New California License Plates, Winchester Movie Starts Filming + More Local News

New California License Plates, Winchester Movie Starts Filming + More Local News


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'Winchester' movie starts filming, coming to San Jose in May, Mercury News

The Winchester Mystery House is almost ready for its closeup. Production on "Winchester," a supernatural thriller starring Helen Mirren as Sarah Winchester, kicked off Wednesday in Melbourne, Australia.

Filming at Winchester's landmark Victorian mansion in San Jose — which has been a tourist destination since shortly after her death in 1922 — is expected to take place in May. The movie's being directed by Australian identical twins Michael and Peter Spierig, who also wrote the screenplay.

The story follows the familiar — though probably fictional — lore that Winchester had the house continuously under construction for more than two decades to appease the spirits of those killed by the famous rifles made by her husband's family. A skeptical San Francisco psychiatrist played by Jason Clarke (from "Terminator: Genisys") investigates and creepiness ensues. Read more.

(CA State Parks Department)

New California license plate features redwoods, needs 7,500 orders by May, Mercury News

California's spectacular state parks system — which ranges from statuesque redwoods to vast deserts and sweeping beaches — has hit some rough patches over the past five years with threatened parks closures, budget problems and even a famous drive-through giant sequoia tree falling down this winter in heavy storms.

But parks lovers are trying to inject some new visibility and money into the venerable system of 280 parks with a proposed commemorative license plate.

For the state Department of Motor Vehicles to begin producing the plate, which features an image of a redwood forest, it needs 7,500 pre-paid orders by May 18.

As of Sunday afternoon, it had only 647, and environmental groups are ramping up efforts to sell as many as they can in the next two months. Read more.

Ambitious plan for once-central S.F. crossroads, San Francisco Chronicle

The intersection of Market Street and Van Ness Avenue looms large on the map, with two of San Francisco's best-known and broadest thoroughfares overlapping at a sharp angle.

The reality isn't nearly so grand — a crossroads marked by a car dealership, a doughnut shop and two drab office blocks. Nearby, parking lots and ratty alleys rub against buildings that never aimed high and now are worn down. The street life is spotty at best, sketchy at worst.

All this would change under an evolving city plan that includes a cluster of towers on the skyline, a variety of public spaces below and as many as 7,280 housing units in between. And the first major project within the area could be approved next week — one that hints at a livelier future, but also shows how tough it is to fit ambitious visions into a complex setting.

If nothing else, the proposal for 1500 Mission St. — down the block from Market and South Van Ness Avenue — that goes to the Planning Commission on March 23 shows how this part of San Francisco could be transformed. Read more.

Why Do Some Hate the Nickname 'Frisco'?, KQED

The other thing to know: Not long after people started using it, other people started hating it. They said only out-of-towners used it. Tourists, basically.

San Francisco's self-proclaimed emperor — the Brit Joshua Norton — supposedly banned the use of Frisco in 1872 and said whoever used it would have to pay a $25 fine. But that has not been verified.One person we do know hated the word: Herb Caen, the revered columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. When he wrote about the city, people listened.

"Herb Caen made San Francisco into almost a village," Fracchia says. "By the fact that his columns were very popular. There was kind of a lingua franca about them."

Caen came along after the city had grown from a dinky West Coast outpost into a Gold Rush boomtown with saloons and debauchery, and later into a city that looked more like the East Coast and European cities it wanted to imitate.

Caen wanted San Francisco to be more classy, more chic. His book, "Don't Call It Frisco," came out in 1953. Read more.


Nike sparked similarly breathless coverage recently after it announced the Nike Pro Hijab, the brand's first hijab for athletes and the first ever available on a mass-market scale, set to be released in early 2018. Accompanied by photos of the product's spokespeople—figure skater Zahra Lari, triathlete Manal Rostom and Olympic weightlifter Amna Al Haddad, all from the United Arab Emirates—the announcement garnered coverage everywhere from Us Weekly to the New York Times. "It shows all the world that hijabs don't stop you from playing sports," says Meawad. "Here in Egypt, it's normal."

"My reaction was, 'Oh, that's nothing new, the sports hijab has been around for decades,'" says triathlete Shirin Gerami, who made headlines last fall as the first Iranian woman to compete in the infamous Ironman World Championship. The press release bills the design as "groundbreaking," and cites how Al Haddad "had only one competition-worthy covering, so she had to hand wash it every night."

That story is reflective of the product's lack of international distribution, but it also ignores the fact that athletes have been competing in hijabs at the Olympics since 2004, when Bahrain's Ruqaya Al Ghasara competed in the 100-meter dash (she even earned a deal with Nike). "It's interesting that it's being presented as though Nike invented it, which of course is not true," adds Mara Gubuan, co-founder of the nonprofit Shirzanan, a U.S.-based group that advocates for Muslim women and girls in sports. Read more.

Fremont declares itself a 'sanctuary city', East Bay Times

Fremont is officially calling itself a "sanctuary city."

Like other self-designated cities in the Bay Area, Fremont took the protective step to reassure immigrants who feel vulnerable during "uncertain times" it stands behind them. Their fears have been stoked by President Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric and subsequent edicts calling for deportation of undocumented residents. Read more.

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