By Allen David
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 30
Jocelyn Williams of Rancho Cucamonga turned 13 a month or two ago and her favorite uncle couldn’t make it. Huh? What’s that? Well, yeah, it’s true Jocelyn has never actually said that her favorite uncle is her favorite, but considering the competition—Uncle Paul? Uncle Rudy? Uncle-freakin‘-Don?—trust me . . . I’m her favorite. Jocelyn was understandably heartbroken when I couldn’t get to her 13th birthday party, and the fact that nobody who did go to the party saw any difference from her usual laughing and playing illustrates just how hard she was working to cover her devastated feelings. Bottom line? Today I make Sunday Brunch reservations at the Mission Inn in downtown Riverside. Takin‘ the niece to the best brunch in all the Inland Empire. Take that, Uncle Don!
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 1
Meteorologists forecast a trace of snow for Big Bear Valley, but a storm of much larger proportions shows up and drops more than two inches on the ground . . . and once again residents of the mountain town heave a huge sigh of relief that at least it wasn’t a meteor storm.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2
If you’ve been getting your news from The Press-Enterprise for the past 10 years, Maria DeVarenne has been giving it to you. But apparently not the way DeVarenne—the editor of the P-E for the past decade—has been giving it to her staff. When the news that DeVarenne is the new Executive Editor of the The Tennessean in Nashville appears on Gary Scott’s blog today, the comments about her work in Riverside are overwhelmingly negative. A sampling: “Poor Nashville.” And: She couldn’t put together a typo-free note, but she was sure good at making people miserable.” As well as: “So now all of Maria’s pals who were protected by her and got to keep their jobs because they were close to her and sucked up to her, I hope they’re quivering in their boots.” And then there’s: “Maria cared nothing about treating people with dignity and respect.” Anybody else? “Maria didn’t create a workplace that supported journalism. She didn’t even create one that was neutral to it. She built one that worked directly against the independent, inquisitive and iconoclastic minds that power the best of journalism.”
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 3
Oh! Forgot to mention that Maria DeVarenne is being replaced as Press-Enterprise editor by Nels Jensen. Thoughts? “Nels is a backstabbing, unprofessional piece of work who will pull the rug out from under you, if you even give him half a chance.” OK, we get the idea.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 4
We roll up to the valet at Mission Inn on a brilliant sunny morning—Jocelyn, her friend, Crystal, my girlfriend and me, the favorite uncle—and keep on rolling, right past their station and back onto the street, where I’d spotted free parking. Hey, what’s a little walk back to the hotel? It works up an appetite for the big brunch. On the way we check out the ice skating rink installed downtown for the holidays and find it priced very reasonably at $10 an hour, plus $3 skate rental. The hotel grounds are gorgeous and enchantingly decorated for the holiday season. I look over at Jocelyn and Crystal, and they emit the requisite oohs and ahhs. Thanks, girls! The walk to our table was like a trip back through time—the architecture seems straight out of the California missions—and our first few minutes at the tables were like a trip up the economic ladder. We were swarmed by waiters with champagne, sparkling cider, orange juice, water and coffee. Jocelyn and Crystal look at each other, their eyes widen and they burst into laughter. After the waiters are gone and the girls have recovered their composure, Jocelyn leans across the table to address her favorite uncle: “Her voice was barely audible but her mouth exaggerated each word as she delivered the message: “This is the fanciest place I’ve ever been!” Oh, did I mention she is now my favorite niece?
MONDAY, DECEMBER 5
Was there ever a more-inaccurately named broadcast feature than the 60 Minutes segment that was always introduced as “A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney”? Damn, that thing seemed as though it was never gonna end! Now that it finally has, the heir to most irritating broadcast feature is Will Shortz, the so-called Puzzlemaster on NPR. The Sunday morning segment has become so trivial and Shortz has become so condescending that the feature not only ruins the rest of Sunday but most of Monday. And come on . . . Shortz? With a “z.” Put on some long pants and grow up!
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 6
When Will Shortz goes to his just reward—a very hot seat next to Andy Rooney—my nomination for a real puzzle show host is Harvey Mudd senior Palmer Mebane, who just won the 2011 World Puzzle Championship in Hungary by beating a seven-time champ from Germany. He is the first American winner in 12 years And he doesn’t do crosswords. He does logic puzzles. Check ’em out here: mellowmelon.wordpress.com.