Monday, February 28, 2011

Dishing Our Local Industry (the movies)

There are two schools of thought re gossiping - my Mother's "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" and Alice Roosevelt Longworth's "If you can't say anything nice, come here and sit by me." You've been warned...

The Oscars
Boring Acceptance Speeches
I don't care if you love your wife. It's really totally unimportant to everyone in the viewing audience except your wife. Is this what it takes to get back in your house when this thing is over with? An extremely public declaration of your devotion? And, by the way, what did your wonderful, marvelous kids do to get you this award? Not throw up on your costume? Get a grip, Academy and start the get-off-of-the-stage music when this phrase gives evidence of appearing.

Billy Crystal was really funny. Anne Hathaway and what's his name weren't. That's how much of an impression he made on me; I can't even remember his name this morning. Their opening sequence was totally confusing and just so preciously "inside" Hollywood as in, "Look! look! I'm going to mug adorably for you!" "Bite me" was my overwhelming reaction.

Say What?
It was a great shock to my nervous system to see the leader of the free world, President Obama, at the Oscars. He wanted to tell us that his favorite film song is "As Time Goes By" from "Casablanca." I hope that taping this bit of trivia didn't cut into his gala "Salute to Motown" dinner dance at the White House... while Egypt, Libya and most of the Arabic world went up in flames...

Charlie Sheen is clearly rabid and needs to be contained before he bites one of us. He's a danger to himself/others which is clear grounds for a mandatory 72-hour intensive mental examination of his craziness. Surely, among his retinue there must be one person who is stout-hearted enough to call the cops on him. Instead, when he is dead, the crocodile tears will flow and everyone will just be so gosh-danged sorry about "his demons" etc. (Mel Gibson is another wing nut, so same applies to him. ) Just ask yourself: What would John Wayne think of antics like this?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Truly Funny Writer

"Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady" by Florence King St. Martin's Press 278 pages $13.95 (paperback)

Hers is a dry, understated wit and all the more welcome for that. Her father was English (East End docks, London,) her mother a Virginian, but the greatest Virginian of them all was her grandmother. Granny was determined to bring Florence up as a "perfect Southern lady" unlike her tomboyish daughter. To say these people are eccentric is understatement.

Granny is a lady because the silver is polished weekly (while dirty dishes are piled in the sink as the dust balls grow and grow.) When Florence was born, Granny insisted on coming to help out. She never left! Herbert (father) and Louise (mother) simply accepted the fact that "Granny is here." Friends and neighbors brought Granny items of clothing -- a corset here, a dress there -- until she was fullly moved in.

Herb was a nightclub musician and avid reader. Here he describes a high-pitched female: "That woman has a voice just like a castrated Irish tenor!" According to the writer, Southern women of that time spent a great deal of time talking about such as weird pregnancies and cravings, uteruses falling right out of the owner's body and so on. Herb called it "The Ovariad."

Louise, for her part, was just as funny in a different way. While watching the movie "Anna Karenina," she was heard to cheer, "Oh boy, here comes the train!" When Louise and Florence were walking home on a bitterly cold day, Florence whined that she was cold. "Get under my coat and walk with me," said Mamma. And she did until, unable to see all that well, she tripped and fell mouth down on the curb. The blow knocked all of her front teeth out. When Herb got home (at 2 a.m. from his dance band job) he asked if she'd taken Florence to the dentist. And Mamma roared, "If she doesn't have any goddamn teeth, why does she need a goddamn dentist?!"

Just an accounting of their daily lives might be funny, but when you throw in Southern expressions and customs, three generations of hard-headed women and one very calm man, you have a very good read ahead of you.

Florince did wind up something of a lady though. She said, "No matter which sex I went to bed with, I never smoked in the street." Neither did her mother who positively flew from park to park while tending her baby girl so as to perch on a bench and smoke her head off. She wasn't on the street!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Extreme Makeover - In the Living Room


Ta-Dah! The Sofa Secret, 1219 S, Pacific Coast Hwy, Redondo Beach, CA 90277 310-0100

Friday, February 25, 2011

Preppies Forever!

"True Prep; It's a Whole New Old World" by Lisa Birnbach with Chip Kidd Alfred A. Knopf 248 pages $19.95

Birnbach wrote "The Official Preppy Handbook" back in, I believe, the '80s. Lotta water under the bridge since then. New subjects need to be addressed and Birnbach tackles them.

Essentially "a preppy" is an East Coast, moneyed, pampered type with a good education. (Great emphasis is put on one's school.) Preppies are first cousins to London's Sloan Rangers.

There have been some major changes since the languid days of "Tennis, anyone?" Rehabs are rated with Betty Ford barely topping Hazeldon. Been in the slammer for the past couple of years? Now you're out and, uh, how do you explain your absence? Sample replies: "Been exploring in the Amazon for a pharmaceutical company" or "I entered a religious retreat."

Martha Stewart inspired gourds and grasses centerprieces; Julia Child made them seek out "exotic" foods (i.e. from anywhere but America.) Here's a canape recipe:

1 slice Kraft single-slice sharp Cheddar, cellophane removed.
1 shot glass
1 box Ritz crackers

Put the cheese on a clean, flat surface, make rounds with the shot glass and put them on Ritz crackers. You're done; pass the wine!

Good manners now include instructions on using cell phones and texting. Needless to say, sexting is never done! Thank you notes are still mandatory; but for smaller things/events, it's possible to e-mail your gratitude.

Second marriages (and third and fourth) are prevalent, often resulting in "blended families" - his, hers, ours. If you are child caught up in that mess, True Prep says, "This person is a replacement spouse, but not a replacement parent" which struck me by the practicality of this thought. I tend to think of preppies as dumb rather than that insightful.

Some milestones in preppy history:
October 16, 1982 Williams College ends maid service in the dorms
January, 1983 The first J. Crew catalog comes out!

Basically, the genuine preppy has no need for this book. His parents, their parents and he himself wouldn't know any other life style. Flying coach, having shabby furniture in the beach house, fraying shirts -- that's normal! This book is just a peek at preppy life for us peons.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


It's "Juan Good Choice" -- we saw his truck again today. Sorry for any confusion my error may have caused.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Political Inside Information
Recently the Democrats in the Indiana and Wisconsin Houses fled their respective states because they refused to debate and vote on certain measures.

I read that when they fled to another state, the Governor had to be a Democrat -- otherwise they would be arrested and returned to their respective states. How clubby is that?

The cravens who fled were elected to do their jobs in the House. To run is really cowardly and it destroys voter confidence. They can't handle their job? Then what are they doing there? They should be removed from office.

Local Entrepreneur
We often pass a parked panel truck emblazend: Juan Good Deal Painting. I think that is clever and wryly funny at the same time.

Plan D
This is the Medicare supplement we were all urged to buy some years ago. Much against my will, Richie made me do it. The first year it was $28/month. Yesterday I wrote a check for $40 for it. Yes, upscaling themselves. This morning I paid $135 for a prescription and if Plan D doesn't cover it, color them gone. They've ripped me off for too long.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Our Small Planet

As previously mentioned, our neighbors John and Angie have a now-three months+ old baby. Angie's mom came from Christchurch, NZ, where she lives to meet her first grandchild and to help with the baby. I'll call her "Helen" to make following this story easier.

On Sunday, "Helen" went with us and "Raffish" to Ports O Call for the champagne brunch and the free harbor tour which at this time of the year is a whale watch with the stout little boat going out beyond the breakwater in search of our huge friends. "Helen" was like a little kid, running back and forth across the deck at every cry of "Thar she blows!" Clearly, she was enjoying herself.

But then ... Monday the 6.3 earthquake hit Christchurch. Next door didn't know about it (yes, a three month old baby can distract three fully-grown adults) until I e'd them about it.

And then ... "Helen's" youngest son turned up missing. He hadn't called his Dad (who also lives in Christchurch) which was unusual behavior on his part. His cell phone rang and rang; no answer. All were worried until about 3:15 a.m. here, they learned he was safe via Facebook of all things! His cousin had found him. He and his girlfriend are now at Dad's.

From a news report sent us by a good friend, I learned that there is a "ring of fire" that runs from Chile, up to Alaska and then on into the Pacific. There are some 14,000 earthquakes per year in this "ring of fire" but only about 150 of them are felt by the residents. Of those, fewer than 10 do major damage. Still, 150 earthquakes in a 365 day year -- you do the math. I'll be moving.

When I told this tale to my sister, she wrote back that there are all kinds of ironies and she cited growing up during the Cold War (we hated the Russians, youngsters) and then, much later, hosting a Russian couple in her house! Her husband's work took him frequently to Russia and he became friendly with a Russian guy he met through business. Today the two men stay in touch via computer. Jim types in English, the computer translates it into Russian for the other guy and vice-versa. How cool is that? Michelle would probably appreciate it if I used it when I e her in French. But I'm not going to do that. Perfect French would startle her far too much.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Beach Scenes

All photos by Richie Murphy

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Living History

"Wait for Me!" by Deborah Mitford, Duchesse of Devonshire
Farrar, Straus and Giroux 345 pages $28

She is the last of the seven Mitford children as well as having been the youngest. Her older sisters were Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity and Jessica. Brother Tom was killed in WW2.

You may be the most familiar with Nancy Mitford, who wrote screamingly funny novels that tweaked her family ("Muv" and "Farve") and society habits of the times. These books are so hilarious that 60 years later, they are still immensely popular. Unity developed an unhealthy enthusiasm for Hitler (!) and when it was clear he was outbound, she tried to commit suicide by a pistol shot to her brain. She wasn't instantly successful, but did die years later, having suffered brain damage all of that time. Jessica wrote the scathing indictment of American funeral customs.

The Dowager Duchesse now, Deborah will be 91 on March 31, 2011. A partial list of people she ran with: "Uncle Harry" aka Harold McMillan, Prince Aly Khan, Nancy Astor, Adele Astaire, Charles, Prince of Wales (nothing about Diana or Camilla) President Kennedy and indeed the entire Kennedy family.

This "I was there and this is what I saw" sort of book intrigues me and I think of it as a last chance to hear what went on rather than read the history books. Why yes! I am shallow enough to enjoy the human (read "gossip") side of things!

When her late husband, Andrew, succeeded to the family title, he decided to restore "Chatsworth" the family estate. He turned over the planning and decoration to the Mrs. Clearly she has made a real cottage industry out of the place -- guided tours, gift shop, tea room, educational programs, as well as eight books on various Chatsworth themes.

But at 90, the good Duchesse is no match for our own Joyce who is 93 this very day. Happy birthday, Joyce! See you Thursday! I want to hear how you ended this latest short story.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Back to Wok! (pun)

Enough with the frivolity -- speculations about The Prince's motives ("It's all for sale! Visit my Website!") talking to or about animals. This site is supposed to be about food, so let us take up our cudgels and get back to work.

"Steam Kitchen" by Jade Hair Tuttle Publishing 160 colorful pages -- tools, food and her family $27.95

You can visit for more, including how to use a wok, tongs instead of chopsticks to fish things out of the heat of the wok, but for now, a "Hah! Trader Joe! I don't need yer stinkin' shrimp apps!"

Spring roll wrappers
Chili sauce of your choice

Cut the wrappers in half diagonally and "butter" one side with the chili sauce. Peel the shrimp up to the tail and make a couple of slits in the inside curve of thes shrimp -- you want them to lie flat. Roll the prawn tightly in the wrapper and deep fat fry them.

Trader Joe's are healthier because they're baked, but a chintzy spritz of Pam (or equivalent) and then baking them might work just as well on the do-it-yourself-ers.

I was delighted to find this because I love The Elephant Bar's garlic noodles. They're offered as a side for something like $4 which is a good price. I ate a lot of my serving and still had enough leftover for dinner for both of us the next night as "the starch." Now I can save $4 (gleefullly)

7 oz. dry egg noodles, cooked and set aside
3 T butter
1/2 cup chopped green onions
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 T brown sugar
1 teas. soy sauce
1 T osyter sauce

Melt the butter in your wok, saute the garlic and green onions. Add the soy, osyter sauces and brown sugar, stirring well. Add the noodles and toss in the sauce over a medium heat.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Continuing Saga of Zsa Zsa and Her Prince

Wherein a sinister note slips in...

A week or so ago, I read that The Prince was putting the couple's Beverly Hills home up for sale. He claimed it was now too big for them. Price? $28 million. If memory serves correctly, she bought the house, time passed, she married him. I could easily be wrong. Tour the house at Frankly the Astro-turfed patio is looking a little ... tired.

Most recently (i.e. yesterday) I read that The Prince is now putting up all 14 of her fur coats at auction. He expects the sale to generate some $600,000 (before taxes, of course. You know that The Prince would hurry to pay those first.) He claims the storage fee of $1,200 -- whether per month or year is unclear, because different articles quote both -- is just too much.

He went on to say, "The storage doesn't make sense because my wife isn't going to wear them again."

He later backpedaled and said, "The dotors say she'll never get out of bed again."

He said that Gabor quit wearing them after PETA convinced her it was wrong to wear fur.

The Prince says he needs money as he has paid $200,000 in medical bills and the expenses continue to mount as she now needs 24 hour care.

It is known (via the media, of course) that Gabor's only child, daughter Francesca, is at odds with The Prince. I'm not a lawyer, but -- what if The Prince is converting as many assets as he can get his hands on into cash and planning a rather long sojourn in Rio? No matter what her Last Will and Testament might order, if most of the assets are in Rio, what difference does The Will make?

Francesa! Quick! Steal his passport and hide it in a very safe place!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Best in Show - Westminster Kennel Club

Richie was taping it, but we couldn't tear ourselves away from watching it live until nearly "Jeopardy" time. I wonder if our fascination stems from having seen "Best of Show," a hilarious movie on this same subject.

I felt sorry for some of the dogs when I considered their handlers. Most of the women were "of a certain age" and most of them looked like battleships! The thrusting prow of the bosom; the tightly corseted beam. The dogs have been groomed to within an inch of their lives -- only to be towed around an arena by fat ladies! How pitiful is that?

The judges, of course, know the most superior things in dogs so 'ray for the Scottish deerhound. I prefer the sleeker breeds, the Doberman Pinschers, the "ghost dogs" (Weimerainers.) The black cocker spaniel made me laugh out loud every time I saw him trot. I thought of flapping rags in a car wash.


No surprise - Las Vegas sport books are encouraging people to bet on the live contestants or on "Watson," the IBM computer. Tonight is the last night and the last chance for the humans. "Watson" wiped the floor with them last night.

In a way, we are watching a certain kind of history being made. Considering all of the Twittering et al going on, I have to wonder if the day will come when a human will buy a "Watson" just for friendship.

Good Sandwich

I made this yesterday and liked it so much I had another one for lunch today. Cut a chunk of baguette suitable to your appetite, cut it in half and toast it. When I cut mine in half I also cut out the big section of dough underneath the crust.

When your bread is toasted, slather the bottom half with Coleman's mustard and the top half with mayonnaise. Carefully lay in white meat chicken, pepperoni and a slice of red onion. Mash the top down on the sandwich and eat it. Um, um, good.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Mr. Watson, come here I need you."

The above are Edison's words as he spoke into his new invention - the telephone. Naturally I thought that's why IBM named their super-computer "Watson." It's a type of servant and it speaks. (We all heard it on "Jeopardy" last night.)

I was wrong. A little research turned up the fact that the computer was created in the Thomas J. Watson Research Center. This Watson was one of the three original fuondrs of IBM. Born in 1878 (people barely had telephones) and died, aged 82, in 1956. Completion took four years and 25 scientists.

"Watson" and two live, all-time Jeopardy winners competed last night. It was riveting. Frankly, I thought Watson was a little slow on the buzzer a couple of times...The good news is that the competition continues tonight and tomorrow night.

Best In Show
Tonight is the televised "Best in Show" segment of the Westminster Kennel Club. Out here it's on channel USA; I have no idea where it may be in your area. Oh, tickets? one day, general admission $40; two days $75 and reserved seating was $130.

Monday, February 14, 2011

"Talk to the Animals"

"Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk" by David Sedaris 159 pages (in a small book with thick paper) $21.99

I'd seen this catchy title several times in book reviews and ads. Then the book popped up at our library so I checked it out. I was wary of David because his rotten sister Amy had written so very badly and so much about herself (and nothing else.)

David, however, is nothing like his narcissist sister. He can actually write and in a coherent fashion. All of the stories are about animals. Some of the chapter headings: "The Motherless Bear" who brings disaster upon herself. "The Faithful Setter" who has an indifferent wife. "The Sick Rat and the Healthy Rat" -someone gets a major comeuppance. Plus 13 more.

Sedaris chief weapons are sarcasm, irony, revenge, jealousy and love.

And speaking of love, A HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY TO YOU!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chef Reechard/Ricardo

Richie has a wonderful habit that I encourage and urge other spouses to do the same. He loves to browse cookbooks and when he finds something that appeals to him, he cooks it! Lately, he's been obssessed with his idol Jacque Pepin, but I sense a change in the wind ... last night he cooked an Italian main dish and a French side dish. With no further ado ...

1 T chopped garlic
1 T chopped, fresh rosemary
1 T chopped fresh thyme
1 T chopped fresh marjoram
1/2 T chopped fresh sage
1 1/2 T chopped, fresh parsley
4 (3/4 in thick) pork shops
1/4 cup flour
3 T olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 T cornstarch mixed with 2 T chicken stock

Heap the spices on a cutting board and chop to fine. Press this mixture into both sides of the chops and let them sit for at least an hour.
After the hour is up, take them and dust them with flour, brushing off any extra.
Cook the chops and set aside. Empty the frying pan of oil, put it back on "high" and add the wine, stirring up any browned bits - cook until it is reduced by 1/2. Add the chicken stock and return it to a boil. Take the pan off and put in the cornstarch mixture, then put it back on the burner and stir for 30 seconds. Season to taste and serve over the chops.
(courtesy of "Nick Stellino's Glorious Italian Cooking")

2 T sweet butter
2 T olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
10-12 small potatoes, white or red, peeled and thinly sliced.
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 T freshley chopped parsley

Heat 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil, add the onions and cook until carmelized. Set them aside.
In the same skillet, add the rest of the butter and olive oil and cook the potatoes in batches until browned on both sides.
Add the onions to the potatoes, add the broth and cook on high for 2 minutes with the pan lid on. Uncover the pan and cook until the liquid is reduced by 3/4ths - about 3 minutes longer.
Take it off the heat, add in the parsley and pepper to taste.
(courtesy Williams-Sonoma "French")

Saturday, February 12, 2011


"Star Island" by Carl Hiaasen Alfred A. Knopf 337 amusing pages $26.95

Hiaasen has brought back some old friends in this whimsical novel. Skink, the eco-terrorist and former Governor of Florida still lives in the mangrove swamp, surviving on fortuitious road kill. Chemo, the very tall, very repulsive-looking man, lost half of his left arm to a barracuda attack. He replaced it with a custom-made weed whacker. In this book, he's been hired to bodyguard a spoiled, no brain, alcoholic druggie "singer" named Cherry Pye. Think Lindsay Lohan, Brittany Spears...

Pye's parents can't control their daughter so they hire a body double for those times when "Our Star" is in rehab (again.) It's a marvelous story of mishandled kidnappings and told with Hiaasen's usual joie de vivre. He's lighter on the eco-save pedal, too, and that helps. He used to go on for pages about various land developments, etc.

"The World of Gloria Vanderbilt" by Wendy Goodman Abrams, New York 213 picture-drenched pages $40

Vanderbilt is now 86 and in her lifetime, she has always lived like a princess financially, but like the scullery maid as far as family affection was concerned. To escape her mothe and her aunt, she married Pat DiCiccio at 17. He beat her; the marriage didn't last long. Next she married famed conductor Leopold Stowkoski. He ws 62, some 40 years older than she was. That marriage ended in divorce. Then she married Wyatt Cooper from whence sprang Anderson Cooper, newscaster. He once said, "I'm glad my last name isn't Vanderbilt."

She and her relatives ived in houses that were grandiose -- a full city block in Manhattan, enormous "cottages" at Newport, RI, and "farms" with acres of land, extensive stables, and so forth. It is a world that is pretty much inconceivable today.

At first I thought the book was a vanity publication to flatter an old lady before she dies (which it certainly is) but now I realize it's an accounting of what used to be by someone who was there. It's a valuable, if somewhat checkered, history.

Friday, February 11, 2011

This Just In! (Breathlessly)

Just in time for Valentine's Day! The Brooklyn Zoo is offering a unique Valentine's Day gift. For a donation of $10, they will name a Madagascar stinging cockroach for your sweetie. Zoo Director Jim Breheny remarked, "Flowers die, chocolate melts, but a cockroach is forever!"

Travel Tips

Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel is apparently a magazine and Budget invited me to subscribe. In the invite, they also threw in a brochure on "25 travel tips that save you money and change your travel life for the better." Here are some of them, edited and amended by me.

Want to take your golf clubs, skis, tennis bag to your destination? Don't use a company that specializes in shipping, go to FedEx or UPS on your own. Budget says you'll save as much as 50 per cent.

Try Costco for discount tickets to Disneyland, et al.

Tour operators that offer air fare and cruise ships or tours use charter plane companies, such as Vacation Express, Funjet or Apple. If the charter plane isn't full, they'll gladly accept you and they don't charge as much as the bigger airlines. To see if it's true, I went to the Funjet site and was told in small print that they'd picked a Jet Blue flight for me and then proceeded to list a bunch of Las Vegas hotels. is a better bet.

If you've got an early morning flight, look into the Park and Fly packages offered by hotels near the airport. A lot of hotels include free parking for the days you'll be gone and in the end, it will be cheaper than an airport parking lot.

Always rent the cheapest car the agency offers. If they run out of them, they'll be forced to upgrade you for free. But: if they've got plenty of them, you're stuck with the cheapy.

When you do get a rental car, walk all the way around it and if you spot anything amiss, take a picture of it in case you get charged with having cause the ding or whatever. I'd add take a look at the interior, too. Missing floor mat, ripped upholstery. We had to resort to this in Cabo when the local Avis guy tried to hit us up for a 3,000 peso dent that we didn't do. He also offered to forget all about it for $100 under the table. Happily we had the proof. What a weasel.

At some car agencies (Hertz) the agent walks around the vehicle with you and makes notes on a double pad about any damage and gives you a copy of the report then and there.

Keep your vacation photos on a back-up flash drive. At your destination, buy a key ring with a tag that will identify the place -- one with an Eiffel Tower, or the nested Russian dolls, Aloha from Hawaii --and when you get home and store them, you can easily find the one you want.

Make a color copy of your pertinent passport information and store it in your suitcase. Newer passports come with a small tag with your passport number on it to store in your billfold.

I'd add that Richie always takes a sheet of paper, writes our names and home address and cell phone number plus all of our flights with dates and times. If your bag goes astray, whoever handles it will know where it should go. next.

If you're flying to any destination in Europe, it makes sense to fly into London and then use a regional airline like Ryanair, Easyjet or Wizz. It's cheaper.

As Roy Rogers would tell you -- "Happy trails to yew...."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Evil, Dreaded Thing

Yesterday Richie handed me my mail and said, 'There's bad news in there." He was right. "You are summoned to appear for jury service..."

After I vented by cursing in imaginative and forceful words, sufficient to qualify me as a Marine Drill Inspector, I calmed enough to look for a get out of jail card somewhere on the form.

And I found it. If you are under 70 and physcially incapable of serving, your doctor fills out a section of the summons and you are free as a lark. If you are 70 or older, you can fill out the medical part and name whatever condition you might have that renders you incapable of jury duty.

I thought about all of my doctors and which one would be willing to lie. Sadly, the answer was "None of them."

But, wait! I have an ace up my sleeve! Our dear, dear friend "Raffish" IS a medical doctor. More importantly, he is a gentle soul, placid and suggestable... particularly after a good dinner with lots of the appropriate wines.

I would even be kind enough to dictate it for him: "My patient is mentally deranged to the point that I am seriously considering institutionalizing her. She is physically violent as she imagines she is a karate black belt. She is delusional; she has instructed me to call her "Carla Bruni-Sarkozy." Her reasoning? She speaks French. You can see what I'm dealing with here and she is the last person you would want on a jury now or in the foreseeable future." Something like that should be quite effective.

But as I actually am 70,. using a doctor isn't going to work. In fact, using one might raise suspicions on the part of the bailiffs or whoever the hellish person is that has drawn my name three times in five years. Never right after I've done it and am not required to go.

As it happens, the problem I had has returned. I'd gamble that "viral radiculitis of the femoral iliac nerve" would be too long and too complicated for Them to look up or bother with.

The problem is: I simply can't get up the nerve to do it. It's not a lie in that I do have the above problem, but that it's so disabling that I can't drive to the courthouse or sit or stand for long periods is certainly not true. I do all of the above on a daily basis.

See you March 29th at the Torrance Courthouse. Unless, of course, I break a leg on March 28th...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Elegant Presentation in an Unlikely Place

We had dinner last night at Las Brisas (1969 Artesia, RB.) Las Brisas has been in business for 30 years and for 29 of those years, we've been eating there. To explain the following:
Me: "Who's the bartender tonight?" to our waiter.
Him: "I guess that's me."
Me: "Can you make a dirty martini, up? You know, the one with extra olive juice? (He looks puzzled) "Not olive oil! The juice from a jar of olives."
Him: "Sure."
Me: "Okay! Show me whatchu got!"

Five minutes later, he re-appeared bearing a small tray. He carefully put down a drink napkin, then set the martini, up, on it and lastly a shot glass half-filled with a murky liquid and a cocktail pick with two small olives. Suavely, he said, "Extra olive juice for your drink."

How cool was that!?

I am quietly proud of a new Personal Best. I got all the way through chips and salsa, drinks and dinner without getting any salsa on my glaringly-white sweater.

"Angelina" by Andrew Morton St. Martins Pres 328 pages $26.99

About what you'd expect. Morton has an irritating writing style which I would describe as "Now, now, dear - Andrew knows best." He "explains" why she is the way she is (abandonment issues) without having consulted any shrinks who may have treated her (and who wouldn't co-operate anyhow due to client privacy laws.) Basically the "book" is a re-hash of magazine articles through the years.

The Sartorialist" by Scott Schuman Penguin Books 512 pages $25

This book is really interesting to me (as a former freelance photojournalist.) It's a collection of shots of ordinary people, shot on the streets of New York, Paris, Milan, etc.

These shots originated on his Website which is about style in people. I can recommend it both as an excellent collection of shots, well worth studying by the amateur photog as well as a "real" look at fashion on the streets and not on the runways.

Incidentally, this is post # 777.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Maybe He Wants To Be A Queen

Hosni Mubarak is 82 years old and has ruled for the past 29 years.
Queen Elizabeth II is 84 years old and has ruled for the past 57 years.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Have A Great Super Bowl!

Drudge Report ran a photo of the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders (appropos of what I do not know) and I have to wonder -- why such big belts to hold up so very little?

If you drink, don't drive. Just eat a lot of guacamole instead.


I think it's hysterical that the announcers are wearing suits and ties. Gentlemen, football is a brutal sport and dressing up like you're going to your office is not going to change that. It just makes you look clueless. Designer sweats would be a better idea...

I hope Christina Aguilar has a butcher's license because she absolutely killed our national anthem. Why is it that the singer awarded this honor nearly always fouls it up? Is it a job requirement?

The Black Eyed Peas lead singer (the male in black leather) sounded like one of those electronic deals you use to disguise your voice on the phone - robotic. Is that the way they usually are?

Commercials: mainly stuff blowing up, cars over-turning - all testosterone fueled nonsense. I for one would hate to see Joan Rivers without the full body suit. There'd be a cascade of wrinkled flesh...although I read recently that she did have her armpits lifted, so maybe not.

Additionally, Trader Joe's Pico de Gallo Guacamole was a major disappointment. Watery, no real flavor and 'way too many tomatoes. Joe, what're you doing to me. I'm a good customer! I treat ya right!

Saturday, February 5, 2011


These photos were shot in May, 2010.

Friday, February 4, 2011


This morning the Daily Breeze (our local paper) had a story that began on the front page and continued into a double page spread inside. What was it about? The "hot" Super Bowl ads and which ones to look for! It's not enough that the companies participating will get exposure to 110 million people? They have to also hog the newspaper?

I won't name the various companies or events that make them "super" as in Dana Patrick seemingly nude, but you might want to ponder this in a quiet moment. A 30-second ad runs between $100,000 and $500,000 on a normal prime-time show, but the same amount of time on the Super Bowl is $3 million dollars!

The South Bay Writers Workshop (aka Thurs. Writers) meets in a room in the Veteran Park senior center, located in Veteran Park. I recently ran a photo of the park's new memorial to all five branches of the service.

So what, you say. This is what. We have been meeting there for two and a half years. Last week we were told that a computer class had usurped our day (Thursday) and time (from 12:30 to 3 p.m.) My attitude was basically a shrug - they're the landlords. Others in the group were furious.

Dale took the matter into his hands, as a retired Navy admiral, (I think) and spoke to the center director. He told her, "We have four veterans in this group -- two from World War 2, one from Korea and a Viet Nam vet. You just dedicated a monument to veterans and we are standing in Veteran Park!"

Yesterday, the director came into our room and told us that our hours and day would stay exactly the same. Bravo, Dale!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wild Men

"Hollywood Hellraisers - The Wild Lives and Fast Times of Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson" by Robert Sellers Skyhorse Publishing 322 pages $24.95

The author alleges that:
For reasons of his own, Jack Nicholson spent three months totally nude. Family, friends, business people begged "Put on some clothes!" I'm sure he just did the Nicholson smile.

Marlon Brando, a neighbor, used to go to Jack's house and raid the refrigerator. His own was padlocked shut to keep him on his diet. As a token of appreciation, he'd sometimes leave his underpants.

Warren Beatty was said to have been intimate with: Julie Christi, Brigitte Bardot, Princess Margaret, Cher, Vivien Leigh, Jane Fonda, Catherine Deneuve, Barbra Streisand, Jackie Kennedy Onasis, Maria Callas, Natalie Wood and more.

Dennis Hopper used to snort three grams of cocaine to sober up enough to keep drinking. While shooting "Easy Rider" he didn't change clothes for six months. He also punched a hole in a coffee table -- with a dealer's head.

All this in just the first four pages of the book!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Two (Very Different) Bands of Brothers

"Badasses, the Legend of Snake, Foo, Dr. Death and John Madden's Oakland Raiders" by Peter Richmond Harper Collins 353 pages $25.99

The Raiders were my favorite football team, back in the day. As I preferred the dirty, nasty Rolling Stones to the meek, wimpy little Beatles, so I preferred the Raiders to any others.

The book doesn't disappoint.

On John Matuszak (aka "The Tooz") first day with the Raiders, he was found in the training room hot tub with his girlfriend. During pre-season camp, they built and raced miniature cars and then planes they had built. Then they'd peel out and drink all night in a variety of bars. There was none of this home pub silliness.

Coach John Madden and owner Al Davis treated them like men, capable of making their own decisions (bad or good) and not like the children many of them really were. As a result the players bonded into a band of brothers.

It was an interesting read. Richmond is gifted at inserting an anecdote or a conversation that keeps the action rolling.

"The Pure Joy of Monastery Cooking" by Brother Victor-Antoine d'Avila-Latourrette The Countryman Press 271 pages $335

This is a beautiful book! It must have a color photo on every page! And it's a big book, feels like it might weigh as much as five pounds.

The monastery is Our Lady of the Resurrection and it's a St. Benedict order that lives on a hilltop in upstate New York. The monks tend their gardens and look after their goats, sheep, chickens and ducks. They sell artisanal vinegars that they make to top chef s all across America.

It's a book for vegetarians and runs from appetizers, soups, a lot of egg dishes (the good monk likes his eggs) to crepes, casseroles, side dishes, salads, sauces, breads and (pant, finally) to desserts.

What interested me was that there was no mention whatsoever of what life is like in a monastery, what their hours are -- nothing. He wrote nothing personal about himself. Not how long he'd been there or why, nothing. I wonder if he's undercover with the CIA...