Saturday, December 31, 2016

Of Drones and Lobsters; Fear and When the Parking Lot Chooses the Restaurant

Rose Bowl Parade Security

In addition to garbage trucks holding 15 tons of sand as blockages on all 56 streets leading to the parade route, metal detection check points for viewers,  the air above has been designated as a No Drone Zone (precious, no?)  If any of the 300,000 registered drone owners are planning to attend, word - don't get cute and set it loose as it will be shot down.  Goodbye investment for the dubious pleasure of scaring everyone around you and quite possibly being attacked with intent to harm.  Bring your explosive sniffing dog, but leave the drone at home. 

When Parking Determines Dinner

Thursday night we decided to give Brickworks, Manhattan Beach mall, our patronage because they are running a three course $30 dinner that has a variety of choices that are (so far) quite tasty.  (Previously reviewed.)    On arrival, we found parking near Brickworks to be problematic.  We peddled up and down the aisles until we were across the street from Tin Roof Bistro, an old favorite.  I said, "You know what?  We haven't been here for awhile; the hell with Brickworks, we'll get it another time."  Magically there was a space right in front of us and we couldn't have been closer unless we were sitting at the bar.  Done.

My First Lobster

I have never cooked a lobster in my life.  I know nothing about it other than the fact that if I had to either plunge a small knife into its head or toss it LIVE into a pot of boiling water, I would need emergency psychiatric care.  I cannot be cruel to animals or small children although I must admit that the latter has been tempting from time to time. 

Comes now Trader Joe to my rescue with a pair of quite dead (frozen) lobster halves - tail meat and stuffing above.  Put them on a baking sheet and then the oven for 30 - 35 minutes "or until the stuffing turns a lovely golden color."  $16/box of two.   


Some asshat on the morning radio news remarked vis-à-vis the Rose Bowl parade and the upcoming Super Bowl, that "We cannot live our lives in fear" referencing the threat of terrorism. 

To which I say, "Bullshit."  Fear and self-preservation are two very different things.  Don't quiver on little mice feet every time you're in a soft target (malls, supermarkets, airports) - pay attention to your surroundings.  That shoe sale in the window is going to be there next week, but the guy sidling along beside you with the lumpy-looking body and a large back pack may have other plans for your "next week.".

We are all lucky enough to have been blessed by an amygdala or snake brain that  senses danger.  If yours goes to even amber, move away, find someone in authority and tell them.  Try to give an accurate description of the person and his/her location.  Yeah, they have female suicide bombers now.  Free your snake brain to take care of bidness.  That's what it's there to do. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Grab the Shredder - We'll Make Our Own Damn Confetti!

Edible Confetti

Of course you can shred paper (newspapers for a chic b/w retro effect or old bills - the red "Past Due" strikes a festive note even if the bailiff is at the door) but what do you do to get rid of it after it's been tossed?  If you have cats, new litter, guys! 

Better to have edible confetti to toss over a salad or mix into cole slaw.  Simply get one red pepper, one green and one yellow and mini slice them by holding them vertically on a solid surface - bread board - and make very thin slices.  Of if you have one, use a Japanese slicer which gives you long, slender curls of the peppers or a carrot.

Richie Gets A Double

The other day I mentioned that Richie wrote a Letter to the Editor and ran it as a column.  Today what do we read in the Letters to the Editor?  "Richard Murphy's letter prompted me to explain, simply, the Electoral College votes and one person/one vote."  Joan Haefeli, Torrance, who went on to explain it. 

Despite the number of Letters we've both had published, the above was brand new and a very pleasant surprise.  "Somebody (besides the Editor) read me!"

Trader Joe Guilt Banished

In the past, I have felt vaguely guilty and sad after writing about some new taste/food at Trader Joe's, thinking I'm being rude to any reader that doesn't have a Trader Joe.  No more.  Doing research for something else, I came across this statistic:  there are 460 stores in 41 states and Washington, DC.

In all of them is a hidden joke - a plastic lobster tucked in among the goods for sale.  Not a long hunt - Trader Joe's only carries 4,000 items versus the average supermarket which carries 50,000.   A partial explanation is that supermarkets have to carry several brands of one thing, whereas TJ is all their own label.

Other Insider Information

All of the stores have rather nicely done chalkboard art.  Guess what?  All of the stores have hired one or two artists who work out of the back of the store, making them! 

Trader Joe's uses a system of bells rather than a PA system heard all over the supermarket.
One bell - go to a register, the line is getting too long.
Two bells - we need a runner to replace an item being checked that is flawed.
Three bells - get the Manager!

Trader Joe's deliberately hires . more people than needed because customer service is vitally important to management.  And working there sounds like a good job - $12 to $20 an hour as a part timer.  After three months of 30-hour weeks, the employee gets health insurance and a 401K as well as a raise one or two times a year.  Estimated average income is $130,000/year.

TJ's will open any item in the store to give you a taste - you don't have to confine your grazing to just the food display "Try one of these" kiosks.  Further if you did buy something and you don't like it, they have a No Questions Asked return policy. 

Six hundred million bottles of $2 Buck Chuck have been sold.  But $2 Buck is now $2.49 a bottle.

And yet ... TJ's doesn't always satisfy - we will be celebrating at home and I wanted a tiny pot of caviar (and tiny is all that the budget would carry) so I went shopping on line.  No caviar at TJs.  Then I remembered having bought it at Bev-Mo.  Nope, umgotz..  Just for the hell of it, I hit Ralph's (supermarket) and they have it!  TJ's is not always the answer.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

I Did It; You Can Do It and Here's How

Our local newspaper, the Daily Breeze of whom you may have heard rather more than you would like here, runs a column-a-week from various local writers who submit their pieces and then grab the DB first thing in the morning to see if they have made it.

  Today it was mine.  I read the DB before Richie does (he reads the Sports first) and I said to him, "Do you know some old bat who calls herself 'Nina Murphy?' which is my way of notifying him that today it was my turn.

Okay enough about me.  Here is how you get on the scoreboard. 

1.  The Daily Breeze is a local newspaper and as such, it runs minimal coverage on international and national events.  It is devoted to its local community which is as it should be.  War in Syria or equivalent doesn't usually make a difference here to us.  However, the news that our favorite major supermarket is closing does.  Big time.

So - your submission will fare a helluva lot better if you can write about something local - ideas:  the oldest fig tree in the State has died and has to be cut down - your take?  "I remember so well playing around the Oldest Fig Tree ..."  You can write about notable people, usually they just died, but you can write a cheerful piece about something the deceased did for the benefit of this community.  Do not get confused and think you are writing an obituary.  Won't fly.  What might is:  I read that so-and-so died and I remember so well when she taught me in 3rd grade.  She had a strict rule that ..." and blah on for a bit. 

Exception:  If, however, you did vacation in Syria 20 years ago (or whenever it was safe to visit) and write about that contrasting it to today, throwing in an anecdote about a local ... that becomes local and desirable.

2.  Limit your deathless prose to maximum 600 words.  Word count on most computer writing programs (Word, for example) has it and it is very, very useful when you are a success and are asked for "1,200 words on such-and-such."

Submissions are accepted ONLY in e-mail format.  Attachments are not.  Send your prose to:
Head this e-mail "My Turn"
I find it useful to add "1st North American Rights" just above or on the same line as your title for the piece.  At the end of your submission, you type your name, mailing address, city and phone number so that they can contact you. 

If it's a first time for you, they will contact you to come in for a head shot to go along with your column, assuming you get it. 

See how easy it is?  Ms. Walton wrote that they welcome new voices, so be one!

I was one today and odds are you read it 11/25/16 - The 50 Year Old China - in this space.  It got 253 page views, so I know someone read it!  Or go to Google:  Nina Murphy + My Turn for the piece and a headshot.  Shall we be seeing yours next Wednesday? 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

How to Have Good Luck in 2017 - or So 'Tis Said ...

Use your own judgement (as always) on following anything in this column.  Happily, nothing offered today is potentially lethal. 

Common advice worldwide - Open every door and window in your dwelling place to let all of the year's bad luck out, but:  do not do laundry or you will wash someone out of your life.   Unfortunately the source quoted here had no ideas on Selective Laundry Expulsion for dirt-bag, crayon-eating slobs who annoyed you in 2016.

In Spain, the big deal is to eat 12 grapes as the clock begins to strike midnight.  The demand for grapes is so strong that a special crop of them is grown to be harvested for this event in mid-December. 

The church bells ring out - TV and radio echo them and all of the phone lines in Spain are busy because everyone is calling everyone else to say, "I'm here (location) - where are you?"

Days 1 to 5 each have an equal place in Asian recognition of the arrival of the New Year.
Day 1 - Eat only vegetables - killing an animal for your dinner "will affect your own longevity."
Don't put out the trash until Day 5 OR sweep the floor because you would be getting rid of good fortune.  Anyhow good housekeepers will have already done that prior to Day 1. 
Stay at home Days 3 and 4 - don't visit friends.  I would assume that waving to friends across the street is acceptable. 

France is famous for 13 desserts at midnight, but spoiler alert - they pad the bill of fare with fresh fruit, nuts and fancy breads - it's not all exquisite patisseries.  Although many people say it should be.

Great Britain is said to celebrate First Footing which sounds like an ancient deal to me as it involves coal fires and ashes and so forth - not central heating.

It begins the minute it is officially January 1st of the New Year.  The homeowners hide behind their front door (this part may be optional) to wait for the knock from the dark-haired stranger bringing gifts of coal (for warmth,) bread (always have food,) money (no explanation needed) and branches of pines or equivalent (for long life.)   I would imagine that by now Chinese manufacturers have come up with an all-in-one toy of some sort that. incorporates all of this.

And while we're thinking of that, probably they've come up with a slick package of mock ashes and/or dust for the stranger to take away.  Theey represent the bad things of the previous year. 

If women are now permitted to be the dark-haired stranger, my apologies, ladies, and NOW, you get the hell away from my front door. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

So Much for Christmas...

It's over and I'm not sorry it is.   Due to uncertainty about a guest's car actually getting here, I couldn't make Christmas Eve dinner reservations and calling various local places reminded me of the Christmas story "No room at the inn." 

By dint of getting lucky on a Charthouse offer of "Walk in and take your chances in our lounge" we did get dinner and as a bonus a wonderful waiter we secretly christened "Nurse William."  "Are we ready for our hummas tasting tray?  Shall we have it here?"  He was so slick I nearly scooted over and offered him a seat at the table. 

We then took our visitor to see ice skating at the beach, which was closed for the evening and the next day.  I think they missed out on a profit - many tourists from the East Coast would have loved to have a photo of themselves ice skating! on Christmas Eve!

Anyhow.  All is behind us and now we contemplate New Years Eve or ,  the national festival called "If you value your life, stay home tonight."  No matter where you are, New Year's Eve will come to you.  So stay home.

There are 39 different time zones.  It takes 26 hours for New Year's Eve to make a complete circle of them all.  The first is Kiribati (lesser known island to most of us) and Samoa are first and their midnight is 5 a.m. in New York and 10 a.m. in London.  In Sydney it is 9 p.m.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

"Hush! Don't Sing That - the Police Will Come!"

Parliamentary Law passed in the late 1640s forbade celebrating holy days and singing Christmas carols in public, a situation that persisted until the 1660s when it was reversed.     Meanwhile, it is said that the devout worshiped furtively at home - one of their carols, the lengthy "12 Days of Christmas" was actually a song in code!

"Two turtle doves" were the Old and New Testament
"10 Lords a'leaping"  represented the 10 Commandments
"Three French Hens" substituted for "Faith, Hope and Love."

If you've ever given tried to total up all of the items sung about and given it up in despair, here's good news!  Someone with infinite patience has done it for the rest of us:  final day gift count is 364 total gifts. 

More Trivia

The words for "Silent Night" were written first in 1816; the music didn't come along until 1818 and it was written for guitar.

St. Francis of  Assisi took the nativity news on the road by performing it as a play for the poor and illiterate. He did it to show these people that Jesus was born in similar circumstances to their own births.  It may have been one of the first spins re accepting religious beliefs..

A great Christmas tradition exists in Great Britain and it is a tribute to the average Brit male's fascination with things that go BOOM!  They are called "Christmas crackers" and are pulled apart for two things - a satisfying "pop!" noise and a paper hat or crown to be donned immediately for further table jollity.  Also included in this cracker are slips of paper with genuinely terrible jokes printed on them.  Contain your groans to a bearable level, and consider:

"Why did Rudolph cross the road?
He was tied to the chicken!"

"Why are Christmas trees so bad at sewing?
They always drop their needles!"

Friday, December 23, 2016

Have You Ever Been the Only One That Thinks a Certain Idea is a Good One?

The only one that can see that it would be fun or educational or different?  And you posed this action plan and were roundly sneered at for your troubles?

I am in that awkward position now.  Last night looking around the crowded dining room  at Charlie's, a NY Joint, I remarked to Himself that in Olden Days the many people out to dinner on a Thursday night were wealthy enough to have a cook and traditionally Thursdays were cook's nights off. 

This bit of historical fact didn't interest him nearly as much as the lasagna before him. 

And it may have begun the rejection process for my great idea.  I think it would be tremendous fun for us (Richie, "Raffish, "D" if he's in town and self) to go out and stand around the telephone pole nearest our driveway and sing Christmas carols.  I think our melodic voices, blending harmoniously together would draw out other neighbors to join us.

I could  visualize it now -- "Larry!  Do you hear singing?" 
"Yeah, it's the teapot, Darlene - pour my tea, would you?"

But as Darlene passes the kitchen window she looks down - and there we are, like a Dickens illustration, singing our hearts out.  "Oh, what fun" she murmurs - "Larry - you'll never believe ..." and before you know it, Larry and Darlene have added their voices to the swelling crowd of neighbors. 
I could open the garage door and offer modest refreshments on the tailgate of Truck, parked inside.  Visiting singers could bring plates of cookies, extremely alcoholic egg nog ...truly, a very merry time could be had by all.  And if all or most of the neighbors join in, no fearing visits from the cops for noise abatement.  Win-win!

Except for my companions who want no part of it.  And if I tried this wonderful social experiment by myself, not only would the police be sent for but an ambulance for transport to a 72-hour observation facility.   "Dispatch we are transporting a confused old woman who was singing Christmas carols to a light pole in the 1700 block of ..."  Yes, I can hear it now.  And the guys would have to get me out.  None of them can cook the Christmas Day meal.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

December 22, 2016

Prinz von Anhalt doesn't disappoint.  I thought it would be unlikely if he didn't make a great deal more of his beloved spouse's departure and he did.  He invited a TV program called "Inside Edition"  to bring their cameras and tour the Death Chamber quite possibly as she was consigned to the crematory big blaze at those very moments!  He not only described his efforts at CPR, but apparently demonstrated them as well, saying that she was breathing so he had to place his hands just there ...

I will check with "Raffish" our adopted nephew and medical doctor about this as getting the person to breathe naturally again is pretty much the reason to do CPR.  At least, that would appear to be the goal. 

von AssHat also said that her last words were "I love you" which is more remarkable than it might sound at first hearing.  By many accounts, she had been comatose for the past five years, unable to make her wishes - if any - known.  Death is probably a powerful motivator, but, c'mon ...

He went on to say that she would be/was being cremated and would be buried at a "secret location" with a private ceremony with only the Prince and "four or five others" present.  As all of the Gabors are cooling their high heels at a cemetery in Palm Springs, it is likely that her "secret" burial place has already been dug and filled. 

Readers comments were universally detrimental about the Prince, "tacky," "materialistic bastard," and such like. 

But the very best comment was:  "I'm surprised he isn't having her stuffed and mounted and a turnstile installed to the bedroom." 

Daily Breeze - Opinion - Letters to the Editor
December 22, 2016

Aren't all grads eligible?
Why did I spend time in line to vote when the only vote that counts is the Electoral College?
And I am not a college graduate.
Richard Murphy

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Welcome To The House of Wet Kleenex

Richie got it first and four days later, so did I.  If I wanted to be fancy (or name drop - Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip are both said to have it, cancelling Sandringham for the first time in years) I'd refer to it as the British do - "a streaming cold" meaning that your nose and eyes are streaming water.  Or germy water, if you will.  As an accompaniment, you are also served a husky helping of incessant coughing.

It's a tough call as to which is the more annoying - your coughing most of the time or someone else coughing most of the time.  Just lump'em together and say "Ghastly."

Being a strong believer in Western medicine, I've got two different brands of cough syrup - His and Hers -  (both maximum strength - to which I say "Hah!") as well as an OTC mucus breaker.  Today I go Benadryl-ling. 

But before I loaded up the kitchen with more clearly-useless remedies I decided to see what online had to say.  And most revealing it was, too.  Homeopathic remedies are said by their practitioners to address disease in the body with infused health via various plants, liquids and substances.  NO, not that kind of "substance" which usually has "abuse" next to it.    On the other hand, a good deep snort of Peruvian marching powder just might be the thing ...

Where was I - oh! Online.  One site recommended having lots of lemon juice, curry, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon or cayenne to wake up the body!  Make that sucker ziiing! 

There were two other ideas recommended by the site BUT NOT BY ME.  The following information is provided for your amusement and not as anything anyone would actually do although they do seem relatively harmless.

The first involves your feet.  The instructions were to wash your feet in a basin until they are a rosy pink, then yank on a pair of wet, frozen socks that you have pulled out of the freezer.  Still moving quickly pull a  pair of dry, heavy warm socks over then and go on to bed.  It is believed (by some) that the resulting shock will direct your cold to go elsewhere. 

The second involved putting a chemical in  your ears so we're going to skip that one.

In addition or in substitution, put six peeled garlic cloves in a half cup of honey, let them settle in together which will thin the honey and then drink a spoonful at intervals through out the day.  The copy was somewhat confused at this point - or I was - because it said you could eat onion rings.  Onion rings are my very favorite go-with for a sandwich or appetizer with drinks.  After further consideration, I finally figured that you substitute raw rings of onion for the garlic cloves.

I would prefer to get an order of onion rings and douse them with honey and Tabasco sauce.  Two birds or rings with one magic elixir.  What's not to like about that?

Financial tip - Buy all of the shares in Kleenex you can afford - we're doing our best to make it profitable for you ...

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

In Which Prince vonAnhalt Inserts Himself Into the Drama of ZsaZsa's Death

Yesterday the press told us that 1) she'd died 2) she was found non-responsive (dead) by a caretaker.

Today's news ( reports that it was Prince von Anhalt's habit to pop in to her room to see her before going out "to shop."  Sunday morning, he reports that her hand was cold which alarmed him, so he called the nurse to take her blood pressure.  Apparently this is the way to check someone's well-being - or not - in the Old Country. 

The nurse complied and the Prince said that it was "72" which is only half of a BP - top or bottom? 
Alarmed, he says he called 911 who led him through resuscitation - "First get her on the floor..." which given the last photos of her  couldn't have been easy -  she'd gotten a bit zaftig (hitting the Hungarian goulash with too much gusto?)  plus being imbalanced by the missing leg.  They couldn't grab her by the legs and gently lower her to the floor ...

When paramedics responded, they transported her to the hospital (none that I know of in Bel Air - perhaps she had the longish ride to Cedars-Sinai) where she was pronounced after about 30 seconds.  Well, at least her last ride was a noticeable one - sirens, lights...but:  the irritation of no one knowing it was her.  Had she been able (being dead and all) she would have undoubtedly writhed with rage while shrieking at von Anhalt to alert the media.

Alas.  von Anhalt greeted the press at the matrimonial home from the door of the front porch with an enormous head shot of the late Mz. Gabor that he had propped next to it.

Sic transit gloria.

Next - funeral plans.  I wonder if the Sistene Chapel is being tidied up?

To avoid any criticism that the writer is a bit cynical and/or cruel, both ZsaZsa and von Arnhalt lived for publicity (their own) and I am merely following orders, as it were.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Disappointing Death of Zsa Zsa Gabor

Long time readers (Bless you!) will remember that this writer went through a period of intense interest in the doings of the above.  Admittedly she was an interesting source of awe and amusement until illness in old age took her down. 

I liked her because she was smart, quick with a quip or a remark and never hesitated to obliquely make fun of herself.  Those were welcome qualities at a time when the famille  Kardashian was spewing ego-drive nonsense every day of their pathetic lives.  ZsaZsa was the first to do nothing but be famous for being famous.  Her granddaughter, Paris Hilton, took up the reins, but she was/is neither clever nor witty.  The genre has gone downhill ever since ZsaZsa started the ball rolling.

Nine husbands, slapping a cop, her last husband Prince A-hole (TMZ never referred to him in any other way) and his mad schemes - running for Governor of California to name only one.. the time he was kidnapped by two women, stripped naked, handcuffed and left, but yet, he still had his cell phone... he was great copy, too. 

For all of these reasons, I expected a much more dramatic death than just succumbing after a reported five years on "life support."  In my view, life support is a feature of the ICU and includes various lines with drugs, being on a ventilator and, generally speaking, the patient is insensate.

In her case since she was reported as being in a coma due to a heart attack after the leg amputation, I would put money on a feeding tube as the "life support" which, arguably it is.  Without liquids and some nourishment, you're gonna croak.     

I would have expected a great drawing together of her admirers (family being largely dead - mother, three sisters, a husband or two, daughter Francesca)  for a dramatic farewell with lit candles, soft music ... a preview of the wake with the waked still there.  Muffled screams would rend the air ... not least those of Prince A-hole because now he has to move ... the Bel Air house was sold with the proviso that the couple could live there for three years after the sale was completed.

Hmmm... maybe someone should check those dates?  It might explain five years of "life support" for essentially a comatose body in a hospital bed

There have been many mentions of various of her quips, but this is my favorite, "How many husbands have I had?  You mean just my own?"   ZsaZsa you killed with that line!  And so many others.  Rest In Peace.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Dispatches From "The Quiet Room" Providing Subdued Care for the Clinically Disturbed

Given the nervousness generated by the holiday season, I thought it would be enlightening to speak to a pro at handling stress.  So we motored over to The Quiet Room and asked to interview someone.  Roxie Rhodes, the head nurse, was happy to do it. 

She remarked that it would be nice to talk to someone (presumably) sane so "Ask me anything, honey - I am so HERE!" aside "Thank God the money's good."

Q "Who's in residence now that you can talk about?"

RR "Funny you should ask because this afternoon we just checked in a couple and their cat!  We usually don't take pets - you can imagine; we have enough to do keeping the incontinent dry - but we felt so sorry for the couple - unusual in this business where we have to deal with lunatics that think they are their mothers - and, honey, half of them are the men!  (laughs)  Anyhow,  all three of them showed up around 3 this afternoon.  The cat was in a carrier yowling away - that sound could make you bonkers, know what I mean? and their arms were covered with scratches and bite marks.

We told them we'd put Miss Kitty and her cage in a nice room to calm her down so that they could peacefully ell us why they needed some time here.  I had Nurse Gupta do that (broom closet) and resumed interviewing them.

"It was a sad story.  The cat was being hydrated every day against the possibility of a diagnosis of kidney disease.  If you've never done it, hydrating a cat is just like hydrating a human.  Hang up that big ole bag o Ringers, run the line down to that big fat needle and jab it in wherever it seems to be a good idea.  In a cat's case, it's the loose skin at the back and just a little below the neck.

"The cat didn't like being hydrated and she went bat shit crazy every day.  They had to do a half hour rodeo just to get her out from under the bed!  And when they did, they had to wrap her in a towel to try to contain her paws and their long, long, murderously sharp claws.  The cat was wily and they held out their red- streaked arms to prove it. 

A friend told them about The Quiet Place and they figured that we'd be able to hydrate the cat - after all we drug people up every day - and they could have a quiet cup of tea ("Or a dirty gin martini?" said the wife hopefully - we may be seeing her again in the not-so-distant future...) and pay whatever bill we presented them with which sounded do-able to me.  The Board is very anxious to pry ever last dollar out of the billfolds of our guests."

"And so, as I tell this, the couple is enjoying refreshments in our lovely dining room/bar and Staff tranquilize darted the cat and filled her tank up.  I think $1,000 is reasonable, don't you?  No reason to bother the Board with all of this anyhow. They wouldn't want to know we'd treated a cat."

Licking the bills the grateful husband had given her to count them, she muttered, "Least said, soonest mended" as she strode down the hall to the broom closet.  "That cat is awfully quiet," she said.  "I hope she's all right - she's got a real pair of suckers for owners and I'd like to see them again."

Saturday, December 17, 2016

On Pope Francis' Birthday Cake and the German "Rent A Jew" Program

Pope Francis is 80 years old today,  December 17th.  When I read that I began to wonder, "What kind of cake does a Pope get to celebrate his birthday?"  Is it as ornate as the inside of most Catholic churches or a  simple plate of communion wafers with butter and strawberry jam added to celebrate?

Google was helpful with a picture of a round ball (!) in cream-colored icing with the various continents illumed in gold.  The papal colors are cream and gold and I wondered, "Like football team colors?"  Seems a bit .. louche somehow.  The iced ball of cake (about the size of a basketball) had graceful tosses of small olive branches around it on the cake plate.

In fact, the Pope started the day with something sweet on two levels - he breakfasted with eight selected homeless persons and gave them all slices of Argentinian (Christmas?)  cake.  Then it was back to work; he has meetings in the Vatican as Saturday is a normal working day for him.

There are seven different e-mail addresses in eight languages that the Vatican set up for those who wish to send him greetings.  This is in English:  The Vatican also issued new stamps in his image. 

At the party, he said, "Old age is quiet and religious, but also fruitful. Pray that mine will be that way and also joyous."  He did dodge the "Curse of 80" at the Vatican by being the Pope.  When Cardinals turn 80, they lose the right to vote in the new pope election as well as being removed from their various parishes, committees, etc.  It is good to be the Pope.
Countering religion with (horrors!) pagan superstition, here is the Pope's projected 2017 astrological future.
Daily Breeze:  "This year you open up to new perspectives. The more diverse your experiences, the happier you will be."
Los Angeles times:  "Weddings happen in July and October.  Family expansion is an exciting boon of March."


When I read that the innovative new program "Rent A Jew" is in Germany, I admit to a certain suspicious alarm and quite possibly you were a tad shaken as well.  I was instantly reminded of an old airline joke.  Planes are stacked up at La Guardia, waiting for take-off clearance, but Lufthansa can't get the passenger numbers sorted.  They are missing two and re-counting and doing it again and again and finally an exasperated United pilot keyed open his mic and said, "Lufthansa - check your ovens!"  I didn't say it was a good joke, I said I was reminded of it.  I will add that the French may have forgiven, but I never will.  Ever. I'm stubborn that way.

Anyhow, back to our moutons.  Rent A Jew is a service to non-Jewish Germans who, in fact, may never have met one (incredible, no?) due to the fact that there are 81 million people in Germany and only 200,000 of them are Jewish.  A group of youngish (20 to 40 average age) volunteers with different backgrounds, in an attempt to show non-believers what daily life as a Jew is like, go to schools or universities and lead seminars which have invited them.  This is free (other than any travel costs incurred by the Jew) despite the" Rent A" phrase. 

It is said to be working very well as a program and the hope of the organizers is that not only will the volunteers' numbers increase, but also the number of Germans with curiosity. 

It reinforces my own view that if you can make gentle fun of something you're pushing, the better you will succeed. 


Friday, December 16, 2016

Just a Couple of Things ...

A Medical Diagnosis We'd All Love
It's being told that you're a "N.E.D." regardless of sexual presentation.  "Huh?" you say?  NED means No Evidence of Disease.  Something to be devoutly wished for by anyone with an on-going condition. 

There's another definition of NED that's even better - No Expiration Date.  Yeah, gimme some of that!

General Heading:  Everything Old Is New Again
Much is being made of a "new" restaurant in mid-Town Manhattan.  Eatsa is located at 285 Madison Avenue between 40th and 41st.  It is notable and getting press because you walk in and there is no one to seat you, no visible servers and (most importantly) no cashier.

Instead there is a wall of glass cubby holes where you get your food after choosing what you want in your "bowl" which is a real bowl with such as:

Stir-fried quinoa with eggs, edamame, wonton strips, teriyaki sauce, miso Portabella, apple and cabbage slaw. 

Or, how about - guacamole, salsa fresco, Mexican cheese, asada Portabella, grilled corn, lemon-herb toasted quinoa, tortilla chips and pinto beans? 

Most bowls at $7 or less.  You order using your ePad or phone.  Back in the back, far from prying eyes, the staff makes up your bowl, slides it into a cubby (presumably the cubby with your name on it) you swipe you credit card and the door pops open.  Amazing?

Eatsa was named Restaurant Business 2016 Technical Accelerator of the Year.  They should have been credited for bringing the Automat back!  This is just an updated version (iPad, phone) of putting your nickel in the slot and taking out your cup of coffee or the food that appeals to you from behind its little window.

For the curious, there is an Eatsa in Woodland Hills, CA. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Reviewing "The Queen at 90"

There was very little of Queen Elizabeth II saying anything other than recorded Christmas greetings, etc.  and rather too much of Prince Edward and his wife Sophy.  You can see from these opening remarks that what follows is not going to be much of a positive review...

The bits with William were interesting because he has learned how to respond to the press.  There is a touch of manly shyness and a direct gaze into the eyes of the interviewer.  He was self-deprecating about himself and full of apparently sincere applause for and deference to the Queen.  Nicely done, young laddy!

Among the missing who could have provided good copy - Charles, Anne, Andrew, Prince Philip  - hell, everyone else in the family all of whom clearly chose not to participate. 

So, we are left with Edward, admittedly family, and his wife.  The only interesting thing about their frequent interviews was a distinct current of nerves between husband and wife.  She alternately looked scared for him -- and for herself.  Very much tippy toes on both of their parts.    They can't be in good favor with Her Majesty because I took a look at the Royal Calendar to see who was working what bit of the countryside and while all of the others had something - or several somethings - they were mysteriously not put down for anything.  Their children Louise and James are 13 and 9 respectively and hardly babies in diapers needing attention.

It was a longish courtship running from meeting in 1994 and dating until January, 1999, when he finally proposed (or she told him to put up or shut up.)  They married in June, 1999, and now live in an estate named Bagholt Park, in Surrey with their children when they aren't in boarding school which, in the English school system, seems to be all of the time from age 7 on up.

Sophy is the daughter of a retired tire salesman and a secretary.  She was 38 and 41 when their children were born, both Caesarian births. 

There is little chance that either Edward or the two kids will ever rule.  In fact, Edward, poor thing, slipped from 3rd in line to the throne to 9th.  Maybe attention-wise he really needed this prolonged interview for his self-esteem.  Good enough.  Now, you've had it, bask in it and go back to Bagholt Park and resume rusticating. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Stringing Popcorn for the Tree

Having tried to string real popcorn with heavy thread and a standard needle, I can tell you don't.  The needle would only pass  easily through the outermost bit of the popcorn "leaf" (?) and promptly break with an end result of popcorn all over the floor and a dangling piece of string.  If you are hellbent  to have an old-fashioned popcorn chain, go to Target - 9 ft. for $8.  Just sitting here, we know it's not going to look like the real deal, so bury it deep in the tree with only selected spots showing.
The French Are So Rakish - here we call it "Aleppo;" there it's called the jaunty-sounding "Alep."
Many of us have seen vegetables that resembled something other than a veggie, right?  But who knew there is a Website devoted to this phenomenon -  I won't spoil it, but will counter with my cousin who calls broccoli "little trees" and an online comment about cauliflower - "It looks like albino brains."
Perhaps good viewing tonight - "The Queen at 90" to be aired on PBS. 
Speaking of viewing, am not quite sure what to think of this ...a contestant named Andy Stowell, from Austin, was on "Jeopardy!" last night and will be on again tonight.  This particular episode was filmed last August and by December 5th, she had died of stage 4 colon cancer.

Her letter to the show's producers asked about length of time between selection and filming, adding almost casually that her doctor had advised her that she would be dead in six months.  Stowell went on to say that if it was a longer period of time, that her spot be given to her runner-up. 

In some ways, it doesn't seem right to broadcast it.  On the other hand, loved ones might want a final look at her doing what she (apparently) loved to do.  It could also be argued that if you're watching a movie made before the '50s that everybody in it is dead (except for Kirk Douglas.)  I did find it unnerving though, sitting there, speculating about her condition and hoping for a mistaken diagnosis or something.  Not to be a spoiler, but she won last night and will again tonight for a total of $22,000+ to be donated to a cancer-fighting organization.   And I salute her gallantry and generosity  wholeheartedly.

Monday, December 12, 2016

"Will the groomsmen please go to the Old Laggards Room at your soonest convenience"

"What's this?" you ask?  "Some new Circle of Hell where we are to be tormented further than a tight collar and cummerbund can take us?"

This "man cave" business has been going on since 2011 (earliest recorded history?) and given our social life, I didn't hear about it until yesterday (a mere five years later.) 

From all that I could glean about this curious custom, this is a private, specially-decorated to a man's tastes room or an area - think cowboy bunkhouse or London gentlemen's club -  rigged up to accommodate The Gentlemen Of The Wedding Party where they are separately treated from the lesser males at the wedding to such amusements as:  a whisky tasting; a hired cigar maker to make individual cigar(s) for each gent with a keepsake cigar band, perhaps bearing the bride and groom's initials and the date.  Other genteel amusements might include a billiards table, a dart board or blackjack tables.  Non-sweaty sporting events, if you will.  For younger groomsmen, here are some additional ideas - laser tag or elbow wrestling.

All of the above might ease the discomforts involved in being a groomsman or usher at a posh wedding.  (reference "Four Weddings and a Funeral" with Hugh Grant and Andy McDowell.)

If I were doing it (and you may all be glad I'm not) I would hold off on the whisky tasting until after the ceremony.  Allowing it to proceed just before the ushers start seating and the Best Man starts going through his pockets for the ring might provide more amusement than was planned for the guests who have to sit there and sit there, waiting for the main event to kick off.

"Unfair to bride and bridesmaids!" you bellow?  Tsk, tsk - they have a suite with a three-station hair salon, mani-pedi chairs and all the fun of joyously squealing at everything that moves in the room.  I'd rather be hanging out with the guys.  Even though someone else could have my whiskey and cigar. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Not Really Worth a Flight to San Francisco, But ...

But if you're headed there anyhow, be on the lookout for the ONLY therapy pig in the country working at an airport.  The article didn't say if she's a cousin of Miss Piggy, but it's not totally unlikely that she is.

LiLou is her name and aside from being the only pig at the airport, her other distinguishing characteristics are red-painted hoof nails and she'll be wearing either a pilot's cap or a ballerina's tutu.  Possibly both at the same time as the photo of her was unclear being a head shot (in the captain's hat which looks a little small on her big head. )

As if running into a pig on a leash at Security isn't enough, she is said to tinkle out tunes on a toy piano.  No reports of singing along with the song. 

Probably best not.  To "squeal like a hawg at killin' season" is not anything most people would enjoy listening to ...

She wears a little vest that says, "Pet Me" but in the interests of furthering careers for pigs at airports, the owners might want to sew a little pocked on the vest that says in smaller letters,  "Tips Here!"

Saturday, December 10, 2016

What We Missed - Kirk Douglas Birthday Party

The Daily Mail, UK, covered this event which turned out to be a tea yesterday afternoon (while we were anxiously checking our mailboxes) at the Beverly Hills Hotel.  The guest list shrank from 200 to 150 so we could have been there, but then again, how thrilling is it to see a centenarian  sip a glass of vodka and  look admiringly at a two or three-tiered cake topped with a sculpted head of the birthday boy? 

Catherine Zeta-Jones wore what was billed as a $4,900 frock and having seen it, I wouldn't have paid $49 for it.  Awkward length, cut and ugly color.  But she's only 47; she's got time to learn.   Don Rickles was there and he's 90.  Jeffrey Katzenberg was The Kid at 65. 

In all of the photos of Mr. and Mrs. Douglas, I was struck by the melted wax look of their faces.  I think make up (heavy on her eyes and scarlet on the lips) contributed to this effect ...I think that at age 90 you can put the mascara wand away myself, but ... at 97 she gets to do what she damned well pleases.

As a consolation prize ...AOL News (which is anything but) ran a little feature on which fast food restaurant goes with your astrological sign.  No, I did not make that up; am incapable of creativity like this or interest in the subject other than a glancing eye.

Aries - Burger King
Taurus - Chipotle
Gemini - Arby's
Cancer - KFC
Leo - Taco Bell
Virgo - Panera
Libra - Domino's
Scorpio - Starbucks
Sagittarius - In-N-Out
Capricorn - McDonald's
Aquarius - Dairy Queen
Pisces - Wendy's

Friday, December 9, 2016

Did You Get an Invitation?

Actor, writer, philanthropist Kirk Douglas is 100 years old today and it is bruited about that son Michael and his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones are throwing an intimate little do for him and have asked 200 of his best friends.  I can't believe none of us missed the cut ... all of our invitations can't have gotten lost in the mail!  Although ... in the winter months at 5 dark 30, our mailman is wearing a miner's hat complete with a lit lamp ...

Since neither the date nor the location were mentioned (which pretty much cancels out crashing the party) I guess we will have to be content with merely sending our best wishes. 

He's already been honored with a party - the other day the Motion Picture and TV Fund had a gala to celebrate the organization's 95th anniversary.  Which the guest of honor predated by five years.  He and second wife Anne, 97, have given generously to this fund, providing a new 2-story building for memory-challenged movie and TV personnel as well as another section named for Anne Douglas.  He is estimated to be sitting on an $80 million fortune and has used it for such as the restoration of 400 decrepit playgrounds owned by the LA County School System.  What I liked, when I read about it, is that he and his wife visited every single one of them when they were reopened.  And they were by no means kids themselves.  No christening by romping on the teeter-totter or a slip down the slide. 

His long life has been eventful and here is a brief history that I gleaned by bopping around the internet.

Issur Danielovitch (you'd change your name, too) and his six sisters (six) were born to Bryna (1884-1958) and Herschel (1884 - 1950)  in Amsterdam, NY.  The parents had immigrated from what is now Belarus and they spoke Yiddish in the home. 

Patriotically and partly to get out of town (see sisters above) , he joined the Navy in 1941, but was sent home in 1944 due to an injury.  Meanwhile, he and Diana Dill married November 2, 1943. Michael was born in 1944 and Joel in 1947.  They divorced in 1951. 

Second wife Anne Buydens was born in 1919 and in 2014, the couple celebrated their 60th anniversary.  Their sons were Peter and then Eric, who died of a drug overdose in 2004.  A grandson was released from prison after a 7 year visit for heroin abuse. 

Kirk was nearly killed in a 1991 helicopter crash which did kill two others on board.  He became religious at that point and this morning's LA Times has an interesting article about this, written by his rabbi of the past 20+ years.  They have been studying the Torah.

Douglas suffered a heart attack in 1996 that robbed him of speech, but after hours and days of rehab, he can now make himself heard and understood. 

Maybe he'll call and invite us?  

Thursday, December 8, 2016


I read that United Airlines (UAL) has figured out yet another way to squeeze our wallets arid, not just dry. 

We fly for a variety of reasons but one thing that we are used to is that a Coach ticket qualifies us to use the space under the seat in front of us and the bin above us as part of the ticket cost.

Ah-hah!  Not so fast - UAL now offers what they call "Basic Coach" which allows you to store smallish items under the seat in front of you, but don't touch the overhead bins!  They are not for you; don't even think of it - they are for the Coach passengers (yes, we're still in Coach) that paid "a little more" for their seat AND exclusive use of the overhead bins. 

The Rio mayor or whatever the title has proposed a new tax for inbound tourists.  The tax goes into a pool (and without a doubt some politicians pockets) to be used to reimburse those hapless souls who get mugged.  This is not sitting well with the people who live there and who are the most frequently robbed/mugged.  The hell with Rio in either case.  Remember the part about the Olympic swimming contestants that had to swim with  dead bodies in the sea? 

By now curious, I wanted to see what American's various fees were about.  By accident, I clicked on the fares for unaccompanied  children and animals.

Unaccompanied kid - $150 - Coach, Bidness or 1st - no bennies there.
Service animals - 0 zero - all classes
Carry-on pet (such as Paris Hilton and a Chihuahua in her purse) - $125
Checked pet (beyond cruelty) - $200 except on flights from the US to Brazil which is $150 (how sinister is that?)  I'm thinking you could save some $$$ if you can disguise your kid as a service animal ... while they're still small, of course.  No one is going to believe an 18 year old is a somewhat misshapen yak.

Feeling thirsty above the clouds - American will happily sell you a beer ($7) a glass of wine or a make-it-yourself cocktail ($8) and/or a glass of bubbly ($9)  It's actually cheaper to drink on a plane! On the ground, locally, a dirty gin martini is $10 and a split of (usually inferior champagne) is $12. 

Just won a serious money lotto?  Push out the boat with a RT flight on Etihad Airlines for $32,000 and exclusive use of The Residence which has a living room, bedroom and en suite bath.   Before you even are ushered to those quarters with much pomp, circumstance and a private butler, you will have been picked up at your hotel or home by a chauffeured limo (the one pictured was white and appeared to be about as long as a boxcar - big enough to let all of your relatives have a free ride to the airport to wave you off) ) and then you are escorted to a private entrance to the airport.  Keep an eye out for terrorists who may have found out about this "private" entrance- what bigger coup than a major VIP?  Even if you aren't - guilt by association ...You can hardly stumble along shouting, "I won the lottery, okay?  Don't shoot!"

For $32,000 I think you could be more generous and hire a 6-passenger private jet.  Maybe you'd have to ride the John Deere tractor to the airport; maybe you'd have to bring PBJ sandwiches and a couple of six-packs, but six of you would get to go - not just one very selfish couple.   And you'd get all of the baggage bins on the whole plane! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Traditional Cattle Call Goes Hi-Tech

A friend has forged a remarkable climb in television and movies from a start as an extra.  He has not only speaking roles but featured performance status to say nothing of a series of national TV ads which are worth big buck$.

In previous dispatches, he has berated the sometime necessity of getting up before God to drive to unlikely sites for auditions.  Having secured the role, it's sometimes necessary to work well into the night.  Those are, admittedly, drawbacks to "show biz" at the lower levels (no insult intended.  It's the Brad Pitts and Meryl Streeps of that world that get their own personalized trailer and over-the-top pampering.)   

I thought about this (the drawbacks) and wondered if one could audition by Skype?  So I wrote him and asked.  His reply -

"Absolutely!  I've done several auditions using Skype.  Also self taped, uploaded to YouTube, Vimeo, iCloud and others. 

"I have two computers with cameras in the monitor and another Sony camera.  If you have a script with two roles, you can record the voice for the other actor on it and play it back while doing your lines and record both on the other monitor/computer, then upload the whole thing into whatever format you want or that the casting director requests.

"Using Skype I did my part while the casting director read the other role and I guess they recorded it on their equipment.

"We were, by the way, doing a very grim thing, a movie about a Viet Nam refugee.  The movie never got made and I doubt it ever will.  Either way, I won't be in it."

There are still "cattle calls" - a mass invitation to "come'on down!" and try out.  Many a movie or book has started with little Betty Jean, from God Forgot, Kansas, being picked out of the herd and made a star. 

What could be worrisome is this:  actors  are, of necessity interested in themselves.  I am imagining with something of a frisson of horror that an actor's funeral might start with a brief recollection of the first cattle call and then on to every try-out tape he/she ever made.  Bring a sandwich.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Proofreader Needed, ASAP

Huizhou, China - A man's lungs and kidney were pierced by a 6 ft. 6 in. rod on a construction site.  "Doctors spent two hours operating on the man but he survived."


Amusing new blog   even if you've never been in the military.  Random samples - the Pentagon recalled thousands of MREs because they had real turkey in them.  The Secret Service is worried about Mattis plan to kill everyone who comes to Trump Tower.   He is headlined as "Making killing fun again." 

Ah, satire - how I love thee...

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday Morning Toast Crumbs

In our case, it was English muffins, but they don't crumble like toast does.

Mammas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Go Rave-ing...
The Oakland rave known dead now stands at 24.  Correction - 7:15 p.m.  33.
 As only 20 per cent of the fire area has been excavated, more are expected.  Deadly nightclub fires are not limited to the U.S.  Here is a list down the years -
2015 - 64 dead, 150 hurt in Bucharest
2013 - 200+ dead in Brazil
2009 - 152 in Russia
2008 - 44 in Thailand
2004 - 194 in Argentina
2003 - 100 dead, 200+ injured in Rhode Island

Letters to the Editor
Sunday, December 4, 2016

It's not pulp fiction
I have read in the newspapers that many of the trees in California have died.  I went out to pick up the paper Thanksgiving morning and I now know why.
     Richie Murphy, Redondo Beach

Vet Hospital's New Service for Helicopter Pet Owners
If your pet has had surgery or is doing time for observation in Vet Jail and cannot come home yet, our vet(s) will take a picture of the pet at intervals and send them to your phone.  Hermosa Animal Hospital, Hermosa Beach

Another Batshit Crazy California Law
The L.A. City Counsel voted 12 to 1 to pass a new measure to be called either Ban the Box (jail time completed) or Fair Chance (you'll have one to hire a former felon.)  The former felon doesn't have to bore the interviewer with the fact that he is a felon during the initial interview.  If there is a second interview with a job offer, he/she does.  If the putative employer, a pharmacy, is reluctant to hire a former drug dealer, the employer has to say why they don't wish to hire this person. 

Columnist Doug McIntyre, writing in today's Daily Breeze cited several hilarious examples:  A day care center turns down an employee "due to your previous record as a child molester." 

McIntyre writes a helluva lot better than I do (and is undoubtedly better paid) so I urge you to go to or whatever gets you to "LA felon friendly in new rule for hiring."
I guarantee you will laugh...and then your laughter should turn to outrage.  Not that it'll sway any batshit crazy California politician.  I would remind you that the governor is routinely and nationally known as "Governor Moonbeam".

Yeah .. thank God Only In LA.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

More Fun with the Brits

I find it heartening that in a time when many people have cancelled their home delivery newspaper and turned on their computers; when the publishing industry (now pallid and weak) still sells real books and magazines made of  paper  in brick and board stores.  I am a tactile person and no Kindl or rival is ever going to feel like a book to me. 

It's heartening to report that while what I'm about to tout IS online; you can also subscribe to it and the magazines are delivered to your door. 

The Daily Mail ( the other day ran a snob's guide to what you can - and can't  - snub in Britain.  It was originally published as an article in The Tatler, established way back on July 3, 1901, and which has now been published for 115 years.  (Suck that up Time and Newsweek.)

So - if you're planning a Christmas-New Year's jaunt off to Old Blighty, here are some points to remember.

talk in lifts (elevators)
wear sunglasses indoors (and in the winter months there you'd have no use for them)
wear high heels to a polo match.  Gentlemen that includes you.
brush your hair or eat on public conveniences
admire fake Christmas trees
and my favorite - don't hang out with people whose houses have no books.

The Tatler has another section that could prove to be quite amusing - "Little Black Book" a compilation of (their words) "The most eligible, beddable, most exotically plumed birds and blokes in town."  This is found in the Bystander column whose columnist goes to all of the posh parties - in these days most usually a branding effort - so-and-so designer/perfumer/exotic car -- advertising.

Great, respectful attention (so far as I've read)  is paid to The Royals.  There's an article in this issue about their dogs (no cats - humph) horses and someone - very much a lesser star - has a pair of ancient rescue elephants. 

Amuse yourself and quietly sneer if you so desire about British High Life at

A sisterly publication is directed at those who live in the burbs and other rural areas.  It is called Country Life and has been around for yonks years.  (since 1846 IS yonk's years.)   This issue had a recipe for The Ultimate Sloe Gin which will remain uncopied here as it calls for "sloe berries or damson plums" and such as "castor sugar" none of which do I really know anything about. 

I enjoyed the country homes for sale adverts and was stunned to learn that you can purchase a seven or eight bedroom home for 1.5 million pounds sterling.  Granted this particular Georgian house was on the outskirts of Newcastle-on Tyne which is so far north as to almost be in Scotland and subsequent colder than a banker's heart most of the year ...

Those interested in hunting, stalking (animals not people,) fishing, polo and assorted ilk will revel at 

Just remember to wear wellies, not high heels.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Odds and Ends

We Hardly Knew Ye!
The old Anza Inn, on 190th, Torrance, was the dive-iest bar we've been in since Sonny Barger's Palm Springs biker's bar.  (Sadly torn down for a parking lot!  Infamy!)

Passing it (and Jon's Supermarket and the 99 Cents Store) we have noted changes.  The exterior was painted anew and it was now called the Sports Harbour Bar and Grill.  Having been disappointed in our quest for packing supplies and bubble wrap at the 99 Cents store, (Ta, 50 year old china) Richie decided that we needed a spiritual uplift and walked me in to the old Anza Inn.

Where I stopped dead in my tracks.   Heavy wooden tables and benches in the middle of the room, a big picture window where the various (bad) bands used to wail and an now-elegant looking bar, again all light wood.  The ladies room was new - the hole someone had previously kicked in the hollow-core door was gone.  As was the door itself.  The new one is heavyweight with glossy white paint.

We studied the menu and vowed to come back some time closer to lunch or dinner.  The old Anza's only food offering was a window in the wall to the tiny Chinese restaurant immediately next door.  We never ate a bite there, but the new menu for the "new" bar looks promising.

Heading South for the Winter
Akbar, at the corner of Prospect and Aviation has for a long time been an Indian restaurant.  Years ago, we dined there with Bob and Pat and their son Surfer Dave.  And then we noticed that Akbar was now Kochi.  Richard Foss, the very talented resto critic, gave it good marks, I looked up the menu and last night we went for dinner there.

It's a nice room, tastefully balancing dark wood, cream colored walls and black or maroon chairs.  Each banquette seat has a pair of flattish pillows up against the back of the seat.

We started with a Stella for him ($6) and a glass of pinot Grigio for me ($7)  With our drinks we had an order of Chilli Bhaji - whole jalapenos, wrapped in a chick pea flour coat and deep fried.  Three sauces accompanied it - mint, coconut and orange and a vegetable chutney.  Jalapenos all deliver different levels of heat and these weren't that hot. ($5.95 and we have three left for tonight.)

Richie ordered and ate all of his tandoori half chicken ($11.95) but my shrimp biriyani nearly killed me. ($13.95)  The shrimp really were HOT!  Damned hot!  I ate three or four of them, swigged water like I'd been out in the desert, but to no avail.  We brought home the rest which is about a pound.  It was a huge serving!  On the way out, I asked if it had been a family-sized portion (like Asian food) and it was.  We also noticed a small buffet near the door and there were 12 - 14 people serving themselves from it.  Next time ... if and when we get the shrimp biriyani gone.

BTW, Kochi is still owned by the Akbar people - they just moved the cuisine from Northern India to Southern.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Papa Hemingway's Son/Daughter

I think the sad saga of Gregory Hemingway's life and death has been edged discreetly under the carpet.  Greg - or Gloria, his preference in later years - was born in 1931, the second son of Hemingway's second wife, Pauline.  His was a difficult birth, and in later years Papa attributed his ... less than conventional ways to that.  Papa was born in 1899 which goes far to explain an irrational belief like that.

Greg had been a thorn in poseur macho Papa's side since he was 10 years old and Papa found him in Mama's bedroom trying on her dresses and stockings.  Papa himself had been dressed and coifed as a girl by his own dingbat mother. 

When Pauline died suddenly, age 56, Greg blamed Papa and said he killed her.  The parents had been in a heated argument about Greg when a hitherto unknown tumor on her adrenaline gland went into overdrive and she died on the operating table.  Papa said Greg killed her because he was the source of the argument. 

Greg went on to possibly disprove he was a little ... different by marrying four times and siring seven children.  The 8th kid was adopted. 

Paternal duty done? he unleashed his feminine side and started sex reassignment.  He started with breast augmentation, but only had one done.  The other was left as God made him.  Give that a minute to percolate ... and then learn that he hadn't yet gotten around to fiddling with his genitalia. 

He was mercurial by temperament and alcohol and drugs.  He presented mostly as male, but in Key Biscayne and Cocoanut Grove, nothing was considered outrageous.  If he came into one of his favorite bars, dressed as a woman, friends just shrugged it off.  They knew that the next night, he might well be his masculine side.  He was welcomed either way.

The police were less than impressed with either personality as under the influence, Gloria was aggressive and abusive. 

His last arrest was for indecent exposure.  He was walking stark naked down the middle of the main drag at 4 o'clock in the afternoon.  He'd paused to pull on underpants, reportedly a flowered thong, but was carrying his dress and high heels. 

The police lodged him in the women's section of Miami-Dade jail and five days later he was found dead of an apparent heart attack.  It was caused, some whispered, by his struggles to get into a pair of too-tight pants  He had been diagnosed with hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

Older brother Patrick 88 now, has clearly escaped the Hemingway Suicide Curse (5 down so far.)Hemingways offed themselves with such frequency that had they all lived in the same town, remaining relatives could have gotten a substantial discount from a funeral home.

Google the above at your own peril.  I didn't come across any photos, but Google Images might.  My imagination, however, is vivid enough (unfortunately) that it's going to take awhile for his probable image to fade. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Oooh, Daddy - What A Big Bottle of Champagne You Have!

Being a very minor dissertation on Champagne, being a subject I knew very little about as I was too busy drinking it (or my other friend sparkling prosecco) to read up on it.  I have been drinking champagne since Andre was $2 a bottle and now it's $5.49.  In fairness to Bon Appetit (more often scorned than lauded here)  they triggered this latent interest with a graph that lists the bigger-sized bottles, along with the equivalent numbers of 750 ml bottles and number of glasses served.

Magnum - 1.5 ltrs, 2 bottles wine and  a measly 10 glasses.
Double Magnum - 3 ltrs or 4 bottles of wine and 20 glasses
Jeroboam - 4.5 ltrs, 6 bottles of wine and 30 glasses
Imperial - 6 ltrs or 8 bottles of wine and 40 glasses
Salmanazar - 9 ltrs 12 bottles of wine and 60 glasses
Balthazar - 12 ltrs 16 bottles of wine and 80 glasses
Nebuchadnezzar - 15 ltrs, 20 bottles of wine and 100 glasses
Solomon - ? ltrs and 24 bottles*
Primate - ? litres and 36 glasses*
*  Apologies, several Web sites were consulted and information was sometimes contradictory as you will see with -

Weights -
Nebuchadnezzar 83.5 lbs.
Solomon 94.4 lbs.
Primate 143 lbs.

If the sommelier was an off-duty weight lifter, clever with his hands ... maybe.  Recommended though was a two man team - one to hold up the bottle base, the other to direct the flow.  Happily, there is a tool available.  It's called a VCanter and consists of a rack on a sturdy base.  The rack can be adjusted to hold varied size bottles by a crank (included.)

Prices I ran across - Moet  and Chandon Nebuchadnezzar 3999.99 EUROS
Veuve Cliquot Balthazar 96 glasses  $999.99 EUROS

Speaking of weights and sizes, one article recommended opening and decanting a Nebuchadnezzar, but to sabre the top off of a Jeroboam.  The Portuguese open a bottle of port by applying redhot tongs to the neck and crunching and this was suggested for champagne, too.  Another person suggested tying a lighter fluid-soaked string around the bottle neck and setting it on fire. 

Which brings us to the manly art of using a sword to open a very big bottle of wine.  The sommelier holds the bottle at a 20 degree angle away from himself and crashes the flat side of a sword or the dull edge of a large knife where the lip joins the neck and BOOP!  The bottle is uncorked.  I would caution that if you see a sommelier gearing up to do this, get under your table.  Corks can fly anywhere from 16 to 33 feet. 

Sabre opening records - number of bottles sabred in one minute by a group:  66 in 2015, 630 in 2016. Clearly this contest took off big time.

The physics of a champagne bottle were:  the inside pressure is 90 psi, the diameter of the neck is 0.71 so there is 36 lbs. trying to uncork itself.   Or so I read. 

Famous Bottle Sales (or Gossip)
Mark Cuban bought a 15-litre (10 magnums) Nebuchadnezzar in 2011 to celebrate an NBA championship.  It cost $90,000.

The Boston Bruins then bought a "Midas" which is a 30 ltres bottle for $100,000.  The Midas is said to be the largest bottle ever made and is only offered by Brignac Ace of Spades.

American gambler Don Johnson, celebrating what must have been a substantial win at the One On One club, London, celebrated with a Midas ($125,000 this time) and ended the evening with a $271,000 bar tab. 

JayZ bought the Brignac Ace of Spades winery widely known for its distinctive bottle which is pewter colored and looks like metal, not glass.  Hip hop fans can Google for all of the details.  One is  the Trilogy - a selection of three bottles - is $1,599.99 at BevMo.

Sorting out all of the research, located on various sites and then trying to get it adequately sorted for this column is very tiring.  I think I need a nice glass of champagne....

Monday, November 28, 2016

Season Jumping - Go Big or Go Home

The Halloween candy and costumes began hitting the malls in August.  In the middle of Halloween season, Thanksgiving was being bandied about - "Who's coming to your house?" and turkey ads were featured every Wednesday in the supermarket ads.  The Christmas tree lots were ready set go a week before T-Day and magically, the day after, they were thick with trees.

Therefore, it's not inappropriate to run this recipe for a soigne sauce for the traditional Easter ham.  New Years?  Sorry, you missed it.  Snooze, ya lose.

3 habanero chilis, de-seeded and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 T peeled ginger, finely grated
1/2 cup tamarind concentrate
1/2 cup + 1 T honey
1/2 cup dry red wine
5 T sweet butter, cut into small pieces

Mix chiles, garlic, ginger, tamarind and 1/2 cup honey.  Set aside 1/3 cup.  That's going to be the accompanying sauce.  But take the other 2/3rds and use it to glaze the ham. 

Bring the wine to a boil and reduce by half - whisk in the reserved 1/3 cup sauce  and honey and stir until it smells good.  Add the butter, one little piece at a time, and cook until it looks glazed.  That's the sauce that goes with the glazed ham when you serve it. 

BONUS POINTS SAUCE  It's called "Suzette" and goes like this -
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
2/3 cup sugar
2 T Grand Marnier
6 T butter, diced

Simmer all but the butter together then drop in the butter a piece at a time.  Let it cook long enough to thicken a bit.  Bon Appetit recommends it for crepes, waffles, pancakes, but what about vanilla ice cream for your own Orange Creamsicle?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

And Alaska Cried, "Whoa!"

Conde Nast Traveler may have picked the wrong place to diss.  In an article in the December issue, they lauded the sport of dog sledding for the tourist.  "... here are a few of the best dogsledding excursions out there.  Mush!" and promptly listed Greenland, Canada and Sweden!

I immediately took great umbrage and even though I've never been to Alaska, I thought packing Americans off to foreign lands was both snobbish and anti-American financially. 

Since I have a cousin and his family living in Anchorage, I was really annoyed for them.  Family solidarity rules!

Here are few of the many listings online where one can dog sled and promote the US economy - Alaska:  Seward, Healy, Fairbanks to name a few.  What about Ely, MN or Montana - or Maine which is, East Coasters, your side of the country. 

But still Alaska should have led their list.  Did you know that mail delivery by dog sled was routine until 1963?  I didn't either.  I wondered if at Christmas the mail person was offered a refreshing hot drink - and the dogs a nice bone apiece?  For later - don't eat and chew!  Bad for the digestion and you have to run again tomorrow.

Back to our moutons - the mag did offer these semi-helpful tidbits - bring a pair of ski goggles or sun glasses - it's so cold that your eyes will tear up and the resulting liquid will freeze your lashes together.  And your eye lids shut.  You'll be driving blind, but no worries.  The dogs know. 

The other great hint was that no matter how well you are bundled up, sitting for hours will still cause you to be cold (and no doubt stiff) so stop the dogs, get out and jog alongside for a while. 

Or limp along, as the case may be.  But do it in Alaska!

Friday, November 25, 2016

The 50 Year Old China

I served our Thanksgiving dinner on it, which was its second use in 50 years.  It is beautiful ware tagged Johann Haviland, Bavaria, Germany.  (You can google it if so interested)  All of the various plates (dinner, salad, dessert, little fruit or ice cream dishes) as well as the saucers and footings for the cups are wavy and banded in platinum (of which I have my doubts, but ... if it makes them happy to say so ...)  In addition to table settings, there is a platter, a serving bowl, a lidded sugar bowl and a cream pitcher. 

All of this had been stored on the top shelf of a kitchen cabinet which is difficult to access.  First a step stool to the counter, then up, up on one's knees to very carefully lift off the plastic wrap that had covered it for the past 31 years that we've lived here (it was filthy) and begin setting this chinaware carefully down on whatever counter space that isn't already covered by said knees. 

I got them as a Christmas present from my mother in 1966.  I was bitterly disappointed; it wasn't what I wanted at all, but seeing my mother's happiness and enthusiasm for her gift, forced me to be enthusiastic, too.  This was one of those fortunately infrequent times when one says something nice, but is very definitely thinking something entirely different.

And this is why my mind was running in two very different directions.  My mother thought it was high time I was thinking about if not actually getting married.  At the ripe old age of 26.  She thought that if I had a "decent set of dishes" (her words) I might perhaps have a better shot at snaring "an appropriate" (see above) husband. 

My own view, given the fact that my weekly letters home (Kansas City, MO) from my apartment in Beverly Hills  always mentioned my forays into photography, the expensiveness of Nikon bodies and lenses ..thinking that the parents would be happy enough to further my back-up career.  By buying all of the above.

Let me take you back to the scene of tragic disappointment (mine.)  They picked me up at the old Kansas City airport - the approach interestingly enough came in low over a bluff which bordered the river and bomp! onto the runway end very nearly at the river's opposite edge.    Once at the house, I found the decorated tree dominating the living room with presents underneath it.  I ran a casual eye over two large, wrapped boxes addressed to me.  "Just the right size for a Nikon camera and some lenses," I thought joyfully.  In my glee, I was unusually helpful with getting dinner on the table. 

I drifted off to sleep, mentally listing places I wanted to immortalize via my brand-new Nikon.

Our family tradition is a good, hearty breakfast first and then the wrapping paper starts flying. 

And in my place, Oscar winning acting began. 

My poor mother was only trying to civilize me.  Happily, she died (age 87 in 1993) before she ever learned that I had served company a sit-down dinner on paper plates with her mother's silverware.  I'm glad she was at least spared that awful indignity.  I did please her when Richie and I married though.  She liked her sons-in-law better than her own daughters!  And I never referred to that china without calling it "My Nikon china."


The Thanksgiving Day Feast

Whew!  (belch)

A friend sent this comment by Jay Leno that you've eaten too much if/when you have to let out your bathrobe.  I think many of us can relate to that this morning ...

Thursday, November 24, 2016


The Daily Breeze ran an article on the front page about how to have a serene T-Day.  Some shrink opined that you declare "politics free" zones in your house or, if you don't do that, simply say that today is a happy day and let's not get all angry and stompy foot about the recent election.

Naturally I took umbrage at being directed as to how to behave in my own house.  You could expect that from me, right?  In point of fact, we are only having one guest - a very dear friend - and we've been friends for so long that we know well that there is no need to discuss the election.  We all know exactly where we stand.

In other instances, I have merely said (calmly) "I won't discuss politics with you" and deftly switched the conversation onto something else.  A soft answer turneth away wrath and all that. 

In any event, full-scale war or a relaxing, lengthy meal - HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Bits of Stuffing

A good friend remarked on the fact that on Black Friday many people go shopping, scrambling for bargains, rudely shoving each other to get to the good stuff - when the day before they were all (presumably) being vocally thankful for all of the stuff they already have.  Ironic, no?

Letters to the Editor, Daily Breeze 11/23/16

Grow Up and Get Over It
He won; she lost.  Get over it.  Republicans had eight years of an Obama presidency.  He was not liked by us (in fact, he was abhorred) but we acted like adults and just got on with it.  Too bad some young Democrats can't do the same.

Nina Murphy
Redondo Beach

Our good friend "D" is joining us tomorrow and he is bringing the famous Bromberek Cranberry Sauce.  This is made from a generations old secret family recipe.  I plan to over serve him champagne (rich man's Alka-Seltzer) and worm it out of him.  Champagne has marvelous powers... not least of which is making the drinker willing to share all kinds of secrets.  Take your tape recorder to the dinner table.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Ice Skating Your Way Around the Gun Turrets

No, not a new amusement for Alaskans who happen to have an old battleship lying around rusting.

This rink is located in San Pedro and the action takes place on board the retired battleship the USS Iowa, normally a museum.  Not to be outdone, albeit without any battleships, you can ice skate near the Seaside Lagoon, Redondo Beach, or The Pike in Long Beach.  Note that both are on or very near beaches.   Our winter temperature is quite a bit higher than those found in the northeast corridor states.  Nearly every year, the paper runs a photo of some comely lass speeding around the Seaside Lagoon rink clad in -- a bikini. 

Beaches are for tanning, swimming, water sports and now - seasonal ice skating via complicated pipe systems carefully curbed and filled with the appropriate coolants.

The USS Iowa has had an interesting history both as a fighting ship and as transport for Franklin Delano Roosevelt when it carried him to a 1943 conference with Prime Minister Churchill and Joseph Stalin during WW2.  To accommodate FDR, a bathtub and an elevator were installed for his ease of mobility.  Quite coincidentally, wife Eleanor was present at the launching of this very ship in the Brooklyn Naval Yards on August 27, 1942.    It was honored by Mrs. Henry Wallace, wife of the Vice President.  Pity we seem not to be making more battleships as christening one could almost make being a Vice President's wife worthwhile. 

It has known tragedy as well.  In April, 1989, the #2 gun turret suddenly exploded, killing 47 sailors.  It would not be inappropriate if the rink extends to the site of the #2 turret to pause for a moment in respect. 

The Iowa rink holds 75 skaters and closes January 8, 2017.  Admission is $15 and hockey skates are thrown in.  You can bring your own skates, but admission will still be $15.

A little worried about "breaking the ice" after Thanksgiving's lavish dinner?  Don't be - it's 6 in. thick.

For more information:  or   or Wikipedia.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Word of Mouth, Country Style

While the urbanites lolled deeper in their leather chairs in front of a crackling fire, playing a gentle game of "Can You Top This"? by quoting old dead Greek and Roman dudes; out in the sticks, the gentlefolk were creating their own sayings.

"Butter My Butt and Call Me a Biscuit" by Allan Zullo and Gene Cheek  Andrew MeMeel Publishing   198 pages   $6.75

The authors divided the sayings and labeled them, but I don't think we need that sort of hand fed treatment.  To amuse you on this gloomy Sunday -

My piggy bank is as useful as an ashtray on a motorcycle.

We can't all be big shots.  Someone has to sit on the curb and wave at'em as they go by.

He's so rich, he buys a new boat every time his old one gets wet.

Money thinks I'm dead.

He's so lucky, he could sit on a fence and the birds would feed him.

If times get any better,  I'll have to hire somebody to help me enjoy them.

One day you're drinking wine; the next, you're picking grapes.

One day you're the peacock, the next day you're the feather duster.

I'm so poor I had to fry up my nest egg.

The new broom might sweep clean, but the old broom knows the corners.

He's been chased through the forest of mean and hit every tree trunk.

A woman is wearing a tight-fitting, low-cut dress and a man asks her, "Are you outside trying to get in or inside trying to get out?"

I'd have to get better just to die.

Who licked all of the red off your candy?

Fine dining:  Let's go get greasy 'round the mouth.

And in loving tribute to the late Lucille Mericle -
Disbelief - Well f--k me runnin'!   Housework:  Ah gotta douche this place out. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Doctor Is In -- But He's IN Japan

Chatting with my GP at yesterday afternoon's routine appointment, he disclosed that he has a blog spot, too.  Unlike this one, his is efficiently arranged and covers Japan very well indeed.  Clearly, the man knows the place as he has made several trips there and paid close attention while he was there.. 

His site   covers not only Tokyo,, but Osaka (most modern - they've even got a Universal Studios!)  Kyoto (for history) and Kobe (for "exquisite food.") 

For all of these plus Tokyo, you can find here reasonable hotels, best street food, best restaurants, attractions, how to get around on their public transportation and most importantly, how to buy the ticket to do so - every ticket machine has a button for English. 

He's a young man, apparently traveling solo, and he explores nightlife and bars with as much gusto as a historic site.  The vending machines and their weird possibilities intrigue him - he swears that you can get gourmet food at some of them.  I cocked a dubious eyebrow at that one, but the man knows his onions. 

To say that his blog is lavishly illustrated with photos is understatement.  Typical day in (fill in city name) shots, beauty shots (temples, parks, statues, buildings) as well as food, glorious food.  He explains many of the dishes' contents which is reassuring to someone who is not well-versed or, indeed versed at all in Japanese foods and cooking styles. 

If you don't actually want to shift your languid ass and GO East, this is a great blog to daydream over as the winter winds howl around your house.  Happy trails to you!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

And Now - Coming in 4th in the Annual Thanksgiving Day Meal Parade ... Green Beans!

At first, I was a bit loathe to tackle this subject because I've been making the tacky green bean "casserole" for years.  A referral, of course to:

2 cans semi-drained French-trimmed green beans
1 can undiluted Campbells Cream of Mushroom soup - the leftover green bean water thins it
  Mix together, lash on the black pepper, heat and serve with a dish of French's onion straws. The recipe calls for heating them tossed across the dish, but they get soggy.  Served separately, they are the real deal.  Crunch when it's needed and not just a soggy memory.

My sister, conversely, has taken this dish well above the bar - steamed green beans, sautéed almonds ...she is refined, I am not.  She is also a better cook - if you can swing it, go to her house for T-Day dinner!

This dish was invented in the Campbell (soup) Kitchens back in 1955, 21 years ago.  Today their recipe includes a bop of the soy sauce jar over the dish, but be warned - their cream of mushroom soup is plenty salty and the onion straws are as well.  Still and all, to its fans it  is justifiably the top green bean dish served on Thanksgiving. 

If any of you ae suffering from Green Bean Shame, here are 15 alternate ways to prepare a green bean dish for the table. 

Add pickled mushrooms to the soup or supermarket balsamic-marinated mushrooms

Bacon bundles

Sesame ginger salad - you read it right - "salad"  Frankly, that's an offense.

Cashews and béchamel with pesto casserole

Parmesan coated and baked

With pimento cheese and corn in a casserole

Lemon vinaigrette

With garlic and Portobello mushrooms and parmesan

With gremolata (a mix of garlic, lemon and parsley) and panko crumbs

Make Chinese green beans

Fried with sausage - American or Italian

Fried in panko crumbs with ranch dipping sauce, served as an appetizer

Au gratin with maple syrup, bacon chunks and pecans

Many of these proposed substitutions sound good.  Make note of the ones that appeal (or not) and do make them -- just not for Thanksgiving dinner?  Stick to what you know!  And given some 207,000 references to it on Google, a helluva lot of us know it! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Danger! An Idle Mind at Work ...

A new word for us - dox. 

Verb "doxing;" past tense "doxed" as in "I doxed him, so hah!"  This sounded rather sinister to me albeit at least bloodless.  As opposed to "I offed him."  The Sopranos taught me all I want to know about that.  Off topic, the bathtub beheading did it for me; I never believed in the show after that.

Dox means:  document tracing.  An opponent finds you despite your having a stage name (so to speak.)  Example:  you sign yourself "Squeaky Wheel" and thinking you are perfectly anonymous, write extremely rude comments online.  If you have offended another commenter sufficiently, they may be inspired enough to find out who you really are as in legal name, address, city, country.  And then to tell the online world.   

Why turkey?

Turkey became our national Thanksgiving meat almost by default.  The Pilgrims were by no means well-to-do.  They wanted a celebration, but they didn't want it to be so lavish that they had to eat corn cobs all winter.  Worriedly, they cast their eyes around their barnyards for a suitable meat.  (Vegetarianism was unknown at this point.) 

Cows were immediately out of the running because they were much more useful alive than dead.
Roosters are famously tough eating and prep time did little to, er, soften them up.
Hens laid eggs and were productive on very little feed.
Venison was too time consuming - first find a deer (plentiful, it must be said) kill it and peel or skin it.  The hides were useful, but the few wives who were fashionistas, were tired of "Always buckskin?  Can't you find some minks?"
There were tons of hams and pork, but they weren't considered chic enough for a holiday meal.  (Clearly they'd changed their tune by the time Easter rolled around.)

Turkeys won by default.  They spent the first seven months of their doomed lives eating the insects and worms that plagued the farmer and by the time T-Day rolled around, they were usually a convenient size for the oven and then dinner. 

Another factor that may have contributed to their demise was Charles Dickens.  His book "A Christmas Carol" was published in 1843 and much was made of Scrooge's gift to the Cratchit family of a big fat turkey.  As the book was widely read in America, one thing led to another.

COMMENTS RE THE ABOVE - One critique pointed out that a deer is time intensive as it takes a long time to stuff one.  Another reminded me that it was a GOOSE for the Cratchit family, not a turkey.  Both are right.  For any confusion arising from this column, I apologize.   

Speaking, however vaguely of the Brits, swan used to be on the holiday menu, but it, too, was labor intense and time consuming.  Swan au naturale  was fishy tasting.  The swans had to be fed a grain diet for quite some time to get rid of it. 

Speaking of the Brits

However peripherally ... during the recent onrush of various Americans to Canada, I ran across a handbook on how to behave in London, specifically. 

The winners in the Do Not List were - do not talk to us on the Tube.  We don't want to hear it.  We are not interested in making friends on the Tube.  Do not ever stop and block sidewalk traffic.  We are not tourists; we have already seen multiple times whatever you are gaping at and we have places to go and specific times to be there.  So herd your group off to a side, and gawp as much as you want to - just not in our way, thenk you.

Some comments:  In defense of the charge that Bad Teeth dominate, comes this reply:  The U.S. has the highest rate of toothless people in the developed world. 

Aussies are the biggest wusses at drinking, but I would say from personal observation that they are the farthest thing from wusses.  They can swill down gallons of beer and remain relatively upright.  Americans fall like autumn leaves in comparison. 

To a wanna-be visitor vis-à-vis the numerous bad-tempered Muslims, "Why the death wish?"

But the winnah!  from an American to a wanna be Brit visitor:  "Come to the South, we don't like the rest of the country either."