Broadway Theatre in Salt Lake County

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I share with you the op-ed piece I wrote for the Deseret Morning News that ran in this morning’s paper. You can read the original, along with sundry comments, here

____________
Where should the new Broadway-style theater in Salt Lake County be built? That was the implicit question posed in Erica Hansen’s front-page article in last Sunday’s paper. According to her, the answer is clear: “Those asked by the Deseret Morning News, except for Sandy’s Mayor Tom Dolan and the project developer, almost universally agreed — downtown is the place.”

I respectfully note that she certainly didn’t ask me. Nor did she ask any of the members of the growing South Valley Arts Alliance, a community group consisting of residents from all over Salt Lake County who fervently support the Sandy city theater project.

In any case, I believe that the Deseret Morning News is, in fact, asking the wrong question. Unfortunately, it’s the question that has driven most of the media coverage about this project, and both of Salt Lake’s major papers have had no shortage of harsh words for both Sandy city and her mayor. The driving narrative has been that Sandy is essentially stealing something that rightfully belongs to Salt Lake City.

But this isn’t a city project. This theater is being built with private funds.

Contrast this with the Sandy soccer stadium, which required a significant outlay of taxpayer money from both the county and the state. In that instance, elected officials from both bodies had a legitimate voice in how public resources should be used.

But this time around, county and state officials aren’t being asked for a dime. So it’s presumptuous of either the county or the state — or the Deseret Morning News, for that matter — to suggest that Sandy city needs their permission to move forward.
It’s worth noting that nobody is making any attempt to prevent Salt Lake City from building any theater of any kind, either downtown or anywhere else. Sandy is not standing in the way. The stark reality is that the resources to make a downtown theater happen just aren’t there.

Studies have been conducted, and all of them have concluded that a theater downtown would be wildly expensive — and that taxpayers would be forced to foot the bill.

Once again the Utah Theater is being considered as a possible location, but that would require tens of millions of taxpayer dollars just to bring that building up to code, without additional enhancements. Throw in parking considerations and other logistical challenges, and Salt Lake City is back at square one, regardless of what Sandy city does or does not do.

But why focus on the negative? With this theater in Sandy, Salt Lake County is being presented with an extraordinary gift — a valuable public resource that will not be built at public expense. Considering the explosive growth we’ve seen in the south end of the valley over the past decade, it’s not surprising that a developer would find Sandy city a more appealing location than downtown.

Reviewing the project objectively, it’s clear that all county residents will benefit from this magnificent addition to the community. This theater, and the surrounding development, will have countywide, statewide and even regional appeal.

So it’s a bit silly to continue to ask where this theater ought to be. That train has already left the station. The real question is whether Salt Lake City or County should be able to kill a private development when they can offer no viable alternative.

Why should they be able to do that? And, given the tremendous opportunity to enrich the lives of all county residents, why would they want to?

The South Valley Arts Alliance

In addition to this one, I’m going to be running a new, less personal blog. I’m sure you’re very excited. 

It’s going to be over at theprosceniumsandy.com. It goes live tomorrow. It’s all part of a fantastic new arts development going into Sandy City.  The pictures and the video and all kinds of stuff involved in it are nothing short of jaw-dropping. But it’s all embargoed until tomorrow. 

I’m pretty excited, though. 

I’m also the head of a community arts organization created to support the building of 2,800-seat Broadway-style theatre in Sandy. We’re called the South Valley Arts Alliance, and if you want to sign up, let me know. I unveiled the organization this morning in an op-ed piece that was published in the Deseret Morning News. You can read the original with comments here, but I reproduce it below for your edification and enjoyment. 

___________




On Racism: Benihana and Brazil Nuts

So my twin boys, Corbin and Cornelius, turned seven this week. We took them to Benihana for their birthday last night, and Corbin announced that he wants to be a Benihana chef when he grows up. I considered that a worthy goal, although the thought of my son flinging sharp knives all around the room is more than a little disconcerting.

My brother-in-law was sitting next to me, and I asked him whether you had to be Asian to work there. He corrected me.

“Not just Asian,” he said. “You have to be Japanese.”

“Japanese? Really?” I said. “You can’t be Korean or something?”

“Nope.”

“What, you really think they check?”

He thought for just a moment and said, “Nope, you can’t be Czech either.”

Rimshot.

Now, of course, Benihana has no racial hiring requirements at all. Yet there was only one non-Asian chef working the tables, and that got me thinking about race. That’s always a dangerous thing to do, because any discussion about race opens you up to the charge of being a racist, which, as we learned during the OJ trial, is far worse than hacking your wife’s head off with a butcher’s knife. I hesitate to even bring my goofy Benihana exchange, because to many on the Left, even acknowledging the slightest racial differences is tantamount to genocide. Everyone is so ready and eager to take offense. If race is the topic of discussion, it becomes a game of elimination where the first person to say something even marginally insensitive loses.

I really think we’d all be better off if we just got over it.

Easier said than done, sure, but we ought to let more things slide than we do. In my own admittedly white-bread experience, I’ve found genuine racial animus to be relatively rare. Boneheaded racial mistakes are far more common, and I don’t think they reveal much more than just provincial or cultural ignorance. I remember an incident on my mission in Scotland, where we had just baptized a great family that, all the same, were pretty hardcore leftists, and the husband was wont to wear a “Free Nelson Mandela” button on his lapel on a daily basis.

After the family was baptized, they were taught the New Member Lessons by a kindhearted elderly missionary couple from Bountiful, Utah, that I will rechristen Elder and Sister Kimball. They didn’t mean any harm to anyone, but the husband, particularly, was a pretty odd duck, and he had no idea who Nelson Mandela was, and he seemed utterly befuddled when this new member tried to explain why apartheid was not such a great idea.

It was his unassuming wife, however, who committed the racial faux pas that I will never forget.

I don’t remember the occasion, but it was some kind of church social function, and this new member family had brought some Brazil nuts as part of the potluck spread.

And as soon as Sister Kimball saw them, her eyes flew open wife and she said “Oooh! How wonderful! N—ger toes!”

“Really? her husband said. “I love n—ger toes!”

It was if someone had instantly sucked all the air out of the room.

Everyone was aghast. Especially me. If I could have dropped dead on the spot, I would have.

Things eventually went back to normal, so I pulled Sister Kimball aside, and she could tell I was upset about something, but she couldn’t imagine what.

“Why did you call these nuts ‘n—ger toes?’ I asked. “

She didn’t understand the question. “What do you mean?”

“That’s really offensive,” I told her.

“Why?” she asked. “That’s what they’re called.”

Turns out that she’s right, although somewhat outdated. “N—ger toe” was a common colloquialism for Brazil nuts through most of the 20th Century, and I’m willing to bet Sister Kimball probably hadn’t ever used the word to describe a human being. Yet I was terrified that the new members would be offended and would lose their faith over this.

I needn’t have worried. The new member mother cracked a Barzil nut and handed it to her two-year old daughter and whispered, with a smile in my direction, “Here, sweetheart. Have a n—ger toe.” Then she laughed, I laughed, and everything was cool.

Sure, we probably ought not be calling Brazil nuts “n—ger toes.” But should we ostracize an elderly woman for not knowing any better? Or should we all have a good laugh and get on with our lives?

I’m not trying to minimize the corrosiveness of real racism. In fact, I think that’s exactly what we do when we equate a stupid provincial mistake with being a closet Hitler.

I don’t really like Brazil nuts that much anyway.

Whither the Ozone Layer?

Remember the Ozone Layer?

Remember how doomed we were all going to be? The layer would disappear, which would mean no protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays anymore. We’re going to be burned to a crisp! Sizzled! And why? Because we were all using too much hairspray. And air conditioners. And once that layer was gone, boy, it was gone. The end. We were all going to fry like a frog on a hot skillet.

That is, like, sooooo ten years ago.

See, in the meantime, it turns out that the ozone layer is repairing itself, because it fluctuates naturally. Solar activity produces ozone. We couldn’t get rid of the layer if we tried, even if we all used a gallon of hairspray per day on six billion Donald Trump-style combovers.

Guys, these doomsayer environmentalists have NEVER BEEN RIGHT. About ANYTHING.

So when my daughter Cleta comes home with her book order and thinks it might be fun to get a book about how we can all be greener, or even considers buying An Inconvenient Truth: School Edition, I want to absolutely throw up. These people are peddling sludge. Lies. Garbage. I’d rather eat a bowlful of DDT than allow Al Gore to poison my daughter’s mind. (And, by the way, studies conclusively prove that eating a bowlful of DDT wouldn’t hurt me in the least – another instance where green sensibilities have cost lives. Banning DDT has resulted in the deaths of millions upon millions of Africans who needlessly suffer from malaria. Thanks, enviros!)

Yes, I remember sitting in Mrs. O’Brien’s third-grade class and reading about the coming ice age. Now it’s the rising sea, because suddenly we’re warming, not cooling. Nobody bothers to note that the screeching alarmists who wrote my third grade textbook were dead wrong, just as nobody’s willing to announce that we don’t have to get the SPF 5000 sunscreen advertised in the movie RoboCop. We just move on to the next panic, one that always somehow requires us to cede more of our resources and our freedom to a centralized, paternalistic government.

I wish this were a conspiracy, but it isn’t. Conspiracies happen in secret. This is sheer, total idiocy put on display for all the world to see and embrace. And now both parties are embracing it. John McCain is in Utah today, mending fences, appearing with Mitt Romney, telling us all to go back to being good Republicans and vote the party line. And as soon as the coot is elected, he’ll push a multi-trillion tax to deal with a non-existent problem that only the bloated, clunky, ossified Federal Government can solve.

Today’s a good day for a global warming alarmist kook like McCain to show up in Utah. See, it’s almost April. And it snowed this morning.

Funniest Languatron Story in Years

I know not everyone has an interest in the lunacy that is Languatron, but this story is just too funny. 

It seems that Languatron has a bulletin board – “Langy’s Fun Fortress.” He created it over three years ago after being banned from several respectable and semi-respectable bulletin boards. In order to prevent such a thing happening again, and also to avoid actual criticism or debate, he disabled his board’s registration. 
He therefore has a bulletin board at which he is the only one allowed to make any posts. 
Now that’s stupid enough in and of itself. Except that he then took it another step further. He checked his IP logs on a regular basis and started banning repeat visitors from even viewing his board. Why? Because if they were interested in what Lang was writing, then, clearly, they were Universal Studios spies. So anyone who read the board regularly was summarily banned from reading it. 
But wait. It gets even dumber. 

Wittingly or not, Lang modified the board so that only registered users could read it. Remember, his board has only one registered user – himself. For the past two or three years, the board where only he could post has been a board that only he can read. People keep bringing this to his attention, but he ignores them, insisting anyone can read it, and the fact that you can’t is a sign of your affiliation with the pure evil that is Universal Studios. 
Check it out for yourself. Then come back here for the rest of the story. If it were possible, it gets even sillier. 
See, over at frakheads.com, the only board where people can actually interact with the Lang, he has been boasting for months now about all the IP addresses of mine that he’s confiscated. I’ve ignored his unreadable board entirely, yet he insists that I’m using “fake IPs” to keep trying to “crash” it. But Lang is on the job – he grabs each and every IP that comes along. He refers to them as “confiscated” or “captured,” and has said I’ll “never be able to use them again” and that I’m “running out of them.” It’s like he has his own IP address cattle ranch, and he’s poaching all of my livestock. 
Anyway, he recently posted the entire list of the IPs that are in the Languatron stockade, and it’s a formidable list, indeed. I asked him, therefore, how he knew that all of those were mine. 
Here’s his answer, verbatim:
“[My stats software can] tell if there is more than one visitor a day and by golly, no matter how many IP addresses the board gets per day, it’s only registering one visitor. Fake IP addresses can’t fool the software, the software knows it’s the same idiot.”

I read that and almost soiled myself laughing. See, there’s a difference between hits and visits. His software is telling him what we’ve been trying to tell him for years now – as the only registered member, only he can visit the actual board.  Yet all these hits continue come in, whether they’re Google spiders or whatever, and since the board only logs one visitor, he assumes they’re all me. 
What he also doesn’t understand is that, even if I am every IP address under the sun, he’s admitted that his board only gets one visitor per day. He’s just too stupid to realize it’s him. 
That’s all. You may now return to your regularly scheduled life. 


Over the Weekend

Moist Board restoration continues apace, the current problem being that I can’t get a decent backup of the existing database. Any attempt to back it up craps out after about 17 megs, and the database is at least 5 times larger than that. Still working on it. 

Moist Board backup wasn’t all I did this weekend, though. Easter was fun, complete with Easter egg hunting and family coming over for a barbecue. Very pleasant, indeed, except for the amount of time I spent trying to put together a basketball standard that my boys got for Christmas. Mechanical things and me just do not mix. Mrs. Cornell’s brother helped out for a bit, but the standard is still only partially constructed and scattered all over the front lawn. 
I watched Citizen Kane over the weekend, too. I didn’t mean to, because we had The Office Season 3 Discs 3 and 4, which were going to be the entertainment portion of the weekend, but Disc 4 was broken. I was ticked off. So, with nothing else to watch while I loaded plastic Easter eggs with candy, I had to abandon Steve Carell and Co. and settle for watching what many consider to be the best movie of all time. 
I liked it more than Casablanca. And I can understand why it merits such high praise – it’s technically extraodinary, especially for a 60-year-old film. Other than the black-and-white photography, it has the look and feel of a modern film. 
I don’t think I’ll ever watch it again, though. 
In the first place, I knew the big Rosebud twist. So there was no mystery to the thing. Consequently, I had to get interested in the characters, and, frankly, they weren’t all that interesting. It was novel to see Orson Welles as a young, skinny man as opposed to the bloated, ZZ Top wannabe hawking no wine before its time. But there was something off-putting about him. You always saw his wheels turning –  the whole movie felt like “Look what I can do!” You never lost yourself in the story, because there wasn’t much of a story. It lurched from one event to another with little logical connection. Driving it all was the mystery of Rosebud, which was ruined for me by the song “The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun.” 
SPOILER OF A 60-YEAR OLD MOVIE: 
“Answer me, Debbie, who’s Johnny? Oh G– this is like that movie Citizen Kane you know where you later find out Rosebud was a sled? But we’ll never know who Johnny was because like she’s dead.”
END SPOILER OF A MOVIE THAT YOU PROBABLY ALREADY KNOW 
By the way, Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father. 

Bottom line: congrats, Orson. Well done. But if it’s all the same to you, I’ll watch the Simpsons parody next time instead. 
“Lobo! Lobo! Bring back Sheriff Lobo!”
I also read the comics this weekend and, just for fun, read Rex Morgan M.D. It wasn’t fun, so I don’t know why I read it for the express purpose of having fun. It made me wonder if there’s anyone out there who reads Rex Morgan M.D. on a daily basis. Or Mary Worth. Or any of the serialized soap opera comics. Are any of you on pins and needles to see what happens next week in Prince Valiant? Anyone?
My family started a March Madness basketball bracket. I’m losing. Badly. I picked all the teams at random, and I had Georgia going all the way, and I think they lost in the first round. 
SuperDell Schanze is running for Utah Governor on the Libertarian ticket. If you don’t know who he is, consider yourself fortunate. He started a computer company in Utah called “Totally Awesome Computers,” and he distinguished himself by running the most obnoxious radio commercials known to man, all of which featured Dell himself with his nasal, whining smirk. I remember some where he told you to pray and ask God which computer you should buy, and others where he talked about a tribe of Native Americans called the Shiffer Indians, and they were really stupid, so if you don’t buy a computer from Totally Awesome Computers, you have “Shiffer brains.” (Get it? Sorry.) 
He’s decided not to accept any campaign contributions for his gubernatorial run, but since he’s now the spokesman for MoneyTrain, a title lending company, he’s going to insert political crap into his new, perhaps even more obnoxious radio ads. That should be good for a laugh – if you don’t mind having your eardrums scraped out with a paring knife. 
He, Richard Dutcher-style, no doubt Googles himself on a regular basis – his company’s defunct and he doesn’t have much better to do – so I wouldn’t be surprised if he commented on this. So SuperDell, know that I don’t know you and have no personal beef with you, and I have no interest in being labelled one of the “angels of Satan” that you dub anyone who criticizes you in public. I just think your ads are aural torture, and you’re now the only reason I won’t be voting a straight Libertarian ticket in November. 

Happy Easter – the Moist Board is back!

That’s not a huge cause for celebration, as it’s not on the new server yet. So it’s still achingly, mind-numbingly slow. But at least it’s there. 

Turns out I had changed the password for the database. I changed it back, and voila! Slow board returns. iPower continues to suck. 
I’ve been a neglectful landlord over there for far too long, but the thought of that board just vanishing forever scared the bejeebers out of me. There’s too much stupidity concentrated in one place to just let it die. 
Languatron, over at frakheads.com, was prematurely celebrating Moist’s demise. Lang loses again. Now THAT’S cause for celebration. 

So after sitting on hold for 45 minutes…

..I talk to a woman at iPower who listens while I tell her the story of the Moist Board’s troubles, and then she says, “I’ll write up a technical support ticket for you and have technical support take a look at it.” 

Yet she supposedly works for technical support, so I’m not sure why I wasted the 45 minutes in the first place. 
I really, really loathe iPower. 
The bottom line is that I have a 47 meg DMP file written for MySQL 5.0, and I’m trying to restore it to a new MySQL 4.0 database as the Moist Board languishes in limbo.
Any thoughts? Suggestions? Cyanide brownie recipes?