Friday, January 31, 2014

Revenge Is Even Sweeter When You Profit From It

I have complained about this previously, but the problem hasn't gone away.  I am referring to the lamentable habit some gym clients have of sitting on a piece of equipment - not using it at all - and staring vacantly into space or talking on their phone.

I suggested to Management that benches could be installed along the walls and that said clients could sit there if sitting is what they want to do.  Management clucked in sympathy and did nothing whatsoever. 

It's just not in me to be consistently rude - "Finished yet?"   I'm good for a temper-fueled blast every now and then, but it unnerves me too have to unnerve (or intimidate) others.          Usually, anyhow. 

So I turned my mind to something that would work, but not come back to bite me and that would definitely get these comatose people off of their arses.

As I seated myself the other morning (upper body exercise) it came to me.  Viola!

I'd like to install a pressure switch that turns on when weight is applied to it and starts a timer.  If the person is just sitting there, with no further pressure on the timer indicating movement, after five minutes, my device will shoot a bolt of electricity - think "taser" here - into the sitter's butt. 

I'm thinking $5 per unit, minimum order 100.  Every gym in North America will want them.  Stay out of the street when I'm barreling along in my Ferrari to the bank's deposit window. 

P.S.  If you are an electrical engineer with a particular thirst for vengeance, please contact me at Up & At'em, Inc. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Passive-Aggressive or Not? You Be the Judge!

I have mentioned that every Sunday morning, Richie likes to torment me with the genuinely awful puns in the LA Times Kids page.  I've always thought I was strong enough to take it; it's only one day of the week anyhow so I tune out on him and go back to the crossword. 

But now I am fearful.  At the library book store, he bought a whole book of these atrocities!  If you want a comparison, Sundays were like sweat bee stings; inconsequential.  But a whole book?  It's like he bought a dozen drones!  I'm a goner!

Herewith a random sampling of puns that will make you groan:

How do whales cry?  They blubber!

What do you get when you cross a suitcase with the Bible?  Samsonite  and Delilah

How do you get a cat to do tricks?  Put a dog in a cat suit.

What musical note do you hear when a car runs over a bee?   Bee-flat.

What do people in India write on their postcards?  Vishnu were here.

What do you call cheese that's not yours?  Nachos!

How To Be the Funniest Kid in the Whole Wide World" by Jay Leno  Simon and Schuster   140 pages   $12.95

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

History Books

"Five Days in November" by Clint Hill with Lisa McCubbin   Gallery Books   243 pages   $30

Hill, as many of you already know, was  Mrs. Kennedy's lead Secret Serviceman.  The book is more pictures than words (always helpful to me) and the words used summon up more poignant times. 

Hill's self-slathered guilt - coulda, shoulda, woulda - has lasted 50 years. But he did have a front row, center, seat at the Jackie Kennedy Show.  His words about her ring very truthfully indeed.  Apparently she did exactly as she pleased.

"The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion" by Fannie Flagg   Random House   347 pages   $27

Flagg is the wonderfully funny Southern writer responsible for the book (and then movie) "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café."

In this excursion, we meet the very respectable, nice Sookie Poole, Earle Poole's wife, several of Sookie's friends and her really awful mother, Lenore.  She loves the spotlight and is described as "the bride at every wedding; the corpse at every funeral."  She was a trial as a mother and now, at 88, she is a nightmare as well as a bald-faced liar.  Her version of her family's Civil War events are far from the truth but she's been telling them so long that she actually believes them.

The plotline includes true life information about an unsung group - Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs.)  They were the licensed female pilots who ferried war planes from the factory to their destination.  Our government (finally) decided that women could do this work "to free up a man to go fight."  Chauvinism much?

As always, Flagg can make you laugh out loud from the comments and craziness expressed by her characters. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Misapprehension, a Dubious Venture and Score One!

Misapprehension:  anytime someone mentioned a Red Velvet cake or cupcake, I was quick to tell them it was made with tomato soup.  It's a memory fragment from a Southern cook book.  And it's also dead, solid wrong.

It was made with food coloring until WW2 shortages made inventive cooks turn to beet juice for coloring.  Today, is kinda, sorta asserting that their Red Velvet Beet Cake is something new -- and healthful, too! 

A Dubious Venture - Dark Chocolate Waffles.  The picture in looked like the waffles were burned.  Their recipe also called for olive oil rather than vegetable oil. 

Their recipe is from scratch but my version arises from practicality (and laziness) and it's this:  buy a box of pancake/waffle mix, open it and add 1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder.  Seal container and shake until dry ingredients are well mixed.  Proceed as usual except I'd leave off the maple syrup - maybe honey instead?

Score One!
Richie bought 6/10th of a pound of shrimp.  I would have made Thai yellow curry shrimp, but the bottle was empty.  So I came up with this:

Sabor de Mexico Camarons
6/10ths of a lb. of raw shrimp, peeled
2 T olive oil
2 slices red onion, minced
1 teas. crushed garlic
Splash of Pico Paco salsa
1 T pickled jalapeno "juice"
2 cubes frozen Dorot cilantro (fruit section, supermarket)
Splash of lemon juice

Put everything BUT the shrimp in a large skillet and start heating it.  When it starts to bubble, add the shrimp and stir fry until they're pink.  Serve this dish over hot, plain-flavored refried beans.  The shrimp  sauce flows over the beans and they meld together beautifully.

Richie liked it so much he gave the classic stamp of approval around here for experimental recipes:  You could serve that to company! 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ghost Editor II

A reader questioned Daddy and the group's hunting behaviors.  Let me just say that the veracity of this document is questionable - embellishment was frequently pulled out of his toolbox.  He could just as easily have said, "I dropped flat and put my hands over the back of my head, praying that no one actually managed to shoot the deer - what if he fell on me? - "Vermillion Died of Antler Puncture Wounds After a Hunting Accident."


Seems we ate Thursday's meal on Wednesday and all kinds of things that required comment and advice from the expert.  But nobody got sliced or maimed.

I purposely slept late the next morning.  Cresswell, Williams and I left camp about 8 a.m. to go up into the mountains in back of the camp to see if we could locate a deer that Chastine had wounded the day before. 

We didn't get there because just as we cleared the timberline, a nice buck came out of the brush about 600 yards around the mountain.  I was shooting the .270 that day and after considerable blasting - four shots in all - he dropped.  He had been hit three times.  He was a nice 9-point buck.

By the time the three of us had dragged him into camp, it was lunch time.

Chastine and Dirks came in - they had killed a buck farther up in the mountains and were unable to bring it in without help.  After lunch, Chastine, Cresswell, Williams and I went after him and got back to camp about 3 p.m.

The only times Brice got more than two blocks away from camp was when he was in the car.  Moral:  watch that second can of beer.  All of us had had our limits at this point.

We also had a hassle of static that would make a UN meeting seem like a tea party about who was going to take which deer.  I got the one that I wanted - the doe.  The boys thought I was gypping myself but I would rather have the young doe meat and I don't want to get into the habit of shooting at does. 

We broke camp and tore out for home.  Our bunch drove steadily and arrived in Kansas City October 18th at 10:20 a.m. 

We had a butchering job the next day.  Brice's deer was spoiled - he gave it to the dog kennel.  Poetic justice, eh?

We all certainly enjoyed the hunt.  The only drawback being cold, dust, lack of water and by no means least important, lack of helicopters for carrying dead deer back to camp.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ghost Editor

Richie has been cleaning out the Junque Room and this turned up - it's a 3-page letter my Dad wrote to a friend about a hunting trip.  He was a mechanical engineer with an engrossing interest in science and flying - viewed various rocket tests - and I know he would be amused at now having one of his works in cyberspace for all time (as far as anyone knows...)  27 years after his death.   And as you read and  note the style, you will know that the apple didn't fall very far from the tree.

(no date)

Dear Bill:

After I left you to drive out to the hunting lease, I nearly froze.  After I got through the first gate south of the creek, two nice bucks crossed the road about 200 yards in front of me and went up the mountain.

I got four nice, clean misses with my .257 and, attempting to reload, I succeeded in generating a jam.  The deer were very co-operative,  They stood on top of the mountain and watched until they saw that I had it cleared and then went on. 

When I arrived at camp, no one was there and I started up the mountain back of the camp.  I had just gotten out of "puff" the first time when I heard someone call me.  Went back to camp to find it was Brice.  We got a fire started and Williams rolled in -- then Dirks.  No one had done any killing.

About 9:45 a.m. Williams looked up on the mountain across from camp - there were two bucks going north, right on the skyline.  Brice and I started shooting.  As you remember, this is quite a long range for shooting.

One of the bucks dropped and struggled on his front legs into some brush.  The other buck also hid. 

I failed to get any volunteers to climb the mountain so, unlike political bosses, I had to do it myself.  When I was about half way up, the unwounded deer started back to the south.  There was quite a bombardment from the fellows in camp shooting at him -- and shooting right over my head!  But I consider us just lucky since neither the deer nor I was hit. 

The buck I went after was a nice 7-pointer.  It was pretty easy to get him down that steep mountain.  Just before I got to camp with him, Cresswell and Chastine arrived at camp, dragging Cresswell's 4-pt. buck that he had shot at 7:15 that morning.  Neither Dirks nor Williams was feeling up to par and I think it was about the same for Brice.  In his case, we think it was that second can of beer. 

Chastine and Williams hunted in the afternoon in the mountains back of camp.  The rest of us drove the car along the canyon roads, but didn't see anything.  Chastine killed a little yearling doe.

Just about dusk, Chastine, Brice and myself (me driving) almost ran over a big cactus buck.  Chastine and Brice unloaded, started blasting in the gloom and the buck dropped.  When we picked him up, there were two spots of blood under him.  We supposed since both boys had fired that both of them had scored hits and that the buck would therefore be a split deer.  Anyway he was certainly a source of contention.  Chastine gave his interest in him to Brice and that about ended hunting on the 15th - six men and four deer.

I wanted to bring the deer to Meeker (probably a nearby town) that night but was over-ruled.  You know, "You so-and-so cream puff; you are going to stay in camp tonight!"

Not having transportation, I had to agree.  Boy, you were sure right about that being a poor place to camp.  The wind was bad and you didn't need to pepper the fried eggs as the dust took care of that.

To Be Continued/Ended tomorrow.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

"Funny, But Not Hilarious"

I'm talking about the author of "Man Up!  Tales of My Delusional Self-Confidence" by Ross Mathews   Borderline Amazing Publishing   216 pages   $25

If further proof is required that I am the least hip person in North America, I never heard of this guy before I met him on a library shelf.

He got his start as an interviewer on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."  His puppy-like enthusiasm for meeting famous people and saying the first thing that pops into his mouth won the day for him.  I read that today he is considered a red carpet staple on E (whatever that is.)

Here is a paragraph selected at random.  Mathews is a great fan of women's ice skating and is totally devoted to skater Michelle Kwan who in this selection has just fallen near the end of her routine at the 2002 Winter Games.

"Insult to injury, the following and final skater (the aptly named Irina SLUTskaya) ... knocking poor Michelle down to third.  Bronze!  Do you know how hard it is to coordinate an outfit with bronze?  This was the worst thing that had happened to me since Shannen Doherty left "Beverly Hills 90210"

I would like him for the bitchiness, but he'd hate me for star ignorance.  Who is Chelsea Handler again?    

Friday, January 24, 2014

If You Liked the Hamburgers, You'd Love the View

Richie's brother Charlie and his wife, Rosalind, were leaving for New York the next day and I wanted a water-view restaurant for pleasant memories to take home.    I presented various places to Charlie who said, "No - we've been there" to all of them.  Okay, I like challenges.  After we hung up I started thinking...

And the second floor deck of the Hermosa Beach Hennessey's popped in to my mind.  When I Googled the menu, I read that Tuesdays are 2 4 1 hamburger days!  Charlie would fall in love - a water view AND a bargain!

Hennessey's, at 8 Pier Avenue, is the last building before the sand on your left.  It's a tidy-looking building with a vast patio out front, a sizeable inside room and the deck.  Since the heavy plastic "windows" were drawn against the breeze, we elected to sit up there.  Ooh, joy!  The space heaters were on, too. 

Besides soaking up the view, we soaked up three margaritas ($22.50 and two huge beers  ($17.50) and $54.35 in food.  The tab came to  $94.35 plus a $20 tip. All four of us had a good meal, just the right amount of alcohol and beautiful views of the ocean and the Hermosa Beach Pier - all for $27.50 per person.

And A View, Too!

Four mini-hamburgers - cheese, avocado, mushrooms and bacon and bbq sauce

Fancy cheeseburger with fries

These are just two of the various hamburgers available at Hennessey's, Hermosa Beach

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Hurry Monday, February 3rd

"Why then?" you ask, scratching your head. 

I'll tell you why -- the gym is infested with the New Year's Resolution-istas who vowed that this year, they'd lose weight and get fit again.  The parking lot (all six stories of it) most mornings has cars lined up at the entrances and all through the garage.   This is especially true on the days when there is a 9 a.m. spinning or yoga class. 

I don't think the yoga could be totally relaxing to a person who just fought the Garage Wars and didn't come out too well during them.    

It is little better inside the gym.   Many are newbies and they either don't know how to use a particular machine or they use the equipment like a park bench.  They just sit there looking blankly straight ahead at something only they can see.

But the attrition should be well underway by Monday, 2/3/14.  This disruption is a seasonal thing - like snowbirds - so we just have to live through it.  By March 10th they'll all be gone!  Just in time for the Spring robins to come out.  They at least will be welcome.   

Monday, January 20, 2014


The new Tonsorial Parlor is located at 210 W. Grand, El Segundo    310-648-7570

Dale Snowberger, Prop., Artiste in Residence and Contractor

Old Town Patio and Grill Big Beer

Sunday, January 19, 2014

This'n That

Being a random grab bag of not much at all ...

Dinner Table Critique
Richie wanted to know what starch he would be having with his fish and salad?  I told him it would be "an upscale macaroni and cheese" and he seemed satisfied, if curious. 

Midway through dinner I remembered to ask how he was enjoying Trader Joe's Gnocchi al Gorgonzola?  He made a face and said, "Not much - it tastes like plaster." 

I was shocked!  I liked it!

I've Got Leeks!
Back off, Snowden - not that kind.

 I discovered that Trader Joe is now selling 1 lb. bags of washed and sliced leeks for $1.49 a bag, frozen section.  I can't remember ever having seen leeks at the local markets (but I knew what they looked like from pictures.)  

I've substituted Vidalia onions for them in recipes.. but all readings about them suggest that they are tricky to handle.  Grown in sandy soil, you have to make sure you've gotten every single bit of sand off.  Some recipes call for the green part; others the white.  What's a body to do?  I could go to  and type in "leek recipes"...I could substitute leeks for Vidalia next time I use those onions...

I am thinking vichyssoise the next time we have cooler weather - if that ever happens, that is.

Pay Back Time
Richie got me for last night's upscale macaroni and cheese... from this morning's Kiddie section - "What cheese do you use in the moat of a castle?
Answer:  MOAT-zarella! 

Well, yes, but he is a good provider; nothing is ever too much trouble for a friend (not so much me) and he is very good to animals.  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

You're (Apparently) Nevet Too Old For A Spanking

The February issue of Vanity Fair had an article that so shocked a friend of mine down in Texas, that she e'd me about it in horror.  It's note worthy that very little ever shocks a native-born Texan, male or female. 

By coincidence VF had arrived just that day and while I'd seen the headline on the front cover, I hadn't had time to peruse the article about the 83 year old woman who is France's acknowledged dominatrix.  Let that sink in for a moment.

I'm stunned that:

any country would have an "acknowledged dominatrix.  My mind runs more to perhaps a Poet Laureate such as the late Robert Frost or something else benign like that. 
That an 83 year old woman won (but she'd been practicing for the past 60 years)  She is also tiny - 4 ft. 11 in. and 89 lbs., and wears rimless glasses like a nun.

The French think this is cool.  On the other hand, many of them also admired the late Francoise Sagan, considered by some to be the J.D. Salinger of France.  "It was such a beautiful day - if it had not been, she would have killed herself" would be a typical Sagan-esque entry. 

Catherine Robbe-Grillet is the widow of the noted sadist (only in France) Alain Robbe-Grillet.  Her companion in crime is a 51 yea old woman named Beverly Charpentier.  This odd couple live in a "secret location" chateau in Normandy (Chateau du Mesnil-au-Grain) and have adjoining apartments in Paris.

They are adamant that they are not sadists which they define as deliberately harming another against their will (what about the guy who wound up in ER gushing blood?)   They say that dominance is all about giving yourself freely to the will of another.  Robbe-Grillet says, "It is not about pain.  It is about how to suffer beautifully like Saint Sebastian."  (If I'm remembering the correct saint, he looked like a porcupine with all of those arrows stuck in him.) 

The French are famous for adopting a pose - nihilist - existentialist - always something "intellectual" and they happily parade around in the flowing robes of their newly-found obsession. 

The bonus for Robbe-Grillet is that her "acolytes" do the housework (including window washing) and her chef is well known in Parisian gourmet circles.  How painful is that?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Adding Sophistication To The Humble Avocado...

The Super Bowl will be played on February 2nd.  Statistics show that guacamole (and thus avocados) enjoy their greatest popularity of the entire year on this one day. 

I like "guac" as well as the next person and Richie makes a very good one.  But Food and Wine has upped the ante just a little...

AVOCADO TARTARE aka Jumped-Up Guacamole
2 T olive oil
2 T minced red onion
1 T each of Dijon mustard, lemon juice, drained capers. 
Stir in half a minced jalapeno and 3 drops of Worcestershire sauce
Fold in two diced avocados and serve with small triangles of toast.  You can crook your pinky elegantly - or not.  It's not mandatory. 

Use a blender to puree 1/2 chopped ripe avocado with 2 teas. lemon juice and 1/3 cup hot water until smooth.  With the machine on, drizzle in 2 T of olive oil.  Pepper to taste and serve over poached eggs.

A very Southern California Sunday brunch dish ...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Choice of Smoke

Joey's BBQ, 1964 W. Foothill Dr., Upland and presumably its twin at 3689 Riverside, Chino, offer either mesquite charcoal or hickory wood.

There were five us and we'd come in from nearby Claremont for lunch.    We all had an adult beverage (two margaritas and three beers) as well as substantial lunches for a total of $100 or $20 a pop plus tip.  We stuck to main stream beef and pork except for my shrimp kabobs - grilled bbq shrimp and tomato slices.  We could have had a country sausage link dinner or thick=sliced ham or filet mignon, tri-tip or rib eye steak. 

I smiled at the spin on a taco salad that they call a "BBQ Salad" - your choice of bbq meat tossed in bbq ranch dressing with baby iceberg lettuce, chips, tomato, green onions and shredded cheese on the side  $11.95

More carnivorous types would prefer the Pork-A-Rama sandwich described as "One of our homemade sausage links on a 10-in. French roll piled high with our pulled pork and served with our homemade bbq sauce. 

Sides are:  potato salad, bbq beans, cole slaw, corn cobbette, French fries, yam fries or homemade potato ships - only two sides per person now!

Desserts are two bread puddings - one served with whipped cream and honey (and I've mentally filed away using honey with a bread pudding as a good idea)  or apple caramel bread pudding for $4.95.  Peach cobbler  with whipped cream or a chocolate brownie with chocolate chip vanilla ice cream for $5.95.

It's a big restaurant with a large covered patio for dining and an open front patio to wait if the place is full.  John Wayne movie posters are part of the décor; rustic is the rest.  To signal a server run up the little flag on the mast in the middle of the table.  Of course the toilets were labeled "Cowboys" or "Cowgirls"!  How can you even ask?!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

News From Across the Pond

I happened upon a good source of news and despite the fact that it's rather "news lite" some of you might enjoy it


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Why the Daily News Makes Me Laugh

Updating les affaires Hollande - it turns out that Hollande and Segoline who have four children never bothered to marry.  In the "comments" section of the article it was pointed out somewhat forcefully to Valerie aka Mistress #2, "What goes around comes around, so suck it up Valerie."  

None of the commenters could find the slightest reason to consider Hollande attractive in any way with which I would heartily agree; he looks like the popular cartoon of an accountant - no offense meant to any who may be reading this.  I think the reason many of us depict them as less than worthy is because they do things to us that we don't like.  "Pay this much quarterly tax," being chief among them. 

Amid press speculation as to who, exactly, IS the First Dame (French title used for this situation) and one writer scribbled, "At least, we know who the First Dick is!"

Moving along.  From today's Daily Breeze, I learned that the group of militant wing nuts (anti-gay, anti- same sex marriage and anti-Jews) called the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, KS, made a hurried protest at the El Segundo High School on their way to LAX after protesting at the Golden Globe Awards last night.  They had an early flight to catch. 

This is the group that makes it a point to appear at military funerals and make a scene.  Their wack belief and reason for showing up is that members believe God killed military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan as punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuality.  It's the type of cult insanity that should get them all a one-way ticket to the nearest asylum for the criminally insane, but:  they have freedom of speech (and maybe someone should be looking into that?)

Anyhow, they did a 20 minute demonstration - the bus driver kept the engine running; probably Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) given the hostility always given them - they then grabbed their picket signs and sped off to the airport which begs the question:  what do they do with their picket signs?  Do they just toss them knowing they have more back in Topeka? Do they have one portfolio-sized carrying case that they take turns schlepping or do they put it in checked luggage?

Do they have a travel agent?  I'm sure they all sit together on the plane.  God forbid that any member would wind up seated next to a gay guy or a Jew!  Especially if either one might happen to be a karate black belt with a short fuse...  Frankly I'd pay good money to see the ensuing rumble.   

Monday, January 13, 2014

Update: Finalement

Today's headlines regarding President Hollande revealed that he was driven (on his moped) and rode pillion - just like a girl. 

The French aren't up in arms about his love life; that's his business, but they are concerned about security and his safety as he careens to his mistress on the back of a moped in his black helmet. 

Yes, I am loving this!  He has access to secure vehicles, a police escort and this 59 year old choses a moped to visit his paramour.  Clearly he has easy rider fantasies...   

Sunday, January 12, 2014


I'll spare you further French but I am screaming with laughter at the newest   gossip from there.  Hollande, the President of France visits his mistress on a MOPED.  He is 59 years old!  How hilarious is that?  Whoa - Hell's Angel redux!

The current "First Dame" de France (she's acknowledged as first lady despite being only a mistress of some standing and length of time on the job) ran away to lodge herself in a hospital (in mid-Paris) when the news came out that Hollande has been romancing a movie star (40-something with two children from a previous marriage.)  He now wants to get serious with her - marriage?  Another liaison?   Who knows.  What is well known is that the hospitalized First Dame is the reason Hollande's first marriage to Segolin Royal (mother of his four children) was broken up.

It's really unusual for the French to get upset about a politician's private life (which is what they consider it.)  Apparently our scandals - John Edwards, Anthony (unfortunately named) Wiener, etc. have  infiltrated their thinking...

Vive, America!    

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Snips and Sips

Retired people most generally have to come up with their own amusements.  Everyone else is at work.  Richie has developed some skill at this and the other day he delivered brilliantly.

Dale Snowberger has been cutting Richie's hair for 35 years and mine for 28.  His Tonsorial Parlor was in Manhattan Beach about a block and a half off of the ocean.  Thus parking (all metered, no lots) was a real pain.  That's when we started making double appointments.

Then last year Dale announced that his new salon in El Segundo was almost through consturction.  We nodded and our first question was, "What about parking?"  Dale laughed and said, "Plenty of it, no meters!"

Last week we had a double appointment - we both wanted to see the new digs - and duly arrived at 210 W. Grand, El Segundo.  It's in the Old Town area, just off of Richmond, one of the main drags.  Dale outdid himself with his favored Western theme; you almost expect an old time gunslinger to come ambling in.  Richie shot pictures and you will be impressed when the computer and I get through wrangling about running them.  Trust me for the moment.

When we were once again beautified, we sauntered back to the car marveling at the pressed tin ceilings, the Old West memorabilia; the amazing wood working and how much bigger it was than the old salon.

Out of sheer force of habit, he steered us to a parking spot near the Old Town Patio Bar and Grill where we have idled away many a happy hour drinking Stellas out on said patio.  Today it was too cold for the patio, so we sat at the bar.  I was starving so we split an order of hamburger sliders with bacon and cheese.  I was a little wary about the hamburger because bars generally use those frozen (tough) patties.  Four of the little darlings came out; juicy and flavorful - the bacon crisp and the cheese melted, but not gooey.  $7.   I recommend them and look forward to going back for more.  

When I've won the war with the computer and can pull up the pictures, you will be stunned at the size of the "large" beer.  Seven years at the gym, doing upper body work and I still had to use both hands to lift it!   I thought about asking for a straw, but felt it was a bit gauche to do so.   One is all you will need; promise.   

Friday, January 10, 2014

Looking Back at the '80s (And Not Mistily Either)

Richie's continuing excavations turned up a piece I'd written for American Way, the in-flight magazine for American.  Called "Airheads are boring me."
With some editing for relevance, here's what I wrote:

I am now convinced that all forms of self-therapy should self-destruct.  I am against the insidious use of therapeutic jargon and the monumental selfishness of the '80s.  You can't open a magazine these days without seeing some article on getting out; letting go or finding your inner space.  The library and book store shelves sag with the weight of lighter-than-air volumes on self-help therapy.  The mental picture of Dr. Joyce Brothers and Leo Buscaglia, to name only two, roaring with merriment as they drag yet another sack  of royalties to the bank annoys me. 

Have income and leisure time increased to the point when the only amusement left is sitting around analyzing "the real me"?  Haven't the Yuppies, Buppies and Baby Boomers gotten enough of us interested in eating warm goat cheese on a leaf of radicchio after a ripping game of squash or BMW bragging?

A lot of people seem to be lolling around in their spandex running pants, sucking the ear piece of their Porsche sunglasses, moaning about something they call "my terrible childhood." 

What is this big deal about childhood?  After all for most of us, it's long gone.  So what if your mother didn't know about Perrier and your Dad didn't have a Nautilus machine?   Get over it!

It's well known that old people often live in the past and relate grade school stories because these are the brain cells that die off last.  I'm beginning to think that the "bad childhood-ers" are exhibiting early signs of Alzheimer's disease.

An author named Pryor wrote:  "They never taste who always drink; they always talk who never think."  Better to do something practical; to experience the ideas out in the world rather than huddling around the bonfire of your importance,  developing a talent for introspection that only the owner can appreciate.

And this is what the American Way editor wrote:  "Thank you for submitting your manuscript for consideration.  Although your entry was not selected, we enjoyed your article and appreciate your interest in the magazine."

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Take That!

Richie's brother and his wife flew in from New York today on AA #1 which lands at 12 noon.  It has become a tradition for us to pick them up at LAX, go for lunch and then drive them to their daughter's in Studio City.

Tin Roof Bistro (previously reported) has a number of great dishes and today I selected their Poached Fig, Bacon and Blue Cheese pizza with honey, garlic, thyme and fig syrup - $14. 

When it came, the server with a cheeky grin, set it on the pizza rack thing and said, "One fig and pig!" 

A Good Read

"Broken Harbor" by Tana French   Viking   450 pages   $27.95

The book is set in Dublin, a place that Richie and I enjoyed very much.  We admire the Irish spirit - make the best of it; quit whinging and get on with it. 

The main character is a top detective on the Murder Squad named Mike "Scorcher" Kennedy (a reference to the speed with which he clears cases) now partnered with a rookie on a major murder.  Out in the sparsely-sold suburbs in a floundering development, a man and his wife and their two young children have been attacked -- the father and both kids are dead; the wife nearly so. 

French cleverly uses the way Kennedy is teaching the rookie police detective practicalities to teach the reader as well. 

When a stranger is found, squatting in an empty house overlooking that of the slain family, it would seem that the case can be closed.  But why did this family have five baby monitors pointing at holes smashed in walls all through the house?   Why was their computer totally wiped out? 

The good news is that this is French's second novel featuring Kennedy - something to look forward to!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014



Richie's cousin Ruth Ellen e'd us that their family restaurant, Maria's, got a great review in the newspaper.  The article strongly underlines the aspects of running a family business.  Google "Off the Eaten Path:  the heart of Maria's lives on"

I Miss the French Franc
Richie has been excavating in the garage (again) and this time he turned up with the menu from the Bar Spirit of Saint-Louise at Charles de Gaulle airport outside of Paris.  I Googled for it, but, helas!  Gone.   And not surprisingly, so is the franc.  Ten of them equaled a dollar so I was able to easily know just how much I was spending. 

Aperitif - Americano 20F  $2

Non-alcoholic - Cola  8.20F  82 cents

Beers - Heineken  15,20F  $1.50

But some things will always be pricy:  a bottle of champagne - 129,30F  $13
A split of champagne  66,90F  $6.40

Add to my "Look for Books By" list -- Tana French.   I thought she might be related to Nicci French who is actually a married couple - Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, but not so.  I'm caught up in "Broken Harbor" starring the Dublin-based detective Mike "Scorcher" Kennedy.  To be continued...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Futile Quests, But I Won't Give Up

As a writer and an avid reader, I appreciate the nuances of our English language and its many variations.  The Irish use expressions that Brits generally do not and vice versa.  And I have long been engaged in the losing cause of trying to straighten out mis-uses of the English language in America.

Some of you may remember my indignation (diatribe) at the absurd phrase used by married couples:  "We're pregnant."  Better get on the phone to Ripley's Believe It Or Not - you could make a buck for the baby's college education.

This morning I got irritated all over again when a friend used the so-called polite phrase for death which seems to be "passed."  I wanted to know what he passed?  The gravy dish?  The speed limit?  His bank balance? "" Grow up! I wanted to yell.  "Man up!  We're all gonna die!  It's okay to say that someone died!"  Don't give me this polite "just sparing the feelings stuff" (and "stuff" was substituted for a less than polite word.)

Despite my rage and despair, I was not deranged enough to forget my old friend Google.  To my astonishment there is a site called   that addresses the top 10 over--used words. 

These are some that the site cited:

Love/Hate  At one time these words expressed very strong emotions indeed.  Not today.  In fact "haters" (a derivative) is frequently used in comments to political columns.  If one dares to write in disagreement, Bang!  You're a hater!

"Awesome" usually followed by "dude" - so '80s.

"Gay" used to mean "joyous" as in "Oh, we had such a gay time - the band didn't quit playing until 2 a.m.!"  Today it refers to a homosexual male.  It has now devolved down  to what a gay friend said as he watched two other men jogging down a sidewalk - "That's so gay" and couldn't explain what he meant. 

Aside from "passed" for "died" I also abhor "share."  As in "I wanted to share this with you - blah, blah, blah."  No, idiot, you wanted to tell me something.  Now if you were talking money or a nice dessert - then you'd be talking "share" and I'd be a helluva lot more interested!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Proving a Point

A reader expressed some doubt as to the feasibility of pasta for dessert.  It is well known among you readers that, unfortunately, I am not creative enough  to make up anything complicated (or even good for that matter) so, with no further ado --

24 jumbo shells, boiled, drained and set aside to cool
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar - optional

Put the cocoa powder and confectioners' sugar in a bag, shake the bag.  Put in three shells at a time, close the bag tightly and shake it.  When all of the shells have been "cocoa-ed" you can then fill them with:
Ice cream + banana slices + dollop of fudge sauce =  mini sundae
Ricotta + sugar + mini chocolate chips = soft cannoli
Mascarpone cheese + sugar + drop of coffee = instant tiramisu
Cream cheese + fruit jam + fresh fruit = Italian-style cheesecake

1 cup ricotta
2 T sugar plus extra for rolling
1 T finely-chopped dark chocolate
1 T candied orange peel
Pinch of ground cinnamon
     Mix together and set aside
4 oz. mezzza maniche or any other short tube pasta.  Cook until very tender and then fry them until they are golden and crisp.  Let cool then roll the cooked pasta in the sugar and fill the tubes with the mix.  Garnish with chopped pistachios or chopped candied cherries or chopped orange peel or chopped chocolate.

You be the judge - is pasta suitable for dessert? 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Chemist in the Kitchen

Yesterday's mail brought an offer to subscribe to Cook's Illustrated which boasts "no advertising; you can trust our recommendations" for the paltry sum of $9.95 for a full year which is not as cool as it sounds; it comes out every two months.

I'd taken it before and liked the many drawings of tools and b/w photos of food.  So I whipped out my check book and took them up on it.  Then I settled down to read the issue included.

And that's when I realized why I'd let the first subscription die out.  The bits on how to do things; the questions answered - all were quite interesting.  But what wasn't was:  

On making perfect scrambled eggs - "As the proteins in the eggs continue to heat, they unfold and then bond together to form a latticed gel in a process known as coagulation."   

The real problem was that he was using a rubber spatula instead of a whisk to stir them around in a 12-in. skillet.  A 10-in. and a whisk are the way to go.

His ideas on softening brown sugar - either put it in a bowl with a slice of sandwich bread over it and microwave it for 10-20 seconds or store it in a sealed container with a piece of terra cotta.

But instead of de-crystallizing honey by nuking it - be sure you uncap the plastic bottle first - his way is to put the glass  jar in water  and heat the water to 160 degrees.  Why one and not the other?

He and his staff tested 10 vegetable peelers.  There were two clear winners - the Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss peeler (this is the Y-shaped one) ($3.50) and the Messermeister Pro-Touch Fine Edge Swivel Peeler ($10) which is the type I use but not for $10 - try $7.99 for the OXO Good Grips Swivel Peeler. ..


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Correction: Avant Garde

"Pasta Modern, New & Inspired Recipes From Italy" by Francine Segan   Stewart, Tabori and Tang   208 pages   $35

Segan says that many of the recipes in her book go back to earliest times, but if the nonnas of old could read it, I think they'd be astonished.  Growing up in the Midwest, I'm much more used to spaghetti and meat sauce than such as pasta with chocolate and coffee; chocolate-stuffed shells, almond pasta crunch...

How about winding a raw, tail-on shrimp in spaghetti and sauté-ing it?  Making pastry cups out of cooked spaghetti coiled in muffin tins and baked.  Or substituting big, cooked shells for rice and slamming them full of sushi?

Pasta and fruit?

3 oz. chopped pancetta
Olive oil
2 medium leeks, washed and thinly sliced
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 T sugar
Grated zest of one orange, pepper and grated pecorino cheese for garnishes
1 lb. orecchiette, cooked

Cook the pancetta in olive oil in a skillet big enough to later toss the pasta.  When it's crisp, add the leeks and continue cooking until they are tender.  Add 1/2 cup of orange juice and raise the heat - you're going to cook it to "sticky" and then you will keep adding orange juice and dribbling in sugar until the sauce sticks to the back of a spoon.  Toss in the pasta and coat every bit of it.  Garnish with the zest, pepper and cheese.

2 oz. chopped pancetta or bacon
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 Red Delicious apples, cored, peeled and thinly sliced
olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine
rosemary branch
pepper to taste
1 lb. rigatoni
Parmesan for garnish

Heat 2 T olive oil and cook the pancetta/bacon and onion, then add the apples, wine and rosemary, scraping up any bits in the bottom of the pan.  Cook on high until the wine evaporates - about a minute.  Pepper to taste, remove and toss the rosemary branch.  Toss the cooked pasta in the pan with the sauce.  You can add a tablespoon of pasta water, if needed. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

FINALLY A Book on Politics That's a Fun Read

"This Town - Two Parties and a Funeral - Plus Plenty of Valet Parking - in America's Gilded Capital" by Mark Leibovich   Blue Rider Press   386 pages   $27.95

The book opens from the point of view of an attendee at the memorial service at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for Tim Russert, the late "Meet the Press" honcho.  Much is made of the networking going on with the Wanters addressing the Haves with fawning adoration.  Many will later comment that it's in extremely bad taste to hand out your business card at a memorial, but, well, it's understandable... (ed. What about selfies?)

Much of the book examines the rigorous inattention of the inhabitants to anywhere other than Washington, DC, usually referred to as "This Town" in deprecating, but fond tones.  You know, showing you're an insider and have been for quite some time. 

Leibovich is the Chief National Correspondent for the New York Times magazine.  His previous workplaces include the Times Washington bureau and the Washington Post which is not so fondly often referred to as the WaPo.

The role of the lobbyists there and the usual jump from being a politician to becoming a lobbyist is thoroughly examined.  This process is often called "money-tizing the politics" or similar.  Interesting sketches of well-known pols are limned.  Harry Reid, David Axelrod, James Carville, Hillary and Bill Clinton to name only a few. 

Ever alert for Obama Adoration, I can report that Leibowich reports fairly and honestly which is a rare thing indeed in today's MSM where leg tingles and fainting women abound. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Slacker Countries

Or a fine example of "laundry list" writing ...we had overnight company which has just left the building. 

The following countries celebrate January 1st as New Year's Day:
Hong Kong
New Zealand
South Africa
South Korea

These two countries do not:  Israel and Puerto Rico.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Bring It On 2014!

A very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year to you all.