Thursday, March 31, 2011

An Agreeable Thought

"The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries." Rene Descartes, French philosopher and mathematician 1596-1650 Think how many more good books have come along since then....

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

And The Magazines Vanished

Yesterday I had a routine appointment with an eye doctor. I sat down in the reception room, looked around for something to read and -- the magazine rack gaped open-mouthed back at me. No magazines at all. I mentioned this to a tech who replied, "We have a lot of patients with pink eye and we don't want others to get infected so no magazines." Who knew?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Death Day in Redondo?

Things come in threes, we all know that. First I ran across an unusual Web site which led to others. Female funeral directors are still "unusual" today. Thinking in the past was that they couldn't do the physical part (heaving bodies around) and that their sensibilities were far too tender for this business. Today the thinking has reversed: women are more compassionate, more comfortable giving a mourner a hug than a man would be. The Funeral Divas mission statement is: Our purpose is to encourage and uplift every woman in the funeral industry and have fun at the same time. Apparently toward that end, they are having a retreat in mid-July at the Montage Resort, Laguna Beach. (Doubles $1,170; singles $1,650.) spotlighted one of their members who makes cremation jewelry. Well you may ask - uses dichroic glass (created for use by NASA.) She fuses the ashes into the glass, concentrating the ashes where the jewelry will touch the wearer's skin. Pendant $155; earrings $48. I will pause and let your mind touch down on the idea of having a loved one's ashes dangling from your ears. is apparently the Drudge Report of the funeral industry. Incidentaly, they are partnered with the American Cancer Society which I found a bit alarming... but it reminds me, too, of a local marketing opportunity. Sunrise is an assisted living residence for senior citizens. Directly across their parking lot is a branch of the Neptune Society! One-stop Shopping Extreme. This morning the Daily Breeze ran an editorial by Mitch Albom headlined "No Webcams At My Funeral." I was stunned to learn that nowadays many funerals are shown merely by using a tripod, a camera and a Web feed. You'd be told the day and time and the site and you can sit there in front of your computer and "go to the funeral." I side with Albom. A funeral, in a way, isn't about the person who died. It's the people who were left behind who need the comfort of an acknowledgement of loss and the show of respect when you have to travel to get there or ask the boss for a day off. I nodded appreciatively and then turned on the laptop to find that my sister had sent me an obituary for the death of "Reason." If there are no paragraphs, it's the Website. I went back and put four (4) lines between each paragraph.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Not Exactly Unbiased...

Gentle Reader, I'm sorry that it's all jammed together. I tried three times to make it STAY paragraphed. "Barbara Bush, Matriarch of a Dynasty" by Pamela Kilian Thomas Dunne Books 246 pages $24.95 (or a whopping $36.95 in Canada -- and I thought we were supposed to be friends with Canada?) Kilian, a journalist for the Scripps Howard News service, has been friends with Former President George and First Lady Barbara for "more than 20 years." So don't expect to read anything too scathing about Barbara Bush. That said, she can be quite funny (Bush, not Kilian) and is well able to poke fun at herself. She was/is adept at PR. Millie the Dog comes to mind. There is a fetching picture of Barbara holding the dog's paw up to a short plinth as if the dog is reading the inscription marking a historical event. Note to fellow writers: editors love dogs and Abe Lincoln. Don't ask me why, because I don't know. She had a unique outlook on her daughters-in-law. She gave every evidence that each one was absolutely perfect because that is how her mother-in-law had treated her. I thought there was also a strong sense of self-entitlement positively glowing from her. I got the distinct feeling that in many cases, she would strike verbally and then be oh, so very sorry -- after the damage had been done. Still and all, who can really object to a little bitchery from time to time. It's the pepper in the mashed potatoes of life. Throughout the book, she is entirely devoted to George and relished their time in China together. The kids were mostly grown and gone and she had him all to herself. On leaving the White House, she said, "On January 20th, we woke up and we had a household staff of 93. The very next morning, we woke up and it was George, me and two dogs -- and that's not all that bad."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Would You Like Paper or Plastic, Ma'am?

Various parts of the wowrld are exploding into headlines that change (for the worse) every half an hour. North Korea is running out of food. Japan's radiation levels are increasing by the mega second. Kill Ghadaffi; Free Libya! to mention only a few.

And yet ... the LA Times ran this on the front page this morning: the Republicans and the Democrats are now at war over the cups and utensils used in the Representatives' cafeteria. It's plastic vs. paper for cups and so forth.

The Democrats accuse the Republicans of being anti-environment, let's drill for oil thugs and possibly personally not as clean as they could be. The GOP just collectively shrugs and mutters, "Tree huggers."

Nancy Pelosi, representing the Dems, blew some $425,000 for a recycling plan for the cups and utensils that didn't work and diminished the carbon footprint by only a fraction. Further hiss: the compressed rice soup spoons melted when the soup was too hot.

At a time when their minds should be above such a genuinely petty matter, the hissing and spitting continues from both sides. Given the nature of the complainers (Whine till you're blue in the face, but for God's sake, don't actually DO anything) this will continue to distract them when alertness would better serve them and us.

So I propose this solution. Close the cafeteria. That's right, lock the doors. No more spending for heat and air conditioning, no salaries for cooks, servers and cleaners and as a money-spinner, rent the place out for private parties!

Then perhaps everyone would be happy and peace, if not in the middle East, would be restored in the House of Representatives.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Weighing In (and Update)

On the Westboro "Baptist" Church. The best comment I've read about them was this:
They're kind of like the Ku Klux Klan -- except the KKK are better dressed.

Update: Hah! Westboro -- she was in the ground before you could act.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor 1932 - 2011

We've often heard people say, "Oh, that's our dog, Rex. He's 10 in our years, but he's 70 in dog years."

Elizabeth Taylor died age 79 in human years, but in diva years, she may have been as old as 115!

I think, too, that those of us who are within 15 years of her age also mourn the passing of a life style. Back in the day, adultery was SINFUL! (And to her credit she seems to have married nearly every one she ever bedded.)

Today? Four and five year old children act as attendants at their parent's weddings! That is, if the parents bother to get married at all.

O tempes, o mores (sigh)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Interesting Oddities

It's perhaps unkind to call an entire (small) museum an "oddity" but there is certainly no insult intended!

The Flight Path Museum, located at 6661 W. Imperial Highway, just south of LAX, was developed to show how it used to be - commercial flying in Olden Days (i.e. pre terrorists and 911.)

I was intrigued by the old pilot and flight attendant outfits -- people WERE much smaller then! And I loved the china, glass and silver settings used in First. Although to be fair, today's Firsts have (finally) abandoned the plastic cutlery. Men may prefer models of various types of airplanes or hands on with some of the mapping devices.

The museum has a new exhibit and it's LAX Police Department "stuff." The airport police are in addition to the TSA and customs agents. So don't try to pull any fancy stuff at the airport.

El Al, as trusting as ever, has their own police department. When an El Al flight lands at LAX, there are snipers on building rooftops and two black SUVs roar down the runway behind the plane. Since the museum overlooks the south runway (we saw the A380 when Qantas began flights from there) you may get a chance to see an El Al flight come in.

The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Make a day of it -- visit the museum in the morning and then go to next door El Segundo and have lunch at one of the many good restaurants there.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

You Might Be A Redneck If You Eat Like This

"The Foxworthy Down-Home Cookbook - No Arugula, No Pate ... No Problem" by "Big Jim" Foxworthy and Jeff Foxworthy Longstreet Press 182 pages $20

"Big Jim" is Jeff's Daddy and Jeff's contributions are limited to various comments throughout. Jeff, of course, is the noted comic who built a career on "You might be a redneck if" you do this or that. Personally, I admire rednecks for their gift of making a collection of nothin' much into something usable. Old tire flower beds come to mind.

Sections include: Southern Cooking, Cajun Cooking, Foxworthy Family Cooking , Outdoor Cooking, Company's Coming, and on into desserts and Breakfast In the Country.

Cans of soup, Jell-0 and other kitchen helpers make prominent appearances... EZ Cheese Dip - nuke a box of Velveeta with a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes (not even the tomatoes and chiles one) with a half a cup of sour cream and a shot of Tabasco. I swear I've seen that recipe either on the Ro-Tel can or the cheese box. One or the other...

Mashed Potatoes
6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 in. cubes
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 T sour cream
1 teas. salt
4 T butter

Cook the potatoes, drain and mash adding all of the above a la les Foxworthys.

My version (for two): peel and cut up one larg-ish potato, cook until done. Mash and serve.

Jennifer's Cranberry Salad
1 large can crushed pineapple
1 cup of ginger ale
1 large or two small packages lemon Jell-O
1 can whole cranberries

Drain pineapple juice into a measuring cup and add enough water to make one cup. Heat pineapple juice to boiling. Add ginger ale and mix in the Jell-O. Add pineapple and cranberries. Stir to mix thoroughly. Pour into a 9 x 13 in. casserole and refrigerate to set.

1 8-oz. cream cheese
1 8-oz. container Cool Whip
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Beat together and spread over set salad.

I know that I am a fats fanatic, but cream cheese AND Cool Whip? Heavy cream AND sour cream? Damn! I'd like to be a doctor in Foxworthy Country; I'd make a fortune!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Escalate Yourself!

Escalator Guts

The escalators into the gym seem to break down with some regularity (see above.) To have to wallk up or down a stilled escalator disconcerts me. My brain is not used to irregularly-sized steps. So I take the elevator (one floor.)

I wondered how escalators "go" so went to to find out. Huge entry that I couldn't possible condense down in this space, so let's hit some highlights...

Nathan Ames, of Saugus, Massachusetts, invented the escalator in 1859, but in a very limited way. No working model of his invention was ever built; his patent was just for some drawings.

Following in his footsteps, Leamon Souder in 1889 did the same thing. Jesse Reno and George A. Wheeler did the same thing in 1892 - drawings, no model. In Texas this is called, "All hat, no cattle."

Finally, in 1896, Jesse Reno actually did build one at the Old Iron Pier, Coney Island.

Escalators are practical because they can move more people than an elevator can at one time and in a smaller space -- the same as a staircase. In 2004, the US had 30,000 escalators (how did they know? Are escalators licensed, like a car?) that people used 90 billion times. An elevator that moves 1.5 ft. per second can move 170 people in five minutes.

The longest system (several escalators) is in Hong Kong. It's 2,600 ft. long and moves people from the Central section (offices) to their homes in another huge apartment bulding. It goes one way based on rush hours.

The shortest (32.8 in.) is located in a shopping center in Kawasaki, Japan.

The longest in the US is the Washington, DC, Metro station's which is 230 ft. long with a vertical rise of 115 ft. Travel time is 2 minutes, 45 seconds.

Trivia Time: Escalators in India have a special feature called a "sari guard" which keeps the trailing saris of the womenfolk out of the treads.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Mad Man in the Kitchen

"Medium Raw; A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook" by Anthony Bourdain Harper Collins 281 pages $26.99

Professional athletes spend time going over game films played by enemy teams and to a degree, professional writers study other pros (especially the top sellers) to see how they did it and if we can steal anything from the more successful guys. Writers are the biggest thieves in history. We know this. We don't care.

Bourdain's style could be broken down into chef's terms -- 1/4 cup generous praise for other chefs; 1/4 cup self-deprecation "So-and-so is a chef; I'm just a cook" and about half a cup of rage -- he hates Alice Waters (and apparently she's an airhead) he regrets ever having said never to order fish on a Monday ("It's a leftover, jerk!") and various other grits and grudges involving the early Food Network, Rachel Ray (I hate her, too) and some restaurant and food critics.

Even knowing this -- his style, why and how he does it like he does -- truly creative descriptions, lots and lots of profanity -- I can sit down with one of his books and be instantly captivated, dead entirely to anything else I should be doing (cleaning, cooking, laundry come to mind.)

Bourdain is passionate about food. Preparing it, serving it, eating it. But... this description of the mood at the end of a successful night seems a bit much. "You look at each other with the intense camaraderie of people who have suffered together and think, 'We did well tonight. We will go home proud.'"

"Suffered together"? Bit over the top, but then again, so is Bourdain. And I love it!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Public Service (You're Welcome)

Alert Readers will have noted my trepidation about The Situation In Japan. The reference yesterday to "great, black roiling clouds of radioactive dust" or that I wished to hell I'd never read Neville Shute's "On The Beach" (everybody dies.) Yes, I was showing The Fear.

To dispel lingering bits of Shute's book, I looked him up. He died in 1960! Atomic energy uses in the late '50s were primitive compared to today's! The book is more than 50 years old!

And then I heard about iodide tablets. The US Surgeon General, no less, recommended stocking up on them. Creating a run on drugstores across our fair land. I delved further. A solo type of radiation goes straight to our poor thyroids, but these tablets protect it. And I also remembered something else: governments lie.

Finally I came across some reasonable people at this Web site "You CAN Survive Radiation!" is their theme. I find this reassuring and assuming that you, too, will not fear what you know a lot about, here are some of their suggestions. The site has a great deal more information and, oh, yeah, funny you should ask -- they sell iodide tablets!

Stay home. You don't want to get caught halfway to your destination without a shelter of some sort.

Save water. Fill the bathtub, the kiddy pool, the water bed mattress -- you cannot have too much water.

What you want to do is put as much "stuff" (concrete, steel, wood, stone) between you and the dust. They recommend the center of your house, preferably a basement where you will build a nest of filled filing cabinets, boxes of books, the cedar chest, anything that you have that you can put between you and the dust.

Seek a four story (or less) building and go to the core of it. Use the underground parking lot. A structure with the greatest mass and distance between you and the dust is what you need.

Basically the above plus earthquake survival knowledge that everyone in California should know by now are about all you need.

Exposure for an hour to 500 roentgen (?) dust will kill you, but seven hours later gamma rays are only 1/10th as strong as they were. We could all probably do seven hours standing on our heads if it would save us. So, don't worry - be happy! (And practice your headstands.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Whistling In The Dark

Given the fact that we may soon expect to see great, black, roiling clouds of radioactive dust headed our way perhaps it's a bit foolish to worry about sour candies and/or soft drinks rotting our teeth.

Still ... it's empowering to do something for yourself (good dental care) rather than to stand around, waiting to see what God/nature hands you.

Manhattan Dental Care, under the astute leadership of Steven A. Firshein, DMD, sends out a newsletter and this issue's lead article has the cheery headline: Sour Candy and Soft Drinks Will Rot Your Teeth!

How's that for an eyeball grabber? Dr. John Ruby, University of Alabama Birmingham School of Dentistry is the source.

Essentially, 7.0 on the pH scale is neutral. Anything between 7.0 and 14.0 is alkaline. Anything lower than 7.0 is acidic. Battery acid comes in at 1.0 and we begin to lose tooth enamel with a pH of 4.0.

Sour Candies + Acid pH
Starburst and Mentos Fruit Chews - 2.4 each
Altoids Mango Sours 1.9

Sugar + Acid = Double Trouble
Red Bull 3.3
Gatorade 2.9
Pepsi 2.5
Coca Cola Classic 2.4

The good news is that water -- straight from the tap, none of this effete bottled silliness, is 7.0 which is neutral for the bad stuff.

Drink up! And if you do eat or drink any of the above, do NOT immediately brush your teeth. Instead rinse your mouth out with water or milk or eat a small piece of cheese.

Monday, March 14, 2011

An Earnest Attempt to Provide a Little Hope

Things in northern Japan are so horrific as to beggar the imagination. I wish to hell I'd never read Neville Shutes' "On The Beach."

If you can, turn away for awhile from the news media and look at this -- it's a live cam shot focused on an eagle, nesting high in a tree. The first egg was laid 2/23/11 and is scheduled to hatch 4/1/11. The camera is in service during daylight hours.

Kinda nice to think of an American eagle hatching...

Website is

Or Google if that doesn't work.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

St. Patrick's Parade, Hermosa Beach 3/12/11

A First -- the waiter was taking our order for lunch at Cafe Boogaloo; his cell phone vibrated, he answered the call! "

Raffish" who teaches at a college said, "That's nothing" to "D", Richie and self. He went on to relate how the guy's cell phone went off during the lecture; the guy not only answered it, but when "Raffish" objected, he held out his hand in the classic "one second" gesture! He then had the nerve to say, "My girlfriend wanted to know where I was."

Friday, March 11, 2011

Local News

This is a view from the RB Pier overlook. To the left of the yellow-roofed building, you will see water cresting over the breakwater the day of the high winds. You can follow the line of that "wall" and that is Basin #1 where most of the sardines wound up.

"Where's Waldo?" Being Replaced Locally by "Find the Fishies?"

Yesterday, Himself came in, went to the phone and called the RB police dispatcher. "Hi, my name is Richie Murphy and coming home, I passed a big pile of dead fish out in the left turn lane at Herondo and ..."

This morning we were diverted into the center lanes, just after turning left onto PCH from Aviation. A cop car was parked to angle drivers out, a cop motorcycle was in front of the car and leading this "parade" was a cop pick-up truck. No crashed and buckled cars; no blood gushing victim. What?! A pile of dead fish nearly blocking the driveway into the supermarket!

Coming home from the gym, passed the same spot - not a trace! All gone.

Both piles were big enough to cause you to skid if you took them at speed. Let alone the treads of your tires reeking for some time.

6:56 a.m.

That's when the phone rang. We looked at each other - who could be calling that early? I picked up the phone and the caller's name was "Emergency." I listened to a recording (male voice) that said, "This is the city of Hermosa Beach; this is a tsunami warning..." and, having gotten the message, I handed it over to Richie to listen . "Stay away from the beach" was the rest of the message.

Problem: the Drudge Report headline said that the California coast may get a 6 ft. tsunami.

But Hermosa is on it! And that's a good thing.

UPDATE: We thought Hermosa had called us because we used to live there and never changed our phone number when we moved. But a next door neighbor got the call, too. Hermosa really IS on it!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fish: Aroma and Emotions

Because the fish were relatively recently dead, and still full-figured, they didn't smell. Wouldn't care to be down there today ... but the RBFD is on it and apparently they are water blasting the last bits out of the marina floor (depth 22 ft.) All should soon be well.

Given my past hysteria, angst, suffering whenever one of our goldfish died, it was amazing that I didn't grieve at all for the tons of fish in the harbor. In my mind, I'd been given a job -- move this object from A to B --and because there were so very many of them, doing it became a mindless task (am very good at mindless tasks.) Besides a goldfish is a pet (of sorts.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fish Story

Yesterday we came home from the gym to a phone call from Red and Barbara who live near Dallas. In the course of Richie's conversation with Red, I heard him say, "No, I haven't heard anything about it --" over his shoulder to me, "Barbara just saw it on the news -- all the fish in Redondo Beach are dead!" Back to Red, "We're just going out, we'll go take a look."
And away we went. We saw a helicopter, motionless above the northwest part of the marina so we made our way to it (parking lot of Joe's Crabs) and parked, walked over to the heavy concrete "leaning" wall and stared intently into the water. Nothing. Just a big fat harbor seal sitting on a float.
We removed to the Redondo Beach Pier overlook area. Helicopter was still there, but again, we saw nothing unusual. We then realized we could have seen more at home in our living room on TV, but ... we were out anyhow so ...and it was a beautiful day.
That afternoon, Richie was online and I was reading when the cell phone rang, startling us. I never leave it on once we're home. In fact, Richie said, "What's that noise?"
"Cell phone," I replied as I answered.
"Hi, Nina and Richie, this is Bob and this is a CERT call-in; not a joke, we're calling you in to work the harbor."
"The fish?" I asked.
(Me, increduously) "You want us to come and shovel up dead fish?"
"Yeah, they're on the verge of becoming a haz mat. So yeah that or administrative work..."
"Okay," I said and hung up. "Richie, we're gonna go shovel up dead fish."
Since CERT trained us to do post-earthquake rescue work including triage, first aid and the use of an Automatic External Defibrillator shoveling dead fish was something of a comedown.
The call had come in at 3:15 p.m. by 3:30 we were at the CERT set-up. A police car was guarding the entrance to the parking lot next to the Cheesecake Factory; we had to show our CERT photo i.d.s to get in. We signed in and were put into a team with two others and told to go to the marina public toilets (not exactly an auspicious start) and ask for a man named Angel. He'd put us to work.
Our destination, Marina #1, is next to the park where CERT holds its annual picnic and it's where Bob keeps his 36 ft. yacht, so we knew exactly where to go. But first we had to get past the cop guarding one side of the double driveway in.
"Stop," he said authoratarily, "No admittance, heavy machinery."
I held up my CERT photo i.d. and said, "We're supposed to help with the fish."
Just as he said, "Okay" the officer guarding the other side of the driveway approached and said, "No admittance" and the first cop interjected, "They're volunteers for the fish!" Second cop turned and as he walked away, he said, "What do I know? I'm just a cop..." in tones meant to carry.
We soon found Angel, who herded our foursome down to the water and the long sidewalk that passed between the boats, parked nose in. The waters around all of the boats were densely packed with dead fish.
"Take a net and dump the fish in this red barrel," Angel told us, pointing to a red plastic, half-barrel with two rope handles. I'm used to seeing these barrels, but they'd always been filled with ice and beer in the past. A new concept and I very much preferred the old.
Dutifully I took the long-handled net and began an undewater swoop, bring up as many fish as I thought the net could hold (15 to 20 lbs.) and dumping them with difficulty into the barrel. To get them all out, I had to reach down with my bare hand, grab the bottom of the net and up end it. Kind of ookie even if you did have on gloves because the fat, little fish would get stuck in the netting and you had to Deal With It.
Our barrels filled quickly and were emptied into the two-wheeled carts the boat owners use to transport stuff from their cars to their boats. These carts were trundled up to the parking lot where a bulldozer blade was used to transport them Somewhere. We'd been told the sardines would be ground up and made into fertilizer. I thought of Michelle's sadness and grief. She loves to grill them outdoors in summer.
After nearly an hour of bending, swooping, straightening, bending over the red barrel, my back began to snip meanly at me so I reluctantly handed my net to the next guy and went back to the car. The public toilets were some distance behind me so, since I was in the Blue Water Grill parking lot anyhow, I slithered in, hiding my fishy hands, and washed up.
I sat in our car for more than 30 minutes, walked back to the job site - no Richie. So I trudged back to the car and sat for a moment. Then, mind made up, I scribbled a quick note for Richie and asked the sign-out CERT team to give it when he finally showed up. I said, "I'm going to the Cheesecake Factory -- a CERT guy yelled, "Half-price sushi! All you can eat!" -- and I grinned and said, "No, a dirty gin martini, up!"and pranced off.
I took my time sipping it ($5 - happy hour) and met Richie in the parking lot. He said, "I'm too hungry to wait for dinner at home" and pulled up in front of Charlie's (formerly Cialucci's) and we had lovely dinners as usual.
I raised my glass of wine and toasted the dead sardines although I knew Michelle would have been mourning them.
As far as "danger" was concerned in this CERT call-in, the only peril we risked was not noticing a dead fish, stepping on it and slipping, falling on our asses or into the water.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Upbeat Obituary

While waiting for Richie to be ready to go to the gym, I idly flicked through today's obits in the LA Times. This struck me as not only admirable, but a real paean of joy to life.

"Murphy*, Edward Joseph 1922 - 2011 A dedicated husband, loving father and cherished grandfather and great grandfather joined the party upstairs at the age of 88. He was loved by all who knew him and treasured by his family who will miss him beyond measure."

It continues: "Ed believed in living life to its fullest and enjoyed traveling with his wife and family, 49ers games, his Cadillacs, sipping martinis, listening to Frank Sinatra, talking politics and as a proud Irishman strictly observing the evening's cocktail hour."

I'd be proud to be that well thought of at my death and overjoyed to think, "It's a party up there!"

* No relation other than in the sense of the name.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Books: Travel and Obscenity

"The Bedwetter, Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee" by Sarah Silverman Harper Collins 237 pages $25.99

Silverman is a comedian and the above book is something of an autobiography. She's silly more than really funny (IMHO.) She also really enjoys something I really hate: using doctor names for those parts of our bodies that distinguish each of us from the opposite sex. (How tactful and graceful was THAT?!)

I believe she must think "Well I'm using the correct name for it; who can object?" Me, for one. The only body parts joke I found funny (because it was totally twisted) was this: one of the writers on the Sarah Silverman Program, returned from lunch with his fly open and his dick stuck through a paper napkin. He proudly said, "My penis had lobster!"

Yes, well ... I think we all can do better than wallowing in smut like that! After all, today is Sunday and Lent will begin soon.

"National Geographic's 100 Countries, 5,000 Ideas" no credited author per se but a forward by Rudy Maxa 400 pages $26.95

The book is tidily arranged. Each country gets its own Traveler's Notebook (average trip cost, population, main contacts) plus another on weather and when to go and yet another on what to see if you do go there. It is lavishly illustrated with color photographs. You expect "good" from National Georgraphic and you will get it here -- IF the countries you are curious about are included. I was looking for Anguilla, Aruba, Belize, Nicaragua and Saba and there they weren't.

Readers Recommend, today's LA Times Travel section
There's a cell phone company -- visit it at -- that will send you a cell phone for the specific coutry you are visiting in a mailer. When you get home, you ship the phone back. The phone itself determines what you owe for having used it. If the charger for the phone isn't something like $1,000/day, this might be a relatively good deal.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Taking a page from the Charlie Sheen PR handbook, today's blog is All About Me!

I hope I don't break an elbow patting myself on the back. Yesterday's blog was #800 and dividing by 365 days, I find that amounts to two years and 19 days I've been assaulting your eyeballs and sensitivites. Given that the average column is 275 words, that's 220,000 words. Had I been paid 10 cents a word that would amount to $22,000. I wasn't. Further calculations indicate I'll hit 1,000 blogs in a mere six months!

Medical Use for Pantyhose (My Invention)
In 2009 I was diagnosed as having a viral radiculitis of the femoral iliac nerve. After treatment, it vanished. But lo! it was just lurking, waiting to strike again! And it did.

The femoral iliac nerve runs along the inside of the thigh. I think of it like a big tree -- the trunk deep in the thigh, fanning out to branches and then twigs just under the skin.

Problem: It is painful. I do not have the trim, toned thighs of a 20-something (oy, do I not have those.) The blubber jolts with every step, which hurts and forces me to change my gait which then affects my back.

Solution: Panty hose! They are just snug enough through the thigh that they hold the blubber still (think of Hoover Dam) but are not so tight that they themselves cause pain. I tried this novel idea out yesterday and it works beautifully! This morning though I had to make a modification. I cut the feet off because despite all my yanking, pulling and tugging I had a crotch about two inches north of my knees most of yesterday. But I did get a better workout than at the gym. Think positively!

My only warning would be: pay close attention to your bladder. What with underpants, panty hose and street pants, you're going to take more time in the bathroom.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Travelin' Man

"When I Stop Taling, You'll Know I'm Dead - Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man" by Jerry Weintraub with Rich Cohen Twelve 291 pages $25.99

Weintraub's wheeling and dealing began with his first business. He saw a late afternoon rush at the dry cleaners next door in the Bronx when commuters poured in to get their clothes. He went to the owner and asked if he could deliver the garments so that the commuters could just go home and relax before their dinners. The owner shrugged and said "Why not?" Weintraub then annexed the delivery business at the next door laundry. He did so well he had to farm out some of the work to his younger brother. He was 14 or 15.

Weintraub, as a promoter, represented Frank Sinatra (and hung out with the Rat Pack) as well as Elvis Presley - the Colonel and Weintraub picked the venues. He "invented" John Denver, traveled with Armand Hammer (always in a private plane - a control issue with Hammer) to Russia and China. He played golf with George Bush, got Barbara Bush to appear in a movie...

But the book is not just a collection of names with "my best friend (insert star name)" or "my dearest love" Weintraub offers sound business advice at the end of many of the chapters. "Packaging" is key to presenting a person, an act, a movie script -- it's all in the story behind the presentation material.

It was a good book, funny and insightful, and as a former PR person I was aghast at some of the stuff he pulled off. Example: a rock band wanted more and bigger speakers! or they wouldn't play. Weintraub got a bunch of paper boxes, had them spray painted black and put them en masse up on the stage. The band was thrilled and said they'd never had a sound so good.

Blog #800

Thursday, March 3, 2011

"And For Only $4 More -- All the Wine You Can Drink!"

Guiliano's, in the SE end of the strip mall at Artesia and Aviation, Redondo Beach, is holding a duo attraction to promote their new dining room -- from "just a deli to restaurant!

Wednesday nights ONLY, you have two choices -- the all-you-can eat dinner with garlic bread, salad and spaghetti marinara ($10.99) or order off the menu as usual. The wine is $4 extra but it's all you can swill down. Our servers were quite compliant in keeping our glasses full. I split the difference and ordered an antipasto salad and garlic and olive oil tossed spaghetti.

Either way you go, the servings are enormous. In fact, tonight's dinner will be my leftover salad and spaghetti with the leftover pork loin roast.

"Oh, I Know Her Dad"
Melissa Leo, who came in second at the Oscars and dropped the so-called "f bomb," has a father that is a bay man on the South Shore of Long Island. My brother-in-law, a fellow bay man, knows him.

It's the Cat's Meow"
It's a designer scratching post for your cat, shaped like a bull terrior and wrapped in Manila rope. It's 20 in. wide, 22 in. tall and 28 in. long. I liked the idea -- a shape of something else, but not the head on this item. Too bulbous. It's the only thing they seem to sell so it's a quick look. Price? $325!

Free Supermarket Trashbloids!
I love to check out the scandal mags such as National Enquirer, Star and so forth. The Website runs a precis on the cover stories on Wednesday. Read'em at your leisure!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Let A.J. Do It and Write About It - Sit Back and Read About It

"The Guinea Pig Diaries, My Life as an Experiment" by A. J. Jacobs Simon & Schuster 234 pages $25

Jacobs is an Editor-at-Large for Esquire magazine and has written two previous books -- for his first he read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica; for his second he followed all of the rules found in the Bible religiously. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

In this volume, he conducts nine different experiments using himself as the instigator. An amusing chapter concerned his out-sourcing his life to a pair of Bangladesh firms -- Brickwords and Your Man In India. The people at these films ordered things for him, scheduled him, answered e-mails, argued with his wife for him...

In another, he successfully gate-crashed the Oscars. He looked identical to Australian actor, who had elected to stay home Down Under. From the limo to the end of this adventure, he's taken as the real deal. At first he liked the attention, but then he got tired of the sycophants surrounding him.

He discovered that George Washington had written a list of 110 rules for good manners. Washington's rules are rather basic in spots -- don't scratch your privates in public struck me as unnecessary.

It's an interesting book, but don't try to plow through it in one day. Jacobs is thorough and quotes a lot of other different authors' theories which makes for a long read.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Continuing Saga of ZsaZsa and the Prince

Sequence of events:
Prince puts their Bel Air "mansion" up for sale - $28 million
He announces he is selling her furs which she hasn't worn for years because PETA asked her not to wear them.
He displays jewelry online he's putting up for auction, including a very expensive watch.
Last Sunday, he called the police at 10 a.m. to tell them that they had been robbed at 3 a.m.

Three different stories came from his mouth.
1. ZsaZsa and I heard the noises, but didn't get up.
2. I heard the noises, grabbed my baseball bat and chased two men out of the house.
3. Today, he says that he heard noises, didn't see anyone, even though he went out in the garden to check. He estimates losses at $100,000 in camera equipment and two statues the couple bought while honeymooning in Munich 25 years ago. He says that ZsaZsa is crying about the loss of the statues. (Remember she has been reported as nearly comatose for some years.)

He first claimed that a lot of things had been taken -- paintings, statues and jewelry. Which meant that the erstwhile robbers had to make several trips back and forth from house to vehicle. Neighbors didn't see anything at all.

He's on record as having said that he needs money for ZsaZsa's 24/7 nurses, medical expenses and so forth.

The reason he amuses me so much is that he's so gullible in thinking that the rest of us are that stupid! Can you spell "attempted insurance fraud"?