Monday, April 20, 2009

Do I look like Buster Poindexter to you?

Today, we came within shouting distance of a new record temperature for this date.

The mercury climbed to 93 degrees (that's Fahrenheit, for the benefit of those in other localities not tethered to our arcane system of weights and measures) at its peak, just two degrees shy of a mark set in 1931.

It was hot all over the region. Even in perpetually cool San Francisco, they were looking at 92.

Ironically, exactly one year ago, we set a record for low temperatures on April 20, bottoming out at a chilly 32. The high that day was a still-brisk 58.

A lot can change in a single orbit around the sun.

The average high for this date is 70. We usually don't see weather this toasty until at least mid-May.

Stupid global warming.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Paperless San Francisco

The hot story around these parts is the Hearst Corporation's announcement of its intention to either sell or shut down the San Francisco Chronicle — the Bay Area's newspaper of record, and the second-largest paper (in terms of circulation) on the West Coast — within the next few weeks, unless a round of layoffs can stem the paper's tide of red ink.

This doesn't come as a total surprise, as newspapers all over the country are struggling against the ever-rising tide of the Internet.

Still, it's unsettling to imagine the newspaper of Herb Caen, Art Hoppe, Matier and Ross, Scott Ostler, Pierre Salinger, Charles McCabe, Phil Frank, Ray Ratto, Joel Selvin, Tim Goodman, and "Dear Abby" going the way of the passenger pigeon and buck-a-gallon gasoline.

The Chron has never really been a bastion of cutting-edge journalism, outside of its legendary Sporting Green — 45 years ago, satirist Tom Lehrer joked concerning a major news story of the day, "It happened during baseball season, so the Chronicle didn't cover it." That reputation for fluff persisted into the modern Hearst era, which began in 2000 when Hearst sold its one-time flagship paper, the San Francisco Examiner, and bought the Chronicle outright from the DeYoung family.

Nevertheless, the Chron has always been staffed by brilliant writers, most notably its columnists (sports and otherwise). It remains, if not the most hard-hitting news entity on the planet, one of the most readable and entertaining.

I'll be the first to admit that I haven't helped the situation any. I've picked up the actual newsprint Chronicle not more than a handful of times in the past decade or so. Its online presence, however, is an indispensable part of my daily info crawl. I'd miss it terribly if it went away.

Here's hoping that a streamlined Chronicle can find a way to survive.

The Bay Area would not be the same without it.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sign of the twin-tailed mermaid apocalypse

This is wrong in so many way that it's impossible to calculate:

Starbucks is now selling instant coffee.

Everyone into the bomb shelter. The end is near.

As the late Fred Sanford might have said...

"Hold on, Elizabeth! I'm comin' to join you, honey! With a venti nonfat decaf instant mocha latte in my hand!"

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Ain't that a Mother's?

Tragic news today.

Mother's Cookies, the 94-year-old baking concern famed for its pink-and-white-frosted Circus Animal cookies, has ceased operations and filed for bankruptcy protection.

You'll have to excuse me...

I need a moment.

For all but the final two years of its existence, Mother's Cookies was based right here in the Bay Area — in Oakland, to be specific. In 2005, the company was sold to an East Coast investment firm, which the following year closed the Oakland facility that Mother's had occupied since 1949. The cookie-baking functions moved to Ohio, while the business office relocated to Battle Creek, Michigan. Some 230 local employees lost their jobs in the process.

In the corporate world, and especially in the current dicey economy, news like that of the Mother's Cookies bankruptcy doesn't come as a total shock. I lived through two company shutdowns myself, back when I was working for The Man every night and day. It's still sad, though, for the families who lost a paycheck. And it's sad for American culture, losing an icon that so many of us grew up with.

I sure am going to miss those Circus Animals.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wall Street wreck

Tempted though I am to post something perspicacious yet hilarious about the current Wall Street debacle and the government's ill-conceived attempt to (mis)manage it... friends Mark Evanier and Eugene Finerman have already the work for me.

Click over to Mark's repurposed "Uncle Scam" (Mark didn't write this, but he was savvy enough to pass it along) and Eugene's "The Bear Market of A.D. 455" and "Robbing Peter to Pay Paulson" to inject your recommended daily allowance of well-observed political humor.

We simply can't get this administration out of office soon enough... without replacing them with more of the McSame.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Sign of the Apocalypse: Blackbyrd

This morning, West Virginia's senior U.S. Senator, 91-year-old Robert C. Byrd, formally endorsed Barack Obama for President.

Robert Byrd... who six decades ago was the Exalted Cyclops of his friendly neighborhood klavern of the Ku Klux Klan.

Robert Byrd... who in the 1940s opposed the integration of the U.S. military, saying, "I shall never fight in the armed forces with a Negro by my side."

Robert Byrd... who actively campaigned against civil rights legislation throughout the 1960s.

Robert Byrd... whose state handed the all-over-but-the-shouting Hillary Clinton campaign a 41-point victory in its Democratic primary just a week ago.

That Robert Byrd.

In announcing that his superdelegate vote will be cast for the junior Senator from Illinois, Byrd said:
I believe that Barack Obama is a shining young statesman, who possesses the personal temperament and courage necessary to extricate our country from this costly misadventure in Iraq, and to lead our nation at this challenging time in history. Barack Obama is a noble-hearted patriot and humble Christian, and he has my full faith and support.
Robert Byrd said that?


This settles the reality — if all of the other overwhelming evidence fails — that when Obama speaks of himself as the candidate of change...

...he's not just whistling "Dixie."

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I watched the news today, oh boy

Television news continues to spiral down the toilet.

Yesterday, CBS initiated a cost-cutting move by firing news reporters, producers, and editors at its owned-and-operated stations nationwide. At KPIX-5 in San Francisco, the cuts involved some of the Bay Area's most honored and most respected broadcast journalists: Emmy-winning reporters Bill Schechner, Manuel Ramos, John Lobertini, and Tony Russomanno, and veteran anchor Barbara Rodgers.

All five of these newspeople built impressive careers. Schechner has worked at several Bay Area stations since arriving here in 1972; he also enjoyed national prominence for several years in the 1980s as Linda Ellerbee's coanchor on NBC News Overnight, and as a correspondent and feature reporter for NBC Nightly News. Ramos and Rodgers have each been reporting local stories at KPIX for 28 years.

Within the broadcast industry, the complaint often raised today is that people — particularly tech-savvy younger people — no longer turn to TV for news, thus making news staffs expendable. What the bean-counters fail to comprehend is that TV news, especially in local markets, has become so fluff-filled and tabloid-oriented that it's ceased to be a credible source for journalism. A couple of years ago, our in-town station, Santa Rosa's KFTY, turned its news operation entirely over to amateurs from the community. The experiment devolved into a national joke.

KPIX used to respresent a bastion of solid, dependable journalism against the piffle floated by the Bay Area's NBC and ABC affiliates. I'm sad to see that philosophy dying an agonizing death at the hands of accountants and media consultants.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Fun couple of the year

Look up the words "creepy" and "weird" in your Funk and Wagnalls, and you'll find this story:

Natalee Holloway's mom is dating JonBenet Ramsey's dad.

I'll bet they're a barrel of laughs at parties: "Want to hear about our dead daughters?" "Oh, gee, honey... look at the time."

To each his/her own. I suppose it's okay for these two to hook up. Just as long as they don't invite Marc Klaas or John Walsh over for a ménage à trois.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

And the world said, "Duh!"

Quoth La Lohan: "It is clear to me that my life has become completely unmanageable because I am addicted to alcohol and drugs."

I believe we have a new front-runner in the Most Obvious Statement of the Millennium sweepstakes.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Lock up your liquor cabinet...

...Lindsay Lohan is 21 today.

I believe that Satan is springing for the cocaine.

Southern California drivers, beware.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Mom! Beast is takin' my picture!

What's gotten into those lovable Disney characters lately?

Just last month, we noted that an actor playing Tigger at Walt Disney World smacked a teenage park visitor with a roundhouse punch upside the head, as the kid's parents caught the incident on video.

Now, the guy who portrays the Beast (from Beauty and the Beast) at the same park has been busted by the Orange County Sheriff's Sex Crimes Unit for collecting child pornography. Deputies raiding Disney cast member Matthew Wendland's apartment confiscated more than 1,000 images of children — some no older than toddler age — engaged in sexual poses and activities.

According to the detective managing the case, Wendland — who, in between stints as Beast, also suits up as Goofy — told them that he didn't see anything wrong in ogling pictures showing naked children barely out of diapers. "He doesn't see the difference between a naked 8-year-old and an 18-year-old woman. They're just a body to him," said Sgt. Rich Mankewich.

Mankewich also stated, "We have no evidence he committed any crimes while he was in costume. He just leans over and hugs kids." And with Wendland's proclivities, you don't suppose that might be a problem?

The truly sad fact is that Wendland has a teenaged girlfriend, with whom he's already produced a 16-month-old child.

I suppose they're both just bodies to him, too.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sign of the Apocalypse: Pickler TV

20th Century Fox has signed former American Idol contestant and trailer-park diva Kellie Pickler to a development deal for her own TV sitcom.

Even as this mind-bending news is breaking, the Pickler's debut CD, Small Town Girl, lands at Number One on the Billboard country chart.

I expect official word of the death of Western civilization any second now.

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