Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Never Mind

I was going to bring back armadillos to selected friends who expressed an interest in having one, but have changed my mind.

Armadillos can carry leprosy or Hansen's disease.  That is why you never touch one, let alone eat one.  And I wouldn't let my dog mess with one if I had a dog.

So - maybe little chocolate "armadillos" instead.  If such a thing is made and thinking about it, almost anything is possible in Texas.   

Extreme Timing

Richie and I are flying to San Antonio to attend the 96th birthday of my cousin Bill.  My sister and bro-in-law are flying in from Chicago.  We are both flying the same airline.  They leave ORD at 10:30 a.m. and land at SAT at 1:11 p.m.  Our flight leaves at 8:20 a.m. and we land at 1:25 p.m.

How cool is that?

So This Wedding Cake Goes to the Supreme Court ...

A gay male couple tries to hire a local bakery to make them a wedding cake..  The baker-owner declines. 

Instead of having gone to a gay-owned bakery in the first place, and keep substantial money in the gay community,  the pair now have a hissy fit and demand that the baker make the cake.

The baker points to the sign in his establishment that reads "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone."  This is perfectly legal unless a person is refused service for race, color, national origins or religion.  Being gay is "none of the above."

Naturally they took it to a court as is the wont of apparently everyone residing in the United States.  Not happy about something?  Sue the bastards!

Ever curious, I began to wonder if this was the only bakery in Denver - gay or straight or catering solely to giraffes. 

The Denver city limits contain 663,862 souls as of 2014.  Metro Denver counts 3 million residents.  Are all of these people gay haters?  Not on your tintype, toots.  The Denver Gay Friendly Business Directory is so successful that they charge $$$ to buy a copy of it.  Travelogue et al have sections touting gay amusements, restaurants, discos and mention specific sections of the city where gays gather or are reported to gather.

Given all of this, the gay couple's suit is one of the purest examples of a frivolous lawsuit possible.  Is this what the Supremes have come to?  If so, it is a sorry day for America. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Pleasures of Conversation With a Great Wit

Quite some time ago, looking to buy an oxygen mask that the flight attendants are issued  to carry on board any plane that I took, I ran across the proprietor of a site that sells gently-used airplane parts.  I was tempted by the control panel for a 747, but budgetary concerns kept my hands out of my purse.

During the dialogue that subsequently ensued, I became friends with the former pilot who runs this charitable (and not for him) enterprise.  He is screamingly funny and every missive is cause for great roars of laughter on my part.

I got into the habit of consulting with him on anything aeronautical. Today was no different.  We're flying to San Antonio soon.  The aircraft will be an Embraer and I'd never heard of one.

So we discussed the Embraer, a jet made in Rio, that is being used for some American Airlines short hops.  I wondered if it was a make he liked to fly  (God knows he's flown everything with wings) and here we go ....

Not to worry, the planes are fine, and even though it's probably really Mesa or some other regional line wearing an American paint job, they do a good job.  Relax, keep your feet off of the seats and don't speak Arabic and I've heard, flying down in that area, they have a chef roast an armadillo, no trouble as those are found dead on the highway about one per mile in Texas.

And I wrote back:  You never disappoint.  No, I was asking you about these only because I always liked the S80 - very whippy, apparently responsive and they don't seem to need a 10-mile long runway. 

Armadillos are a bitch to peel.  I shall ask for mine to be shelled in the kitchen/galley. 

If I spoke French (am fluent) in Texas, they'd probably think it was Arabic.

Oddly enough, despite many journeys to South Texas, have never seen an armadillo (dead or alive) by the side of the road.  Either the Highway Commission is on it or they have a lot of hungry poor people. 

Re asking for it to be shelled in the galley, he wrote back, "Just as you'd order lobster, ask for the tail (meat) only."

I wish I'd seen this - our correspondent in Texas wrote that she had seen a dead armadillo  by the side of the road, lying on his back, holding a beer can. 

Our mothers were right - the evils of drink - lying on the side of the road like a dead armadillo.  Can't you see them shaking an admonitory finger? 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

How Hot Is It?

If you live in Phoenix ... it's inhumanely H O T.  Ditto for Palm Springs and Las Vegas.

Never mind showing us pictures of your breakfast cooking on the sidewalk - eggs sunnyside up and pancakes - I saw a shot of a person's hands in oven mittens on the steering wheel of their car!  That's hot!  Damned hot!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Rest In Peace

Doug and Jackie, his wife of 61 years

Doug and daughter Sandy

My cousin, Warren Chapin "Doug" Vermillion    July 24, 1935 - June 20, 2017

Doug left his soul mate, Jackie, of 61 years, three adult children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.  He was a retired LA County FD Fire Captain, who completed his military service in the Army and for fun he served and then led the Safety Crew at the Ontario Motor Speedway.  In all of these occupations, he was said to be fearless and I myself once saw him run across the track to get to a car up in the fence before the yellow flag had quit waving.  He was moving pretty good, I must say.

However, despite this great loss, and it is, we are not short of Doug Vermillions.  His nephew was named for him and he is Doug Vermillion, MD, a well-known and greatly respected orthopod and burn specialist in Anchorage.  

Another cousin is Doug Vermillion, a retired history teacher in Anderson, IN.    As he is the family genealogist, he can probably find some more should we run short of them, God forbid.  All of ours are handsome, intelligent and have great senses of humor.  "Bob" or "Dan" as Dougs just wouldn't be the same.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

If Your Kids Are Adults, You Can Still Lie To Your Grandkids is a favorite site of mine for a smile or three.  Today this was featured - lies your parents may have told you.  See if any of these are familiar, eh?

"If the ice cream truck is playing music, that means it's out of ice cream."

One kid asked his Dad about the coconuts at the supermarket and Dad said, "Don't touch those!  They're bear eggs!"

"Oh, no, honey, we can't have French fries - we're not French."

"If you wake us up before 7 a.m., Santa will take all of your presents back to the North Pole with him."

In a store - "If you can kiss your elbow, you can have it." 

If you eat more than one marshmallow, you'll blow up!"

"We only have white milk; the brown cows aren't working today."

"Oh, this isn't Coca Cola - it's black water and you wouldn't like that!"

"That? (pointing to cemetery) "those are people farms."

"If you swallow that gum, your poop will bounce in the toilet!  Spit it out."

And the hands down, no question ever for Guaranteed To Put the Child into Therapy for a minimum of 30 years, 5x a week:  A deranged mother ran the video of the child being born backwards and told the kid, "This is where bad children go."

Monday, June 19, 2017

Paleo-Okay Cookies

Richie is taking a French lesson class.  The other week it was the professor's birthday and  a small party was planned.  So he got out his crowd-pleaser recipe for Chocolate Sparkle Cookies and whipped up a batch.

They were a big hit and two of the women asked for the recipe (always so flattering.)  One said that she had a taken a few home with her and her family loved them - "And that's not easy to do," she said, "One is a vegetarian, another other is on the paleo diet ..."

Paleo diet?  What are "paleos"?  Something to eat that I didn't know about when I could have been feasting?  Hmmmm... 

Research pulled up the Paleo Diet or as it is affectionately called by some "The Stone Age Diet."  It is a program where the diner eats only those foods that would have been available in those days.  Such as meat 19 to 35% of the diet, vegetables and fruits high in fiber for 35 to 45% of the diet.   Eggs, nuts, seeds, avocado or olive oils, but NO alcohol or coffee.  I for one can't believe they never let a piece of fruit sit out until it turned to some version of alcohol.  Granted they were thought to be a primitive people, but ...

I think it might be a great deal easier to make a batch of cookies than wander into the supermarket and ask at the butcher counter for 3 lbs. of dinosaur ribs,  a dozen raptor eggs and a bunch of avocados to grind down into oil. 

1/2 lb. semisweet chocolate
3 T soft butter
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar plus some set aside to roll the warm cookies
3/4 cup ground almonds

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and add the butter, stir well.
Beat in the eggs one by one while adding the sugar
Fold the chocolate into the eggs, butter and sugar and gently add the ground almonds  Mix well.
Refrigerate overnight

Next day preheat the oven to 325 and form the dough into small-ish balls.  Bake for 9 to 12 minutes.  When they've cooled a little bit, roll them in the loose sugar. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Fathers' Day - "It's Just a Second Christmas For Dad"

So the newspapers scorned this holiday.  It took awhile for it to become a holiday, too.  Sonora Dodd, of Spokane,  wanted to honor her Dad, a Civil War veteran, who single-handedly raised her and her five siblings and she got the ball rolling for this holiday in 1910.

It wasn't until 1972 that it officially became a U.S. holiday when Nixon signed it in to law. 

Merchants were thrilled as the "traditional" gifts for males went zooming out the door - namely ties, amusingly-decorated socks, cufflinks, golf balls, slippers, wallets, after shaves, belts, tools and cute mugs flew off of their shelves.  In 2014, in Great Britain, loving children spent more than $770 million on dear old Dad.

I cruised Real Simple, the magazine, for guidance despite the fact that my own father would be 113 were he here to celebrate.

A Yeti Tundra Cooler which holds 14 cans of beer plus ice for $250.  Styrofoam from the supermarket at 99 cents makes more sense.

It's not a Harry & David Fruit of the Month, but it is three pairs of socks every three months for $89.  This must be for Forgetful Dad or the unfortunate father that owns the Dryer That Eats Socks.

And another monthly treat is a box of custom beauty aids for him including pomade, after-shave, etc. designed to suit if Dad is a variety of offered personalities - you know, like Lumbar Guy or Dancing Dad ...

Lastly there is the Sausage Bouquet - three salamis - one each from France, Spain and Italy, all individually wrapped in butcher paper, folded in to a larger sheet, like a bouquet of flowers for $50.  You can do twice that number of sausages at Trader Joe's or Hickory Farms for a lot less than $50!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Apparently Man Cannot Live By Bread Alone - You Have to Eat Sunlight

Or rather doesn't need to live by bread alone.  Comes now a new resurgence in a century's old cultish belief which is that man can lively solely on air (breatharian)  or sunlight (sun eater.)   Just different names for the same thought - that man can exist solely on the sun's energy absorbed through the eyeballs which converts to vitamins, minerals, etc. in the human body and can maintain this happy (if wildly unhealthy) state of being.   As the eyeballs are not able to photosynthesize energy or anything else other than vision, this is a very dubious claim before anyone has begun the practice. 

This is how these believers purportedly live:  they start by staring at the sun for 10 seconds at one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset.   Check your local newspaper.  Gradually the wanna-be practitioner moves up to 45 minutes per day and that much closer to complete and total blindness.

It is also necessary to walk around barefoot on bare dirt or sand; pavement need not apply, for one hour per day.  This is to put the practitioner more closely in tune with nature (and dog poops for those with their gaze fixed lovingly on the sun.) 

The colors of the sun are believed to heal/improve specific areas of the body.  Green light goes directly to your liver where it cures whatever might be wrong with that.  Since the French as a nation are obsessed with the state of their liver, a  crise de foie or liver crisis is blamed for car wrecks, mass shootings, and for all I know infertility.  Thus I am surprised not to find whole cafĂ© terraces filled with people sitting quietly with sun reflectors up to their faces, greedily "drinking in" the sun.   Maybe we didn't pass the right cafes or were on the wrong street. 

Red deals with your kidneys and yellow goes to the heart. 

Interested readers asked questions - If I eat too much sun will I get a sunburned stomach if I vomit?  Does this diet work if I'm wearing sunscreen?  What if you live in a cloudy climate like San Fancisco or Seattle? 

Delusional practitioners (every one of them) claim not to have eaten or drunk water for incredible periods of time - three years here, nine years there ... I think that the claimants, if they are sincere, would agree to have the toilets removed from their homes.  They aren't (supposedly) using them they wouldn't need or miss them, right?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Comparative Sentences OR Justice Is At Least Near-Sighted

Two cases, two rapists - what will the verdicts be?

Roman Polanski, born 1933, age 83.
Crime committed:  1977, age 44, rape of a minor age 13 with collusion of child's mother
Number of victims:  one who is quoted, "He owes me nothing."
Punishment so far, banishment from USA for past 40 years.

Bill Cosby, born 1937, age 79
Crimes committed from '60s, age 30 +/- use of a date rape drug, sexual battery, child sex abuse, sexual misconduct, three felony counts
Number of victims:  60+
Punishment so far, payment of $1 million bail.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Maybe Not Something You'd Consider Eating ...

But presented for your consideration anyhow.  One of my many bad habits is the enjoyment I get from reading a good book (no others need apply) and eating little tidbits of this'n that.  Recent discoveries:

A bag of carrots - the little ones which are the trimmed part of the carrot that left the dirt last.  One whack, splitting them, then  into the saucepan, cook and drain and toss in a tablespoon of honey.  Not a snack. 

How about a container of bar cheese, in this case, cheddar and jalapeno?  Great dip!  And by using carrots instead of Evil, Fattening Salty Chips, you are getting roughage and vitamin C.
Carambazola cheese is a wonderful blend of Brie and Bleu, creamy, slightly salty with that ineffable bleu flavor.  Good with baby pippin apples ($3/lb!) or dried apricots. 

Peach Bellini jam is made with peaches and sparkling prosecco (cooking boils out any alcohol) and is wonderful on a well-toasted English muffin.  It's also good like this:

sea scallops, muscle removed and fed to our cat Streak
Butter to saute
Strip of pre-cooked bacon, nuked (20 seconds here) and crumbled
Jar of Peach Bellini jam

Cook the scallops, slather with jam, dust with bacon chunks.  Eat.

Let it also be noted that cooking the dish this way instead of in the oven for frozen packages of bacon-wrapped scallops is not nearly as messy.  In fact it isn't messy at all.  In store-bought bacon-wrapped, the bacon deposits grease, and burns and using aluminum foil is the only way to deal with the mess after cooking them.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Tying One On

Richie is a great fan of British police dramas.  The other evening while watching George Gently I saw a necktie on a character that looked very much like Fred's collar, Fred being our tuxedo cat.

His is a regimental stripe tie with alternating red and blue stripes with a yellow stripe thrown in for variety every now and then.  Very smart he looks in it, too.  I take it off every night and put it back on every morning because during the night, who knows what cats get up to, but one activity re-occurs with nagging regularity.  Went to bed in a collar; woke up without it.  We pretend he's going to the office when he's wearing his "tie."

But as I stared at the TV character's tie, I began to wonder where did neckties come from and when?

To my utter amazement, there are a great many things you can find out about a very ordinary clothing item. 

When did someone get the bright idea of tying a piece of cloth around their necks?  Why that would be during the 30 Years War in the 13th century when Louis 13 hired Croatian mercenaries to fight on his side and it was a custom of theirs quite probably as a form of identification. 

Another story is that women would tie a scarf around their soldier's neck as a sign of ownership.  This may have stemmed from the Camelot times when a lance contestant would wear His Lady's Scarf tied to the lance indicating the knight was protecting that lady.  . 

In WW2, due to silk and other fabric shortages, ties grew narrower to use less material. 

Many men are anti-tie and one bitter commentator wrote, "Did we learn nothing from the women's movement?"

Other commentators were anti-tie because it can so easily be used against the wearer as a weapon.  Every time I've ever seen a long-haired police woman with a pony tail, I've thought, "You're giving the bad guys a handle ..." 

After a parade of ascots, bow ties, Windsor knots and more, there is a new product on the market.  It is called a SHORTTI and it appears to be a normal neck tie until about four inches below the knot.  There the tie has been cut into a sort of V-shape that makes it look as if the tail of the tie has been tucked inside the shirt front.  Whether or not it will become the latest must-have of the fashion industry remains to be seen.  I'm not holding my breath.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

They Don't Wear Dresses Here!

This afternoon (Sunday, 6-11-170 is the monthly South Bay New Orleans Jazz Club's live music fiesta and I was mulling over which of my outfits I would wear to dazzle them.  And as I mentally flicked idly through the hangars in my closet, I suddenly realized something.

The jazz club is the only place I ever see women wearing dresses.  Granted we never go to church unless it's a wedding, christening or funeral so regular attendees could be wearing dresses every Sunday and we wouldn't know anything about it.

But in the course of daily life - supermarket, library, doctor/dentist appointments, French lessons, Thurs. Writers - there is only a sea of pants, yoga pants, tights, shorts ... nary a skirt to be seen. 

Is this a nationwide thing or merely beach-local?  Is there a reason for it?  Are dresses really that uncomfortable?  Write if you know ... this column always welcomes knowledge and/or information. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Beach Read

Not that we here in Redondo have any reason to go to the beach ... we are now in the season known not-so-fondly as June Gloom.  Since this period is a well-established situation, any climate change zealots reading this, cool your jets. 

When our summer does come though, this struck me as a particularly good beach read.
 "Jackie's Girl - My Life With the Kennedy Family," by Kathy McKeon 309 pages   $26

McKeon came to America from Ireland in 1964.  She and her older sister were sent to an aunt and uncle who had established a beach head in NY.  Through a family connection,  she got the job as personal assistant to Ms. Kennedy (as she was then.)   Later on her duties included babysitting the children Caroline and John.  Her service lasted for 13 years and thus she was able to see the young Kennedys growing up.

What she did for Madam (she was told to address her as such) was pretty much lady's maid - sort the clothes, lay out the outfits complete with shoes, purse and matching underwear.    The shoes hit McKeon's lust button - pairs and pairs of them, all with an "x" incised on the shoe sole so that Madam wouldn't slip on the marble floors.  One shoe always had a 1/4 in. lift.

McKeon was by no means alone in her service.  In addition to Maud, the children's long-time governess and McKeon, Madam also employed May, the waitress, a series of cooks/chefs and Charlie who cleaned the six bathrooms, polished the floors and the heavier work.  McKeon says that because most of them were Irish (Provi whom McKeon replaced was Puerto Rican) and as the Irish are said to do, fought all of the time complete with running to Madam, little tricks on one another to make the recipient look bad.  Altogether a lively household. 

Of equal interest to me was the home from which McKeon came.  They had no electricity and no running water.  In the early '60s!  It's a brief section of the whole, but nonetheless interesting for a contrast in life styles.  

Friday, June 9, 2017

Wino Alert!

Tomorrow - Saturday - is National Rose Day.  And if this laptop was smarter, it would have added the little funny mark over the "e" in rose.  Or if I were smarter, I'd have figured out how to do it.  We are dealing with rose-a  today.  We're all clear on that,  right?

Special products have been created to mark this auspicious occasion.  As listed in the Daily Mail:

Rose-infused white chocolate bar $9.95 but it looked to be a good size, not one of those little mini-bars.

Rose donuts - $3.50 each  For that much for a donut, I think I'd rather buy a nice glass of icy cold rose.

Rose lollipops - they cheat and add fruit juices - 10 for $35.  But they are wrapped in gold foil.

Rose cupcakes - the cupcake is soaked in rose and frosted with strawberry cream cheese frosting.  $3 each.

A different rose ...

Not to be outshone by the above (located mainly in Manhattan) Redondo Beach has a source for rose water and rose ice cream and that is the Artesia Produce and Meat Market, at 2322 Artesia, Redondo Beach.  It used to be Sam's Int'l Market and it hasn't changed a bit except for the addition of a weekend open pit barbecue out front selling tacos and quesadillas.  The guacamole and hand-made salsa are back in the (refrigerated) meat department every day. 

Many of the canned goods have Arabic script writing on them.  This is very exotic if you are a person who grew up in Kansas City, MO, where the only French-fried shrimp we ever saw came out of a box.  Because they were frozen.  Downtown had a very popular Italian restaurant which did a landslide business because no one had ever seen spaghetti and meatballs.

Back to the market.  I noticed most of a shelf of bottles marked rose water (the flower) and I asked the cashier about them.  She told me that Arabic women consider it a beauty treatment and splash their clean faces with it.

I didn't need any explanation for the Rose Ice Cream.  Out of sheer curiosity I bought a pint of it.  It was rich, creamy and tasted like vanilla which is not a bad thing, but it is not the same flavor as, say, chewing a handful of rose petals.   And if you own the rose bush, considerably cheaper. 

I must have been prescient because last week, long before I'd ever heard of National Rose Day, I bought a bottle at Trader Joe's.  it can loll in the refrigerator the rest of today and through the night and it will be properly chilled tomorrow.  Rose on high-fiber cereal do you think? 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

An Unlikely Birthday Party ...

After a quick skim of  the headlines and either a few disbelieving snorts or else a frown, I turn to Today's Birthdays.  Many mornings I am somewhat surprised to see that so-and-so is still on our side of the grass.  Without having given the person much, if any, thought - there is the reminder.  I often have a kind of guilty feeling for having not paid attention and just assumed the worst .

  Such was the case with today's list, namely Jerry Stiller who turned 90.  He's Ben Stiller's Dad.  He and Ben's mother Anne Meara, who died in 2015 age 85,  were a famous comedy duo back in the day and if he's 90 today, it was some days ago.

Much better know and certainly much more visible is Barbara Bush who is 92 today.  Husband George H.W. will be 93 next Monday.  Both have been in and out of the hospital for some time, which was always reported in the media.  Given today's media attitude, it may have been wishful thinking on the part of such as CNN, the NY and LA Times or the Washington Post that they could finally run the obits they had been feverishly clinging to, for a long time. 

Nancy Sinatra, 77, and Boz Scaggs, 73, might favor the crowd with a musical number or two.

Scott Adams is 60 today.  Don't recognize the name?  He's the cartoonist and hero of the cubicle crowd who creates "Dilbert."

The person that is truly deserving of our best birthday wishes is former U.S. Rep, Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona who is a hard-fought 47 today.  Being shot in the head can really slow down the aging process.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Carbon Dioxide Emmissions

Citing a June, 2016, Forbes report:

The US leads the world in reducing carbon emissions for the most recent five and 10 year periods. 

The US is down 270 million tons, followed by #2 the UK with 93 million tons for the past five years.

Conversely, China leads the world in carbon emission production accounting for 1.1 billion tons and India #2 with 540 million.

Paris Accord my sweet patootie. Let all of the "world leaders" who jetted in for this exercise in futility try riding a donkey next time.  Word of advice to them - start early.  Donkeys aren't what they used to be.

Monday, June 5, 2017

1921 Doings

My cousin Bill, down in South Texas, will be 96 on June 30th.  Naturally there is a party planned.  You don't go empty-handed to a birthday (usually) but what do you give a man 96 years old?!  Surely, he has plenty of "stuff"? 

I looked up June 30, 1921, but nothing appealed.  When I widened the search to June, 1921, I found better stuff than limiting it to one day.

The Southwark Bridge, London, was dedicated by King George V and Queen Mary.

Brazil adopted women's suffrage.

There was a race riot in Tulsa, OK, that killed 21 whites and 60 blacks.  I thought race riots were a '60s-'70s thing ...

Bessie Coleman reached France.  She covered a number of firsts - first black woman, first Native American, first woman - to have earned a US pilot's license.  In 2013, she was listed as  #14 on Flying magazine's 51 Heroes of Aviation.

She was born in 1892 as the 10th of 13 children.  Early on, she was fascinated by flying and worked two jobs to get the money for flying lessons which were denied her in America.  So she went to France where she was allowed to train. 

On her return, she performed in aerial circuses, but she was dead at 36.  Prior to an air circus she and her mechanic and PR man, William Wills,  took her plane up because she intended to do a parachute jump from it the next day and wanted to see her route to get out of the cockpit.  For that reason, she wasn't wearing  seat belt when the plane (which had been having mechanical difficulties) suddenly went into a dive, spun and ejected her.  She fell 2,000 ft. and died instantly on impact.  Wills was unable to control the plane which crashed and killed him, too.

Looking for one thing is so often the start of learning something new that you had never considered or heard of before. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Man the Barricades, London!

London has a number of bridges, many of which are tourist "must sees" and probably "must have selfie."

They also carry cars and trucks not only for transportation of goods, but as people movers. 

They are vulnerable to attack.

Twice people have gotten killed on or very near them. 

How can they be defended?  Water-filled temporary barriers. 

Now is the time to install them and separate vehicular and pedestrian traffic.  They are portable, practical and quick to install.  I can understand why the British might look tardy in their protection efforts after the fact, but who could possibly have guessed that IS would target a second bridge?  Obviously, they did.

If traffic across the bridges is disrupted for a couple of days for installation, stiff upper lip, and be grateful such defenses exist.   

Incidentally these water-filled barriers are not expensive - a California firm offers 32" x 72" for $249.95.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Well, That Didn't Last Long

Yesterday Scumderella apologized seemingly sincerely - or as sincerely as an entertainer ever gets -for her low rent sad attempt at an imitation of those Bible greats Salome and John the Baptist.

Today I read that she and her lawyer - ever notice how quickly the celebs (and I use that word sarcastically) lawyer up? will be holding a press conference to moan and gnash their collective bridgework that the Trump family is bullying Scumderella!  O horrors!  Scumderella?  The 56 year old little daisy?  This is just not to be borne!

Scumderella's lawyer is one Lisa Bloom, the daughter of Gloria Allred.  Water and scum clearly seek their own level. 

10 a.m.  The radio news on the hour interrupted themselves to broadcast live a press conference with Lisa Bloom and Scumderella.  More nerve than a government mule.  Beyond disgusting - the whole affair.  We didn't listen; Richie clicked it off instantly.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Since, Hopefully, We Won't Be Seeing Her Again ...

Kathy Griffin, age 56,  became an ordained minister in the Universal One Church, of Carrabelle, FL in 2008.

Her father was 91 when he died.

She married Matt Moline in 2001; they divorced in 2006. 

Her Bel Air neighbors are Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.

After the first New Year's Eve ball drop, Manhattan, we forever after watched it with the sound muted.  Her vulgarity was stupendous which is, I suppose, something of a compliment.  It was not intended as such.

The best that could be said of her is that she (however temporarily) united both parties against her tasteless and decidedly UN funny decapitation of a sitting President of the United States.  Her work is done.  Now she can retire.  CNN has already started the process. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Did You Ever Think Dodgeball Could Be Worth $50,000?

If you are a certain age, the odds are great that you haven't given much, if any, thought to dodgeball since the 1st to 7th grade when you might have played it.  My younger sister and a friend my age both remarked on that.  My sister remembers that they played it inside the gym in bad weather - and Kansas City, Mo., could dole out bad weather with the best of them.  She also noted that the games were segregated - boys vs. boys.  She added that in spring, the boys played baseball; the girls played softball.  The dodgeball was smaller than a basketball, but made of soft rubber so no one got hurt.

Today, there is the Ultimate Dodgeball Championship, made up of winning teams across our great nation heading for a major confrontation in Chicago.  The prize is the championship and $50,000.

Dr. James Carlyle who brought it to Yale University in 1884 would be stunned.  He got it from a visit to Africa where he observed with great interest dodgeball between tribes for supremacy.  In today's world of suicide bombers, knife-wielding nut cases, a rousing game of dodgeball to settle something sounds downright pastoral.

There are only three rules - do not hit anyone with the ball.  Do not catch the ball.  Do not force an opponent out of the court.  If this sounds like a fun occupation, Target sells dodgeballs for from $9 to $20. 

Naturally, today the game has been banished from school fields and gyms because "some kids are not as athletic and can feel left out."   How athletic do you have to be fa chrissake?  Another reason it is banned is that it promotes "violence, exclusion and degradation." which would have sounded like tremendous good fun when I was a kid. 

And I wasn't considered particularly savage in high school when field hockey was the perfect game to bash hell out of your opponent's shins as pay back for slights and snubs.  All of us did it.  And we were all wearing shin guards so pretty much no harm, no foul. 

No this ban because a rousing game could hurt someone's feeeelings reminds me of a Rita Rudner tidbit - that she was an only child and therefore overprotected.  She said her tricycle had seven wheels - and a driver.

                                      Drones banned; helicopter parents welcome.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

Whoops - that was the Indy 500.  Forget I said anything.

Instead, eat nothing from today until the morning of the first Friday in June which will be National Donut Day. 

You will have plenty of opportunities here in California as we boast 680 donut shops.  New York has 476 and Chicago has 340.  We win!  We win!

Granted, it's a dubious honor, but, dammit, it's ours! 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Taking Umbrage at Nomenclature

A new home for indigent American veterans is opening.  This two-story facility provides 480 sq. ft. of  housing per tenant consisting of a bed, dresser, TV, dinette, easy chair, kitchen and closet constructed from shipping containers and is located in Midway City, CA.

The name of this effort is Potters Lane.  I read that and thought they were kidding.  Potters Lane as in Potters Field? 

Potters Field is not a good place to be buried.  They are, one and all, mass graves and have been for a very long time.  Potters used a specific area of land, rich in clay to dig for their works or they did until the high priests of Jerusalem purchased this land  to provide a mass  burial ground for unknown and/or poor people.   From those days to these "potters field" has been used to describe mass graves for the above, because the deceased was too poor to pay for a solitary grave as is customary.

Would you want to live in a development named "Potters Lane"?  As in, "Oh yes, to get to Potters Field, you take Potters Lane and ..."

The American Family Housing USA bunch clearly thinks that vets will just love it and is clucking with glee, shoulders stinging from all the pats on the back they are giving themselves.  The veterans pay $69/month and charities and others pay the remainder - $1,259 - of the monthly rent.  We're talking $1,328 total rent and I have to wonder why the rent for  480 sq. ft. in a town the majority of us has never heard  of prior to today is so high.  You can rent a 1,200 sq. ft. two-story, three bedroom house in Redondo Beach for $1,500. 

American Family Housing USA - I'm lookin' at you ... Non-profit? 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Wedding Rings, Blown Clutches and Book Blurbs

I read that Gregg Allman had died and idly asked Richie if he thought that Cher (former wife #3) would go to the funeral.  I pointed out that if all of his previous wives (7) attended and his five kids, each from a different ex-wife,  the front pew would be a bit of a tight fit for all of them.

Number 7 was actually the resident wife (incumbent?) when Allman fell off of the perch.  They married in 2012 when he was 64 and she was 24.   

I wonder if they all go if the seating will be according to tenure, with Wife #1 on the aisle, Wife #2, second in and so forth. Or the reverse - with #7 on the aisle to better throw herself across the coffin.   This is not an etiquette problem many of us are familiar with as it's rare for a man to have had seven wives.  A woman, no.  You've only to consider the track records - or aisle records - of such as ZsaZsa Gabor and Elizabeth Taylor.  Such virtuous girls - clearly they wouldn't "do it! horror! without a wedding ring. 

There has been a change in scoring for the winner of right now's Indy 500, blasting from TVs near you.  From the LA Times:  Team Penske has four of the top five drivers in the IndyCar standings, has won the last three races of this season, and added two-time Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya to today's line up. 

The thing to shoot for is clearly second.  Don't over-exert yourselves, drivers, a Penske something will win.  Make your best effort and go for it!  Second!  You can do it!  Money talks and bullshit sits by the side of the track with a blown engine.
Very often book publishers do a double by getting quotes from other authors, praising the brand-new book's author and run them on the back cover.  Supposedly, if you like XYZ's books, and XYZ says this is a good read (funny, they never, ever run pans) then you will hotfoot it in to your bookstore and buy a copy. 

Meanwhile XYZ is getting publicity for his/her book by praising yours.  Everybody wins!

My third book - a collection of these columns - will be coming out soon and I want distinguished authors praising it, too.  Trouble is, no one even vaguely well-known has ever heard of me.  So, forced to rely on my own  creativity, see what you think of these ...

"Girrrlll, we could have had some giggles!"  Oscar Wilde  1854-1900

"Kin we tawk?"  Joan Rivers  1933-2014

"You're too nice.  You have to let the rabid, feral you out!"  Rodney Dangerfield  1921-2004

"My writers want a copy of this - can I get a discount?"  Bob Hope  1903-2003

Who's gonna sue?  No one.  They're all dead!  ha ha ha ha

Saturday, May 27, 2017

What Is This "Bromance" ... Nonsense? *

The most recently named bromance partners are Emmanuel Macron, 39, and Justin Trudeau, 45.  The first is the President of France; the other runs Canada. 

Not quite sure what bromance-ville entailed, I looked it up and it is described as:  a close, platonic friendship of love, support and deep affection."  It was first coined in 1990 in a skateboard magazine so you can readily see the absolute relevance of such an expression.  Skateboarders are known far and wide for their compassion for their fellow skaters.  I think.

Unfortunately I am old and old-fashioned because a "romance" means only one thing to me.  It is the mutual admiration of two people interested in finding love that subsequently leads to events that include but are not limited to giving gifts of flowers, candy and jewelry, and  banging like a screen door in a tornado. 

Very well; so much for what I think.  Additionally  I think that older words used to describe friendships make more sense.  "Oh, we're great friends!"  Or "He/she is my best friend!" are much clearer in explaining the relationship. 

There seems to be no set similar expression for women's friendships.  "Womance" sounds wike you can't tawk stwait and "Homance" strikes unpleasantly close to "pimps and hos" in my lexicon. 

O Millenials, we look to you for an explanation.  Oh, that's right - you're too narcissistic to be bothered.  Sorry. 

*  This is not the word I would have used, but AP-style frowns on expletive use in a headline.

Friday, May 26, 2017

A Small But Important Distinction

Memorial Day celebrates the lives of those who died in the military; Veterans Day celebrates those who have and are serving in the military. 

For automotive racing fans - no "double dip" this year.  None of the Indy 500 drivers (as of this writing) are going to run the Indy 500 and then chopper down to compete in the NASCAR Coca Cola 600.  Today, however, is Carburation Day, if you're into that kind of thing. 

Have a great holiday weekend.  Among other things, I am trying to work out the details of a new contest - the Construction Dudes Beauty Pageant.  Only construction workers can enter and am wrestling with should women be excluded?  The majority of dry wallers, plumbers, electricians, roofers are male.  Hmmm... should there be separate gender candidates?  Will the lunatics in the knit pink pussy hats descend on me if I don't?  If more women cared less about their manicures, would there be more female construction workers?  This is already tricky.  Perhaps a bacon-wrapped hot dog, a scoop of potato salad (Richie's is excellent) and a baked bean or two  will ease the trauma of creation.  

Richie's Potato Salad
3 or 4 red potatoes, peeled, diced and cooked.  Drain them and throw them in the serving bowl.  Add splashes of pickled jalapeno "juice" and stir well.  Add sliced black olives,  chopped red onion, chopped pickled jalapeno rings, chopped hot, sweet cherry peppers; mayonnaise to suit with a dot of English mustard optional.  Chill and serve.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Saying "Goodbye" -- Or Not

Yesterday's mention of "the Irish Goodbye" triggered curiosity in me.  I wondered why "French leave" is another way of saying or implying the same thing.  I looked it up and it originally referred to going without "taking leave" of your host.  This is also called "ghosting" and it is a popular way to describe another's quiet departure.

Back in the day ('70s and '80s) my friends and I used "Dixie" to explain that we were about to leave - "Dixie" comes from the old song, "I wish I was in Dixie..."   One of us would look at her watch (or empty glass) and say, "Gotta Dixie."

James Lee Burke, the writer, has a character named Clete Purcell and he is a pistol.  No filters on him at all.  He once filled someone he hated's convertible - the top was down - with a hefty pour of wet concrete.   And he frequently tells Dave Robicheaux, the series hero,  "Time to di di" which I get that it's a reference to an abrupt departure or a recognition that "we've done all we can to destroy this - let's go" I have never heard anyone say it so I have no idea how it's pronounced.  If you know, let me know!  Is it "die die" (as in the quick for diaper) or is it "Deedee" as in the shortened form of Diana or Dina? Inquiring minds want to know.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

These Are Good Luck at a Wedding?

I saw a photo of the "glass tent" imported from Belgium for the reception to celebrate Pippa Middleton's marriage to some wealthy dude no one ever heard of except his social circle.  I found this glass tent more interesting, frankly.  In reality it's an over-sized greenhouse and is reported to have cost $130,000 and was shipped in from Belgium. 

To see more of the glassworker's art, visit  One variety has to be shipped from Shanghai so do plan ahead.  Or adopt much cheaper ways to celebrate.  There are a variety of  ways, based on the country that you live in.  So poke around in the stewpot and extract a morsel that might amuse and occupy your wedding guests.  You certainly don't have to actually be in that country.

Teasing Theft - in India, the bride's oldest unmarried sister steals the groom's shoes.  His family has to pay the ransom to get them back.  If it was my sister I would be suspicious that perhaps shoes weren't all she wanted from my husband.

In Kenya, the bride's father gives her a farewell "good luck!" by spitting on her head and chest.  This strikes me as passive aggressive to a fine degree.   

African-Americans jump over a broom and the one of the pair who leaps higher is believed to be the decision-maker in the following days and years.  Basketball courts do a good business before the wedding.  Or so 'tis said.

In Venezuela and Britain, the happy couple attempts to sneak away from the festivities and this is referred to as an "Irish Goodbye" which is gratuitous insult.  Insults have no place at a happy occasion.

As for German customs there was dissension in the ranks - one side holds that the wedding guests bring china and bash it on the floor at the reception so that the newly-married couple has to work together to clean it up.  Conversely, this is said to be a fun part of a pre-wedding bash.

In Ireland, a bell is rung after each half of the couple makes their vows so as to ward off evil spirits.

In Greece the best man shaves the groom for the ceremony and his ushers/friends help get him dressed in what is believed (there) to be a sign of trust.  But whose trust was not explained.  .  I find this interesting (and certainly odd) on several levels.  According to historical tomes, ancient Greeks weren't all that choosy about with whom they mated.   Any port in a storm, if you will. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Thought

In the wake of the Manchester slaughter, a number of people are fretful that audiences will flee venues that present live performances. 

What if attendees were screened as if they were boarding a plane?  Oh, you say that it would take too long?    Airports handle a great many people per day and the public has (finally) learned that if you want to go, get your butt to the airport well before your flight time.  Can not concert attendees learn the same thing?

Who's going to pay for all of those machines and personnel?  The artist performing.  If they want to rake in the big bucks, let them spend a little for the safety of their fans and pay a rental fee on the venue's investment in screening expenses. 

Too cheap to do it?  Let them Skype their performance to a paying audience who can remain in the relative safety of their homes with their friends.   Tough that a lot of people will see your star turn for free, but ... you didn't want to buy available security eat it.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Elvis Is IN The Building

In an unusual effort to spiff this place up a little bit - very uncharacteristic - we decided to:

Have the wall heaters attended to and that includes removal of the downstairs heater - the heat only goes up the stairs and is useless for the office or more importantly, the bathroom after showering on a wintry day.  Especially the post shower bit.  My kingdom for a toasty bathroom? 

The upstairs wall heater is being replaced with a newer model.  This house was built in 1963 and I think the wall heaters (twins) were installed then.   Re this newer model, I was stunned to learn that they now come with thermostats!  Can you imagine?  You just twist a dial (or something) and the furnace stays at the designated temperature!  No more flying up the stairs to turn it on full blast on those mornings when it's 45 outdoors and 55 inside.  And don't forget to turn on the ceiling fan to blow the heat around. 

This is truly exciting - this automatic heat deal.  You may wonder at our timing though.  Naturally, yesterday it was 75, but today our familiar marine layer is back this morning  as it should be for Gray May and June Gloom when we rarely see the sun. 

Jaimie who runs things at Silva Construction, a firm we've used for 30+ years, called this morning at 7:40 a.m. to tell me that the heating guy will be at the house at 8 a.m. I nearly dropped the phone.  Neither one of us had showered yet.  She said, "You'll like this - his name is Elvis!"  and I replied, "Can't beat a pro football player I knew of - his name was "Elvis Peacock!"    We tittered over that until I noticed it was 15 minutes till touchdown for Elvis and made hasty adieus

As I can do bed-to-street in 15 minutes, I wasn't too worried.  Richie's toilet is considerably longer in its completion, but in this case it didn't matter.  Men can run around in their underwear in front of complete strangers (male, only) and neither ever bats an eyelash.   It's a guy thing - and they're welcome to it.

Elvis showed up promptly and is now removing the downstairs heater.  Much rustling through tool sounds.  And then the security door banged as he went out for more.  I took a peek from the office door and saw that the hall is piled with tool bags and there's a vertical hole in the wall. 

Elvis is a stocky, well-built man of probably early 30s, clearly good-natured and quite affable.  I looked down on his head as he worked from the floor and his black hair is neatly parted and slicked down from the shower-looking.  His mama would be proud.


In answer to yesterday's curiosity as to whether Cher  has adopted wearing underwear, the answer has to be a resounding "No!"  Shots of her in two very revealing costume's at Sunday's Billboard Music Awards clearly proved it beyond any doubt.  I never thought I would say this (okay, write it) but Cher has put on a few (much-needed) pounds!

YES!  Warmth!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Sniggering at Those More Glamorous than Ourselves

Today, Cher celebrates her 71st birthday.  I wondered to Richie if she was finally wearing underwear?  He snorted and turned a page in the Sports section.  He's not big on gossip.

I turned instead to the Daily Mail's breathless coverage of the Pippa Middleton wedding.  She is the younger sister of Kate Middleton, wife to Prince Charles.  Mrs. Middleton can now relax, having gotten both daughters wed.  Son James Middleton while not marching down the aisle himself is said to be in a long-term but off and on relationship with a former child star, presenter and so forth named Donna Air, 37.  Air?  Airwaves?  If that's her real name,  I would be surprised.  Even though I looked to find her birth name and was unsuccessful.  

The other item mentioned but not dwelt on - a profusion of portable portaloos - will decorate grounds of the Middleton mansion for a reception this evening.    I think that while it is certainly accommodating for guests, it's all hysterically funny.  I wonder if they designated ... "Duchesses" or "Princesses" ..on the doors. It's good to know that the great British reverence for titles is flourishing.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Spin Your Wheels But Never Move an Inch

Normally this would be a bad thing.  Wasted effort, precious sweat.  In this case it's considered a good thing - the 5th annual Tour De Pier which is five hours on a stationery bike, parked along the Manhattan Beach Pier.  This is to benefit three anti-cancer establishments, the Hirshberg Foundation (pancreatic,) Uncle Kory (brain) and the Cancer Support Community for everyone. 

Imaginative, no?  There will be 350 stationery bikes holding pride of place on the Pier this Sunday, June 21st, first ride starts at 8:30 a.m. until the last ride at 12:30 p.m. 

"Just a bunch of bikes and people?" you say.  No, tots are invited to enjoy the Cardio Kids Zone where they can ride mini-bikes, enjoy a bounce or three in a Moon bounce.  For adults there is a health and fitness fair  and "healthy" foods.  Both of which sound utterly depressing to me.  I'm not desperate enough to want a kale smoothie, thank you, and I already know I'm fat.   

Foaming at the mouth to participate?   Five hours for $750 per 350 bikes.  It is suggested that groups of five "buy a bike" and divide the riding sessions.

This charity do also benefits Uber, Lyft and local cabs because participants are urged to avail themselves of these -  "Drop me off at the corner of ..."   Want to pedal down on a real bike that actually goes somewhere?  There will be a Bike Valet.

All in all it sounds like just  too much excitement as well as utterly depressing to see Young!  Fit! Hot! people in Spandex and yoga pants and miniscule bikinis pedaling dutifully away. 

If I wanted to be depressed, I'd look at my checking account.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Kudos To A Fellow Writer!

Writers are among the most competitive groups going.  The South Bay Writers Workshop is no less so..  Unfortunately, our competitive-ness is rather limited.  The local newspaper, the Daily Breeze, runs a column called "My Turn" from reader submissions.  No offense, DB, but this is not exactly a Nobel for Fiction or Otherwise level. 

Today, Chris Lynch got it.  Her piece is entitled "Dirty coins and hope add up to big-time fun"

Chris has a great sense of humor, dry and sere as a bone, which often makes things twice as funny. 

What is great from a writer's point of view is that Stephanie Walton, editor, of the column lets writers have a dollop of advertising at the column close.  Chris' book, "Tender Points: a Fibromyalgia Memoir" got a plug and so did we - "and a member of the South Bay Writers Workshop." 

Everybody's happy!  Competition is forgotten in the aura of hope for all the rest of us.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Been to the Toilet Museum Yet?

Oh, no?  Well pull out your frequent flyer miles and see if you have enough to get to Kita-Kyushu, Japan, or Suwan, South Korea, or New Delhi or closer to home, but not the same:  the American Sanitary Plumbing Museum, of Watertown (get it? ha ha) Maine.

America first; I think we can all agree on that ... In the '50s Charles Manoog began collecting antique plumbing items - toilets, sinks, bathtubs and the plumbing required for them.   In 1979, his son Russell renovated an old ice house and turned it into a museum.   One of the pictured toilets particularly intrigued me as it look liked it had been constructed of gray-green Wedgewood.  How stylish is that?  Wedgewood is more commonly used as table china.  Well ... logically from plate to toilet... but ...

In New Delhi, Sulalh's toilets range from 2,500 BC (basically a stone chair with stone walls on three sides) to the present-day Asian babies with warmed seats and a great deal more. 

No less than M.K. Gandhi said, "Sanitation is more important than independence."  The force behind this museum was Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, whose efforts opened up new worlds for the caste previously known as "untouchables."  Apparently, this class was forced to clean the toilets; after his efforts prevailed, they could use them, too. 

The ToTo Museum in Kita-khyushu is a paean to the Toto Plumbing company which traces its history.  For example, their traveling salesmen carried briefcases or suitcases filled with tiny porcelain models of all that was currently on offer.  They had to weigh a ton.  Those salesmen were clearly not weaklings.  Toto today makes a model that uses "electrolyzed water" said to automatically clean and deodorize the bowl. 

Not surprisingly, the leading item of interest to tourists returning to their own homes is:  Japanese toilets.  It's not mandatory to have a degree in engineering to use one, but from what I read, it couldn't hurt.

Suwon, South Korea really took it over the top and here is how.  Former Mayor Sim was born in his mother's parents' toilet.  He lived in a normal house for 30 years, then had it torn down and re-built to look like a white porcelain toilet.  He was celebrating having created the World Toilet Association.  When this toilet house was completed, an overnight stay to raise money for bigger and better, was $50,000.  There were no takers. 

Today the aerial view of the  building shows the resemblance.  Dotted around the grounds are such as a bronze copy of Rodin's "The Thinker."  He is not sitting on a rock if you get my drift.  Other bronze figures include men in the squatting position but whether or not they are thinking is not determinable. 

Another featured exhibit is Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain" which is a white porcelain urinal.  It was sold at auction for $1.2 million. 

All in all these museum sound like they would be a fun visit as they seem to be exceptionally well done.  Still, would it have occurred to you to go visit a toilet museum?  Me either.  We learn something every day if we're paying attention.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Thank You, Anna Jarvis!

Who the hell is Anna Jarvis?  She campaigned for the creation of a day to honor mothers, and she began her campaign in 1908.  She was successful when, in 1914, Mother's Day became an officially-recognized holiday. 

But by 1923, the holiday had become far too commercial for her.  She decried the laziness of the people who were too indolent to write a letter, but bought a greeting card instead.  That commercialization was not what she had had in mind.  So she campaigned against that! 

But clearly she was not successful.  Restaurants, FTD and Hallmark all rub their fingers together greedily when the second Sunday in May rolls around. 

Of note:  today's featured band at the South Bay New Orleans Jazz Club is the ensemble Jazz America, a full orchestra of young people who are learning about New Orleans Jazz and playing it with skill and gusto.  They all do their mothers proud.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Answer This For Me If You Can ...

Today's online news is featuring a story of an eight year old boy who was apparently bullied at school and who two days later hanged himself at home with a man's tie.

Who told an eight year old about suicide?  Who let him see how to do it?    And the ever-popular in sad stories like this:  where were his parents?

"What Fresh Hell Is This?" Dorothy Parker 1893-1967

So often it seems that there are fad news stories.  Most recently airline passenger abuse stories were the rage.  The doctor on a United flight, whopped and dragged off spurred a great many laughs as the quick-witted among us invented airline "slogans" to amuse the rest of us. 

Next up at bat for system abuse was American with the woman who tried to board with something like four kids, an enormous back pack, various suitcases and a stroller the size of a Volkswagen.  The FA, the gate attendant had all told her that the stroller would have to be stowed in the hold.  She refused.  FA grabbed the stroller in anger and apparently nearly clipped the baby with it.  Woman goes batshit nuts and was heard telling another passenger that "I did this two months ago and it was okay!"    Once okay is not always okay.

United:  "Flight attendant made me pee in a cup in front of everyone!" an aggrieved female flyer.  What was left out of the story in most of the press was:  the woman boarded, knowing full well that she had an over-active bladder - in fact, she told the FA that she did.   The seat belt sign was on because the plane was experiencing turbulence.  Airplane toilets do not have seat belts and getting up to minister to this idiot in turbulence is not something FAs like to do despite great medical from AA.

Were she not intelligence-challenged, knowing her medical condition, she would have been wearing a pair of adult diapers. 

By accident, I found an old Website I'd mentioned in a column back in 2009 called  I checked it; still up and running!   You want to hear stories!  The selfish mother; the fat lady who ebbed in a tide of fat into your lap ...

Given the additional chance for sensationalism for poor passengers, tonight starts the major move at LAX for Delta and American and a host of other airlines, many of whom I have never heard.   This is predicted to go on for the next five nights as the entire ground-working staff is shifted  from one side to the other.  "Hundreds" of  volunteer green-jacketed guides are said to be employed to help travelers.  The media has been full of this story.

And we both know, some dingbat will get "confused," get into "a situation" with someone and headlines will trumpet their idiocy for all the rest of us to see.

Stay home and avoid flying in or out of LAX for two weeks if you can possibly do it.  Hell, fly Southwest, they're at the other end of the airport.  You may have to fly to another destination than planned, but factor in the delay and pick a springboard city that will get you to Japan or wherever.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

So Typically Cart Before the Horse

Longtime LA Times columnist Steve Lopez has made a career out of being a gadfly in the public's eye.  He has railed for the public's right to shoreline access vs. Malibu millionaires; followed a homeless man named Nat, a violinist down on his luck and meds and got him rehabilitated to the point where he is more or less self-sufficient.  All good and worthy things. 

Today Lopez took readers to Venice (California) where homelessness is rampant.  He detailed interviews with homeowners and groups seeking to stabilize the non-med-taking crazies who, due to a lack of public bathrooms, defecate and urinate on whatever is handy.  Their make-shift tents block the sidewalks making it difficult for tax-paying residents to make their way around their own neighborhood.

The last two paragraphs are so typically the do-gooder with a warm heart and ice cubes for brains that I feel compelled to quote them. 

"At 3rd and Sunset, team members wondered if this would be the day their persistence paid off and a delusional woman living in a tent would listen to their offer of help.

"She did.  Now the team is trying to line up the best  option and bring her in, as soon as possible, from the streets of Venice."

If this group stole a horse, they would have no idea where to then house it.  They are not real good at having a plan in place or thinking ahead.  Just rush out there and Do Something!  .

Monday, May 8, 2017

Cloud Eggs and Huntsville Prison

A new social media "thing" caught my eye.  It is a breakfast dish called "cloud eggs" and they make a very pretty presentation.  For that reason and probably simplicity of preparation, they had been greeted with roaring enthusiasm.  You know how online can go nuts. 

They were old hat to me.  When we visited my cousin James and his wife George Anne in Huntsville, easily 20 years ago, she made them one morning and I was blown away.  She, however, didn't even have a name for them!  They were just "eggs."

I brought the how-to home and served them as well. 

"Eggs GeorgeAnne"
A toasted, buttered English muffin half per egg per person.
Number of eggs to serve number of people - very carefully separate the eggs and put the yolks gently aside.
Beat the whites as if for a meringue but do not add sugar and carefully apportion on top of the muffins.  Then working very softly, use a spoon to make an indentation in the top of the whites and slide the yolk into it.  Bake at 450 for five minutes and serve.  It's show time!

While in Huntsville, we did a very interesting tour of the Huntsville Prison Museum.  It was then and I think still today a "working" prison.  The museum is, of course, not on the prison grounds. 

Among the exhibits ... "Old Sparky" the electric chair which was in use from 1924 to 1964 and had dispatched 361 death row residents.  Service was not restored (so to speak) until 1982 when lethal injections became the favored means of execution.

The exhibits show the inventiveness and creativity of some of the inmates.  Weapons fashioned from every-day  items included a rubber flip-flop with a swing-out knife concealed in the sole.  The handle of a toothbrush honed down to a formidable point, tableware ditto - until management wised up and used plastic utensils.

If they had applied the same ingenuity to something worthwhile - such as patents - they would never have found themselves in prison. 

The display of restraints used over the years includes a couple of ball and chains - the real deal, not a cartoon about a henpecked hubby.

One of the most poignant exhibits has to be a framed picture of the criminal with a small inset of the victim and the last statement of the condemned and one from the victim's family.  That was an outstanding idea on someone's part.  This exhibit was not in place when we were there.  I wish it had been.  But we did get the mandatory shots of each of us behind bars in a mock-up jail.  As close as I ever want to get to jail.

Sunday, May 7, 2017


Minuit (French for Midnight) died age 14 years, 9 months, Saturday, May 7, 2017.  She lost a gallant fight against feline kidney disease when it suddenly and abruptly accelerated to the point of no return. 

She was adopted from the Yukon Avenue branch of the SPCA along with her Shelter Sister, Streak, also 14 years, but 8 months.  Both were four months old when they came to their permanent home.

Co-owner Nina Murphy remarked, "Of all of our six cats over the years, Minuit was the most patient of them all.  She would sit quietly beside the water bowl or food dish and never make a sound.  She was willing to wait until one or the other of us noticed her.

She was never a vocal cat, unlike some I could mention - Streak, I'm talking to you - but purred readily despite not being a lap cat in no uncertain terms.  She looked down on Streak as a "lap junkie," in fact.

She was the most outgoing in that yes, a knock at the door sent her scurrying under the bed, but unlike them, she would emerge later.  She recognized the voices of two friends - "D" and "Raffish" and would come readily to say hello.   

As a gesture of her gratitude to the Hermosa Animal Hospital, she wanted any unused medicines and the new bag of Kidney Diet dry food returned to the hospital in the event they have less fortunate financially cats whose owners could use them. 

She will be cremated in a private ceremony and interred in a small cedar chest to be stored with the four others containing the remains of previous cats.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Does It Get Any Better Than This? (snicker)

An ex-wife goes after the current occupant on a dance floor at a benefit for a grade school.  Meh, exes get touchy.  That's not what makes this story singular.

The ex - who calls herself DR. Erin Foster - is a therapist who offers relationship advice on "Dating Naked,"  MTV's "Are You The One?" and Dr. Drew Pinsky's talk radio program.  She specializes in relationship advice.  She is the former wife,

The incident took place at a benefit for a local grade school.  Tiffany Barbara, the current wife told the police that she was happily frolicking on the dance floor with a couple of fellow Moms when Dr. Erin grabbed her by the arm and nearly yanked her down onto the dance floor. 

In her request for a restraining order, Tiffany stated that "I was caught completely off-guard.  In that moment, I was terrified that Erin was going to hit me with what she had in her hand."  What she had in her hand was a cell phone which she stuck in Tiffany's face and recorded her while vilifying her verbally.   "She appeared to be intoxicated," said poor Tiffany who was also celebrating her 48th birthday at this private home bash.  Clearly one she'll never forget.

The security guard evicted Erin after she became "belligerent" to him.

J. Peter Barbara, Sr. VP, City National Bank, was apparently unavailable for a quote.   

Dr. Erin Foster will be arraigned in Torrance Court on May 19th on a battery charge. 

And I never did straighten out how many children, if any, each woman had contributed to the marriages. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

From the Social Pages, May 5, 2017

This is Mrs. Moondoggie Climber, reporting to you from divine Redondo Beach, close to the sea but closer to your hearts!  Yes!

It's going to be a very social weekend simply packed with choices!  La, the excitement!

Today is Cinco de Mayo or as the Ragin Cajun slyly calls it "Cinco de Bayou"  - isn't that precious?
Well,  an A for Effort, Raging Person, at trying to lure away long-time residents who wouldn't dream of celebrating anywhere but a Mexican restaurant.  Merciful Heavens.  Or "chinga tu madre" as we say.  I'm not exactly sure what that means, but I hear our gardener using it and he's Mexican so ...

And the restaurant is Las Brisas, 1969 Artesia, Redondo Beach.  If their parking lot is full, we all know when the North Redondo library closes and use their parking lot.  My hubbie, Mr. Adorable and I have been celebrating there for at least 30 years so you know they have something good going on!

I'm just hoping that they cooked up a big batch of their new enticement on their specials menu.  It's been a special for awhile now, but the chef tells me it's so popular that it may come onto the menu!  It's Shrimp in a Chipotl Cream Sauce and it is good ...a mild heat that permeates the shrimp. Mmm mmm!

Tomorrow, Saturday, is the Kentucky Derby with all of its colorful details - the ladies in their finery - la! the hats!  Did you ever except for last year?  They just get more fanciful every year.  Those beautiful gleaming horses in brilliant owner's colors strutting arrogantly around!  "I'm going to win; look at ME!" you can almost hear them saying.   Except, tee hee, we all know horses can't talk!  Wouldn't that be funny if they could?  I'm just giggling to myself, aren't you?

Mr. Adorable and I usually don't go anywhere to watch the Derby; we have a perfectly good TV right here at home.  And anyhow, neither one of us likes those mint juleps.  Imagine a highball class with ice cubes and straight bourbon with a weedy-looking stalk or longish sprig (? what do you call it?) of mint sticking out.  Not very pretty - reminded me of trying to drink compost, you know? - and one will put you on your keister and we don't want that, do we? 

I'm just so mad -  spent 10 minutes this morning trying to find out the contesting horses colors.  And none of the racing sites had pictures!  I love grey horses.  So ghostly and very often so swift.  I think they become kind of invisible to the other horses - isn't that silly?  Oh my yes. 

Well, nothing famous that I know of happening on Sunday.  I guess we'll just have to rest up from all of the fun on Friday and Saturday!  Sounds like a plan, doesn't it?  Have a great Cinco de Mayo, win big at the Derby and just relish it all on Sunday! 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Huh - Who Knew?

If you've had surgery in the past 10 years, you know that the OR is freezing, frozen, icy cold.  And you are wearing a "gown" with all the thick, incredible warming powers of a sheet of newspaper.  If you're still awake when they roll you in and if you're me (unlikely - who'd want to be?) you are going to complain.  Between teeth chatterings.

And then a heavenly being, wearing scrubs for some reason,  appears and covers you with a sheet of plastic.  As you start to bitch about the dubious warming capabilities of said plastic, she hits a switch and the "sheet" morphs into a cloud of bliss as it is inflated with hot air.  "Ahhhh,"you sigh.  "This is better than the first sip of champagne, the warm cozies as you thump your belly after a Thanksgiving dinner ... and quite possibly sex."

And as your muscles relax and your surgery fears dissipate, all is well.  Blissfully you drift off unaware and uncaring if they're going to remove your appendix or do a heart transplant.  You're warm.

What I didn't know until my cousin landed in Loma Linda, Murrietta, is that your hospital room is going to be just as cold as the OR was.  Germologists (?) believe there are fewer chances of infection in a cold temperature than a warm (and humid) one. 

So the "who knew?" is that the nurses bring hot blankets on request.  There is a hot blanket locker on every patient floor in most hospitals. 

There is, however, some sinister reasoning behind this "Oh, you're cold?  Let me get you a warm blanket" on the part of the nurses.  Warm patients don't get out of bed seeking warmth.  They stay there where they can't hurt themselves getting out of bed and stumbling around to find a warm place.  Much less work for the nurses who have to get the patient back to bed and the  housekeeping staff who has to mop up burst IVs and blood.  Every good deed does have a reason behind it.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Getting There - $$$$

It's amazing how one thing can trigger another.  Yesterday I read an article about the new Japanese super train.  It's called the Train Suite Shiki-Hokkaido and takes four days of unbearable passenger  luxury from Tokyo to Hokkaido with various stops.  It is only 10 cars long and the one-way ticket price is $10,000 per person.  There were 33 passengers on the first trip and this train is now sold out until March, 2018.

Yes, well.  The passenger spaces are all suites.  None of this "sit up all night" nonsense.  Each suite is lavishly appointed with glass skylights so that a passenger could stretch out on the bed and watch the clouds roll by after a soak in the suite's hot tub and following massage.   

This is rather dear as train tickets go.  But on the other hand, I once mapped out a trip on the Orient-Express from London to Venice to Paris with an overnighter in Venice which came to $11,000 for both of us.  Economically  much more feasible.  Two of us for one thing.  The long reputation of the Simplon Orient-Express for intrigue, romance, murder - Agatha Christie had a positively wonderful time killing passengers off in "Murder on the Orient-Express" - is very much a draw along with the stylish notes of the '20s and '30s - little lamps on dining tables with beaded fringe threatening your caviar ... incredible service - think it and it is on it's way to you via a beaming steward.  

Train too slow for you jet setters?  Comes now a new service at LAX to ease you onto the plane like a swaddled newborn.  It's called Private Suite LAX and costs $7,500 to become a member and another $$2,700 to bring up to four people with you.  You and your guests are entitled to an eight person crew just for you!  First comes the gate attendant at this secure facility.  He opens the gate and waves you on (assuming you're not wearing a suicide vest,) to another "host" who takes you to your suite where two more personnel are waiting your command - need or want a spa treatment, hair fluff-up, spilled something on yourself?  They will ask your size and roll out a rack of clothing, running shoes, a raincoat if the forecast at your destination has changed and so forth.  At no charge.

At flight time private TSA agents pass you on to the driver of a BMW Series 7 vehicle to drive you across the field to the jet bridge stairs and the door to the plane where the last person loads your bags for you.  Or possibly they double up and the driver brings the bags. 

With sadness in your heart,  you slide into your seat in First with the rest.

What are you mourning?  Your suite might have been a family room with pre-selected, custom toys for any tots traveling with you  or the dog suite with a patio potty.  Given the noise of any airport, I don't doubt the dog will quickly use it.   There is a suite for "mid-East travelers" ("Muslims" to many of us) which is equipped with prayer rugs and all of the booze has been removed. 

It's not over yet.  On arrival you are met and can go straight to the hairdressers or your clothing change is brought to you which is said to be useful for diplomats, people who go straight from plane to event and others who want to get their money's worth. 

Private Suites LAX is a very posh upgrade from similar services such as American's Concierge Key or the Windsor Suite at Heathrow.  Your limo is met curbside by an airline employee who will then whisk you to a door to private TSA for screening and then to this lounge where you can work, nap, shower, eat and drink gratis.  There are phone chargers, a person who has direct contact with your flight.  At the proper time you are escorted to the plane door. 

This no-see'um policy extends on to the plane itself.  Flying to JFK the last time, we got First on a new aircraft and we both hated the seats which were turned to face out of the window, sitter unseen by the Aisle People.   I mentioned this to an FA who said with a shrug, "Our celebrity passengers love it." 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Rules for Writers - Disregarded!

Richie and I attend a Monday morning French Conversation course.  I am fluent; he is learning to be fluent.  He can, of course, make himself understood.  We both enjoy the class and up until today have been there nearly every Monday at 10 a.m. for the class which ends at 11:15 a.m.

Until today.  The facility changed the time for this class and we are now to meet, starting today, at 9 a.m.!

Et moi, je suis grognant.  Je suis un ecrivain et aucun de nous se reveille tot.  C'est ne pas juste!

In the event you do not happen to speak French:  And me, I'm grumbling.  I'm a writer and we do not get up so early.  It's not fair!

I already know that this is a matter of supreme indifference to the facility managers.  (To myself, sotto vocci) Doesn't make it right...

                                                                   "Cinco de Bayou"
by the great people at the Ragin' Cajun, PCH, Redondo Beach

Monday, May 1, 2017

May 1st - Summer's A'Comin'

And here's something you might want to consider as a summer dish -

3 lbs. large tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges
4 large green onions, thinly sliced
2 T chopped fresh parsley

Mix up in a bowl and set aside.

Dressing -
1 cup olive oil - virgin or ... experienced
3/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 T packed brown sugar
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 T oregano - fresh or dried, but use less if dried
1 1/2 teas. thyme - fresh or dried, but use less if dried
1 teas. Tabasco or equivalent
1 teas. finely-grated lemon peel
1 teas. fresh ground black pepper

Put the dressing in a pot and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Stir the warm dressing over the fresh vegetables and chill for at least 4 hours.

Richie found this recipe and I have no idea where as he very carefully cuts out the food part, but never the source.  It would be time saving to use fewer tomatoes, etc. and keep the dressing in the refrigerator for next time. 

It's a little liquid-y for bruschetta, but if you used a slotted spoon to lift out the tomatoes, it might work very well indeed.

I had my doubts when I read the ingredients, but I like it (obviously as am recommending it to you.)

                                                      Happy May Day! 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Protesters! You're Overlooking "A Cause"

Several days ago, I wrote protesting in my own small way that there are very few male mammogram technicians.  Since never criticize without offering a solution is a necessity to me,  I proposed a gentle start-up with gay men, then gradually segue to heterosexual males.  After all, there are a great many male ob/gyns. 

Yesterday it dawned that there are very few female proctologists and the person giving you a colonoscopy is very likely going to be a man, ladies.  This hardly seems right to "the fairer sex."  Having a hose pipe rammed up your backside is a universal event and if the medical world is going to be sexist about mammograms, why not a colonoscopy? 

This is the kind of mature thinking you might find in grade school.  "Don't let anyone see under your bathing suit."    The patient goes to the doctor to present a problem that the patient wants fixed.  The doctor fixes it or not.  No one is getting a thrill from a glimpse of the problem in a delicate area or flashing it either.   Here's a secret, guys - women always wear their best underwear to the ob/gyn.  And no one sees it because:  the nurse hands you a gown and says, "Take off everything, fasten this in the front and Doctor will be right with you."  Doctor comes in and your sexy lingerie is buried under your cast-off clothes and you are wearing a crinkly paper "dress" - that opens down the front.

And, I would add, if you guys think a vaginal exam is sexy in any way (even for fetishists) you are very sadly mistaken.   A wide, cold instrument in a warm, narrow enclosure is not ... pleasant.

So ... in conclusion, women do have the right to consult a female doctor; men a male.  No one could argue with that.  What I feel should be protested is the lack of acceptance for the opposite sex in a procedure or exam that investigates a "delicate area."    A doctor is a doctor. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Happy 125th, Redondo Beach

Redondo was originally a part of a 1785 Rancho San Pedro land grant. By 1890, there were 603 residents and they incorporated on April 29, 1892.  The Chowigna Indians  were their neighbors and they  lived, largely, off of sea bass, lobster, halibut and the salt trade.  The wetlands around the AES power plant were once a salt lake, unconnected to the ocean.  Just a stand-alone lake.

The estimated population in 2015, 123 years later, was 68,000.  My, my, how you have grown!

The ceremonies planned for tomorrow - Saturday - to celebrate this birthday are rather modest.  Ruby's Diner, down by the water has generously offered a part of their parking lot for a display of old cars.  As the old car society routinely meets there, this is not exactly Midas generosity, but still ... a gesture in the right direction.

Then these old cars will be a sort of  a moving display as they are driven leisurely to be part of the excitement at the Queen Anne House and Morrell House Living Museum, located in Dominguez Park on Flagler, between 190th and Beryl Streets.  Of note, there is also a very nice dog park if you'd like to bring yours. 

What surprised me the most was to discover that Wilderness Park, a 10-acre parcel off Knob Hill, was a Nike missile base from 1956 to 1963!    It is a 10-acre parcel, fenced with a gate, concrete pads (formerly rocket launch pads?)  for the barbecue and outdoor chairs, nice shady trees, sunlight grass and a little stream for the kidlets to splash around in.  Ersatz "campers" can spend the night there for a small fee.  . 

Redondo Union High School graduates include Charles Lindbergh, Demi Moore, Tom and Dick Smothers. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

"Our Visiting Guest Chef Tonight Is My Grandma"

Enoteca Maria is an Italian restaurant in Staten Island where there is a rotating roster of Italian grandmothers doing the cooking - their specialties, family comfort food - all of the dishes that kids grew up loving.  And probably don't have the time or energy to recreate them.

It was the brainstorm of owner  Joe Scaravella who set it all up in 2016 after the place had been open for nine years.  Seeing the success of this program he widened it to include other ethnic grandmothers so that today half of the menu is Italian foods and the other half, which seems to change daily is another culture's cuisine.  Example:  Tuesday - Thai dish ____ prepared by _____.  The restaurant has two kitchens which makes it easier to do. 

This success prompted him to start an online book of recipes from nonnas - contributors are invited to provide:  a short bio of the nonna, three photos and one recipe.   "Meh," you shrug?  Each entry is presented in the native language of the donor.

Meanwhile, not to be outdone, the Murphys have a Maria's, too.  Richie's cousin Ruth Ellen married Gianni Giordano, who was the founder of Maria's Pizza, Cape Coral, Florida, which was just presented the Best of Cape Coral 2017 Readers Choice Awards.   Again.

Maria's began as a one picnic table take-out in 1991 and today seats 75 in a brick and mortar restaurant.  Gianni died, age 81.  By then he had been a grandfather several times over and loved nothing better than to cook for them all. 

And while nonnas (grandmothers) are more frequently thought to be the chefs, a word should be said in favor of nonnos like Gianni.  Richie's brother Charlie commented on a family dinner with awe, "The food just kept coming!  That was the most I ever ate in my entire life!  And Gianni cooked it all!"

Put that in your bonnet, grannie.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Don't Build a Bomb Shelter Yet

Curious about the distance between Korea and America, I looked it up as can you.

From South Korea to the square made of MO, KS,OK and AR is 6,442 miles.  A plane flying 560 mph will take 11.5 hours to get there.

Even if the missile was flying twice as fast, it would still take something like six hours to arrive and surely someone's radar would notice it. 

Don't let the media knot up your knickers.   Remember:  "If it bleeds, it leads."

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Me and Al Pacino Made It Through Another Year - and Lesser News

Both of us were born April 25, 1940.  He arrived in Manhattan; I debuted at Axtel General  Hospital, Harvey County, Newton, KS. and got out of Kansas as soon as it was feasible and possible. 

It is fun to Google your "zodiac twin" and I recommend it for a rainy afternoon's amusement.

He's 5 ft. 7 in., I am (now) 5 ft. 5 In.  He married twice - from 1988 to 1989; and again from 1997 to 2003.  I married in 1983.  He has fathered three children;  happily we never had any.  He began working as an actor in 1965; I started my illustrious career in 1958.  His Social Security payments are no doubt a great deal more than mine.  But I bet his squeeze didn't do what mine did - he handed me my yogurt this morning with a birthday candle stuck in the middle, blazing away.

And we both made it through another year.  Here's lookin' at you in 2018, Al!

Comment:  It wasn't raining this afternoon, but I discovered that my zodiac twin is Jennifer Anniston ... puke.  Matt

A misleading headline
The Daily Mail did it again.  They headlined a story about the double executions yesterday in Arkansas?  Alabama?  to make it look like both were dispatched on the same gurney!  An interesting idea for  prison economics.  Stack'em up!  All they need is an arm sticking out of the pile ... 

In the real world as opposed to the land of journalistic excesses, let's set the record straight.  One's doors were blown off at 7:20 p.m.; the other didn't depart until 10:33 p.m.

Although I must say the gurney looked reasonably roomy; certainly spacious enough with a little crowding  but, hey! who cares? 

The London restaurant that serves only airplane food. 
But briefly - this pop-up was open today and closes tomorrow.  Air New Zealand in an attempt to get ink, put together a space with airline seats and trays for ambience and the menu is from their flight menus. 

From England to New Zealand is a popular route and Air NZ's competition is the excellent Qantas (has never crashed.)  Management was smart enough to cull some interesting data:  one in five passengers say that bad food is the worst thing about flying;  one in four say airplane food is worse than that served in hospitals or schools.  Admittedly, this is a pretty low bar to tackle.

Since only one diner (on the ground) was quoted as to what he'd eaten (lamb with minty peas, braised lettuce with bacon lard-ons and salt-roasted crushed potatoes) I went to their listed menus online.

Premium Steerage (jumped-up coach) where breakfast might be (there is no surety on a plane; you're a prisoner, remember?) the following:  Scrambled eggs with pork apple sausages, creamed spinach and tomato relish, hot cakes with spiced plum compote, yogurt and vanilla syrup. 

Up in Business, the dinner starter was seared venison filet, kumara crisps (kumara is a sweet potato there) red onion, smoked chili and "micro herbs." 

If this is the sort of thing that is meant to entice the pax into spending a great deal of money for a very long flight from almost anywhere to New Zealand ... God bless them for trying.  The rest of us?  Pack a picnic hamper to dine and swill down all of the free wine possible. Get your money's worth somehow.