Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dear Readers:
This student has come to the Seven Golden Secrets to Writing Class for three  years.  I am so proud of her that a) that she keeps coming and b) that she loves to write.  She has developed many pieces over the years, but this is her first completion of larger project – a short story.  There are some grammatical mistakes in this piece but it seemed to flow with the voice of a 14-year-old so they are still in this piece. Here, with a supernatural flare to fit the season, is: No Marks, No Traces, Nowhere. Happy Howling on pumpkin day -- Diana
No Marks, No Traces, Nowhere
By Veronica Gray
The one time I left her house, I didn’t know that it would be the last time I’d see her the way she use to be. Some people say she died; others say she was captured.
 I still don’t know. I still don’t know what to believe.
 The last night I saw her alive the moon was covered by clouds. There was no noise while Nancy and I walked down a dim street. There was an eerie kind of feeling hanging in the air, but it always feels this way in the area where we live: Black Gate.
My friend, Nancy, wasn’t the  most social girl on the block. Some people had problems with her. She dressed in all black and had the quote “weird piercings,” unquote. She had a weird tattoo of a dark house, it was her house, stained into her pale wrist. I asked her what it stands for, but when I did, she’d shut down and her pale face paled even more. She’s had that odd tattoo as long as I can remember.
We were best friends since second grade. Well, not really. In the beginning, we were enemies. Unfortunately, I was the prissy, rich girl and I hated her, but one day my parents gambled away all of our savings and we became dirt poor. So none of my so-called “friends,” wanted to hang out with me anymore.
It was then Nancy started to talk to me.
I was sitting alone eating a sandwich watching my “friends” gossip, probably about me.
Nancy came up to me and sat on the other end of the table. I saw she had a pudding cup and I got jealous. I asked if she wanted to change her pudding for my fruit cup. She said no, but continued to talk to me. I got tired of ignoring her so I kept the conversation rolling. Besides, no one else was talking to me.
 All through lunch and after school we talked.
“Do you want to be my friend?” she asked me.  I got scared by that question.  Everything was going by so fast. I didn’t talk to Nancy for three days after that.  For those three days I was so lonely. I decided to talk to her again. I gathered up my stuff and walked towards her.
“Do you want to be my friend?” I asked her.
She replied with a huge grin, stretching from ear to ear.
“Yes,” she squeaked.
Now, I am 14 and after our last fight yesterday, I stormed out of the house.
We fought about the stupidest thing.  After history yesterday, during passing period, she didn’t wait for me. She left for her class.  I got so mad and disappointed that I was speechless.  I didn’t know what to say until I saw her.  I slowly exploded.
“So, where were you after 5th period?” I asked.
“Umm, I left to 6th period,” she said looking out into the horizon as if I didn’t exist.
“I was looking for you; you usually wait for me,” I looked at her. Her eyes met mine.
“Sorry,  I had to go, I was going to be late,” she veered to the right heading towards her front porch. I followed her. She seemed so aloof.
“Well we all have to make sacrifices,” I said. She slipped the key into the lock and the door flung open.  We dropped off our stuff.
Finally, she started to explain, but by now my irritation was expanding just because she was acting as if she didn’t care.
“Well, if I walked with you and waited for you then I would of gotten lunch detention and I think 30 minutes of lunch is better than two and a half minutes or passing period,” she threw her hand in the air.
 I couldn’t think of a good comeback.  If I said “still,” then I would lose.  I just picked up my stuff angrily and left hoping that it would be a good enough “burn.”
I fled her house as it started getting darker.  It wasn’t very cold or very hot, but I was sweating.  My heart was beating so fast. I didn’t notice anything unusual because of the creepy feeling that I usually get.  The only thing I did notice was that I didn’t have a shadow.  Then an odd sensation crept over me. I was sure someone was watching me as I left – and it wasn’t Nancy.
I stomped home and ran into my room and listened to “Smoke” by Suicide Silence. That was a Monday.
On Tuesday,  Nancy didn’t come to school. I thought that was odd because Nancy wouldn’t miss Taco Tuesday.
 I went over to her house when school ended and found it boarded up and a calamitous uproar going on along with flashing lights. The house was hugged by caution tape.  Even, the trees had caution tape.  It looked almost as if someone t.p.'ed her house with caution tape.  The police were there doing whatever police officers do alongside paramedics. Channel 4 news was there with the field reporter who has a peculiar moustache.  There was something about him that bothered me, it must have been his nasal voice or the fact that he reminds me of my English teacher.
“Wa-Whats going on here?” I tapped on a police officer’s shoulder.  He didn’t look down; I tapped his shoulder again.
“Little girl, please leave this for people who are supposed to be here,” he said. I left and tried to break into the back.  There was nothing to block my little secret “breaking-into-Nancy’s-house” spot.  I snuck in only to find a stuck up police officer: “ Young lady, this is a crime scene not a playground,” she spat out. “You need to leave now.”
My gut told me this was bad, more than bad. I raced home and turned on the news.
“Good evening,” said the same guy with a weird moustache that I hated.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m here at Black Gate where a 14 –year-old girl has been  reported dead. Nancy Cartwath apparently dropped dead in her home. Adding to the mystery is that her mother, Donna Cartwath, was brought to the police station for questioning, but dropped dead before she walked in the doors. The Coroner’s Office will do autopsies on both the girl and her mother. They don’t expect any answers for at least a week.”
I turned off the T.V. and dropped to the floor and just laid there on my stomach. My arm fell asleep under me, but why should I have move it. Nothing last forever. Everything dies.
“What are you doing on the floor!” my mom asked me as she peeked into the room.
“I like it here,” I mumbled quietly. It sounded more like a grunt.
“Jess, get up,” my mom ordered.
I got up from the floor and turned on the news for my mom. The story was being reported over and over again on every station.
“Oh, my gosh, Jessica, I am so sorry,” as she tried to hug me --- but I backed away and ran into my room.
I slammed my door. My room  smelled like sweat and Sharpies. My cycling pants and shirt shabbily were strewn across the floor stinking up my room.  I kicked them aside only to find a rotting sandwich. It probably tastes like dog food because it looks like dog food. I couldn’t stand it. So I walked out the door and got on my bike to ride to our secret park – mine and Nancy’s.
Our secret park is a piece of grass and a big, green, lush oak tree across from the graveyard. I got off my bike and laid on the grass thinking about nothing but Nancy. I heard a noise and I looked up across the street into the graveyard. I saw Nancy behind the gate grabbing the bars and looking right at me like she was stuck there. She looked frightened.
I ran to Nancy and I got to the gate. It was starting to get dark.
“Nancy! Nancy! ‘’ I screamed I was so happy to see her.
“Shhhh,” she put her fingers to her lips. She then turned around and walked away from me across the graveyard. The flat land was filled with nothing but rotting stacks of bones six feet under. The farther she got away from me, the more blurry she became.
I raced after her.  The moon moved behind a cloud and she vanished. I started to freak out.
I didn’t know what to do. Why is she there? Didn’t she die? I almost passed out. My heart was beating super fast, my adrenaline was pumping. I wanted to jump the gate and hug her, but how can I hug her? She is dead.
I just jumped on my bike and cycled home. I opened my bedroom door, the same awful smell greeted me as I walked in. I grimaced on my journey to my bed. My  scrapbooks were all over it. I was wondering how they got there, probably my mom put them there.
I collapsed on my bed looking through the interminable amount of embarrassing baby and family photos of me. Then came the section of me and Nancy:
Me and Nancy in second grade.
Me and Nancy in third grade.
Me and Nancy in fourth grade and so on until ninth grade.
Nancy and I went everywhere with each other. Mavis Park, cousin’s houses, even dental appointments. The only time we didn’t see each other …or stay in contact…was when we were showering or asleep unless it was a sleepover. The most awful moments for us was when we both had something else to do so we couldn’t see each other. That’s why it was strange that she didn’t pick me up after class. We were inseparable.
My favorite photo of the two of us was when she actually was smiling at the camera. In all of her school photos, she never smiled let alone looked at the camera.
When I came to my favorite photo of the two of us, my face was scratched out. As I went on flipping pages, the only person missing was me. I was torn out of each page. What had happened? Who would do that? I couldn’t blame Nancy. She was dead. My mother would never have done that. I didn’t have any sisters or brothers to blame.
I closed the book and stared up at the ceiling. My heart was beating so heavily and quickly that I could feel it pound in my toes. I jumped out of bed and ran outside to the safest placed I used to know – Nancy’s house.
I ran and ran and ran without stopping until I got there. The place was still boarded up, but one window was broken. There were lights on and I heard laughing like a family.  I saw two shadows in the window. The day was gloomy and the sun began fading like the day I stomped out of Nancy’s house for the last time. I went to the window and looked inside.
There was Nancy and her mom sitting on the couch with a bowl of popcorn, watching Tosh.0.
“Hey Jess, come inside,” Nancy said. Her mom was cracking up about a comment Daniel Tosh said about a YouTube video, almost like everything was back to normal. I climbed through the window trying to look as casual as I could, almost like I climbed through broken windows of my dead friend’s house everyday so I could eat popcorn with her.
I sat down on the couch. It looked normal, but I felt that sensation again like someone was watching me. I stayed there even though I was beginning to freak out. I fell asleep and woke up the next morning.
“Oh my God, school! I have to get to school! I shouted as I jumped up. “My mother is going to kill me if I go back to get my backpack. Oh, no I forgot my homework.”
 I started freaking out.
“Hah, ha, ha…It’s Sunday sweetie. You don’t have school,” Donna gloated.
There was something different about them like something dead or evil. I couldn’t stand being in that house a minute longer. I opened the door to go outside. I was surprised when I opened the door that the house wasn’t boarded up anymore. The trees, grass and plants were dead and all the shadows quivered toward me – as though they were attracted to me
All the trees and houses in the back and front to me were burning and fell apart into a white background. I was cornered in the house. I walked back in.
‘Sweetie, you can’t go outside. They will get you,’” Donna said with a giggle and a twinkle in her cold, brown eyes and a big smile showcasing all of her white teeth.
I opened the door to step outside again, but there wasn’t any outside, only inside. “Only an inside,” my voice repeated over and over.  
It’s  a house in an island of white sea with no way home.
I’m stranded in a house of my dead friend. The same house tattooed on Nancy’s left wrist.  She held up her left arm as a gesture to sit down on the couch.  There was something different. She didn’t have the tattoo anymore.
“Where’s the tattoo? I asked, quivering with fear. I always hated that thing.
Nancy giggled, more and more, and then so did her mother until their laughter began to echo off the walls, hurting my ears.
 I sat stunned as it slowly crept into my brain that we’d all been sucked into Nancy’s evil tattoo. I was never going home. There were no marks, no traces of where we went. We were nowhere —except in a house stranded forever on a white sea.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

By Diana L. Chapman
Ports O' Call leasing manager Jayme Wilson leaped into the jostling pile of 11 candidates in an attempt to snatch an open Los Angeles council seat after becoming frustrated that officials seem to think “we are the ones who work for them.”
The broken sidewalks, untrimmed trees, and cost prohibitive expenses that others pay –items the city should be taking care of in the Harbor Area and Watts – leaves him “disgusted.” Los Angeles is such a mess and seems to focus most of its financial efforts to downtown Los Angeles and affluent areas, such as Bel Air and Brentwood. “Show me the broken sidewalks there,” he fumes.
 “City managers, officials and politicians don’t seem to understand that they work for us,” said Wilson, 59, who lives on his 90 foot boat, Spirit, docked at Ports O’ Call in San Pedro. “We don’t work for them.  The whole problem is they think that we are their servants. “It’s that mentality that permeates the city of Los Angeles. The city has failed us. The city does not work. It needs common sense.”
He has some evidence to prove it, said Wilson, who owns a 16.8  percent interest of Ports O’ Call Restaurant, Spirit Cruises and Ports O Call Village. 
The remaining percentage belongs to other partners, he said. Besides managing the restaurant, Wilson also handles leases for smaller businesses at the sea port village.
Wilson contends that he’s the best candidate to vote for in the Nov. 8 election to  replace former Councilwoman Janice Hahn, due to his understanding of city operations and the large chunk of volunteerism he’s done for the Harbor area. Hahn left the post when she was elected to congress.
The candidate also suggests city employees, such as two candidates in the running, Senior lead police officer Joe Buscaino and Firefighter Pat McOsker, who took a leave from his union post as president of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City Local 112, have no business running. 
They both have conflicts, he charged, and are lining themselves up to get large city pensions and $179,000-a-year job.
If he wins, Wilson said, he will donate back $50,000 each year to non-profits and will not take a dime in matching funds the city offers to candidates running for council seats. He’s using $50,000 of his own money in the race and $75,000 in public donations.
Asked if he too has a conflict with partial ownership at Ports O’ Call which falls under the venue of the Port of Los Angeles --Wilson said if he wins, he either will: immediately hand over those businesses to his children or brother; will liquidate them or put them into a blind trust. If the business remains in his family, he will only need to rescues himself from votes involving Ports O’ Call which are a small part  in “ten miles of waterfront.”
Also, he would relinquish his job as lease manager for smaller businesses at the New England style village that hugs the main harbor. (The port in 2014 plans to go out to bid for a new developer  for the village – which may or may not renew the  Wilson’s contract.)
Calling himself a “newbie” because he didn’t move to San Pedro until 1979, Wilson points out he’s done an enormous amount of work for the community, including helping to start up the Port of Los Angeles Charter High School and where he served as president of the board trustee for three years.
Besides his understanding of city operations, he said, he’s held many posts including: president of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce three times; resides as chairman of San Pedro’s Community Redevelopment Agency and has done so for seven years;  remains on the Harbor Area Boys and Girls Club which he’s served for seven years; and is currently vice president of the San Pedro Business Improvement District.
The improvement district is where he learned firsthand, he said, that the public was not only paying, but doing the city’s work. For example, the downtown trees hadn’t been trimmed for years and the sidewalks remained filthy.
His district, determined to attract business to downtown, voted to care for the trees and sidewalks. To do so, the district had to pay the city for an $8,000 a permit to trim the city trees.
Then, Wilson said the city forced them to pay an additional $7,000 to obtain a permit from the city’s Department of Public Transportation department to post no parking signs while the work was done.
“We are the street sweepers,” he said, “We are steam cleaning the sidewalks. We have security 16 hours a day. I have spent my free time as a volunteer improving the community. We must not accept second class service. They don’t have these issues in the Pacific Palisades or Bel Air.”
Also irritating, he added: the plans along the waterfront change each time a new mayor arrives in office, slowing down development and keeping the port  from moving forward. If he wins the council seat, he will work hard to make sure what’s planned now -- happens.
“Let’s just go forward with these plans now,” he said. “we don’t have to stop because we have a new mayor. I’m 100 percent behind the Wilmington and San Pedro water front plans. We don’t need to change anything.”
Should he win, he said, he would turn things around by working closely with the district’s seven neighborhood councils.  The region includes Watts, Lomita, Harbor Gateway, Harbor City, Wilmington and San Pedro.
The councils, working tightly with the city council office, could reshape how the district is treated, Wilson explained. That’s the weapon he plans to use to shore up a district that’s “at the end of a cul-de-sac.”
“If you empower the people, they rise to the occasion,” Wilson said. “I don’t have a blueprint for” the district, he added. That would happen, he said, by designing them with the Neighborhood Councils. That’s where the strength resides, he argued, to make the city more responsive.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Has your child learned the joy of writing? Not yet?

Coming to love the craft makes for a great and solid writer -- at any age. Long time writer Diana Chapman currently teaches students from 6 to 14 her Seven Golden Secrets to Writing in an enjoyable and nurturing environment. Students who once could barely write are now receiving As in English!

Not only that, but she makes writing fun. Six sessions in a row, starting this Wednesday at the Corner Store, costs $60. Students are also allowed to drop in to each class for $10. There are no refunds. 

Class begins at 4:30 p.m. and ends at 5:45. The Corner Store is located at 1118 West 37th Street in San Pedro. For more information, email Diana at

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How Do You Pitch With Your Feet at Major Baseball Fields Around the Country?
Tom Willis Can Tell You
By Diana L. Chapman
 He’s flown more than 32,000 air miles, traveled countless times by trains and bus, driven himself around the United States  – and pitched 14 times at national baseball stadiums in the U.S.A .  That may seem like no triple run.
 For Tom Willis, it’s a homer. Born without arms, he pitches with his feet.
Despite his lack of appendages, Willis, 52,  of San Diego, never let that stop him. He  threw a ceremonial pitch across home plate at Dodger Stadium in April  before doing the same this past summer at the Boston Red Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks and Houston Astros ball fields.
As a  “congenital bilateral, upper amputee, a fancy way to say no arms,” Willis said, he settled on one decisive goal:  to convince all 30 stadiums in the U.S to let him do the open ceremonial pitch so he can show off just what the disabled can do. So far, he's visited 14.
 Each time he does it, he’s greeted with thunderous applause from thousands.
“My main message is I look different, I act different and it’s o.k. to be different,” Willis explained. “That’s the message I’m driving home for kids. For adults, the message is: “You learn to take what life gives and move forward. Give it the best you have. I want people to think ability – not disability.
“I wanted to be a baseball player, but I couldn’t. But this is what I can do.”
Willis’ story is long – filled with endless body casts and cruel surgeries -- and sad – if you want it to be. His drive, however, forces him to pursue one major achievement after another so he has little time for sadness.
 This is why he drives a car using a foot-steering controls, earned his Master’s degree in adult education from the University of Maryland, took a public relations job with the U.S. Department of Agriculture that flew him around the country --  and later decided he should pitch at every U.S. Major League stadium.
It’s this very attitude he brings to schools when doing motivational speaking – shocking students when he tosses toys and balls directly at the person he’s aiming for. He also has no problem standing up for himself. He took issue with KROQ Talk Show hosts Kevin and Bean when Kevin claimed Willis was stupid  for trying to attempt these pitches. Willis contacted them, went on the air and called Kevin to the plate for his ignorance.
Kevin apologized, he said.
Tom with his father, Richard.
No Easy Life
None of this means his life was easy.  When he was born in 1959, several doctors and a priest impressed upon his parents, Richard and Frances, how much better the armless infant would be in an institution.
Strong Catholics, the parents responded with: “Bring us our baby,” Willis wrote in his unpublished book called “No Hands, No Arms, No Problem.”
While things began to look up, at 10-months old, his father died unexpectedly from cancer, leaving Frances, to care for Willis and his two older siblings. His mother turned out to be a mountain of strength.
“My mother sucked it up and raised all three of us kids, “Willis explained. “My mother taught me: “This is who you are. You can sit around and watch TV or you can go out and do.”
And do he did – despite many interruptions along the way from frequent hospital visits to several major surgeries to falling down repeatedly on his face while  learning to walk.
At age three, scoliosis slipped into his spine and began to curve it – which eventually became life threatening despite that as a little boy he wore body braces, casts and did traction. The scoliosis insidiously forced the curvature to continue and by age seven, it reached an 80 degree angle slowly crawling toward 90. It’s like “your body is being folded in half and compressed,” Willis said.
So he wouldn’t die, this meant spinal fusion surgery at 7-years-old, one day after his birthday. Before the surgery, he was put in another plaster body cast from his neck to waist so doctors “could get me as straight as they could.” Then, two metal Harrington rods were infused into his vertebrae to keep him erect.
“They slapped me into another body cast and sent me home,” Willis explained adding that he would wear it for an entire year even during the muggy summer months. Employees at his deceased father’s company pooled their money together – and bought the family an air conditioner so he wouldn’t suffer even more.
Willis Kept Going
Despite the agony, Willis kept going. After all, it was the way his mother had raised him. She volunteered every day at his school to help pay for her children’s attendance.
Besides his mother – who continued to work as a nurse until age 83 – the pitcher said he’s grateful to Our Lady Sorrows Catholic Church in Takoma Park, Maryland which ran the elementary school he attended. The school, he said, instead of fearing his lack of arms, embraced him and his entire family.
“I was never taunted, nor teased,” explained Willis, who believes it was his mother and school officials that made him courageous enough to pursue things he could not do – at least not in the traditional way. He joked that students didn’t risk teasing him because they would likely face strict punishment from the nuns.
Students there also adapted baseball – a game Willis adored -- so he could play too. They had him run for several batters. It might have helped that his two older siblings, Kathy and Michael also played.
In high school, he opted to try out for soccer despite knowing he wouldn’t make the team. He poured his guts into practices and forced himself to make at least  a “pitiful” goal. He paid for it later. He was in burning pain for the rest of the day.
As he predicted, the list of soccer players who made the team did not include him.  But the soccer coach called Willis into his office and said: ““I’m making you team manager.””
That worked well for everybody, Willis added.
In high school, he went on and did several plays. His friend, who was directing, gave him the role of an armless pirate in Peter Pan. Of course, in college he learned no one would bend rules for him. That was the “reality.”
And while he did have a chance at a bit of normalcy by using artificial arms when he was younger, that didn’t work entirely for this armless kid.
After awhile, No Prosthetics Needed
About age 3, Willis received prosthetics which he wore to school every day as he learned to read, write and paint. But in the evening, he took them off and started doing the same things with – his feet.
“Those suckers are heavy,” Willis added of the instruments.
But once the major surgery was performed, he could no longer wear them and went without the artificial limbs for an entire year, which strengthened his ability to use his feet.
Finally, once the neck-to-waist body cast was removed a year later, Willis was placed back into a brace that included mounts  so artificial arms could be plugged in.
The arms were expected to make his life easier.
But their weight alone caused him to wither in exhaustion. The arms, he said, pushed away from his central force, causing him imbalance and pain. Frustrated, he found himself repeatedly removing them.
“When I got home at night, I would take off the heavy, cumbersome prosthesis,” he wrote in his book. “I was a tiny child and it was a heavy machine made of wood, metal and wires – no space age materials back then. Once the prosthesis was off, which I much preferred, I immediately began using my feet and toes for everything.”
And that’s when he really began to focus on working with his feet.
He learned to paint, color, write, dress, brush his teeth  – and later pitch – with his feet. He can do anything, he said, that any other person can do. He just does it with those two appendages he stands on.
His feet, he concluded, were his shot at freedom. 
Could Willis pitch a baseball with his feet?
In 1980, Willis finished college at the University of Maryland with a Bachelor’s Degree in radio, television and film production – magna cum laude -- and earned his Master’s degree in educational technology in 1988.  He held a variety of careers, first  working for Arbitron Ratings and later at the U.S. Department of Agriculture where he held posts such as a video and satellite television producer and a public affairs officer.
Now married to Mary Lou, a single mother, and having a step-daughter Melissa, he  landed a public affairs job for the department’s forest service in San Diego and launched Tomsfeet Productions. He became a “motivational speaker” with the goal of  breaking down barriers the public has with the disabled – in particular kids.
One day, Willis displayed to elementary students his abilities – pitching tennis balls at the audience -- and  caught the eye of a Cox Channel 4 reporter who covered the San Diego Padres.
The reporter suggested Willis come to Petco Park and toss the ceremonial pitch for the team.
The trouble was, Willis wondered, could he pitch a baseball – which is much heavier than a tennis ball – and make it from the pitcher’s mound to home plate -– a throw that had to be at least 60’6’’?
Because Willis didn’t turn down challenges, his friend Michael Million, a Little League coach, prepared him for the opportunity.
Together, they worked out a plan. Within ten days, Willis had tossed 100 pitches a day, three days a week using what he calls their ABC plan:
a)     Alignment—Feet have to have proper alignment on the mound.
b)    Ball—He had to have a good grip on the ball
c)     Catcher—Make sure he had eye contact with the catcher’s mitt
d)    Dig—Left foot must be dug back to maintain proper footing
e)     Explode --Whip right leg out carrying the ball and make the pitch (He is right-footed instead of right-handed.)
Even with all that practice, Willis could only pitch 58 feet and he worried incessantly that the ball would drop just short of home plate by two feet. He didn’t want to settle for that.
Finally he decided:  “I’m going to go up to that mound. I may never have a chance to get to a (professional) pitcher’s mound again. Success was going to be getting up and doing it.”
In 2008, he did his first pitch for the Padres and “it was terrible.” Still, he learned the club’s patrons were amazed and exploded with applause.
“I thought I should do this in every stadium in the country,” and ever since he’s been roaming the country like a western cowboy. Now, however, he can throw the ball across home plate and does look for donations to help him pay the travel costs.
While Willis is pleased so far that’s he hit up about half of the stadiums, he won’t consider this a success until he’s pitched at all the country’s Major League baseball stadiums. He wants to continue his mission to peel away the mixed messages people carry about the disabled.
In this world, he explains, as his mother always did:
“You take what you get,” Willis said he tells his audiences. “You adapt and you move forward. Otherwise, you go nowhere.”
As always, Willis is going somewhere.
To find out more about pitcher Tom Willis, visit his website: or email him at Visit his other site: He can be reached at (619)-723-4015.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Dear Readers:

I have noticed many of you have posted blog comments on the ongoing Los Angeles City Council election. Unfortunately, when I've opened them nothing came through. I have been unable to fix this. Please feel free to send your comments via email regarding the race. I would enjoy reading and posting them. My email is They will be posted with your name or anonymously if requested. Please understand I will only run things that fit this blog, meaning it must be kid clean!  -- Diana

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Alano Club launches its fourth annual Family Fun Day this Saturday which will be packed with bands, food and games and in an unusual twist -- a straw poll will be taken of the 11 candidates running for Janice Hahn’s former Los Angeles Council seat.
From 10 a.m. until midnight, the club will host nine separate bands, an array of children’s games and loads of food. Day entry is free and will start off with bands, such as the local group, Last Day Off at noon, One Ten South at 3 p.m. and Choyce at 4 p.m.  The Alano Club serves hundreds of residents in recovery from alcohol and drug abuse.
During the event and possibly even more enticing for some adults: a straw poll of the current candidates running for former Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn’s seat will be conducted from noon to 5 p.m.
 The non-binding poll will add some additional spice to the event, said Bob Ahl, the club’s general manager.
“We are civic minded and we feel this is a civic thing to do,” Ahl said.
The evening events, which will cost $10 per entry, will begin at 7 p.m. with Belly Love and at 8 p.m. with Electra, a Greek musician who has received broad accolades for her rock music and writing who typically charges $2,000 a night for her events. She’s donating her time, Ahl said, for Alano’s cause.
Acidic will perform at 9:30. That group, Ahl said, “of four young talented musicians,” recently signed a record deal.
The non-binding straw poll will be reported later in a Random Lengths story.