Obamamania, and the scene at the inauguration looks like the long-suffering citizens of a cruelly oppressed country ecstatically greeting their liberators. Kind of like what at least two of the spectators on the dignitary platform—ex-President Bush, ex-Vice President Cheney—were envisioning when U.S. forces arrived in Baghdad. Their bad.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 21
In an obvious attempt to market California’s grand, old play, Ramona, to a younger generation, officials at Hemet’s Ramona Bowl Amphitheater announce that the opening day crowd on April 18 will be addressed by Cloris Leachman. The Oscar- and Emmy-winning actress is hot right now, having just been honored as Grand Marshall of the Rose Parade. She’s got two hit television shows running simultaneously . . . on TV Land—The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Facts of Life. And she was recently a contestant on Dancing With the Stars, which she did not win—unless you count coming out of it without a heart attack. The opening performance of this year’s Ramona—the 86th annual—is only 12 days before Leachman’s birthday . . . her 83rd. It’s only a rumor—and kind of a cruel one—that she helped Helen Hunt Jackson with the final draft. C’mon, kids, don’t be like that.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 22
A part-time plumber who fills the rest of his time wagging a metal detector in the flood channel behind his Perris home finds a four-foot-long tusk that a pair of Hemet scientists say likely dates back to the last Ice Age—between 16,000 and two million years ago. After first making sure that Cloris Leachman hadn’t lost anything from her jewelry box, the archaeologist and paleontologist figure that the tusk probably belonged to either a mammoth or a mastodon. The discoverer, Greg Riecke, tells the Riverside Press-Enterprise he’s certain that there are more fossils waiting to be found. “I think I know of another dinosaur,” he says with a vague wave downstream, “right over there.”
FRIDAY, JANUARY 23
Speaking of long-lost pets, a new ordinance in the unincorporated areas of Riverside County will require almost all dogs and cats to be tagged with microchips beginning March 1, although animal control officers will not cite or fine any owners until June. The idea of the grain-of-rice-sized microchips—which feature ID and health information and will be inserted just beneath the skin on the back of the neck—is to reunite more lost pets with their owners and minimize euthanasia. Of course, so-called animal lovers swamped the County Board of Supervisors in protest, complaining that the ordinance would infringe on their freedom. Tell that to the owners of the mastodon. A microchip might have saved them a couple million years of worry.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 24
After rising to the level of captain during her career in the U.S. Navy, the newest trustee of the Jurupa Unified School District doesn’t want to be known as a board member. We get that. Member? The word has, you know, a connotation. But Noreen Considine is threatening to sue her colleagues if they do not call her “Captain” at meetings. We get that, too. Swabbies are notoriously proud of the pollywogging they do for the country, and Pier Queen Considine’s anger—she described the board’s preferred use of the term “trustee” an “act of colossal arrogance”—is typical of the sea lawyers, bilge rats and liberty hounds in her branch of the service. With a little understanding on the part of other trustees, perhaps a compromise can be reached. Considine’s years as a bubblehead doesn’t necessarily mean she’s unreasonable. In fact, crabs and deck apes and booters and rotorheads have to learn to get along during all that time floating around on their drift packs. Then again, we can all just ignore Smurf Considine. A Navy spokesman says retired officers can use their rank but people are not required to address Considine as captain. How about “Tailhook?”
SUNDAY, JANUARY 25
Oh, that’s right—the Super Bowl is next Sunday.
MONDAY, JANUARY 26
Back to work—if you have a job, that is—and just-released figures from California’s Employment Development Department say that’s less and less likely. The unemployment rate hit 10.1 percent in the Ontario-San Bernardino-Riverside metropolitan area in December. It hasn’t been this high since July of 1995 and everybody seems to be betting that’s going to go higher. Esmael Adibi of Chapman University predicts unemployment will hit 11.5 percent by December. Economists Brad Kemp and Chris Thornberg of San Rafael-based Beacon Economics say it’ll be 12.4 percent. In fact, all this speculation is almost becoming a cottage industry. Maybe that’ll help the employment picture, at least an itsy bit.