The Year We Kept Entering Other Dimensions
We thought our long journey in James Cameron's Avatar was at an end. But no—movie studios bent on capitalizing on the new hip thing followed Cameron's cash-printing film with a steady stream of 3D film releases right into our collective groans.
In 2010, over 24 films were released in 3D, including Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, the remake of Clash of the Titans, the return of Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story 3 and M. Night Shyamalan's critically panned but financially successful Last Airbender. The year's end sent us Step Up 3D, Jackass 3D, Saw 3D, Megamind 3D, Tangled 3D and Tron: Legacy 3D.
Off the silver screen, 3D TV sets began popping up in big-box electronic stores. Of course, you'll need to fetch a special 3D Blu-Ray player paired with glasses—regular Blu-Ray players won't cut it. After the upgrade, you can try to find a copy of Avatar 3D on Blu-Ray, but good luck (copies of it are going for $140 a pop on eBay). Then there's games: when paired with a 3D TV set, Sony's PS3 delivers a full 3D experience.
Games might just be the best place for 3D to off itself, actually. In 2011, Nintendo hopes to make 3D pocketable with the Nintendo 3DS. The technology in the 3DS won't require the use of glasses, and it's rumored to be much more powerful than the Wii, where a slew of familiar titles are being redeveloped. Also planned are 3D films slated to be released on the handheld 3DS.
That is, if you still care by then. One thing is clear about the rise of 3D technology: everyone is waiting for that inevitable fall.
The Year We Accidentally Got Filmed Taking Bong Hits
Xxmileycyrus! Dear fans, It's me, Miley. So I'm tweeting 2 talk about this new video where I do a big bong load of salvia and start laughing really hard.
2:17 a.m. December 15, 2010 via mobile web
Xxmileycyrus! I had no idea it would b such a big hit! I mean the video, not the bong rip. I know it looks like I'm smoking pot out of that bong. LOL!
2:19 a.m. December 15, 2010 via mobile web
Xxmileycyrus! I'm totally not. Its totally salvia, and that's totally legal in CA. There is a lot of confusion, so I just want to clear the air a little.
2:22 a.m. December 15, 2010 via mobile web
Xxmileycyrus! Drugz r not cool, and U should NOT do them until U R at least 18 like me.
2:24 a.m. December 15, 2010 via mobile web
Xxmileycyrus! But if you want to do salvia you should do it soon, because all of your moms want to make it illegal now! Total bummer.
2:27 a.m. December 15, 2010 via mobile web
Xxmileycyrus! Anyway, it broke my dads <3
2 C me taking bong hits, but I was just like: Dad, I cant be tamed. Peace, luv (sic) Miley
2:29 a.m. December 15, 2010 via mobile web
The Year We Were Too Busy Taking Bong Hits to Legalize Marijuana
Dude, California almost legalized pot this year! What a boon to the overall health of Californians that would have been, except that people who actually smoke pot didn't show up to the polls. Proposition 19 failed by just 3.6 percent statewide—and it's the potheads' fault.
Younger voters, historically fickle at the polls but overwhelmingly liberal, were predictably absent at this midterm election. Perhaps they were under the mistaken impression that pot is already legal in California, or perhaps they just stayed home to watch Aqua Teen Hunger Force and eat peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches. Most likely the latter.
And what about the green pastures of Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties, the so-called Emerald Triangle of marijuana cultivation? Only about 50 percent of eligible voters in those counties could even find their way to the polls, and the ones who did show up were either confused or didn't want Big Brother pinching out of their stash. All three counties rejected Prop. 19 like it was some brown swag from Mexico full of seeds and stems. In their defense, fall is a busy season for folks in Northern California.
The Year We Argued About Bicycles for Some Reason
On Humboldt Street in Santa Rosa, a posted flyer warns of "bicycle terrorists," while on Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County, another flyer, thumb-tacked to a tree, proclaims, "Take back the trails!" A measure to build a multimillion dollar bicycle overpass near Steele Lane in Santa Rosa becomes divisive. The popular Amgen Tour of California becomes the center of its own controversy, first as plans are considered to move the finish line out of downtown Santa Rosa and then as organizers announce the 2011 race won't include the North Bay at all. A large public sculpture featuring hundreds of recycled bike pieces is condemned for its proximity to car retailers along Santa Rosa Avenue, with claims that the art piece is a deliberate anti-car provocation, instead of simply being strange and expensive-looking.
Yes, 2010 was the year when everyone started talking about bicycles in loud, angry voices, with the words "bicycle" and "car" often linked with the words "terrorist" and "Nazi." Can't we have a civil conversation about transportation options anymore without someone calling the other side "evil"? Apparently not.
Even in Marin, where the recently opened Cal Park tunnel—a 1.5-mile engineering triumph that links San Rafael to Larkspur Landing, providing a safe, cell-phone accessible route for cyclists and pedestrians—became the focus of angry rhetoric. What some greeted as a prime example of bike infrastructure gone right and a beacon for other counties to follow was decried as a $27 million waste of taxpayers' money. Would it have been better spent putting yet even more lanes on Highway 101? Here's to a more reasonable discourse in 2011.
The Year We Flew the Unfriendly Skies
I remember flying to Tokyo on a two-story 747 with a bar area for smokers. This was the mid-'80s, when airline travel still seemed luxurious and when things like checked luggage and a tray of "food" were all part of the price tag. It was also before 9-11 forever changed the rules of travel. But just when we seemed to be adjusting to the new rigors of flying, 2010 brought even more turbulence to the friendly skies.
On April 14, Iceland's long-dormant volcano erupted, sending a smoke plume seven miles into the sky and grounding thousands of flights across Europe. According to Time, it was "the worst peacetime air-travel disruption in history." In February, Southwest Airlines became the butt of writer/director/actor Kevin Smith's sharp-witted Tweets after he was removed from a flight for violating the airline's "customers of size" policy. (Although Smith did purchase two seats, as mandated for larger passengers, he wound up scoring a standby seat for an earlier flight.) After being escorted off the plane for being, as he put it, "too wide for the skies," the no-longer-silent Bob surely made some noise.
On the other side of the intercom, Jet Blue flight attendant Steven Slater garnered national attention for being hit in the noggin with a piece of luggage, announcing he was "fed up" with rude customers, grabbing a beer and sliding down the plane's emergency chute. As the economy continued to flag, Slater's bold move became an emblem of working-class empowerment. But perhaps no story evoked as much emotion as the recent controversy over the new TSA scanners that essentially take a strip-searched photo of your naked body. Many Americans remained livid over the invasion of privacy, the radiation exposure and the alternative pat-down, as evidenced by disgruntled passenger John Tyner's now viral quote, "If you touch my junk, I'll have you arrested."
So what are we jaded travelers to do? Well, there's always driving (although, as the 62-mile traffic jam outside of Beijing indicates, even the open road can literally become gridlocked for two weeks). As 2010 lowers its landing gear, staying home never sounded better.
The Year We Were Eaten by Hell for Breakfast
The news was filled with earthquakes around the globe this year, but while horrific, the quakes and their costly aftermaths in Haiti, Chile, China and Indonesia retained a sense of normalcy—at least to those of us in quake-happy California. (Here at the Bohemian, the epicenter of an earthquake occurred directly beneath our offices this fall.)
No, what really blew our minds were sinkholes cropping up from the bowels of the planet. In a quake, the ground rumbles and shakes like a hungry stomach; sinkholes are the open mouth of that stomach, swallowing a three-story building and a street intersection in Guatemala City in May. An expanding hole in the Hunan Province of China ate a playground in June. The same region saw a series of sinkholes devour rice fields. One in Florida forced 11 families to evacuate in July.
In a quake, most survivors can pick themselves up and shake off the dust. In a sinkhole, just where does one land?
—Sara Jane Pohlman
The Year We Had Too Many Film Festivals
Pick a film festival, any film festival. Lord knows there are more choices than Hollywood divorces. In fact, locals could attend a film festival every three weeks or so and still not get to all of them. At a time when independent theaters are struggling to stay afloat and even mainstream theaters depend on major blockbusters and high priced tickets for solvency, the sheer number and variety of film festivals is staggering.
There's a little something for everyone film-wise in every part of the North Bay community and beyond. In no particular order, viewers can attend the Italian Film Festival, the Jewish Film Festival, the International Buddhist Film Festival, the International Latino Film Festival, the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival, the Sonoma International Film Festival, the Sonoma Valley Film Festival, the Sonoma Environmental Film Festival, the Wine Country Film Festival, the West County Film Festival, the Marin Film Festival, the Fairfax Film Festival, the Mill Valley Film Festival, the Tiburon Film Festival, the Sausalito Film Festival, the Banff Mountain Film Festival and the Lunafest film festival.
The opportunities go on and on, increasing in 2011 with the addition of the Napa Valley Film Festival. At press time, we even just got a press release for another new film festival in Point Reyes! Just think! If economics still prevent attendance, think about creating a film festival of your own. Or there's always Netflix.
The Year We Watched the Gays Pack Their Bags
We can't exactly call it a conspiracy, but it's eerie nonetheless that 2010 saw the closure of a disproportionate number of local gay-owned businesses. In Guerneville, the Russian River Resort, long a bastion of bear-weekend activity, disco queens, drag shows (the Golden Girls in drag!), pop stars from the 1980s (Tiffany!) and bare-chested pool parties, closed its fabulous doors, leaving the gay-resort scene without an anchor. In Penngrove, the queer-friendly Black Cat Bar served its last Slippery Nipple when owner Robin Pfefer opted to close, leaving the hundreds of bras stapled to the ceiling without a home and the gay-bar scene bereft.
In Santa Rosa, partners John Sawyer and Dan Potts locked the doors for good on Sawyer's News, which has left a gigantic hole in downtown Santa Rosa and marks the loss of one more community hub. Industry-respected talent buyer Rick Bartalini, whose keen gaydar booked sold-out shows by everyone from Lisa Lampanelli and Dolly Parton to Joel McHale and Ellen DeGeneres, was shockingly let go from the Wells Fargo Center even after a string of successes for the venue (he's now on his own with two sold-out Bill Maher shows in the area this weekend).
But no sting was quite as sharp as the takeover of Ky Boyd's Rialto Cinemas Lakeside theater by Dan Tocchini's SR Entertainment Group, which owns the Roxy Stadium 14 and a dozen other movie theaters in California. Between the strange backroom dealings involving ex&–Secret Service agents and longtime family grudges, there emerged the sad fact that while Boyd ran an ongoing gay film series to benefit Face to Face-Sonoma County AIDS Network, the Bohemian discovered that one of Tocchini's business partners, Larry Wasem, recently donated $1,000 to the campaign of notorious homophobe James Inhofe, the Republican senator from Oklahoma who has outwardly refused to hire gay staff, is in favor of a constitutional ban on gay marriage and is against prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Some call it insult to injury; all we can say is "ugh."