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Stories by Matthew Lickona

Captain America Gets Ready to Avenge

In 1991, director Joe Johnston brought us The Rocketeer, in which a decent All-American guy chances upon the means to become a superhero. This enables him to take on the Nazi menace and its plan ...

Hangover II: Bigger, Louder, Dumber

The Hangover Part II At one point in The Hangover Part II , Zach Galifianakis puts a bottle beneath the robes of an elderly Buddhist monk as they ride together on a bus through the ...

Botrytis? Here?

"But this really is Cailles en Sarcophage!” — General Lorens Lowenhielm, Babette’s Feast The general is shocked when he says this. He is shocked because he has just finished describing a dish he once enjoyed ...

The Conspirator: It’s 1865

The Conspirator “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” said philosopher George Santayana. This saying has spawned many variants, including, now, director Robert Redford’s: “Those who cannot learn from history are ...

The Adjustment Bureau’s Metaphysical Muddle

The Adjustment Bureau For everyone who couldn’t get enough of the Matt Damon metaphysical muddle in Hereafter, here’s a second helping, the chief lesson of which seems to be: it’s hard out there for an ...

Cat Snip

The committee that outsmarts the average feral cat.

“Is the baby outside?” asks my wife, alarm bubbling up through her groggy vowels. It’s summer, the middle of the night. We’re sleeping with the windows open, which is why we can hear the plaintive ...

Nothing but Berries

My last visit to Fallbrook Winery was in 2006; longtime restaurateur Ed Moore had invited me up to listen in on a blending session for the winery’s 2004 Merlot. But one blend led to another, ...

The Redneck Hipster of Country Strong

Riding into town a day late and a dollar short, ready to review the big releases from last week. Howdy, folks. I’m staff writer Matthew Lickona. You may remember me from such Reader columns as ...

Aguilera Floods Burlesque

Burlesque Christina (howl like it hurts) Aguilera plays Ali, short for Alice, a cute-as-pie Iowa waitress with aspirations of Sunset Strip stardom. By means of contrived necessity (that is to say, she walks by the ...

Block Party

In 8 years, home prices went from $320,000 to $750,000 and back

This is not a story about sexual predators. If anything, it’s a story about life in a modern suburban neighborhood in the wake of the foreclosure implosion. But it does start with sexual predators, or ...

A Visit to Carruth Cellars Winery in Solana Beach

In 1998, Carlsbad native Adam Carruth was “kind of a life student — just [kept] going back to school.” He’d studied botany at UC Riverside, so for a change of pace, he headed north to ...

A Chat About Lemon Grove Kid Dennis Hopper

Local Boy Makes Good, Goes Bad, Makes Good Again

Of course, he didn’t stay here. Most likely, you wouldn’t either, not if you were young and ambitious and living a two-hour drive up the freeway to get to Hollywood. Not if you’d grown up ...

San Diego's Backpack Burdens

What’s in the sack? That’s all they care about.Is it a rock or a rolled-up giraffe?Is it pickles or nickels or busted bicycles?And if we guess it, will you give us half?Do they ask where ...

Who Is This Winery in Ramona?

Dennis Grimes spends the first half-hour of every day “tending to Twitter, being a cheerleader” for Ramona Valley wine. From September 6 of this year: “94F today, 47F low & 83F tomorrow Ramona Valley AVA ...

I don't know what they told you, but this is called Hip-Hop

“This is HIP-HOP. I don’t know what they told you, but this is called HIP-HOP!” DJ Artistic has me in a gentle headlock as he shouts this into my ear. He’s not being aggressive; he ...

People Who Can't Draw Are Stunned by Those Who Can!

“People who can’t draw are stunned by those who can.” — Scott Peterson, editor at the La Jolla–based comic imprint WildStorm. When Peterson said that, it struck me as being a pretty good explanation for ...

Beer Background

Ryan Baker was happy. Living by the beach in PB at the dawn of the millennium, working at Stone Brewing, and attending San Diego State. “I was, like, ‘Why would I go anywhere?’” he recalls. ...

We Only Have Eight Fingers to Work With

81 pounds of wood and steel Valentine’s Day, 2010: Strolling through the outer edges of downtown before heading home for the evening. Passing Salvatore’s Cucina Italiana at the corner of Front and G and glancing ...

JesusSanDiego.com

Back in November of 2009, I took note of a billboard ­I’d seen on the 8 West, put up by the San Diego Coalition of Reason. ­“Don’t believe in God?” it read. “You’re not alone.” ...

Let the Fruit Speak

That’s Matthew Richards of Matthew Richards Wines over there in the picture, and while it’s a decent enough head shot, it’s not really the right pic to accompany this piece. The right pic would be ...

Santa Sophia Roman Catholic Church

Much of the interior of Santa Sophia was straight out of the Jet Age — everything groovy, expansive, and clean. A pair of curved entrance tunnels led to a church whose high walls and ceiling ...

Cross Church

It is not uncommon for critics of Christian moralism to note that the Bible is chock-full of deeply immoral behavior. And that was what made Sunday’s service at Cross Church so remarkable. There, in a ...

Cornerstone Church

“Relevant teachings by Pastor Ed Turley,” advertised the Cornerstone Church website. “If you can’t use it on Monday, he won’t say it on Sunday!” The banners hanging on the walls at the church on Sunday ...

In San Diego, I can plant almost any grape I think will work, and nobody's going to call me crazy

1. Beginnings When Miles the wannabe novelist sets out for his winey holiday in Sideways — the film that did for California Pinot Noir what E.T. did for Reese’s Pieces (kids, ask your parents) — ...

Lakeside Christian Church

I arrived early for the 10:40 a.m. contemporary service at Lakeside Christian Church; Bible study was just finishing up its session in the dim adobe (!) church. (The two arched alcoves in the sanctuary were ...

Jehovah's Witnesses Bancroft Congregation

Boys dressed in suits and ties greeted me at the door to the Lamar Kingdom Hall on the evening of March 30. Inside were more boys in suits and ties and girls in dresses, all ...

Village Community Presbyterian

It was perhaps odd to see people dressed in their Sunday finery sitting on folding chairs in the pale gray utilitarian confines of a fellowship hall. But I learned quickly that the oddness would not ...

Blends Up There, Down Here

This story starts around 20 years ago, when Peter Van Alyea fell in love with the Sonoma Valley. And, he notes, “If you want to move to that valley and buy property, then you better ...

Mercy Community Church

Brightly colored banners touting secular virtues hang on the walls of the pale green elementary-school auditorium that serves as a worship space for Mercy Community Church. It’s a fine old list: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, ...

Calvary Lutheran Church

A child’s magic-marker drawing of the Prodigal Son graced the bulletin cover for Sunday’s service at Calvary Lutheran: a hungry man sitting in a muddy pigsty. “And he would have gladly filled his stomach with ...

The King and Queen of San Diego

November 21, 2009 — A gold-rimmed sea serpent undulates around a trident along the end of the narrow blue flag as it ripples in the morning breeze that blows across the gopher-pocked green of Lakeside’s ...

Maranatha Chapel

Maranatha Chapel is a big church. The kind with a proper campus. The kind with a lot going on outside the Sunday service, including weekday small-group discussion of the previous Sunday’s sermon. (Sunday’s sermon notes ...

St. Anne's Roman Catholic Church

A statue of the Infant Christ wearing a king’s crown stands to the left of the altar at St. Anne’s. Today, the statue also wears a purple robe trimmed with pearls over his usual finery ...

No Joke

On Saturday, February 6, Mike and Linda McWilliams celebrated their one-year anniversary as owners of San Pasqual Winery. The brand itself dates back to the early ’70s, when a lawyer, Mickey Fredman, and a judge, ...

The Dharma Bum Temple

An old "B.C." comic strip holds down one corner of the picture window that looks in on the Dharma Bum temple — a whimsical accent tacked onto an otherwise serene and tasteful tableau: “Whatcha doing ...

Alpine Christian Fellowship

As I entered the church, a girl handed me a golf ball. It was yellow; the one atop the mic stand next to the pulpit was white. You could almost miss it within the pale ...

Pour Me a Drink and Tell Me a Love Story

The stucco-and-tile façade of the Chee Chee bar glares blackly out onto Broadway; inside, the stale air is tinged purple. A half-dozen men hunch over the bar; four of them are drinking from 24-oz. tallboys ...

South Bay Baptist Church

“2010: A New Beginning” reads the label on the binder in the ministry booth set up in the church hall. The table surrounding the decorated cardboard triptych is strewn with candy. Other, similar booths advertise ...

St. Ephrem Maronite Church

The circular interior of St. Ephrem’s church might serve as an eclectic museum of Catholic devotional art. So many styles, drawn from so many traditions: a golden mosaic rendering of the icon of Our Lady ...

Tierrasanta Baptist Church

I don’t usually talk theology while I’m working. But last Sunday, as I took in the broad, airy, blue-tinged church interior before the service, executive pastor Lance Stratton approached me. “I’m doing the hardest thing ...

Burgundies on the Block

I have no idea if it’s any kind of leading economic indicator, but according to Amanda Keston, director of client services for the newly formed Spectrum Wine Auctions, “The wine-auction market has turned the corner. ...

Paseo del Rey Church

A cheerful, creamy glow filled the broad church; it matched the cheerful, happy buzz of the congregation. A timer warned that the service was about to begin, but it had to be rolled back a ...

Good Shepherd Roman Catholic Parish

“Do you know about this priest?” asked the man next to me in the pew, referring to Father Phien Van Pham, the Vietnamese celebrant. “He was persecuted for his faith — he spent quite a ...

El Cajon Wesleyan Church

Sunday was assistant pastor Dave Holmquist’s last at El Cajon Wesleyan. After the opening worship — a singer/guitarist and a bongo player alone on the vast, spotlit, blue-green stage — he took his place down ...

This is Christmas, damn it! What happened?

The richness of giving and worship.

I’m sitting here looking at a photo taken shortly before Christmas 2008. It’s a very good photo: dramatic and sharply focused. It’s a December afternoon in downtown San Diego: trees dotting a vast swath of ...

St. Luke's Lutheran Church

Got an unusual press release last week. It began: “On Sunday, December 13, 2009, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in La Mesa, Calif., held a legally called and conducted meeting to take its second and final ...

First Presbyterian Church of San Diego

In my line of work, I see a lot of stained-glass windows depicting either scenes from the life of Christ or various Christian symbols. But until I ventured into the gothic wooden grandeur of First ...

The Christmas Sweater

video

On December 3, Fox News personality Glenn Beck broadcast a live performance of The Christmas Sweater: A Return to Redemption to movie theaters nationwide. (Tickets were $20.) I was curious — the mention of redemption, ...

Nuts and Bolts

The football game is one thing, fandom is something else.

December 2, 2007: During his radio broadcast of the San Diego Chargers’ victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, announcer Hank Bauer gave a shout-out to Charger fan Alfred Silva, who was battling cancer. (Silva’s brother-in-law ...

Urban Church

“Fourteen years ago, when my wife and I were engaged,” said pastor Ben Brinkman, “we had the exact same experience at the exact same moment in a college chapel: God showed us having a church ...

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