Chris Borland: A Gutsy Decision


San Francisco 49er linebacker Chris Borland had a break out rookie year in 2014.  He was a sensation.  When veteran Patrick Willis injured his toe last October, Borland was called upon to fill Willis’ sizable shoes.  He did that, and more: he had the most tackles of any player on the team for the season.  Commentators said he was a natural, that he had a nose for knowing where the football would be, and the determination and grit to take down the person carrying it, even though he was modestly sized at 5’ – 11”, 248 pounds.  He made $1,037,436 his rookie season, with a $617,436 signing bonus.  If his rookie year was any indication of his potential, it’s safe to say his next contract could easily have been in the eight figures.  He’s only 24, he’s just getting started, and, on Monday, he announced his retirement from the sport he loves.


Jury Duty


The bailiff admonished us – again – to turn off all electronic devices.  “Not sleep mode, not airplane mode, but completely off, folks.”  About 100 of us had been called into the court room for an initial jury screening, where we all waited for the Honorable Judge Ming to enter.  No one chatted; we sat up straight. The room itself seemed modest compared to what I had seen on TV and in the movies, but still, upon entering it, we all felt the gravity of our civic obligation: twelve of us would eventually determine someone’s freedom.

Defendant Standing Before the Judge

The Great Sriracha Giveaway


Remember that 80 million dollar idea you had, the one you forgot to trademark, the one that everyone and their great auntie are ripping off and making a fortune on?  And remember how you had to spend most of your waking hours tamping down wrathful urges which swung from the homicidal to the suicidal and back again, with hours of tearful recriminations and broken dishes and waterfalls of foul verbiage in between?

Me too.

But not so for David Tran, the Vietnamese refugee who invented the original Sriracha sauce….

Quadrophenia And The Exaggerated Melancholy Of Youth


Recently I’ve been rearranging and down sizing a lot my stuff, which meant getting rid of at least two of the six crates of vinyl records I own.  These days, I rarely take the trouble to pull them out of the sleeve, put them on the turntable, and lower the needle, as CDs and iPhone playlists have taken their place, but I came across a copy of The Who’s “Quadrophenia” I bought in high school, and it hit me like a freight train.



Around The Horn: How Free Should Free Speech Be?

When is it okay to yell “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater?


According to the authority figures of my youth, “never.” This question was presented to us as a simplified, kid-friendly way to explain what the limits of free speech were.

Is It Too Late To Jump On The “Serial” Bandwagon?


I think Adnan did it.  I think he killed Hae Min Lee.  I mean, he had to, right?  Okay, I’m at least 90% certain.  Maybe 95%.  Well, I mean, it’s possible that he and Jay did it together, that Jay was minimizing his role by saying he became part of the scheme only after he saw Hae’s body in the trunk.  But why would he agree to help Adnan bury Hae in the first place?  They weren’t even that close, just smoked weed together occasionally. Why didn’t he run away from the car the instant he saw Hae’s lifeless body?  So it’s either Adnan with Jay as an after-the-fact accomplice, as Jay contends, or Adnan and Jay as co-murderers.  Because even after listening to all twelve episodes – that is to say, spending nine or ten hours of my life sifting through host and reporter Sarah Koenig’s interviews, the question remains: if Adnan didn’t do it, then who did?


DUI Advice


I – and hopefully you – won’t have to put this advice to the test, so let’s take a moment to knock on any scrap of wood we can find (for my part, as a bar owner, I’ll be eating a bowl of landscaping bark as an extra precaution).


Both of my business partners and 50% of my staff have spent the night in jail on a DUI charge.  I’ve co-owned the bar for 15 years, and haven’t.

I am DUE.

You Go Molly Ringwald!


The city of Livermore, California is known mostly to non-Livermorians as one of the last towns you pass when driving from the Bay Area to SoCal before entering the vast, agricultural Central Valley.  Once you’ve spotted the tall windmills of Livermore, you know Interstate 5 is just a few minutes away.


On Friday, February 6, at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore, the Livermore School of Dance will perform “The Lion King – A Dance Revue,” and on February 18, Ottmar Liebert will treat viewers to an evening of “compelling contemporary Flamenco.”

And between these two acts, on February 12, there will be a third act: Molly Ringwald.

molly (2) (960x1280)


Making Money In Havana

“Fredo, we gotta go to Cuba before it’s too late.”



My business partner Nick, who co-owns a dive bar with me, seemed genuinely worried.

“Now that Obama’s opened it up, there’s gonna be this tidal wave, and if we’re not surfing it, we’re gonna drown in the whitewash.”

Normally Nick is a man of few words: he lets his tattoos and notoriety as the president of a local motorcycle club do the talking for him.  So when Nick waxed poetic about the ocean, my ears were pricked.

Why “Nightcrawler” Is A Better Movie Than It Should Be


One of the best perks of being a member of the Writer’s Guild (a union for writers; feel free to snicker here: sitting in a cozy coffee shop typing is sorta like digging for coal or installing sheet metal – we laborers must unite!) are the screeners we receive every December.  The Writer’s Guild holds its own awards, and members are given DVD copies – “screeners” – of Academy Award-type movies (war; holocaust; slavery; Historically Important Stuff) to watch, as the label says, “for your consideration.”

So when Jake Gyllenhaal’s thriller “Nightcrawler” arrived the other day, I had to scratch my head.