Monday, December 10, 2012

The WInners

Well, we here at GHPALS thought some of our distant viewers may be interested in who won the election.

City Council: Genis, Monahan and Mensinger
Sanitary District: The incumbents retained their seats
Mesa Consolidated Water District: Fred Bockmiller was re-elected and Trudy Ohlig-Hall lost her seat. She'd been on the MCWD Board for a long time and we wish her well.
Measure V lost and the proposed city charter was rejected.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Campaign Mailers

We here at GHPALS are all registered as decline to state voters as our political leanings are no one's business. One consequence of that desire for privacy is we get the flyers from everyone.

So far we've received 80 mailers, more than the last big election 2 years ago. Of course, it helps that Costa Mesa has a proposed charter on the ballot, and out of city money is pouring into town to fund one side or the other. 

We are not here to talk politics. That's strictly verboten at society gatherings. But these mailers are literature in every sense of the word. They are designed to grab one's attention, to touch one's emotions, to persuade one to a certain point of view, as many writers attempt to do with their work. And they definitely reflect the society around us, as much literature does.

For statistical purposes, the mailers were sorted as follows:
  • 17 Vote NO on Measure V
  •   4 Vote YES on Measure V
  • 23 Support one or more Costa Mesa city council candidates
  •   7 Support one or more candidates for other local governments in town (water or san district)
  •   4 Vote YES on Measure M (bonds for the local community college district)
  • 16 Support Yes or No on one or more state-wide propositions
  •   9 slate mailers
Our hands-down favorites were the slate mailers. From what we've read, enterprising printers approach candidates and get them to contribute money to have their names endorsed in the mailer. Those paying to be in the mailers are marked with an asterix (*) under state laws (or maybe it's regulations.) But the printer can add other candidates or positions to fill out the space.

This makes for really interesting combinations. For example, Sandy Genis, Costa Mesa City Council candidate supported by labor unions, appears in 2 paid flyers alongside YES on 32 paid positions. She is not marked with an asterisk in these, indicating her campaign did not pay to appear in it. These two flyers are the "California Public Safety Newsletter and Voter Guide" and the Woman's Voice Newsletter. She paid to appear in two other paid slates, and one of them has NO on 32 (its supporters also paid for it to be on the slate.) All the slates with her name in it do say NO on Measure V.

The Cops Voter Guide was another hoot. It purports to support public safety, and those paying to appear in it include the 3-M's (McCarthy, Mesinger & Mathews). Two of these candidates (McCarthy & Mesinger) sent out a flyer "Meet Costa Mesa's $200,000 Club" that says "Costa Mesa's police officers are the highest paid officers in Orange County…"

By far the largest collection of mailers opposed the proposed Costa Mesa City Charter (see the picture to the left.) All were incredibly negative and seemed to be funded by labor unions.

There were 4 pro-V flyers, and these focused on the goals of the charter. We at the Society did not discuss the charter, only the flyers.

We got a good laugh from the photos that appear on some of them. Often they are meant to convey one message, but really send another. Like this one, funded by labor unions. It's supposed to make you think about politicians in smoke-filled rooms, but there isn't anything to make it clear the men are politicians. They might well be labor union officials. There's been as many scandals about them in the papers as there have politicians. Of course, the inside of this flyer makes the point stridently, as there's a big picture of the former City Manager of Bell in handcuffs, surrounded by police officers.

The Yes on V people used a more effective image, we thought. A simple graphic that shows a determined, focused individual ready to fight back.

And they had what we thought was the most effective graphic of all. A simple sign in a yard, indicating support by people in the community.

Another photo that amused us was on the flyer for Don Harper and Jeff Mathews, candidates for the Costa Mesa Sanitary District. The words on the flyer indicate the graphic is supposed to illustrate a close relationship between incumbent directors and the company that hauls the trash. But if you didn't read the stuff (and let's be real, who does?) you might think the photo is Harper and Mathews, and that they are really good golf buddies. But if you turn the mailer over, you find their photos, and they don't look anything like the guys playing golf. But since the mailer is huge, 11" by 14", and the address label is on the golf side, most people wouldn't even open it to see who the mailer is promoting.

Digging through the pile, we spotted another mailer that effectively conveyed its message: Vote NO on the Charter and vote for Stephens/Weitzburg/Genis slate. The message is very clear.

But underneath it was this one, and immediately the movie Scarface came to mind. Does the guy on the right have a prescription for that joint? And this one wasn't paid for by the candidate who supported medical marijuana dispensaries in town.

We all chose our personal favorites. Some of them have already been discussed, and we don't have room for them all. But we will mention a few that seem notable for one reason or another.

One member liked the simple letter from Colin McCarthy that had no pictures, came in an envelope like real letters do, and explained why he was running for city council and what he hoped to accomplish. The recipient of this letter said he actually read it.

Another liked the Costa Mesa Trivia Challenge that posed questions like "Which candidate tried to kill 2,500 high paying jobs in Costa Mesa?" and "What is the average annual compensation for Costa Mesa's city employees?" Who can resist a quiz?

Yet another member liked this one on Proposition 38 since it said how much money would go to schools in our area if the proposition passed. We all recognized the schools: Whittier Elementary, Wilson Elementary and Estancia High. But we laughed like crazy when the member who got this flyer pointed out that these schools were all on the west side of town and she lived on the east side. Whoever sent out these flyers didn't personalize them very effectively. We wanted to know how much Kaiser or Mariners Elementary would get.

And the last one we agreed we'd post on the blog was a simple, effective means of conveying information about Proposition 37 through a comparison chart. The graphics were clear and attractive.

GHPALS finds the art in everything, and encourages you to do the same.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Art of Campaign Signs

If you've seen someone driving around town taking photos of campaign signs, it isn't someone scouting for signs to steal, it's GHPALS members. We don't talk politics at our gatherings, but we recently became interested in the artistic merits of campaign materials and decided to review them like one would art displayed in a gallery. So we took pictures of signs around town, never leaving our cars, and cropped the photos so no one can tell where we found the signs.

Often the signs are grouped together, like the scene below. Usually there isn't much thought given to  aesthetics. If we were arranging the signs, we would have put Mensinger and McCarthy together, put Harper/Mathews to the right on Yes on V, and left Fisler at the end. We'd have put more space between them too. But the central focus of this grouping is YES ON V. We wonder if it was intended to be.

In looking at campaign signs we considered color, line, font and letter case.   The color needs to catch your eye and draw you in to read the letters. The line needs to put those words in the most effective order, usually by putting the important ones in big letters across the middle. The fonts and case chosen can impact the readability of the sign.

The signs we thought the ugliest, and the prettiest, were for Costa Mesa Sanitary District incumbents Ferryman and Perry. We really liked the colors by themselves because they look pretty together. But  these blues are absolutely wrong for the signs. Too hard to read from a distance and impossible in the dark. But Mr. Perry's bold blocky letters have the edge because they are in a lighter color.

Far more effective and attractive is this one for Fred Bockmiller, another incumbent, but for Mesa Consolidated Water District, the providers of clean water to Costa Mesa (the Sanitary District deals with it after it goes down our drains). You can tell immediately who he is, BOCKMILLER, and that he's a candidate for  WATER DISTRICT. The two lines across the sign compliment each other and the sign has real symmetry. Too bad there aren't more of these signs so we could get a better picture; this one's kind of fuzzy.

Blue is the most common color used, and is commonly paired with white or red. But another water district director chose an unusual pairing, almost neon green. Most of us here at GHPALS have no idea what the Municipal Water District is, but after seeing this sign we'd look for her name on the ballot. You remember it because the sign looks so different, though it took us a while to figure out those were water drops and not Christmas ornaments. And the checkmark is just distracting. But the font is nice and clear, very easy to read.

Another water candidate has a confusing sign. The yellow does stand out so we would remember the name. We get that he's an incumbent from the word Re-Elect. But we can't find "Mesa Water Board" on our sample ballot. We found him in the Mesa Consolidated Water District candidates. Bad wording. Bockmiller's sign is far better. The viewer can't help wonder if the guy can't get the name of the place right, why should I vote for him to be on it?

Someone named Worthington is also running for a Water Board, but you can't tell from his sign which one. At least Fisler tells you it's Mesa. Worthington's sign is one of the few that doesn't use any blue, and the shape of his sign makes his name stand out. But the sign looks recycled, like he ran for something else another time, and "Director", and "Water Board", are pasted on over something else. We finally found him in the sample ballots under Mesa Consolidated Water District. He should have stuck to all caps, and we would have put the word "elect" over the "i" in Worthington, replacing the dot.

 The last two candidates for Mesa Consolidated Water District both use blue and white as their central color scheme. Ms Ohlig-Hall adds a dash of red, but from a distance you can't read it says "Re-Elect". Nor can you tell that she's running for what water district she's running for, Mesa or the Municipal Water District. But you can clearly read her sign on Fairview Drive at the 405 from across that wide street. Mr. Temianka's signs are not as clear from a distance; he should have used a bolder font and darker blue. The font isn't right either.

But the majority of signs are for the big issue facing Costa Mesa, approving the draft charter or not. Do we stay a general law city or go off on our own. And the campaigns for City Council divide the candidates into two camps: those that favor the charter and the ones that don't.

Looking at the Yes on the charter candidates first, the most common sign is the 3-M, Yes on V sign. It's orange letters on blue, with that striking white dividing line make it crystal clear this slate of candidates favors the charter and is running as a block.

We found many campaign signs for Colin McCarthy and Steve Mensinger, but none for Gary Monahan. Maybe because the last is a well-known person about town. His name is in the middle on the 3-M sign, like the filling on a sandwich.
Colin McCarthy's blah, but reasonably effective sign makes good use of white letters on a blue background. Highly legible when a car's headlights hit it at night.

Steve Mensinger's is also effective. We liked the read pennant at the top; it makes us remember his first name. Though it is also distracting. We'll remember his first name before his last one. His signs are not all alike. Some of them use a lighter blue.

Three of the anti-charter candidates are also running as a block, and the white lettering on dark blue does make their names stand out. Their signs do not make their position clear on the charter, which is a bit deceptive given their campaign literature (but that's the subject of another post).

We didn't see any signs for Mr. Weitzberg, though there probably are some out there. We did find signs for Sandy Genis and John Stephens. Hers are clear and easy to read, though her first name stands out more than her last name. Those rectangles of dark blue with white lettering draw the eye away from the central message, her last name.

Jon Stephens signs are just plain ugly. That almost neon red almost makes one cringe. The tendency is to turn away from it, not to look at it. And his name fades into the distance because the blue font looks washed out. And what is with that star? Is he running for marshal?
His name should be all uppercase, maybe in white. The Facebook log leaps out at you, while the name is lost.

Whoever designed the Vote No on V signs did a good job. The white letters on the dark red background really stand out. You can easily read it across a wide street. The font has serifs, and in this case it is a bit distracting.

The statewide propositions get some attention too. While we could not get a photo of the Yes on 37 signs that are all over Mother's Market on 19th and Newport, they are similar to the Yes on 35 signs. Light blue and orange. Attractive, but not easy to read at night.

A lot of money is being spent by both the Yes and No sides of Prop 32, but not much on signs in Costa Mesa. We found one Yes sign, and it is a pretty boring blue and white one. It makes the point but unless you get up really close, you'd have no idea what Prop 32 is all about. But then again, you hear so much about it on TV and radio that you can't help knowing. So why waste all that space on the sign? Just make it read "YES on 32."

The sign for "emken for U.S. Senate" was an odd one, in our opinions. Why did this candidate put their name in lowercase letters? It's demeaning, distracting and ugly.

Allan Mansoor's sign is better. You can easily read his name and what he is running for. That's what a sign is supposed to do. Though we might not have picked the baby blue. It gets washed out by the California sun pretty quickly.

The last two signs we spotted was unusual, and wasted. Why did someone put this sign at the far western end of 19th street, just before the river? Costa Mesa is served by Newport Mesa Unified School District, not Santa Ana's.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Goat Hill Politics

We here at GHPALS do not take political positions. But we cannot help but notice the flood of campaign mailers filling up our mailboxes. Being a literary society, we read them all, and admire the photo-shopped art They are, after all, some of the most amusing fiction printed today.

And it gives us an opportunity to explain Costa Mesa to those who've never heard of us, much less been here. (Too bad if you haven't. You're missing a great place.) We do seem to make the news a lot for a small city of slightly more than 100,000 people.

Most of Costa Mesa's citizens for the most part live and let live types. Many of us are here because we don't want to live in places like Irvine, where everyone else tells us what we can and can't do. The kind of people who move here are individualists, and want to be left alone and, for the most part, leave other people alone. But that doesn't mean we aren't willing to face up to things that need to get fixed.

And when we find them, we don't badger others to fix things for us, we try to fix them ourselves. That often puts us at the bleeding edge. But it is why we have one of the most successful shopping malls anywhere in the US, and why it's at the intersection of two major freeways (South Coast Plaza, originally constructed in bean fields by the 405 and 55 freeways that ran through undeveloped property, People around here needed a Sears store.). It's why we have lots of private schools and small businesses. It's why we have some of the most successful charitable organizations in the county (no government formed SOS or the Soup Kitchen, concerned citizens did). It's why our city councils have not been afraid to tackle controversial issues, and why our voters don't hesitate to shout out disagreement, in council meetings and at the polls. Votes are why we have an Ikea on South Coast Drive and not the two tall buildings proposed by the Segerstroms in the 1980's. (Voters approved propositions disapproving them.)

Our own citizen action rescued and restored the Estancia adobe, and the Costa Mesans at the Costa Mesa Historical Society keep it preserved today. (If you haven't been to the museum they operate, it's worth a visit just to see the aerial photos of Goat Hill.)

It's why here on Goat Hill we have a fabulous Victorian house with all kinds of beautiful brick work and stained glass windows. Drive by the corner of Santa Ana Ave. and Costa Mesa St. to see the handiwork of a Costa Mesa couple. They did the work themselves; they couldn't have done it in Irvine.

It's why a house on 19th street has a canon on the roof. And one down the street from it has built a pirate ship in the front yard for Halloween. And why when the family who built a fabulous Snoopy Christmas display in their front yard fell on financial distress, the City took it over and does it in front of City Hall. (They are looking for volunteer performers, so if you can sing or play an instrument, call them. You'll get great exposure.)

And it's why we have two independent special districts providing our water (Mesa Consolidated Water District) and sewer/waste (Costa Mesa Sanitary District) needs. MCWD was formed in 1960 when several smaller districts merged and a whole bunch of elected officials gave up their seats to do it. Can you imagine that happening today? It might in Costa Mesa.

In this election a major issue is the proposed Costa Mesa Charter. We've always kind of been the servants quarters for Newport Beach, though we look down on them, not the other way around, thanks to geography. We here at GHPALS keep up on the doings of the rich folks down below the mesa. Our local paper covers both towns, after all. We are amused by the flyers that say a charter puts all the controls in the hands of a 5 member city council, when the Newport Beach citizens will soon be voting on a whole bunch of charter amendments. 

As near as we can tell, that puts control in the hands of Newport Beach voters instead of Sacramento. And we here at GHPALS trust our neighbors a whole lot more than we trust those strangers up north, however well intentioned they might be.


Ted Washington and Puna Press

You meet creative people in the oddest places. We met one at Cabrillo National Monument. In the gift shop, of all places.

It was the Monday after Comic-Con, and we visited the monument before we left town. While the kids walked to the lighthouse, I bought post cards. Naturally I visited with the man who rang me up. It came out that we'd been at the Con, and so had he. He had a table in Artists Alley. He showed me some of his work and I was impressed. I was sorry I'd missed him all those times I'd walked down those aisles.

He gave me a bookmark instead of a business card. Bookmarks are a wonderful way to publicize oneself, as I found with Jason Andrew Bond and his book "Hammerhead." I know I look at Mr. Washington's drawing whenever I use it, and it keeps him in my mind. I'd resolved to write about him on this blog, but never remembered when I was near the computer. But today I finished my book and brought the bookmark down with me to scan it.

Every time I look at the drawing I see something different. An eye looks out of his bookmark, a detail from his drawing Mary. But there's so much more than just an eye. Sometimes I see a woman with her arms folded. Sometimes I see a baby swaddled in a blanket. Other times I see a basket floating on a calm ocean, far from the city lights in the background.

Ted Washington uses pen & ink to produce lovely images. The back of the bookmark lists his accomplishments:

1st place, 12th annual art competition, Veridian Gallery, New York City (Anne Lampe, Whitney Museum of American Art, juror)

Best in Show, Most Promising New Artist, 20th La Quinta Arts Festival

Featured artist, Competition Spotlight, The Artist's Magazine

Artist of the New Millenium, Strathmore Artist Products

There's an interesting interview with him at Ted Washington in the Union-Tribune San Diego.

His page on shows his latest book. The cover features a black lab, and he captures the shine on a dog's fur perfectly. I'd want this one for a pet.

I'll certainly look for him next year in Artist's Alley.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Another Look at the USS Iowa

This is an actual, un-doctored photo we took on our visit to the Iowa. Those are the big guns in the background.

It's too good not to share with all our Goat Hill friends.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

"Modelland" is a Great Book for Girls

One of the best things about Comic-Con is the ARCs, advanced reader copies, passed out by book publishers. I usually come home with a year's worth of good reads. Today I was moving a pile of them, and one of my favorites was in it.

Last year, Comic-Con 2011, I picked up "Modelland," by Tyra Banks. I was sitting in a room waiting for a panel to start, and this book was on top of that day's pile. So I started reading it.

The book sucked me in. The setting is perfectly established in the first three pages. 

The next two pages describe the protagonist. How can an ordinary female resist "Have you ever seen her? The girl whose face not even the meanest person you know would describe as yuck but who you'd never in a million-no, a trillion years describe as alluring either...Have you ever seen Tookie De La Creme?...Tookie was a Forgetta-Girl, one of the most forgettable girls in the entire world. But maybe not for long."

I loved this book. And everything about me should have made me hate it, since I don't care anything about clothes, hair or make-up. 

I went to a "charm school" in high school. When the teacher told us that with lots of practice we can get our morning-makeup routine down to 11 minutes, I quickly calculated the time lost over a year I would spend on my face when I could be sleeping. I stopped listening.

What a terrific name, Tookie De La Creme. And as a Forgetta-Girl myself (until I open my mouth and talk to you), I immediately loved her.

Her family is awful, but so amusing. And she understands them. She finds herself in a setting she did not choose, and might not have chosen. But she does the best she can with what she's got, in all the ways she can think of.

Tookie reaffirmed that one cannot judge a book by its cover, or a woman by her surface beauty.

All the girls in my family are too young for this book. But I'll give it to them when they're older, whether they are into hair and makeup or not.

"Hammerhead," A Review

We promised a review of "Hammerhead," by Jason Andrew Bond, after we blogged about his very creative marketing campaign. He had friends pass out signed bookmarks at Comic-Con. The book is available in print and digital formats through Amazon.

I liked it. A lot. The bookmark had a link to a sampler, and it sucked me in. I really wanted to know why someone was trying to kill a ship breaker. Jeoffrey Holt works at a reverse shipyard in the Nevada desert. We've all seen pictures of those people on the coast in Bangladesh who break apart huge ships for scrap. Well, that's what Holt does. Except the wrecks he strips aren't the hulks of seagoing ships, but space-going ones. Sky ships.

And on his way to work one day, he's almost killed. And not by accident. But it turns out he isn't just any old ship breaker. He has skills he has not used in many years, but which one never really loses. They just get rusty.

As he tries to figure out who exactly is out to get him, and why they didn't just leave him alone, he finds out it really is about more than him. And the trail he follows is interesting and kept me reading it long after my husband had fallen asleep. That does not happen very often.

I look forward to reading more by this author, and he has just published a new book, "Mortal Remains." My copy was just delivered and I'm going to read it as soon as I finish "Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture, by Rob Salkowitz.

Costa Mesa Seaman Geoffrey Scott Schelin, RIP

This blog covers our town, the people who live here, and our connections through the arts. We often go to museums to see art, and we here on Goat Hill have the Orange County Museum of Art nearby. When we want exposure to history and other cultures, Bowers Museum is just up the freeway. But southern California has museums dedicated to our history as Americans; this blog post is about one of them.

We recently visited the U.S.S. Iowa  ( at its new home in San Pedro. What an impressive museum. The best kind. Lots of hands on, get up close and personal things to see. The docents are knowledgeable, entertaining and very approachable. (A great day trip is a visit to the Iowa followed by a trip to Fort MacArthur, just up the hill. There you can see the coast artillery post that defended our coast from battleships like the Iowa. Just outside the Fort there's a terrific park that overlooks the ocean. It has picnic tables and a lighthouse you can visit.)

Walking around the deck was an amazing experience. We stood next to the Iowa's immense gun turrets and tried to imagine what it was like to be aboard when those big guns fired. The videos they showed were impressive, but could not recreate the way the ship itself reacted to the forces released.

As we rounded the turrets the words "Costa Mesa" on a plaque caught my eye. Of course I stopped to read the whole thing. The subject was the explosion in Turret 2, which is closed to visitors. On April 19, 1989, USS IOWA was conducting a firing exercise approximately 260 nautical miles northeast of Puerto Rico when 47 sailors were killed in an explosion in the Turret 2 Gun Room. This tragedy remains the largest post-World War II peacetime loss of life in U.S. Navy history.

One of those sailors killed was Geoffrey Scott Schelin, 20, seaman, from Costa Mesa, and it was his name that caught my eye. I cried. I come from a military family, and the loss of this young man, and all the others, in a peacetime accident is just too sad. All their names were on this plaque, and I read them all. And I remembered Rochester Street, near my house in Costa Mesa, was named for a local man killed in Europe in World War 1.

I remembered the explosion on the Iowa, and the subsequent investigation. The whole family read "A Glimpse of Hell," by Charles C. Thompson and watched the James Caan movie based on the book. As we went through the ship, I looked for other signs of the explosion. The gift shop did not sell Thompson's book, which I found interesting. 

Once we were home I dug through the bookshelves to find our copy of Thompson's book, and googled the explosion to find out what happened to the survivors in the 20 years since his book was written. The Senate Armed Services Committee had called for an investigation by independent experts, and the man who lead that team had written a book, "Explosion Aboard the Iowa," by Richard L. Schwoebel. So I immediately ordered it from Amazon. It was as interesting as Thompson's book, maybe even more so because the author merely discusses the technical investigation and experiments his team conducted.

The ancient Egyptians believed that as long as a person's name was preserved somewhere, the person would survive in the afterlife. The brave men who died on that battleship deserve to have their names preserved forever, so here they are, courtesy of Wikipedia:
Adams, Tung Thanh, 25, fire controlman 3d class, Alexandria, Virginia
Backherms, Robert Wallace, 30, gunner's mate 3d class, Ravenna, Ohio
Battle, Dwayne Collier, 21, electrician's mate, fireman apprentice, Rocky Mount, North Carolina
Blakey, Walter Scot, 20, gunner's mate 3d class, Eaton Rapids, Michigan
Bopp, Pete Edward, 21, gunner's mate 3d class, Levittown, New York
Bradshaw, Ramon Jerel, 19, seaman recruit, Tampa, Florida
Buch, Phillip Edward, 24, lieutenant (jg), Las Cruces, New Mexico
Casey, Eric Ellis, 21, seaman apprentice, Mount Airy, North Carolina
Cramer, John Peter, 28, gunner's mate 2d class, Uniontown, Pennsylvania
Devaul, Milton Francis Jr., 21, gunner's mate 3d class, Solvay, New York
Everhart, Leslie Allen Jr., 31, seaman apprentice, Cary, North Carolina
Fisk, Gary John, 24, boatswain's mate, Oneida, New York
Foley, Tyrone Dwayne, 27, seaman, Bullard, Texas
Gedeon, Robert James, III, 22, seaman apprentice, Lakewood, Ohio
Gendron, Brian Wayne, 20, seaman apprentice, Madera, California
Goins, John Leonard, 20, seaman recruit, Columbus, Ohio
Hanson, David L., 23, electrician's mate 3d class, Bison, South Dakota
Hanyecz, Ernest Edward, 27, gunner's mate 1st class, Bordentown, New Jersey
Hartwig, Clayton Michael, 25, gunner's mate 2d class, Cleveland, Ohio
Helton, Michael William, 31, legalman 1st class, Louisville, Kentucky
Holt, Scott Alan, 20, seaman apprentice, Fort Myers, Florida
Johnson, Reginald Jr., 20, seaman recruit, Warrensville Heights, Ohio
Jones, Brian Robert, 19, seaman, Kennesaw, Georgia
Jones, Nathaniel Clifford Jr., 21, seaman apprentice, Buffalo, New York
Justice, Michael Shannon, 21, seaman, Matewan, West Virginia
Kimble, Edward J., 23, seaman, Fort Stockton, Texas
Lawrence, Richard E., 29, gunner's mate 3d class, Springfield, Ohio
Lewis, Richard John, 23, fire controlman seaman apprentice, Northville, Michigan
Martinez, Jose Luis Jr., 21, seaman apprentice, Hidalgo, Texas
McMullen, Todd Christopher, 20, boatswain's mate 3d class, Manheim, Pennsylvania
Miller, Todd Edward, 25, seaman recruit, Ligonier, Pennsylvania
Morrison, Robert Kenneth, 36, legalman 1st class, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Moses, Otis Levance, 23, seaman, Bridgeport, Connecticut
Ogden, Darin Andrew, 24, gunner's mate 3d class, Shelbyville, Indiana
Peterson, Ricky Ronald, 22, seaman, Houston, Minnesota
Price, Matthew Ray, 20, gunner's mate 3d class, Burnside, Pennsylvania
Romine, Harold Earle Jr., 19, gunner's mate 3d class, Bradenton, Florida
Schelin, Geoffrey Scott, 20, seaman, Costa Mesa, California
Stillwagon, Heath Eugene, 21, gunner's mate 3d class, Connellsville, Pennsylvania
Tatham, Todd Thomas, 19, seaman recruit, Wolcott, New York
Thompson, Jack Ernest, 22, gunner's mate 3d class, Greeneville, Tennessee
Welden, Stephen J., 24, gunner's mate 2d class, Bethany, Oklahoma
White, James Darrell, 22, gunner's mate 3d class, Norwalk, California
White, Rodney Maurice, 19, seaman recruit, Louisville, Kentucky
Williams, Michael Robert, 21, boatswain's mate 2d class, South Shore, Kentucky
Young, John Rodney, 21, gunner's mate, Columbia, South Carolina
Ziegler, Reginald Owen, 39, gunner's mate, Port Gibson, New York

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Comic-Con Registration

Like every other geek in the known universe who had any kind of badge to this year's Comic-Con, we were up early, at the computers by 7:58 am PDT, ready to poke the enter button and get into the 2013 Comic-Con pre-registration site. We'd honed our skills in the lottery earlier this year, trying to get badges for the 2012 Con, not having understood things well enough to know we should have given up valuable 2011 Con time standing in the line for the 2012 pre-registration.

Only 2 of us had won the 2012 lottery. One snagged badges for Thursday and Sunday, the other only got in Sunday. But that was sure more than anyone else. Unfortunately, that meant only 2 were eligible for 2013 pre-registration.

We had 3 computers (2 Macs and an iPad) trying to get in the site. The iPad won, and was 7609 in the waiting room line. Figuring we were set, we spent a tense 30 minutes watching the screen. First there was the message they were dealing with a technical problem. Then there was the fear we'd lost the link, because it was supposed to refresh every 120 seconds, and the intervals between changes was much longer.

Finally we were number 158. Then we were in.

In the time it took to buy a 4-day with preview night badge, they sold out that category. So we were only able were able to get a 4-day badge for the other person.

We kept another computer (waiting room number 24568) connected so we could follow things. 4-day badges had sold out by the 8:39 refresh. Saturday badges were sold out by the 8:55 refresh. By the 8;57 update the Friday badges were gone. By 9:10 only Sunday badges were available. Then we came to the front of the line and gave up our place so someone could buy a badge.

All this is a far cry from the first Comic-Con we attended, in the 1990's. We just drove down, parked under the convention center and bought a badge. It was all about comics then. Now it is so, so much more.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Brief Statement on Thursday Night's Shootings

We were saddened to learn of the shooting of innocent people who just went to the movies. Our hearts go out to those injured as we pray for their speedy recovery, and to the families of those who were killed as they grieve.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What the ROXX? POGs are back!

On Thursday Son gave me what looked like two flat discs soldered together, then blown up like a balloon. It had Spiderman on both sides. He had no idea what it is, just another thing shoved in his hand at Comic-Con.

Today we sorted through all the stuff we brought home, and I found an unopened one. Turns out it's an official exclusive ROXX! I thought, "What the hey?" The accompanying sheet wasn't much help. It said "Launch 'em. Trade 'em. Collect 'em all." And if that's no help, go to

As near as I can tell, they are 3-D POGs. And they look pretty lame to this old lady. But I'll defer to the younger generation. I've got two now. Let's see what the kids do with them.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lauging at the Westside Bar and Grill

A squib in the Orange County Register says the Westside Bar and Grill is hosting a standup comedy and happy hour on Wednesdays, starting at 8:30. They have other entertainment as well.

Their website is a real kick. See for yourself what central Goat Hill looked like before the Costa Mesa Redevelopment Agency ripped apart downtown to build The Triangle and The Courtyards. And if you have any old photos, they'd love to add them to their slide show.

Photographs do not have to be taken by professionals to be works of art.

Pleain Air Paintings of the Back Bay

Goat Hill overlooks the Newport Back Bay on the east, so all of us who live on it have a special appreciation of this great body of water.

This weekend we can acquire a tangible expression of that appreciation by purchasing a painting at a special sale at the Muth Interpretive Center. Sponsored by the Neport Bay Conservancy and Orange County Parks, the sale will feature paintings by members of the Southern California Plein Air Painters Association (SOCALPAPA).

The sale is July 21 & 22 from 10 am to 4 pm.

Kids 7-12 can take a free painting class, and take home a finished painting when they are through. It's free, but you have to sign up at 949-923-2275/

Complete details are available at SOCALPAPA's Website

And if we don't have the money to buy anything, we can still look at the art and dream, can't we?

Free Music in the Air

Both Costa Mesa and Newport Beach have parts of their cities on Goat Hill, and both cities provide free entertainment at a park on the Hill.

Costa Mesa's concerts are in Fairview Park, on the west side of the mesa. Newport's are on Bob henry Park on the east side, by the Back Bay.

On Saturday, July 22 from 6-7:30 pm The Bracken Band will play Celtic music at Bob Henry Park. There will be kids' activities, gourmet food trucks (buy your own food) and a wine and beer garden (BYOB).

The Costa Mesa concerts are on Tuesday evenings from 5:30-7:45 pm at Fairview Park. July 24 The Answer will play classic rock. On July 31 Hot August Night will resent a tribute to Neil Diamond. Just like Newport,;s concert, there will be kids activites, gourmet food trucks and a wine and beer garden.

Since these are happening the same time as the OC Fair, with all its live performances and concerts at the Pacific Amphitheatre, the air above Goat Hill will be full of good music. We should all try to take advantage of it. After all, we live where the mosquitoes don't bite.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Starslip, Sheldon and Unshelved

For many years my Comic-Con souvenirs have been the latest book from web comics. Here’s my favorites.

Starslip, by Kris Straub, was the strip that got me interested in web comics. I was walking through the Con exhibit hall when I spotted the first book. It just cried out to Star Trek fans. When I learned it was about a museum curator in space, this old museum docent just had to try it out. And I loved it. And Son and Daughter did as well. So each year I bought the newest book. I have a stuffed Mr. Jinx by my bed. You can start reading Starslip from the first strip at

Another great strip is Sheldon, by Dave Kellett. Daughter says it’s all about the duck. But I love it all. You can read Sheldon at l

And then I found Unshelved by Gene Amebaum and Bill Barnes, a hilarious strip about the characters who work in a public library. Anyone whose ever spent time in one can relate to and laugh at/with these people, and the members of the public they serve. Their weekly e-mail digest of strips includes book reviews. I’ve read many a good book after reading their e-mails. You can read Unshelved at

I just read all the strips in Drive, also by Dave Kellett. If I’d managed to win the badge lottery, I’d have bought his book at his booth. I’m going to follow this strip too. You can read them at

Another Good Promo–Dead History Project

Last year I watched and rated movies submitted for consideration to the Newport Beach Film Festival. It was fun and I saw a lot of interesting movies. I'm always on the lookout for a good film or TV show.

This morning I woke up to find someone had shoved a postcard and sticker under our hotel room door. It’s a pleasant surprise when it could have been the bill.

The card advertises Dead History Project, a “brand new paranormal web series. I just finished watching the trailer and it looks interesting. Watch it yourself at

“Hammerhead”, by Jason Andrew Bond

One of the most creative swag I acquired was a bookmark signed by Jason Andrew Bond that was handed to me when I crossed the trolley track. It encourages one to read a sample from “Hammerhead,” a book by Jason Andrew Bond.

Last night I did just that, and bought the book from Amazon for $11.10 ($3.99 for the e-book). Since Son had also read the excerpt, and he’s in Michigan, I need a copy I can share.

I also filled out the form on his website and told him I’d done it in response to his bookmark. He wrote back last night, thanking me.

Now I have to wait until Wednesday to get it, and I really want to know what happens next. The story concerns a ship breaker, like the ones working in Bangladesh that break apart all those derelict sea-going ships. But Bond’s guy works on spaceships. And he works in the Mojave Desert. And someone is trying to kill him.

More to come when I finish the book.

The People Make the Con

It is really true that people make the world go round, and they make the Con a special place. I truly enjoy talking to people on the shuttle buses, and meet some very interesting folks that way. Like these:

The 4th-generation San Diegan who has gone to a City Council meeting asking hotels not to raise their prices so much for Comic-Con attendees. She told me she spoke to a woman who was paying more than $250 a night to stay at a Motel Six! This San Diegan woman drives up to my home town, Costa Mesa, to buy fireworks because it’s one of the few places in the state you can get them. (Fireworks stands in Costa Mesa are run by charities. Many a Goat Hill charity is funded by sparklers.) She visits every stand to spread the money around and sets off her purchases all year round.

Ginger Mayerson, editor of The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society, who only covers Artists Alley. Why her card says “Ontology on the Go!’ has raised much speculation in our family.

The retired University English professor who now reads scripts for a publisher. He says he really does have to read a lot of dreck before he finds one good prospect.

The woman frantically going back to her hotel room to pick something up for her husband to get signed while he stands in the autograph line.

The Comic-Con committee member who did not know people signed up to volunteer just in case they could not get a badge. What the heck do they expect if they ask for volunteers in January, and don’t sell badges until March or April. The kids and I would have been signed up as volunteers, but I didn’t read the message in time. 

The lady who had the idea of selling the Comic-Con official t-shirts online in advance of the Con, to be picked up with badges at registration. I’ve never bought one, but she says the lines for them are ridiculously long. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Comic-Con Swag

Everywhere I walked people handed me stuff. Not just postcards, thought there were a lot of those, but other stuff. Good swag is a real tribute to designers and an art unto itself.

Here’s some of my favorites:

     The Three Stooges refillable water bottle. Not only does the cover unscrew, but the part with the small nozzle for drinking unscrews as well, leaving you with a wide mouth container. You can wash it really well, and put all kinds of other stuff in it, like cut up fruit or goldfish crackers. And its clear so you can see how much is inside.

     The glow-in-the-dark Paranorman bracelet that says “You don’t become a hero by being normal.”

     The Dodge Dart bracelet that matches my Coma scar. For reasons I don't understand, someone at Chrysler thought it would be good publicity to have a contest where 4 people live in a car. On a stage. In public.

     The Revolution (NBC next fall) aluminum refillable water bottle. I myself don’t watch postapocalyptic shows, but the kids think this one looks cool.

     The Three Stooges whoopie cushion.

     The book “The Life of Jesus.” It’s pretty interesting to read the condensed version.

     The bookmark signed by James Andrew Bond, author of “Hammerhead,” a book about a guy in the Mojave Desert who tears apart junk spaceships for scrap. The bookmark gives a link to an excerpt from the book.

Then there’s swag you have to work for, by doing something silly or mundane. My favorites of this kind:

     The XCom game t-shirt. It’s really pretty. You watch a demo of the new game in a room on the second floor of the Hard Rock Hotel. They really treat you well in that demo. There is a whole buffet of snacks and soft drinks and comfortable couches to sit on while you watch. The buffet was picked clean. I snagged a Hershey bar for Daughter but missed out on a KitKat for Son. Just wasn’t fast enough.

     The Grimm poster. NBC has taken over the corner of 5th and L Streets and the Tin Fish restaurant. They have Aunt Marie’s Airstream trailer for you to walk through, and it is worth the look. The weapons are really vicious looking and the book very informative. You can also get a Grimm temporary tattoo. Mine is almost worn off now.

Lastly, there are places you can go just for fun. I liked the Defiance restaurant experience created by SyFy. The staff would not tell us the name of the restaurant, but it’s on the west side of the Hard Rock Hotel, and you can get into the hotel directly from it. It’s like a coffee shop, but the food was good and the staff exceptionally nice. I sat at the bar, nursed a beer and ate the cheapest thing on the menu, a great garden salad.

And I loved the XBox play area on the second floor of the Hard Rock Hotel. Lots of comfy places to sit and play many video games. Plus unlimited snacks and soft drinks. The air conditioning worked and the staff was very pleasant. I had a great conversation with a young lady who demonstrated Crackle. She ‘s a local temporary hire, and told me she’d driven in her first day to find parking lots charging $50 for a space. She finally found one for $35, but the company only gives her $15 to park, so she’s going to have someone drop her off the rest of the days she works. I’ve heard lots of stories about the price gouging that goes on by the locals, but that’s yet again another topic).

Coma Scars

My kids can’t look at my right arm now. It creeps them out. Not often a 60-year old Mom creeps out her kids. Is that success? It certainly shows the success of the art of makeup as done by real pros.

And I got this look just by rambling on the other side of the tracks. There was a pedestrian crossing in front of the Umbrella Corporation pushcart, so I took advantage of it and crossed the trolley lines there. If I’d looked at a map, and I did have one with me, I’d have gone back to the convention center. I hadn’t realized Harbor Drive runs at an angle southwest, so that crossing took me to a street several blocks north of my destination, the Hard Rock Hotel.

On 1st Street a nurse was handing out hospital bracelets. Not the cool kind they used to give babies, with beads spelling out their names. But the lame kind with your name printed from some computer file, shoved in a sleeve and closed with a snap you can’t open, so you have to cut it off, risking cutting a vein when you do. But it advertised an A&E mini-series, Coma, to be broadcast over Labor Day weekend.

I ambled on to the Coma hospital (a trailer in a parking lot at 1st Ave. & J Street) to check it out. I found two lines, and a really pleasant rest area complete with fountain and benches (for patients’ visitors). One line was empty, the other had about 10 people in it. Being an old Comic-Con hand, I knew the empty line meant lameness awaited those in it, so I became the 11th person in the other line. Turns out what you got was the coolest (to me) and grossest/gruesomeist (to the kids) applied make-up I’ve ever had put on me.

You lay on a guerney while a doctor “operates” on your arm. I'd always heard you can judge the quality of the surgeon by the quality of his stitching. This one needed to go back to medical school. As a surgeon she was awful. As a makeup artist she was very talented. 

I was informed by other members of the hospital staff that they had 1500 of these scars to apply to people. If that’s true, they’re going to have to really speed up the process. There were 8 stations, and it took 15 minutes just to apply mine. Other stations were taking longer. So using an average of 20 minutes each, they could apply about 25 an hour. It would take them 60 hours to apply them all over 4 days, working 12 hours a day. Not going to happen.

They took my picture in front of a green screen, and I really do look like I’m in a Coma. And they filmed me screaming at the screen with my picture on it. Guess they get tired of photogenic young adults.

All that and the show does look pretty interesting. You can watch the videos they were showing at 

Hands and Feet, Here is Something Good to Eat

This is the story of how I scared a Holiday Inn employee. I mean really scared him. He jumped back and screamed. And I didn’t mean to do it. But it was a natural consequence of my first great find outside the confines of the convention center. And a real tribute to the artistry of bakers like the one we treasure on Goat Hill (French's Cupcake Bakery on 17th Street, winner of many awards at the Orange County Fair.)

The kids spent the day in Sea World, as Daughter has wanted to go back there again for years now. I was sent downtown with the task of gathering intelligence on Resident Evil 6 at the XBox gaming room at the Hard Rock Hotel. I’d read about it on some website I’d found that listed the stuff outside the convention center.

Riding the shuttle bus from the Holiday Inn, staring out the window as it went past the Marriott I noticed a white pushcart. The kind street vendors sell ice cream out of. But this didn’t have a Good Humor logo on it. This one said Umbrella Corporation and had that distinctive umbrella logo. Inside were hands and feet packaged for sale. How cool is that!

Well, my daughter is a huge RE fan, so I knew I had to at least get her a picture. I figured they really weren’t selling the hands and feet; they must be rubber props, just for effect. So I hopped off the shuttle and moved against traffic as quickly as I could, past the Jesus Loves You people, and the collectors for the homeless (could they be for real, or were they fakes trying for lunch money?), and found her. The delightful woman did indeed have hands and feet in her cart. And a head as well.

And was she ever nice. Here's a picture to prove it. And she was giving the feet away. All you had to do was take a picture with her, and post it online. Like I am here.

Was I thrilled? You bet! Even more so when she explained it was really bread and you could eat it! How cool is that! My day of exploration started off better than I could ever have thought.

It got better when that afternoon the same woman spotted me by the Hard Rock Hotel and came over to offer me a hand to go with the foot. That was so nice.

Back in the hotel room, I pondered the best way to display my prizes. I decided to prop them up against the desk lamp.

I’d completely forgotten stopping by the front desk on the way to the room to tell them the desk lamp didn’t turn on. But talk about service. I hadn’t been in the room 15 minutes before there was a knock on the door by a guy there to fix the lamp.

I waived him towards the desk, and while I was closing the door I heard a scream and the sound of someone jumping. I turned around and found him staring at the lamp. The hand and foot really do look real. He calmed down when I explained what they were. But he kept an eye on me while he fixed the lamp, and hurried out when he was done.

“I don’t need no stinking badge.”

Many GHPALS members go to Comic-Con, and the head of this society is no exception. While the next few articles were posted after the Con, they were written during it, starting with this one.

I am sitting by a swimming pool at a Holiday Inn north of the San Diego airport. The sky is overcast and the air is full of sounds: cheerful tunes faintly heard from the bar, pile drivers from some construction project, the traffic on Nimitz Avenue and Harbor Drive, and the shuttle buses that stop to pick up people for the 15-minute drive to what can only be seen as another world.

It seems unbelievable that only 5 miles from here more than a hundred-thousand people are gathered together for the biggest celebration of the popular arts, Comic-Con. There are two types of people there: the lucky ones who snagged a badge in the lottery that was the badge sale (a topic for another time) and those, like me, who did not. For at least a dozen years I have brought my children (now adults) to this thing, and for the first time I am on the outside looking in.

So enough about why I’m not among the hoards inside the convention center, and on to the fun I had outside of it. And the swag. And the promotions I’ve participated in. And, most importantly, the sheer fun I have had without a badge.

Wise promotion people have recognized the value of taking over locations in the Gaslamp District. There one has total control over the space. The venue can be open before and after the Con exhibit hall hours. There are no rules to restrict activities and room for longer lines. One can pay a restaurant to turn itself into SyFy’s Defiance HQ or NBC's Grimm forest.  One can rent the ballroom in a hotel like XBox did in the Hard Rock Cafe. Or one can just rent a parking lot, pull in a bunch of trailers and set up tents to turn it in to History Chanel central or a Coma center to advertise a new A&E mini-series. Cheapest of all, hire a bunch of temps from an agency to stand on any street corner and give a way your advertising stuff to everyone who passes by. Sure a bunch will get tossed, but most will at least be looked at by someone.

Yesterday I spent 6 hours walking the streets over there, and I had a great time. I really didn’t need no stinking badge. And judging from the crowds, neither did a lot of other people. My kids are there today, because they don’t have badges until tomorrow

Goat Hill Public Arts & Literary Society

There is a beautiful wide mesa in Orange County, California, with water on three sides. To the south is Newport Beach, with its harbors and beaches. To the west is the Santa Ana River. To the east is the Newport Back Bay. 

In the early 20th century the mesa was a network of small farms and orchards, and was commonly called Goat Hill. The locals held a contest to chose a name, and Costa Mesa (Our Mesa) won. Today the mesa is one part of the City of Costa Mesa, a city whose motto is the City of the Arts.

The north side of town, off the mesa, is the home of the Orange County Performing Arts Center and South Coast Repertory Company. The office towers in that part of town surround a wonderful sculpture garden. Eclectic performances are given at The Lab, the anti-mall (a reaction to the incredible shops at South Coast Plaza shopping center).

Goat Hill hasn't been farms for decades. It is the home of arts for the rest of us, public arts. There are theaters at Orange Coast College and Vanguard University. The Orange County Fair shows arts and crafts created by talented people from all over the county. The Triangle (formerly Triangle Square) presents all the best movies and is one of the venues showing films in the Newport Beach Film Festival. The City of Costa Mesa presents summer concerts at Fairview Park. The Costa Mesa Historical Society has a museum, a restored adobe and presents public lectures every month. There are comics and collectibles stores and art everywhere you look.

Goat Hill Public Arts and Literature Society celebrates the arts all of us enjoy.