Montclarions Speak: Actors You Love

With the arrival of the movie awards season, it’s time to create a celebrity splash.  Based on our highly scientific survey, we’re ready to reveal the actors and actresses you love most.

The results are filled with well-known performers, but they are a real mix!  They come from independent as well as blockbuster movies.  They don’t all come from the latest pages of celebrity magazines, either.

Montclair’s Favorite Actors

This past year, your top actor picks were George Clooney, Clint Eastwood, Colin Firth and Robert Pattinson.  They changed plenty when switching to favorites this decade,  as Johnny Depp topped the list followed by George Clooney, Daniel Day Lewis, and Will Farrell.

Moving to favorite actors of all time, you loved Tom Hanks, Marlon Brando, Robert Redford and Harrison Ford.  We think the aughts weren’t permanently imprinted on the local cultural zeitgeist.

Montclair’s Favorite Actresses

During 2009, you favored Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Amy Adams and Kristen Stewart.  Looking at the past decade, you kept Meryl Streep on the list and replaced the others with Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon and Kate Winslet.

Gazing across the decades, the most-loved actresses were Meryl Streep (a three-peat), Jodie Foster, Katharine Hepburn and Frances McDormand.  Let’s go watch their tour de forces, right now.

Takeaway On Montclarion Tastes

We seem to enjoy good dramatic performers more than anything else, and avoid the all-American action stars.  Familiarity is a good thing, as our favorites have plenty of performances under their collective belts (Twilight stars excepted).

And everyone seems to dig George and Meryl, far and above the rest.

Oakland Dog Meets Goat

In Oakland, we do have a couple farm animals.  You need to know where to look, but city dogs can definitely meet a city goat or two.

Here’s some photographic proof.  Let’s start with this local dog who, like many around the hills, was out on a daily stroll.  The pooch was leashed and not running free, but still asked its human to visit Valley View’s billies.

Clearly the dog wanted to meet-and-greet the goats, and came right up to the fence surrounding them.  Here you see one goat who returned the favor and showed interest in this alien being.  While both are curious, the goat is a little wary and standing back.

We really enjoy the goats around here.  There are temporary “hired hands,” munching on the grass and preventing fires.  And there are permanent goat residents, which are a welcomed anachronism.

Taking A Drive On Grizzly Peak

We drive on Grizzly Peak all the time, so the news about a driver killed there yesterday hit close to home.  The Tribune reported that an SUV driver took a curve sharply, the vehicle fell 250 feet, and the victim was ejected en route.  This accident news felt like a sucker punch.

It could happen to anyone.  How often have you raced across the ridge roads, and thought “that was close” to yourself?  Driven up to an East Bay Regional Park, only thinking about the hiking trails ahead?  Or headed over to Berkeley, with your mind elsewhere?  Guilty as charged for me, on all three counts.

There’s no easy answer to living with windy, circuitous boulevards that everyone takes too quickly.  It doesn’t matter if you are a regular visitor or tourist there.  We like these ridgelines and stellar views, and simply accept the risks for the rewards.

Maybe the only takeaway is that we try driving with a bit more consciousness, up in the hills.

Casual Carpool Changes Too?

Casual carpoolers, get ready to open your wallets and purses as you drive across the Oakland Bay Bridge.  Starting this July, the Bay Area Toll Authority has decided to charge carpoolers for the first time!

This action, as well as other toll increases, was approved by the Authority’s oversight committee yesterday.  It’s expected to receive final Authority approval by month’s end.

On the Bay Bridge, each carpool will need to pay a $2.50 toll heading into San Francisco.  By contrast, regular-old drivers will shell out $6.00 per rush-hour trip.  It’s going to cost $4.00 off-peak and $5.00 weekend hours.

But we wonder how the casual carpools are going to change.  Today there’s an entire protocol related to sharing rides as a free, trustworthy service.  With this new twist, are free-riders supposed to kick in part of the toll?  Or are the drivers picking up the whole, but discounted, fare on their own?

Something to ponder.

How The Budget Pit Feels

On Monday eve, we were able to hear about Oakland’s budget from one City Hall insider.  Oakland’s budget director, Cheryl Taylor, patiently reviewed the major points of the general purposed fund by department – and what’s left for the waning 2009-2010 fiscal year.

To us, it felt like a mining pit.  We’re already digging below ground level, with different parts of the budget carved from the earth and given away.  And at some point, we stop seeing any ground beneath our collective feet.  Nice metaphor, we think.

Although seemingly untenable, there must be another $10.5 million saved before this year’s over.  At least Director Taylor was clear about the challenges.   If we understood correctly, then only 12 percent of the general funds are even available.  Plus only a portion of that $52 million is game since we’re well into the fiscal year.

Taylor put things in perspective when recalling Oakland’s boom and bust cycle.  A while ago, we used to have “three people to do one job,” she explained.  “Now there’s one person to do three jobs.”  It’s not easy to figure out how to save and simultaneously maintain government services.

The Monday meeting enabled civilians like us to suggest or react to possibilities.  No one was crying “save my piece of the pie” here.  Instead, people were soberly considering how public safety or other services might be severed during the recession.

Beyond this fiscal year, there were very interesting rays of hope.  One idea was that work currently done by sworn officers might be civilianized.  Another suggestion was to dive into all the suppliers and contracts again, given these economic times.  And privatizing several city services or resources was raised as well.

However, the task at hand was solvency today.  Make Oakland Better Now!, a citizen initiative, organized this week’s meeting to identify and assess what could be done right now.  After all, the  City Council will be forced to find the remaining millions soon – and we might as well offer our two cents.