LOS ANGELES -- Ray Bradbury anticipated iPods, interactive television, electronic surveillance and live, sensational media events, including televised police pursuits -- and not necessarily as good things.
The science fiction-fantasy master spent his life conjuring such visions from his childhood dreams and Cold War fears, spinning tales of telepathic Martians, lovesick sea monsters and, in uncanny detail, the high-tech, book-burning future of "Fahrenheit 451."
The tiny town of Glennville is about to get a lot bigger.
Nestled in the mountains 45 minutes northeast of Bakersfield, Glennville regularly boasts a population of 131. But the 64th Annual Glennville Rodeo, which kicks off today, is expected to attract 4,000 people to the community during the four days of festivities. Whether attendees are cowboys or cowgirls in search of hefty cash prizes, or Bakersfield families looking to enjoy a beautiful day in the mountains, Glennville Rodeo Quartermaster Erin Rogers promises the crowds will be satisfied.
It's been a long and winding road of rhythm for Louie Cruz Beltran, who's worked the restaurant and late-night club circuit for years to make a living.
But then he got the call of a lifetime recently to perform at the prestigious 34th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl on June 16, and the Bakersfield percussionist plans to take full advantage of the career exposure the gig offers.
Childhood nightmares usually are better forgotten than remembered, but a Bakersfield mother has mined the dark fragments of her subconscious to achieve a different kind of dream: becoming a published author.
"My mom would tell me that I'd grow up to be Stephen King because I had these really strong, violent nightmares," said Allie Jean Battan, 32. "I don't know why exactly -- I didn't have a troubled childhood at all. I got scared really easily when I was a kid; I couldn't watch scary movies. I didn't need to. My scary movies were my dreams."
I just returned from Texas. Again. Look, if you're a fan of country music (the real kind, not the recycled '80s pop stuff that most country radio plays), then you should go, too. I recommend the third Sunday in May, when they have the Americana Music Jam. And this year was quite possibly the best trip yet.
First off, I went alone. That's awesome for several reasons. Flying is completely superior to driving to Texas. A 20-hour drive is nicely condensed into a three-hour airplane ride, and with no family along, it's cheaper. And when I landed in San Antonio, there were no wife and kids to wrangle, freeing my brain to concentrate on Blue Bell ice cream, which is available at the airport. Welcome to Texas.
It's a pretty rare event when things that are heavily advertised live up to the hype. Rarer still is the product that exceeds the hype. "The Avengers" is a perfect example of how it can be done.
I'd heard about this movie for six months solid, with the last couple of months being what seemed like a barrage of trailers, all of which did their job, which was make me want to go see it. After the last week or two, enough was enough. Stop the hype, and bring on the film. Guess what? "The Avengers" is actually better than the trailers could have suggested.
Fans of the Louisiana cuisine have the chance to eat their fill Saturday without having to travel to the Deep South. Cajun cooking has found a home in Kern County with the annual Crawfish Festival at Prime Cut in northwest Bakersfield.
"Back when I was a little kid you could go catch crawfish at Hart Park in the canal," said Prime Cut president Merv Crist, who has organized the festival since its inception 14 years ago. "I would boil them with salt before the Cajuns taught me how to season them properly. They changed the game for me."
It was a day that would have rattled Odysseus. But when torrential rain and wind assaulted the Greek Food Festival in September, the brave board at St. George Greek Orthodox Church plotted its counterattack.
The strategy: Schedule another food festival for the spring to make up for the lost earnings from the fall event, the church's biggest fundraiser of the year. This Saturday, the board raises its flags on the Spring Greek Food Festival.
He was only 7 years old, but Rick Davis still remembers how proud he felt sitting next to his father, Luther, in the VIP section reserved for World War II veterans when Audie Murphy's 1955 movie, "To Hell and Back," opened at the Fox Theater in Bakersfield.
A few years later, a 13-year-old Davis sat in the theater's balcony, trying to sneak a kiss from a girl who slapped his face.
The cars coming for the 36th annual Western Street Rod Nationals this weekend at the fairgrounds are racking up the miles to get here.
Bakersfield is stop No. 2 on the 11-city NSRA circuit, which kicked off the season recently in Oklahoma City and will head to Knoxville, Tenn., next week. Rods from as far away as Mississippi will be making the drive west this weekend, said Mike Chrispyn, event director.
Even Michael Corleone started out as an Average Joe before fate and ambition, pride and gunfire compelled him to don the Don's ring and rise to become the most powerful mobster in movie history.
Face it, Bakersfield: We, too, have long been saddled with the image of an Average Joe when it comes to the distribution of movies to local cinemas.
There have been many pivotal moments in Chris Isaak's career, but none as rewarding as those spent with the artists who've helped mold him.
Still the cool, slick-haired rock crooner he was when director David Lynch introduced him to the world on the soundtrack to his 1986 film "Blue Velvet," Isaak has had the long and fruitful career many singer/songwriters would kill for.
Until last Friday, I've never seen Merle Haggard in concert.
By admitting that fact, I know I'm setting myself up for ridicule from the local country music powers that be. In my defense, let me just say I haven't been ignoring the Hag all these years. It's just that like our esteemed music icon, I, too, have a busy band schedule and it's often difficult to make plans.
So full of fire and fun, Merle Haggard is performing like a guy who's been given a second chance at life. And to hear him tell it -- as he did from the stage of Buck Owens' Crystal Palace Friday night -- that's precisely what he is.
Back in the town that loves him "after nearly dying in the hospital," Haggard opened with "The Bottle Let Me Down" and fired off five more of his classics before taking a breather and addressing the sold-out crowd.
There's something lurking deep beneath the otherwise placid waters of Lake Isabella. It's been hunted by thousands, yet it continually evades capture.
Don't worry: It's not Nessy or Jaws or anything like that. It's simply one particularly valuable rainbow trout.
It's Vegas or bust for some show dogs this weekend. That's a doggone shame for the Kern County Kennel Club's Back to Back All Breed Dog Shows, which take place this weekend at the fairgrounds.
"This year, we're a little down in entries," said Marjorie Blake, the local club's publicity chairwoman. "The Las Vegas shows (booked) after we got our dates with the American Kennel Club. They are competing the same weekend. A lot of our exhibitors are showing there."
In a true tale of how the right kind of trash can become a treasure, Betty Younger has turned several abandoned pieces of metal into a 5-by-5-foot sculpture of a great horned owl.
And she's given it to CALM, where it will be dedicated on Tuesday.
As its name implies, National Poetry Month is meant to be observed across the country. But here in Bakersfield, it's strictly local.
What else could it be with folks as celebrated as poet Don Thompson and author Gerald Haslam featured at the kickoff Sunday afternoon at Russo's Books?
Bakersfield guitarist Ray Vargas believes in the power of rock 'n' roll.
Standing in front of a full class of bright-eyed future shredders during his after-school guitar class at Washington Middle School, he knows exactly how to hold their attention: keep it interesting, timely and avoid sounding too old.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. --
Red Simpson meant it in his comically self-deprecating way, but he managed to accidentally put his finger right on the theme of the night. He and his band had just blasted through a rollicking rendition of "Highway Patrol," and the standing-room-only crowd at the Country Music Hall of Fame was roaring in approval. "I'm glad it's over, too," Simpson announced, deadpan. But he played another song anyway.