Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Welcome, Baby Girl!

A big shout out to Melissa and Tim McCullough who welcomed first baby Skylar Rose, 7 lbs. 2 oz, 18 in. long on June 28, 2010. Tim is the youngest son of Red and Barbara McCullough and Miss Skylar is that couple's sixth grandchild.

Two Different Men

Andre Agassiz, tennis; John Waters, semi-porn. Both have books out ...

"Open" by Agassiz (with J.R. Moehringer) Alfred A. Knopf 386 paes $28.95

"Role Models" by Waters Farrar, Straus & Giroux 304 pages $25

Agassiz recounts a Dickensian childhood with an extremely motivated father (You will be the best!) and Waters refers often to his lovely mother and her shock and then acceptance of some of his didoes.

Agassiz is straight; Waters is gay. Agassiz's marriage to Steffi Graf and their two children have made him blissfully happy. Waters wants no part of "romance" or an ongoing relationship.

Agassiz finds beauty in a perfect serve; Waters in his avant-garde art collection. He's a Cy Twombley fan. Yes, well ... having seen some of his works at the De Menil, Houston, I'm not.

Waters has a great sense of the ridiculous; Agassiz tries. He remarked, "My entourage is thinning faster than my hair!" and of an opponent that he was going to beat him like a whipping with a car antenna.

Waters advocates social lawlessness; Agassiz, busted when traces of meth were found in his urine, lied and said he'd mistakenly drunk from a friend's soft drink.

If you want a blow-by-blow description of backstage at Wimbledon et al; go to Andre. If you want to go backstage in Baltimore - it's bawdy and fun! Waters' world is not that of most of the rest of us and refreshing for all of that as he brings a child's unchallenging acceptance of an adult's world.

Monday, June 28, 2010

'50s Flashback!

Russian Spies! Eleven of them! Codes, disappearing ink, orange bag exchanges, panel vans passing cybercafes at the exact second for transmissions!

I'm howling! There is virtually nothing Russia couldn't find out about us online! How hysterically funny is this? These have to be pensioners who at some time (1945?) were of some use to Russia.

Slow news day - for Drudge and the BBC... so, actually, a good day, no?

The Big Cheese

Not the Big Apple -- though it's said to be good on slices of apple, nectarines, strawberries or on scones, waffles, pancakes or ginger snaps.

It's Meyer Lemon Quark cheese and we bought it at the Torrance Farmer's Market. Meyer lemons are sweeter than regular lemons and "quark" is the German version of cream cheese.

This was produced from Jersey cows at the Springhill Cheese company, Petaluma, CA. Their Web site is for a more comprehensive look at their various products.

I asked the vendor if, by chance, they make a Brillat-Savarin (my very favorite) and he wasn't familiar with it. I told him it's a triple cream with a faint citrus back taste and he promptly reached into an iced counter display box and held up the Quark. (Which sounds faintly pornographic, now that I look at it.)

It definitely has a sweet taste and I think of most cheeses as faintly sour (Gouda, Edam) or very creamy (Brie) so it's a different taste. We tried a daub of it on a strawberry and ... eh. I think a slice of fresh peach would work a lot better. Different kinds of sweetness... One pound, shipped, is listed at $6; ours, bought at the Farmers Market, was $5.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bob's 4th Sally Across the Printed Page

"The World In a Jug; the Lore of New Orleans and Dixiland Jazz" by Robert F. Brodsky, PhD. Foxbro Press 235 pages

Bob could probably write engagingly about the whales' songs and their lifestyles. Here he tackles a subject that is not quite that immense, but just as interesting. Rather than "laundry list" writing of Greatest Songs or Greatest (name your instrument here,) he takes on the history of the genre, what has happened since it flamed across Southern skies to now going sadly downhill due to a general lack of interest from younger generations.

Leafing idly through it (as I would with any new book) I came to a bit of information that startled me greatly. Many of my generation remember "The House of th Rising Sun" by Brit band The Animals. Pause... you can hear it in your mind...

The origins of this folk song are unknown, but the first recording of it was in 1937. But get this! The lyrics were written for a female singer! Random verse samples: "It's been the ruin of many a poor girl, and me, O God, for one." "Go tell my baby sister, never do like I have done; to shun that house in New Orleans they call the Rising Sun."

Food for thought indeed!

I loved some of the performers' names -- who on your e-mail list is named: Irving Fazola? Peanuts Hucko? "Sweet Emma" Barrett? Trixi Smith? Hot Lips Page? "Slow Drag" Pavagneau?

A suggestion that the South may rise again ... "I'd druther drink muddy water, Lawd, sleep in a hollow log than to be a way up here in Noo Yawk, treated lak' a dirty dog."

But get this! The lyrics

Saturday, June 26, 2010

All Things World Cup Soccer!

In the few moments I've spent watching World Cup soccer, I have been amazed and amused at the shoes worn by some of the players. They are a Day-Glo orange or green or yellow and look like Crocs. When the herd decides to run to the other end of the pasture - er, field - it looks like a mad rush of glow-worms, hunching their backs, desperate to get there!

Where did they get these shoes? Why? Since several teams are wearing them, it wasn't an "exclusive" things. Determined to get to the bottom of this, I googled. Through my travels online (albeit armchair mode) I came across this Web site -- -- which offered (for sale, of course) anything any fan could ever desire. Scarves, badges, socks, team shirts, bookmarks, and -- well, more. Much more.

Shoes were listed by brand, individual style (color photo) with a column on the left showing the names and country flags of every player wearing that particular brand AND style. If you click on the player's country flag, their entire career appears! Talk about an anal approach to selling!

I ran across countries I'd never heard of, let alone teams! Give me a shout out, Chicago Fire team fans!

While they last, Vuvuzelas (seven colors!) are available for $7.99 each.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Shameless Bragging

Today's Daily Breeze ran my Letter to the Editor as the LETTER OF THE DAY today! (If they'd just run it as usual, I wouldn't mention it. In fact I didn't even see it - printed at the top of the column in a light grey, until a friend pointed it out. It would never occur to me to expect that.) (and then click on Letters) or

Dissecting Poetry or The Way It Should Be Printed

I really think I'd like poetry better if it were written in the form I'm accustomed to seeing -- full sentences, with commas and periods. This must be 8 lines is confusing when it need not be. So for our edification, here is the way Lord George Gordon Byron's poem should have been written for maximum understanding.

When We Two Parted
When we two parted in silence and tears, half broken-hearted to sever for years.
Pale grew thy cheek and cold, colder thy kiss.
Truly, that hour foretold sorrow to this.

The dew of the morning sunk chill on my brow.
It felt like the warning of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken and light is thy fame; I hear thy name spoken and share in its shame.

They name thee before me, a knell to mine ear -- a shudder comes o'er me...Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee, who knew thee so well -- long, long I shall rue thee too deeply to tell.

In secret we met - in silence I grieve that thy heart could forget, thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee, after long years, how should I greet thee?
With silence and tears.

NOTE: This lovely poem should not be attributed to the feelings of John Edwards and Rielle Hunter nor Eliot Spitzer and his squeeze. Or their wives for that matter.

#575! Champagne all around!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Translating Poetry

Hah! And you thought a previous column on poetry was a one off. I am not a poetry fan; have never been to a coffee house "poetry slam" (whatever that might be) and have no desire to go to one. But there are some poems that linger in my mind. Today's was written by Thomas Wyatt (1503 - 1542) which is a long time ago. Perhaps emotions were clearer back in those days.

But today's poem could as easily be named as "The Aging Movie/Rock Star's Lament" or "An Old Politician Reminisces." Good poetry translates to today.

They Flee From Me
They flee from me that sometime did me seek
With naked foot, stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle, tame and meek,
That now are wild and do not remember
That sometimes they put themself in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range,
Busily seeking with a continued change.

Thanked be fortune it hath been otherwise
Twenty times better; but once in special
In thin array after a pleasant guise,
When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall
And she caught in her arms long and small;
Therewithall sweetly did me kiss
And softly said, "Dear Heart, how like you this?"

It was no dream; I lay broad waking.
But all is turned through my gentleness
Into a strange fashion of forsaking;
And I have leave to go of her goodness,
And she also, to use newfangledness.
But since that I so kindly am served
I would fain know what she hath deserved...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"Non" Is the Most Important Word in the French Language

When the French soccer team refused to practice in protest against a change in the team's set-up, I laughed. This is such typical French behavior that I couldn't do anything else.

The French are a proud, haughty people. ("Cranky as weasels" someone said.) They will pout or curl a lip at small insults, but if you really annoy them, they will go on strike.

"La greve" (the strike) is the time-honored method for getting your way in France. At any hour of the day or night, you may be sure that some group, somewhere in France, is planning, having, mediating or ending a strike.

The Shortest French Strike On Record
Michelle, Richie and I were at Orly, ready to fly to Marseilles for Sunday lunch at her sister's house. As we were all flying non-rev, we missed the 9, 10 and 11 a.m. flights. "I hope my sister's not making a souffle," Michelle worried.

At noon, our group was called. With anticipation (for the lunch -- in France, Sunday lunch is the equivalent of an American Thanksgiving dinner) we surged forward.

Only to come to a dead halt when the PA system came crackling on and a disembodied voice reported, "The baggage handlers have just gone on strike, all flights are cancelled." Dejectedly, we turned to look for a phone to call our hostess, when the PA came back on and the voice said, "The baggage handlers have ended their strike." This particular strike lasted 30 seconds, if that.

Working Around the Strikers
On another visit to Michelle, we got up and wandered sleepily into the kitchen where Michelle greeted us with this news -- "My beau-pere (father-in-law) just called -- he heard on the radio just now that all of the museum guides in Paris are on strike -- so no Louvre today."

She thought a moment and then triumphantly said, "I know! We'll drive to Giverney and see Monet's house and studio! It's outside of Paris!" So we did. In a pouring rainstorm.

So, for the French soccer team to go on strike was just another day in French bad behavior history. All you can do is laugh and say, "Mais, c'est si vrai francaise!" (But it's so very French.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer Flavors From Bon Appetit

I've developed a new interest in The Wedge (having tasted all of the local Caesar salads.) It's a wedge of iceberg lettuce with a creamy dressing, scattered with bacon bits, hardboiled egg bits (sometimes) and chopped tomatoes. Bon Appetit shot theirs using loose leaves of romaine and that sounded good. Here's their dressing recipe:

Using 1 T of leftover bacon fat, add 1 garlic clove and saute that. Then add 1 T mayonnaise and 1 1/2 T white wine vinegar -- warning: the vinegar will hiss in the pan so stand back after adding it. whisk this together, let it cool a bit and dress your salad. I think you're supposed to fish the garlic clove out, but they didn't mention it.

The "Root Beer Baked Beans" caught my eye because the recipe uses white kidney beans. All the baked beans I've ever eaten ( a not inconsiderable amount) were brown. Anyhow:

4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1 in. pieces
3 1/2 cups chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced (I'd use 4)
4 15-oz. cans white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups root beer
3 T apple vinegar
3 T light molasses
2 T tomato paste (would use chipotle in adobe tomato sauce for some heat)
2 T Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teas. chili powder (I'd use 1 1/2 T...)
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre heat the oven to 400 and cook the bacon in a big pot. Take it out, drain it and then saute the onions in the leftover fat. Add the garlic. Put all the rest of the ingredients in your pot, including the bacon and bake it uncovered for 30 minutes or until the liquid thickens.

Ah, barbecue sauce... I'm too lazy to compose my own -- too many ingredients. Too much "a dab of this, a dribble of that" - I'm more slap-bang. But for those with a lot more ambition and energy than I've got -- have at it!

1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup bourbon (reserve the rest of the bottle for the cook)
3 T brown sugar
3 T light molasses
3 T apple cider vinegar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T soy sauce
1 T Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teas. liquid smoke
1 teas. onion pwoder
1 teas. garlic powder
1/2 teas. crushed red pepper
1/2 teas. freshly-ground pepper

Put everything ina sauce pan big enough to hold and boil it over medium heat for a minute or two. Then simmer it until the sauce is reduced about 10 minutes. You should wind up with about two cups of sauce.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Poetry Appreciation Days

Admittedly, I am not a fan of modern-day poetry. I like "the old guys" -- William Blake, 1757 to 1900; Sir Thomas Wyatt, 1503 to 1542; and (God help me) Lord George (Gordon) Bryon, 1788 to 1824.

This first poem has such a galloping, pounding cadence, that I don't think you can read it aloud or silently without getting into it.

The Tiger
Tiger, Tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame (i.e. make) thy fearful symmetry?

......... Omitting several verses to get to the punch line

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

If I gave it much thought, I'd think that the writer is questioning God's versatility in creation. How could He make a gentle creature and a wild one... Actually, a good question!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

"A man's errors are his portals of discovery" James Joyce, Irish poet (1882-1941)

Sunday morning jump start -- a triple onion bagel. One onion bagel, split and toasted; add onion-chive cream cheese, top with chopped red onion -- bon appetit!

Summer lemonade -- take a champagne glass, fill it one-third full with Italian limoncello, fill with prosecco. Drink in moderation; I think two of these would put your derriere firmly on the floor.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Northbound on the 405

Richie spotted it first -- a white sedan with bright pink lettering: "Kiss Jail Goodbye! Lipstick Bail Bonds"

I had a sudden and unusually brilliant idea (for me) ... Why don't we form a Bullhorn Brigade and, using bullhorns purchased at Radio Shack (est. price $25,) when we spot a driver using a cellphone, we put it to our lips and bellow, "Turn that phone off!" or, alternatively, 'Hang up!"
A disembodied voice -- God perhaps? -- telling you to hang up? Priceless

Help Me Out Here...

Why do some people scream, "Our team won! Let's go set somebody else's car on fire!" What kind of culture promotes setting fire to someone else's property? Or deciding to graffiti every wall in sight? This is a "celebration"?

Nice old WASPs like moi might say a polite "Well done!" but we don't reach for the matches...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Psychic or Wacko? You Decide

"Psychic, My Life in Two Worlds" by Sylvia Browne Harper One 242 pages $25.99

Browne is a NY Times bestselling author who has appeared regularly on The Montel Willams Show and Larry King Live (doubtful in his case; he looks dead to me.) More sinisterly, she is the founder of a church she calls Society of Novus Spiritus which will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2011.

Browne, whose grandmother was psychic and whose mother was psychotic (meth abuser) had her first vision as a mere child. She was thrilled when her second son, aged four, replied when asked who he'd been - "A cowboy" and went on to describe his own death of a gunshot wound to the stomach. And, well, would you believe?! Right after he told his mamma that, his stomach aches jes' went right away!

Browne explains that Spirits are those who made it Home (or the other side;) ghosts are those that cannot accept "The Light" and go over. She has to tell the ghost he/she is, in fact, dead and follow the light! Spirits are kindly and ghosts are not.

She believes she has a Spirit Guide ("Francine") and that we all have Guardian Angels. She attributes all of the above to God, saying that her gift as a psychic, age regression specialist, hypnotist, ghost hunter and church founder are all God's work. She swears she would never believe anything in the spiritual world without a very close examination.

She has an amusing style ... describing the birth of her first son on Father's Day, she remarks that her husband probably would have appreciated a riding lawnmower more. To date, she is enjoying marital bliss with her fourth husband, "the love of my life."

My professonal opinion (based on the fact that my 8th grade book report was on Freud's Interpretation of Dreams) is that she is bat-shit crazy, but a functioing nut case even so. And a very funny author if you can wade through the nonsense about angels, spirits and what not.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Will Rogers, A Man of the People

These are views shot yesterday at the Will Rogers Museum and Polo Field. The grounds are located off of west Sunset, in Pacific Palisades. There is no admission other than the $12 per car parking cost. Seniors pay $11.
In reading his information, I was startled to find that he'd once worked with Texas Jack's Wild West Circus, Texas Jack being an extremely distant relation of mine.
Rogers began his notable career as a trick roper, and then noticing that audiences reacted very favorably to his repartee, over time, he lost the horse and the roping in his act and simply appeared on stage, twirling a short rope. His witticisms have been widely published and quoted; too many for this space.
Today, polo is still played on his field - weekends mostly -- and it is extremely enjoyable to pack a picnic lunch of tiny cucumber sandwiches, cheese and pate and crackers and a thermos or two of Pimm's Cup and watch the games. Gentlemen: Dockers and polo shirt inside your pants; boat shoes, no socks; Ladies: filmy, flowery frou frous and a big hat.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

This'n That

What a Good Idea Instead of opening a can of cream of mushroom/chicken soup that so many recipes call for (well, they do around here) make your own white sauce. It's nearly as quick as opening a can and laboriously scraping out the contents. And with less salt, always a good thing.

4 T butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of white pepper
1 cup milk OR chicken OR beef bouillon

Melt butter, stir in flour, add pepper, pour in liquid and stir until smooth.

Variations - saute 1 cup sliced mushrooms in butter, add the flour and use beef bouillon instead of milk.

From The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever" by Beatrice Ojakangas Chronicle Books 640 pages $24.95

New and Good at Trader Joe's Disclaimer: I am not a professional shill for Trader Joe's. I go in one, select items, take them to the cash register and pay in full for them.

Sweet Chili Sauce -- it's a thick, viscous blend of chilies and garlic. It's sweet rather than hot and you can pour it directly over a bar of cream cheese for "Instant Delilah Sauce."

Inside-Out Carrot Cake Cookies. These are sandwich style- like Oreos - but much bigger and thicker. Dense with raisins, carrot shreds and rolled oats (they had to be to hold together) they have a faint, flour-y back taste. They're also a whopping 290 calories per cookie! Still, that beats what? 1,200 calories for a slice of carrot cake?

Trader Giotto's Fettucine Alfredo The bag felt lumpy when I took it out of the freezer, but I just figured the pasta had frozen in clumps. Not so! The "clumps" were little nests of pasta; the sauce looked like pats of pale butter. Easy to make -- put 2 T water in a skillet, add the pasta and the sauce pats and cook for four or five minutes.

Figuring you could take out the amount you needed and put the bag back for next time, I removed three nests and three pats and cooked them. Last night I decided to polish it off and you wouldn't believe the number of pats that were left over! (Talk about creamy!) Best to cook it all and just stow the leftovers in the refrigerator.

Sunderland Follies I'm glad, of course, that young Abby was rescued, but she never should have been there in the first place. Dad -- the Great Sailor -- sends her off, knowing that by the time she gets there, it'll be bad weather in the Indian Ocean. Mom cries, "We're broke!" and yet, she's days away from giving birth to the couple's eighth (8th) child. Calling Child Protection Services! Paging Planned Parenthood!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Summer Shoes

Check'em out in the profile section of this blog...I think they're a little flashy myself, but there they are.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Medical Musings

You never realise during the day how many times you stoop/bend over until your back goes out.

Prescription drugs are a 50/50 bet -- half the time they cure you; half the time they make you sicker than you were.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Day of Culture

Today we picked up Pat (Brodsky) at 11:45 a.m. and motored stately towards the Tin Roof Bistro, Manhattan Beach (previously reviewed.) Pat looked terrifyingly chic in dark gray slacks and top and a crisp white pique jacket. I looked like a moving (but nevertheless suave) section of the desert in tan pants, cream top and khaki sweater tied casually around my neck. Richie looked clean.

We were seated and Pat ordered a chardonnay, me a pinot grigio and Richie a white ale. We perused the menu, chatting lazily among ourselves.

Pat ordered and was delighted with her spicy tuna spring wrap with wasabi-ginger sauce. I bit the curiosity bullet and ordered the Pizza Blanco with prosciutto, garlic, mozzarella, fontina, parmesan and balsamic syrup. I'd been too fearful to try it previously and had discarded it in favor of crab cakes or the soup, half sandwich, small salad combo. The syrup put it over the top, but when I reheat the leftovers am going to crisp (if possible) the prosciutto. Richie had a Simmzy hamburger.

After finishing our drinks in a languid fashion, we drove to the Hermosa Beach Art Wallk, situatied on the rolling grass sward of the lawn next to the Community Center. Many small white tents dotted the landscape, each filled with art treasures (I'm being nice here.)

I did see an oil painting I liked of what looked like a very modern rooster to me. The artist, a nice man, said it was titled "Amazon Bird" and that it was $400. I liked it and said so, but indicated that $400 was mor than I wanted to pay (by about $300.) He quickly said, "I'll give you a good deal -- $350!" "With frame?" I shot back. "With frame," and he nodded. I said I'd get back to him.

We sat in a children's art booth that wasn't doing any business, but that had the only chairs around until the Hyperion Outfall Serenaders came on stage and began playing historically correct Dixieland jazz. We paid our respects to the band (whom we know) ((I mock booby flashed them) and went home.

Thus we covered it all -- Fine Dining, Art, Music Appreciation and Nice Clothes. A very cultural day. Four for four, one might say.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Funny Lady

"Video Slut - How I Shoved Madonna Off an Olympic High Dive; Got Prince into a Pair of Tiny Purple Woolen Underpants, Ran Away from Michael Jackson's Dad and Got a Waterfall to Flow Backard so I COULD BRING ROCK VIDEOS TO THE MASSES" by Sharon Oreck Faber & Faber 241 pages $16

The title pretty much spells out the contents... Oreck co-owned the production company, O Productions, from 1986 to 2000. During that time, she won a Grammy, two Women in Film awards, several MTV awards and an Academy Award nomination.

Her writing style is funny, wry and I enjoyed the book. Random selections: "Although Prince could sing really, really loud, he liked to speak really, really softly, so softly, in fact, that the collective table had to shut its mouth, hold its breah and lean forward just to hear him at all." (during a planning meeting.)

At 16, she had a sexual encounter that resulted in a pregnancy. Her horrified parents (denizons of Palos Verdes) told her there was no question of her keeping the baby, and put her into the Florence Crittenden Home for unwed mothers. (She did keep her baby boy "the fattest white infant born at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in 1972." ) An illuminating passage from that time: "My parents, on the other hand, would come by on Sundays to remind me that I was a useless, worthless guttersnipe who would never amount to anything in any way whatsoever. In this vein, they had developed a plan for my futue. I would spend one year being ashamed, after which I could rehearse being contrite. Then, I could devote the rest of my life to the good of our country by becoming a minimum-wage Information Operator for the Bell Telephone Company!"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Cook Book for Men

I say this because Rocco Dispirito's book is laid out in workmanlike fashion. Every recipe also lists the ingredients needed by where to find them -- the deli, fresh foods and vegetables and staples that you already have. A drawing of thepan(s) needed to cook the dish is below that. If that isn't man-designed, I don't know what is. Photos show the right way to dice vegetables, peel an avocado, etc.

He has quite a few recipes and he divided them into "eat healthy," "holiday," and throws in a wine guide for free.

I opened the book at random and this recipe appeared:

Grocery List:

Fresh - 1 1/2 lbs. chicken, 1 head of brocccoli

Packaged: Two 8.8 oz. packages Uncle Ben's Long Grain White Ready Rice
12 oz. can of Coco Lopez
4 oz. container of pickled ginger

Staples - toasted sesame oil, cayenne pepper, soy sauce

Tool: large, cast-iron skillet

Heat the rice in the pouch according to package directions.
Heat 2 T of sesame oil in the skillet. Season the chicken and cook it until it's done. Take chicken out of pan and set aside.
Add 1 T sesame oil to the skillet and add the broccoli. Stir fry it.
Add the Coco Lopez and cayenne to the pan and simmer. Stir until this sauce thickens and the broccoli is tender.
Add 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup pickled ginger and stir. Serve the chicken and sauce over a bed of rice.

"Rocco Gets Real" by Rocco Dispirito Meredith Books 227 pages plus index $19.95

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Red Alert

A friend sent me the Website and I advise you to put your name in and see what pops up. You may be as suprised as I was. And it wasn't a good surprise. Not at all.

The Rib Report

When we visited my cousin Robert in South Texas, he made dinner one night. His idea of an appetizer was a full rack of baby back ribs that he barbecued under the broiler of his restaurant-quality stove. They were delicious and since I knew they would be, I carefully watched how he did it.

First he dry-rubbed the raw meat with his own recipe dry rub. Then it went into the oven, meat side down and after awhile, he flipped them over and continued cooking them. When they had browned, he pulled them out of the oven, slathered them with his recipe bbq sauce and put them back under the broiler. He kept an eye on them and pulled them out before the sugar in the sauce started to burn.

The other night I did the same. But I did it wrong because I didn't estimate the time it takes to cook ribs -- next to the bone takes the longest! Since I'd never used the "broil" feature of our stove, I was dismayed to discover there isn't one, so I cranked 'er up to 500 degrees and carried on.

I should have started around 4 p.m., not nearly 6 p.m. I had put in a call to Robert earlier about how long they needed to cook, but he didn't get back to until later. When he did, he told me to wrap the finished ribs in aluminum foil and leave them in the oven for an hour.

Doing that would have meant dinner at 9 p.m. so I didn't have that luxury. They weren't that good. We dispiritedly ate a couple of them and in a snit, I put the ribs and pan back in the still very hot oven and slammed the door. "Sit there all night! See if I care!"

Next day they were just fine! I now know that I need to either start them much earlier in the day or make them the day ahead, re-heat them and serve them.

Here's the dry rub I use from a book called "Hot Stuff"(author unknown.) Keep the dry rub in a container near the stove as it works well with chicken and pork.

Mix together
2 T white sugar
2 T brown sugar
2 T cumin
2 T New Mexican chili powder
2 T fresh black pepper
1 T cayenne pepper
4 T paprika
optional: 1 teas. Habanero chili powder

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Delightful Book

"Behind Palace Doors, My Service as the Queen Mother's Equerry" by Major Colin Burgess with Paul Carter. John Blake Publishing 272 pages $14.95

The Queen Mum's equerries are taken from among the Irish Guards (a tradition) whose period of service as an equerry is two years. That way she had a continually revolving set of men in the house, something she vastly enjoyed. Her two butlers, Willian (aka "Backstairs Billy") and Reg (Wilcox) were enjoyably gay -- friendly, amusing, quick with a quip and absolutely devoted to their charge.

Burgess was 26 when he started his stint in 1994; she was then (probably) 92. Burgess skips around a lot about her age, referring to her variously as 92, 94.

The whole book has a fond memories feel about it and clearly she is someone who is deeply missed for a variety of reasons. Prince Charles (a frequent visitor) described her as the best grandmother anyone could have. His and Andrews problems with their wives disturbed her so much that she would not allow their names spoken in her presence. I particularly enjoyed Burgess' comments on her grandchildren -- Andrew is quite clearly a horse's ass.

It's been rumored that the Queen Mum liked her drink, but Burgess says she was in no way an alcoholic. He described her drinking day: Noon - a gin and Dubonnet (two parts Dubonnet to one part gin). Lunch launched her and her guests into the red wine and very occasionally a glass of port at the end of lunch. At 6 p.m., she would slyly ask Burgess, "Are we at the witching hour yet?" She liked gin martinis - lemon rind rubbed round the glass rim, fill glass with gin and set down. Pour one capful of vermouth and hold the cap carefully over the gin to "absorb the vermouth" but do not add any vermouth. She always had pink Veuve Cliquot champagne with dinner. (Woman after my own heart...)

She was also very funny. To Noel Coward as they ascended a flight of stairs lined with handsome Guardsmen (whom he was not so discreetly eyeing) "I wouldn't if I were you, Noel, they count them before they put them out."

Monday, June 7, 2010

Put Up or Shut Up

Now's your chance to put your money where your mouth is. The Primaries' vote is tomorrow, June 8th.

We just finished the Memorial Day weekend where we honored our fallen military. These men and women fought -- and died -- so that we could keep the freedoms that we have. There is no better way to honor our military dead than to vote.

Women: listen up! You weren't allowed to vote in an election until August 26, 1920 -- 89 years ago -- with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. I know living people who are 89 years old! That's how recent an event getting the vote for women occurred.

If you're 18, go to the polls and vote! You can take your cell phone with you! You won't miss out on a thing!

California residents are especially lax when it comes to voting -- in the 2009 Special Election the voter turnout was a palty 28.40% -- out of 17,153,012 people!

If you feel smug and think to yourself, "Well I'm an activist; I forwarded that petition about so-and-so/such-and-such" think again. Online, eletronic petitions are worthless. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: a genuine petition requires that you print your name, sign your name and put down your mailing address. So don't send me any more of the damned things! And that includes you, Mr. Indy (Andy Granitelli.)

The polls are open (in California) from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. You have a full 12 hours to get your fanny into a booth and VOTE! Remember: you don't get to complain about politicians UNLESS you voted. Go -- do the right thing.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Fair Art

Hermosa Beach Fiesta 3 prints for $25 (artist's signature unreadable)

Rooster painted by Tyler Barry, oil $50
Jazz Musicians, print by Clarence Stubblefield $35
Palos Verdes Inlet by Trudy Wessels, oil $40 (framing $110.47)
Working with photographs is a right pain... sort it out; I know you can do it.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Comes Der Revolution

"For the Royal Table; Dining at the Palace" by Kathryn Jones Royal Collection Publications 120 pages $14.95

The book is lavishly illustrated - photos, drawings, paintings -- but the subject matter would make any good anarchist foam at the mouth with indignation. The book purports to look at nearly 500 years of royal dining. Food fashions and styles have certainly changed during that time. Queen Victoria routinely served 12 to 14-course banquets; Queen Eliazabeth II serves four -- fish, meat, pudding (dessert) and fresh fruit. Windsor Castle banquets take place on a table that is 175 ft. long, made by slapping together 68 leaves of Cuban mahogany to provide seating for 160 guests.

It takes two days of preparation before the event. The gilt silver must come out of climate-controlled storage for a polish. The Grand Service consists of: 15 tureens, 20 sauce boats, 140 dishes, 288 dinner places, 118 salt dishes, 12 ice pails, 58 elaborate dessert stands and 107 candelabra. Every piece is taken apart, washed and cleaned with soft brushes, then dried and polished with soft clothes. You may be wondring how you take a plate apart, but this is a reference to the "tall stuff" the dessert stands and candelabra.

Over 1,000 glasses are used at each banquet because each guest gets six glasses -- one each for champagne, white wine, red wine, port and water. When it's time for the toasts, yet another champagne glass is proffered to the guest.

In the Buckingham Palace ballroom there are two enormous buffets, both laden with glittering tablewear -- 17th century candle sconces, tankards, huge platters, jeweled cups -- a pirate's treasure trove...

Ah, comes der revolution...

Friday, June 4, 2010

To Go or Not...

Next weekend - Sat. 6/12 and Sunday, 6/13 the Hermosa Beach Art Walk will be held at the corner of PCH and Pier Avenue -- look for lots of white tents -- on the lawn of the HB Community Arts building. Both days it opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m.

The Hyperion Outfall Serenaders will perform, starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday. As we know and like the band members and their Dixieland music, we must go.

But I know that I will not be able to resist strolling through the art works on display. And the odds are pretty good that I'll buy something. Last year I was beguiled by a rooster on a very green, grassy background. It's a small oil - 5 1/2 in. x 5 1/2 in. - and I couldn't resist it because the artist, Tyler Barry wrote on the back of the frame: "This rooster I saw at the golf course at Moana Kea. He had one eye and just hung out." Right away I had a whole mental picture of the entire scene. Golf balls and all. I still love it and enjoy seeing it on the hall wall. The artist asked $50 for it; I paid it. And the check cleared!

I wonder if Tyler Barry will be back... hmmm...

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Rest in peace, Blanche. Rue McClanahan is dead at age 76, of a massive stroke. The report said she had had a minor stroke earlier in the year after by-pass surgery.

Jackie Collins Newest
"Poor Little Bitch Girl" by Collins St. Martin's Press 472 pages $26.99

I've always been a fan of hers because the situations and characters in her books have been so over-the-top. Perfect escapism reading. The "Lucky" series was particularly entertaining.

But this one fell far short of my excited expectations. The characters are one note (happy-go-lucky billionaire; spoiled daughter of a pair of movie stars) and the plot line is thin and has some glaring logic flaws. The "brilliant attorney" is far too defensive about her sex life 'way too often.

Still, who am I to criticize an author who has 26 NY Times bestsellers; has sold more than 400 million books in 40 countries to her credit? No one, that's who.

Richie Gets Irate

This morning Himself handed me a sheet of paper and said, 'Here's my letter to the editor." This, incidentally, is traditional here -- I go from wife to secretary in a heartbeat. I said, "Which paper?" and he grandly stated, "The Daily Breeze, the LA Times and Newsweek!"

"Dear Sirs:
Suppose NASA spent a little more time and money on inner space (underwater) rather than on outer space. We might have a better read on how to stop the Gulf-BP oil spill -- not to mention being able to recover the Air France "black box" deep in the Atlantic, off the coast of Brazil.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

All The Troubles in the World

Oil slicks and activists howling for BP heads, primaries coming up so TV is sated with ads. .The line 'I'm so-and-so and I approved this message" seems rather senseless to me. Nev. Senator Harry Reid said of the primaries, "I have no idea who will be my opponent. I don't vote in the Republican primary so I don't study it very much." Dis-missed!

Pro and con Arizona's new law -- by the way, every law officer in this country is mandated to stop, examine and detain, if necessary, any person exhibiting threatening behaviors. It was just assumed by libertarians that Arizona cops would begin racial profiling. As my old Daddy would say, "Don't holler until you're hurt."

I have to wonder when Tipper Gore paused in her search and destroy mission on obscene lyrics to look up and discover husband Al is a jerk...

A thought for all of the above:
"Only the man who finds everything wrong and expects it to get worse is thought to have a clear brain." John Kenneth Galbraith, American economist (1908-2006) (Cynics rule!)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Fine New Find

We ambled through the exhibits at last weekend's Hermosa Beach Fiesta. One booth beckoned with offerings of a sauce over cream cheese on a Wheat Thin cracker. Several varieties of the sauce were offered - blueberry, strawberry - but I chose peach.

Before I'd swallowed it, I had my billfold out and bought a jar ($6.) It's just hot enough that you know you've got something good in your mouth, but the heat is softened by the sweet fruit taste. I would describe it as "perky."

Diane's Sweet Heat Habamero Jam. McKinley, Ca "Where the redwoods meet the sea" 707-839-2919

Owner Diane Hunt says that 20 years ago, she and her best friend didn't have a lot of money for Christmas gifts so they whipped up a big bunch of jalapeno jam and put it in little jars as gifts. People loved it! And kept loving it so in 2007 she went commercial with it.

This is certainly a kissin' cousin to Jezebel Sauce. Refrigerators all over the South have a jar of it in the refrigerator in case of unexpected company. It can be slapped down on a brick of cream cheese in a heartbeat. "And get the crackers, will you, hon?" During the Cajun rage fueled by Paul Prudhomme, I used to make Jezebel Sauce. In the event that you want to try it --

1 10-oz. jar of pineapple preserves
1 10-oz. jar of apple jelly
1/3 cup horseradish -- straight, not creamed
1/4 cup dry mustard
2 teas. white pepper
Mix thoroughly and keep in a jar in the refrigerator.

For any statistitions in the room, yesterday was my 550th blog.