FeaturedOpinion

Chronicle shop notes – alien-based news

Kurtis Alexander, who stands sentinel often enough in the newsroom, stood beneath the Standing Sentinel Tree at Calaveras Big Trees State Park and, with Reuters reporter Heather Somerville standing beside him, did not muff his big line (“I do”)….It’s official.  They, them and their are now acceptable singular, gender-neutral pronouns, according to copy desk chief Shay Quillen.   The author of shopnotes is scratching their head.  Meanwhile, honorifics in obits have died, along with the people in the obits.    Fortunately, Charles Manson died just in time to qualify as “Mr. Manson” instead of “Manson”…

Good news!  Next year’s health premiums aren’t going up by 52 percent after all!  That was a mistake!  My bad, says the company!  They’re only going up — in some cases — by 17 percent.  That would likely be enough to wipe out any raise, except you haven’t gotten one.   The annual raise that you haven’t gotten works out to 0 percent, if our math is correct   Meanwhile, your hardworking Guild negotiating team is dutifully weighing the company’s latest “offers”:  Kick out 1/4 of Guild members from the union or give up our accumulated sick leave?  Or both! …News flash from most recent bargaining session:  The company’s offer for salary raises remains nothing for the first year, then nothing for years two and three…And speaking of things to scratch your head over, the overall cost to the company of the Kaiser family plan actually went down, by 1 percent, according to the company’s own numbers.  But employees choosing it will pay $1,134 more per year!  How about them numbers?,,,

Kevin Fagan, who had just performed for a Chronicle subscribers’ gathering, was loading his car in front of the building when four bad guys made off with hundreds of dollars worth of musical gear.   The company has graciously made good on his loss, and the new equipment was featured at the Irish Newsboys latest gig at Chief Sullivan’s watering hole in North Beach…Appearing at this year’s world-famous LitQuake Festival and Lit Crawl were (deep breath):  Don Lattin, Vanessa Hua, Edward Guthmann, Jose Antonio Vargas, David Talbot, John McMurtrie, Jane Ganahl, Peter Hartlaub, Tony Bravo, Otis Taylor, Heather Knight, Justin Phillips, Jill Tucker and Joel Selvin.   The title of Edward’s talk was “Naked on the Page” but it turned out to be about how memoir writers  bare their souls, not their other parts…”We don’t have fake news,” said Audrey Cooper, when a fourth-grade journalism student from Yick Wo Elementary School asked her on a newsroom tour how she handles fake news at the Chronicle…It’s true.  Fifteen journalists crowded around Mark Lundgren’s desk the other day to gaze at a picture of a dead chicken…

Congratulations to Alex Washburn, who stepped on the foot of financial analyst Nathaniel Chaney just as he was proposing marriage, a mishap that apparently did not derail the proceedings.  They exchanged vows on the Costa Brava and toured Europe  (after courting by zooming around South America on motorcycles).  The romance began, Alex says, via an online ad in which they were attracted to each other’s passion for travel…More congrats, to photographer Leah Millis and biz reporter Marissa Lang, who got married to each other…And welcome back to reporter Sarah Ravani, former Hearst fellow who is back after many months in San Antonio…And more congratulations to new mom Cynthia Dizikes and husband Michael Angelini, who came through on deadline with a new future subscriber named Evan…

Welcome to new hires Lynda Black, an online coordinator who likes making margaritas; Zack Sicking, an online coordinator who likes playing disc golf; and web developer Alicia Pearse, who says she is “drawn to alien-based conspiracy theories.”  It was not clear whether Alicia will be investigating the not-disproven theory that Chronicle editors are alien-based….Whenever things get really bad, the staff gets free pizza, thanks to the editors.  We like the pizza enough to take back that crack about editors being alien-based…Legendary former staff writer Michael Robertson of the Chronicle People Dept. (what’s that?) is retiring from his longstanding journalism teaching gig at USF.  Professor Robertson infused countless undergrads with a love and passion for this curious, alien-based racket of ours…Cart T. Hall is doing double duty at the Guild these days. Kat Anderson is working part-time in order to run for the S.F. Board of Supervisors, an alien-based outfit…Trapper Byrne spent a couple of weeks as a juror in Martinez on a murder case that involved an intoxicated stepfather, an intoxicated stepson, a gun, a knife and lots of graphic pictures of the aftermath that the lawyers kept making Trapper look at.  Judgment:  Not guilty of murder, hung jury on manslaughter.  Another judgment, said Trapper, is that vodka, guns and knives do not go together….

The message to management is never leave anything on the free table.  When the Chronicle’s discarded 2016 CNPA award plaque turned up on the free table, it was rescued and, courtesy of the office label maker, a few changes were made. The plaque now celebrates, among others, the staff member who looks most like his dog  (Al Saracevic), the most realistic hairpiece (Joe Garofoli), shortest heels (Audrey Cooper), best temp worker (Dave Perlman), the best new hire from the LA Times (Jeff Johnson) and the best new hire from the Campfire Girls (Lizzie Johnson).  The re-purposed plaque, which now hangs on the newsroom wall in Section 8, was rededicated at an official unveiling ceremony, with cookies…Speaking of amazing stuff to be found on the free table, don’t forget the free Toyota air filter…And speaking of cookies, among the great snacks and provisions sent to the newsroom in the firestorm aftermath by our kindhearted colleagues at the Houston Chronicle were chocolate chip cookies, and also bags of corn chips in the shape of Texas and such regional delicacies as beef jerky, Beaver Nuggets (don’t ask) and Little Debbie’s Oatmeal Creme Pies, which stick with you.  Also on the menu were six flavors of It’s It ice cream sandwiches.  Houston, we have a problem and the problem is that we have eaten all the It’s Its…Curiouser and Curiouser would have published this edition of Shopnotes sooner but he was busy talking to Charles Manson’s grandson…We like the new metro cars so much that the usual amount of trash left inside them (fast food wrappers and old press releases) is way down…The latest from “Dr.” Dave Perlman, who turns 99 in January: He’ll be back in the office any day…

The Cal Band pays its annual visit to the newsroom, a five-decade Chronicle tradition. Oski the bear had no comment, like last year and the year before. Photo by Paul Chinn 2017.

We get letters!  One of them, from a reader expressing a dissenting view about Joe Garofoli’s peerless reportage, called him “Joe Garrulousphony.”  Curiouser and Curiouser begs to differ…Yes, that was former city editor Alan Mutter paying us a visit the other day…The Cal Band, which has serenaded the Chronicle during Big Game week for the past five decades, came back once again,  this time with 76 trombones to lead the big parade through the newsroom (minus 74 trombones).  The band, per Carl (class of ’55) Nolte’s request, played the fight song about Stanford being found “in the tummy of the Golden Bear.”  (although, in the Big Game, it apparently didn’t work out that way.)  After the concert, Oski the bear, in the grand tradition of Oski, said absolutely nothing while posing for dozens of  selfies, even more than action movie star Jackie Chan posed for when visited the newsroom some weeks earlier…Don Asmussen, addressing a class of third-grade journalists from Monroe Elementary School on a newsroom tour, said it’s perfectly OK to draw a cartoon that the president won’t like, and Kevin Fagan said that his favorite fruit is grapes and Leah Garchik said the best thing about being a journalist is that “sometimes you get free pizza”….Be the first to put in a bid for the swell $210 emergency earthquake survival kit that Kevin bought for a quake preparation story and was told he wasn’t allowed to keep,   Inside are countless packets of hardtack that taste like hockey pucks, a genuine ’60s-era transistor radio for listening to the Giants upcoming even-numbered season and enough rope to tie up your glass-office occupant of choice.  It will be auctioned off for Season of Sharing…

Exclusive Shopnotes Interview with the lobby elevator repairwoman:  “Here I am, again,” she said.  And the reason she is here so often, she said, is because the Chronicle elevators, updated a couple of decades ago, are the “cheapest, knockoff-of-a-knockoff elevator brand.”  Remember, those 53 steps are good for you.  Some say the ascending staff will climb even higher than the cost of next year’s Chronicle health plans…Lizzie Johnson went to Colombia where she  became a certified scuba diver and brought back lots of drugs (all of them caffeine) for the newsroom…Thank Goodness for Editors Dept.:  Kurt Aguilar, fixing a story that said a death was announced sometime between Tuesday and Wednesday, pointed out, “There is no time between Tuesday and Wednesday.”

— Curiouser and Curiouser

Pacific Media Workers Guild

Pacific Media Workers Guild

We are the Pacific Media Workers Guild, Local 39521 of The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America. We represent more than 1,200 journalists and other media workers, interpreters, translators, union staffs and freelancers.

No Comment

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post

Bargaining with Chronicle not quite in step

Next post

Candidate statements for Local 39521 election 2017