Friday, February 29, 2008

Archie vs. Eva

[National Karaoke Crisis] More has been made of the possibility that Utah's David Archuleta borrowed his musical arrangement of John Lennon's "Imagine" from the late Eva Cassidy on American Idol last week than the fact that he jumped right to a verse free of all the nasty god stuff. Yes, karaoke is a cruel mistress.

How similar are the arrangements? Here's Archie, then Eva:





(Bill Frost)

Castner and The Senate Site

[New Landings] Am I the last media wonk to know about this?

Michael Castner, who was unceremoniously dumped last fall as host of KSL Radio's
Nightside Project, has been working for the Utah Senate. (I'm really late to this discovery; the Lege wraps up in three more days.)

Back in the day, Castner hosted
Nightside with verve and a certain savoir faire. The show hasn't been the same since KSL bosses lost their shit over Castner's too-honest delivery and canned him.

Anyway, he's putting some clever posts on the
Utah Senate blog. Including some soft bites to the hand that feeds him. Which is nice, since the senators' blog has typically read more like the Valley View 3rd Ward newsletter. (Holly Mullen)

Nazi by Nature

[Theater] According to publicists for Park City's Egyptian Theatre Company, the current production of Cabaret has apparently served a valuable Knucklehead Identification function.

Reportedly, a woman in Park City was disturbed by promotional materials displayed at the Main Street theater for the well-known musical--because they feature the swastika. Those unfamiliar with Cabaret should be aware that the play is set in Weimar-era Germany, just as the Nazi Party is coming to power while many of the characters attempt to pretend that it has no impact on their freewheeling lives; the play is hardly Springtime for Hitler. Park City police were brought into the dispute when the theater refused to remove the "offending" materials, but took no action.

I'm not quite sure how to top the basic facts. What other examples of gross artistic-point-missing would compare? And over and above that, what has contributed to the mass infantilization of Americans that we insist anything that might possibly ruffle feathers must be hidden from view? You do not have a Constitutionally-protected right not to be offended. (Scott Renshaw)

Utah Women All Over It

[Sports] Since so many of us are counting the days until NCAA March Madness, I feel compelled to make my annual pitch:

Go watch the University of Utah women's basketball team play. This Sunday. 3 p.m. Huntsman Center on the U. of U. campus. They're playing Wyoming.

Why should you go? Because these women are--simply put--awesome.

Need another reason? The men's team pretty much sucks this season (and I'm a season-ticket holder and dedicated fan, even in the bad years). Coach Jim Boylen is fun to watch, and he ends nearly every game sputtering out a plea for fans to never give up on his team. They're young, they're building a program, etc.

As for the women Utes, they're already built. They don't need any explanation--to anyone. Coach Elaine Elliott amazes fans every year with her skill in teaching her women teamwork and all the best moves. Watch 5-foot-5 point guard Leilani Mitchell (second in the country in assists) pivot and weave under and around players two heads taller and you'll see what I mean. (That's Mitchell in the photo, courtesy of the Mountain West Conference.)

Besides, admission is way cheap. They never come close to filling the Huntsman Center, and you can move up to better seats.

The Utah women are ranked 16th in the nation.They're quick, they're hot. Are you going? I'll see you there. (Holly Mullen)


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Spicoli Down Under

[Old Human-Interest Stories] OK, I'm apparently the last person on the planet to have seen this. But the upside is that I finally understand the whole "I'll say sorry, but I won't take off my glasses" thing. Corey Worthington has, apparently, used this incident as a springboard to an odd sort of celebrity status.

Brings me back to my own big, illicit, woohoo-the-parents-are-gone teenage party, oh, 20 years back or so. Two of my friends plus two cases of bad, screw-top Wendover "Champagne": a recipe for "totally grounded."

I always thought that was an example of a time my friends and I were really
bad—but, hey, we were perfect angels compared to Australian Party Guy. Too bad YouTube wasn't around in those days--Mom might have let me off easy. (Brandon Burt)

Chillin' With Fabrizio

[Local Music] At 11 a.m. this morning, City Weekly music editor Jamie Gadette will be on KUER 90.1's Radio West with the dreamy Doug Fabrizio, chatting about local music--specifically today, alt-country, with a live performance by Band of Annuals. The official line from Radio West:

SALT LAKE CITY, UT (2008-02-28) We're beginning a series of programs profiling local music, and we start today with a very popular local band called Band of Annuals. If you had to characterize them, it would be alt-country, but the group appeals to an incredibly wide audience: indie rockers, head bangers, folk fans. Band of Annuals will be in the studio today--with their instruments--talking about music and best of all playing some of it.

Tune in; the program also repeats at 7 this evening and will be available as a podcast. (Bill Frost)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Slow and Slower

[Whole New Media] Within a couple of hours after a West High School student died yesterday in a horrendous car wreck in Ogden, most every student knew who she was.

For the record, the victim is 17-year-old Alyssa Lopez. She was a junior and a cheerleader. Several other teens were involved; three were injured.

Most news outlets were keeping Lopez' identity quiet last night. The Salt Lake Tribune didn't name Lopez until
2:22 p.m. today--a full 24 hours afterward. The Deseret Morning News identified her online at 1:02 p.m. KSL TV and radio moved slightly quicker, with an I.D. at noon.

With the aid of frantic text messaging and online chat yesterday, the West High student population was in the know long before the mainstream media decided they should know. The usual explanation given at news outlets for withholding such information is "next of kin must be notified." That's respectful, and tradition. But no doubt the girl's family knew shortly after the accident.

The story behind this story is fascinating. Traditional media have always played the authority figure on choosing when to run a story, or whether to wait or to dribble out information in bits to the public. Editors and station managers have always worked from the assumption that "it's news when we say it's news."

Uh, not so much. Any student with a cell phone yesterday (including those who attend other schools) knew everything they wanted to know about this story. And almost 24 hours before the mainstream media chose to flesh it out.

It's sort of like those Comcast advertising turtles--the Slowskys. And all these c-r-r-r-a-z-y kids are the high-speed hares. (Holly Mullen)

Resurrection for IB Funds?

[Education Follow-up] I'm listening to RadioWest on KUER-FM right now. The topic is why certain right-wing Utah lawmakers so greatly fear the United Nations and a perceived anti-American thread that runs through the organization.

The original germ for host Doug Fabrizio's show was the dust-up last week over extra state funding for the public high schools' International Baccalaureate program, an accelerated learning method based in Geneva, Switzerland. I wrote about it in today's issue of City Weekly.

Here is the good news: State Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, interviewed on the show, just told Fabrizio she got word today from key legislative leaders that more funding will, indeed, be found for the IB program, now in place in seven high schools along the Wasatch Front. The original request, defeated in the Senate Education Committee, was for $300,000. Moss says the amount will be less than hoped for. But she added that constituents' calls and e-mails--which were substantial--helped change minds at the top of the Legislature.

Good on you, people. (Holly Mullen)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sing Sing

[Bad Music] City Weekly contributor Ryan Bradford recently brought this to my attention. The list reminds me of the constant, punishing rotation of Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews and Norah Jones albums I was forced to endure while waiting tables at a local restaurant a few years back. Now I can’t drink Diet Coke without Ms. Jones' nice, but ultimately boring voice, lulling me into a coma and resulting in rather embarrassing stains of artificially sweetened soda on my clothes. At least I no longer have to wear a bolo tie to work. What songs do you consider to be instruments of torture? (Jamie Gadette)

Media None

[Media] Main Street has been infested with yellow-jacketed drones handing out copies of Afternoon Buzz, the Newspaper Agency Corporation/Media One's latest waste of perfectly good trees.
If you've not had one forced upon you, the Buzz is free news and entertainment stories boiled down to insubstantial micro-paragraphs that leave you feeling approximately 60 percent dumber for having tried to read them. It's pulled off the heretofore impossible feat of making the craptastic In Utah This Week look like The Village Voice.

So we'd like a volunteer or two to stand next to the yellow-jackets outside of the City Weekly offices and hand out copies of our paper. When anyone asks, "What's this?" just say, "It's free like that, only with actual content and local relevance--oh, and you get to keep your soul after reading it." Any takers? (Bill Frost)

Dead Zephyr: Week 224

(Bill Frost)

Monday, February 25, 2008

He's Got a Friend[s]

[Buttars Watch] As of this moment, some 312 supporters have signed an online petition backing celebrity beleaguered state senator, Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan.

Most of the names don't register in
Salt Blog's sharp-as-a-trap mind. We're assuming most are neighbors, church members and a few constituents like petition signer #34, who's identified as Wendell Gibby, MD. Gibby has been on the sweet receiving end of Buttars' land use and eminent domain law largese. He also writes a mean Buttars defense, quoting on the petition from a favorite LDS hymn (that's Official Hymn #235 for those following at home).

Buttars made nice with one faction of Utah's black population (as if there were only one!) on Sunday by visiting Salt Lake City's Calvary Baptist Church and seeking the congregation's forgiveness for his "ugly black baby" slur earlier in the month.

And while many of his friends on the pro-Buttars petition stress they know only a man who hasn't "a racist bone in his body," they might want to check the vita of petition signer #36. That would be Eli Cawley, the new director of the vehemently anti-immigration Utah Minuteman Project. Now that's a friend.

And for those who cannot resist channeling their opposing political rage online, go here to sign an anti-Buttars petition. (Holly Mullen)

Oscars: The Underdogs

[Music] Unlike the Grammys, this year's Oscars awards ceremony left little to be desired (save a win for Paul Thomas Anderson, without whom Daniel Day Lewis would never have produced the mind-blowing performance that snagged him a golden statue), with relative unknowns and newcomers emerging victorious.

For me, the most exciting moment occured when Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova won Best Song for "Falling Slowly" from the film Once. I had the opportunity to interview the pair (now openly a romantic couple. At the time they kept their romance under wraps, ostensibly because Irglova was somewhere around 19 and Hansard in his 30s. I thought something was up, but chalked up their obvious chemistry to shared passion for music) two years ago when the unconventional love story debuted at Sundance. Humble, polite and down to earth, they were a breath of fresh air in a pretentious celeb-filled festival. Quality people making positive music! If you like what you heard last night, pick up a copy of The Swell Season and mark your calendars for May 2 when the duo hits Salt Lake City to play The Depot.

Here's a clip from the movie. Tell me this doesn't break your heart, just a little.




(Jamie Gadette)

Don't Call It a Comeback, Again

[Radio] A week from today, Tom Barberi returns to Utah's radio waves on KALL 700 AM. It's not exactly the same KALL that fired him years ago in a boneheaded move from talk to sports; different owners, but same sports. Back then, it was Clear Channel; now, it's Simmons, the same local company that recently launched an FM talk station with Barberi on mid-mornings, then killed it after barely a year (it was replaced by the Christian-ish Oasis music station, which also died quickly because Utahns don't like their Jesus and their rock together).

Confused? Here's more: Barberi will be on for a mere two hours weekdays, 5-7 a.m. Once again, that's 5-7 A.M. Not exactly prime morning drive-time, but at least it's something, right? And he'll be working in the same building with daughter Gina again. Aww ... (Bill Frost)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Give the Smiths Their Damn Booze

[Liquor Laws] Hey kids! Frustrated to death with Utah's stringent liquor laws? Maybe even a tad confused?

Well, join the club. So are Mr. and Mrs. Smith!

The Smiths are a "hypothetical couple used to frame scenarios explaining Utah's regulation of alcoholic beverages," according to a presentation legislative lawyers gave our state lawmakers last week. Mr. and Mrs. Smith (and there they are, to the left!) debuted at a regular work session on the Hill called "Bagels and Briefings."

In one case, the Smiths decide "to open a restaurant in Park City." They want to provide beer and wine. What do they do?

In another, out-of-town friends are coming to Utah for a ski weekend. How, for glory's sake, will the Smiths explain the club membership cobweb to their visitors?

There's also a "statement of advantages" for selling alcohol through state stores: No 1 reason? It's a reliable revenue source.

And why is it important for the state to set strict policies surrounding liquor sales and control?
No. 1 reason: A state-run system is "non-partisan and free of partisan political influence."

Complete with cheesy clip art, the 19 pages on the link "Common Myths and Constituent Questions" will totally educate you. So belly up to the bar, everyone. The Smiths are waiting for ya!

(Holly Mullen)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Viva the Guv!

[Immigration] KCPW Radio is reporting today that Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. vows to veto the package of harsh anti-immigration bills that are fast-tracking through the state Legislature--including denying in-state college tuition for children of illegal immigrants and revoking driver privilege cards for the undocumented.

Huntsman spoke out at his monthly KUED news conference.

You go, Guv. Finally, after three years in office and after waiting for Huntsman to stand up and wield his political muscle (the man has statewide approval ratings of better than 75 percent) he has picked a big, worthy battle with the mean-spirited bunch on the Hill. It's going to be bruising fight. Can't wait.

(Holly Mullen)



Cyclist Tests "3-Foot Law"

[Safer Riding] Jason Bultman is a longtime bicycle safety activist, a husband and father of two young children and lives in Salt Lake City. He's been using a bike for his primary means of transportation for years--long before $3.19-per gallon gas prices and chatter about our carbon footprint.

Bultman also had his ankle crushed a few years ago--an injury that has required numerous surgeries to repair--when a driver of a car slammed into him as he rode his bike in Salt Lake City. Bultman believes a case he recently pursued against a clueless driver may be the first prosecution of Utah's "3-foot-law" for road cyclists.

The law, passed in 2006, requires that drivers of vehicles give bicyclists three feet of space when passing them on the road.

In an e-mail Bultman writes: I was riding north on 900 East last fall (going to a Bike Collective Board Meeting) when I was "brushed" by a guy hanging out of the passenger window of a pickup truck. The truck was within inches but did not contact me, and I did not fall, but damn, that was scary. Luckily, I did not catch up to the truck to express my feelings. I stopped a police officer and gave the tag number. The police found the driver and passenger who confessed and were apologetic. When given the option to prosecute for assault or reckless endangerment, I instead decided to pursue prosecution of the 3-ft-law (State Code 41-6A-706.5) since it was the driver who threatened my life, and also since very few are aware of this new law to get some media attention and educate the public.

The driver did not show up to his recent arraignment hearing and there is now a warrant out for his arrest. I also found out that violation of this law is a $82 citation.

Bultman asks that people who circulate this story remind everyone that cyclists have the same rights to the road as drivers. Also, if there are not three feet available to pass, a driver must wait to pass a cyclist until the space presents itself. And another obligatory reminder to cyclists: You must obey all safety rules--including stopping for lights and stop signs. Just like cars and trucks.

(Holly Mullen)

Roomy Zoom Zoom!

[Transportation] House approval of a bill that would increase the speed limit on I-15 to 80 mph between Provo and St. George may make those high-speed weekend trips to Las Vegas a little less nerve wracking, but the measure comes too late for City Weekly reporter Eric S. Peterson. (To tell the truth, the timing of the measure, as Utah along with the rest of the world faces a global energy crisis, is a little strange.)

Tuesday, while on assignment in southern Utah, Peterson received not one, but two speeding tickets. He's hoping HB406 will apply retroactively, but he's not holding his breath.

We think he should fight it. (Brandon Burt)

New Wave Artifacts Unearthed

[SLC Punk-ish] Below the City Weekly offices on Main Street, even below Sam Weller's Books and the new Keys on Main, a long-defunct basement nightclub (at one time The Iron Horse, among other post-'70s incarnations) now houses Weller's leftover book inventory. The stairwell, which which we rarely see day-to-day because the door is usually locked shut, still has that nightclub look--including these flyers for a show by '80s new-wavers The Suburbs, with locals 004 opening. Guessing this show happened in the early-to-mid '80s, and tickets were sold at ye old Cosmic Aeroplane. Revel in nostalgia, SLC Punkers:


(Bill Frost)

Work Those Abs, Ladies


[Women's Health] Dear Fellow Crones (or any woman who someday plans to be one):

More bad health news about that pesky menopausal middle, gals.

(Holly Mullen)

Tricks with Pricks

[Publishing] Oh, the sly world of book publishing.

A press release just landed in my e-mailbox announcing a new book titled
The Prick Index.

And state Sen. Chris Buttars isn't even on it.

That's because it's not
really about big pricks.

Says the press release:

Prick isn't a dirty word
. The book is about insights into thorny relationships. These relationships are both male and female in gender. The term "prick" is a metaphor for a rose thorn. The book has a new method of quantifying the level of pricking in a light, playful tone while capturing the seriousness of the subject. Recent readers of the book are quoted as saying "I couldn't wait to turn the pages. It is a fun book to read! It made me laugh!"

Got it. Bwahahaha. (Holly Mullen)

Utah's Star Chamber

[Utah Unigovernment] Every so often, it's reasonable to remind Utah's power-crazed GOP legislators that theirs is the party of Theodore Roosevelt. You remember him--that madman president who had the audacity to create the national parks system and to push for protection of America's wilderness. A regular flaming enviro, that Republican Roosevelt.

But then, Teddy was more in the moderate vein of John McCain. Today he would be drummed straight out of the party. Besides, everyone knows McCain is secretly a rabid liberal, certainly not worthy of Utah Republicanism.

Yesterday, Sen. Margaret Dayton (R-Orem), interrupted Stephen Bloch, staff attorney for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, as he testified before the Senate Natural Resources Committee. Dayton told Bloch he would have to take an "oath" to speak the truth because, according to Patty Henetz of The Salt Lake Tribune, "someone had raised concerns that his previous testimony before the House [on another bill] was inaccurate or false." Henetz, however, checked a few additional facts in writing her piece--and learned that the Bureau of Land Management had neatly fudged numbers in reporting the amounts of tar sands and oil shale available should Utah's wildnerness lands be opened to drilling and other energy exploration. Read all about it here. The Legislature's anti-environment bloc AKA "The Conservative Caucus," or "Cowboy Caucus") frequently uses the BLM's questionable numbers in justifying their bitching about federal jurisdiction over public lands that belong to all Americans.

BTW, Bloch was quite a decent sport. He complied with Dayton's "request."

Where to start here? When did our citizen Legislature become its own homey little version of the Star Chamber? As Henetz points outs, no other panel witnesses besides Bloch were required to take an oath before testifying. Reps from the oil, mining and farming industries gabbed away, free of interruption.

And who was this "someone who raised concerns" about Bloch? None of your beeswax. At the Legislature it's perfectly fine to build a whisper campaign against an adversary, and let it snowball into the scene that took place yesterday. If Bloch were appearing in a state or federal court, at least he'd have the right to know and/or face his accusers.

And again, it's worth noting, people keep electing these folks. Over and over and over again.

(Holly Mullen)

Quake-Up Call

[Fault Watch] It's been nearly 20 years since I spent a few seemed-like-enternity anxious moments crouched under a pool table while the Loma Prieta earthquake pummelled the San Francisco Bay Area in October 1989. I know from the Big Ones, and I knew that when I felt that gentle ocean sway this morning, it was not time to panic.

But it's sometimes wise for us to be reminded that we are in fault country. Complain about the snow if you will -- I know I have -- but at least we know when it's coming. Maybe it's my own post-traumatic-stress experience talking, but the anxiety levels rise more when contemplating the earth rockin' and rollin'. What potential Nature Gone Wild prospect freaks you out most? Climate change-induced drought? Earthquake? Blizzard? Locusts? No, wait, we've got the seagulls to take care of those ... (Scott Renshaw)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Buttars-Huckabee Connection

[Cultural Hypocrisy] In the current issue of City Weekly, I interviewed Rob Miller, vice chairman of the State Democratic Committee and active blogger, about any party effort to oust embattled state Sen. Chris Buttars this November with a Democrat.

His answers are here.

But I had to leave a few tidbits on the cutting room floor.

Miller, for instance, found a fascinating parallel between Buttars' repeated racial slurs and another recent, well-publicized comment that millions of Mormons found deeply offensive.

Said Miller: "People in Utah blew up when Mike Huckabee made his remark that Mormons believe Jesus and Satan are brothers. But somehow, to a lot of people in this state, Chris Buttars can say whatever comes to his mind [about minority groups] and it's OK. There's a real hypocrisy there." (Holly Mullen)

First Amendment Fun!

[Free Speech] Hey, kids! Confused about free speech? Censorship? The role of the media? Assholes in the Legislature?

Try this handy quiz!

1. True or false: Elected officials have the right to speak their minds, no matter how misguided, antiquated or stupid their ideas are.

ANSWER: True. We're all endowed with the right to make fools of ourselves, even when we take public office. Or, perhaps, especially when we take public office.

2. True or false: When an elected official says something stupid, we have the right to criticize him/her.

ANSWER: True. The stupidity of an elected official doesn't abrogate the First Amendment. Everybody else still has the right to talk about what an asshole he/she is.

3. But isn't it hypocritical for you supposed denizens of "free speech" to criticize an elected official just for speaking his or her mind?

ANSWER: See above. Nobody questions an elected official's right to speak his/her mind. But, when he/she says something incredibly stupid, it's not just our right, but our duty, to heckle him/her.

4. You're just a bunch of liberal, PC thought-police going after a Republican because you don't like his record on gay rights.

ANSWER: That's not a question; it's a statement.

4. Aren't you just a bunch of liberal, PC thought-police going after a Republican because you don't like his record on gay rights?

ANSWER: Like you care. If we were making some lame Mallard Fillmore joke about the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of aging, liberal hippie caricatures, you'd pretend to think it was funny just to make sure it stayed in print.

5. But you'd never go after a liberal Democrat like that! ... Would you?

ANSWER: Probably. Hell, who knows? Today's Utah Democrat is too careful, paranoid and disciplined to mouth off like some smug, complacent Republican who feels belonging to the ruling party is some sort of birthright. Maybe if we lived somewhere like Massachusetts, New York or California, we'd have a wider variety of fools to choose from--undoubtedly we would, in fact--and many of those would likely be Democrats. (Brandon Burt)

Buttars and "those people"

[Legislature] Chris Buttars’ inability to open his mouth without putting his foot in it—graduating from a metaphor about black babies to claims of persecution from a “lynch mob” to referring to blacks who complained about his use of the term lynch mob as “those people” (as in “How do I know what words I'm supposed to use in front of those people?” Salt Lake Tribune 2/20)—is reminiscent of an earlier time in Utah.

1963 to be exact. Joseph Fielding Smith, a member of the LDS Church’s Council of the Twelve, gave an interview to Look magazine on the subject of why blacks weren’t allowed the priesthood. As if to emphasize that God, not prejudice, was responsible for the ban, Smith told the magazine this:

“I would not want you to believe that we bear any animosity toward the Negro. Darkies are wonderful people.”

(Ted McDonough)

Letter of the Day

[Vox Populi] This must be today's best letter to the editor.
(Holly Mullen)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

DNC Docket 2008: Hillary En Espanol!

[Loony Rants] Whilst surfing Craigslist (and, or course, CWListings.com) for a used AbFlex and/or the latest meet-up location for fellow Furries, ran across this. You really can find everything on Craigslist:

Agenda for the 2008 Democratic National Convention (Just Released)
7:00 pm Opening flag burning
7:15 pm Pledge of Allegiance to the U.N. in Spanish
7:20 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast
7:25 pm Nonreligious prayer and worship with Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton
7:45 pm Ceremonial tree hugging
7:55 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast
8:00 pm How I Invented the Internet - Al Gore
8:15 pm Gay Wedding - Barney Frank presiding
8:35 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast
8:40 pm Our Troops are War Criminals - John Kerry
9.00 pm Saddam Memorial Rally - Cindy Sheehan and Susan Sarandon
11:00 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast
11:05 pm Collection for the Osama Bin Laden kidney transplant fund - Barbara Streisand
11:15 pm Free the Freedom Fighters from Guantanamo Bay - Sean Penn
11:30 pm Oval Office Affairs - William Jefferson Clinton
11:45 pm Ted Kennedy proposes a toast
11:50 pm How George Bush Brought Down the World Trade Towers - Howard Dean & Rosie O'Donnell
12:15 am "Truth in Broadcasting Award" - Presented to Dan Rather by Michael Moore
12:25 am Ted Kennedy proposes a toast
12:30 am Satellite address by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
12:45 am Nomination of Hillary Rodham Clinton by Nancy Pelosi
12:50 am Speech and toast by Hugo Chavez to the departure of "the great satan", 'W' Bush
12:55 am Hillary proposes a toast to our 89 million new Democratic Mexican voters
1:00 am Ted Kennedy proposes a toast to the extinction of the Republican party
1:05 am Coronation of Hillary Rodham Clinton
1:30 am Ted Kennedy proposes a toast
1:35 am Bill Clinton asks Ted Kennedy to drive Hillary home

(Bill Frost)

Oscar: I've Got Your Prediction Right *Here*

[Film] This Sunday morning (Feb. 24) at 9:30 a.m., I'll be making my mostly-annual appearance as part of a pre-Oscars panel for Chris Vanocur's On the Record on ABC-4. I'm not sure why Chris keeps inviting me back, considering the way I inevitably turn into a curmudgeon about handicapping this film industry back-slapping party.


Don’t get me wrong--this year more than any other year, the Oscars ceremony served a useful purpose, in that the prospect of a picket line on the Kodak Theatre red carpet probably ended the writers' strike. But as I wrote
a couple of years ago, I'm not the biggest fan of the emphasis placed on the Academy Awards. Additionally, I never win Oscar pools, for the same reason that sports writers never win NCAA basketball tournament pools: We know the subject too well, and over-think the bloody thing, so that we never pick the upset that someone else picks because they really liked the dress that Kiera Knightley wore in Atonement.

So I’ll join Chris’ panel because it will give me an opportunity to talk about the movies I love. And because my mother raised me to be a good guest, I'll answer when he asks who I think is going to win. I'm just not going to care too much when I'm wrong, so don't use me as the source in your pool.
Except for Live Action Short Film. Tanghi Argentini's got that one in the bag. Book it. (Scott Renshaw)

"Buttars, Elevated"

[ButtarsWatch] According to a Trib story, Chris Buttars has a box of T-shirts in his office bearing the slogan "We Support Chris Buttars," intended for distribution to his buddies at a Wednesday rally. This whole "hate lynch mob" thing has really gotten him down, as lynch mobs are wont to do, so, as a little pick-me-up, he's organizing a rally for himself.

It's a great idea, though; couldn't we all use a rally every now and then? It's kind of like throwing yourself a surprise birthday party or sending flowers to yourself at work.

Still, how can it be that Buttars doesn't know what a lynch mob really
is
? Phone calls? E-mails? People calling him names? Please. What a sensitive, delicate little flower he is. Trouble is, he can dish out the hate, but he can't take it. Poor blossom.

Which brings us to tomorrow's rally. I wonder if "the gays" will be there to help Buttars with his little celebration of himself? It would be only fair; he always manages to make us
feel included in his psycho legislation.

There's something a bit unimaginative about his slogan, though. "We support Chris Buttars." It has all the pizazz and zing of an insurance policy. A boring insurance policy. Without even trying, you could come up with dozens of unimaginative slogans like that: "Buttars? Yes, Buttars!" or "Buttars. Now more than ever." How many can you
come up with?

That man says he's a champion for morals--but, oh, what a twisted conception he has of morality. (Brandon Burt)

Preggers!

[Zoo News] Yesterday Hogle Zoo announced that 22-year-old Christie the Elephant is pregnant! The proud-mother-to-be showed signs of a "bump" this month, leading the elephant management team to quickly devise a proper workout plan to ensure a smooth gestation period. During her pregnancy, Christie will be "bending, stretching and climbing to help her maintain her weight, as well as the weight of the baby, and ease potential complications during delivery." If all goes well, Christie will deliver a baby elephant in summer 2009. City Weekly has nominated Bill Frost to head Baby Elephant Watch 2008. Stay tuned for exciting new updates.



(Jamie Gadette)

Our Alternative Reality

[SLC Media] The last time City Weekly's Bill Frost blogged about the local mainstream media's occasional practice of lifting stories from CW with nary a hint of attribution to the original source or an attempt to write their articles a bit differently, a poster gave him a raft of shit for being thin-skinned.

Well, critics, bring it on.

Today, as I scanned my morning
Salt Lake Tribune, I found two stories that CW published last week and the week before that. First, CW political columnist Katharine Biele was the first local journalist to dig up the parallels between Oklahoma's ultra-punitive immigration legislation, which Utah legislators have scrambled this year to copy. Biele pointed out that one conservative Oklahoma state legislator this year has had serious reservations about the 2007 law, and is sponsoring a series of repeals of the harshest provisions. The same source, in the same story, showed up today in the Tribune. Two weeks after CW published it.

CW staff writer Ted McDonough five days ago blogged here noting how Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker had changed his position on a bill he originally fully supported with state Senate sponsor Chris Buttars to seal discipline records of police officers from the public. Today, the same story showed up in the Tribune.

Do we protest too much? Maybe. We're the little guy in town. We're not always first againt those big, bruising dailies, but when we are we might just tell you. Hey. If we don't promote our work, then who will? (Holly Mullen)

S-c-r-e-e-ch!

[Talk Radio] Now is the time to come to the aid of Chris Buttars.

At least Buttars' favorite political bedfellow (now that's an image, eh?) Gayle Ruzicka thinks so. The director of the right-wing Eagle Forum in Utah is standing by her man in the state Senate, even though Buttars continues to dig a deeper hole for himself every time the grumpy old racist opens his mouth.

The latest: Buttars uses the term
"hate lynch mob" in describing the public outcry against his infamous "black baby" remark last week on the Senate floor. Uh, another unfortunate choice of words, Senator?


Anyway, Ruzicka has said her organization will continue to defend the battered Buttars because he's so often on the correct side of their "family values" agenda. Today at 4:35 p.m., Ruzicka will be on KVNU radio out of Logan, on the station's "For The People" local talk show. The 610-AM radio station's Web site points out that Ruzicka has graciously agreed to discuss the Buttars controversy and to take phone calls on
any topic. Get your speed-dials ready...

You can go to KVNU's site and listen live, on-line. (Holly Mullen)

Dead Zephyr: Week 223

(Bill Frost)

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Obligatory Presidents Day Gag Entry

[Alleged Holiday] Unlike most of you, we're working at City Weekly today. Just not so much on the Salt Blog. If we'd jumped on this earlier, we could have been the 38th to drop a Presidents of the United State of America reference, not the 338th. Oh well ...



(Bill Frost)

Word of the Day ...

[Vocabulary] Why, I do believe what you've got hold of there, Mr. Shurtleff, is a "pizzle."

I don't know how that word popped to mind when Holly told me about the AG's novelty walking stick--I've surely never had cause to use it. Must have read it somewhere and, randomly, it stuck.

Interestingly, the original pizzles were used as flogging devices. I have the idea from somewhere that they were thought to have brought some form of good luck, as well, but I suppose that would depend on how much you enjoyed flogging.

One Website doesn't come right out and say how they're made, but delicately points out, "They can't be made from cows." Obviously to anybody who has ever seen a bull (they're impressive, but able to walk without tripping), tanners stretch these things out somewhat during the curing process. Today, they're used as chew toys, putters, and, in reinforced form, walking sticks.

So it must be true what those thrifty beef renderers say: "We use everything but the moo." (Brandon Burt)

I'm a neologist!

[Random good news] I was notified over the weekend that I won the Addictionary "Writer's Block" contest to create the best new word pertaining to the (thankfully now over) WGA strike.

My winning word was "describification." I get a T-shirt and a goody bag. I'm so proud! They like me; they really like me!
An excerpt from the press release follows. (Brandon Burt)

1. describification (n) – The removal of creative writers from the entertainment industry's talent pool, creating a marketplace void and subsequent explosion of brainless reality programming.

The winning werd, describification, was submitted by Brandon Burt, a copy editor at the City Weekly, an independent guide to news, arts and entertainment in Salt Lake City, Utah. Burt wins “The “I survived the 2007 Writers’ Strike” prize package and a t-shirt featuring his werd.

“Woohoo!” exclaimed Burt, when he learned of his big W. “I entered the Writer’s Block Contest on a whim. Now I’m glad I did!”

Friday, February 15, 2008

HB241 Keeping Undocumented Kids Uneducated

[Legislature] Rep. Glenn Donnelson's (R-Ogden) HB241 that moves to repeal in-state tuition for the children of undocumented immigrants now awaits the yea or nay of the state senate before getting passed onto the Guv's desk.

If there is any sound principle that stands out from the pissed-off rhetoric on both sides of this issue, it is the plea recently issued by the LDS church. This thing needs to be considered in reference to real impact, today and more importantly tomorrow, with compassion.

In essence HB241 is a message bill--but with teeth. It would deprive children of undocumented immigrants with a chance at affordable higher education, even if they've spent all of their high school career in Utah. The message Donnelson hopes to send is one to the federal government, that if the Feds can't fix a federal problem than it will be up to individual states to craft policies that will ultimately motivate federal policy.

But could there be other "messages" we could send? Ones which might not be as defiant, but might actually have more impact?

Why not draft legislation that would help relieve the difficulties and backlogs on legal immigration? Why not draft legislation that would allow better education and resources for foreign consulates to help guide people naturally through the immigration process?

Whatever we do in the meantime, why take away a great opportunity for children of undocumented immigrants? Fairness to taxpayers you might say. Well there's actually interesting evidence to suggest that the current system brings in more revenue for the state by bringing in students to higher ed who would not have otherwise attempted to go into college if they had to pay out of state tuition. Check out page 34 of this study done by a team of Utah researchers.

And lastly why do you have to deny in-state tuition to these kids because they can't legally work when they graduate? What about if they want to start their own business. What if they want to go into the arts? The greatest benefits of a college education aren't always what make you "marketable." There is a world of perspectives, history, philosophy, forums for civic engagement and community service that college can provide to young people that they cannot find anywhere else.

Finally even if the feds decide that they will even with a new president put off comprehensive immigration reform for another year. If you have a student who graduates from a Utah school and then is forced to go back to their home country and apply and wait for citizenship, wouldn't you prefer that when this person does come back to the U.S. that they already have an education? (Eric S. Peterson)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ugly Babies

[Thursday Quiz] Which Republican said it? You are given a stupid and/or offensive quote. Each answer is the name of a Republican idiot and his or her job at the time those immortal words were uttered. (Hint: None of the quotes came from George W. Bush.)
  1. "If you wanted to reduce crime, you could--if that were your sole purpose--you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." [Answer]
  2. "Capital punishment is our way of demonstrating the sanctity of life." [Answer]
  3. "What a terrible thing to have lost one's mind. Or not to have a mind at all. How true that is." [Answer]
  4. "In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be." [Answer]
  5. "I feel the best way to ensure Americans' freedom is to tighten restrictions on that freedom in any way possible. Only through wiretaps, illegal searches and seizures, unfettered government intrusion, a controlled media and a complete crackdown on free speech can we ensure the liberties of all people." [Answer]
  6. "Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." [Answer]
  7. "God is the one who chooses our rulers." [Answer]
(Brandon Burt)

Secret Police (Update)

[Legislature] Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker wants some police discipline records to stay public.

A bill introduced in Utah’s Legislature would let cities stamp “private” on all records of disciplinary action brought against police officers (
like these posted on our Webpage). Becker says he likes the bill in concept, but, as written, it appears to go too far.

“The language apparently doesn’t reflect my understanding of what the intent was,” Becker says of Senate Bill 260, which is backed by police chiefs and Salt Lake City's police union.

“The intent is to try to protect an employee’s privacy and due process. That I favor. But I also favor—I think it’s really important—the public having access to information about the actions of the city.”

In Becker’s opinion, disciplinary records of police officers should be kept private during the disciplinary process and during an officer's appeal. But when the city takes action resulting from a disciplinary proceeding, the Mayor says, “the results of that action should be available to the public.”

That is pretty much how Utah’s law already works. Under current public records law, documents about police discipline are released only after time has expired on an officer’s chances to appeal.

Becker said his administration did not write SB 260. The idea of changing public records law was presented to his staff late last year, he said. (
A chief Becker staffer appears to have worked toward the change.) But Becker says the idea was presented to his people as “a cleanup bill” to bring city procedures in line with those used by the county.

Maybe so. It turns out discipline records about county Sheriff’s deputies are secret. (Ted McDonough)

Hanoi Jane Strikes Again!

[TV] On this morning's Today Show on NBC, Jane Fonda (talking up her upcoming appearance in The Vagina Monologues) dropped that most heinous of vulgarities, the C-bomb (no, it's not Cheney). Oddly, Meredith Viera didn't even flinch. Of course, the Morally Outraged Pinheads are already calling for her head and the firebombing of NBC. Can we not at least take a moment to observe the probable first-ever utterance of "cunt" on national daytime TV? It's about history, people ...



(Bill Frost)

Secret Police

[Legislature] On Friday, a committee of Utah’s Legislature is scheduled to consider a bill that would put off limits to the public documents about how and why police officers are disciplined. While the records are still public, City Weekly has posted some on our Webpage. They give an idea of the sorts of behavior that might be buried if the bill passes—from cops on drugs to office romance.

Senate Bill 260 would change Utah’s public records law, known as GRAMA.

One of the movers behind the legislation appears to be the administration of Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker. Two months before taking office this January, Becker’s chief administrative officer, in an email to senior Becker staff, suggested working with the city police union during the legislative session, “to support changes in GRAMA to protect our police investigations and discipline.” Senate Bill 260 is proposed by Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan. (Ted McDonough)

Tappy Feet--Back in the News

[Larry Craig] Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, is making headlines again, once again for his airport restroom antics. It's the story that keeps on giving.

Yesterday, the Ethics Committee administered a sound scolding to Craig and then made him go to his room without dessert, saying his arrest discredited the august body of the U.S. Senate.

Of course, it did nothing of the sort. How many times, when you hear these stories, do you think, "Oh,
Senate! Back to your old tricks again, I see." I don't. Craig didn't discredit the Senate; he only discredited homophobic Republicans--of whom there seem to be an awful lot these days. (Brandon Burt)

Happy V-D

[Heartfelt Advice] Alone on Valentine's Day? Let Daily Utah Chronicle columnist Nicholas Pappas offer your lovelorn self some perspective.

Work through the chocolate metaphor and you might, possibly, feel better in your aloneness. (Holly Mullen)

God Loves a Loan Shark

[Money] A recent study out of the University of Utah's law department has found a striking correlation between payday loan centers and conservative Christian communities.

Say whaaat?

That's right the researchers found that the Mormon mountain west and the Southern bible-belt are notorious for having payday loan centers.

"The natural hypothesis would be to assume that given Biblical condemnation of usury there would be aggressive regulation and less demand for payday loans in these states," says Christopher Peterson one of the researchers in the study. "But ironically, the numbers show the opposite is true. It's sad that states with a pious and honorable religious heritage now disproportionately host predatory lenders."

While payday loan centers are fighting for space amongst the chapels in the fair communities of Zion and apparently the southern states, the most amazing thing is researchers Peterson and Graves have matched payday loan center statistics along with legislative districts to find that there is a stronger correlation between Christian conservatives and payday loan centers than between those living below the poverty line and payday loan centers.

That means while other demographics might be more succeptible to getting sucked into a payday loan with the kind of triple digit interest rates that would make Tony Soprano blush, the most prime environments for this kind of loan to take place happen to be the houses of the holy.

But you don't have to take my word for it, researchers Peterson and Graves even have
downloadable maps and figures for your shock and enjoyment.

What's being done about predatory lenders in our fair state? The closest thing so far is a
bill by Sen. Greg Bell (R-Fruit Heights) which would ask for better access to payday loan documentation so that maybe next year we might be able to see if something can be done about predatory lending. Look out usurers we'll getcha next year...maybe, if that is even, that Bell's bill makes it out of committee. (Eric S. Peterson)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sad Day in the Utah Senate

[Loose Lips] Senate President John Valentine called it a "slight breach of decorum." He was referring to a comment Sen. Chris Buttars made yesterday during Senate floor debate on a bill addressing school equalization. During discussion, Buttars stretched a metaphor his colleague, that Draper Republican Sen. Howard Stephenson, had started--"the ugly baby bill."

Except by now, people's jaws are dropping all over the country, having read how Buttars called the bill a "black baby. A dark and ugly thing." The blogs and other media are all over it. Go here and here and here just for starters.

After a short recess yesterday, and a complaint from Sen. Ross Romero (D-Salt Lake), Valentine announced that Buttars would address the body. He apologized for the remark.

There aren't many ways to interpret the comment, really. Talk jocks and rhetoricians will pounce all over it today guessing about Buttars' meaning and intentions. State NAACP Director Jeanetta Williams isn't terribly satisfied with the senator's apology, right now. Romero said yesterday after Buttar's apology he would accept it.

The world is swimming with public figures who say classless things, shocking things, really awful things. Then they apologize, and expect us to all move on. It worked for radio shock jock Don Imus, after all. Last year, following his infamous "nappy-headed hos" remark on the air critics figured his career had tanked. He took a brief hiatus and now he's back. Whoosh. Nothing ever happened.

Expect more dissection of Buttars' speech in the next few days. The West Jordan Republican has built his reputation in Utah as the master of sloppy grammar (never met a double negative he didn't like) and vehemently anti-gay legislation. Some people will simply step back today and shrug their shoulders. "What do you expect," they will say. "It's Chris Buttars."

Well yes. It
is Chris Buttars. And that's why we can take his remarks for what they were: cold and racist. It's like this: Human beings who fuel themselves on hate and bigotry betray themselves sooner or later by their language. People who respect others and at least try to live in a world of color and diversity simply do not talk the way Chris Buttars did on the Senate floor yesterday. They don't think of themselves as better than others; their language reflects who they are.

Language is raw. It's visceral. People who understand that don't toss it around lightly.

So the critics can wrap up their analysis in pretty paper and ribbon, they can guess Buttars' motivations and even give him a pass for, as he said it letting his "brain run ahead of his mouth."

In the end, racist is as racist does. His own language painted his true persona more than any gay activist or Democratic opponent ever could.

E-mail your feelings to the man at: dcbuttars@utahsenate.org

Also, you can let his boss know how you feel. That would be John Valentine. His email address is: jvalentine@utahsenate.org (Holly Mullen)