The Dethrone Burlingame experiment

22 04 2013

As some of you know, the Julio vs. Weight battle is a never-ending one.

And sure, I’ve had my fair share of excuses with injuries and such, but, I’ve successfully kept 90-plus pounds off my body for a good 18-20 months now, and I’ve always wanted to take it up a notch. Add to that, the fact that I’ve always wanted to write a story where we try out different local gyms and document the results and you’ll get what is now the Dethrone in Burlingame experiment.


My contact there is Jesse Jones, a mixed martial artist who once knocked a dude out in 31 seconds. I believe it. Here’s a bit of history, click on it and it’ll take you to their Facebook page:

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Anyways, Monday, April 22 was my first workout and before I left to cry for a couple of minutes from exhaustion, Jesse told me to take notes — I said, that sounds genius. So, here you are, notes. I’ll try to keep this up for the duration of the experiment.

Before I got to Dethrone, I did some measurements at home — I’ll share ’em (natural waist is 40″ and hip line is 38″ … which made me wonder, ‘how do I fit into a 34″ pant size??!) — and that’s just for a future reference. Dethrone’s description is no joke — the airdyne bikes really kick the cardio to another level. A couple of minutes into the warm-up and you’ll already breathing pretty heavy. Jesse named the workout “Crazy Legs” and it doesn’t take a genius to hear the name and know that your legs are going to hate you in the morning. Jesse mixed it up, lots of plyometric work, light muscle training, and the medicine ball exercises were killer on the arms. I worked out with a group that had two women as my partners and they kicked major ass. While I like working out in the mornings, the noon class has some awesome people in it — I’ll keep going to that for now. Oh, and before I bounced, there was a scale there, 219 was the number — it helped with setting a goal. The beast from now on is the eating — today, at 2:59 p.m., lunch guilt level is at a 1.5. Tomorrow, I’ll try to survive the boxing class.

For a list of classes at Dethrone, go HERE.


2013 Giants Opening Day —

2 04 2013

The World Champion San Francisco Giants opened up their 2013 season with a 4-0 loss to the Dodgers. I hate the Dodgers. Anyways, AT&T Park opened its gates for those of us willing to play hookie on Monday and come watch the game on the jumbotron. I went. It was awesome. A reported 15,000 people were there — it’s a number I don’t totally believe. But still, it was great to be out at the ballpark.

But before all that could be done, there was the San Francisco Giants 2013 Opening Day guide to stress over. And boy, did I stress. Mostly, because, it was very-much a last minute deal. And the savior in all this was my friend, April Vallero. Here, check out the cover (click for a larger view):

Opening Day Cover

I had discussed with April about helping me with the section this year after seeing some of her sketches on Facebook. I really liked the style — it’s simple, but done with great style. And it’s definitely not anything we’ve done with the Daily Journal Sports section before. I don’t think she’ll mind me showing you some of her other awesome work.

April Vallero

I called her on Thursday afternoon and gave her this idea, something to the degree of, “it’s the Giants against the big, bad, money feeding monster that is the Dodgers.”

To say that April and I were on the same page visually would be an understatement. Shortly after our chat, she sent over some sketches … and I knew we had something cooking for sure. All smiles. I swear it.


After seeing how much ass the cover would kick, I got to saving space for Monday’s edition of the Journal, and figuring out what I could build to complement what would be a kick ass cover. I always think and say I’m the kind of page designer that likes to challenge myself to try different things and build better infographics. But, the truth is, TIME is a bitch. It kills a lot of great ideas because the details in these things take TIME. And TIME we did not have. We literally worked around the clock and come out with this (click for a larger view):

Opening Day double

First, the size. It’s a 10 column (20 inches) by 10 inch graphic that I didn’t want to build as a full-on double truck for the sakes of extra work from having to move advertisements around. In the Daily Journal, this graphic split right down the middle — and it was built as two separate pages. It just turns out that, when combined, it looks pretty cool as one solid piece.

Second, some of these elements are recycled from previous guides. The calendars are a must. Readers love those. The jerseys are from last year’s guide, only with an off-white color to them this year to switch things up a bit. The cutout of AT&T Park returns.

But, third(ly), I did a handful of new things. I brought the field out for the Giants portion of the graphic. Once I did that, I added the “rankings •••••” bar under the mug shots. I thought it was an interesting way of saying a lot about a player without a single word. I stayed with that ••••• theme for the teams in both the NL and AL Wests. And then I took it a step further with “Defending World Series” bit. Being that it was pretty much my first time trying to do that, I liked the outcome.


25 03 2013

The dust has settled and we’re officially in our Spring attire at the San Mateo Daily Journal.

We couldn’t shut the door and turn the page on the Winter though, without first looking at our coverage area’s best athletes … and as it is the case every year for the four, we’re looking at another graphic series by yours truly. This one in particular, turned out to be the most consistent I’ve done, I think. Good concept. Good execution.

I give you the 2012-13 SMDJ Ticket Series (as always, click for a larger view):

Daily Journal ticket series

We can go through the process of selecting the Athletes of the Season some other time … and a couple of races were actually very, very close. But for now, the process of building the tickets and then the presentations for each athlete was a fun challenge.

I had been fresh out of themes for a while now. We had done cereal, money, video games, the list goes on and on. Last Winter, we just went full on graphics, full page monsters, no real illustration artwork — just picture and type. The one big thing was the addition of the All-Daily Journal Teams … and those actually wound up being the coolest parts of the graphic.

But this year, I got an idea while walking through my hometown mall — in a sports specialty shop, I saw the T-shirt below and thought “hey, why not? We haven’t tried that.” I snapped a picture of it with my phone and started looking up ideas.

Ticket insp

I loved the 3-dimensional feel of the Pablo Sandoval ticket — that was my mind objective when putting together my own. As I scoped through the various season ticket packages by various teams (which are actually harder to find than you may think), the one I thought would be simplest to duplicate, and therefore more efficient for the 5-day run, was Stanford’s. I loved so many things about Cincinnati’s and Atlanta’s — but there is a lot more photography work done with those. And, as we’ve discussed here before, our resources can be very hit or miss with photos. Once we selected our Athletes, our photo well looked like this:

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All five of those photos work well for daily sports coverage — but not so much for graphical illustrations. But as a page designer, thou shalt not whine. Just work. The Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year is Michael Smith, a baller from El Camino High School in South San Francisco. And of the five photos, his was by far the toughest to work with. But we made it work and wound up with this:

Michael Smith basketball El Camino

OK, some of the more immediate issues: • The Size: In wanting the presentation to be dynamic, I went four columns across (8 inches) and a whole 13.25 inches high … • The All-Daily Journal Teams: needed to fit in this schematic. So, originally, I was going to fit the team in that space you seen at the bottom of the page … much like what we did last year. But, with the adage of the other tickets (mostly used to filled the vertical space), the actual story copy would have needed to fit in a really awkward shape to the right of the illustration. After giving up on that, I went with the All-DJ on the side … and to my complete happiness, it fit perfectly. So, Michael’s is above … Drew Edelman’s is here:


So, you can see what I meant by four columns — meaning, we left one on the right for other coverage. Those were days 1 and 2 … soccer was a bit of a challenge for days 3 and 4. One, the soccer field, it’s not one solid color — green, lots of blacks, so the copy on the bottom had to be bolded and a green background took a lot away from the futbol pitch feel. But, the tickets looked great.

Segre Player of the Year

Did I mention I wrote three of these stories too? Yeah. I did. My favorite was Gianna Rosati’s. I’m a big fan of hers. Girl’s got skills. Click below, it’ll take you the story.

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OK. I’m tired. But this was fun. Always is. But, I need a vacation.


5 03 2013

So the entire city of Burlingame was buzzing over the Weekend and well into Monday. Usually, on my trip to Starbucks in the morning (down on Ave and Primose), I’ll pick up a paper just to make sure I didn’t make any stupid errors the day before. But on Monday, the rack was empty and there were a lot more people reading the sports page — including the actual Central Coast Section Champions themselves apparently. I spoke to coach Pete Harames for a story we’re running on Tuesday and he sent me this. I thought it was cool.


That looks like Tyler Paratte reading the Sports page — or pretending to. Oh, the embarrassment. But anyways, that is legitimately Connor Haupt holding the Division III championship. Congratulations to them and to the girls’ basketball team who also won on Saturday. Burlingame, the high school, has always been good to me in my writing career. It’s nice to see the Panthers get their day. We featured the Panthers on the front page of Sports on occasion — actually more so the girls than boys — for no particular reason.

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And I will say, I liked how the stories turned out. I don’t say that often. But I did. Click on the image below and be taken to the all-powerful Daily Journal website.

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Cinequest 23 — A july playlist

25 02 2013

OK, so without a doubt one of my favorite Bay Area events is the Cinequest Film Festival held in the beautiful city of San Jose every year. I’ve had the good fortune of media access the last three year and 2013 will be my fourth time covering the awesomeness. And let me tell you, there is so much awesomeness it’s like, having your mind blown and before can be like, “oh shit, my mind just got blown” it gets blown again.


So yeah, 20 minutes ago, I submitted my recommendations for the Daily Journal and, because I want our readers not to hate me, I only picked 10 (OK, 11) films, features, whatever you want to call it (pieces of awesome? yeah, that works) to check out. Here you go, July-ers:



A powerful story of love, hope, and what it truly means to be American.

All Joe’s ever wanted is to achieve his dreams in the country he’s loved and known all his life. With a college education and a good job, he’s well on his way to living the American Dream. Yet, when his employer discovers his undocumented status, Joe’s life begins to crumble around him, and he must face the possibility of losing his livelihood, his family, and, even, himself.

Jesse Salmeron’s Dreamer opens a window into the reality of many who, because of one insurmountable obstacle, find it impossible to achieve their dreams. And by transcending racial lines, Joe’s story illuminates the immigration debate for what it is: a tragedy that affects all Americans.


La Camioneta: The Journey of One American School Bus

The inspiring journey of a bus fraught with danger.

Every day dozens of decommissioned school buses leave the United States on a southward migration that carries them to Guatemala, where they are repaired, colorfully re-painted and used as daily transportation by working class Guatemalans. La Camioneta is the enthralling story of the journey of one such bus and its owner, a man determined to survive as an entrepreneur despite overwhelming odds against his success.

In Guatemala, local gangs control the buses by extortion, violence, and even murder, which has become tragically commonplace among those who do not cooperate. Director Mark Kendall dramatically brings us into a world of dreams and ambition, fraught with terror and uncertainty. And in the end, we witness not only the rebirth of an abandoned bus, but the triumph of the human spirit.


The Almost Man

Immaturity versus Adulthood: two will enter, one will leave.

Uneasy feelings about becoming a father and adult cause Henrik to act out in hilariously inappropriate ways in this offbeat comedy. On one hand, he wants to ignore adulthood and spend time fooling around with his friends. On the other, he must grow up and make his relationship work with Tone, the mother of his unborn child. Henrik finds it nearly impossible to balance his immaturity with his responsibilities, as he lacks certain abilities needed to handle this conflict. Will Henrik be able to mature or will his relationship fall apart? The Almost Man comically tells a tale of one man’s long road towards maturity, and how hard it can be for some individuals to face the prospect of growing up.

Preceded by the short film: Where We Are Safe; PTP film; 6min; To escape the claws of the Bay Area’s underbelly, fear-stricken youths seek shelter away from dark corners.


Made in China (Hecho en China)

One would think that a simple road trip across Mexico would be less…complicated.

For his 50th birthday, Marcos receives an invitation to the wedding of the only woman he loved…30 years ago. To add to this, the Chinese Mafia is after his restaurant, and Marcos’ dream of becoming a writer seems very unattainable. So, wouldn’t the wedding be the perfect time to get away from it? One would think so. But when joined on the road trip by Fernando, an irresponsible delivery guy, the cross-country adventure becomes a bit more problematic than Marcos needs, and he can only hope he will make it to the wedding on time.

Director/writer Gabriel Guzman crafts a highly entertaining adventure that is both funny and affecting. Top that with stunning performances from Odiseo Bichir and Victor Hernandez, and you have a recipe for delight.


Goldfish Go Home (Akane Iro No Yakusoku)

Two kids. One mysterious blue goldfish. And a beautiful adventure.

Young Brazilian immigrant Ricardo is having real trouble settling into Japanese school, where he is bullied and can barely follow the classes. When Ricardo catches a blue goldfish that turns out to be the spirit of a Chinese Princess, the ensuing surge of interest in this rare creature forces him and his charming classmate, Hanako, to join forces to take on the mayor and the Yakuza to save their town and the livelihood of its people.

A combination of fantasy and comedy, director Shohei Shiozaki’s debut film is a youthful tale portraying the importance of friendship through the struggles of an immigrant family, while offering a beautiful celebration of Japanese culture.


I Am A Director

Authenticity is not his strong suit.

In a mockumentary-style comedy in the vein of Christopher Guest’s Best In Show, there is one goal: make the BEST HOLLYWOOD FILM EVER! Carlos is a Puerto Rican filmmaker – one of many – aiming to make a “Hollywood” film. It has to be extravagant, dramatic, and MUST be in English. Otherwise, he says it cannot be exported. Joa, his best friend and film’s producer, tries to help him stay on track and achieve his goal. But even she did not expect him to become a puppy at one of their actresses’ feet. Jealousy will both tear these friends apart and pull Carlos further from his dream of being a master at his art. The question for Carlos is how many bad judgment calls he has to make on and off set before he realizes what he really needs to pursue.



From Castro’s Cuba to America… Remarkable stories of immigration and success.

When Fidel Castro revealed the true nature of his dicatorship, thousands of Cubans, including many who had supported him, escaped to the U.S. seeking freedom and a better life. Cubamerican weaves a mosaic of Cuban history, beginning in 1952 until present day, through the recollections and experiences of Cuban exiles who fled Communism. Cuban-Americans were brought to freedom in the United States by a generation that left everything they owned behind. Once in the United States, they started from scratch and remade themselves.

A testament to the human will and spirit, as well as to immigrants of all nationalities, director Jose Enrique Pardo artistically illustrates how hard work, sacrifice and a determination to succeed are traits which cannot be denied.


The Only Real Game

They are fighters and dreamers who connect to the world through the magic of baseball.

Manipuri, India is a remote city that has been under martial law for 60 years, and where outsiders are rarely given entry. Violence, poverty, drugs, and high civilian death and HIV/AIDS rates have taken their toll on this once flourishing kingdom of artists and warriors. But the men, women, and children who live there have embraced the sport of baseball as a source of hope and connection to the world—and their shared enthusiasm for the sport has helped heal, rejuvenate, and strengthen their culture.

Mirra Bank is the first American director to make a movie in Manipur, and she beautifully captures the spirit of an amazing people full of dreams, passion, and courage.

Preceded by the short films: Curiosity; dir. Nicholas Lipari; U.S.A.; 3min; A 12-year-old gives her view of the force that motivates is to investigate the Universe’s great mysteries.


Chaos (Desordes)

Be careful whom you let into your home.

Escaping the madness of city life in Paris, a teacher, Vincent, and his wife, Marie, move to a farm in the south of France with their son in hopes of a quieter life. But the craziness they have left behind may be more welcome once one of Vincent’s students, Thibault, intrudes upon the family’s life, begins an affair with Vincent’s wife, and becomes the catalyst in a failing marriage. And once Thibault’s true intentions are discovered, it becomes clear he will do anything he can to achieve his goals.

With incredible performances from Isaach De Bankolé (Battle in Seattle, 24), Sonia Rolland (Midnight in Paris), and Niels Schneider (Heartbeats), director Etienne Faure brilliantly crafts an emotionally-taut psychological thriller that surprises until the very last scene.


Maverick’s Spirit Award — Chuck Palahniuk

Palahniuk wrote the script for the short film Romance, based on his short story of the same name. Capturing the strange and slightly disturbing atmosphere of his story, Romance tells a tell as old as time: the story of a schlub in love with Britney Spears.

Cinequest is proud to present Chuck Palahniuk with our Writer Maverick Spirit Award as a part of the Writers Celebration. Join us on March 2, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. at the San Jose Rep, along with a screening of Romance.

For more information, visit

Chuck’s Maverick Award is actually part of a bigger, even more awesome, workshop day for writers which I wish I could go to but probably can’t because it’s a Saturday and other duties will await and shit, I’m bummed about that. Look at the lineup! Oh, and click on the picture for more information on that.


49ERS FAITHFUL V. 2013 — 

4 02 2013

This comes courtesy of my boys from One Time Inc.

More specifically, my boy Mark Penacerrada who is straight legit mad kray with design. He’s my boy. He’s more than legit. And he puts together super awesome stuff like this — so much so that KNBR picks up on it and make it their Facebook cover. I feel like a proud brother.

And no, I don’t want to talk about the game. I want to look forward to next season. Thank you. Stay Faithful.

49ers Super Bowl Facebook Cover

Ah, and by the way, this is blog post No. 300. Damn. I write a lot.


2 02 2013

O.K boys and girls. I’m going to try and get us through this very long blog post as effortlessly as possible. But, there is a lot, so bear with me. Yes yes yes, the San Francisco 49ers are in the 2012-2013 Super Bowl where they’ll be playing the Baltimore Ravens. You already knew that. So, first thing’s first, the San Mateo Daily Journal cover page commemorating the game.

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The cover runs as part of a 4-page pull-out section we put together at the Daily Journal. It’s something I’ve been planning since the Atlanta NFC title game. As soon as the Niners locked up that game, I went to work on conceptualizing a plan for the Daily Journal. I guess as a designer, you shoot big hoping that enough people love your idea and that it sticks. My publisher emailed the sports team saying, “let’s talk pull-out section” and here’s what I presented everyone not too long after that email. First, the 8-page section plan.

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And the 4-page idea

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For a newspaper the size of the Daily Journal, an 8-page plan with a full double-truck treatment is pretty ambitious. We don’t necessarily have the time or the resources to pull this off. But heck, the last time the 49ERS where in THE SUPER BOWL, the Daily Journal wasn’t in existence. So attempt No. 1 should be BIG.

Picture 5Well, the idea stuck … with me, but not necessarily our advertisers and sales team. Listen, I don’t know enough about sales for me to talk, but I waited a week to really start plugging away to see if we’re going eight pages or four, and when there wasn’t as much I prepared for four and maybe even the idea of not building anything at all. Come Monday, I had no choice but to start planning and getting things together for the four pages. Bummer, yes. I had the idea of representing the Lombardi trophy that wasn’t quite San Francisco’s — and with a long history of success, getting back to the Super Bowl was like “filling a void” for the organization. I liked it, I stuck with it and dug up around for some Lombardi trophies. They’re to your left up there. After some tinkering with levels, curves, all that jazz, I was left with something like …

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Boom, there’s your cover image. The “empty” Lombardi trophy image was born from a pen tool path, which, perfectly enough, was already done for me with the trophy image I used. Don’t ask me how. That looked a little something like this …

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As you’ll notice, the original frame didn’t include the circumference-like dotted lines on top of the trophy AND the five Lombardis were staggered a lot differently. The concept and message was there though. I liked the added dimension given by those extra lines, so I kept them. Then, after an impromptu meeting of the minds with Erik, our page designer, we shrunk the trophies a bit and liked them up to add more depth of field to the images. From there, it was a matter of adding the text. I knew I wanted to include a locally-angled take on the Super Bowl and commissioned my editor, Nathan, to take of that. I thought there was good spacing throughout the cover page.

Now, the page 2’s infographic was a whole different beast. I found out on Tuesday we were sticking with the 10×12 original space of my plan. And really, when trying to go from a double-truck to a single-page infographic, well, it’s a unique challenge to cram as much as you can into the one page. So, we went forward searching to images to use — vertical ones. And as is all the rage in The City right now, we landed on Colin Kaepernick.

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And then the fun part becomes putting together the puzzle and turning all of this …

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Into this …

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And ultimately … (Click for larger views)

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Wait, where’d the ads go? Oh well. The cover and the infographic were just half of the section. I, at the very last minute I may add, commissioned Sally Schilling, one of our best correspondents, to work on a locally angled, where to watch the game kind of story. She came through big time and her story was featured on Page 3 along with a sidebar of some places to watch the Super bowl locally. Page 4 was the jump page for Nathan’s story on Coach Matteucci and some other agate-type goodness. Click for larger views.

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We’re not done just yet. You’ll notice we pulled off a couple of great little fillers on page 3. I liked the synopsis for the Super Bowls. That came last minute. We had to go out of order because I wanted to one for Super Bowl XXIII as a side bar for the local story since it’s mentioned in it.

TimeLineCut 49ers Super Bowl

There was still the little thing known as A1. As with most of these 49ers treatments in sports, I got asked for design something to the front page of the newspaper — which I did. I stayed with the stadium theme we’ve had going the last couple of weeks — starting with Candlestick, then the Georgia Dome and ultimate the Mercedes Benz Superdome.


I had to explain to my nephew today who No. 8 was. I said simply the best quarterback of all time. Steve Young. Love that guy. Anyways, there you have it, Waaaaaaayyy more than you’ve ever wanted to know about the 2012-2013 Daily Journal Super Bowl section. I’m tired. It was a lot of fun, but a ton of work. I’m just looking forward to being a nervous-wreck during the game. I don’t do predictions, especially when it comes to my teams. I just want ring No. 6.