Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Is Wierd Any Way You Look At It

This morning I was reading the Daily Breeze main section and page four made me exclaim, "Great Caesar's  ghost!"  Richie looked up from the sports section inquiringly. 

It was a photo layout of the results of a contest for Best Costume - Dogs.  I stared for several seconds at the picture of a dachshund "carrying" a black table-clothed tray with a number of airline-sized liquor bottles apparently glued onto it.  As the caption was "Cocktail wiener" and I am used to that meaning a small dog wearing a mustard-dressed hot dog bun you may understand my confusion.

To see other ghastly imaginings of our fellow Americans,

Meanwhile, fellow South Bay Writer's member Jay Simpson forwarded the following:

What is a Mummies' favorite kind of music?
Wrap, of course!

Why did the ghost walk into the bar?
For the BOOS, of course!

 My personal best wishes for a happy Halloween with the caveat - Don't let this happen to you!  One memorable year, several local grade schools bussed in trick or treaters.  As our street is only three blocks long and none of us were expecting that much company --it wasn't pretty.   You might want to consider road blocks and where best to put them...

Friday, October 30, 2015

How To Hit Someone and Make Them Feel It

Our friend "Raffish" is not only a medical doctor, a black belt in karate, but an anatomy professor  whose hobby is combining karate with anatomy.  His first book "Breaking Points" is a scholarly treatise on how to react when threatened physically.  If you want to know how to kill someone, with little danger of getting hurt yourself,  I recommend it.    "Self defense" rarely brings trouble to the defender, ahem, from a legal point of view.

His second book "Cereus and the Rarest Thing" is biographical in nature and takes readers on a beautifully described tour of Okinawa, arguably the first to practice the sport.   Both books are available through

His newest project is a You Tube video describing the anatomical side of karate.  You can see it (and "Raffish") by Googling  "anatomy of fist and skull - YouTube."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A letter to Old 41 and His Wife

Dear President Bush and Mrs. Bush:

Through God's and your own efforts, you have raised an extraordinarily good family.  They all seem close and loving on down to the great-grandchildren.

However, as there must be rain on any good parade, son Jeb - a fine man, I'm sure - is a disaster at politics. 

For your own reputation, I would most sincerely request that you remove him from national politics and what is sure to be a money-wasting campaign for President. 

Respectfully, Nina Murphy, registered (but not always obedient to the Party) Republican.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


The latest media uproar and intended scare from the vegans -- eat lunch meat and red meat and DIE prompts my cynicism which was beefed up by the fact that you would have to eat 1.7 lbs. of either PER DAY to risk cancer. 

Richie gave me a BB King CD and I promptly stuck it in the car's player.  Nodding and tapping my thigh along with the BB-ster during one of his laments about how good he'd been to his former love mate, he sang, "I gave you seven children!" and I thought, "This begins to explain it all ..."

The "little girl" who was dragged out of a classroom by a cop is 16 years old, reportedly hit the cop first  and is by no means delicate. 

It's all in whom you believe. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Pun-ful Title

"Head of State" by Andrew Marr   The Overlook Press   333 pages   $27.95

Marr is the former editor of the Independent (Brit newspaper) and  the BBC's Political Editor.  As such, he clearly understands The System across the pond.

After writing a series of serious books, this is his first foray into fiction and it's good.  It is set in 2017 and concerns itself with the passage - or not - of Britain into the Euro market.   

What about the title, you say?  It's a reference as to what happens when the Prime Minister suddenly dies at his desk, six days before this crucial vote. 

Heavy, heavy satire as well as humor and all the welcome for both of them.

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Very Good Film

It's title is "Rush" and it concerns itself with the rivalry between Formula 1 drivers Niki Lauda (Austrian) and James Hunt (British.)    If you are not a racing fan, no need to read further except for what is the larger lesson in this movie.

Professionals can be bitter, enthusiastic rivals in their field but away from it, they can each respect the other because they know what they're doing.  Racing, in general, is a dangerous sport.  If a crash doesn't kill the driver, the after effects can (presumably) make him (and her in today's racing world) very sorry indeed.    I'm reminded of NHRA Top Fuel racer Darrell Gywnn who lost his left arm and was paralyzed after an exhibition race in England.  He was 23 years old. 

Two more distinct personalities would be difficult to find.  Hunt, the playboy of the racing world, vs. Lauda, cool, methodical, factoring in the 20 per cent chance of injury at any given track.

It is an engaging look at rivalry and friendship; enmity and understanding.  And the fervid desire to never let the other guy win.

What happened to them after their racing careers ended?  Lauda, who became a private pilot, started his own firm Niki Lauda Air.  He was married twice and sired five children.  He has seen this film three times and not only liked it but praised the actor who portrayed him.    He was also startled to see himself (extensive facial burns) the way others see him today.  He has refused plastic surgery saying, in essence, that it is what it is.

James Hunt didn't live to see the movie; he was dead at 45 of a heart attack during his sleep.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Trump - Short for Self Trumpeteer

"Never Enough - Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success' by Michael D'Antonio   Thomas Dunn Books   387 pages   $26.99 

There are a lot of Trump-focused books out there - many of them written by D. Trump - so this is just more of much of the same.

 I read it to get a better grip on who he is and not what I think he is - a blowhard with some good ideas and no idea whatsoever how to implement them. 

The didoes and divorces of two out of three of his wives were interesting enough, but I was focused on the deals.  I have always enjoyed deal making (my truck license plate is DELMAKR) whether as a spectator sport or as a protagonist.

This touched my greedy little heart ... one of his casinos in Atlantic City was faltering before it got off of the ground and The Donald needed money.  The Donald cut a deal with The Daddy wherein The Daddy bought $3 million worth of chips, a liquid asset where in bits or all, the "debt" could be more or less instantly reclaimed, foregoing the tedium of a loan with all of its tiresome clauses about timely repayment, floating interest rates, etc.

I like that.  I really do.  Pity I don't own a casino.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Old Timer Tries to Skew Young?

Reader's  Digest has a feature new to me - called "Home."  This issue's column is all about lost money to be found there. 

Among the items - use those gift certificates!   I  would have said, "Duh - free something?  I'm on it!" until I realized that last week (October 15th-ish) we used one for $30 at the Cheesecake Factory and we have a $50 one for Tin Roof Bistro biding its time.  Both were received for my birthday - in April. 

Go on a change hunt in the sofa cushions, old purses, toll cup in the car (and seats)  because it can add up.  RD projects as much as $90 per household.  Ask your bank or credit union to sort it and then go out to lunch. The latter is my addition.

You bought a clothing item, in a hurry - just held it up to the appropriate body part, said, "Yeah" paid for it (this is important) and took off.  Now you're at home with the leisure to actually try it on and it doesn't fit.

"I'll take it back" you say.  Good luck on that because you're lost the receipt.  Keep an envelope in your purse or pocket and put receipts into it at the point of purchase.   

You've run out of storage space in your house so you rent a storage unit.  The unused except for three days exercise bike?   New home!  Some years later, you realize you've paid a great deal of money to "save" something you are never going to use at a price that is well over the item's purchase price.  Suck it up, get rid of it and the hell with the storage unit.  And do it before you sign up for a storage unit.

This is all well and good advice for many except ... the young who are already scrounging for home-made money.  In my salad days, I used to save the cans and bottles that once held soft drinks and turn them in for cigarette money.  And a gift card would have lasted exactly as long as it took me to get to the site. 

If old people don't know how to save or pay credit card bills on time (HUGE interest payments if you don't) you might could look for them down on Skid Row.  Where they don't sell Reader's Digest.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Knell Of Doom or How To Know You Are OLD!

It's one thing to receive word from AARP when you turn 50 that they are standing by, just panting to be of service to you.  I think most of us react the way I did - "Piffle!  50 isn't OLD!" and blithely tossed their material in the wastebasket. 

However... when Reader's Digest sends you a free copy of the magazine,  that's it, folks.  You're officially ancient.  

Show of hands here - how many of you had a grand parent that subscribed to Reader's Digest?  Double points if it was kept in the bathroom.    Uh huh - and how many times have you thumbed through one gleaning for the humor columns in a doctor's office?  I thought so.  The eye surgeon's subscription is for the LARGE TYPE version. 

My day of reckoning came yesterday along with the October 2015 issue.    However very often one can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, so here are tidbits for you.

Scramble eggs and then cook them on a waffle iron - they'll be perfect for making a breakfast sandwich to gobble on the way to work.

Egg slicers can chop up strawberries very quickly.

Use your turkey baster to make custom pancakes.  Load it with batter and "draw " away.  Outline the shape (Santa, autumn leaf) and then fill it in.

Keep fresh basil, cilantro or parsley in a drinking glass with water on the kitchen counter.  Basil particularly likes a sandwich bag over it to keep the basil breathing moist air. 

I'm getting a subscription ($10) but will not be keeping it in the bathroom.  I'm not THAT old yet!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

SoCal - You So Crazy!

We here in California are under a four year drought and much ado is made in the local media about it.

The latest news (as of today) is that all of the lovely people who did rip out their grass front yards and pour gravel, who take minimal showers (get wet, turn off the water, soap up, rinse and get out of the tub/shower)  are about to get hit with higher water bills courtesy of the DWP. 

Along with all of the people who didn't comply at all.  The drought-wary were also punished by having to pay taxes on the rebate they got for doing the good stuff!

Meanwhile, LA Times columnist Steve Lopez is doing a continuing piece on who in Bel Air and Beverly Hills are the water hogs, using as much as 6,000 a day!  The DWP refuses to out them, saying they are protecting these people from possible retaliation from those who are obeying the rules.

Ahem, but up north, their DWP didn't hesitate and made public a list of the water hogs found there.  One apologized, saying his pool leaked.

Everyone who ever said (or thought) that California was a state populated with nuts and flakes was absolutely right - and that goes double for our politicians.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Promising Reading Coming Up

Today the library offered the following and I took'em up on it ...

An illustrated book on Hollywood monster make-up.  I leafed through it and fought the nausea at some of the finished characters, but anything for readers.  And Halloween lurks ...

A collection of the late Elmore Leonard's short stories which can maybe help me write one.  I tend to keep writing until the story is done (if in my mind and nowhere else.)

And for once, I tottered over to the DVDs to pick out some funny ones.  Inspector Morse and every other English-speaking London detective is all well and good, but ...

I got "The Graduate" and Irma La Douce" (saw the original on Broadway when dinosaurs still ruled the Earth) and Richie got "Arthur" and "Analyze That."

Let the glee begin!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Don't Go Near the Water

And keep your dog out, too.  The yellow-bellied sea snake, an extremely venomous snake, has been found in Southern California waters.

They are said to be non-aggressive unless picked up or otherwise molested, things dogs don't understand and thus will  do.  Save your dog and yourself, too - run!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Dorothy Had Her Ruby Slippers...

Photo by author

and these  are mine.  They will never appear at a movie star's memorabilia auction even though at least three pairs of "authentic ruby slippers" have.   Hollywood always (or at least used to) make several  twin outfits.

No, Nordstrom Rack has a good supply of these Keds which come with white or red laces (as shown) and mine were $30.

Some time ago, the Physical Therapist Lady urged me to get "a pair of lace up shoes" which immediately gave me horrific visions of brown lace up oxfords.  As in "Remember Buster Brown school shoes"?

"No," I rationalized, "Fall and winter will be here soon and my Ugg boots will suffice just as well."  And then the heat hit.  So I staggered on (literally) in various pairs of boat shoes.

I wasn't getting anywhere with them because the 1/2 in. lift put my heel above the rim of the boat shoe.  Boat shoes are not designed as slip-into household mules. 

Finally, I gave up.  Incidentally, it is not uncommon to have some loss in bone length after a hip replacement - I don't know about a knee replacement, but if you're contemplating one, look it up or ask your doctor.

Three days later, I am very nearly gamboling around like a colt his/her first time in the meadow.  I find myself having to remember to take my cane with me. 

Ruby slippers can take many guises.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tidbits As the Day Wears Along

Politics have come to this???

One of the Lesser Candidates in last night's debate said, "I'm proud that in my 30 years (as or in) politics/position, I have never been involved in a scandal."


We had one at 9:10 p.m. last night.  It sounded like hell's own amount of light bulbs blowing out.  Much to-ing and fro-ing by the power company with power sometimes and utter blackness at others. 

It took about 10 minutes before the neighborhood guys emerged from their houses to confer about it which amused me, but was good.  One of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) rules is to check your own house first and THEN see about the neighbors.

Coincidence or not ...?  The day before Richie bought two new flashlights....

Since all was now calm,  I went to bed.  However, this morning neither the downstairs PC, the upstairs laptop OR the iTablet worked - the router wasn't up for it this morning.  Obviously it's working now -  but the ancient surge protectors downstairs and up will be replaced today.  So simplistic is my mind that I believe (with electricity) once plugged in; always working.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Local Alert

Today's Excitements --

The South Bay New Orleans Jazz Club -
Knights of Columbus building, 214 Avenue I, Riviera Village
1 to 5 p.m.  Non-member admission $9  

Park(free) Wells Fargo Bank lot.

Today's featured band:  South Burgundy Street Jazz Band

Manhattan Beach Art Walk, a series of studio tour visits with local artists from 1 to 5 p.m. today  Because these are private homes, the organizers didn't go all out with publicizing the artists, but if you know one, be supportive and show up.  We're that lucky!  Full report tomorrow.

Saturday, October 10, 2015


While reading "Born to Be King," a paragraph leaped out at me.  The Prince, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip had all visited BURNLEY during the 2012 Diamond Jubilee.

Why such excitement?  Dear friends, Ann and Frank, live in Colne, which is 7.6 miles or 16 minutes from Burnley - surely they'd been in attendance!  A scoop!  Whee!  In an instant I'd e'd them asking for all of the details.

Alas, something else had precluded their attendance, but the royals did have lunch at the Burnley Clarets (football team) facility which was mere yards from the location of their old shop and house.

Anne wrote again to console me.

"We have seen the late Queen Mum on three occasions!!!!

1.  We were invited to St. James Palace to attend the Queen Mary's Needlework Guild Presentation.  I had knitted 36 (Yes, 36) children's sweaters and jackets.

The Queen Mum was patron of the Guild which Queen Mary, wife of George Vth, had started during the 1st World War.

She came through a door which led to Clarence House, where she lived and into St. James Palace with Billie, her butler and the corgis ... one of which I managed to stroke.

2.  We happened to visit Sandringham Flower Show when we were on holiday on the day when the Queen Mum accompanied by Prince Charles was viewing the flowers.  The Queen Mum wore yellow and Prince Charles had a check suit on which, I thought, was a bit "loud."

3.  Liz (daughter) was playing in a concert at the Albert Hall when she was studying for her Post Grad in Music at the Royal College of Music and the Queen Mum, who was patron of the College was the Guest of Honor.  

After the performance, we went back to the College to pick Liz up and the Queen Mum was there.

She was just leaving and we had to stand to one side.  As she walked down the steps, she actually said, "Good evening" to us.

So I hope that this in some way makes up for us missing the Queen when she came to Burnley."

Friday, October 9, 2015

Death Becomes Him

The LA Times front section ran a defensive article re possible candidate Joe Biden:  "But factors beyond his control are intruding on Biden's deliberations.  Outside ruminations on his tragic personal history have had the inadvertent effect of giving his grief an off-putting veneer of opportunism."

Er, who told the media that it was dying son Beau's deathbed wish that he run?  Uh, who told the media "weeks before his son died" about the car crash in 1972 that killed his first wife and their year-old daughter?

Sorry Michael Memlin (article author)   Biden did. 

Not "outside ruminations."  Nice try, no cigar.

And Paul Prudhomme, age 75?
Most of his adult life he was morbidly obese; at one time weighing in at 500 lbs.  To his credit, he did try various diets, but was quoted as saying that he felt best at around 350 lbs.

No cause of death was reported, but he only died yesterday.   I'm no doctor (I think we all knew that) but I would imagine that diabetes will be in the cause of death column.  When a person needs a motorized wheelchair to get around's sad.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Brevity On Display

"Born to Be King - Prince Charles On Planet Windsor" by Catherine Mayer   Henry Holt & Company   258 pages   $28.00

Prince Charles is a twit.  God save the Queen.

Today's Daily Breeze

Prepare For El Nino

Dear Sirs:

Have the powers that be here, in California, planned for the possibility of flooding and mudslides?  The Palos Verde Peninsula comes to mind.  I hope so.

Richie Murphy
Redondo Beach

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Going Back in Time

Funny how unlikely things can trigger memories.  A case in point -- Richie lucked into the late Huell Hauser's visit to a local "California gold."  He caught him in the middle of his (trademarked, I feel sure) "Oh mah go00sh!  Lookit that!"   

What prompted this response was a bottle of old-time soda that he held in his hand, while standing in an aisle at Galco's Old-Fashioned? Time? Soda store.  Any road, the Website is  He was mid-interview with the proprietor.

The two of them were raving about - well, the owner really was the raver - about a beverage y-clept Plantation-style Mint Julep-flavored soda.  He all but kissed his fingers as he described the mint flavor - wholesome, refreshing - you get the idea.

At the site, I encountered the Dry Soda line and it occurred to me that you could serve these sodas with select foods just as a sommelier matches wines to foods (or vice versa.)

With no further adieu ...Dry Soda -
Juniper Berry - skip the 5 o'clock martini and drive home just fine

Lavender - perfect with tea and scones or cucumber sandwiches

Vanilla bean - next to a cold dish of vanilla ice cream

Lemongrass - with Thai foods

Rhubard - er, uh, just enjoy it on its own.  If that's possible.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Online Buying Bliss

Knowing I am going to need warm sweaters for Paris in January (average temperature daily is @ 30 degrees) I went shopping at Nordstrom for them.

I found the sweater of my dreams - a turtle neck with -- wait for it!  Leather epaulets!  It's a streamlined version of the shooter's sweater where the epaulets continue down to  form a pad for the butt of a rifle or shotgun.  Richie remembers them from Navy big shots; I remember them from a Frenchman, who undoubtedly never fired a gun, "but the image is all!"

So I bought it.  It arrived today and it is 100% triple ply cashmere!  Thick, warm cashmere!  I'd never imagined that as the epaulets blew me right straight to Check Out.

That was this morning; this afternoon I went right back to the site to see what other colors...and it seems that I bought the last one (in a sort of dark green moss/fatigues color.)

Not sure which is the most pleasing ... I scored the last one! or I got my epaulets!

ON SALE which is probably - no, surely - the best part of all.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Thurs. Writers Win!

Today's LA Times Letters to the Editor featured the group's very own Carole Cooper, of Manhattan Beach who wrote re the Kentucky Klerk's newest bid for publicity (and I would add that she better straighten up that Pope vs/ Klerk Kontroversy first)

"As a Democrat, I cried when I read that Davis is party-jumping to the GOP -- that's how hard I laughed."

CONGRATULATIONS, COOPER!  (Her preferred form of address)

Friday, October 2, 2015

In Fact....

Re: mass shooters...

Here's the perfect way to make an impact (gratuitous - no payment required.)

Assemble all of your weapons and ammo in the lobby of the place you wish to attack.  Write a note and pin/tape it somewhere on your body/face where it is immediately visible that says, "See what I could have done?! - You should be grateful and laud my name (instead of reviling me.)"

And then you eat the gun.

Brilliant, no?

An Idea for Potential Mass Murderers - Gun Variety

As most of these situations end with the shooter committing suicide,  gentlemen, why not start by doing that?  It would be much appreciated and would (probably) gain you a lot more positive publicity and the intense gratitude of your potential victims and loved ones.