Author Archive

Ballet lessons

“Dear Melba Cortez: “I was seven years old when my parents enrolled me in your school. I was nine when we moved to the suburbs. It was then that I made my final (and finest) ... read more...


The Awe (and Aaah) Factor

Being in Los Angeles brings out the film fanatic in me. It starts when, looking up at the hills, I see the gigantic HOLLYWOOD sign proclaiming that I am in the Land of Make B... read more...


The Island of Lost Books

Today, I had one of those ‘gone but not forgotten” moments. It involved my friend, Betty Ulius, who died many years ago. Like me, Betty was a writer. Unlike me, Betty’s hom... read more...


When Butterball Turkeys Collide

This isn’t about my sister Selma. It isn’t even really about eavesdropping on Selma and her friend Ellen. It’s about girls and giggling and what a cultural barbarian I am an... read more...


A heroine for our times

She has the high cheekbones and long, lean body of a fashion model. She has the eyes of a seeker of truths. She has the background of an Islamic terrorist. Her name is Ayaan ... read more...


Nine planets. That’s right. Nine.

Quick. How many dwarfs are there and what are their names? Stick out your fingers and tally them off: Grumpy. Sleepy. Doc. Bashful. Happy. Sneezy. Dopey. Seven. Count ‘em. Se... read more...


Eyes Right

Because I live only half a block from the parade route, over the years, I have witnessed many upon many a Memorial Day Parade. The first ones I attended were sad remnants of a... read more...


A terrorist by any other name ... Part II

Continued from last week’s column: Insurgents, my Webster’s Dictionary has advised, attack a “civil authority or an established government.” They attack armies, soldiers, mil... read more...


A terrorist by any other name ...

Twenty-three years ago, a violent anti-technology, anti-materialism, anti-government group that called itself MOVE embarked upon a campaign of terror that brought the city of ... read more...


Shave and a haircut ... two bits

On my way to brunch today, I walked past Joe’s Barbershop and, without thinking, gazed through the window. I had been going to unisex salons for so long that I had forgotten w... read more...


Character sketches

It is a common misconception that all fictional characters are based on an author’s friends, foes, or family. In fact, they are not. When I am writing fiction, I occasionally ... read more...


Not exactly Lassie

I got an interesting letter from my brother the other day. It started, “Everybody loves pet stories, and since very few sane people own ferrets ...” His good-hearted intentio... read more...


A wordsmith stands in awe of spring

I was lying in my bed this morning, more accustomed to the distant din of traffic than anything that would set my heart aflutter (I know. People don’t say “aflutter” in the re... read more...


You be the fire investigator

Yesterday, I almost burned down our house. I was in my office doing my morning workout to the exercise video from hell (One. Two. Three. Kick. One. Two. Three. Kick.) Let ... read more...


A tale of two friendships: Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Imagine that I have just snapped my fingers and demanded, “Quick. Without thinking first, name the greatest magician who ever lived; then tell me who was the world’s greatest ... read more...



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