May 30, 2008

Harvey Korman 1927 - 2008

I remember first seeing him on the Carol Burnett Show. I loved the routines he did with Tim Conway. He would be biting his lip, face beet red and tears pouring out of his eyes. He was trying so hard not to laugh at Tim's antics. I will miss him. He was one of the good ones.

Article here

Harvey Korman, 81; versatile Emmy-winning comedian

By Valerie J. Nelson, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

May 30, 2008

Harvey Korman, an Emmy-winning comedic actor best known for playing the self-described "luminous second banana" for a decade on television's "The Carol Burnett Show" and for starring in such Mel Brooks films as "Blazing Saddles," has died. He was 81.

Korman, who had undergone several major operations, died Thursday at UCLA Medical Center of complications from an abdominal aortic aneurysm that ruptured four months ago, his daughter, Kate Korman, told The Times.

With a knack for physical humor and oddball accents, Korman was a master sketch comic who did his best-known work on Burnett's variety show beginning in 1967 in an ensemble that included Tim Conway.

"It's a 45-year friendship," Conway said. "It was a great ride; we worked together probably 30 years, plus the Burnett show, which was about as good as it gets."

Brooks called Korman "a major, major talent, and he could have very easily have done Shakespearean drama. That's how gifted and talented Harvey was. . . . I loved working with him."

Conway said Korman had "a complete understanding of comedy and comedy timing."

On the Burnett show, which steadfastly stayed in television's top 10 during its run, Korman showcased his versatility -- playing a robust Yiddish matron in one skit, then reappearing as a comic Rhett Butler while sending up "Gone With the Wind" with the show's star.

He scored as the big-bosomed Mother Marcus and hapless Ed, who was a member of the incredibly dysfunctional "Mama's Family," one of the more popular skits that became a series in the 1980s.

"Give me something bizarre to play, or put me in a dress and I'm fine," Korman jokingly said in a 2005 Chicago Sun-Times interview.

Korman and Conway developed an uncanny rapport that made them arguably one of television's most lethal comic teams; Conway's on-camera ad-libs often made Korman crack up; producers wisely kept them in the show.

For about eight years, until late last December, the pair toured the country in a stage show that, more than anything, was a homage to their years with Burnett. They performed about 120 shows a year.

"I don't know whether either one of us was the straight man," Conway said. "The most important thing in comedy when you're working together is for one guy to know when to shut up. And we both knew when to shut up; quiet show, actually."

One of their favorite routines from the Burnett show was the dentist sketch, "where I kind of anesthetize my entire body with Novocain" while trying to fill Korman's teeth, Conway told The Times on Thursday.

"They play it at all the dental schools, as kind of an introduction on how not to do it," Conway said.

In an interview several years ago with the Palm Beach Post, Conway said of the versatile cast that included Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner, "The five of us were the New York Yankees of our time."

With more than 1,000 sketches behind him, Korman left the Burnett show after 10 years. He was 50.

"It was now or never, and if ever I planned to expand my career beyond sketch work, I'd better do it now," he said at the time, according to a 1990 Toronto Star story.

ABC had promised him his own comedy series, but "I kept making pilots . . . until everybody said, 'Get outta here, for God's sake. Nothing's working,' " Korman told United Press International in 1993.

From 1983 to 1985, he appeared in "Mama's Family," the NBC sitcom that featured a number of Burnett alumni, including Lawrence and Burnett, who made a number of guest appearances.

Korman made more than 30 films, including four comedies directed by Brooks, who first discovered him when his wife, the late Anne Bancroft, singled Korman out on "The Carol Burnett Show."

"My wife said, 'You've got to see this guy. They're doing the Andrews Sisters [in a sketch] and this Harvey Korman is the best of the bunch.' . . . Harvey was so funny. When I was putting together 'Blazing Saddles,' I just knew he was a natural" for the role of Hedley Lamarr in the 1974 Western satire.

"I had some real problems working with Harvey," Brooks told The Times on Thursday. "I used to look past his eyes. . . . If our eyes met, that's the end of the take. We would break up."

Brooks also cast Korman in "High Anxiety" (1977), "History of the World -- Part 1" (1981) and "Dracula: Dead and Loving It" (1995).

Korman's other films included "Gypsy" (1962), "Herbie Goes Bananas" (1980), "Trail of the Pink Panther" (1982) and "Curse of the Pink Panther" (1983). In the 1978 television movie "Bud and Lou" he played straight man Bud Abbott to Buddy Hackett's Lou Costello.

Harvey Herschel Korman was born Feb. 15, 1927, in Chicago to Cyril and Ellen Korman. He started acting in school plays in kindergarten and turned professional at 12, when a local radio station signed him.

After serving in the Navy during World War II, he enrolled in drama school in New York and tried to make it on Broadway but spent the better part of a decade waiting tables and pumping gas, he later recalled.

In the early 1960s, Korman moved to Hollywood and began working regularly on "The Danny Kaye Show" in 1964 and stayed with the musical-variety show until the end of its three-year run. Then came the Burnett show.

He would go on to guest-star in dozens of television shows and work as a voice actor until 2001.

Offstage, Korman professed to being a determinedly unfunny person "who can't tell a joke if my life depended upon it," but his daughter Kate disagreed: "He was probably funnier in real life."

In addition to Kate, Korman is survived by his wife, Deborah; three other children, Laura, Maria and Chris; and three grandchildren.

Services will be private.

valerie.nelson@latimes.com

Times staff writer Dennis McLellan contributed to this report.

Posted by Valkyre at 08:18 PM | Comments (0)

May 29, 2008

It's a Conspiracy!

For some odd reason, the powers that be do not want us to go see Speed Racer. I posted here about walking out halfway through and getting vouchers for another show. And so, every time we picked another day, something came up. We were going to go last night, when I got a phone call from my sister. They were going to move my dad to a assisted living facility and she wanted me to hang by the phone, just in case there were any problems. So, we decide to go to a 2pm showing. We left the house at 1:10pm. Now, I knew this tire was low. I had asked Mike to check it a couple of days ago. Up to this point, I had been checking the tire. I completely forgot about it as we took off. Since the roads around here are crap to start with, one doesn't really know whether they have a flat tire or if it's just the surface of the road. At a red light, a few blocks from the house, someone tooted their horn. Amanda looks up at the Semi truck next to us. "Mom!? That trucker is trying to say something". I look up at him, through the passenger window. "Ma'am? Your tire looks really low. In fact it looks flat! I don't think you should be driving on it!" I thanked him, pulled into the left turn lane, turned and pulled into a church parking lot. Damn! Thing was flatter than a pancake. Called AAA and a guy was out within half an hour. Saw a nail in the tire and told me that he could just fill it with air. It would hold enough to get me to a tire place and get it plugged. By the time he was done, it was 2:04pm. Past the start time of the movie. So, we are now home and are going to try for the 5:00pm show. We are wondering what's going to happen now.

Posted by Valkyre at 03:04 PM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2008

The Pool Saga Continues

As I posted here, the once sparkling pool turned to murky green in a matter of days. I was hoping that it wasn't the "laterals" in the sand filter, but I think it is. I tried to vacuum up the sand while watching the output. Sure enough, as I vacuumed, sand came spitting out of the output about as fast as the vacuum sucked it in. So, I shut off the pump and put the cover back on the pool. The filter has been draining for the last several hours. It will now have to be taken apart and the sand removed. Then, I will have to remove the assembly that the laterals are connected to and check them for any cracks. Then, when everything is fixed, it's back to square one. Shocking, algaecide, vacuuming, clarifier, etc. Hopefully, I can get this done before it starts to get really hot.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:04 AM | Comments (2)

May 26, 2008

Why I Rarely Go to the Movie Theater Anymore

Countless newspaper articles bemoan the fact that audiences numbers are going down for the movies. The pundits come up with different reasons, ranging from the economy to the dearth of good movies. The reason we don't go as much? The fucking audience. This was brought home to me last night as we tried to sit through Speed Racer. I grew up with that cartoon and always loved it. I bought the complete series on DVD. My daughters started watching the show and loved it. So, we were looking forward to seeing the movie. It was a 7:30 showing at a nearby megaplex. I didn't expect too many people there to see Speed Racer. It's been in the theaters for awhile and it didn't get good reviews. So, I was somewhat shocked when we walked into the shoebox sized theater and saw that most of the seats were taken. We got into the first row of the stadium seats and waited for the movie to start. Enter the "family from hell"..... It looked like a mother, father and about 5 kids. One was a toddler boy. This is a PG movie. Not a G movie. There were so many of them, that they had to split up. One of the girls ended up a seat away from me. The toddler spawn was sat right behind me, of course. And was immediately restless. They weren't the only ones who had toddlers and small children, who were obviously going to be bored by the movie. But, they were the worst. The whole family was quite noisy. Chatting and making a lot of noise during the previews. "Okay". I thought, "I will give tolerate them yakking through the previews....." The movie starts.... The brat behind me keeps up a nonstop dialog. His inept mother keeps "shushing" him but it does no good. Occasionally, the whole family would giggle at some of the things the undisciplined little brat would do. Do they think they're in their fucking living room!? Other audience members shushing the kids and dirty looks didn't seem to get across to these idiots that they were ruining the movie for everyone else. We missed out on key plot points and dialogue due to being unable to hear. Every time that little brat opened his mouth, I would be distracted. And then, I would tense up. I would have to calm down before I could get back into the movie. Halfway into the movie, my daughter Amanda leaned towards me and said, "I can't sit through anymore of this!" I could see that she was as tense as I was. I was going to suggest that we leave and just wait for it to come out on DVD. But, we thought of just coming back for a later show in a weekday. So, for the first time in my life, I walked out on a movie. We stood up and started to walk towards the aisle. The brat daughter to my left had her feet blocking the aisle. I just started to walk towards her. If her legs were in my way, I was going to walk through them. At that point, I didn't give a shit. I was so pissed. One look at my face though, and she sheepishly moved her legs. I turned towards the mother of the devil spawn and hissed, "Thanks a lot lady!" through clenched teeth. As we were leaving though, it occured to me that we had just spent just over $30 to come here. I wanted my money back. Or, at least a voucher for some tickets for a later date. Oddly enough, no one argued with me. Perhaps it was because they didn't want to confront a 6 foot tall homicidal bitch who looked ready to tear the theater apart. I, and my daughters, were livid. We ranted all the way home. And, we are still pissed about it this morning. Are these people to lazy to hire a babysitter? And, why don't they do more to keep their kids quiet!? I miss the old days of ushers, standing in the back of the theater. Waiting for moments like these, where they would ask noisy people to quiet down, or leave. People with crying babies would be asked to remove them. Since the vouchers are good at any AMC theater, we are going to go to one that's a little further away and with a later showing. We are hoping that by then, anyone with noisy brats will be at home putting them to bed.

Posted by Valkyre at 09:02 AM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2008

Understatement of the Year

"The plane is very seriously damaged," he said

Looking at that picture, and reading that statement made for a good laugh. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

Article here

Boeing 747 splits in two on take off

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- A large cargo plane crashed at the end of a runway and split in two while trying to take off Sunday at Brussels airport, authorities said.

The plane was about to depart for a scheduled flight to Bahrain when it crashed.

Four of the five crew members on board the Boeing 747 were slightly injured and were hospitalized, said Jan Van der Cruysse, spokesman at Brussels Airport.

"The plane is very seriously damaged," he said. The aircraft cracked in two after it crashed at the end of runway 220, which lies very close to a rail line and houses.

Rail services to and from the airport were suspended as a safety precaution, however the crash did not affect other flights at the airport, Van der Cruysse said.

Francis Vermeiren, mayor of the nearby town of Zaventem, said the plane did not catch on fire when it crashed after attempting to take off. Vermeiren was coordinating rescue efforts at the airport. Watch shattered plane straddle end of runway »

"The plane is not on fire but it has split into two," he told VRT radio.

Firefighters coated the wings of the plane with special fire retardant foam as a precaution because the plane was still full of jet fuel, the mayor said.

He said the plane was on a scheduled flight to Bahrain. It was not known what cargo the plane was carrying.

Vermeiren said the pilot told rescue authorities he heard a large noise while trying to take off just after midday. It was not yet clear what caused the crash.

The plane is owned by Kalitta Air, a cargo carrier based at Willow Run Airport near Ypsilanti, Michigan, and makes regular flights from Brussels, officials said. A person who answered the telephone at Kalitta Air said Sunday morning that no one was immediately available to comment.

Posted by Valkyre at 05:24 PM | Comments (1)

May 18, 2008

Ever Get the Feeling You're Being Watched?

So, I'm out moving the sprinkler. I move it over a patch of grass, under one of our pine trees, when I get an urge to look up into the branches. And then I spot her. A Mourning Dove looking down at me. She didn't seem afraid. I guess she knew she was out of harms way. She waited there long enough for me to get my camera and get these shots. While I was snapping away, I could hear her mate calling to her. She flew off soon after. It was nice to bring out the camera and use it. It seems I've been too busy to snap anything lately.

Posted by Valkyre at 07:59 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2008

Two Down, One to Go

We need a Triple Crown winner. I think I figured out why people are so desperate for one. We need good news! The economy is screwed, the war in Iraq and all the depressing shit that the news brings to us every day. We need some good news. A horse finally winning the Triple Crown, after 30 years, I think would bring a little light into people's day. I hope Big Brown can do it.

Article here


Big Brown one step from history after running away to Preakness victory

His commanding 51/4-length win sends him to the Belmont with a clear shot at the Triple Crown.

By Larry Stewart, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

May 18, 2008

BALTIMORE -- For the last two weeks after the Eight Belles tragedy at the Kentucky Derby, horse racing has been examined, dissected and criticized.

But on a mostly clear, sunny afternoon Saturday before a crowd of 112,222 at Pimlico Race Course, the sport hit a high point as it was proved that, any way you want to color it, Big Brown is a superstar.

After a more-than-convincing 5 1/4 -length victory in the 133rd running of the Preakness Stakes, all that's left for Big Brown to do to claim his spot in horse racing immortality is to win the Belmont Stakes on June 7.

He would then become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

Big Brown went unchallenged by the 11 other horses in the Preakness. Southern California-based Gayego, ridden by Mike Smith, led until the three-quarter pole, then faded badly and finished 11th.

Macho Again, a 39-1 shot who was eighth at the three-quarter pole, managed to get up for second and paid $17.20 to place and $10.40 to show. Icabad Crane finished third and paid $5.60 to show.

The winner went off at 1-5 and, in an oddity, paid $2.40, $2.60 and $2.40.

Jockey Kent Desormeaux said he never even had to use his whip on Big Brown.

"I kissed at him," he said. "I tapped him on the shoulder. He just took off.

"I don't know. I guess I was knuckling on him, elbows and whatnot, for about 100 yards, and then I looked between my legs and they were eight [lengths] behind me. I stopped pushing. I said that's enough. Then I looked one more time I think at the 16th pole."

He said it was still an eight-length separation.

"I starting slowing him down and watching TV, making sure nothing went crazy," Desormeaux added.

Big Brown, who covered the 1 3/16 miles in 1:54.80, is the first 3-year-old since Smarty Jones in 2004 to head for the Belmont Stakes with a Triple Crown in play.

Big Brown's main competitor at the Belmont figures to be Casino Drive, winner of the recent Peter Pan Stakes.

Asked for his opinion of Casino Drive, Big Brown's trainer, Rick Dutrow Jr., said, "Well, I would like to have him, No. 1. He looks like a nice horse. No. 2, he can't beat our horse."

Big Brown's owners are New Yorkers Michael Iavarone and Richard Schiavo, who once worked on Wall Street. Now they're headed back to New York with a horse that could make history.

Big Brown, now unbeaten after five starts, was originally purchased for $190,000 by Brooklyn trucking executive Paul Pompa Jr., who sold a three-quarter interest for $2.5 million to Iavarone and Schiavo while maintaining a quarter-interest for himself.

Big Brown earned $600,000 for Saturday's win and boosted his earnings to $2,714,500.

Not that it necessarily means anything, but, as was the case at the Derby, Saturday was a bad day for horses who had last run on synthetic surfaces. There were six in the Preakness field and the best finish in the group was a fifth by longshot Stevil.

The other Southern California horse in the field, Yankee Bravo, ridden by Alex Solis, finished 10th, a neck in front of Gayego. Southern California jockey Tyler Baze was on Tres Borrachos, who finished ninth.

Desormeaux was a major part of the Southern California circuit for 16 years before he left in February 2006 and headed East.

He admits he had a bad attitude at the time and his temper left trainers and owners turning the other way whenever he came around.

He was getting only around two mounts a day and knew there had to be greener pastures elsewhere.

And there certainly were. He is now horse racing's main man, or at least its rein man.

"He was never down," his father, Harris, said after Saturday's race. "Only his business was down."

Desormeaux's wife, Sonia, his high school sweetheart, said, considering all their ups and downs, "This is the high point of our lives."

She and the couple's two sons, Joshua, 15, and Jacob, 9, are planning to move back to La Cañada in August. She just found a new home for them.

But her husband plans to continue to ride in the East.

Sonia Desormeaux said one reason for moving back with the boys is because of the schools in La Cañada. Another is because of a Los Angeles hearing institute that provides Jacob with the care needs. He suffers from Usher Syndrome and was born deaf and is now developing vision problems.

Asked how long he thought his son would continue to ride, Harris Desormeaux said, "As long as God is willing."

Desormeaux's mother, Brenda, was another happy person in the winner's circle here Saturday. But maybe the happiest was Jacob.

Kent Desormeaux often calls him "the happiest kid in the world."

His mother said Jacob, a second-grader, had another reason to be happy.

"His teacher told his class there would be no homework all next week if Jacob's father won the Preakness," she said.

It wasn't clear if Jacob, who relies on cochlear implants in order to hear, heard what his mother said. But he gave her a big hug.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:38 PM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2008

Alleged MySpace 'cyber-bully' indicted in teen's suicide

I posted several entries, awhile back, about Megan Meier:

Some People Aren't Fit to Live in Society

An Update to the Megan Meier Story

They Keep Trying

She was the 13 year old girl who thought she was chatting with a boy on MySpace. He turned out to be the mother, of a friend, that Megan had had a falling out with. She was baiting Megan to see if she was trash talking her daughter. Eventually, "the boy" turned on Megan. And, she committed suicide. There was an outcry. A lot of people couldn't get over the fact that the woman, behind the ruse, might get away with it. Well, in the last entry, it said that the L.A. County Grand Jury was looking into charging her with defrauding MySpace. Well, they came through and she' been indicted:

Article here

Alleged MySpace 'cyber-bully' indicted in teen's suicide

A federal grand jury in L.A. accuses Missouri resident Lori Drew of using the social networking website to torment the girl into thinking she was being dumped by a boy.

By Scott Glover, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

A federal grand jury in Los Angeles today indicted a woman of fraudulently using a MySpace.com account to "cyber-bully" a Missouri teenager who later hanged herself because she believed she was being rejected by a 16-year-old boy she met on the social networking website.

Lori Drew, 49, of O'Fallon, Mo., faces three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to obtain information to inflict emotional distress on the girl and one count of conspiracy.

The case set off a national furor when it was revealed that 13-year-old Megan Meier was the victim of a hoax perpetrated by Drew, who was the mother of one of the girl's former friends.

Authorities in Missouri investigated Meier's October 2006 death but declined to file charges against Drew, saying they were unable to find a statute under which to pursue a criminal case.

Earlier this year, federal prosecutors in Los Angeles launched a grand jury investigation aimed at determining whether Drew or others defrauded Beverly Hills-based MySpace by providing false information to the website.

As word leaked out that an indictment was pending today, Megan's father, Ron Meier, said he welcomed any attempt to hold someone accountable.

"I don't know who is actually is going to end up paying for what happened to our daughter. I just want some justice after all this time," Meier said. "For the first time in as long as I can remember, I actually have hope."

Drew's attorney, H. Dean Steward, said he plans to wage a vigorous defense, suggesting that prosecutors in Los Angeles were overstepping their jurisdiction.

"There are a lot of issues we are going to need to raise, including why it's happening in Los Angeles," Steward said. "It seems like a Missouri case no matter how you cut it."

Times staff writer P.J. Huffstutter contributed to this report.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:29 PM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2008

How To Tell That Your Dog Has Been on Your Computer

Look closely at the name for this particular bookmark. Looks a lot like someone was pressing down on the same keys. Someone with four legs and a tail. We went to the Outback tonight. It was a belated Mother's Day dinner. I wanted to see if I could still make online reservations. That option was no longer available. When I left, for dinner, I left the computer on opened to the website. Came home to find that one of the dogs had been up on my computer desk and hit the key combo to save as a bookmark and then was leaning on the other keys to give it it's ridiculous long name. I also noticed some items, that were one my desk, were on the floor. I don't know which of the four dogs was up on my desk. I suspect Pepper. She will jump up here looking for food sometimes. But Violet, the Jack Russell Terrier, has been known to look for crumbs in the keyboard too. Innocent until proven guilty I guess.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:58 PM | Comments (0)

May 09, 2008

The Pool God Hates Me

I don't want to start any blasphemous rumours
but I think that God's got a sick sense of humour,
and when I die, I expect to find Him laughing.

The lyrics to this Depeche Mode song has been running through my head lately. I do feel there is a God of Pools and he, or she, is laughing their ass off at me right now. After working on the pool for several weeks, with the pump running constantly, we finally get it crystal clear. Absolutely beautiful. So, the weather turns to crap. Those record breaking heat waves turn into June Gloom. Which means grey skies all day, then finally the sun breaks out in the late afternoon. So, it's really too chilly to go swimming. But then, the weather started to warm up and it looked promising for swimming. Except, when I walked out one night, I noticed a somewhat pretty swirl pattern on the bottom of the pool. What? Closer inspection revealed that it was sand. Sand from the sand filter. A lot of it. The sand filter is barely one year old. Reading up on the internet, I find that sand in the pool means that most likely, the laterals at the bottom of the sand filter have probably cracked and that the sand can get through. However, I suspect something else. I do know that if water stops running into the filter, and it starts sucking air, it will spit out sand. I had left the pool running for several hours unsupervised. The water level was dangerously low. Barely above the low line on the water level indicator. The little brat next door likes to throw his toys over the fence. I found a toy wedged in the skimmer part of the filter. Here's what I think happened. I think he tossed the toy into the pool and it managed to get stuck inside the skimmer. At that point, it jammed the little door flap into a slightly closed position which didn't allow any water to get through. Which means the pump started sucking air. For how long? I have no idea. Long enough for it to start spitting out sand. I've vacuumed some of it up and noticed that there was some grit coming out of the outlet into the pool. Not sand, but really fine grit. Eventually, that stopped coming out. So, I am going to vacuum up the rest, back into the filter and check to make sure that it doesn't go back through and back into the pool. Oh, and I'm not giving the suspect toy back. I don't want it back into our pool. We may have to look into raising the fence by that part of the pool. I've had the pump off since last Sunday. I look out this morning and am starting to see a greenish tint in the water. So, I am going to start the routine again, with the sand in the bottom, until I get time to take care of it. So, the crystal clear pool has given away to a faint green cloudiness. It's always something.

Posted by Valkyre at 08:24 AM | Comments (2)

May 08, 2008

Google Maps Are Watching You!

Is this what will soon be happening in the future!? I just hope I'm not caught in the shower, or worse. (giggle)

Posted by Valkyre at 07:38 AM | Comments (0)

May 07, 2008

Wastes of DNA

I've been using that phrase ever since I heard Mandy use it on the Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy. I think it's perfect to describe people who aren't fit to share our oxygen. Case in point, the following losers, captured by video camera stealing a donation jar. The jar was there to collect money to help a 13 year old boy get medical help at the Mayo clinic. I hope they catch this garbage.

There's more information in the following article:

Sick-Child Donation Box Stolen From Party Store

FRENCHTOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- A donation box raising money for a sick child was stolen from a party store in Monroe County on Thursday, police said.

Monroe County Sheriff's deputies said the donation can was stolen from Kenny's Market in Frenchtown Township, off Telegraph Road north of Grafton Road.

Police said surveillance footage from inside the store shows a white woman taking the donation can and hiding it under her coat and walking out.

A white male appears to have also been involved, police said.

The donation can was intended to help a young boy get medical attention at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

Tommy Brancheau, 13, is suffering from a lung disease and his nerves and muscles are deteriorating, according to his family.

They have been collecting money for about three weeks for his medical expenses, which total $100,000. The deadline for collecting the money is the end of May.

"I hope they never have to look at their child at night and hear the words, 'Mommy, do we have enough money to get me better yet?'" said mother Tanya Brancheau.

Police described the thieves as a white woman with long blond hair, wearing a black coat with a hood. The man had blond or light brown hair wearing a red coat with a hood.

Anyone with information can call Detective Jeff Pauli at 734-240-7745.

Anyone who wants to help pay Tommy's medical bills can send a donation to the Monroe Bank and Trust at 102 East Front Street in Monroe, Michigan 48161.

Posted by Valkyre at 07:31 AM | Comments (0)

May 04, 2008

More on Eight Belles

It was weird. I recorded the Derby, since I had to work. When I got home, I went to the website of my local paper and saw that Eight Belles had to be euthanized. So, it was strange to watch the race and see her still alive minutes before she broke down. This is just another about her.

Eight Belles was trying to become just the fourth filly to win the Kentucky Derby.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Boy, did Eight Belles hang with the boys.

All that heart and her gallant fight, however, ended in the worst of all possible ways: a breakdown, an ambulance on the track. And, with no other choice, she was euthanized by injection.

The day began with hope and pomp. Bolstered by the sentimental support from 157,770 fans and endorsed by presidential contender Hillary Clinton and cheered by daughter Chelsea, the filly finished second in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

She crossed the wire 4 3/4 lengths behind favorite Big Brown. Then, with the second-largest crowd in Derby history still whooping it up, Eight Belles collapsed with two broken front ankles.

The magnitude of what happened was slow to reach the fans at Churchill Downs. Not only was a horse down, but it was the filly. And horse racing -- with the memory of Barbaro still fresh and the death of a horse coming only a day earlier on Kentucky Oaks Day -- had to confront grief one more time.

"There was no way to save her. She couldn't stand," trainer Larry Jones said. "She ran an incredible race. She ran the race of her life."

Jones' voice broke and tears glistened in his eyes as he considered his barn without Eight Belles' head poking out of her stall.

"Losing animals like this isn't fun. It's not supposed to happen," he said. "We're heartbroke. We're going to miss her, no doubt."

The field of 19 colts and the dark gray filly were galloping out around the first turn when Eight Belles suddenly went down on both front legs and jockey Gabriel Saez slid off.

"When we passed the wire I stood up," said a distraught Saez, a first-time Derby rider. "She started galloping funny. I tried to pull her up. That's when she went down."

An equine ambulance reached her near the second turn.

Eight Belles appeared to be galloping out normally around the first turn and was headed into the start of the backstretch when she dropped without warning. The crowd was busy high-fiving and celebrating and the distance from the grandstand prevented many from realizing what had happened.

"Everyone breathed a big sigh of relief that everyone came around the track cleanly and then all of a sudden it happened," said Dr. Larry Bramlage, on-call veterinarian.

Quickly, word spread about the horse that was down in the second turn. Fans focused binoculars on the scene, using Saez's red helmet to identify the horse.

"That's one of the saddest things I've ever seen," said fan Kathleen Brower of Louisville. "We went from the high for the winner and something like this happens. It just takes the wind out of the sails."

No more so than for Jones and owner Rick Porter.

Eight Belles could have easily been the wagering favorite in Friday's Kentucky Oaks, an all-girl showcase. But Jones and Porter decided to run her against the boys despite the fact that she had never done so before. She had, after all,solid credentials with a four-race winning streak.

Jones won the Oaks with Proud Spell and set himself up to pull off the double.

At first, Jones didn't realize anything was wrong until he began walking back to the stable area and saw Saez aboard another horse.

Reached by cell phone, a somber Porter said simply, "It's not a good time."

Afterward, Jones disputed any suggestion that Eight Belles had no business taking on the boys.

"It wasn't that, it wasn't the distance, it wasn't a big bumping match for her, she never got touched," he said. "She passed all those questions ... with flying colors. The race was over, all we had to do was pull up, come back and be happy. It just didn't happen."

If Eight Belles had labored to the finish line and been falling farther behind Big Brown in the closing strides, then Jones said he would have "really second-guessed ourselves severely and kicked ourselves in the pants."

But she hit the wire strongly and galloped around the turn without a hitch, leaving the trainer in the white cowboy hat feeling proud. Jones also trained last year's runner-up, Hard Spun.

"We were ecstatic," he said.

For a time, anyway.

Part of Eight Belles' appeal was her status as the first filly since 1999 to run in the Derby; the last to win was Winning Colors in 1988.

Hillary Clinton didn't attend the race, but she ordered her daughter to bet the filly. Eight Belles, who went off at 13-1, repaid the fans' faith by returning $10.60 and $6.40.

Winning jockey Kent Desormeaux and Big Brown galloped by Eight Belles in her waning moments.

"This horse showed you his heart and Eight Belles showed you her life for our enjoyment today," he said. "I'm deeply sympathetic to that team for their loss."

Bramlage said the fracture in Eight Belles' left front ankle opened the skin, allowing contamination to set in. At least one of her sesamoid bones was broken, too.

"She didn't have a front leg to stand on to be splinted and hauled off in the ambulance, so she was immediately euthanized," he said. "In my years in racing, I have never seen this happen at the end of the race or during the race."

Bramlage was hard-pressed to make sense of yet another breakdown that reminded fans of Barbaro's horrific injury two years ago in the Preakness.

"The difficult thing to explain with her is it's so far after the wire, and she was easing down like you'd like to see a horse slow down by that point," he said. "I don't have an explanation for it."


Posted by Valkyre at 05:20 PM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2008

A Bittersweet Ending to the Kentucky Derby

The favorite, Big Brown, didn't disappoint. His fourth start, his fourth win. However, the second place winner, a filly named Eight Belles had to be euthanized. after she crossed the finish line and collapsed. She had broken both ankles. What a terrible thing to happen. It brings back memories of Barbaro.

Article here:

134TH KENTUCKY DERBY

Big Brown wins the Kentucky Derby; Eight Belles euthanized

Morry Gash / Associated Press

3:30 PM PDT, May 3, 2008

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Big Brown backed up his trainer's boasts with an explosive finishing kick and won the Kentucky Derby today, a commanding victory turned somber by the fatal breakdown of the filly Eight Belles on horse racing's biggest day.

The cheers for the winner's 4 3/4-length victory were cut short when Eight Belles, the runner-up, collapsed while galloping out near the second turn. She broke her two front ankles and was euthanized on the track minutes later.

"When we passed the wire I stood up. She started galloping funny. I tried to pull her up. That's when she went down," said her distraught jockey, Gabriel Saez.

Eight Belles was attempting to become the fourth filly to win the Derby.

The unbeaten Big Brown's start from the outside post did little to hamper his charge when the 20-horse field turned for home at Churchill Downs. Under the urging of jockey Kent Desormeaux, the 2-1 favorite cruised to an easy victory to become the seventh unbeaten Derby winner with his fourth consecutive win. The last one was Barbaro in 2006.

That wasn't the only reason thoughts of Barbaro were hard to ignore on this Derby Day.

The breakdown brought back memories of the 2006 Preakness, where Barbaro shattered his right rear leg just after the start. The colt was euthanized months later, after developing laminitis from the catastrophic injuries.

The tragedy undoubtedly drained some of the joy from Big Brown's victory, which sends him to the Preakness in two weeks as the only 3-year-old with a chance to become the first Triple Crown champion since Affirmed in 1978.

"We're ready to roll," Big Brown's confident trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. said.

All week, Dutrow told the world he had the best horse in the field -- and the big bay colt justified every accolade tossed his way.

"I can't describe the feeling that all of us have right now," he said.

The colt became the first Derby winner since Regret in 1915 to have raced only three times previously. He is only the third in 60 years to win after racing in just two Derby preps -- Sunny's Halo in 1983 and Street Sense last year were the others.

In addition, Big Brown became the second winner to start from the No. 20 post. The gelding Clyde Van Dusen did it in 1929.

Big Brown covered the 1\ miles in 2:01.82 in front of the second-largest crowd in Derby history at 157,770. He paid $6.80, $5 and $4.80.

Eight Belles paid $10.60 and $6.40, and Denis of Cork, at odds of 27-1, returned $11.60.

Dr. Larry Bramlage, the Derby's on-call veterinarian, said the filly's injuries were too severe to even attempt to move her off the track.

"She didn't have a front leg to stand on to be splinted and hauled off in the ambulance, so she was euthanized," Bramlage said.

Larry Jones, who trains Eight Belles paid tribute to his filly, who was scratched out of Friday's Kentucky Oaks for a chance to take on the boys.

"There was no way to save her. She couldn't stand," Jones said. "She ran an incredible race. She ran the race of her life."

Tale of Ekati was fourth, followed by Recapturetheglory, Colonel John, Anak Nakal, Pyro, Cowboy Cal, Z Fortune, Smooth Air, Visionaire, Court Vision, Z Humor, Cool Coal Man, Bob Black Jack, Gayego, Big Truck, Adriano and Monba.

The colt earned $1,451,800 for the win and boosted his earnings to $2,114,500 for owners IEAH Stables and Paul Pompa Jr. Pompa, who named Big Brown in honor of United Parcel Service, a client of his trucking business, sold a 75 percent interest in the colt to IEAH for about $3 million after his first race.

Desormeaux won the Derby for the third time, having won aboard Real Quiet in 1998 and Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000. Only three other riders have won more -- Eddie Arcaro, Bill Hartack and Bill Shoemaker.

"It was smooth sailing all the way," Desormeau said. "The horse was very comfortable."

Big Brown was the third favorite to win in the past five years. Smarty Jones won in 2004 and Street Sense won last year.

All eyes were on Big Brown at the start. Dutrow called his colt the fastest of all and he proved it when Desormeaux gunned him close the lead on the mad dash to the first turn. Desormeaux did a masterful job of keeping Big Brown free and clear of any traffic issues.

As the field headed into the backstretch, Big Brown was in sixth place and just waiting for Desormeaux's signal to make his move. It came around the far turn, and Big Brown took the lead at the top of the stretch and was never challenged to the wire.

"I don't even know what we just did," Dutrow said. "I can't express my feelings, only that it was one of the most incredible feelings I ever had, and I can't wait to feel it

Posted by Valkyre at 11:53 PM | Comments (0)

They Found the Pig

I posted an entry about the disappearing floating pig from Coachella. A reward was being offered for its return. Unfortunately, it looks like it's not intact. Pieces of it are being found all over.

Article here

Residents Find More Pieces Of Coachella Helium Pig

A helium-filled swine, released into the night sky during Roger Waters' headlining set Sunday at the Coachella music festival in the Southern California desert, has been found in pieces.

More remains of the inflatable pig were found in the same La Quinta country club where other pieces were found, organizers said Friday.

A small portion of the pig splashed down in John and Patti Fosmire's Hideaway Country Club pool a couple of blocks away from where two larger pig pieces landed and were found Monday, according to festival spokeswoman Marcee Rondan, who said organizers had not yet verified the authenticity of the inflatable remains.

The Fosmires told The Desert Sun's Web site, mydesert.com, that their pool man fished a "towel-sized" portion of the pig out on Monday and placed it by their pool equipment.

"We don't know what to do with it," Patti Fosmire told the newspaper. "We just thought it was funny."

Two other couples found tattered halves of the pig in their yards, a few miles from the festival grounds.

Concert organizers had offered a $10,000 reward for the pig's return. On Tuesday, pieces of the plastic carcass were examined.

"That's definitely our pig," producer Bill Fold said.

Susan Stoltz found a plastic heap in her driveway Monday, but said she didn't know what it was until she read about the missing pig in the Desert Sun newspaper.

"My kids are going to think I'm so cool," she said.

Another resident of the same neighborhood, Judy Rimmer, said she found a piece of the pig draped over a front-yard plant.

As tall as a two-story house and as wide as two school buses, the pig was led from lines held on the ground Sunday as Waters played a version of Pink Floyd's "Pigs" from the 1977 anti-capitalist album "Animals."

Then it just floated away.

"It wasn't really supposed to happen that way. I don't have the details," festival spokeswoman Marcee Rondan said.

The pig displayed the words "Don't be led to the slaughter" and a cartoon of Uncle Sam holding two bloody cleavers. The other side read "Fear builds walls" and the underside read "Obama" with a checked ballot box for Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

Posted by Valkyre at 07:16 AM | Comments (0)