Friday, October 31, 2014


If you are out and about tonight, please drive slowly as you are entering a zone full of sugar-crazed kids whose costumes may or (more sinisterly) may not stand out in your headlights. 

And for the love of James Herriot, DVM,  don't dress up your dog!  They don't appreciate it.  Cats do not allow themselves to be subjugated as they feel rightfully that they are pretty/handsome enough not to need embellishment. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Hollywood" Wails and Gnashes Its Collective Teeth

And so does Los Angeles magazine.  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is scheduled to open in the old May Company building on Wilshire's Miracle Mile in 2017. 

But there might not be anything worth seeing because incredible costumes and props are being auctioned off left and right. 

A Beverly Hills dentist has painstakingly assembled most of Rick's Café Americaine - chairs, screens, lamps and Sam's piano.  The piano goes for a separate auction and is expected to fetch more than $1 million. 

The Maltese Falcon is already gone - $4 million at an auction last year.

Don't look for Judy Garland's blue pinafore (Wizard of Oz) which was sold in 2011 for $910,000.  But:  it's Hollywood practice to make four or five duplicates of the leading actors costumes in the event of an accidental spill or tear.  Someone, somewhere will undoubtedly have one.

A collector in the Middle East snapped up Monroe's whit pleated dress for $5.6 million.  I presume this included dry cleaning.

Other items and what they fetched.  All were sold by auction houses.

Charlie Chaplin hat and cane - used in "A Dog's Life" $62,500

Gene Kelly's suit from "Singin' in the Rain" - $106,250

And I just realized that all of the above items are going to draw this response from today's youngsters --"Uh, who?"

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tater Tots! You're Back!

I saw you just yesterday on the menu at Britt's Barbecue, El Segundo (previously reviewed.)  I was so surprised to see you!  Yes, I know - supermarket frozen section have tons of you, but I haven't bought any for at least 30 years.

You see, this is how that happened.  In the first blush of being a newly-wed, I served you at dinner one night.  Richie poked disdainfully at you (apologies) and said, "I don't like these; let's not have any more of them"  So we didn't.  Which brings up the question - what happened to MY mind!?  To be obedient for 30 years? 

Anyhow, the next time I saw one of you was on the children's buffet at Ports O Call.  Uh, you don't really stay crisp in a steamer pan.  Might want to talk to management about that ...

A day later, still bemused by the Tater Tots on Britt's menu, I got curious about you.  Are you an old German snack?  Potatoes seem to be popular there...

Here's what I learned - I know you know it, but correct me if I'm wrong anywhere here.  Wikipedia is not always the best source.

Ore-Ida (now a division of H. J. Heinz) invented the forerunners in 1953.  Essentially Tater Tots are leftovers - potato scraps and slivers left over from making other potato products.  With the addition of some spices and flour, they were missed up and shot through an extruder to form what we see today.

They were finally ready for market in 1956 and sold as "Tater Tots" named by a female employee in a contest.    But they were sold so cheaply that people were suspicious and wouldn't buy them.  So up went the price and out the door went the Tater Tots.  People are funny, aren't they? 

 Today 70+ million pounds of them are sold every year in the U.S.  Australia and New Zealand call them "Tator Gems."  Canadians eat "Potato Crunchies."  They also come in disc shape which are topped with cheese or chili. 

"Don't serve them any more?"  You should have seen him roar through the basket we were served at Britt's.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Lighthearted Look at Death

"That's not possible!" you snarl?  "Death is Serious Business" (loftily.  Well, of course it is; I'm not disrespecting Mr. Death, but you don't have to be so damned grim about it!

First, you must believe that every living thing on this planet is going to (eventually) die.  Which would include you. But if you don't "believe" in death for us all but do believe you will merely be transported back to your home planet, then go do the dishes or wax your car or something.  We don't need you here.

I think of death as the Last Big Adventure.  No one has ever come back and described where they had been or what they had been doing, so why not go with the adventure theory?  

Now let's move to the fun stuff -- the "afters" of your funeral.  Afters is a word in common usage to describe the reception given attendees after you have been disposed of - with suitable lamentations, tears and wracking sobs, of course.

By the way, have your remains cremated to avoid that nasty scene at the cemetery when a grieving relative/friend tries to throw themselves into the grave with you.  Posted signs reading "Single Occupancy Only" have proved to be less than effective.

It's afters time!  It's your duty as host (as it were) to provide an open bar, food and ensuing gaiety.  Helpful hint:  order the champagne servers to re-fill a flute even if it's only a third empty.  Let's kick start this party!

Consider opening the karaoke session with a rousing rendition of Vera Lynn's "We'll meet again" which is perfect for this event and was very popular during WW2.  Cheery, upbeat - all of the things you'd want to comfort the crowd. 

And make sure you have transportation available for inebriated guests.  You don't want them all piling in on you at once before you've settled in.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Richie Conquers Broccoli

In 1990, George H. W. Bush famously declared that he didn't like broccoli as a kid and he doesn't like it now and, as President, never wants to ever eat another bite of it.   Fairly straight-forward speech for a President.

There are a number of us who feel the same way.  In season, I will eat it (sparingly) but I have to give it some flavor with soy sauce or oyster sauce; Tabasco doesn't work all that well. 

Richie found a recipe (Food and Wine) and made it night before last.  It was so good that I made it last night and we ate it again.  However... mine wasn't as good as his because I changed the method.

1 or 2 lbs. broccoli, trimmed into spears
1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
olive oil
2 oz. pepperoni or salami
1 clove garlic, sliced
2 T Dijon mustard

Rub the broccoli with olive oil and broil it till it is lightly burned in spots. 

Mix the panko, garlic and meat together and pulse it a Cuisinart.

Run one edge of the broccoli through the Dijon and then drag it through the panko crumbs mixture.

Store leftover crumbs (if any) in a container and use it for garnish for something else. 

When I made it, I chopped the broccoli and sautéed it in olive oil, having added the mustard to the olive oil.  Then I  added a tiny bit of water and slammed the lid on the pot to steam it.  And then I dusted it with Richie's leftover crumbs. It wasn't nearly as nice as Richie's.

Roasting the broccoli really works out better.  My bad. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Frankly, I'm Surprised They Ran It

The Daily Breeze, Oct. 25, 2014

Proposition's flaws make it impossible to support
Re "Yes on Proposition P for parks, open spaces in LA County" (Endorsement, Oct. 23),

Dear Sirs:
Editorially, you advise people voting yes for a proposition that is "flawed" and that was a last-minute proposal "with very little public input."  Have you lost your collective minds?  A lot of military, over the years, have died for this kind of mindless voting?

Nina Murphy
Redondo Beach

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Up In the Air About Ebola

The media is wearing itself out giving us the details of passengers who are being isolated - because they have Ebola in New Jersey ( EWR )and New York (JFK).

Richie wants to fly back to Long Island in November  -- via JFK.  I am hesitant, but not for the reason you might suppose.  I am not afraid of Ebola; it's the side effects - someone sneezes at the gate.  "EBOLA" shrieks the crowd waiting to board and a mass exodus then takes place; grown men shoving past little old ladies (me) and trampling small children (yours.)

Worse still is that we land at JFK and it is discovered that one of our fellow travelers has it and the entire plane load, crew and all, is put into isolation.  For 21 days.  Our cat sitter will make a fortune - $630 and while I'm grateful for her kind services... in this instance I'd rather not have to go such expense.  (Nickel Nose Nina, remember her?)

So I turned to my never-failing air expert.  A retired United Airlines pilot.  He is my first go-to when there is an "incident."  La, the merry time we had speculating on the fate of the still-missing Malaysia aircraft. 

He wrote back, "With seven cases in the US, the odds are in your favor; far better than getting on a plane on any given day for health risks.  We've all sat next to someone with hepatitis, HIV, SARS and God knows what else."

He added that airplane bathrooms are toxic waste dumps.  We can all agree wholeheartedly about that.  I think that even a hazmat suit would still leave you vulnerable. 

Do visit his Website   which sells retired commercial jet equipment to benefit a variety of children's issues.  Feel like turning the ceiling panel of the cockpit into a coffee table top? 

Need a few jump seats for the living room?  These are very handy.  Make sure you buy it with the seatbelt - if someone gets knee-walking drunk, you just sit them down, buckle them up and go back to partying.  They aren't going anywhere.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Positive Reinforcement, Kitten Style

For more than 30 years, we have hosted a series of cats.  The first visitors - three siblings - were kittens probably about 2 months old.  From them I learned "Never leave the toilet lid up"  "Always turn pot handles away from the floor" and to store my watch and ring in a lidded box.

Kittens notice anything sparkly and go directly to it, play with it after which time, they run off and hide it.  Eventually you will find it again.

Yesterday morning I was in a hurry.  Opened the box, put on my ring and hid my watch (a rather nice Emporio Armani) under a napkin on the dining room table.  "Should be safe enough," I thought.  "None of it was visible" and sailed off down the stairs to shower.

I had stepped out of the shower and was drying off when Richie walked in to the bathroom and silently extended his open hand to me.  Nestled in his palm were the watch and the back to the watch which was, incidentally, quite dead.

Fred.  There was no question that he had done it.  The other two cats are too old, too fat and too well-trained to get up on the dining room table.

We took the watch into the jewelry store and will get it back after 3 p.m. today.  I can't wait - I live by the clock, not the sword..

You and I both know that Fred will not contribute a dime to pay for the damage.  He's a hopeless deadbeat.  But he did reinforce the fact that I can't leave anything glittery in plain view.  I just can't quite bring myself to thank him for it

Others will always have Paris.  We'll always have cats.

I've got my watch back!  Yes!  And Seymour Jewelers,  Hermosa Ave, Hermosa Beach very graciously did this:  as I fished around in my purse for $15, I pulled out a $10 and then a $5 and the clerk pushed the $5 back saying with a wink, "That's okay" and, of course, I protested - they did a job; they get the money, but she insisted.

I looked at her and said, "Is this out of pity because I have a rotten, deadbeat kitten? " and she laughed.  But I bet it was... 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Nature - Red Of Tooth and Claw

That might be overstatement as we'll be discussing insects.  But they're zombie insects!

It's hard to believe that the august National Geographic follows trends such as the fairly recent ta-ra-ra about zombies.  I myself was skeptical that anyone could make an insect's life a matter of heart-pounding excitement until I read about crickets.  Crickets chirp on summer evenings; they lend a bucolic air to the most jaded of urban areas.

Well, guess  what - the ordinary house cricket can become host to something called the horsehair worm.  When the worm has invaded the cricket bang!  his days are numbered because crickets are land based and worms live in water.

The National Geographic says that the worms alter the brain of the crickets and force them to jump into the nearest body of water.  When the cricket dies from their suicidal plunge, the worm swims victoriously away. 

There are several more examples given, but I'm hoping that you might go to the National Geographic Website and read "Mind Suckers."  If the magazine continues to follow trends, vampires can only be next. 

COMMENT - "Oh, no, not vampires!  You made the worms sound as terrifying as ISIS!"  South Bay Lady

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

This'n That

Billy Crystal Is Funny
Until you get to the middle of the book when it becomes the writer's resume of previous jobs/appearances held/made.

Based on the number of best friends, dearest friends it would seem necessary for him to rent an  arena for a cocktail party.

"Still Foolin' Them - Where I've Been, Where I'm Going and Where the Hell Are My Keys" by Billy Crystal   Henry Holt & Co.   272 pages   $28

The Shingles Shot
A friend's bout with shingles inspired me to pursue getting one.   At our local CVS I asked for it.  "Oh, no," said the pharmacist, "You see it has to be refrigerated  so the delivery trucks can's carry it because they may start at 7 in the morning and we don't get our shipments till 3 p.m."

He added that it has to be prescribed by your doctor.  I had a routine appointment coming up so I made a mental note to ask for one.  I was given the Rx, Alba the nurse called the pharmacy (just down the hall) to make sure they had it in stock and they did.

I duly went to the pharmacy, handed in the Rx and soon had the shot (in a syringe in a verrry long pill bottle and back I went to the clinic.  Alba was paged and gave me the shot. 

Medicare and insurance won't pay it, so I whipped out my credit card.  The total for this shot?  $215 (including injection of said shot.)  Yeah, I'll admit to a little sticker shot but I know that if I'd asked anyone who has ever had shingles  whether it was a good investment, to a person they would bellow ' DO IT!'

Illinois BBQ
My sister sent me the link to the menu at Big Ed's Bar  & Grill, Libertyville, IL

There I saw something I haven't seen in 60 years-- burned ends!  Back in the day, my Dad would make a run on our bbq joint in Kansas City and very often he bought a pound of them. 

This sounded good -- a sort of barbecue world tostada -- that we can all make at home.

Pig Salad ingredients - iceberg or romaine lettuce, tomato, cucumber, blue cheese, bacon, pulled pork with bbq sauce, tortilla chips blue cheese dressing.  .

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Restautant Kitchens 101

"Sous Chef - 24 Hours on the Line" by Michael Gibney   Ballantine Books   214 pages   $25

Having always wondered exactly how a professional kitchen is run; who does what and what tools are used, "Sous Chef" answered a lot of questions.

Before you even read any words (other than the dedication and a relevant quote) you are faced with a labeled floor plan of a typical kitchen which faces a Kitchen Chain of Command.  Even I knew that "Chef" leads the pack and the last straggler is labeled "chef plongeur" (French for "diver;" here it means "dishwasher."  La, the French are droll, are they not?)

Gibney takes through a typical day which starts around 9 a.m. with the opening chef prowling around, making sure everything got cleaned up the night before.  The  suppliers start streaming in which are minutely examined and stored.  He's joined by an a.m. prep cook who gets the ball rolling for the things that have a long cooking time. 

The day winds along - no spoiler alert here - until the kitchen closes, usually around 10:30 p.m.  The customers are gone.  The staff meets and discusses service flaws, errors that can be avoided in future and other weighty matters.

But the night is not over for staff because many of them like to wind down in a bar.  The opening chef can't play too long as he/she has to be back in the restaurant by 9 a.m.  Getting in at 3 or 4 a.m. is not a good idea, especially going to bed hammered out of the mind.

In the back of the book is a helpful glossary of terms used in the kitchen.  Faced with the list of high wire acts and colorful personalities of the personnel - it's too much for me.  Not that I'm a delicate flower - far from it.  But these people all have knives and/or hot pans to give you a reminder that revenge exists in the kitchen.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ink Or Swim

Today's LA Times Travel section has an article of some interest to tattooed persons.

It's a five-day cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Cozumel, Mexico, on April 16 - 20 aboard the Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the  Seas for $970 per person.

It's being billed as the First-ever North American tattoo cruise!  On board, passengers will have access to Tattoo Alley where name artistes will be waiting to give you some fresh ink (not included in the cruise cost.)  The gaiety is not limited to getting inked; it includes contests for Best Original and Best Nautical, a burlesque show,  a free portrait and a beach picnic in Cozumel. 


But the emphasis put on the "first ever tattoo cruise" suddenly struck me as possibly sinister ... What if some guy, a demolition expert, hates tattoos because his beloved Granny Harley-Hog got one and then died of infection?  And his was the first cruise ticket sold? 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

God Misquoted?

This morning's Daily Breeze (A section, page 3) carried a news item about a local pending election.  Essentially, there are three Democrats and one lone Republican all vying for the vacant seat  left when its former owner went to prison for three months for perjury and voter fraud - he didn't live in the district he represented.

One of the Democrat candidates has dropped out, telling press that he didn't want to contribute to "a bitter fight between the Democrats and the black caucus."  Huh?  Didn't the white caucus have anything to say?  Oh, that's right -- we don't have one.

I am appalling ignorant of Biblical matters (and let me stay that way, please) but I'm reasonably sure God said, "Love one another."  I don't think He said, "Love some of the others."

Friday, October 17, 2014

Continued - Cooper Explains It All to Me

The business-card carrying (alleged) homeless man did show up yesterday; his hair clearly shampooed and shining, wearing a fresh short-sleeved cotton shirt and slacks.  He is very thin, but wiry.

When none of us had any suggestions for him on getting his book reviewed, he quietly got up and vanished.  He did stay long enough to sign in and after he'd gone, I had a rare burst of intelligence and looked to see his name - it was exactly the same as the one on his card.

Cooper explained that he felt that he had given us sufficient information last week; this week he expected answers.  And we disappointed him.  he doesn't realize that we can't get results without him divulging the pertinent information.  Such as what the damned book is about.  To tackle this issue or let it alone ... we've got all week to consider it.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Homeless Guy's Business Card

Last Thursday, we were joined at the South Bay Writer's Workshop by a new guy.  He seemed shy as he sat, head bent down, studying some papers in his hand, but newbies often are.  Cooper, who happened to be sitting closest to him was chatting quietly to him.

After we sorted ourselves out, paper and pens at the ready, she stood up and said that he (head nod) had a question for us and then he'd be gone.  He looked around shyly through strands of dark brown hair that fell like curtains around his face.  He explained, haltingly, that he had written a book for a non-profit (organization) and how did he go about getting it reviewed in the local papers?

Naturally almost everyone chimed in with a suggestion.  I said that I'm a former PR counsel and would be happy to help...his head jerked around and he blurted, "No! no! publicity for me!"

I grinned and said, "Damn!  You don't make it easy!" whereupon he looked me in the eye and gave a small, shy smile. 

I apologized for not having a business card on me and he dug in a pocket of his khaki windbreaker, handed me one of his, thanked us all and left. 

After the meeting, I said to Cooper, "I thought that was a friend of yours?" and she laughed and said, "Nina, that was a homeless guy!  Didn't you see how ... disheveled he looked?  The wrinkled khakis?  The dirty hair?"  Growing exasperated, "Didn't you smell him?"

I blinked and said, "No, I smoke; I can't smell, anything." and flipped the card over.  It read:

2nd Lt. Hxxx Sxxx, CAP
Clover Field Composition Squadron 51
   with the street address, squadron phone number, a home number and e-mail address.

I wondered if it was indeed his card and, if so, does the Civil Air Patrol know they've lost one?

Today Thursday has rolled around again and I am curious to see if he will be back.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"Social Media" Turns Geezers Into Tweeners

I HATE "social media" - the FaceBooks, the Selfies, Twitter et al.   I thought it was just because I felt and still do that the lower you can position yourself below the radar, the better off you are. 

Examples:  my first "author photo" was a pair of black suede driving moccasins.  A friend commented sardonically, "Doesn't really look like 'you.'"
I ran a Cabo photo and identified the trio as "Tourists."  The people that know us know it was me, Richie and Raffish.

Jump now to a rather febrile novel I was reading when I came across this passage. I said, "Ah hah!   Now I get it"

A man is complaining to his ex-girlfriend.  "When you and I communicate, I want to do it directly.  You write to me; I write to you.  You ask questions and I answer them.  You stop getting news of me from third parties.

"Those judgments - "Like"  "Don't like"  Smiles"   "Frowns" and" OMG you've  UNFRIENDED me?"  We were doing that in junior high school.  The world has dorkified itself."

The man continues, "I mean I can't send you e-mails because you immediately forward them to someone else.  I can't send you a photo because you instantly post it on your own profile."

Exactly so.  By virtue of spending vast swaths of time online people are losing the ability, let alone desire, to spend time one on one.  Woman at a bar to her date, "Hold on - I've got to get this."  A half hour passes and the date shakes his head and stands up  to leave and, genuinely surprised,  she says, "Oh!  Are you leaving?" 

By splatterdashing all you know on a continual effort "to share" we are actually turning into a world of loners.  Not good.  Worse - turning our grandparents into tweeners.  They've done their time!


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It's Only a Matter of Time

Before another U.S. President is assassinated.  So says Ronald Kessler in his newest addition to his previous 17 books about the Secret Service and the FBI.

"The First Family Detail - Secret Service Agents Reveal (editor - dish on) the Hidden Lives of the Presidents"  Crown Forum   258 pages   $26

Kessler pads his tale with previously disclosed tidbits such as Amy Carter was totally spoiled and a real brat.  On Air Force 1, she would take an open snack sack, crumble the contents and pour it on the floor, with her eyes daring the agent to say anything.

Jenna and Barbara Bush were Twin Troublemakers who delighted in  escaping their protection.  Chelsea Clinton was considered very nice, unlike her parents.  Hillary's agents considered duty with her as punishment and Bill's detail quickly grew tired of sexist remarks and speculation about a woman's... availability and frat house behavior.

New material includes the agents dislike of Michelle Obama for forcefully encouraging her husband to be more aggressive attacking Republicans and to always side with blacks in racial controversies.
Joe Biden's penchant for swimming nude in front of female agents is well-known but not this.  When in his hometown in Delaware, the agents carrying "the football" (nuclear attack response)  are told to stay at  minimal one mile from his car.  In the event of a nuclear attack while Biden's got the bomb, we'd all be killed avers Kessler.

It's an interesting enough read, but having read a previous tome, I'd have to say, "Read if you must, but keep a grain of salt handy while you do. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Sudden Strong Suspicion ...

That our pets are much smarter than previously thought. 

If you read this column yesterday, you will recall that I was desperately searching for a way to wake up and not start shouting before I opened my eyes.

This morning was ... strange.  It was eerily serene upstairs - the kind of a serenity seen in the smile of the young widow as the coffin containing her late, very rich husband slides in the crypt.    I swear it was as if they'd read yesterday's blog!  And consequently were laying  low.  Can animals go online?  And read?

If so, here's what I think could have happened.  Lady Bird, the cockatiel flew over and lifted the laptop lid.    It should be noted that she lives in a large cage and every door in it is twist-tied shut.  Yes, another mystery!  Mysteries upon mysteries...

Laptop lid open, the cats start to work.   "Pull up yesterday's column" shrieks one of the seniors.  "Lemme see, too!" says Fred as he tries to wriggle in between the two of them in front of the computer.

Streak hissed (quietly) at him - habits are hard to break.

They read the ad for a wrangler, collectively shuddering.  They looked at each other and probably thought, "This is not a good thing for us.  Yet another stranger in the house (the two seniors cast level gazes at poor Fred.)  Let's try to accommodate her tomorrow morning.  She's dangerous with that spray bottle." 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Wrangler Wanted: Murphy's Morning Rodeo

Dear Applicant:  This is a seven mornings a week position and you must be an early riser.  The rodeo generally starts at 6:10 a.m.  You will not need to rely upon an alarm clock as the thud of pounding feet (four per animal) plus the caterwauling of one of the senior cats will easily rouse you.  Incidentally I now know the origins of the word "caterwauling." 

The Murphy Morning Rodeo is comprised of two 12 year old female cats (Streak and Minuit) and one 10 month old male kitten.  (Fred)  Due to the vast difference in their ages, they might as well be located on separate planets.

With youth's brimming vitality, Fred hits the kitchen looking for kibble bits.  He has a growing animal's fondness for FOOD AND RIGHT NOW!

The Ladies are much more traditionally catlike with a sniff here; a mouthful there and then retiring to consider "Another bite?  Or a bath ... hmmm."  Consequently while they are pre-occupied with these deep questions, Fred is at their food bowls, eating like a super-charged snow plow. 

The Ladies (as usual) have decided on a pre, pre-morning nap.  But Fred wants to play!  So he marches off to the pre-morning nap spot and annoys Streak until she can't stand it and starts growwwling like a deranged thing.  She displays an impressive range in scale use and volume.   Minuit, well acquainted with Fred from the backyard (and weighs 8 lbs. more) doesn't have to say anything.  He knows to leave her alone. 

Streak though hates him and he knows it.  This is the kitten in him - he simply can't resist teasing her.

Meanwhile, below stairs, the lady of the house has just given up on another half-hour of blessed silence (and therefore sleep) and gets up grumpily.

You can see that we need you desperately for the morning feeding/rodeo.  We can discuss salary in the afternoon as I am vulnerable in the morning and might possibly say, "$100 a day!  For God's sake, shut them up!"

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Planning A Bonfire of Vanity Fairs

Vanity Fair  arrived yesterday and it is slightly more interesting than usual.  If you are not a reader, allow me to explain the magazine's format:  let us now laud movie stars, designers, artists and writers no one ever heard of and go after the wanna bes with articles listing the 50 richest women or top 100 socialites, etc.

The editor is a man named Graydon Carter, who is a transplanted Canadian who never finished either of the two universities he attended.  The most notable thing about him is his hair - long, combed straight back with little wings on either side - which is the same color as George Washington's whom he strongly resembles.  Googling him provided the information that he is on his third wife which surprised the hell out of me.  I figured he was gayer than a Christmas tree - not that there's anything wrong with either thing.

Even more surprising to the discerning is the fact that he claims to be a libertarian while 11 issues out of 12 make much ado about the benevolence of Democrats along with fulsome praise.  If that's libertarianism, color me gone.  

Anyhow.  From the November issue:

"My Stuff" is a look through rich/famous peoples' closets - including underwear and sheet brands (a high thread count is absolutely mandatory.)  This is actually a very thinly disguised ad page.

"Hot Tracks" features Bryan Ferry, formerly of Roxy Music.  He has adult sons named Tara, Isaac, Merlin and Otis.  MERLIN?!

"Beauty"  Estee Lauder is launching a new facial skin rejuvenator in paired bottles.  The gold vial is black diamond truffle elixir (their word) infused with 24-karat gold.  The platinum vial holds fine-spun South Sea pearl dust.     4360

"The Social Network" feature is a book called "The Social Climber's Bible:  A Book of Manners, Practical Tips and Spiritual Advice for the Upwardly Mobile"  A free tip - Coco Chanel advised to dress as you wish to be perceived, but the authors upped the ante by adding that social climbers should look like they belong ANYWHERE.

A new book of photos of the Rolling Stones is coming (552 pages) with a limited edition to be signed by all four of them.  Hurry and get that now before they're all dead.  The jury has been out for some time about whether or not Charlie Watts is still with us. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Trader Joe Done Gone About as Crazy as Anyone Could Ever Hope To Be

Maligning our beloved Trader Joe (my next husband)?  He's got a new American disease - pumpkin-itis syndrome.

During the run-up to Thanksgiving, we are perfectly prepared to buy a pumpkin loaf mix or a pumpkin pie (Richie makes a very good one from scratch) - in short, the traditional T-Day accoutrements.

See if you don't agree with my assessment of overkill - insert the word "pumpkin" in front of everything on the list that follows:

Spice Coffee
O's - breakfast cereal
waffle and pancakes mix - regular and gluten-free
ice cream
breakfast rolls with pumpkin spice icing (previously, they were cinnamon buns)
cream cheese muffins
pumpkin-spiced pumpkin seeds - double shot!
non-fat Greek yogurt
cream cheese
   Don't forget too put the word "pumpkin" in front of every one of these
bread pudding
dark chocolate salted caramels
brittle (candy)
scone cookies
cranberry scone mix
bar baking kit
This Pumpkin Walks Into a Bar
toaster pastries
corn bread mix
mochie ice cream
instant oatmeal
Joe-Joe's sandwich cookies
organic canned pumpkin

And if that's not enough, you can rub Pumpkin Body Butter all over your body!  RIP, Joe - I know all of this creativity done brought you down. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

This'n That

We're adding bannisters to the wall side of our stairs.  I was reminded of the time we were visiting Red and Barbara in Dallas and Red called our attention to the fact that all four of us were using the handrails at the museum. 

Our stairs do have bannisters, but they are located where there is no wall.  The  new  "grab bars" will be set into the stairwell walls.  Can't wait to tell Red that we're going to be double handrail users!

I'm thoroughly enjoying "Paris In Love" by a woman named Eloisa James.  She, her husband (both teachers) and their children, a 15 year old boy and an 11 year old girl spent a year there.    Her view is one that will reverberate with anyone who has ever been there. 

Ebola thought:  no one has mentioned the fates of the flight attendants on board with a virus-laden passenger.    They should all be getting hazardous pay.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lazarus! Is That You?

I have a cousin in  Indiana and he is our guest editor today.  He came back from the dead, just for us.

"This actually happened to me!  Yesterday I had an appointment with my family physician at 4:40 in the afternoon.  When I entered the office, the staff  was extremely courteous and helpful, not completely unusual, but it seemed a bit overdone.

When I finally saw the doctor, he said,  "We  are so glad to see you!  We thought you were dead!"

I was dumbfounded and asked why they thought that?  He then showed me an e-fax on his computer from a hospital in our city.  The fax was advising me that I was pronounced expired at that hospital's ER on 9/26/14 as a result of cardiac arrest, suffered while walking in a park.

All of the information on the form was MY medical info. My doctor said that he had felt devastated when he first read the fax because he had just told me a month ago that I was in "perfect health."  He said he thought, "How am going to explain to his wife that I misdiagnosed her husband's situation?"

The entire staff then expressed their relief at learning that I had not really passed.

I told them that the person who died on 9/26/14 was a cousin of mine and that apparently the hospital got the information crossed up. 

His office was going to try to get it straightened out for me, but he suggested I follow up quickly. 

After telling my wife of this fiasco, we were watching "Jeopardy" when we saw the final category was titled "Faux-bits"  Trebek explained it focused on people whose deaths had been falsely reported.  We laughed uproariously, and the one liners that followed were hilarious.

As it currently stands, hospital records say I am deceased so I must be a zombie.  My first concern is to resurrect my existence so maybe my first appointment should be with Dr. Frankenstein.

As Samuel Clemons said, "The report of my death was an exaggeration."

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Underpants - Pro or Con

This will not be a dissertation on the necessity of wearing some.  The Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohans of this world can duke that out.  Have at it, ladies.

No, we're going over to France.  Some time ago, I reviewed a sort of "how to be as cool as French women" book and learned that French women spend serious money on lacy bits of lingerie.  The premise was that while no one but her spouse or lover will ever see them, but knowing she could hop into bed, dressed for a successful seduction gives her confidence.   None of this "Mais non!" Or waving the EMTs away due to an unhappy choice while dressing that morning. 

No, what brought me two new underpants was a set of circumstances.  Back in November, my sister e'd me an exultant note about her new leopard-print vest.

I e'd back, asking if she had taken a job as a croupier or drinks girl at a Las Vegas hotel?

Indignantly, she said "No!" and proceeded to lecture me on how "hot" they were.

Undismayed, I e'd back that vests were tacky in the extreme and faux leopard was a major insult to leopards all over the world.  We both hissed off .

But by Christmas present shopping time, I'd figured out my retaliation and charged into Victoria's Secret for animal-print "Cheekies" as a rather pointed reminder that animal prints are only fit for underwear.  I found three pairs.  One had a lion's snarling head on the front; clearly something of a detriment to romance. 

At the cashier's desk I was informed that Cheekies were on sale; five for whatever amount of money.  Having exhausted their supply of animal prints, I bought the other two for myself. 

I chose a pair in Day-Glo orange and another in Day Glo periwinkle blue.  Consisting mostly of elastic lace, both pairs would fit handily in that little envelope you get to RSVP a wedding invitation.

And they lingered in my underwear drawer until last Sunday when I donned the orange ones, after having some trouble figuring out the back from the front.  I was debuting new navy dress at Ports (O Call) and the champagne brunch. 

Walking out to the car to leave I did not feel particularly "confident."  In fact, rather the reverse because they were crawling up my body.  The urge to reach back and yank them down was almost irresistible, but I didn't.  But my first stop was the ladies room. 

By the time sufficient champagne had been imbibed I was impervious to them.  Cheekies all around!  and held my flute out for more. 

My sister never remarked on her new lingerie but I had to tell her that the leopard print bedroom slippers she'd sent me were too small.

Monday, October 6, 2014

$297 For A Plane Ticket to Nowhere?!

Your ticket is just a chance to return to the fun days of flying; when passengers dressed up to fly and stewards - male and female - were not only courteous but friendly enough to go a little bit out of their way to ensure that a passenger had everything needed for a pleasant flight.  I still remember the well-stocked newspapers and magazines cart. 

Today, if you didn't bring a newspaper, magazine or book, you're coldly told, "Shoulda got one in the terminal." 

"Yes, well, nostalgia is all very nice, but where are you going with this?"

A man named Anthony Toth has spent the last 20 years putting together an authentic copy of a 1970s Pan Am 747 cockpit and  cabin space - First and Main.  He kept running out of space and has finally moved in recently to a hangar in Pacoima in partnership with Air Hollywood, a firm that specializes in renting plane equipment to the industry.  

Today the firm is up and running and the meticulous attention to detail is now earning its keep. 

"Passengers" are greeted by uniformed ($1,000 per uniform ) Pan Am crew and ushered on to the "plane."  Everything is authentic (and once flew)  from the linen  napkins, glassware and plates.   

It's $267 for a seat in the main cabin and $297 to ride in the lounge up top.  Cocktails, a five-course dinner (rumors of Russian caviar alert!) and socializing afterward.  Included in the ticket prices is a tour of the facility which houses the cabin from the 2011 film "Bridesmaids" and the cockpit from the 1980 classic, "Airplane." 

In this case, photos really can do more than words.  Visit  for a preview of the non-flight to nowhere.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

"Will Marry for Jewelry" - Who Said That?

It would be Elizabeth Taylor.  Of her eight marriages, her final score was six whales  and two goldfish equivalents - Michael Wilding and Larry Fortensky - neither off whom was able to support themselves, let alone Liz. 

She began a long career in wheeling, cajoling and blackmailing for expensive jewelry from them all by marrying Nicky Hilton when she was only 18 years old.  She netted a five carat engagement ring and a $10,000 wedding ring as well as pearl and diamond earrings.  Nicky's father, Conrad, was so thrilled at the marriage that he gave her 100 shares of Hilton stock ($1,350) but 30 years later it was worth $150,000.

Elizabeth never accepted a "No" answer and when it was Michael Wilding's turn in the barrel, she went out and bought herself a sapphire and diamond ring and loudly told all that it was an engagement ring from him!  With pressure like that ...

Wilding rarely had work so she paid for everything.  And then she met Mike Todd and the payday went proportionately higher.  She was 24 and he 52.  He bought her a 29.7 carat diamond ring,   leased a plane (and then spent $5,000 to install two phones in it.)  He rented homes in Beverly Hills, Palm Springs and an estate in Westbury, CN.  They had met on a Saturday and Todd gave her something every Saturday as an anniversary present.   Alas, his days were numbered...

Next!  Eddie Fisher slid into home plate.  For her 27th birthday, he gave her an evening bag with 27 real diamonds on it.  He took her to Dior, Paris, and bought her 10 Yves St Laurent dresses.  He also bought a 13 room house with pool and tennis courts in Purchase, NY, land in Jamaica and paid $325,000 for a chalet in Gstaad. 

And then came the biggest fish - Richard Burton.  He paid $305,000 for the Krupp diamond, weighing in at 33.19 carats.  It was said to most closely resemble an ice cube on her finger.  He followed that up with the La Peregina, a famous  pearl.  He bought her a yacht ($192,000) and tossed $240,000 more in to decorate it.  He bought a 10-passenger twin jet with kitchen, lounge and movie screen christened "The Elizabeth."  And still the jewelry kept coming in.

And so did the paintings found in her budding art collection.  Here's a drool for you - Picasso, Utrillo, Degas, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Mary Cassatt, Modigliani and Van Gogh. 

(sigh) They don't make gold diggers like they used to and it's a shame.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Close Enough for Horseshoes or a Grenade

Once upon a time, a long time ago, we had a neighborhood Italian restaurant that we enjoyed very much.  With the fullness of time though, the owners gave up on (presumably) running in the red.  They ran out of money and, I think, heart, too.

But one dish they served was delicious and, worse still, no other Italian restaurant served it.  I am talking about Pasta Ameritriciana a luscious combination of:  cooked pancetta, a garlic-y cream sauce, mushrooms and a dash of peas served on the pasta of your choice.   . 

Over the years, I've searched for a recipe and never found one.  It is more than likely that I am misspelling the name and it's out there under it's true name.

Last night I tried again.

Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced, and sautéed in olive oil. I tossed in the previously cooked pancetta to warm up and poured Alfredo sauce over both in the pan.  Meanwhile I cooked linguini and at the last minute, tossed in a handful of frozen peas with the linguini. 

When the pasta was cooked and drained, I tossed it in the sauce and served it. 

Even Richie liked it and he doesn't like "white" pasta sauces.  I think it's good enough to qualify as a "company" dish.  Meaning that I would serve it to them.  There a bunch of other culinary delights around here that don't stand a chance of elevation ...

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mayo Clinic On Ebola Avoidance

1.  Stay out of Africa
2.  Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol "waterless" wipe. 

Using soap and water -- wash while you sing two choruses of  the "Happy Birthday" song to yourself (please.)

Carry alcohol wipes and here are some ideas for when to use them. 

 Wait until you've ordered and given the menu back to the server and THEN use the wipes.  If you think about it, menus are, in their own way, filthy. 

Discreetly wipe off the table area that your plate will sit upon with one if there is no table cloth. 

At the gym.  Go into the appropriate locker room, stow your stuff, use the bathroom, if necessary, and then wash your hands thoroughly.  Post work out, wash your hands all over again and don't touch anything (bannisters, elevator buttons, door handles) until you are inside your car where your own germs are the only thing around.  "I don't want to spend the rest of my life waiting for someone else to open the door or press the elevator button for me!"  Use a fresh Kleenex and throw it away when you're done with it..  

Bought yourself a boxed treat at the supermarket or farmer's market? 
Packaged goods:  open it and THEN wash your hands before you dig into it.  Wash fresh fruits and vegetables.

Oh!  One last warning.  If you go to Africa anyhow, do not eat any bush meat.  Bush meat is a wild animal that has been killed for food.  Markets there often carry it.    

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Saving Money During Halloween

Don't buy your kid(s) costumes until the last minute because Halloween is strictly seasonal.  Harry Potter was okay two years ago, but not today.  The kid will want the very latest fad (dressing up like an iPhone 6?)   Store owners and managers are all too well aware of this phenomenon and may mark-down all of their costume stock to 30 per cent off.  Be there - wallet in hand.

Conversely, adult costumes can be used year after year.  No one ever gets tired of a sexy French maid or Julius Caesar.

One of the best costumes already in your closet might be this:  and it's for both sexes - work boots with white sock showing just above the boot top, khaki-colored shorts,  a white t-shirt, a hardhat and a clipboard.  Dressed like that you could probably walk right into the White House. 

Oops, that's been done.