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NEWS
By Michael Miller | August 7, 2012
It's rare that I remember a magazine cover a decade and a half later, but one that has stuck in my mind - and not in a good way - is the issue of Time from the week after the Columbine High School massacre. Anyone from the class of 1998, the last before Columbine, can probably remember the moment they first heard about the shooting that claimed 15 lives and left dozens more wounded. It's the kind of story that becomes automatic front-page news, and a magazine cover, in particular, calls for a searing image: shots of weeping survivors, a gun-themed graphic, candles outside of the school.
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NEWS
By Michael Miller | August 1, 2012
On Friday, Jacqueline Halasz and her two children met at a bakery in Los Angeles and decorated an elaborate birthday cake, writing the recipient's name in frosting and topping it with a single candle. Afterward, they returned to Halasz's nearby apartment, where they treated themselves to a single slice. Then they stuck the rest of the cake in the freezer, where it will live indefinitely. The cake's recipient was Marc Cross, Halasz's ex-husband, who disappeared a year ago apparently while kayaking in Newport Harbor.
NEWS
By Michael Miller | July 25, 2012
Oh, those traumatic memories of "Toy Story 3. " For some reason, I've kept encountering playthings during my last couple of weeks covering Huntington Beach. First, there was the Course of the Force, a "Star Wars"-themed charity relay in which participants carried a plastic lightsaber — a toy I coveted myself decades back — for a quarter-mile each. Then last week, I interviewed a family who found the front piece of a Japanese electric train set on the rocks at Huntington Dog Beach.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Michael Miller | July 10, 2012
Yes, this might have been my wish. That was the thought that recurred in my mind as I inched my way through the crowd at Sunday afternoon's "Star Wars" festival by the Huntington Beach Pier. The Course of the Force, a charity relay for theMake-A-Wish Foundation, had made its latest stop at Pier Plaza, and the intersection of Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway swarmed with plastic lightsabers, Obi-Wan robes and even a model R2-D2. Right near the crosswalk, next to the inflatable entrance gate that led to the vendor booths, was the headlining attraction: a replica of the Khetanna, Jabba the Hutt's sail barge from "Return of the Jedi," which the organizers had built from scratch to serve as the relay's lead vehicle.
NEWS
By Michael Miller | July 2, 2012
Dear Matt, Tom and Ricardo, You guys are very lucky. I say that because, back when we all sat at that table together in eighth-grade mechanical drawing, iPhones and YouTube hadn't been invented yet. So you can treasure your anonymity. And I'm happy to grant it to you — I've even altered your first names slightly for this column, to show you how merciful I am. Seriously, I forgive you. Yes, you made my life pretty miserable for those few weeks in 1993, but two decades is a long time.
NEWS
By Michael Miller | June 26, 2012
The small gray sign points out at passing cars on Newland Street, bearing a name and a few dates that imperfectly summarize a life of service. For future generations, the text will provide the basics: Bauer Park, named after Ralph H. Bauer, mayor in 1997 and a councilman from 1992 to 2002. A historian may be needed, years from now, to add that Bauer helped to create Huntington Central Park and half a dozen schools, that he helped to unify the city's religious leaders, and that his work on behalf of human rights led humanist authors from around the world to visit Surf City.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Michael Miller | June 20, 2012
A few years ago, two of my Canadian cousins were visiting California and stopped back at the house enthused. The cause of their excitement? They had been driving around in their rental car when the Beach Boys' "I Get Around" came on the radio. After years of listening to the band's lush harmonies, they had finally heard them in Southern California itself — an experience probably more authentic than the rides at Disney California Adventure. It says something about the timelessness of the Beach Boys' best music that even after Brian Wilson's decades of psychiatric woes, even after all the lawsuits filed by band members against each other, even after years of bad press and tell-all biographies, songs like "Fun, Fun, Fun" and "Surfin' U.S.A.
NEWS
By Michael Miller | June 13, 2012
When I was a graduate student in England, I once attended a soccer game - or football, as they call it most everywhere but here. I didn't get much out of it. It seemed awfully simple: two teams kicking the ball back and forth for two hours, and once in a long while, there was a shot into the net. At least, that's the way it seemed to a neophyte. I remember the time I introduced baseball to a Vietnamese roommate and found myself struggling to explain it in sound bites.
NEWS
By Michael Miller | June 6, 2012
There's an old Paul Simon tune called "One Man's Ceiling Is Another Man's Floor. " The title sentiment can be taken literally — the song, on the surface, is about squabbling apartment tenants — but it can also be taken to mean that what seems lofty and unattainable for one person can seem like no great shakes for another. Consider this: When you donate to a food bank or a Third World clinic, do you ever read the literature explaining how they plan to stretch out your dollar?
NEWS
By Michael Miller | May 30, 2012
This just in: The 2012 presidential race heated up last week, slightly, as a pair of new challengers threw their hats in the ring. Some may recognize former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who ran unsuccessfully last time. Texas Rep. Ron Paul, whose name turns up almost no matches on Google, is new to the ballot. Both candidates, after posting a few lawn signs at busy intersections, will challenge incumbent Barack Obama, who has quietly done his job the last three years and hinted that he plans to seek reelection.
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