Archive for December, 2014

“Flashback Friday”

December 19, 2014


A massive breach of Internet security? “The Interview” terror-ripped from theaters? Coziness with Cuba? Russia’s critical economic woes? Now Harry’s heading for trial?

Noting that today (12/26) marks the final Sierra Star edition of 2014, reeling from a sudden onslaught of truly major items during what is normally a super slow news cycle and observing that a year-end review would override perilous prioritization of freshly presented concerns, here’s where I weasel out of anything heavier than a quick retrospective of 2014 by column title.

While “For Your Consideration” runs weekly, Alan Cheah and I take turns at these tiny tomes, so this rundown will cover only my own humble contributions, although we often view the same material through different lenses. Mine were surgically implanted five years ago, so technical clarity is assured. I submit Mr. Cheah offers similar optical and political proficiency with his efforts.

In January, “Getting Some” reflected on national polarization and the unfortunate closure of Yosemite with Representative Tom McClintock called to task for voting to shut things down – a theme repeated in subsequent columns.

In early February, “Chances with Francis” brought praise for the new Pope and shared a bit of background from my own Jesuit education and lessons from a tough teacher – former Federal fugitive, Father Daniel Berrigan. Along with straightening out Church matters, I’m delighted our Holy Father announced only days ago that dogs might go to Heaven. Hopefully, kitties too.

Later that month, “Get In The Game” offered Beatles’ memories from 50 years earlier on The Ed Sullivan Show and invited all locally to become more politically involved, particularly by attending “The Great Debate” between candidates for District Attorney – presented by the Oakhurst Democratic Club at the Oakhurst Community Center.

March 6th saw “Winners”, so designating as such those filling the Community Center a week earlier. Prominent Oakhurst attorney David Linn challenged incumbent Michael Keitz and newcomer Miranda Neal in competition eventually leading to Mr. Linn’s impressive November victory. Then “Wooly Bully” revived President Eisenhower’s warnings about the “Industrial Military Complex” with the U.S. still spending more than the next dozen nations of the world combined, including 20 times as much as Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

April 3rd introduced “A Moore who’s not Michael” — welcoming Major Art Moore into the Fourth Congressional Race as a young Republican running against Representative McClintock. On the 17th, “Freedom in the Fourth” heralded a pending visit to Oakhurst by our Congressman, including a list of pertinent questions to assist him in his presentation.

“21st Century Tom” on May 1st started with the words, “All that was missing was the chirping of crickets” — bemoaning a sparse turnout as Tom personally chastised this columnist for believing it was “a political meeting.” I still haven’t figured that one out.

“Ozzie Benghazi” in mid-May took to task unwarranted fixation on molehills turned to mountains as Obama-hate continues unabated on the far, far right. The month ended with “Tuesday is Choose Day”, urging voter turnout in the critical June Primaries.

On June 12th, “A Prodigal Son” discussed the return of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban captivity in the context of evaluating proportionate evil, including an illustration of such from the film, “Gravity.” “From Sea To Shining Sea” on the 26th shared reflections from a 2,572 coast-to-coast flight — witnessing in compressed time this great, sprawling country of ours on an amazingly clear journey at 525 miles per hour six miles high.

It was cinematic adulation July 10th with “Dawn? Plan It!” – perhaps too esoteric a title in praising and promoting “Dawn of The Planet of the Apes” – now my favorite monkey movie of all time. “Water Whirl” on July 24th discussed my first attendance at a Tea Party Meeting, which I found socially enjoyable, if not intellectually illuminating.

“No Hope For Ray” on August 7th outlined the national decline of conservative talk programming, particularly Ray Appleton on Fresno’s KMJ. August 21st and “Forty-Five Years Gone” commemorated Woodstock with promises made and commitments lost.

“Choose or Loose” and “More from Moore” again stressed the importance of political participation, inviting everyone to Oakhurst Democratic Club meetings in September and October presenting all major candidates for local office in public forum.

“God Save the Queen” October 2nd stressed the importance of striving for national unity in the face of formidable odds, while “Ground Zero” on the 16th recounted the plight of Flint, Michigan – once home of the highest paid workers in the entire industrial world. “The Ghost of Elections Past” was a final pre-election Halloween piece on the 30th.

“Frozen” from November 13th predicted a continuing post-election gridlock in Washington with hope that Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts might provide a rallying point for Progressives. Hey! She just did! “No More Mister Nice Guy” on the 27th projected a more energized, proactive Barack Obama in his final two years as President. Wow! Check out that Cuban move!

“Lilyhammer” two weeks ago concluded with a wistful, fanaticized resolution of the Chukchansi standoff, but don’t hold your breath.

Now here’s “Flashback Friday.”

Final thought for the year?

For 2015, why wait for a storm to pass? Political or climatological. Let’s dance in the rain!

Lots and lots of rain!


December 7, 2014

Frank & Lily

The dog gets it first.

I was going to open with a “Spoiler Alert”, but Frankie “The Fixer” Tagliano’s treasured pooch, “Lily” is sadly caught in a hail of savage gunfire during opening seconds of Episode One, so that’s how everything starts — with an end.

This triggers Frankie’s retributive decision to accept refuge in a Witness Protection Program dangled by The Feds as enticement to turn on his assailants. Fondly recalling the 1994 Winter Olympics held in Lillehammer, Norway and deciding to honor his dog’s memory, Tagliano chooses the pristine little town of “Lilyhammer” as his new home and the adventure begins.

“Lilyhammer” presents odd juxtapositions on any number of levels.

Here we have a European TV series starring Steven Van Zandt, known to rockers around the world as “Little Steven,” lead guitar and mandolin player in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. Steven appears as Frankie — essentially encoring and duplicating his eight-year role being “Silvio Dante” in HBO’s multiple award winning “The Sopranos.”

You can also catch Van Zandt’s outstanding DJ work hosting “Underground Garage” on Sirius/XM’s Channel 21 featuring the greatest Rock & Roll of all time. Steven picks everything played. He’s never wrong.

But “Lilyhammer” is as politically incorrect as one might possibly imagine. That’s the charm. If there might be any perceived harm, such would be solely due to lack of appreciation for brilliant execution (a perfect verb in this context) of an outrageously absurd, darkly comedic premise.

“Lilyhammer” takes a little getting used to. Much of the spoken dialogue is in Norwegian with English subtitles as gangster clichés pile up like a rugby scrum, a beautiful schoolteacher falls head over heels for our hard-core hero and curious cultural clashes abound.

With breathtaking wintry scenes as background, Frankie (a.k.a. “Giovanni Henrickson”) pretty much gets his way with everything, but cruel fate intervenes at the most unlikely of moments time and time again, interspersed with more plot twists and turns than Chubby Checker on a Starbucks jag.

When “Lilyhammer” made its debut on Norway’s NRK25 in January of 2012, it scored 998,000 viewers. That would translate to one fifth of the country’s entire population. A similar rating in the States would be 60 million folks. Last week’s #1 program, NBC Sunday Night Football, drew less than a third that number. Producers knew they had an instantaneous smash with “Lilyhammer.” The series has now been sold to over 130 countries worldwide.

It’s a major Netflix hit here at home as it enters production on a third eight-episode season in Norway. Rumor has it Springsteen will be playing Frankie’s “Lilyhammer” bar this year. How cool.

I hadn’t heard of “Lilyhammer” until recently and quickly fell victim to its oddly attractive addiction. With unrelenting craziness and insolent insanity, it offers irreverent escape from all the true travails endlessly escalating in this “real world” of ours.

Will police vest cameras meaningfully curtail authoritative violence when a coroner-determined “death by homicide” is video recorded from start to finish and seemingly ignored by secretive Grand Jury proceedings that conclude no wrong was done?

What will it takes to meaningfully address the continuing collapse of our national infrastructure from coast to coast with disastrous catastrophic failure all but guaranteed within the next decade?

How can threats of yet another “government shutdown” with Yosemite closed once more be considered a viable political option by any but anthropoids?

It’s all beyond my understanding, but there’s one thing I know for sure.

If Frankie Tagliano needs to go on the lam again, I hope he chooses Oakhurst.

There’s a great big building on a hill nearby that needs fixing.


Chukchansi Hotel & Casino
Coarsegold, California
Closed Due To Tribal Conflicts