Sweet Judy 1943-2011


Harper's Index

Percentage decrease in the median U.S. household income during the “Great Recession” : 3.2

During the subsequent “recovery” : 6.7

Portion of income growth since the end of the recession that has gone to corporate profits : 9/10

Minimum number of pigs stolen in Minnesota this September : 744

Amount the Emergency Homeowners’ Loan Program returned to the Treasury after its allocation deadline passed : $568,000,000

Minimum amount the U.S. government overpaid for federal services in 2010 : $26,000,000,000

Percentage by which the average contracted project costs the government more than the equivalent government-run project : 83

Estimated percentage of U.S. public schools that will fail this year under the standards set by No Child Left Behind : 82

Chance that a school has lowered its proficiency standards to inflate test scores since 2005 : 1 in 2

Price the Berkeley College Republicans charged white men for baked goods at their September “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” : $2

Price they charged black men : $0.75

Date on which Governor Rick Scott said that Florida doesn’t need “more anthropologists” : 10/10/2011

Date on which Scott’s daughter received her anthropology degree : 1/11/2008

Rank of the U.S. Congress among world legislatures for gender parity : 89

Portion of U.S. mothers who read People magazine : 1/3

Percentage of Americans who say news organizations “hurt democracy” : 42

Chance that an American between 18 and 24 has read a book in the past year that wasn’t required for school or work : 1 in 2

Portion of the “Millennial Generation” that is “absolutely certain” God exists : 2/3

Rank of non-denominational Christianity among the fastest-growing religions in America during the past two decades : 2

Rank of “none” : 1

Number of Bibles that have been to the moon : 100

Number of messages in bottles sent out by one resident of Prince Edward Island since 1996 : 5,230

Number of responses he has received : 3,201

U.S. patent number assigned to a device for building the perfect snowman : 8,011,991

Number of codes in the current nationwide system for describing medical services on insurance bills : 17,849

Number in the new federally mandated system : 141,058

Code number for “crushed by alligator, initial encounter” : W5803XA

For “crushed by alligator, subsequent encounter” : W5803XS

Odds a West Virginia driver collided with a deer in the past year : 1 in 53

Date on which Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, unveiled a sculpture commemorating the Beatles’ 1964 visit there : 9/18/2011

Hours that the Beatles spent in the town : 1

Date on which the Chinese city of Chaohu was “canceled” by government decree : 8/22/2011

Percentage of Icelanders who believe that the existence of elves is “probable” or “certain” : 25

Number of Italian earthquake experts currently on trial for manslaughter for downplaying the risk of a 2009 earthquake : 7

Percentage of the vote received by the Pirate Party in Berlin’s September municipal elections : 8.9

Number of sex dolls distributed to SS soldiers by Heinrich Himmler, according to a book released this September : 50

Number of Afghan army battalions currently able to fight without coalition support : 0

Number of “major threats” the Transportation Security Administration has detected in the decade since its creation : 0

Portion of adults under thirty who think Hollywood is a threat to their values : 1/3

Minimum number of times Newt Gingrich has seen The Hangover : 7


The Night Watcher (Charlayne Woodard)

The Kirk Douglas Theatre Culver City

Charlayne Woodard’s manner is so disarmingly anecdotal in her effervescent solo show, “The Night Watcher,” that it takes a moment to realize that this isn’t our best girlfriend sharing confidences from the stage of the Kirk Douglas Theatre but a performer whose luminous talent exceeds her limited stardom.

She begins with a tale involving another gifted African American actress, the more famous Alfre Woodard (no relation), who called her up out of the blue to get Woodard and her husband to consider adopting a mixed-race baby that was about to be delivered at a Los Angeles hospital. This would seem to be an unusual thing to urge on a colleague, but it seems that many people have had a similar desire to put Woodard’s nurturing skills to good use.

“The Night Watcher” can be seen as one woman’s defense of remaining childless. But it’s really about the many ways in which maternal love can be shown in a world badly in need of more guiding hands. Given a tastefully simple production by veteran director Daniel Sullivan on a stage with a simple chair and just the right number of suggestive background projections, this modest offering touched me with its generosity, gentle humor and grace.

The night watcher 2Wrestling with her ambivalence, Woodard fears that she wouldn’t live up to the model of the “warrior mother” who raised her. Whatever she sets out to do, she wants to do with all her heart, and the demands of motherhood fill her with doubts. The oldest of five children, she had ample opportunity to mind her siblings. Now that she has become a successful “blue-collar actor,” she has grown fond of her domestic peace and freedom, the lazy Sundays with her husband reading the L.A. Times with their Maltese terrier snuggled between them.

But when godmotherly duty calls, she answers. Her fragmentary stories, briskly arranged over two acts, depict her stepping “into the gap” of foundering young lives. There is one goddaughter from an affluent family in Brentwood who gets pregnant at 14 and comes to her behind her parents’ back for advice. An 11-year-old niece, an adopted mixed-race girl with a snarling attitude, tests her patience with remarks that range from bratty to outright racist. A child who was horribly abused by her mother begins to envy Woodard’s pampered dog. One 15-year-old, the daughter of Woodard’s late friend, reveals that she has difficulty reading but no difficulty in attracting much older men. A nephew running into trouble with the law is at a dangerous crossroads.

Woodard’s interventions are sometimes successful, sometimes inconclusive and sometimes an apparent flop. She is rebuffed by parents who resent her dilettantish concern. Most problems can’t be fixed by weekly phone calls or checks for karate school or heartfelt pep talks. Time, constancy and regular sacrifice have no substitutes.

But Woodard brings other qualities to the table, such as a solidarity with youthful struggle, a playfulness born out of pleasure and empathy and a memory of the “aunties” who made an incalculable difference in her life. Woodard’s young charges are proud that she appeared on the TV series “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (though confused why she lives in an apartment and not a mansion). But her flickering fame isn’t as influential as the example she sets of someone true to herself rather than others’ expectations.

Adults in the audience will be as drawn to Woodard as her community of kids. The radiant levity of her stage deportment, the blithe way she slides into accents and adopts signature traits and the strains of songs that joyfully burst from her keep us delighted even when certain segments cry out for more tightening. And anchoring it all is our grounded host with the cultivated voice, the one who has appeared in Shakespeare, Suzan-Lori Parks, countless television shows as well as her own solo plays. Woodard the artist. It is this presence that gives “The Night Watcher” its moral weight and assures us that while we are in her company we are in the safest of hands.
— Charles McNulty
Los Angeles Times


Charlayne Woodard


Cleveland Browns Fan Rant


Time Displacement

Penn State and Joe Paterno (L.A. Times)


This should be the end of Paterno State

It's a tragedy, but it's not a coincidence that abuses occur when football program is allowed free rein.

As university presidents throughout the country view the steaming pile of rubble that was once college football's greatest coach and its most admired program, they should understand one thing.
None of this is a coincidence.
It is no coincidence that the most heinous scandal in the history of college sports happened at Penn State University.
It is no coincidence that an alleged child molester was allowed to roam the Penn State University grounds unchecked for nearly a decade with the knowledge of everyone from the school president to the football coach.
It is no coincidence that an alleged sexual assault of a 10-year-old boy in the showers of the school's football locker room was never reported to police by anyone at Penn State University.
It is no coincidence, because for 46 years it was not really Penn State University, it was Paterno State University. It was a school that sold its soul to football coach Joe Paterno for the sake of riches and recognition, a school that found its identity in his plain uniforms and lived its life by his corny pep talks.
Paterno was allowed to play God, and so his longtime assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was allowed to do whatever he wanted, wherever he wanted, even if it included alleged sexual abuse of eight boys over a 15-year period.
Penn State created Joe Paterno, worshiped Joe Paterno, and stunningly required four long days to finally throw the phony out into the street Wednesday when public furor forced the school's board of trustees to fire him for not reporting Sandusky to police.
What took them so long? It was the same sick fear of Paterno's power that created this nightmare in the first place.
Penn State and Paterno got everything they deserved for failing to live up to the words uttered by board vice chairman John Surma, a truth acknowledged 46 years too late.
"The university is much larger than its athletic teams,'' said Surma, as if that was something that actually needed to be said.
The shame on the 84-year-old Paterno will last the rest of his life. His two national championships and Division 1 record 409 victories will pale in comparison to the number, apparently growing, of allegedly assaulted children.
The dishonor to the university will last for years. Who on earth wouldn't think twice before sending their child to a place where the priorities are so whacked that the football team was allowed to hide an alleged child molester as long as they won football games?
The question now is, how long will the scandal rumble the foundations of similar athletic kingdoms created by other schools around the country? There are other Penn States out there. Are they listening? Will they learn?
Will this affect the transparency and accessibility of those giant athletic departments whose buildings are locked and closed to everyone who does not have the proper key card or fingerprint?
Will this change the way administrators so tightly embrace the athletic money machines that they create a sense of entitlement among 18-year-olds who break NCAA rules because they think rules don't apply?
Amid a college football season filled with cries from angry athletes demanding to be paid, will people look at the Penn State crisis and realize that a player payroll would only make the athletic department walls taller and thicker?
The Penn State issues which led to this cover-up are not new ones.
Several decades ago, former Oklahoma University president George Lynn Cross once told the Oklahoma senate, "I want a university the football team can be proud of."
Just last summer, when asked if he was going to fire Ohio State's football coach Jim Tressel, the school's president Gordon Gee said, "I hope he doesn't fire me."
This attitude always sounded funny, but it's always been real, and how sad that it took the violation of children to make the sports world understand.
Even at the end, Paterno didn't understand, as evidenced by his final pathetic call as a head coach. Early Wednesday, he announced he was retiring at the end of the season, noting in his statement that he didn't want the school's board of trustees to worry further about him.
Yeah, right. He was just trying to squeeze two or three more moments of glory as his castle was collapsing around him.
And of course he thought it would work. This is the same Paterno who basically threw university president Graham Spanier and athletic director Tim Curley out of his home several years ago when they tepidly approached him with the idea of resigning.
But this time, finally, thankfully, the power sweep didn't work. The trustees didn't fall for it. On Wednesday evening Paterno was gone, and how fitting that both Spanier and Curley have also been kicked to the curb.
In a final show of misguided loyalty Wednesday night, some Penn State students surrounded Paterno's home and cried for him.
Save your tears for the victims while working up a cheer for the fall of one of the most oppressive college sports dictatorships in America.
Paterno State University is gone. May it rest in pieces.