Over The Fence with Greg Brown

Come-N-Go on Freeport Gets a Makeover
The Come-n-Go is back! It even has that new convenience store smell. The convenience store on the corner of Meer and Freeport had fallen on hard times the past several years. The outside of the store looked almost abandoned. Dry weeds and litter encircled the parking lot. The unsightly gas pumps have been Out Of Order for years. The flickering, intermittently working, fluorescent lights gave the front of the building a creepy horror movie vibe. The Come-n-Go was a neighborhood eyesore.
A convenience store that wasn’t very convenient.

New owner Pat Mulhall standing proud in front of the new and improved Come-n-Go Market in Land Park. / Photo by Greg Brown
New owner Pat Mulhall standing proud in front of the new and improved Come-n-Go Market in Land Park. / Photo by Greg Brown

Inside the store was much worse. Expired everything! Don’t even bother picking out some ketchup. The Icee machine was Out Of Order. The list of bad things goes on and on. The only thing safe to buy there were the Tic Tacs.
The former owner, Daniel Sun, got in trouble with the law a few times last year for selling alcohol to minors. He was arrested and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and selling alcoholic beverages to a minor according to a story last October in The Sacramento Bee.
The Feds suspended his license for good. He wasn’t selling gas or alcohol at the Come-n-Go.
That’s when he came and went.
Pat Mulhall is the new owner and he’s come to the rescue. He’s really spruced up the place. They’ve installed a clean crisp new sign out front. The previous sign was yellowy and worn. It also had the 24 hours sign cut to say 21 hours.
It definitely brought janky to Freeport Boulevard in Land Park. And we don’t want janky in Land Park.
The one thing I noticed above all else is the big windows. Lots of natural light filtering into the store. Most liquor or convenient stores have all the cheap advertising covering up the windows. Tacky.
No pricing on the front of the building windows, nothing above the rail. It’s a very clean look. “We don’t want it to look like an average convenience store, we also want to be more of a neighborhood market,” Pat said.
The interior of the store has been cleaned up too. Where it used to have red disintegrating Formica above the register is now wood interior with neon beer signs of craft and import beers. Sorry Budweiser and Coors.
“I want to tell people more about our imports and craft beers,” Pat said.
They installed granite countertops, marble back-splashes, and brand new flooring. It’s really an impressive transformation. Convenience store crashers…On HGTV!
Pat’s already heard positive things from the neighbors. They’re “very happy to have the store back,” Pat said. A place they can walk to and buy milk, bread, or Doritos.
They’re going to have coffee and donut specials every morning. Pat said they’re going to offer Yum Yum donuts along with Boyd’s coffee.
The new Come-n-Go will also be a good place to grab local craft beer bombers, like Knee Deep Brewing, Drake’s Brewery, and Sacramento favorites, The Rubicon and Track 7.
And a convenience store staple…they will have a roller grill for hot dogs! Along with corn dogs, taquitos, egg rolls and food items like that.
They’ll also offer some healthy options like sandwiches and high end fruit drinks.
Bigger brighter and less dreary liquor store feel. “Everything we’ve done with this building is energy efficient,” Pat said.
Come-n-Go was like that dilapidated house on your street everybody hates. Now it’s the shiny new convenience store the neighborhood can enjoy.
Ford’s Real Hamburgers gets renovated
Another building that was a bit dilapidated and in desperate need of TLC is the old Ford’s Real Hamburgers building on Sutterville behind the former Blockbuster video store.
One of the men working on restoring the building said, “It used to look like a jailhouse café.” He was right. With the spiked metal fence to the scabbed on plastic yellowy awnings, this place was another black eye for the neighborhood.
Somebody had literally screwed sliding glass doors side by side and made a wall out of it.
All that spiked fencing and sliding glass door walls were not up to code. The tiny 3-foot by 5-foot bathroom was not ADA compliant. It actually wasn’t suitable for anybody to use. The building had been just sitting there vacant waiting for somebody to give it some renovation love.
Adair Construction was hired to bring the building back to life. They did a masterful job. Once they tore away all the unsightly scabbed-on additions you could tell there was a cool retro-looking building
I spoke with the contractor, Ryan Adair, of Adair Construction, on the final day of the restoration and he said, “Nobody would design and build this today, but look at it, it’s fantastic!”
It’s also nice to see a see a cool little building NOT torn down.
The original 1970s rock veneer and inverted roof-line give the building character. Adair said, “The original rock veneer? We decided to keep it. Why pull that away? It looks good.”
On the day the building restoration project was complete, a woman drove by, glanced over, and did a double take, like, “Oh wow, what a cool little building!”
There’s also plenty of space for outdoor dining. Lots of curb appeal to the space, too.
While I was at the site, Ryan Adair was busy pulling the last bit of stray Bermuda grass from the property when he said, “There’s a huge benefit to re-using an existing structure. It pulls a little bit of the past into the future.”
Now that the building restoration is complete what will be going into that spot? Another burger place? Ice cream shop? Barbecue joint? Whatever it becomes, I hope it’s not another Goodwill Express.
Summer of Service At Cal Middle School
There was a bake sale outside Cal Middle School, courtesy of the kids from Summer of Service, a summer school program at Cal Middle School. They were doing a project to serve the neighborhood of Land Park.
The bake sale was to fund an idea from 8th graders at the school.
The 8th graders have been having difficulties at physical education due to the dog waste scattered all over the field. It’s an ongoing problem for the children. Soccer and dog poop do not mix!
So they’re raising money to build a doggie cleanup station at the school hoping it will be utilized by nearby dog owners who don’t feel the need to clean up after their pooch.
They had some homemade cookies, cupcakes, apple turnovers, and all sorts of goodies at the one day bake sale. They actually raised more than $200 in a few hours. Sounds like a summer of success.
New Ride Named
And the new ride at Funderland has been named. Drum roll, please….They’re calling it the Squirrelly Whirl! Catchy. I like it. The ride is now open.
Got an item for Over The Fence? Greg@valcomnews.com

Matias Bombal’s Hollywood

“Self/Less”

Gramercy Pictures (A Comcast Company) offers an action thriller with a touch of the bizarre, “Self/Less” starring Ben Kingsley, Ryan Reynolds and Victor Garber. In present-day New York City, Damian, a man who “built New York” though his financial prowess, is dying from cancer. Through the suggestion of his attorney and adviser Martin (Victor Garber), he investigates a new possibility that his enormous wealth may provide for him, a new kind of second chance made possible by the advance technology of a very secret organization headed by a mysterious and mannered Doctor Albright (Matthew Goode).

Albright offers a radical procedure that will “offer humanity’s greatest minds more time to fulfill their potential,” or transfer Damian’s consciousness and memory to the body of a healthy young man (Ryan Reynolds) that has been supposedly “grown” in a lab synthetically. Thus, this would prolong Damian’s life, yet with a totally new identity. He would be forced to give up his old identity completely to preserve the secrecy of the organization that provides the service.

The remarkable temptation to live again as a healthy young man, rather than with a body riddled with cancer with few months to live is sufficiently attractive to Damian to forfeit his past life, as he’d be able to literally take much of his financial acumen with him. He makes the deal, and travels to New Orleans to “die” and assume the new body. There are adjustments getting used to his new vessel, as the essence of Damian’s memory will take some time to connect to the nerves of the new body. With training supervised by Dr. Albright, he adapts and remarksb “It has that new body smell.”

As he begins to feel comfortable in his newborn world, he is plagued by occasional psychotic episodes, which are only diminished by regular doses of medication to keep visions from occurring. Visions, which strangely are entirely new to his mind, and not from his own memory. Where could they have come from? In nightmarish distorted arrays, he sees a young woman (Natalie Martinez), a young girl (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen). There are episodes of the point of view of a soldier in combat and weird and colorful objects. These visions begin to paint a picture that will lead him to a startling discovery, and eventually he will meet the women of his visions.

To reveal more would spoil the plot of this picture entirely, a movie which I thoroughly enjoyed. Director Tarsem Singh keeps things moving briskly, mounting tension and suspense most effectively. So much so, I had to avert my eyes from the screen out of fear of what might happen next on more than one occasion.

The movie’s editor, Robert Duffy, has done some splendid cutting here, in particular, a sequence in New Orleans. Duffy intercuts a basketball game and the young Damian’s exploration of his new body’s youth with sports and lovemaking cut to a musical rhythm that was very well done. The performances are all very good, and Ryan Reynolds is very likeable. Kingsley delivers as he always does, and Victor Garber has been a favorite of mine since his turn in “Titanic” where he played the tragic ship’s designer, Thomas Andrews.

All these good points make for a great night at the movies, and I really liked it, however, as neat and far-out as the concept sounds, it is not original. It is not possible that “Self/Less” writers David and Alex Pastor wrote this screenplay without having seen John Frankenheimer’s “Seconds” (1966). That film was based on a novel by David Ely, in which the movie poster’s tag line announced: A second chance to live. A second chance to die. The picture, which starred Rock Hudson against type in what was said to be his own favorite work on screen, has a creepiness that is just as chilling and disturbing today as when it first came out with its unusual and groundbreaking photography by the legendary James Wong Howe. In fact, it is much more scary and mysterious then this ramped up modern movie modification. If you have seen “Seconds” this will be self evident. If not, “Self-Less” will be a great time spent at the movies. If you like it as much as I did, I encourage you to seek out Frankenheimer’s “Seconds” (Paramount) to see a similar story told by some of the last master craftsmen of cinema’s golden age.

“AMY”
The MPAA has rated this R

A24 releases a documentary that relates the short and eventually tragic life of pop singer Amy Winehouse, directed by Asif Kapadia. This documentary is highly visual in style and non-traditional in that the many subjects interviewed, including friends, family and lovers are not seen as they talk about her. The visual element of this movie is entirely comprised of actual file video of the English songstress from television and home videos shot by the family and friends that had never before been made public.

As you hear the voice of one of those intimate with Ms. Winehouse, the name of that person appears in a graphic to alert you who is speaking since in most cases they are not seen, with the exception of the speaker being featured in the period footage. These graphics are cleverly and artistically designed and displayed throughout the picture, as are the lyrics of her songs as she is singing them. I found those lyrics on screen to be helpful and at a times Ms. Winehouse’s style of singing makes it hard to discern some of the words she is singing.

You travel through her life from the beauty of a simple Jewish/English childhood in Southgate, London, to her unfortunate death in July 2011, the result of alcohol poisoning and years of adult self-abuse. You learn that her life became marred by the separation of her parents, a wound that would torment the singer through her life.

You see that jazz music influences inspired her early style and sound, quite remarkable for a singer of her generation; yet her later alignment with bad influences started her spiral downward, fueled by an obsessive relationship with her boyfriend and later husband, Blake Fielder-Civil. It was he that introduced her to more serious illegal drugs, and they became quite co-dependent.

Along this history told through home videos, drone shots, and TV excerpts, Ms. Winehouse emerges a talent with remarkable potential, washed away in obsession and drug use. You are left angered and saddened by such a waste of human life, yet with a knowledge that we all must follow our own path, whichever that may be.

The contemporary look of this documentary, which has received much acclaim did not impress me; it was distracting. The song lyrics appearing on screen with cleverly engineered fonts and transitions as well as the names of the voices you were hearing drew attention to themselves and distracted from the footage. The fact that you could not see the interview subjects when they were talking robs you of the human element of facial expression, which is often more telling than just voice alone. A great missed opportunity, as it would have been more powerful to see the faces of those whilst being interviewed, adding value to how much Ms. Winehouse truly affected and contributed to their lives.

One of the best moments in the movie occurs when one of Winehouse’s great musical heroes, Tony Bennett, joins her for a recording session for a duet. You see that he genuinely thinks her talent is singular, comparing her with some of the great blues and jazz singers of all time. She is nervous and agog of her musical legend, who had been warned that she could be difficult. The eternal gentleman and kind soul, his generosity to her during the session sings volumes of his ongoing greatness. It was the most touching part of the picture for me.

The mystery of the theatrical and artistic temperament filled with unbridled emotion in search of expression is not exclusive to Ms. Winehouse; it occurs again and again in history. More often than not, these emotions and creative art impulses cascade into self abuse and self-destruction, as they are overwhelming for many. Here is a movie about such an unfortunate victim of depression, bad influences and public life that may destroy the soul. In Sacramento, “Amy” is at the Tower Theatre.

editor@valcomnews.com

Over The Fence with Greg Brown

Forrest works on the shed, as a pony looks on. / Photos by Greg Brown
Forrest works on the shed, as a pony looks on. / Photos by Greg Brown

There are always interesting things happening in William Land Park. If you look around, you’ll observe people doing stuff. I noticed a couple of guys with hammers and saws doing stuff over by the pony rides. They were building a brand new storage shed at the Land Park Ranch.
The pony lady was thrilled! The ponies even seemed to notice.
Who are those guys? Those guys are Forrest Neff and John Salido who are part of the Land Park Volunteer Corp. The LPVC! You’ll actually see their good deeds all over William Land Park. Just look for the LPVC signature. It’s carved all over the park. “We like to put our signature on things,” Forest said.
The idea for the new pony shed got started when Forrest was taking one of his many walks through the park. “I walk the park a lot and I noticed their cashier stand was a total wreck. I thought I’d fix it up and build them a new one.” Then, Forrest noticed the dilapidated storage shed in the pony ride area.
The old storage shed was dilapidated, small and housed lots of black widows.
“I got a hold of the park guy and I told him if you buy the materials for the shack we’ll build it.” The park guy agreed and the city of Sacramento “ponied up the dough” for the shed rebuild.
All they had to do was push the little shack down because it was totally rotted out. His partner on the project, John Salcido, piped up, “The thing was held together with spider webs and rusty nails.”
Forrest and John pose for the paparazzi in front of the new Land Park Ranch shed.
Forrest and John pose for the paparazzi in front of the new Land Park Ranch shed.

The shed looks really nice and sturdy. It’s dugout green and has a sloped roof with a gutter in the back for when it rains. The new Land Park Ranch pony shed even has a skylight.
I told Forrest it looked really nice.
“You like it huh? Well, we do things right,” he said. Forrest is no nonsense.
The volunteers worked diligently on the new storage shed, although the pony lady told me they “like to take a long lunch” over at Mulligan’s Café at William Land Park Golf Course.
Forrest sheepishly told me, “John said I gotta have a plan to see what you’re building. I told him, John I don’t have a plan.” Then he went home and drew a picture of a two-seater outhouse.
It’s a darn nice outhouse.
Forrest is an electrical contractor by trade. He didn’t need to Google “How to build a shed.” He just “learned by watching” over all these years. He told me, “anybody could do it.”
I’d like to have one of those storage sheds in my backyard. I got some bikes and lawn equipment taking up a lot of space in my garage.
The pony rides need reliable storage. They have to have somewhere to store the horsefly spray, Hooflex, and of course the tasty horse cookies.
The LPVC has done quite a few things Forrest and the crew are proud of. They put barbecue pits all over the park. They installed stone benches over by Swanson’s Pond, as well as the pergola over by the WPA Rock Garden. Just look for their autograph!
Over the saws and drills Forrest and John were listening to the soothing sounds of classical music. “It soothes our souls as we work,” Forrest said. The ponies didn’t seem to mind.
Chalk Talk In Land Park
Lets talk chalk. Chalktalk 916 is a new phenomenon sweeping Wentworth Avenue in Land Park. It even has its own hashtag. #Chalktalk916
What is Chalktalk?
Chalktalk is a daily message billboard for the neighborhood. Local talk with chalk. It covers pop culture, sports, inspirational messages, goofy sayings, holidays, music lyrics, topical stuff, the works!
The chalkboard greets you in front of the home of Rory Tira. She’s in charge of the chalkboard. The board sits on a chair next to a tomato plant, a white picket fence and a brick walkway that leads to the front door of the home. There’s even a cowbell to clang! This time of year there are American flags surrounding the chalkboard. It’s a free speech Americana thing.
Rory likes to keep the messages short and simple. Rory said, “The best messages are short and tight.”
Some messages give sage advice, “Never leave your wingman.” Another stated, “Time Cools All Jets.” Others are somber, “Oh Charleston, Oh America.” Quite a few are celebratory. “CKM Ladies all the way!”
On the day I dropped by Chalktalk it was all about USA Women’s soccer. “USA 4pm vs DEU #BELIEVE”
Chalktalk doesn’t delve into the “controversy of the week.” Chalktalk did, however, celebrate the recent Supreme Court decision over gay marriage. And why not? The deciding vote and majority decision was written by C.K. McClatchy grad Justice Anthony Kennedy. Chalktalk read,
“SCOTUS
Justice Kennedy
McClatchy ‘54
Go Lions”
The idea for Chalktalk was born at Track 7 Brewery, where a lot of good ideas spring to life. Last spring, Rory and a couple friends of hers came up with the idea. It’s been gaining momentum ever since.
And people are noticing.
Chalktalk has become a celebrity of sorts. Local residents are slowly driving by to read what the daily message is. Others have had their picture taken with the chalkboard.
Chalktalk recently celebrated its one year birthday. There have been three incarnations of the chalkboard. A friend of Rory’s actually made her a new big yellow board as a gift.
Another gift the chalkboard received was on Christmas Eve. A box of new chalk. I guess Santa likes Chalktalk.
Rory told me Chalktalk has three types of followers. Drive-by readers, walkers, and online followers as well. Rory said, “We have fans from London to Israel.” Chalktalk is International!
One woman told Rory that she “used to drive a different way to school and one day she went down Wentworth.” Now she always drives down Wentworth past the chalkboard to see what the message will be.
Chalktalk has stalkers!
And with good reason. Chalktalk has a feel-good vibe to it. Fun, lyrical quotes regularly pop up on the chalkboard. Beach Boys, Journey, and Bruce Springsteen are just some of the musical artists whose songs are quoted on the board.
Rory told me most of the ideas for Chalktalk pop into her head while driving around town. She jots the ideas down while driving. People also send her suggestions. She even takes requests!
Rory Tira of Land Park poses in front of the chalkboard with a daily message. It's Chalktalk on Wentworth.  / Photos by Greg Brown
Rory Tira of Land Park poses in front of the chalkboard with a daily message. It's Chalktalk on Wentworth. / Photos by Greg Brown

So next time you’re driving down Wentworth, slow down, look around and maybe you’ll stumble upon ChalkTalk916 in Land Park. It’s also on Instagram #Chalktalk916.
It’s the chalk talk of the town.
Got an item for Over The Fence? Greg@valcomnews.com

Janey Way Memories #145: Sleeping Out

When I logged onto my Facebook account a few weeks ago, I discovered a picture of my granddaughters, Gabrielle and Madeline, sitting in a tent, eating s’mores. I said to myself, “how cool, they’re camping out.” Sure enough, when I saw their mother next day, I said, “were the girls camping out?” She laughed and said, “Yes.”

This reminded me of the summer during the 1950s on Janey Way, when we slept out often. Back then, when the temperatures hit 100 or higher, we went running to mom and dad and asked to sleep out in our backyard. They rarely said no. We had no central air in our house at that time, so sleeping out offered a nice way to beat the heat.

So, by 9 p.m., as the sun set, you would see us lined up in sleeping bags across our backyard.

We never slept much though. We played cards by flashlight, told stories and jokes, and laughed infectiously. We made so much noise; I wonder how my parents ever slept. Every once in a while, my dad opened up the window and said, “You boys quiet down out there. That always kept us quiet for a while.”
Sometimes we snuck out of the yard to go down the street to scare the girls sleeping in another backyard. I am sure they expected us, so I doubt they were frightened.
Other times, we pooled our financial resources then walked over to Shakey’s Pizza on 56th and J to buy a large pepperoni pizza. Pizza always tasted so good, late at night.
Soon though, our eyelids got heavy and we settled into a peaceful sleep. With the Delta breeze blowing over our heads, we slept the night away.
When morning came, the sun shining down on our faces woke us up. Then after drinking a cup of hot chocolate, we were off and running for another carefree summer day. Maybe we would play basketball, maybe we would go to Glenn Hall Park pool to swim. It was summertime, and we had nothing to do but have fun.
Now, my granddaughters are sleeping out, and all I have left, is my lazy and hazy Janey Way memories.

Matias Bombal’s Hollywood

You'll love meeting the windmills in your mind in "Inside Out". Walt Disney/Pixar Animation Studios
You'll love meeting the windmills in your mind in "Inside Out". Walt Disney/Pixar Animation Studios

You’ll love meeting the windmills in your mind in “Inside Out”. Walt Disney/Pixar Animation Studios
Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios are a world unto themselves, and in a way so NOT like the modern Disney of today, that they make for interesting bedfellows. “Inside Out” is a sheer delight from start to finish. It is witty, fresh, and even cerebral. Writers Pete Docter (who also directs), Ronaldo Del Carmen, Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley have an introspective gem that gets inside your mind, literally, or at least inside each of the wonderful characters that you’ll meet in this smart kids movie that will have plenty of great moments for adults, too.

Just what may be found in everyone’s mind?

In this picture, there are animated characters that represent emotions that reside in the brain area of our cartoon heroine, a girl named Riley. Each of them is voiced by some contemporary voices that you may know: Joy (Amy Pollard), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and Sadness (Phyllis Smith).

Riley is a young girl who has traveled with her parents from Minnesota to San Francisco, where her father (Kyle MacLachlan) has moved for work. Mom (Diane Lane) is concerned that their moving van has not appeared and the family has no clothes or furnishings. Compound this with Riley’s first day at school, and we see how all of her emotions come to play within her head, where we spend much of the picture. Our group of emotions chronicle core memories and other impulses and react to events as they unfold outside Riley’s head. Taking the lead is the super positive and almost manic emotion of Joy, and as things become more glum for Riley, Joy embarks on an adventure through the deep recesses of Riley’s mind to save her from total depressive shut down.

I could imagine a pitch meeting of this storyline in Hollywood: “Fantastic Voyage” meets “The Phantom Tollbooth” for kids. Like the great Chuck Jones animated “Tollbooth” of 1970, this movie is clever, imaginative and fun. You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy it. The voices are so perfectly melded to the characters that it is sheer delight and I laughed out loud numerous times.

I am somewhat old fashioned in a modern world, and the only element that bothered me in the movie was the nonstop pace of Joy as voiced by Amy Pollard. It was at times much too fast, manic and breathless, and that irritated me. When she does eventually slow down later in the movie for just a few moments, it is only temporary, for she returns to non-stop positivity-plus in short order. This is a great and entertaining way to spend 94 minutes at the movies, and might be the kind of picture you’d not mind watching twice.

Matias Bombal’s Hollywood

Photo by Allen Fraser/Sony Pictures Classics Shown here, is Cillian Murphy in ALOFT, which is playing now at Tower Theatre.
Photo by Allen Fraser/Sony Pictures Classics Shown here, is Cillian Murphy in ALOFT, which is playing now at Tower Theatre.

ALOFT The MPAA has rated this R
Sony Pictures Classics brings us some very talented actors in an allegorically told existential tale “Aloft”. In it, we delve into the emotional separation of a mother and son played by Jennifer Connelly and Cillian Murphy. The story is told in two storylines, past and present, and centers around a central childhood tragedy. Set in a frigid, grey and bleak iced over world in the great north, Cillian Murphy’s mother has followed a healer known as “the architect” played William Shimell who indicates to her that she too has a gift as a healer. Her son has just lost a Falcon that he was nurturing, in later life, and as we see in the modern section of the movie, he will become devoted to falconry. Yet as an adult, he is betrayed by her mother’s abandonment of he and his brother in favor of the “Architect”. He is bitter and resentful.
The movie also features the pretty blond actress Mélanie Laurent, as well as Oona Chaplin, who recently did a nice turn in the romantic “The Longest Ride” the latest screen adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks book.

This picture is directed by a talented and intellectual movie maker from Peru, Claudia Llossa. This is her third feature, and first in English. I found this to be a movie that would appeal to other actors, for it offers a great study in the craft of acting. However, with all of its sophistication and mood, it will fail to please the moviegoer out to be entertained for a night at the movies. This is because the past and present are not clearly defined, and you are not sure of what you are looking at or when it occurs in the narrative. It is a very difficult movie to watch. The narrative itself is not linear, so only at the end of 112 minutes of running time do you find out how things tie together, but before then you are left wondering what is going on. So you are left with a desire to leave, but intrigued by fine performances by capable actors.

This movie was a frustrating experience for me at best. I may only view movies with the collective amalgam of my own experience- just as each of us. I try to open my mind for other possibilities and viewpoints, yet watching this to the very end was unsatisfactory for me; I longed for some element in the story to grab on to, rather than the feeling of wandering around in a dream. In a recent interview, the director was quoted as saying she did not want it to be so clear. She is successful in her goal. It is as if you walked into a room where you knew no one and tried to figure out what they were all talking about. You long for a familiar face… anything, and no luck. So this picture is for the intrepid moviegoer only, where a non-traditional way of seeing a story told for the screen might be an attractive aspect. For me it was not. This is by no means a bad move, nor is it poorly made. It is non-traditional, a case of art cinema, which like performance art without a narrative, may seem a jumble to many.

Matías Bombal’s Hollywood

Universal Pictures, the king of monster movie studios, brings the Amblin Entertainment production of “Jurassic World” in 3-D to IMAX screens across the USA. The eagerly awaited summer block-buster that returns to Isla Nublar 22 years after John Hammond planned to open the first park on the island, is in essence, a direct sequel to the original film, Jurassic Park, released in 1993. Even though there have been other movies thematically connected to the franchise over the past years, this does not connect to those storylines. Of all of the movies, this is the first to have the theme park open for business, attracting visitors from all over the world to see real live dinosaurs in the flesh.

The story opens with the corporate run park starting to show some decline in attendance, as the patrons are no longer thrilled by just run of the mill dinosaurs. The head of the company, Mr. Masrani, played by actor Irrfan Kahn, comes to see what the scientists have been developing in secret to boost the numbers. “Fantastic” is his apt description of this man-engineered hell known as the “Indominus Rex”, Latin for “indomitable king”.

Bryce Dallas Howard plays Claire, who you may remember from “The Help”. As a park executive, she is an OCD type that schedules every detail of life to the smallest degree. Mr. Masrani wants to be sure of this new creation and suggests that another employee, Owen, played by Chris Pratt, be brought in to consult on the controllability of the new super dinosaur. In this movie, Pratt plays a sympathetic type of dinosaur whisperer, and in his charge are three Velociraptors that he has been training in the manner you would wild horses. He does not exactly see eye to eye with Claire. She, meanwhile, whilst trying to keep the company numbers looking good on the business charts, has agreed to look after her 2 nephews visiting the park. Clearly, she does not have the time. After her smart phone addicted assistant looses track of the two, they begin to have fun on their own in the park.

Whilst the two boys make their own off-road adventure, havoc strikes, or the king steps out; “Indominus” breaks out for a feeding frenzy. From then on, it’s a race for survival with non-stop adventure with not a single dull moment. There’s a relative newcomer in the cast that’s worth watching, and I like to chart his career with that of my movie reviews. One of my earliest reviews, since I started writing about movies in 2013, was the movie “Kings of Summer”, in which he had his first major starring role. His name is Nick Robinson. The 20-year-old actor from Seattle plays Zach, the older of the two brothers in this movie. He was featured in an outstanding role in one episode of “Boardwalk Empire” entitled “Blue Bell Boy” and in this, he’s excellent. He’s got a great future ahead, and I said so in that review in 2013.

You plunge into adventure in 3-D and giant IMAX in this highly entertaining and fun monster movie, and I enjoyed each moment as did the audience at the advance screening I attended. Vincent D’Onofrio has a nice bit in this as a mercenary type ready to take advantage of chaos to his own purpose. Returning from the first movie is actor BD Wong as Dr. Henry Wu, the geneticist that makes dinosaurs on demand, and there is a lovely tribute to Sir Richard Attenborough, who played John Hammond in the original movie- you’ll see a statue of him on display in the park.

Composer Michael Giacchino is reverent to John Williams’ original themes from the first movie, and even gives us a touch of Hitchcock’s “Psycho”, or Bernard Herrmann style music, when flying prehistoric creatures run amuck. Director Colin Trevorrow also gives us little touches to the original movie throughout, such as a scene where they boys discover the original park’s dome, overgrown, and pick up from the floor the remains of the banner that memorably floated to the floor at the end of the mayhem of the first movie. The entire time I watched, little moments on the island kept reminding me of the great and original “King Kong” of 1933, and in some cases “The Lost World” of 1925.

For you television fans, there is an unexpected cameo from Jimmy Fallon. I was also amused that of all the rugged vehicles in this movie, only the Mercedes-Benz G class Geländewagens were not harmed during the picture. So now you know just what vehicle to get if Dinosaurs suddenly appear in your neighborhood. Two odd lingering thoughts about this release; It is now nearly impossible to separate the image of Chris Pratt from the song written by Francis Zambon (Mark James) “Hooked on a Feeling’” from “Guardians of the Galaxy”- I kept hearing the lyric in my head as I watched him. The other lingering thought is a little pet peeve of mine specific to dinosaur movies. Why have we been lead to believe that they roar like lions or other giant beasts? Has it been established that they made any noise at all? I’m growing older each day, but I’ve not actually met anyone who was around back then to tell me if they actually made any sounds at all. Paleontologists can’t say for sure. I encourage you to see this big summer movie in the biggest way possible, at an IMAX Theatre near you. It is the best of the big summer moves thus far.

Janey Way Memories #144

One hell of a man

My father had a tough life. Like all of the people from his generation, he survived the Great Depression and World War II. Not only that, Dad lost his father when he was 5 years old.
Consequently, he was raised by a step father who didn’t always treat him kindly. My aunt recalls an incident which took place when dad was 10. He was playing in his front yard on 5240 14th Ave. when his misbehaved. So, his step father picked up a piece of metal wire and struck him on the back. When Dad cried, the doctor who lived across the street came over and said: “Mr. Petta, if I ever see you do that again, I will have you arrested.”
After that, according to my aunt, Dad’s step father never struck him again. Dad went on to star in football and baseball at Sacramento High School and Sacramento City College.
When World War II broke out, Dad worked first in the Richmond Naval Ship Yard before serving honorably in the U. S. Navy.
When he returned to Sacramento in 1946, he got a job working as a milk truck driver for the Golden Gate Dairy. Then, in 1948, he got on as a patrol man with the Sacramento Police Department where he had a successful 31-year career. He started in patrol, but subsequently served as a detective and finally as the chief of the newly formed Warrants Division.
I worked for him there as a student assistant when I was in college. I remember talking to a lieutenant one day in the patrol room at the old police station on 6th and H streets. He said, “Your father is one hell of a man. At 5 feet, 9 inches, he is probably the smallest man in the department, but he is tough. If I was in a scuffle on the street, your dad is the man I’d want backing me up.” That made me proud of my dad.
However, my dad and I didn’t always get along after I reached teen age. I remember an incident which took place when I was a senior in high school. Dad, mom, my brothers and I went to Berkeley to watch my cousin Tom play for Cal in a college football game. Cal won that day, and after the game, my little brother John ran down onto the football field. So Dad looked at me and said, “Go get him and bring him back here.” Like a good son, I went down to the field to retrieve John.
Unfortunately, about 10,000 Cal fans dotted the field that day cheering on the Bears, so I followed the crowd through the tunnel to the Bear’s locker room in search of my little brother. There, I found John along with some of my aunts, uncles and cousins, and waited for my family to follow.
When they came, Dad was mad at me. So he walked toward me with his hand raised as if to hit me. I stepped backward, but he continued to approach me. Then I turned around, ran about 50 yards and said, “Do you think you can catch me?” When he kept coming, I turned and ran and ran, and ran, half of the way around the Memorial Stadium.
Eventually, I stopped to look back. Dad was no longer in site. So I began walking and wondering what I would do. Fortunately, I suddenly ran into my older sister Pat, leaving the game with her husband Gary. She said, “What’s up Mart,” so I explained what had happened. Then she said, “Don’t worry, we will take you home.”
When we arrived home, I walked through the front door and saw my family, seated at the dinner table eating. I walked right by them, down the hall to my bedroom. I didn’t eat dinner that night.
Next day, Dad didn’t say anything about what had happened.
I often wonder if he didn’t think to himself: “My son Marty is one hell of a man.”

editor@valcomnews.com

Matias Bombal’s Hollywood

I’ll See You In My Dreams The MPAA has rated this PG-13
Bleeker Street Media is a relatively new movie production company out of New York City which has for the past year offered well made films by adults for adults, which in the current movie market of the target demographic of teen girls and boys, not only is refreshing, it is remarkable. They won big points with me earlier this year with the Al Pacino movie “Danny Collins” and now they offer “I’ll See You in My Dreams”, a story that brings talented actresses back to the screen you may have not seen in a while, including Blythe Danner, Mary Kay Place and Rhea Perlman. Sam Elliot and delightful June Squibb, who was so wonderful in “Nebraska”, are also featured.

This is a story of a recent widow, played by Blythe Danner, who suffers an additional personal loss in the first few moments of the movie, the death of her most recent sleeping companion, her dog. She keeps engaging with friends, with whom she plays Bridge, who are always ready to offer advice whether she wants it or not, especially from Mary Kay Place, who I loved in the 1977 Martin Scorsese film “New York, New York” where she played opposite Robert DeNiro singing “Blue Moon”. Her other great movies included “Private Benjamin”, “The Big Chill” and “Terms of Endearment”. Blythe Danner’s character’s strong spirit guides her through tough times, and an encroaching loneliness. She strikes up conversations with her kind swimming pool service man, and continues to visit with her girlfriends until one day she encounters Sam Elliot in a vitamin store. She’s intrigued. Eventually they have a date, and he takes her out on his boat. Elliot offers that classic Gary Cooper stalwartness in bringing his role to life, a man of few words, but when he says something, it carries weight. He’s always had a presence in the movies, since we first saw him playing cards in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” in 1969.

Ms. Danner has already begun to receive many accolades for her work in this picture, and she’s worked fairly consistently since the early 1970s in such memorable movies as “1776″ where she was Mrs. Jefferson,” Hearts of the West”, “The Great Santini”, and of course, “Brighton Beach Memoirs”. She is also the mother of actress Gwyneth Paltrow.

I found Danner to be marvelous in this- fragile, yet firm. In one scene, she has a chance to sing Arthur Hamilton’s 1953 song “Cry Me a River” at a Karaoke Bar. The song had been written for Ella Fitzgerald to sing in the movie “Pete Kelly’s Blues”, but it was dropped and became a hit for Julie London, who made the definitive recording. Danner’s rendition has the depth of the later ballads of Sinatra, and really resonated with me. I almost cried a river at her performance. I was delighted to enjoy a movie without a loud and obnoxious soundtrack, where Rob Givins’ camera work lingers on the subjects allowing you to see the depth of the performances.

Interestingly, the film’s title has nothing to do with the famous ballad of the same name, written in 1924 by bandleader Isham Jones. However, a song with that title, and different melody and lyric is performed near the end of the movie by the kind pool man, played by actor Martin Starr. This movie is directed by Brett Haley.

Over The Fence

Over the Fence columnist, Greg Brown, is also a chef at the little league snack shack. Nice hat.
Over the Fence columnist, Greg Brown, is also a chef at the little league snack shack. Nice hat.

The Culinerdy Cruzer food truck was on location at the fundraiser for Georgia Kukowski, a mother of two who is undergoing cancer treatment not covered by her insurance. / Photos by Greg Brown
The Culinerdy Cruzer food truck was on location at the fundraiser for Georgia Kukowski, a mother of two who is undergoing cancer treatment not covered by her insurance. / Photos by Greg Brown

Manning The Grill At Dooley Field


Life as a Little League Dad. The Land Park Pacific Little League is winding down and my son’s t-ball team needed volunteers for the snack shack at Dooley Field.
It ain’t no dinky shack. It’s more like a small restaurant. With help from other parental volunteers on the Royals, I pitched in to help. I don’t have a lot of food service experience, although I did work at Round Table Pizza in my youth. I made pizzas and worked the salad bar.
Luckily there is no kale, salad, or sneeze guard at the Dooley Field Snack Shack. It’s all about the hotdogs and hamburgers.
Since I’m the backyard barbecue grill-master at home, I volunteered to start off grilling on the Dooley Field gas grill. It’s a behemoth.
I even donned an apron to catch the juicy splatters of the meat. It would have been cool to wear one of those big white chef hats the carvers at Sam’s wear. That would make me look more official.
The best part of grilling hot dogs and hamburgers at Dooley Field is the picturesque view of the ballpark. While the hotdogs got plump and the hamburgers sizzled, I watched the Cubs take on the Phillies. There was a crack of the bat and I looked up to see the Cubs center fielder make a one-handed grab deep in center field. He got an appreciative cheer from the crowd in the bleachers. Nice catch!
Besides hotdogs, hamburgers and candy galore, the snack shack also offers deep fried tater tots and French fries. One of the parents was in charge of the fryer that was cooking up the tots and fries. The Krunch Bars and Big League Chew bubble gum were also big sellers.

Surprisingly, one of the most popular food items was Taco In A Bag.

We rang up quite a few orders for Taco In A Bag. Not sure where the idea for taco in a bag came from but, it’s got Little League Dad written all over it.
They’re really quite simple to prepare. You open up the Doritos chip or Fritos bag. Then you pour chili, cheese, lettuce and salsa on top and that’s what they call Taco In A Bag, an easy on-the-go snack for the kids. Or for Dad!
I’m waiting for the Taco In A Bag food truck!
Once the two ballgames were over the Little Leaguers came running to the snack shack. That’s when the action really heated up. Tater tots, hotdogs, hamburgers, and yes, the Taco In A Bag were flying out the snack bar window.
Once the deluge of hungry little leaguers was over, it was time for the cleanup crew.
Love For Georgia Fundraiser
It was a special night of giving at New Helvetia Brewing Company. Friends, family, and the local community showed up in force for a fundraiser for Georgia Kukowski, a woman they love.
Pedro Tiago Ferrer was spinning cool tunes, the Culinerdy Cruzer was serving up the grub, and there was face painting for the kids. Not to mention a slew of awesome raffle prizes.
Parents were sipping a pint and socializing with each other while children weaved and snaked their way through the crowd.
The night was celebratory, but had a serious purpose – to raise a pint and some funds for Georgia.
Georgia has been fighting stage 4 breast Cancer for 2 and a half years. She recently found out the cancer has spread to her liver.
Shannon Tarter, a close friend and organizer of the fundraiser, said “Georgia is a very caring woman. She has a lot of courage.” She added, “She feels great, she looks great. Which is not reflective of her battle.”
The Love For Georgia fundraiser started on Mother’s Day. Georgia has two school age children that attend Alice Birney Elementary and she hopes to begin treatment once the school year is over.
Nicole Oehmke, a friend of Georgia’s, said, “When my children needed extra nurturing, she’s been there. She is who I can’t be for my kids. She loves them as they are. She loves them for who they are.”
In 10 days, they’ve already raised an astounding $60,000 for Georgia. And they’re not done yet. All of the funds will go for Georgia’s medical fund covering, and there’s a lot of it. The immunotherapy treatment she would like to undergo next is not covered by her insurance.
On Georgia’s Youcaring website she says,
“Cancer college is teaching me that some people are ashamed of their cancer. Some people try to hide it or isolate themselves. That is not me. I am not ashamed. I don’t know why I have cancer, but I don’t think it was something I did…or didn’t do. It just is. And I will find my way through this. And so many of you are right by my side. My army of love and light. Thank you. Thank you. And one more time THANK YOU!”
If you want to donate, or learn more about Georgia and her fight:
http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/love-for-georgia-kukowski-help-give-this-mother-more-time-/351320

Land Park Farmer’s Market Makes A Move
The Land Park Farmers Market is moving from William Land Park to Sacramento City College. It will now be located at the corner of Sutterville Road and 21st in the Sac City parking lot
I spoke with Emily Lipson over the phone and she told me, “We’ll be more visible and also we’ll be able to add more vendors and beef up the market for the summer months. It’s an easier and better location for us.”
Summertime means more farmers and a bigger market for the Land Park neighborhood every Sunday between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Got an item? Greg@valcomnews.com