Archive for July, 2007

Moorlach’s Move

There is this article in the OC Register about OC Supervisor Moorlach’s move to rescind the retirement benefits of the members of the OC Sheriff’s Union.

As a general rule, the benefits given to people who risk their lives on the job are generally given the more generous “3 percent at 50” benefit due to the nature of their jobs. Why should someone who has a much greater chance of getting killed make the same as the guy behind a desk in City Hall? If you didn’t get paid well and get good benefits, why the heck would you want to do the job in the first place? It’s easy to hate law enforcement, because they always have to be the “heavy.” But they provide an invaluable service, and they should be compensated as such.

The article in the Register explains that Moorlach is not going after the regular employees union, which is getting the standard 2.7 at 55. But he doesn’t seem to want to go after the firefighters, who are getting the same retirement deal as the Sheriffs.

Why?

I appreciate firefighters as much as the next person. But I don’t believe that on a daily basis, they put themselves in the same amount of danger as a law enforcement officer. In the name of fairness, if 3 percent at 50 is unreasonable, it’s unreasonable for everyone.

Moorlach’s attack on the union about the agreed benefits package that was agreed on back in 2002 is folly. I think he will lose. And in the meantime, he will be wasting taxpayer money to do it.

He and other governmenf officials should go after the root of the problem, which is really the spiralling cost of health care.

Concert Review – Weird Al Yankovic

“WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC
Location: OC Register Arena at the OC Fair
Next shows: 8pm Friday, July 20 and Saturday, July 21
Admission: Free

Al put on, as usual, an amazing show last night, and while it wasn’t 100% unique (I’d guess the show was about 40% previous concert material), the changes, additions and reshuffling made it all worthwhile. The only song I didn’t know (it’s not on any albums, as far as I know) is “I’m in Love with the Skipper” (apparently a parody of T-Pain’s “I’m N Luv Wit A Stripper”), and I laughed the whole way through. He did his usual Song – Al TV – Song – Al TV pattern until about halfway through, when he had a 30-40 minute medley that was easily the highlight of the main part of the show (Trapped in the Drive Thru got a 6-7 minute treatment. Very nice).

“White and Nerdy” got a huge response from the crowd (especially the first timers), as did “(It’s all about the) Pentiums” and “Amish Paradise”. Amazing the street cred that a white dude in his 40s can earn from the rap world. The show was fairly light on his ballads, though at the beginning of the encore he did a 100% straight version (no parody, no polka) of the Carpenter’s “Close to You”, before finishing the night with “Albuquerque” – in its glorious 13 minute entirety.

As someone who’s now seen Al at least 6 times, I’d give this show a B+ – great song selection, but crowd energy was lower than I’ve seen before, and I really do think it’s time to retire “Fat” (and the suit) and “The Saga Begins/Yoda” (though he had Storm Troopers and Vader come out and dance – that was fun). Otherwise, he did everything you’d expect in Al – and a good time was had.

Yargh, There Be a Rip-Off Ahead

So last week, we decided that we were bored with the status quo. We wanted to do something different, and as my four year old is on a serious pirate kick, we decided to go, of all places, Pirates Dinner Adventure in Buena Park. It was a spur of the moment decision, and as you will see, it’s sometimes a good idea to avoid those.

We arrived and I was pleased that they allowed my son to keep his Captain Hook hat on his head, as I had feared they would forbid anything Disney.

We went inside, and find a fairly good appetizer buffet, although the stations are all spread out and you have to hunt down the best ones. They try to sell you drinks, of course, and I must give a shout-out to Bruce, who kindly gave my son a bottle of water on the house.

After a pre-show of humiliating the guests, which I kind of dig, we were ushered into the main show area. It consists of a theater in the almost-round with a mock pirate ship floating in a lagoon. I am sure it is a lot of water, but it doesn’t really look like it, and proportionally it looks a bit off. You are assigned a specific pirate to cheer for, and the way the show is set up, it seems that the same pirate “wins” all the time, which is a bummer for everyone else, because unless you are seated in that section, your guy is always going to lose.

We were seated in the “blue” section and they asked for volunteers to do various tasks throughout the show, picking mostly young, scantily clad girls. Our waitress seemed nice, and served us a pretty good salad. I was encouraged. Then she brought us our drinks. We chose soda over beer and regretted it, as our pitchers were filled with completely flat soda. If there’s anything I hate, its flat soda.

But by this time, the show has started. There were lots of staged fights, damsels in distress, and singing. I think perhaps a bit too much singing. They certainly jump and swing on ropes and such, but it there is no evidence of real expertise or training involved, other than memorizing when to duck from a fake right hook. And there was also a character that seemed to serve no purpose other than to twirl around on ropes and hang from suspended bars, which got tedious after a while.

The entree came around, and the beef was rather frightening, being in some sort of stew that I couldn’t really see because it was so dark. This scared me because I like to see what I am eating. I didn’t even touch the vegetables because they were of the limp, canned variety. Dessert was a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a slice of apple pie. It was more of a slice-let than a real slice, actually.

Overall, they did a good job of incorporating the audience and any child that wished to could participate in the show, which I thought was really nice touch.

Anyhoo, my four year loved it. He was raising his plastic tankard of water on cue, shouting “Boo” when he was supposed to, and cheering on our guy.

As for my husband and me? While we don’t think it’s the worst way we have ever spent a night, we thought that the price tag was a bit steep for what you got. We even had a coupon. And we still didn’t think it was worth it.

Give me a few years and I’ll think about going back. I’m going to say that in a cage-match of dinner shows, Medieval Times wins.

Asleep on the Job

Yesterday a friend and I took our families to Big Corona State Beach. It was pretty crowded, although not uncomfortably so. The marine layer never really burned off, but it was sort of hot. And the water was sort of cold, which made for a nice contrast.

We were standing on the wet sand, watching our progeny play in the surf, when she looked back at the lifeguard. Not for any particular reason, just happened to be in her line of vision.

She poked me and said, “Look at that!”

And I swear, dude looked like he was asleep. And facing sideways.

Now, maybe he wasn’t and we just caught him at a very bad and awkward time.

But it didn’t inspire much confidence and so we edged a bit closer to the kids. Just in case.

Wanted: 20 acres of prime real estate

If anyone has a spare 20 to 25 acres of land they’d like to lease to Wild Rivers President Mike Riedel, now would be the time to step forward. It looks like the popular south county water park has lost its lease and this will be the park’s final season.

The fun Nazis at The Irvine Company are showing Wild Rivers the door. Goodbye sunshine fun; hello condo developments. In case you’re counting that’s 1,000 employees and 400,000 visitors that will have no wet and wild excitement in Irvine next summer.

According to the OC Register, Riedel would like to open a different south county water park and has designs on the Great Park or maybe other parts of El Toro as possible locations. If Mike gets his new park it would be nice to see a more innovative and immersive aquatic playground with added shade and lush surroundings. Soak City and Wild Rivers are both severely lacking in pleasant natural environs – they should take a page from the book of Schlitterbahn and plant a tree or two.

What say you? Can another incarnation of Wild Rivers survive in South County?

Did You Feel That?

So at approximately 10:10 this morning, we are all minding our own business here at Casa Gina. Then, the earth starts to shake and the windows rattle.

Nope, not a jet but a real live microquake, that measured about 2.7 on the Richter scale. It was centered in Yorba Linda by Yorba Regional Park, which is less than two miles from where I live.

Anybody else rolling and rattling?

CityFacts: Garden Grove

Garden Grove was Incorporated in 1956.

In 1933, one person was killed and most of the central business district was destroyed by the Long Beach earthquake, which measured approximately 6.4 on the Richter scale.

Although only one strawberry field remains within city boundaries, Garden Grove is famous for their Strawberry Festival.

Sublime has a song called “Garden Grove.”

Notable residents include Steve Martin and lots of musicians, including some from the band Offspring, a member of Reel Big Fish, as well as the lead singer of Save Ferris.

A significant amount of the city’s population are of Vietnamese and Korean descent.

According to the city website, “Garden Grove is home to the highest number of churches and places of worship per capita in California, including the world-famous Crystal Cathedral.”

It is also home to the the largest mosque west of the Mississippi.

The city website also encourages people to “examine the giant flea, fly, mosquito, tick, black widow, spider and scorpion displayed on the wall at Orange County Vector Control.” I think I might take a pass on that one.

It is possible to buy a game of “Garden Grove-opoly.” Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll give you the number to call. You know you want to.

Their motto is “The City of Youth and Ambition.” That certainly implies that people like myself, who are old and lazy, are not welcome. It is definitely in the bottom two so far.

It’s Freeeeeee! Part X

Today from 12 to 1pm only, get free admission for the first day of the Orange County Fair!

Also, free admission for all active duty military, law enforcement and firefighters plus one guest today. From 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Supporting the Strike

If you haven’t heard by now, the bus drivers of the OCTA are on strike. And I’m all for it.

Yes, I feel badly for the people, largely poor, who are affected by this. But unless the unions stand up and force the issues of better pay, medical and retirement benefits, they will get screwed. If they don’t, they won’t be that much better off than the people they are driving around. They just need to make sure that they win, unlike the strike a few years back by the grocery workers.

If you think that these people make an outrageous amount of money for driving a bus, compare that to a very young man I know who works in marketing for Abercrombie & Fitch who makes over 120,000 a year. Are the drivers really being that unreasonable? Why is a marketer that much more valuable to our society than a bus driver?

The LA Times did some profiles on some of the riders who have been left stranded by the strike. One of them was a woman who was a nanny for someone in Huntington Beach who made five dollars an hour. Hey, cheapskate in HB, why not try paying her at least the minimum wage?

The obligatory Tom Sawyer Island post

http://oc.metblogs.com/archives/images/2007/07/25tomsawyer_sem-thumb.gif

Dave, this post if for you.

If you stand on the Mainland you are meant to be drawn across the Rivers of America by the sights of swashbuckling pirates and the sounds of the Bootstrappers, the local pirate musicians. What really draws people across the murky shallow waters of the world famous man-made river is the horde of guests melting in the sun, watching the sword fighting and listening the Bootstrappers get down and boogie. Nothing attracts people like a line. A line for what you ask? It doesn’t matter. I have seen guests get in a line for no reason other than they think something worth waiting for must be at the other end.

If you look at the Explorer’s Map of Pirates Lair at Tom Sawyer Island, it all looks awfully big and overwhelming. So much to explore! Aha! A piratey trick it be! Turns out, the island is fundamentally the same – yet different. Essentially you’ll find that major changes have occurred in two areas. The first comes in the form of Dead Man’s Grotto, a 120-foot cave that used to be Injun Joe’s Cave. The walk-through exhibit has been goosed with some nifty but ultimately benign special effects.

Another major addition is that of Smugglers Cove (located back by the old barrel-bridge), which features, the same barrel-bridge and rope-bridge that have always been there. Additionally, you’ll find some interactive toys that reveal skeletons and buried treasure when you play with them. There is a nice photo op of the spherical (and rather macabre) bone cage on hand for those who want to document their visit. Careful what you grab on to in that bone cage, chances are it’s someone’s spinal column. Ah, family entertainment at it’s best.

The rest of the island is a lightly redressed version of what it always was, with a few treasure chests placed here and there as well and a skulking pirate or two wandering about. I am told there is some “top notch” entertainment and a “cool stunt show” to be seen at the front of the island but I honestly skipped it. If I let the history of live entertainment at the Resort be my guide, I wouldn’t have been interested anyway.

Ultimately, the summation of my experience was a pleasant diversion from a typical day at Disneyland. Although Tom Sawyer Island always has been a pleasant diversion while at the park, so I am not sure a whole lot has changed. When the Pirate fad fades away (and it eventually will) I think the Island will settle back into what it always has been: a quite place to escape the hustle and bustle and let the kids blow off some steam.

Of course there is the rumored “phase two” coming up, so you never know what the future will bring. Have you been to the island? Did you see the cursed treasures that it holds? Were you impressed? Do you want to visit the attraction again and again? Do you even care?

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