Saturday, February 25, 2006

Rest well, Don Knotts

Whether you knew him as the dopey Deputy Barney Fife helping Andy Griffith keep the law in Mayberry, as a member of The Apple Dumpling Gang in Disney movies, or as the lovable and energetic landlord Mr. Furley on "Three's Company," you knew Don Knotts would make you laugh. His distinct personality, bugging eyes and skinny frame always delivered the goods during a time when television had class and was just plain clean fun.

Don Knotts died Saturday at age 81.

His filmography.

Knotts' final substantial on-screen cinema role came in 1998's "Pleasantville," where he played the TV repairman who is the catalyst for all the changes among the residents of the sheltered town. He was perfect for the role.

I'll miss the genuine enthusiasm and wit, the warmth he brought to every role. I have a vivid memory after watching a re-run of "The Andy Griffith Show" and then running around all afternoon saying "Nip it in the bud!" in my best Deputy Barney Fife impersonation, and having no real clue what that meant. And I can just see him in that denim leisure suit, a kerchief tied around his neck in that swingin' 1970s look he tried to portray on "Three's Company."

Yes, rest well, Barney and Mr. Furley. We'll miss you.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

It wasn't CWU

I sent a query to the local paper reporter with Ellensburg ties to determine of the backdrop at the Grammy Awards was really Central Washington University behind Kanye West. According to the reporter, CWU University Relations people said they matched some pictures after receiving a lot of calls about the Grammys. Turns out it was not Barge Hall, though I swear it was.

All that makes me wonder which school it was if not Central.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

February Funk

It's been two and a half weeks since my last blog post. I apologize to my loyal readers -- the few dozen people who accidentally stop by here. I just have not been in the mood to write much lately. I have not been depressed or too busy. I just have not had much to say about things in the news. More accurately, I have not been motivated to write about what I have been thinking.

Oh, sure, there has been plenty in the news to write about -- the vice president shooting his pal and the president apparently trying to let the Arabs run six major United States ports. Truthfully, though, I just have not desired to write.

But, with winter fading and spring on the horizon, I vow to get back on that and to have a few posts each week for the next couple months. I have a major project to finish for my masters, which I will complete by May 1. After that I should be a lot more free to pursue other activities.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Wenatchee News Digest

A couple bits of news from the Apple Capital:

Yahoo! appears to be headed here. The Internet brand will operate a data center at the Confluence Technology Center, located in the Olds Station area just north of the city. Apparently, the cheap electricty and high-speed fiber optic network infrastructure made the area attractive to a major player such as Yahoo!

Speaking of cheap power, the Bush Administration again has included increased debt repayment from the Bonneville Power Administration in its annual budget. While a year ago the administration sought all of the BPA power be sold on the open market and revenue used to pay down debt, this year the administration only seeks to have surplus power sold and used to repay debt. Northwest Senators and Representatives in Congress are united in their efforts to keep the current model, which uses surplus power to reduce rates paid by NOrthwest power customers. It's the deal we have had for generations, and it is the deal we expect to keep. Look for Sen. Maria Cantwell to continue to use energy as a primary issue in her re-election campaign this year.

The Eastmont School District across the Columbia River appears to have failed its maintenance and operations levy, falling short by three percent of the necessary 60 percent.

Officials in Kittitas County to the south have put up some money for a study that would determine the viability of a road to Wenatchee's Mission Ridge ski area from the Ellensburg area over Colockum Pass, currently a primitive road passable only during the summer. THe road would allow a back entry to the ski area and easier and faster access from I-90 and Seattle. The route would bypass Wenatchee. I say go for it.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

CWU at the Grammys?

I was watching the Grammy Awards on CBS television Wednesday night. The performance by Kanye West and Jamie Foxx of the song "Gold Digger" used a college marching band theme and a huge backdrop was behind the band -- and it featured a photo of the front of Barge Hall at Central Washington University. I think.

I grew up in Ellensburg and went to Central, and I am almost positive that was Barge Hall. It was just the ground floor, but the words "State Normal School" were clearly visible above the door arch, and the red bricks and window features appeared to match. The original name of Central was the Washington State Normal School.

Anyway, if the backdrop was, in fact, Barge Hall, that would be extraordinary. Surely there is a back story. I would sure like to know if I spotted my alma mater at the Grammys and if so why and how it was chosen.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Super Sunday

I will admit this: I am no football fan. I almost never watch the Super Bowl. Not for the game, not for the commercials, not even for halftime. So, Seahawks in the championship or no, I was not planning to watch today's game in Detroit.

But, the party called and I stopped in for a bot of socializing, some food and beverage and a bit of the game. I even wore a shirt with blue and green stripes.

My thoughts about Super Bowl XL:
  • Can the Super Bowl really be 40? It is middle aged? Wow. I remember Super Bowl XX, two-thirds of my life ago.
  • The graphics and mania around the event are pretty crazy.
  • The whole thing looks pretty kickass in high-definition TV, which my friends just purchased. Nice. Well, everything except John Madden. He looked creepy in hi-def.
  • The Rolling Stones can still rock, but dang, Mick Jagger is skinny and Keith Richards looks like a Muppet. Again, hi-def was not so good here.
  • The commercials were pretty lame. I mean, WTF was with the Broadway/Cirque du Soleil Burger King commercial? The woman who was the meat was creepy. And who really wants to be mayonnaise?
  • Turns out one of my former students is a Sea Gal! Yes, Wenatchee girl makes it to the big game.
  • And the Seahawks got screwed by the bad officiating.

The best thing was Dan Davage blogging about it at The Stranger's blog. That stuff was hilarious. I am glad I stumbled across it this evening.

Now we just have a few months until Seattle's other losing team, the Mariners, get started. And in the meantime, the Winter Olympics.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Bush already thinking about his retirement...

... and so are we.

Check out what bops around inside the vast expanse of the Presidential Mind.

President Bush is thinking about his legacy, as many presidents do amid their second terms. He is planning his library, which will definitely be in Texas. My bet is on Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Texas Tech could be a West Texas favorite, but I doubt it.

So the cap of President Bush's week was not giving a truly lame State of the Union address. No, it was an honor far greater. He was named A.H.O.Y. 2005. He won in 2003, only to be unseated by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in 2004, but the President had a truly crappy year and deserves to reclaim the mantle of A.H.O.Y.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Two legendary American women, now gone

This week saw the deaths of two great American women, both trailblazers: Coretta Scott King and Betty Friedan.

King, the widow of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., carried her husband's legacy into the late 20th century, ensuring he would be remembered with the King Center, which advocates nonviolence, and with a national holiday commemorating his life and a day on which we remember not only his contributions but the dream he imagined. Coretta Scott King lived her life since 1968, when Dr. King was assassinated, as a role model and as a graveful leader.

Today, she became the first woman and the first African American to lie in state in the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta, an honor refused her husband after his death in April 1968. That throngs of citizens would wait for hours to pay respects to her as she lies in state is a testament not only to the respect the held but also to how far our nation has come.

Friedan, author of "The Feminine Mystique" in 1963, articulated a vision for American women that launched a movement. She said women could -- and should -- be more than just housewives and secretaries, that they should not have their value judged by their housecleaning or their children. Women, she said, could have careers and not families and that was OK. Husbands were not required for satisfaction or value.

The feminist movement today has lost some of its momentum. Women, and men, take for granted the rights and equalities that women in another generation worked hard to acquire. Demonized by radical right-wing radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, feminism has become a dirty word. In fact, everyone who believes women deserve the same treatment and rights as men should rightfully be called feminists. I'm a feminist.

King and Friedan represent the leadership in civil rights that is fading in 21st century America. Who will pick up the banner for people of color and for women? Who will smack the young people of today into shape? Who will motivate our citizens to take action against the slow erosion of rights, against the apathy of satisfaction? We need a new generation of leaders to step up and quench the thirst that exists among today's Americans. We also need to take steps ourselves to initiate action. It's time for a new civil rights movement in America, time to take back the rights we've lost to the false promise of security. We've gained nothing and lost too much ground.

That is the legacy of Coretta Scott King and Betty Friedan.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Take that, censoring administrators!

Below is one of the items from the Student Press Law Center's e-mail report Feb. 1. The report is also available at the SPLC Web site.

Washington student editors suing school district take their paper underground -- with a little help from a friend

The Kodak, a student newspaper in Everett, Wash., finally saw the light of day earlier this month, with a slightly new image.

The newspaper, which has not been printed since November, emerged as an underground paper called the Independent Kodak. Two student editors distributed the paper after school as the most recent move in a battle-turned-lawsuit pitting the newspaper staff against administrators who want the students to remove a statement saying the paper is a student forum.

Co-editors Sarah Eccleston and Claire Lueneburg distributed their newspaper on the sidewalk outside the school after-hours and encountered no opposition from administrators. The paper looked virtually identical to the school newspaper, complete with the masthead declaring the paper a student forum. In the Independent Kodak, the words “student forum” are in boldface type.

The 8-page paper cost $270 to print, most of which was donated by Jim Patten, a retired reporter and journalism professor. Patten was head of the journalism department at the University of Arizona until 2002.

“It struck me as being another in a much too long line of situations where administrators, instead of being proud of journalism students, they come down all over them,” Patten said. “They should be saying ‘We don’t agree, but we’re proud they think for themselves.’”

Patten purchased a $250 ad featuring the text of the First Amendment to run in the first issue.

Eccleston and Lueneburg plan to keep the Independent Kodak coming out every month, even if it means reaching into their pockets, and their parents’, for funding.

The students sued the Everett school district in mid-December, saying the district violated their free speech rights when the high school’s new principal required them to submit the student newspaper for prior review before distribution.

The student’s lawyer, Mitch Cogdill, said Principal Catherine Matthews demanded prior review “immediately” after a story ran in the Kodak saying she was the third choice of students on the hiring committee.

District Spokeswoman, Gay Campbell has denied that claim and said, “There is no way that this has anything to do with some vindictive action against the students.”

These girls represent the best of what we as educators hope students will achieve: the ability to think critically, to know their rights and role in society, and to act on their convictions. As models of excellence it is a shame they are not being supported by their school administration.

I have confidence my own students would act in a manner much like these girls. They know their rights, and they have strongly held beliefs.

In their honor, consider making a donation to the Student Press Law Center's Tomorrow's Voices Campaign (every $2 gets a matching $1 through September from the Knight Foundation).

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Hollywood's liberal agenda

Just for a change of pace, I watched a segment of "Scarborough Country," a sort-of conservative shout show on MSNBC, tonight. It was about the Academy Awards and whether the Hollywood elite had a liberal agenda because of the five movies nominated for Best Picture.

The nominated films are "Brokeback Mountain," "Capote," "Crash," "Good Night, and Good Luck."and "Munich." I have seen each of the films, and I say enthusiastically that they represent the best of a fantastic year in film. Together, they demonstrate the kind of thought provoking that can come from cinema. Whether it is a story of forbidden love, of telling the story of murder, of terrorism, of racism, of freedom of speech, these films had something to say. They prompted dialog.

The panel on "Scarborough Country" tried to convince viewers that these films represent a tilt to the left and that Hollywood is outside of where mainstream America is. As testament, one panelist said that these films made almost no money at the box office (keep in mind some of them have been out a very short time). Commercial success is not always a measure of artistic success. I know that sounds strange. Entertainment does not always equal quality -- sometimes I like a movie because it is fun or escape, but it is not good. The same logic would say that McDonald's is the best food because the most people eat it. Many would agree that a lot of the food served there is of low quality. A burger ain't Kobe beef.

The panelists said no one would watch the Oscar telecast because of how small the films were and because they did not achieve mainstream or widespread success. I doubt that will hold true.

So, I say to some of those panelists: Blow it out your ear. The Academy recognized five fine films. Steven Spielberg reportedly said that the current crop of films in America today might just be a reaction to the Neo-Conservative thinking that has become pervasive. That illustrates how important the arts are -- they provide perspective and contrast to the dominant thought and voice.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.