Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Happy Birthday, Andy! Playing on his 23rd birthday Tuesday night, World #3 Andy Roddick lost to World #68 Gilles Muller of Luxemborg 7-6(4), 7-6(8),7-6(1). This has started something of a whispering campaign doubting the tennis abilities of the American #1 male player. I have never been a Roddick fan. He has always been too one-dimensional to me (huge serve and huge forehand and that's it!) but I disagree with people who say that he's a "one-slam wonder." Muller is 6'5" and is a talented player who made it to the final of an ATP event just a few weeks ago, losing to Agassi in two close sets.
World #1 Lindsay Davenport started off slowly against World #40 Na Li of China, but eventually won 6-4,6-4 in a surprisingly tough first round match.
James Blake had a great first round win versus Greg Rusedski of Great Britain, while the very young Gael Monfils lost a controversial match against another 18-year old, Novak Djokovic from Serbia-Montenegro.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
African American phenom 16-year old Donald Young (with suspiciously bright blue eyes) had a set point in the first set but lost in straight sets after blowing a 4-2 lead in first set tie break. He has yet to win a set on the ATP Tour. 19-year old African American Scoville Jenkins who got blown off of Arthur Ashe Stadium by Roddick last year won his first Grand Slam match in a 5th set tiebreak. Shenay Perry took out #14 seed Alicia Molik 6-4, 6-4.
Sharapova looked very sharp, although Eleni Danilidou played well, she couldn't win the important points and became discouraged. The final score was 6-1, 6-1.
Monday, August 29, 2005
Sunday, August 28, 2005
The 2005 Scrabble Championships have been completed, Stefan Fatsis of NPR and the Wall Street Journal has been covering the story at an online journal all week. The new champion is David Wiegand. However, the most incredible news to come out of the tournament is the report of the play of a 14-letter word: REmATERIALIZED. (In Scrabble notation a lower-case word indicates that letter was in the board prior to the play.) In addition, Stefan's online column is full of sesquipedalian gems:
FRENA, PEPO, KRAAL, ADUNC, JUCOS, PISO, ZORIS, WATERZOOI and ATRESIA.Logophiles myself love these kinds of obscure words which are possible in Scrabble; it's about the joy of discovery and an acknowledgement of the vastness (and peculiarity) of the English language.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Friday, August 26, 2005
The womens' seedings are:
- Maria Sharapova (RUS). "The It Girl" recently became #1 by amassing 6 tournament wins in the last 12 months. Needs to go deep into the tournament to show that she deserves to be #1 though it is already clear this 18-year old has the goods to win multiple majors in the future. Semi-finalist.
- Lindsay Davenport (USA). America's "Top Gun" ran out of gas against Serena at this year's Australian Open and came thisclose to winning at Wimbledon against Venus but has been injured for the almost entire hardcourt season this year. Semi-finalist.
- Amelie Mauresmo (FRA). "The Artiste" has every weapon in her arsenal except for mental toughness. Semi-finalist.
- Kim Clijsters (BEL). "Miss Congeniality" has been the hottest player on tour all year. She has only lost one match in the United States all year and is eligible for double prize money since she placed first in the US Open Series by winning in Stanford, Los Angeles and Toronto. Finalist
- Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS). "The Contender" has not been much of a factor during the U.S. hardcourt season and is unlikely to reach the U.S. Open final again this year. Quarter-finalist.
- Elena Dementieva (RUS). "The Sweetheart" has miraculously managed to remain near the Top 5 in the ranking despite being unable to repeat her 2004 performance of being the only woman to appear in two Grand Slam finals. Her serve has nowhere to go but up. Early round loss.
- Justine Henin-Hardenne (BEL). "The Comeback Kid" was flawless during the clay court season, culminating in the 2005 French Open title but lost in the first round at Wimbledon and has been injured for most of the hardcourt season. Quarter-finalist
- Serena Williams (USA). "The Diva" is nursing several injuries, the least of which is her pride. She looked like a hot ghetto mess at Wimbledon and has yet to really show that she is as interested in tennis as all her other pursuits. Despite this, somehow she was able to muscle her way to her 7th Grand Slam title at the 2005 Australian Open. Will not play.
- Nadia Petrova (RUS). This Russian has yet to win her first WTA Tour title and has been flying so far under the radar that the marketers for the US Open Series didn't come up with a cute sobriquet for her! Quarter-finalist.
- Venus Williams (USA). "The Goddess" proved everyone wrong, including yours truly by winning Wimbledon in stunning fashion in the longest women's grand slam final ever. Quarter-finalist.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
- Top Half of Top Half of the Draw. Maria Sharapova (1) has a possibly tough first round against Eleni Danilidou who took out Justine Henin-Hardenne in the first round at Wimbledon. After that Sharapova should cruise until she plays either Petrova(9) or defending champion Kuznetsova(5) in the first quarterfinal.
- Bottom Half of Top Half of the Draw. Venus has a really hard set of rounds: Kirilenko followed by Hantuchova followed by Serena (if she gets that far!). This is the second grand slam in a row where the sisters are set to meet in the fourth round. Honestly, I expect Serena to withdraw before this weekend. Her draw is better than Venus'. She just has to worry about playing Peng Shuai, the only player to beat Kim Clijsters on U.S. soil this year, in the third round. Whoever gets out of the fourth round will be playing Clijsters in the second quarterfinal.
- Top Half of the Bottom Half of the Draw. A very interesting quarter with Henin-Hardenne(7), Myskina(13), Pierce(12), Karatancheva and Mauresmo(3). The third quarterfinal should be Mauresmo versus either Henin-Hardenne or Pierce (who meet in the 4th round).
- Bottom Half of the Bottom Half of the Draw. Dementieva(6) has a very easy path to the fourth quarterfinal where she should meet Davenport(2). The only seeds who could stop that are Schnyder(11) in Elena's fourth round and Dechy(15) in Lindsay's.
Should be interesting! I'll try to blog daily on the US Open this year...
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
John Mack (who was unanimously elected President of the Commission) had the meeting moved to a large auditorium in Parker Center after "about 200 community activists packed the commission's hearing room to decry the pace of the investigation into the February 6 killing of [13-year old] Devin [Brown]. They demanded the firing of Officer Steve Garcia, who shot the teenager after he backed a stolen car toward a police cruiser. Garcia and his partner had begun pursuing Devin after he ran a red light."
The group contrasted the six-month lack of action against Garcia with Los Angeles County Sherriff Lee Baca's expeditious finding in 30 days that deputies who fired nearly 120 rounds at unarmed motorist Winston Hayes had violated both tactical and pursuit policies. Pastor Lewis Logan of the group Community Call to Action and Accountability warned that if the "police commission doesn't strongly recommend that this officer's service be terminated" then future commission meetings would be filled with protesters. Nation of Islam Minister Tony Muhammad said "We will shut this city down" if Devin's shooting is not adequately investigated. Surprisingly, John Mack agreed with the speakers. "These investigations go on forever…. This has to be done in a more timely fashion," he said.
However, Mayor Villaraigosa who sat through the nearly two hour meeting quietly in the audience said afterwards that he did not want to second-guess the LAPD on the pace of the Brown investigation, noting it is an "in-depth and exhaustive" probe that a federal monitor, mandated by a consent decree upon the department, will examine carefully.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
What is an African American lesbian doing on the cover of this week's Los Angeles Times's magazine? I hadn't really intended to read the article since the teaser focussed on the disparate treatment of two African American basketball players accused of sexual assault, both employed by branches of the same corporate entity.
(I'm soooo over the whole Kobe thing!) In The Glass Closet, the story of Latasha Byears, an openly lesbian, 5'10 203 lb., WNBA player who was summarily dismissed from the team following an accusation of sexual assault upon an unnamed female victim. (Following an official investigation of nearly two years the matter has been closed "due to lack of evidence.") The numerous details which are highlighted in the article are extremely enlightening. For example, there is a staggering difference in pay between male and female basketball players (Byears was a clearly essential and valued player on a 2-time Championship team and made $60, 000 per year, Kobe's salary is $19+ million per year, excluding endorsements). Also, the revelation of the level of anxiety that corporate minders had over the public's awareness of the sexual orientation of their players and the supposed harm that would befall them if the information got out. The article also makes some sharp comments on the marketing of women athletes like Lisa Leslie, Serena Williams and (new world #1) Maria Sharapova who combine "athleticism and sexuality" by asking the question:
If these remarkably pretty women (and fantastic athletes) were also openly gay, would they be marketing icons?
The answer is of course, "hell, no!" and this unmasks the heterosexual and male privilege of the people to whom these sports are marketing themselves to. Anytime, gender and sexuality privilege is clearly revealed in a mainstream media outlet it should be noted and applauded. Kudos to the Los Angeles Times!
Monday, August 22, 2005
The one thing that people always want to know when they fall in love with characters and the medium that the characters reside in ends is "what happens next?" Triple hyphenate (writer, director and creator) Alan Ball answered all these questions in flash-forward by showing us glimpses of exactly when and how each of the major characters died (sequentially: Ruth, then Keith, David, Federico, Brenda and finally, Claire at the ripe old age of 102 in 2085). As Sia's chords and haunting voice envelop the viewer one is able to piece together the arc of each of the main characters lives. David and Keith stay together, get married, their kids follow in the mortuary business and Keith dies in a shooting at an armed car robbery. Brenda and Billy are together at the end of their lives just as they were in the beginning of their lives. Claire (looking fabulous with straight strawberry blonde hair) re-unites with her cute but conservative Republican lawyer who loved her at Ruth's funeral and marries him, but dies alone in her bed, rheumy-eyed and remembering at the ripe old age of 102 in 2085!
It was sad and poignant and exciting--a fitting end to the best drama on television for 63 episodes from 2001 to 2005.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
The question is, does images of men having "bareback" (unsafe, no condoms) sex with each other cause people to fetishize and long to also engage in such behavior, or is it a safe sexual outlet to watch sexual behavior that the viewer (or voyeur) will not engage in, but is still aroused by? Does it matter if the people on screen are now dead, or that the unsafe activity happened before AIDS, say circa 1975-80? What if the "performers" are HIV+ and have agreed to engage in bareback sex with other HIV+ men? (Of course there are other STDs which could be transmitted through the unsafe sex besides HIV.)
The person who asked the question thought that all barebacking porn should be banned, except perhaps for porn which is clearly dated prior to the AIDS epidemic. To, me the question is analogous to the violence on television question. Does seeing images of violence on television and in video games make people more violent? How suggestible are humans to moving images? The cliché is that "a picture is worth a thousand words," of course. So, is a moving picture worth a thousand thousand words?
Last night I saw Brian Graden, openly gay President of MTV Networks recieve a 2005 Equality Award from the founders of South Park. During his acceptance speech, Graden extolled the impact of the media. For example, he cited the polling result from MTV research that people in high school are much more supportive of equal rights for same sex couples, particularly the legalization of same-sex marriage, than their older peers. This he said, is a result of MTV's pioneering and inclusive programming.
So, if one accepts the premise that viewers are influenced by the images they see, then it seems like one should promote the idea that barebacking porn is dangerous. However, for me, there's still a distinction on defining exactly what kind of influence images of unsafe sex between men will have on other men who have sex with men. Why make the assumption that the primary effect will be to encourage the production of similar images, in real life with the viewer in the "star" role?
Saturday, August 20, 2005
The San Diego City council voted unanimously last Monday to prohibit write-in candidates from run-off elections. City Councilwoman Donna Frye, who as a write-in candidate had more votes than the official candidates in the run-off for Mayor last November voted for the ordinance. The "winner" of last November's election, incumbent Dick Murphy resigned effectively July 15th, and his successor citycouncilman Michael Zucchet resigned after he was indicted by a federal grand jury investigating municipal corruption 5 days later. Openly Lesbian Citycouncilwoman Toni Atkins became acting mayor. Sensing an opportunity, Steve Padilla, the mayor of neighboring Chula Vista, came out of the closet also.
Los Angeles. Latino Mayor (Antonio Villaraigosa). Latino City District Attorney (Rockey Delgadillo). Uppity city council.
The Los Angeles City council last week failed to endorse Mayor Villaraigosa's plan to extend the City's contract to continue hauling trash out to the Sunshine Canyon Landfill after it expires on July 1, 2006. They also couldn't agree on who should be the next City Legislative Analyst. This from the same council that a few short weeks ago "unanimously" endorsed(apparently Bernard Parks and Grieg Smith walked out of the room before the voice vote on) gay marriage.
Friday, August 19, 2005
This Quick Takes item in Friday's Los Angeles Times Calendar section caught my eye: "Rapper calls for truce over 'gay.'" Apparently, Grammy-winning rapper and producer Kanye West made the comment that "Not just hip-hop, but America just discriminates. And I wanna just, to come on TV and just tell my rappers, just tell my friends, 'Yo, stop it.'" Word, bruh! 50 Cent and Eminem were unavailable for comment to respond to this blog post.
This is a pretty unprecedented level of support for a challenger of an "open" Council seat. The question is, why does Jose Huizar have such support and who the heck is he? All I know about him is that he's been on the Los Angeles Board of Education since 2001.
As for his opponent, I have received email from something called "Team Pacheco" touting the accomplishments of the former 14th District Councilman and current candidate for the position.
Neither of the two seem to have campaign websites up yet even though the special election is November 8, 2005.
There is some talk about some other third candidates but I think most people think either Pacheco or Huizar (likely Huizar) will be the next 14th District City Councilman.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Just last week the California Supreme Court refused to expedite a similar marriage case, denying that state what Washington State could get any day now, a final legal resolution of the seemingly perennial adnd ubiquitous same-sex marriage debate.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
I believe it is a law of economics that one can not get out of Target without spending $50. There's just so much stuff there that one realizes that one needs (though of course one did not walk into the store realizing one needed it). Speaking of stuff everyone needs..., let's talk about love!
Well, if not love, the next best thing is sex. And of course in 2005 all sex is safe sex. Has anyone noticed that Target has the lowest prices in town on condoms? Specifically, Trojan Magnum XL condoms that come in the golden foil wrappers. Note the suggested price: $11.51. Target's price: Under $6 for a packet of 12. I have been unable to find any other store in Los Angeles which sells them for less. Most supermarkets: $9 or $10. I haven't noticed whether Target is cheaper for all brands of condoms, since I (*cough*) only ever use magnums.
So, Bright-eyed Readers, is this some secret conspiracy by Target (formerly Dayton-Hudson) Corporation to entice well-hung shoppers into their stores and then hit them with a huge mark-up on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 3 DVDs? Or something more sinister? Discuss!
Sunday, August 14, 2005
The play is a thought-provoking meditation on the multiple competing visions and values of people who are adjacent in racial classification but not social stratification. There are only 5 characters: Harmond Wilks, Mame Wilks, Roosevelt Hicks, Sterling Johnson and Old Joe.
Harmond and Mame are a classic Clintonian "buppie" (Black urban professional) couple. The way that the two actors portray this relationship, it is hard to tell whether Mame and Harmon are business partners, romantic partners or both. This is due to the lack of chemistry between Denise Burse and Rocky Carroll. It is commendable that the actress playing Mame Wilks is trying to give the audience the energy of Condoleezza Rice (subdued emotions combined with Republican ambition and greed). However, while she looks the part (lots of Reagan red power suits and Thatcherite helmet hair chock full of ozone-depleting chemicals) she doesn't really inhabit the part and so the audience ends up being distanced from her (or at least I did).
Roosevelt Hicks, a golf-loving, money-hungry bank vice president who is Harmond's business partner and college buddy, is played effectively by James A. Williams. Sterling Johnson is an unschooled, street-smart handyman played amusingly by John Earl Jelks. These two characters, along with Mame and Old Joe are pairs of opposing forces attempting to influence Harmond and his actions which will have a great impact on the future of a suddenly crucial parcel of real estate in the City of Pittsburgh, 1839 Wylie Avenue, and possibly the future of the city itself. At this address is an apparently abandoned house which both Old Joe and Harmond Wilks both think that they own (coincidently this house was apparently Aunt Ester's, a character who appeared in many of Wilson's other plays in the cycle). The play revolves around Harmond's dilemma and turns upon whether he will put his political ambition before his sense of "right and wrong."
The problem is that although Rocky Carroll is able to communicate the character's avarice, joy in his own self-importance and moral clarity, he does so in a way which seems to lack nuance. Either he's blazing hot, shaking and shouting with moral inidignation or he's engaged in a cold embrace with Mame following a should-be-poignant anecdote about the day he fell in love with her. It doesn't help that at some points Harmond's hesitancy at a moral crossroad looks indistinguishable from text forgetfulness from seats in the middle of orchestra right.
Thus the play's real center revolves around Anthony Chisholm's Old Joe, whose crushed-granite voice lovingly caresses August Wilson's language with the similar care that Shakespearean-trained Patrick Stewart delivers technobabble on Star Trek with inimitable convincing authority. Besides having some of the best lines, Chisholm also does the cast's best job of merging his character's voice with the author's during the play's many meaningful soliloquies.
Play: B+. Performance: B-.
Friday, August 12, 2005
Many media outlets are covering the anniversary with extensive features. KPCC has been covering it on their numerous public affairs shows. The L.A. Weekly has three pieces on the riots, including this disturbing final graf from Joe Hicks:
Why does it have to be one or the other? Arguably, both perspectives contain some truth, though I would say that my evaluation leans toward the former, not the latter. For example, in another section of his article Joe Hicks derides those of us who resist using the term "riot" to describe the 1965 and 1992 "civil unrest events." Again, the truth is somewhere in between , or perhaps someplace completely different.
Any remembrances of the 1965 Watts Riots must include sober
discussion of why, 40 years later, large parts of this city continue to labor
under the weight of poverty, low educational skills, and rampant gangs and
violence, as well as a less than vibrant business life. Some would say that this
is because the “system” still conspires to exploit, suppress and oppress black
and brown people. I say it’s because some continue to look in the rear-view
mirror, focused on yesterday’s realities, and serving up excuses and
disempowering theories of victimization rather than exploring realistic answers
to troubling problems.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
The importance of Wednesday's ruling is that it means that a final decision from the State Supreme Court on the legality of same-sex marriage will not be known before a ballot measure (or two) being circulated by heterosexual supremacists to ban gay marriage and eliminate state recognition of same-sex registered domestic partnerships either qualifies for or is voted on in the June 2006 primary or November 2006 general election.
The moral of the story, is that if you think that "equality for all" really means that all couples should have access to the same rights and responsibilities of marriage regulated by the State, then don't sign those !@#@^*^%&! petitions now being circulated at your local Target/Wal-Mart/Home Depot.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
Here are some observations. (1) The countryside is beautiful! (2) It's hella hot. (3) These are big, big states. (4) 65 mph speed limits are impractical. When one is driving 400 miles in one day, on a 4-lane highway (2-lanes each way) with one or two hundred mile perfectly straight stretches with almost no traffic, 65 miles an hour simply doesn't cut it.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Anywho, the idea that Bush's nominee to the Court actually participated in mock moot court oral arguments with Jean Dubofsky (who argued Romer before the USSC), playing the role of Scalia with gusto is velly interesting... Especially, since Roberts apparently "forgot" to list it as one of his pro bono activities in his 67-page written submission to questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee this week.
Methinks beads of sweat are starting to run down C. Boyden Gray's face....
It's not clear what impact this ruling will have on pending cases before the Court arguing for the legalization of same-sex marriage in the State of California or the attempt by heterosexual supremacists to repeal the domestic partnership law and prevent the enactment of same-sex marriage in the future.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
This is a step in the right direction and I commend the LAPD for doing this. So, let it not be said I never say anything nice about the LAPD. I do, still, think Jack Dunphy is a clueless idiot.
Also, in my opinion, District Attorney Steve Cooley's decision to decline to file charges against any of the officers involved in this egregious incident is troubling and leads to the ongoing mistrust of "the [justice] system" by communities of color. We know that the only reason anything was done in this case was that the incident was caught on videotaped and broadcast on the local news stations in Summer 2004 repeatedly. What about all the other "unfortunate incidents" which become a "we said, cop said" argument due to the lack of videotape?
Monday, August 01, 2005