Chris Erskine is a humor columnist and editor for the Los Angeles Times. He writes for the Sports, Travel and Saturday sections and does ...

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Chris Erskine

Chris Erskine

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ESPN's decision to reduce Brent Musburger's national airtime has a cost

ESPN's decision to reduce Brent Musburger's national airtime has a cost

November 25, 2015

Spoke to Brent Musburger the other day, after realizing I hadn't heard his voice all season. ESPN, in one of its oddest decisions, has relegated him to Southeastern Conference games, which is why we seldom see him anymore.

  • Why millennials love Friendsgiving: No one will judge you if you can't cook a turkey

    November 21, 2015

    As befits the season, I filled the trunk with firewood the other morning and then raced off on some other errands while the firewood warmed in the sun-kissed car. By the time I was back, the old Camaro smelled like a cabin in New Hampshire.

  • '10 simple rules for dating my millennial daughter'

    November 14, 2015

    Once upon a time, callow young men almost always met their dates' dads. This ritual vetting was an important part of protecting the human species from random romantic mistakes.

  • A true-false test, USC coaching candidates and other items of note

    November 12, 2015

    Random thoughts, while trying to figure out the difference between an emoji and an emoticon:

  • Not bragging: Still hip and working hard to stay fit

    November 7, 2015

    Earlier this year, the 300-pound beagle signed up for Obamacare. It's worked out well. He seems to see the vet on a weekly basis now: for fleas, anxiety, warts, depression, insomnia, gout, gallstones, sex addiction, itching, incontinence, low blood sugar, hot flashes and the occasional but aesthetically defensible Botox injection.

  • Learning to fight, the MMA way

    November 4, 2015

    I've never been much for new things. I just tried an ATM for the first time the other day. The instructions confused me, so I bashed it with a hammer till a bunch of twenties poured out. Needless to say, I plan to use that ATM again soon — once the cops leave.

  • Fall makes all of us see routine things with fresh eyes, even coffee-flavored onions

    October 31, 2015

    Splashed a little leftover coffee in the onions the other morning. It was a lightning strike of inspiration. The onions sizzled joyously, as if applauding.

  • Kings organist Dieter Ruehle is key to the experience at Staples Center

    October 29, 2015

    Spending an evening high up in the rafters of Staples Center, with the legendary organist for the Kings, Dieter Ruehle.

  • Our columnist has cargo shorts and a bullhorn: Let the revolution begin!

    October 24, 2015

    Spent a few minutes down at the service station recently, yelling at the gas attendant on the ladder to drop prices, not raise them. He had the big sans-serif letters out, and it was up to him, really, which way the American economy was heading — in favor of the working stiff, or at his or her expense.

  • Cubs' success is almost according to script—the one for 'Back to the Future Part II'

    October 20, 2015

    Forget Joe Maddon and Jake Arrieta. The man who first put the Chicago Cubs into contention for the 2015 World Series was screenwriter Bob Gale, who came up with the comically implausible conceit of the Cubs winning the championship this year.

  • Thanks, Dodgers, for everything — except that ongoing TV fiasco

    October 17, 2015

    Dear Dodgers,

  • More 'pledge' blowback: I ♥ millennials, but some need to learn how to take a joke

    October 17, 2015

    In my last column, I offered up a list of what millennials might do to improve themselves. Lighthearted, it started with the admission that I am a millennial myself, a joke the target audience didn't seem to get (I never said which millennium).

  • As L.A. waits to hug it out with NFL, he remembers the Embraceable Ewes

    October 14, 2015

    Amid the usual mayhem, a few things to be grateful for lately. McDonald's is serving all-day breakfast, and Playboy is finally eliminating the rampant nudity I've always found so appalling.

  • Millennials, you literally cannot call yourselves adults until you take this pledge

    October 10, 2015

    I admire and adore the millennials. Obviously, it's because I am one.

  • The more hockey, the better, so welcome Kings' and Ducks' farm teams

    October 8, 2015

    My crush on hockey might soon replace my crush on Cheryl Ladd, though I'm not taking down my dorm poster just yet. This isn't the sort of amour you rush.

  • In praise of virtue, forgiveness, Pope Francis and a good craft beer

    October 3, 2015

    I always viewed the reigning pope the way I did John Lennon — an older man with an uncommon capacity for love and forgiveness. An idealist with the soul of a poet. A bit of a chump. It was the chumpiness that I related to the most.

  • Equine stars take to skies to reach Longines Masters show jumping in L.A.

    October 1, 2015

    They ship horses, don't they?

  • This is one birthday story that's short on facts, but long on love

    September 26, 2015

    Everybody seems to be having birthdays — fall seems to burst with them. Don just had his, Jenn had hers, mine is coming up in November. Tom's too.

  • He's a fall guy, and it has a lot to do with football

    September 23, 2015

    We have fallen into fellowship here in Los Angeles, the land of balance and tranquillity.

  • Cutting strangers some slack (but not getting any when it comes to college loans)

    September 19, 2015

    The other day, a colleague overheard someone at the fashionable Brentwood Country Mart say: "I'm shipping her two McCarthy salads from the Polo Lounge on dry ice. Dorm life is hard."

  • Tommy John pitches his surgery story to new generation with specialist son

    September 16, 2015

    Achilles had his heel, and in 1974 Tommy John had a similar career-crushing vulnerability — a lousy ligament, some really bad beef.

  • How to keep your young son from becoming an old man

    September 12, 2015

    Boys. We should raise them like eagles but keep a net handy for when they fall from the sky while trying to reach the moon.

  • Hayes is in the perfect spot, as spotter for Al Michaels' NFL telecasts

    September 9, 2015

    What a football fairy tale: Imagine 50-yard-line seats to two dozen NFL games every season — not just any matchups, but NBC's star-studded Sunday night slate, a schedule more loaded than a Scorsese mob movie.

  • As a new school year begins, this dad laments a culture where 'too soon is never soon enough'

    September 4, 2015

    True confession: I absent-mindedly punched my phone password into the microwave the other night. It's a password that I enter into my iPhone 50 times a day. There I was rushing around, and just out of habit — or muscle memory — I punched 8-4-6-3 into the microwave when what I meant to do was punch in the time it takes to cook a corn dog.

  • Mourn the Angels if you must, but baseball remains a cut above

    September 3, 2015

    I see a ballfield the way a sailor sees the sea. Beneath the obvious mowing patterns, I can make out the faint paths where the grounds crew cuts it foul pole to foul pole, so as not to emboss the outfield with game-changing ridges.

  • A familiar pillow and a fat dog welcome a weary traveler home

    August 28, 2015

    The family vacation ended well. There was a version of the Stockholm syndrome at the very end, where I'd fallen in love with my captors, which is a romantic entanglement I never would have anticipated. But love is love, and we're all susceptible to its slings and arrows.

  • Cubs appear poised to really break 'the curse'

    August 26, 2015

    George Orwell probably had the most sullen assessment of sports. He called it, "War minus the shooting." In Orwell's eyes, serious sport has nothing to do with fair play or sportsmanship. "It is bound up with hatred, jealously, boastfulness, disregard of all rules, and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence."

  • A family visit to New York is full of crowds, heat and a reminder of 9/11

    August 22, 2015

    In our last chapter, we established that Manhattan hadn't really been the same since the Indians sold it. In summer, it can be especially challenging: the heat, the crowds, the angst in the morning, which is different from the angst at night. Amid the jitters and humidity, Posh had melted off several pounds. To stay hydrated, she was threatening to drink my blood.

  • Dog-loving coach nurtures a different breed of athlete at Oxy

    August 19, 2015

    In many ways, Helen is college football.

  • Ah, New York in summer. Oh, New York in summer. Oh, no, New York in summer.

    August 15, 2015

    Like a boatload of Portuguese sailors, we arrive in New Amsterdam grimy and a little confused about how we got here. I think we came through Newark International, the modern traveler's version of stormy seas. With worse signage. And bathrooms you would never use.

  • A special delivery for football coaches in need of a pep talk

    August 12, 2015

    The all-purpose training camp speech, for football coaches from preps to pros. It should be delivered psychotically, like Lombardi would. Or like a liquored-up Baptist preacher trying to save his mortal soul:

  • Baseball, where all kids can hit the fun zone even if they don't get into the majors

    August 7, 2015

    In our last episode, I had taken a baseball to the brain, a line drive that left me slack-jawed and unsure. "How can you tell?" was the general consensus after I complained about not being quite as keen as usual.

  • Events don't get much bigger than sumo tournament

    August 6, 2015

    Welcome to Middle Girth.

  • When a baseball comes at this pitcher, sunglasses get the save

    July 24, 2015

    I took a baseball to the brain the other day. Early indications are that the hardball survived the collision — only slightly less rounded — and my brain as well, though as one colleague put it, "What exactly is the baseline for mental acuity on your part?"

  • A shotgun, a bag of gold and a passel of pals

    July 18, 2015

    We are sitting around the beach, a bunch of us, when the subject of the Apocalypse comes up, right out of the blue, like a porpoise out of a wave.

  • Caitlyn Jenner the talk of the evening at the odd, blingy but watchable ESPYs

    July 16, 2015

    Welcome to America, circa 2015, where the dividing line between sports and pop culture no longer exists.

  • ESPYs:

    July 16, 2015


  • Thinking about sports and other silly things

    July 15, 2015

    Random thoughts while trying to figure out a place to put an NFL stadium on the water, which on TV would make Southern California look like Camelot:

  • Summer, like second chances, can sneak up on you

    July 11, 2015

    Some of us measure our summers by the amount of time we spend barefoot. There are few sensations better than a morning breeze around your ankles and a warm cup of coffee in your hand. I persist in the antiquated pleasures of a daily paper. Like polar bears or sitcoms, you never know when you might spot the last one.

  • Having a ball on a journey around Dodger Stadium

    July 8, 2015

    Bouncing around the stadium on a summer night at Chavez Ravine. Or as I like to call it, the second arrondissement:

  • Two angels: One a city, the other a daughter

    July 3, 2015

    My lovely and patient older daughter picked up the dinner check the other night, a giant cause of alarm for her mother and me. We immediately called a doctor, insisted on taking her temperature, checking her pulse. She stuck out her tongue. It was quite a tongue, all right, but healthy and pink as bubble gum.

  • The mystery of Dodgers' offense? He's on the case

    July 1, 2015

    I cover sports the way Philip Marlowe once handled murders, a snide disinterest masking a brittle heart. Like him, I wake up each day hoping to see justice prevail in a cold, corrupt world. Which makes you wonder: What if author Raymond Chandler had actually covered the Dodgers:

  • Summer days just made for wasting

    June 27, 2015

    How to kill a summer afternoon. Volume 1:

  • Chuck Booth's MLB odyssey across America is a renewal and a hoot

    June 24, 2015

    Moses had his desert. Magellan had the high seas. Chuck Booth, less renowned but equally driven, has more than 200 baseball games to conquer — one or two a day, across all 30 MLB opera houses in the course of a single season.

  • U.S. Open coverage on Fox is wild, but not too wild

    June 20, 2015

    No one does visual bling like Fox Sports, which offers a snazzy, sometimes-too-ornate jewelry box of special effects.

  • Daughters as roommates. You just have to eye-roll with it.

    June 13, 2015

    This weekly memoir of a frayed American life relies on a certain artful dysfunction, spritzed with hope. Fortunately, I have daughters — the flowers to my weeds.

  • Wrapped in the warmth of childish adventures

    June 6, 2015

    I have a wine cork in my pocket and 50 cents to my name. Lunkhead that I am, I blew the grocery money on a Marriott in Irvine, and the big question right now is whether I can find my hotel room after a late-night strategy session with the other baseball tourney team coaches.

  • Victor Espinoza won't go to sleep on American Pharoah in Belmont

    June 3, 2015

    Cool horse, chill rider. Together they could win "Dancing With the Stars."

  • Tim Cook's commencement speech from a cynic's view

    May 30, 2015

    Ironically, corporations now scare me as much as communism once did. So perhaps it's not surprising that I find fault — and a disingenuous slant — in a major chief executive's recent commencement comments.

  • Regional TV deals, like Dodgers', are awful for baseball

    May 27, 2015

    Television either loves baseball or it hates baseball — I can't decide.

  • The runner in midlife: working up a sweat before the smog-rise

    May 23, 2015

    Several times a week, I run along the blind curves on the leafy side of town till I reach the contented exhaustion that comes from heavy exercise, the kind that makes you feel like someone poured hot coffee in your bones.

  • 'Pitch Perfect 2' is rather flat, despite singing football players

    May 21, 2015

    This new movie featuring the Green Bay Packers is a heaping mess, one of the worst a cappella movies I've ever seen. It's also the only a cappella movie I've ever seen.

  • Two daughters, two weddings? How about a twofer?

    May 16, 2015

    One of the daughters is stretched out on our sofa, in that way children never outgrow — like an oil splotch, like a pile of T-shirts warm from the dryer. She has one fancy pedicured foot here, another fancy pedicured foot over there, her body pancaked in that safest tiny corner of the entire universe: her parents' couch.

  • Scott Van Slyke is turning into a gem for Dodgers

    May 13, 2015

    Like many young people right now, I'm trying to figure out what to do with my summer vacation — band camp again? Or maybe Mandarin classes? Or maybe I spend the summer down at the old ballyard with the Dodgers, who are showing unusual vigor in general and uncharacteristic poise at the plate, two things that can help you win a lot of baseball games.

  • You can't put a price on a mother's love. Her work's another matter.

    May 9, 2015

    I don't get the big fuss over moms. Seriously, they are the most common things. Most everyone has one. Some people have two or three, depending on marriage, remarriage and re-remarriage.

  • Beware the hamstring injury, tormentor of Chris Paul and many others

    May 6, 2015

    An athlete would almost be better off breaking a bone than yanking a hamstring, the trifecta of tissues in the back of the thigh that has felled so many fine performers.

  • In the ninth inning of a joyful baseball season

    May 2, 2015

    Hanging out again with the lunatic fringe, a.k.a. the other baseball parents, talking about the brownies Marija donated to the snack stand — an ancient Croatian recipe, she says, handed down from generations of Balkan mamas and now the biggest hit at a busy little snack stand in suburban Los Angeles.

  • Sports fans, this Saturday is your special day

    May 1, 2015

    By now, you're probably aware that a sports solstice is upon us, full of the rich gifts of spring. Rolled into this one wonderful Saturday are the finale of the NFL draft, a Kentucky Derby ruled by West Coast horses, followed about 90 minutes later by one of the biggest games in Clippers history.

  • Clippers' hopes? Ducks' odds? He gives it a thought

    April 29, 2015

    Random thoughts while waiting for Steve Ballmer to answer my help desk call:

  • Digital get-around to watch Dodgers will put you afoul of the law

    April 24, 2015

    In pouring a little tea in Boston Harbor the other day, I might have led you right into the digital drink. Desperate times call for desperate measures, sure. Just don't get yourself in hot water. Especially over a little tea.

  • Our advice columnist: 'No, kids, don't become writers'

    April 24, 2015

    I remind my editor that I have almost 2,000 more Twitter followers than William Faulkner ever did and am equally ahead of Dickens and Shakespeare when it comes to Facebook. Posthumously, which is always the way most writers are ever appreciated, I hope that there's sort of a revisionist consensus: "That man sure could social media!"

  • How to watch the Dodgers on TV

    April 22, 2015

    My life is a series of small pathetic failures broken up by unsustainable microbursts of clarity and achievement.

  • Light a candle, glisten a glass for a generation's passing personalities

    April 17, 2015

    Light a candle or glisten a glass for Dick Spicuzza. Dick died the other day. He was our neighbor growing up, the busybody banker next door who found no greater glee than in puttering around the yard all weekend. Unclear exactly all that Dick accomplished in the yard, except that he did it with alacrity and a sort of French joy.

  • Oh, baby, Clippers' Glen Davis is cooking up a healthier lifestyle

    April 15, 2015

    No man is an island, but some are continents.

  • Daughters move on, but parking tickets find their way home

    April 11, 2015

    What's odd but not beyond belief is that, though our younger daughter moved out more than a year ago, her parking tickets and other problems still come to the house.

  • Stepping up to the plate at Dodger Stadium to try new food offerings

    April 8, 2015

    My assignment was to eat my way across Dodger Stadium. I mean, why not? Other than baseball, I have nothing to live for. Besides, my company life insurance pays more if I perish on the job, which is exactly what can happen when you eat five ballpark lunches in a row.

  • Seeing L.A. through new eyes as Chicago kin hit Venice Beach

    April 3, 2015

    Second of two parts.

  • Cubs, take heart: Clippers make something of previous nothings

    April 2, 2015

    The spring clover is blooming and so is baseball. As kismet would have it, the new season blossoms Sunday night with a game featuring the Chicago Cubs, on a major holiday that's heavy with themes of bloodshed and resurrection.

  • Blood is thicker than traffic as family awaits in Venice

    March 28, 2015

    So, I'm stuck in Saturday traffic, just trying to keep it together. One of the measures in "quality of life" surveys ought to be how much time you spend with your foot on the brake pedal versus the gas. Because right now I'm about to stomp the brake pedal through the floor of the family minivan.

  • NCAA brackets: Oh, what a feeling when filling them out

    March 17, 2015

    As American rituals go, NCAA basketball brackets are among our best — up there with fireworks and fizzy drinks on the Fourth of July. Purportedly born in a Staten Island saloon, with a scandalous twist that involved possible prison time and a deathbed plea, the brackets quickly became legal-sized launch points for March Madness itself.

  • Cholesterol cops left with egg on their faces

    March 14, 2015

    The egg-white omelet, America's reigning symbol of bland dining and misguided nutritional advice, died Friday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. It was 42.

  • NBA stars jump through hoops to perfect shot with specialist Bob Thate

    March 11, 2015

    Like most men, I can bury a wad of dirty socks in the hamper from 30 paces. Swish.

  • Grown daughters are roomies again; Dad adopts bouncing baby plaything

    March 7, 2015

    They are the oddest couple, my daughters — one edgy and curt, the other about as threatening as a Lutheran tea. One wears her heart on her sleeve, the other wears it all over the place, like a smock.

  • Crimson Giant tackles the Big 'Cap

    March 4, 2015

    Crimson Giant is a big, blush-colored horse with a lot of miles. In fact, the busy gelding might be one race from qualifying for handicapped parking.

  • The play's the thing for sixth-grade thespians

    February 28, 2015

    So they held the school play the other night. I liked it, not just for the theme of kindness to animals but for the vision it offered of a fairer, less-contentious world.

  • Fan of the house: Here, there and everywhere

    February 25, 2015

    Random thoughts while waiting for Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez to get the pay raises they richly deserve:

  • A father writes to his too-long-absent adult daughter

    February 21, 2015

    Dear Daughter,

  • Shaun White's Air + Style sports/music event ramps up at Rose Bowl

    February 19, 2015

    Truth is, you always worried a little about Shaun White. When did he do his schoolwork, or his chores? I mean, how many storied adolescents have we seen turn into dysfunctional adults? Besides me, of course.

  • With age comes wisdom, and a lot of worry

    February 14, 2015

    Off to school he goes, with a little chocolate milk in the corner of his mouth, as if he forgot to shave. At 12, he is still such a little boy that I'm not sure puberty can ever gain a foothold. There is a fortress of gook on his face, and his hair looks like squirrels have nested there. That's how he goes to school each day, under my tutelage. It's worse, maybe, than having no father at all.

  • Kevin Costner, in 'McFarland, USA,' returns to a film genre he's owned

    February 11, 2015

    No sport gives itself over to mystical lyricism the way baseball does, and Kevin Costner owns the songbook.

  • Daughter's freeway accident adds a wrinkle in parenting roles

    February 7, 2015

    Let's catch up with one of the children, some of whom aren't quite children anymore, though we will always worry for them a tad too much.

  • Doctor has prescription for overbearing sports parents

    February 4, 2015

    Things that were once readily apparent no longer seem so. Every kid needs to be vaccinated, right? No, wait a minute.

  • A few thoughts, Mr. President, from a fed-up middle-class member

    January 30, 2015

    Pardon my impertinence, Mr. President. But I have a few thoughts on the current state of the union.

  • As for Super Bowl, he's for knocking the stuffiness out of it

    January 28, 2015

    Another Super Bowl lies before us like an ample British dinner. Dark. Greasy. Grandiloquent. We could easily mock this insanely popular feast. But, like you and Tom Brady, I always see the football as half-full, not half-empty.

  • Ernie Banks epitomized American optimism

    January 24, 2015

    While Joe DiMaggio was Mr. Coffee, Ernie Banks was Mr. Cub. Banks didn't marry sex goddesses, he betrothed an entire city, one that was frequently sooty and snowy on opening day.

  • Finding himself, with a little help from his 'life coach'

    January 24, 2015

    Alexander the Great's "life coach" was Aristotle. Mine is a chatty blond who used to work in entertainment. Same thing.

  • Dick Enberg still puts personal touch in every baseball broadcast

    January 20, 2015

    My secret relationship with jazz artist Diana Krall isn't so hard to figure out — I think she's singing directly to me. It's a "secret" mostly in the sense that she knows nothing of it. As are many of history great loves, it is unrequited. The Chicago Cubs also come to mind.

  • Finding truth and light (and maybe something else) in the attic

    January 17, 2015

    Don't you hate it when you're in a perfectly lousy mood and something good comes along to completely ruin it?

  • A fledgling rugby league hunts for athletes NFL might have overlooked

    January 15, 2015

    No doubt, rugby is on the rise. The seven-man version is now an Olympic sport, and a pro circuit is brewing here on the sunny side of the pond. A smash-mouth sport for a smashed and mouthy nation. Good fit, right?

  • After 31 tries, finally, a perfect family Christmas

    January 9, 2015

    There's this coffee cup I like. It's chipped, but in a spot on the rim that would never touch your lips. When dirty, I put it in the dishwasher. When clean, I nudge it back on the shelf. At some point, one of the children — livid over some unrelated thing — will spot the flawed cup and slam it in the trash, thinking it past its prime.

  • Including Dodgers TV situation, he'll be reveling in causes in 2015

    January 7, 2015

    As we all know, what you get out of life depends on what you put into it. So my first impulse each day — amid so many impulses — is to wonder, "How can I make this world even better?"

  • Personal renewal starts at 5 a.m., just don't forget the coffee

    January 3, 2015

    So I am in my second week of getting up too early; 5 a.m. some days. Staring back from the mirror at that hour is a bushy-browed James Whitmore, the avuncular family man from "Guns of the Magnificent Seven." Who knew personal renewal could be such a shootout?

  • A rosy assessment: This playoff bowl game was something special

    January 1, 2015

    College football's movable feast came to the Rose Bowl on Thursday. By 10 a.m., tailgating was in full flower. There were smoky breakfasts and hair-of-the-dog brunches, where Florida State fans chowed down on homemade duck sausage.

  • 'Trail angels' help keep Pacific Crest hikers on the path

    December 30, 2014

    By any measure, the Pacific Crest Trail is a beastly thing, an angry anaconda that slithers up the entire length of California and all the way to Canada, some 2,650 rugged miles. That's approximately 6 million steps — some of them glorious, many of them merciless.

  • Grateful for snoozing and taking it Big Easy

    December 27, 2014

    I asked some buddies at dinner the other night what time they get up, for I sense from early morning emails and texts that I am the last man in America to get out of bed.

  • 'Christmas Vacation' is a loopy holiday classic

    December 24, 2014

    "Christmas Vacation" is a cuckoo clock of a movie, just as loopy, wonderful and fresh as it was 25 years ago this month when we first unwrapped it.

  • Every time capsule needs cigars, coins and a Kobe Bryant question

    December 19, 2014

    In a family time capsule, I would include photos and the stub of one of Posh's stinky cigars, the kind she smokes while reading the Racing Form.

  • This minister can preach virtues of boxing — and practice them

    December 17, 2014

    With her snowman's smile and twinkling eyes, Ann Schranz may not be everybody's mental montage of a boxer. For one thing, she's 58, a little on the north end of the sweet science. And her guns? Not loaded. Her long arms are toned, not ripped. They'll never make anyone forget Mike Tyson (much as we'd like to).

  • Just off the top of his head, there are a lot of sports nuggets

    December 13, 2014

    Random thoughts while waiting to go hiking with Reese Witherspoon:

  • As Christmas approaches, deck the halls with bows to ambivalence

    December 12, 2014

    Christmas is so stupid. You know how in the middle of a giant sneeze, you think you might die? That's how I feel about these overindulgent holidays. Do we really love Christmas, or do we merely follow along, hoping it doesn't kill us?

  • Beverly Hills' Carter Paysinger has proved a mentor for all seasons

    December 3, 2014

    Looking for a gift for that hard-to-buy-for billionaire in your life? Andrew Kline can probably help. He runs a bank that finances sports team purchases.

  • A relic unearthed: the black-and-white holiday family photo

    November 27, 2014

    This photo stays in my head like yesterday's brandy. My cousin's wife found it, scanned it and emailed it to me and my siblings around the country. The Thanksgiving still life. An heirloom, really. Like a scene from Samuel Beckett, where nothing much happens, yet everything does.

  • Fan of the house: Give him that old-time boxing

    November 25, 2014

    Boxing was our first sport, and will probably be our last. Humans are an easily provoked species. Wars — not love-ins — are the milestones on which we plot our purported evolution. Look at Congress, that bunch of brawlers. Now look away (while you still have both retinas).

  • At 58, looking fondly at the hill made by the sands of time

    November 21, 2014

    Not a bad age, 58. I've had worse. On the way to school the other day, the little guy asked me who I'd like to be "if you could be anyone in the world?"

  • The cup of joe could go, but don't touch his Twitter

    November 14, 2014

    No mortal has a central nervous system like mine. Jumpy by nature, alarmed by every little noise, I have the nerves of a cheetah. My fuse is always lighted, my heart flits from branch to branch. As a kid, I was banned from zoos for upsetting the primates.

  • FootGolf, a hybrid sport with links to soccer, gets a local toehold

    November 12, 2014

    So I'm kicking the ball around a golf course in Arcadia. Nothing new there, for I've always been good at the deft heel kick from behind a too-fat tree, or out of a lousy lie.

  • Too much time on the smartphone calls for a Twitter hiatus

    November 7, 2014

    I was seduced by Twitter, of all things, that nakedly simple social media phenom that limits messages to pretty much what you can chisel on a tombstone.

  • Distance swimmer Steve Robles survived a shark encounter, but it left a mark

    November 5, 2014

    Slip into the sea with Steve Robles, the swimmer with the Freddy Krueger scars along his right side where a great white ripped into him off the Manhattan Beach Pier almost four months ago. Slip into the sea and start to wonder what lurks below.

  • Setting the stage for the social season

    November 1, 2014

    A barber strummed through my hair recently in that pre-assessment the good ones do before cutting and noted that my hair is now three different shades — yellow, gray and the flat brass of a used trombone. Fond of fall, I apparently change like the maples. Doesn't that sound like an O. Henry story? The man so attuned to autumn his hair turns with the trees.

  • Santa Anita barkeep recalls when sport of kings drew Hollywood greats

    October 29, 2014

    Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.

  • Bittersweet memories about a lost friend blossom

    October 24, 2014

    Just in time for fall, I build a nice flower box. That says so much about my life, I don't even know where to begin. A flower box in fall? Makes no sense whatsoever.

  • Where Giants are concerned, Dodgers fans have a spite to the finish

    October 22, 2014

    Let it end, this autumn of our discontent, made inglorious by the Giants' postseason run. No más, no más. Enough already.

  • A family in a pickle on a Saturday in the kitchen

    October 17, 2014

    Our house is really more of a hutch than a house. In the overheated L.A. market, it probably wouldn't even fetch $1 million. Not exactly a showplace.

  • Remembering AYSO's humble beginnings in Torrance

    October 16, 2014

    AYSO was born 50 years ago this fall, in a little garage on Talisman Street in Torrance, in one of those "The Wonder Years" neighborhoods where the dads all arrived home at 5 p.m. and the houses were so close you could smell if someone's mom had just baked a pie.

  • Backcountry camping with his oldest son, enjoying the all of nothing

    October 10, 2014

    I don't feel the need to camp ever again. Love the hiking, the visuals, the air. But the gritty, fire-smoked world of a backcountry bedroom? You can keep it.

  • As Kings return, Staples Center lights the way

    October 9, 2014

    Kings executive Luc Robitaille proclaims L.A. "the greatest hockey city" as Stanley Cup champs start season

  • A low-pressure job has him in high spirits

    October 3, 2014

    Did something wicked the other day, not uproariously wicked, just slightly so, in one of those little subversive ways husbands handle mundane requests. After my wife asked me to turn up the water pressure in the house, I turned it down, even lower than it was before.

  • An Angels-Dodgers World Series? Think Batman vs. Superman

    September 30, 2014

    Based on pure conjecture, backed up by that little voice in my head that keeps urging me to invite Tea Leoni to prom, here is what would happen to this rollicking little region were the Dodgers and Angels to meet in the World Series:

  • A man and his manopause

    September 26, 2014

    There are moments, at age 57, when I feel stiff and rusty, like something Picasso welded together. For instance, I ate so many marinated mushrooms the other night that I threw out my back. I also cleaned the garage earlier that day, which probably didn't help.

  • Clippers podiatrist's efforts to help seriously ill kids no small feat

    September 24, 2014

    Michael Levi keeps tabs on a lot of toes. In fact, the Santa Monica podiatrist might have the most eclectic roster of patients in the area: the L.A. Ballet company, primates at the zoo, the star-studded Clippers.

  • At last, baseball feels fresh again with Dodgers on TV

    September 23, 2014

    Up till Monday, this was the best Dodgers season we'd never seen. From newspaper reports and radio, we could keep up with the boys ... their heroics, their hissy fits. Constant tweeting added another layer of nuance and understanding. When I want fully blossomed, in-depth reporting, I always turn to Twitter.

  • Finally, Dodgers telecasts for all of L.A. — but what about next year?

    September 17, 2014

    I'm nothing if not an optimist. If there were a Pollyanna Hall of Fame, I'd be a first-ballot inductee. In my induction speech, I'd thank all gods (actual and imagined), my parents and Miss America.

  • Being father to a daughter with a boyfriend: Feelings just catapult

    September 12, 2014

    We don't do the beach the easy way. We drive too long, then walk too far, lugging way too much stuff. The way Eisenhower stormed vital sand, so do we.

  • A simple goal for the fall ... fulfilling his football fetish

    September 10, 2014

    My spouse called me out the other day for what she called "emotional infidelity." Specifically, she cited football.

  • The surreal silence of an empty nest

    September 5, 2014

    As per Anaïs Nin, I believe only in the intoxication of other people. Silly me. As if that kind of high can ever last. As if people don't come and go.

  • Meet 'Dot' Finerty, almost 100, and whose Dodgers links predate Scully

    September 2, 2014

    Let me introduce you to Dorothy "Dot" Finerty. The crafty right-hander turns 100 this month, and will celebrate by throwing out the first pitch at Wednesday's noon game against the Nationals.

  • So what to do with this last kid in the house? Hop on a roller coaster

    August 29, 2014

    It's early, say 7 a.m., and everything about this school morning seems a little off. The dog needs to go out a third time — he never does that.

  • Dodgers' winning season prompts his turn to verse

    August 28, 2014

    Forget the Ice Bucket Challenge. This kid Scully, so fond of reciting the classic ode "Tinker to Evers to Chance," recently issued a poetry challenge: Can someone pen some similar tribute to this year's Dodgers, awash as they are in larger-than-life characters?

  • An Uber night out with the oldest daughter at Dear John's

    August 22, 2014

    She's got my phone.

  • When it comes to Madden NFL, 'The Problem' is ahead of the game

    August 21, 2014

    Eric "The Problem" Wright is a grand champion of video games, a Hercules of the thumbs. Wright handles a video controller the way Willie Mosconi romanced a pool cue, the way Ben Hogan swung a butter knife.

  • Dear schools, let the kids have August

    August 15, 2014

    We test them almost to death, we make them play sports till their arms fall off and their knees implode. Now we're taking away our children's summers. Do we not like them anymore?

  • A round of golf a day keeps boredom away

    August 13, 2014

    Scientists recently stumbled across a switch in a mouse’s brain that can turn appetite on and off. Presumably, this can one day be applied to fishing and golf. I hope not, but it probably will. Once available in pill form, wives across America will crush them up and secretly sprinkle them on their husbands’ cereal.

  • Seeing the value of boys reflected in the heart of 'Boyhood'

    August 8, 2014

    We're all works in progress, but perhaps none so much as little boys, whom everyone is bagging on these days. Boys lag at this and boys trail at that. We'll see how it all turns out.

  • In the pretty Eastern Sierra, fish don't bite and dinner doesn't come

    August 1, 2014

    We have found Longfellow's forest primeval, the murmuring pines of the Eastern Sierra. The trees breathe out; we breathe in.

  • Dodgers TV 'blueout' a long way from end despite Congress' attention

    July 30, 2014

    Lawmakers, having cured all else that ails us, have now turned their high beams on this Dodgers TV standoff. I suspect relief is just years away.

  • Down in the minors with Ron Shelton, who sees a major motion picture

    July 24, 2014

    First, I'd like to thank the Dodgers and Time Warner Cable for giving me the time to explore like this. And to think I once detested your awful TV standoff. Now I embrace it for the opportunities it brings.

  • 'The talk' with 11-year-old begins with 'Eww!' but may lead to a 'Sigh!'

    July 18, 2014

    There he is, aging right before my eyes. In the churchy light of early morning, I can see the peach fuzz emerging on his face. Pre-whiskers. What's next? A pimple? Puberty? Dear Gawwwwd.

  • At the ESPYs red carpet, it's a mix of bling, sweat and cheers

    July 16, 2014

    So much of life is plain ugly (cell towers made to look like trees) or vaporous (Masahiro Tanaka's elbow, or that little Italian village I just purchased on eBay).

  • Book club moms give him chapter and verse on parenting

    July 11, 2014

    What's more important to a child's development: books or moms?

  • For our heroic surfers, pier fishing that lures sharks needs to go

    July 9, 2014

    I'm paddling through the playground of the great white shark about 100 yards offshore, just south of Manhattan Beach Pier, straight out from that first lifeguard stand, roughly the site of Saturday's attack.

  • An inadvertent masterwork turns 31 (or 29)

    July 4, 2014

    She is turning 31 and is full of blarney, with a flash of summer lightning in the eyes.

  • Chris Erskine's World Cup reflections head into extra time

    July 2, 2014

    Random thoughts while waiting for FIFA to hand out Oscars for best actor, best flop:

  • Summer — the season of a suburban parent's life

    June 27, 2014

    I'm a sucker for summer, when our best memories are made.

  • Mustache or no mustache? It's one of a dad's many stressing questions

    June 20, 2014

    The 'stache might finally have to go.

  • As for the World Cup, here's a U.S. dream team

    June 18, 2014

    Once again, the debate begins: How much better would the U.S. soccer team be if American kids were not spread among so many other sports?

  • World Naked Bike Ride, returning to L.A., is garbed in a cause

    June 11, 2014

    One of the fine ensemble pieces of this weekend, one of the great team efforts, will be the bike ride starting outside Dodger Stadium, winding its way downtown, through Chinatown and back to Chavez Ravine, a valiant effort. Sweat and sore muscles will be readily apparent during the 15-mile ride.

  • Hockey neophytes, here's where you come to terms with the sport

    June 3, 2014

    In person, hockey has always been the most exciting pro sport. On TV, it's finding a new audience, thanks to high-def big screens that allow viewers to actually see the puck.

  • Best way to take a selfie? Maybe don't. Maybe look at someone you love

    May 30, 2014

    Selfies. Leonardo da Vinci produced one of the first, in 1512, followed by Rembrandt, who did dozens of self-portraits.

  • Amid Dodgers TV standoff, fans channel frustration

    May 28, 2014

    So many of my great ideas never get off the ground. Like aerosol pasta. Just spray it in your mouth like Silly String.

  • One year after college graduation, a degree of reality

    May 23, 2014

    As dynasties go, my family takes its cues mostly from the Habsburgs, whose empire was based on superior fecundity and well-placed bribes. I remind my kids of this every day, as I treat them to yet another grand breakfast.

  • Dodgers' Andre Ethier drops in on 'Point Break Live!' role; it's epic

    May 21, 2014

    Before there were automated phone voices, there was Keanu Reeves. Where lesser actors smear words together in smooth, syrupy deliveries, Reeves pounds every syllable, separating one from another, as audible puzzle pieces, or chunks of mismatched brick. Brando also put his own spin on the language and was widely considered the finest actor on Earth.

  • A house where come-and-go is a constant and it snows wiffle balls

    May 16, 2014

    There are still signs of life in this old house. The basketball nesting in the sunny new mums. The scratches the dog leaves on the front door, where he paws to get in every time someone starts to cook bacon.

  • What it takes to be a good friend

    May 9, 2014

    Friends. Some just drift away, tethered to us only by the occasional Christmas card or graduation announcement. Others stick.

  • Fifth-grader craves that rare treat: idle time

    May 3, 2014

    "When we leaving?" the kid asks.

  • Nurture or Nazi — the perils of extreme parenting techniques

    April 26, 2014

    I'm nothing if not a futurist, so as we explore here the nuances of postmodern parenting, we look ahead to what kind of parents our own offspring will one day be: well-meaning pushovers or total tyrants?

  • Dodgers fans desperate, frustrated, fuming as game blackout rolls on

    April 23, 2014

    On scratchy radios they listen to Vin Scully for a mere three innings, salvaging what they can of this aberrant young season, brimming with equal amounts promise and poison.

  • Fourth time's the charm with this bonus boy of 11

    April 19, 2014

    A boy. A dad. A mid-April hike.

  • A lesson in household budgeting

    April 12, 2014

    Called a family meeting the other day. Like conversation, a family meeting is another antiquated concept. These days, you're more likely to go on a sleigh ride or visit the Vatican than attend a family meeting. I plow ahead anyway.

  • Words from a coach of the best 1-6 Pony League team ever

    April 9, 2014

    Our team is a contrast in size and temperament. I have a mountain-man first baseman next to a second baseman who appears to be made of leftover IKEA parts. Tough kid, though. A line drive could ca-conk him in the forehead and he would remain unfazed. In fact, he probably wouldn't even notice. Gets his stoicism from his mother (my first wife).

  • The greatest generation? Here's three more cheers for millennials

    March 28, 2014

    Here I go thinking outside of the Xbox again. I believe that pizza is better than caviar, that Chicago is better than New York, that Venus is superior to Mars.

  • The Dodgers' season as a sight unseen by many fans

    March 26, 2014

    So how are you liking these new Dodgers owners now?

  • A daughter moves out (*sniffle* hooray! *sniffle*)

    March 21, 2014

    Shed 110 pounds the other day. One daughter, semi-formed, out of the house and into her first post-college apartment.

  • Facing the real world in Brentwood — on a budget

    March 14, 2014

    In our last dispatch, our younger daughter was moving to an apartment in Brentwood, of all places, that verdant playground of Land Rovers and balding studio execs.

  • A daughter on the move

    March 7, 2014

    Calm and clear communication is so important. To get my daughter's full attention, I dress up like a giant Starbucks cup. Her eyes light up as if she's spotted Jesus.

  • A daughter charms Dad into day labor

    February 28, 2014

    My buddy Lichtman brags about these dates he has with his adult kids about once a month. They keep in touch by seeing each other for brunch or a movie. I like the idea. It's a way of keeping up with our very busy sons and daughters. As the adage goes: Keep your enemies close and your children closer.

  • Chris Erskine's boomerang kids dilemma: How much is too much help?

    February 21, 2014

    The latest culinary masterpiece to grace the kitchen is chia pudding with mango. Our younger daughter made it ... or planted it ... or whatever you do to create chia pudding.

  • Chris Erskine: Life stages, sex ed as younger and adult children coexist

    February 14, 2014

    I am of a mind that the Sunday paper should be strewn gloriously across the house, a little everywhere — like leaves across New England, like lingerie across a bridal suite — and my wife, having now moved beyond the honeymoon stage of our relationship, thinks the Sunday paper ought to be stacked neatly in one single spot. Multiply that times 1,000, and you have a modern marriage.

  • Look around and ask: Where has all the romance gone?

    February 7, 2014

    So I'm waiting at a stoplight when another piece of techno-pop skitters across the car radio, and the notion hits me: Is romance dead?

  • Door opens both ways for the boomerang generation and its beagles

    January 31, 2014

    One by one, they return home — my little Einsteins, my little bombardiers.

  • When it came to Super Bowl halftimes, Carol Channing set the tone

    January 29, 2014

    On the phone, history-making NFL figure Carol Channing. You mean you didn't know she was the first Super Bowl halftime star?

  • A season to wait for the family branches to grow true

    January 24, 2014

    The round-lobed sweetgum I planted a few months months ago appears to be tilting a little to the north, like a Russian skyscraper or a knobby-kneed college center. I fear it may never right itself. It will only grow taller and more obviously wrong.

  • From empty nest to new tests

    January 17, 2014

    Beginning today, Chris Erskine returns to the home front, with musings on love, life and the bittersweet joys of children moving back home.

  • Prime time for a potty break during a movie? There's an app for that.

    January 3, 2014

    I'm at "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" the other day, cradling a drink the size of Marlon Brando, 40 corpulent ounces of sugar water priced higher than Texas crude. If this thing capsizes, I may well drown.

  • Caught up in the Christmas spirit

    December 20, 2013

    With its rosy-cheeked sunsets and chiseled good looks, California is as fine a place as any to celebrate the solstice and all its attendant after-parties. Christmas, for one. After observing 55 of them, I'm starting to think this little celebration might really be taking off.

  • Holiday snow and ice fun in Long Beach: Chillin' with the Queen

    December 13, 2013

    Christmas makes old men of us all, particularly the women, who grow grumpy and put-upon because most of the holiday prep falls to them. Christmas is a glorious celebration till it gets its claws into you. If you're not too careful, you grow cynical over the drumbeat of sales-sales-sales, the idiot radio stations that start the yuletide tunes in mid-November, the whole colossal runaway holiday sled.

  • A barfly on the wall of L.A. history

    November 29, 2013

    The steakhouse may be America's greatest single achievement. Sure, there's that Constitution everyone's so impressed with, and baseball and Elizabeth Banks. But if you had to narrow it down to one thing, one crowning glorious creation that captures the nation's spirit and pastoral roots, it's probably a red-boothed steakhouse, where the waitresses are as old as the best wines, and platters of beef are presented presidentially.

  • Chris Erskine faces up to friends after a bout with Botox

    November 8, 2013

    So last week, we explained that I was getting Botoxed, or "Toxed," in a vernacular I created, and this week we will look at the results and reactions among my so-called friends.

  • Chris Erskine faces up to his face and gives Botox a shot

    November 2, 2013

    Not so much a typical candidate for Botox, except that I have a face like a garden glove — sun-baked and ripped by boot and fist. If Levi Strauss made faces, I'd be a 42 regular. And stone-washed.

  • Panpipes Magickal Marketplace: Where pagans shop and stop for a spell

    October 25, 2013

    So we're having drinks, T-Bone and I, and he's telling me that he wants to throw a party soon, and I suggest inviting a coven of witches, because who parties better than witches? And he starts telling me about this witches bookstore in Hollywood — the real deal, not some cheesy little shop that sells Harry Potter key chains but a store that takes its pagans pretty seriously.

  • Sleeping under, and over, the stars

    October 18, 2013

    Cemeteries have always intrigued me, since the time as a young boy when I ran across a freshly dug grave, two teenagers at the bottom of the pit, doing the things teenagers do when they get a little privacy.

  • Chris Erskine walks down the Westin Bonaventure

    October 11, 2013

    Short on detail, this story, for it's a little tricky taking notes while rappelling down the side of a 32-story downtown hotel, slick as glacial ice. No gargoyles on this baby, unless you're counting me.

  • Mouthful of heart and soul

    September 27, 2013

    Bob Newhart has a wonderful old bit where he claims that if you gave enough monkeys enough typewriters, sooner or later they would write all the great books.

  • Falling for a divine nectar

    September 20, 2013

    God's fingerprints are all over this place. You see it in the curl of a grape leaf, the camber of the harvest sun. Even the oak barrels are inviting. I want to cut one in half, fill it with leaves, climb in to read a long, difficult book.

  • At Beacher's Madhouse at the Roosevelt Hotel

    September 13, 2013

    Let’s peel back the layers of L.A., the Big Onion — past the skin lotions, the spray tans, the unnecessary piercings, down so close that you can tickle this lovely city’s soul.

  • Lunching at Bob's Big Boy with Angie Dickinson

    September 6, 2013

    Strange afternoon, strangely wonderful.

  • Scoping classic cars at Bob's Big Boy in Burbank

    August 30, 2013

    Remember when engines were measured in cubic inches? Remember when cars had chrome kissers that looked like psycho sharks? And when you flashed your headlights, the gum-popping carhop would come take your order — grudgingly, as if she had better things to do?

  • A nibble at the world of competitive eating with a gyoza contest

    August 23, 2013

    Love lettuce wraps. Love burritos. Love the crumbs you clean from the toaster just before it's about to catch fire. So when it comes to food, I am not picky.

  • After sunset, a secret Asian food fest rises

    August 9, 2013

    I should've been born with two tongues and five stomachs. As it is, one ventricle of my heart is devoted entirely to Asian sauces, particularly of the soy variety. Lots of men are built this way, with special ventricles devoted to the liquids they love: beer, milkshakes, Cabernet. Like express lanes to the soul.

  • Crowd surfing on Santa Monica Pier concert night

    August 2, 2013

    Santa Monica just seems to purr along, high on its own helium. Not urban, not suburban, but one of those mutations that seems to work, all centered on a vibrant main drag that isn't a drag at all. It's a 100-year-old pier.

  • Chris Erskine | Sky diving without the plane

    July 26, 2013

    It's a bird, it's a plane — no, it's just a columnist looking for another literary tour de force, in this case indoor sky diving, which seems a contradiction, but thanks to technology you could now theoretically sky dive in your own home. Or, till that moment, at Universal City Walk, where this wind tunnel is a main attraction, right there on the midway, just past the movie theaters and the giant, overfed guitar.

  • Cigars: Disgusting and wonderful midsummer pleasure

    July 19, 2013

    Cigars are filthy and disgusting, but that's not the only reason I like them. They lend a conviviality and camaraderie to every occasion. A moveable feast. A portable campfire. That's a cigar.

  • Free Hollywood Bowl rehearsals are best bargain in L.A.

    July 12, 2013

    Life is usually such a struggle for me. I get foreplay confused with afterplay; I get tofu confused with cheese.

  • Building your own surfboard — it's DIY, L.A.-style

    June 29, 2013

    Wanted to warn that I'm not a particularly skilled surfer, but I think you would just assume that. Basically, I excel at nothing in particular, though I did win the father-son fantasy football league last season and am poised to repeat.

  • Chris Erskine | Lesson 1: Polo playboys don't bag road apples

    June 22, 2013

    I have a crush on my polo pony. His name is Leon.

  • Getting the hang of it — hang gliding, that is

    June 15, 2013

    With a pneumatic whoooooooosh, I leave Earth again, and I am not even propelled by the sort of happy hour rocket fuel with which I'm sometimes associated.

  • All that promise in four little letters: g-r-a-d

    May 25, 2013

    "Grad" might be my favorite four-letter word, which is really saying something, for I traffic in four-letter words — eat them, spew them, chomp them like gum. "Grad" is followed by "oops," "bonk," "ball" and "fall" (the season, not the act of tripping). "Beer" is also right up there, though I usually frown on drinking. It's just the additional hydration I crave.

  • 'The Great Gatsby' is so right, and Leonardo DiCaprio is so wrong

    May 11, 2013

    What's to live for? The price of wine continues to skyrocket, and Warren Buffett is now tweeting. What's next for us culturally? Bingo night at the Louvre?

  • Chris Erskine | Beach cruiser pub crawl good for what ales you

    May 4, 2013

    You can go through life like a cool guy hitting a golf ball off a yacht, or you can go through life as a real person. Both have their rewards.

  • Flipping over redheads and cheeseburgers

    April 27, 2013

    Used to watch that terrific show "Twin Peaks," and I remember the Kyle MacLachlan character saying we should all treat ourselves to a little something — or someone — every day.

  • Noir tales and fair illusions in Burbank

    April 20, 2013

    So many of life's soupy uncertainties can be settled in or near tiny Toluca Lake, a neighborhood named for a body of water we never see. Ever water-skied on Toluca Lake? Ever caught a bass there, or lay idle on the toasty summer sand?

  • Chris Erskine's take on 'Janis Joplin' show in Pasadena

    March 30, 2013

    Into the decadent world of Pasadena we go. . . .

  • Breaking a sweat, busting a gut with Richard Simmons in B-Hills

    March 16, 2013

    My kind of town, Beverly Hills. It's vectored in such a way as to guarantee you get lost, involving a circuitry of duplicate names — Santa Monica, Little Santa Monica, Mondo Santa Monica. Everybody you meet sounds like Borat, and none of them knows anything, the dimmest people ever. You can stop a man on Rodeo and ask him where Rodeo is, and he will not know.

  • Man About Town: A new stage for National Lampoon

    February 23, 2013

    Like to laugh, don't care why or where. Don't care the occasion, formal or otherwise, though the formal ones always — to quote Jack Nicholson — "bring out the devil in me."

  • Face to face with vintage Hollywood history

    February 16, 2013

    Is there anything more unctuous than a 20-year-old celebrity? Heck, is there anything more unctuous than a 20-year-old, period — all angst, eyelashes and silly stilettos?

  • Man About Town: Valentine's candyland at Sweet! Hollywood

    February 9, 2013

    I'm in my traditional Cupidian buying frenzy leading up to Valentine's Day, my major organs bursting with good intentions, not knowing quite where to turn, getting a little angry about it actually — the frustrations of unbridled romance, bordering on malice, verging on angina.

  • Man About Town: In the Valley with one tight-knit group

    February 2, 2013

    Don't think of it as rush hour. Think of all those burning brake lights on the 101 as your own little red-light district, as beacons to fun and conviviality.

  • Man About Town: At sea with a crew of fourth-grade insomniacs

    January 26, 2013

    All went well on the recent school outing to the tall-masted ship, which I helped chaperon. I only had to pull three kids from the water, and two of them were easy because the shark had just spit them out — pit-ewwwwwey — and I was able to snag them in the air, in sort of mid-somersault.

  • Man About Town: Our view of the cosmos from an L.A. hilltop

    January 12, 2013

    Do I turn you on to cool stuff or what? Last week, a great shave. This week, the cosmos. There isn't really anyplace I won't take you. OK, I won't take you to Chuck E. Cheese's — that'd just be cruel, pepperoni in the very corpuscles of the place. But any other destination is up for grabs, including the far outer suburbs of human understanding.

  • If you just look, L.A. is full of artists

    January 5, 2013

    This big, florid, cartoony face of mine is handsomer than handsome. Master barber Jose Rojas looks it over trying to determine an entry point to its magnificent terrain. Initially, there appears to be some termite damage near the right cheek, and he thinks maybe a meteor once landed near one of the eyebrows that the attending surgeon, using the latest car fender repair techniques, filled with Bondo.

  • Man About Town: A Christmas that's made to fit this family

    December 29, 2012

    The season started the moment the college girl dumped a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle on the den table and announced she would have it conquered by Christmas.

  • Man About Town: At Christmastime, some snow jobs

    December 22, 2012

    I come from a family that puts eggnog in our coffee and whiskey in our rum.

  • Man About Town: Accessorizing at Los Angeles Auto Show

    December 8, 2012

    The Los Angeles Auto Show is nothing more than a gigantic jewelry store for men. We ogle the latest bangles from Germany, Japan and, increasingly, Ohio. Have you seen the Acura NSX, cut like an engagement ring? That's right, made in Ohio. It may be the most hormonal item to come out of the Buckeye State since "Glee." And just the right thing to wear to your next Lakers game.

  • Man About Town: Ejected from home, we're going to Disneyland

    December 1, 2012

    The looping line at the Jungle Cruise is almost Euclidean in its use of space. Hundreds of us shuffle across that cramped boathouse entrance — standing, shuffling, standing.

  • Man About Town: City life driving you crazy? Just say neigh.

    November 10, 2012

    I wrestle with my demons just like everybody else, addicted as I am to Mariel Hemingway movies and those little "fun-sized" Snickers bars, of which several trillion are floating around in these weeks after Halloween.

  • Man About Town: Fear and priority passes in zombie land

    October 27, 2012

    One of the first things you have to realize about zombies is that they drool blood, which must be hell on the dry cleaning. Never date a zombie, not even over a cup of coffee, unless you're one of those women with a bad boy/blood complex, in which case there's probably no helping you.

  • Man About Town: Carving out autumn bliss in a pumpkin patch

    October 20, 2012

    Largely free of the manure odors that kept me from a life in agriculture, Faulkner Farm puts on quite a pumpkin patch, replete with red barns, hayrides, a pumpkin catapult, corn mazes and, best of all, a fine tri-tip sandwich, the only thing really keeping me in California anymore.

  • Man About Town: Rough and humble on the Angeles Crest Highway

    September 22, 2012

    This isn't a road, it's a Reggie Bush run from scrimmage. It zigs. It zags. Your belly begins to bark. Kidneys become spleens.

  • Man About Town: L.A. County Fair so bad for you it's good

    September 15, 2012

    First, let us consider the beauty that is a deep-fried Snickers:

  • America's eyes and ears, and funnybone: Chris Erskine

    September 8, 2012

    Sometimes what I think the Pulitzer committee is after, humor-wise, isn't just one epic exposé, as per last week's gem on rotten-tomato fights. It's a body of hard-hitting work.

  • Man About Town: Amid the attack of the killer tomatoes

    September 1, 2012

    In search of something transformational in these troubled times, we're headed down to a food fight at Irvine Lake, something legitimate, fully sanctioned, with rows of port-o-potties lined up like sentries at a royal garden. Have you noticed that, of all the people at the Los Angeles Times, I get the most assignments involving port-o-potties?

  • River kayaking: L.A.'s best-kept secret?

    August 17, 2012

    I've always liked slow-moving rivers — mirrors to moonlight and literature, our first and best interstates, running over rocks, as Norman Maclean so deftly put it, "from the basement of time."

  • Man About Town: L.A. Racing school makes him take stock

    August 11, 2012

    You're talking about someone who death-grips his martini. You're talking about someone who double-clutches during teeth cleanings.

  • Man About Town: Catching summer by a crawfish tail

    August 4, 2012

    The summer — as do all summers — has blown by, the days growing shorter as they grow ever sweeter.

  • Man About Town: Gliding along on a stand-up paddleboard

    July 28, 2012

    Admittedly, I am in the 50th percentile of everything — looks, intelligence, sex appeal, strength. My core muscle group is mostly pudding. I have the muscle tone of $1.99-a-pound sirloin.

  • Man About Town: The sand castle sorcerer's apprentice

    July 14, 2012

    Like Charlie Sheen, I have no explanation for the things I do lately, other than they are on a whim and keep you guessing.

  • Man About Town: Buck Rogers! In the 21st ... yikes

    July 7, 2012

    This is either the most thrilling thing I've ever done or the world's most effective colonic. Maybe both.

  • Man About Town: A father's special, splashy day

    June 16, 2012

    Erma Bombeck, who had a pretty good way with words, once noted of her father:

  • Man About Town: A few heroic leaps at an 'Avengers' matinee

    May 12, 2012

    "The Avengers," as you may have heard, is the biggest thing to happen to America since World War II but, you know, louder and more troubling. At the end of the matinee I witnessed, audience members actually cheered, believing what they'd just seen was some sort of documentary. Manhattan had been saved, which is almost always a cause for celebration, though I met this one New Yorker the other day at the rent-a-car place: swaggery young Italian guy, you know the type.

  • Man About Town: At Hollywood Park, playing the ponies is family fun

    May 5, 2012

    With a caffeine headache and 60 bucks in my britches, I head out to the pony rides on a Friday night — to glittery, improbable Hollywood Park, now officially Betfair Hollywood Park.

  • Man About Town: Giving Hunger Games Training a shot in West L.A.

    April 21, 2012

    I'm behind a Honda Element with three bullet holes across the back. You guessed it — West L.A., specifically that gritty stretch near the Overland exit. No, I don't know for sure that they are real bullet holes. But in this end of town, I just assume everything I see is authentic.

  • Man About Town: Drinking in Swallow's Inn in San Juan Capistrano

    April 14, 2012

    I'm on my way down to lower Orange County in our old minivan, the Honey Fitz. It's bleeding power steering fluid, but other than that the Honey Fitz is charging out of the barn, three of the four cylinders firing in sequence, the other a virtual wooden leg.

  • Chris Erskine: Goodbye to a mom who was quite right

    March 31, 2012

    The thing about my mother's eulogy is that I used note cards. After 55 years, you'd think you could remember a mother without such prompts. But this was no regular mother. Tell me, are there any regular mothers?

  • Man About Town: City of Angels, that's no angel above

    March 17, 2012

    Here I go again, cooling the flames of anger through self-discovery. This time, I am piloting a little plane that's not much bigger than a sofa bed, L.A. winking up at me, as if to say, "You're really doing this?"

  • Man About Town: Lucha VaVoom draws this man out of the house

    March 10, 2012

    First of all, it's very loud. Loud enough to trigger menopause in mice. And the audience has this look, the same facial cha-cha you see in the third period of epic hockey games, when the fans' eyes start to suds up from too much beer.

  • Music to my ears: Not!

    November 26, 2011

    A freak for fitness, I decided the other day to concentrate on what trainers call the "core muscle groups," the very struts of the human body. In my case, the core muscles are the tongue and the schnitzel. The schnitzel is unfamiliar to many folks, but it's a sister muscle to the hamstring. Twisty like ship rope, the schnitzel runs from the back of the tongue to a spot just under my computer desk. I'm typing with it now, in fact.

  • Chris Erskine: AYSO ceremony is OK for openers

    September 19, 2009

    There's a cricket in the kitchen. Chirps all night long, like he's trying to sell me something.

  • Captain Erskine turns to a trusty parrot

    September 5, 2009

    The little boy with the Creamsicle hair is beginning the first grade. He'll be in Room 15, the note from the teacher advises a few days in advance.

  • L.A. in all its quirky glory on display at Santa Monica Pier

    August 26, 2009

    Santa Monica Pier juts out into the Pacific like Jay Leno's jaw, a defiant, whimsical and improbable landing pad. Just 100 feet below, sharks are at play, scarfing the occasional hot dog and Coke cup that plop into their Sunday soup. Up on deck, L.A. is at play too. Here, on SoCal's splendid splinter.

  • Chris Erskine: Graduation night

    June 20, 2009

    This is the quirkiness we will miss, one of the oddities that will leave life a little empty after our teenager jets off to college in August, miserable August, only two months away.

  • Baring his soul . . . and more

    June 6, 2009

    Keeping a relationship alive these days isn't easy. So, in an effort to demonstrate my commitment, I just sexted my wife of 27 years -- that is, I have sent her a revealing photo taken with my cellphone.

  • London revisited: The daughter's side of the story

    May 16, 2009

    So here's what happens. My dad asks if I want to go to London with him, and I say, "Sure, chap, totally," and before I know it, I'm walking down this London street, Gloucester, which is pronounced Glowster for some reason. Like my dad, this whole country has a bad case of the mumbles.

  • Conquering London, not-so little daughter in tow

    May 9, 2009

    A wonderful thing, a daughter. It's what the creator gave me instead of a way with money or a firm jaw line. I have two daughters, the oldest of whom is accompanying me to London for a week of work. She is lovely. She is patient. She is . . . gasp . . . 25?

  • The glove is off

    May 2, 2009

    We pull off to the school drop-off. A kid gets out, and here's what comes pouring out of our family car:

  • Chicago: The Windy, Meaty City

    April 25, 2009

    We are creeping along the Chicago expressway when I decide it is time to merge into the right lane. For some reason, none of the other drivers is letting me in. I do all the things I usually do when I merge. The blinker is bleating -- hiccup, hiccup -- and Posh is hanging out the passenger window to her waist, licking her lips and smiling demurely. In L.A., this works 10 out of 10 times.

  • How 'bout that Midwestern spirit?

    April 18, 2009

    Our tour of Midwestern universities gets off to an excellent start when -- I think it was at Purdue -- the little girl inquires as to whether they have "you know, a high-end spa here?" Then one night in Chicago, I have a cheeseburger so huge that I will be working it off forever. It is lodged next to my gallbladder like some new internal organ. No, doc, that's not a lump. That's just last week's lunch.

  • Good eggs, cracks and all

    April 11, 2009

    Posh is telling me how she knows someone who knows someone with "a farm in mid-state," where if you give the woman empty egg cartons, she'll fill them with fresh eggs for free.

  • Debutantes on parade, a.k.a. the dad-daughter waltz night

    April 4, 2009

    In our last installment, we were renting tuxedos and learning to waltz, fun stuff only if you're one of those country club stiffs who's dead from the neck up. Me, I'd rather be stapled to a ping-pong table and attacked by geese than attend a black-tie dinner. I'd rather drown in pudding.

  • Suit up, Dad, time to waltz Tuxedos and naked truths

    March 28, 2009

    Should've bagged the whole thing when they told me I'd have to waltz. Who waltzes anymore? Prussian diplomats? Is there even a Prussia anymore? No, because while everyone was waltzing, mean dudes with muskets were coming over the parapets.

  • A full plate of banquets and dinners

    March 14, 2009

    I sit next to this amazing woman at the school fundraising dinner. Turns out I know her a little. We were married 26 years ago. To this day I can remember how her hair smelled in church that day -- like shamrocks over very good pasta.

  • Dinner party makes for a big night out

    March 7, 2009

    So we go off to a little dinner party, barely speaking to each other, my wife and I. Not sure what sparked the silent treatment. Might've been when I flippantly offered to give her driving lessons. Sometimes, I can be such an . . .

  • Hearing loss has its advantages at home

    February 28, 2009

    I'm pretty much deaf now. The male ear can withstand only so many gripes, accusations, hissy fits and requests for cash before the eardrum itself -- like a tiny silk pizza -- just implodes on itself.

  • My (family's) funny Valentine's Day

    February 21, 2009

    Exhausted from Valentine's Day, my dad is taking a little time off from his column, leaving me to write the silly thing on my iPhone while waiting at stoplights and stuff. Yeah, I know that's totally illegal. Go ahead, arrest me.

  • Las Vegas is one long happy hour

    February 7, 2009

    I love martinis. I average about two a year, usually here in Las Vegas, where they are known to spawn. A cold glass of beer is a splendid sight, and a glass of Chardonnay has a lovely sort of moon glow. But a martini comes with that great stiletto heel.

  • Where babies come from: Vegas

    January 31, 2009

    It's early on a wintry Saturday morning, gray as an undertaker's chin, and I'm trying to steal an extra hour of precious rest. I tore my schnitzel playing touch football last weekend and I need to nurse the injury as long as I possibly can. In fact, they were asking about it after church the other day.

  • Frankly speaking on the college essay

    January 24, 2009

    Subject: The most-ultimate college entrance essay ever

  • A burning desire for turkey wings

    January 17, 2009

    I'm talking to my buddy Irv about women -- of which I know precious little -- and I confess upfront that I refuse to chase her anymore.

  • Date night at the movies

    January 10, 2009

    If they ever give an Academy Award to the best moviegoer of the year, I would have to be a nominee. No one enters a packed theater with more flair (or more popcorn).

  • A holiday night's dream? Well, mostly

    January 3, 2009

    A few final thoughts about the holidays, and then we'll move on.

  • A Christmas wish: Get back to basics

    December 20, 2008

    It's not even Christmas yet, and I've already gained 5 pounds, most of it on my face (see dotted sketch). Five pounds doesn't sound like a lot, unless it's all in your jowls. Besides, I have been gaining 5 pounds every Christmas for about 20 years now, which adds up to 100 pounds in my face alone. Christmas in your face. Is there any other way?

  • What do you do with a growing hamster family? Give them away

    December 13, 2008

    We are wealthy with hamsters. Some families have no hamsters at all (which must leave a real hole in your heart). We have nine hamsters. Let me explain.

  • It's a yard sale economy

    December 6, 2008

    Every household should have its own economic stimulus package. In our case, it's a yard sale -- the ultimate in recycling.

  • White House dog? Here's the perfect candidate

    November 15, 2008

    GM is turning into a 99 Cents Only Store. Circuit City outlets are disappearing faster than Carmen Electra's career. Yet, all anyone can talk about is what kind of dog Malia and Sasha should have once they get to the White House. Let's settle this right here. I nominate our sweet little beagle, Cujo, for the role. Cujo seconds the motion.

  • California dreaming in November

    November 8, 2008

    Nice time for a drive, November. Welcome back the breezes and the sweatered weathercasters promising a slight chance of rain. Breathe deep the oak fire from up the block or the fine damp smells we haven't had in six or eight months. After six months of relentless sun, the clouds are a satisfying change. They alter the light in the living room and the gray-green of the olive trees out back.

  • Under Friday night lights, reeling in the years and relishing the suburban life

    November 1, 2008

    We're sitting in a heap of people, right in the middle of the bleachers, under the Friday night lights. Generally, I don't like being in a heap of people. But this is special -- homecoming -- and I am surrounded by some of the nicest people I know.

  • The full brood is back -- and the pecking order's clear

    October 25, 2008

    We're at that important juncture on a Sunday morning, where if we can get our dog, Cujo, to close his red-rimmed eyes, we might sneak in an extra hour of sleep. I just want to roll over and not have to think about how to pay for Christmas.

  • So little money, so much you can do

    October 18, 2008

    I'M NOT sure what everyone means by "hunkering down," though I suspect there's no nudity involved. Hunkering down sounds sort of appealing, though. Like something you'd do in slippers and an old sweat shirt. And pants, of course. Never forget the pants.

  • Fall's soccer ritual kicks in

    September 20, 2008

    SO HERE I AM,O HERE I AM, in my 17th season of AYSO, the Joe Paterno of youth soccer. I am like one of those guys who marries the same woman three times, not realizing my mistake, thinking this go-around will somehow be different. "Do you, Coach, take this team to drive you completely bonkers for the next three months, till death do you part?"

  • The little guy's first day of kindergarten

    September 6, 2008

    SO WE SAY O WE SAY an Ave Maria and send the little guy off to school for the very first time. Kindergarten . . . the bunny lair of lower education.

  • What's a family beach trip without text messaging?

    July 10, 2008

    We're trying to steal some family time in this increasingly busy and beepy world -- a world that has become electronic almost to a fault, human connections going, going, gone . . .

  • The new Mayberry?

    July 3, 2008

    I'm only happy if I'm shopping. Wait, that's a slight exaggeration. I'm only happy when I'm not shopping. The last time I was in the Glendale Galleria, Abe Lincoln was off to see a show.

  • Baseball, booze and a send-off

    June 26, 2008

    SO THE Blue Jay Sluggers cap their undefeated season -- no wins, no losses, 14 ties -- with a party in the park. It's a lavish display befitting today's modern athlete: food, gifts and groupies (in this case, the boys' moms).

  • The prom dates are here

    June 5, 2008

    I love love. It's so full of hope. So full of little chocolate sprinkles.

  • Grandma's come to visit

    May 22, 2008

    GRANDMA arrived the other day, with a suitcase the size of a Frigidaire. Took two grown men and a forklift to move it from the car to our guest quarters, which doubles as the little guy's bedroom. Come visit us and you're likely to have Spider-Man sheets and a stuffed raccoon as a bunkmate. Make your summer reservations now.

  • Why we don't let him do reviews

    March 6, 2008

    Finally caught up to "Juno," the supposedly sensational little flick about teen angst.

  • It's no shock when vacations head south

    June 7, 2007

    IT finally occurs to me, after 25 years, that I married Amelia Earhart. Hey, everybody, call off the search. She's right here, in the passenger seat next to me, trying to read a road map that she's holding upside down.

  • Truly, it's a funny, knock-knock world

    May 31, 2007

    NEXT time you have a moment, ask yourself this: How much honesty does my life have? Is my work mostly truthful and rewarding? In my personal life, can I level with my friends? Do my kids think I'm a fraud?

  • She's sweet 16 and smart as a whip. Ouch.

    May 24, 2007

    SHE TURNED 16 the other day, and I can hardly spit out the words. Sixteen. As in 16 candles. As in sweet (and sour) 16. As in the .416 (or so) batting average she racked up for her school softball team. As in the 16 bucks I gave her for the movies. As in the 16 times I told her to clean her room, damn it. Or else.

  • A red-eye flight gets even redder

    October 6, 2005

    I CONSIDER AN autumn trip back to the Midwest a success as long as I don't get picked off by hunters. Now, I am being tested like never before, taking a red-eye flight to Chicago with just the toddler — a leprechaun with his mother's eyes and licorice on his breath. The smart money is on the leprechaun.

  • Yard work? Sure, after his nap

    March 24, 2005

    The social contract that I've established with this toddler is that he follows me wherever I go and behaves exactly the way I behave. If I sneeze explosively, as dads often do, he is to sneeze the same way. If I wink at the cashier at the garden center, he is to wink as well. He's not so much my mirror image as a walking, talking mulligan. A human do-over. We waddle off on a Saturday morning like two ducks headed for a pond.

  • A little church, a little chili

    December 30, 2004

    The full moon is coming up over the mountains like a big bowl of milk, and friends and neighbors are all entering church for Christmas Eve services. As the baby sits on my lap, I try to re-crease his cotton collar with my thumb and forefinger. Lots of luck.

  • Brotherhood of the backyard

    July 29, 2004

    I enter the backyard like the Cat in the Hat, hairy legged and bent on mischief. I carry a tray full of steaks and a pair of tongs longer than your arm. There is a splotch of what looks like dragon's blood on my shirt. It's marinade. Why? Because it makes me taste better.

  • A summer place

    July 8, 2004

    "MOM? Mom? Mom-mom-mom-mom-mom … "