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Latest News in Newman, CA

Composer Germaine Franco Brings ‘Encanto’ to Life, Pt. 1

Los Angeles, CA (April 7, 2022)—Tiple. Gaita. Cununo. Arpa llanera. Any logophile can appreciate composer Germaine Franco’s list of instruments contributing Latin American flavors to the score on Walt Disney Animation’s 60th feature film, Encanto.Directed by Jared Bush and Byron Howard, Encanto is set in the heart of Colombia, and Franco’s score incorporates a plethora of sounds, musical styles and rhythms from tha...

Los Angeles, CA (April 7, 2022)—Tiple. Gaita. Cununo. Arpa llanera. Any logophile can appreciate composer Germaine Franco’s list of instruments contributing Latin American flavors to the score on Walt Disney Animation’s 60th feature film, Encanto.

Directed by Jared Bush and Byron Howard, Encanto is set in the heart of Colombia, and Franco’s score incorporates a plethora of sounds, musical styles and rhythms from that country. But she couldn’t travel to Colombia for inspiration—as she’d traveled to Mexico before working on Disney/Pixar’s Coco—because the Covid pandemic had the world locked down in 2020, when she started work. Instead, Franco brought Colombia to her.

She selected several Colombian guitars, like the tiple, a twangy-sounding 12-string from the Andes, with strings grouped in four tripled courses; each course has three closely spaced strings meant to be played together. The score also features a bandola andina, a small pear-shaped guitar with six doubled or tripled courses, and a Colombian cuatro, a small, four-string guitar similar to a ukulele in D-tuning with the B string tuned an octave lower. She kept going, bringing in a harp commonly played in Colombia and Venezuela—the arpa llanera.

“My friend, composer John Powell, sampled the arpa llanera for me in his beautiful live room,” she says. “We sampled short notes, long notes and tremolos at various dynamics with multiple round robins. Later, we turned them into 5.1 Sampler Instruments in Logic Pro.”

For percussion, Franco incorporated a variety of Latin American and Afro-Colombian drums, including cununos (conical-shaped, closed-bottom hand drums with animal-hide drum heads), tamboras (snare-sized, two-headed hand drums), and bombos (processional drums made from hollowed tree trunks with a goat-hide drum head, typically played with drum sticks). Franco’s score includes a Latin American flute called a gaita that’s very specific to Colombia. “It’s beautiful. It sounds like a bird. [World winds virtuoso] Pedro Eustache played the parts wonderfully!” she notes.

Her score also features a marimba de chonta—a marimba only found in Colombia because the bars are made from “chonta,” a type of palm tree native to Ecuador and Colombia’s Pacific Coast. “I had one made by a luthier and shipped to me. It’s not on every single cue, just a few specific ones,” says Franco.

She hired a Colombian choir of 12 singers: “We did the session in Colombia, which I attended remotely. That took many hours to record, but it was fantastic.”

In cues like “Meet La Familia” and “Las Hermanas Pelean,” there’s also a button accordion, performed by Colombia-native accordionist Cristian” Camilo Peña, who plays in Carlos Vives’s band, and Enrique Martinez of Los Angeles.

“The accordion is in the cues which feature the cumbia rhythm for Mirabel, the protagonist’s theme,” Franco explains. “The cumbia is a style of music which originated in Colombia and has been adopted in many Latin American countries.”

The influence of Colombian musical styles and rhythms—cumbia, mapalé, bullerengue, joropo, chande—coupled with Franco’s unique orchestration, were integral to the score’s sound.

GOING BIG ON THE STAGE

Once Franco’s demo mockups, typically a mixture of MIDI programming and her own live audio recordings, were approved by directors Bush and Howard, she worked with a team of orchestrators and music preparation musicians led by Disney’s Booker White and supervising orchestrators David Giuli and John Ashton Thomas.

Franco produced all of the orchestral sessions for both the score and the songs, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Greg Hayes recorded the orchestra for the scoring sessions at the Newman Scoring Stage at Fox Studios in Los Angeles, and the choir session at The Eastwood Scoring Stage on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank.

Franco performs on all of her scores. She briefly left her producing post on Encanto to join a group of L.A.’s finest session musicians in the live room to play snare drum and marimba de chonta for cues like “El Camino de Mirabel,” “Antonio’s Room” and “La Cumbia De Mirabel.”

“I wound up jumping in there with the session players because Jared [Bush] made a bet with me that I would have to play on the score if he attended some of the sessions in person,” she says with a small laugh. “I was the lead snare drummer in my high school marching band, so it was fun to go back and play the snare on the score.”

Because Encanto’s score was recorded during the pandemic, the music team had to deal with Covid safety restrictions, like limiting the number of players in each session, planning out properly spaced seating arrangements for players, and separating unmasked players from masked players. The latter was a challenge for the strings and woodwinds in particular.

“The woodwinds and strings are tuning to each other so there can be tuning issues if they’re not together in the same room,” Franco explains. “Players want to sit next to each other, to play off of each other and create the collective sound of the orchestra. Instead, they were spaced further apart, so the players had to adapt to the new recording process as an ensemble by listening through their headphones.”

In terms of the choir, Franco says, “We were going to go for 30 singers, but everyone had to be kept six feet apart, so that limited the number to 22. The stage recording crew was thorough. They made dividers out of shower curtains and gobos to keep everyone separated and safe.”

Harpist Katie Kirkpatrick performed all the harp parts that Franco wrote using the arpa llanera samples in her MIDI score demos. An ensemble of seven Latin percussionists, as well as an entire orchestral percussion section, performed on the score. Franco also invited several Colombia-born session musicians, including percussionists J.D. Perez and saxophonist/clarinetist Justo Almario.

“Alvin Wee provided additional recording for the soloist sessions at The Village Studios, and then mixed the score. Greg [Hayes] then created the 5.1 stems that were sent to the re-recording mixers on the dub stage,” says Franco. David E. Fluhr, CAS (dialog/music re-recording mixer) used those stems to craft Encanto’s Dolby Atmos film mix, alongside effects re-recording mixer Gabriel Guy.

COME BACK TOMORROW FOR PART 2!

Dodgers 2022 Opening Day Features Old and New Faces and a 5-3 Victory Over the Rockies

The moment found Gavin Lux in the fourth inning. The Los Angeles Dodgers trailed the Colorado Rockies by two runs. There were two men on, and two out. The 2019 Minor League Player of the Year was once the Dodgers top prospect. However, minor league success doesn't always equate to the Major League level.In similar situations in 2020 and 2021, Lux would often look like a deer caught in the headlights. He was not a starter during those postseason runs, but he was a starter on Opening Day 2022. So now that the winter had given way to spr...

The moment found Gavin Lux in the fourth inning. The Los Angeles Dodgers trailed the Colorado Rockies by two runs. There were two men on, and two out. The 2019 Minor League Player of the Year was once the Dodgers top prospect. However, minor league success doesn't always equate to the Major League level.

In similar situations in 2020 and 2021, Lux would often look like a deer caught in the headlights. He was not a starter during those postseason runs, but he was a starter on Opening Day 2022. So now that the winter had given way to spring, the ballpark gates had opened, and the hot dogs had hit the grills, baseball was back and with it, a new hope, renewed optimism, and a chance at a fresh start.

Lux delivered with a game-tying, two-out, two-run single that opened up the scoring on the 2022 campaign. The Dodgers would usher in a new season of baseball with a 5-3 victory over the Rockies at Coors Field.

With the dawning of the 2022 season came some familiar faces as well as new ones. There were flashes of the future, as well as the promise of how potent this Dodgers offense can be when firing on all cylinders.

There was the old: Charlie Blackmon's beard, as well as Wednesday's starter, Clayton Kershaw, all smiles in his Dodgers' uniform back for a 15th big league season.

There was the new: Kershaw passing the proverbial baton on to Walker Buehler for his first-ever Opening Day start. There was longtime Braves' first baseman Freddie Freeman in a Dodgers uniform, longtime Cubs' third baseman Kris Bryant in a Rockies uniform, Corey Seager and Kenley Jansen no longer in the Dodgers' clubhouse, and the new universal DH in the National League.

And then, after five long months that included a 91-day lockout, there was finally a baseball game played.

Dodgers' fans should try not to take that for granted. Less than two years ago, the Dodgers won the World Series as the home team in Game 6. Only fans weren't celebrating at Dodger Stadium as Randy Newman's "I Love L.A." blared over the loud speakers.

Instead, a select few thousand fans were on-hand to watch the Dodgers win the World Series inside Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. There was no parade down Vin Scully Ave, no confetti, no fanfare. The coronavirus pandemic all but assured that, and brought out the doubters calling for an asterisk to be placed next to the Dodgers title because of the shortened 60-game season.

It didn't take long for Coors Field to live up to its name and for the floodgates to open. Rockies' third baseman Ryan McMahon opened the bottom of the second inning with a double. Former Dodger, Connor Joe, moved him to third with a single, and another single by Jose Iglesias three batters later gave Colorado an early 2-0 lead, and brought tears of exultation and joy to the eyes of Iglesias as he hugged Freeman at first base. Baseball was officially back, and we all felt similar emotions as Iglesias.

“It was a beautiful moment," said Iglesias, who recently lost his father. ”Beyond baseball, we're human beings. That was very nice of Freddie."

Freeman himself lost his mother to skin cancer when he was 10 years old.

“He's like, ‘I know what you’re going through,'" recounted Iglesias, whose father was from Cuba. “It was very emotional for me.”

The Dodgers hung five runs on the Rockies in the fourth inning thanks to an offensive explosion by what many believe is the best lineup in baseball.

Will Smith—no, not that one—hit a one-out single to start the onslaught. Chris Taylor followed with a double off the wall in right field. With two outs, Lux singled both runs home to tie the game. Mookie Betts followed with a double down the left field line and Trea Turner singled home Betts two batters later. Rockies' reliever Tyler Kinley was called upon to limit the damage, but a wild pitch made it a five-run inning and the Dodgers never looked back.

Five runs turned out to be all Buehler would need in the first Opening Day start of his six-year career. Primarily throwing his four-seam fastball inside on righties, and mixing it up with his changeup, Buehler struck out five, walked two, and allowed just two runs on four hits in five innings. He threw a total of 78 pitches as he continues to ramp up following a shortened spring training.

“To get off to a good start for our team is the biggest thing," Buehler said. “I was fortunate that we put up that inning there to put me in a spot to get a win.”

The bullpen did their job, throwing three shutout innings before a shaky ninth, as the Dodgers continued to roll out their best relievers at the Rockies. Brusdar Graterol, Blake Treinen, Daniel Hudson, and new closer Craig Kimbrel combined for four innings of relief to secure the victory. Just how manager Dave Roberts drew it up.

"To be able to deploy Graterol, Treinen, Hudson and Kimbrel makes my job a whole lot easier," said Roberts after the game.

In the end, it was a perfectly fitting Opening Day for the Boys in Blue. A beautiful day for baseball, a five-run inning, Buehler pitching well, and a Dodgers victory.

A new Christmas tradition in Newman

Last year, with many holiday traditions sidelined because of the pandemic, Jessica Diaz and Juan Elias wanted to do something that would spark a little holiday joy for their four children. What they did ended up brightening the holiday for dozens of West Side kids and started a new tradition for the family.The couple turned the outside of their Patchett Drive home into a Christmas extravaganza with light shows and decorations and a drive-through visit with Santa Claus. It was such a popular and well-received event, that they knew they...

Last year, with many holiday traditions sidelined because of the pandemic, Jessica Diaz and Juan Elias wanted to do something that would spark a little holiday joy for their four children. What they did ended up brightening the holiday for dozens of West Side kids and started a new tradition for the family.

The couple turned the outside of their Patchett Drive home into a Christmas extravaganza with light shows and decorations and a drive-through visit with Santa Claus. It was such a popular and well-received event, that they knew they had to do it again — only this year it’s bigger and better, according to Diaz.

“It was an awesome experience for everyone last year, so we knew we had to do it again this year,” Diaz said.

The Christmas spirit is spreading with some of the neighbors joining in by decorating their own houses and yards.

“Before we started last year, this neighborhood was pitch black during the holiday,” Diaz said.

Diaz said her husband had plans of starting the work in October but was sidelined when he was diagnosed with COVID-19.

“Once he was feeling better, the first thing he did was start working on the decorations,” Diaz said.

Elias said he lost count of how many lights he put up, but he does recall the moment when they gathered outside as a family to see it turned on for the first time. He had it set up so that it would all come on with a push of a button. The family counted down and the four kids all placed a hand and pushed the button.

“Nothing happened,” he said laughing.

It was a scene straight out of “Christmas Vacation” but fortunately for Elias, it only took him a few minutes to fix and then the house and yard were awash in Christmas spirit.

“It is really magical for the kids,” Diaz said.

The family and their neighbor will once again host a visit from Santa Claus for the community. He will be at the residence in the 1500 block of Patchett Drive from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday.

“It’s a new tradition that has been born,” Diaz said.

Post Offices in Newman, Gustine hiring ahead of holiday surge

In preparation for the upcoming holidays, the Newman and Gustine Post Offices are looking to hire additional workers as online orders surge.As preparations for the 2021 winter holidays continue, the U.S. Postal Service is currently hiring more than 40,000 seasonal positions and opportunities will soon be available at the Newman and Gustine offices. It’s the agency’s peak season for mail and package deliveries, and the already-busy period has been amplified by the pandemic.While e-commerce was already an expanding in...

In preparation for the upcoming holidays, the Newman and Gustine Post Offices are looking to hire additional workers as online orders surge.

As preparations for the 2021 winter holidays continue, the U.S. Postal Service is currently hiring more than 40,000 seasonal positions and opportunities will soon be available at the Newman and Gustine offices. It’s the agency’s peak season for mail and package deliveries, and the already-busy period has been amplified by the pandemic.

While e-commerce was already an expanding industry prior to COVID-19, the virus forced even more shoppers online. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, online sales in 2020 increased 32.4% from 2019 to 2020. E-commerce revenue hit $791.70 billion last year, up from $598.02 billion in 2019 and representing the highest rate of annual online sales growth for which data is available.

According to USPS communications program specialist Meiko Patton, the Newman and Gustine Post Offices will each hire one additional employee in November in order to keep up with the influx of holiday deliveries.

These positions aren’t just short-term jobs, but opportunities to make connections for long-term careers which can help make a difference in the community. Openings include but are not limited to mail carriers, mail handlers and drivers.

“Our entire organization is focused on delivering a successful holiday season. To make this happen, we need great people to join us to deliver for our local communities and our nation,” said CEO and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. “The Postal Service offers many opportunities for seasonal employment. For many, a seasonal role can be the start of an exciting career with the Postal Service.”

An August survey conducted by YouGov and released on Monday shows that about six in 10 consumers (62%) will shop online this holiday season, and more than half plan to start prior to Halloween so that they can avoid any potential supply-chain disruptions. While that number is down from 71% in 2020 when many COVID shutdowns were still in place, it’s significantly higher than the amount of online shoppers in 2019 (51%).

According to Patton, USPS workers are responsible for many of those deliveries.

“One thing Americans’ have learned to value throughout the pandemic is the United States Postal Service and we are proud to be their shipper of choice,” Patton said. “We have continued to deliver vital goods and services to the public, keeping them connected and supplied.”

In addition to hiring, the Postal Service is preparing for the higher delivery demands of the 2021 holiday peak season by leasing millions of additional square feet of mail and package sortation facilities and installing new processing equipment to accommodate higher mail and package volumes. The Postal Service generally receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products, and services to fund its operations.

Job seekers can find and apply for open positions in Newman and Gustine by visiting usps.com/hiring.

Funnel cloud spotted in Newman

The storm that passed over the Westside on Monday brought more than rain, as Newman resident Edulia Guzman captured an image of a funnel cloud on Monday.Guzman lives in the 1700 block of Yellowstone Park Court and noticed the funnel cloud forming around 1:40 p.m. Monday.“It was right behind my house over an open field,” Guzman said.Guzman said her son, Luis Guzman Jr., came home and said “there was a tornado behind the house.”“We were really excited, but honestly we thought about our ...

The storm that passed over the Westside on Monday brought more than rain, as Newman resident Edulia Guzman captured an image of a funnel cloud on Monday.

Guzman lives in the 1700 block of Yellowstone Park Court and noticed the funnel cloud forming around 1:40 p.m. Monday.

“It was right behind my house over an open field,” Guzman said.

Guzman said her son, Luis Guzman Jr., came home and said “there was a tornado behind the house.”

“We were really excited, but honestly we thought about our dogs being outside, so we got them in and then it started to rain really hard,” Guzman said.

A funnel cloud is a rotating column of air that can be seen because of the condensation. If a funnel cloud reaches all the way to the ground, it is then classified as a tornado, according to AccuWeather.

The Newman and Gustine area will see cloudy conditions for the rest of the week, with the chance of more rain starting on Tuesday.

In the Sierra Nevada’s, it was a white Christmas as record snowfall blanketed the mountains and provided much-needed insurance to the depleted California snowpack.

California typically receives 90% of its rain and snowfall between early October and late April, which sets the stage for how water supplies will be balanced in the year ahead. The amount of water California receives from the snowpack is imperative in meeting the diverse water needs of unique regions found throughout the State — especially in the summer and fall — for everything from farming to drinking.

At the beginning of December, the statewide snowpack sat at just 19% of normal for the date following two straight years of drought conditions. December has provided relief, however, with wet conditions which first began with storms two weeks ago. Following the mid-month rainfall, the snowpack jumped from 19% to 76% of normal for the date according to the Department of Water Resources.

Following this weekend’s wild weather, the statewide snowpack now sits at 159% of normal for the date. The Central Sierra snowpack is now 166% of normal, and it’s been a wet few months for the San Joaquin Hydrologic Region, which includes the Tuolumne River Watershed and Don Pedro Reservoir. Since Oct. 1, DWR says the region has received 173% of normal precipitation. Don Pedro now sits at 53% capacity and 78% of the reservoir’s historical average.

Donner Pass in the Sierra received a record-breaking amount of snow, with UC Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Laboratory tweeting they received 38.9 inches of snow in just 24 hours. That helped smash the previous December record of 179 inches, set in 1970, with a total of 193.7 inches — and more on the way. DWR’s first snow survey is set for Dec. 30, which will reveal the month’s totals.

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