This is the 30th anniversary of an environmental tradition around Big Bear Lake, which since 1978 has closed various trails and picnic areas from December to April to accommodate the winter home of bald eagles. But few of the birds come around to celebrate, anymore. There were only four all of last year, as well as in 2003 and 2006. That doesn’t come close to the 27 bald eagles in Big Bear in 1984. Local biologists don’t understand the drop, but it seems pretty obvious. The Olympics were in Los Angeles in 1984, when the mascot was Sam the Eagle. The others were probably his relatives. Or his groupies.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3
Christmas carolers: tradition or nuisance?
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 4
Inmates at the Glen Helen Rehabilitation Center—which produces all the bread for San Bernardino County’s jail system—compete in the facility’s annual holiday bake-off. The winning entry was a cranberry cheesecake. Like all cooks, the contestants kept their recipes secret, so we don’t know whether any of them included a hacksaw.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 5
A story in the Riverside Press-Enterprise reveals that when somebody with one of those “How Am I Driving” bumper stickers almost runs you into the guardrail, the 800 number that you call to complain is routed to Lowell, Mass, where operators record their interviews with you before forwarding copies of the conversations to the companies that employ the drivers. Fascinating! But still not as satisfying as flipping the bird.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 6
Only eight boats show up at Lake Perris State Recreation Area for the 10th annual Lights on the Lake floating holiday parade—not a very good return on the 5,600 fliers sent to local school kids or the 3,000 e-mails sent to Riverside County employees. It’s kind of hard to figure, so Lake Perris Ranger Bill Solylo falls back on the universal explanation for everything these days: “It would have to be the economy.”
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 7
The big shots at the San Bernardino Sun are getting bummed out by all the bad news the paper has had to print lately, and today they call upon readers to get off their wallets and cheer them up. “By splurging just a little, maybe we can send a signal to the marketplace,” reads the lead editorial on the Sun’s opinion page. What? You haven’t heard of the San Bernardino Sun? Ask your parents. Or your grandparents. They may be able to tell you inspiring stories about the once-great local daily that was the shared tie that bound the far-flung elements of San Bernardino County into a community—back before the paper was bought by ruthless corporate tycoon William Dean Singleton of Denver-based MediaNews Corp., who since then has been relentlessly laying off reporters so that he can pay the heavily leveraged loans he got to buy and strip the Sun and dozens of other papers across the country. Singleton recently made news by advocating that his newspapers outsource their reporting to writers in India. Actually, if all the former Sun reporters were to splurge, it probably would spike the local economy. Unfortunately, many of them are among the 9.5 percent of unemployed Inland Empire workers for whom splurging just means an extra gallon of milk—although the Sun editorial cheers them up by noting that figure is “light years away from Depression-era levels.” On the other hand, if Sun readers re-examined their spending and re-prioritized a little—taking a closer look, for example, at how much they spend on that subscription—maybe they could find a little spare change to throw around on something more indulgent . . . and intelligent.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 8
Jack Sparrow, the sexy, sleazy, swashbuckling leading man of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, is banished from Disneyland. The reasons are not made completely clear, but the partial explanation offered by the Magic Kingdom’s spokeswoman, Suzi Brown, provide a pretty good idea. Brown insists that rumors of women flashing their breasts at the actors who portrayed Sparrow are “absolutely false” and “simply not true.” Do you believe her? Or do you believe Brandon Pinto, one of the Jack Sparrow actors? In a recent Los Angeles magazine story, he said this: “There were women who would have too many beers at California Adventure or smuggle in alcohol you could smell on their breath, women who were clearly sloshed. Here’s a napkin someone wrote on for me: “I will give you a blow job on your break, so sexy! Kim—714-XXX-XXXX.” I would also get offers from women in my ear: “Anything you want, just find me.” I had a girl who had turned 18 the day before. She was with a high school group, and she wrote down her room number at the Downtown Disney hotel. I had a lady hump my leg one day in the park.” In other sexy, sleazy, swashbuckling news, Jim Morrison would have turned 65 today.