When it comes to designing coveted collectible toys for sale at Comic-Con, the annual celebration of pop culture lifting off Thursday in San Diego, the sky's the limit for the designers at Mattel.
Inside the colorful design center - a Hot Wheels-themed shuttle bus transports employees from Mattel's parking garage - the designers have spent the past year working on 10 toys created especially for the Comic-Con crowd, including a replica of the Batmobile from the upcoming game Batman:
Like other toy makers struggling in this digital, video-centric age, the company is trying to remain relevant in the retail world.
The car - imagine if a Chevrolet Corvette C5 and the villainous Sith lord's helmet had a baby - comes in a sleek black box and encased in a replica of Vader's light-saber, complete with a swooshing sound effect.
The lineup from Mattel rival Hasbro this year includes a set of Marvel superhero figures that comes with a wearable foam Infinity Gauntlet, a box of Transformers figures depicting the robots as rock stars and a giant foam replica ax from Magic:
Posted: July 23, 2014, 12:01 am
Medical marijuana advocates in San Jose failed in their petition drive to let voters decide whether the city's tough restrictions on pot clubs should be overturned.
The San Jose city clerk's office announced Monday that supporters were more than 10,000 signatures short of the 33,262 registered voters required to put their measure on the November ballot, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
The failed petition drive comes after the City Council approved new rules last month that took effect Friday.
Posted: July 23, 2014, 12:01 am
The latest big-budget, action-disaster movie to hit the city is "San Andreas," named for California's infamous fault line and starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as a helicopter pilot fighting to save his daughter.
After capturing scenes at AT&T Park and Fisherman's Wharf, the filmmakers took over seven blocks in Russian Hill, filling the streets with fake victims and fake garbage.
Stachon noted that the crew had handed out flyers to neighbors detailing the filming schedule and promising to make accommodations to neighbors, like allowing them to get in and out of the area with their cars and, if needed, reimbursing them for parking fees.
Mark Busacca, a 56-year-old art gallery owner and neighborhood resident who watched the filming, said crew members had been accessible and willing to solve any problems.
Posted: July 22, 2014, 7:16 pm
The long-disputed 10-year lease to allow the Oakland Athletics to play at O.co Coliseum was finally settled Tuesday after A's co-owner Lew Wolff said he had accepted most of the changes made by Oakland city officials.
Wolff said that after reviewing and making some minor adjustments to the language put forward by the Oakland last week, he accepted the terms of the city's lease contract.
Wolff's statement closes a bitter debate at Oakland's City Hall over the terms of the lease, which will bring in $20 million to the city and Alameda County over the next ten years.
Wolff accepted the six changes spelled out by the City Council, including clauses that clarified language or shield the city from liability.
The original deal had already been approved by the board of the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority, a government body that acts as the A's landlord, when Oakland's City Council voted 5-2 to make seven changes to the contract.
Posted: July 22, 2014, 6:21 pm
Jose Luis Garcia of Hayward dashed after the ball into the lanes near the corner of Dixon Street and Copperfield Avenue and was hit by the minivan about 12:45 p.m. Saturday, authorities said.
The driver, Joann Redwine, 64, of Hayward, stopped after the crash and cooperated with investigators, said police Sgt. Jason Corsolini.
Posted: July 22, 2014, 3:14 pm
A motorcyclist traveling at least 100 mph was killed when he slammed into a big rig early Tuesday on Highway 101 in Santa Clara, the California Highway Patrol said.
The crash happened around 2:30 a.m. in the northbound lanes north of Great America Parkway when the motorcyclist tried but failed to maneuver his Honda around the Peterbilt truck, the CHP said.
Posted: July 22, 2014, 1:27 pm
The 10-story hotel at Third and Townsend would provide much-needed rooms at the crossroads of tech-dominated SoMa and the mixed-use neighborhood that has popped up around the ballpark over the past decade, said project architect Michael Stanton of Stanton Architecture.
The sidewalk in front of the McDonald's and adjacent lot is a popular spot before Giants games for ticket scalpers and freelance souvenir vendors and attracts a sometimes raucous crowd after big wins.
Average room rates jumped 13.4 percent over the past 12 months to $203.18, according to STR Global, a hotel industry research group.
The problem is that hotel builders looking to buy development sites are competing against office and housing builders - and right now the city is in a housing affordability crisis.
Next year SOMA Hotels, an affiliate of Stanford Hotels Group, will break ground on a 15-story, 250-room boutique hotel - just across Lefty O'Doul Bridge from AT&T Park.
Two historic vacant Mid-Market buildings, the Renoir Hotel and the Grant Building, will reopen as hotels catering to the tech companies that now line central Market Street.
Posted: July 22, 2014, 11:00 am
"There is nothing more humiliating than falling in front of people," says the longtime Giants broadcaster. A strapping 6-5, 200-pound right-hander, he won 124 games, had a 20-win season in 1986 and pitched over 2,100 innings. Krukow, 62, has kept his condition a secret, but now he's ready to reveal that he's suffering from a degenerative muscle disease called inclusion-body myosotis. IBM causes progressive weakness in the muscles of the wrist and fingers, the front of the thigh, and the muscles that lift the front of the foot. When he got the diagnosis eight years ago, he says, the doctor gave him a medical version of good news/bad news. Difficult problem to faceHow does a person - especially an athlete, used to depending on a strong body - respond to such news? "Being the strong, muscular athlete he was, this was very difficult to face," says Jennifer Krukow, Mike's wife. The low point was in April when he stumbled coming off the team bus in Colorado and took a spill that was so serious he tore the rotator cuff in a shoulder. Lately, the Krukows have focused on the doctor's mantra: IBM is life-altering, not life-threatening. Having said that, everyone stresses that the last thing the perpetually upbeat Krukow wants is a pity party - that's not his style. Krukow has begun to use a golf cart to get out of the ballpark because the press of crowds can be dangerous. [...] eager to playAn avid golfer (a loss of distance on his drives was one reason he suspected he had a problem), he hopes to be able to play again. [...] what Giants fans might not know is that he is also a gifted musician. Giants fans dress as "Gamer Babes" in hopes of getting singled out in the stands and treat "Kruk and Kuip" like old pals.
Posted: July 22, 2014, 11:00 am
Saturday, July 19, draw
PowerballJackpot: $60 million
10172545539PballWed., July 23, jackpot: $40 million
Saturday, July 19, draw
Super LottoJackpot: $22 million
71518263919MEGAWed., July 23, jackpot: $23 million
Monday, July 21, draws
Fantasy 5414222737Daily 44047Daily 3 (midday)327Daily 3 (evening)679Daily Derby race time: 1:40.99
First12Lucky CharmsSecond11Money BagsThird10 Solid GoldFriday, July 18, draw and payouts
Mega MillionsJackpot: $50 million
585965723MEGAPrize categoryCalifornia winnersPrize amount per winner5 of 5 with Mega0$50,000,0005 of 50$682,4244 of 5 with Mega2$7,9474 of 536$6183 of 5 with Mega207$523 of 52,595$92 of 5 with Mega4,705$61 of 5 with Mega40,985$2Matched Mega108,225$1Tues., July 22, jackpot: $58 million
For lottery updates: www.calottery.com
Posted: July 22, 2014, 5:02 am
BART police on Monday began enforcing a ban on sleeping, lying or sitting with legs extended at the busy Powell Street Station and said they plan to expand the crackdown systemwide.
The enforcement action, which involved as many as nine BART police officers Monday, is a safety measure intended to ensure that stations can be evacuated in four to six minutes in an emergency, said Jeffrey Jennings, BART's deputy police chief.
BART police became concerned with the growing number of people sleeping, lying down or sitting with legs extended in downtown stations with long corridors.
According to BART police, who have posted temporary notices at the Powell Street Station, a three-step policy will be followed:
Bevan Dufty, the mayor's point person on homelessness, said BART police have been meeting with city officials for months on a number of issues involving the homeless.
City officials were informed of the enforcement plan, he said, and asked BART to collect information on contacts with people violating the law.
Posted: July 22, 2014, 12:31 am
Pete Douglas, a lifelong lover of music who turned an abandoned beer joint into a renowned music and jazz club in Half Moon Bay, died July 12 in Miramar Beach at the age of 85.
SerendipitousSaxophonist David Liebman, a frequent performer at the Bach, said the club Mr. Douglas built had the perfect combination: "a nice meal and drinks; playing jazz for an appreciative audience; a great piano; complete care of the musicians; all with the Pacific Ocean at your doorstep; and of course Pete, who knew it all and would sit front and center listening like a hawk."
[...] music always called, and when Mr. Douglas took a day trip down the coast with his young daughter, Linda, he happened upon the abandoned beer joint that he would buy.
Jazz luminariesAfter becoming the nonprofit Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society in 1964, the club offered regular jazz and classical programs to the public, attracting local and national jazz luminaries, from Betty Carter, Bill Evans and Stan Getz to Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Etta James, Dexter Gordon and Dizzy Gillespie, to name a few.
"Pete gave me my start in the jazz world in 1973 and has always been a mentor to me," said Tim Jackson, artistic director of the Monterey Jazz Festival and Kuumbwa Jazz in Santa Cruz, who worked as a ticket taker at the Half Moon Bay club.
Posted: July 22, 2014, 12:02 am
The Oakland Raiders' Rod Streater looks at flamingos, above, with Arnold Morales, 11, at the San Francisco Zoo on Monday. The Rod Streater Foundation, recently established and focused on activities for youth, and the zoo hosted children and family members from the Ronald McDonald Houses at Stanford and San Francisco. At right, the third-year wide receiver signs Danielle McFadyen's shirt, from the foundation's Where's Streater? program.
Posted: July 21, 2014, 11:13 pm
The price hike would encourage people to buy less soda, thereby lowering the rate of obesity and chronic disease, and reducing public and private health costs in the city, he said.
Given San Francisco's long history of being on the cutting edge of public health issues and given the kind of campaign we've been running, we think we have a reasonable shot at winning.
Supporters of the soda tax also include the school board, a number of local parent-teacher associations, the teachers union, several medical groups and local food banks.
Diet sodas, alcoholic drinks, infant formula, milk and nondairy creamers would not be taxed, but concentrates used to make juice and other drinks would be.
Of the rest, 40 percent will go to the school district to use for student nutrition, gardening, cooking classes, after-school programs and physical education.
Twenty-five percent will be split by the Department of Public Health and the Public Utilities Commission to promote healthful food and drinks, and build more drinking fountains and water bottle refilling stations.
On the cutting edge of health The soda tax ballot measure is just the most recent example of San Francisco officials pushing innovative policies intended to make residents healthier, but it has been slammed by opponents as creating a nanny state.
Posted: July 21, 2014, 9:58 pm
Pleasanton apartments lack running water after main breaks
Malizia spoke Monday outside the Springhouse apartments in Pleasanton, a 354-unit complex where residents pay a high price for modern touches and a location near Oracle and other corporate campuses - but haven't had water service since Friday.
The complex has a swimming pool, fitness center and playground.
[...] on Monday, Michael and his wife said they had been forced to rent a hotel room nearby to take showers.
Tenants were first alerted to the broken pipe Friday after managers posted a pink flyer on doors reading, in part, Please be advised that the main water line is broken and is under repair.
Portable toilets and wash basins were brought in Monday, providing a small amount of relief to residents, especially those who hadn't figured out the pool water trick.
A plumber working on the project said the water pipe running under one of the central buildings in the complex had corroded and was leaking.
Posted: July 21, 2014, 9:47 pm
Dramatic as it looks on a map, Market Street between the Civic Center and Castro Street for generations has been little more than a broad thoroughfare serving the neighborhoods around it.
Exterior jumbleThe Market Street facade is fine, a sleek five-story wall streaked by inset bays that hold comfortable-looking balconies.
The array of muted earthen colors is more coherent, as is the shift in materials as the scale drops to four stories on the south edge of the block.
Based on 2007 planThe wave of buildings follows the city's Market and Octavia Area Plan, approved in 2007 - a heavily vetted document that seeks to make room for new development near transit lines while bringing in such benefits as affordable housing and a more urbane street life.
On Market, there's also an attempt to straddle two very different worlds: the "uniquely monumental street" that connects downtown's towers to the heights of Twin Peaks, and the neighborhoods along the way that pride themselves on protecting their fine-grained mix of buildings from different eras.
The design submitted this spring by developer Brian Spiers is a flashy but energetic procession of angled bay windows that meet in flat glass across from the Safeway parking lot.
The letter suggests balconies to make the 14th Street facade seem more domestic, or changing the materials "to add seams, texture ... or other character or dimension."
The silvery boxes push along Market and tumble down Buchanan, overlapping at the corner above a tiny plaza scooped into the corner to allow tables to spill from the adjacent ground-floor retail space.
Posted: July 21, 2014, 1:49 am