Columns

Start the Presses: Making a few political predictions

Start the Presses: Making a few political predictions

Election season is over, but the sad detritus of failed campaigns remain along the boulevards and byways of our lovely cities and, if history is any guide, will be there until at least mid-summer.

A Word, Please: Admiration and helpful hints for salespeople

A Word, Please: Admiration and helpful hints for salespeople

Once upon a time, in another life now recalled only in nightmares, I was a salesperson. My longest-held position (which I didn’t hold for long) required me to go door-to-door in office complexes trying to get companies to change their long-distance telephone service.

Learning Matters: New novel focuses on Armenian Genocide's aftermath

Learning Matters: New novel focuses on Armenian Genocide's aftermath

I received an email recently from a publicist asking if I intended to write a column about the Armenian Genocide. If so, would I be interested in meeting an author who was coming to town on a book tour?

Burb's Eye View: Volunteers help veteran get a home makeover

Burb's Eye View: Volunteers help veteran get a home makeover

He had lived in the house for more than 30 years, but now the pink paint was beginning to peel on Don Ray’s Verdugo Avenue home.

The Whiteboard Jungle: When a person's words become someone else's

The Whiteboard Jungle: When a person's words become someone else's

"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." Screenwriters James Warner Bellah and Willis Goldbeck wrote this famous line for the John Ford-directed 1962 film "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence," starring John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart.

A Word, Please: There's a thin line between right and wrong

A Word, Please: There's a thin line between right and wrong

Like everyone who lives in Los Angeles County, I've spent the last several weeks picturing myself in a jury selection pool for the Robert Durst trial.

Burb's Eye View: Couple help reinvent the Burbank bar

Burb's Eye View: Couple help reinvent the Burbank bar

A few hours before the Friday lunch crowd fills the tables at Tony’s Darts Away, owners Tony and Amy Yanow stand at the head of the pool table. They’ve stacked 21 pairs of brown Converse sneakers on the felt and are opening a couple boxes to inspect the custom embroidery on each shoe.

Start the Presses: A last chat before the election

Start the Presses: A last chat before the election

Election day in Glendale is nearly upon us. Tuesday means it’s time to boogie down to your polling station and make your choices.

A Word, Please: Some commas can give an editor pause

A Word, Please: Some commas can give an editor pause

A lot of people are taught that a comma goes anywhere you want to indicate a pause. On the surface, that system appears to work out fine. Commas often do just that. But not always.

Learning Matters: Taking a look at news in 1955 and now

Learning Matters: Taking a look at news in 1955 and now

While researching an upcoming column, I’ve been spending some time at the Central Library. Looking through old city directories in the Special Collections room and viewing microfilm of the Glendale News-Press, circa 1955 (it was a bigger paper then!), I’ve been hunting for information...

Read On: Making plans for the big night

Read On: Making plans for the big night

My beautiful and talented daughter Gabi is getting married two weeks from today. And it’s all great. She’s marrying a terrific guy with a fantastic work ethic and from top-notch stock. She’s 26. Not too young. Not too old. Nobody’s pregnant or anything. All is right in...

A Word, Please: Idiom takes the wind out of proper sails

A Word, Please: Idiom takes the wind out of proper sails

They say marriage is all about give and take. Compromise. Meeting each other halfway. But to read my emails over the years, you could only conclude that marriage is about something quite different: winning. Specifically, winning arguments. More specifically, winning arguments about grammar.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Test scores shouldn't be main factor in rating teachers

The Whiteboard Jungle: Test scores shouldn't be main factor in rating teachers

A lasting legacy of the “No Child Left Behind” federal legislation has been the notion of tying student test scores to teachers’ job evaluations. Due to the controversy of such an idea, school districts across the country that have implemented it have limited its impact on a...

Burb's Eye View: CicLAvia opens vistas, raises questions

Burb's Eye View: CicLAvia opens vistas, raises questions

I came home from Sunday’s CicLAvia bike ride filled with adrenaline and curiosity for how it might work in Burbank. And if Burbank is ever to try something similar, it has some serious questions to ask itself before inviting more than 100,000 cyclists to try their tires on its streets.

Piece of Mind: The road toward a sensible future

Piece of Mind: The road toward a sensible future

Attachments. We all form them, not only to people, pets, personal belongings and places, but also to our daily routines. Some of those bonds are vital to our happiness; some we could shed.

A Word, Please: Some rules we don't have to abide by

A Word, Please: Some rules we don't have to abide by

The essence of drama, as they say, is conflict. Comedy is no different, as every show from “The Honeymooners” to “30 Rock” proves.

Learning Matters: Praising examples of two remarkable educators

Learning Matters: Praising examples of two remarkable educators

Parents worry a lot about whether schools are adequately serving their children, and educators do, too. Given the task of instructing students who have increasingly diverse needs, teachers, counselors and administrators feel the pressure of their assignment, as societal issues and educational...

Burb's Eye View: Burg-muda Triangle is an intersection of change

Burb's Eye View: Burg-muda Triangle is an intersection of change

When the neon sign was taken down at Papoo’s Hot Dog Show in 2013, a new era began in Burbank’s high-steaks grill game.

Read On: A new app for your best friend

Read On: A new app for your best friend

As we know, one day there will be an app for everything. Getting you into bed. Getting you out of bed. Providing companionship in bed. Eating. Breathing. Escaping from prison.

A Word, Please: There's a sound reason to use 'a' or 'an'

A Word, Please: There's a sound reason to use 'a' or 'an'

Steve in Glendale wrote to tell me about a snag he hit recently when writing about a blogger on a National Public Radio website.

The Whiteboard Jungle: People need to do right thing when accidents occur

The Whiteboard Jungle: People need to do right thing when accidents occur

Call me old-fashioned, but I’m the type of person who believes in doing the right thing. It is a philosophy that flows through the way I conduct my life, including my teaching.

Burb's Eye View: Plans for community gardening are taking root

Burb's Eye View: Plans for community gardening are taking root

This past weekend, I was reminded of how satisfying a tiny patch of earth can be.

Start the Presses: Spring will be a season of change

Start the Presses: Spring will be a season of change

Spring is (nearly) in the air. Besides the annual annoyance of losing an hour of sleep due to Daylight Saving Time, it’s a wonderful time to be alive.

A Word, Please: There's no use calling a word not a word

A Word, Please: There's no use calling a word not a word

If you do a Google search for the term “isn’t a word” and throw in the term “grammar” to sift out the silliness, you’ll get a lot of hits. Most of them are people saying that some word isn’t a word. Or that some other person said that some word isn’t a...

Learning Matters: Weighing in on three election day measures

Learning Matters: Weighing in on three election day measures

A few months ago, I shared information for prospective members of the Glendale Unified school board, outlining some of the realities of that office.

Burb's Eye View: Small change as a token of the bigger kind

Burb's Eye View: Small change as a token of the bigger kind

Last week, I received my first personal email from my 6-year-old nephew, Owen. He’s the oldest of his siblings and cousins, which means he will be the first of his generation to try new things.

Read On: Getting together for a street hockey tradition

Read On: Getting together for a street hockey tradition

Well we lost another icon on Friday with the death of Leonard Nimoy, the incomparable Mr. Spock of “Star Trek” fame and by all accounts a good and decent man of real character. His looks to have been a life especially well-lived. After all is said and done, what more is there?

The Whiteboard Jungle: Tuition is not main hurdle for most community college students

The Whiteboard Jungle: Tuition is not main hurdle for most community college students

What does $1,400 buy nowadays? One year of cellphone service with T-Mobile, one year of television with DirecTV, or one year’s tuition at a California community college — for 60% of students, that is. The other 40% pay no tuition.

A Word, Please: Speakers shall say whatever they will

A Word, Please: Speakers shall say whatever they will

History has never been my subject, a fact I attribute to my “cut to the chase” type of thinking. In history, the chase always goes: Dude One fights Dude Two for the right to control Thing A and, when a victor emerges, everyone has to live under dude rule.

Burb's Eye View: A young book lover runs her own free library

Burb's Eye View: A young book lover runs her own free library

Ella Peresie found the giant box under the family Christmas tree, and though it had her name on it, she struggled to figure out what it was. Most kids might be happy with a few toys or the occasional clothes.

Start the Presses: Getting ready for election time

Start the Presses: Getting ready for election time

Remember when I said a few months ago that I wanted to shoot for at least a 25% turnout in our local municipal elections? Well, time to make it happen.

A Word, Please: An editor's effort to correct a pet peeve

A Word, Please: An editor's effort to correct a pet peeve

Did you hear the one about the guy who went onto Wikipedia and deleted 47,000 instances of the phrase “comprised of”?

Learning Matters: Clark Magnet High students shine at Eco Challenge

Learning Matters: Clark Magnet High students shine at Eco Challenge

Motivation matters in education, so what we say about why students learn is important. What students think about why they study matters even more.

Burb's Eye View: Mural helps light up tribute to 'Torch'

Burb's Eye View: Mural helps light up tribute to 'Torch'

For a few hours on Feb. 8, much of the L.A. swing scene descended on Joe’s Great American Bar and Grill on Magnolia Boulevard, paying tribute to the ding-dong daddy who kept that place bumpin.’

Read On: It's time for a heart to heart

Read On: It's time for a heart to heart

A quick check of the calendar tells us that it’s Valentine’s Day, the day commandeered by the retail floral, chocolate and lingerie industries and designed specifically to shame men into demonstrating their love for their mate by putting their money where their heart is.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Appreciating the greatness of Nat King Cole

The Whiteboard Jungle: Appreciating the greatness of Nat King Cole

One of my journalism students wrote an opinion piece lamenting the poor quality of music today when compared to 30 years ago, an unusual yet perceptive observation from someone so young. She mentioned the increasing use of Auto-Tune, a computer program that fixes a singer’s tonal performance.

A Word, Please: An eggcorn is also known as a mondegreen

A Word, Please: An eggcorn is also known as a mondegreen

When enough people use a word wrong, eventually it becomes right. That’s how every word in the language came to be. People started using a word differently than before (read: wrong) and it caught on and at one point started being right.

Burb's Eye View: Award honors volunteerism of older residents

Burb's Eye View: Award honors volunteerism of older residents

If you’ve been in Burbank a while, you may remember the first year the city bestowed its County of Los Angeles Outstanding Older American Award.

A Word, Please: Left dangling, a participle can lose its logic

A Word, Please: Left dangling, a participle can lose its logic

Danglers are an extremely important language concept. Not so much for writers as for jokesters. Danglers in writing and speech don’t necessarily hurt the reader. Often the message comes across just fine despite this dreaded error.

Learning Matters: Parent participation can lead to more student success

Learning Matters: Parent participation can lead to more student success

I think it peculiar that the federal Department of Education requires schools to establish meaningful parent engagement strategies as a condition of receiving federal funds, but the California Department of Education has called into question some of the more successful parent engagement models in...

Burb's Eye View: Libraries seek to give veterans a helping hand

Burb's Eye View: Libraries seek to give veterans a helping hand

The self-help section at the city’s two major libraries is about to become a larger resource for military veterans and their families.

The Whiteboard Jungle: Measles outbreak is a sign of selfishness

The Whiteboard Jungle: Measles outbreak is a sign of selfishness

What began as a curious story of a small measles outbreak in, of all places, the so-called Happiest Place on Earth, Disneyland, has stretched to nearly 100 cases across eight states and into Mexico.

Burb's Eye View: A channel bikeway and backyard politics

Burb's Eye View: A channel bikeway and backyard politics

A sand-colored cinder-block wall separates the Western Channel Bikeway from a home on Elm Street. It blocks the view of the path, but not the cigarette smoke that wafts into Jorge Pineda's house.

Start the Presses: Doing our part following the money

Start the Presses: Doing our part following the money

There are three clichés in journalism. Well, main ones. The first is: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

A Word, Please: Ten common usages mistaken for mistakes

A Word, Please: Ten common usages mistaken for mistakes

Some people just love to correct others’ grammar and usage. They know it rubs people the wrong way. But they justify it like this: “I’m doing the poor ignoramuses a favor. I’ll endure their resentment for their own good. I’m no hero. Just your average, everyday martyr.&...

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