Things to do in Sacramento and Beyond

The Bee's guide to events, activities, arts and entertainment


July 31, 2008
Was it the worst? No!


Bravo

Before I take last night's episode of "Project Runway" any further a plea: "Suede, please stop talking in the third person! It's annoying!"

OK. Moving on.

It's not news to viewers that Sacramento native Emily Brandle was "out" after the "Bright Lights, Big City" competition.

I get what the judges had to say, including guest judge Sandra Bernhard, who said the ruffles on Emily's black dress (pictured left) were too "cha-cha." Fashion editor Nina Garca wouldn't even offer a final comment, saying "No comment," which is a guarantee Heidi Klum will say, "Auf wiedersehen."

I did agree with designer Michael Kors' advice: "When in doubt, keep it simple."

However, and it's a big however, contestant Jennifer's dowdy sailor dress (pictured right) was a hot mess. Her inspiration was a clock but, pardon the pun, it stopped ticking when it came to the design. She was up against Emily in the bottom 2 and should have been "auffed."

Here's what mentor Tim Gunn wrote on his blog about Emily:

"I was concerned about her look from the moment of my first visit to her workspace. The black sheath was constructed with some problematic darts at the hips, and the multicolored flounces of ruffled fabric were awkwardly placed and looked like a stuck-on afterthought. She was confident that her design was strong enough to survive the possibility of a runway pummeling. Regrettably, the design didn't."

Emily was happy with the dress, even before the runway show. Afterward, she said, "That dress was beautiful. It was finished. I'm disappointed to leave so early, but I'll take this experience and run with it."

You go girl!

By the way, did you catch Tim's new catchphrase? It was inspired by (I think) crazy Blayne, who was yelling "Holla at cha boy" in the workroom. He said it so much, Tim took it with him. You can vote whether he should keep it or not by clicking here.

Leanne Marshall, formerly of Yuba City, redeemed herself after last week's fashion disaster with a wearable outfit inspired by a tree grate. She'll be around for next week's challenge: "Rings of Glory."

The contestants must design an outfit for the world's largest sporting competition, inspired by one of its most decorated participants. Guest judge? Speedskater and "Dancing With the Stars" winner Apolo Ohno.


July 31, 2008
The triumph of the original...

I'll admit, one of the most refreshing things about a concert program is when there's a mix of the established with the untested work of a living composer.

And if that composer is the performer, all the better.

This was the great appeal of local pianist Tanya Plescia's concert at Sacramento's Westminster Presbyterian Church during its Music at Noon concert series yesterday afternoon.

In a 70-minute concert, Plescia offered the untested with the familiar. She began with the familiar -- Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 15 "Pastorale." But it was with the untested that Plescia made an impression.

The three original compositions Plescia played after the Beethoven showed a wide range of influences, and at times, a taste for pushing musical boundaries.

Here I'll talk about the most ambitious of the three -- the premiere of her "Theme and Variations for Violin and Piano." For this, Plescia was joined by violinist Ingrid Peters.

As one idea, the work does not hold together that cohesively. But Plescia's set of variations are everywhere full of color, and she's not shy about taking risks and being provocative.

The work began languidly, with a timid theme on the violin over static tentative chords. Not great food for thought.

But by the third movement things evolved into something different and entirely interesting -- a fast in-your-face scherzo. In the the sixth movement, where the best music was to be found, the piano and the violin exchanged potent musical ideas.

In this, violinist Peters proved a most willing medium for Plescia's ideas. Peters was not afraid to go for broke with her violin playing. She really brought to the fore many of the tactile and difficult ideas Plescia wrote for the violin.

Some of the latter movements offered motifs with a burnished Sibelius-like infuence. Her best writing was that which conjured the dark and the fraught. And many of the variations were musical ideas that begged a larger canvas. A string quartet perhaps?

The fact that this work, in total, was a hit and miss affair is less important than the fact that it came across as music that makes you think and feel.

And if that isn't the point of original music, I don't know what is.

July 30, 2008
Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T's to play Oct. 12 at Arco Arena

PLAIN_WHITET.JPG Rock Band, the popular video music game, is the sponsor of a new mammoth emo-pop tour.

Break out the Kleenex and black eyeliner: Panic! At the Disco, Dashboard Confessional, Plain White T's (pictured) and cab will headline Rock Band Live, scheduled to arrive Oct. 12 at Arco Arena.
.

There will also, apparently, be a chance for local bands to compete for the opportunity to take the stage. Details are pending but I'd suggest you do more than just practice your Kurt Cobain riffs on Rock Band if you want a shot at 15 seconds of fame.

I'd also suggest checking with the Panic! at the Disco site for more info.

Tickets go on sale Aug. 8 through TicketMaster.com.

July 30, 2008
Looking for Mary Poppins?

Do you need a little help from the "Supernanny?"

In other words, is it chaos in your home?

Well, the casting team of ABC's "Supernanny" is coming to Sacramento this Saturday in search of families with unique interests to appear on the fifth season of the show. They will be at The Bounce Spot (2939 Promenade St., West Sacramento) from 2 to 6 p.m.

Producers are coordinating with two national nanny and baby-sitting registries - Nannies4hire.com and Babysitters4hire.com - to seek out parents who have both ordinary and extraordinary circumstances: blended families, teen moms, culturally diverse parents and, of course, parents with kids who simply like to misbehave!

Make the cut and you might get help from TV's No. 1 nanny, Jo Frost, who has no problem telling it like it is.

If you think you're that family click here to apply. You also can call (877) 626-6984 for more information.

July 29, 2008
Tuesday's new music: U2, The Walkmen and Neil Halstead

u2_.jpgIt's Tuesday which means today's the day for new CD releases / downloads, etc.

A couple that have caught my attention: U2's new self-titled six-disc deluxe edition box set.

The set, sold exclusively by Amazon (Island, $79.98) includes expanded, remastered two-disc versions of the band's first three albums, "Boy," "October" and "War." Each bonus disc includes B-sides, live takes and other rarities.

There's also room in the set for a fourth, as yet-to-be-released album.

Also out today, The Walkmen's "You & Me." The New York-based indie rock band is releasing the album - for now - exclusively through the Amie Street online music store. For the next three weeks you can get it for just $5. For each album purchased, Amie Street will donate $5 to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center as part of the site's ongoing Download to Make a Difference campaign.

And, finally, Mojave 3's Neil Halstead has a new solo disc, "Oh! Mighty Engine" (Brushfire Records, $13.98). I've yet to hear the whole disc but I love Halstead's dusky voice and smart, melancholy lyrics so it's pretty high on my to-buy list. You can sample songs here.


July 29, 2008
A prodigal daughter returns...

It's official - U. S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is returning to her classical music roots.

The 53-year-old, who is a lifelong pianist, will be performing chamber music at the venerable Aspen Music Festival on Aug 3. It's a homecoming of sorts for Rice who studied piano there when she was 17 years old.

Rice, in an interview with Great Britain's Independent newspaper, listed Mozart's
Piano Concerto in D minor as her favorite piece of music although she has said that her favorite composer is Johannes Brahms.

For her Aspen appearance she will perform the first movement of Dvorak's Piano Quintet in A major, B. 155, op. 81 and the 2nd movement of Brahms' Piano
Quintet in F minor, op. 34.


July 28, 2008
A master dodges a bullet...

A conductor like James Levine comes along only once in a generation.

And so it was disturbing to hear about his recent kidney cancer diagnosis, and news that the tumor was malignant.

Fortunately, the tumor was successfully removed last week, according to a recent Boston Globe article. That story said that Levine's cancer was caught in the early stages and his prognosis good.

Levine, 65, who has had health issues in the past, is expected to be on the podium for the beginning of the Met's season opener of Richard Strauss's "Salome" in September.

As current conductor of the Boston Symphony and longtime conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, Levine has earned legendary status in classical music and opera circles. He is equally beloved by musicians and fans.

And you would be hard pressed to find many recordings with him conducting that are not noteworthy.

He first conducted the Met orchestra in 1971 and became its principal conductor two years later. Since then, Levine has turned the Met orchestra into one of the world's finest.

July 28, 2008
Rockabye babies

My teen son has absolutely no problem extending a long night's sleep well into the next day.

That is, until the rude awakening of a new school year.

But infants and younger children need plenty of sleep, too. And the National Sleep Foundation is jumping on the snooze patrol. The Washington, D.C.-based group has been studying sleep patterns of small kids and realized that, while most adults need nine to seven hours of blissful rest, infants need even more.

That's why foundation has launched the "My Baby Loves Sleep Gallery," on its Web site. There, parents and grandparents can share photos of their sleeping wee ones.

Remember: The goal is not to be clicking away and waking the baby. That defeats the whole purpose!

But slumbering babies are sweet.

So, if you have a pic you want to share you can post it by clicking here.

The rules: Submit a color digital image with a maximum file size of 150K, an image size of up to 600 pixels and a resolution of at least 71 dpi. Photos will remain on the Web site for six weeks and will be accepted until Sept. 1. You can even get e-cards online.

If you're curious about the recommended number of hours of sleep children at a certain age need, here they are:

* Newborns (1-2 months): 10.5 to 18 hours
* Infants (3-11 months): 14 to 15 hours
* Toddlers/older kids
12-18 months: 13 to 15 hours
18 months-3 years: 12 to 14 hours
3-5 years: 11 to 13 hours


July 25, 2008
Desario - sample some sweet "Cane Cola"

desario.jpeg

Sacramento's four-member Desario crafts perfect slices of soft, jangly pop.
The band, with John Conley (guitar, vocals), Mike Carr (bass), Michael Yoas (guitar) and Jim Rivas (drums), is like a Who's Who of the NorCal pop scene - their musical pedigree includes members of California Oranges, Holiday Flyer, Sinking Ships and Rocketship.
Desario's new album, "Zero Point Zero," will be released in October on Darla Records.

Until then, get your sugar fix by listening to "Cane Cola"

Desario
Song: "Cane Cola"
Style: Sweet, melancholy power pop
Influences: XTC, Interpol,the Shins
Behind the song: "We were at practice, and John (Conley) and Mike (Yoas) started fooling around with the two-part guitar interplay you hear at the beginning of the song," explains Desario bassist Mike Carr. "I really liked what I heard - it already sounded like a (finished) song. I just assumed it was a song they had already played in some other band together. I love it - it's one of the band's favorites."
See them: Desario performs at 9 p.m. Friday Aug. 1 at Luna's Cafe (1414 16th St.).
On the Web: www.myspace.com/desario

Here's the player to hear "Cane Cola":


July 24, 2008
Emily in; Leanne hangs on


Bravo

Last night's episode of "Project Runway" was a first - as opposed to last week's repeat of a Season 1 challenge.

The 15 designers had to choose models and then were told they would be making cocktail dresses for the models, who are now their clients. The twist? A go-green theme.The outfits would be made from eco-friendly fabrics. Nothing so twisted about that, right?

Wrong!

The models - not the designers - were given $75 to shop for the fabric. And, if you didn't catch it, they pretty much had no clue what to buy and definitely no clue as to how much fabric was needed. Most of them came back with barely enough material to construct a scarf.

There was no immunity this week, but the winner would have his or her dress sold on Bluefly.com.

To be honest, as Season 4 winner Christian Siriano might say, this challenge proved a "hot mess" for the majority of designers, especially the ones working with all-natural satin, which is soooo unforgiving of errors.

At one point, mentor Tim Gunn got flustered and told the group, "You're making me a wreck! Work it out!"

Guest judge this week was the petite and pretty Natalie Portman, who was quite gracious, considering some of the outfits she had to score. Not so judge Nina Garcia, who, at one point, said, "Skinny, tight and short is the quickest way to look cheap."

The majority of designers, including Sacramento's Emily Brandle, came up short in terms of fabric. "I was excited about the garment (pictured)," Emily said, "but I wish I had more fabric."

Not to fret. Emily is in.

The bottom two, however, included Leanne (originally from Yuba City) and Wesley. Both designers had to work with the awful satiny fabric. Leanne was told her dress looked like "a school project." Wesley's was just, well, a disaster and he was out.

Suede won the challenge with his flirty dress of organic tulle and sewed-together strips of fabric.

If you caught the "Watch What Happens: After the Sew," show after last night's episode, Wesley revealed that he and fellow designer Daniel are actually a couple now. Daniel is still on the show, so I'm sure Wesley will be cheering him on.

As for next week's challenge, it's titled "Bright Lights/Big City.". Here's Bravo's description: "When the sun sets over the Big Apple, the real fashion of New York comes to life. The designers use the city as their muse." Guest judge? Sandra Bernhard.

July 23, 2008
Carolina Liar to play the Hard Rock Cafe on Monday

CarolinaLiar _HilaryWalsh.JPG

If you missed the Carolina Liar's last Sacramento performance, you're in luck. The Los Angeles (by way of, well, South Carolina) band is going to play the Hard Rock Cafe in Downtown Plaza on Monday.

But you can't exactly buy tickets to the pop band's performance - you have to win them via 106.5 (KWOD).

Which means if you snag a pair, they're free.

Visit the Hard Rock site or the KWOD site for details.

Read my story on the band, who just finished a tour with OneRepublic, here.

July 23, 2008
What is ...?

Have you got the brains to buy a ticket on the "Jeopardy! Brain Bus?"

If so, the 32-foot bus (read: Winnebago) is headed to Jackson on Friday in search of potential contestants for TV's favorite quiz show. The "Jeopardy! Clue Crew" (Jon Cannon and Jimmy McGuire) will be holding court from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Jackson Rancheria Casino & Hotel.

If you're there, you'll get a behind-the-scenes peek at how the show unfolds - from the audition process to the actual game-playing. You can ask questions and then take the quiz to help determine if you've got the brains it really takes to play "Jeopardy!"

The "Clue Crew" guys have the best job. They get to travel the country - and the world - with cameras to bring "Jeopardy!" clues to life. How? They illustrate historical sites, landmarks and great locations, which then become the basis for the "answers" on the TV show.

The Friday event is open to the public. The casino is at 12222 New York Ranch Road in Jackson.


July 22, 2008
Every little bit helps with this cause


Sugarcube Society Shop

I chatted recently with Melody Claussen-Furry of Sacramento whose son, Christian, now 14, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2005. The family spent a lot of time understanding what Melody calls "the diabetes ropes."

"We're still learning new things all the time," she says.

Diabetes awareness became a goal of Melody's, as well as raising funds for research. That's how she came to open her own "shop" on Etsy, an online independent crafters' marketplace. She put some of her own crafts there and enlisted help from her "craft sisters" at the Sacramento Craft Mafia.

"They all quickly gave from their own shops for my son's (and millions of others) cause," Melody says.

Today, her Sugarcube Society Shop is getting donations worldwide, even from Australia.

The shop has some really interesting and unique items, including the Blue Moon knitted hat (pictured) hat was donated by Stacey, a local craft mafia member. Two vintage moon-shaped wood buttons accent the front, and it sells for $20.

All proceeds (after etsy fees) from Melody's shop will go to JDRF (the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). If you're interested in donating an item for this shop, please contact Melody at handmade.luck@yahoo.com or shop her "shop" by clicking here.

July 21, 2008
Wrap it up!

OK, so here's a first - or at least for me.

I've heard of eating contests, holding-your-breath contests, etc., but I'm unaware of a "gift-wrapping contest."

Well, there is such a thing - and it's been going on for 11 years!

It's called the Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper Contest, and it's sponsored by parent company 3M.

Now, I can tie a pretty darned good bow, but from the sound of this contest you'd better be able to tape flawlessly. No exposed corners!

The contest seeks folks (nationwide) who believe they can "outwrap" anyone. If you're that person - or know a gifted wrapper - here are the contest details:

They want a 100-word or less written entry on why you or the nominess has what it takes (wrapping experience, creativity) to be crowned the most gifted wrapper.

Include the following:
* Name, home address, city, state, Zip code, daytime phone number, fax number and e-mail address (if available).
* Whether the nominee is entering as a professional or an amateur. For example, you're considered a pro if you wrap gifts at a department or speciality store.

Entries must be received no later than Oct. 6 and can be submitted three ways:
* By mail: Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper Contest, Hunter Public Relations, 41 Madison Ave., fifth floor, New York, NY 10010.
* By fax: (212) 679-6607.
* By e-mail: giftedwrapper@hunterpr.com.

Eight finalists (four pros, four amateurs) will be flown to New York for a three-day, three-night trip to compete in the gift-wrapping finale on Dec. 5 at, well where else, Rockefeller Center. Grand prize? $10,000 and the crown as the most gifted wrapper. If you nominate the winner, you'll get $1,000.

For more details, click here.

And as they say in the biz, that's a wrap.

July 18, 2008
Autumn Sky - an early look

autumnsky2.JPG

Autumn Sky is one of the rising artists on the local singer-songwriter scene, armed with an acoustic guitar and some bittersweet yet lovely songs. She's got an album coming out in September called "All Which Isn't Singing," and "Sunday Single" brings you a sneak peek with a song called "Rockets!"

AUTUMN SKY
Song: "Rockets!"
Style: Folk-pop with a pointed edge
Influences: Cat Stevens, June Carter Cash, Bright Eyes, Devendra Banhart
Behind the song: "When I first started to write 'Rockets!,' it was going to be a song about how much I disliked the local music scene, and how tired I was of the same old circuit, which never seemed to change," she says. "And worse, (it was) filled with people who never seemed to notice or care. But the chorus changed it from an 'I dislike' song to a 'give me something new' song, which makes it a little less depressing, and honestly, was more true to how I felt."
See her: Autumn Sky performs on July 30 at Luna's Cafe (1414 16th St.)

Here's the player to hear "Rockets!":


On the Web: www.myspace.com/autumnskymyspace

July 18, 2008
Another fashionable weekend

There are some interesting fashion-related events worth checking out this weekend - from downtown to Roseville.

For example:

* Artifacts boutique (907 K St.) is hosting a one-day event, "Lucid: An Evening of Fashion and Art," at 7 p.m. Saturday in the MARRS Building, 1050 20th St. It's open to the public and will showcase fashions from both Artifacts and DVI boutique, also in Sacramento. Local designers will also be featured, including Jesus Medrano and Lindsay Rickman and Amy and Melissa Hemmans. Artist Jeff Felker will display his artwork, too. Eliz Salon is doing the hair; music is provided by Sam I Jam and Adam J.

* The Galleria at Roseville is the setting for Sunday's "Serving Up Style" event to benefit the Keaton Raphael Memorial. It's being presented by the Sacramento Capitals World Tennis Team. Members of the Capitals (who will serve as models) will be dressed by the fashion experts at Macy's. The event is from 6 to 9 p.m. at Macy's. Cost is $35 per person at Macy's or call (916) 784-6786. You'll see the likes of tennis stars Sam Warburg and Elena Likhovtseva, along with hors d'oeuvres, hosted libations, music and silent and live auctions.KRM was founded by the family of Keaton Raphael after his death from neuroblastoma (cancer of the nervous system) in 1998. The non-profit organization works to help childhood cancer victims.

* It comes only once a year, but Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale, which starts today, is a shopper's first look at what's coming for fall. Not only to see but to buy - at reduced prices. The sale covers everything from women's and men's apparel to kids' clothing, plus accessories (shoes, handbags, jewelry) and lots of great deals in the cosmetics and fragrance departments. Heck, I already found a great stylized trenchcoat that's marked down $60 for the sale. Prices are in effect today through Aug. 3 in stores or online. Just click here.

July 17, 2008
'Project Runway': Round 1

emily.jpg
Bravo

Last night's first installment of "Project Runway" Season 5 was like a class reunion of sorts. Guest judge was Austin Scarlett from Season 1, and the first challenge was to create an outfit from $75 worth of "stuff" from a supermarket - again the initial challenge of Season 1.

Ah, nostalgia!

But the 16 new contestants, including Emily Brandle (shown above), 27, who grew up in Sac, did great for the most part. Of course, there were waaaay too many tableclothes turned into dresses, even an awful raincoat, which got contestant Jerry "auf'd."

Judge Michael Korsblogged this note: "As for Jerry's dress, both Nina (Garcia) and I thought that it looked suspiciously like something that Christian Bale would have worn in 'American Psycho.' "

Nice to know Kors returns with that razor-sharp wit of his.


Emily wasn't among the top 3 or the bottom 3, which means she wasn't on anyone's hit list. I liked her dress (shown above), especially the top part. It was made from, I believe, cut-up beach balls!

Kelli won the challenge with her dress made out of coffee filters and her own handmade, hand-dyed "fabric." It was pretty cool.

And I got an e-mail letting me know that contestant Leanne, 27, also has a local connection. She's originally from Yuba City and moved to Portland several years ago. (Guess the Bravo folks don't know Yuba City is near Sac.)

Anyway, Leanne has done local fashion shows and went to design school in San Francisco. The e-mail says she also worked as a graphic designer at the Appeal-Democrat newspaper in Marysville. So now we've got two contestants to keep an eye on!

Next week's challenge: "Grass is Always Greener" in which the designers are forced to think "green" - with the help of their trusted models. Guest judge is actress Natalie Portman.

For more gossip on the show, click here.


July 16, 2008
Wake up boarders!

I was out on the river this past weekend, and wakeboarding seems to be all the rage - especially with teens. But it's not just for the younger set.

Now, local women - and girls - will have several opportunities to attend wake clinics at the Delta Wakeboard Camp coming up Sunday and Monday.

Oakley (sunglasses and accessories) is partnering with Maven Sessions, a nationwide tour of wakesports clinics for women and girls taught by female pro wakeboarders. The sessions focus on gaining confidence on the water, learning proper technique and helping girls meet other local girls who love to ride.

Here's the schedule:

Morning sessions: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Evening sessions: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Classes will be held at 11530 W. Eight Mile Road in Sacramento. The cost is $50 per session. Sign up and you'll get a bonus Oakley gift at the clinics.

You can register for the event by clicking here.

July 16, 2008
I'm teleporting to Aspen and Provence

I've just watched archival footage of the lovely Maria Callas singing Bellini in Paris. And this just seconds after I checked out some of the current offerings from the Aspen Music Festival and the great summer music at this year's Aix en Provence in France.

So, did I just teleport myself to Colorado and Provence?

Hardly. Used the Internet, of course.

I visited http://www.medici.tv.

The European-based webcaster (a collaboration between EuroArts in Leipzig and Ideale Audience, among others), now in its third year, is offering free webstreams of current and archived performances of summer classical music festivals, and other concerts.

The webcaster typically charges about 25 euros ($40 give or take) for the streamed concerts and other offerings. But this summer it is trying to entice subscribers with the free streams.

Right now it's fronting archival footage of Claudio Abbado conducting Mahler's Sixth Symphony with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. It's a vivid performance of the symphony and Abbado is coaxing a highly nuanced performance from the players.

In addition to the live-concert webcasts, medici.tv also offers a library of music on film consisting of more than 150 titles, with 200 additional coming. Subscribers can choose 24-hour, one-month, and six-month packages.

One of the more appealing aspects of this webcaster is that it also offers a wide variety of documentaries focusing on the lives and careers of composers and performers, including the likes of Philip Glass, Glenn Gould and Yehudi Menuhin.

The website is also seeking to become a community destination for those that love classical music, as evidenced by a soon-to-launched on-line magazine, plus artists and tastemaker blogs.

You've got to like the proactive nature of the whole thing.

But frankly, given the state of the plunging dollar against the Euro, it remains to be seen how affordable medici.tv will be to the U.S. market.

That's why you've got to tap into the free offerings now. As they say 'it's cheap at twice the price'.


July 15, 2008
Hoop dreams this Friday at Arco


Associated Press

Got plans for Friday night? It's Breast Health Awareness night in Sactown!

The Sacramento Monarchs game vs. the Atlanta Dream at Arco Arena will be a very special one - in honor of breast cancer survivors who will be in attendance for the 7 p.m. tip-off. Fans can celebrate all the survivors attending,

You'll get high-powdered WNBA basketball and the opportunity to help raise funds for the local Komen for the Cure chapter, which will receive $6.50 for every ticket sold at the $20.50 or above ticket price.

You can get more info or sign up online by clicking here.

July 15, 2008
Channel 3's Walt Gray does triple duty

waltgray.jpgNo, you're not seeing things. Yes, that is Walt Gray pulling three anchor shifts over at Channel 3 (KCRA).

Although the Channel 3 web site lists Gray's official duties as the anchor for the 5-7 a.m. and noon shifts, these days he's also behind the desk with Edie Lambert at 11 p.m.

Why?

Simply put, Channel 3 news director Anzio Williams tells us, it's summer and that means much of the staff is cycling through vacation time and / or off covering Olympics-related stories.

You know, just like at your office. Seriously, as I look around my work area, I can relate - somebody get the guy a vat of coffee, already.

Expect to see more of Gray through August's Olympic coverage.

July 14, 2008
Fox40 picks its own 'Idol'

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Fox40

No, it wasn't the thousands and thousands that show up for the nationwide "American Idol" auditions, but between 150 and 200 wannabe contenders rose and sang (early!) Friday morning at the "Sacramento Idol" competition in Elk Grove.

The contest was put on by Fox40, with ample assistance from Skip's Music and 101.9 FM (The Wolf) .

Contestants were singing for the chance to go to San Francisco's Cow Palace this Thursday for a crack at the real "Idol" audition, the first in the nation for Season 8.

Our local winner? Piney Davis (pictured) of Carmichael!

Greg Saunders, creative services director at Fox40 (read: "Department of Fun"), says he was pretty amazed at the turnout.

"We only had two to three days to plan this, but it came together at the last minute," Greg says. "Skip's Music did a lot of the heavy lifting, supplying tents, vocal coaches, etc."

The audition, in front of professional judges (not just clapping!), was a two-step process. After singing once, only 60 people got a pass to go "inside" and sing again. From there, five finalists competed in a sing-off, which Piney won.

"Piney is all excited," Greg adds. "We're sending her with a letter to get her in the express lane for the actual competition in San Francisco."

There are no guarantees Piney will see Simon Cowell's sweet face, but she does get to sing in front of the "Idol" producers. Unlike the Season 7 winner, David Cook, who tagged along with his brother last summer to an audition and ended up, well, you know the rest of that song. Piney really wants to audition!

To watch a video of the "Sacramento Idol" competition, click here.

July 11, 2008
Change of plans for KVMR's anniversary festival

Yes, it's another casualty of the smoke: KVMR's 30 Years in Your Ears festival that I wrote about in The Bee yesterday.

Don't worry, it's still happening but the Street Fair scheduled for tomorrow is now moving inside the Miners Foundry (325 Spring St, Nevada City). Time is the same: Noon-6 p.m.

For more information, visit the KVMR site.

July 11, 2008
You're no good, you're no good ...

nogoodniks.JPG

The No-Goodniks have only been a band since April, but the group is already bringing the noise around Sacramento. The No-Goodniks specialize in no-frills pop-punk, just the kind of speedy and melodic stuff that Granny warned you about. Check out the song "So Pathetic" - it'll get you going quicker than a triple shot of espresso.

THE NO-GOODNIKS
Song: "So Pathetic"
Style: Good ol' three-chord punk rock
Members: Jessi Rose (vocals), Tom Hutchinson (guitar/vocals),
Cary Rodda (bass), Skott (drums)
Influences: Ramones, Sex Pistols, X, the Clash, Groovie Ghoulies
Behind the song: "It's basically kind of like a stalker story gone wrong," says Hutchinson. "Jessi the singer wrote the lyrics, and it's about a guy who won't leave her alone, and his attempts at wooing her get more pathetic as time goes on. It's based on various true stories, I guess."
See them: The No-Goodniks perform Friday at Old Ironsides (10th and S streets)

Click on the play button below to hear "So Pathetic":

On the Web: www.myspace.com/thenogoodniksrock

July 11, 2008
Hold up, metalhead

Headbangers deserve clean air, too. Right? So the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival which was set for today at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre has been postponed until Monday. That smoky air from all of the wildfires has made it too gnarly on the lungs so tickets will be honored at Monday's re-scheduled show. To recap: this all-day festival is a mecca of sorts for local metalheads and features Slipknot, Disturbed, DragonForce, Mastodon and many more bands with guitars that go "chunk-a chunk-a chunk-a."

Monday's show starts at 1:30 p.m. For more information: (916) 649-8497 (TicketMaster).

July 11, 2008
Hey teens, 'slower is better!'

That's the message the California Department of Transportation is driving hard this summer to teenage drivers.

For the rest of this month, the gear is "slow mo!"

Which brings us to Slow Mo Films, an interactive networking community that Caltrans launched in May to help promote safe driving.

Its audience? Teens and young adults.

For three more weeks (until July 31), this target group is encouraged to turn themselves into amateur filmmakers for a contest sponsored by Clear Channel Media.

Here's how it works: Submit a 15-second, slow-motion video highlighting why "slower is better." You know, something that's interesting and informative - and artsy. Videos can be watched and uploaded the rest of this month. So far, entries have come from all over, including film schools, theaters and film festivals.

Hey, you won't win an Academy Award, but there will be some level of notoriety and prizes for the best entries.

Voting will last the month of August, and there will be a list of Top 10 best "Slow Mo" films.

Campaign and contest details can be found by clicking here or call (916) 239-4602. Visitors to the Web site also can cast votes for their favorite video.


July 10, 2008
Hair no more. But what about locally?

The Regis Corporation's announcement Wednesday that it will be closing up to 160 underperforming salons next year likely raised a few hairs among its 8,500 businesses, both in the United States and the United Kingdom.

A quick search of the local Regis Salons puts them at Arden Fair, Sunrise Mall, Downtown Plaza and the Galleria at Roseville.Two of those - at Arden Fair and downtown - hadn't heard about the string of closures when contacted on Thursday,

"No one has said anything to us about closing," said one employee, who asked not to be identified.

According to Marketwatch.com., most of the closures are set for the first half of 2009. The company did not identify which salons would close but said about 100 locations are regional mall based salons, another 40 locations are in strip centers and 20 locations are in the U.K.

Most of the salons are set to turn off their blow dryers by Dec. 31, 2009.

July 10, 2008
How to shred Beethoven...

Beethoven would have either loved or throttled Katherine Thomas.

Better known to the speed metal crowd as "Great Kat," Thomas is a Juilliard trained violinist who crossed over from straight classical to heavy metal after graduating.

She now specializes in superfast headbanging takes of classical works on guitar.

In that vein, one of her best known albums is "Beethoven on Speed".

And as for speed she's not kidding.

Now that I think about it, I'm sure Beethoven would have loved the in-your-face energy. And the dominatrix look.

Decide for yourself on this YouTube clip where she riffs on Beethoven's Symphony No. 5:

July 10, 2008
'Idols' lovin' the tour


Fox

Lucky me!

Yesterday, a few hours before the "American Idols Live!" show hit the stage at Arco Arena, local media (including The Bee) got a chance to chat with five of the Top 10 finalists - one-on-one.

The tour offers this opportunity at every stop, but they don't tell you ahead of time who you'll be interviewing.

The five we got were great! Keep in mind, they're only a little over a week into a two-month-plus nationwide tour. So the energy and enthusiasm hasn't worn off.

And, even though the "Idols" arrived in Sacramento under miserable conditions - with the intense heat and smoke - some of them made it outside before getting hair and makeup to sign autographs and greet the more than 200 fans who patiently waited in a baking parking lot for the buses to arrive!

Here's what the five I had the privilege of chatting with had to say:

* Chikeze: "The tour is just a continuation of the show. It just grew. We're all still hanging out together. And, man, I love my songs!" Moving forward, Chikeze says he's already writing songs for a album and has experienced another life-changing experience - besides "American Idol": "I've been a vegan for about a month!" Chikeze says the tour's catering staff couldn't be more accommodating to his new dietary needs, and the change makes him feel 100 percent lighter. As for staying healthy, he drinks lots of water on the road. "But I'm used to abusing my voice," he says.

* David Archuleta: Omigosh, the 17-year-old runner-up is (he'll hate this!) just as adorable up close as he was on the show. Humble, grateful, the teen is so poised for his age, admitting that if he wasn't on tour, he'd probably be "looking for a summer job." David says the first tour stop (in Glendale, Ariz.) was "a special moment." "It was my first experience doing a show like this. The energy was amazing." David, like the other "Idols," agreed the show is about giving back to the fans. "It's our 'thank-you' concert." As for life on the road, he says he was a little nervous about sharing his living space, but everyone has gotten to know each other all over again. How does he stay healthy? "I have to give myself plenty of vocal rest!"

* Carly Smithson: No, she hasn't had a chance to get her geisha tattoo finished. "But the first thing I'll do when the tour is over is go to Primal Urge in San Francisco to color it in." Carly admits she's lost about 15 pounds and loves her outfits for the show. "I found my dress while having lunch at Sunset Plaza (in L.A.). And People (magazine) is doing a story on me soon!" Carly says she loves the tour because there's no competition, no judging. "It's just more chilled," she says. Hair and makeup already done, Carly looks great. "I feel like Cher!" she says.

* Kristy Lee Cook: No, she never got the horse back that she sold to get to last year's audition. "But I did get a new horse, which I'll be riding tomorrow (Thursday) for a photo shoot at Mount Hood (Oregon) for my album cover!" Kristy Lee is getting a super start on her career, with a single, "Fifteen Minutes of Shame," debuting next month; the album is due in September. "It's a mix of country and up-tempo songs," she says. With all this - and planning a wedding, too - Kristy Lee doesn't get much rest during the tour's off days. She lets me in on one wedding detail: Designer Alfred Angelo is creating both her wedding gown and those of her bridesmaids.

* Michael Johns: "I'm just happy living the dream!" The 28-year-old Aussie says he's savoring every moment of the tour and taking nothing for granted. "I love getting out there on stage and then meeting the fans afterward," he says. "Their smiling faces say it all." Michael admits he didn't know the tour would be like this, how appreciative the concert-goers are.The master of Queen songs already is writing, recording and working with a producer for his album. As for his stage outfits, he wears a "really cool jacket and scarf." When asked about his obvious good looks, he turns beet red and admits, "I never see myself in that light. I look at photos of myself and ask, 'who is this guy'?"

The five "Idols" were taken aback that auditions for Season 8 begin next week. "Are you kidding me?" asked Chikeze.

Nope.

And just in case attending the show last night or watching Season 7 has inspired you, the next "Idol" just might hail from Northern California. As I mentioned in last Sunday's "Idol" preview in Ticket+, auditions kick off next Thursday, with the first stop in San Francisco.

Sacramento's Fox40 is gearing up with its own local "Idol" audition. Tomorrow morning at 6, prospective contestants are offered the chance to compete at a two-hour audition session at Skip's Music, 9660 Elk-Grove-Florin Road, in Elk Grove. A team of local music professionals will qualify contestants based on ability and stage presence.

The prize? One local winner will be guaranteed an audition in front of the "Idol" producers next week in S.F.

Along with Skip's Music, Fox40 also is partnering with 101.9 (The Wolf) in the talent contest.The two-part audition will identify the five best singers. Those finalists will battle for the title of "Sacramento Idol."

Natalie Bomke, Fox40 morning news anchor, will co-host the event and provide viewers with an inside look at the competition during live coverage from 6 to 8 a.m. The Wolf will broadcast the entire Dave Kelly Show with Susan Brown live from Skip's Music.

Who can enter? "Sacramento Idol" is open to all amateur singers and performers who are residents of the Fox40 viewing area. You have to be16 to 28 years of age on July 15 and bring a valid photo identification. Auditions will be on a first-come, "first heard" basis.

For more info and a complete list of rules click here.

Just remember: Simon Cowell is always kind of grumpy on the first tour stop!

To read my review of last night's "Idol" show, click here.


July 9, 2008
The rumors are true: Dave and Lois will retire this year

PK KCRA WALKER HART_blog.JPG

The rumors have been swirling for months but Channel 3 (KCRA) stalwarts Dave Walker and Lois Hart refused to confirm the buzz that they were set to leave their anchor desks for good this year.

Until today.

"Yes, we are going to retire at some point, later this year," said Lois Hart
, reached on the phone as she took a break from jury duty. "But I can't really tell you more than that."

She wasn't even sure she wanted the news out just yet.

"Dave? Should we talk to The Bee?" she said, calling over to her husband. "Can we tell them we're retiring?"

Walker, apparently, gave the nod of approval and so, there you have it.

While the anchors declined to give a specific date, Hart did talk aspirations.

"I'm very comfortable telling you that I'm thinking of travel - Costa Rica, Truckee.
she said. " Actually, that's all I've had time to think about at this point."

Walker and Hart both worked in Sacramento during the 1970s before launching CNN's inaugural broadcast in 1980. The pair returned to KCRA in 1990 and, in 1994, started anchoring its late night news broadcast. Currently, they work the 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. shifts.

Hart promises that more information regarding an exact exit date and whether the two will remain involved with KCRA is soon forthcoming..

Stay tuned.

July 9, 2008
Open call for choir

One of the biggest hits of the annual state fair is the California State Youth Choir. So much so that, back by popular demand (no less), there's an open call at 11 a.m. Saturday for musicians, choir directors and voice coaches.

Choir participation is voluntary and, hey, everyone (that means you!) is accepted.

The choir will perform during the fair at the Multicultural Gospel Celebration, which is set for Aug. 30 on the Golden1 Stage at Cal Expo. This is a huge event that draws hundreds of vocalists, praise dancers and pastors of all religious backgrounds - throughout Northern California.

Saturday's first meeting will be followed by subsequent rehearsals each week up until the August show. Just enter Cal Expo at Lot D off Exposition Boulevard and follow the signs.

The singing is the easy part!

July 9, 2008
If it sounds good, it is good...

Could it be that we have one the best concert halls on the West Coast right here in our own backyard?

It's beginning to look, and sound, that way.

That hall is, obviously, Jackson Hall at the Mondavi Center for the Arts at UC Davis.

Out of curiosity, I ask as many performers as I can what they think of the hall. The consensus is unanimous about the extremely warm and clear acoustics. When conductor Paavo Jarvi came through here with the Cincinatti Symphony Orchestra last year he was very excited by the acoustics. The Kronos Quartet's David Harrington is also a big fan of the hall. And they wern't being just polite.

As for me, the proof is the comparitive pudding. Recently I attended the Sacramento Choral Society's performance of Mozart's Requiem at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. The acoustics, as well as the architecture, of this stunning hall have been much touted.

So how did they compare with Mondavi?

I believe the Mondavi to be the better hall. While the Disney offered a super-live and clear sound, it also offers extra brilliance on the high and low ends of the sound spectrum but nothing striking in the middle.

These are all equally balanced at Mondavi, with the midrange tones just as clear as what exists on either ends of the spectrum

And I'm not the only one who noticed differences. SCSO conductor Donald Kendrick noticed some disparities.

"The sound of the hall took most of the rehearsal to figure out and it was difficult trying to get a handle on it," said Kendrick. "The trombones said they couldn't hear much else. Apparently, the low brass in the L.A. Philharmonic complains about this also from where they sit."

Kendrick added that the violins were having trouble hearing the violas and cellos clearly. It made for a stressful rehearsal.

Luckily the live performance went much smoother than the rehearsal. At the performance, a nuanced sound from the chorus easily engulfed the hall. It was a sound not often heard at the Community Center Theater.

Acoustics aside, it's rare to find a hall as striking and as intimate in feel like Disney Hall, despite the fact that it seats more than 2,200 people.

But for my money, I'll take Mondavi.


July 9, 2008
Sunday Single Showcase - a sneak peek

eveningepisode2.jpg

"Sunday Single Showcase" is set for Thursday night at Old Ironsides, and we've got another evening of live music and artist interviews on tap for y'all. This edition is special for a couple reasons: 1) We're doing the show on a Thursday, instead of the usual Sunday; and 2) we'll be rocked by a band from England called Abdoujaparov, featuring Les Carter (formerly of Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine).

But I'm especially stoked about the headliner, Sacramento's own The Evening Episiode. I'm straight up hooked on this indie-electronic band, and if groups like Portishead and the Cocteau Twins rock your world, you'll be hooked too. Check out the clip below of "Red Weather," which really does describe some of the weather we've had lately, but also floats so lovely with Terra Lopez's vocals and the percussion kick from Ira Skinner.

Here's a player to hear "Red Weather":


And once again, here are the details of Thursday's show:

Sunday Single Showcase (The Thursday Edition)
An evening of live music and interviews with the Bee's Chris Macias
WITH: The Evening Episode, Abdoujaparov (U.K.)
WHEN: 9 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: Old Ironsides, 10th and S streets
HOW MUCH: $5
INFO: (916) 443-9751

July 8, 2008
Back in (Lewis) Black

lewisblack.JPGI got quite a few anxious phone calls and e-mails last week after writing that comedian Lewis Black was scheduled to make a local appearance.

The problem? The venue - UC Davis' Mondavi Arts Center - had no mention of the show on its Web site.

You can all breathe a deep sigh of relief now, we have the most official of confirmations from the Mondavi camp.

Lewis Black. September 19. Mondavi Arts Center.

Tickets ($49.50 and $65.50) go on sale Aug. 2.

And, no, the event still isn't listed on the Mondavi site but, relax, it's really happening.

For more information, call (530) 754-2787.

July 8, 2008
More sounds of "Music"

The current production of "The Sound of Music" at the Music Circus demonstrates not only the tuneful mastery of song writers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein but it also reminds us of their often invisable craftmanship as well. The production includes two songs ( "How Can Love Survive?" and "No Way to Stop It") performed by Elsa Schraeder (Elizabeth Ward Land), the presumptive fiance of the Captain, Max Detweiler (Dick Decareau) the charming chiseling family friend and Captain von Trapp (George Dvorsky).
SOM08j.jpg
The songs function several ways pushing the plot forward while revealing character. They add lyrical diversity to the score as more urbane expressions that stand out in contrast to the other songs, which are much more earnest and pastoral.
"How Can Love Survive" comically tells us who Elsa is describing and the nature of her relationship with the Captain. The tune suggests this coupling of the very rich would be a marriage of convenience as much as anything. While wondering if their "love" can survive the "gold plated chains" which has them "trapped by our capital gains" the song also foreshadows the Captain's eventual embrace of Maria because of love and nothing more.
The cautionary "No Way to Stop It" has Elsa and Max suggesting to the Captain that he just let the Nazis think he is on their side, the way they do. Coming at the top of the second act the song lets us know the Anschluss has taken place and the Nazi's are now in control of Austria. It also tells us where each person stands with the new political regime. As Elsa and the Captain agree to part we also know he can pursue Maria.
Interestingly, because of their content, both of these songs were cut from the movie. Added, however, was the ballad "Something Good" between Maria and the Captain and though all revivals don't necessarily include the song it's being done here for the first time.

July 8, 2008
Always a bridesmaid


Diamond Bridal Gallery

If there's a wedding in your future, chances are the first piece of apparel you'll shop for is your wedding gown. No big surprises there.

But more brides-to-be are letting the bridesmaids in on the decision as to what they'll wear - especially if they can shop together or check out the dresses online if they live out of town.

That said, a local store - Diamond Bridal Gallery - is hosting a bridesmaid trunk show from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Setting up an appointment allows you and your attendants time for a consultation and the opportunity to try on dresses.

Diamond Bridal Gallery is at 6953 Douglas Blvd. in Granite Bay. To book an appointment: (916) 521-9856. To get a sneak preview, check out all the bridal fashion by clicking here.

July 7, 2008
"Sunday Single Showcase" - this Thursday!

The day of the week is different, but the song remains the same. "Sunday Single Showcase" is a night of live music in a talk show format, hosted by a nerd named Chris Macias, which goes down each month at Old Ironsides. This gig usually happens on a Sunday - hence the name - but we've got a different plan this time. We're taking over Old Ironisdes this Thursday with a very cool bill and some visitors from "across the pond."

First up is Abdoujaparov, an alternative-rock band from jolly ol' England that features Les Carter, formerly of Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine. Capping the night is Sacramento's own The Evening Episode, an indie-electronic group with fantastic vocals and is hands-down one of my favorite local bands right about now.

Here are the details on the show:

Sunday (Thursday) Single Showcase
An evening of live music and interviews with the Bee's Chris Macias
WITH: The Evening Episode, Abdoujaparov (U.K.)
WHEN: 9 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: Old Ironsides, 10th and S streets
HOW MUCH: $5
INFO: (916) 443-9751

July 7, 2008
An extended visit



It's midway through 2008, and therefore time to take a look back at the excellent films released so far this year in Sacramento. It shouldn't take long, since by my count, there have been two: "WALL-E" and "The Visitor."

Since everyone and their 3-year-old is aware of the charms of "WALL-E," I will focus on "The Visitor," my favorite film of the year so far.

The story of hemmed-in college professor (the superb Richard Jenkins) invigorated by unexpected relationships with an immigrant couple (Haaz Sleiman and Danai Gurira, both revelations) and the man's widowed mother (Hiam Abbass, stunning in every sense), "The Visitor" is the kind of carefully observed character study that reminds film lovers why they fell for this particular art form in the first place.

The characters are so well-rounded, and their behavior so emotionally authentic, that this quiet film engages the viewer more thoroughly than any pyrotechnics-filled summer action movie.

What's especially nice about "The Visitor" is that it's stuck around for two months -- an unusually long run for a small film.

Bryna Lovig, box-office manager at the Crest Theatre, where the film will play at least through the weekend, says film-goers are seeing "The Visitor" more than once. The movie's percussion-heavy soundtrack (Sleiman's character is a professional drummer), which the Crest features as its "walk-in," or pre-show, music, "is also getting rave reviews," Lovig says.

The film's trailer (shown above, via YouTube), should give you a sense of its loveliness and emotional power. But for the full impact, go see "The Visitor" this week at The Crest.
It's showing at 5:50 and 8:40 p.m. and is rated PG-13.



July 7, 2008
Life as Ghosts download - free, free, free

Tough economic times call for - softly rocking Americana songs that are absolutely free?

Well, in my little corner of the world, yes.

Life as Ghosts, a local five-piece whose music reminds me of a cold desert night, is offering a free download of its newest song "El Famino."

It's a great way to preview the band's sound - they've got a record out "Sea to Shore," available now at The Beat (1700 J St. Sacramento) and R5 Records (2500 16th St.).

Visit the Life as Ghosts' MySpace page for the download and more info.

July 4, 2008
Lemmie have it

lemmies.JPG

The Lemmies are a local all-grrrl punk band that's named in honor of Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister. And the Lemmies' mission is twofold: 1) pay tribute to Lemmy's huge face mole; and 2) rock your world. Check out the Lemmies' song "More" with all its buzzsaw guitars and drum throwdown. But it's all done with a girly touch, like Hello Kitty with fangs.

THE LEMMIES
Song: "More"
Members: Sailor Lane (bass/vocals), Dahlia Deathstrike (drums/vocals), Tuka (guitar)
Influences: Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, Lemmy's gigantic face mole, Iggy Pop, the Clash, Elvis, riot girl bands.
Behind the song: "The song has been around for awhile, mutating and being recycled," says Dahlia Deathstrike. "It's about having mad crushes, falling for dudes and being left high and dry, with your sailboat on an island with one donkey."
See them: The Lemmies perform on Thursday at Club Retro (6521 Hazel Ave., Orangevale)

Here's the player thingy to hear "More":


On the Web: www.myspace.com/thelemmies

July 3, 2008
Gits documentary at Shiny Object

gits.jpg

As part of its ongoing "Movies on a Big Screen" series, Shiny Object will host two screenings of the brand-new documentary "The Gits."

"The Gits," which shows at 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Monday, tells the story of the famed Seattle punk band fronted by Mia Zapata until her murder on July 7, 1993.

Zapata's murder was still unsolved when director Kerri O'Kane started shooting "The Gits" in 2002. In 2003, DNA evidence linked Jesus Mezquia to the crime and in 2004 he was convicted of the crime and is now serving a 36-year-sentence.

"The Gits," which also details the closely knit, grunge-era Seattle scene, includes an interview with Joan Jett, After Zapata's death, Jett recorded an album with the surviving members of The Gits called "Evil Stig" - "Gits Live" backwards.

Shiny Object is located at 600 4th Street in West Sacramento. TIckets are $5. For more information visit the Shiny Object site. And, for more information on the film, go here.

July 3, 2008
Natalie - out and about


Fox40

OK, so I like fashion, trends, nightlife (not too late) and dining out in Sacramento. Well, I've found my twin (albeit a much, much younger version) in Natalie Bomke (pictured), Fox40's morning news anchor.

Her "The Sacramento Scene" segment runs twice during the station's morning show from 6 to 8 a.m. Fridays and, typically, during that night's 10 p.m. newscast.

What has Natalie tried to date?

"Hot Yoga, gone for a spin with the Sacramento Ballet, tasted Crawdad's, indulged in a chocolate massage, learned to ride a Segway, trashed a pristine white wedding gown and tried on the new big, bulky sunglass trend," she says in an e-mail.

Whew!

She gets her ideas from what's happening around town and from viewers via her "Sacramento Scene Blog" here.

"You get an artsy, comprehensive look at what's new in a tight little package you can always count on, every Friday," she says.

That said, I'll shamelessly promote today that tomorrow's installment of "Sacramento Scene" will feature yours truly, along with Natalie, of course, talking about the dos and don'ts of Fourth of July fashions.

You know, no stilettos by the pool, don't dress like a flag and bring your own towel.

If I'm not mistaken former mayoral candidate Leonard Padilla will be making a guest appearance about how he stands the heat in that all-black attire of his.

Anyway, it's all in good fun on a day that's all about fun - and celebrating!

Check it out.


July 3, 2008
Every picture tells a story

If your Fourth of July plans include a trip to Sparks, Nev., - maybe even a stay at John Ascuaga's Nugget Casino Resort - the casino is planning a big photo contest tomorrow that's free and open to the public (21 and over).

Winners will be treated to a weekend getaway including a room package and dinners.

Here's how it works:

You can enter one digital photo per category: fireworks, people and Victorian Square scenes, activities and entertainment. (You can choose only one category if you like.) The event is from 4 to 10 p.m.

(FYI: For those of you who have been to Sparks or the Nugget - or haven't - Victorian Square is in downtown Sparks just outside the hotel/casino. You can't miss it. It's kind of like the Union Square of Sparks.)

Other rules?

* Photos submitted must be at least 1024 x 768 pixels and no larger than 5 MB in file size (JPG format). Digital files only! Both color and black and white images are OK.

* E-mail your photos to webmaster@janugget.com.

* Put 2008 Nugget Photo Contest in the subject line.

* Include the following info: Name, address, phone number and e-mail. Also, where the photo was taken and a short description.

A hint to photographers: Do your best to show the categories. Make the judges see the connection to the event.

What are the no-nos?

* Entering a copyrighted image or an image you didn't take.

* Entering an image for advertising purposes.

* Showing nudity, drug use or violent/hateful acts.

A panel of John Ascuaga's Nugget judges will choose the finalists in each category based on artistry and the overall "Sparks" flying on the Fourth theme. Those images will be posted on Jannugget.com by July 15 for public voting. The photo with the highest average score in each category wins!

So pack your camera gear and head up the hill.


July 2, 2008
Details on that !!! show

Last month we told you about that !!! show scheduled for Aug. 26 at Harlow's (2708 J St, Sacramento).

Now, at long last, the ticket details on Sacramento's favorite dance-punk expats.

The show is a benefit for local Concerts 4 Charity efforts and proceeds will sponsor student music lessons.

Tickets ($12 - or $13.29 with the service charge) are now available through the Brown Paper Tickets site.

July 2, 2008
Fixtures gotta go

Shoefly, the midtown and Granite Bay accessories boutique, continues its final liquidation sale.

All of the men's and women's shoes and women's handbags are outta there. Former owner Noah Schwartz is now selling the two stores' fixtures at reduced prices.

What to pick from?

Mirrors, couches, shelving, display pieces.

If shoes sat on it, it's for sale. All of this is happening from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.Thursday and Saturday at the midtown location, 2418 K St. For more information: (916) 443-4200.

July 2, 2008
KCRA twitters (on the Web, that is)

Well my bad, yesterday I told you that of all the local TV stations, only Fox40 had an active Twitter account. Turns out KCRA does too. Never mind that it's not that easy to find if you search the Twitter site, the address is Twitter.com/kcranews.

I'm not the only one who had trouble finding KCRA's Twitter feed, apparently - as of this posting they only had 58 followers (one of whom is now me).

Of course, that does beat Fox40 - as of this posting, they only have 49 followers (again, I'm one of them).

Which, of course begs the question, if a station Twitters and no one reads, does it have an impact?

Oh, and for the commenter who made this snide comment "Twitter and widgets? What about Doohickeys and Thingey's." (sic):

Twitter is a micro-blogging site that allows you to post 140-character entries and "follow" other feeds - friends, family, TV news stations, etc. It's what the kids are into it, so make fun of it today, adopt it tomorrow, I guess.

July 1, 2008
A shot at filmmaking

Given the advancements in digital filmmaking and editing technology, it's never too late - or too early - for filmmaking hopefuls to become actual filmmakers.
Organizers of the North American All Youth Film and Education Day, scheduled for Oct. 3 at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento, are encouraging filmmakers ages 13 to 20 to submit entries.
Virtually all types of entries are accepted - from live action to animation, from dramatic narrative to experimental - as long as they run between three and 40 minutes.
The deadline for submissions is July 9.
For information, call (916) 798-4000. For a complete list of guidelines for entries and to download an entry form, go to the Web site for the event.
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July 1, 2008
Channels 13 and 31 go Web 2.0

In a push to engage online news users, the tinkerers behind Channel 13 (KOVR) and Channel 31 (KMAX) have finally given their web sites a little Web 2.0 spit and shine.

Specifically, you can now add Channel 13 and 31 "widgets" to your blog or social networking page (think Facebook, Myspace, et. al).

Widgets, by the way, are Web applications that deliver content to your site. The Channel 13 and 31 widgets can (depending on your preferences) deliver news feeds, videos. links and, yes, advertisements.

The stations' newest tech addition got me thinking - how useful / tech-forward are the other local TV news station Web sites?

While News10, KCRA and Fox40 offer mobile updates, none of them deliver widgets.

And, as far as I can tell, Fox40 (KTXL) is - surprisingly - the only local station with an active Twitter account.


E-mail
me your thoughts on local TV web sites - what works, what doesn't (feel free to politely point out anything I've missed). Or, leave a comment below.


July 1, 2008
Singers wanted!

OK, so it's not "American Idol," but the California State Fair is on the prowl for undiscovered talent for the 2008 State Fair Star talent show and competition.

Is there a David Cook or a Carly Smithson lurking among us?

If so, the prelim auditions will be held Friday (Fourth of July) at the Independence Day Celebration at Cal Expo's Budweiser Grandstand. You must be 16 to 28 years old (just like "Idol") and dream of singing before a judge like Simon Cowell.

You need to reserve an audition spot ASAP by e-mailing talent@calexpo.com or call (916) 274-0424. Leave your name, age and contact info.

If you're not burned out on hotdogs and potato salad that day, be prepared to perform a one- to two-minute acappella version (read: no music) of the song of your choice. Arrive at the Budweiser Grandstand by 5 p.m. Yes, walk-ins are welcome, but those who signed up get first dibs at the audition. And please, don't sing "Witchy Woman." Judges hate that!

Those of you who pass the "Paula Abdul" standard of singing (just kidding) will be invited to compete against other statewide winners on Sept. 1., the last day of the State Fair.The grand prize? Cash, vocal lessons and someone, somewhere who will help prepare you for the next level of competition.

That would be "Idol,", "Nashville Star" or "Don't Forget the Lyrics." OK, so that last one isn't actually a competition!

Start singing in front of a mirror or in the shower. But don't trust friends and family to tell you how great you are!




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