Over the Fence: Look, up in the sky, it’s a drone in Land Park!

Some drone videos showcase remote Alaskan ice caves, cascading waterfalls in Costa Rica, even earthquake damage in Napa. Sacramento resident Tim Pantle showcases the beauty of the Sacramento area with his aerial photos and drone videos on his blog “Love Where You Live”.

I hung out with Tim while he was getting aerial views of the Urban Cow Half Marathon that was held in William Land Park recently. He also filmed some nice shots of the golf course, Fairytale Town and the Sacramento Zoo.

We spoke about the good, the bad, and the ugly of quadcopters. Drone videos have been somewhat controversial but Tim is the “Mister Rogers of drone video operators.” He does nothing nefarious — just good, wholesome, fun videos of the Sacramento area.

What spurred Tim’s quadcopter hobby is he wanted to start a blog of some kind. One day, he saw a picturesque drone video of the old Fair Oaks Bridge and he was hooked. “I’ve always been that tech-geek and used to be really into photography,” Tim said. He loves the challenge of “getting the good shot.”

He was getting plenty of good shots of the Urban Cow Half Marathon and William Land Park the day we got together.

At the start of the half marathon, the announcer told runners to “wave to teh drone,” as Tim’s Phantom 2 Vision Quadcopter was filming over head.

When Tim was filming on the fifth hole at Land Park Golf Course, a golfer took a practice swing from the fairway then turned around to smile and wave. The drone makes a loud buzzing, swarm-of-bees sound, so I was surprised the golfer let the quadcopter bother him. Most golfers demand complete silence before hitting a fairway wood on a par 4 hole.

The Phantom 2 Vision reminds me of the Starship Enterprise from the old Star Trek series. It has a similar look. If you can operate a joystick, you can certainly operate a quadcopter. Tim syncs it up with GPS. It’s the ultimate in tech gadgetry for a photographer. If the battery goes dead, or it loses connection with his remote it’ll fly back to where it started and land. It has a brain! The controller has a WiFi extender that allows the drone to send a signal to his phone so he can see what the camera sees.

The Phantom 2 Vison has quite a few different names, including an aerial drone, quadcopter, UAV or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. The term drone came about because the vehicles sounded like worker bees known as “drones.”

Tim’s a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker and he thought the quadcopter or drone would be a great aspect of selling real estate. “Unfortunately I can’t use it for real estate because of FAA rules of no commercial, at the time that I bought it that rule wasn’t in place.”

There are a few rules when it comes to the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. The laws are still trying to catch up with the technology.

You cannot use it for commercial purposes. You can’t go above 400 feet. It’s also a big “no no” in national parks. Yosemite National Park has banned drones after they became a nuisance to vistors of the park. Another rule is you can’t fly within three miles of an airport.

Whereas Tim uses his drone for good, clean, wholesome fun, other drone operators aren’t as level headed and responsible as Tim.

There have been many publicized incidents of aerial drones causing problems. One drone operator flew over a nude beach in Hawaii that created an online stir.

Technically, there’s nothing illegal about being a “creepy pest” because it was a public beach. When the operator was confronted by one of the sunbathers he accused him of breaking the law by being nude in public, which is technically illegal in Hawaii.

Got that? Being nude illegal, filming people nude, legal.

One man actually shot down a New Jersey man’s drone after it hovered near his home. He blew it out of the sky with his shotgun. Kaboom! The guy who shot down the drone was arrested and charged with Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose and Criminal Mischief. Oops.

Then there is the case of a 17-year-old teen who was innocently filming the shoreline of a beach in Florida. A woman became enraged and assaulted him because she thought he was filming bikini-baring beach goers. The video of the confrontation is quite disturbing. The woman called the police; but, after they viewed the I-Phone video from the teen’s camera, she was arrested for assault.

Tim told me he thinks “some of the news coverage is overblown.”

I spoke with Rob Watkins at RC Country Hobby on Folsom Boulevard and he said, “I’m more concerned in the type of person and how they’re flying them than the quadcopters themselves.”

Rob mentioned an incident where a guy was flying his drone over the Sand Fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills. It caused the grounding firefighting aircraft.

“We sell a lot of them here and they’re fun to fly. It just concerns me what people are doing with them,” Rob said.

What Tim is doing with his drone videos is making people feel good. The feedback Tim gets is all positive. His most popular drone video is the Del Campo High School campus. He’s actually from the graduating class of ’86. His quadcopter gives an aerial documentation of the campus as it slowly glides over the mighty oak tree that is at the center of the campus. The aerial video ends on the newly build Cougar football stadium. He also has an ethereal soundtrack that plays during the video. It elicited quite a few emotional responses on a Del Campo High School reunion page. Gregory Hansel, a class of 1984 alumni said, “Am I the only one who got a bit emotional seeing that? School hasn’t changed much. A lot of memories.”

Tim also has an enchanting drone video of the Sacramento River at the Tower Bridge. The quadcopter glides right over the golden bridge to reveal an aerial shot not many people have seen — the tip top of the Tower Bridge. It’s accompanied by some Joe Satriani-style guitar riffs. He also filmed a video of the American River near the Fair Oaks bluffs and bridge, another picturesque drone video of the area Tim calls home.

If you search You Tube, there are numerous beautiful, edgy, and just plain magical videos of nature’s beauty. These drone videos, by far, outnumber the irresponsible and innocuous ones that tend to get headlines. Waterfalls, cliff diving, and amazing Alaskan glacier views are just some of the subjects drone videos have beautifully captured.

Drone videos are also publicizing social justice like the Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong. There is an aerial drone video of hundreds of thousands of people in the street peacefully protesting.

There’s also aerial drone videos by The Swandiri Institute, an organization focusing its research on the political-ecology and social-ecological analysis of environmental change happening in Indonesia.

Drones are even helping to save the whales. The Ocean Alliance is a group that uses aerial drones to collect a broad spectrum of data from the whales without disturbing them. From the data, they advise scientists and policy makers on pollution and how to prevent the collapse of marine mammals and other sea life.

See? Aerial Drones are being used for good.

Which brings me back to Sacramento’s drone video photographer, Tim Pantle. He takes great pleasure in making drone videos that people have an emotional connection to. Tim also uses his common sense. “I don’t fly over people’s houses and if somebody shows any inkling they’re upset, I just leave. I’m not looking for any trouble.”

Tim is very careful and cautious with his quadcopter. When we were together, his plan was to fly over the Sacramento Zoo, but he was also a bit hesitant. Tim said, “I don’t know if I could fly over the zoo because it might disturb the animals. Common sense says, don’t bug the animals.”

He did manage to get some aerial footage of the zoo and no animals were disturbed.

Whether it’s Sacramento parks, historic bridges or our beautiful waterways Tim only uses his quadcopter for good. He also takes pride in giving Sacramento a bird’s eye view of the city he loves.

To check out all of Tim’s videos go to www.LoveSacramento.Blogspot.com

Got an item for Over The Fence? Greg@valcomnews.com

Arden neighborhood harbors two new literary lights

More than 100 authors will be featured at the California Capital Book Festival Oct. 25-26—authors from all over the country and from right here in Sacramento. Among them are two Arden area authors, fiction writer Lois Ann Abraham and children’s author Joanna Rowland.

Abraham is a professor of English at American River College and a prize-winning fiction writer whose work has appeared in Sojourner, Chico News & Review, Writing on the Edge, inside english, Burning the Little Candle, and Convergences.

Her short story collection, Circus Girl & Other Stories, was published earlier this year by ARC’s Ad Lumen Press. The book, according to the published description, is peopled by characters who “are seeking—wisely or foolishly, successfully or vainly—to make sense of their lives and to become more completely themselves.” The title story is about a woman who was raised by circus clowns and who marries a “townie,” only to have her husband question her capacity to be a competent wife and mother. Another of the stories, “The Iris in the Garden” is the fourth chapter from Abraham’s novel-in-progress, Stillscape With Ashes, about a female painter set in the early 1900s in Martinique, according to a report by American River Current.

Joanna Rowland debut children’s book, Always Mom, Forever Dad, was written for those children whose parents live separately and who “can’t help but wonder: Will Mom still love me? Will Dad?” An elementary school teacher in the San Juan Unified School District, Rowland knows many students who have two homes. Written with those students in mind, the book depicts children from two households, “whether because of divorce, separation or other circumstances, experiencing life’s ups and downs with both parents, secure in the knowledge that Mom will always be Mom, and Dad is forever Dad….and that they will always be loved.”

For more authors who will be featured at California Capital Book Festival, visit www.ccbookfestival.com.

KXOA continues legacy through former Arden area resident

George Junak, who is known in radio as Greg Mitchell, established the 24-hour per day Internet radio station KXOA in 2009. Photo courtesy of George Junak

George Junak, who is known in radio as Greg Mitchell, established the 24-hour per day Internet radio station KXOA in 2009. Photo courtesy of George Junak

Editor’s Note: This is the sixth article in a series about the history of broadcasting in the Sacramento area. This series was inspired by readers’ positive responses to previous articles about local television history in this publication and several requests to feature histories of local radio stations.

In the previous article of this series, it was noted that the end of the use of the call letters, KXOA, in Sacramento came in 2004. But that does not mean KXOA is completely a thing of the past.
Instead, fans of the old station, which debuted in 1945 and could once be found on both the AM and FM dials, can tune into a live re-creation of the station via the Internet.
Because the deaths of KXOA 1470 AM in 1998 and KXOA 93.7 FM in 2004 left the KXOA call letters available, former Arden area resident George Junak, who has worked in radio for many years, took the opportunity to acquire those letters in 2008.
Junak, who is known by the on air name of Greg Mitchell, had made the decision to create his own Internet radio station and was familiar with KXOA. He had once worked for KNDE 1470 AM, which had replaced KXOA 1470 AM from 1971 to 1978, before KXOA-AM returned to the air for two additional decades.
In 2006, Junak, 61, moved from San Diego to Jacksonville, Fla., where he would later launch his Internet radio station.
And in recalling his work to establish that station, Junak said, “In between (2008) and July (2009), when we actually signed the station on the air, I needed to get the automation software to run the station, build a little studio, load all the music into the computer system, load everything that we were going to run into the system. That was just pretty much done part time, so it took quite a few months. So, by the time July (2009) rolled around, everything was in place and we just put it on the air one day.”
Junak had no difficulty recalling the precise date of his station’s debut, as he said that, coincidentally, a KXOA-related incident occurred in Sacramento on that day.
“(July 15, 2009), the day that we signed (the station) on the air on the Internet was (when) a couple of towers came down at the 1470 (AM) transmitter site (near Commerce Circle and Lathrop Way),” Junak said.
The Sacramento Bee reported on July 16, 2009 that during the previous day, firefighters had responded to a fire that had toppled one of the former KXOA radio towers, damaged another tower and destroyed a small building containing radio equipment. A third tower was mentioned as having been threatened, but not damaged.
Junak who spends the majority of each day dedicated to his other radio-related business, California Aircheck, said he has enjoyed the responses of former KXOA of Sacramento listeners who have heard his KXOA station.
“People who had grown up in Sacramento were happy to have KXOA back,” said Junak, who began his radio career in Palms Springs in the early 1970s. “I enjoy hearing from people that come across it on the Internet.”
Junak added, “I also enjoy trying to be creative in a different way than just (through) California Air Check, where I just spend time editing things on that. So, doing KXOA is something that’s more creative on a daily basis than my full-time job.”
And after being asked if the station has reconnected him with radio people of his past, Junak said, “It did when I first put it on the air. I did hear from a couple of people that I had worked with, and I did hear from Martin Ashley, who went by the name of ‘Wonder Rabbit’ at (the now defunct Sacramento radio station) KROY. He sent me a couple of jingles from when he was at KXOA.”
Junak explained that most people discover the new KXOA by accident.

The original KXOA was one of Sacramento’s early radio stations. It debuted at 1490 AM in 1945 and moved to 1470 AM three years later. Photo courtesy of George Junak

The original KXOA was one of Sacramento’s early radio stations. It debuted at 1490 AM in 1945 and moved to 1470 AM three years later. Photo courtesy of George Junak

“(Operating KXOA is) pretty much just a hobby, so I haven’t really gone out of my way to advertise,” Junak said. “Most people just stumble across it and either like it or don’t (like it).”
In responding to the inquiry of what people can listen to on today’s KXOA, Junak said, “The format is called Motown, soul and rock ‘n’ roll. So, basically what you don’t hear is the really soft stuff that you might hear on a typical oldies station like the Carpenters and John Denver and Captain & Tennile and Brenda Lee. So, basically we’ve taken the best soul music, the best rock ‘n’ roll, mixed it together and left off the wimpy stuff. We play tons of The Beatles. We play like over 100 different songs of The Beatles, Creedence (Clearwater Revival), Cream, The Temptations, Steely Dan, Barry White, Stevie Wonder, The Moody Blues, Marvin Gaye, Eagles, The Byrds, (The Rolling) Stones, Four Tops, Foreigner, ELO, Elton John, (The) Mamas & (The) Papas, (The) Spencer Davis (Group), (The) Guess Who, Chicago. Basically things you might hear on a classic rock station. Typically an old station these days might play about 500 different songs. We play about 2,000. So, there are a lot of songs you’re not going to hear over and over and over again, and things that you probably haven’t heard in years.
The station, compared to what else you’re going to hear on the Internet, I think has a lot more personality and sounds like the stations of the 1960s, where it’s not where you can go for an hour and here’s the disc jockey two times, and just hear songs back to back to back to back all hour long. It makes it sound more like radio was back in the 1960s.”
Junak said that he works at the station seven days per week.
“I spend a couple hours a day on the station,” Junak said. “Usually I have to go through the logs and fix the problems on it during the day, and I usually decide that there are more minutes in the hour than there actually are, so I typically have to go delete songs at the ends of hours and I basically have to correct any problems.”
Listeners of the station can hear Junak from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Geoff Richards from 2 to 6 p.m., Bob Oscar Johnson from 6 p.m. to midnight and from 6 to 10 a.m., Bill Earl from midnight to 6 a.m., and Doctor John Winston from 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.
In addressing readers of this paper in regard to his station, Junak said, “We’re here 24 hours a day and if you enjoyed radio more in the 1960s and 1970s than you do today, then KXOA, ‘the Giant X,’ would be more of a station that you would want to listen to other than some of the other stations in Sacramento. So, we’re basically four people that aren’t really looking for radio as just background. We want you to hear something interesting along with the music.”
KXOA can be heard through the website www.147kxoa.com.

Atkinson Family Services grows and expands in Carmichael with new building

Jim and Carla Atkinson, founders and owners of Atkinson Family Services in Carmichael, have expanded their business and have recently purchased a new building in Carmichael. Photo by Monica Stark

Jim and Carla Atkinson, founders and owners of Atkinson Family Services in Carmichael, have expanded their business and have recently purchased a new building in Carmichael. Photo by Monica Stark

A major transformation is taking place for the Carmichael-based foster care agency, Atkinson Family Services, a private non-profit focused on residential and educational treatment of special needs or abused children.
For nearly 14 years, the agency was located on the second floor of La Brie’s Sleep Center on El Camino Avenue near Business 80, but Jim Atkinson co-owner of Atkinson Family Services with his wife Carla, explained in a lengthy interview about recent changes the agency has experienced since around the time La Brie’s had to scale down the business and Atkinson’s was pushed back down the alley, essentially hidden from El Camino Avenue.
Fast forward to 2012, the year the Atkinsons bought a large 20,245-square-foot property in Carmichael, and to just last fall when employees began moving their corporate office, and behavioral health services into the building, which has needed much in the way of upgrades. Eventually Atkinson’s new charter school will be moved to this location, which built in 1984 for doctors’ offices, most previously has been occupied by the California Montessori School, that spent more than $700,000 in improvements to the property over the course of nearly two decades. Two cell tower leases also contribute to the property’s income. The property is surrounded by a mix of homes and office spaces. Just across the street, Oakmont of Carmichael (4717 Engle Road) on Saturday, Sept. 20 opened its doors to seniors for assisted living, independent living, Alzheimer’s memory care.
The Atkinsons saw the Carmichael property in 2012 when it was in foreclosure and Jim described with this publication the various updates that have needed to be done for the foster care agency.
On the United Way Day of Giving, which was held this year on Friday, Sept. 12, 45 volunteers from various companies like, AT&T, Coast Landscape, Dunn-Edwards Paints, Behr Paint, G.B. Global, Eco Land Care, First Services Residential, were working on the facility from painting the banister on the staircase to revamping the landscape outside.
Retired from the United Parcel Service (UPS), Russ Gostage has been volunteering with United Way for 17 years. He spoke with the Arden Carmichael News about his involvement for the day’s event and his background in volunteer work. “I wanted to be a part of it. I like the dedication of the staff and the commitment of (Atkinson Family Services). I tell them I am good about raising money, but can’t do what they do.”
Atkinson Family Services has six state licensed group homes that provide a 24-hour residential therapeutic setting for six children each. Five of their homes operate as a family and have house parents. Two homes serve 12 boys and four homes serve 24 girls, totaling 36 children at any one time. Their group homes served 81 children in 2008. These children come from many counties through out California.
Atkinson Family Services has 15 well-trained, foster families that provide care for the foster children. They are trained to provide a therapeutic setting for children with difficult behaviors. These children came from several counties through out northern California.
Atkinson Family Services special education school is certified by the California Department of Education to provide special educational services to 48 students. Students are sent to us by many school districts in the Sacramento area.
Jim and Carla, the founders of Atkinson Family Services, became first became parents in 1963 and 1964, and then became foster parents in 1968. When they moved to Sacramento in the early 1980s, they brought 13 children with them from the Bay Area.
Carla graduated from San Jose State University in 1980, with a degree in Psychology. She worked on a Masters Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis on Child Welfare from the University of Southern California.
“With only one class to go I realized that I don’t like business,” she says. “In 1984, I asked Jim to join me, and he took the full time position of Executive Director and I became the Program Administrator. I studied the different ideas and approaches to counseling and decided that William Glasser’s Reality Therapy and Choice Theory made the most sense to me.”
In the late 80s, Carla became certified in Choice Theory. She is on the faculty and is qualified as a practicum supervisor. It has become the basis of the program for their school, foster homes and group homes. Atkinson Family Services became a county group home in 1980, and incorporated as a California nonprofit and became a state group home in 1984. They employ 90 to 100 people to help provide these services.
Posted on the website, the agency believes in “natural families and work to return children to their families whenever possible. Most of our group homes have parents that live in. Our system has been very successful, although it is not for every child, nor for every problem.”
Jim and Carla have now parented about 100 children personally, and right now have 53 grandchildren. “We know our program works because we know the grandchildren and the quality life they are able to live because their parents are successful,” Carla states.
People often ask Carla what the secret of their longevity as a couple is. “Actually, it is more about our love and respect for each other, but sometimes it is about our commitment to each other and our relationship.”


Howlin’ on the Parkway 2014: Walk your dog (in costume) to support the American River Parkway Howlin’ on the Parkway 2014: Walk your dog (in costume) to support the American River Parkway

These American River Foundation supporters and their dogs came out to the river in the heat of the day on Friday, Oct. 3 for this photo shoot to promote the Howlin' on the Parkway event. Photo by Monica Stark

These American River Foundation supporters and their dogs came out to the river in the heat of the day on Friday, Oct. 3 for this photo shoot to promote the Howlin' on the Parkway event. Photo by Monica Stark

On Sunday, Oct. 19, dress up your dog and join American River Parkway supporters for the first Howlin’ on the Parkway, a dog walking event to benefit the American River Parkway Foundation. Registration is $25 per person in advance or $40 the day of and begins at 8 a.m. at William B. Pond Recreation Area (5700 Arden Way, Carmichael), with the walk starting at 9 am..

Howlin’ on the parkway will include a 2.2 mile walk along the American River Parkways equestrian/hiking trail. Walkers will proceed out from William B. Pond Recreation Area along the decomposed granite should of the bike trail, pause for a water break at the Harrington Way river access point, and then continue onto the equestrian/hiking trails back toward the park.

At the finish line, post-walk festivities will include booths from local pet vendors and an on-leash training demonstration by the Local Bark. Be sure to dress up your dog as there will be a costume contest from 10 to 11 a.m. with prizes donated from local pet shops. The Squeeze Inn and Heavenly Dog food trucks will also be out at the park with delicious food available for purchase. The Foundation encourages all walkers to remember Parkway rules require that dogs must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times and owners must pick up after their dogs.

Be sure to register before Saturday, Oct.19 to secure your $25-spot. Day of registration will be available for $40 per person. Walkers should arrive at 8 a.m. to ensure time to register before the walk, which starts at 9 a.m. Participants (if they have them) are encouraged to use their Sacramento County Parks annual pass; otherwise, parking will be $5.

Proceeds from Howlin’ on the Parkway will be dedicated to the Parkway’s equestrian/hiking trails through the Foundation’s trail maintenance program. The American River Parkway Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to support the preservation and enjoyment of the American River Parkway by fostering environmental education, stewardship and volunteer opportunities.

The Foundation would like to thank Fulton Avenue Pet Resort, Grateful Dog Daycare, All About Pets, Colleen Watters, The Local Bark, Animal Den Pet Resort, Blue Cross Pet Hospital, Folsom Dog Resort, and Cordova Veterinary Hospital for sponsoring this exciting event.

For more information regarding Howlin’, contact the Foundation office at 486-2773 or visit www.arpf.org.

Faces and Places: Global Local at McClatchy Park

Curated by Land Park art activism center, Sol Collective, Global Local, a co-created celebration of art, culture, activism and healthy living was held at McClathcy Park on Friday, Aug. 29. The event was co-created by Sol Collective, The California Endowment, City Council member Jay Schenirer, On Native Ground, Cleo Cleo Cartel, Sacramento Native American Health Center, Upper Cloud Media, Brick House, Spanglish Arte, Unseen Heroes, Yisreal Farms, Foreign Native, Gorilla Knitting Crew, Hacker Lab, Brown Berets, Sacras Aztlan, Soil Born Farms/Harvest, ARTober Sacramento, Alchemist CDCD, Oak Park, Neighborworks (Oak Park FM and Oak Park Crop Swap), ZFG, Stephani Bouzard Portraits.

California Capital Book Festival offers fun and excitement for book lovers of all stripes

More than 100 authors and thousands of book lovers from 2 to 102 will attend the first California Capital Book Festival, Oct. 25 and 26, at the Sacramento Convention Center. The book festival, which will be a free public event, will be similar to the annual Los Angeles Times Book Festival. It is the first book festival of its scope and size to be held in Northern California.
“Atlanta’s book festival draws some 75,000 visitors each year; Miami, with a population slightly smaller than the Sacramento region’s, attracts hundreds of thousands to its book fair,” said festival organizer Marion Englund, who is a Curtis Park resident. “The greater Sacramento region has hundreds of book clubs, amazing public libraries, and hundreds of authors. We are putting together a program that we believe will bring people from all over the state to Sacramento.”

The festival is designed for widespread appeal, featuring author panels and presentations, storytelling, interactive displays, poetry, history exhibits, demonstrations, live entertainment, publishers and booksellers, sports memorabilia, rare book displays, and more. Featured authors include New York Times best-sellers and award-winners such as John Lescroart, Brenda Novak, Rhys Bowen and Cindy Sample as well as newly published authors such as the “15-ers,” a group of authors debuting their first books in 2015. Authors span all genres: romance, mystery, fiction, history, historical fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, YA, kid lit, biography, memoir and more. The list of authors confirmed to date, and still growing, is available at the festival website (CCBookFestival.com).

The California Capital Book Festival is designed not only to celebrate books and reading, but to explore the spaces where literature intersects with real-life experience. An All Things Pets area will feature dog training demonstrations and pet tricks. The Culinary Delights stage will feature cooking demonstrations, wine and beer pairings, and Farm-to-Table ideas from authors and local celebrity chefs. In Kids Alley, kids of all ages can solve mysteries with the Code Busters Club, conduct science experiments with the Galactic Academy of Science, sing along with the authors of Seasons, Rhymes in Time, and learn how comic books are created at the interactive School of Comics, with comic book writer E.B. Burgoon and local literacy organization 916 Ink. Aspiring authors may attend a track of workshops on how to get published and promote their books. More than 40 area poets will be reading their work and inviting guests to participate in open-mic readings on the Poetry Stage, hosted by the Sacramento Poetry Center. Take a photo with the Wells Fargo stagecoach, centerpiece of the California history section.
The Book Festival will open with a Ribbon Cutting ceremony led by the participants in the first Sacramento Walk4Literacy (walk4literacy.org). The ribbon cutting will take place at 10 a.m., Oct. 25, at the J Street entrance to the Convention Center.
For more information about festival attractions and featured authors, visit www.ccbookfestival.com.

Matias Bombal’s Hollywood

“Kill the Messenger”
The MPAA has rated this R
In what is the second fantastic performance this year from Jeremy Renner, the first having been in the almost unseen “The Immigrant”, Focus Features brings us the true story of San Jose Mercury-News journalist Gary Webb (Renner) who exposed the CIA’s role in arming Contra rebels in Nicaragua and importing cocaine into California.
Sacramento is one featured location in this movie, although it was not filmed here.
As Webb uncovers more dirt, the CIA and government try to discredit him in an attempt not to be exposed. His publisher, played perfectly by Oliver Platt, at first embraces the breaking news, then later caves to pressure from many places, as a smear campaign begins to weigh heavily on Webb.
Andy Garcia and Ray Liotta have some small but memorable scenes in the story, but it is Renner’s performance as a journalist obsessed with uncovering the truth and working with integrity that really stands out in this narrative based on real historical events.
I’ve never been good at predicting the Oscar races, but feel that this performance will likely get at least a nod.
True to the era depicted, director Michael Cuesta photographed the entire movie on 35mm motion picture film negative made by Kodak, showing the image grain that one used to see at the movies, but not so much now in this new digital age of movie making. This is a fantastic performance and engaging movie. Another one not to miss.

(Opens this Friday)
“The Judge”
The MPAA has rated this R
Warner Bros. bring us seasoned veteran Robert Duvall as a small town judge and Robert Downey, Jr. as his hot-shot lawyer son.
On a return home, Hank Palmer (Robert Downey, Jr.) finds that his father is suspected of murder. His relationship with his father is estranged at best, and only slightly better with his two brothers. Glen, the older brother, is played by noted actor Vincent D’Onofrio.
Much of his past comes back in the short visit – his old girlfriend, played marvelously by Vera Farmiga, still holds a little flame for him. He starts to mend his relations with his brothers, but his father, the judge, is immovable in his disappointment of his lawyer son, stemming from a car accident Hank had as a teen with his older brother Glen.
Glen showed promise as a great baseball player, but the accident had left his wrist damaged, ending his ball playing dreams.
Hank accepts the case, and some great courtroom drama ensues, given more dash by a great performance by Billy Bob Thorton as the rival council. Duvall is consistently good in this, but not memorable, as the crotchety type comes easy for him. There are excellent scenes with him and Robert Downy, Jr. who is such a fine actor, especially with meatier roles like this one. Sure, he may deliver fast dialogue, but his best performance here may be seen in his eyes and expression. With an agreeable score by Thomas Newman and great photography by Janusz Kaminski, “The Judge” is one to see.

Challah Bread

Jewish Food Faire reveller scores Challah take-out.

Jewish Food Faire reveller scores Challah take-out.

From bagels and locks to tasty kosher spices, the recent Jewish Food Faire held Sept. 14 at Congregation Beth Shalome on El Camino Avenue counted as a culinary success. The festival’s star was the aromatic Challah bread.
Pronounced without the “h”, Challah bread, egg bread or “turban” bread is a Jewish food which is traditionally served on Rosh Hashanah or Jewish New Year. According to Susan Solarz, co-organizer of annual event, one of the main objectives of the celebration is to emphasize the traditional uses of special foods, including the Challah bread.
According to Susan, the motto of this year’s Food Faire was “delicious foods for a sweet New Year.” Challah bread, in the round shape popular in the Jewish holidays, comes with raisins and sometimes frosting or often chunks of fruit. The bread’s sweet reputation makes it a perfect fit for headlining the “sweet New Year.”
Along with its tastiness, Challah bread is packed with centuries of tradition and symbolism. The roundness of the bread, for example, represents the coming together of the old year and the new year in a continuous arc. As described by one noted cookbook, Challah forms the “cycle of life for Jewish New Year table.” According to Bob Jaffe, an Oakland baker who made this year’s festival Challah, “braided Challah is more popular but when New Years comes, all that ends. The round Challah is suddenly in demand by everyone.”
According to Jaffe, a key part of the Challah bread is the raisins. According to kosher rules, Challah is cooked separately from dairy products such as butter. The raisins, says Jaffe, add plenty of sweetness and chewiness. Like the nuts he uses for other breads, the raisins in fact come from the Central Valley not far from Sacramento. The egg yolk ingredient adds to the bread’s moistness and flavor. And, unlike other types of Jewish unleavened bread, Challah utilizes yeast in the baking process. This gives the bread plenty of softness and texture.
Almost not wanting to wait until next year’s Jewish Food Faire, many of the attendees of this year’s Jewish Food Faire were seen carrying away loaves of Challah that they had purchased to take home for both traditional meals and for snacks. Given the luxurious sweetness of the bread, a few loaves will not be enough to last until next September. Until then, we will all just need to wait patiently for the 38th Jewish Food Faire which, if precedent is any judge, will be another resounding success.

Q and A with Mr. Sacramento, Walt Gray

Walt Gray. Photo courtesy News 10

Walt Gray. Photo courtesy News 10

Popular local TV news anchor Walt Gray could be called Mr. Sacramento. He’s been a TV news fixture in this town covering stories for more than 25 years. On the air and in person he’s friendly, affable, and makes you feel at ease. He can also throw out some zingers that might sting! (He had a few in our Q & A. )
Walt started off at KCRA doing sports and then moved on over to the anchor chair. He left the cozy confines of KCRA to host a morning radio show at KSEG-FM. It was a really bold move. After his brief encounter at the Eagle, he’s back in the anchor chair of his new home, KXTV News 10, where he “has the keys to the 5 p.m. newscast” as Walt put it.
He also gets to work with his wife, meteorologist Monica Woods, who’s a popular TV personality in her own right. Walt and Monica reside in Land Park with their three children.
Wanna know Walt’s favorite craft beer, most memorable story, and who should join the Deadbeat Club? Check out the Land Park News Q & A with Walt Gray.
Q. Let’s get to the important stuff first. You seem to enjoy a refreshing adult beverage. I’ve run into you at Track 7 in City Farms and I saw you tipping back a pint at New Helvetia on Broadway with some co-workers. What is your go-to local craft beer?
A. New Helvetia’s Buffalo Lager is my favorite. I like the location and I’d been talking to David Gull about his “project” before the doors opened. I can walk home from there if I have too many. It doesn’t take much anymore. I like lagers and avoid light beer. Light beer is like flavored yellow water.
Q. How long have you lived in Land Park and what are some of the things you enjoy about the neighborhood?
A. Seven years in LP. I like our friends…the schools…the zoo/golf course… everything. The Broadway vibe with the ethnic restaurants is great too. Plus, we’re five minutes from News10!
Q. Lots of great places to grab a bit in Land Park; Tower Café, Jaime’s, Willie’s Hamburgers to name a few. When you get the hungries where does Walt go?
A. The kids order Famous Pizza on Freeport every Friday night, so I get what they don’t finish. Iron Restaurant for a bite and Riverside Clubhouse too. I used to live in India so I hit the Katmandu Kitchen on Broadway for some tandoori and a Kingfisher or Taj Mahal lager.
Q. You were at KCRA for over 25 years. Then you transitioned to Morning Radio on the Eagle with the Walt Gray Show. What made you decide to leave KCRA and do mornings at KSEG besides getting to wear shorts and a t-shirt?
A. I had been at KCRA for 25 years and would have been fine dying there. I’d always been part of their current and future plans and didn’t feel that was the case anymore. That’s not acceptable, at least to me. Being relevant to a station is relevant to me.
Q. Seemed like they pulled the plug a bit early on the Morning Show. Did you see the handwriting on the wall or were you completely blind-sided?
A. I was surprised, sure. The show was highly rated for men 54-plus, but the other demographics needed work. The big boss who hired me retired shortly after I came in…and my immediate boss was let go a week before my show was canceled.
It went from handwriting on the wall to blaring, flashing neon lights. The new big boss was brought in to be a *^%*, and he did perform his role quite well. Had I known the two guys that hired me would have departed so quickly, I’d have stayed at KCRA.
Q. What music are you listening to these days?
A. Current pop (100.5 FM) and New Country (105.1). When James Taylor passes away, I may have to take the day off. I did when Sinatra died.
Q. You’re an avid biker. What kind of motorcycle do you have and what are some of the rides you like to go on?
A. I am in-between bikes right now. I’ve had a Harley Softtail and Dyna wide glide. It’s tough to ride on weekends when the kids have soccer, theater, play dates and sleepovers. I just can’t take off for five hours on the bike and tell Mom “good luck.”
Q. Now you’re back at it with News 10. How is News 10 different than KCRA?
A. As of today, I have the keys to the 5 p.m. newscast and a mandate of “go out and be myself.” That’s very unusual for a newscast anchor. They want me to opine and guide viewers through the newscast with my experiences. I’ve often said I think I’ve been to every tavern on every road within a two hour drive from Sacramento. I’ve met lots of good and real people. They want me to tell those stories.
Q. What is it like working so closely with your wife meteorologist Monica Woods? “Lets go to Monica in the weather center and yes I forgot to pick up a gallon of milk.”
A. We drink vanilla almond milk to be specific! She’s very passionate about everything she does and keeps me on my toes during the newscast. We don’t see much of each other during the day…She’s in her “weather zone” and doing KFBK radio hits.
It’s not much different for us getting the kids off to school or making dinner. We’ve known each other for 17 years so familiarity helps on TV.
Q. Do you ever keep in touch with the old school Sacramento TV broadcasters like Dave and Lois, Stan Atkinson, or Bette Vasquez?
A. I see Stan Atkinson on a semi-regular basis. He really was my mentor. He taught me about community service and giving back. He didn’t do it because he had to. He was in a position to help those who needed it and he chose to go all in. I served 11 years on the Mercy Foundation All-Star Weekend board with him, and then I transitioned to my own charity for 12 years, the “Walt Gray Ride for Make a Wish.” I was lucky to clear $600,000 for kids. I follow Dave and Lois’ retirement travels on Facebook. They’re an amazing couple on and off the air.
Q. How is local TV news different today than it was back in the “Stan and Margaret Era”?
A. It’s not all that different, except people have many more choices of how they get news. As recently as the mid-80s, you didn’t have cable or satellite. It was just the local stations. Budgets are tighter now because the ad dollars are smaller (but still good). We, like all businesses, try to do more with less.
Q. Which broadcasters do you look up to and admire?
A. Colin Cowherd on ESPN radio is incredibly gifted with the word. I love listening to him but wonder why couldn’t I be like that! I think ABC World News Tonight anchor David Muir is what the future face of network news. Young guy who gets out of the studio a lot.
Q. You’ve covered many stories over your career, but I’m sure the Jaycee Dugard kidnapping case must have been the most memorable. I remember convicted rapist/kidnapper Phil Garrido contacted you at KCRA. He even wrote several letters to you personally. That must have been strange and creepy. How did you feel about that?
A. I don’t know why he contacted me, except that he lived in Antioch which meant he did get Sacramento TV. Once we talked on the phone, I became his media contact to the outside world. I wasn’t opposed to that because it was a huge story which I was on top of. I was live on CNN, MSNBC, the Today Show and national radio. It was surreal, but the only upside was my folks got to watch me more on TV back in Rhode Island.
Q. Way back when you were the sports anchor on KCRA you had an entertaining feature called “The Deadbeat Club.” You’d call out a sports figure for being a deadbeat underneath the song of the same name from the B-52’s. Who would make the Deadbeat Club these days?
A. I think I’d put the Sacramento Kings in it today for retiring too many players’ jerseys these days in order to promote those nights to sell tickets. The Kings have more retired jerseys than the Lakers now. That’s just silly.
Q. What do you think of the Sacramento River Cats switching AAA affiliates from the Oakland A’s to the San Francisco Giants?
A. I can see why the River Cats made the switch, but I feel bad for the A’s organization that was nothing but loyal to the River Cats ownership and moved the team her from Vancouver. Once again, another defeat for the A’s organization versus the Giants. It’s the tackle of those two cities. Everybody loves San Francisco.
Q. I read where your Dad was a Rhode Island State Senator. There were actually some rumblings and whispers that you might run for public office in Sacramento. Was that just a rumor or are you still considering running for office?
A. I talked to my Dad and he was actually angry it even came up. Serving in public office is difficult…you actually can’t win. I’m not in a position right now with a young family to be spending time in Washington and flying back and forth. I wouldn’t want to miss Land Park Soccer games. Time goes by quickly with the kids and I don’t want to miss that.
Q. Okay, last question. Vic’s Ice Cream or Gunther’s?
A. Vic’s is down the street. Love it. I’ve had lots of grilled cheese sandwiches. Plus, they give you a ton of potato chips!