Separated at birth: Keanu’s Excellent Adventure

It is said everyone has a double somewhere in this world, but what about somewhere in time?

In the Palace of the Legion of Honor was an oil painting by French artist Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel (1851-1913) of Paul Mounet done in about 1875. Painted in mostly dark tones, Mounet cuts a dashing, if a bit brooding, figure.

KRT Photograph by Amanda Parks

When I saw the painting, I was struck on how much Mounet looked like Modern-day actor Keanu Reeves of “The Matrix” fame. To me, the resemblance was remarkable. But Reeves was born in 1964, 42 years after Mounet died in 1922. There couldn’t be a connection, could there?

In the 1989 movie, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Reeves played one of two San Dimas teenagers who go time-hopping to gather historical figures for a school report. Who’s to say he didn’t stop long enough to sit for a portrait?

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Thinking about firepower


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1.250th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

In the movie “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009),” as in its predecessor “Night at the Museum (2006),” a mystical talisman brings every museum artifact to life. In one scene, Rodin’s most famous bronze sculpture “The Thinker” is animated and tries to get the attention of a statue of a beautiful yet demure nymph. In a Bronxonian voice he proclaims: “Hey bay-bee, check out da gunshow goin’ on over here!” He then strikes a Charles Atlas-esque pose and says: “Boom, boom, Fiya-powah!” as he flexes his muscles. I have that scene ingrained in my head because, after seeing the movie, my then 11-year-old son would repeat it around the house. Over and over again.

In the courtyard at the entrance to the Palace of Legion of Honor a casting of “The Thinker” greets visitors to the museum. But when we visited there was no “boom, boom.” No “fiya-powah.” Without a magical charm, he remained in his contemplative pose, cold and silent.

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Weather or not

Rain had been forecast on the day of our San Francisco trip, but we decided to take a chance anyway. We were quite surprised when we were greeted with partly cloudy skies and relatively warm temperatures. Even traffic was unusually light, moving along briskly at the speed limit. It was about 10:30 am when we got to the California Academy Of Sciences, and we spent several hours looking at the wonders there.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

It was a bit cloudier, but still a pleasant day, when we left the Academy to make our way to the Palace of the Legion of Honor. So much so that my daughter and I left our coats in the car. After a couple of hours we left the museum to do a little sight seeing. Unfortunately the weather hadn’t held, and the sky had opened up with a moderate but steady rain.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

The weather limited our tourist activities to driving around in the car. We tried going to the beach. Winds pushed large waves onto the sand, but the skies were still cold, rainy and gray. Only a handful of people were bold enough to brave the elements.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

It was getting late in the afternoon so we decided to have an early dinner before returning home. Across the highway from the beach, a place called the Beach Chalet looked inviting. A two-story building at the western most edge of Golden Gate Park holds a visitors center on the bottom floor, and the restaurant occupies the upper floor.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/40th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)

Designed by San Francisco architect Willis Polk in 1926, the building has a lounge and changing rooms as well as the restaurant. In 1936, as a part of a federal works program, murals, mosaics and carvings were added. The paintings depict various aspects of San Francisco life much like the artwork on the interior walls of Coit Tower.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/40th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/15th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)

After marveling at the wonders downstairs, we went up to have some dinner. A large bank of windows graced the west wall of the eatery. They gave a great panoramic view of the of the Pacific Ocean.  Had the weather been nicer, it would have been spectacular. Instead it was merely impressive to see the waves crashing against the large expanse of beach. The service was prompt, and our meals were very tasty. Even the price was relatively reasonable, considering it was a pretty fancy place in the City.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

So we left for home satisfied with a good meal and some interesting and satisfying, albeit truncated, sightseeing.

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Big fish


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/15th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 1600)

At the California Academy of Sciences was the Steinhart Aquarium. Though not as big or as well laid out as the famed Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Steinhart is not without its charms. It had several large tanks as well as many smaller ones. It even had a tunnel aquarium in which you could walk under to view the fish much like the Aquarium By The Bay at Pier 39, though much shorter.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 23mm. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 23mm. Exposure: 1/30th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

From Bat rays and sharks, to jellies and sea stars, the Steinhart had quite a variety of species. My favorite was the giant sea bass. It had the proportions of a carp or a perch, but it was huge, about the size of a small child. A placard on the wall said they can weigh up to abut 500 lbs. There was something a bit comical with its appearance. With its bulging eyes and puffy lips, it looked like an aquatic muppet.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/30th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 35mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

It floated serenely in its smallish tank, paying no attention to the curious people on the other side of the glass. Maybe he was waiting for Kermit to show up.

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Gator-aid


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 55mm. Exposure: 1/30th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)

On our recent trip to San Francisco, we visited the California Academy of Sciences. Although it was the first time for the kids and me, my wife had been there several times as a kid. It had been a long time since she had visited, and the layout of the place had changed considerably. Her most vivid memory of the place was the alligator enclosure. She recalled that students would dare each other to try to land nickels on quietly floating reptiles.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/80th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 200)

Tucked away in a corner of the academy was the Naturalist Center. In it were some small animals pickled in formaldehyde, skeletons of various critters, a few stuffed and mounted birds among other things.  Tucked away even farther in the center were alligator and crocodile skulls sitting on a counter in a display for comparison. A small placard in the display didn’t say where the skulls came from or how they got there.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/30th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 400)

Near the Academy’s south entrance was The Swamp, a small pool that’s a re-creation of a southeastern water habitat that included huge alligator snapping turtles and Claude, an albino American alligator. I took a close look around, and there wasn’t a nickel in sight.

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Dearest mummy

In baseball it’s called going to “the show” when a player goes up to the major leagues. When a local player is called up to the majors, hometown fans often show a great interest and follow his career.

In similar fashion, former Stockton mummy, Iret-net Hor-irw was a very popular attraction at the Haggin Museum. On loan for 65 years to the Haggin by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, generations of Stockton children have fond memories of the mummy, and Stocktonians think of him as our own. Not to take anything away from the Haggin, which is a very fine museum, but the mummy was a big fish in a small pond.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/50th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

Last August he was returned to San Francisco to become a part of an exhibition called  ”Very Post Mortum: Mummies and Medicine” at the Palace of Legion of Honor for a year from October of 2009 to October of 2010. This is his chance to go to the “the show.”


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 20mm. Exposure: 1/30th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

In San Francisco not only would Iret-net Hor-irw be in a bigger or more famous venue, he’d also have some heavy competition. For a time the King Tut Exhibit at the DeYoung Museum just a few miles away ran parallel to Very Postmortem — until last month when the Tut show ended.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/13th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

My family and I recently took a trip to San Francisco, and I wanted to see how Stockton’s mummy was faring in the big city. At the far end of one wing of the Palace of Legion of Honor was Iret-net Hor-irw’s exhibit. At the Haggin, he was the centerpiece of the display surrounded many other smaller artifacts and he was the same in the City by the Bay.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/60th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

Tut may have been a more significant historic and archeological find, But Iret-net Hor-irw had one thing that the boy king didn’t: himself. Too fragile to travel from Egypt, Tut’s mummy wasn’t a part of the show at the DeYoung. At the Legion of Honor, fascinated museum goers leaned in to get a closer look at Iret-net beneath the lid of his wooden sarcophagus canted up just as it had been at the Haggin.


(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/100th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco added a new wrinkle to the mummy’s répertoire. They had a CT-scan of the mummy done, providing detailed images of his body. From which a model of his skull was made. In turn an artist’s rendition, a bust, of what Iret-net Hor-irw might have looked like was created. There is finally a face to go along with the mummy.

A steady stream of people entered the room and marveled at the displays and, of course, at Iret-net Hor-irw. Stockton’s beloved mummy may have been a home run king in Stockton, but even in the big city he’s still hitting them out of the park.

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Finding the beauty around us


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 38mm. Exposure: 1/320th sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 200)

There are some places that are not only forgettable, but when people do think of them, those thoughts aren’t favorable. An unpaved lot beneath the elevated portion of the Crosstown Freeway is one such place. It’s next to the city parking lot where many of The Record’s employees park.  Once a haven for transients and trash, it’s now fenced off, and there’s nothing but weeds and dirt there.

(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm w/1.4 extender @ 340mm. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

The freeway is a monolithic span of concrete and lets very little sunlight below. A little bit of the sky peeks in about half a block to the east of the parking lot where a gap in the middle forms when the deck splits into two sections, one east, the other west.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

When I pulled into the parking lot one morning, there was a large pond left by recent rains. The air was still and its surface was nearly as smooth as glass. A couple of weeds defiantly reached out of the motionless pool. Their shapes silhouetted against the bright sky from that gap in the freeway that was reflected in the water provided a chance for a bold, graphic image.

Even in a place that some may not think of as inherently beautiful, beauty can be found by those who look closely enough.

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Here he comes to save the day


Photo courtesy San Jose Police Department

Manteca native Kim Komenich is no stranger to the news. A former San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle photographer and now an assistant professor for new media at San Jose State University, Komenich won the Pulitzer for Spot News Photography in 1987 for his coverage of the Philippine revolution. But on Monday he became the subject of a spot news event.

According to reports he was standing in line at a Wells Fargo Bank in downtown San Jose when the man in front of him handed the teller a note and said “give me your money.” A man of imposing stature, Komenich, grabbed the robber in a bear hug from behind and held him until police arrived about five minutes later.

An accomplished and well-respected photographer, Komenich can now add crime-fighter to his resume’.

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Traffic jammed

“Damn this traffic jam
How I hate to be late
It hurts my motor to go so slow
Damn this traffic jam
Time I get home my supper’ll be cold
Damn this traffic jam…”- Traffic Jam by James Taylor


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/320th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200)

I was sent out to a spot news a assignment last week. Firefighters found a body when responding to a fire in North Stockton. Reports indicated they found signs of a struggle and it was being treated as a homicide.

As I drove from the office north on I-5 to Hammer lane I was thinking about the photo possibilities. The fire was early in the morning so most likely the scene would have been cold for several hours. I hoped that perhaps there would be some fire and/or police investigators still there sifting though the debris.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 18mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

As I drove I looked over to the cars in the southbound lanes, which were slowed to a crawl because of road work. I thought to myself I better not take the freeway on the return trip.

When I arrived at the house, any action that had been there had been over and done for quite a long time as I guessed. There were only a couple of uniformed officers guarding the place from across the street. The only thing to do was shoot the crime scene tape cordoning off the house and head back to the office.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 45mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

In just a short amount of time I had forgotten about the traffic. As soon as I turned onto the onramp to I-5, I cursed myself, but it was took late. I couldn’t turn around or back up, the only thing I could do was to go with the very slow flow.  It took about 15-20 minutes to travel the one mile to Benjamin Holt Drive, the next exit. I then made it back to the office on the surface streets.

Anyway, every time I’m stuck behind the wheel the song “Traffic Jam” by James Taylor plays in my head. It helps me pass the time when I’m moving slow. Unfortunately it’s a short song, so I have to repeat it over and over. At least it’s a catchy tune.

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The long and unwinding road


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200)

If you take Main Street eastward out of Stockton, it becomes Copperopolis Road at about Gillis Road, a little less than 2 miles outside the city limits. It’s your typical gently meandering country road for about the next three miles until it gets to Milton Road. From there, with some minor variations, it’s as straight as an arrow for about 10 miles until it comes to an end at Waverly Road near Farmington.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/320th sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200)

For as long and straight as it is, Copperopolis Road isn’t the longest or straightest in the county. That title goes to Jack Tone Road, which runs from Lockeford in the north to Ripon in the south for a little less than 27 miles. However, because Jack Tone is on the flatlands of the Valley it’s difficult to discern its length. You can only make out a mile or two with the naked eye.

(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/16. ISO: 200)

One can see much of Copperopolis Road rise and fall over the gently rolling terrain as it makes its way east toward the foothills.  This view emphasizes its unyielding straightness and length. So Jack Tone may hold the county record for the longest and straightest road, but you can see how long and straight Copperopolis Road actually is.

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    Clifford Oto

    Clifford Oto, an award-winning photographer, has been with The Record since 1984. Through the changes from black and white to digital photography, he’s kept his focus on covering the events, people and life of San Joaquin county. This blog deals ... Read Full
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