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Off the Record

"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. . . the United States of America elected its first President. George Washington, the son of Augustine and his second wife, Mary Ball Washington, began the first of his two-term presidency in 1789. Three years into his retirement, he fell ill, and in 1799 died of what was diagnosed as laryngitis or an acute throat infection. President Washington was only 67 years old. Fast forward 201 years later. It's Election 2000, a totally different ball game. We've got George, we've got Al and we've got Ralph... along with a host of other politico wannabes. And the winner is? Beats me. As I write this on the day before the election, all I know is that it's gonna be close. Right up there with the battle between Nixon and Kennedy.One thing's for sure. Campaigning has changed dramatically in the past 200 years, especially when it comes to dollars dished out to get your vote. Slate magazine, in its daily on-line round up of news stories across the country, reports that the Washington Post puts the price tag for this year's presidential and congressional elections at $3 billion. Another $1 billion was spent at the state level.Those figures don't surprise me. In the past week alone, I've received long-distance phone calls from Al, George W, George W's mother, George W's wife, Slade, Admiral Schwarzkopff and countless other household names. The only winners in this arena are the telecommunications companies that are reaping the rewards from these tacky record-a-calls. Leave me alone!The pollsters are also in hog heaven, slobbering all over each other with their latest percentage points. I'm neither a pollster, prognosticator nor psychic...but here is my Election Day prediction.The survey is simply called Sue's Looney Poll, and all you need is some Canadian money. Flip a looney (a one-dollar coin) into the air for each election race. If the coin comes up heads (Queen Elizabeth), the Democrat wins. If it comes up tails (Ottawa parliament buildings), the Republican wins. Sorry, no three-sided coins...Ralph can't play.U.S. President: Al GoreU.S. Senator: Maria CantwellU.S. Representative: John KosterWashington Governor: Gary LockeState Senator: Mary Margaret HaugenState Representative: Dave AndersonState Representative: Kelly BarleanCounty Commissioner #1: Mike SheltonCounty Commissioner #2: Lynn WilcoxNew York Senate: Hillary Rodham ClintonRebellious reunion: Langley resident Steffi Sidney Splaver flew to Los Angeles recently for a gathering of the six surviving cast members of the classic film, Rebel Without a Cause. Steffi played Mil in the 1955 drama, which starred James Dean and Natalie Wood. Other cast members who showed up included Corey Allen (Buzz), Jack Grinnage (Chick), Beverly Long (Helen), Frank Mazzola (Crunch) and Dennis Hopper. The sextet reunited for the 45th anniversary screening and discussion at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Leo S. Bing Theater.Here's an excerpt about the reunion from the Los Angeles Times: (Steffi) Sidney, who now runs a publicity company with her husband in Washington, is the daughter of famed Hollywood columnist Sidney Skolsky. Her best friend was actress Susan Strasberg, and it was Strasberg's mother, Paula, who recommended Sidney to director (Nicholas Ray). Sidney says she and Dean got to know each other well during the production. She remembers an interesting excursion the two had during the production.'When we were shooting at Griffith Park one afternoon before lunch, we were both free. He said, Do you want to take a drive?I said, sure. So he took me in his Porsche-not the one he got killed in-and we drove around the whole Griffith Park curvy thing. I started talking to him, and he said, Don't talk to me. I never talk when I am driving.'A month before Dean died, Sidney encountered Dean at a private party for Frank Sinatra. 'My father took me, and Jimmy came in with his then-girlfriend Ursula Andress, who couldn't speak a word of English,' says Sidney. 'He was very drunk. He came over to me and threw his arm around me and said, 'We've never taken a picture together, Steffi.' I said, 'Fine, let's take a picture.' Afterwards he got thrown out because he was too drunk. But the 8-by-10s of that picture came (to me) on Sept. 30, 1955. Dean died in a car crash on Sept. 30, 1955 at age 24...the movie was released less than a month later. The LA Times article continues: Steffi Sidney says that when teenagers today discover she was in the movie, 'They just flip. I just find that amazing. They still identify with that movie.'Sue Frause can be reached at skfrause@whidbey.com/. "

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