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Valley Talk

NEWS, NOTES & EVENTS IN THE VALLEY Trick Question The reality of high employment rates really hit home to Bruce Dennis recently. The president of Canoga Park-based Rockscapes Inc., an outdoor lighting manufacturer, could hardly find any qualified applicants when he placed an ad in the newspaper for some help with customer service. Some of the applicants didn’t seem to want a job at all. Dennis said that, before he even got a chance to start asking one candidate any questions, the applicant tried to interview him on his opinions on abortion. After that, Dennis said, he wasn’t taking any chances. “I hired my aunt,” he said. “I brought her out of retirement. It’s just too crazy out there.” This Promo Bombed As direct-mail responses go, this one wasn’t exactly what they had in mind. The folks at Miller Nissan in Van Nuys ran a promotion recently in which the company mailed car keys in little cardboard tubes to San Fernando Valley residents. Recipients were invited to try their luck at winning a new car by bringing the key to the dealership. If the key fit, the winner would drive home a brand new automobile. One recipient, however, didn’t get far enough into the mailer to realize it was a promotional stunt. Thinking the package looked suspicious, he brought it to the North Hollywood police station. It took the department’s bomb squad to untangle the mystery of the cardboard tube. Disaster Watch Film director James Cameron definitely has an eye for disaster. The Academy Award-winning director of “Titanic” was spotted at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena video camera in hand the day after the Mars Polar Lander was supposed to touch down on the Red Planet. It seems Cameron is writing and directing an Imax-3D film about Mars and a five-hour miniseries for the Fox Network, scheduled to air in the spring of 2001. Cameron wasn’t talking last week about his JPL visit. But he got permission months ago from the lab to film the Mission Control room during the current Mars mission. Little did he know disaster was dead ahead. Not the LAPD Seems the Los Angeles Police Department has acquired a nasty reputation that extends far and wide. Just consider what a Seattle police sergeant told the South China Morning Post in response to criticism about his department’s initial kid-gloves response to the recent riot at the World Trade Organization: “We’re all liberals in Seattle. We need to take a very honorable line with these people. Many of us are union men and we have a long history of reasonable behavior. We are not the LAPD.” The Morning Post felt compelled to add in parenthesis that the LAPD has a reputation for brutality. Mystery Marriage In a move that puzzled the Japanese sports world, one of the country’s best baseball players was married last week in L.A. before promptly flying back to Japan. In what would be the equivalent of Mike Piazza getting married in Kyoto, Ichiro Suzuki, an all-star outfielder with the Orix Blue Wave in Kobe, was married at the Riviera Country Club to a Japanese television reporter. Just 16 people attended the ceremony, while about 20 Japanese reporters waited outside. Neither bride nor groom have any known connection to Los Angeles. “I don’t get it,” said one reporter who covered the ceremony. “Maybe he wanted to avoid the attention in Japan.” Shaken, Not Stirred Many visitors to Universal Studios Hollywood couldn’t distinguish a pair of recent earthquakes from the thrill rides, even though the temblors were centered just a few miles from the theme park. Park officials said they got few inquiries from guests after 3.3- and 3.1-magnitude temblors rocked L.A. on Nov. 30 and forced the temporary closing of rides for inspection. Seismologist Susan Hough said Universal was spared some of the more dramatic shaking felt elsewhere in L.A. because it’s built on hard hillside land unlike the rest of the sediment-filled L.A. basin, which she compared to a “big bowl of Jello.” The quake should make an interesting memory for out-of-towners. “I think for a lot of people, like tourists from the East Coast, it was one more thing to put on a postcard,” said Universal Studios spokesman Elliott Secular.

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