RAIN FEARED? On my first day at the Santa Barbara News-Press copy desk, I wrote this headline over a storm story: “Rain Feared.” Or something just as dumb; I forget.

Bill Hilton, a big tough guy who ran the desk, patiently advised me that here we don’t fear rainstorms. We pray for one. Bill shook his head. “You’re not in Chicago anymore.”

It doesn’t take much to set off TV talk-show guy Ernie Salomon. Like Santa Barbara’s reaction to the drought. “We live in a coastal desert!” Ernie pointed out in an email to me. “If all non-gray-water lawns were mandated out of existence here and in other areas, there would be no water shortage in California, even with the drought. No one in the city or county has the [guts] to do it! They don’t have the political will.

Barney Brantingham

“We pulled out our last lawns 10 years ago, and we have saved 1,200,000 gallons of water in that time. Governments are going to put surcharges and limitations on water use. The rich will continue to waste it, regardless of price. The poor will not afford it. The people already conserving water will be punished. The idiots will continue to waste water on lawns!

“There will be killings in California and the entire world over water in this century!”

DRINK WINE, NOT WATER: Ernie isn’t one to understate a problem, eh? I just hope he doesn’t drive past my house. Ernie, we bought the place with lawns. They’re mandatory in San Roque. Sue and I have cut back on water use, but at this rate, we may plant grapevines.

As my nephew Bill suggested: “Drink wine, not water.”

VOTING IS FOR LITTLE PEOPLE: They want to be governor, so why don’t they vote? Republicans Tim Donnelly and Neel Kashkari may piss red, white, and blue, but when it comes to the good old American ritual of supporting democracy by voting, they’re hard to find. Assemblymember Donnelly, founder of a Minuteman border patrol chapter, apparently was too busy at the border to spare a few minutes to vote absentee. He only cast ballots in half the Inland Empire elections since 1995.

Kashkari, a 40-year-old Laguna Beach millionaire also seeking to unseat Gov. Jerry Brown, only voted in 60 percent of elections since he turned 18. (Don’t tell this to high school civics students. Might disillusion them.)

STRANGERS ON A TRAIN: Thanks to Sue’s living-room reruns, I’ve been watching Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy’s endlessly meet-cute on a train and get acquainted on the streets of Vienna. That was Before Sunrise, released in 1995. They got together by chance nine years later in Paris in Before Sunset, in 2004.

Then came last May’s third in the series, Before Midnight, when life got more serious as they vacationed in Greece. It will be the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s closing movie Sunday night at the Arlington. And to the delight of Sue and other cultists, co-screenwriters Julie, Ethan, and Richard Linklater, who also directed the series, are scheduled to be onstage for an in-depth conversation.

The number one question is, of course, will there be a fourth Before? The first two films in the series will be shown Sunday afternoon at the Lobero.

HOLLYWOOD WED: Some say marriage is a lifetime sentence. If so, convicted murderer Jesse James Hollywood, doing a life jolt at Calipatria State Prison, just signed up for a double whammy, as Tyler Hayden reports. Got married.

Off to Las Vegas for a honeymoon? I doubt it. You’ll recall that Hollywood was sentenced to life in 2009 for the kidnap-killing of 15-year-old Nicholas Markowitz. Markowitz was buried in the hills above Santa Barbara and his grave quickly discovered. All over a stupid drug debt ​— ​not Nick’s but his brother’s.

GO FOR BAROQUE: Lately I’ve become quite a late-night-reading fan of Donna Leon’s whodunit series set in Venice. Even bought a map of La Serenissima to follow exploits of her guy, Commissario Guido Brunetti. This year I won’t make it to Italy to hear Vivaldi in chill, drafty Venetian churches, but do plan to take in the Venice Baroque Orchestra’s concert tonight at 8 p.m. (Thursday, February 6, at Campbell Hall) thanks to UCSB Arts & Lectures.


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