Wednesday, December 31, 2014


You've been warned.  Amateurs head out in search of instant 0bliteration.  Professionals (such as ourselves) know better.  Pace yourselves, amateurs; put plenty of food in your stomach and, if you can, stick to champagne.  A champagne hangover is very nearly unnoticeable and you will have a very merry time on very little champagne.

Never drink a shot or a Jell-0 shooter.

"Raffish's" Rum

As I said, he gifted us with one of Nicaragua's three principal exports - the run, coffee (he remarked that Starbuck's is better) and cigars.  Our local tobacco store owner told me that next to Cuba, Nicaraguan cigars are the most popular.

The squat, heavy bottle is labeled "Flor de Cana Centenario" and it was aged in an oak barrel for 12 (long) years.  Flor de Cana (cane flower) was founded as a company for commercial sales in 1937, but back in 1890 it was in production at the San Antonio Mill, which was cranking it out for the locals.  In 1937 the owners decided to go commercial and market it.

In 1950 the firm decided distribution was needed and so it formed the Grupa Pellas to handle that.  By 1959, Flor de Cana was being exported to Venezuela, Costa Rica and other South and Central American cities.  It had begun winning awards, too.    The firm now has been awarded more than 100 international awards, just since 2,000.

He told us that the distillery tour lasts maybe two hours and starts with a brief video about the place and history.  during the actual tour, the guide opened a bottle and gave each guest a shot of rum and a lecture.  "Good rum should affect all five of your senses," he said, "smell, taste, scent, feel ..."  To illustrate "feel" he urged them to dip their fingers in the rum and rub them together.  "See!" he crowed - "no stickiness!  That's because we do not use any additives in our run."

Said rum is 37 per cent alcohol so I would guess that there's no room for additives. How do you "hear" a bottle of Flor de Cana?  The cheers when the host brings it out from behind the bar!

Bev-Mo has a selection of these Flor de Cana rums.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Worried About the Grandfather Clock

When my parents died, we inherited their custom-made grandfather clock.  I've always loved its chimes' mellow sound, but now the clock is ... well, sluggish.  It sounds like it's on 'ludes.  Or else smokin' dope, neither of which is remotely possible - a wooden clock would naturally be afraid of fire and clocks do not have mouths with which to ingest a Qualude. 

A mystery. 

Short-term Parking - One Bottle of Rum

Our friend "Raffish" went to Managua, Nicaragua, for the Christmas holiday.  He lives in San Diego, but connections are better out of LAX so it's the custom for him to drive up here and leave his Jeep in our driveway.  We take him to his flight and pick him up when he comes back home.  All very orderly and efficient as we live about 20 minutes from LAX.

Previously, he's arrived during the day but last night's flight didn't get in until the middle of the night, or rather what I consider the middle of the night.  His plane was due in at 10:50 p.m. but on checking we found that it wouldn't actually be there until 11:30 p.m.    And then there was Customs ...

He called when he'd cleared Customs and we took off for LAX.  He'd elected to walk from Customs to Terminal 2 to avoid the crush at Tom Bradley Int'l of incoming passengers.

Terminal 2 was nearly deserted and there he sat on a handy bench, shivering.  Last night's cold was hardly a "Welcome back from sunny Nic!"  and his cotton shirt was no match for the cold breeze.  He threw his duffle into the back seat and joined it.  Grinning, he held it up a little and shook it and a pleasant "gurgle gurgle" sound emanated from it.  He had a wolfish grin and said, "Flor de Cana! - aged 12 years!" 

It was 1 a.m. so we didn't crack it.  Today, however, is a totally different story.  More of which tomorrow.  This particular rum is believed to be the cat's pajamas. 


Monday, December 29, 2014

A Short Reading List for January

There is a natural letdown post-Christmas and it's a good time (generally speaking) to stay inside, unwinding with a good tale.  More than 50 per cent of the country is having bad weather; mailboxes are filling up with bills and even some of the toys are already broken.  When better to pull in one's horns and disappear into the depths of a cozy armchair? 

Here's two ..

If you enjoyed seeing family then I recommend  "Burned Toast Makes You Sing Good, A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family" by Kathleen Flinn   Viking   266 pages   $27.95

Flinn has written a three-generations account of family cooking - hers - and how she came to see that cooking for others is an expression of love and affection.  She includes the recipes after anecdotes about and from the chef involved.  It's a nice "feel good" read and even though I don't consider Michigan "Midwest" (that would be Kansas and Missouri) they apparently cook well there.

The other book is both dark and depressing.  If you are recovering from post-Christmas blues, you might set this one aside until you are in a better mood. 

"Slow Dancing With a Stranger - Lost and Found in the Age of Alzheimer's" by Meryl Comer   Harper One   224 pages   $26.9

Comer's husband, a brilliant medical scientist began acting a bit differently.   In the hospital that he seemed to be more abrupt in his manner, quicker to fly off of the handle, but because that was his M.O. anyhow, they mostly just shrugged and thought, "That's just his way," and went on about their business.  His wife noticed that while he had always been a little distant from her, he could still be the charming doctor she'd met and married so long ago.

This change but not a change is a symptom of the disease and I am now so warned.  Oh, the same as usual - but - different.  It also shocked me to see how thoroughly a human brain can become disarranged.  Comer writes matter-of-factly that if he needed to urinate, he would.  Then and there.  In a house plant or the bathroom sink.  He exposes himself in public because his super ego (which controls behavior) is shot. 

If there is anything at all good to say about Alzheimer's it's that the person with it is blissfully unaware that there is anything wrong in their actions.

Comer is an activist and the back flap of the book states "100 per cent of the proceeds from this book will support Alzheimer's research."

Sunday, December 28, 2014

No Longer Answering "Present" at Roll Call

I am an orderly person - though if you saw my desk you would call me a liar right to my face -- and I enjoy putting the dot over the I and crossing all of the Ts at year's end.  In that spirit ... notable names that will no longer be in the news, by month.

January, 2014
Ariel Sharon, 85

Philip Seymour Hoffman, 46 
Shirley Temple Black, 85

Sheila MacRae, 92

Mickie Rooney, 93
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 87

Jeb Stuart Magruder, 79
Jerry Vale, 83
Maya Angelou, 86

Ann B. David, 88
Casey Kasem, 82

Louis Zamperini, 97
Tommy Ramone, 65

James Brady, 73
Robin Williams, 63
Lauren Bacall, 89

Joan Rivers, 81
James Trafficant,73

Osccar de la Renta, 82
Ben Bradlee, 93

Mike Nichols, 83
Marion Barry, 78

Joe Cocker, 70

Godspeed all.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Verging on Techno-Wornout

It could be argued that my own electrical system is about to short out due to the number of electronic devices found inside this house.

It all began when we got the new "big screen" TV.  I was outraged when I learned that it comes with TWO remotes and BOTH are necessary to the operation of a device that I remember walking up to, flipping a switch and physically turning a dial to get one of the three stations available.  I believe that today we have access to some 500 channels.  I don't think we routinely use more than 10 or 12 of them.  And of those dozen or so, we have to pay an extra $10/month to get the French channel.

It is now in the realm of the ridiculous that two people have three phone numbers.  The land line, the cell phone and we just bought a smart phone which came with a 7 in. screen iTablet.  Richie hates carrying the cell phone and the only time I can successful force him to do it is when he and his baseball buddies take the train to San Diego for a Padres game. 

Richie is an ardent photographer and he wants to be able to show others his pictures.  The cell phone takes crappy photos and I never learned how to download from cell phone to computer. 

And, get this:  we have to go to smart phone school to learn how to use both!  In fact, it is now commonplace for the new owner to have to go to school to learn how to use what's in their own pocket/purse!  Apple offers appointments for one-on-one instruction and Verizon offers weekly seminars.  Both are free.  Just part of the service...

Somehow this all is getting a little confusing to me.  With the miniaturization of all the old familiar ... it's ... disquieting to me.  Will new babies arrive downsized in another 20 years?  It won't surprise me.  In a day when a friend of ours on cold winter mornings can reach for his smart phone and turn on the heat from underneath his covers ... anything is possible!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Stretchiiiinnnggg Out Christmas

Boxing Day.  The simplest comparison?  Commonwealth nations?  Boxing Day? The United States?  Black Friday!

This December 26th holiday was so named all the way back in the Middle Ages 'tis said. 

The custom arose because servants were required to serve the family on Christmas Day, so the next day they were all allowed the day off to visit their own families.  Kindly families packed boxes of useful items to take with them and off they went!

It was also customary to tip various shop holders and special markets for their services during the year.  Whether the donors went to their places of business or the owners showed up at your front door - oops, servants entrance - eager hand stretched out to anyone who answered the door is unknown, at least by me. 

Today is our second Boxing Day, a tradition I hope to keep going.  It's a great way to get rid of all of the fattening treats - the candy, cookies, seasonal cakes... I particularly like having an open house the day AFTER Christmas when the stresses of shopping, cooking, wrapping and partying is over for that year.  I like to think that our guests will enjoy having nothing whatsoever to do but show up, have a drink or three and eat appetizers that they didn't have to cook. 

It should be a relaxing time because the dress code is "casual" - the hostess is wearing gray sweats and Uggs, for an example.  The time should be spent in gleeful chatter -- "Look what I got!" followed by a thorough discussion of probable cost and degree of difficulty of acquisition.  This is certainly a throwback to the best part of a party for me -- analyzing it afterward.  "Did you see?"  "Yes! and what about ....?"

I mention all of the above about Boxing Day because one of our guests RSVP e'd back, writing "It's unusual, but if you and Richie want to go a couple of rounds, I volunteer as your cut man."

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

To you all - 55,139 pages views of 2,094 columns -- thank you so much for making my Christmas very bright.   I hope that all of you found just what you wanted (and not just what you needed) under the tree or in your stocking today.  This is one of only two days a year when one can demand presents!  The other, of course, being your birthday so hopefully, you didn't hold back! 

As Richie would say to guests at the table, "Don't be shy!"

MERRY CHRISTMAS!  Carol your hearts out in gratitude for all of the things we have to enjoy!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

In Which Richie Becomes Psychic..

For all of the 33 years we've been together, he has asked "Have you made out your Christmas list yet?"  Coming the day after Halloween this question seems a bit premature!  

Then at least once a week thereafter, he asks the same thing.  The first problem is (A)  I don't like to "ask for" anything and (B) if I want something I will go where it is sold and buy one.  No, I'm no fun.

Well at the last Jazz Club I did think of something - two somethings, in fact.  And he has not asked that question since then.  He knows...

In the car:
Me - "You know how you're always asking me what I want for Christmas?"
Him - "Mmmhummm"  (Notice the question is not being answered.  Mmmhum is pretty vague in my book.)

Continued silence.  Much like an animal,  he suspects danger.

Me - "Well I do have something - two somethings.  I want a portable piano keyboard and I want to put you through a semester of Walk In, Dance Out (which is close enough to the house that he could certainly get the walk part.)

He didn't say anything more, but when we got home, he got out the tape measure and measured the space I plan to put it and went online to find one.

"No hurry," I said.  "I've waited this long - January 2nd is fine.   

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Writers At Play

Writers, in appearance, are not distinguishable from the general population.  We,  just like you, come in Short or Tall and all kinds of sizes in between.  Thought to be reclusive (and "at work" we are) nevertheless, most of us are always up for a chuckle or goodnatured joking.

Thurs. Writers (more formally known as the are no different.  The group has two annual parties - Christmas and the Summer Solstice potluck picnic.  Here are last Thursday's shots of the lunch.

But we  bring works even if partying

Monday, December 22, 2014

Hey! It's My Turn!

Sipping my morning coffee this morning, perusing the Daily Breeze, our local paper I spotted something familiar.  Holding out the paper to Richie, I said, "Don't we know this woman?"  He looked as I grinned.  It was me in the postage-sized photo.

"My Turn" is a regular column, written by locals on a submission basis.  It used to pay $25 per column, but the paper has discarded that quaint notion in favor of their finances. 

If you'd like to read it, Google "My Turn" + Nina Murphy

The article headline is "Save your sanity and buy a gift card for that special someone this holiday season." 

The editor has never changed a word previously, but today there were two changes.  I wrote "Babies are ungrateful SOBs anyhow.  Any outfit will last about three months"  SOBs was deleted.

Later on I 'd written "Shout out to" Bristol Farms and Trader Joe's and the shout out had mysteriously vanished. 

I guess you can't cuss this close to Christmas (SOBs) or talk trash (Shout out!) .

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Not What We Expected...

But it was good enough for what it is.  I'm talking about not getting to have lunch at our favorite barbecue place (because they're gone - but I have lines out to learn just where they did go) and having to go to Plan B in a town we don't know that well (Lomita.) 

On the way to get barbecue, we'd passed a coffee shop/family restaurant that called itself "Hot'n Tot" which had gotten my interest.  Richie'd never heard of a "hottentot" so he was curious, too. 

I knew that back in Kansas City years ago, blacks were often pictured as African heathens in skirts made of bananas, brandishing a spear and wearing bead necklaces.  That was a typical description of a black heathen.  Apparently all of the white people in Kansas City considered themselves "religious" and by no means heathens.   

The restaurant has ample parking out back and is roomy inside.  Service was good and the food was something we rarely get: the food was exactly as it should be.  My Reuben and Richie's tuna melt were both grilled to perfection and the ingredients were in the proportions they should have been.  Nothing outshone anything else; all was balanced and harmonious.  And next day, my leftover half sandwich spent one minute at medium in the microwave and came miraculously right back to life. 

Yet today, looking online for a history of the place, est. 1946 in Googie style , I ran across scathing critiques of the place.  "Admire the building - but don't eat there!"  One of them wrote, "Don't judge a book by its cover."  One praised the corn beef hash though - crispy with a little crunch, no grease at all.  If they do that dish justice like they did my Reuben, be seein' ya, Tots!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Let the Skeevy-ness Begin!

An incident here in Redondo made the national news when at around 8 p.m. Wednesday evening a woman driver ran a red light at PCH and Vincent and plowed into a group of adults and children.  Three adults were killed outright and a six year old boy died Thursday evening as a result of this accident.

Facing me over my breakfast coffee this morning (12/20) was an above-the-fold photo of the woman driver in court, propped up on an ambulance gurney with the two attendants and a pair of bailiffs.  She looked dazed and confused.  She had not been injured in the accident she caused. 

If that information is not enough to make you gag, her lawyer pled for only $100,000 bail, saying it was one single event (but, uh, it took out four souls) and an accident at that.  The prosecutor asked for (and got) $500,000 bail.

The woman in question suffers from a natural birth handicap that requires her to drive a car fitted with hand brakes.  Her attorney cried that it was not fair to rush to judgment, that there were no toxology or blood alcohol test results known at this time.  Prescription drug abuse is one of the suspected causes for the accident.

With some indignation, he pointed out that his client "was like a fish out of water" in a prison setting.  Lawyer-Dude - most of us would be, too.  Which kind of begs the question, "What kind of clients is he used to having?"

I am well aware that our American justice system requires proof of guilt and the accused is considered to be innocent until proven guilty beyond the shadow of a doubt.  Pleading "Not Guilty" with the car keys dangling from her hand totally suspends disbelief for me.

Making sure your client has a press photographer at a bail hearing and placing said client on a gurney with ambulance attendants is, in my opinion, a direct attempt to sway any future jury and I think it's tacky, sleazy and unworthy of a good lawyer.  Good lawyers don't need to try their cases in the newspapers.

The only remotely funny thing about this whole deal was this:  Richie, "Raffish" and I were all watching the early coverage.  The announcer said something about "alcohol related" and I said, "Every single car crash is not necessarily alcohol related!  She could have had a fight with her boyfriend and driven away in a rage .." just then the announcer ran her mug shot on the screen and "Raffish" said, "Uh...I don't think it was boyfriend trouble" and I had to laugh.  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Shooting Your Pet

A lot of people feel that their dog or cat or multiples thereof are not only a part of their family, but are twee enough to actually refer to the animal as "our little girl" or "my grand-dog" and so forth.  Our three cats and the cockatiel are certainly our pets and, as such, we are totally responsible for them, but this does not include a college education or a car on graduation. 

Now it's Christmas and you want to include your pet in the annual photo for your cards.  Since most bars don't allow cats, we have never included them in ours.  And I only do a card because I love to get them and if you don't give, you won't receive.

The vets at Hermosa Animal Hospital do a newsletter from time to time and this time it had advice on how to photograph your dog or cat.  Their advice -

Go eye-to-eye with the animal.  In our case, Fred at 10 mos. is just as likely to take a swipe at you as not.  Everything is a toy to him, including probably an eye.  "Ooh, look!  Ball!"

Use natural light before resorting to flash which gives you harsh shadows.  But if the situation demands it, put a Kleenex over the flash to "muffle" it.  If you're shooting indoors try to shoot near a window.  When I was a pro shooter, 2 p.m. was about my favorite time for taking portraits.

Use a simple background and avoid clutter in the shot which rules out working in our living room.

Work within the animal's attention span which effectively rules out any shots of Fred.

Get help.  Pet wrangling is tough enough when you're not trying to also capture their beauty for posterity.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Santa Is Most Definitely NOT a Good Employer

In fact, I could consider him sort of a Simon Legree of the skies.  How come? you ask?

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is 73 years old this year and Santa still expects him to haul the sled full of presents to say nothing of Santa himself who doesn't look like he's missed any meals as well as drag any reluctant fellow reindeer behind him.

This is hardly a job for a 73 year old.  Rudolph should have been retired 11 years ago, but, no, Santa "depends" on him.  And Rudolph, not being any smarter than he needs to be, buys it every year. 

He's led an active and athletic life, but:  it's also true that it's only one night of the year.  It could be argued that very few of us have a 364-day holiday.

Further, if he has to spend 364 days of the year doing some kind of training  for the big night, that's hardly fair.  Unless you can make the gym a habit, you're going to wind up hating the gym. 

I propose this - instead of leaving cookies and milk for Santa, you put out a sign that reads, "Let Rudolph retire awready!"  If Santa (the red fatso) doesn't get his treat, he will be very cross with you and could very well take your presents back and stick them in his sack.

On the other hand, Mrs. Claus put out a lot of time and effort into getting you just what you wanted and can be something of a shrew when crossed.  Santa is secretly afraid of her and wouldn't dare bring back a still full sack so you'll probably get what you wanted.

Freedom for Rudolf!  And a Bah, Humbug for Santa!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Exotic Venues When $$$$ Doesn't Matter

If you don't happen to live in Southern California, the air fare to get your guests from Wherever to Here is going to be exorbitant.  You've been warned, but go ahead you rash young devil-may-care spenders...

Greystone Park and Mansion
This is a huge grey pile of a building with ample grounds.  One of the main entertaining features is a long, wide terrace along most of one side of the house.   We once attended a wedding reception on it, but guests were not allowed inside the house.  Instead we had to trek halfway across the grounds to discreet toilets among the greener.  Rather in hospitable I thought, but it was a beautiful setting, especially if you have camel kidneys.  Book up to a year in advance.  700 guests maximum.  $8,500 to $42,000.

Marion Davies Guest House
This is the expansive white "cottage" you see from Pacific Coast Highway on the way to or from Malibu.  William Randolph Hearst gifted her with it and after her death, it became the Annenberg Community Beach House.  Just 140 guests will fill the interior, but there is ample room for more in the garden or on the veranda.  $3,000 to $5,000

Paramount Back Lot
Pick a street from the permanent sets and get set up period style.  Force guests to come in appropriate costume.  Depending on the invitation list numbers, you should book the space from one to 18 months ahead of time.  "Fees" start at $10,000.

The Ace Hotel Theater Lobby
The lobby, said to be a mix of Spanish Gothic is now open to rental.  I have no idea where this place in located; you're on your own.  But if you can find it and have asked 600 people to join you, the Ace will be responsible for the hors d'oeuvres, cocktails, security and technical staff.  Must give the Ace two week's notice.  It's $7,000 for 50;  $84,000 for 600.

Monday, December 15, 2014

More On Parties

Los Angeles recommends getting a DJ for your party.  They kindly offered a selection, but I gotta go with a guy called Frosty McNeil "who performs at Hollywood Forever Cemetery."  You read that right.  Now I'm wondering if you have to move your party to the cemetery or not. 

A guy named Jeff Atlas owns F & J Entertainment.  Among his minions are five dancers who attend the event and git the party goin'.  To encourage people to dance their shoe soles thin, they might start with an Electric Slide (make sure your homeowners insurance is paid) or the Isley Brothers "Shout!"

Atlas always brings two of them along when he does a DJ gig.  If you can dance and enjoy helping  people this might be up your alley - dancers get $350 per job.    For enjoying yourself!  Who knew?  In lieu of  blowing the mortgage payment that month, they suggest you learn some easy stuff as it's all over You-Tube and easily learned.

In New York, the deciding factor the greatness of the event is how smoothly the coat check goes.  Out here, it is claimed that it's all about the valet parking. Theory:  if guests arrived easily, they'll come through the door in a good mood.  If the valet is quick on the up tick when they leave, they will go and on about the excellence of your event.

Tomorrow:  Rentable Historic Sites to Rent

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Post-Cataract Fun!

You can pretend you're a goldfish!

You have to wear your glasses funny

Little kids would laugh at you; their parents might ask how many glasses of wine did you say you had?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Not Surprisingly, They Live In Holly-weirdland

Los Angeles magazine continues holiday ideas by telling us whom to invite to our party.  Talk about pushy!  AND types that are clearly unknown in a beach community ... or maybe not if they're translated...

The Dealmaker - this one (male or female) is pathologically programmed to help - "Oh!  You're a screen writer?  You must meet my friend Abercrombie - he's a director!"

More likely to be heard at the beach:  "Oh, you need a bail bondsman?"

The Broadcaster - phone in one hand; drink in the other, he/she constantly screams, "This is The Best Party ever!"  This person's unrestrained enthusiasm is thought to convince others that they really ARE at the best party yet."

Beach:  This is not behavior that you want to encourage.  You'll find yourself having to entertain for such as St. Michael's Day.  No, I have no idea who that is either.  We live at the beach.

The Nanny - Forever hovering, "Can I get you a drink?" or "Here, I've got a napkin - take it."

Beach:  Otherwise known as the maid.  We don't have those either. 

The Craftsman - might be an avant garde carpenter or someone who crafts their own exotic brews.  Any one who only works about four hours a day (if that) doing something they love.

Beach:  we call them surf bums.

The Real Deal - very, very active in such as PETA, Green Peace, the Democratic Party.  Supposedly you will get personal points for being "so evolved."

Beach:  Who's got time for that s--t?  Surf's up, dude!"

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Modest Proposal to End Racism in America

Of late, the media has been full of reports of outraged citizens demonstrating their disgust, anger and mistrust of white policemen (no white women mentioned as yet) and their treatment of black men, young or old.

I say enough of this black and white nonsense.  If either color is in the process of committing a crime, it is the duty of the police of any color to stop them.  Universally, the police mantra is "Protect and Serve."  To me this means to protect the property of others and to serve entire communities in the effort to do just that.

Some of the miscreants are white and some are black, but all are breaking the law. 

Therefore, we need a new description of these people and I respectfully put forth "subhuman" for behaviors that are obnoxious.  "Subhuman" is certainly Politically Correct because it describes a behavior, not a skin color, which is irrelevant.  All skin colors hide their subhumans in a figurative attic.  No color is exempt from this new descriptive term.

There are near-daily examples of subhuman behavior.  Most recently, a man killed his daughter-in-law, video-taped himself having sex with her dead body and then carelessly buried her in his backyard.  That is genuinely subhuman behavior even though the man was clinically insane. 

Very few animals destroy their own habitat, but that is exactly what some rioting groups are doing.  Subhuman intelligence at work.

Some Muslim enthusiasts believe in committing suicide only to take out innocent people.

As you have seen from the above examples, a "subhuman" can come in any skin color, any nationality.  If behaviors were recognized as root causes rather than any skin color, we'd all be a lot better off.  And so endeth my proposal.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cataract Surgery A Success

If you've ever been hesitant about an eye surgery - and a lot of people understandably are - rest assured.  The man in the cubicle next to me was 90+.  His wife was the same and neither seemed afraid in the slightest.   

Post-surgery patching is different from my first procedure.  Back then it was a great wad of  gauze and could probably have been noticed from outer space.

Today's is a clear cup dome over the eye - even nudges the nose.  The wearer gets a goldfish face at no extra charge.  It comes off tomorrow after a post surgery go-see with the surgeon. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

O, Pa - Trader Joe Done Ruint Me...

We have a favorite Thai restaurant (previously reviewed) and I have a very favorite dish - #69 which is Yellow Curry Shrimp.  The minute I tasted it, I loved it!  On every subsequent visit, I ordered it because it was truly unique -- just a hint of heat that lingered but didn't shock and awe. .

And then Trader Joe came out with bottled Thai Yellow Curry Sauce.  Of course I bought a jar and with the addition of a little powdered ginger, cayenne and garlic I successfully cloned it to restaurant standards.

Last night Richie suggested we go there for dinner.  As I studied the menu, I thought.  "There's no point in the yellow curry shrimp 'cause I make it at home.  So..."   As it happens I don't like such stand-bys as beef and broccoli or cashew chicken (which Richie likes.)  What could I have for dinner? 

I finally settled on "Garlic Shrimp" expecting the delights of too much garlic.  Wrong.  It was lovely big shrimp, large mushroom halves in a sort of brown gravy sauce.  It was good, well prepared, but it most definitely lacked in garlic intensity. 

Yeah, Joe, you were in the running to be my next husband, but not now.  You done ruint them shrimp for me. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Pigging Out on Bacon

Sorry for the above; couldn't resist. 

Last Friday, we were doing the usual Beat The Weekend Crowds shopping at Trader Joe's.  In the meat section, my eye was caught by a bright orange box, slim but long, that contained Uncured Applewood-Smoked Pre-Cooked Bacon. 

For some time I have sneered at samples of "pre-cooked" bacon at our local supermarket.  "Such laziness..." I have been observed to mutter, forgetting that I have been accused of being  one of the laziest of all.  It is not true.  I am too impatient to cook bacon (or fill an ice cube tray.)  That's not laziness - it speaks of an earnest desire to be - oh, I don't know - out busily saving the world.  Or something.  

But something about the orange box triggered a longing in me ... and applewood-smoked triggered it.   I love that stuff! 

Let me tell you, it is damned handy if you want a:  bacon/lettuce/tomato/avocado sandwich.  Or bacon-dotted macaroni and cheese.  Or a Wedge Salad with iceberg lettuce, chopped tomato and bacon with blue cheese dressing.  Or to garnish a bean soup.  Handier than a pocket in a shirt. 

As proof of my adoration, the package comes with 15 slices of pre-cooked bacon.  We have four slices left.  And Richie won't touch it; sneers at it in fact.  Who do you think the culprit might be?  Let me just say, "Oink, oink."

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Seasonal Party Advice

Los Angeles magazine has seen fit this month to instruct we the peons in Proper Partying and, thoughtfully, they've included advice on what type of party to give, whether to have caterers, bartenders, DJs and hired dancers, more of which later.

Some of their advice rather startled me -- put the shyest person at the head of the table.  "How cruel" was my first thought, but Los Angeles assures me that anthropological studies have shown that if the shyest person at the table is put at the head of it, they will feel an obligation to entertain and that most will.  This is all well and good but I don't know any shy people.

Put your single friends side by side at the table -- they'll feel a sense of comradeship rather than the challenge of staring (warily one assumes) directly across the table. 

Very well, everyone is seated and staring expectantly at the kitchen.  A caterer advises the host to stick to the Rule of Five -- a salad, a protein, two vegetables, one starch and one "real" vegetable and dessert.  For added conviviality I add a cheese course before the dessert and for lingering at the table after the meal, I put out nuts that have to be shelled  by the guests.  Having to work for your nut gives drinkers a sense of actually doing something.  That's a good feeling when you've also had a different wine (and plenty of it!) with every course.

Knotty questions untangled - how do you start a conversation with a stranger?  Say, "Hello" and listen.  Or open a conversation by smiling confidently and with interest ask, "What's the best thing that happened to you today?"

I wouldn't run out and replace all of my stemmed wine glasses for stemless (because I've already done it) but in larger groups, a stemmed glass is just an accident waiting to happen. 

There is much, much more and we'll be touching on it in the not-so-distant future -- Christmas IS just around the corner...

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Generalizing Generations

P.J. O'Rourke's book detailing the "Baby Boomers" in excruciating detail made me wonder about this generational thing.  I have a vague idea of what the Greatest Generation had been up to, but who are these Generation Z or Generation Y people?  And who chooses these names?

One Website remarked in passing that there are six different living generations existing today.

Apparently this rage for nomenclature began with the Lost Generation whose members were born between 1882 to 1900.  In a vivid reverse of Lost comes the Greatest Generation from 1901 to 1924.  From Lost to Greatest in one generation is quite a jump...

1900 to 1925 - the GI Generation (for fighting in WWs 1 and 2)
1925 to 1945 - the Silent Generation (I'm in this class and am rarely silent)
1946 to 1964 - the Baby Boomers (my sister)
1965 to 1979 - Generation X
1980 to 2001 - Generation Z
2002 to the present time - the New Silent Generation

For a detailed explanation of all of the above, take a look at   Maybe they know who is responsible for what the name will be and when that particular generation will begin and end.  Will have to dig deeper....

Friday, December 5, 2014

Today's Daily Breeze

Hermosa Beach two-pet rule is just too extreme
Re "Two pet rule divides neighbors" (Dec. 2):

Dear Sirs:
What's next for Hermosa Beach?  One child per family"
Nina Murphy, Redondo Beach

I mention this only to encourage you to write to the editor of your local paper.  It could be argued that if you are indeed a local, they are more or less obligated to print it.  So don't "raise high your voices," raise your pen instead.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Rainy Afternoon Reading

"Crosby - His Life and Times" by Mark Whitaker   Simon and Schuster   532 pages   $29.99

The apparently endless stream of women who claimed that Bill Cosby drugged them and took liberties was just beginning to start flowing.  Amused I checked it out of the library.

I didn't find the book that interesting as Whitaker seems to have mistaken Cosby for God, but I did look in the Index to see if I could spot anything ... interesting.

In 1974, a woman he'd been seeing 14 months earlier returned at his request - he had a job for a month in Las Vegas with wife Camille on the East Coast.  When she arrived, she was not alone.  She had a baby girl with her and said that Cosby was the Daddy.

Today in 2014 the number of women is probably sufficient to establish a Class Action suit.  And since these antics took place 30 years ago, I also had to wonder, "Why now?"  Did the book's publication spur on the questions?

"Thank You For Your Service" by David Finkel   Sarah Crichton Books   256 pages   $26

This is Finkel's second war book and it continues with follow-ups on the guys he was embedded with in Baghdad.  It is virtually a catalog of human suffering for the soldiers and their families once they are safely home.  PTSD and the results on the brain that occur when exposed to bombs and mortars have changed many of the returning soldiers - and not for the good - which often has a domino affect on the wives and girlfriends that had been left behind.

Because it's about real people and contains their direct quotes, it is an interesting if not somewhat depressing read.

"The Baby Boom" by P.J. O'Rourke   Atlantic Monthly Press  263 pages   $26

As a rule I like reading O'Rourke.  But when I got to page 186 and realized that he was still talking about being in high school, I had to close the book and put in the back-to-the-library pile.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Very Scary Christmas Coming Up

Referring to an article in Drudge, left hand side of the page...  "Peppermint Potato Chips and Egg Nog Lattes"

"Seasonal" is about to get an entirely different luster due to the entirely popular weirdly-flavored foods you can eat, but only during Christmas.  Then they're all packed away until next season.

Not that you would sit and lick a Chapstick like an ice cream cone, but chapped lips demand a lick or two - slap on the Pumpkin-Pie Flavored Chapstick!

Are you a coffee fiend?  Dunkin' Donuts is ready to tempt you with Sugar Cookie or SnickerDoodle Cookie coffees.  Starbucks counters with Chestnut Praline or Pumpkin Spice Lattes. 

You can make your own Peppermint coffee at home and save a bundle (said savings to go for my Christmas present, of course.)  Simply brew a regular coffee and stir it with a candy cane - canes even come with a convenient hook for hanging them IN your coffee! 

Pringle adds dash with Tortilla Cinnamon Sugar Pringles or White Chocolate Peppermint chips.

This is all far too complicated for a simple lass from Kansas City, MO.  Why disguise coffee or a potato chip with sugar or pie seasonings?  That just doesn't seem right to me ... Why not caviar-flavored ice cream?  Shrimp Scampi cookies?  You see what I mean about "scary"?  A prudent person might ask what it's meant to be before putting it in their mouth ...just sayin'

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Later - Rainy Afternoon

I could easily get used to having rain more than once or twice a year, if that.  It alternately patter-patters  and thud- thuds! on the dome of the skylight.  The tree branches below the balcony wave seductively and it is a pleasant sight whenever I look up from my book.  

 The cats all woke up around 3:30 p.m. have been fed and are apparently considering going back to wherever they were sacked out and resuming position.  They have blank looks, typical of their species.

No power outages (and none expected) and nuked popcorn goes very well with a book. Since no store-bought popcorn ever has enough butter, I melt and add a judicious amount.  A few cranks of the sea salt grinder and it's ready to eat.

The streets are quiet.  We won't hear sirens until people start leaving their work places.  This rain has been heavy enough at times to wash some of the oil on the roads away but not nearly enough to permit high speeds on them.  Which 95 per cent of the drivers on them will disdainfully ignore and text in a reply to the latest message.

All in all, am reminded of the Robert Frost poem about driving through woods on a snowy eve... something like that... "But I must be on my way."  Or words to that effect.  The bliss part is:  I don't!

The Effects of Rain in Southern California

We had rain during the night and so far, all of this morning.  We drove to the gym after 9 a.m. so all of the Dilberts heading to their cubicles were well on the way and not in ours.  The gym parking lot was so crowded that we had to ride three different escalators to get up to it.

Apparently Fitness Freaks don't like to get their hair wet -- every treadwell/stair climber in the place had someone on it.  But to be fair, I can see that running in a raincoat or while holding an umbrella might be somewhat clumsy.

Down here in the office/guest bedroom, a glance at the window shows avocado branches being lashed by the wind - always a rather dramatic sight. 

Our cats have spread out on their favorite surfaces and none of them want to go out.  Here is Fred, dealing with the rain ...

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Growler II

No, the man pictured with the warm smile is not the growler.  It's the jug in his hands which is still called a growler and in use today at various craft brewery establishments.  

They are certainly old ... back in the late 1800s, beer was the normal lunchtime quaff as one ate one's homemade sandwich.  (This may be due to the lack of potable water in those days.) 

A man was specifically charged with going to the nearest saloon and bringing beer back to the work site - that was his job.  He could carry several pails on a long, notched pole. 

Worksite growlers were definitely not as aesthetically designed as what is pictured above.   In fact, the "work growlers" were buckets or pais with a lid or not.

The amount of beer sold by the pail was called a pint, but in reality it was a quart due to the foamy head contained therein.    "So, how much?" you say.

Sit down.  The price was from 5 to 15 cents (cents) per pail.  But then you did have to drink it out of the pail.  People weren't as fancy then and made do without stemmed or flat-base red and white wine glasses and champagne flutes. 

There is reportedly a big to-do in the beer world among connoisseurs who believe that growlers are a great idea!  If you can't down that much beer in a sitting (to which I would say "pussies") it reseals and hops back into the refrigerator.  Critics decry to the sky the beer's taste after being abused like that. 

Routinely using a growler is a nod of the head to the tree huggers and eco-freaks, but the growler has to be sterilized between trips to the beer guy.  Presumably you can rinse out the growler at home and the brewery will sterilize it for a refill. 

The Growler