Groping toward Babylon

Feel and oathing: The sun broke through an overcast sky for Monday’s big ceremony, but Arnold Schwarzenegger still took office under a cloud. A small group of lefty demonstrators turned out to serve as a reminder that the groping allegations are still swimming around out there like Jaws. So, Bites—who was invited in as part of a select group of 700 newshounds—was amused that the governor showcased Hollywood pals like Eraser co-star Vanessa Williams and former White House Deputy Communications Director Rob Lowe. Williams, who sang the anthem Monday, had her 1983 Miss America crown yanked when Penthouse ran tasteful nudie snapshots featuring her tongue on another woman’s derrière. Lowe, of course, starred in a hit documentary of his hotel-room threesome with two girls of jail-bait age. Still no word on whether Paris Hilton attended the ceremony.

Stormin’ Mormons: Step aside, Potter and Gollum, because Nephi and Laman are in the house. Sure, they’re not getting a fraction of the hype being thrown at Mel Gibson’s forthcoming Jesus Beyond Thunderdome, but The Book of Mormon Movie still managed to open at theaters in both Roseville and Elk Grove last Friday alongside such compatible fare as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Kill Bill: Vol. 1. Subtitled Volume 1: The Journey, it’s the first in a promised nine-installment retelling of the book on which the Mormon faith is based. The film debuted two months ago in, of course, Salt Lake City, and its Sacramento run is part of a unique distribution plan that uses the Internet to guarantee audiences. “Theater owners are not very keen on the idea of giving up screen time to a small independent movie with little advertizing [sic],” explains the film’s Web site (, which features a form where people can collect names and contact info for at least 15 local folks who will go see the film. When the lists for any given area total a thousand, a trial run is booked. “We need the lists to show theaters that there are at least enough people in the area to support the movie for 1 week,” the site says. So, even if you’re too busy with your wives to catch it this time out, you can always start gathering signatures for an encore run. Bites, meanwhile, is holding out for a drive-in double bill with Tupac: Resurrection.

Just say Yolo: Like local Republicans, Bites was crestfallen when Yolo Supe Helen Thomson chickened out on challenging incumbent Senator Mike Machado of Stockton in the primary (see “Half an incumbent,” SN&R News, October 23). It would have been quite a fight.

On the November 5 filing deadline, Thomson faxed reporters a statement saying that even though her prospects looked rosy, Yolo County’s General Plan update needs her more.

“?????” thought Bites.

“It started to look like a monumental task to raise the money,” Thomson explained later. “I hate raising money.”

Thomson said she wasn’t pressured to stay out, but party stalwarts did have concerns about the race, which could have been a donkey bloodbath.

Her decision “has provided a sense of relief to a lot of people,” Thomson said, roaring with laughter, “starting with the Senate leadership.”

Thomson said supporters wanted her to run, though she never did find out who one of them was. As the former assemblywoman went through her very-public toying with a candidacy, someone was sending out e-mails from the unwieldy address “” One, reprinted in a Capitol newsletter, consisted of cheap shots at Machado.

Thomson and Bites both e-mailed the mystery supporter and never heard back. “There’s been a lot of paranoia,” she said. “Some people say it’s the Republicans.”

Thomson talked to Machado before deciding. He didn’t pressure her to stay out, she said. She did give him some pointers on doing a better job representing the Yolo-Solano parts of the district, which was her main beef with the first-term senator. She told Machado “how he’s perceived in our area and gave him a road map to earning people’s trust and respect,” she said.

So, will Thomson endorse Machado? “That wasn’t part of the discussion,” she said.