A 2-year-old boy is hit in the head by a bull—“It was more of a ramming,” clarifies John Welsh, Public Information Chief for the Riverside County Department of Animal Services—and that, of course, is not funny. But it at least becomes a little easier to acknowledge the weirdness when we find out—again, from Welsh—that “the boy is OK, according to one of our field lieutenants.” Yet the weirdest part of the press release—and, as a matter of fact, the longest—is the passage that begs the media to give photo credits to the field lieutenant who took pictures of the bull. “Please credit Animal Control Officer Will Luna,” Welsh pleads. “When I take the pictures I expect no photo credit, except for perhaps, ‘Riverside County Animal Services.’ But when one of our officers gets the shots, it’s always nice to give them credit, if at all possible.” Consider it done, chief—and we’ll be even nicer than that. As an added favor to Officer Luna, we’ll spare him the embarrassment of printing the distant and blurry images of what is, yes, I think, a bull—although my initial impression was a deformed black Labrador Retriever.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 16
Something long and cylindrical and making a strange sound flies over Ontario between 8:30 and 9:20 p.m., according to area residents who sound shocked and stunned—and a little bit turned on. “I was in my backyard when I heard a weird noise and just happened to look up to see a cigar-shaped aircraft with all these lights,” Upland resident Tim Pfaoulgraff tells reporter Liset Marquez of the Daily Bulletin. “At first I thought it was a blimp but it was moving so fast it obviously wasn’t a blimp.” Pfaoulgraff says he saw it heading east before it got lost behind trees. Cigar-shaped? Moving fast? Oh, no—it’s obviously much too hot to be a blimp. Significantly, Marquez’ story doesn’t mention whether Pfaoulgraff was bending his fingers into air quotes or raising his eyebrows while saying “lost behind trees.” And for all their frothy excitement, residents apparently don’t call the authorities—Ontario’s police and fire departments report no phone calls about a UFO—but instead go to YouTube, where a video of the long, smooth thing racks up a quick 600 views . . . although the more insatiable among us likely do it more than once. Goodyear officials say their blimp is not flying in the Ontario area tonight. A spokesman for Federal Aviation Administration points out Southern California has one of the busiest airspaces and it is likely what people saw was an aircraft or meteor. “We don’t deal with UFOs,” says the official. In other words, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17
Avatar at midnight. Deep inside, my 3-D geek still lives.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18
The new issue of Westways—that’s the magazine for Auto Club members—arrives in my mailbox, and Inland Empire residents might be proud to know that this month’s DayTrip feature is all about visiting Riverside. The one-page feature makes several obligatory mention of the Mission Inn, but digs deeper—an itsy-bit, anyway—to recommend a few museums (including the UCR/California Museum of Photography) and a stroll down Main Street, including meals at Simple Simon’s and Phood On Main. As I said, locals might be proud of such prominent attention—although they also might notice that the magazine leaves out any suggestions for where we can go on an out-of-city day trip. Riverside, slighted again!
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 19
No, they’re not perfect, anymore, but I still like the New Orleans Saints to make the Super Bowl.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 20
Little sistah Laura Williams of Alta Loma turns 43 and as always the gang celebrates by overlooking her birthday and focusing on Christmas—this time with an elbow-to-elbow walk down the electrified holiday extravaganza that is Thoroughbred Street in Rancho Cucamonga. No, her favorite display was not the reindeer dressed up as Hugh Hefner, equipped with a pipe, robe—and a string of buxom reindeer girlfriends. That was Laura’s husband, Tim.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 21
Not satisfied that the world’s violence and pain already supplies him with a very good-paying job, Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco further capitalizes on human suffering by strutting around center stage at the dedication ceremony for a polished granite wall engraved with the names of more than 1,500 murder victims. The so-called Victims’ Wall, similar in concept to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, is unveiled in the Victims’ Courtyard of the Downtown Law Building. Pacheco and family members of murder victims speak at the event, ostensibly in tribute to victims of violent crime in Riverside County—although some might say that by politicizing their wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time deaths, Pacheco is simply doing them the extreme indignity of victimizing them again.