Columns

A Word, Please: P, Q mindfulness may effect fewer errors

A Word, Please: P, Q mindfulness may effect fewer errors

A user on Twitter asked me recently about the difference between “affect” and “effect.” Specifically, she wanted to know which to use in the phrase “the affect/effect of celebrity endorsements.”

Around Town: Springtime calls to mind the cycle of life

Around Town: Springtime calls to mind the cycle of life

The pine tree we planted has grown tall. The cones tumble down, full of sap. Hummingbirds nest in the branches. The mama birds dive bomb when I walk by. They want to attack me, divert me and protect their young.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: It takes more than talk to be a patriot

On a recent evening I attended the Patriot Tour at the Pasadena Civic Center. It featured Marcus Luttrell, former Navy SEAL and lone survivor of the ill-fated “Operation Red Wing.” Special forces warriors Billy Wagasy, Pete Scobell and Chad Fleming were also present along with Tyra Kyle,...

Around Town: Remembering Darcie Sims' contributions

“Have you ever had a moment? You know, a moment when time stood still and everything was as it should be — right and good and whole and wonderful. A moment when you were in the right place at the right time and life was good. Did you ever have a moment like that?”

Piece of Mind: Letters from some read-in fans

A large envelope addressed to me in cursive handwriting was delivered to our home mailbox last week. A quick glance at the return address suggested I was in for a special treat. La Cañada Elementary School teacher Sue Fuelling had earlier alerted me via email that she hoped to soon send...

A Word, Please: Long-standing 'over' rule is overruled

A Word, Please: Long-standing 'over' rule is overruled

It was the Tweet that launched 1,000 groans from copy editors: The Associated Press Stylebook's longtime snubbing of "over" is over.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: LCHS version of 'Macbeth' is exuberating show

I’m no longer writing the Great American Novel. It’s done! I’m now in the laborious editing process. So the other day while I was reading between the lines, a bunch of excited La Cañada High School kids stormed into Starbucks partying like it’s 1999. Their antics...

Around Town: Gelson's opens store in La Cañada

Around Town: Gelson's opens store in La Cañada

Last week’s E-ticket was the Gelson’s La Cañada grand opening in Plaza de La Cañada. By 9 a.m. there was a...

A Word, Please: Are initials in parentheses really necessary?

A Word, Please: Are initials in parentheses really necessary?

People sometimes tell me to tell other people what to do, linguistically that is. I’ll get an email saying something like, “It drives me nuts when people say ‘Fruit is a healthy snack’ instead of ‘Fruit is a healthful snack.’ Please write a column telling them...

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Lessons from a school night

I enjoy the La Cañada High School open house. It’s a chance to hang with my buddies Bill Decker, Mike Riley and David Vaughn. All we need is a bottle of Jack Daniels, a few cigars, and we’d be in hog heaven. This year I was more serious. I didn’t want to embarrass my wife,...

Around Town: Suggested spring break reading

Spring break is here, so it’s time for the Around Town annual reading list.

Piece of Mind: There is another development in the news

While hundreds of people packed into an auditorium at Crescenta Valley High School Tuesday night to learn about the proposed territory transfer of the “Sagebrush” area out of Glendale Unified and into La Cañada Unified, a much smaller but equally electrifying gathering was...

A Word, Please: Just because you can doesn't mean you should

A Word, Please: Just because you can doesn't mean you should

Most of the questions people ask me are easy. Can you use "nauseous" as a synonym of "nauseated" to mean "sick feeling"? The answer is right in the dictionary under the listing for "nauseous," and that answer is yes.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Reflecting on Flintridge Sacred Heart's history

We’re all stories, when all is said and done. The past becomes our mythology with hidden metaphors tucked in the crevasses of our life. The metaphors become our poetry and in time, poetry becomes legend. Legendary truth, however, is different than historical truth. Legends change us, as they...

Around Town: Getting prepared for Bark for Life

Noelle Ito, a Flintridge Prep alum, class of ’98, is a Bark for Life Altadena team captain.

 A Word, Please: Don't mistake grammar rules for logic

A Word, Please: Don't mistake grammar rules for logic

I've gotten a lot of emails recently about where to put periods and commas relative to quotation marks. The notes were prompted by a recent column in which I mentioned that, in American English, a period or comma always comes before a closing quote mark (as in "fella.") rather than after one (as...

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: A package from home makes a difference

In December 1970, 280,000 American troops remained in Vietnam. The scuttlebutt at Khe Shan, the isolated outpost eight miles from the Laotian border, was that the war was winding down. No one actually believed that.

Around Town: Min's Kitchen serves up delicious Thai fare

Now that Daylight Saving Time is here, it’s time to go back to Min’s Kitchen in La Cañada. Our biological clocks need adjusting and the best method is Thai food, which, if well-prepared, is the best cure for jet lag or sleep disruption — at least that’s been my...

A Word, Please: She is the subject of a grammar quirk

A Word, Please: She is the subject of a grammar quirk

Many years ago, back when I used to answer my land-line telephone, I found myself in a conundrum. I realized that, when a caller asked, “May I speak to June, please?” I would answer “This is she.” But I couldn’t for the life of me explain why. Why did I use the...

Piece of Mind: A winning week in La Cañada

Some well-deserved rejoicing is going on in town this week among supporters of our outstanding public school system, who put together a successful campaign to pass...

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Appreciating the works of Dr. Seuss

What a beautiful rainy morning! Kaitzer was running around multitasking as usual, preparing lunches, collecting signatures, doling out money, making breakfast and advising on homework. I was trying to find my car keys.

Around Town: Eateries, mixologists preparing for spring time

Winter will soon be behind us and spring will come. All over town, restaurateurs and mixologists are planning for their spring comeback.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Patriotism at Outpost Con Thien

In the history of warfare I find it interesting how seemingly insignificant places take on a momentous importance. Valley Forge, the Alamo, Gettysburg, and Bastogne became symbolic as bastions of American resolve. With or without strategic significance they were held regardless of the cost of life.

Around Town: Revisiting Sun Valley's years as Roscoe

Last week, local historian Michael Patris reminded me that Sun Valley used to be called “Roscoe.”

A Word, Please: Time to press flush on this grammar error

A Word, Please: Time to press flush on this grammar error

Regular readers of this column know that I spend a lot of time talking about grammar wrongs that aren’t — the countless mythical language no-nos that get passed down from generation to generation of people who never bother to look them up.

Piece of Mind: The Sun shined on an Olympian in the making

Piece of Mind: The Sun shined on an Olympian in the making

What fun it was for all of us last week to cheer on our own Olympian, luger Kate Hansen. Viewing parties were held at Los Gringos Locos, with Kate’s...

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Mastering punctuation is an art form

Sister Dolores was a most persnickety teacher. I had her in the eighth grade at St. Frances of Rome. I kid you not; she was the reincarnation of Baron Von Steuben. If you’ve been to Valley Forge, you’d understand the metaphor. The baron was the consummate drillmaster who whipped...

Around Town: Hansen signs remind us that it's all about love

Around Town: Hansen signs remind us that it's all about love

La Cañada’s most beloved athlete is Kate Hansen. Her Twitter profile says, “I know all of...

A Word, Please: Misplaced punctuation could spell the end

A Word, Please: Misplaced punctuation could spell the end

A group of university researchers working with some Facebook folks have recently determined that I’m not a dinosaur. Not yet, at least.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Heart-struck by an eternal embrace

They died young, probably during late adolescence. However by the looks of it, they were in love. Two 6,000-year-old prehistoric skeletons from the Neolithic period were found locked in an eternal embrace in Valdaro, near Verona, Italy, hidden from the eyes of humanity. It could be the oldest love...

Around Town: A proper place to reflect and dine

The best breakfast view in La Cañada is in the Flintridge Proper bar. Sit against the south wall. Look out the window to the north.

A Word, Please: Superlative 'rule' isn't one of the better, er, best

A Word, Please: Superlative 'rule' isn't one of the better, er, best

If you have two children, and Sarah was born before Bobby, then Sarah is the older of the two. But is she also the oldest?

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Writing is about keeping your eyes open

I’ve been writing “Thoughts from Dr. Joe” for the Valley Sun for 10 years. I don’t recall ever missing a week. I’m often asked, “Don’t you feel pressure coming up with a different story each week?”

Around Town: K-Town cuisine won't likely roam LCF

At first, I was a little miffed with Anthony Bourdain’s “Los Angeles” episode of his CNN travelogue, “Parts Unknown.” Surely he would cover Descanso Gardens or tea at the Thursday Club?

A Word, Please: While away the time with this lesson

A Word, Please: While away the time with this lesson

Making good grammar decisions usually requires very little grammar. If the sentence “Whom are you?” sounds wrong, it probably is. You don’t need to know why. You need never have heard the term “predicate nominative” or even “object pronoun.” Call it...

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: American heroism in the Afghan mountains

If you haven’t seen the film “Lone Survivor,” you should. It’s a story about the best of us and it details the best in us. I read the book and the story has inhabited me since. Some stories touch you and never quite leave you.

Around Town: The Bieb takes the stand

My fantasy news flash: Retired singer claims wrongful deportation to La Cañada Flintridge

Guest Column: The forest recovers from the ground up

Guest Column: The forest recovers from the ground up

Entering Burned Area. Trees may fall at any time. Potential hazards include: fallen trees, flash flooding and debris flows. Do not linger under large burned trees. Avoid this area during high winds. Be alert for falling trees.

A Word, Please: Even dictionaries don't always agree

A Word, Please: Even dictionaries don't always agree

According to my 1933 Oxford Universal Dictionary, “good-bye” and “co-operate” are hyphenated, neither “leg room” nor “birth rate” can be run together into a single word, and “teenager” doesn’t exist.

Piece of Mind: Small investments with big dividends

So I see from the story filed this week by contributing writer Sara Cardine that supporters of La Cañada’s highly performing public school system are showing...

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Stepping into the past at Prep

Art Stetson, the director of admissions at Flintridge Prep, fascinated me as he spoke about the brilliance of metaphor and the elegance characterized by wordsmith Thomas Hardy.

Around Town: 'The other side' depends on point of view

The mainstream media can be fickle. The media covers what it wants to cover and when it does, the duration can be painfully short, hence the phrase, “15 minutes of fame.”

A Word, Please: Mastering the complex use of hyphens

A Word, Please: Mastering the complex use of hyphens

Don’t read this column. Really. It’s not like the other articles out there that impart knowledge. Instead, this one could leave you feeling like you know less than you did before you started reading.

Around Town: It's kosher to get the ingredients elsewhere

Just when I thought that diversity had come to La Cañada Flintridge, the banana leaf conundrum forced me to reconsider.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Learning honor and courage from a poem

I enjoy the periodic notes I receive from my readers; it’s nice to know that someone appreciates my thoughts. Recently I received a question from a reader, “Dr. Joe, I read the poem ‘Thermopylae’ by Constance Cavafy you used as a literary reference. I didn’t get it!&...

A Word, Please: The fact is bad writing really upsets her

A Word, Please: The fact is bad writing really upsets her

Ask any grammar buff what separates good writers from the not-so-good and you’ll probably get an answer like misuse of “lay” and “lie” or dangling participles or “who” in place of “whom.”

Guest Column: The rest of the country may be seeing red

Guest Column: The rest of the country may be seeing red

Visitors from around the country who came to this area for the holidays are now back home, wrapped up in blankets and wondering if it is better to clear the driveway now while the power is out or hold off until tomorrow and risk being embalmed for days.

Around Town: Take a seat at the other La Cañada's table

When I think about Roy Choi, I miss my friend, Laura Canales.

Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Bumping into Father Flynn once again

I first came face to face with Father Flynn in 1957. I was in the fifth grade and I had to answer for the D grades Sister Mary Judith gave me in behavior. Father told me I would hang from the flagpole at Saint Frances of Rome if I were to continue such antics. For the rest of that fall, I was his...

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