Showing posts from 2010

Zandy's Bride

Local movie buffs with cable may want to dig into the Comcast On Demand menu and check out the 1974 movie Zandy's Bride. It's a 19th Century drama, starring Gene Hackman, about a Big Sur rancher who marries a mail-order bride. They don't get along particularly well, mainly because Zandy, a reclusive fellow, has no social skills.  Zandy's Bride was filmed almost entirely in Big Sur, mostly in the mountains, and some scenes were filmed along the coast. A set built at Andrew Molera State Park makes an old frontier town, perhaps pretending to be old Monterey. It's a somewhat gloomy film, but worth a look.  It will be available on Comcast Cable through December 30. Go to the On Demand Menu and select Free Movies , then Movieplex then Movies M-Z and scroll to the bottom of the list. Note that it is formatted (cropped) to fit your TV, so you don't quite get the full widescreen splendor. But, hey, it's free.


Political campaigns are frequently known for stretching, twisting, and mangling the truth, but a kernel of truth usually remains. Take, for example, the statement by Jerry Brown that he would not raise taxes without a vote of the people (a reasonable position, one that puts the voter in control). However, his opponent twisted that around to say Brown wants to ask voters for more tax increases. There is still truth in that, but the emphasis is altered.   Outright lies are pretty uncommon. Yet two of this year's campaign ads have resorted to lies. Not twisted truths, but bona fide, genuine, actual lies.   Take Proposition 24's opponents. They call Proposition 24 a "tax increase." That is a lie.  Prop. 24 is a confusing offering. During the 2008 state budget process (and I use the term loosely), the legislature approved some tax breaks that primarily benefit a tiny percentage of large companies, many of which have their headquarters outside of California. Those

Yes on 19

Before I go any further, let me state up front that I don't do drugs. I don't like to put anything in my body that may screw it up, so I don't smoke, drink alcohol, or otherwise ingest anything that isn't food. I don't even like legal drugs. My experience with prescription drugs has been mostly unfavorable, and I prefer to avoid even over the counter medications. I'm as squeaky clean as they come. So when I advocate the legalization of marijuana, it is not for personal gain, nor do I take the subject lightly. I support Proposition 19 because it is painfully obvious that our decades-old war on drugs is not working. It never was working. Yes, old Mary Jane is a seductive temptress. She is not good for you. Though relatively harmless in small quantities, she has the ability to make you dependent, impair your judgment, ruin your relationships, and wreak all sorts of havoc when used to excess. Of course, the exact same things can be said of alcoholic beverage

Judging by appearances

Late last night, well after midnight, I took my little telescope out front to look at Jupiter. I had the porch light turned off so as not to spoil my night vision. While I was aiming the scope, a couple of noisy middle-aged Mexican guys walked by, speaking loud Spanish, and spitting a lot. It looked like they were walking home from work. I could see one guy was wearing a cowboy hat, but it was too dark to see their faces. Judging by their coarse manner, they didn't sound like people I'd want to meet on a dark night. After they went past the neighbor's hedge I could no longer see them, but could still hear them. Their voices abruptly became hushed. I sensed they were talking about me and I grew worried. But it sounded as if they were still moving away, so I felt some relief. Suddenly I looked up and saw the guy with the cowboy hat had returned and was staring at me in the dark. A little nervously, I said "Hello." He replied in a very f

Hawaii Five-0 No!

In this internet age of instant commentary, I'm behind the times, writing a review of something that happened three days ago - ancient history in the cyberspacetime continuum. But I'm an old dude, to anyone under 40, so bear with me.   I was a fan of the original Hawaii Five-0 TV series. It was a well-written police detective show with just the right proportions of suspense, action and drama. The characters were well defined, had great chemistry, and they were true professional detectives. It didn't hurt that the show had the best theme and opening sequence in TV history.   CBS unveiled a new version Monday, and it was every bit as bad as I was hoping it wouldn't be. It began with a truncated version of the original theme music, with familiar images that sped by a little too fast, and slightly out of sync with the music. The actors were pretty-boy Macy's men's catalog fashion models, roughed up just a bit to look like imitation tough action heroes. The on

In-N-Out, In-N-Out, In-N-Out. Sounds like we're getting screwed.

It was reported in the Monterey Herald today that the Seaside City Council approved a six-month extension of negotiations for an In-N-Out Burger joint on Del Monte Avenue next to Laguna Grande Park. All I can say is "Sigh." The City of Seaside is notorious for setting its sights impossibly high then settling for the ridiculously low. The property in question was zoned for a hotel. When they couldn't find a suitable developer they decided to settle for a hamburger stand.  Isn't there something between those two extremes that would be both economically viable and appropriate for the site? I would suggest a nice locally-owned family restaurant, designed by a local architect so as to be aesthetically compatible with the lakefront setting. It might incorporate outdoor seating, perhaps on an upper deck, to allow diners to gaze across the water and view the waterfowl. Anyway, that's just one idea that pops off the top of my head. You'd think the planners at c

Monterey Regional Water Project

Someone on a discussion forum directed me to this website for the Desal Response Group. It provides the most concise explanation I have yet seen for the proposed Monterey Regional Water Project, which would build a desalination plant to provide for Peninsula water needs. The more I look into this project the less I understand it. The physical plant seems straightforward enough. A desal plant in Marina, and a pipeline to The Peninsula. All well and good. What makes my head spin is the array of different agencies who would have responsibility for the project. Apparently, one agency, the Monterey County Water Resources Agency, would own the intake pipes. Another, the Marina Coast Water District, would own the desal plant while Cal-Am ratepayers (you and I) would pay for it. Yet Cal-Am would only have control over the pipeline to the Peninsula. Yet another agency would be responsible for the salty water discharged back into the bay. And the Monterey Peninsula Water Management

More fun with Comcast

Last week we had a little adventure with Comcast cable TV technical support. On Tuesday July 27th, we noticed that our on-screen program guide had disappeared, along with On-Demand service and every other on-screen display. We could still watch TV, but had to use the newspaper TV listings (remember those?) to decide what to watch. The first thing I tried to solve the problem was to reboot the cable box by disconnecting the power for a few seconds and plugging it back in. That trick worked for some other problems we've had, but not this time.   When the problem persisted into Wednesday I called Comcast and got a woman with an accent so thick I had to keep asking her to repeat things. She said she was sending a signal to our box to do something, but nothing happened. She then concluded that we needed a technician, and said one could be sent to our home a week from Friday. What? Nine days? I protested that was too long to wait. After all, I told her, the last time we needed se

Specks and Logs

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? -Matthew 7:3 A week and a half ago, after a lengthy public hearing, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution condemning Arizona's controversial immigration law. Now, personally, I can see why some people have concerns about the new law - there is certainly potential for abuse. But I also understand why it was passed. Thus I am cursed by the ability to see both sides of the issue, which pretty much leaves me in the crossfire. However, barely ten days later, the Supervisors' resolution has pretty much been forgotten. Furthermore, it won't have any affect whatsoever on what happens in Arizona. So why did they bother?  Some would argue that this is a human rights issue and we need to take a stand. Fine, but do it on your own time. Local governments shouldn't be second-guessing legislation that was passed in a completely differ

Terrible Tournament Transportation

Another big Pebble Beach golf tournament is half over tonight. The U.S. Open has two more days to go, giving me two more days to shake my head in dismay over the parking and transportation arrangements.   I've been doing this every year for a decade or more now, usually during the AT&T Pro-Am. In a nutshell, here's how golf parking works. Golf fans come from all over the world and find lodgings in Carmel, Pacific Grove, and Monterey, barely spitting distance from the Pebble Beach gates. But Pebble Beach doesn't have nearly enough parking places for all of them, so there is a problem to be solved.   What tournament attendees are now asked to do is drive ten miles North, away from the Monterey Peninsula out to the parking lots at CSUMB, the university property on the land formerly known as Fort Ord. Everyone then gets on buses which retrace the same ten miles back to The Peninsula, into Pebble Beach. While there is no charge for either the parking or the bus ride, i

When I say fresh, I want it FRESH!

Dear Safeway, Your store is one mile from Monterey Bay, one of the richest fisheries in the world. It is three miles from where the local fishing fleet unloads its catch. So when I walk up to your fresh fish counter I do not want to see the words "farm raised product of China." Sincerely, -Mr. Toy

When unusual is the usual.

Do you ever notice that whenever we have a dry winter in California, come Spring fire officials warn us that the dry vegetation creates an unusually high fire hazard? And do you ever notice that whenever we have a wet winter in California, that come Spring fire officials warn us that the rains bring more vegetation growth, providing excess fuel to burn, creating an unusually high fire danger? Like clockwork, they're at it again, in accord with the rainy year scenario. I've seen it twice on the news recently.  Californians should never be complacent about fire hazards, but we also need to be careful about how we use the language. Unusually high fire danger means that fire is more likely than normal. Yet fire officials tell us every year the danger is higher than normal, which means that unusually high fire danger is actually the usual, which means that every year is a normal year after all.   Please be careful.

Traumatic Cost

A couple nights ago a taxi driver was shot in the stomach during a robbery attempt in front of Borders book store in Sand City. The robbers got away, and the cabbie is recovering at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula (CHOMP). I wish the driver well, and hope the criminals are caught very soon. But that's not why I'm writing.   In reporting this story, KION/KCBA News stated that a Calstar medical helicopter had been called to fly the victim to a San Francisco Bay Area trauma center. However, adverse weather conditions scrubbed the flight, and the patient was transported to CHOMP by ambulance.   This raises a very important question. If CHOMP was perfectly capable of handling this case, why was it the second choice and not the first? Calstar flights take three to four times as long as an ambulance ride up Carmel Hill. In this case the ride to the hospital was no longer than the ride to the airport would have been. The helicopter would also have taken the vict

Cross Cave-In

On Good Friday the controversial Monterey beach cross found its final resting place in the San Carlos Cemetery on Pearl Street. A small ceremony marked an unsatisfactory end to a petty constitutional crisis.   For those who just joined us, here's the story in brief. In 1769 a team of explorers marched up the coast from San Diego to Monterey Bay. They erected two crosses on each side of the Monterey Peninsula to signal their supply ship. Exactly 200 years later to the day, a similar cross was erected on the beach at Del Monte Dunes (near the Monterey/Seaside border) to commemorate the expedition. Last September a vandal sawed it down.   Enter the American Civil Liberties Union, threatening the city with a costly court battle, citing separation of church and state as their battle cry. Crosses do not belong on public land, they said. Ever. However, because the cross had a legitimate secular purpose in replicating a documented historic event, the Monterey city council more or le

From Yo-Ho to Ho-Ho

Here's a topic of absolutely no importance. Does anybody remember that the confection we know as Hostess Ho-Hos was originally named Yo-Hos?  If you're under the age of 45 , you probably don't. According to the official Hostess site , the treat was introduced in 1967, but the company makes no mention of the name change. If memory serves, the change occurred two or three years later with absolutely no explanation. To this day I have seen no official acknowledgment that the change ever actually happened. Yet, it did! I saw it with my own eyes!!! Now there's a subject for conspiracy theorists to ponder. Why, in the dead of night, when nobody was looking, was a perfectly good product name changed by one letter? Was it political correctness? Perhaps pirates complained that Hostess abused their lingo and played on unfair stereotypes. Or did someone think it sounded like a pimp calling one of his girls? Did Santa Claus and the Jolly Green Giant use  their political a

How the Sheriff lost my vote

Tuesday evening KSBW News ran a 30 minute showdown interview with Monterey County Sheriff Mike Kanalakis, and Fred Garcia who is running to replace Kanalakis in the next election. If you have followed the local news lately, you know that Garcia held, until recently, the rank of Commander in the Sheriff's department and he was head of the Homeland Security division until the Sheriff demoted Garcia two steps in rank for insubordination and improper campaign practices. Shortly thereafter Garcia resigned, and Monterey County politics got very interesting.   After watching the interview, I am thoroughly dismayed with Sheriff Kanalakis on this matter. Yes, Garcia exercised poor judgment in using a county copier, mailing list, and rubber stamp to prepare some campaign materials. But that minor lapse of good sense pales in comparison to Kanalakis demoting Garcia for insubordination just because the two had an honest disagreement about the affordability of a helicopter. The helic

"I am in control..."

With the recent passing of Alexander Haig, a famous old soundbite has been dragged up once again, and misinterpreted once again.   On the day when President Reagan was wounded in an assassination attempt there was, understandably, a fair amount of confusion in Washington. Al Haig spoke at a press briefing in the White House to explain what was happening. One of the things he said was "I am in control, here at the White House, pending the return of the Vice President." I remember it well. I watched it on live TV. He was trying to reassure everyone that in the President's absence White House affairs were being attended to even though the president was in the hospital and Vice president Bush was en-route and temporarily unavailable.   In the days that followed, the only part of the quotation anybody talked about was the "I am in charge" part. By taking the phrase out of context, Haig was widely criticized for assuming Presidential powers in violation of th

Sarah Ward Events

A good friend of mine, Sarah Ward, is setting up shop as a freelance wedding and special event planner. I had the privilege of working with Sarah for about three years in a local hotel. At the time she was the hotel's wedding coordinator. I worked for the in-house audio/visual department and operated sound equipment for most of the wedding ceremonies she set up for her clients. It never ceased to amaze me how the wedding coordinators managed to, well, coordinate a thousand details and create a fabulous event for all, sometimes dealing with as many as five or six wedding parties in a single weekend! Sarah was no exception, and I was particularly impressed with her ability to maintain her cheerful disposition and calm, orderly manner under a wide variety of challenging conditions. Even behind the scenes, when nobody was looking, she maintained her positive attitude.   Sarah was particularly enthusiastic about the job, more so than any other wedding coordinator I worked with, s