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Feb 23

Bonsignore: Making the Rams roster moves as GM for a day

The offseason the Rams face in 2018 is dramatically less urgent and daunting than what they encountered a year ago.

A new coaching staff was just getting settled in and questions and concerns were lurking around every corner for a franchise that hadn’t had a winning season since 2003. An upgrade at left tackle and center were badly needed and a mediocre wide receiver corps required urgent care. A culture needed to be changed and a locker room needed to be saved and restored.

As for young running back Todd Gurley and quarterback Jared Goff, uncertainty was rampant. Were they franchise caliber players or first-round whifs?

It was, to say the least, an ominous time.

A year later, it can safely be said nearly every concern and task at hand were decisively addressed. If the Rams weren’t hitting home runs — dynamic head coach Sean McVay, Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth and dependable wide receiver Robert Woods come to mind — they were driving screaming line drives to the outfield wall with the drafting of Cooper Kupp and additions of center John Sullivan wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Gurley was restored as one of the best running backs in the NFL and Goff made a gigantic leap from rookie worry to second year Pro Bowler.

All of which helped the Rams make one of the most dramatic turnarounds in NFL history, their offense going from the worst in the league to the best while surging to a 10-6 record — their first winning season since 2003 — while claiming their first division title since 2004.

Clearly it makes for a much less anxious offseason this year. But make no mistake, they have a lot of work ahead of them simply to remain as good as they were last season. Let alone close the gap between themselves and upper echelon.

So we’re putting on our general manager and capologist caps to lend a helping hand.

Here’s what we’d do if we were in the G.M. chair:

RESIGN FREE AGENT CB TRUMAINE JOHNSON AND SAFETY LAMARCUS JOYNER

Seven months ago it seemed inevitable the Rams and Johnson would be parting ways at the end of the season. Johnson, who the Rams utilized their franchise tag on for the second straight year, even conceded as much at the opening of training camp.

But two things happened that have changed the dynamics. Johnson played better than anyone could have expected while emerging as a valued locker room leader, and fellow cornerback Kayvon Webster, who the Rams signed last March, went down with a torn achilles tendon in early December.

With Webster’s status for next year uncertain it seems illogical the Rams would surrender their best cover corner in Johnson and their most versatile defensive back in Joyner, who can slide back to corner to replace Webster, if needed, or remain at safety after turning in a fabulous season his first year on the job.

The Rams have roughly $46 million available under the salary cap, and likely more if they part ways with veterans Tavon Austin, Mark Barron and Robert Quinn. Getting their two best defensive backs under new contracts is absolutely a must.

FRANCHISE TAG WIDE RECEIVER SAMMY WATKINS

There are valid arguments to be made for either bringing Watkins back or letting him walk as an unrestricted free agent. On one hand, he represents the kind of dynamic home-run hitter the Rams have lacked for years at wide receiver. On the other, he simply did not statistically live up to the hype after they traded for him near the end of training camp.

Woods finished with 39 catchers for 593 yards and eight touchdowns. Good but not great numbers for No. 1 caliber wide receiver.

That’s where the franchise tag comes in so handy.

If, as some suggest, Watkins’ numbers were merely the result of him arriving late in camp and not having a full year to work with Goff, bringing him back on a one-year deal buys time to figure out whether he’s part of the long-range plan. Without, of course, commiting long-range money.

Yet.

If he rebounds with a big year they can revisit a multi-year deal next year. If not, they can simply walk away no harm done.

RELEASE TAVON AUSTIN

The Rams can create $3 million of cap space by releasing Austin, who is due $8 million in 2018. It’s not necessarily a lot of money — although every dollar counts working with a hard cap — but his departure also helps in other ways. It would open a door for the younger, more dynamic Pharoh Cooper to replace him.

Cooper is potentially a better receiver than Austin and likely more dangerous working out of the back field and on jet sweeps. Sean McVay did an admirable job figuring out a way to get production out of Austin, now imagine what he can do with Cooper in that role.

SIGN DETROIT FREE AGENT DE EZEKIEL ANSAH

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 24: Ezekiel Ansah #94 of the Detroit Lions sacks Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the first half at Paul Brown Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
How would Detroit Lions free agent pass rusher Ezekiel Ansah fit into the Rams’ defensive front? (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

Anash is hitting free agency coming off a 14.5-sack season with the Lions and would be a welcome pass rusher either lining up as a defensive end or at outside linebacker, a position he played in college. The Rams need to create more pressure up front, and Ansah, a true four-down defender, can do just that.

SIGN BENGALS TE TYLER EIFERT

When healthy Eifert is an absolute beast and one of the best Red Zone weapons in the NFL. The problem is, he hasn’t played a full 16-game season over five years while dealing with various injuries. He played only two games last year – 10 over the last two seasons – but would be an ideal candidate to sign a one-year prove it deal in search of a bigger deal down the road.

The Rams have made it clear they want more production from their tight ends, and a healthy Eifert is talented enough to provide it. From his perspective, the Rams represent a perfect situation with an up-and-coming quarterback, a bevy of weapons around him, and a head coach in McVay whose offense relies heavily on tight end production.

KEEP OLB ROBERT QUINN

The Rams face an intriguing decision with their veteran pass rusher, as releasing him would free up $11.4 million in cap space. But Quinn made a strong case for himself over the second half of the season while finishing with 8.5 sacks. The Rams did an excellent job managing Quinn’s body following two straight years of reduced games because of injury, utilizing a mindful weekly practice and game schedule that resulted in a much more fresh and productive Quinn late in the season. Between his pass rush ability and the leadership he brings to the locker room, bringing him back is more beneficial than the cost effectiveness of releasing him.

RELEASE MARK BARRON

Barron had a good but not great season in 2017, and while he was second on the team in tackles with 85, his $10 million price tag, coupled with injury concerns, are legitimate factors in deciding whether to bring him back. By releasing him the Rams will create $7 million in cap space. It would mean the Rams looking to the draft or open market to find a replacement, although third-year LB Corey Littleton is certainly a candidate to replacement.

TIME TO HOOK UP AARON DONALD

The price tag for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year is going up by the minute, and while he and the Rams came to an accord last year after a lengthy offseason and training camp holdout, it’s hard to imagine each side going through that again.

Donald is entering the final year rookie contract, and while the Rams could kick the can further down the road by utilizing the franchise tag in 2019 and 2020, the sense is they are eager to wrap Donald up.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/23/bonsignore-making-the-rams-roster-moves-as-gm-for-a-day/

Feb 23

Los Angeles Chargers offseason analysis: Linebackers

More Chargers position-by-position analysis: Quarterbacks | Running backs | Wide receivers | Tight ends | Offensive linemen | Defensive linemen

In nine games without linebacker Denzel Perryman, the Chargers surrendered 1,278 rushing yards. Through the seven games he played, they gave up just 820.

That’s a difference of nearly 25 yards per game. In other words, the difference between one of the worst run defenses in the NFL and a top-10 unit. Even league-average performance could have pushed this team into the playoffs. When the Chargers held opponents to fewer than 110 yards on the ground, they had a 6-1 record.

Not all of these struggles should be blamed on the absence of Perryman, who tore an ankle ligament in the preseason opener. The interior defensive line could have performed better. Players at most positions could have tackled more consistently.

But heading into 2018, a healthy season by the 5-foot-11, 240-pound defender represents the quickest and easiest way for the Chargers to patch up one of their most glaring weaknesses.

2017 STARTERS: Denzel Perryman (37 tackles, 1 fumble recovery), Kyle Emanuel (34 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 interception), Hayes Pullard (74 tackles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception)

RESERVES: Korey Toomer (48 tackles, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles), Jatavis Brown (79 tackles, 1 fumble recovery), Nick Dzubnar (21 tackles), James Onwualu (8 tackles).

PENDING FREE AGENTS: Korey Toomer, Nick Dzubnar (restricted).

GRADING 2017

No Chargers linebacker started more than 11 games last season, a symptom of both injuries and lack of depth.

Perryman, the best of the bunch, sat out two months recovering from ankle surgery. After briefly leading the league in tackles, Jatavis Brown fell down the depth chart, totaling just 85 defensive snaps in the final six games. Hayes Pullard, claimed off waivers days before the season opener, had a starting job by Week 2.

Which is to say that, outside of Perryman, the Chargers don’t have blue-chip talent at the position. Kyle Emanuel, drafted three rounds later in 2015, rarely played on passing downs. Brown has impressive athleticism, but regressed during his transition to Gus Bradley’s 4-3 defense. Pullard might be better in specific packages rather than as a full-time starter.

GRADE: C-

ANALYZING 2018

Few areas on the roster need as much help as this one, with only Perryman flashing anything resembling star potential. But the former second-round pick has also missed 15 games as a pro, and is entering the final year of his contract. A significant injury this fall could throw his long-term future with the team in doubt.

Even if Perryman is healthy, he could use some help next to him. If the Chargers opt to dip into free agency, they could go after names like Tennessee’s Avery Williamson, Philadelphia’s Nigel Bradham or Buffalo’s Preston Brown.

General manager Tom Telesco preaches drafting the top player available over filling specific roster needs, but the two criteria sometimes coincide. The best linebackers in this year’s class, Georgia’s Roquan Smith and Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds, both have top-10 potential. If either one slips, the Chargers could trade up from No. 17. LEVEL OF NEED: HIGH

Coming next: Rams defensive backs

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/23/los-angeles-chargers-offseason-analysis-linebackers/

Feb 23

Report: Former UW Huskies star Markelle Fultz received $10K from sports agent


A Yahoo Sports report cited Futlz as one of several players listed as having received payment from an agent while in college.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.seattletimes.com/sports/uw-husky-basketball/report-former-uw-huskies-star-markelle-fultz-received-10k-from-sports-agent/?utm_source=RSS&utm_medium=Referral&utm_campaign=RSS_uw-huskies

Feb 23

USC’s Bennie Boatwright, Chimezie Metu named in FBI college basketball probe, per Yahoo report

The FBI’s investigation into bribery and corruption in college basketball continues to envelop USC.

Junior forwards Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu are the latest focus of the probe, several months after Trojans associate head coach Tony Bland was arrested and subsequently fired and guard De’Anthony Melton essentially lost his entire sophomore season while his involvement was investigated.

Federal documents obtained, reviewed and published Friday in an exclusive report by Yahoo Sports link Boatwright and Metu in the wide-ranging scandal to aspiring agent Christian Dawkins, an associate of NBA agent Andy Miller and his ASM Sports agency.

According to the report, Dawkins filed expense reports with ASM Sports seeking reimbursement for payments made to dozens of current and former college basketball players and their families.

Among those reported to have received thousands of dollars were Boatwright and Metu. Boatwright and/or his father, Bennie Boatwright Sr., received at least $2,000. Metu and/or an adviser, Johnnie Parker, received $2,000.

It was not clear if the players received the alleged payments or knew about them. Yahoo reported it reviewed hundreds of pages of documents as part of the case, but not all of them.

Dawkins in September was among 10 men arrested in the corruption case. Weeks later, he was charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office with three counts of wire fraud and one count of money-laundering conspiracy.

A USC spokesman said Friday morning the school was aware of the newly published report, but deferred comment.

The Trojans are vying for a third consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and face Utah on Saturday in Salt Lake City. They improved to 20-9 overall with a win Wednesday at Colorado.

Metu’s immediate status is unclear. He finished with 21 points against the Buffaloes. Boatwright is already out for the season due to a partially torn patellar tendon in his left knee.

Both players could be in violation of NCAA amateurism rules if the alleged payments occurred. It has been expected that Metu and Boatwright will declare for the NBA draft after this season.

Melton was the Trojans’ first player linked in the FBI probe in September and was withheld from the season after the university declared him ineligible. Melton on Wednesday announced he was withdrawing from USC and plans to enter the draft.

Federal prosecutors alleged Dave Elliott, a close family friend of Melton, received a $5,000 bribe from Dawkins in August in exchange for directing the player to retain his services once he turned pro. It did not allege wrongdoing by Melton.

A university investigation found Elliott at least received airfare and a hotel room from Dawkins in order to attend a summer basketball tournament in Las Vegas and cited the impermissible benefits in its decision to suspend Melton for the duration of the season. Melton remained on scholarship and practiced with the team, but did not play in games nor travel with the team since December.

Bland was first put on administrative leave in September in the aftermath of the FBI’s published report after he was alleged to have facilitated the payments between Dawkins and Elliott and accepted bribes.

Bland was fired by USC in January, two months after he was among four college basketball assistant coaches indicted by a federal grand jury in New York City on four counts of conspiracy to commit bribery, honest services wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and travel act conspiracy.

USC hired former FBI director Louis Freeh’s firm, Freeh Group International Solutions, to examine its men’s basketball program.

In an interview with the Southern California News Group earlier this month, Athletic Director Lynn Swann said the review by the Freeh Group found no institutional neglect.

Other current and former players named in the report include Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma, who allegedly received $9,500 while playing at Utah, according to the report.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/23/uscs-bennie-boatwright-chimezie-metu-named-in-fbi-college-basketball-probe-per-yahoo-report/

Feb 23

Retail-restaurant roundup: iSno debuts in Irvine; Spectrum carousel on the move; Ground House opens at TRADE; new furniture at SOCO

  • iSno Cafe, a new dessert concept, has opened in Irvine at Culver Plaza. The shop is co-owned by Paul Zhu, an Irvine native. The shop’s signature dessert, the Snö-ya (think: shave ice made with lactose-free milk), can be topped with fruit or treats like brownies and whipped cream. (Photo courtesy of iSno)

    iSno Cafe, a new dessert concept, has opened in Irvine at Culver Plaza. The shop is co-owned by Paul Zhu, an Irvine native. The shop’s signature dessert, the Snö-ya (think: shave ice made with lactose-free milk), can be topped with fruit or treats like brownies and whipped cream. (Photo courtesy of iSno)

  • Burger lovers can find a new way to slake their hunger for beef patties on lush buns with the debut of Ground House at TRADE, the Irvine food hall. The concept, which opens March 3, was created by the same food entrepreneurs behind GD Bro Burger and Pig Pen Delicacy. (Courtesy of Ground House)

    Burger lovers can find a new way to slake their hunger for beef patties on lush buns with the debut of Ground House at TRADE, the Irvine food hall. The concept, which opens March 3, was created by the same food entrepreneurs behind GD Bro Burger and Pig Pen Delicacy. (Courtesy of Ground House)

  • On Feb. 26, the carousel at Irvine Spectrum Center will be relocated and will debut with a fresh look this spring near Target. The carousel’s last day of operation in its current location is Feb. 25. (Courtesy of Irvine Co.)

    On Feb. 26, the carousel at Irvine Spectrum Center will be relocated and will debut with a fresh look this spring near Target. The carousel’s last day of operation in its current location is Feb. 25. (Courtesy of Irvine Co.)

  • Cilek Kids’ Room is opening at SOCO in Costa Mesa. The shop will be in the former Granola Babies space and is the company’s first brick-and-mortar showroom. The brand is known for creating spaces inspired by a child’s imagination (think; princess canopies, race car beds and pirate themes). A teen lineup includes shabby chic styles, modern “mocha” lines and a classic “Ruby” style with red padded headboards and sleek white lacquered furniture. (Photo courtesy of Cilek Kids’ Room)

    Cilek Kids’ Room is opening at SOCO in Costa Mesa. The shop will be in the former Granola Babies space and is the company’s first brick-and-mortar showroom. The brand is known for creating spaces inspired by a child’s imagination (think; princess canopies, race car beds and pirate themes). A teen lineup includes shabby chic styles, modern “mocha” lines and a classic “Ruby” style with red padded headboards and sleek white lacquered furniture. (Photo courtesy of Cilek Kids’ Room)

  • Rendering of the Irvine Spectrum Center expansion shows a 2-story H&M. (Courtesy the Irvine Co.)

    Rendering of the Irvine Spectrum Center expansion shows a 2-story H&M. (Courtesy the Irvine Co.)

  • A rendering of the new alfresco paseos under construction at the Irvine Spectrum Center. (Courtesy the Irvine Co.)

    A rendering of the new alfresco paseos under construction at the Irvine Spectrum Center. (Courtesy the Irvine Co.)

  • A nearly 140,000 square foot expansion of the Irvine Spectrum Center is being built where Macy’s used to stand. The new space will occupy 30 tenants, including a two-story H&M and several restaurants. (Rendering Courtesy the Irvine Co.)

    A nearly 140,000 square foot expansion of the Irvine Spectrum Center is being built where Macy’s used to stand. The new space will occupy 30 tenants, including a two-story H&M and several restaurants. (Rendering Courtesy the Irvine Co.)

  • The Irvine Company announced Jan. 11 that it plans to add 30 new stores and restaurants as part of a $200-million reinvestment in the Irvine Spectrum Center. Hello Kitty Cafe (shown) will get a permanent spot in the new addition, show behind the temporary cafe. (Nancy Luna, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Irvine Company announced Jan. 11 that it plans to add 30 new stores and restaurants as part of a $200-million reinvestment in the Irvine Spectrum Center. Hello Kitty Cafe (shown) will get a permanent spot in the new addition, show behind the temporary cafe. (Nancy Luna, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Irvine Company revealed a round of new tenants expected to open at the $200-million addition at the Irvine Spectrum Center. (Nancy Luna, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Irvine Company revealed a round of new tenants expected to open at the $200-million addition at the Irvine Spectrum Center. (Nancy Luna, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A Rubios Coastal Grill that was heavily damaged in a fire last summer will reopen March 1 in Placentia. (Courtesy of Rubio’s)

    A Rubios Coastal Grill that was heavily damaged in a fire last summer will reopen March 1 in Placentia. (Courtesy of Rubio’s)

  • A Rubios Coastal Grill that was heavily damaged in a fire last summer will reopen March 1 in Placentia. Seen here is one of the restaurants more popular dishes, the chipotle orange salad with shrimp. (Courtesy of Rubio’s)

    A Rubios Coastal Grill that was heavily damaged in a fire last summer will reopen March 1 in Placentia. Seen here is one of the restaurants more popular dishes, the chipotle orange salad with shrimp. (Courtesy of Rubio’s)

  • A Rubios Coastal Grill that was heavily damaged in a fire last summer will reopen March 1 in Placentia. (Courtesy of Rubio’s)

    A Rubios Coastal Grill that was heavily damaged in a fire last summer will reopen March 1 in Placentia. (Courtesy of Rubio’s)

  • In additon to the Sno-ya, iSno Cafe sells the Cro-ya and the Bru-ya, stuffed croissants and coffee and tea drinks, respectively. (Courtesy of iSno Cafe)

    In additon to the Sno-ya, iSno Cafe sells the Cro-ya and the Bru-ya, stuffed croissants and coffee and tea drinks, respectively. (Courtesy of iSno Cafe)

  • In additon to the Sno-ya, iSno Cafe sells the Cro-ya and the Bru-ya, stuffed croissants and coffee and tea drinks, respectively. (Courtesy of iSno Cafe)

    In additon to the Sno-ya, iSno Cafe sells the Cro-ya and the Bru-ya, stuffed croissants and coffee and tea drinks, respectively. (Courtesy of iSno Cafe)

  • iSnö Café sells the Sno-ya, a snowy, milk-based treat made with organic, lactose-free, low-fat milk. Customers can choose from a host of toppings of signature combinations. (Courtesy of iSno Cafe)

    iSnö Café sells the Sno-ya, a snowy, milk-based treat made with organic, lactose-free, low-fat milk. Customers can choose from a host of toppings of signature combinations. (Courtesy of iSno Cafe)

  • iSnö Café sells the Sno-ya, a snowy, milk-based treat made with organic, lactose-free, low-fat milk. Customers can choose from a host of toppings of signature combinations. (Courtesy of iSno Cafe)

    iSnö Café sells the Sno-ya, a snowy, milk-based treat made with organic, lactose-free, low-fat milk. Customers can choose from a host of toppings of signature combinations. (Courtesy of iSno Cafe)

  • iSnö Café sells the Sno-ya, a snowy, milk-based treat made with organic, lactose-free, low-fat milk. Customers can choose from a host of toppings of signature combinations. (Courtesy of iSno Cafe)

    iSnö Café sells the Sno-ya, a snowy, milk-based treat made with organic, lactose-free, low-fat milk. Customers can choose from a host of toppings of signature combinations. (Courtesy of iSno Cafe)

  • iSnö Café sells the Sno-ya, a snowy, milk-based treat made with organic, lactose-free, low-fat milk. Customers can choose from a host of toppings of signature combinations. (Courtesy of iSno Cafe)

    iSnö Café sells the Sno-ya, a snowy, milk-based treat made with organic, lactose-free, low-fat milk. Customers can choose from a host of toppings of signature combinations. (Courtesy of iSno Cafe)

  • In additon to the Sno-ya, iSno Cafe sells the Cro-ya and the Bru-ya, stuffed croissants and coffee and tea drinks, respectively. (Courtesy of iSno Cafe)

    In additon to the Sno-ya, iSno Cafe sells the Cro-ya and the Bru-ya, stuffed croissants and coffee and tea drinks, respectively. (Courtesy of iSno Cafe)

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Burgers at TRADE food hall

Burger lovers can add one more way to satiate their beef cravings when Ground House debuts March 3 at TRADE, the Irvine food hall.

The concept was created by the same food entrepreneurs behind Pig Pen Delicacy and GD Bro Burger (also at TRADE and SteelCraft in Long Beach, respectively) and Afters Ice Cream.

“Ground House’s objective is to create a simple, affordable and reliable option that our patrons can enjoy multiple times per week, without breaking the bank,” Ground House said in a statement.

Ground House’s menu also includes burgers without meat, including its Ono Burger (with pineapple and teriyaki sauce), the Basic Beyond vegan burger, fresh cut fries and onion rings.

The first 100 customers in line on Saturday will receive a $20 gift card to Ground House. The eatery opens at 11 a.m. Address: 2222 Michelson Drive.

iSno in Irvine

iSnö Café is open at Culver Plaza in Irvine. An official grand opening will take place Saturday, March 3.

The concept was created by Paul Zhu, an Irvine native and part owner of the shop. His partners include Jimmy Hu and Luke Cheon. The shop features a milk-based “snow-based” dessert and options such as the Crö-ya (stuffed croissant pastries ) and Brü-ya (coffee and tea drinks).

According to Zhu, iSno’s signature dessert, the Sno-ya, is made with organic, lactose-free, low-fat milk.

While the shop offers lots of toppings, the most popular, Zhu said, is the Cardinal Gold, which includes fresh cut strawberries and mangos topped with strawberry and mango purees.

Another favorite? Very Berry with fresh blackberries, blueberries and raspberries. For those with more of a sweet tooth, iSno has a Choco Loco version and S’Moreo for that camp-site nostalgia. Customers can build it their way, too.

Prices for the Sno-ya range from $7 to $9 depending on the topping combinations, he said.

Zhu, who has 15 employees at his first shop, said he’d like to grow the concept.

“Our goal is to establish iSnö Café into a mainstream, mass-market brand,” he said. A second location is in the works, but Zhu isn’t ready to share that info quite yet.

Address: 15333 Culver Drive, Ste. 360; 949-861-8488.

Rubios rises from ashes

A Rubios Coastal Grill that was lost to a fire last summer will reopen March 1 in Placentia.

To celebrate the reopening, Rubio’s will donate 50 percent of sales (or a maximum of $2,500) to the Boys & Girls Club of Placentia.

“This new restaurant opening is particularly special to us after the fire last year, and we’re incredibly grateful to the OCFA and the Anaheim and Fullerton-Brea fire departments for their efforts,” Ralph Rubio, co-founder of Rubio’s, said in a statement. “We’re excited to reopen the new Rubio’s Coastal Grill and offer Placentia residents another location to enjoy our food and coastal ambiance.”

Address: 127 East Yorba Linda Blvd.

Szechuan Sauce returns

This is not a good time to be spending $250 on eBay for McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce.

The fast-food giant will bring back its legendary condiment on Monday, Feb. 26 to go with its semi-new menu item, Buttermilk Chicken Tenders. The tenders are the chain’s bid to compete with Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s and Raising Cane’s in the sizzling fried chicken market.

The company is distributing 20 million packets of the stuff, and it’s up to store managers to decide how many each customer can get, according to McDonald’s representatives. McDonald’s has more than 14,000 locations in the United States.

Szechuan Sauce, launched in 1998 as part of a promotion of the Disney’s animated film “Mulan,” became a pop culture phenomenon when it was featured in an episode of the Adult Swim cartoon series “Rick and Morty.”

McDonald’s capitalized on it with a stunt on Oct. 7, but the sauce was only available for one day at a few locations.

Now McDonald’s says it wants to make amends, and it has launched a website, www.wewantthesauce.com, explaining the product’s whole, cartoonish history.

— By Fielding Buck, staff writer

New furniture at SOCO

Two furniture merchants have opened at SOCO in Costa Mesa — one aimed at children, the other at adults with sustainable creations in mind.

Cilek Kids’ Room (located in the former Granola Babies space) is the company’s first brick-and-mortar showroom.

The brand is known for creating spaces inspired by a child’s imagination (think; princess canopies, race car beds and pirate themes). A teen lineup includes shabby chic styles, modern “mocha” lines and a classic “Ruby” style with red padded headboards and sleek white lacquered furniture.

Natuzzi Italia is for shoppers who want a modern look with sustainable construction. The store is part of Natuzzi Group, founded in 1959 by Pasquale Natuzzi and considered Italy’s largest furniture house.

The store is near Room & Board and the Paul Mitchell school.

SOCO is a hipster enclave, known for its edgy furniture merchants and upscale food. Other tenants include C.S. Wo & Sons, Boconcept, HD Buttercup, Gear Coop, Taco Maria, We Olive & Wine Bar, and ABC Food & Libations.

Address: 3303 Hyland Ave.

Kids clothes

Families who frequent the Tustin Market Place wing with Ross, Old Navy and T.J. Maxx have one more kid-friendly retailer to add to their shopping list. Carter’s | OshKosh B’gosh, a children’s clothing store, has opened next door to Justice for Girls and Ross.

Carousel move

On Feb. 26, the carousel at Irvine Spectrum Center will be relocated and will debut with a fresh look this spring near Target. The carousel’s last day of operation in its current location is Feb. 25.

The retail center is in the middle of a $200 million expansion. In January, the Irvine Co., the property owner, revealed 14 of the 30 retailers and restaurants slated to open this year and 2019 in the space once dominated by Macy’s. Tenants range from local retail and food hotshots to international brands such as Hello Kitty Cafe, H&M, Sephora and 85°C Bakery Café.

The first wave of restaurants and retailers are slated to open by mid-August with the rest coming in 2019, including a Sephora beauty store.

The center is Irvine Co.’s most popular mall. Roughly 17 million people visit the center annually, about 1 million more than the developer’s 50-year-old luxury retail center, Fashion Island – and 5 million fewer than tourist-driven South Coast Plaza.

Send your food news tips to Anne Valdespino at avaldespino@scng.com. Retail news can go to Samantha Gowen at sgowen@scng.com.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/23/retail-restaurant-roundup-isno-debuts-in-irvine-spectrum-carousel-on-the-move-szechuan-sauce-returns-new-furniture-shops-at-soco/

Feb 23

Trump imposes new sanctions on North Korean shipping, trade

By ZEKE MILLER

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Friday imposed sanctions on more than 50 vessels, shipping companies and trade businesses in its latest bid to pressure North Korea over its nuclear program.

The administration billed it as the largest installment of North Korean sanctions to date.

While the number of companies from North Korea and other nations was high, the economic impact was likely to be less than previous measures that have targeted much larger financial and business networks in China and Russia that deal with the North.

The United Nations Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on North Korea in the past year to deprive it of revenue and resources for its nuclear and ballistic missile development. Those weapons pose an emerging threat to the U.S. mainland. The U.S. is particularly concerned about exports of North Korean coal that are prohibited by the U.N. sanctions and ship-to-ship transfers of imported oil and petroleum products.

The Treasury Department said it was barring U.S. business transactions with nine international shipping companies from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Panama, and nine of their vessels. It also blacklisted 16 North shipping companies and 19 of their North Korean-flagged vessels.

Additionally, department designated a Taiwanese citizen, Tsang Yung Yuan, and two companies he owns or controls. Tsang was said to have coordinated North Korean coal exports with a Russia-based North Korean broker, and attempted $1 million oil deal with a Russian company sanctioned for dealing with the North.

President Donald Trump was set to call it “the largest-ever set of new sanctions” on the North in a speech Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, according to a senior administration official who wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss the sanctions before Trump’s remarks.

The announcement comes as South Korea hosts the Winter Olympics, an occasion the two Koreas have used as an opportunity to ease tensions and restart talks. Although South Korea is a close U.S. ally, animosity between Washington and Pyongyang is still running high.

Friday’s action comes two weeks after Vice President Mike Pence, who attended the Olympics opening, promised the “toughest and most aggressive” economic sanctions against North Korea.

Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser, arrived in South Korea on Friday to attend the closing ceremony this weekend. At a dinner with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, she reaffirmed “our commitment to our maximum pressure campaign to ensure that the Korean Peninsula is denuclearized.”

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Associated Press writer Matthew Pennington contributed to this report.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/23/trump-to-announce-new-nkorea-sanctions/

Feb 23

Shooting at Southeastern Louisiana University leaves 2 injured

HAMMOND, La. — Two people were injured after gunshots were fired early Friday on a college campus in Louisiana, school officials said.

Southeastern Louisiana University spokeswoman Erin Cowser said the incident happened at 3 a.m. Friday near an assembly hall where basketball games and other sports events are held.

Cowser said the shooting apparently stemmed from a fight or altercation involving students and people who aren’t enrolled in the school.

She said the incident hasn’t forced any closures or cancellations on Friday, a day when the school doesn’t have a full schedule of classes.

“The incident is over and done,” she said.

It was unclear whether the two people injured were students. They were taken to a local hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening.

Cowser says no suspects are in custody. Police are investigating.

The school is located in Hammond, about 56 miles northwest of New Orleans.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/23/shooting-at-southeastern-louisiana-university-leaves-2-injured/

Feb 23

1 dead after fight between pedestrian, bicyclist at Santa Ana River Trail Friday morning

ORANGE An altercation between a bicyclist and a pedestrian in the Santa Ana Riverbed Friday morning, Feb., 23, left one man dead, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said.

Around 4 a.m., a pedestrian is suspected of assaulting a bicyclist with a deadly weapon, preliminary information suggested, said Carrie Braun, spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Department.

One of the two involved, neither of whom have been identified, died.

The suspected assault occurred along the Santa Ana River trail at Chapman Avenue, Braun said.

As of 6:30 a.m., investigators were on their way to the scene.

 

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/23/1-dead-after-fight-between-pedestrian-bicyclist-at-santa-ana-river-trail-friday-morning/

Feb 23

With Janus v. AFSCME, the Supreme Court needs to end compulsory union dues

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in Janus v. AFSCME, an Illinois case challenging compulsory union dues. Mark Janus, an Illinois state employee, is challenging the system used in 23 states that requires employees who have resigned from their union to continue paying agency fees, amounting to about 75 percent of normal union dues.

Janus argues that forcing non-members to pay hundreds of dollars each year to a union with which they have fundamental disagreements amounts to compelled speech in violation of the First Amendment. Just as the government cannot force an individual to make financial contributions to a political party, neither can it force employees to contribute to a union.

Like a political party, a union promotes positions on controversial issues about which reasonable people often disagree. Mark Janus, for example, doesn’t support the union’s persistent efforts to raise the salaries and pension benefits of state employees. In Janus’ view, his state is teetering on insolvency and will pass on to his children and grandchildren the debt it incurs to pay the salaries and benefits demanded by his union.

In no other area do we allow groups to coerce financial support. Just because gun owners benefit from the National Rifle Association, the NRA can’t pass a state law that requires every gun owner to pay dues. The same is true of big professional organization like the American Medical Association or the American Bar Association. Unions should compete for members in the same way as other organizations.

Janus’ case could have a big effect in California — we are one of the 23 states that requires public employees to either pay full dues or agency fees (if we leave union). The California Teachers Association estimates that about ten percent of teachers have left the union but are required under state law to continue to pay agency fees.

I am one of those agency fee payers. In my experience, teachers leave the union for a variety of reasons. Some, like Mark Janus, disagree with the union’s persistent efforts to raise salaries well past the average salary in the communities in which we teach. Others of us disagree with the union’s endless focus on seniority: where a teacher is assigned, what a teacher is paid, and the order in which teachers are laid off are all determined by the number of years a teacher has been teaching.

Whether you agree that teachers instead should be paid, promoted and laid-off on the basis of merit, everyone can agree that it is wrong to force an employee to pay hundreds of dollars each year to support positions with which they disagree. It is not right that state law allows the union to use my forced dues to advance policies that I believe hurt my individual interests, the interests of my own two children, and the interests of my classroom students.

I plan on teaching for another 20 years. Over that time, the CTA will be able to take from my earned pay $21,000. Some support the union and that is fine. But others of us disagree with the union on important issues and we should not be compelled to support it with tens of thousands of dollars of our own money.

The union says that agency fees are necessary to prevent people like me from “free riding” on the dues paid by others. After all, they say, all teachers benefit from the contract the union negotiates so why should they all pay their fair share?

But the reality is that a large percentage of agency fees goes to state and national organizations like the National Education Association, which have little to do with actually negotiating a contract. Moreover, agency fee payers have no say in the contract. We don’t even get to vote on it! Compulsory dues are like taxation without representation.

Together with six other teachers, I brought a lawsuit against the California Teachers Association challenging compulsory dues on some of the same grounds as Mark Janus is challenging the Illinois law. Our case has been put on hold while the Supreme Court decides the Janus case. We are hopeful that the court will agree that compulsory dues violate the free speech rights of thousands of teachers like me who just want to have a choice whether to support a union.

Ryan Yohn is a middle school teacher in the Westminster School District.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/23/with-janus-v-afscme-the-supreme-court-needs-to-end-compulsory-union-dues/

Feb 23

Analysis: Round-by-round projections for Pac-12 players in the NFL draft


Washington's Vita Vea is securely in the first round, but Dante Pettis could see his stock rise over the coming weeks.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.seattletimes.com/sports/pac-12/analysis-round-by-round-projections-for-pac-12-players-in-the-nfl-draft/?utm_source=RSS&utm_medium=Referral&utm_campaign=RSS_uw-huskies

Feb 23

Freeze watch to come as cold weather continues in Southern California

A winter weather advisory indicating perilous travel conditions is in force in the San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles and Ventura counties until 10 this morning.

The snow level will range between 2,500 and 3,500 feet, and between 1 and 3 inches of snow are expected amid north-to-northwest winds of between 20 and 35 miles per hour with 50-mph gusts, according to the National Weather Service.

“Plan on slippery road conditions,” warned an NWS statement. “Be prepared for snow-covered roads and limited visibility, and use caution while driving.”

But an upper trough will exit the region this morning and scattered snow showers in the mountains will end, the NWS said. Otherwise, it will be cool and breezy today.

Additionally, northwest winds of about 15-25 mph are expected today in metropolitan Los Angeles and the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys. Gusts of 35 mph are forecast in the San Fernando Valley, 40 mph in the Santa Clarita Valley and 45 mph in the Antelope Valley, where a wind advisory will be in effect until 9 tonight, forecasters said.

In the Santa Monica Mountain Recreational area, a freeze watch will be in effect from late tonight through Saturday morning, when temperatures will be between 29 and 32.

The NWS forecast a combination of partly cloudy and sunny skies in L.A. County today and highs of 42 degrees on Mount Wilson; 48 in Lancaster; 49 in Palmdale; 54 in Saugus; 57 in Avalon; 59 in San Gabriel; 60 in Pasadena and Burbank; 61 in Woodland Hills; and 62 in Downtown L.A., Long Beach and at LAX. Little change in temperature is expected in the coming days, but showers are in the forecast for Tuesday and rain for Thursday.

Sunny skies were forecast in Orange County today along with highs of 55 in San Clemente; 56 in Mission Viejo; 57 in Laguna Beach; 58 in Newport Beach; 60 in Irvine and Yorba Linda; and 61 in Fullerton and Anaheim. Temperatures will be mostly in the low sixties over the next several days but spike Monday, when it will reach 70 in Fullerton and Anaheim on Monday.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/23/freeze-watch-to-come-as-cold-weather-continues-in-southern-california/

Feb 23

Ignore rising mortgage rates. Job market will show what’s next for housing!

Should real estate watchers — from professionals to homeowners — think rising mortgage rates will kill the housing market?

As a common logic goes, pricier financing translates to fewer qualified buyers … and those folks who can pass a lender’s muster will have less cash to spend thanks to higher mortgage rates. A double-whammy for housing?

Unfortunately, that thinking misses a key ingredient in the real estate math. No, it’s not where inventory levels are headed. Or the size of the crowd shopping for property.

It’s more basic: Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.

Too often we forget it takes solid employment to sanely secure real estate. And what is a main reason interest rates rise? A toasty economy bordering on overheating. When unemployment is scarce and wages are rising.

Yes, higher rates nudge some house hunters out of the market. And I truly feel for those folks. But that same surging economy typically creates numerous work opportunities with salaries that can create house hunters, too. That helps answer the “Who can afford these homes?” question.

To help explain my thesis, I filled my trusty spreadsheet with quarterly data for mortgages, employment, housing and inflation — California and U.S. — collected by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Starting with 1975 through last year’s third quarter, I looked at periods spanning four quarters and ranked them by the severity of change in the national average 30-year fixed mortgage rate. Next, I compared how employment and real estate prices, as measured by a federal price index, performed when rates rose the most and compared those trends with eras when rates dipped the most.

Just so you know, in these times of fast-rising rates since 1975, mortgage rates rose an average 1.5 percentage points in a year. When they took step dives, rates took an average 1.6 percentage-point decline. And here’s what I found …

Rates up, prices up

At first glance, owners should cheer rising rates.

California homes appreciated 10.5 percent in 12-month periods when rates rose the most vs. 2.2 percent in periods when mortgage rates took their deepest dives.

Nationally, home prices rose 6.7 percent when rates rose the most vs. 3.1 percent when they took their deepest dives.

Those are pretty significant gaps.

Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.

Do not forget this.

California employment grew 2.5 percent annually with rates jumping compared with just a 0.5 percent gain in 12-month periods when mortgage rates tumbled. Similar trends were found across the country: U.S. jobs gained 2 percent when rates rose the most vs. 0.4 percent when mortgages dived.

Watch the job market, please!

Inflation’s bite

Remember, a key role of the Federal Reserve is to watch the cost of living.

The central bank adjusts the rates it controls accordingly to manage inflation. When mortgage rates rose the most — with strong home appreciation and job growth — inflation averaged 6.3 percent annualized growth. When rates fell dramatically, inflation averaged 2.2 percent.

“Real” profits

Inflation bumps up the cost of living and cuts into the theoretical value of housing profits.

Ponder what you find when you subtract the inflation rate from home appreciation, or what economists call the “real” rate of return.

California home gains in times of mortgage rate jumps shrank to 4.2 percent annualized when inflation was subtracted vs. after-inflation gains of 0.1 percent with diving rates.

And nationally, inflation-adjusted home gains were actually better in falling-rate periods: U.S. price averaged 0.5 percent a year when rates rose the most, trailing 0.9 percent gains when rates plummeted.

Hashtag: “#inflationmatters”

Longer-term prism

Rising rates aren’t an instant break on the economy or real estate. So what about, say, two full years after big rate hikes?

Rising-rate periods still win, but by significantly less: In California, 8.8 percent annual gains in home appreciation  two years after rates soared vs. 7.5 percent when they tumbled. Nationally, the ups win, too: 6.4 percent vs. 4.7 percent two years later.

Why? Seems cheaper rates get bosses in the hiring mood … eventually!

California jobs grew 2.1 percent two years after rate hikes vs. 2.2 percent when rates tanked. Nationally, the annualized hiring gain of 1.5 percent after rates skyrockets was actually topped by 2 percent job growth two years after steep dips in rates.

The bottom line

Four decades of economic history strongly suggests pricer mortgages can cool, not kill, a housing market. That’s because of a main reason rates rise: more paychecks.

So when interest rates soar, it’s usually time for most people to be thankful for the forces nudging finance costs higher.

In case you missed it …

Los Angeles-Orange County homeownership at 9-year high, but 4th lowest in U.S.

California migration: Come for jobs, leave to retire

Southern California’s job growth only boosts its unaffordability

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/23/ignore-rising-mortgage-rates-homeowners-please-watch-the-jobs-market/

Feb 23

‘The King and I’ waltzes into Segerstrom Center

It’s been more than 150 years since King Mongkut ruled Siam (now Thailand), but Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1951 Broadway musical “The King and I” virtually gave him immortality.

Based on Margaret Landon’s 1944 novel “Anna and the King of Siam,” the show provided a breakout role for Yul Brynner as the King, and in portraying Englishwoman Anna Leonowens, an independent, strong-minded schoolteacher and single mom, Gertrude Lawrence earned a Tony Award for best actress in a musical.

The character of the King, though Brynner’s signature role, has been essayed by actors as diverse as Herbert Lom, Darren McGavin, Farley Granger and Lou Diamond Phillips. The list of Annas is even more extensive, including Angela Lansbury, Celeste Holm, Eileen Brennan and Stefanie Powers.

Arriving on Tuesday, Feb. 27 for a two-week run at Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa, the current U.S. tour of this perennial hit is headed by Jose Llana and Laura Michelle Kelly, who’ve earned high marks for their individual performances as well as their scenes together.

The duo originated their roles in the 2012 production at The Muny (St. Louis Municipal Opera Theatre).

Bartlett Sher’s 2015 staging, the show’s fourth Broadway revival at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater, won four Tony Awards, including best revival of a musical. When it was time to launch that production’s U.S. national tour in September 2016, director Sher tapped Llana and Kelly for the leads.

Hollywood Reporter’s review lauded Llana as “a force,”saying “his tormented, relatable King is another reason this evening is so dreamy.” The Boston Globe said “his portrayal of the king gives us a figure both complicated and compelling.”

Of Kelly’s performance, the Boston Globe reported that she “brings a graceful, luminous presence and a vocal style both crystalline and warm to the role of Anna,” while Hollywood Reporter said “Kelly’s brave Anna brims with grace and grit.”

Kelly said her first time playing Anna, at The Muny, “was amazing” and that she “fell in love with the role.”

In 2014 she originated the role of Sylvia Llewelyn Davies in the world premiere of the musical “Finding Neverland,” then reprised it in the 2015-’16 Broadway production. She had just completed the run when she was asked to join the national “King and I” tour.

  • Miss Anna Leonowens delights in becoming acquainted with her students, all children of the King, in the song “Getting to Know You.” (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

    Miss Anna Leonowens delights in becoming acquainted with her students, all children of the King, in the song “Getting to Know You.” (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

  • Stars Jose Llana and Laura Michelle Kelly have earned popular and critical acclaim for their portrayals of the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, the lead roles of the U.S. touring production of “The King and I,” which arrives at Segerstrom Center Feb. 27. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

    Stars Jose Llana and Laura Michelle Kelly have earned popular and critical acclaim for their portrayals of the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, the lead roles of the U.S. touring production of “The King and I,” which arrives at Segerstrom Center Feb. 27. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

  • Laura Michelle Kelly admires the “female progressiveness” of her character, Englishwoman Anna Leonowens, a teacher hired by the King of Siam in the 1860s to provide modern education for his many children at a classroom in his palace. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

    Laura Michelle Kelly admires the “female progressiveness” of her character, Englishwoman Anna Leonowens, a teacher hired by the King of Siam in the 1860s to provide modern education for his many children at a classroom in his palace. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

  • Joan Almedilla plays Lady Thiang, the king’s chief wife, in the touring production. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

    Joan Almedilla plays Lady Thiang, the king’s chief wife, in the touring production. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

  • “Shall We Dance?” is one of the show’s most famous musical numbers, allowing Anna and the King to express forbidden feelings of love – part of what Laura Michelle Kelly (pictured with Jose Llana) calls the duo’s ongoing “dueling partnership.” (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

    “Shall We Dance?” is one of the show’s most famous musical numbers, allowing Anna and the King to express forbidden feelings of love – part of what Laura Michelle Kelly (pictured with Jose Llana) calls the duo’s ongoing “dueling partnership.” (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

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The native of Totton in Hampshire, England, said she had to carefully mull the decision to take the role. “I didn’t want to leave the comforts of home,” she said, adding that she knew it would be hard to deal with the rigors of life on the road.

Kelly said that “in addition to the challenges of the role itself,” traveling every Monday “tests your endurance. The only time you can really rest is during the day.”

Other elements of the fatigue factor? “Going from city to city to city, environmental changes, and facing a different stage set-up with each new theater.”

Once the tour was underway, though, Kelly assessed it was worth the risk.

“It’s physically demanding, but that’s one of the reasons I love it,” she said. “One reason I took the role was to help me grow as an actor. It’s an incredible experience working with the same group of people, and a very different one from being in a Broadway cast. You become closer. You become friends.”

Having five weeks for rehearsal was a luxury, she said.

“What’s also so nice about the tour is that every single week, you have an opening night, which sharpens your focus and makes it a new experience. I feel sharper in a way that I never knew, and that keeps things fresh.”

Director Sher, Kelly said, “challenges your immediate ideas about a role by coming at it from a different angle. I’m used to offering a lot of suggestions myself and I come at (each new role) with a lot of ideas, but he completely inspired me.” Sher, she added, is “very hands-on,” a director who “doesn’t abandon his actors” amidst the rehearsal process.

All things connected to “King and I” earn effusive praise from Kelly, from the show itself to everything and everyone connected with the touring production. The show, she said, is “an amazing commentary on humanity. It gives us a healing perspective on the world, which I think we all need right about now.”

Regarding the story: “Anna has a ‘dueling partnership’ with the King from beginning to end. It’s the story of two different people meeting (who are) from two different backgrounds.”

Of co-star Llana’s performance, “You get to see the fear behind some of the decisions the King is making, but also his passion about retaining and not losing touch with Siamese tradition.”

 

Kelly admires the “female progressiveness” of Anna: “She has a line where she says, ‘You think women are more lowly than men, but I don’t believe that. Women are just as good as men, just as important, just as significant.’”

 

Kelly’s vocal turns include the joyous “Getting to Know You,” the immortal “Shall We Dance?” and the wistful “Hello, Young Lovers.” Kelly said, “Each time I sing the show’s songs, I discover something new. That’s the beauty of Rodgers and Hammerstein.”

 

She also revels in “The King and I” as a fan, calling Act Two’s 20-minute “Small House of Uncle Thomas” ballet “one of the most beautiful moments of theater I’ve ever seen. It moves me each time – and every day I get to watch it, like a member of the audience.”

 

For Kelly, who lived in Burbank for three years, bringing a touring show to Costa Mesa feels a lot like coming home. She unabashedly states “I love California.”

Kelly describes “The King and I” as “one of the greatest shows I’ve ever done, and one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. Every person I’m working with is incredible. The costumes are incredible. It’s an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

‘The King and I’

When: Tuesday, Feb. 27-March 11. 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays

Where: Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa

Tickets: $29-$125

Information: 714-556-2787, www.scfta.org

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/23/the-king-and-i-waltzes-into-segerstrom-center/

Feb 23

See what Knott’s Berry Farm is serving up for its 2018 Boysenberry Festival

Knott’s Berry Farm is poised to honor its origins with the Boysenberry Festival March 16-April 8. The annual event will celebrate the berry with more than 75 dishes, treats and beverages, as well as themed entertainment, activities and shopping.

Named after its originator Rudolf Boysen, the boysenberry is a cross between a loganberry, red raspberry and blackberry. It was first successfully harvested and sold by the Knott family on the land that is now Knott’s Berry Farm.

Food is the festival’s focus

The Boysenberry Festival is aimed squarely at the tastebuds with a selection of new and returning items. Some of the new dishes include quesadillas, pierogies and elote (Mexican street corn),  graced by the berry in various ways.There will also be slow cooked short ribs smothered in boysenberry hoisin sauce, chicken wings doused in boysenberry barbecue sauce and a grilled sausage on a roll topped with boysenberry ketchup, relish and mustard. Nibbles will include boysenberry hummus with pita bread and bite-sized boysenberry coconut macaroons dipped in a chocolate ganache.

  • Enjoy boysenberry beer, wine and cider during the Boysenberry Festival at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park March 16-April 8. (Photo courtesy of Knott’s Berry Farm).

    Enjoy boysenberry beer, wine and cider during the Boysenberry Festival at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park March 16-April 8. (Photo courtesy of Knott’s Berry Farm).

  • Executive chef Bobby Obezo has been creating special dishes with his team for the Boysenberry Festival at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park March 16-April 8. (Photo courtesy of Knott’s Berry Farm).

    Executive chef Bobby Obezo has been creating special dishes with his team for the Boysenberry Festival at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park March 16-April 8. (Photo courtesy of Knott’s Berry Farm).

  • Treats like Fun Buns, deep fried cinnamon rolls topped with boysenberry icing, will be available during the Boysenberry Festival at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park March 16-April 8. (Photo courtesy of Knott’s Berry Farm).

    Treats like Fun Buns, deep fried cinnamon rolls topped with boysenberry icing, will be available during the Boysenberry Festival at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park March 16-April 8. (Photo courtesy of Knott’s Berry Farm).

  • Snoopy the Easter Beagle and Charlie Brown will meet families during the Boysenberry Festival at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park March 16-April 8. (Photo courtesy of Knott’s Berry Farm).

    Snoopy the Easter Beagle and Charlie Brown will meet families during the Boysenberry Festival at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park March 16-April 8. (Photo courtesy of Knott’s Berry Farm).

  • Classic boysenberry pie will be abundant during the Boysenberry Festival at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park March 16-April 8. (Photo courtesy of Knott’s Berry Farm).

    Classic boysenberry pie will be abundant during the Boysenberry Festival at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park March 16-April 8. (Photo courtesy of Knott’s Berry Farm).

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Knott’s will be vending a new boysenberry boba tea, plus its boysenberry beer, wine and cider will be available.

Park guests may purchase a tasting card with 8 food options for $30 or buy items à la carte.

Related: Are Disneyland and Knott’s making food and wine festivals permanent additions to the theme parks?

The festival will include shows, exhibits and more

There are two ways guests at the Boysenberry Festival can learn about Knott’s history. In Ghost Town’s Town Hall there will be an exhibit about the boysenberry and the creation of Knott’s Berry Farm and “Tied Up in Knott’s!,” an art show charting Knott’s from farm to theme park, will be on display in the Wilderness Dance Hall. Many of the art show pieces, as well as prints, will be available for purchase.

Related: Historic 141-year-old church to leave Knott’s Berry Farm

Perhaps the biggest news is Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies will be returning to the park with a show on the Wagon Camp stage. This bluegrass band has a strong fan base and has become one of the most popular acts at Knott’s.

There will also be a musical comedy melodrama, country music from the Ghost Town Miners and a show starring the Peanuts Gang. Families can snap photos with Snoopy as the Easter Beagle and spend some time meeting horses, sheep, goats and other animals at the Old MacDonald Petting Zoo.

Shopping abounds at the festival

Park guests can take a little of the Boysenberry Festival home with a range of merchandise available throughout the park. The Craft Fair will be back with boysenberry cashew nut brittle, pie-shaped home accessories and other items. In addition to park shopping favorites, Knott’s will have some new items just for the festival, including a boysenberry bath and body line with soaps, bath bombs, lip balms and candles, Knott’s sugar-free boysenberry concentrate to make its popular punch and boysenberry Jelly Belly candies. There will also be boysenberry versions of its chocolates, barbecue sauce and other edibles.

Knott’s Boysenberry Festival

When: Open 10 a.m. daily March 16-April 9.

Where: Knott’s Berry Farm, 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park.

Tickets: $43-$79, includes venue entrance, tasting card $30.

Information: 714-220-5200, www.knotts.com.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/23/see-what-knotts-berry-farm-is-serving-up-for-its-2018-boysenberry-festival/

Feb 23

Law-abiding gun owners caught in the crosshairs: Political Cartoons

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Check out our daily cartoon gallery featuring some of the best cartoonists from around the world, and across the political spectrum, covering current issues and figures.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/23/law-abiding-gun-owners-caught-in-the-crosshairs-political-cartoons/

Feb 23

Umberg jumps into state Senate race, gets attacked by Republicans

The Buzz is the Register’s weekly political news column.

Former Assemblyman Tom Umberg has joined the Democratic field to challenge Republican state Sen. Janet Nguyen, bringing strong credentials — and immediately drawing a harsh attack from the California Republican Party.

The attorney served in Sacramento’s lower chamber twice, from 1990 to 1994 and again from 2004 to 2006. He is a retired Army colonel and former federal prosecutor who was deputy drug czar under President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 2000.

“I’m running for state Senate because I believe that our community needs a strong fighter in Sacramento who will stand up to President Trump and his administration on important issues like health care, immigration, energy, the environment, civil rights, education and consumer issues,” Umberg said in a Wednesday statement announcing his candidacy.

But in addition to his accomplishments, Umberg has seen his share of setbacks. He’s lost four elections, including a third-place finish in a special election for county supervisor in 2007 (Nguyen won) and losing a 2006 state Senate race to fellow Democratic Lou Correa by nearly 20-percentage points.

The 2006 loss came a year after Umberg, who’s now been married 36 years, made headlines for acknowledging he’d had a four-year affair with a woman he said he met through Democratic Party activities.

The attack

Republicans seized on the losses, the affair and the fact that he just moved into the Nguyen’s district. Umberg changed his voter registration from his Villa Park house to a Santa Ana apartment Feb. 17, according to elections office records. He announced his candidacy four days later.

“Umberg is an admitted philanderer, carpetbagger and four-time campaign loser,” said Nguyen campaign consultant Dave Gilliard in a statement issued by the state GOP.

“You would think the powers in Sacramento could have found a better candidate, but instead it’s just business as usual.”

Voters will actually have three Democrats — plus Republican Nguyen — to choose from in June’s open primary, the current field remains constant through the March 9 filing deadline. The other two are Gerrie Schipske, a former Long Beach City Council member and former executive director of the Democratic Party of Orange County, and activist Jestin Samson.

The district reaches from south Long Beach to Santa Ana, and includes virtually all of Little Saigon. Despite Democrats having a nearly 10-percentage point advantage in voter registration, Nguyen won election over Democratic former Assemblyman Jose Solario by 16-percentage points in 2014.

The rebuttal

Umberg defended himself against the attack of carpetbagging by saying he first moved into the district in 1989, that his children had attended school in the district and that he represented large swaths of the district while in the Assembly.

“No one has more experience in the district than me,” he told me.

As for his affair, he noted that the news was 13-years old.

“I admitted to a wrongful relationship,” he said. “I’m sorry for the pain I caused then. I love my wife and I’m grateful everyday for her.”

Appointments

Meanwhile, three Orange County Republicans have recently received appointments or reappointments from Gov. Jerry Brown.

Michael Mohler, 45, of Anaheim, has been tapped to be deputy director of communications at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. He had been the southern region public information officer since 2014 and has been with the department since 2004. The job pays $125,000.

Frances Inman, 71, of Santa Ana, has been reappointed to the California Transportation Commission, where she has served since 2010. Inman is the president of  Majestic Realty Foundation. The post requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem.

John Carvelli, 55, of Newport Beach, has been reappointed to the California State Athletic Commission, where he has been chair since 2015 and has served as a member since 2013. He is executive vice president at LIBERTY Dental Plan. The post requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Carvelli is a Republican.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/23/umberg-jumps-into-state-senate-race-gets-attacked-by-republicans/

Feb 23

Rape victim? Ella Fairon makes film to change that

The guy she thought was her boyfriend punched her in the face.

It was the first time he’d ever been violent. But there she was, floored by his fist; lip split; tasting blood.

Then he held her down, forced open her mouth, stuffed some kind of pill on her tongue and poured beer down her throat. Within a few minutes, she lost consciousness.

She woke up hours later, bleeding. She had been raped.

She scrambled to the bathroom, locked the door and looked in the mirror. The image she saw was worse than she could imagine.

Ella Fairon was 14.

  • Ella Fairon, 20, grew up in Newport Beach. She moved to Texas during her freshman year in high school where she was raped. The family moved back to Newport, and Ella started to raise awareness about rape culture in high schools. She started an organization called SAFEBAE, and she is currently directing a movie about rape culture called “Game On.” Photographed at her apartment in Van Nuys on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. (Photo by Kevin SullivanOrange County Register/SCNG)

    Ella Fairon, 20, grew up in Newport Beach. She moved to Texas during her freshman year in high school where she was raped. The family moved back to Newport, and Ella started to raise awareness about rape culture in high schools. She started an organization called SAFEBAE, and she is currently directing a movie about rape culture called “Game On.” Photographed at her apartment in Van Nuys on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. (Photo by Kevin SullivanOrange County Register/SCNG)

  • Ella Fairon, 20, grew up in Newport Beach. She moved to Texas during her freshman year in high school where she was raped. The family moved back to Newport, and Ella started to raise awareness about rape culture in high schools. She started an organization called SAFEBAE, and she is currently directing a movie about rape culture called “Game On.” Photographed at her apartment in Van Nuys on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. (Photo by Kevin SullivanOrange County Register/SCNG)

    Ella Fairon, 20, grew up in Newport Beach. She moved to Texas during her freshman year in high school where she was raped. The family moved back to Newport, and Ella started to raise awareness about rape culture in high schools. She started an organization called SAFEBAE, and she is currently directing a movie about rape culture called “Game On.” Photographed at her apartment in Van Nuys on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. (Photo by Kevin SullivanOrange County Register/SCNG)

  • Ella Fairon, 20, grew up in Newport Beach. She moved to Texas during her freshman year in high school where she was raped. The family moved back to Newport, and Ella started to raise awareness about rape culture in high schools. She started an organization called SAFEBAE, and she is currently directing a movie about rape culture called “Game On.” Photographed at her apartment in Van Nuys on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. (Photo by Kevin SullivanOrange County Register/SCNG)

    Ella Fairon, 20, grew up in Newport Beach. She moved to Texas during her freshman year in high school where she was raped. The family moved back to Newport, and Ella started to raise awareness about rape culture in high schools. She started an organization called SAFEBAE, and she is currently directing a movie about rape culture called “Game On.” Photographed at her apartment in Van Nuys on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. (Photo by Kevin SullivanOrange County Register/SCNG)

  • Ella Fairon, 20, grew up in Newport Beach. She moved to Texas during her freshman year in high school where she was raped. The family moved back to Newport, and Ella started to raise awareness about rape culture in high schools. She started an organization called SAFEBAE, and she is currently directing a movie about rape culture called “Game On.” Photographed at her apartment in Van Nuys on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. (Photo by Kevin SullivanOrange County Register/SCNG)

    Ella Fairon, 20, grew up in Newport Beach. She moved to Texas during her freshman year in high school where she was raped. The family moved back to Newport, and Ella started to raise awareness about rape culture in high schools. She started an organization called SAFEBAE, and she is currently directing a movie about rape culture called “Game On.” Photographed at her apartment in Van Nuys on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. (Photo by Kevin SullivanOrange County Register/SCNG)

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Changed woman

Fairon is 20 now, and lives in Van Nuys. She goes to film school, and she’s directing a short movie — “Game On” — about how teenagers deal with rape culture. She is one of the founders of two non-profit organizations, Buttervly and SafeBAE, aimed at educating middle and high school students about sexual assault.

She travels the U.S. and Canada, lecturing at schools. Her work has attracted the attention of Hollywood stars like Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Schumer, Chris Rock and Judd Apatow. They helped raise the money that Fairon is using to produce her film.

She hopes to finish the film by April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. She plans to unveil “Game On” with a red carpet event at a theater, and then distribute “Game On” via social media.

Six years after the rape, Fairon is in-charge, strong, vocal, composed.

In short, she’s nothing like she was.

Ella said her parents “raised me in the dark,” meaning she was a sheltered and naive kid. When she got to Corona del Mar High School, she made cheer squad and had a close group of friends.

“Life was so good for me.”

In October of 2011, her life changed rapidly. Her father, Patrick, a software designer, fell on hard times. He had to take a job in Texas, and moved his family to McKinney, Texas, a small town an hour north of Dallas. Fairon enrolled at McKinney Boyd High School.

“Either you’re a really good athlete, you’re really smart, or you’re into drugs,” Fairon said.

“I didn’t know what to do, so I did drugs.”

She was depressed about being in a new place. Her first friend introduced her to Vicodin.

“It made me numb,” she said. “I didn’t have to feel anything.”

She started drinking. But she was still in a lot of pain. On the suggestion of a friend, she began slicing her arm with nail scissors.

I was so angry, so alone, so hurt,” Fairon said. “Cutting was such a release for me. Such a high.”

Her mother noticed the changes.

“She was coming home and sleeping,” Holly Fairon said. “Getting her to come down for dinner was difficult.”

That’s when she met a boy. He was an athlete; older.

The worst night of her life happened on a Monday. After an evening of drinking and smoking weed, Fairon began to feel uneasy. She wanted to leave. She told her boyfriend she wanted to call her mom.

That’s when he punched her.

“I was shocked,” she said. “Did he just hit me?”

Ella is gone

She stared at herself in the bathroom mirror, and the 14-year-old version of Fairon made a choice: She wouldn’t tell.

She would put the entire experience into a vault deep inside her.

“I will go home and force myself to act like nothing ever happened,” she remembers thinking.

Silence, however, didn’t help. The people Fairon needed most – her parents and family – didn’t know. But in the rest of her world – high school – everyone seemed to know.

“People started taunting me,” she said. “People started grabbing me in the hallways. They would put their hands down my pants. Around other people. And no one did anything about it.”

She spent entire school days in the bathroom sobbing.

“I was a lifeless person,” she said.

“Ella was gone.”

She thought about suicide. She decided to hang herself; even picked a time and place. But she couldn’t get over the idea that her three younger brothers would be traumatized by her death.

So she decided to stay alive.

Without telling him the details of her pain, Fairon asked her father if they could move back to Orange County. And, in 2012, the Fairon family came home, moving from McKinney to Lake Forest, where they lived with Ella’s grandparents.

“He knew something was really wrong,” Fairon said of her father.

She returned to Corona del Mar High a different person than the sweet, naive girl who moved to Texas. She wore black-on-black make-up that made her look like a raccoon. Other kids took to calling her “Sketchy Ella.”

“I looked like death.”

Her parents insisted she get into therapy.

Fairon had kept the pain of the night in Texas to herself for about two years. Then, in a therapy session, she let it out. The therapist, a mandatory reporter of child abuse, called the police and told her parents.

“I have my own guilt,” said Holly. “I should have known more. I should have done more.

“I can’t imagine the fear she was feeling. It’s horrific.”

Then Fairon did something she describes as an act of self preservation.

“I chose not to be involved,” she said. “The majority of rape victims are like me.”

Fairon asked her parents to shut down the investigation. She said no to the police. She didn’t want the attention or a trial. She didn’t want to return to Texas for years of court proceedings.

After a police report and four interviews with investigators, Fairon’s parents decided that was enough.

“She wasn’t well enough to do the investigation,” Holly said. “We weren’t going to put her through that.”

New life

How did Fairon evolve from suicidal teenager to creative survivor?

She told.

“Advocating for others,” Holly said of her daughter, “has been so helpful for her.”

Fairon launched a club for high school students that she called Buttervly — “Be Understood Traumatized Teen Empowering Rape Victims Love Yourself.”

She also made a short film, interviewing other rape victims. And she asked her school if she could hold a public discussion about sexual assault.

“People were overwhelmingly supportive.”

Fairon’s idea caught fire. Buttervly clubs opened at other high schools, Mater Dei and Newport Harbor.

“The way I found my justice was just forgiving everyone involved,” she said.

“If you are raped,” she added, “you should report.”

After word got around that she was talking about rape culture in high schools, Fairon was interviewed by a film company. She appeared in the documentary “Audry and Daisy” about rape victims who are shamed by their communities after they are raped.

Daisy Coleman, one of the other victims profiled in the film, joined Fairon (along with actors Jada Smith and Charlie Coleman) and founded Safe BAE, which sends speakers around the country, makes films and answers middle and high school students’ questions about sexual assault.

Fairon has spoken to 31 schools in 15 states, reaching about 10,000 people.

“The students are hooking up in high school,” Fairon said. “Why sweep it under the rug? Parents need to be educated too. This is happening whether you like it or not.”

The “Audry and Daisy” film and Safe BAE attracted the attention of Amy Schumer, one of the hottest stars in Hollywood. Fairon said Schumer raised between $30,000 and $40,000.

Fairon’s film, “Game On,” has an $8,000 budget. She wrote and directed the film, which helps students “understand how to intervene when you see something going south.”

And now that she’s got a taste of film making, Ella has set her goal very high.

“I plan on being one of the biggest female producers in Hollywood,” she said. “There needs to be more of those.”

(Editor’s note: Reporter Keith Sharon’s son, Dylan, has a role in Ella Fairon’s film “Game On.”)

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/23/rape-victim-ella-fairon-makes-film-to-change-that/

Feb 23

Coach’s change of heart leads to Alina Zagitova’s Olympic victory

  • Karen Chen of the United States reacts as her scores are posted following her performance in the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

    Karen Chen of the United States reacts as her scores are posted following her performance in the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

  • Karen Chen of the United States performs during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

    Karen Chen of the United States performs during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Karen Chen of the United States falls during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

    Karen Chen of the United States falls during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

  • Karen Chen of the United States performs during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

    Karen Chen of the United States performs during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Karen Chen of the United States falls during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

    Karen Chen of the United States falls during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Mirai Nagasu of the United States reacts as her scores are posted following her performance in the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

    Mirai Nagasu of the United States reacts as her scores are posted following her performance in the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

  • Mirai Nagasu of the United States performs during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

    Mirai Nagasu of the United States performs during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

  • Mirai Nagasu of the United States performs during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

    Mirai Nagasu of the United States performs during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Mirai Nagasu of the United States performs during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

    Mirai Nagasu of the United States performs during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Karen Chen of the United States falls during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

    Karen Chen of the United States falls during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

  • Evgenia Medvedeva of the Olympic Athletes of Russia performs during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

    Evgenia Medvedeva of the Olympic Athletes of Russia performs during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Evgenia Medvedeva of the Olympic Athletes of Russia reacts as she leaves the ice following her performance during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

    Evgenia Medvedeva of the Olympic Athletes of Russia reacts as she leaves the ice following her performance during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

  • Evgenia Medvedeva of the Olympic Athletes of Russia reacts as her scores are posted following her performance in the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

    Evgenia Medvedeva of the Olympic Athletes of Russia reacts as her scores are posted following her performance in the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

  • Evgenia Medvedeva of the Olympic Athletes of Russia reacts as her scores are posted following her performance in the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

    Evgenia Medvedeva of the Olympic Athletes of Russia reacts as her scores are posted following her performance in the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

  • Evgenia Medvedeva of the Olympic Athletes of Russia reacts as her scores are posted following her performance in the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

    Evgenia Medvedeva of the Olympic Athletes of Russia reacts as her scores are posted following her performance in the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

  • Alina Zagitova of the Olympic Athletes of Russia performs during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

    Alina Zagitova of the Olympic Athletes of Russia performs during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Alina Zagitova of the Olympic Athletes of Russia reacts after her performance during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

    Alina Zagitova of the Olympic Athletes of Russia reacts after her performance during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Alina Zagitova of the Olympic Athletes of Russia performs during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

    Alina Zagitova of the Olympic Athletes of Russia performs during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

  • Alina Zagitova of the Olympic Athletes of Russia reacts following her performance during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

    Alina Zagitova of the Olympic Athletes of Russia reacts following her performance during the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

  • Alina Zagitova of the Olympic Athletes of Russia reacts as her scores are posted following her performance in the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

    Alina Zagitova of the Olympic Athletes of Russia reacts as her scores are posted following her performance in the women’s free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

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GANGNEUNG, South Korea—In many waygas the first real step toward Russia’s Alina Zagitova’s golden moment Friday began with a bouquet, a parting gift, and a goodbye to a coach and a skating career that appeared over almost before it really started.

Around three years ago Zagitova, then 12, had been kicked out of Sambo 70, the vaunted Moscow skating academy, by coach Eteri Tutberidz. The coach said Zagitova was not willing to work hard enough to be a champion.

Zagitova was planning to return to her hometown of Izhevsk, 750 miles from Moscow in the Ural mountains. She and her grandmother stopped by Sambo to give Tutberidz a bouquet of flowers and to say thank you and goodbye.

Tutberidz had a change of heart.

“’No, let’s try it again,’” Zagitova recalled Tutberidz saying. “’Let’s give it another try.’”

“If it wasn’t for that moment I might not be here,” Zagitova said earlier this week.

Friday here was atop the medal podium as the second youngest Olympic champion in history.

Zagitova, now all of 15. won Russia’s second consecutive women’s figure skating gold medal, and the nation’s first in these Games, by edging training partner Evgenia Medvedeva in one of the most compelling women’s skating competitions in Olympic history.

Zagitova and Medvedeva’s 1-2 finish at the Gangneung Ice Arena was the first by a nation at the Olympics since Tara Lipinski and Michelle Kwan at the 1998 Games in Nagano and further demonstrated the width of the gap between the pair–and the Russian system—and the rest of the world.

Zagitova shattered the Olympic record for overall score with a 239.57 mark, more than points clear of the previous mark (228.56) set by South Korea’s Yuna Kim in the 2010 Games in Vancouver. Medvedeva also surpassed the old mark at 238.26 as did Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond, the bronze medalist at 231.02.

Japan’s Satoko Miyahara was fourth at 222.38 followed by Italy’s Carolina Kostner, competing in her fourth Olympics (212.44).

To put the gap between the Russians and the U.S. into perspective consider that

Bradie Tennell, at ninth place the highest U.S. finisher on the worst day ever for the American women at the Olympics, finished more than nearly 50 points behind Zagitova (192.35)

Indeed the next challenge to Zagitova and Medvedeva’s isn’t likely to come from the Americans, Japanese or Canadians but from within their own rink. Alexandra Trusova, a 13 year old who also trains under Tutberidz at Sambo 70 reportedly landed a quad salchow recently in a Russian competition.

“We have a lot of young talent that provide you a lot additional drive to go on,” Zagitova said.

But the driving force behind Russia’s global domination in Tutberidz. The 43-year-old former ice dancer has reputation as one of the sport’s most innovative coaches, especially when it comes to maximizing scoring opportunities in the scoring system implemented after the 2002 Salt Lake City judging scandal. Under the post-Salt Lake City system jumping elements in the second half of programs are given bonus points. All 11 of Zagitova’s jumps Friday were in the back half of a program designed by Tutberidz.

Tutberidz also has a reputation driving her skaters hard, sometimes too hard. A recent documentary showed Zagitova and Medvedeva breaking down in tears during training.

Three years ago, Zagitova reached her breaking point. Skating in a competition with a broken leg, she suffered a broken leg. Zagitova said she had to re-learn how to walk again. She decided to quit the sport when she was expelled by Tutberidz. Friday, however, she seemed to echo her coach.

“I personally think that in figure skating that you must love and completely devote yourself to it,” Zagitova said.

Mededeva also had her trials on the way to South Korea. The Moscow native was undefeated for more than two years, winning the 2016 and 2017 World titles and setting a series world records in breaking one scoring barrier after another.

But she suffered a stress fracture in the fall. In her absence Zagitova won the Grand Prix final and the Russian Championships before knocking off Medvedeva at the European Championships last month.

Medvedeva set a short program world record in the team competition earlier in the Games and then raised it again in Wednesday (only to be broken 10 minutes later by Zagitova). By Friday Medevdeva was ready reclaim her throne.

“I felt like a bird who finally got to spread its wings,” she said.

She could not, however, quite reach her friend and teammate.

Medvedeva had personally lobbied the International Olympic Committee not to ban Russia from the Games after investigations by the IOC and commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency revealed a widespread, systemic doping program with Russian Olympic sports. The doping program  included an operation straight out of a James Bond novel in which drug test lab officials covered up positive results by Russian athletes at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

She has also criticized the IOC decision to only allow Russian athletes who passed a vetting system to compete in South Korea as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” and under the Olympic flag.

Medvedeva was asked Friday how she would feel when the Olympic flag, not the Russian, was raised over her Zagitova’s medal ceremony. She shrugged.

“It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are,” she said. “People know who we are. Today, we proved ourselves here.”

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/23/coachs-change-of-heart-leads-to-alina-zagitovas-olympic-victory/

Feb 23

Pac-12 basketball roundup: No. 14 Arizona beats Oregon State 75-65 in OT

Deandre Ayton had 19 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks, helping Arizona to the road win without guard Allonzo Trier.

Rawle Alkins had 16 points and eight rebounds for the Wildcats (22-6, 12-3 Pac-12), and Dusan Ristic scored 14 points.

Trier was declared ineligible by the NCAA after a trace...

Permanent link to this article: http://www.latimes.com/sports/ucla/la-sp-pac-12-roundup-20180222-story.html

Feb 23

Surging Hawaii turns back slumping Long Beach State

HONOLULU — Zigmars Raimo scored 13 of his career-high 17 points in the second half to lead Hawaii to a 74-63 victory over Long Beach State on Thursday night.

Gibson Johnson added 13 points for the Rainbow Warriors (16-10, 7-6 Big West Conference), who have won three straight. Raimo was 6 for 7 from the field, and 5 for 6 from the free-throw line.

Hawaii shot 53 percent and Long Beach 30 in the first half, which ended with the Rainbow Warriors leading 34-25.

Barry Ogalue scored five points in 21 seconds, pulling the 49ers within four at 46-42 with 12:26 remaining, but Raimo had 10 points in a 15-2 run to push the lead back to 15 with 7:19 left.

Ogalue cut it to eight on a free throw with five minutes left, but Johnson pushed it back to 10 at the line and followed it up with a scoop layup. Jack Purchase blocked Gabe Levin’s fadeaway jumper with under three minutes left, but Bryan Alberts hit a 3-pointer the next trip down to cut it to eight. Brocke Stepteau boosted it back to 10 with a floater and added two more at the line to put it away with a minute left.

Hawaii was 12 for 14 from the foul line in the second half.

Levin scored 18 for Long Beach (13-16, 7-6), making him the second transfer and 24th 49er to surpass 1,000 career points. Ogalue had nine of his 11 points in the second half.

Senior forward Mike Thomas missed a second straight game with an unspecified injury, but Hawaii got 23 points from its reserves as it avenged an eight-point loss at LBSU to open conference play last month.

Long Beach, which lost for the fourth time in five games, next plays Saturday at 7 p.m. at Cal State Fullerton (15-10, 8-5), while Hawaii hosts first-place UC Irvine (15-15, 10-4) the same night at 9 p.m. PT.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/02/23/surging-hawaii-turns-back-slumping-long-beach-state/