Saturday, November 29, 2008

Well, Pardon Me!

[Clemency] When rapper John Fortè was caught with 31 pounds of an exotic-sounding substance called "liquid cocaine," his only recourse was to call on his hip-ass friends in the music industry--friends like our very own mover and shaker Sen. Orrin Hatch, who you might remember from his hit John McCain single "He Flies Like an Eagle" or "That Old Bastard Glides Just Like an Eagle Does" or some bullshit like that. Also, such musicians as Carole King got onboard the Fortè bandwagon. Or was it Carly Simon? [Vid note: wait for it ...]

To tell the truth, I'm so old I'd never heard of John Fortè. But, apparently, these days, he's getting credit for Nena's "99 Luftballons" or something (I don't understand how that works--I remember the song being popular when he was 8 years old), but never mind. He's obviously hip/happenin' and the upshot is that Fortè has been pardoned by none other than paraplegic-duck-in-chief George W. Bush.

So, congratulations, John Fortè. Nice to know you're so well-connected. (The Carly Simon thing really impresses me, but I'm still puzzled about how Orrin got involved.) Truthfully, I still prefer Nena's version, but get off my lawn. Maybe for your next project you can ruin Ebn Ozn's "AEIOU Sometimes Y." Here it is for reference:

(Brandon Burt)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Now shop, damn you! Shop like like wind!

[Economy] Shopping is good for the economy, and it is our patriotic duty to rescue the economy by taking advantage of this Black Friday (apparently Congress' multibillion-dollar bailouts haven't done the trick, since CEOs needed that money to buy private jets) to wipe out any remaining credit we may still have.

It is up to you, proud consumer! Your country depends on you! No matter how dangerous it gets out there, you must go out and save America!

On the other hand, everything will likely go to hell no matter what we do. So, we might as well just relax, do our shopping at the liquor store and enjoy the season.

(Brandon Burt)

Mom or Moneymaker. Pick One.

[Mommy Wars...Again] Here they come. More stories, opinion columns and general national angst over First-Lady-To-Be Michelle Obama's role. Devoted mother of two little girls or bright, Ivy League-educated lawyer?

Because of course in this big country, a country that is all about freedom and personal choice, and fewer and fewer limits on women, we still have to choose one job or the other. Not possible to do both, sorry. No way. Pick one. Squeeze yourself into one tight little role--especially when the whole world has you squirming on a slide under its mommy-judgment microscope.

Zzzz...Really, will we ever advance past the back and forth bullshit of the mommy wars? As much as there was to find reprehensible about Sarah Palin, I defended her right--any woman's right--to be a candidate and a mother. I'd defend her the same way tomorrow, too. Until we start judging all candidates/politicians--men and women--by the same standards, can't we just shut up about balancing child rearing and careers/intellectual pursuits? Start asking men about how they will manage their political jobs along with their parenting jobs and I'll gladly give it a rest.

Because BTW, you can do both jobs and actually do them quite well.

All of this applies to First Ladies, too. For more on mommy wars and politics, go here. It seems the mainstream media never tires of this topic.

(Holly Mullen)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Important Legal Precedent

[Law & Order] There are morals to this tragic story:
  1. If you're an attentive parent, you should recognize that it's one thing to monitor your child's wellbeing--but it's another to unwisely get caught up in the random details of adolescent social dramas. Any revenge your kid can dream up is cruel enough without the help of his/her jaded, cynical parents.
  2. The people you encounter online are real. You may never meet them face-to-face, but it is still wise to behave as though they are human beings.
  3. If you forget No. 2 above, you may end up with a very real $300,000 fine and prison time.
  4. The people who, in the 1980s, blamed teen suicide on the deep-pocket music industry are today blaming deep-pocket social-networking Internet sites. That is, it's still possible to cash in on tragic teen deaths.
(Brandon Burt)

Hey, where's the Christ in Christmas ...

[Typo alert] That's what you might be askin' if you saw the headline on the Nov. 27 In Utah This Week. The weekly is the wild child of Mormon church-owned Deseret News' and the Salt Lake Trib's MediaOne company.

OK, it's not like we never had a typo on our cover ... but this one's just too good not to tip our stocking cap at.

And is "wishlist" really one word? (Jerre Wroble)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Media Tycoon Singleton's Mormon Memorabilia

[Media] The D-News' "niche"-media-spawn outlet, the Mormon Times, defecated out a quaint little piece about how Dean Singleton, publisher of the Salt Lake Tribune (owner of many consolidated and cluster-fucked papers) and joint operator of the Media One company which cranks out the Trib and D-News, also happens to own a chunk of the Mormon pioneer trail.

The trail, which faithful LDS members still travel on to this day, recreating the trek of their pioneering forefathers who journeyed by handcart from Illinois to the Salt Lake Valley, happens to run across part of Singleton's 200,000 acre ranch in south central Wyoming.

The gushing article quoted Singleton:

"As long as I own it, the church is always welcome to use it as they see fit to re-create moments of their history."

Boy that's swell!

*In other news, Singleton has successfully acquired the Urim and Thummum, artifacts LDS church founder Joseph Smith was said to have used to translate the Book of Mormon. The move Singleton says is a cost cutting measure that will save reporters from having to interview church officials about future LDS revelations that may come. In conciliation to the Church, Singleton said "As long as I own these precious artifacts, the church is always welcome to use them as they see fit to create moments of their history."

The artifacts will now be housed in a Media One news sweatshop in Bangalore, India at Singleton's chief copy editor's desk. (Eric S. Peterson)

*For the gullible and Media One Attorneys, please note the latter half of this blog is satire

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Prop 8 Blowback and the Gay Voltron

[Proposition 8] Ah shit I can't believe I didn't see this coming! The LDS church gets the high five from their long time deep-fried southern baptist foes (and others) for helping defeat gay marriage in California, according to a trib story pointing out an online thank you petition signed by over 3000 Prop 8 supporters to LDS Prez' Monson.

All this time I figured the elders of the Zion command center were making a ginormous mistake extending so much uncharacteristic political squeeze into the politics of another state. I figured their getting up to their elbows into the politics of the Prop 8 debate with tens of millions in donations, phone banks and ward house warnings would blow up in their collective faces and ignite a gay revolution.

A revolution uniting disparate equality groups into a unified, well organized machine--with GLBT groups from across the country coming together like an enormous gay Voltron firing a wrathful rainbow upon the dark iniquities of social injustice with laser-like intensity.

Let there be light I say!

And what was there? Instead of unity we've seen the likes of Dan Savage asking to boycott Utah. We have Kroger brand anthrax sugar showing up at LDS temples and church building vandalism across the state and country.

But there is light too. The equality movement still has momentum of course and shouldn't be counted out yet. Especially with advocacy groups at home and elsewhere putting the pressure on for more sex orientation and identity equity on a number of fronts from housing to employment non-discrimination. The problem is that while this revolution is still coming together, the LDS position is not only as strong as before but is now starting to win over their long time evangelical foes. The Baptists, who would never invite the Mormons into their cool Christians club before, have now signed onto an online petition thanking the LDS church for its support on the issue.

It's beginning to look like this last election was a revolution. But with the Obama-phenomena magically blue-ifying states across the conservative south and west, perhaps a counter revolution by the religious right maybe in the works. What's that choking sensation I feel? Why it might just be the bible belt, slung over the Rockies and slowly being cinched up. (Eric S. Peterson)

Dead Zephyr: Week 263

(Bill Frost)

Monday, November 24, 2008

BYU/Utah: Better Late Than Never

[The Big Game] OK. So The Game is history. Utah 48; BYU 24. Just feels good to rub it in.

Anyway, I discovered this parody video by my stepson, Joey Wilson, just today. Since Utah has busted the BCS again, for the second time since 2004-05, it still works even two days late.

(Holly Mullen)

Minuscule: Hypnotic, Hilarious, Brilliant

[Media] Minuscule is an animated series produced for France 2 by Futurikon--and I have to admit, I've became so enchanted with it that, in the space of two nights, I ended up watching more than a dozen 5-minute episodes. (Later, I found out that it's supposed to be a children's cartoon--but this 40-year-old found it to be beautiful and entertaining. Minuscule is no more a "children's cartoon" than Looney Tunes or The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show.)

Minuscule is about the day-to-day travails of tiny creatures--snails, ladybugs, mosquitos and the like--doing their best to get ahead in a bucolic environment. Presented sans dialog, the series still manages to endow the various species with distinct personalities and characteristics. Dragonflies are bullying louts; ants are militaristic, disciplined and capable; flies are working stiffs, practical but easily annoyed; ladybugs are sassy and defiant; caterpillars are peaceful, idealistic and very hungry.

The characters are modeled in CG and then, for the most part, inserted into an environment of real-life footage of the pastoral French countryside. With its minimalistic yet expressive soundtrack, the result is hypnotic, beautiful and very funny. I'm hoping it'll be released on Region-1-format DVD in time for the holidays--I'd love to share it with my friends.

It's one of the best things I've seen since the Wallace & Gromit cartoons--and it puts to rest the common neocon complaint that the European democratic-socialist system of government somehow stifles creativity.

Here's "La Coccinelle" ("The Ladybug"):

(Brandon Burt)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Wash n' Wear iPod

[Indestructible Technology] So, my teenage stepson leaves his iPod Nano in his hoodie pocket and the damned thing goes through the washer & dryer (heavy wash/permanent press cycles). When it emerges there's a load of nasty looking condensation and the screen doesn't function. I'm thinking I'm going to be shelling out $150 for a new iPod. 

Lo and behold, a day later the Nano has dried out and the thing works perfectly! I've gotta give props to the crew at Apple for building a Nano to roll with the punches. Got a dirty iPod? Just throw it in with the laundry. (Ted Scheffler) 

Twilight High School Musical

[Video] Local actress/aspiring web phenom Deena Marie has done it again, this time with the Citizen Kane of not-at-all-gay teen vampire musicals. Please to enjoy ... Twilight High School Musical!

(Bill Frost)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Jason "Cot Guy" Chaffetz

[Media] No, Rep. Chaffetz didn't earn his new nickname by camping out with the Minutemen in southern Texas.

The whole story is here--and reading it made me a Thomas Burr fan. A nice bit of light-journalistic prose--not many news writers can manage such a deftness of tone.

(Brandon Burt)

Utes-Cougs: metaphor for Utah life

Seems everyone's gettin' in on Saturday's holy war.

First, we have Salt Lake Chamber's Lane Beattie and Provo/Orem Chamber's Steve Densley agreeing to fly the flag of the winning team for a full business day and in a prominent place if "their" team loses.

Then we have the Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and Provo City Mayor Lewis K. Billings agreeing to a"fitness challenge," whereby the mayor of the losing team will bike approximately 50 miles to the winning team’s mayor's city hall to deliver a donation for Utah Food Bank.

Even though BYU and Utah have waged this war since 1896, the stakes have never been higher than they are for Nov. 22's game, starting at 4 p.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The unbeaten eighth-ranked Utah team will learn if a BCS bowl is in their future and 16th-ranked BYU will learn if they have a chance to share the Mountain West title.

And someone will have to fly a flag they despise or pedal 50 miles.

What's your wager? (Jerre Wroble)

Muscle Hawk Show: "Amazing!"

Muscle Hawk is a steroid-infused electronic beast that strikes terror into the faint of heart. That said, their formal live debut at Urban Lounge on Nov. 20 went over like gangbusters. I hadn’t seen this many people for an opener—headliners Castor and Pollution released their debut. Check it out in a store near you—in recent memory.

And that is saying something for the fair-weather scenesters of the fair city of Salt Lake. Muscle Hawk, Josh Holyoak and Greg Bower, recently added scene-mainstay Lindsay Heath (aka Kid Madusa) as drummer to the project they’ve been collaborating on for the last few months. Their Urban Lounge performance bodes well for future gigs and the development of a solid fan base. Salt Lake City may not be ready for it though: they may be too good. It is very danceable music and everyone seemed too cool to get down. I have a good excuse—I’m not a good dancer. But there were some shakers not shaking, as Josh noted to me after the performance. That is too bad because it is very moving tune-smithing along the lines of Ratatat or Justice.

Muscle Hawk's men knew their way around a mass of electronic gadgets and brought up the energy levels, regardless, especially on the live version of “Cocaine,” which paid homage to its namesake by making at least a few folks jump. We were all a little hyped and looking for menthol cigarettes by the end of it due to live vocals in combination with Greg’s on-point synthesizer/computer execution. Josh’s bass playing (note his fuzzy strap next time, I hope he wears it again) was very funky and a great addition to Lindsay in the rhythm section. Check out the music and take note of “Fever.” Add them, too, while you’re there and check out their next show. And remember people, the gods gave you feet for a reason: to dance to Muscle Hawk (it’s in Psalms somewhere).

(Jon Paxton)

What Would Harvey Do?

Join KRCL RadioActive host Troy Williams tonight for a live interview with Dustin Lance Black, screenwriter for the forthcoming film, Milk, about the life and times of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in U.S. history. Black, a former member of the LDS Church, was inspired to come out after learning about Milk's fight for equal rights. Join Williams and Black for an open discussion on the current battle for gay and lesbian civil liberties, 5-6 p.m. at the downtown City Library (241 S. 400 East)
(Jamie Gadette)


[Restaurant biz] Congrats to Karen Olson, owner of Metropolitan restaurant. She's been named as Vice Chair to the Board of Directors of DiRoNA, the Distinguished Restaurants of North America -- an organization created to promote the fine dining industry. 

DiRoNA awards are bestowed upon fine dining restaurants following a rigorous anonymous inspection process which evaluates the restaurants' food, wine, service, physical property and decor. There are approximately 800 DiRoNA restaurants. Four Utah restaurants are current DiRoNA award winners: Grappa Italian Restaurant, Log Haven, Metropolitan, and Riverhorse on Main. (Ted Scheffler) 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Incest in a Turkey Baster

[More Utah Polygamy] After spending yesterday at the state Legislature's interim judiciary committee hearing, I'm still shaking the ol' noggin.

This being the Thanksgiving season, I can tell you the meeting was a regular cornucopia of surreal experiences only Utahns can truly believe.

The topper was testimony from Elend LeBaron, a businessman from Delta and son of polygamist Ross LeBaron, Jr. Ross is a member of the infamous LeBaron polygamist clan and brother to Ervil LeBaron, who ordered the assassination of Rulon Allred, a member of another Utah polygamist sect whom Ervil considered a rival, in 1977. Ervil was convicted in the murder conspiracy, and died in prison in 1981.

Still with me?

Elend testified yesterday that his father, who with his own sperm via artificial insemination, has impregnated two of Elend's sisters. Elend claims that five of his nieces and nephews are products of his father's sperm and sisters' eggs and thus, victims of incest. Elend knows this because about a year ago, acting on suspicions he and two other brothers have had for some time about incest in their family, he secretly collected DNA samples from the children by swabbing inside their cheeks. Genetic tests matched the two children with Ross and another brother, Elend says.

Utah law defines incest as the result of sexual intercourse. So, Elend claims, in order to protect other sisters (he comes from a family of 12 children), he is working through the law to reveal his father Ross' actions and to extend the definition of incest to include artificial insemination. The committee heard from Elend, Iron County assistant prosecutor Troy Little and University of Utah genetics expert Dr. John Opitz--who gave a fascinating--if truncated--lecture on the physical and mental maladies associated with first-degree matings (parent to child; sibling to sibling). The committee passed on to the full Legislature a bill that would allow prosecutors to use genetic tests to frame incest cases, and would increase the reporting period for incest from four to seven years.

And if you aren't entirely creeped out by now, Elend LeBaron detailed the reasons his father and sisters claim they are making an incestuous family in--where else--Southern Utah. Ross, Elend says, bought up several tracts of land in and around Iron County several years ago.

"The primary motive is to produce children," Elend told the committee. In his father's eyes, "my younger brother and younger sister are producing children together to advance God's kingdom," he said. Elend said he believes his father is "trying to replicate a virgin birth. Because this is the way Jesus came about (with no sexual intercourse), this is something [Ross] wants to accomplish."

After the hearing, Elend and I spoke for 30 or so minutes in a state Capitol hallway. He told me that last year, after getting the results of the paternity tests, he diagrammed for his sisters on a dry-erase board a classic heredity chart. He cited classic studies on genetic disorders caused by incest and hoped he could show them the risks to their children. "Their reaction was 'this might happen to other people, but it won't happen to us.' They believe God wants them to do this. The rest of the population might be hurt by incest, but they are sure God will protect them."

Uh, yeah. Right in our back yard, people. (Holly Mullen)

Post Props for SLC Eateries

[Dining] In a brief article entitled "Foodie Outposts Add Spice To Salt Lake City's Menu," the Washington Post gives props to a handful of local eateries: Red Iguana, Sage's Cafe, Tin Angel Cafe and One World Cafe. The author, Jennifer Margulis, says SLC has "offbeat and even New Age'y restaurants." Who knew?

(Ted Scheffler)

Tales of Public Transportation: Part II

[UTA] TRAX is one thing, and buses are another.

On the train, the driver remains anonymous, locked in a complicated-looking cockpit up front, emerging only to assist special-needs passengers. But the bus driver is out in the open and greets people jovially as they board. (I’ve noticed that the children’s song is incorrect, though: The driver on the bus hardly ever says, “Move on back!”)

Maybe the driver's accessibility is the reason people are so much chattier on buses than on trains. The bus driver becomes a reassuring mommy- or daddy-figure, bringing to mind happy memories of childhood road trips and relieving riders of their inhibitions. (If this is the case, UTA drivers should probably start saying things like, “Because I said so” and “Don’t make me pull this bus over!” whenever the ridership starts to act up.)

Conditions vary from route to route: Commuter lines are fairly quiet, if agonizingly slow. (The new “fast bus” routes remedy this, but you have to be ready to leave when UTA says you're ready to leave.) Long-distance express routes are silent as morgues. Intercity buses are where all the action is. And the most infamous among these have long been the State Street lines.

This afternoon, my partner Dave and I had to travel to 1700 South on a minor but urgent piece of business. I thought he was planning to drive, but as it turned out, he had already checked the bus schedules and found that the No. 200 bus travels up and down State Street every 15 minutes--even to such far-flung regions as Murray. It surely would get us where we needed to go!

The story is too long to post on Salt Blog--it's got a big wind-up and a hidden moral, and would probably take up half a page--but, it's the story in which a strange woman on a State Street bus asks Dave and me, in a loud voice, which one of us is the man in the relationship.

If you're interested, please proceed to the strange and beguiling tale of:

(Brandon Burt)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tales of Public Transportation

[UTA] I'm a big fan of TRAX; it gets me to and from work with very little muss or fuss. The daytime passengers tend to be suitably grimfaced and disinterested, so personal-space violations are less common than I expected at first. Occasionally I get a story out of it, too, with which to bore my co-workers, who have begun encouraging me instead to take it out on the Salt Blog.

The Greaser and the Wasp

One time a really interesting-looking 70-year-old guy got on at the 900 East platform. With his pompadour, leather jacket and harness boots, he looked like he'd been a greaser in the 1950s and had kept the faith ever since, never letting go even in the face of plastic, derivative revivals during the 1970s and '80s, surviving day by day until, now, he looked really cool again, and utterly authentic.

He sat down right in front of me, which I enjoyed because it meant I could admire his DA during the remainder of my trip. Suddenly, I noticed a wasp crawling on his jacket ... headed straight for the DA and the man's exposed neck! I didn't know what to do, so I said, "Pardon me, sir; there's a wasp on you." The man couldn't hear me because he was wearing earbuds (which many people find to be a good strategy for public transportation). I tapped him on the shoulder, tentatively so as not to anger the wasp, and repeated myself.

He looked at his watch and said, "It's 9:45."

"No, sir," I said, slowly and distinctly. "You. have. a. wasp. on. you!"

"Well, take it off me," he said, logically. I felt a bit foolish, reflecting that this did seem the most obvious course of action. Still, you don't want to be brushing wasps off strangers without permission, do you? It doesn't seem polite somehow, even though hardly anybody in their right mind wants a wasp on them.

(And how far can this rule of etiquette, if it is one, be carried? What if, instead of a wasp, it is a deadly brown recluse spider? Are you allowed to kill or otherwise disable it without asking first? I know from Indiana Jones-type movies that, any time you see a cobra preparing to strike some heedless victim, you can go right ahead and shoot it, no questions asked.)

But, now that I had alerted the man, and he said, "Well, take it off me," the wasp suddenly became my problem.

"Well, take it off me," he said, logically. I felt a bit foolish, reflecting that this did seem the most obvious course of action.

I tried flapping my hand at it, the way you do with bugs that are actually afraid of humans, like flies and mosquitos. This never works with wasps. It only alerts the wasp to the fact that you are challenging it, upon which it turns to face you, warily sizing you up, eyes narrowed, one eyebrow cocked.

A wasp doesn't consider you much of a challenge until you demonstrate that you're brave enough to touch it--which of course, most of us are loath to do. However, to avoid angering the wasp, you must also not seem like an attacker. Wasps can sense your thoughts and intentions, so you have to be sort of casual and offhand about it : "La la la--whoops! Oh, I see that, while flapping my hands about for an unrelated reason, I have just touched a wasp, even though I meant no harm by it. How do you like that?"

So, it's something of a delicate matter. In a wasp-on-a-guy's-jacket situation, you really have to sort of wrangle it off. You steel your nerves, brush that wasp off the guy's jacket and suddenly there's an intense, adrenaline-shot moment when you hear the wasp buzzing angrily and feel its wings beating against the tips of your ring- and middle fingers and wonder if you've miscalculated and will accidentally capture the wasp instead of dislodging it--or, gods forbid, crush it between your fingers--and if the next sensation you feel will be its sharp, venomous sting.

But the wasp flew away sulkily and the man with the DA seemed utterly oblivious to the whole thing. I'm not sure what I expected him to say--"Well, what a helpful stranger you are, brushing that wasp off me like that! And brave, too! There certainly aren't many people in the world as helpful and brave as you are! So, tell me: Do you like my DA?"--no, not that, but some offer of acknowledgment, surely.

But I wasn't disappointed, really. In a strange way, the omission was touching--his trust in me was so implicit that, as far as he was concerned, his involvement in the entire transaction ended once he said, "Well, take it off me."

(Brandon Burt)

It's No on Judge Hilder

[Checks and Balances...Not] The state Senate just voted against confirming 3rd District Judge Robert Hilder for the Utah Court of Appeals. It went as most legal types expected. A man with a long record as a fair and professional district court judge went down in flames.

The vote was 16-12, including the anticipated rant from Sen. Chris Buttars, (R-West Jordan) questioning Hilder's temperament. Questions had also surfaced during earlier hearings about the judge's moral character because he has been married, divorced and married again.

Another stinking sign of your Legislature at work. (Holly Mullen)

Fat Flake Festival Review & Red Light Updates

On Saturday, Nov. 15, I made my way over to Gallivan Plaza for the Fat Flake Festival. I was actually hopeful for this year's event since last year's show fell pretty flat. Then again, 2007 featured DJs and a cover band, so the 2008 upgrade of three live acts and the occasional DJ spots proved to be a fantastic refresher.

I came in just in time to see Junior Giant open up the stage to a hearty greeting, which is something to say in 45 degree weather.

I'll admit, I don't know Junior Giant all that well, but they definitely brought an energy to the crowd, skipping from bouncy rock song to spotlight ballad without skipping a beat. A combination of two older and two younger men (two being father and son), they had the audience shouting for seconds. They played about 30 minutes, then got interrupted by two guys for some cheap shilling, played another 45 before being ushered off by the same two men before they could formally wrap their set.

In fact, that sort of premature exit continued throughout the evening. Bummer. It's as if you walked into a really great party, and then every so often someone taps you on the shoulder to remind you that you're at their really great party, and remember not to use the upstairs bathroom.

Next up was one of my favorite acts: Salt Lake City's Cavedoll, performing live for the first time with their new guitarist Josh Emery. The electro-rockers' two 45 minute sessions played out like a greatest hits album as they cranked out songs like "Decoder" and "45 Minute Dance Party" with a new sound, one that gives singer/guitarist Camden Chamberlain room to experiment while Emery holds down extra guitar duties.

Emery sounded like he'd been a part of the band for years with songs like "On And On" and "Broken Eardrums", all keeping up with Ryan's hard hitting perfection on the kit. Not to be outdone the ladies commanded the stage just as well. The keyboardist threw her own party while attacking the keys and the bassist rocked strong in her own right. Vanessa Chamberlain took control of the stage, using it as her own playground during "Mexico" and "Tokyo". The band also broke into a great cover of Outkast's hit, "Hey Ya," and closed out the evening on the ever catchy "Tastes Like A Hurricane."

Hands down, one of the best performances I've seen all year.

I stuck around to chat it up and listen to beats courtesy of DJ Uprok and Friday Night Fallout's Roots Rawka, but bailed before The Bastard Sons Of Johnny Cash got started. I had somewhere else to be.

Just a block down the street, down and alley and around the corner with a trip down a wooden staircase... Red Light's new digs! Situated below Fice and Este on 200 South, the bookstore's new location is truly an underground paradise: old brick and minimal lighting, myriad books, clothing and music from the old store, not to mention a vinyl collection I would give my first born for.

This is the kind of look and location that some stores strive to recreate in trendy strips and shopping malls, and here's the genuine article in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City with a business that you know doesn't give a damn what you think. Makes me wonder what they've got planned next. Saturday served as a soft opening with a local bands including Wyld Wyzrdz and The Tenants Of Balthazar's Castle, with an official Grand Re-Opening on the way.
(Gavin Sheehan)

Heard About This Digital TV-Switchover Thing?

[Media] Tired of being beaten over the head about the digital-TV conversion coming in February 2009? Too bad ...

(Bill Frost)

Polygs & Order

[TV] Tonight, on Law & Order [doink-doink!] ...

"Detectives Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Kevin Bernard (Anthony Anderson) investigate a 17-year-old boy's murder, uncovering much bigger secrets: A teenage boy Luke Friendly (Guest Star Tolan Aman), banished from a polygamist sect finds himself alone in New York City when his older brother, Caleb Friendly (Guest Star Colton Parsons) disappears and is then found brutally murdered. The case leads Lieutenant Anita Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson) and Detectives Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Bernard (Anthony Anderson) to the church’s controversial leader, Landon Wyatt (Guest Star Colm Meaney), who is in pursuit of his teenage runaway wife, Michelle Landon (Guest Star Jenna Malone). While Detectives investigate further, they discover a romantic relationship between Michelle Landon and the victim. Executive Assistant D.A. Michael Cutter (Linus Roache) and Assistant D.A. Connie Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) must fight to defend Michelle’s wishes to remain free from her husband and also bring to justice Caleb’s murderer." (NBC)

At least it's not set in Utah, right? Never mind that "child bride" Jenna Malone (pictured above, pink sweater) has also appeared on ... HBO's Big Love ... (Bill Frost)

Film Review: Twilight

[Teen Vamps] Compared to a lot of other much-loved books, Stephenie Meyer's Twilight seemed like a perfect candidate for cinematic interpretation. After all, there's little about the story that couldn't be improved upon by removing Meyer’s writing.

Simmer down, Edward-ians. I recognize the appeal of the basic premise Meyer created for her literary phenomenon; I give her props for creating both a love story and a complex mythology with uniquely fascinating elements. But actually hiking through the author's mountains of exposition and her clumsy prose? Yikes.

So there’s much to be said for giving that story a platform where the visual side can take over. And that story remains the same: Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), a solitary 16-year-old, moves from Arizona to live with her single father (Billy Burke) in the drizzly small town of Forks, Wash. There she meets Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), a mysteriously dreamy high-school classmate whose initial expressions of disdain towards her mask deeper feelings. See, he’s got a secret to hide, and a side of himself that he fears …

Aw, c’mon, let’s not pretend it’s a “spoiler.” Edward and his “family” are a clan of vampires with a personal moral code that precludes feeding on humans, and the heart of the story is the tension in the romance between Bella and Edward. Will she abandon her humanity to be with him eternally? Can they ever consummate their love? As plot devices go for keeping romantic heroes separated, this one’s a humdinger, and director Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen) and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (TV’s Dexter) do a terrific job of translating it to the screen. The scenes between Stewart and Pattinson really sizzle, including a drawn-out prelude to a first kiss that should have audiences shrieking with glee. When the focus is squarely on this forbidden love, Twilight proves surprisingly potent.

Unfortunately, there’s also the part of the story that’s a supernatural thriller. Here, Hardwicke either had a seriously goofy vision for how vampire behavior would actually look, or her special effects team needed to be fired mid-production. The combination of funky super-speed effects and stylized slow-motion do little to convey the graceful movements of natural predators, and the leaping wire-work doesn’t rise to the level of a community theater production of Peter Pan. The producers clearly hired Hardwicke for the human part of the Twilight story, and that’s pretty much all she delivers.

Also, maybe that’s enough. Her casting proves uniformly superb, from the two leads, to Burke as Bella’s laconic police-officer dad, to Anna Kendrick as Bella’s giggly best friend. Hardwicke and Rosenberg grasp both the mundane and operatic elements of Bella’s teenage life, and they convey Meyer’s singular way of exploring temptation and moral choices. Twilight the movie knows what to keep from the books—and what it has the good fortune to be able to discard. (Scott Renshaw)

France Wins!

[Vin] France is the clear winner of Wine Spectator's 2008 Top 100 Wines, if I did my math correctly. The Top 100, released this month, lists 31 French wines, 22 from the USA, and for what I believe is a first, an Israeli wine: Golan Heights Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee Yarden 2004. 

5 of the top 10 wines were from France, with Chateauneuf-du-Pape placing twice in the top 10: Vieux Telegraphe and Beaucastel. Predictably, there was plenty of high-end Bordeaux and Burgundy in the Top 100, but you might want to look to the Loire for value. Loire wines rated from 90 to 100 points averaged $32 per bottle versus Burgundy at $116 and Bordeaux averaging $95. 

New World wine has been and is on the rise. But don't count France out just yet! (Ted Scheffler)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Current Lexicographical Lag: Greater Than 7 Years

[Language] At any given time, there are a certain number of words and phrases which, although in common circulation, are understood to be sub- or non-standard English--they are faddish, derived from jargon, or slangy. Such a word may possess a certain immediate panache--but it is as the eager, 18-year-old bastard child of some careless, 19th century aristocrat: It arrives on the scene, causes a splash in society and, just as quickly, becomes discredited and falls into disgrace.

Such bastards come and go--but, occasionally, in the best tradition of Victorian literature, one manages with uncommon wit, pluck and fortitude to break through a hopeless gauntlet of rigid class barriers, gloriously winning acceptance and fame. Like a Dickensian orphan inducted by marriage or good works to the ranks of a respectable family, the happiest day in the life of a neologism must be that on which it achieves legitimacy and is officially adopted by a general English dictionary.

This week, The Collins English Dictionary rescued one such waif from ignominy by embracing that gauche bastard to its bosom: the word meh, now slated to appear in the dictionary's upcoming 30th anniversary edition.

As an interjection signaling utter indifference, apathy or--at most--a level of disdain so slight as to be unmeasurable, meh was born in the 1990s on Internet discussion boards. (My guess is that the source was Usenet, from which all such blessings flow.) Sources trace its extranet recognition to an episode of The Simpsons, although a very early attribution to 1992's "Homer's Triple Bypass" seems to be discredited by this version of the script:
Bart: Nothing you say can upset us. We're the MTV generation.
We feel neither highs or lows.
Homer: Really? What's it like?
Lisa: Ehh. [shrugs]
(Note that Lisa's interjection is not meh, but its earlier equivalent ehh--which, oddly, doesn't even seem to be included in Collins ... at least in the free version.)

Frankly, I'm not at all sure meh is ready for the Big Time. As one of the stalwart defenders of the American English language, I let it get by as a faddish slang term as long as it's used with a requisite amount of humor or sarcasm. But, to me, it occupies a perilous status: It is not so much tired as not so much--whose time came and went more than a year ago--but it has little chance of achieving the perennial status of awesome or cool--which, themselves, are both in need of hibernation at the moment.

Meh is teetering on the edge. In six months, who knows? The bastard could be relegated again to the depths of infamy. I'll wait until it gets adopted by the OED, or at least Merriam-Webster's Collegiate.

And the consequences of having immortalized such a lowbrow creature in print? I certainly hope the folks at Harper-Collins know what they're doing.

(Brandon Burt)

OK, Kids. Settle Down Before Somebody Loses an Eye

[Activism] Things are starting to get ugly out there. Somebody sent an envelope of white powder to the LDS Salt Lake Temple. Somebody else torched lawn signs critical of the LDS Church's support of Proposition 8. People are shooting out windows, engaging in acts of vandalism, calling names, issuing threats. And, in the midst of it all, Bill Marriott is standing there, pleading, "Please, don't boycott my hotels!"

None of these things is helping.

Now, protesting is great. Free speech is what it's all about. But these kinds of acts are not acceptable.

(And, come on, Mormons. You can stop playing the victim. We've heard enough about how loving and compassionate your behavior was while you were busy ensuring that families you don't like can't get marriage licenses. We know you did that out of love--which is exactly why the gays are marching on your temples. It's because they love you. They only hate the sin of intolerance.)

You're not being victimized by anybody who criticizes you. Nobody's limiting your free speech by disagreeing with what you have to say. In fact, you are suddenly in the enviable position of having the upper hand. How cool is that?

Relax. We're pissed off at you. The white powder that got sent to your temples was harmless. You won the Proposition 8 battle. What do you have to complain about?

The courts will likely overturn California's unconstitutional amendment, but once they do, think of the possibilities! You'll be able to accuse them of "judicial activism," pretend that you're under attack from "militant homosexual activists," and, oh! all kinds of other things.

Utah is a powder keg and Proposition 8 is a lit fuse. Stop it now before somebody gets hurt.

(Brandon Burt)

Not-So-Traditional T-Day

[Thanksgiving Dinner] There's an endless array of Thanksgiving Dinner options at area restaurants, but here's one that's a bit more inventive than most. At Ogden's new Zucca Trattoria, Chef/Owner Elio Scanu is doing an a la carte dinner menu which includes appetizers like homemade country-style pate de Campagne with Port gelee & onion compote or house-smoked Atlantic salmon tartar with roasted beets and watercress.

Entrees include roasted turkey of course ... with black truffle butter and Chardonnay gravy. Other entree choices include monkfish osso buco with wild mushrooms and Bordelaise sauce; slow-braised pork belly with rapini gnocchi; and baby lamb shanks cooked "four ways:" braised, confit, roasted, and grilled in a Pinot Noir reduction.

For dessert there's single state Venezuelan "Caoba" chocolate mousse; pear tart with Poir Henry pastry cream; and pumpkin cheesecake with molasses-bourbon sauce.

Zucca Trattoria, 1479 East 5600 South, S. Ogden, (801) 475-7077

(Ted Scheffler)

Snider on the Great 8 Debate

Yes, we've all been quite serious about the brouhaha between gay rights activists and Mormons in the wake of Proposition 8 passing in California. But every once in a while, one needs a bracing dose of politically-incorrect satire as a reminder that no one has a monopoly on sanctimony.

Our own regular cinema contributor Eric D. Snider -- an active LDS church member, for what it's worth -- has weighed in on the hyperbole, hypocrisy and other assorted absurdities of the current kerfuffle in his current self-Web-published "Snide Remarks" column. It's one of the more bracing, honest -- and funny -- looks at the subject we've seen. (Scott Renshaw)

Allie Gets Served

[Media] Attention angry housewives: Word has it that former Fox 13 and KUTV 2 features reporter Allie MacKay will be returning to Fox 13's Good Day Utah via her current TV station, Los Angeles' KTLA (it's a corporate-synergy thing). Look for her on Friday, if her camera crew isn't busy covering fires or other far-less-important news.

Meanwhile, Allie has finally arrived nationally--or at least on E!: She was served by The Soup's dreamy Joel McHale for referring to his show as Talk Soup (an big no-no Joel World). Here's the faux pax goodness:

(Bill Frost)


[Concert Review] On Saturday, Nov. 15, the New Kids on the Block played a two-hour show at the E Center in West Valley City to a mixed audience of 30-plus-year-old moms and their pre-teen and teen daughters.

Although some of the singing was off-key, the first of the boy-band generation didn’t disappoint their audience. The live show featured a series of hits from the new-New Kids album, The Block and, of course, all of their classic hits from the early '90s.

Mid-show the men of NKOTB disappeared, only to pop up in the middle of the floor seats doing a small in-the-round performance on a stage just slightly bigger then the piano it held as a series of screaming middle-aged women rushed the tiny, turning stage.

Although the fab five from Boston certainly don't appear to be Kids anymore, they can still dance, and Jordan Knight even performed "Baby I Believe in You" with a wide-open, white button-down shirt as many of their fans from the ‘90s, now in their 30s and 40s, screamed and cried with delight.

After a 15-year hiatus from touring, the New Kids on the Block are continuing their reunion tour into January 2009 and still feature their original members, Jordan Knight, Donnie Wahlberg, Joey McIntyre, Jonathan Knight and Danny wood. (J.T. Mackenzie)

Friday, November 14, 2008

It Finally Hit Slog

[Prop 8 Fallout] I'm a faithful reader of Slog, the Seattle Stranger's news & arts blog. So I've been anticipating this Slog entry about City Weekly's discontinuation of Savage Love.

If you're not familiar with the matter, here's a brief rundown. (If you already know what's going on, might as well skip the green section.)

This executive decision was made in response to Dan Savage's call for a general boycott of Utah which, itself, was an (understandably) angry and disappointed reaction to California's deplorable approval of Proposition 8, funded mainly by the LDS Church and its members. (Whew! Diagram available upon request.)

As punishment for this action, City Weekly subsequently received a sound scolding from The Village Voice's Roy Edroso--who apparently assumed that, as Utahns, we must obviously be so backward, conservative and homophobic that we had to "defenestrate" Savage for holding such strident pro-gay views.*

(Such a butch, active verb: to defenestrate. It seems to imply that Saltas, like all us red-state yahoos, is prone to violence.)

In fact, pro-gay views are not unknown among City Weekly staff (from what I can tell, such views may be pretty much universal, if I can gauge by my co-workers' considerate treatment of me), and it became evident that blue-staters such as Savage and Edroso may sometimes fail to recognize just how scrappy we red-state lefties and liberals really are.

Later, everybody pretended to misunderstand Saltas' MLK reference. (It was meant to imply that, traditionally, civil-rights leaders never abandon battleground states.)

I'm starting to recognize this whole thing as an example of how the left continues to devour itself.

Let me offer that we're all well and duly pissed off by the California vote. I know that, for me, the passage of Proposition 8 has made it difficult to fully celebrate the Obama victory--which, along with 2008's huge Democratic wins in Congress and the implosion of the Gingrich revolution, represents the greatest, most decisive political victory the Left has had in my lifetime. I'm sad that so much of my mental energy must be expended on resenting the Mormons and the California voters who were so easily swayed by lies.

I want to focus on the good. Because, disregarding for a moment Proposition 8--which will most likely be overturned by the courts anyway--this election was so fucking good I can hardly stand it.

Dave and I will get married someday--and it will be fully legal, and no out-of-state idiots will have any say about it. Until then, I'm going to remember that this election was good news, and it can only bode well for gays and lesbians--as well as for:
  • blacks
  • women
  • the troops
  • Latinos
  • workers
  • average taxpayers
  • responsible media
  • privacy rights
  • young people
  • intellectuals
  • the middle class
  • the environment
  • community organizers
  • public schools
... and everybody else who has been mocked and villified for the past eight years for not toeing the rich, heterosexual, elitist, neocon, evangelical Christian line. That is, this election will be good for the country in general.

And we'll get California back.

Here's the response I left on Slog.

(Brandon Burt)

* Meanwhile, I was quietly dying inside. Dave and I chose to wait until Proposition 8 was soundly defeated before getting married, reasoning that our relationship's legal status is too important to be subject to the vagaries of unreliable California voters. I'm glad now that our family has not been reduced to a political chit--but I'm sad, and I wonder, in the words of Laura Nyro via Marilyn McCoo, if I'm ever gonna see my wedding day:

(Will there ever be a band as simply sweet as the Fifth Dimension?)

Saturday's Marching Orders

[Rally] Another peaceful demonstration takes place this Saturday, Nov. 15, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the City & County Building, 451 S. State. Dubbed "Join the Impact Salt Lake City," the rally will feature keynote speaker former Marine and Iraq war veteran Jeff Key who was discharged from the military after coming out on CNN. Eric Ethington will also read his recently published letter "Dear Utah." Following the program, participants will march around Library Square and the City & County Building. More info on Facebook here.

A candlelight vigil will take place later on Saturday from 6-8 p.m. at the state Capitol where 10,000 candles will spell out "Equality" on the Capitol lawn. More info on the vigil can be found on Facebook here.

Utahns of all sexual orientations, gender identities and religious affiliations who oppose Proposition 8 are invited.

And should you need a reprieve from all the marching and candle-lighting, you can sit yourself down for CNN's Anderson Cooper who will speak on world events and the journalist's role in a presidential election Saturday, Nov. 15, 7 p.m., at Rowland Hall-St. Marks, 720 Guardsman way. The event's open to the public at no charge as part of the McCarthey Family Lecture Series.
(Jerre Wroble)

Kronos' Spacey Treat

[Concert review] San Francisco's Grammy-winning Kronos Quartet--David Harrington, John Sherba (violins), Hank Dutt (viola) and Jeffrey Zeigler (cello)--made a stop at Kingsbury Hall Nov. 13, teaming up with the University of Utah Singers to present Sun Rings, a 10-movement, 85-minute multimedia work written by Terry Riley. The production included the pre-recorded chirping, whistling and buzzing sounds of outer space recorded by NASA from its Voyager expeditions.

Fantastic grainy images illuminated the backdrop behind the quartet with photos and illustrations of mechanical drawings, equations on a blackboard, a spinning spaceship, black heavens dusted with diamondlike stars, closeups of Jupiter's red and orange swirls, and an assorted grab bag of colorful heavenly phenomena.

The idea was that we were on a journey with Kronos traveling through space, exploring "exotic atmospheres."

There was a lot to take in visually and auditorily. I found myself straining to hear the pure space sounds which until this performance, I didn't know existed. Yet the live music and other pre-recorded sounds competed, making them indistinct. It was sort of like someone was playing a high-tech video game while Kronos Quartet performed a beautiful composition.

The role of the choir seemed similarly understated. The U of U Singers did a great job but the chorus parts seem restrained (which was further underscored by the Singers' positioning in the orchestra pit; we just saw their heads appearing at the bottom of the stage).

In a way, there was so much going on that no one element jumped out. Perhaps that was an intended effect. From the heavens, we humans appear insignificant in spite of all our sound and fury. There are no superstars, no paupers, just a cacophony of voices filling the skies (as in "Prayer Central") beseeching our creator for mercy and blessings.

The work ended with “One Earth, One People, One Love," a haunting piece in which Alice Walker’s voice forms the refrain. We saw a spinning Earth from outer space, its human beings, animals, insects, even a spinning top which inevitably loses its momentum and wobbles off its course. We came back to ourselves to see our place in the grand scheme of things and draw our own conclusions.

I found Sun Rings beautiful, meditative and melancholy: Not only do we live on a lonely planet but in a lonely universe, so here is some sweet music to accompany the journey. My companion said it was so relaxing for him, he nodded off a couple of times. Another couple I know ate magic brownies before arriving and simply proclaimed the performance "amazing." I guess it's just what we bring to it. Sort of symphonic Rorschach. (Jerre Wroble)

Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Live Review! Trans-Tastic!

With that pesky election out of the way and Thanksgiving looming, the only next logical step seemed to be attending a rock opera based around Christmas November 13 at the E-Center.

Who or what is Trans-Siberian Orchestra? A simple Internet search fills in the blanks quite nicely.

Picture this: three men surrounding a piano, standing atop keys from another piano. Black suits and long flowing hair seem to be billowing in a breeze against a backdrop of blue sky and lightning!

So, obviously, I recognized straight away I was in for a treat. Call me trans-curious.

Now, I've been to shows at the E-Center many times, but when I saw the amount of traffic cluttering up the whole area, it put a serious damper on my pre-holiday cheer. I did not know that this production had droves--DROVES--of fans.

I arrived at the show early to have dinner, a prospect that grew dimmer each time I walked into a restaurant to be greeted by hordes of hungry patrons. I swore off Chili’s for life, and like most things I swear off for life, that only lasted two weeks as I found myself inside of a Chili’s asking which beverage they had that contained the most amount of booze.

For those of you who wonder why I drink, it's because I'm constantly trying not to go mad when put into situations where I am crammed together with strangers.

After dinner, I headed to the show which started with a narrator telling his tale, his voice resonating with a deep, booming, cautionary tone. Not sure how much booze my waiter put in my margaritam, but it must have been ample because I couldn't tell whether the narrator was talking about Jesus, Santa, or just some guy in general.

Who cares? Once the fog machines and fake snow came rolling out along with copious amounts of blinding lights, no story could compete with such awesome stage effects.

Then a troupe of guys and girls passionate about music and Christmas alike rocked out a bunch of carols to the fullest extent possible of American holiday law. It was Christmas on steroids, in a wife-beater.

How intense was the show? If you wanted to make it with Christmas, if you want to pound your holiday cheer while people stand by yelling “Chug it! Chug it!” this was the place to do it.

Each Christmas song, whether it be “Deck the Halls” or “Angels We Have Heard on High” featured a shredding guitar solo and a shot of foreboding undertone.

Apparently, the prerequisite for being in Trans-Siberian Orchestra is long flowing hair, the ability to flip that hair while playing, a stance of legs wide open whilst playing, and the black suit with white sleeves popping out of it. That and a violin shaped like a Flying V. Oh, and a willingness to jump across the stage only to jump on top of a box with pure unadulterated zest and rock the fuck out.

Just when I though that it couldn’t get to be more extreme than that, I saw some face to face guitar playing, a violinist pointing at the crowd with her bow and yes, back to back rocking out. This was very reminiscent of any time that I was in my room alone, had a good song on and decided to air guitar it out while nobody was watching. Except here, this was in front of God and everyone.

Some crescendos inspired the crowd to clap and bob like a Christian revival group. Most of the kids, though, looked totally confused (don’t worry I was too) and I think if I were a parent I'd probably call the babysitter before rocking out with Trans-Siberian. I don’t think any child should be subjected to such an intense Christmas layout. They may think they were on Santa’s shit list that year. My favorite part was when the lead singer of the rock opera came out dressed as a homeless man and the whole crowd erupted into laughter. I had no idea the homeless were so hilarious! I will remember next time to point and laugh next time they are digging through my dumpster.

All right, I don’t want to be the jerk of Christmas here, I have no problems admitting that the Orchestra is talented, and that the light show was pretty damned intricate and perhaps I can see why the masses would come out and enjoy this, but I think I enjoy the calmer type of Christmas shows past, for sometimes there is a sweetness in all of us that only a honey sounding holiday hymn can bring out.

(Dominique LaJeunesse)

Handy iPhone Apps

[Better Living] No need to pack that bulky baby around when you've got the Baby Monitor iPhone application. Once your little bundle of joy wakes up and makes noise, it'll alert you, via cell phone, anywhere in the world.

Not that you can do much for the baby if you're having cocktails clear across town, but still. All your friends will think you're such a responsible parent when your 4-month-old starts texting you.

(Brandon Burt)

Friday Letters Round-Up (Extra-Gay Edition)

(Brandon Burt)

Utah's Big Pro-Prop 8 Donors

[Prop 8 Fallout] Several e-mails and photocopies are floating through Salt Lake City calling out companies, trusts and business owners who contributed heavily to the anti-same-sex marriage California measure, and urging people not to patronize their businesses. After doing some research, I found the following contributors to the Prop 8 campaign. The information is public and you can find all donors, pro and con, here. The biggest Utah spenders in support of Prop 8, according to California campaign finance records include:

Katharine Garff, Bountiful, member of the State Board of Regents and wife of Robert Garff, CEO of Garff Motors: $100,000.

Henry Marsh
, Bountiful, 4-time Olympic athlete, world-record holder in the 3,000 meter steeplechase, attorney, motivational speaker and co-founder of multi-level marketing company MonaVie, a berry juice purported to have nutritional and anti-oxidant properties: $49,000.

Kenneth Newby, St. George, owner of Newby Buick: $10,000.

Stephen Wade, St. George, owner of Stephen Wade Automotive Group: $10,000.

David Moon, Provo, general partner of Esnet, LTD, an information technology investment firm: $200,000.

Brent Bishop, Farmington, board chairman of ContentWatch, an Internet filtering software company: $30,000.

Francis Magleby, Provo, BYU art professor emeritus and painter of LDS temple murals throughout the world: $25,000.

Brent Andrus, Park City, operator of Huntington Hotels: $25,000.

Jay Clark, Centerville, co-owner of A & Z Produce wholesalers: $25,000.

Scott and Randy Wilkinson, St. George, co-owners of Wilkinson Electric: $30,000 ($10,000 each from Scott and Randy; $10,000 from Wilkinson Electric.)

Meanwhile Equality Utah, the advocacy group for the state's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, issued a press release today calling for calm in the growing number of protests against the LDS Church's involvement in passing Proposition 8.

"We must engage in civil and peaceful expressions and conduct. There is no room for violence, vandalism or intimidation -- Equality Utah objects to these acts.

... Equality Utah remains confident that the LDS Church will be true to its past public statements that it is not anti-gay. We believe the Church will show its genuine compassion for the needs of Utah’s gay and transgender people and their families who rightly ask for basic legal protections," the statement reads.

EU executive director Mike Thompson adds: "During such an emotional time, where wounds run deep, we must remind ourselves of the greater good. We must make efforts to forgive where forgiveness is needed and fix what needs to be fixed. We must find ways to work together – families in our community are depending on us. As the LDS Church stated, we can build a better society. Equality Utah is committed to doing just that.”

Another round of anti-Proposition 8 protests are scheduled around the country for this weekend, including here in Salt Lake City. In southern California, gay rights advocates have targeted several businesses for boycott, including a restaurant and car dealership.

(Holly Mullen)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Name Game

[Corporate PR] Watch out. She's gonna blow!!!!

Yeah, well. It all began when EnergySolution's name went up on Larry Miller's event venue across from Gateway. Forget the Mormon church’s support of Prop. 8. If anything humiliates me about living in Utah, it's being forced to utter the name of a nuclear-waste company in conjunction with a Jazz game or concert taking place there. Let’s just say, I’m not a good sport nor am I in tune with it. In fact, I don’t think I’ve darkened the building’s glowing doorstep since the name change.

But then international mining, resource-extracting Rio Tinto decided slap its name on the soon-to-be-relocated Utah Natural History Museum. A London-based mining company that rips up the earth to sniff out aluminum, coal, borates, copper, iron ore, gold, silver and diamonds is now in bed with a repository for local butterfly collections, dinosaur bones, rock collections and American Indian moccasins. Go figure. Drunk with that PR victory, the name Rio Tinto will now adorn the new Real soccer stadium for the next 15 years.

People will tell me to suck it up, I know. It’s pretty much the way of the world. I mean Obama gave his DNC acceptance speech from Denver’s Invesco Field. Not long after the speech, the global investment firm posted a 21 percent profit drop in the third quarter.

Mile High Stadium was a better name; not only does it roll off the tongue better but Denver will likely not lose its altitude. Truly, I’m surprised the folks in Denver let that name change fly.

So you have to hand it to the good people of San Francisco. After Candlestick Park become 3Com Park, few could bring themselves to call it that. Then Monster Cable bought the naming rights to make it Monster Park. Voters passed an initiative there that calls for the name to revert to Candlestick Park when Monster Park expires in 2008. But it’s all for naught since the 49ers are planning a new park, and they’ll no doubt name it after the multinational corporation that signs the biggest check.

Whatever happened to businesses just supporting the home team and being content to have their name on a program or a donor wall? How did it come to this? How did we let it happen?

And, why, you may ask, am I gonna blow? I just received a press release from a PR company by the name of “Love.” A name which suggests warm and fuzzies to start with. And the release says a nice company has donated $25,000 to The Children’s Center, a Salt Lake City nonprofit that provides mental health care to young children and their families. The donation helps the center come within $200,000 of a major fund-raising goal. So it must be a really good company, right?

But it’s ATK Launch Systems, you know the $4 billion defense contractor that builds rocket motors near Brigham City? It’s the same company a whistle-blower implicated in a Nov. 4 New York Times article for selling faulty flares that put U.S. soldiers at risk. Now, a week later, a donation.

Question for you, ATK, if you just wanted to stanch the bad publicity of your faulty flares, why didn’t you donate the $200K The Children’s Center needs to meet its goal? There’s a war going on and your industry would seem to be recession proof. So you probably got the dough. What’s more, you could get naming rights. Just think: The ATK Launch Systems Children Center. (Jerre Wroble)

Terrorism: Remember That?

[Security Update] Last night and this afternoon political junkie and Salt Lake City mayor alum and Ted Wilson*attended two events connected with the annual Rocco and Marion S. Siciliano Forum at the University of Utah. The endowed lecture series is sponsored by the U.'s College of Social and Behavioral Science. Its mission is to focus on the state of American society (a wide range of topics, obviously).

Following is Ted's account of the discussion:

Yes, Things are Bad, But They May be Worse.

Just as we thought things might be getting tense, when stock markets dive, jobs disappear, and the economy sucks, the Rocco and Marion S. Siciliano Forum at the University of Utah's College of Social and Behavioral Science gathered up some of the nation's leading experts on terrorism. The message is sobering. Former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Indiana, and co-chairman of the 9-11 Commission kicked off the event with a speech at the Rice-Eccles Stadium tower.

He pointed out complacency toward another terrorist attack as the biggest problem; only 5 percent of the electorate this year listed terrorism as a major political issue. Hamilton did not mince words: "America is not as prepared as it should be to protect the country from terrorism. Another attack on the United States is a probability." During a panel today, Margaret Warner, senior correspondent for PBS's Newshour with Jim Lehrer asked three experts a final question: "How likely is it the United States will be hit with a major terrorist attack in the next five years?" The answer was, collectively, "probable." It makes one shudder they all used the same word. It's another reason to hope Barack Obama brings change to the national scene.

(Members of the panel: Bruce Hoffman; professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service; Amos N. Guiora; professor at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah and former terrorism expert in the Israel Defense Forces Judge Advocate General's Corps; Chibli Mallat; legal counsel for Amnesty International's Middle East office and current professor at the S.J. Quinney Law School.)

(Holly Mullen)

*Ted Wilson is my husband and an occasional blogger.