Sunday, November 30, 2014

Now, Now, Nothing For Us To Worry About ...

What are we to be "calm" about?  Town & Country, "Pretensions Since 1843," ran a brief article on how much to tip the doormen at your apartment building and other part-time help. 

I find the idea risible as there are very few doorman buildings in So. Calif. (If you live in one, contact me immediately!  I've got to see this!)  Our outside help is drive by for the most part.  The cleaner comes on Monday, the pool guy (and we do have those, just not doormen) on Thursday and so it goes.

Town & Country warns us all to expect to be outdone by the Big Spenders who enjoy making others look like pikers.  There's always a spoiler around, isn't there?   

When you read what the Average Joe pays, you will have to add "living in Southern California" for an additional giving thanks next year. 

The average tipper
Regular babysitter - double the nightly wage
Uber driver - nothing; the tip is included in the fare
Lawn guy - $20 and a  beer
Dog walker - Starbucks gift card
Hair stylist - champagne or chocolate and a 30 per cent tip
Mailman - a card (coals to Newcastle) or a cup of hot chocolate
Maitre'd - a handshake hiding a C note

The spoilers
Babysitter - an Apple watch
Uber driver - increase the amount on your app so the driver gets a bigger tip
Lawn guy - $200
Dog walker  - $300 or a pair of new Nike*s
Hair stylist - a watch or a cashmere blanket or designer clothing and a 40% tip.  (Hair dressing is looking better and better as a career re-arrangement...)
U.S. Postal workers are limited to a $20 gift
Maitre' d - handshake and from $400 to $1,200 - the hell with hair dressing, right?  I think all of us are gifted with the ability to smile and spot an empty's the one with clean napkins and no one sitting there

* new Nikes is fairly creative for a rich person, but kind of demeaning, too, in a way.  "Too bad you can't afford new walking shoes, dude" - ish.  Which is ... boorish.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Possibly Very Bad Situation

I finished David Baldacci's newest - "King and Maxwell" this afternoon (no, I was not still digesting Thanksgiving meal) and this is a key part of the plot:  the "Beast",  the President of the United State's personal vehicle, has all sorts of gizmos and devices, based on electronics. 

 In this particular caper, a bad guy buys a satellite with the capability of over-riding the human driver and creating havoc.  The Beast is crossing a bridge over the Potomac when the Beast suddenly accelerates, crashes into the barrier and then through it and plop!  into the Potomac.

For all of the safety features built into it, the Beast can't swim. 

Baldacci's note is that today's cars with GPS and myriad features can be hijacked.  The easiest point to hack into the controls is the Diagnostic port that is used to diagnose problems within the various systems.  This struck me as interesting, but ... improbable.  For the Beast or our cars. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Lovely Thanksgiving Story

As is usual on a major  holiday, the phone lines thrummed with greetings, best wishes and "What're you having with the turkey?"

One of these calls was Richie's brother Charlie out on Long Island,  NY. who called for all of the above reasons, but also to tell us about a moment his oldest son had that very morning.

Sean is a bay man and as such went out Thanksgiving morning to garner some oysters for the day.  The sun was out, the tide was down and the waters calm.  As he tonged the oyster bed, he happened to look up and there, on the shore, was a mother deer with two fawns in tow.   The doe was nosing the ground as she moved along and when she found an oyster, she would stomp it with a back hoof, it would break open and the following fawns would eat the released oyster.

Sean, not one for a poignant moment or poetic reflection, says he yelled, "Hey!  Quit that!  That's my livelihood!"  The deer - all three of them - ignored him.  After all, they were on the shore; he was in his boat.   

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Holiday wisdom from various sources...

Gobble, gobble, gobble - eat till you wobble!

Don't forget to set your scale back 10 lbs. this week!

Answer the phone like this - pitch your normal voice higher and squeal "Gobble, gobble, gobble - save me!  Save me!"  Always amuses any callers.

Don't forget the champagne after dessert - Rich Man's Alka Seltzer!

But most of all - have a gladsome time with people you love.  Ignore the bad apples, if any; pretend they're in the dressing!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Today is Officially Rev-Up Day

Granted the "officially" is a little dubious because it's my idea and I'm not the mayor (nor even the City dogcatcher.)  Still ... those niceties never stopped me before; why set a precedent now? 

Our friend "D" calls the long stretch from Halloween through New Year's Day "Festivus," an idea he borrowed from "Seinfeld."  But my Rev-Up Day is designed to offer a 24 hour respite from the horrors that are just up the road.

Planning to hit the Black Friday sales?  T-Day dinner is finished by 4 p.m.  Go directly to bed because you have to get up at 3 a.m. and you want to be physically and mentally alert to grab the best stuff.  I wince at every mention of "Black Friday" because any halfway interested person could tell you it was not a happy occasion back in the late '20s.  I mean, I get it - "black" = profits - but it is depressing.

A good tactic for these sales is to take your small children (or rent someone else's) to the sale with you.  Drop them at the end of the line forming, tell them you are going to park the car and go off for a needed cup of coffee or a nice breakfast.  They aren't going anywhere and people are intent on what's inside the doors and not taking the kids. 

Especially as they've now been in line sufficient time to wonder where you are and ask, repeatedly.  They may well be thirsty and/or need to use the bathroom and are not shy about saying so in shrill, piercing tones.  Someone will attend to them even if it's the security guy who may well have rather pointed questions when you get back. 

This and other technical tips will be offered in the coming days, but nicely spaced out so that you can pay particular attention to every bit of helpful advice. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ferguson, Missouri

I must say that a turgid sense of deja vu rules me today.  Boston - black home owner trying to get in, white cop arrests him - end result?  The Beer Summit.

Trayvon Martin whose mother set aside her grieving long enough to get his name patented so that no one else could profit from its usage ...I believe the body was barely cool in that one ...

And now Ferguson.  Thugs that are so stupid that they break windows, loot electronics stores, tip over cars, set fires, commit arson ON THEIR OWN STREETS really should be the reason for a new class distinction - sub-humans.

And Chicago could probably take a great deal of credit for this new ranking.  Black-on-black crime doesn't seem to make the papers.  And it should. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Christmas House for the Entire Clan

Am I suggesting that you rent out several floors of a hotel to invite everyone who is related to you in any way for Christmas?

Of course not!  I'm suggesting that you buy a place featured in Architectural Digest this month.  It's old so it's "used to" families since the early 15th century when it was a meeting house and hospital for the locals of Pistoia, Italy.  Later on it became a convent.  Now it is for sale once again with the idea of turning it into a B & B.

"Oh," you say, "You've got a lot of relatives!"?  This place has 50 bedrooms! Since there are only 40 bathrooms, some of your guests will have to be a bit accommodating.   But families are used to sharing. 

Imagine how splendid it would be - 77,500 sq. ft. filled with rooms, patios, courtyard fountains -- and a chapel!  No reliance on a formal church - if you want to do Midnight Mass at 7 p.m., you just go right on ahead and do it!  Money makes many things possible.  But you may not have much left after paying $23.3 million for it.   Stay up for Midnight Mass and save yourself some money.   Why make it easy for the dead beats you're related to - it's not like they've ever done anything for you -- other than to be a social impediment.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Introducing "Dilbert Class"!

An annoyed passenger in 5F, 1st Class, American Airlines.  Note the narrowness of the space for entering or leaving.  The aisle armrest descends down at the push of a button, but in an emergency you need to get OUT and futzing with a button that won't work because all of the power is out is ... not a good idea.

AA calls the planes "32B" designating the Airbuses currently in use since January, 2014.  Richie didn't believe his eyes when he looked at the Website and found the total number of passengers possible is only 102.

There are 10 seats in First (pictured below) and another 20 in Business and only 72 in Coach.  But what they lost in Coach they more than compensated by excessive crowding.  Not that I saw it for myself.  When we boarded, we were whisked to our seats with no fanfare and no chance to scope out Business directly behind us. 

And I think a weight factor would have to be thrown in as well.  Even if you could seat say 10 more, the weight might be so much that the plane wouldn't be able to get off of the ground.

The reason for this is that 30 seats on the 32B are self-contained cubicles or "pods" as the airline refers to them.  They are walled and shelved in a rather gloomy shade of dark grey plastic with matching leather seats.  The only bright note in one is the looks-like-oak tray table.   (I promise you, it isn't.)

These cubicles made me think of the cartoon "Dilbert" but looking around for him proved to be a fruitless exercise.  Still "Dilbert Class" would be a more truthful description of this configuration.  I almost expected a male voice saying, "Can you come in here and take a letter?"

At the touch of another button, the TV screen swivels out, angled to accommodate the position of your seat.  And this angle was the biggest complaint I've heard from any critics I've talked to - the chairs are all turned back to the aisle, face to the porthole.  For five hours, my view of Richie was the back of his right shoulder.  And I had to move around to see even that.  It was a stretch to reach across the aisle and hold hands during take-offs and landings.

I mentioned it to a flight attendant and he agreed that civil conversation is difficult, but said that "..the celebrities love it."  The hell with "the celebrities" - let'em charter a private jet and get their languid butts out of Dilbert Class. 

Seasonal Humor

Courtesy of Richie ...

What kind of music did the pilgrims like?
Plymouth Rock!

Where do turkeys like to go to dance?
The Butter Ball!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Public Service - Presenting!

Trader Joe's Handy Dandy Thanksgiving Wine Calculator

This a helpful way to learn how much wine to lay in for the dinner.  Sort of.

Joe adds that the exactitude of his calculations depends on hidden factors - how heavy is the hand that pours and do you have more lushes than lightweights on the invitation list? 

From the drawing in the flyer - One woman = three to five glasses = a 750 ml of wine.

And speaking of wine, I can recommend the Joseph Handler Riesling ($4.99.)  It's mentioned in the same flyer as perfect with all things usually found on the T-Day dinner menu.  Richie made scallops for dinner last night and I can attest that it goes really well with them and is an eminently drinkable wine.  Soft, light and sits well in the mouth.

It comes in an eye-catching dark blue, slender-ish bottle which is why we had to ask where the hell it was in the wine section. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Crumbs On The Tablecloth

Tutto Pazza, Huntington, NY, offers (among many other dishes) two items labeled "Hot Antipasto" and "Cold Antipasto" both labeled Chef's Choice.  This blind acceptance of whatever gets sent out would unnerve me considerably.

In the car, on the way to a restaurant, I usually know exactly what I want to eat.  I Googled the menu. 

The Shamrock, 138 New York Avenue, Halesite.  This is a pleasant little bar and grill with a water view.  It has been there forever.  Many the St. Patrick's Day celebrations that have flicked past, like beads on an emerald necklace.

The chef is inventive and when they finally post their menu, you will see, too.  But for the moment, this will have to suffice.  The Reuben Quesadilla - corned beef, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut on a tortilla "buttered" with Thousand Island dressing which is then grilled.  Light, but filling. 

Munday's, Main Street, Huntington serves lamb burgers (Charlie and Rosalind) and tuna melt (Richie) and knockwurst with sauerkraut and two small, very crisp potato pancakes (me.)  This is another place that has been there for a very long time.  It's very definitely a "family restaurant." 

Back home with a good book and a sack of Lay's Potato Chips and a bottle of Bob's Big Boy Blue Cheese dressing.  Makes Ranch dressing hide with shame in a corner.

O/T  I bought a new pair of UGGs the other day.  A lovely charcoal grey.  This is what amused me and inspires me to save money against the next pair.  The pair before these were $180 and UGGs still made half-sizes.  Yesterday they were $200 and half-sizes had been discarded. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Surviving Luddite Land...

I lasted three days.  But not due to any discipline on my part.  You can't use what you can't get to ...

We arrived at JFK at 9:55 p.m. as scheduled.  Then we had to wait for the roll-ons, take the "little train" to Hertz where they had lost my reservation.  That got straightened out and we hit the road to Huntington.  Traffic was easy and moved well.  The Beer Quest (12-pack for the room) lasted a bit longer because the grocery stores close at midnight and it was 12:15 a.m.  At the hotel and into the room.  Bed 1 a.m.

The next three days were spent with family.  Wednesday morning went to the local library to borrow one and print out our boarding passes for that afternoon's 5:30 p.m. flight home.  Saw that I had 31 messages, but saved them for home.

No withdrawal; no frantically running around for a cyber café...I did just fine!  Richie now wants to get a free* smart phone from Verizon, our provider.  He said, "They say you can use them just like a little tiny computer!"

I promise you that if cost us anything, we wouldn't be getting one...

A Great Phrase

I ran across the phrase in a Comment on where a bunch of people were decrying Obama's policies. 

"Karma's waiting room - but no one knows WHEN what goes around comes around."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Dining on Long Island

Richie's brother's oldest son invited us to dine with him and his girlfriend at Tutto Pazzo \\which is Italian for "all crazy."

This wasn't exactly "crazy" but it was distinctly different.  The menu, among many, many other things, offers "Cold Antipasto" or "Hot Antipasto" Chef's Choice from the Showcase which is a vast deli layout (behind glass) of salamis, cheese, olives.   
Filet mignon sliders with Guacamole-painted bacon.

It was very good once I got used to the texture of filet rather than the usual hamburger.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Otto Kahn's Crib - of 127 rooms in 190,000 sq. ft.


The Grand Staircase just behind the front door

Mrs. Kahn's bedrom with balcony

This is the hotel bar.  Kahn and Chaplin were great friends.

This is the beer I mentioned.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Around Long Island

Veterans Day

Grounds of the Chalet Motor Inn, Centerport

Culled oysters, ready for market

A local bayman

Tourists enjoying the view, Huntington Harbor

Huntington Harbor

Sunday, November 16, 2014

So ... I Promised You Lunch

The grand finale of the tour was the inspection of a "typical ($1,800) suite" which alert readers will remember from yesterday was a "Why bother?" with me.  Instead I retired to the hotel bar and was soon joined by Richie.  He ordered a Stella ($8) and I succumbed to the bar lady's insistence that I try the Magic Hat pumpkin ale (previously reviewed.)

We were soon joined by Sonny, Richie's old clamming buddy, who had completed the tour with the guest suite. 

We took our drinks and went through to the adjoining restaurant - a sea of snowy white tablecloths on tables set far enough apart that the billionaires could share various bits of chicanery and not be overheard.  It is a pretty room with high, high ceilings and equally tall windows.  I love this architectural period because in the 20s and 30s they built hell for stout.  It quietly pleases me to see steel-framed windows. 

As we unfolded our snowy white napkins a server appeared and put a small plate with a slice of toasted, grilled Tuscan ciabatta bread with a ladle of soft white cheese flecked with tiny bits of green onion tops over it in front of each of us.

Richie ordered the Lobster Meatballs with a dipping sauce of lobster bisque ($15.)  I had to try them, too because here on the Left Coast we rarely eat lobster as the cost is equal to a mortgage payment.  Still on the quest for the Perfect Caesar Salad, I got that, too, and Richie and I split it. ($10)

Sonny ordered a sandwich with grilled chicken, Swiss cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato and honey mustard. ($15)

Richie cleaned his plate.  The Caesar was a little different in that its dressing was more oil and vinegar-y than the usually creamy white.  It was good.       But not perfect. 

The lobster bisque as a "dipping sauce" didn't work all that well -- virtually tasteless (which is extremely difficult to do.)  I could only eat two of the four meatballs on my plate so I asked for a take home box.   I waited with anticipation to see if the waitress would swoon in horror, such is the Gatsby-esque theme of the place.  Sonny got a container, too, such was the filling magnitude of his sandwich. 

We were having a very good time, the men reminiscing about this old bay man or that one.  We swore we were  too full to eat dessert, but a look at the menu suddenly  gave our stomachs a new lease on life.  I ordered a Affogato which is a hollowed out ball of vanilla ice cream which arrived with two small liqueur  glasses - one cappuccino; the other of Amaretta to pour over the ice cream. ($10) Quite tasty. 

Richie had "Swedish" profiteroles ($12)  and the server didn't know why they were "Swedish" so there's another mystery for Oheka Castle. 

Food and drinks came to $118.83 and I tipped $23.  I'd go back as much for the food as well as the ambience.  The tall windows overlook one of the gardens, the sun came streaming through the windows in patches and so we spent two very relaxed hours at the table.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Oheka Castle

Finding a castle on Long Island's North Shore seemed a rather unlikely possibility.  But when digging around online for things to see, there it was in the guise of an extremely expensive hotel.  The guide ended the tour with an inspection of a "typical" suite.  At $1,800/night?  I didn't bother to go to see it. 
But I did keep getting my tongue all twisted up with the name.  I kept saying "Osaka."

It's a combination of the first owner/builder's name.  O - Otto; HE Hermann and KA for Kahn.  He spent five years from 1914 to 1919 building it.  It took two years just to build the artificial hill it all sits on.  It is also the first totally fireproof private home ever.  Kahn's previous mansion had burned down which clearly marked him psychologically.  It's constructed with steel beams and the walls are 30 in. thick.  New developers couldn't destroy it and building a housing unit.  It wouldn't burn and the bulldozers couldn't penetrate the walls.

Originally it was the largest  private home in America with 127 rooms covering 109,000 sq. ft.  It was also as ownership changed, a retreat for NYC Sanitation Workers which was a substantial step away from the glittering balls and gala dinners that the Kahns threw.  Then it became the Eastern Military Academy.  A local told me that Donald Trump had attended it. 

See Oheka at the movies - it has appeared in "Citizen Kane" and "What Happens in Vegas" as well as background for numerous videos

No 95 year old establishment can escape from lurid tales and Oheka has one.

Back in 1984, a developer named Gary Melius bought it.  Refurbishing it (it has been vacant for five years) didn't go well; he ran out of money despite having paid $1.2 million for it.  Thus, as we see above, Oheka underwent several changes in ownership.  But as time passed, Gary  recouped his fortune, bought it again and spent the next 30 years returning it to it's original 1919 beauty. 

Gary is the story.  On the night of February 24, 2014, he was accosted in the parking lot and shot by a masked intruder.  The villain of the piece has never been caught (or even found for that matter) but rumors persist that the gunman was either an inept hit man (the gun jammed after the first shot; double tap foiled) or his son or stepson were behind it. 

Apparently undaunted, Gary recovered and seems to make periodic tours of the premises greeting guests and tours.  That's certainly his prerogative; he spent 30 years of his life putting it together. 

We saw him in the corridors and during lunch which is where we're going to go tomorrow.  Touring makes a body so hungry, don't you think?

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Celebration!

Today is Prince Charles' 66th birthday.  Please party responsibly. 

Perhaps afternoon tea with an Eton Mess, hot tea - or for the daring, a small glass of sherry, and then a rousing discussion about his chance of ever sitting on the throne.

Would join you, but am busy transcribing notes from our recent trip.  Save me a scone, eh?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Round Trip in 1st and What We Ate

This was the lunch menu for the 1:30 p.m. Saturday flight into JFK...

Starter:  Smoked salmon and seared tuna with wasabi and ginger aioli

Salad:  Spinach and Romaine mix with hearts of palm, strawberries and pecans - choice of Caesar or olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressings.

Entrees:  Spinach and cheese-stuffed chicken breast with Beurre sauce with a potato pancake and haricots vertes (green beans the fancy way)  (Richie)

Classic Caesar salad and corn chowder, optional grilled chicken skewer (Me and I can tell you that the corn chowder was very good and the Caesar dismal.  The lettuce - what there was of it - looked tired and probably was; the chicken skewer that was "grilled" was boiled white meat chicken chunks with grill marks, possibly artfully done with a blow torch previously.) 

Wild rice and vegetable-stuffed Portobello mushroom with Monterey Jack cheese in a roasted red  pepper sauce. 

Dessert:  Ball of vanilla ice cream with sauce of your choice (butterscotch with a shot of Amaretto)

Cheese Tray

Dinner menu for 5:30 p.m. flight out of Kennedy to LAX:

Starter:  Thai grilled chicken with pineapple and watermelon with Asian mint dressing.  (This was so sad; imagine three chunks of grilled pineapple chunks and two of chicken with one wedge of watermelon and a single sprig of cilantro.  I felt sorry for it, but ate it anyhow.)

Salad:  Seasonal greens with walnuts and goat cheese.  Choice of cilantro dressing or olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

Entrees:  Grilled beef filet with Port wine sauce, garlic mashed potatoes and green and yellow beans.  (We both had this and I couldn't finish it because the portion of beef was about the size of a baseball.)

Shrimp Scampi with creamy polenta and grilled asparagus.

Butternut Squash gnocchi with sautéed squash and sage cream sauce.

Dessert:  ball of vanilla ice cream with choice of sauce

Cheese plate

So belch and get ready to depart the plane now.  We're home again.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

We're Home

We had a good time.

We got 1st both ways

Young Fred made a shambles of the house.

It is 10:45 p.m.

More tomorrow. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Making A Vertical Descent on Luddite Land

This is a test of my character (or probably lack of same.)  We are going to see Richie's family on Long Island.  His brother and wife do not have a computer and do not want one.  Their son has a computer, but he and his wife rarely use it.  My hopes thus rest on Amelia, Richie's 8 year old great niece.

The hotel barely has a bedspread per room so am sure the idea of a guest computer for checking mail is ... missing.  There are not a lot of hotel/motels on Long Island and all but this one are geographically undesirable.

It is going to be 78 here today -- and 45 when we land at JFK.  I am dressed warmly.  And am planning to totally wow the locals when I step out in my J. Peterman riding mac.  Get ready, New York!  Son Altesse is on her way!

Friday, November 7, 2014

That Old--Time Cottage Industry Religion

The Daily Breeze's daily birthdays list is headed by Rev. Billy Graham who turns 96 today.  Given the number of medical events during his life, this is rather surprising -- pneumonia, broken hips, prostate cancer and then aged 74, he developed Parkinson's disease.  Additionally he is plagued by vision and hearing loss, but think how old he is!  No one would agree that 96 is a piece of cake...

He and his late wife Ruth had five children and apparently all of them married and procreated with some vigor as he has a great number of grandchildren AND great-grandchildren. All of the five original children are in the religion business, busily drumming up converts and money for various charitable institutions.  I would assume that the leadership reins are being handed down a generation with some gusto.  It is very much a family business. 

Despite being a registered Democrat, he and Nixon were close friends; later on he stumped for Mitt Romney.  Harry Truman didn't like him and considered him something of a phony (which amused me as  I regard ALL gentlemen engaged in converting sinners into saints  much the same.) 

Wikipedia is a good source for a full documentation of his career and I recommend it.  It is 'way too long to try to condense it here. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Two Lemons and a Cherry

A new book to read is a gamble - and just as addictive...

Lemon #1
"Then Came Life" by Geralynn Lucas   Gotham Books   209 pages   $27
Lucas is the author of "Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy" which became a Lifetime movie and the off-Broadway play, "Love, Loss and What I Wore."

If you get a hint of oncoming narcissism, you'd be right.  She agonizes over every little thing but now and then manages to bleat that she should be grateful for her blessings.  My father would have counseled her, "Don' holler 'til you're hurt." 

Lemon #2
"Blood Feud - the Clintons vs. the Obamas" by Edward Klein  Regnery Publishing 302 pages   $27.99

Stein writes hagiographies.  Past victims have included the Kennedys, Hillary and prior to this tome "The Amateur - Barack Obama in the White House."  Stein manages to get 300+ pages our of one simple fact:  Bill Clinton tried to trade Hillary's support in 2008 in return for his support for her in 2016.  And Obama reneged.  All four of the main characters are despicable and after awhile even I got tired of reading about them. 

The Cherry!
"But Enough About You" by Christopher Buckley   Simon and Schuster   450 words   $27.50

Buckley is hilarious and consistently so.  There are amusing topics filed under various headings.  This is an excellent read and one that will amuse you for quite some time.  Essay collections last if you only read a few at a time; never try to swallow down a whole book at one reading.  Pace yourself!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Headline That Made Me Laugh

Today's Drudge Report:  "Hollywood Reeling From Bitter Election Defeats"

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Peace in the Valley

Richie and I are of opposing political parties.  I am extremely vocal during Presidential campaigns.  And am capable of similar violence for this midterm.

We're watching The Godfather I. 

And since at this point in time it's all Talking Heads ((idiots who haven't been silenced) and TV networks "projecting" winners -- no loss at all. 

Ooh, Lucca Brasi just got strangled!  And  he  made a real meal out of it.  Back to the movie.

The Midterms in Redondo Beach

Traditionally the local vote here is consistently disappointing.  Frankly, I don't know why more people don't get up off of their languid asses and VOTE.

Yes, I did show my passport amid cries of "Oh, that's okay, honey, you don't have to show photo I.D."  I said, "I'm making a statement."  Poll worker, "About what?"  Me "That I think we should show photo identification ... (sly smile) to help those voters who get confused and try to vote several times."  Gust of laughter from poll worker.   

As we were leaving, a poll worker we've had before was arriving.  He was clearly a veteran - erect posture, shirt tucked neatly  in and the right age - who said, "Thank you for voting."  It brought a tear to these stony old eyes. 

I asked about the vote turnout and the poll worker said, "It's been very busy this morning."

Perhaps the tide is turning ...

Monday, November 3, 2014

Oops! An Unexpected Turn

Preparations for a small gathering of friends yesterday afternoon were well under way, when this happened.  Richie was making his justly renowned guacamole.  He had chopped all of the various ingredients - jalapeno pepper, a fresh tomato, onion and cilantro.  He was ready to mash in the avocado - BUT WAIT!  When he cut into each of three avocados, he found ... rot.  Instead of green, the interiors were all gray. 

Obviously, they couldn't be used.  He said, "Now what?"  I thought and then had an idea - "I'll chop up the rest of the jicama, toss them together and pour a little salsa (El Sombrero #2, $5/pint) and we'll have Salsa Crudo!  And we  did.

Since the avocados were purchased in two different markets, the suppliers couldn't be blamed - it was universal (or as "universal" as you can get with three avocados.) 

Swing by for a drink, chips and some salsa crudo - we've got plenty.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

'50s Food

This afternoon we're expecting various friends to stop in for a drink as we are doing "Vernissage of the Re-upholstered Hassock (and the additional railings on the stairs which are primed and awaiting the painter.)   Yes, exciting events wherever the eye falls. 

"Vernissage" is a French word which means a private art gallery showing before the hoy polloi public is allowed in.   Since all of our friends ARE mostly hoi polloi I'm getting it rather backward, but what the hell.  A gallery opening requires refreshments in the form of canapés  and champagne. 

I've got the champagne covered - four bottles of peach champagne along with a bottle of peach juice for Bellinis.   I've got regular champagne and a bottle of kir for Kir Royales.  Now for the canapés.  Hmmm.  And I suddenly remembered these '50s favorites - White Pizza and Pigs in Blankets.

White Pizza came from my sister and it tastes as good as it looks festive.

One can of crescent rolls.  Spread them out to make the pizza crust on a cookie sheet or pizza pan.  Bake following label instructions.  Let cool and then
spread cream cheese (recommend whipped as it is easier to spread) on your pizza crust.   

Garnish with:  green pepper and red onion rings arranged prettily and topped with slices of pimento-stuffed green olives.  

Such a lovely name.  Not. 
1 can crescent rolls
1 package Lil' Smokie sausages - the little finger-size sausages.
Orange marmalade to "butter" the crescent rolls.

Butter the rolls with orange marmalade, cut the crescent rolls into strips and wrap each sausage in dough.  Bake according to roll package instructions and serve. 

The sausages are smoky-salty tasting and the marmalade adds sweetness.

Don't some of you young whippersnappers laugh at '50s foods.  They beat the '20s when guests were routinely offered a small glass of sauerkraut juice as a pre-dinner cocktail!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

For A Grand Total of ....12

That's the number of trick or treaters to whom we gave candy last night.  Am attempting to get more numbers from my spies -- er, correspondents in various parts of the country.  As figures come in, I will update this. 

Early Returns:
Central Indiana - 35 in very cold and very windy conditions.
Austin suburbs - none.  It is a senior residence facility.
Tampa area, Florida - 200!  Our correspondent said the two houses on either side of her  behind her house were decorated; an attraction on its own. 

This just in -
North of Denver - 58, which includes three repeats by three previous customers.  Of note:  Jolly Rancher candies are said to be very popular in Colorado. 

And now these -
Central Texas - two bags full - gone.  "When we ran out of candy I wanted to give out cigarettes but my wife wouldn't let me.  Probably because it would be too expensive, wrote our correspondent there.
North of Chicago - 25  Blustery cold weather, too.  Our correspondent wrote that the cute little kids' parents had probably taken them to a mall.  Their visitors were older.  Tootsie Pops went first.