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By Michael Miller | May 21, 2012
Wednesday afternoon, I attended a fundraiser for the family of Austin Brashears, the Marina High School graduate who died the weekend before in a New Zealand road accident. It was held at the Hot Off the Grill restaurant in northwest Huntington Beach, and I had a hard time getting in - the crowd at the register spilled out so far that anyone entering through the front door had to inch in slowly. The area outside the restaurant, which Brashears frequented before heading to Boston University, had turned into a makeshift memorial for a life cut short.
By Michael Miller | May 16, 2012
A few years ago, I visited the home of the blues and came away with a theory: If God wants to punish vegans, He sends them to Memphis. I came to that belief after nearly an hour trying to find an animal-free entrée on the posted menus on Beale Street, which made my arteries thicken just by looking at them: double-deep-fried catfish, baby back ribs slathered in bacon, and that sort of thing. For members of the Merry Meatless, Orange County offers a cornucopia of choices: think of the Bodhi Tree Vegetarian Cafe in Huntington Beach, Au Lac in Fountain Valley and the chains Native Foods and Veggie Grill.
By Michael Miller | April 30, 2012
When I was a wet-behind-the-ears cub reporter in high school, I once interviewed a local teacher who had held her job for more than 30 years. At one point in our conversation, I asked if she had ever been recognized by the city - my assumption being that anyone who had served her school for so long must have a plaque or key of some kind. She seemed pleasantly surprised by the question, but responded that no, the politicians hadn't come knocking. That's the story for most teachers, who, the occasional state award or newspaper article aside, leave most of their legacy in the memories of former students.
April 25, 2012
A former editor of mine sometimes referred to what he called a "Hey, Martha" story. That was his term for a story with an offbeat or amusing twist. In other words, if an old couple were rocking on their front porch while the husband read the paper, he might push his glasses up from the tip of his nose and say, "Hey, Martha? You ought to check out this article... " I love "Hey, Martha" stories too, but after so many years, I can get blase about them. When you've gotten your 11th phone call about a great-grandmother turning 100 or a man running cross-country to fight muscular dystrophy, the thrill starts to wear off. The other day, though, my colleague Lauren Williams wrote a story for the Daily Pilot that truly took me for a loop.
By Michael Miller | April 18, 2012
As the Angels embark on a new season, I have a signed baseball in my collection at home that probably isn't worth much money. But I don't care. Suffice to say that it's probably the only baseball in existence signed by Chad Curtis, the Angels' left and center fielder from 1992 to 1994, and his wife. Yes, his wife. And anyone can see that, because, unlike the average ballplayer's, her handwriting is quite legible. Right now, of course, it's hip to love the Angels.
By Michael Miller | April 11, 2012
One of the perks of being a reporter is that it sometimes pushes you to become a better citizen. That's because, in the course of covering stories (and occasionally uncovering wrongdoing), you find yourself repeatedly coming face to face with social ills. And it makes them that much harder to ignore. Case in point: Two years ago, I wrote a profile on Tom Jones, a Huntington Beach resident who planned to paddleboard from Florida to New York to spread awareness about plastic in the ocean.
By Michael Miller | April 4, 2012
Last week, Times Community News got a surprise visit from a poet. No, Rita Dove or Mark Strand didn't stop by the newsroom. But our story on DrunkRescue, a new Huntington Beach business that offers rides home for out-on-the-town drunks, got an online reader comment much different from the usual anonymous posting. It was different, mainly, because it was written in rhymed couplets. I emailed the author and asked for his or her name so we could print the comment in Mailbag (it's in our letters page this week)
By Michael Miller | March 28, 2012
Every so often, a local story turns into a national one — and then a local one again, as individual communities hold themselves up to the light and question whether a similar thing could happen to them. Such has been the case with the death of Trayvon Martin. Leaving one obvious factor out, the incident in Sanford, Fla. — in which an unarmed 17-year-old was shot by a neighborhood watchman who claimed self-defense — is tragic but not unusual. Every day, somewhere, people die under dubious circumstances; every day, judges and police listen to conflicting accounts of who followed whom or who attacked first.
March 21, 2012
I had a college professor who kept a sign on her office door with a concise slogan: "Men are from Earth. Women are from Earth. Get used to it. " As one who has always considered the genders more alike than different, I applaud that sentiment, and I'm happy to back it up with evidence. For example, if I gave you a transcript of one of our newsroom meetings and blacked out the speakers' names, I'd venture that you couldn't tell the difference between a masculine or feminine comment.
By Michael Miller | March 14, 2012
Tuesday morning, I spent more than an hour at Coastline Community College with a woman who declared herself a pacifist at an early age, then went on to a long career with theU.S. military. From the above paragraph, you may think this is going to be a story about transformation. It's not. Stephanie Stone, a retired Navy corpsman, has never served in combat, never even treated a combat casualty. But Tuesday morning, she became the second guest in Coastline's Coffee with a Veteran series, in which members of the public mingle with people who have served their country in myriad ways.
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