place finiancially solvent at last!

(Photo above is Copyright 2001 Brian Reichow, and can be found at:

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The American Anti-Idol

George W Bush is the new American Anti-Idol. Think about it -- would you buy his records? His old hit singles are no longer charting. Weapons of Mass Destruction featuring "Aluminum Tubes," "Mobile Biological Weapon Labs," and "Nigerian Yellow Cake Walk" made an initial impression but faded fast. His next album, Mission Accomplished, flopped immediately, and every release since then has been the same old song and dance, a pathetic Vaudeville turn. The curtain comes down quickly before the jeers and rotten fruit can reach their target.

Yes, I along with the masses, watched the first episode of AI 6 this evening. It is a show that focuses on exposure -- of individual delusions, desperate attention-seeking and sometimes actual talent. Whether you are a sadist or a masochist, American Idol has incredible appeal. We watch people suffer utter humiliation as they confront their own lack of ability, while others compete to show off their lack of originality -- all to achieve 15 seconds of fame as an audition reject.

George W. Bush should go before a panel of judges who will tell him what he needs to hear. That he has no talent for statecraft, that he is incapable of honest self-reflection, and tone deaf when it comes to listening to intelligent advice. I want to watch his face contort in disbelief as a panel of experts tell him "NO, you are wrong for this, you must leave."

I want to see the president run out the door ("No not that one, the other door!") into the consoling arms of Laura, Condi and Harriet. They will scoop him up and gently unpin his audition number from his tie. They will cluck and coo, but he will be inconsolable. He wins no golden ticket to the Presidents' Hall of Fame. Infamy will follow him the rest of his days, but unlike William Hung there will be no novelty recordings.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Akron Beacon Journal continues to ignore local theatre

Akron is home to many theatre companies as well as being home to the beautiful Akron Civic Theatre pictured here. You'd never know that if you were a reader of the Akron Beacon Journal -- in print or online.

Today in a comment to an earlier post, Neil Thackaberry of Actor's Summit tells us that the ABJ is not reviewing their work:

Neil Thackaberry said...

"I sent the following email to the Beacon this morning.

I'm sorry that the Beacon Journal's priorities don't allow for consistent coverage of Actors' Summit, the only fully professional nonprofit theater in Summit County.

The regional premiere of QED was seen this weekend by critics from The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Cleveland Free Times, The West Side Leader, The Record Publishing Papers, The Chagrin Valley Times, and The Cleveland Jewish News. The critic from the Times newspapers is scheduled to attend this coming weekend. It seems that only the Beacon Journal doesn't consider our work worthy of critical review.

In the past, Actors' Summit was considered a priority of the Beacon Journal. I'm sorry to see that is no longer the case.

Neil Thackaberry
Founder & Artistic Director
Artistic Director"

I am very sorry to hear this. I've been having a heck of a time finding any theatre reviews at all at, the ABJ's online presence. Elaine Guregian is still listed as Classical Music and Dance critic with no mention of theatre. Her theatre reviews are not posted under her listing as a columnist. I finally located them under a small heading on the Entertainment page: Peforming Arts. There are two reviews by Elaine -- one for the latest Bang and Clatter production and one for a musical at Playhouse Square in Cleveland. There is also a review by George Thomas's 12 year old son of the concert version of High School Musical. (George Thomas no longer writes movie reviews for the Beacon but rather has been assigned to the sports department.)

If one were to take the Akron Beacon Journal as an accurate reflection of our community, we could only say that Akron is a cultural wasteland. Furthermore, we would wonder why so many theatre companies are shown in the listings but are no longer reviewed. Certainly Actors' Summit was always on the agenda, and ditto Coach House and Weathervane. Theatre work of interest by Akron's own New World Performance Laboratory would be covered as well as note-worthy productions at the University of Akron, Kent State, Wooster and beyond. Carousel just opened a new show last week but not a peep from the Beacon yet. What about Magical Theatre? As for all those surrounding community theatres in Hudson, Stow, Medina and so on -- forget it! If the Beacon isn't going to cover Akron theatres, there is no hope for you.

The weekly Theatre Notes column has vanished, so we are cut off from news such as -- has Weathervane hired a new executive director yet. We never got a column on the untimely demise of Ingenue Theatre Company. If anyone of any importance was doing something in theatre locally, we once had a place to read about it. I can't fault Elaine -- how do you fit in covering all the local theatre when you are also trying to cover classical music and dance events as well?

So what is a local theatre-goer to do? Everybody who is in the know, subscribes to the NorthEast Ohio Performing Arts (NEOPAL) list put together by Fred Sternfeld, but that is more of a bulletin board. Some people do post reviews, but it is not the same as having a trusted and consistant voice from a reviewer you respect. The NEOPAL list does not necessarily target the potential audiences that our local theatres must have in order to keep existing.

You might check out Kerry Clawson's new blog From Page to Stage. She is writing about the local theatre scene. Post a comment and let her know you care too. Because obviously the ABJ doesn't give a damn. Don't let that stop you from joining Neil Thackaberry and write a letter to the editor. The editors won't do anything until they feel the pressure.

MLK Jr Day

Today Martin Luther King, Jr. would have turned 78 years old. Think of how many years he could have been working for the good of us all. Instead, he was shot to death at the age of 39 in 1968. At the age of 78, this man could still be working for the benefit of us all. Instead, we put aside one day to reflect upon what he accomplished and what is still left for us to overcome.

It is a very dreary and somber day here in NE Ohio. The rain is unrelenting and there is little reason to want to go out in it. Better to stay inside and refelect upon a man who was assasinated because he was such a threat to the old social order of keeping black people in their places -- serving the needs and interests of white folks.

The true story of who really caused MLK's death may never be uncovered. The killer(s) may not have realized that the act of murder created a martyr that day. Millions of people have chosen to remember and to take to heart these words:

"All too many of those who live in affluent America ignore those who exist in poor America. In doing so, the affluent Americans will eventually have to face themselves with the question that Eichmann chose to ignore: How responsible am I for the well-being of my fellows? To ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it."

The above quote taken from an article, posted here.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Energy from a dump

Here's an idea for the Hardy Road landfill -- turn it into a source of gas for heating and fuel. Jackson Township is going to be home of a new facility called the Green Energy Center built on the cite of a landfill:

"E.P.A. okays Green Energy Center

The final air permit has been issued for the Green Energy Center next to SWACO's Franklin County Landfill (3857 London Groveport Rd, Jackson Township, Ohio). Construction on the facility should begin about six (6) weeks after local permitting approval.

SWACO's landfill will provide the gas needed to produce methanol and CNGat the Center. FirmGreen Fuels LLC of Newport Beach, California will operate the Green Energy Center and purchase the gas from SWACO.

The Center is expected to produce up to 20 million gallons per year of methanol, which would provide up to 100 million gallons per year of B20 biodiesel to the marketplace. Landfill gas will also be used to generate 1.6 MW from an engine and microturbines. Additionally, waste heat from the microturbines will provide space heat and hot water for the administrative office building and maintenance facilities of SWAC."

Is this form of energy source the wave of the future? Will it be restricted to already completed landfills or is it an excuse to keep on dumping? What kinds of things are in the landfill that create the methanol? More details here.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Theatre of War

What a heavy week it's been on the war front, with so much drama leading up to the anti-clamactic Surge & Sacrifice scene from the Oval Office. Like most news junkies, I was drawn into the story, only to realize that what we've experienced this week is not drama but rather tragical farce.

All the weeks leading up to the event, we were contstantly told that Bush and minions were examing all options and consulting with every possible agency of government and Pentagon that had anything to do with the so-called "Mission in Iraq." Meanwhile, the duly-elected representatives and senators began to sound more like a unified chorus in a Greek tragedy, expressing the fears and doubts of the common people -- rather than their usual role of jarring voices setting one side against the other.

But in the end, what a let down. The surge began before the official announcement and it will continue on because there is not a damn thing you or I can do about it. About 60 senators are showing some spine and many more representatives -- but not enough to over-ride a presidential veto. The power is still in Bush's inept hands.

Now we have threats, long brewing and now overt, against Iran and Syria, along with continued plotting to take over Iraqi oil deposits by Big Oil and all who profit from those corporations.

The only way I can see to change things at this point may have to begin assembling huge demonstrations all over the country and especially in Washington, DC. The Republicans in congress who continue to support Bush need to realize that their days will be numbered once Bush is gone. There is a rally planned for DC on January 27th. Are you going?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Spoils of War, indeed!

I just stumbled across this interesting news from the UK Independent:

Future of Iraq: The spoils of war

How the West will make a killing on Iraqi oil riches

By Danny Fortson, Andrew Murray-Watson and Tim Webb

Published: 07 January 2007

"Iraq's massive oil reserves, the third-largest in the world, are about to be thrown open for large-scale exploitation by Western oil companies under a controversial law which is expected to come before the Iraqi parliament within days.

The US government has been involved in drawing up the law, a draft of which has been seen by The Independent on Sunday. It would give big oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon 30-year contracts to extract Iraqi crude and allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil interests in the country since the industry was nationalised in 1972."

This is why it is so important to surge or "augment" as Condoleeza puts it. Which is to be understood as somehow differnt from "escalation." AT anyrate, they are desperate to hold on until this law can be passed. Then let the place burn to the ground so that Haliburton can come in and rebuild it. You can read the rest of this article here.

Condoleeza puts on a scary show before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

C-Span is running the full testimony tonight and that's the best entertainment going. The senators are going at her and she is irrational about Iraq and belligerant in her words, tone and physical expressions. Her nose wrinkles as she paints polite sounding insults around Iran and Syria, as if she smells her enemies approaching. I suddenly understood. She will never reach out and achieve an act of diplomacy -- because she needs to have enemies. So does Bush. It's the age old excuse for invade and plunder.

In the middle of the hearing, a man held up a sign behind her: "OLD LIES" Condoleeza had no idea there was a sign there and it took a very long time for "security" to get to the protester who went limp and let them drag him out. This was captured beautifully by the cameras from several angles, all the while the protester shouted "More lies!" "All Lies!" with a final "Stop the War!" The Senator at the microphone politely stopped to let the words of the protestor ring through the chamber. It was wonderful theatre!

I hope it ends up on YouTube. I can't even find a news story about it, although I've had MSNBC on all evening -- didn't see it there either.

So here's an old but apt clip. Shudder in your shoes kids. Condoleeza scares me far more than Yvonne DeCarlo (RIP) ever did.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

No Iraq War

Bush gives us the one finger salute one more time. (For a look at the time he did it as governor of Texas, go here.)

At about 8:55 I turned the TV to mute and went upstairs for a long hot soak in the tub. I let go of the stresses and strains of the day and relaxed while a U$ president got on the air to tell us what everybody else knew he was going to say.

Just say No to "non-binding resolutions!" Stand up to the Big Bully!

Earlier tonight I was watching the House of Representatives on C-Span. It is an odd site to see the empty seats and just a few scattered reps there to get their on-camera moments to be inserted in the record. Wouldn't you love to see the rest of them? Why can't we? We pay them. They should be on-camera from the moment they clock in til the end of their congressional and senate days. It should be more like Big Brother -- that's it! Congressional Reality TV!

Nix on bathroom cams, however. Ewww. But a camera trained on the outside restroom door might get us some interesting footage. Who goes in there for an off-cam caucus and how long do they stay hidden! It would certainly highlight the gender gaps in both houses.

You see I'd rather think about anything tonight than what is going down in Washington, but I'm afraid I can't. The president is either mad or in complete and utter denial. What does the Constitution have to say about this situation?

Meanwhile as our duly elected representatives debate whether they have the nerve to stand up to this unintelligent and deluded person who is determined to see more deaths rather than face up to his mess.

What the hell are we doing anyway, blasting a country and people into bits? The planet is burning up and Bush wants to make it burn faster. Somebody -- please -- put on the brakes. Bring it to a halt.

No Iraq War.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Here it is the 2nd week of January, and my dog has gone into full coat shed. He is what I call a Huskador Retreiver, with a thick arctic coat that fills in beautifully during the winter and then spends the rest of the year shedding all over everything. So I'm observing the big clumps of hair tufting and ready to fall onto the floor and Oberon is asking me, please -- stop staring and let me go outside for awhile. Oh my goodness! I open the door and it is snowing! Big flakes and lots of them. Oberon plunges out into his element and comes back looking like this:

I rush to the computer to check -- light snow is the current forecast. Only 1" total by morning. Thursday we'll be back to sunny with a high of 46 degrees. I'm not a big fan of snow and it certainly feels strange to be rooting for it, but dammit -- the ground has got to freeze sometime before spring officially arrives. My garden is counting on it.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Monday Mashup

I'm down with a cold. Ohio State is down by one touchdown. I'm wrapped up with blankets, with laptop, dog and cat for company. Not a whole lot of energy for blogging tonight. So let me point you toward some interesting reading.

Here's an article from last week's Washington Post on how climate change appears in gardens in the DC area. Former "tender" plants now flourish, while others suffer from the warming trend.

My favorite gardening blog, This Garden is Illegal, has the scoop on Walmart's push to go Green. The bottom line has bottomed out, methinks, and Walmart will do anything for positive PR.

God is 4 Suckers has a report on a British cardinal trying (and failing) to attack atheists, calling us "Christophobes!"

The Wooster Group is premiering a new work:
"The Wooster Group's HAMLET, directed by Elizabeth LeCompte, reconstructs
a hypothetical theater piece from the fragmentary evidence of Richard
Burton's "Hamlet", a 1964 Broadway production which was recorded in
performance and shown as a film for two days only in 2,000 U.S. movie
houses. The idea of bringing a live theater experience to thousands of
simultaneous viewers in different cities was trumpeted as a new form
called "Theatrofilm". This HAMLET attempts to reverse the process, like
an archeologist inferring an improbable temple from a collection of ruins."
And if you are going to NYC -- be sure to check here to see where Dred Scott will be playing. I see a gig listed for February 22nd at Lincoln Center with Richard Julian! Woo woo -- way to go Dred!

Half time here and it looks like Ohio State is fading fast. So am I. Good night all!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Separation of Church and State

My only complaint about all the ceremonies in Washington DC concerns the pledging and invocations and prayers that go on in these governmental gatherings. "So help you god" -- what does that mean? Is it supposed to arouse the fear of being condemned to hell if you don't do as you promise? I did find it highly ironic that Dick Cheney was the one who administered the oaths (in tones as scary as could be) to the new senators. Every time he got to the line about protect against enemies from without and within, I wanted to shout out "You sir, are one of the enemies within!"

At the dinner we had to stand up and pledge allegience to the flag which is something I really object to -- but what are you gonna do when you are in a room full of people who worked very hard to make something wonderful happen? In my case, I stood up but did not put my hand on my heart and did not recite the words. When it got to "one nation under god" I muttered "one nation without gods" and immediately felt better! Pledging is a ritual that reminds me of fascistic kinds of government.

Now as for all the invocations that we heard -- my question is -- why do they have to be delivered by ministers, reverends, clergy etc? Why not invite brilliant scientists or philosphers to address the group? They might have something more thoughtful and interesting to say then these other folks who say the same old platitudes over and over. We know that all the ministers and swearing oaths will not prevent some politicians from making unethical choices and take illegal actions -- so let's drop the pretense that swearing to god and saying prayers is in anyway useful.

To this godless liberal, what it means is that some people like to show off in public by taking a holier than thou kind of stance. But the religious don't give a damn, so to speak. They could care less that their actions ostracize the non-religious. Too bad an atheist can't get elected to office. Heck even gay people can get elected to office in the 21st century. How many more years before we atheists and non-religious folks are treated as equals not pariahs?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Tilting at wind turbines and the White House

Forgot to put this image at the end of my last post. These are the wind turbines (not windmills as I posted earlier -- the phrase must now be changed to "tilting at wind turbines" I suppose) I saw on the bus ride back from Washington DC. They represent a breath of fresh air, the progressive movement toward problem solving rather than the conservative need to never budge.

CNN rebroadcast Nancy Pelosi's swearing in along with her speech and her gesture toward the future -- the welcoming of children up to her seat of power to lay hands upon the gavel. Very nice symbolism!

These are hopeful times, and it is especially heartening to have the Democrats standing up to the War in Iraq on day 2, nicely undercutting all the White House propaganda leading up to the long post-poned decision about to be dropped upon us by the Great Decider some time next week. The Dems say No to the Surge and the military report they can only muster up 9,000 maximum new troops when Bush is demanding at least 20,000.

Lots of protesting was going on in Washington the past few days. I saw a bunch of folks setting up for an anti-Bush event just outside the capitol building. Cindy Sheehan has been active along with many other anti-Iraq War groups. I met two people, parents of a young war resister by the name of Darnell Anderson. You can read his story of resisting assignment to Iraq here. They came to DC to lobby for their son's freedom. They opened my eyes to the large numbers of military and ex-military who are resisting this war in numerous ways. Check out this organization for more information: Iraq Veterans Against the War Deployed.

We all have to keep the pressure up in order to bring these young people home from the horrors Bush and his minions created in Iraq. George Bush proves every day how easy it is to stall and put off facing reality. He somehow doesn't think the election last November was any kind of message to him personally.

Will we all have to go back to Washington to protest by the millions in order to stop the madness?

Celebrating the new senator from Ohio

Hundreds of Sherrod Brown campaign volunteers boarded buses to DC in the early hours of January 3rd. Lots of long hours spent at events and parades, on phone banks and hoofing a canvass from house to house -- all with this impossible goal -- to elect an avowedly progressive Democrat as Senator of Ohio. The buses left from Lorain, Bedford, Mansfield and Columbus. I met lots of folks from Mansfield, which is where Sherrod grew up. Emily Brown, Sherrod's mom, rode on one of the volunteer buses from Mansfield! She wanted to ride down with the people --nothing fancy for her!

The folks I met on the bus and at the Sherrod Brown events were proud of their work and excited by all the possibilities that change can bring. There were young kids, older kids, college students, family groups, gay and straight couples as well as some odd birds like yours truly -- earnestly talking about all the important issues of the day. We talked Iraq and we talked economy. We talked about health care and how many Americans are worked to stress-related death.

Thursday evening found us all gathered outside the ballroom, waiting for the doors to open. Sherrod and Connie arrived and shortly thereafter, Ted Kennedy rode down the escalater and strode into the crowd! Everybody swarmed around him, digital cameras flashing from every angle. Here's the best of my shots. Unfortunately, the batteries were low and I had left replacements up on the 9th floor -- drat! Anyway, Ted couldn't stay as he had to go to his son's party but he was there to give his support to Sherrod, who is on Ted's senate committee. Health, Education, Labor and Pensions -- HELP -- and boy do they need it. That's a great committee catch for Sherrod and so are his other ones.

The doors opened and there was Sherrod to welcome us all into the ballroom for a celebratory dinner -- and it was huge. Rows and rows of round tables seating ten per. I was at table 60 about two thirds back from the podium.

Speeches were made and cheers were given up for Sherrod's campaign staff, his family, and for us -- the volunteers. Ongoing slideshows featured pictures from campaign events. I saw the first one I attended, before joining the campaign. It was in front of the Science Center in Cleveland when Sherrod talked about making Ohio a leader in renewable energy resouces. I heard other people call out upon seeing their photo on the large screens -- it was a moving tribute to everybody's efforts.

The creative team that came up with Sherrod's television commercials were also honored and very deservedly too. We were treated to a chronological showing of his major ads, which made for a very nice historical summary of the campaign's progress.

The term "progressive" has come to supplant "liberal" and I think I am gaining an understanding of why that is. Sherrod's campaign focused on what will benefit all of society, not just the wealthy few. The ads appealed to the sensibilities of all Americans and not just to fringe groups. People have grown tired of endless war and foreign conflicts. The new progressives in the house and the senate have huge challenges ahead, but for this brief moment in time, they have the backing of the voters. Change is being sought, change toward real progress. The Republicans have made piles of messes to be cleaned up.

The dinner was tasty, the companionship was merry and earnest at the same time. Aterwards, several bus tours left for a drive around the monuments. I got to the sign up sheets too late. There was a Ford Theatre tour availble for Thursday morning, but I really wanted to go to the Folger Library. Meanwhile the ball room was humming as huge vortexes of progressives gathered around Connie and Sherrod. They certainly are a dynmic duo! Sherrod promised that he and Connie would stay and thank every last person in the room before retiring, and indeed -- they did!

Thursday morning I made my dash to the Folger gift shop and picked up some very useful items for my students. Got back to the hotel in time to fill up my luncheon plate before C-Span hit the big screens with the beginning of the new Senate term and the swearing in ceremonies. Sherrod was in the first group and we gave him a rousing cheer from our ballroom. I'm sure he heard it in his heart. We finished our lunch as the sentators continued their swearings in, four by four, many with holy books prominantly displayed for the television cameras. Thank dog Sherrod's hands were empty. Maybe that's a Lutheran trait, not wanting to publicly parade one's personal philosophy. If only all relgions were so humble and private.

I'm glad I went on this trip. I still can't quite believe that a candidate I could support actually won a major election! I ran into Yellow Dog Sammy on the trip. He rode the other Bedford bus, but we found each other by accident during the lunch stop! I told him that for most of my life I didn't vote on principle, but that I felt I had to begin voting as an act of self defense. It was great meeting him -- he had outstanding coverage and analysis of the fall Ohio elections at his old blog Ohio 2006. We are waiting for the new one to commence.

I met two war resisters and will write more about them tomorrow, along with some thoughts on religious displays as part of public rituals. On the bus ride home, I read my new books and thought about some exciting new lesson plans. I happened to look up at one point somewhere in Pennsylvania and noticed familiar tall and majestic shapes on the horizon. Wind mills! Just like the one in front of the Science Center where I made up my mind to volunteer for Sherrod's campaign. A sign of progress! Let us have more. Please.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

High up in the Hyatt

I splurged for wireless broadband access, so I could post while in Washington. This is one expensive hotel. Continental breakfast was $21.00! Various bottles of booze can be delivered to your room for prices that would net you a case of decent wine. Needless to say, I didn't order a bottle of the cheapest wine (Beringer, White Zinfandel Napa -- $32.00) but did have a glass of white wine for $7.50 to accompany last night's dinner with Sherrod and Connie. Heck, when in Washington and hobnobbing with the rich and powerful, why not pretend for a moment that one can actually afford to pay that much money for a glass of wine?

I'm on the 9th floor of the Hyatt, looking out on an impossibly sunny January 4th, the day we all can celebrate the first woman Speaker of the House. We can also ask, why it has taken so long and why are there still so few women in public service roles?

I have taken lots of pictures which I wanted to post today. However, it turns out my laptop doesn't have a decent photo editing program on it. I always use my Mac for photo work and now I remember why! So you will have to wait until later for pictures of Ted Kennedy! Yes -- he dropped in the lobby of the event for a quick meet and greet. I also have some nice pics of Sherrod and Connie and Stephanie Tubbs Jones.

This morning is rather a nuisance. We have to check out by 11 but the bus doesn't leave until 3. The swearing in is at noon. I had big plans to get up early and run around DC on my own, but instead I opted for a leisurely morning with breakfast, newspaper and coffee. After I check out of this room, I'll be heading to the swearing in viewing room, then I hope to make one short break away to get to the Folger library. We'll see how that goes!

More later...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Off to DC!

I'm heading to the Sherrod Brown bus very soon to begin the journey to DC. We're departing from Bedford, OH just a bit north of Summit County. I'm looking forward to hanging with a bunch of people celebrating all the hard work that paid off last November 7th.

I'm taking my laptop and expect to be blogging from the hotel late tonight and early Thursday morning. The digital camera is packed and I hope to get some good pics to share with you all.

I used to live in DC for a few years in the 70s and I'm looking forward to revisiting favorite old places like the Adams-Morgan area and perhaps a visit to the Folger Library.

As for Sherrod -- wow -- I don't envy him his job. What a lot of messes to be cleaned up and huge planet-shaking decisions to be made. All those years in the House should give him a boost up right away -- he knows the people and he won big in Ohio. I predict he's going to be a major player and that items on his agenda will appear before house and senate soon.

More as it happens!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Department of Food Safety?

It's regulatory chaos in the current Bush bureaucracy, according to an AP article that takes a lot of paragraphs to tell us nothing about how our food may be made safer. Food producers and government agencies want to avoid another E Coli spinach episode like the one in the fall of 2006.

"Since September, two produce industry groups that together represent thousands of U.S. growers, processors, distributors, restaurants and supermarkets have worked to hasten revised guidelines for preventing contamination of leafy greens.

The goal is to tell farmers, before spring planting, and then consumers about the new safety guidelines."

Not a hint as to what those new guidelines might include. The problem is that somehow the E Coli virus originates in animals and so farmers must be very careful about what types of fertilizers they use and where they come from. However, in the case of the contaminated spinach, the last story I read put the blame on wild hogs that carry the E Coli virus into streams and ground water that eventually feed into vast acres of "organically" grown vegetables.

Here's more:

"The FDA started work on new safety recommendations in 2004 and has come up with voluntary guidelines for the vegetables that cause more than 80 percent of outbreaks from produce. They are lettuce and leafy greens, tomatoes, green onions, herbs and cantaloupes.

As outbreaks have continued, the agency has looked for more ways to prevent them and respond more quickly. But that effort has been slowed while agency staff was diverted to handle the latest outbreaks.

"Obviously, up to this point things have not worked as well as they should have," Acheson said.

Consumer groups say things have not worked well because of inadequate money and staffing at FDA.

Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Food Safety, said putting one agency in charge of food safety would be a big improvement.

"It's regulatory chaos" now, Kimbrell said.

The Bush administration opposes the idea, saying it is unnecessary."

No matter what the problem that government is supposed to be handling, we find chaos and incompetence instead of an organized professional response. Public service used to be term that meant what it said. Now it appears to be nothing more than a chance to rip us off and toss us onto the heaps of spreading germs and viral infectious agents.

The beautiful picture of spinach was acquired from here -- Willie Green's Organic Farm in the state of Washington sounds like a great source for safe spinach.

Monday, January 01, 2007

ABJ Update -- Giffels takes leave

David Giffels announced in his column today that he is taking an extended leave to write a book. Good for him! Not so good for the reading public in Akron. I expect you have noticed how many of your favorite Akron Beacon Journal writers have either vanished or are writing much more than before. The paper is noticeably thinner and is mostly ads these days. The online content can be got through in a quarter of an hour.

So with Giffels gone, the only two listed local news reporters are Bob Dyer and Jewel Cardwell. Things sure must feel empty up there in the old newsroom. Checking on Elaine Guregian 's listing, I note that "theatre" is not listed as part of her title yet and that her theatre reviews still are not collected online under her name.