Tag Archives: L.A. Times

Help me raise money for a soup kitchen in need. A baby drummer plays heavy metal. And the L.A. Times, inexplicably, cancels sick days and vacations

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**Two quick thoughts before we get rollin’ on a Wednesday: 1, This Bill Cosby scandal is getting worse and worse by the day; these rumors about him and sexual assaulting women have apparently been around for years, but only now are more and more ladies going public with his behavior. If true, what a disgusting stain on a man so many admired.
And two, with most of the teams I root for having terrible years, I sure am glad to have college basketball back. Duke and its fantastic freshmen looked great in beating Michigan State Tuesday night. Gonna be a really fun year in college hoops.

I try not to ask my loyal readers for financial donations for causes, but for the second year in a row I’m breaking that rule, because my wife and I are once again raising money for the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen here in Manhattan.

One morning a week I volunteer a few hours there, on 28th St. and 9th Avenue here in Manhattan. Open for 31 years, the soup kitchen serves more than 1,000 meals daily, making it the second-biggest such facility in America (apparently there’s a bigger soup kitchen in San Francisco).

It’s a wonderful place, staffed by about 40-50 volunteers per day. Some of us serve the food, others clear the tables, hand out drinks, cut up vegetables in the kitchen, etc. And truthfully, it’s more than a soup kitchen; Holy Apostles also helps the homeless in so many other ways, with free counseling services, free haircuts and toiletries, and often blankets and other clothes, along with free legal services, too.

Funding, as you might expect, is always a problem for the soup kitchen; food donations do come in, but I’ve been told that 80 percent of the food and supplies is purchased by Holy Apostles (in case you were wondering, there is no religious affiliation with the soup kitchen.)

Once again the kitchen is having its annual Fast-A-Thon, where this Thursday volunteers like me will eat only one meal a day to “walk in the shoes” of our patrons, and we’re raising money to help support the great work the kitchen does.  I know the holidays are coming up and budgets are tight, but if you get any enjoyment from this blog each day, I’d ask you to please consider a small donation to our fundraising page.

Thank you so much, it really is a great cause.

**And now, an adorable baby named Wyatt, playing heavy metal on the drums, as his parents watch and videotape (somehow I don’t think my wife will let me try this with our 2-month-old son. But I’ve already sang some Guns N’ Roses to the boy when he couldn’t sleep, so there’s a good chance metal is already in his brain…)

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**Finally, I thought I’d lost the capacity to be shocked at how horribly newspaper publishers and owners can treat their employees, having been a journalist for two decades and seen the horror stories.
But congratulations, Tribune Co. and the L.A. Times, you’ve managed to shock me.
I read this story Tuesday in the L.A. Observer, reporting on the Tribune Co., owners of the Times, eliminating sick and vacation days for all of the Times’ employees.

“Starting January 1, staffers will no longer be able to bank vacation — because they won’t automatically earn or be entitled to any vacation, sick days or floating holidays. To get any time off, a reporter or editor will have to go to a supervisor and make a case “subject to their professional judgment and to the performance expectations of their supervisor that apply to their job.”

So basically you have to prove, or justify, to your supervisor why you deserve a day off, a sick day, or a vacation.
How humiliating. How demeaning. Welcome to the newspaper world in 2014.

 

 

The South African government gets really mad at weather forecasters. A hilarious spoof of what New Yorkers say. And a 6-hour Aussie Open final goes to Djokovic.

You think you get upset when your local weather forecaster says it’ll be sunny and then you get drenched on your way into work? You’ve got nothing on the government of South Africa. They’re wayyy more annoyed than you.

A new law in South Africa would punish “anyone who makes a prediction about severe weather or air pollution with heavy fines or jail time if they did not first receive written permission from the government-funded South African Weather Service (SAWS).”

OK, so it’s not exactly going to be a crime if the Johannesburg version of Storm Field (remember him?) or Al Roker gets the forecast wrong. But still, people are gonna be pretty angry…

**Native New Yorkers, this one is especially for you. I laughed and laughed at least 10 times during this. Definitely NSFW; cursing aplenty in this video, so if you’re watching at work, I recommend headphones.

**Finally, a few words about one of the greatest tennis matches of all time. It was started in the wee hours of Sunday morning, then just kept going, and going, and going.
Rafael Nadal, one of the Top 10 players of all time, played Novak Djokovic, the best in the world today. They played for seven minutes short of SIX hours. Six hours! It was a breathtakingly wonderful match, filled with great shotmaking, unbelievable energy and spirit, and some of the best defense you’ll see this side of a Catholic schoolgirl on a date. (here’s 1 of the best points of the match, just to give you an idea.)

Djokovic, who two years ago was mocked for his lack of stamina and fight, outlasted the toughest fighter in the sport. Again. For the 7th time in a row that these two have hooked up, Djokovic was just a little better. He won 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5, in a truly splendid advertisement for the sport.

I’ve said it before, and my man Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal says it here more eloquently: We are in the Golden Age of men’s tennis. Three of the all-time greats are beating each other up at every Grand Slam event, and raising each other’s game to ridiculous heights. (Diane Pucin of the L.A. Times also nailed it with her column here.

So lucky to be a tennis fan right now. The storylines, the quality of the players, just so fabulous.If you want to see the highlights of the match, click here.

A huge cancer breakthrough. A knife-throwing mother we should all be happy isn’t ours. And inside a 6-year-old’s brain

**So I may have mentioned before that one of my favorite parts of moving back to NY is that I’m finally getting to spend quality time with my 6-year-old nephew Benjamin.
For his whole life until last month, I was just this older guy who parachuted into his world for a few days at a time around the holidays or in the summer, gave him hugs and presents, then left again for a while.
But now I’m getting to see him pretty much at least once a week, and probably more as my insane summer school schedule comes to an end.
And I have to tell you, I’m loving the bonding time. He’s a funny, bright, non-stop talker of a kid (gee, wonder where he gets that from!) and I’ve been fascinated to see how his mind works.
The other night on the way back from dinner we somehow got on the topic of marshmallows. And where they came from. And Ben decided that you get marshmallows by planting marshmallow trees.
I went with it, of course.
“See, what you do is,” he began, intently, “You get these marshmallow seeds, and, and then you put them in the ground, and then you come back later, and they turn into marshmallow trees.
“But you can’t eat them right away,” he stated, as if this should be obvious to all. “You have to wait for a while. Like, a long time. Then you can eat them.”

The absolute certainty of his story made me go looking for marshmallow trees in my yard.

**And now, something you don’t see every day: A 1950s newsreel clip of a mother throwing knives at her children.

And we thought Casey Anthony was bad. Pleeaaasseee.

**Finally, I try not to get too excited at these stories that give us hope against cancer. Because we’ve been hearing about breakthroughs for decades, and while things are unquestionably getting better in the fight against this horrible disease that has in some way touched all of us, I don’t want to get my hopes up.

Still, this seems very promising. The L.A. Times reports that a new study has shown that genetically engineered T cells killed leukemia cells in patients, and kept them cancer-free for over a year.

Pray that this can be replicated.