Sunday, May 29, 2005

Here is former California Academic Decathlon Executive Director, Marvin Cobb with Richard Riordan, California Secretary of Education. Marvin was fired by the Board of CAD only a few weeks ago, in their dissembling while axeing Cobb, they stated that two of the largest donors to the Decathlon did not want Cobb as director. It's possible that Riordan's foundation was one of these. The Riordan Foundation promised to fund the 2005 CAD event, but initially balked at paying the money over to CAD . There is a very convoluted story involving so-called Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), which, luckily I'm very much familiar with. . . . Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 22, 2005

U.S. Proposal in the O.A.S. Draws Fire as an Attack on Venezuela - New York Times

U.S. Proposal in the O.A.S. Draws Fire as an Attack on Venezuela - New York Times: "Last month, however, he and other administration officials made several statements tying the effort directly to their concern about Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's populist, anti-American president. Mr. Chavez has curtailed some press freedoms and judicial independence while forming close ties with Cuba, an alliance that, more than anything else, infuriates some Bush administration officials."


Do you see anything patently illogical? Let me help. . . .the New York Times espouses freedom of the press. . . .the New York Times is concerned about "the independence of the judiciary" unless we are talking about red-shirted and communist leaning latin-american leaders. Hugo Chavez is just another country's leader to the Times. The respect that is paid to these tyrants is beyond my understanding. Chavez is in the process of joining Castro as the "Executioner of the Year" in Latin America. There are freedom loving people there in Venezuela, who are now wondering what their future will hold. Will they ever have a leader other than Mr. Chavez? Not if Mr. Chavez has a say. . . .

The text here is bizarre--"infuriates some Bush administration officials"? Which officials are not mad at this stuff? In fact which Republicans are not absolutely outraged at a union of these two despicable tyrants? The answer: NONE. . . .everybody knows that this is an evil marriage made in HELL! Well, the gullible Hollywood liberal like Steven Spielberg probably thinks this is just another very adroit action by the charming Mr. Castro. . . .What a MAROON! That is why we don't often look to the entertainment community for our leaders. . .they are just as likely to be taken in by a Carnival Barker, as to BE a Carnival Barker. . .but that is another story. . .

Why does a sovereign nation such as Venezuela need to have massive foreign aid from a nation such as Cuba? Since massive burearcratic support from Cuba (already completely documented. . .) cannot possibly be to increase wealth in oil-rich Venezuela, does it seem to you that Mr. Chavez most likely wants to exert the kind of control over his populace that has been set and maintained for decades in Cuba? That is my theory. . .Chavez is seeking to reproduce the Castro-effect. . .a lifelong dictator-ship which defies all logic and lasts beyond all reckoning.

Perhaps this sad situation might be an interesting test of several parties:

The Hollywood liberal cabal will be tested to see if they understand ANYTHING about reality. . . .If they do, they will visit the downtrodden in Cuba and Venezuela

The liberal press will be tested to see if they report the actions in Cuba and Venezuela accurately and sufficiently. . . .If they actually do their job they will report the atrocities in these countries. . .they've already HINTED as some (curtailing judicial and press portions of society)

Our government will be tested to see if they back down in the face of the two country coalition between oil-rich Venezuela and Communism-rich Cuba. . . Since we've got a decent administration this time, I predict that there will be no backing down from our Executive government.


Why does this newspaper word this article like this? Don't they understand that Fidel Castro was welcomed to New York city as an American who had liberated his county and was going to bring Democracy to the island nation of Cuba, only to have Castro turn to the U.S.S.R. and betray the United States, the country that taught him so much? Fidel Castro was always and always will be a very clever opportunist. He is taking the opportunity of dealing with this neighbor and running with it. . . .perhaps he can annex Venezuela and its wealth? Maybe they start an organization of socialist states in Latin America? Who knows? Regardless, the union is intended to benefit two persons above all: Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez!

This is the law of unintended consequences shown large: The revolutionary intends to help the proletariat, the ordinary worker. . .in reality, the regular guy is the last person on the list of those helped by Socialism and Communism. We've seen this over and over and over. . .it's been well established!


No attack on these two can be enough! They are evil! Think! You will come to that conclusion in the end!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

On the way to the Toronto venue we saw some of the town from our bus. Posted by Hello

Warming up in Toronto. Posted by Hello

Here is the venue for London, ON. This was large. Posted by Hello

Looking up from the area near the river Thames to see the city of London. . at right is part of the auditorium Posted by Hello

More of the Thames in London, ON Posted by Hello

This is near the theatre in London, ON. There is a Thames river running through idyllic spaces. Posted by Hello

The canals in the capital run right behind the theatre. This city of Ottawa is truly beautiful Posted by Hello

Canada's capital. The roofs are copper and become green with oxidation. Posted by Hello

Another, more modern venue. Posted by Hello

In the Burton Cummings theatre. This was a nice old theatre. . .and supposedly it's HAUNTED! I didn't hear anything spooky, but you can't help but think about ghosts in one of these really old places. Posted by Hello

Stage setting at another venue Posted by Hello

Believe it or not, this sign was at the back of the hockey rink used for our performance. I thought it funny that Dino gets everywhere! Posted by Hello

Here is an example of the size venue we performed at. Several of the shows were in major municipal auditoriums.  Posted by Hello

Here is the mixing console that went around Canada with us. Our production head was great with us getting decent sound no matter what. . .he was also a very comforting and cool presence during the most difficult times. Posted by Hello

Here is the stage setting for the show. A big band orchestra with "Sands" orchestra stands and a large backdrop with many images of things Vegas and of the rat pack members. Posted by Hello

This must be what the bar looks like to Dino. . .a little blurry but easily found . . .I was trying to get used to setting low light shots on my camera and some came out better than others. . .this shows the "gestalt" of a rat pack show. . .this is a reproduction of the shows done by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. and others throughout the late fifties and early sixties. Posted by Hello

Drummer Drew Hemwall, is having a pleasant time. . .he got us in and out of many a tempo change and many a que. DH is quite an excellent drummer. Posted by Hello

Here is our Dean Martin and fearless leader, Steve Apple sharing a joke or two with a crew member. We are playing here on a converted hocky rink. . .It wasn't cold at all. . it was just right! Posted by Hello

Bass player Larry Walters, and trombonist Don Gustafson enjoying their ferry ride from Vancouver, B.C. to nearby Vancouver island and the site of our first gig of the Canada tour. Posted by Hello

Ace jazz trumpeter Bob Summers looks like he'll be relieved to get out of all these crowded airports. . .we are winding down the end of our tour with a layover in O'Hare airport, Chicago. Posted by Hello

Our band worked hard and had great fun, while touring Canada with "Direct from Vegas, The Rat Pack!" Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A Letter to CAD BOD from the Coach of ECR


May 12, 2005

Jeff McCombs
President, Board of Directors
California Academic Decathlon
18757 Burbank Blvd., Suite 220
Tarzana, CA 91356-3375

Mr. McCombs:

In last week’s article discussing the termination of Marvin Cobb, the LA Times wrote of you: “He said he could not discuss circumstances of Cobb’s departure, calling it a confidential ‘personnel matter.’” We all understand you meant to say personal matter, right? Otherwise, there doesn’t seem to be any justification for firing Marvin without any prior fair and appropriate disciplinary action. On the day of his termination, you shared this gem with the county coordinators: “This is Marvin Cobb’s last day as executive director and we wish him the best of luck.” Did you actually think we’d believe he stepped down willingly, after winning three consecutive national titles, or is this another misrepresentation of what you truly meant to say? I can’t remember reading a more egregious example of cowardice in avoidance of the truth, and I know I’m not alone on this.

I’m the first to admit I’m unaware of the deep, secret inner workings of the CAD board. I know little about so called oversight issues and nothing about your working relationship with Marvin, aside from the fact that you apparently held differing visions of his job description. I know the man made mistakes just like the rest of us. But, after six years of coaching and after celebrating three state and national titles in those years, I do feel I’m qualified to talk about the role of the executive director from the perspective from which it matters most—as the liaison between him and the students. If you truly believe that your mission as board president is solely to ensure a positive experience for the young men and women who participate in the decathlon, you’re having a hell of a time convincing me by getting rid of the one man on the staff who consistently showed his priorities lay in the best interest of students. If Marvin didn’t push enough paper or pencils fast enough for you, it’s because his focus was on making his program the best possible experience for students. Like so many other bureaucrats, you hide in your corporate office behind the easy line that your priorities are for “doing what’s best for the kids.” Marvin lived and breathed that sentiment in the trenches with those of us working directly with them. Under his tenure, California went from becoming a competitive state in a field of several, to the only place where the national title resides. This year, any one of the top five teams in California most likely would have gone on to win the national title, and we had to work so extremely hard for the privilege to represent that field of excellence in Chicago. And while the fierce competition has created complaints about unfairness from within the state, Marvin sought to solve that problem by raising the quality and commitment of the weaker programs instead of handicapping the strongest teams to bring them down to the level of those crying foul. I personally spoke at one of Marvin’s coaches’ workshops in Sacramento in an effort to stimulate the competition in Northern California by openly telling them exactly what we do to win, explaining how and why it is beneficial to our students, and welcoming any challenge to equal that effort. Apparently a select few winning schools in California weren’t enough for Marvin to rest on his laurels.

You should be ashamed for putting your personal issues above “doing what’s best for the kids” and creating a sham performance evaluation to justify your selfishly guided desires. Had one of these evaluations been levied on Marvin’s predecessor, at least from the perspective of the coaches and students who had the “pleasure” of working with her, I laugh to think of the results. Marvin has 100 times more heart, 100 times more understanding of what makes this program so beneficial to young people, and worked 100 times harder to make the program as successful as possible. I’d say that is a far cry from someone who seemed accountable to no one but her own interests and always took the path of least resistance when it came to problem solving and strengthening the program. Where was the board’s concern for “doing what’s best for the kids” under her tenure?

The vagueness behind your comments only implies you have no justification for dismissing Marvin, and if you don’t have the fortitude to be open and honest about your professional differences, whom can we trust? I’m grateful this was my last year as a coach for many reasons. I’m grateful I got to finish my career with the most closely bonded and hard working group of students of I’ve ever known. I’m grateful we rebounded from a disappointing loss at the city competition, only to beat the odds and become the first wild card team to win the state and national titles. I’m grateful I got to step down on top, feeling the best I’ve ever felt about the academic decathlon and what it has done for my students throughout all my years of coaching. And I’m grateful I’ll never again experience the shame of being associated with your board of directors and the damage you have caused to this program.


Christian Cerone
Head Coach, Academic Decathlon
El Camino Real High School

Sunday, May 15, 2005

It's kinda cool to see this stuff back stage. . .maybe I'm in "the big league. . ." Posted by Hello

Bassist Larry Walters has "been there and, done that". . .it's great to talk to him about his decades playing Disneyland, or maybe Woody, or some such music giant. . ., besides that Larry is a pilot and an interesting companion. . .never short on wisdom! Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Studying IS FUN! When you participate in the California Academic Decathlon. . .here we see some attendees at the Ice Cream Social at the LAX Marriott. Posted by Hello

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