Brush up your Shakespeare. Feb is Academy Awards Month

I’ve been enjoying “Have you Seen. . .?” by San Francisco author David Thomson.


There are many reasons to like this book. What I like most: each movie description fits on one page. Just enough time to learn about films I’ve never had time to see but I want to learn something about. And the author, David Thomson, is so good at what he does that I can’t wait to read the next review.

I used to look forward to reading the long film essays by Pauline Kael in the New Yorker. Remember Miss Kael? She was born in Petaluma, once famous, and maybe still famous for its fresh eggs. Petaluma is in Marin County; when I was a kid, Petaluma was the real countryside.

Back when I was reading Pauline Kael in the New Yorker, the classy magazine was home to authors and journalists who could easily write fifty interesting pages about buttons, and, in fact, I remember a story that appeared in the magazine about the last “zipper man” on earth. He made zippers, all kinds of zippers, you can’t begin to imagine the intricacies of the zipper until you find and read this remarkable piece.  The Zipper Man story went on and on and I never tired of him. I’m still talking about it now!

Times have changed dramatically since Pauline Kael was writing for the New Yorker. We need information constantly, preferably in small gulps. Seems to me that there are so many distractions today, that it is a real pleasure to be able to read an entire review of a recent movie, or one from decades ago, absorb the magic and take off to do something else.


I have heard that actors and actresses live on the Coastside. Have any won Academy Award nominations? In the 1920s, actors were seen enjoying themselves at the Moss Beach Distillery. It was fashionable to smoke, and pretty abalone shells served as ashtrays.

As you can imagine, all the Coastside roadhouses had a unique personality reflecting the likes and dislikes of the owners. . Frank Torres, owner of the Distillery (called “Frank’s” in the late 1920s)  loved to hobnob with the rich and famous.

At the San Mateo County History Museum, I learned about Peninsula Studios, a kind of  “Hollywood-North”,  located in Burlingame. There were free-lance movie-makers, too, and films were shot on the Coastside, but I’ve never seen any of them, and these historic films are assumed lost.


If you’d like to visit the Academy Awards website, please click here