Reporters' Notebook: AP gives props to editorial

The Associated Press cited editorial page editor Keith Jones' pithy description of the route proposed by the High-Speed Rail Authority, which bypassed Merced. "Instead, the recommended route doesn't connect those population centers," The AP reported. "One end stops in Borden, which was derided in an editorial in the Merced Sun-Star as a 'mythical town' that 'Gertrude Stein wouldn't even have acknowledged.' "

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Reporter Jamie Oppenheim says she's known for losing many things -- traveling coffee mugs, lip gloss and keys, among other items. But never has she ever once lost a reporters notebook. Misplaced, yes, but lost, never. She came close last week when she attended a clean-water symposium at UC Merced. After the lunch break, Jamie left the meeting hungry and raced home to eat. When she returned to her desk, she had a voicemail from someone at the conference about finding her notebook. Luckily, city-girl Jamie was in small-town Merced, as her missing notebook probably would have gone unnoticed anywhere else.

Likewise, a doofus Sun-Star editor left his briefcase on top of his car one recent day. Newsroom assistant Connie Hodges later found it in the Sun-Star's after-hours drop box and brought it into the newsroom. The doofus editor didn't know how it had gotten there because he didn't even know it was missing. Later, Good Samaritan Cliff Hunt called to relate he'd found it at the corner of Olive and G, saw business cards inside and dropped it off. Thanks, Cliff!

Santa Claus was spotted riding into Merced County recently. Oddly, he wasn't riding his sleigh, but was instead piloting an F-14 Tomcat toward Castle Air Museum, which will host its fifth annual Christmas Plane Lane on Saturday and Sunday, and Dec. 18-19. Attractions include a model train layout in the banquet room, Bomber Burgers and none other than Santa Claus himself, who will be taking Christmas wishes and photos, said Joe Pruzzo, CEO of Castle Air Museum Foundation Inc. The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both weekends. There's a special admission rate of $2 for children and $4 for adults. That includes admission to the museum. Castle Air Museum is located at 5050 Santa Fe Drive in Atwater.

Tributes to John Lennon on the 30th anniversary of his death reminded Executive Editor Mike Tharp of when he once met the famous Beatle. In 1977 Tharp had just scored an exclusive interview with the U.S. secretary of the treasury, in Tokyo to hammer the Japanese about the weak yen. As he made his way to the elevators of the Okura Hotel, quietly celebrating his scoop, the doors opened. Out stepped Yoko Ono, little Sean and John Lennon, with a bellboy. Tharp stood open-mouthed for a moment, then followed the group down the hall of the 13th floor. The Lennons always stayed in the Presidential Suite, which had tatami straw mat floors. Tharp went up to Lennon who was standing in the doorway. "I don't want an autograph," he said. "I just would like to shake your hand." Lennon looked him in the eye, then shrugged. "I'm not into that anymore, man." And he went inside. Former Tokyo Variety correspondent James Bailey studied Lennon's Japan years. He e-mailed this week that "Sean Lennon born in '75; Lennon shot and killed in December of '80. Visits to Japan occurred during this interval, when Lennon did no recording ('Double Fantasy' was his return to the recording game). Numerous family films and photos document the visits of the family to Japan, which Lennon, by all accounts, loved, even devoting himself to learning the language."

-- Sun-Star Staff