Nominees for the 81st annual Academy Awards were announced yesterday morning and as it turns out, three of the five films up for Oscars for "Best Picture" are just now coming to theaters in the Humboldt County hinterland.
We’re trying to decide which one to see first. Director Danny Boyle 's Slumdog Millionaire opens tonight at t he Broadway . Ron " Opie " Howard 's Frost/Nixon and Gus Van Sant 's Milk both open at the Minor . And, the other two best pic noms are still playing: Stephen Daldry 's The Reader i s at Mill Creek ; David Fincher 's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (up for 13 awards) is at Mill Creek and the Broadway. Incidentally, "Best Director" nominees correspond directly with Best Pic this time out.
You might also want to catch "Best Actor" nominee Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler , opening tonight at The Broadway. While I haven't seen the movie yet, I'll go out on a limb and predict the Mickey will win the Oscar this year, and will thank his Chihuahuas in his acceptance speech. The Academy Awards will be presented about a month from now, on Sunday, Feb. 22.
You remember that scene in The Day After Tomorrow -- the goofy 2004 global warming thriller -- where Jake Gyllenhaal tries to outrun a wave of insta-freeze that's chasing him down hallways and around corners? (You're forgiven, or even commended, if the answer is no.) Well, a scarier, real-life version of that scene appears to be taking place here in the Pacific Northwest, only instead of insta-freeze it's rapid global warming, and instead of Jake Gyllenhaal it's coniferous trees.
As reported on
, a new study reveals that forests on our part of the continent are dying twice as fast as they were 17 years ago, thanks to climate change.
The study primarily focused on three types of coniferous trees: pines, firs and hemlocks. Older-growth forests -- some up to 500 years old -- have trees of all ages, and researchers found that mortality rates have increased for all age groups. Since mortality rates went up across the board, scientists ruled out a number of other possible causes, including ozone-related air pollution, long-term effects of fire suppression and normal forest dynamics. In the end, California had the highest tree-death rate.
Given the speed at which warming appears to be occurring, it's not clear whether tree species will be able to migrate fast enough to survive, said [Phillip] van Mantgem of the U.S. Geological Survey.
-- love the warm weather almost as much as they love gnawing on weak trees.
On a related note, nice weather we've been having, ain't it?
Last Tuesday afternoon, Journal reader Rachael Brilbeck went for a stroll on the beach on the North Spit, right across from the Evergreen Pulp Mill, which is currently shuttered. Everything was normal when she set off on her walk, but when she returned an hour and a half later she saw something strange.
At some point in the interim, a gusher of water opened up out of the ground, right beneath some kind of large vent. Brilbeck and others watched the torrent flow for about half an hour. As it made its way to the Pacific, it cut a deep channel into the beach.
Brilbeck took photos and brought them into our office the next day. She wondered: Was this a spill from the pulp mill? The mill has an exhaust pipe that carries its liquid effluvia underground and out to sea -- could the pipe have stopped up somehow, spilling noxious mill residue on to the beach? She thought she noticed an unusual odor in the water.
It took us a little while to figure this out, but it turns out that the spill Brilbeck witnessed had little to do with the mill. That was clean river water making its way out to the ocean -- as much as a million gallons of it, according to Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District Superintendent Barry Van Sickle.
Van Sickle told us yesterday that the spill was a result of some faulty computer equipment at a water tank that services the mill. Water levels at the tank are monitored electronically. The device on the tank fritzed out, registering the tank as empty when it was actually full. So the district sent water down the pipe leading to the tank, causing it to overflow into the outlet pictured above. This went on for about an hour before district personnel figured out that something was wrong and turned off the spigot.
It might be galling to places like Las Vegas, San Diego or Barstow, but losing a million gallons of water isn't that big of a deal for the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District. We're currently running a huge surplus of the stuff, even taking this year's dry conditions into account. Of course, Van Sickle said, the district would prefer not to accidentally dump mass quanitities of water into the ocean, but there are unlikely to be any repercussions. It's river water. It was headed that way in any case.
The only consequence likely to be of note was brought up by someone who witnessed the spill with Brilbeck. She told us that this fellow, apparently a surfer, noted that the movement of sand into the sea was likely to create a nice new break at that spot.
The fiber scramble continues.
The strangest thing about the various efforts to bring a redundant broadband fiber to Humboldt County is how new plans just seem to pop up out of nowhere. Virtually everyone is in agreement these days that a second fiber optic cable is vital to our community's ability to function in the 21st Century. Coming up with a viable business model, however, has proved elusive.
A company by the name of Broadband Associates International, Inc. is the latest player on the field, having just landed approval for almost $8 mil in state funding via the California Advanced Services Fund. That's 40 percent of the total price tag of the project -- $19.5 million -- and local players are already questioning how Broadband Associates plan to come up with the other $12 mil.
If their plan proves viable (and for now that "if" remains large), not only would it provide a broadband safety net to those North Coasters who subscribe to their service (in addition to AT&T's existing line -- gotta have both!), it may also allow for "last mile" broadband access in such un- or under-served communities as Willow Creek, Salyer, Burnt Ranch, Big Bar and Weaverville.
According to Broadband Associates' Web site , the company was "founded by a team of highly experienced education professionals and telecom experts from AT&T Broadband." Could that explain why AT&T seemed hesitant to sign on to another approach? Stay tuned.
UPDATE : Willits Online also received CASF funding approval -- $54,000 to bring broadband to Laytonville. Again, this amount is 40 percent of the total project cost -- in this case, $135,000.
CORRECTION : While virtually everyone is in agreement that redundant broadband is needed on the North Coast, not everyone agrees that the method must be a second fiber. Microwave technology could provide an alternative.
Last night, while many in Humboldt were out partying to celebrate the swearing in of our new prez, I stayed home with my wife Amy to watch the Inauguration Balls on TV, on MSNBC to be exact.
Amy imagined we might see some of the top-flight bands playing, but that wasn't what MSNBC offered. While waiting for Barack and Michelle to make their way from one ball to another, commentators talked politics, or about Michelle's gown, or cut to "reporters" doing red-carpet style interviews with whatever celebrities they could coax into camera range.
Eventually the Obamas would show up and Barack would give a short inspirational speech, never exactly the same, but with the same general message along the lines of thanks for hiring me, and let's pull together to make this thing work.
Then he would excuse himself announcing he was going to dance with his wife. At that point some band would break into the Etta James classic, "At Last." The routine repeated ball to ball, like something from Groundhog Day , always leading to a slow-dance to the strains of "At Last," sometimes with Michelle tripping over the long train on her gown.
Most music fans only know the song because Beyonce did it in Cadillac Records , the recent movie telling the story of Chess Records. I imagine she sang it at one of the balls , but I didn't see it. I heard Etta herself sing it at the Jambalaya and a couple of other places. It was always a showstopper. I'd have to say, in a weird way, it was an appropriate choice for last night. We have a new president — at last.
At last, my love has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song
Oh, yeah, yeah, at last
The skies above are blue
My heart was wrapped up in clover
The night I looked at you
I found a dream that I could speak to
A dream that I can call my own
I found a thrill to press my cheek to
A thrill that I have never known
Oh, yeah yeah, you smiled, when you smiled
Oh, and then the spell was cast
And here we are in heaven
For you are mine
Joseph Byrd of the USA, my mascot of an American truth that is more David Lynch than Steven Spielberg, developed sounds for toys, wrote TV theme tunes, produced klezmer music and tussled with Napster over artist royalties. He currently teaches musical history, collaborates with cerebral Norwegian improvisers Spunk, and writes a very fine food column for the North Coast Journal in Humboldt County, California. This might be an only-in-America ending for one of its most respected cult musicians ...
We'll take it! Says Mr. Byrd:
The Brits have always liked me more than I deserve (Americans less than), but my head swelleth to read this. He makes me sound as important as I think I am!
Wikipedia has a brief overview of Byrd's strange, eventful life.
Local landowner Ray Christie was arraigned at the county courthouse today on six misdemeanor charges stemming from last month's raid on his McKinleyville farm, where animal control officers found heaps of evidence suggesting a massive gamecock breeding operation.
Christie, who looks like this --
-- appeared in street clothes (blue flannel shirt, Carhartt jeans, workboots) along with his lawyer. They entered not-guilty pleas, and a pre-trial date was set for Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. Christie, looking relaxed, promptly left the courtroom after the trial date was set.
No one reached at the DA's office Friday afternoon could say why Christie's being charged with just six misdemeanors despite the nearly 1,400 roosters, 72 knives and 13 pairs of gaffs (or spurs) seized from his property last month, according to the T-S .
This just in from KSLG:
Ann Coulter, the author of Guilty: Liberal "Victims" and Their Assault on America will discuss her new book with John Matthews Monday, Jan. 19 at 9:00 a.m. Coulter is the legal correspondent for Human Events and writes a syndicated column for Universal Press Syndicate. Her weekly column can be found at anncoulter.com .
Listeners can tune in on the dial at 94.1 KSLG FM or online at
Any suggestions for what Mr. Matthews might ask her?
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