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Summer film: Everything old is new again

It’s still spring, but the Avengers already have saved humanity (again); Mad Max has raged through the post-apocalyptic Australian Outback (again!); Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson have (once again!) sung their way into our hearts; evil poltergeists have (yet again!!!) invaded a suburban family’s home via their TV set; and George Clooney has hosted our tour of a futuristic Tomorrowland beyond our wildest imagination.

Well, at least that last one isn’t a sequel.

But the others are in good company. By my unscientific count — meaning, I’m sure others were overlooked — we can expect no fewer than 20 sequels or remakes during the next several months, including the four cited above. (And no, all 20 are not mentioned below, for which you’ll thank me.)

UCD Vet Med grads: ‘The best of the best’

When the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine class of 2015 started the program four years ago, it was ranked No. 2 in the country. By the time those students graduated, it had become No. 1 in the world.

Thus, many of the speakers at UCD’s vet school commencement at a packed Mondavi Center on Thursday evening rightfully heaped praise on the 64th graduating class, complimenting their intellectual capacity as well as their humanity.

Contraband tobacco dumped in landfill

It didn’t exactly go up in smoke, but more than 30 tons of contraband cigarettes and tobacco products were destroyed nonetheless on Wednesday, dumped into the Yolo County Central Landfill and destined to be buried under layer upon layer of garbage and dirt.

The nearly $2 million worth of cigars, cigarillos, chewing tobacco and cigarettes were seized by the state Board of Equalization over the past 15 years — all of it confiscated due to unpaid state excise and sales taxes valued at more than $630,000 to the state.

A wonderful life, at George’s Corner

Traveling east along Second Street, with the railroad tracks and the freeway sliding past on the right, office buildings and vacant land interspersed on the left, one comes to a bend in the road.

To the left looms the Target shopping center, to the right, up ahead, a sandwich shop and a bank.

But first, just at the bend in the road, is something else entirely.

A small riot of color. An odd assortment of found art, painted cinder blocks and rocks. An American flag flapping overhead, flowers in every shade and a couple of trees below, and, if you’ve timed it right, an older man sitting on a plastic chair.

Tutors aim to increase music for all students

It’s Tuesday afternoon and a handful of UC Davis and Davis High School students are in a classroom at Montgomery Elementary School, pulling string instruments out of a cabinet and setting them up on tables throughout the room.

The students have hurried over to this South Davis campus after finishing their own classes and are ready and waiting when a handful of Montgomery students burst in, ready to grab an instrument and start making music.

The younger students are participants in the Bridge Program, which for more than a decade has provided after-school tutoring and homework help to low-income and English-language learners at Montgomery.

Fowl play: Plenty to cock-a-doodle-do about

We are not farmers by any means, but we do have chickens; they are pets. Pets that give back, and yes, the eggs really are that much better.

What came first, the chicken or the egg? The answer is more complex than you’d think, given the choices.

Flashback to the first Tour de Cluck in 2010, a newly introduced event wherein participants ride their bikes around Davis to designated addresses and see how our townsfolk keep their chickens. We’d just started thinking about being chicken owners and hoped this tour would show us where to start.

Davis sure knows how to throw a party!

It’s been sizzling-hot, windy, even overcast at Celebrate Davis, typically held on the third Thursday in May.

But yesterday was different — it was chilly, and rain was in the forecast. However, that didn’t dampen the spirits of the thousands of local residents who streamed into Community Park to enjoy the 12th annual festival presented by the Davis Chamber of Commerce.

Celebrate Davis is designed to showcase why this community is a great place in which to live, work, shop, play and learn. The event featured a business expo of 100 vendor booths, food, music and a Family Fun Zone, and was capped off with an aerial fireworks show.

As the drought drags on, native species suffer

Humans aren’t the only ones suffering in the drought.

Several native species, including several fish and plant species, are struggling with water depletions while others experience temporary setbacks until the rains return.

Fish species take one of the hardest hits during a water crisis, said Peter Moyle, a professor of wildlife, fish and conservation biology at UC Davis.

During a research study last summer in more than 60 California streams that previously were recorded as hotspots for native species, Moyle found that a third of the streams had gone dry, taking the fish with them.

“What’s different today is the number of dams and diversions,” Moyle said.

The impact of water infrastructure magnifies the struggles that fish already face in a drought where stream flows are steadily declining.

Teens shine on the catwalk, help fight child abuse

“Project Runway” designer Timothy Westbrook decided last year that he wanted to use his fashion skills to benefit child abuse prevention efforts.

As a contestant on Season 12 of the popular and long-running reality TV show, Westbrook figured he could bring his name and talent to a cause that meant a great deal to him personally. The question was where to start.

And the answer, naturally, was Google.

“I typed in ‘child abuse awareness fashion show,’ ” he said, and two results popped up: an agency in Chicago that no longer sponsors a fashion show, and the Yolo County Children’s Alliance, which does.

Last year, in fact, was going to be the alliance’s fifth annual fashion-show fundraiser, and what better way to celebrate that milestone than with a new approach, figured executive director Katie Villegas when she heard about Westbrook’s interest.

4 plus 16 equals DHS Hall of Fame inductees

In keeping with the rich tradition of diverse accomplishment by former students, administrators, teachers and contributors associated with Davis High, the school’s Blue & White Foundation has announced its 20-member Hall of Fame Class of 2015.

Robotics pioneer Tyler Schilling and botanical artist and mentor Catherine (Stevens) Watters join retired mathematics instructor Calvin Crabill, lifelong Davis resident/builder/benefactor John Whitcombe and the 16 members of the Blue Devils’ unbeaten 1961-62 basketball team in receiving this year’s honors.

The foundation, established in 2002 “to create positive opportunities for our community,” was a driving force behind the high school’s multi-use Brown Stadium/Halden Field project. It also created …

Live and learn at the Whole Earth Festival

Wearing tie-dye shirts, and with Hula Hoops and djembe drums in hand, thousands of visitors are flooding the UC Davis campus for the 46th annual Whole Earth Festival.

The three-day festival marks the one time a year when the peaceful grasses of UCD’s Quad are transformed into a modern-day Woodstock, attracting vendors, bands, vegetarian eateries and a range of activities.

Sunday marks the third and final day of the festival with full program of yoga, live music and spiritual workshops packed in until the closing ceremonies at 5 p.m.

Life Science Innovation Center open for business

A new partnership between UC Davis and HM Clause has resulted in something that likely will prove to be beneficial to both: The Life Science Innovation Center.

At a grand opening on Thursday at HM Clause’s South Davis center, visitors were shown the new lab space that entrepreneurs can rent for their science-based businesses.

According to a news release by UCD, the new center houses three companies looking to capture a spot in the marketplace.

Whole Earth Festival will honor ‘Rooted Living’

Mother’s Day weekend just wouldn’t be the same without the Whole Earth Festival.

This year’s 46th annual event, themed “Rooted Living,” kicks off at noon on Friday on the UC Davis Quad and will feature 150 handmade craft and service vendors, 60 musical acts, 40 spiritual and educational workshops, 20 organic food vendors, 20 different spaces to explore and 10 art installations.

Whole Earth started in 1969 when an art class taught by José Argüelles organized an “art happening” at UCD. After the United Nations established Earth Day in 1970, the event was renamed the Whole Earth Festival.

In this year’s program guide, craft directors Betty Chen and Lois Richter say they have …

Fix it yourself, with a little help, at Bike Forth

The Davis Bike Collective is one of many loosely aligned organizations across the country that brings bike enthusiasts together for support and to learn how to maintain their bikes.

Founding member Jonathan Woolley points out that the concept itself is not unique to Davis. Locally, a group of students living in the domes at UC Davis experienced a bike collective in Santa Cruz and came together to open a shop originally called The Davis Bike Church. The collective slowly expanded beyond the domes and out into the community between 2004 and 2009, teaching “the way of the spoked wheel and pedal wrench.”

In 2009, with financial sponsorship from the Solar Community Housing Coalition, the Davis Bike Collective organized …

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