Dog Bites

Cat Bites
You can't walk past a telephone pole in Noe Valley these days without coming upon a missing-cat notice. All kinds of cats, apparently, are gone -- so much so that the signs are referring to each other, as in, "yes, this is another missing-cat sign." What's up? Cat burglars? Catnapping?

Nope, the experts say. At San Francisco's Animal Care and Control office, the woman who answers the phone says, "We always have an astronomical number of missing-cat reports" -- 20 to 25 a day. One way to deter your cat from taking off is to keep it inside, she says.

Over at the 24th Street Veterinary Hospital, Dr. Joe Killian has another piece of advice for people who don't want their cats catting around: "One thing they could do is to neuter their cats," he says. "Cats that aren't neutered don't tend to last very long. They tend to stray and fight."

Passing Gas
Major corporations stick the poor with higher prices for everything. Well, almost everything. An informal survey of gas prices at Shell stations in San Francisco shows that low-income neighborhoods tend to pay less for petrol than do more affluent ones. A Shell station in Bayview-Hunters Point (Third and 25th streets) often charges as much as 10 cents less for a gallon of premium than does the Shell station farther up Third Street in SOMA. (This week, premium is going for $1.44 a gallon in Bayview and $1.49 in SOMA.) Jeffrey Masko, the guy with the priciest Shell gas in town ($1.56), explains it all for you. Masko, the assistant manager at Bud's service station at California and Steiner in Pacific Heights, says Shell sends out a wholesale price over the computer, allowing individual stations, which are privately owned, to determine how much they charge customers. "Every dealer has the option of marking it up depending on the neighborhood, volume, or whatever small business variables," he says. "It's kind of like an abstract type of thing, but a block and a half can make all the difference." In this case, a mere two miles separates the Third Street stations.

Bad Seed
What's a filmmaker gotta do to get some respect in his hometown? That's what's bugging local director Richard Sears, whose An Evil Town has been rejected by film fests in the city -- though festival critics in Cannes and New York have bestowed prizes on his 20-minute short.

Based on a lean, bleak story by Charles Bukowski, An Evil Town follows a drifter as he checks into a seedy hotel; goes to a porno cinema and gazes upon a man performing fellatio on another; then later brutally castrates a clerk at the hotel who has made unappreciated advances. Family entertainment it's not, which the 25-year-old Sears acknowledges while emphasizing that he has remained true to Bukowski's original.

Sears also notes that at least two jurors for the S.F. International Film Festival's Golden Gate Awards rejected his work for screening with a single word on their evaluations: "homophobic." Sears, who is straight, denies that critique, noting that the film's producer, Mat Lundberg, is gay. "Besides," Sears notes, "no matter what your race or sexuality, you've always got your bad seeds, and that's what interests me."

Peter Scarlet, artistic director for the S.F. International Film Festival, has not seen An Evil Town but stands by the jurors' decision: "The strength of our festival is the variety of opinions jurors bring" to the selection of films to be screened, Scarlet says.

Though he craves it, Sears may not need any applause from the home crowd after all. Based on the success of An Evil Town, French production company CanalPlus has contracted with the young director to make a short film for the European market.

By Ellen McGarrahan, Jeff Stark, John Sullivan

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