Monday, December 29, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch part 39

I had hoped we'd get through the holidays without any more boo-boos, but the Herald gave us one for Christmas. The paper printed the same article twice, once on page 1 and again on page 3. The headlines were different, and the one which began on page 1 and finished on page 5 had three more paragraphs than the one on page 3, but the main text was otherwise identical.


 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

How to get people to watch a bad movie.

I spent almost a dozen years in the movie theater business. About half of them were in Carmel, but I got my start working in two large downtown theaters in Salem, Oregon. I started out in 1978 selling popcorn, and a year later advanced to assistant manager, and later, manager. My boss was a great fellow named Jerry Proctor. His friends called him Jerry, but everyone who worked for him knew him as Mr. Proctor. He was very businesslike, but easy to get a long with, and he loved to tell stories.

One of his favorite stories involved a very bad movie. When he had managed a drive-in theater in Eugene a new coming attraction trailer hit the screen. He couldn't remember the title, but he said it was so offensive he had the projectionist remove it from the film immediately. Too late. A woman in the audience came in and told him in no uncertain terms that she would do everything in her power to keep that movie from ever being shown in Eugene.

She made good on her threat. She launched a letter-writing campaign, petitioned the city council, and got the attention of the local newspaper. She wasn't successful in keeping the movie out of town, but the whole town knew about it. On opening night the curious crowds were so huge the police had to come out to control traffic.

The theater made a fortune that weekend. Everywhere else in the country the movie bombed. On Monday morning the distributor, seeing these amazing numbers from Eugene, called Mr. Proctor and asked “What did you do?!?” I think the story even made into the trade magazine Box Office.

This story seems relevant to this week's news that Sony Pictures has shelved The Interview, a comedy about a fictional plot to assassinate the leader of North Korea. Reportedly North Korea is responsible for recent hacker attacks on Sony's computer systems, and is threatening further mayhem if Sony releases the movie.

Now, I've seen the ads for The Interview. It doesn't look like an awful movie, but based on my experience, it looks like one that would come and go fairly quickly and not get much attention. But now, thanks to North Korea or some sympathizer, a whole lot of people across the country and around the world have heard of it and are curious enough to want to see it. Good job!


Monday, December 8, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch part 38

Monday's Herald had just one small boo-boo. The opening paragraph of a front page article was printed in two different fonts.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Carmel's perilous flirtation

This week, Carmel-By-The-Sea is starting a six-month experiment with paid parking. Ten "kiosks," which are essentially fancy parking meters designed to serve an entire block, have been installed along Ocean Avenue to test the viability of implementing paid parking throughout the business district.

Carmel has flirted with this idea several times in the recent years, but this is the first time they've hopped into bed with it.

The theory justifying paid parking, as I understand it, goes something like this. There are not enough parking spaces downtown to meet demand. Making matters worse, it is believed that downtown employees are parking in on-street spaces, even though they're limited to two hours, taking parking away from customers. It is alleged that employees keep moving their cars to avoid getting tickets. Charging for parking, it is said, will discourage employees from parking on downtown streets and encourage them to park in the free parking spots and lots on the periphery of the business district. This in turn will make it easier for customers to find parking, thus boosting business. Ya got all that?

Supposedly this six-month experiment will test the validity of the theory and provide data to help the city council decide whether or not to install meters all over downtown. I don't get how putting meters on only one street will accomplish that because anyone with any sense will just park on the other ten downtown streets where parking will still be free.

I don't even get the theory. I find it very hard to believe that restaurant and shop owners would let their employees abandon their posts for ten minutes at a time, three to four times a day every day, just to move their cars every couple of hours. Maybe a few tolerate it, but only a few. And where would they move their cars to? According to the theory, street parking is hard to find, so they could spend a lot of time looking instead of working. That does not compute.

Furthermore, business owners must be keenly aware that if employees are taking up spaces that customers need, then they'll lose business. Now tell me, how many shopkeepers will let their employees park on the street letting them drop everything to move their cars, when they know it's bad for business? Maybe there are a few. Maybe. That would account for the origins of the theory, but I hardly think they're the rule.

But for the sake of argument, let's assume employers and employees are parking on city streets within the business district. Will paid parking be good for business as it's proponents claim? They say paid parking will free up spaces, making it easier for customers to find parking, and thus bring more customers into town.

I agree it will free up parking spaces, but not for the reasons they think. It will free up spaces because many local people will stop shopping and dining in Carmel altogether and most of the rest will visit Carmel less often. There will be very few who won't change their shopping habits at all. Most people won't hassle with meters unless they absolutely have to, especially when they can park free at the mouth of Carmel Valley, Del Monte Center, and almost every other shopping area on the Monterey Peninsula.

To illustrate my point look at Cannery Row and Fisherman's Wharf, the only other areas of the Peninsula that charge for parking. Locals rarely go there. The vast majority of customers there are from out of town, so only touristy shops and restaurants can make it. Is that what Carmel wants? Paid parking has the potential to completely transform the town's economy, and not in a good way. It is therefore a path fraught with peril.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch parts 36 & 37

Honestly, is Herald management even aware that their guy covering Carmel doesn't know the territory? It has become painfully obvious that reporter Tom Leyde has never spent any significant time learning about the town, beyond what he's spoon-fed at city council meetings. I have documented numerous careless errors on his part, most recently in my November 7th Mental Note.

Today, in an article about the town's experiment with parking meters Leyde magically relocated the north Sunset Center parking lot from the corner of Mission and 8th to "Junipero Street between Third and Fifth avenues." That is more or less the location of the Vista Lobos parking lot (on 3rd between Junipero and Torres) which he didn't place anywhere.


At least he finally figured out that Carmel's numbered streets are "avenues" and not "streets."

________________

Elsewhere in today's Herald the weekly "Bits 'N' Bytes" column was published in three different fonts. I've labeled the image below with numbers 1,2, & 3 indicating where each font starts. Number 1 is the standard Herald font. Number 2 is a tiny version of the same font, while 3 is a similar but slightly fatter font with greater spacing between letters. Who does this stuff?



Monday, November 24, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch parts 32-35

Herald Boo-Boos are piling up on my desk. Time to clean it off.

I am unable to reproduce an image of boo-boo #32 because it was just a teensy bit too large to fit on my scanner. So you'll have to be content with a written description.

There was an editorial on Sunday November 16th entitled China climate change pact changes debate. It was under the heading "The Herald's View" which I found peculiar because I wouldn't expect our puny, semi-local Herald editorial board to tackle such a significant international topic. And I was right, for at the end it was signed "Bay Area News Group" indicating that it originated with a San Francisco Bay Area newspaper, and not the Herald. Typically editorials written elsewhere are listed under the heading "Other Views" so their origins are clear.


__________

Number 33 was on page B-1 of that same day. It had an interesting story about the grave of a dog located at Carmel's Forest Theater. It included a photo of a painting of the dog, but just to be clear, the article was about the dog and the grave, not the painting. So why was the article continued on page 2 under the heading "Art"? "Dog" would have made perfect sense, as would have "grave" or "Pal" (the dog's name). No doubt some underpaid paste-up guy saw the photo and concluded the story was about the painting.


This article also gave us a bonus boo-boo. The picture caption called it "An portrait of Pal."

__________

Moving along to November 23rd, the "Your Town" news briefs had an item with an improperly formatted headline that looked like normal text. 


__________
Finally, we have a November 24th story about that San Francisco window washer who survived an 11-story fall. The headline said "Physicist: Car broke man's 11-story fall." The article had only three paragraphs. The first one briefly described the fall. The second described the man's current condition. The third said KCBS radio asked a physicist how the poor man was able to survive. The end. The explanation was apparently cut out for lack of space. How stupid can Harold get?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Big Bank Theory

(Sing to the tune of the Big Bang Theory theme song.)

Our e-conomy was in a stable state,
Then nearly thirteen years or so ago Bush tax cuts started,

Wait,

The deficits ballooned,
Bernard Madoff began to croon,
Bad housing loans had really zoomed,
We started wars,
FINANCED BY CHINESE LOANS!
Math, science, common sense,
Were treated as impediments,
Which led to the fall of big banks,
BANKS!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch parts 30 & 31

Just when I thought the Herald was starting to clean up its act and put the Boo-Boo Watch out of business two more careless errors dropped onto our front porch Tuesday morn.

Boo-Boo #30 came in the form of a strange headline indicating that a new Senate chairman was planning a border. That's funny. I thought our country already had borders. Based on the content of the article, the headline would have made perfect sense if the word "bill" was tacked on the end, but it wasn't so it didn't.


Incomplete sentences seemed to be the theme of the day. In a guest commentary the writer identified himself in his opening sentence as representing "The Planning and Conservation League." But in the little biographical blurb at the end Harold identified him as a member of "the Planning and Conservation."



I guess the new space-saving policy at the Herald is just to lop off words when you run out of room. The remaining words still mean the same thing, right?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch parts 28&29

The good news today is that Herald boo-boos seem to be coming less frequently, but this week we had two.

A couple of months ago a new reporter named Tom Leyde started covering Carmel news. In reading his stories I get the impression that the man has never spent much time in Carmel, and he doesn't seem to know his way around. Worse, he has written reports containing significant factual errors. I discussed two of these in detail in part 13 and part 14 of the Herald Boo-Boo Watch.

Since then I was beginning to think that maybe he was starting to get the lay of the land. His reports on the happenings at city hall were in accord with reports from other sources. However, Leyde's reports were limited to city council activities. They did not require a broader knowledge of the town layout and features, and unfortunately his ignorance of the territory became glaringly evident again this week.

In Tuesday's paper dated November 4th Leyde wrote about the council's decision to move the weekly farmer's market out of Devendorf Park onto "Sixth Street, between Mission and Junipero Streets" Here's how it appeared.


The first error in this article is the street name. Carmel's numbered streets are avenues, so it should read Sixth Avenue, not Sixth Street. If this was the first time he made this mistake I would overlook it, but he made the same mistake a few days earlier. It's a sign that he doesn't know the territory he's covering.

Then in the 5th paragraph he wrote "...with the move to Sixth Street, the market will be further from the core of Carmel's Ocean Avenue Merchants." Here he is giving readers the impression that the farmer's market is moving some distance away from Devendorf Park. But actually, the segment of Sixth avenue in question marks the northern boundary of the small park, so at best the whole shebang is moving maybe 50-75 feet, not a significant distance by any means. In fact it will still be visible from Ocean Avenue.

Further along, Leyde lists several conditions the city council imposed on the farmer's market. Leyde described one this way: "Fifteen percent of the booths at the market should be available at no cost to local groups, such as The Carmel Bach Festival and California Repertory Theater."*

Once upon a time there was a short-lived California Repertory Theater in Pacific Grove, but it went out of business almost 30 years ago. Currently, there's a California Repertory Company in Long Beach, but they're hardly local. The one in Carmel is called Pacific Repertory Theatre, or Pac-Rep for short. It's a well-known place. Everybody on The Peninsula has heard of it. Well, almost everybody.


Individually, these are pretty minor mistakes, but collectively they show that the reporter doesn't know his territory. That makes it hard to take anything he writes seriously.

* NB: The sentence cited above was printed on two separate pages. the beginning was on page 2 and continued on page 4, so I wasn't able to easily reproduce an image of it here.
______________

Now for boo-boo #29, which was on page 3 of the November 6th Herald. The paper misspelled the name of actor Benedict Cumberbatch as "Cumberpatch."


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch part 27

We've gone ten days without finding any significant boo-boos in the Herald. I guess that's a sign of progress. But we're back today because the Herald printed the same article two days in a row. It was a Q&A piece about Apple Pay. The one printed yesterday had two more Q&As than the one printed today, but otherwise they were identical.




Friday, October 17, 2014

My 25th Anniversary Earthquake Story

It has been 25 years since the Loma Prieta earthquake, and time for everyone to re-tell their stories. Here's mine.

My wife Heidi and I were living on Second Street in Monterey, in the Oak Grove neighborhood between Lake El Estero and the Navy school. Our dwelling was the second story of a free standing apartment building. Below us was a three car garage, two slots of which belonged to the tenants of the duplex at the rear of the property.

Heidi had just sat down
to watch the World Series. I was in the bathroom washing my hands when I felt a slight rattle. I didn't think anything of it because our apartment had been rattling intermittently for a few days. An old school building across the street had been recently demolished to make way for a new low-income senior housing complex. A parade of dump trucks and earth moving equipment had been working to level the ground for the new construction. We had gotten so used to the light shaking that we weren't too conscious of it anymore, and in effect I missed the first part of the earthquake.

But when I walked from the bathroom to the living room the house suddenly felt and sounded like it was being repeatedly hit by a truck. BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!..... I pointed across the street and asked Heidi "Is that them???" She jumped out of her chair and shouted "NO!" She knew what I did not yet, that the TV had gone dead and a large potted plant was dancing around behind me.

Now I realized this was an earthquake. My first thought was "Is this the BIG ONE?" That was immediately followed by the realization that the house wasn't shaking so badly that we couldn't get out, but we might not be able to if it got any worse. I reached for the front door, turned the knob, and the door was stuck, just for a second, then it opened. After that we did everything wrong. We ran down the exterior stairs under a large glass window, out to the sidewalk, and stood underneath power lines.

When we reached the sidewalk the shaking stopped. We saw our neighbor, Mark, who lived across the street next to the vacant lot, running out of his apartment with his hands partly raised and a puzzled look on his face. We exchanged a few words and he went back inside. Before that moment we didn't know Mark very well, but from then on we became good friends.

As we stood on the street we felt the ground rising and falling below our feet as we looked up and saw our living room window glass flexing. Mark came back out and said he had just called his mother in Auburn to tell her we'd just had a significant earthquake. As he spoke to her she felt the shaking reach her home.

A small group of neighbors gathered on the street, and a dump truck driver asked if he could use our phone to check on his wife. "She hates earthquakes" he said. We were happy to oblige. He said he didn't feel anything because he was in his truck. He learned about it from the other construction workers.

Back inside we had no power for the next 26 hours. We turned on a portable radio and it was awhile before we found a local station on the air. KOCN was the first, and they were reporting that they were broadcasting from their transmitter rather than their studio. It was our only source of local information. At one point they mentioned something about contaminated water supplies (not here I later figured out) so I filled a couple of containers with clean tap water just in case bad water came down the line.

We also listened to KGO to find out what was happening in the San Francisco Bay Area and it sounded pretty grim.

Before it got dark I took my bicycle out for a brief time to see if there was any damage around town. I rode down to Fisherman's Wharf and the north end of downtown. Everything looked OK, but in the twilight the only electrical lights I could see were in the north stairwell of what was then the Sheraton (now the Marriott) Hotel, probably powered by an emergency generator.

I went home and before long it was dark and the candles came out. There were no lights as far as we could see. It felt lonely. We spent the evening playing board games, listening to the radio, and riding the frequent aftershocks. Most of our candles were of the low profile variety, but on our coffee table we had two tall tapers to illuminate our playing surface. Afraid they might topple in an aftershock, we blew them out whenever the house shook, then re-lit them when it stopped.

After several attempts I was able to call my mother in Oregon. I told her we were OK, but that "we had a wild ride." She said she heard about a major earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area, then she grew more and more concerned about us when she learned the epicenter was much much farther south than she first believed. In t he course of our conversation she assumed we knew more than she did, but when I told her we had no power she realized we could not see the news footage of the damage in the bay area, so she described it to me. 

We resumed the games, and we sensed strange, vague vibrations. They were so faint we couldn't tell if we were hearing them or feeling them, or just imagining them. We ruled out the latter after a time because we both agreed on when they started and stopped.

Bedtime was especially eerie. WIth no light inside or out, our bedroom was too dark to feel safe sleeping. I don't think I slept much.

Morning felt better. We still didn't have power but there was light, and the milk was still cold enough to serve on cereal. A boy scout came to the door asking for donations of food to deliver to folks in Watsonville, which was hit much harder than we were. We provided a few cans and he thanked us.

That afternoon I chatted with one of our back-door neighbors and I asked him where he was during the quake. "I didn't feel it because I was driving." he said, then he had the best line of the day: "But I knew something was wrong because the radio went dead and a dumpster was walking across the street!"

As evening approached Heidi had a bit of a problem. She was to play the organ for a Wednesday evening church service. That would be difficult with no electricity. But she had a small battery powered keyboard, little more than a toy, really, but it would do in a pinch. It was for a small congregation, so it didn't need to be very loud. We packed it up and took it with us. We got it set up in the church and then the lights came on. Normal life was back.

When we returned home we turned on the TV and saw the news coverage from San Francisco. For the first time we saw the damage to the Bay Bridge, and the horrific scene in the east bay where crews were still rescuing people from the collapsed double-decker freeway. We saw the damaged church in Watsonville, and the broken buildings in downtown Santa Cruz. We got off easy.

Mild aftershocks continued for months. Heidi and I had very different reactions to them. Each one had her running to stand in the safety of a doorway. I had become so accustomed to them, and they were fairly weak in comparison to the main event, that they didn't bother me at all. I kind of enjoyed them. I think it took a year or more before they stopped completely.

A major event puts little ones into perspective. For a long time small earthquakes had me saying "so what?" Or as KGO talk show host Jim Eason put it "We don't even count anything smaller than a 4 anymore." But as time has passed, small earthquakes have had a tendency to get me nervous again. Because the Loma Prieta earthquake started out with mild rattling, every small shaker now makes me worry that it's going to get bigger. Funny how that works.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Night Arc Lights

In the 1960s, when I was a kid, we lived along Hatton Canyon behind Carmel High School. One night when I was about 7 I went to bed, and a few minutes later I saw a blue ball of light form on the curtains. It faded after a couple of seconds, then came back several seconds later. I thought my dad was playing with a flashlight from the hall, so I said "Daddy...." The next thing I knew the room was filled with a blinding flash of blue light that scared me out of my skin, and out of bed to my parents.

Meanwhile
my parents were in the family room. My dad was at his desk facing the window. My mom said she saw my dad's jaw drop and he began staring out the window in silence. When she got up to see what he was looking at she saw that same blinding flash that frightened me.

We learned the next day
that there was a PG&E substation in the canyon partially concealed from our view. Evidently some equipment failure caused massive arcing resulting in the flashes of blue light.

Now we live in Seaside. About 5:00 this morning I was getting back into bed. The curtains were closed, and my back was to the window. I saw a flash of blue light on the bed and over my shoulder. At first I thought it was light from a passing vehicle, but there was no sound. As I turned towards the window I saw another blue flash. Lightning perhaps? I parted the curtains and suddenly the entire southwestern sky lit up with a deep blue light that lasted two or three seconds. Its source was obviously below my field of view, as it was brightest behind nearby rooftops. Then it was over.

My first thought was an explosion,
but again there was almost no sound, just a faint weird humming. Then my mind flashed back to that night 47 years ago. Of course! There's a PG&E substation near the Del Rey Oaks Safeway in the exact same direction the light appeared to be coming from. I verified that on a map.

I turned on the police scanner and Monterey fire department was dispatched to the Casanova area to investigate a reported "transformer explosion" and power outage.

I still don't know exactly what happened,
but the Herald is reporting that a tree took down a power line. The similarity to the 1960s incident intrigues me. Evidently, when something fails spectacularly at a substation, it goes out in threes.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ralph Rubio's "momentum"

When I saw Ralph Rubio's campaign ad in Sunday's Herald I nearly choked on my Cheerios. Under his list of "accomplishments" it read "Keep the momentum going!"

Momentum? Inertia is more like it. Under Rubio's leadership, the city of Seaside has been one of the most stagnant cities on the Monterey Peninsula.

Rubio was first elected as mayor in 2004. In 2010 he was replaced by my good friend Felix Bachofner by a mere 21 votes. Rubio took back the mayor's chair in 2012, winning by a little over 100 votes.

In Sunday's ad Rubio listed several "accomplishments" the first of which was a claim that he balanced twelve budgets. Unfortunately, he did it by digging into the city's cash reserves, which were nearly depleted by the time Bachofner took office in 2010. Felix actually did balance the budget without needing to dip into the reserves. In fact, under Bachofner's leadership, the city actually started replenishing its financial cushion. Unfortunately, Felix's hard work was undone when Rubio retook the seat in 2012.

Felix not only left office with a balanced budget, he left the city with enough money to hire more police officers. What happened? Rubio's administration spent the surplus on raises for existing employees, leaving Seaside's police department with the fewest number of officers in recent memory.

This is particularly galling because in 2008 Rubio successfully asked Seaside voters to approve a one-cent increase in the city sales tax. That tax was supposed to provide for greater public safety, including a beefed-up police department which never materialized. Instead the money poofed into thin air when the economy crashed later that year. We're now paying more and getting less. That's not the sort of momentum I want to keep going.

Other "accomplishments" Rubio listed in his ad were:
  • "Six project areas in exclusive negotiation agreements."
  • "Seaside Resort development disposition agreement approved by State Department of Finance."
  • "Main Gate regional mall ready for request for proposals."
He's boasting about baby steps. Steps get you started, but they are not in and of themselves accomplishments. The Seaside Resort and Main Gate developments, both on former Fort Ord property, have been in the pipeline for over a decade, yet they've barely budged towards construction in that time. Rubio's time. In that same time period neighboring Marina has successfully redeveloped a significant portion of Fort Ord, leaving Seaside in the dust.

Curiously, Rubio omits any reference to Seaside's development plans for Lower Broadway and a new library, both of which the city has been talking about for a good twenty years. That's because during Rubio's time in office no significant progress has been made. Worse, a major source of funding for the library, originally allocated way back in 1997, was withdrawn last January because of the city's failure to use it. Only slugs, snails, and tortoises would call that momentum.

Even more curiously, Ralph Rubio is often thought of as pro-development, due to his membership in the Carpenter's Union. But the reality is that during his years as mayor of Seaside bordering cities, even the tiny slivers of Del Rey Oaks and Sand City, have seen more economic development than we have. That's just one of several reasons why I'm voting for Felix Bachofner for mayor of Seaside.


Herald Boo-Boo Watch part 26

The Herald's "Sounding off" feature seems more prone to careless errors than any other part of the newspaper. On Saturday October 11 they once again left off the names of the people who wrote the comments, printing nothing more than single quotation marks in their place. Honestly, is anybody proofreading anymore?

 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch parts 23-25

Three days, three boo-boos.

Wednesday October 1st a Herald editorial meant to endorse Dave Jones for Insurance Commissioner ended by recommending a vote for his opponent Ted Gaines. In a rare move, the Herald acknowledged this boo-boo and reprinted the endorsement the following day with the correct final sentence.


___________________________

Thursday October 2nd had an article on the front page with a mid-sentence font change.


_________________________

Friday October 3rd an ad on page A9 announcing a joint Herald/Google advertising program employed atrocious grammar. I'm thinking it was written by one of those employees in India, where the Herald has outsourced its advertising work (yes, really).


Addendum 10/12/14: This ad actually ran for five or six consecutive days and never was corrected.

As I noted in previous Mental Notes, careless errors such as these have been appearing with alarming regularity since Digital First Media moved Herald production work to Chico last March. A few initial bugs were expected, but this sort of sloppy workmanship has been going on for half a year now. You'd think they would have worked out the kinks by now!


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch parts 20-22

Part 20 of the Herald Boo-Boo Watch occurred last weekend. They say history repeats itself and in the Herald three historical events repeated themselves the following day!


_____________________________

Part 21 from the September 27th issue indicates an over reliance on spell check and not enough checking by the human eye, adding to my suspicions that the production staff is spread way too thin. I'm pretty sure the title of this letter should say "pursue" and not "purse."


_____________________________


And part 22 is another in the continuing series of improperly formatting the "Sounding Off" feature. Looks like they left off a word at the end. This one was from today's paper of September 28th.



Friday, September 26, 2014

An Hour With Angelo

Angelo DiGirolamo passed away last weekend, one month shy of 93. Angelo was the proprietor of Monterey's Bruce Ariss Wharf Theater on Fisherman's Wharf. But that doesn't begin to describe the sweetest man ever to inhabit our little corner of the world. Angelo was pure light and joy. The beacon of Fisherman's Wharf for much of his long life.

I don't know a lot
about his history, only that he owned a restaurant on the wharf called Angelo's for several decades before he opened the Wharf Theater in the 1970s. I had the privilege to know him only because my wife Heidi was the musical director at the theater from 1991 to 2002.

I remember when I met Angelo, the first time I attended one of Heidi's shows. I approached the box office and introduced myself to him as "Mr. Heidi Toy" and I can hear his resulting giggle in my head to this day. He provided me with the first of many complimentary tickets and I made my way inside. After the show he took great delight in telling Heidi that I introduced myself as "Mr. Heidi Toy" and we laughed about it all over again.

Over the years we'd wrap up many, many more shows chatting with Angelo in the little art gallery he operated off of the theater lobby. It was always a fun way to conclude the evening.

Sometime around 2002 or 2003, when I was working as an audio/visual technician, I had a job to provide a sound system for a dinner speaker at Fresh Cream restaurant in Heritage Harbor next to the wharf. I set up the equipment before the restaurant opened then had about 90 minutes or so before the group arrived. I  took a walk out on the wharf and while I was there I thought I'd pop in the theater and say hi to Angelo.

We ended up shooting the breeze for the better part of an hour. The subject of computers came up. He said he wasn't interested in learning how to use them. "I'm too old." he said. "If I was younger I'd learn about them, but at my age I don't really have any use for them." Those probably weren't his exact words, but that was the essence.

While I had him to myself I wanted to pick his brain about his involvement with the 1952 movie Clash By Night, which was filmed in Monterey. It included a couple of scenes at Angelo's restaurant. There was a character in the restaurant who looked a little like Angelo, and I wondered if he was in the movie, but he said he wasn't.

But it turned out that he was an extra in two other locally filmed movies. In the 1943 WWII drama Edge of Darkness, where Fisherman's Wharf portrayed a Norwegian fishing village, Angelo played a German soldier. And in another WWII flick from 1949, Sword in the Desert, Angelo portrayed a Jewish soldier on the beach of Palestine, which was actually Monterey's Del Monte Beach.

Angelo also told me
he served the Sword director, George Sherman, and several of the film's stars at his restaurant. Sherman discussed his plans for the beach landing scene with Angelo, saying he wanted to film it somewhere east of the Navy School. Angelo told him the surf at that time of year could be quite hazardous there, and he advised Sherman to do it closer to the wharves.

Sherman took Angelo's advice. As it was, one boat overturned during filming and the director thanked Angelo for his advice. Had he filmed the landings farther east, the director told him later, it would have been a disaster and ruined his reputation.

Angelo was full of stories like that. We didn't just lose a sweet man last Sunday, we also lost a fountain of local historical knowledge. I'm glad I was able to capture one little slice of his experience to relate here and incorporate it into my research on locally filmed movies.

And speaking of stories, here's a short video from the Monterey County Weekly with Angelo telling a bit about his life on Fisherman's Wharf.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch part 19

I'm almost a week late posting this boo-boo from last Thursday's Herald. On the front page of the September 11th sports section they wrapped text around a blank space. I think the space was meant to hold the writer's name and photo.


The good news is I haven't seen any Herald boo-boos in the last six days.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch part 18

I thought I was going to make it all the way through Sunday's Herald without finding any boo-boos. But page D1 let me down. Under the Your Town news briefs was a notice about impending road work at two locations near Salinas. The notice in and of itself was fine, except that Harold put it under the "Monterey Peninsula" subheading.

Harold, perhaps it's time to invest in a map.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch parts 16&17

Two new Boo-Boos came off the presses this week. Number 16 was a line in a September 3rd editorial praising the recently concluded Monterey County Fair.
"The theme of 'Party With The Animals' evoked memories of the Central Coast's rural past,...."
Whoever wrote that needs to get out of town more often. The vast majority of the Central Coast is still farms and ranches to this very day!


And for Boo-Boo number 17, another formatting error was found on the September 5th editorial page. Once again the "Sounding Off" feature was missing the credit line identifying the writer. (I posted an example of a correctly formatted Sounding Off comment in Boo-Boo Watch part 4.)



Monday, September 1, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch part 15

We begin September with a pop quiz for Harold.

What is the name of the organization that hosted the sailboat races in Monterey this weekend?
A) The Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club (as stated in the Herald's page 1 photo caption).

B) The Monterey Bay Yacht Club (as stated in the subheading introducing the page 1 article).

C) The Monterey Yacht Club (as stated in the article, when it finally gets mentioned near the end).



The correct answer is A. There is no such thing as the Monterey Bay Yacht Club or the Monterey Yacht Club.

Oh Harold, it's sad to see a once great local newspaper become so incompetent so quickly.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch part 14

The same rookie Herald reporter who gave us Boo-Boo #13 a few days ago has now given us #14. It was located on page A4 of the August 28th issue. The article was about the dedication of a bench by the Carmel post office to honor the late Carmel cartoonist Bill Bates.

As every Carmelite knows, some of Bill Bates' cartoons have graced the walls of the Carmel post office for decades, save for a brief period of time in 2006. On Thursday the Herald printed this explanation for the hiatus:
"Bates' cartoons were taken down from the post office when an art gallery complained it should have the right to hang its artwork there."
I don't know where the reporter got that information, because that's not what happened. To my knowledge no commercial business in Carmel ever claimed the right to display its merchandise at the public post office. 

What really happened was that a US Postal Service "retail standardization team" visited the post office and set plans in place to update the decor of the place to conform to postal service standards. The Bates cartoons were determined to be non-conforming decorations and were removed.

And that's not all. The standardization team also decreed that the old style brass mail boxes with combination locks were to be replaced with modern stainless steel (or was it aluminum?) boxes with keyed locks.

Both of these changes prompted an angry uproar from the townsfolk who liked their old fashioned post office just fine and wanted to preserve its historic character. And how dare they remove Bates' cartoons! To Carmelites, these changes were a huge insult to community traditions.

After city hall got involved the USPS brass backed down. Many of the cartoons went back up on the walls, and the old mailboxes were spared. 

That's what really happened. A local reporter or editor with some institutional knowledge, or a competent rookie who knew how to verify information, should have known that. Fortunately, we have the Carmel Pine Cone to tell the true story this week.



Saturday, August 23, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch part 13

Hey kids! We went one whole day without finding any careless errors in the Herald, but today we found a doozy.

There are three problems with this article from page B1 of Saturday's paper. 

Let's start with the headline. It's just plain wrong. The gas explosion in Carmel last March was not a pipeline explosion. Gas leaked into a house and the house exploded, not the pipe.


Second, the article says "An electric crew was working nearby on a natural gas pipeline." (See the red underline above.) Wrong again. I'm pretty sure PG&E doesn't assign electric crews to work on gas lines or gas crews to work on electric lines. According to reports written at the time, it was a "welding crew." It's a sad state of affairs when the reporter doesn't know his subject well enough to know the difference between electricity and gas. That goes double for his AWOL out-of-town editor.

The third issue I have with this article may put me on slightly less stable ground. Very slightly. Above, I circled a questionable sentence in blue, which says the cause of the explosion has not been determined nor is it known whether there is any connection between the work crew's activities and the house explosion.

Technically that may be correct. I don't think any firm conclusions about the cause have yet been documented. But the wording here implies that the cause is still a complete mystery, which it isn't.

Had the writer (or a local editor with some institutional memory - which we no longer have) bothered to check the Herald's own archives they would have found this article from May 5th which said....

The crew was working on a steel gas pipe, but punctured a plastic pipe inside the steel pipe. The plastic pipe inside the other pipe wasn't "reflected on the map(s)," the report says.

Unnoticed, the leaking gas likely traveled down the pipe, into the soil and got into the home through its sewer lines. The pressurized gas got into the home living space, and about 40 to 60 minutes after the plastic pipe was first punctured, there was "a quick, loud bang."

A pilot light on a stove in the home likely touched off the explosion.
The March 21st Carmel Pine Cone reported much the same thing:
The leak that led to the explosion occurred when a PG&E worker tapped into a gas main he thought was just steel, but it actually contained a plastic insert. As he worked on the line, gas leaked between the steel shell and the plastic lining and followed the main into the home.

“The area of space between the steel and the plastic allows gas to go anywhere,” [PG&E Vice President Kevin] Knapp explained.
Like evolution, this may still be "just a theory" but the evidence points strongly to a direct connection between the PG&E crew's activities and the explosion. To suggest otherwise without providing the known facts is sloppy reporting.



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch parts 11&12

Careless errors keep rolling off the Herald presses like water off a ducks back.

Today the Herald ran a story about the Monterey Downs EIR on page 2, and continued on page 4. The segment on page 4 said it was continued from...wait for it...page 4.



And while we're at it, the AWOL editor missed this typo from Kenneth Peterson's financial advice column on page A7. Of course, the writer made the error, but this is the sort of thing editors are supposed to catch, the mistakes spell-check can't. (Note to Mr. Miller: sight=vision, site=place.)


These two Boo-Boos were in the A section. I haven't even gotten around to reading the B section yet.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch parts 9&10

I thought I might overlook the Herald Boo-Boo I saw on Tuesday August 19th. It was just a small formatting error and I didn't think it worth pointing out. I changed my mind when I saw Wednesday's paper.

Letters to the editor normally have the name of the writer at the end and the name is in italics. This is followed by a blank line before the title of any following letters. The first letter Tuesday had neither italics nor a space. Here's how it looked.

Click image to enlarge.


Then on Wednesday a letter had more than just the name italicized, but the last two and a half lines of the letter, too!

Click image to enlarge.

It would appear that the people who put the paper together aren't checking their work - probably because they're spread too thin and don't have time. And it would seem there's nobody to double-check their work to ensure that careless errors don't make it into the final product. As we've seen over the past weeks and months, quality control has gone out the window.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Robin Williams

One of the biggest news stories last week was the tragic suicide of comedian Robin Williams. There is no question that the world lost a great comic genius. His improvisational skills were unparalleled, and he made a lot of people laugh, including me.

Many of his fans, along with other Hollywood stars he preformed with, have talked about his warmth, passion, and humor, and they were uniformly stunned that a man who was so delightful and had everything one could want, would just kill himself like that.

But when I read the news, I wasn't the least bit surprised. Sad, definitely, but not surprised.

Although Robin Williams could make me laugh, he also creeped me out a little bit. Not intentionally, of course, but whenever I watched him I always felt a little uneasy. I sensed he had a dark side. It was nothing I could put my finger on or in any way define. Just a vague sense that deep inside of him something was terribly amiss. So while I found him to be entertaining, I never became a big fan. Something I can't define about him disturbed me enough that I never felt drawn to him as many people were.

When Mrs. Doubtfire came out, a movie which had some sad undertones along with its delightful humor, I tried to explain this feeling to someone but they looked at me like I was from Mars. So I'm wondering if anyone else picked up on it, or am I the only one?


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch part 8

This was just a little Boo-Boo, the kind that might slip by any writer from time to time. It was in an August 14th story about a new ordinance in Sand City prohibiting camping on the beach. In one paragraph was a double negative reference to the "no anti-camping law." 

I've done this sort of thing before. I'll start to write something one way, then go back and write it another way, and forget to delete the unneeded words. So the writer probably started with "no camping law" then decided to make it "anti-camping law" but he forgot to delete the "no" resulting in a double negative that means the opposite of what was intended.

It's quite understandable that the writer missed his mistake. That's one reason why newspapers have editors, to catch mistakes before the news is printed. But as I've noted in previous Mental Notes, the Herald doesn't have its own editor anymore, and things like this are slipping through the cracks.

Click image to enlarge.
 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch part 7

This promo was in today's Herald on page B-11.

"Is that a phone in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"

Click image to enlarge.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch parts 5&6

When I started this Herald Boo-Boo Watch I didn't really expect to be posting entries more than once a week. But the Herald's careless errors keep rolling off the presses with disturbing regularity. I suspect that Dismantle-it First Media's consolidated production staff in Chico is spread way too thin to do adequate proofreading, or even automated spell checking, as we see below.

Boo-Boo number 5 comes from the Monday August 4th Opinion page. Two of the three commentaries that day had headlines, but for some odd reason, one headline went missing.

Click image to enlarge.

And Boo-Boo number 6 was also on the Opinion page the very next day. Just a simple typo, but a glaringly obvious one that should have been caught, by spell check if not by the human eye.

Click image to enlarge.



 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch part 4

I didn't expect to be back here so soon, but mere hours after I posted the last Herald Boo-Boo another one fell into my lap.

On the Herald's Opinion page the newspaper occasionally prints comments that readers post online. In the print edition this feature is called "Sounding Off." A quote is printed in a black box and the screen name of the individual is printed beneath it along with the title of the article they were commenting on. As an example, here is one from July 30th that is properly formatted.

Click to enlarge image.
The Sounding Off printed on August 1st, however, was missing its credits, except, curiously, for the last four words of one article title. 

Click image to enlarge.
But it could be worse. A month or so ago there was a silent "Sounding Off." I wish I'd saved that one. The space was there, but it was completely blank. So I suppose partially blank means they're improving. Progress, I guess.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch Part 3

I had intended to post this several days ago but Blogger wasn't playing nice with the picture. Anyway, part 3 of the Monterey Herald Boo-Boo Watch is from the July 22nd issue. In Herald math 22 x $1,000 = $220,000!

Click image to enlarge.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch parts 1&2

As I promised a couple days ago, here are the first two installments of the Herald Boo-Boo Watch wherein we take a look at the careless errors made by Monterey Herald since editing and production was moved out of town.

Parts 1 & 2 are being combined since they both appeared on July 18th.

Part 1 was on Page 1, and had me asking "100 miles south of what?"
Click image to enlarge. press Esc to return.

Part 2 was a USGS earthquake hazard map on page 6. At first glance I assumed the darker areas were higher risk zones and lighter shades were lower risk zones. Then I looked at the key and realized the top two shades were the same. So were the fourth and sixth shades. And the third shade from the top was lighter than the fifth shade. Evidently the original USGS map was in color and the Herald converted it to black and white without accounting for the fact that different colors can show up as the same shade of grey when converted.

Click image to enlarge. press Esc to return.
And notice the Herald's caption. It says this map is undated. so we have no way of knowing if it is the current map or an outdated one!

Part 3 will appear soon. It involves a peculiar form of math.