Chronicle Shopnotes 2.0

The house that Anna Sarpieri built. Photo courtesy Curiouser & curiouser
The house that Anna Sarpieri built. Photo courtesy Curiouser & Curiouser

Shopnotes 2.0/21st century version! For all Chronicle departments! Send scoops and all the gossip that’s fit to print to, call or text to 415/412-5758, or find Curiouser and Curiouser in the newsroom.

We hear that part of the deal that wooed the inimitable Jaxon Van Derbeken off  to TV-land was an honest-to-God personal wardrobe budget, a New York fashion makeover and free tuition to TV charm school in Texas (good luck with all that, TV people).  It probably means, says wife and former reporter Stacy “Bodice Ripper” Finz, that he will no longer be allowed to wear the same sweatshirt to work for two weeks straight.  … On the bodice-ripping beat, we should point out that romance novelist Stacy names many of her characters for Chronicle pals, and the heroine of her second novel is “Emily Mathews”  (she left out one of the Ts in Matthews, so no one would confuse that particular ripper of bodices with editors Allen Matthews’ and Deb Wandell’s delightful daughter, Emily.)  News flash, from Jaxon’s farewell party in Berkeley:  The TV folks, apparently figuring it to be a lost cause, have canceled Jaxon’s trip to charm school.   Meanwhile, Stacy took time off from her seventh bodice ripper (“don’t call them bodice rippers,” said Stacy, who says all clothing in her books is removed by skillful fingertip manipulation) to reveal that among her novels’  bodice-ripping characters are one “Kevin Fagan” (now whom could he have been named for), a homeless musician who dies of an overdose, along with newspaper editor “Jerry Strean” (an amalgam of former editors Jerry Roberts and Linda Strean), who fires the novel’s heroine from her newspaper job.   And then there’s a newspaper reporter named “Sloppy Steve” (never mind who inspired that), and a  character named for former reporter Reynolds Holding and shoutouts to Stacy’s food section colleagues Amanda Gold, Tara Duggan and Sarah Fritsche. …

All this must mean something:  FORAYING KNAVE turns out to be an anagram of Kevin Roy Fagan.   ME, PRETTIFIER is an anagram of Peter Fimrite, and DARK INTERSEXUAL, rearranged, spells Kurtis Alexander.  How about EDITING ADVERBS for David Steinberg?  And for Debra Saunders, take your pick of ABSURDS ENDEAR or BADASSED RERUN. … Which reporter kept attacking the third-floor vending machine like the guy in “Dr. Strangelove” when his barbecue chips wouldn’t fall? … Abe Lincoln, John WildermuthSam Whiting, David Steinberg  and Lizzie Johnson all had their birthdays on Feb. 12, in roughly that order. … Shopnotes Quiz!  Match the city desk editor with the object on his or her desk.  The objects:  two hockey pucks, a Boy Scout journalism merit badge, a rubber duck, a cribbage board with Q-tips for pegs and a bobblehead armadillo.  The editors:  Suzanne Espinosa, Demian Bulwa, Trapper Byrne, Mark Lundgren, Terry Robertson.   Answers below. … Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Central City Extra, the terrific monthly put out by copy editor Geoff Link that shines a brighter beam on the gritty center of town than a policeman’s flashlight.  Your  colleagues have bled for it —  not long ago, former copy editor Mark Hedin got his head bashed by a crazy guy while he was trying to deliver a stack of copies in the Tenderloin.  He’s OK. … Every time Carl Nolte plays his harmonica, someone tells him not to.  Carl, by the way, made a guest appearance when the Irish Newsboys performed at the St. Patrick’s Day festival at Civic Center. …The Voice of the “Voice of the West”? Welcome to Joey Hernandez, ad department coordinator and a first-rate opera singer.

If you’ve put on a pound or two, the person to thank is the amazing office brownie baker Dave de la Fuente, the copy editor whose latest gift to the newsroom is brownies with Oreos baked inside.  Good for what ails you. … Also on the 350-degree oven beat, photo toner Anna Sarpieri is an award-winning creator of gingerbread houses. Her masterpiece, “Gingerbread Goodies Bakery,” features ingestible icicles, carbohydrate cupolas and palatable parapets. … Which reporter, currently consuming packaged diet food (“it sure doesn’t look like the picture on the wrapper,” she said) instead of Oreo brownies and gingerbread parapets, is down 7 pounds? … Former reporter Diane “E.T. (Education Tomato)” Curtis has a yurt in her Marin backyard, for guests…We miss Jon Carroll, too, but he’s still right here at   His trains of thought are the high-speed rail of the internet:  “Class war is already happening, it’s just that our side is essentially unarmed”  or, perhaps, “There should be a union for the unemployed, we have rights, too.”… While on the Carroll beat, don’t forget to look up former reporters and perpetual lovebirds Rick Carroll and Marcie Rasmussen on your next trip to Hawaii. … Our own Kat Anderson is running for another term in the SF County Democratic Central Committee, the mysterious thing that, on election day, you must somehow vote for no more than 24 members of. … If designer Todd Trumbull is ever late for work, it could be because he completed a triathlon that morning before showing up.  He’s a big-time triathloner, assuming that’s a word. … The wheels keep spinning for designer George Russell,  who continues to recover from his bicycle accident. … Be sure to ask Andy Ross about his second career clearing dinner dishes at a Cal sorority house while disguised in Groucho Marx mustache and glasses. … Grammar maven Andy “Andy Bear” Behr points out that the correct phrase is “Whom the f— are you kidding?”

The main Keurig coffee machine, which likes to break down on a regular basis, has met its match, ever since the indispensable Barry Hodge learned the paper-clip-and-soda-straw unclogging technique off the Internet.  (The vendor is supposed to make service calls as soon as the machine clogs, but doesn’t, because the Chronicle is, alas, a “low-volume account.”) … Copy chief David Steinberg may be an expert at removing things that don’t belong, but he was unable to remove the socks that had been eaten by his Bernese mountain dog, who required surgery. She’s OK.  Also OK are Panda, photo editor Kat Duncan’s dog, after surgery to remove a squeaker from a squeaky toy, and online editor Jason Lloren’s Pekingese, Cobalt, who had surgery for a back problem. … Never Turn Down a Free Sandwich Dept.:  What 40-year newsroom veteran, recently rehired, found himself invited to the “new hires’ luncheon” with the publisher? … And welcome back to the welcoming back of Michael Gray, who has returned for his third newsroom tour of duty, this time as investigative reporting editor. … This is the Ides of March edition of Shopnotes.  Reason enough to beware. The next thing to beware is the Ides of April.

USF journalism professor and Chron alum Michael Robertson suggested one of his students reach out to Phil “Don’t F— With Me, You F—ing F—” Matier as a source. Afterwards,sophomore David Garcia summed up the experience: “I had never heard of Matier.  I was terrified to give him a call and I was scared of mispronouncing his name.  For some reason, I was convinced his name was pronounced Mat-ee-ay.I think he could tell I was nervous on the phone, because before I could get a question in he told me to calm down, and then he gave me a good 15 minutes.” Michael  said it was an educational experience for him, too.  “Sometimes you call up the Incredible Hulk and you get Mark Ruffalo,” he said. … It may be that he’s associating with more reputable folks since he joined the Chronicle, but we hear that Terry Robertson’s high school classmates in Woodside were the Chowchilla kidnappers. … This just in from Mr. Peabody’s Way-back Machine!  The scrolling display on the third-floor potato chip vending machine implores customers to “Have a Nice Day, from the San Francisco Newspaper Agency,” which hasn’t existed for nearly two decades.

Gloria La Riva’s duties in prepress are not so pressing that she doesn’t have time to run once again for president of the United States, making a bid for the Peace and Freedom Party nomination.  She points out that she has had dinner with Fidel Castro and has met Raul Castro, while President Obama has yet to do either. Gloria, first vice president of our Guild local, does not want to build a wall or deport anybody and sends only unclassified e-mails. … Also on the Travel beat, If it’s the third Sunday of the month, be sure to travel  to  exotic El Sobrante and hear travel editor Spud Hilton’s remarkable old time Dixieland troupe, the Joyful Noise Jazz Band.  Spud, an amazing cornetist and vocalist, took over leadership of the band from his late father, Bruce, a legendary journalist and tuba player.   Among the band’s extensive repertoire are the Tin Pan Alley classics “Ain’t She Sweet” and “Hard-Hearted Hannah,” which were composed in the 1920s by Milton Ager, the uncle of Steve Rubenstein.  The band now performs at the Elks Lodge at 3931 San Pablo Dam Road, where $7 gets you an all-you-can-eat buffet and all the joyful noise you can hear.  On March 20, it’s You-Pick-the-Songs Night — Spud puts out a list of the band’s 125-song repertoire and the audience draws up the set list.  The saints go marching in beginning at 5:30 p.m..  Best deal on the whole planet, and Spud has been to the whole planet.

It’s true.  On her honeymoon, Nanette Asimov slept with former Secretary of State George Shultz.   They were a few seats apart on a red-eye flight to Madrid. … Too many curtains are coming down around here, and the latest irreplaceable persons to retire are the great Rob Hurwitt and Chip Johnson.  Rob, a theater critic for two decades (and for the Examiner before that). is also a Pulitzer Prize judge — of new plays, so no use lobbying.  Chip has been the voice of reason in the East Bay seemingly since before the Bay Bridge, not the new one but the one before that. …  Also farewell to business editors Benjamin Muessig and Jessica McCuan, experts on the business of business and nice folks as well.

The Guild, always eager to save its members a buck (remember, it’s now sponsoring the office candy machine, so every buck counts) is temporarily moving its office from Natoma Street to Berkeley during the opening phase of the 5M Project construction.  The Guild was offered deeply discounted space in the offices of a UC union at 2855 Telegraph Ave., only a $3.85 BART ride away.  The great Carl T. Hall, who will now have to work standing up, says construction will last four months, but Curiouser and Curiouser, wise to the ways of contractors’  estimates,  has wagered him a fancy dinner that the Guild will not be moving back until 2017 at the earliest, and we only bet on sure things. … Latest wonder dog in the office is Ramona, a very cute all-white critter who wears colorful shirts and resides in a small enclosure near the desk of business editor Owen Thomas, who is new too.  Welcome, both. … Retired editor Peter Sussman, co-author of the Society for Professional Journalists ethics code, ruffled some feathers after taking on the L.A. Times for a “massive conflict of interest” for accepting funds for its education stories from a billionaire whose education project it covers. … Answers to Shopnotes Quiz:  pucks/Robertson, badge/Byrne, duck/Lundgren, cribbage/Bulwa, armadillo/Espinosa.

Vivian Ho was hiking through Fern Canyon in Humboldt County, a place so prehistoric-looking that “Jurassic Park” scenes were filmed there, when she slid down some mud and her boyfriend, Drew Bruton, accidentally stepped into a creek and the two of them must have figured things weren’t complicated enough because Drew proposed and Vivian said OK.

Curiouser and Curiouser


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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.

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