Apodaca: Sister's health would be best present

There's a story I heard countless times when I was growing up about a girl with two younger brothers who prayed for a baby sister.

Corona del Mar Today: Maker of Christmas magic finds soft spot among 'sharks'

A Corona del Mar woman who created a kit to help kids believe in holiday magic won over the tough panelists on "Shark Tank."

The Harbor Report: As tide rolls out on 2014, a look back

It's that time of year again, and like the tide that rolls in and out methodically, I was able to complete my weekly columns one after another. Over the last five years, we are now at 195. That's a lot of water coming in and out of our harbor, and I again look forward to many more tides.

The God Squad: Christmas is bigger than its namesake

Last week, I continued an annual God Squad holiday tradition by offering remembrances of Father Tom Hartman's Hanukkah greetings. I remember vividly how he loved Hanukkah, and this week I joyously share with you why I love Christmas.

My Answer: Forgive aunt her sharp tongue at Christmas

Q: We're debating whether or not to invite my aunt for Christmas dinner. We normally do, but last year she was so sharp-tongued and critical about everything that no one wants to be around her. We don't want our Christmas spoiled. What should we do? — Mrs. P.F.

Fitness Files: Making A's (sometimes) in health

Sometimes I daydream about having a coach trained to help me get the most out of this old body.

Reel Critics: This 'Wild' thing is a winner

Reese Witherspoon takes command and control of the screen with the role of her career in "Wild." She delivers an Oscar-worthy performance playing Cheryl Strayed, a woman who hiked a thousand miles to reach personal rebirth and redemption. The story begins with her arduous trek already underway.

The Crowd: No Scrooges at Christmas Carol Ball

The Crowd: No Scrooges at Christmas Carol Ball

Our very own community treasure and lifesaver, Hoag Hospital, welcomed more than 500 local citizens to its 46th annual Christmas Carol Ball.

 Venezia: A tasty visit to Orange Coast College

Venezia: A tasty visit to Orange Coast College

The holiday season is a time for good food and getting together with friends.

Friends of the Libraries: Libraries provide bang for your buck

Some years ago, I was talking to a city official about the need to expand our library space in Costa Mesa. I was told that libraries didn't produce money, so it was hard to get the public to invest in a bond issue. I wish I had known then what I have since learned: that libraries do bring a strong...

A Word, Please: Regular pronouns often a better choice than 'myself' and 'yourself'

Dave in Elkland, Pa., wrote to me recently about pronouns ending in "self" — myself, yourself and so on — and how annoying they can be at times. "'Myself,' in particular, drives me near distraction," he wrote.

Carnett: Nothing wrong with working hard for your education

I recently saw a group of University of California students in a newspaper photo protesting proposed tuition hikes.

Apodaca: Adams Elementary's Modern Scholars Academy deserves a chance

Will Adams Elementary's plan to stem the exodus of community residents to other schools actually work?

Corona del Mar Today: Nancy Gardner finds life after the council 'freeing'

Corona del Mar Today: Nancy Gardner finds life after the council 'freeing'

Nancy Gardner has spent the last eight years representing Corona del Mar residents on the Newport Beach City Council.

Around Town: Hoag foundation raises $850,000 at Christmas ball Food to be distributed to needy

Around Town: Hoag foundation raises $850,000 at Christmas ball Food to be distributed to needy

The Hoag Hospital Foundation's 48th annual Christmas Carol Ball last weekend raised $850,000 to support Hoag's research, education, clinical staff and patient support services.

The God Squad: Writing for a friend in absentia

Note from Rabbi Marc Gellman: Every winter and spring, when Father Tom Hartman — my former partner on the God Squad — was well and writing this column with me, we would trade spiritual places. I would write a column about why I love Christmas and Easter, and Tommy would write...

My Answer: Faith can give strength during illness

Q: My husband has a long-term medical condition, and I'm his only caregiver. I wish he'd understand how hard this is, especially when all he does is complain. He reads your column, so maybe you could say something about this. — Mrs. R.S.

Check It Out: Classic films worth checking out

The holidays are the perfect time to watch memorable films. Where to start? Kenneth Turan, film critic for the Los Angeles Times, wrote a book called "Not to be Missed: Fifty-Four Favorites from a Lifetime of Film." The Newport Beach Public Library currently carries 41 of these films and they are...

Reel Critics: Accept no 'Imitations' of this gem

The success of the Nazi juggernaut early in World War II is the stuff of military legend. Hitler's victories were assisted by his seemingly unbreakable "Enigma" radio code. "The Imitation Game" is the true story of cracking that code to create a major turning point in the fortunes of war.

Venezia: Getting a kick out of a photo shoot

Venezia: Getting a kick out of a photo shoot

Sometimes I feel like I'm on a strange reality show, only mine is in print, as I intertwine with the stories I write about.

The Crowd: Season comes alive with MenAlive

The Crowd: Season comes alive with MenAlive

MenAlive, Orange County's 100-member gay men's chorus, welcomed the holiday season with an old-fashioned Christmas musical celebration last week at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.

A Word, Please: A holiday gift list for mindful language lovers

If you're reading this, there's a good chance you're a language lover. And if you're a language lover, there's a good chance your holiday gift list includes some birds of a feather — fellow language lovers who'd be delighted to get the perfect language book for the holidays.

Carnett: You shop, I'll listen to Beethoven

When given the choice, we humans select pleasure over pain almost every time.

Fitness Files: Cure grogginess with a Google search

A few years ago, my husband couldn't roll out of bed without feeling dizzy. Our family doctor referred him to an otolaryngologist, who sent him home with a motion sickness prescription. Worse than dizziness, the meds made him groggy.

Commentary: Focus on black lives, not Black Friday

This is the season of Advent, a time when we pause and recognize the darkness in our world, and there is a lot. This year, we are forced to look at the dark places of our society and the ugly racism that lives there.

Apodaca: While technology advances, don't leave civility behind

The Supreme Court last week heard arguments in a case loaded with potential consequences for the regulation of free speech on electronic media.

Corona del Mar Today: Christmas Walk is a potpourri of fun

Corona del Mar Today: Christmas Walk is a potpourri of fun

The village of Corona del Mar will be all about the holidays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, when the Chamber of Commerce's 36th annual Christmas Walk takes place.

The Harbor Report: Farewell to my father, my captain

Like I wrote in my February 2013 column, "The importance of sailing stories," this week's column is more for me than for all of you.