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A web serial is not a breakfast food

When you say “web serial” out loud, it sounds like Spiderman’s breakfast. It’s a shame the term is so dopey, because what it stands for is a quiet revolution in publishing that proves the adage “everything old is new again.”

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Also-ran is polite term for loser

The dictionary app on my phone has a word of the day. Today, it’s “also-ran.” What a way to start the day. The app might as well have offered up “existential crisis” or “loser” instead of playing cute with the sports vernacular. Ever since HAL in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” there’s been a pervasive notion… Continue Reading >>

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D-D-Day, Drop Dead Legs and the Sausalito Sausage

Today marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the seaborne invasion of German-occupied Normandy that proved a decisive Allied victory but with 4,414 confirmed dead. D-Day is called such for the same reason H-Hour has its name (and in print both look like a stutter). One might suspect there are also an M-Minute and perhaps an… Continue Reading >>

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Naked poets and Folie à deux

Those of a certain generation may recall Herb Caen, the erstwhile San Francisco Chronicle columnist who anchored the Macy’s ad next to his daily forays into what he called “three dot journalism.” I never met Caen but my mother, when a bank VP, retained his services as an on-call personality. This was during the rollicking… Continue Reading >>

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Monied orcas, manic rodeos and a rancid moose

To some, the term “brand ambassador” conjures images of buxom young women stuffed into tight, logo-emblazoned T-shirts, deployed to hip bars and offering shots of a new, smartly-packaged, candy-flavored liquor to Millennials. This is not me. I’m the cad who ends up wearing the candy-flavored liquor when my saucy attempt at humor fails to cross… Continue Reading >>

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The 17-pound chunk of eco terrorism

Every few months, some blogger decries the death of print media, an efficiency guru campaigns for paperless offices or a paper airplane goes missing over the ocean, or something. Paper is being torn asunder as a medium. We get it: screens are in, paper is out. As a writer whose career exists in the twilight… Continue Reading >>

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Ancient, weird mysteries of motherhood

After giving birth to the world’s population, one might think mothers would rate more than a single day to celebrate their contribution to humanity. But, being the planet of spoiled children we are, we allot just the one day. And it’s a Sunday at that. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 85 million… Continue Reading >>

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An alvearie foure sundrie tongues (and happy birthday Bard)

Today is Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. Let’s celebrate by contemplating the alleged discovery of the playwright’s old dictionary. Perhaps we could use it to look up “big whoop.” Apparently, a pair of New York-based antiquarian booksellers bought ye olde dictionary off eBay in 2008 and have since taken pains to authenticate it. Though Shakespeare’s name isn’t… Continue Reading >>

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Boy finds Jesus, boy loses Jesus

For some, the 1970s were a hurly burly of hot tubs and hedonism. For playwright, performer and local journalist David Templeton, it was puppets and Christian Fundamentalism. He eventually outgrew both and shares the life lessons learned along the way with comedy and heart in his one-man show, “Wretch Like Me, or How I Was… Continue Reading >>

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Readin’ & writin’ with robots

Writers who fear that computers will someday displace them may shudder to learn that the machines won’t just write the books, they will read them too. In recent months, both researchers and literary critics are harnessing computational power to “read” books in an effort to divine qualities human writers and readers haven’t the bandwidth to… Continue Reading >>

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International April Fools films

On the heels of next Tuesday’s April Fool’s Day is the April 2 kickoff of the 17th Annual Sonoma International Film Festival. Though tempted, I’ll avoid cinematic satire and direct readers to the 2014 Festival Preview Guide, which can be downloaded at SonomaFilmFest.org. For your convenience, certain omissions to the guide are included below for… Continue Reading >>

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Snakes on a wane

I’ve had snakes on the brain. While researching St. Patty’s-themed notions, everything I read was trying to convince me that St. Patrick single-handedly drove the snakes from Ireland. He didn’t. Patrick drove out paganism, which scholars say the snakes symbolized. Since there aren’t any pagans or snakes in Ireland, it looks good for Pat. Of… Continue Reading >>

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Marlowe and me – Santa Rosa siblings

This haunts me — Philip Marlowe, the hardboiled detective of author Raymond Chandler’s oeuvre, is 42-years-old and was born in Santa Rosa, Calif.. If I weren’t such a fan, these fictional factoids would be of little interest to me. But I am, so they are, and having chanced upon them only recently has caused no… Continue Reading >>

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Listicles, X-Men and Top Ten Top Tens

Among the various breeds of online brain-candy, by far one of the most insidious is the so-called “Listicle.” A portmanteau of “list” and “article,” the word sounds like what would result if you tattooed your grocery list on a particular part of the male anatomy (which would probably fit right in with the adventuresome inksters… Continue Reading >>

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Newspapers outdated? Read some DNA

Last year, scientists at the European Bioinformatics Institute created a DNA information storage and retrieval system – think “organic hard drive” – and tested it by uploading sonnets, sound clips and how-to’s. Basically, they scraped through the public domain archive of Wikimedia Commons, although they were ultimately discerning in their selections. The information, stored on… Continue Reading >>

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Sonomantic Sonoma and the Tile of Denial

According to Travel + Leisure, Sonoma ranks No. 8 among “America’s Most Romantic Cities.” Apparently we have myriad “couples-friendly enticements,” which sounds more like a Craigslist “casual encounters” ad than is probably meant.

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From Gutenberg to the googolplex

Like many writers, I’m occasionally concerned with the reach of my work. Since this column also lives online at the newspaper’s website (and is often sliced and diced by my own hand into other online enclaves as well), it naturally has a potential reach that transcends Sonoma. Though I’ve invested much of myself in the “Sonoma Wide Web,” I have to admit that the World Wide Web has a tad more allure. It also sounds so direly ’90s when written out – or even about – that I can’t wait to get to the next paragraph.

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Edible shoes and The Daily Meal

The 39th annual Winter Fancy Food Show wrapped up its an annual three-day edible expo at San Francisco’s Moscone Center this week. The movable feast was comprised of more than 80,000 specialty foods and beverages proffered by 1,350 exhibitors from across the U.S. and 35 countries and regions. And, of course, Sonoma was among them.

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Taking the redwood out of wine country

Not to be outdone by the upcoming State of the Union and State of the State addresses, Sonoma County has its own State of the County address. Next Friday, Economic Development Board director Ben Stone and his team will talk shop about the economic bounty of the county at Rohnert Park’s DoubleTree Hotel (full disclosure: the EDB is a client of CMedia for which I’m executive director).

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What are you ungrateful for?

January is National Thank You Month – created, no doubt, by those with a vested interest in “thank you” card companies. Yes, I’ve grown cynical enough to believe that even expressing gratitude is a racket. Why wouldn’t it be? This is America, land of the freebooters, home of the brazen. If I could get away selling two words on a page, I would. Thank you. Mental note: Start a secondary market in “You’re Welcome” cards. Buy yacht.

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An algorithm wrote this?

When I first learned about Chicago-based Narrative Science, the smallest, weakest part of my ego caught flame and soon an inferno of doubt engulfed my every thought. The firm’s artificial intelligence algorithms combine “business analytics” and “natural language communication” in a manner that makes raw data easily consumable. Basically, they’ve taught robots to write news stories. And it works.

 
 

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