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Chew's Reviews - Woody Allen's Wonder Wheel

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 / No Comments

By Gary Chew |   

Open Friday, December 15 | 

It's rumored that Woody Allen has made at least 65 motion pictures. Wow. Not only that but The Wood Man hit the 82 year mark on the first day of this final month in 2017. Holy Toledo, he's a geezer! But Allen still has “young man” imaginings in his head. How could that come as any surprise?

Indeed, Wonder Wheel is pretty much your basic Woody Allen picture. I hasten to add though, that's not a reason to miss it … unless you don't want to be entertained yet again by Allen's comic vision known so well for focusing on the exigencies of the human condition - especially regarding romantic love and infidelity.

What's different with Wonder Wheel is that his script pays all attention to those who populate greater Gotham without hardly a pot to peel potatoes in or a window through which to throw them out … uh, the peelings. Folks we've seen in Mr. Allen's oeuvre are, more often than not, rather well-off, erudite, modestly hip and hopelessly liberal.

Ginny and Humpty ain't got those traits. Ginny (Kate Winslet) and Humpty (Jim Belushi) are married. He has an adult daughter from his first marriage named Carolina (Juno Temple). Humpty has chosen to not see Carolina for several years due to her saying “I do” to a mobster. (I mention here that, for sure, Humpty isn't a very cool guy, but an honest one he is.)

The high strung Ginny is a not so very successful former actress who's now one of the most senior waitresses at the Coney Island Crab Shop, while Humpty is chief operator of the only carousel on the beach. They live in the neatest little second floor apartment you'd ever hope to see, right there along Coney Island. Their residence is just behind the big ferris wheel that sits in clear view between their eastward-looking windows and the Atlantic Ocean. Such a view.

Woody has predictably put a character in his story who works well as your basic, routine stand-in for Allen himself. He's much younger, of course, and probably more handsome; although Mickey-The-Life-Guard (Justin Timberlake) … I fear ... leans a tad more to the androgynous than say … any Alvy Singer or Leonard Zelig.

Carolina has found herself in a real fix. The FBI recently “leaned” on her to sing some songs about the bad things he estranged husband has done in his role as a thug. Two of her hubby's “associates” are frantically seeking Carolina's whereabouts to make sure she never does an encore. Need I say, she's fled to Coney seeking refuge at Daddy and Ginny's pad? They'll never find her there ... will they?

To put a lid on Carolina's singing reminds me to say that Allen brings our memories back to HBO's The Sopranos. The two “associates” after sweet Carolina are all too briefly done by Tony Sirico (aka Paulie) and Steve Schirripa (aka Bobby). Gulp!

You'll never guess that Humpty and Ginny are feeling strain within their marriage. Ginny, as Woody always has it, cheats on Humpty with the much younger Mickey … under the boardwalk, already. Yip, and besides loss of ardor so very common among the married, Ginny and Humpty are also conflicted over the fact that Carolina is now on the lam sequestered at their place when not waiting tables with her step mama at the Crab Shop.

Performances are terrific. Kate gives out with some great moments and Belushi really lays into the Humpty character; maybe almost a tad too much. But impressive he is. Here and there, he reminded me of John Goodman, but with fewer blue words to speak.

The younger cast members (Juno and Justin) are all in with their roles too. Timberlake is the one who takes on the erudition Allen usually lays into his scripts. Mickey considers himself a Romantic and soon to be significant writer of plays and novels. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Wheel spins down somewhat in its entertainment value when becoming progressively obvious the four main characters, in a preponderance of scenes, seem to never stop arguing. Argumentation can be funny, but there needs to be a break, now and then. Allen does break it up to some extent with his old, reliable sense of humor that always works for me when I see a movie with the The Wood Man's brand on it.

I did not, however, appreciate the way Wonder Wheel ended. Clearly, I can't say why … for you must see this beachfront slice of technicolor melodrama for yourself in order to make that assessment. Allen has closed out other films in much the same manner as this new one. I think he still knows (even at 82) what he's doing, although I was musing with a more dissimilar way to bring this sand-in-your-shoes carnival to a halt.

P.S. The story is set in the early 1950s. Oh yes … I remember them well; especially when I heard Jo Stafford singing “You Belong To Me” on the soundtrack. God, I loved that song when I was in junior high school.
Copyright © 2017 by Gary Chew. All rights reserved.  

Rocklin Man Charged With Enticing a Minor Online for Sexual Purposes, Producing, Possessing Child Pornography

Thursday, December 7, 2017 / No Comments

A federal grand jury unsealed a three-count indictment last week against Cameron Fox, 34, of Rocklin, charging him with online enticement of a minor for sexual purposes, production of child pornography. The indictment was unsealed after Fox, ’s arrest and arraignment on December 5, 2017.

Fox, who pleaded not guilty, is next scheduled to appear in federal court in Sacramento on January 4, 2018. He is being held at the Sacramento County Jail and is not eligible for release. 

According to court documents, Fox allegedly enticed a minor to meet with him to engage in sexual activity, and that he produced child pornography of that same minor on at least one occasion. It is also alleged that Fox possessed other child pornography. Fox’s next court date is January 4, 2018.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Marin County Sherriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Rosanne Rust is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Fox faces a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Podcast - Interview With California Assembly 9th District Democratic Candidate Harry He

Wednesday, December 6, 2017 / No Comments

In next year's primary, incumbent California Assemblymember Jim Cooper has at least one declared challenger. That challenger is fellow Democratic Party member Harry He.

A lifelong Sacramento resident, He is entering politics by challenging Cooper for California's 9th Assembly district. In EGN's audio discussion of his campaign, He explains the four main issues he will emphasize in his primary campaign

More information about He's campaign is available at the links posted below.
Twitter: @HarryHe2018 

Listen to the complete interview here. 

California Assemblymember Jim Cooper Raises $279,603 For 2018 Reelection Campaign

Saturday, December 2, 2017 / No Comments

December 1, 2017 |  

According to information recently filed with the State of California Secretary of State and posted by Election Track, Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D - Elk Grove) raised $279,603 for the period between June 30 and November 30, 2017. The cash payments came from 162 contributors.

Cooper represents California's 9th Assembly District which includes Elk Grove, Galt, Lodi, and portions of Sacramento and unincorporated areas of Sacramento and San Joaquin counties. First elected to the Assembly in 2014, Cooper is seeking his third term in 2018.

Before his Assembly election, Cooper served as an Elk Grove City Council Member for 14 years and retired from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department following a 30-year career upon his election to the Assembly in 2014.

Cooper's career has more him favorable to legislation supported by law enforcement agencies and district attorneys. Among law enforcement-oriented legislation that Cooper has sponsored has been a bill that would have limited the sale of butane to curb explosions at illegal hash oil production sites and one that would collect DNA samples for specific types of misdemeanor arrests.

The butane hash oil bill was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown and the DNA bill, Assembly Bill 16, has stalled in committee. AB 16 was first introduced in 2016 and reintroduced in the latest session.

During this reporting period, Cooper also collected $14,400 from six bail bond firms. Reforming the bail bond industry, which is opposed by law enforcement, has become a topic that has taken on greater significance as a social justice issue in recent years.

A state Senate bill has been introduced that has the backing of Gov. Jerry Brown and California Supreme Court Justice Tani Cantil-Sanauye. Not surprisingly, the bail bond industry opposes the legislation. 

Another industry group contributing were six Indian casinos who gave Cooper $14,800. Last summer Cooper successfully shepherded the state gaming compact for the proposed Wilton Rancheria casino proposed for Elk Grove that was signed into law. 

The largest contribution Cooper received was $8,800 from the California State Council of Laborers Small Contributor Committee and 13 contributions of $4,400. One of the $4,400 contributions came from Altria Client Services, a subsidiary of Altria, the company formerly known as Phillip Morris, which if the world's largest manufacturer and marketer of a wide variety of tobacco products including Marlboro cigarettes. 

Cooper received that contribution on October 10, but it appears to have been returned on October 23.  

Cooper reported cash on hand of $845,520 as of June 30. A complete list of the contributions can be viewed here.

The list was complied by Election Track

Mental Health Urgent Care Center Opened By Sacramento County

Thursday, November 30, 2017 / No Comments

Today Sacramento County opened a new urgent care center that is dedicated exclusively to mental health issues.

The new facility is located at 2130 Stockton Boulevard, Building 300. The clinic will offer a variety of services including, clinical and psychiatry services, alcohol and drug screening, medication, peer support and recovery services. ​

“This intermediate level of service for mental health has been an ongoing need in our community,” Uma Zykofsky, Sacramento County Behavioral Health Services Director said. “This will fill the gap between outpatient and inpatient services and serve as a connector to the appropriate level of service needed. This clinic will allow us to test different ways to successfully adapt the physical health urgent care model to address mental health needs in our community for all ages. What we learn will provide our local practice with the insights needed to improve our county’s service delivery system across many healthcare partners.”

In addition to helping stabilize community members experiencing a mental health crisis, the Mental Health Urgent Care Clinic will reduce the impact on hospital emergency departments and psychiatric hospitalizations. 

Once stabilized at the Mental Health Urgent Care Clinic, staff will make appropriate referrals for on-going mental health support and services. The opportunity to intervene at the start of a crisis will help staff reduce the impact a mental health crisis might have on patients such as loss of housing, broken/disrupted relationships, and/or incarceration. 

The facility is located on Stockton Boulevard on the same campus as the Mental Health Treatment Center. The Mental Health Urgent Care Clinic will be open 7 days a week from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. weekends and holidays.

More information on county mental health services can be viewed here

Suspect Arrested After Leading Lodi Police on Vehicle, Foot Pursut

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 / No Comments

A Lodi man is in custody after he was arrested on a number of charges including reckless driving and possession of burglary tools.

At 11:30 p.m. on Monday, November 27 Lodi Police attempted to stop a vehicle near Flora and Washington streets after officers observed reckless driving. Instead of stopping, the driver of the vehicle led the officers on a pursuit that lasted for several miles that ended after the vehicle got stuck in mud near Blakely Park.

The driver, Joseph Howering, 22, of Lodi fled on foot but was apprehended in the backyard of a nearby residence. Howering is currently being held at the Lodi City Jail and has been charged with felony evading, reckless driving, felony vandalism, possession of shaved keys, possession of stolen property and possession of controlled substance paraphernalia.

Will, Should Homelessness Become a Political Issue in Sacramento County Suburbs in 2018?

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This homeless encampment just outside Elk Grove city limits on
West Stockton Boulevard  in Sacramento city was recently established.  

Next year voters will face an array of issues as they cast their votes for candidates and initiatives that will be presented to them. In many of the elections higher up the political food chain for named candidates, that election will in part be a referendum on the presidency of Donald J. Trump.

While Trump's presence will be felt up and down the ballot, for many races of a more local nature, such as the California Assembly and city council's in Sacramento County suburban municipalities, more localized issues should take precedent. One of these that could be a central issue is homelessness.

The topic of homelessness has gained more traction as a suburban political issue in the last couple years because it has morphed into a more visible occurrence in many communities even though the economy is in generally decent health. Sacramento's problems are well documented, and the issue is now gaining more attention in Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Folsom, Galt, and Rancho Cordova.

As an example, at a recent Elk Grove City Council meeting Council Member Pat Hume agreed with an idea presented by a constituent to set aside a portion of a $5 million grant received from the State of California to explore the use of tiny homes to help people get off the street. While Hume's position was surprising given his conservatives leanings, his support might evaporate given the controversial nature of the proposal with many Elk Grove voters.

Regardless of whether or not Elk Grove pursues even a study of tiny homes, its discussion is a milestone. When perhaps the most conservative member of the Elk Grove City Council agrees that the city should look at alternatives to the previous cookie-cutter solutions for homelessness, there is a tacit acknowledgment this is a problem that it is not going away. 

While homelessness is now a part of the suburban Sacramento County landscape, will it become an issue of discussion during next year's mayoral and city council races?  Will candidates - incumbents or challengers - dare broach the question of the ways the city can deal with the problem?

After all, this is a problem that does not have a straightforward solution. Homelessness is an issue that has taken up residence in suburbs and it is here to stay.  

As for the second half of the question - should this become an issue for next year's races, we believe unequivocally yes. As the suburbs of Sacramento County continue down the path of more housing and commercial development, population increases will follow.

As population increases, it is inevitable things like crimes, and in today's world, the homeless population will follow suit. Aside from the moral aspect of how the issue will be handled, residents deserve to know what will be the financial implications of dealing with homelessness.

Given the complexities of the issue, it is unlikely any candidate will voluntarily discuss the topic. If voters want answers from candidates regardless of where they stand, it will be up to them to ask the tough questions because it is unlikely they will do it on their own.