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SHORT STORIES

May 18, 1986|PATT MORRISON

The Poseidon Seminar A recent Monday at the Anaheim Hilton was a total disaster--just as it was supposed to be. The Orange County Disaster Preparedness Academy survived its fourth-annual presentation of the "how tos" for everything from toxic spills to terrorist attacks ("If something doesn't look quite right, don't just go up and kick it"). The 12-hour day of seminars for teachers, businessmen and plain folks included a session on earthquake training for children ("What little Johnny should do if mom and dad won't be home for a few days"). Some mini-classes, including a session on terrorism, were jammed to the gunwales. What astonishes volunteer chairman Ray Blodgett is that Orange County seems to be alone in this exercise; what if they threw a crisis and nobody came? "It's not human nature to prepare for the worst case, I guess," he says. This year's turnout "was better than last year, which was better than the year before." And lunch did not consist of civil-defense crackers. Amber Microwaves Meet the best-known unknown TV anchorman in California. Ron Miller appears weekly on 16 stations around the state, but the odds that your average West Los Angeles media junkie has watched him are on a par with birthing a two-headed calf. As a matter of fact, a two-headed calf is just the kind of story that might interest Miller, one of the three-man news team producing the half-hour Voice of Agriculture, the State Farm Bureau Federation's weekly "60 Minutes" of the soil. Miller, reporter Bill Evans and cameraman Doug Wood, all TV veterans, work out of KOVR-TV, Stockton. Their 20 or so monthly stories range from reports on the horseradish-growing region of Modoc County to a very popular segment on a cannibal snail that eats its crop-gnawing brethren--"stories about how farmers do their work," so that "suburban residents can get an idea where their food comes from," Miller says. The show, which began in 1964 with black-and-white in-studio interviews of nervous farmers, usually airs during the pre-dawn milking hour in places like Fresno, but in Ukiah it airs on Saturday night, opposite "Golden Girls." In Southern California, Long Beach and Fontana cable users can tune in. Surprisingly, Miller gets asked for autographs most often in the Bay Area, a region so densely built that a large, thriving window box of geraniums can practically qualify for farm subsidies. Shoeshine, Mr. Renoir? Judy Ellis' paintings are masterpieces of tromping d'oeil , Christo-like whimsy with a Cuban heel. She calls her fledgling enterprise "Art at Your Feet." Ellis, 33, a graduate of Otis / Parsons School of Design, went to a party wearing a pair of her artfully adorned shoes, "and someone said, 'They're getting more attention than the guest of honor.' " For years, "one of my pet peeves was that you'd buy beautiful shoes but they were kind of dull," Ellis says. "They were versatile, but they really didn't have a life of their own." One day she put brush to vamp, and that was it. Since then, she's put delicate florals on silk for a bride, salvaged her sister's Carnaby Street pair with medallions in the style of Mondrian, and put Dalmatian spots on shoes for a woman who is dotty about the dogs. Such jobs can take a week or two, but the hard part is the chemistry: mixing paints and fixer to keep it all from chipping or smearing. "You can't go out and play football in them," Ellis says. Then there was the recent disappointment of opening the paper to pictures of Imelda Marcos' abandoned shoe closet: "When I saw that, I thought, 'What a customer she would have been!' " All the World's a Bed At midnight on May 3, Sondra Lowell tap-danced onto stage at the Heliotrope theater near Melrose, crawled into bed and slept. The audience (they paid $10 a head) snoozed along with her. Lowell's eight-hour show featured some ad libs--a snack and trips to the bathroom. The former drama critic had no illusions: "I expect people to sleep through my act."

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