Stolen baby formula, silly string, and lots of parties

It’s really quite addictive reading the Albany Crime Blotter. Here’s the latest.



SEPT. 28

8:01 p.m. Baby formula was reported stolen from the 1500 block of Solano. 

But was it used to feed a hungry baby or in someone’s coffee?

 SEPT. 29

12:26 p.m. A truck turning onto San Pablo from Solano reportedly “tore off part of the green traffic light” in front of Max’s Liquors.


SEPT. 30

4:54 a.m. Someone woken up by noises outside called to report a male “recycling bandit” in the 100 block of Talbot Avenue working his way north “being loud.”

Those recycling bandits really should be more conscious of how early it is when they’re stealing and how some of us would rather be sleeping at that hour.

11:58 a.m. Someone reported a middle-aged man several minutes earlier taking pictures of buildings at Albany Middle School. The caller “got a ‘creepy vibe'” from the man. 

Yeah, you can never trust building photographers—they are a creepy bunch. 

12:49 p.m. Police gave a driver a warning after receiving a report that two children had been left inside his or her vehicle in front of CVS.

Is it that the police officer who wrote up the report couldn’t tell if the driver was male or female, or was he/she just trying to be gender-inclusive?

9:41 p.m. Someone reported six to seven kids walking east on Brighton knocking down trash cans. 

If their parents had just left them in a vehicle in front of CVS, they wouldn’t be out on Brighton causing trouble.

OCT. 1

9:34 a.m. A caller on Talbot “reported having found several cars that were sprayed with silly string. He just wanted to let [the Police Department] know.”

I’m sure Albany PD appreciated the information.

6:31 p.m. Someone visited the Police Department lobby “requesting to take a picture with a cop for a friend’s birthday.” Miscellaneous public service provided.

But did that “miscellaneous public service” involve a camera or not?

7 p.m. Someone reported a loud party in a front yard on Adams Street.

Hey, that was even on my birthday, but I wasn’t invited…

9:18 p.m. Someone reported a “noisy street party” at Dartmouth Street and Masonic Avenue. 

I guess my invitation got lost in the mail…

11:37 p.m. Someone reported a “loud party” on Talbot Avenue.

Who wants to be invited to your silly old party anyway?


OCT. 3

8:48 a.m. A woman on Curtis Street reported “having a problem with her neighbor’s dog defecating on her property and near her vehicle.” According to the police bulletin, she said she “would like a call back.” 

Luckily the Albany PD isn’t too busy to console a woman whose property smells like dog poo.

12 p.m. Someone reported four wires down in front of Al’s Big BurgerMiscellaneous public service provided.

Are these telephone wires? Electrical wires? Mailgrams? Orthodontia?

4:41 p.m. Someone at the Albany Library reported being “punched in the chest” by another patron after the caller “bumped into” him or her. Case report taken.

That’s what happens when someone tries to get to James Patterson’s newest novel when it’s being shelved. It’s everyone out for himself!

Marga may not be getting any younger, but she’s still just as funny

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of seeing Marga Gomez in her latest show Not Getting Any Younger at the Marsh in San Francisco.

This one-woman show began with Marga as a little girl visiting Freedomland (a short-lived theme park) with her mom back in the days when children were seen but not heard and mean old ladies on the second floor were given carte blanche to throw water on children if they thought those children were not behaving properly.  The only thing that kept Marga going was the knowledge that one day she could throw water on children.

But when middle age arrived for her, such behavior modification was frowned upon.

And thus the theme is set and she’s off, battling with her age in the funniest way possible. This is the fourth show that I’ve seen of hers, and I have to say I’m a big fan. She has great energy, tells a good story, really connects with the audience, and most of all, she makes me laugh. A lot.

And the Marsh is a small intimate setting where you feel like she’s performing just for you. Great quality entertainment at a bargain price.

Robin Williams calls her “a lesbian Lenny Bruce.”

Here’s a link to details on the show, including a trailer:

Berkeley Film Fest, part 2

It was my birthday, and I’d decided to spend the afternoon at the Berkeley Video & Film Festival, but four movies into the day, I wasn’t sure I’d made the right choice.

But I stuck it out and I’m glad.

Second to None, directed by Randy Rice, was worth sitting through the schlock that preceded it. It was very professional, well organized, engaging, and had something important and interesting to share with the audience.

Because it was produced for the educational market, it was done in six episodes, so that a classroom teacher could show one part, for example the  journey of Title 9, during a class period and still have time for discussion.

One of the episodes focused on Women AirForce Service Pilots (WASP). When Pearl Harbor was attacked, all able male pilots went overseas to fight. But the Air Force still needed pilots stateside to ferry new planes, test aircraft, and conduct non-combat missions. One of those WASPs was Vi Cowden, a woman five feet tall and ninety pounds of pure spunk. I was so drawn to this woman’s story that I wanted to find out more.

Vi Cowden was born on October 1, 1916. So I was watching the movie not only on my birthday but hers too. Vi taught first grade when she graduated from college, which is what I did too. The more I found out about her, the more I felt a connection.

One day Vi just decided to learn how to fly.  She spent $10 to $12 dollars a month out of her $110 monthly teacher’s salary on flying lessons and earned her pilot’s license before her driver’s license. (She’d had to ride her bike 6 miles to the airport for lessons.)

She was the first to fly the untested P-51 Mustang—not the first woman but the first person. When male pilots started returning from war,  the WASP program was disbanded, and Vi went home, at her own cost.  It would take until 1977 for WASPs to get their veteran status.

Vi attended the premiere of Second to None back in March and passed away a few weeks later on April 10, 2011 at the age of 94.

Of course Second to None highlighted many inspirational women who paved the way for women in sports, the business world, the military, politics, and more. But the story that spoke most to me was Vi’s. Apparently there is a documentary all about her called Wings of Silver.

Director Randy Rice spoke afterward about making the movie and answered questions from audience members. He was clearly a good-hearted soul who considered women’s history important enough to do an excellent job making a film about it. He was giving away educational materials that accompanied the movie along with a dvd of the movie itself. He’s gotten Second to None into lots of schools already, but wants it to be free and available to all middle and high schools.

I may not go to the Berkeley Video & Film Festival next year, but I’m glad I went this year if only to discover my new hero, Vi Cowden. And I’m putting Wings of Silver in my Netflix queue.

Berkeley Film Fest—one viewer’s opinion

I really like to be positive when I review something, especially if it’s someone or something local.

But I am also unfailingly honest.

So today I’m covering the bad parts. But know that tomorrow I will write about the good.

So here are my thoughts on Saturday afternoon’s portion of the Berkeley Film & Video Festival.

First of all, there was no line next to the rope that was designated for the onslaught of festival goers, but I figured since I got there only a few minutes before it was supposed to start that everyone was already inside seated. But when I entered the screening room set aside for the festival, there were only a few people inside. Of course, it was one o’clock in the afternoon—maybe people were waiting to come later.

Or maybe they knew something I didn’t.

I usually aim for the middle of the third row, but one of the six people in the theater was actually in my preferred spot. So I sat left of center, second row.

The short film that started off the day was incredibly grainy-looking, unorganized, and lacked focus. The subject was an artist who painted skeletons, or rather he used human skeletons as models and painted their likenesses on canvas. He sort of talked about whatever thoughts crossed his mind while he painted. It seemed as if we were catching him in the middle of a project without any introductory words from a narrator to put it all in context. The one good thing about it was that it was short.

A few minutes into the first film, the guy who started out in the third row moved to the first row, sat there a while, and then moved back behind me somewhere.

The second film was an interview with an actor portraying a cross-dressing diva who thinks she sings well. It was like a mediocre skit on Saturday Night Live—a semi-funny joke that gets played out too long. It was amateurish and repetitive. During this film the moving guy showed up again in the front row briefly, rummaged around in his knapsack, and disappeared again.

The third film How Josh Got His Swag Back had a mildly amusing concept, and one could certainly forgive the bad acting, but it floundered in the middle, and the dance scene that constituted the big finale was rather flat. I don’t recall seeing the moving man during that particular film.

The fourth one was promising—a documentary set in the Bay Area that revolved around an unsolved murder. This film was serious, and the filmmaker obviously did a lot of research and conducted a number of interviews in order to draw a portrait of a young man who was obviously community minded and would no doubt have continued to be a leader in hisVietnamese community had his life not been cut short. I was moved by his story. But the truth is it was a bit meandering and there was no resolution. He was shot 20 years ago, and there haven’t been any breaks in the case recently, so I wondered why the filmmaker chose to tell this story now. The moving man continued to switch seats every so often and then disappear.

After film four, I walked out of the screening room and back to the box office to see if it was possible to trade in my all-day film festival ticket for any of the other movies showing there. Unfortunately there were none that  I hadn’t already seen that I actually wanted to see during the time that I had left.

I sighed visibly and approached the man behind the table who served as the information center for the film festival. I let him know that I was not enjoying the film festival and asked if he’d seen all the movies in it.  He admitted that he hadn’t seen them all, but if I could stick around for the documentary about Hawaii that was on at 4:30, then he could vouch for that one.

It was five minutes before the documentary on women’s history started, and I really wasn’t that excited to see the last five minutes of an experimental film that juxtaposed Japan and Hollywood images, so I sat myself on a bar stool and played Angry Birds in the new lounge attached to the theater. Then I braced myself for the next film and hoped for a miracle.

Tomorrow: something good!