C. A. Casey

Another worthless writers blog

Archive for November, 2007

CA to AZ

Posted by Casey on November 19, 2007

Well, I’m going from this–taken last weekend at Bodega Bay . . .

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to this . . .

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for a week, while I do the family thing over Thanksgiving in Tucson.

I really can’t get into a holiday that celebrates eating a defenseless bird, so I spend the day mourning the slaughter of all those poor turkeys. For the record, the last time I had turkey for Thanksgiving was 32 years ago.

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Stanford vs USA

Posted by Casey on November 19, 2007

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The USA Basketball Senior Women’s National Team ended their two-week eight-game college tour Thursday night at Stanford.

It was an amazingly beautiful day, sunny with no fog and mild down there in Palo Alto. It was so clear, we could see the fog drifting over San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. We had dinner at Hobee’s, a chain of restaurants south of SF. It has a nice mix of carnivore and herbivore food.

We got to Stanford about quarter to six and as the faculty and staff were escaping campus, we got a parking place right across from Maples Pavilion. People were already there waiting to get in and by the time they opened the doors at six, there was a nice crowd waiting. That was a good sign–people were there an hour before to see the warmups, etc. Showed real interest in women’s basketball.

A teenage girl in line in front of me had a UConn sweatshirt on. The woman sitting next to me had a Seattle Storm shirt on. Then the Monarchs fans showed up. Quite a few like us came on their own, but three bus loads arrived from Arco Arena and suddenly purple competed with Cardinal red as the dominant color.

The shoot around was very relaxed. The coaches and players stood around chatting. Something you never see in a WNBA game–a player chatting with the coach of the opposing team. Taurasi, who talks to everyone at any time, chatted with Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer.

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All of a sudden the players gathered at mid-court stripping off their warmups for a group picture. The teams also exchanged gifts before the game. I wonder what they were.

It took a little getting used to having Lisa Leslie and Diana Taurasi introduced without any boos. Or them making points without any boos. In fact, both teams got equal applause and cheers, showing appreciation for good plays, no matter who made them. That was the best part about the game. It was a friendly and everyone was relaxed and just having a good time.

The three bus loads of Monarchs fans were there to see Kara Lawson play. When she took the court for the first time, she got the loudest cheers of any player. When she made a basket the mob of purple clad yelled her name, beat thundersticks, and one woman rang her cow bell–just like at a Monarchs game. The Stanford fans looked a little bemused by these displays.

Monarchs Ticha Penichiera, DeMya Walker, and former Monarch and Olympic gold medalist Ruthie Bolton also hopped the buses at Arco, so it was a mini-Monarchs reunion of sorts.

The anarchic Stanford band and the infamous Stanford Tree entertained during timeouts. The halftime entertainment were Irish dancers, who did a good job.

The game itself was one of the best I’ve seen in person. USA played like a well oiled machine. It was fun seeing in person Bird and Taurasi on the same team together. They ran a couple of fun plays they’ve probably been doing since their UConn days and could do in their sleep.

Bird played a perfect game. She had a game-high 19 points, plus 3 assists, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals. K-Law didn’t disappoint her faithful following with 15 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, and 1 steal. I think she’s done a good job of pleading her case for a permanent spot on the National Team. The final score was 97-62, USA all the way.

Something else you usually don’t see in a game–USA player Jamie Carey was called over to the Stanford bench during free throws in the second half, where Tara had a few words with her. Just like the old days for both of them when Jamie Carey was the point guard for the Stanford team.

The USA team went its separate ways after the game. Bird and Taurasi are off to Russia to join LJ, Tina Thompson, Izi Castro Marques, Kelly Mazzante, and Kelly Miller on the Spartak Moscow Region team. Pokey Chatman is now an assistant coach on that team. Wow that’s some team.

I ‘m starting something new. I’ve created a secondary blog for photo galleries and other things that are related to the posts here.

So here’s photo gallery for the USA-Stanford game.

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While We’re Waiting for My Stanford vs USA Blog

Posted by Casey on November 18, 2007

I ended up at Bodega Bay today and this little lady was nice enough to pose.

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Watch Out World . . .

Posted by Casey on November 15, 2007

Kara Lawson called her “the real deal.”

Diana Taurasi said “she’s the man.”

Her name’s Maya Moore and she’s a freshman on the UConn women’s basketball team. I saw her play in a high school tournament on tv last year and she was not only so much better than everyone else, she played with a grace and maturity that most players don’t develop until they’ve gone pro.

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She’s the first UConn freshman to score in double figures in her first two college games since Swin Cash did it in 1998 and is the first freshman to score at least 20 points in those first two games. On top of that, she scored 17 points against Swin Cash and the US Women’s National Team a couple of weeks ago.

She got a double-double in the first game of the season against Stony Brook. In 20 minutes she scored 21 points, pulled down 10 rebounds, plus 4 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks.

UConn went against Holy Cross for their second game. Moore played only 19 minutes but scored a mind-boggling 31 points–shot 14 of 16 from the floor–grabbed 5 rebounds, plus 4 assists, 4 steals, and 3 blocks. When she saw the stats after the game, she shook her head and said, “Not enough rebounds.”

It’s going to be a fun year with her breathing down the necks of the CP3‘s (Candace Parker and Courtney Paris) , Sylvia Fowles, and Candice Wiggins for the college players to watch.

I get to see Wiggins and her Stanford team play tonight against the US women’s national team. It’s the last game in the two-week eight game college tour by the US team.

This is another one of those life list things–seeing the national team in person. Covering the Monarchs, I’ve seen all the individual players in person several times but it’s different with them all together wearing the USA uniform.

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Friend in Print

Posted by Casey on November 13, 2007

baryspanish1.jpg Bary in summer school

My buddy Bary, a fellow librarian who works at the National Gallery of Art in DC, attended the Summer Language Program at Middlebury College in Vermont. He had to habla Spanish all summer. Better yet, he wrote about his experience. It’s on page 4 of the Fall, 2007 issue of Sketches:

A Middlebury College Language School Summer, or, “No English Spoken Here” by Bary Johnson

Sounds way too much like work to me.

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New Strings and a Shine

Posted by Casey on November 13, 2007

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Watermelon Music in Davis, California does a cool thing once a year. They have a restring clinic for guitars, ukeleles, and mandolins with free strings donated by D’Addario. They polish your instrument and put on the new strings in exchange for a non-perishable food item for the Yolo County Food Bank.

I showed up early with my blue guitar and I’m glad I did because by the time my instrument was shiny with new strings, the line was out the door in a light rain no less.

I enjoy visiting Davis. It’s a small college town with beautiful tree lined streets and a really cool downtown. They also have a Food Coop where I can buy things I can’t get anywhere else. I grew up in a town like this and I always feel a bit nostalgic when I go there, especially on overcast cool fall days like Saturday.

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This Just In

Posted by Casey on November 10, 2007

BJ was also in Los Angeles last Saturday to watch the Los Angeles Amazons play the So Cal Scorpions. Those are women’s football teams. Well, it seems she wandered to a little known part of the Walk of Fame and found this star.

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Who knew they had stars for crazy photographers.

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It Ain’t Easy Being Green

Posted by Casey on November 10, 2007

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So why was I leaning against a pillar outside the Burbank Marriott on Saturday morning? Well, here’s a hint . . .

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Yes, a bunch of us jumped on a plane in Sacramento, flew into Burbank, briefly detoured to the Burbank Marriott to eat lunch and get ready for the shuttle to pick us up and take us to Pantages Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard to see Wicked.

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There was a tiny hitch on the way to the theater. The block in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre was blocked off. I glanced down the road and saw snow and Christmas trees and a red carpet. They were getting ready for the premiere of Fred Claus.

We finally got to the theater and had to deal with a couple of bus loads of tourists because it’s in the middle of the Walk of Fame. Plus it was just a typical crazy Saturday afternoon on Hollywood Boulevard. Insane, touristy, and compelling in its own way.

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The Pantages Theatre is art deco gone amuck. It was built in 1930 and reflects the gawdy Hollywood taste of the time. The interior is ornate gold, upon silver, upon copper in bizarre layer upon layer of pseudo ancient Egyptian, ancient Roman, ancient Mayan/Aztec design.

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As for Wicked — good lyrics and book, rather mediocre score. Sets and costumes, stunning. The performances were good, except the guy who played Fiyero. He’s basically a dancer and his singing and acting were very weak, especially in comparison with the rest of the cast.

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After the show we walked up Hollywood Boulevard to the Kodak Theatre. We first tried to find John Wayne’s star on Vine, but went in the wrong direction. I did find some of my favorites.

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And the star of the Unknown Celebrity

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Just kidding. There were a lot of empty stars. I wonder if some of the locations are more prime than others. Actually, Hollywood Boulevard is in the, let’s call it, funky part of town, so a star has as much chance of being in front of the Pantages Theatre, MacDonalds, a tattoo parlor or under a marquee proclaiming “Girls, Girls, Girls.”
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Most of the crowd was in front of the Kodak Theatre/Mall.

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As the sun went down the crowds got bigger and we had to cross the street to get any view of Grauman’s Theatre. The crowd was just as heavy on that side of the street and the sidewalk is split for people who just want to walk and people who want to stop and gawk.

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We got the shuttle to pick us up across the playing fields for Hollywood High, which is just a block away from the Kodak and Grauman’s Theatres. Lunch hour must be fun for those students.

Meanwhile, back at the hotel, a Farscape Convention is going on. What can I say? Life’s a carnival. I’m usually at a Xena Convention at that hotel and I was flashing back in the middle of the night when the hotel bar closed and singing and laughter wafted up from the courtyard as the party spilled outside. Just like at the XenaCon.

One added highlight of the trip. On the way south, we flew past Yosemite and I got a good view of Half Dome and El Capitan.

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Harry Potter and the End of His Saga

Posted by Casey on November 6, 2007

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With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows we come to the end of the story of “the Boy Who Lived.”

Rowling has said that her favorite books to write were 3, 6, and 7. Her least favorite is 5. As I’ve noted, 3 and 6 are the best written and 5 is the worse, so she has a good feel for her creative process. I think she liked 7 because it was the end of a long, exhausting creative journey. Readers have no idea how difficult a feat it is to write a series like this, much less write most of it with her publishers, a film company, merchandisers, and millions of readers breathing down her neck.

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I didn’t like Book 7. It had the same floundering without going anywhere quality as Book 5. When I was on page 551, I said out loud that I could stop reading and not care how the whole series came out. After six-and-a-half books, I still hadn’t mustered enough empathy with the characters to care.

The biggest question was whether Harry Potter was going to live or not. From a literary point of view his fate could have gone either way. Rowling makes an interesting compromise in answer to this question. In a sense, Potter does die (or gets as close to death as one can get and still be alive) and makes the decision to live because he hasn’t finished what he’s fated to do or die trying. As long as there’s life in him, he’ll battle Voldemort.

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Something wonderful was revealed in this book and it made the whole series worthwhile for me. It made me giddy with excitement. We discover that these books aren’t really about Harry Potter at all. He is not the hero of these books. He’s a victim of circumstance and not the only one. These books could have just as easily been Neville Longbottom and the Whatever but Harry got the unlucky spin of the wheel. I’m pleased that Neville follows Harry’s final instructions to him and is the one who performs the final act that gives Harry the only chance he has to defeat Voldemort.

The true hero of this series is Severus Snape. The whole story hinges on Snape doing his job. He doesn’t have to like Potter to play his part. In fact, he hates Potter, which makes his role in this series all the more fascinating. In the end, Potter considers Snape the bravest man he has ever met.

By the way, the whole Draco/Elder’s wand thing . . . For me, it’s a little too coincidental that Harry Potter ends up with Draco’s wand. It would have been a little more believable if someone (like Snape) who knew the significance of the wand had a hand in Potter gaining possession of it.

So that’s it. I can see how dissertations and endless papers will be devoted to this series, both for its rise as a popular culture phenomenon and as a deeply flawed literary work.

I like to think that Rowling will revisit this series in a decade or so and decide to take the time to work out the flaws and do a proper job of telling the story without the whole world nipping at her heels. Rowling’s favorite author is Jane Austen. Well, even Jane Austen wasn’t satisfied with her first version of Pride and Prejudice (called First Impressions) and rewrote it. The result was one of the greatest books ever written.

I’m rather glad I read this series, if for no other reason than to know what it’s about. But it also helped get my stalled creative juices going again. Watch out world.

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Personal Heroes

Posted by Casey on November 6, 2007

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Thomas Paine has been a personal hero of mind ever since I learned about him in American history class and read his amazing pamphlet, Common Sense. His global thinking makes him both ahead of his time and timeless.

Much of what he says about the world and about governments in Common Sense and his other works is still true. If he lived today, I can’t help but think he would have the same impassioned reaction to the environmental ruin of our planet that he had for life, liberty, and the pursuit of freedom, and would be one of the most persuasive voices to finally get the right people (locally and globally) to open their eyes and implement the changes in how we humans inhabit this planet that need to be implemented now.

In other words, I’d like to think he would have produced works (in the most appropriate medium) that would have the same impact on the world as Common Sense, Rights of Man, and Age of Reason. His written work influenced the ideas and wording of the Declaration of Independence. He spent four months in France helping Lafayette draw up The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen — one of the primary documents of freedom during the French Revolution. He even suggested the new American country be called the “United States of America.”

He was a revolutionary, radical, liberal intellectual. For some, all or several of those four words may have a negative connotation and may perhaps even be a little frightening. For me, those four words sum up all the positive aspects of the world and age I grew up in. Thomas Paine fit right in with my life and everything surrounding my life in the late 1960s, early 1970s, when I first learned about him.

He lived an interesting life where his ideas and writings made him famous and infamous, embraced by nations and influential people, and scorned by nations and influential people. In the case of France, he got a taste of all worlds, including just missing the guillotine because of a happy circumstance that probably wouldn’t have been believed if written in a work of fiction. Truth can be stranger than fiction.

I just want to note a couple of passages from Common Sense. Paine could be sitting in a Starbucks expressing these opinions (in slightly more modern speech pattern and terminology) and be commentating on what he had just read in the newspaper. Not much has really changed in the world between 1776 and 2007.

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From the INTRODUCTION:

Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour; a long habit of not thinking a thing WRONG, gives it a superficial appearance of being RIGHT, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.

From the section OF THE ORIGIN AND DESIGN OF GOVERNMENT IN GENERAL:

Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.

Thank you Mr. Paine for continuing to be the voice of reason.

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