Friday, September 12, 2014

How Orange County Remembered 9/11

This year Orange County remembered 9/11 with bursts of color and moments of reflection - here is a round up of how some cities chose to pay tribute to the ones we lost thirteen years ago.

Fullerton resident Scott Townley is one of many around
Orange County who paid tribute to those lost in 9/11
(image via OC Register)
Scott Townley has decorated his lawn with patriot flags and white crosses, each one with the name of someone lost on 9/11. He planted 3,500 to 5,000 flags, and has 343 crosses. The crosses bear the names of the fallen firefighters, Port Authority and New York City police officers. He's also included a large wooden cross with names of the first responders who died from cancer and other illnesses associated with the debris they helped to clear up in the aftermath.

A passerby takes in Scott Townley's 9/11 display
(Image via NBC Los Angeles)
Townley, an Orange County Fire Authority engineer, explained, "I want a complete memorial done out of respect and dignity for everyone we lost."

Costa Mesa
Hosted by Catholics at Work, there was a ceremony held at the Hilton that included artist Jon Krawczyk, who sculpted a cross that is now in place at Ground Zero. 
Jon Krawczyk's cross, which he describes as
wavy, so viewers not only see themselves, but
the world and faces around them (image via
Catholic Vote)
He was commissioned to create a cross as an artisitic replacement for the "9/11 Cross" famously created by the steal beams that appeared among the rubble of the World Trade Center.

Trabuco Canyon
Since 2004, firefighter Garry Biggerstaff and his motorcyclist friends take a ride from Cook's Corner to Long Beach in commemoration of the fallen heroes on 9/11. 

What began as unexpected trip with a group of firemen has become an annual tradition that has grown from 50 to over 1,500 participants. Now known as "Remember 9/11 the Ride," the hope of the group is to continue to "raise awareness and support for those who continue to keep our city, state and nation safe and sound all year round." 
"Remember 9/11 the Ride" starts in Cook's Corner and ends in Long Beach
(image via Facebook)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Places in OC for Comfort Food

Sometimes there is no better cure (or reward) for a tough day at work/school/insert-your-institution-here than some good old fashioned comfort food. A couple of places in Orange County recently opened up, here's a quick description and location for where to head to the next time you want to make your heart and tummy happy:

Celebrity Soul Food Buffet is one of OC's latest comfort food
restaurants (image via Yelp user Alyssa B.)
Celebrity Soul Food Buffet
Lake Forest

If you're all about southern cooking, you might want to check out Celebrity Soul Food Buffet. You can load your plate with all types of comfort food: fried chicken, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and peach cobbler. That's a short, short list of what's available here. You can go traditional and add collard greens, fried okra or black eyed peas to your mountain of food, or you can just order a one, two, or three item entree that comes with a couple of sides.

Yelp reviewers are enthusiastic of this place that's been open for about a month - they gave it four out of five stars (out of 122 reviews).

Socal Locale offers more info about the place in their article, "Soul Food Has Come to South Orange County and It's All You Can Eat."

The buffalo wing mac from Elbows Mac N' Cheese (image
via Yelp user Coco T.)
Elbows Mac n' Cheese

At the top of the comfort food chain, macaroni and cheese has got to be in the top three. Or maybe it's even number one. Regardless of the ranking you give it, Brea has a restaurant devoted to the artistry of pasta and melted cheese.

They also serve cheese melts from the classic grilled cheese to a fancy chicken pesto melt, and they serve a wide variety of sides like bruschetta

The real star, though, are the mac and cheese dishes. From a pizza mac with pepperoni, (called the "Do You Want a Pizza Me") to a southwestern take with cheddar, jack cheese and fire roasted peppers (called "Living Fajita Loca"), there's going to be a variation that's got your name on it.

The reviews on this place seem lukewarm though - Yelp reviewers gave it three and a half stars out of five (out of 24 reviews).

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Spend an Awesome August in the OC

Orange County is heating up in August! Here's a handful of
some of the fun events to check out (image via rockdamullet)
The competition for OC's entertainment money has gotten so intense it's bordering on bizarre. It seems like every weekend there's some fun nostalgic event to hit up. Don't believe me? Check out a sampling of some of the cooler/weirder/boozier things to do this month in Orange County.

August 14th - En Vogue in Anaheim

Remember En Vogue? I loved them, but they seemed to drop off the face of the musical universe after the 90s. Well, if you're in the mood for some good music and nostalgia, they'll be performing at the City National Grove of Anaheim on Thursday, August 14th. Yeah, the group members have changed over the years, but the music is still undeniably infectious. So as OC Weekly predicts, [you] "better believe there'll be some love makin', heart breakin', soul shakin' going on. 

En Vogue will be giving you something you can feel on Thursday, 
August 14th at the Grove in Anaheim.

Get ready for some beer, beaches, and bros in HB on August
23rd (Image via Rockstarbeer)
August 23rd - Huntington Beach Beer Festival
Get ready for some beer, beaches and bros over at Huntington Beach - on Saturday the 23rd, you can have unlimited access to craft beer samples from 20 breweries, with entertainment and food trucks to keep your evening buzzing. General admission is $35 ($40 at the door), or bump up to VIP status for some cocktail samples and rare beer craft samples.

August 26 through August 31 - Troubies: A Midsummer Saturday Night's Fever Dream

Disco and Shakespeare collide as
Midsummer Night's Dream gets the
Bee Gees treatment
(Image via
Are you looking to get some night fever? The Troubies know how to do it! For a limited run, they will be taking on their disco interpretation of the Shakespearean classic, A Midsummer Night's Dream at The Laguna Playhouse. As the Playhouse description says, "The star-crossed lovers steam and scheme, and the Bard's most famous fairy, Puck, will be Jive Talkin' as this assorted band of merrymakers heats up into a Disco Inferno."

Thursday, August 7, 2014

OC Kid Sets Himself Ablaze for "Fire Challenge"

The fire challenge: douse yourself in something flammable, set
yourself on fire, then try to put it out. Wonder how it ends...
(image via TheNewsNerd)
Yes, this is real: as part of a social media trend known as the "fire challenge," teenagers have been setting themselves on fire and uploading the video to Facebook and YouTube.

Taking the fire challenge involves pouring some kind of accelerant on yourself, setting yourself on fire, and then trying to put the fire out before it seriously injures you. Fun, right?

So far it's happened in Kentucky, Texas, New York, and now, Orange County.

In Santa Ana, a 16-year-old boy thought it would be...funny? Cool? Impressive? If he doused his chest in NAIL POLISH REMOVER and lit himself on fire. For reals. This is not made up.

The kid suffered first and second degree burns on his face, neck and hips, but fortunately, his injuries are not life-threatening.

Others have not been so lucky, the 15 year-old boy in New York died as a result of his wounds. As a result of this stupidity, Facebook is deleting all videos that show the fire challenge.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Kebobs in the OC

The shrimp kabob plate from Mama's Kabob (image via Yelp
user Cam D.)
If you're like Steven Stephen, you're wondering where to get the best kabobs in the OC. Wonder no more, here's a handful of the best places, as rated by Yelp users. 

One note, I expanded the search to include kebabs, since it's essentially the same thing, except it's not cooked and served on a skewer. 

Mama's Kabob, Stanton
5 Stars (out of 87 Yelp reviews)

"It's a small mom and pop shop in a strip mall. Food was decent and I would come again. The owners were very nice and personable."  - Michelle F.

"You can feel the love and dedication in all the things they bring out." - Huy N

"Had the chicken kabob and fell in love." - Dan H. 

"The Chicken Kabab is Delicious... Well cooked, Juicy and very flavorful. The Kafta Kabab also SOOOOOOOOO DELICIOUS!!! One thing though is on the Beef Kabab, it's like a carne asada meat rather than the various other places I go [that] use the nice cubed pieces of marinated steak. This can be improved.
- Maggie M. 

"The Kafta Kabab is my personal favorite but the Chicken Kabab is very flavorful too. The Shrimp Kabab is served with a special red sauce which tastes like lobster sauce in butter. Their garlic sauce is a fine pair in any of their dishes."  - yumyum b

The Kofte Kebab from the Istanbul Grill California in
Fountain Valley (image via Yelp user Gloria V.)
Istanbul Grill California, Fountain Valley
4.5 Stars (out of 329 Yelp reviews)

"My husband and I love Istanbul Grill. The food and service is amazing!  We will be back soon with friends and family." - Lisa M.

"This restaurant is just great. Food is delicious, staff are super friendly,  place is very clean and service is perfect.  The prices are more than reasonable." - Nick A. 

"Ordered the prime rib and chicken kabab combo, chicken adane and gyro dinner. Food was great! Prime rib and chicken kabab were tender and moist." - Lindon K. 

"The kefta and the doner kebab rivaled any I've had so far." - Kunney T.

The Kabob combo from the Kerostena Grill (image via
Kerostena Grill web)
Kerostena, Garden Grove
4.5 Stars (out of 296 Yelp reviews)

"Kerostena is truly a hidden gem. Although it's small, it's very clean and organized and the service is top-notch. They also earned themselves additional brownie points for a soda fountain/beverage station for refills because I'm always thirsty =) Last but certainly not least, the food is amazing! Kerostena is definitely a must try." - Rachel V.

"The beef kebab was just okay but the chicken kebab simply sang of juiciness and tenderness...metaphorically. Sheesh, lighten up, veganazis." - Andrea R.

"Food portion was plenty. The seasoning was really good and the meat was tender. You get a lot for what you pay for." - Maila H.

"Everything is made fresh in-house and oh, so satisfactory. Go here, get anything off the menu, prepare to be amazed. #PartyInMyMouth :)" - Kevin W.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Santa Ana Hoarder Was My High School Teacher!

Retired La Quinta High School teacher was a hoarder; found
 dead on the porch of her home. (image via OC Register)
A few weeks ago I read about a Santa Ana animal hoarder who was found dead on the front porch of her home. She was sitting in a chair (although another report said it was a wheelchair) with a pet carrier on her lap. Inside the pet carrier was a live kitten.

While news of animal hoarders in Orange County isn't unusual, what did surprise me was the fact that this woman owned three homes in Santa Ana, and was a retired school teacher with a considerable pension of $120,806.52.

Could a school teacher earn that much? A little more digging and I learned the woman had been a high school history teacher for 48 years with the Garden Grove Unified School District, and for the last three decades of her career, taught at La Quinta High School.

Whaaaaa? That was my high school! And while I won't say what year I graduated (for the vain purposes of not revealing my age), I will say that I was in fact a student when she taught there. So I dug some more, which wasn't difficult, since the news of her passing was covered in the OC Register, OC Weekly, and even the LA Times.

The Register reported that the debris was so extensive, it took paramedics
several hours to get to the woman (image via Register)
It turns out the woman in question was Rita Corpin, and I did in fact have her as a teacher for world history. And the really sad part is when I found out it was her, it was not too much of a stretch to see her as a hoarder. Even then I thought of her as being a little eccentric, with a puff of curly hair and shapeless dresses, she always hugged a big stack of papers and folders to her when she walked to her classroom. She was nice, but I definitely always thought she was a character.

Ms. Corpin was believed to have been living out of a truck because her homes
were overflowing with garbage and overgrown vegetation (image via Register)
What did surprise me was that she was so well off, as in she owned three homes in Santa Ana in addition to having that considerable pension. But she spent her last days living in a pick-up truck, presumably because the mountains of garbage in all three homes made them inhabitable. Reports said that at the home where she was found, two pitbulls and approximately 50 feral cats were also discovered living among the debris. The other two houses didn't contain animals, although it was noted she fed stray cats at those residences as well.

The Register added that Santa Ana officials had issued warning notices and fines, and over the years had as many as 26 instances of contact with her. Ms. Corpin denied access to her property and made the minimal changes necessary to keep officials from forcing an inspection with a warrant.

Poor Ms. Corpin. Since her death, students, neighbors and her brother have all made comments on how she was loved and will be missed. It's a sad end for her and those animals she thought she was helping.

A note left behind at the residence of Rita Corpin (image via Register)