Sunday, July 31, 2016

The French Had "Hep Cats"?!

Shocking news indeed... we wanted to celebrate Bastille Day and dine at a French restaurant.  Here there are only three and because Dominque's Kitchen was offering their guests a glass of free champagne, we knew it would be jammed since they often are on a non-holiday anyhow. 
We do like Crème de la Crepe, but ... crepes for a celebration?  So I made reservations at:

Zazou, 1810 S. Catalina Avenue, Redondo Beach   310-540-4884

I needn't have bothered - seating was wide open.  No free champagne, no customers? 

A pleasant space with the bar running down the room on your right as you enter and dining on your left.  The décor is done in desert colors, sage green, adobe, sand, all the better to focus on your food served in dazzling white china on a sparkling white tablecloth with starched and ironed napkins.  Very low key sophis. 

We ordered drinks - a glass of Rose Bueyes ($12) for me and a G and T ($8) for him.  Unusually, we both had individual hors d'oeuvres - escargot ($15) and since Richie loves mussels, a serving of them for him. ($17)  My escargot were large, plump with their earthy goodness and served with a slice of buttered and grilled baguette.  I really went to Grease City with both.

I rarely order an entre, content to pick and snibble at the apps, but tonight the sky was the limit so I ordered the filet with black pepper sauce ($37) whereas Richie restrained himself and ordered the baked chicken with the same black pepper sauce. ($29)  Both were very enjoyable and both went home with us for dinner the next night.  They came with garlic mashed potatoes for him and French fries for me.  I loved dipping them in leftover spatters of sauce and eating them.  Dessert enough.

Richie had a glass of cabernet sauvignon Waterstone and I a glass of prosecco ($10) with our mains.

Our server, Robert del Rieg (name on the ticket) and the co-owner, a very nice lady whose name I can't remember, both visited with us because it (still) wasn't that busy.  In conversation, we mentioned in passing that it was an anniversary of sorts for us as we'd met on Bastille Day 35 years ago and married on July 2 33 years ago.  Nothing was said, but after I asked for the tab, here they came with their signature bread pudding with two candles glittering away on top!

I was horrified!  Snagging a free dessert was as far away from my mind as it could be!  The four of us had discussed the tragedy in Nice that very day, bemoaned the fact that it certainly sullied any Bastille Day celebrations.  In fact, tears came to my eyes when I asked for the sparkling rose to honor the south of France.    We hadn't gone on and on about us.  This was completely out of the blue.    

But very good.  We couldn't eat it all - generous portions there - so they packed it into a container and it, too, went home.  The tab was $154.78, I tipped $30 and the final total was $164.59.  Expensive, yes.  Delicious, yes.  Once in a great while for a "great occasion"?  Of course!

I could justify halving the bill because via leftovers, we had two dinners at Zazou.

Forget the free dessert, the food is good and we will definitely be going back. 

No I didn't forget the hep cats.   "Zazou" intrigued me - owner's nickname?  Particular region in France?  So I looked it up and was then more confused. 

During WW2, jazz became popular and led to the formation of what were hep cats or zoot suit-ers here in America.  This event in France was laid at the door of one Hector Zazou, a jazz musician who made it popular.   But:  just one problem - Hector,  Baby Cool Cat wasn't born until 1948 and it is unlikely that he was leading a band in his diapers on shaky toddler legs.  He died in 2008, aged 60, so we can't write in and ask.  Believe what you will ... we'll have to go back because what if it turns out that Zazou IS a nickname for one of the owners?  No way to find out but to dine there, no?    

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Hitting the Bricks!

Brickworks Roasthouse and Grill, 3212-A Sepulveda (Manhattan Beach Mall)

It has been too long since I've had a new restaurant for you.  We (Richie and self) are guilty of an all-to-human laziness - such-and-such restaurant has such-and-such dish and "I feel like (fill in) tonight."  This is, of course, good for the resto but not so much for bored diners. 

In an effort to ingratiate myself with you once again ...

Brickworks (if I may be so familiar) occupies the old space where LA Foods (a favorite) used to be.  It is almost directly across the vast parking lot from Tin Roof Bistro (a perenial favorite.)  They've kept the same layout and the colors are still soothing black and greys with burgundy-colored booths.  

Despite an interior with all hard surfaces, the better for any noise to bounce back and slap you in the face, it was quiet.  It was also 6:30 p.m. and clearly the hip MB crowd doesn't dine until later.  Quiet and a happy hour that extends to 7 p.m. are not by any means hardship duty.

We started with an order (4) of deviled eggs ($6.95) - the second time we've seen this - Hop Saint was the first. Both are regulation deviled eggs with a frond of cooked bacon and a scattering of  chopped scallions.  Quite tasty but a tad on the salty side here and bland there at Hop Saint.  I had a dirty gin martini (Tanqueray $12) and Richie a Stella ($7.)  As a further possible copy cat move, both restaurants offer a cornbread appetizer.  It was a huge martini in the appropriate glass.  It was so big and so full that I had to lean forward and take a swig without raising the glass. 

The half rack of ribs with French fries, cole slaw ($20.95) and a side order of onion straws ($4.95) was mine.  I never touched the French fries; am a fool for onion straws.  Richie ordered and ate all of a Chicken Burgundy (19.95)  "It was too ... you saw the two small chicken breasts - flattened, whipped (mashed) potatoes with the Burgundy mushroom sauce with some asparagus - maybe one or two cut up - one or two green beans cut up - it was flavorful, not outstanding..  Quite a bit of potatoes."

I had a glass of  Lamarca sparkling prosecco ($8) for a  total of $86.98.  Thus $8 and $8 is $16, the tip for a grand total of $102.98.  And I had the rest of my dinner last night which is three meals altogether.

I liked it and I'd go back.  Richie said he would, too - "Didn't get poisoned..."  Faint praise.


Friday, July 29, 2016

Letters To The Editor

A brief introduction to the zaniness that rules Hermosa Beach, a sister city with Redondo and Manhattan Beaches.  Some time ago, the city council decided to ban smoking on the HB Pier, the square that leads up to it and all outdoor restaurants thereon.  The ocean side of Hermosa Avenue was totally non-smoking.  But:  if you walked across the street, to the land side (so to speak) of Hermosa Avenue, why you just puff away to your heart's content! 

Pretty much clinically insane, no?   We're not done yet.  The city now wants to ban ALL smoking within the city limits, including smoking within your own residence.   This invasion of personal space where none should be irritated me.  Hence what follows --

Daily Breeze, 7/29/16   OPINION section


What's next for Hermosa Beach - a 14-foot wall?
Re "Citywide smoking ban looms" (July 28)

What's next for Hermosa Beach?  A 14-foot wall all the way around the city with specific checkpoints for entering?

Anyone caught attempting to bring in a pack of cigarettes will be promptly escorted to the City Hall/library parking lot by armed Smoke Nazis where they will be summarily enrolled in a mandatory stop-smoking class to last no less than eight hours?

These classes would be taught by members of the City Council who voted to end smoking as we know it in Hermosa?

In support of their cause - the nannyization of an entire city - members will not only gladly work gratis, but fight for the opportunity to do so?

It wouldn't surprise me.

Nina Murphy
Redondo Beach

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Best I Could Do...

The other day I speculated here on where priests and nuns like to vacation, with suggestions of my own.   After being silly (in print no less) I did get curious.

So I hiked up the bottom of my big girl bikini, climbed the dive tower called Curiosity, bounced once and plunged into the Pool of Confusion.

I did find a number of sites worrying about the opportunities for a son or daughter who went religious for  their family's opportunities to see and visit with them after acceptance.  In doing that I ran across horror stories about some of the cloisters/orders - made to eat dirt for not finishing one's dinner, to name only one - which would certainly encourage an endless vacation if it were me.  Sister Over-the-Wall would be the name. 

I never did get a handle on site-specific sources of vacation joy for the religious, but I did limit it to Catholics.  This is what I did find - a B&B in Wisconsin founded by a pair of fleeing religious.

The Chateau Chantal, near Traverse City, MI was founded by Robert, 12 years a Diocesan priest who left the order in 1972 to go into construction (okay to laugh here; I did) and Nadine, a Felician Sister who entered the order in 1950 and taught Home Ec for 22 years before vamoosing in 1972.   They met or had met; the literature didn't say, and married in 1974.  Together they built the European-style B&B and winery that exist today.  Photos show a lovely sprawling building out in the country and the amenities offered are varied - soaking pools, wine-themed dinners (having gotten a taste for wine at communion?,) winery and field tours and so forth.  Bucolic amusements for raging alcoholics? 

Rooms are $165 - $250
Suites are $195 - $315
Executive apartment is $415 - $600 and is "family suitable - full kitchen, two bedrooms" and so forth. 

In the event you feel like vacationing with a priest, but not like a priest.  And what they do and where they go other than perhaps the family home? is unknown to this writer. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Others on Being Targets

I wrote Michelle, who is at her vacation home in a little town not far from Quimper, France, and said, "Don't go to church" since the church outside of Rouens is not that far from her location. 

She wrote back, "ISIS is everywhere now!  I think it's the beginning of civil war ... always watching in the front, back, left and right if there is any Arabic..."

And Richie was uncharacteristically angry at the IS news this morning.  He said, "They shouldn't call them 'ISIS' - they should call them stupid!"

And I said, "No, they're not, unfortunately - they are planners and executers of those plans."

He said, still angry, "Well they should refer to them as 'animals' 'cause that's what they are!" and no one could really argue with that. 


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Avoiding Soft Targets

It's a phrase that by now, sadly, we are accustomed to hearing.  From a gay disco in Florida to today's latest horror - a Catholic church south of Rouen France.  The 84 year old priest had retired age 75, but was still willing to fill in when the resident priest, such as the day of the attack, was on vacation. 

We will explore priest and nun vacation sites in another column.  I'd like to think they all go to clothing optional sites and get totally toasted on a daily basis on the drink of the country being visited.   Worth a look, don't you think?

Meanwhile.  Terrorists seem to have been taught early on - "Don't attack a bank - go for a place that either has no security whatsoever or very little." 

And thus we need to  be alert at:

County Fairs, Carnivals  - rent-a-cops who may be more interested in scoring a lemonade on a hot day than noticing anyone wearing a rather bulky-looking raincoat on a triple-digit day.

Summer festivals - and I am thinking that a sniper in one of the office buildings along Pier Avenue would have a great vantage point looking down at the masses of people at the bottom of the hill at the Pier Plaza.

The big, well-advertised bars - I don't think you need to fear being potted at your local watering hole.  Not enough of you to make it interesting or productive. 

Sporting events - barring NHRA or NASCAR events.  Having covered them it wouldn't surprise me to learn that  at least a third of the spectators are armed.  This includes the women.  They struck me as that type. 

You're probably safe on a golf course.  Much too tedious for a sniper to sit in a tree and wait patiently to pick off golfers two by two or four by four.  Bring sandwiches and a 6-pack or three, the horseshoes or bocce game,  the hell with golf, and enjoy a day in peace and freedom.


Monday, July 25, 2016

A Double-Edged Sword

An article on the front page of the Sunday Daily Breeze rather surprised me as I considered it an ad-disguised-as-news.  It seems that a 5.11 Tactical shop has opened in Carson to provide law enforcement and military members additional protection out in the field by way of armored vests, nasty-looking knives (all pointy and sharp looking) as well as exotica - a battering ram to symbolically open the doors of this newest location.  The writer compared this act to breaking a bottle over the prow of a ship to christen it.  Yes, well ...

In the interest of Reporting All to you, I visited the Web site.  I took particular notice of what 5.11 (a climbing code, not a police one) offers as bullet proof vests with optional ceramic plates said to be for weight training.  What?  While dodging bullets?

Am sure that the manufacturers know exactly what they're doing but I didn't think it was very practical to have the armor end about 4 in. from the base of the nipple.   Not a lot of help if the wearer is gut-shot. 

However:  the newest versions come with a "quick grab drag handle" for "the fast recovery of downed personnel."  This vest is marked "$209.

Unbidden, I visualized these scenarios - Father's Day when the wife and three or four little kids hand Daddy a bulky package and gather anxiously around him as he eagerly starts to unwrap it.  "Oh, honey!  Kids!" he cries as he realizes it is a bullet-proof or "plate carrying" vest, "You shouldn't have!"  "Nonsense," smiles the wife, serenely, "We all want Daddy around for a long, long time, don't we kids?"  Wild roars of  agreement swell around the happy, hugging group.  Dad brushes a tear from his eyes.

Meanwhile, far across town on the wrong side of things, a young man is down in the furnished basement of his parents' house.  He is busily looking in boxes and consulting a hand-scrawled list on a yellow legal pad.  Absent-mindedly he ticks off the items, only to interrupt himself suddenly by slapping his forehead with a hand.  "Damn!  I forgot the bullet-proof vest!" throws down the clipboard and scurries out the basement door.    I

Saturday, July 23, 2016

"And It Was the Last Thing He Ever Wrote"

Daily Breeze, 7/23/16  OBITUARIES - Bob and Pat Brodsky

Claremont, CA   Dr. Robert F. "Bob" Brodsky, age 90, died on March 29, 2016, after a short illness. 

Bob was a distinguished aerospace engineer and professor; an avid sailor; New Orleans Jazz .expert and the author of seven books, who is listed in:  Who's Who in America, Science and Engineering and American Education.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, he's a graduate of:  Cornell (BME); NYU (MA and ScD) Aeronautic Engineering; and the U of New Mexico (MS Math.)  He served in the US Navy in WWII.

Bob's beloved wife, Patricia "Patti" Wess Brodsky, age 82, an actress and fellow world traveler died a day later on March 30, 2016.  They raised four children:  Bette, Bobby (he predeceased them),
David and Jeffrey and are also survived by eight grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

Bob and Patti were area residents for many  years while he worked at TRW and taught at USC (see a detailed memorial in:  USC Viterbi School of Astronautical Engineering, News Letter, April 2016, p.7-8.)

Bob skippered a 38 foot sloop in the South Bay with a merry and accomplished crew of "old salts," until Bob and Pat retired to Claremont in 2012.

The couple leaves behind devoted friends, family and colleagues from all over the world as reported in their book, "Bob and Pat TRIP the Light Fantastic" 2014 (

A memorial gathering is being planned for Spring 2017 here in Redondo Beach.  Please sign the guest book at

Editor's Note:  I have used paragraphs to better facilitate reading the above.  Am awaiting confirmation from daughter Bette that he did, in fact, write his own obituary.. He mentioned he was doing it several years ago and there are just too many "Bob-isms" for me to believe that anyone else penned it.  "a merry and accomplished crew of "old salts;"  the absolutely specific place to read a fuller, more detailed memorial down to the pages it ran on.  Pure Bob.

Confirmation - Bette just informed me that he did in fact write it with post-mortem editing by his cousin, Jane, of West Hollywood. 

Friday, July 22, 2016


"Rosemary, The Hidden Kennedy Daughter" by Kate Clifford Larson   Houghton Mifflin Harcourt   302 pages   $27

As a Kennedy (and Brit Royal family) junkie, when I spied this on the non-fiction shelves at the library, I leaped upon it (much to the surprise of other library patrons who quietly scooted their chairs farther from me.)

Undaunted, I sped to Check Out and went home to read it.

The story is well-known to all - Joe took Rosemary, who suffered the effects of a difficult birth that left her mentally and physically impaired in for a secret lobotomy surgery.   He didn't want to bother Rose or the children's nurse with this news and did it behind their backs.

But this was news to your reporter.  The midwife did not want to deliver the baby herself; Rose wanted to wait for her beloved ob/gyn and the end result was that after the new baby crowned (head appeared) the midwife stuffed the baby back inside and kept her there for two hours until the doctor finally arrived.

The baby appeared to be quite normal and was the first daughter after two sons (Joe, Jr. and Jack.)

Rosemary's lack of development was finally noticed and through the ensuing years, every effort by Joe and Rose was made to "cure" her.  Such was their fear of public exposure that they guided her every public move including her presentation to the Queen as a debutante. 

As time went along, Rosemary resented more and more deeply the forced competitions with her siblings (which she could not win) and was frustrated at her inability to learn and as a result began acting out - hitting and screaming at family and help.  Joe's misguided belief in the efficacy of a lobotomy resulted in the complete breakdown of her personality and intelligence (ranked as that of a 12 year old.)   

Inarticulate, largely unable to express herself verbally, she retreated into a solitary world. 

She was institutionalized in 1949 and Joe never went back to see her.  He suffered a debilitating stroke in 1961 that left him incoherent, unable to speak or express his wishes, he, too, lapsed into frustration and lashings out at the help.  He died in 1969 after eight years of suffering (and causing suffering, you may be sure.  He was a forceful old bastard.)

Rose didn't bother to go see her after her 1949 placement until 1962.  Rosemary didn't want to have anything to do with her during this visit.  Mamma Rose didn't bother to maintain contact until December, 1970, when she instructed the staff to buy her little presents and tag them as if from a sibling.    It wasn't until 1974 that Rosemary was invited to visit the summer home in Hyannis, a mere 30 years since she'd been secluded in her cottage that Joe had built for her at the institution.

Rose did live to be 104, but from the time she was 94, she was senile and markedly so.  Her world dimmed around her. No more twice-yearly forays on the French designer shows or other destinations.    She died in 1995.

Meanwhile, Rosemary soldiered on with three nuns in shifts caring for her every need.  She died in 2005, aged 86.

As William Cowper wrote in his 1773 hymn, "God works His ways in a mysterious manner." 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

16 Tons

Tennessee Ernie Ford sang, "You load 16 tons, what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt."

Paraphrasing his hit song only a little, we took Fred our male cat to the vet (routine maintenance) and what did we get?

The news that he weighs 16 lbs. 5 oz.  And an unseemly wrestling match for both of us to keep him on the exam table.  He is strong.   That 16 lbs. goes where he wants it to go. 

Interestingly enough, all of our previous cats and now Fred exhibit the same instinct that sends them diving under the bed when guests arrive, but in this case, at the vet's with no bed available, an attempt to insert themselves into your armpit.  With some force.  Fred's determination almost knocked me off balance!  Looking down I saw what looked like a headless cat body and several paws.

Happily the vet, Dr. Yao, said admiringly, "He's a big guy!" and not any chiding words about "too fat cat."  Which would imply that Fred has money.  I can assure you that such is most assuredly NOT the case.

Dr. Yao remarked in passing that one of her male cats goes 20 lbs.  Large male cats are not unusual, compared to most females who are more delicately made and who then have owners that over-indulge them.  Picture a meatball on four toothpicks. 

To my surprise, I learned that show cats (bred and raised for the ring just like the competing Westminster dogs) often have post-spaying belly reduction surgery!  Yes!  Show cats are not all that they seem - they've had plastic surgery!

Fred, age two, does not require belly paring..  He's long and tall and it could be said that he carries his weight gracefully, if not forcefully at times.  Better still, barring accidents, the Rodeo de Fred doesn't take place for another year.  All three of us can wait.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Divorce Announced - In The Matter of Richie Murphy vs. Siri Smartphone

Yesterday after French Conversation and my noon tooth cleaning appointment, we set off on what proved to be a very elusive trail for the bakery that makes baguettes.  Our source was impeccable (the co-owner of Zazou, Riviera Village, which serves slices of it grilled with their escargots.) 

I asked if it was made in-house and she said that it came from The Larder, Culver City.  I Googled it, got the street address and phone number and the holy grail began. 

It was our first date with Siri and it was fun at first.  I loved hearing this little voice telling me precise instructions such as "500 feet turn right on such-and-such street" while a map with a blue line (us) showed exactly where we were.  "Cool!" no? 

And then I noticed something.  Siri said "Turn left" and the map said, "Turn right."  Twice.  Naturally we didn't follow the voice, but the map instructions.  Both of us knew that Culver City was east of where we were and not west (and, presumably, into the ocean.) 

Siri really wanted us to get on the 405 north.  Every conceivable right turn that would lead us there was mentioned..  However when she sensed that we weren't about to get on the freeway, a little sign flashed across the screen that said, "Recalculating."  "How obliging," I thought.

I will draw a veil across the ensuing twists and turns, reversals and go aheads that occurred in the next hour and 20 minutes.  In desperation when we were Somewhere in the right area - Siri's map maddeningly said we were a 10 min. walk from The Larder - Richie pulled into a tire repair shop and asked.  They'd never heard of it.  We thanked them and sped away, destination unknown, but encouragingly close.    Next, in a residential neighborhood, Richie accosted a young guy walking along a sidewalk. 

He graciously told us (in Spanish) that he didn't speak English.  Where upon I interjected, "Diga me por favor, donde est The Larder?"  He shrugged, patted my arm on the window ledge and said, "No."

In exasperation, Richie said, "Do you have a phone number for them?"  I said I did and promptly dialed it.  Only to be told by a cheery recorded voice (Siri's cousin?) "That number is out of service or has been changed."

We looked at each other.  I said, "Let's go home."  Richie said, "That's what I think, too.  Along with something - that was my first time with that (sneered at smartphone) and the last!"

Goodbye, Siri; hello MapQuest or Mapblast.   

Monday, July 18, 2016

Drinking Peaches

Summer is the season for ripe, delicious fruits served in a variety of ways - from peach cobbler to strawberry shortcake.  Raw, sliced and put in a bowl or right out of your (clean) hands. 

This summer, peach-based alcoholic drinks are in the vogue.  They are not new.  Venice, 1948,  Giussepe Cipriani, the bartender at Harry's Bar, had more peaches than he could handle - it must have been the short four month season for white peaches - and to get the last possible use out of them, he came up with The Bellini - peach nectar and sparkling prosecco with a teaspoon of raspberry puree to add color. 

The resulting shade of pink  reminded him of the color of a saint's toga in a painting by Giovanni Bellini hence the name.  I swear, everyone in Italy must have an artistic bent and a familiarity with Italian artists and works of art.  And good for them!  We should all be so cultured. 

Meanwhile, the French not to be outdone came  up with one of my favorite things - Peach Champagne.  I love it ice cold in summer; it is perfection for refreshment.  (Ditto ice- cold rose.)  Both are South of France drinks that sustain the Provencales during the hot months.  And they do have "hot" there. 

Amour de Paris, a genuine French champagne imported to the US, has long been a favorite.  It has a champagne front taste with a peach after taste.   I get it at Trader Joe's, but you can find other outlets by Googling it.  I would imagine that Bev-Mo might have it or an acceptable substitute, too.  $4.99 so you know it is not a "fine wine."

New this summer is Secco Peach Bellini ($5.99) which comes in a frosted bottle that is very appealing looking.    It announces "chilled" in no uncertain terms.  The  "cap" is made to look like a champagne cork, but is actually a black plastic replica of a cork - complete with the wires - that hides a screw-off top.  I mention this if you are not fans of the explosive POP! of a real champagne cork. 

Of course, you can make your own!  There are only three ingredients - cheap champagne or sparkling prosecco, peach nectar and a teaspoon of raspberry preserves - for the whole bottle, not each individual drink. 

With great drinks like these, summer could last a full 10 months! 

Sunday, July 17, 2016


"Next time you get into your car, look at the rearview mirror and see how small it is.  That should be how you view the past.  Now look at the front windshield - huge and filled with beautiful possibilities."

Source:  Annie Lane,  Dear Annie Advice, Daily Breeze

Friday, July 15, 2016

Quick Portrait Update

The preliminary drawing has been done and I really like it.  Barbra said, with some satisfaction, "Now I know what you look like!"

There will be another sitting and then the finished portrait. 

So what happens, you ask?  You sit very, very still for long periods of time.  Depending on the part of the face that is being drawn, you can sometimes visit with the artist. 

As soon as it's done done, will figure out how to go from smart phone to here.  I think you all could use a print of it to post in front of any rat holes you may have on your property.  They will disperse at top speed. 

Just my little gift to you.  No charge.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Great Excitement!

Today I am sitting for my portrait.  Not because I am in any way famous, but because I painted a self-portrait in college when I was 20 years old.  The new portrait is to show how I've declined in looks in the intervening 56 years.  I warn potential viewers now that it will not be a pretty sight. 

Barbra Simpson and her husband, Jay, are fellow Thurs. Writers and are by no means the only professional artists in the group which includes Peggy Cohen, Richard L. Bradshaw and Laura Hines-Jurgen, accomplished artists all.  Google them to see samples of their excellent works.

Today's ego destroyer is happening because I showed it to Barbra and Jay asking for the name/firm of their framer.  The idea devolved from there. 

Actually, I think then and now portraits are an interesting thing.  Nothing else - except a pair of photos - could illustrate intervening time better.  And I told Barbra, "Don't overlook the fish lips, jowls, marionette chin lines... 'cause they're all there."  Disconcertingly she replied, "Oh, I paint the child within."    This will not end well.  Not because of any lack on Barbra's part.  She's talented, but the subject leaves a great deal to be desired.  Onward anyhow!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Report On a Lemonade Life

"If at Birth You Don't Succeed" by Zach Anner   Henry Holt 7 Co.   338 pages   $27

Anner was born two months early and either was born with or developed Cerebral Palsy immediately after.  Happily he was blessed by loving and supportive parents as well as an older brother.  They did such a good job raising him that he decided to become a stand-up comic from the seat of his electric wheelchair. 

Since then he has produced various shows, built around his handicaps - such as "Rollin' with Zach,"
"Riding Shotgun"( travel) and "Wednesday Workout." 

He has a (to me) straight-forward sense of humor.  This happened, and it was damned funny!  No self-pity.

His message in brief is:  If you have to be in a wheelchair (or a walker) Own It.  Make conversation in elevators.  Unless it's a skyscraper, fellow passengers can escape quickly enough.  And hell with them if they act disturbed.  Because others will talk right over your head as it you were an  idiot to boot.  Don't let'em get away with it. 

Other facets of a debilitating condition?   We're all human.  Some ailments come with the advice that "This is an expected development" or "The reason this is happening is ..."  I can assure you that I was not blithely at ease writing about adult diapers, for example.  Just suck it down because whatever "it" is, it is Mother Nature  telling us something.  Just like she told a whole bunch of other people.

All that aside, Anner is funny - a girlfriend tells him he'll be the navigator for their 10-hour trip and his aside to the reader, "I'm the guy who once heard the doorbell, ran to answer it and opened a closet door and fell in."

In illness, and life for that matter, laugh at it and laugh at yourself.  It can - and should be - done. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

The French Conversation Club Dejeuner

My little Salade Nicoise (salad Nice-style) was able to quiver from fear of inadequacy,  largely in the shadows of such dishes as:  a French bread pudding; in this case "French" means it had summer vegetables in it and was a main, not a dessert. 

What appeared to be the entire contents of a small cheese shop, each cheese being identified by a toothpick and a label.  I overhead the provider being congratulated on this ID program and she replied, "Well, I can't stand goat cheese and I didn't want to run into it by accident."  And I thought, "Hmm, I think I've got a new friend.

Another lady and I got into a discussion about a largish bowl filled with ?  tapenade (she said) or mousse au chocolat (my opinion.)  By dipping up a spoonful and the two of us studying it like we were discovering a new miracle drug, we ascertained that it was indeed tapenade which was quite tasty.

But the dish that stole the show was what I think of as Cruise Ship Salmon - an entire fish covered with thin slices of cucumber that were the scales of the fish.  They were overlapped with such precision that the first impression was awe.   Half of the dish was gone very quickly but only after everyone whipped out a smart phone and took a picture.  Flashes were so frequent that an alien might have assumed that it was a Great Star visiting the Hermosa Beach Community Center for reasons unknown to the bystander. 

The Thai cole slaw and the jicama cole slaw were excellent.  None of us are French imports,   but, damn!  we have nothing to fear from them in the kitchen!   

Arlette, our glorious leader,  mentioned the possibility of doing it again at Christmas.  OUI!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Sure and Certain Comedown for a Show-Off Chef

Monday (tomorrow) is the gala French Conversation group's potluck luncheon, presumably to celebrate Bastille Day on the 14th. 

A sign up sheet went around the group last month for everyone to list what they would bring.  I cockily scrawled "Salade Nicoise" whereupon Madame Arlette, our glorious leader,  let out a girlish squeal of appreciation.  And now the month is gone and the chickens have come home to roost, as it were. 

On the grounds that I wouldn't like to perpetrate an Italian dish as French, I could maybe wiggle out of this because no one today seems to know for sure which country spawned it.  Speculation runs rampant that when Catherine de Medici of Florence married Henry II in 1533 and moved to France, she brought her kitchen staff with her.  She feared that the "meager" French diet would cause her to waste away. 

Michelle, my best friend, taught me the French version and here is what you need and how to plate it.

Take a largish platter and put two cans of drained, chopped tuna in the center of it, carefully mounded in an oval shape.

Then surround it with potato salad, following the oval shape.  You're making a sort of a moat around the tuna.

Garnish the outer rim of the potato salad with fresh green beans that have been steam cooked and tossed in a vinegar-olive oil dressing (add a daub of mustard and a drift of garlic power to the dressing.)

Now garnish the whole thing artfully with:
black olives
halved radishes
Roma tomato quarters
quartered hard-boiled eggs

Do all of the prep work the day before you plan to serve it and assemble it on the day.  The degree of difficulty for this rests on the number of zip-shut plastic bags in your house.  Open the tuna and pack it in a bag - you will forget the can opener; I guarantee you.

Ah, tomorrow - we'll see if my mouth wrote a check my ass can't cover and the sad answer to that, as with many things in a check writing career, will be "Probably not."

Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Greatly Simplified Solution to the BlackLivesMatter People

You don't like cops?  Don't welcome them in your neighborhood?  Then call a gang banger when you are robbed or assaulted (physically or sexually.

Don't call the cops - at best, they'll do a slow roll to your house.  The only time the police should act with all possible speed is the dreaded message "officer down!"

Realizing this is not only simple, but draconian, nevertheless I offer it as a tension reduction device.  A silent purr of "You got what you asked for" with a quiet smile.  

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Daub of Egg On My Face

When the news broke last night about the horrific shooting in Dallas, I went into an incandescent rage because the BBC never once mentioned that it was a #BlackLivesMatter rally during their 10 min. broadcast of events. 

Today, it would appear that it was members of a different black activist group called "Black Knights Sniper Assassins." 

But because #blacklivesmatter are the first to show up and protest any shooting they believe unfair, I automatically linked them to the violence in Dallas last night.  That's a pretty sad reflection on them and me.

Now curious, I explored #blacklives management.  Co-founder and apparent leader  Patrisse Cullors, either 31 or 32 (Wikipedia wasn't sure) is an LA native who attended UCLA and lists herself as an activist, artist and playwright.  She has stated that she was "forced to leave her home at 16 when she revealed her queer identity to her parents." A further motivation might be her claim that her 19 year old brother was "brutalized" in Los Angeles County jails.  Note plural. 

Cofounders are Alicia Garza, 35 of Oakland and Opal Tometti, daughter of Nigerian immigrants, who lives in Brooklyn.

This group was begun in 2012 prompted by the Trayvon Martin matter.  You will possibly remember that as his mother sobbed over his dead body, she was also trademarking his name.  The speed with which t-shirts commemorating various aspects of police vs. criminal appear - along with printed placards, ready to march -  is rather terrifying. 

My theory is that somewhere in an unassuming-looking industrial park there is an office with a bank of phones and several full-scale printing presses with bales of blank t-shirts in every size and color sitting at the ready. Poster paper is similarly stacked and waiting for the kiss of the printers.  

Staff is divided into 8 hour shifts through the days and nights, at the ready for the phone call that will start them cranking posters and shirts out.  They will be sorted as to size (some placards are bigger than others) and FedEx-ed to the airport nearest the shooting where volunteers will pick them up and speed them to the chosen protest site. 

It would be inefficient to have pre-contacted printers in the actual city of the event.  Violence is unpredictable in any city and organizers couldn't possibly be in touch with them all.

Someone has a good head for protest organization.  Pity it isn't for police support. 

Additional information:  Since 2014, there have been 1,030 public protests.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Toothy Grin

Have embarked on a short story based on a remark in idle conversation with "Raffish."  The main character wears dentures and I wondered how it came to that in his mouth.  So, onward to Google where I discovered the following reasons for total tooth removal.

Obviously, never brushing your teeth and a poor diet are primary causes.  Nothing can flourish if it isn't treated right.

To my surprise:  not that  tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the body, I'd heard that before, but that contrary to it's looks - smooth, glossy; under a microscope one would see tiny little pebbles and holes, in other words a rough surface.  However tiny.

Foods that are said to stain teeth are:

Tomato sauce as in spaghetti and pizza.  Tomatoes are acidic and the literature suggests eating broccoli or a small salad before digging in to the good stuff.

Curry - the deep yellow color likes your toofies!

Balsamic vinegar with its deep rich color will linger,  too.

Berries - as in blue, cran, rasp and black will stain.

Drinks - coffee, tea (even so-called white tea,) sodas and sports drinks all can wreak havoc.

Personally, I think you'd have to live on a diet solely comprised of all of the above for several years to stain your teeth, but what do I know?

Am still mulling over how to have my character lose all of his teeth at once and am considering a car wreck that damages his mouth and that while it heals, he lives on most of the above.  My next problem is whether or not to give him the total tooth extraction that I read about - 32 teeth in 15 minutes.  There's some dialogue and plot possibilities there ...

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Second Cataract Surgery? Check!

Richie's left eye was done this time - same surgical center, surgeon, support staff ("D"  who graciously drove us as I can't yet due to something called frozen ankle, a result of previous hip surgeries.)  The cats were no help at all; it was the post-breakfast nap slot on their schedule.

Last time he arrived in Recovery amazed at how brief the procedure had been.  "I was just here!"

Today, a different anesthesiologist lightened up on the sedatives and Richie said that he felt their fingers on his face, heard the OR staff talking, but not what t.hey were saying and, yes, they did have music on but he couldn't hear it that well.  Just "music."  For all of you who fear this surgery know this:  at no time in either surgery did he see a scalpel or laser beam coming at his eye.  Nothing to be afraid of at all. 

Since surgeons seem to delight in getting up before God, his job was set for 7:15 a.m. be there at 6:15/  Richie woke me at 5:23 a.m. (fine; I knew what was coming) and "D" knocked on the security door at 5:30 a.m. by calling out in a fake German accent "Uuuber!"  I slammed into overdrive and we were walking up the driveway at 5:40 a.m. 

Of course I had to wear a hat  to hide my hair; merest daubs of make-up and I was panting, but that passed after we hit the first cross street.

I am happy to report that Himself had a hearty post-op  breakfast (think of a boa constrictor that's just eaten a goat) and is "relaxing" (sleeping like a log) in his all-purpose recliner.  I feel pretty confident that he's going to be okay.

And I know I will be.  After all,  humans have only two eyes.  Two and done.

Monday, July 4, 2016

It's My Turn Today in the Daily Breeze!

Our local newspaper - the Daily Breeze - has a feature called "My Turn" which is a  column written by us locals and covers such as stories about historical landmarks, typical events here, humorous accounts of events and all in all, quite enjoyable.  The South Bay is lucky enough to have a wide range of good writers from all walks of life. 

Today the paper's standards dropped considerably as they ran my submission "Fireworks are great until you need sleep." 

The address to read it on line is:

OR go to Google and try any of these -

Nina Murphy + Daily Breeze

Nina Murphy + 4th of July

If you can't find it (assuming you do want to read it) e me at and complain.  I can always retype it and run it here.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

America Heads Down the Rabbit Hole with Alice

The utter incongruity of today's political news has stunned and disgusted me.  A Presidential candidate reportedly spent 3 1/2 hours yesterday chatting with the FBI - notably at their offices - presumably to quash rumors she had inadvertently disclosed confidential information through a combination of ineptitude and stubbornness regarding the means of proper dispensation of top secret information. 

Prior to this visit, she was under potential indictment for said acts.  Whether she will or won't be charged is unclear at this point in time.

To me it is incomprehensible that a candidate for President of the United States is in this situation and has not recused herself from the election.

Adding further to my sense of disorientation is the fact that the sitting President of the United States is going campaigning with her in Charlotte, NC, next week. 

Where did we all go wrong?

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Anniversaries: Pro or Con?

My own position is more con than pro.  We married because we love each other.  The normal thing is to keep loving one another until at least one of us is dead.  This makes sense to me.

Celebrating your first anniversary is probably a good idea; it's an opportunity to review how well you are settling down together and make any necessary adjustments.  "Yes, honey, I won't leave my wet towel on the bathroom floor anymore."

Okay, reassessment is most often a good thing.  However doggishly adhering to a celebration! every year could quickly get tedious.  Going out to dinner - albeit a themed dinner - "Oh, aren't we HAPPPY! - is rather meaningless as  most of us already go out several times a month.  And are happy.  No one ever had to drag me into a restaurant kicking and screaming I can assure you.

So, why wedding anniversaries and are they just another Hallmark marketing tool?  Apparently not as Hallmark didn't exist during the Holy Roman Empire (962 - 1806.)  Husbands gave wives a silver wreath after 25 years and a golden wreath after 50 which would be quite an achievement for those days when "old age" was, what?  Forty?

Other sources point out that an anniversary should be a one day banishment of daily routine.  Just remember to feed your kids and pets before you take off. 

I will concede that staying hitched for 50 years is a formidable thing.  So do the leaders of the Commonwealth, Australia, Canada, the United States and the Pope.  With sufficient warning to the particular leader, you will be sent a congratulatory note or card.

Commercialism did creep into anniversary gifts fairly speedy and by 1937 (I think) a list of "suitable" gems per each celebration was provided by the national jewelry syndicate (or similar.)  Florists got into it, too.    Currently Richie owes me a pearl and a bouquet of lilies.  I already have a strand of faux pearls and he routinely buys day lilies at the Farmers Market.  He's covered. 

What do you get for an 85th wedding present? Quick math - if you married at 20, 85 years later you would be 105 and quite possibly vision impaired so in the United States you get a moonstone (which the truly aged might confuse with a very large pearl) or in the UK a bottle of wine which would probably kill you as at 105, the presumption is that you're already so full of pills that you rattle (if, in fact, you're still able to walk.)

And yet, to my utter astonishment that are quite a few couples who have been married for 65, 70, 80+ years!  I was stunned when Esther, a very dear friend, sadly departed, remarked one day that it was her and Don's 62 anniversary!  I blurted, "But that's two years younger than I am right this minute!"

At the moment, lists a Karem and Katari Chand, of Bradford, Eng. as the leaders with 90 (90) years of wedded bliss.  They married in 1925.  Carrying the USA banner are Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher, NC., who celebrated their 86th anniversary.  They were married in 1924.

Richie and I celebrate 33 years today.  We were 43 and 42 when we married (and I'm the older; I cougar-ed  him) so it is more than likely by the time our 50th rolls around our ashes (in the same container) will be reposing in St. Patrick's Cemetery, Huntington, NY.  No loss.  At 93 and 92, how would our dentures have managed a steak anyhow?   Assuming we could see and recognize one.  But ... I bet I'd still want champagne! 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Richie Got Chipped

The Don of Central Texas wrote this morning to congratulate Richie on now being chipped (as you would a pet.)  The lens implants all have a serial number, manufacturer, etc. printed on a little card for one's wallet.

I told Richie that he could now go senile, forget where he lives and it won't matter - he's been chipped.  I can get him back.  He paled.

If you are traveling this holiday weekend, take your time.  There are 42,999 million other people out there with you.   Take a deep breath and soldier on.