Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Price Change in Aisle 4!

You are not in a Wal-Mart but the Great Store of dead or mostly dead celebrities... the price change from 1997 for signed celebrity photos contrasted with prices and people in 2016 is interesting.  Not a particularly good reflection of "today's values" perhaps, but interesting.

Madonna - $250
Julia Roberts - $195
Harrison Ford - 150
Demi Moore, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michelle Pfeiffer -  each $125

James Dean - 18.000 Euros
Bruce Lee - 11,000 Euros
Horatio Nelson - 10,500 Euros
Princess Diana and  Einstein - 8,950 Euros each
Neil Armstrong - 8,500 Euros
JFK - 7,950 Euros
Winston Churchill, John Lennon and Marilyn Monroe 6,950 Euros each

Monday, August 29, 2016

Cackling Like a Hyena - Laugh Along, Too

Credit "Marie", weaselzippers.us

Weiner Poem
There once was a Congressperson named Weiner
Who had a perverted demeanor
He was forced from the Hill for acting like Bill
Now Congress is one wiener leaner

Moral:  You tweet your meat, you lose your seat.

Time Travel - Back to the January 1997 Issue of George

Richie is happily sorting through his old treasures (trash to me) and from time to time (he's going at it a bit leisurely for my taste) he brings me something of interest like a dog bringing back a toss toy.

Thus this column.  George was JFK, Jr.'s ill fated venture in magazine publishing and he billed George as "not just politics as usual."  Which it wasn't.  When he ran a laudatory cover on Gerry Adams, Irish bastard, my published letter started off "That pious murderer!"

Anyhow, let us trip forward to today.  In this January 1997 issue is a feature titled "Future Shocks" which leaps forward to speculation about what will be in the year 2000.  As this is an election year and certain candidates are still here, I found it moderately interesting.

Herewith, some comments.
Dick Morris)
Who will be the next non-politician to enter the political arena?
     Princess Di  (Patricia Ireland, Pres. NOW)
     Mel Gibson  (Bay Buchanan, CNBC's Equal Time)
     Politics will be something a very rich guy buys for his wife - so, Marla Maples (Al Franken)

What will Hillary Rodham Clinton be doing in the year 2000?

Setting up a foundation to benefit children (Dick Morris)
Looking forward to the end of their administration (Patricia Ireland)
Planning her run for the Arkansas Senate (Al Franken)
Losing to Al Gore in the New Hampshire (Michael Kelly, ed. The New Republic)
Working in the laundry at Lewisburg G.Gordon Liddy)
Publishing a hair magazine(Tavis Smiley, author)
She will be president at Yale where she'll serve tea and cookies.  (Margaret Colson, columnist)

Clearly this Hillary Is A Crook business goes back quite a ways.  Interesting.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

North Korea Isn't the Only Crazy Korea...

T & C as we cozily think of them, ran an article on what the 1% of South Korean women are doing on the beauty front.  I think there are about three 1%-ers there, but I could be wrong.  If there are 10, my apologies SK.  

Put on your fluffy bathrobe in case you are suddenly impetuously shoved into an overwhelming desire to take part in some of the less loony antics - you'll be ready.  I'd keep my underpants on; foreign country, no knowledge of local customs, but do what you want to do. 

Let's start down market with a visit to the 14th floor of a Seoul office building.  There we will find a woman named Ryu Bae, nicknamed "the Star Face Maker.)  She is a masseuse and charges $1,000/visit.  Her recommendation for great success is to come in at least 10 to 20 times.  I think we can all do the math here - even me.  One of the 1%ers is a 22 year old woman who comes in twice a week for this $1,000 massage and has been for the past six months.  More $$$ than sense. 

What does she do?  The article says that for two and a half hours she attends to such as:  loosening tight ankles so that one's butt doesn't sag, lymphatic massage against the depredations of alcohol! and taping balls of something called "germanium" to a spot above the ear to release tension all over the body. 

Let us leave her to her germanium balls and move on.

Chaum is a 7-story medical center that covers inner beauty and holistic health.  Members pay $55,000/year which entitles them to drop in for visits to the Eight-Constitution Clinic which tracks your pulse to see what kind of disposition you have.  That information is studied by acupuncturists and the chef to further determine exactly what your body needs.  (Snort.  Mine needs a good stiff dirty martini before dinner, but that's just me.)

At the Kwangdong Hospital of Traditional Korean Medicine, the Intensive Care Acupuncture Facial ($1,200 per) is the profit leader.  (My phrase, not the article's.)  The treatment covers 300 points on your face that will be "treated" with stick-in needles.   These pricks (hopefully and not stabs by a disgruntled acupuncturist) are believed to stimulate collagen and elastin; and to increase blood circulation thus plumping out the face.

I think you could get the same plumping affect by sitting on the floor across from a BFF and taking turns slapping each other silly and for a helluva lot less money.  There would also be the deeply gratifying psychological revenge factor, cunningly disguised as helping the other.  "Took MY boyfriend in 6th grade?" (pow!)  "Borrowed my new Manolas* and tore the heel off?" (bam!)

I prefer the French woman's approach.  At around 40, they look into a mirror and ask themselves, "Face or ass" and get on with it.

* For the gentlemen reading this - Manolas are extremely expensive shoes; their signature is a Christian Dior red nail color sole and the average price is $1,200 per pair which does include both shoes, red leather soles 'n all.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

115 Years of Snobbish Pretentiousness

I'm referring to the doughty magazine named Town & Country back in 1901.  It was planned and presented to appeal to The Establishment or as they've called in England "landed gentry."  Fashion, advantageous marriages, social doings all featured in its pages then and now. 

I let my original subscription lapse and forgot all about it.  Then I got a subscription pitch and remembered how amusing the magazine actually is.  This is how they bill themselves - "The trusted source of privileged information, elegant living and unpretentious fun."  I would point out that "privileged information" by the act of publication is no longer privileged... 

Regarding "unpretentious fun" the editors hired Pippa Middleton, the now-Duchess of Cambridge's sister to write columns explaining English sports such as cricket.  In one column she wrote about being on top of the Matterhorn!   Speaking for myself, we're lucky to get atop the Palos Verdes cliffs on the way to San Pedro from time to time.

Anyhow in the interest of sharing helpful information with my fellow low lives who aren't expected to know the finer points of social etiquette, harken!  Here are some things we no longer need worry about, tossing fretfully on our faux Dux beds ($30,000 for the real deal) with the 100-count (not 1,000 count) sheets.

"How much do you tip on a $10,000 bottle of wine?"  Three experts - two sommeliers - surely THEY have no interest in a tip (snort) and some hostess lady -  all said that if you can afford a wine that expensive, you can damn well pay a 20% tip.  

An article titled "No Second Acts" tackles the thorny question of if it's all right to leave a play, concert, opera at the intermission break and scoot for Elsewhere.  La! how the experts tossed this one around.  Everything from "It's your money; if you're not getting value for it, beat feet" to the probable tree hugger who mewled "But think of the poor cast - to come back onstage and see all of those empty seats~"  If I were in that cast, I'd like to think I'm with it enough to say, "Damn! that first act needs work!" 

As I don't want to saturate your minds with more inane stuff at once, we will take up the feasibility of flying to South Korea (1st class you may be sure) to try new!  Guaranteed!  Beauty Tips!  It would seem that snail serum is "just the tip of the iceberg."   Coming up tomorrow.  There's only so much pretention I can take at one time.  In self defense, I am thinking about a hot dog and a new pair of Target sweats.      

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Yelling Season

This is a quadrennial event and has nothing to do with global warming, el ninos or anything else climate-related.

I am referring instead to the every-four-years race for the White House. 

The season starts softly enough with the various candidates putting themselves forward with gravitas and discreet pleas for support.  As the season moves on, those voices become louder.  In some cases they border on the strident.  This part reminds me of a symphony movement, now that I think about it..  A soft start, building to a roaring conclusion.  This is nice in a concert hall with gifted musicians.  Unfortunately the current politicians are all tone deaf yet they persist in performing. 

Now only two months and change from the Actual Vote, the pols have let their foot slip off of the pianissimo peddle and dragged in the kettle drums with an intermittent clash! of the cymbals. 

The two leading candidates who shall remain nameless because they are interchangeable in style, have now resorted to YELLING! every single word out of their mouths.  This is vastly annoying to me as it is a really bad idea to yell at me to do absolutely anything at all that I want no part of - such as housework.    Being yelled at does not warm my heart nor enthuse me into any action at all other than fleeing the morning radio news.  I simply stalk down the hall to the bathroom and shut the door.  That gives me a wall, 3 ft. of hall floor and a closed bathroom door which, while helpful, doesn't entirely mitigate the noise.

Candidates, that black stick in front of you with a cobra head is a "microphone."  It is designed to project your voice to the back row of any room so that you don't have to.  With this device (available at amazon.com for $25) you can give your tortured vocal cords a well-deserved rest.  (To say nothing of listeners ears.)

Think of the future!  What if you had laryngitis on January 20th and couldn't be sworn in?  It may not be a valid swearing in if you have to nod your head and write out the words.  And think of the shame if your spouse has to read your inauguration address?  Do you really want that to happen?

Put it in "mute," okay?

On second thought, my opening about how the yelling season has nothing to do with global warming?  I changed my mind.  All of the hot air coming out of the candidates may well be effecting global warming....God knows there's plenty of it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Research Turns Up the Damnedest Things

Dog Days at the White House - the Outrageous Memoirs of the Presidential Kennel Keeper" by Traphes Bryant and Frances Spatz Leighton    MacMillen   343 pages   $9.95   Of note, this book was published in 1975.

This book popped out at me at the library.  It's an interesting read as Bryant worked at the White House from Truman to Nixon.  What made the book a sensation back then was Bryant's allegations that Kennedy enjoyed swimming nude in the White House pool with selected female company when the Missus was out of town.   

But in looking up "Traphes Bryant" (because what kind of name is Traphes?  Mother's maiden name?  Irish ethnic?) I found that he had more or less vanished.  Nothing current on him, not even the usual born/died factual things. 

What did turn up was this:  LBJ brought his secretary Mary Margaret Wiley with him from Texas to Washington, DC.   She was one of eight secretaries; five of whom it was alleged that LBJ had boinked. 

Meanwhile Jack Valenti (later of Motion Picture lawmaking) was LBJ's most devoted worker/advisor.  Described as a "confirmed bachelor" Valenti, 41,  and Mary Margaret suddenly married on June 1, 1962.  It was believed to have been a shotgun wedding forced on the couple by LBJ himself.

But Courtenay Valenti wasn't born until November 1963.  Somewhere in here, Valenti was busted for soliciting a male photographer in a bathroom, but was not charged or the charges didn't stick; unclear.   

Valenti was one of LBJ's most trusted assistants and was in the White House on a daily basis.  Mary Margaret would bring the tot Courtenay to "see Daddy" but Daddy was LBJ.  Or so it is alleged.  He was certainly fond of the child who could wind him around her little finger.  If she was at the White House and LBJ didn't get to see her, he raised holy hell about it.   So said Bryant. 

All of which proves absolutely nothing at all, but I did find it interesting.  Had you heard about this?  LBJ's secret daughter, etc.?  If so, how come you didn't tell me?  I live for gossip!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

If You Liked "Downton Abbey" ...

"The Mistresses of Clivedon - Three Centuries of Scandal, Power and Intrigue in an English Stately House" by Natalie Livingston   494 pages  $32

This is an engaging book, well-written by the wife of the current owner.  Clivedon,, named for the white chalk cliffs - Clifden in those days - is nine miles from Windsor Castle and was built originally by the Duke of Buckingham for his mistress Anna Maria.  She was the wife of the Earl of Shrewsbury and the two men fought a duel over her.  Buckingham won and she was then socially accepted as the widow of Shrewsbury.

Over its life span, Clivedon was burned twice, causing great ruin and subsequent rebuilding in the main section.  During WW1 occupant Nancy, Lady Astor ran it is a troop hospital, putting in wards over the tennis courts and in the grounds. 

The main house was huge with ample space for guests and the wings, added over the years, took care of their servants and the household help. 

The Profumo scandal was the last big event covered in this history of the house.  The swimming pool exists as it was then.

Today the place is the Clivedon House Hotel.  Harold Macmillan upon being told it was to become a hotel, remarked, "My dear boy, it always has been." 

Out of curiosity, I looked up the rates ... a room for two is 432 squiggle marks (pound?) per night,  The rate called "Hot Dates" gave me pause but turns out it's a reference to set-aside dates for bargain rate rooms if you consider 150 squiggles per person for one night.   There is a chef-led dining room and a set tea for 40 squiggles per person. 

By contrast, the much-adored Downton Abbey grounds, filming sites, side tour to Oxford day trip from London is $140 (dollars) which does not include tea or lunch or a pint at a pub of your choice.  You will be led through the display rooms of Highclere, but don't plan to spend the night.  Strictly see and go home.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Such a Bizarre Idea I Had to Laugh

A commentator on a political Website suggested that Air Force 1 have a new paint job for Obama's trip to Louisiana - it should have "I'd Rather Be Golfing" painted down both sides of it.

Which led me to think that if AF1 wanted to save some $$$, they should paint "Golfing" in water dissoluble paint against the incoming President's choice and leave "I'd Rather Be" alone..

Trump - "Tweeting" (except he probably is)

Clinton - Lying" (except she probably is)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Two Little Boys...

The 10 year old older brother of the little boy shown dazed and confused, sitting in the back of an ambulance, has died of injuries sustained when a bomb hit their house in Syria.

A suicide bomber, a boy aged 12 to 14, died when he set off his suicide belt in a street in Turkey where wedding guests were dancing to celebrate a wedding.  There are 50 dead, many more wounded and the death toll is expected to rise. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Deception of "Politically Correct"

The headline in the Daily Breeze re the Ryan Lochte affair says he showed "lack of candor."

Excuse me?  He flat-out lied!  This is how lying is now described?  Along with "Misstated"?

The end is near.  You read it here.  And I'm not lyin'

Friday, August 19, 2016

NOT the Grapes of Wrath

Ellie Martin Cliffe, Taste of Home Senior Editor, counsels how to capitalize on an over-purchase of seedless red grapes.  Toss them with 2 T canola oil, 2 sprigs of fresh thyme or rosemary and roast in the oven at 450 until they start to split - about 15 minutes.  (I wonder if they make a popping sound like popcorn?)

After they've cooled, put them on a chunk of toasted baguette (or bagel) with cream cheese.

Scatter a handful over grilled chicken with melted gorgonzola

Mix in a "fall salad" with pistachios - a rip-off of walnuts, apple and blue cheese...

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Cleaning Out My Office Turns Up Correspondence with Donald Trump

Murf Ink, my PR company, was my occupation in the '90s.  I had a pair of off-road racers and a beginning relationship with Pro Stock team owners and drivers - three brothers named Tom, Dick and Harry Scribener.  They hired me to promote them into full sponsorship for their car. 

At the same time Donald Trump was making a yuuuge splash in the media.  So I looked up his address and wrote him a letter, excerpts below -

March 22, 1990

Mr. Donald Trump
The Trump Organization
725 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10035

Dear Mr. Trump:

In the event you are interested in promoting the Trump Taj Mahal in a unique manner, may I suggest a one-time partial sponsorship of either a pro stock or top fuel drag racer at the NHRA Summernationals to be held July 4 -- 8, 1990, in Englishtown, New Jersey?

This event, in addition to garnering a lot of East Coast media attention and drawing a weekend audience of 103,000 fans, will be televised nationally on NBC Sports on July 22nd, 5 p.m. EST.

The sponsorship of either driver would give you a chance to dominate public attention in a new area for you.  The even will run from ...

Drag race fans are affluent (58.5% have annual incomes of from $30,000 to $74,000) blah blah
"They present great potential as guests at the Taj Mahal."

I am pleased to be able to offer for your consideration  blah blah

Because you have the opportunity for sole name rights on the Scribners... blah blah

As your casino already has an imposing reputation for elegance and sophistication, perhaps a slogan like "The Taj Mahal IS for every Tom, Dick and Harry" - might be beneficial in covering yet another market.

I look forward to your thoughts on this matter,

April 19, 1990

Dear Ms. Murphy:

Mr. Trump has received your letter of March 22, 1990, inquiring about his interest in sponsoring either a pro stock or top fuel dragster at the NHRA Summernationals in Englishtown, New Jersey.

While he appreciates your bringing this opportunity to his attention, regretfully, it is of no use to him at the present time.

Thank you for writing Mr. Trump.  We wish you much success in your endeavors.

Norma I. Foerderer
Assistant to the President

2016:  The "Trump Train" top alcohol funny car driven by Clint Thompson in the Northwest division of the NHRA finished the 2015 season ranked number 34 nationally.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Lesbian Farmers To Get Recognition

I wish I were creative enough to come up with things like this.  I'm not and we all know it.  (See previous columns for indisputable truth of this statement.)

"Feds Holding Summits for Lesbian Farmers - USDA Wants to Change Image of Farmers from "white, rich, males."

First of all, it has never been my pleasure to meet a  rich farmer, any gender, of whatever color.  Farming is historically one of the toughest of livings to make, not only for the hard physical labor involved, but also for the fact that every farmer alive is at the mercy of Mother Nature who often isn't.

These seminars are being held at the behest of the US Agricultural Department and Cyndi Lauper.
No, you didn't misread the preceding line.  Why or how Ms. Lauper got involved in farming was not revealed in the articles I read.  Maybe she just has a soft spot in her heart for brawny women in overalls - who knows?

Now let us establish the data available regarding US farmers:

There are 2.2 million American farmers working 922 million acres of land (don't know if hydroponics was included.) 

Nearly 10 per cent of same sex US couples live in rural areas and are more likely to be "families of color raising children."

They are "more likely to be low income and are two times as likely to be receiving public assistance."

Perhaps this is just me, but I can't see how having seminars about lesbian farmers is going to do them or us any particular good.  My reasoning is that farms are traditionally located in rural areas, not urban.  Rural areas are by definition, "out in the country."  Towns reflect the population - or lack of it - and are accordingly small.  Everyone knows everyone else and if they don't know the individual personally, they certainly do any or all gossip about them.

Thus, by all logical rights, the lesbians (if any) are as well know in any farming community as any "white, rich, male" farmers.  Given the paucity of rich farmers, perhaps the lesbians are much more noticeable?   What the hell - enjoy your seminars, ladies. 

Editor's Note - I regret not citing sources, but everyday I read the Daily Breeze, LA Times, Drudge Report, White House Dossier, Weasel Zippers and the Daily Mail, UK, and cannot remember who headlined it. 


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Photographic Proof of "Hospital Bondage"

To prove to you I wasn't hallucinating the whole experience.  A kindly tech with a grudge against "swaddling for adults" graciously took these shots.
Patient has succumbed as noted by the dreaded "Q sign"

But recovered.  Note feet bound together with a blue elastic tourniquet put to a far different use...

What in the Merry Hell Are These Parents Thinking? You Be the Judge...

LA Times California section, 8/16/16

"Boot Camp for Kids - At (name, place) students get prepared for the rigors of kindergarten - especially at elite private schools"

What "rigors"?  Do you remember kindergarten being onerous?  Extremely difficult scholastically?  In my day, it was more or less structured play with an 11 a.m. container of milk, a couple of saltines and a nap!  And we all went home at noon.    

Today it is different.  Parents clearly have more money than the parents did in my day because the affluent now pay $1,000 for a week of KinderPrep for children ages 3 1/2 to 5 to be led through such as having a book read to them - the students the day the reporter visited had successfully plowed through the make-up of a book:  front cover, back cover and book spine.      The teacher was reading the story which involved stuffed animals and each child had to take a corresponding stuffed animal and hold it up.

Some of these poor kids' parents had also signed them up for one-on-one with  a teacher at a cost of  $120 - $200/hour. 

The reporter noted that parents and au pairs dropped the kids off for class. 

During class, the students get to "practice transitions" which in this case means marching single file to the cafeteria, sitting in a booth with three other students and a teacher and doing lessons - counting, drawing, and then packing up their stuff and walking single file to the next star-studded event.  The instructor said that packing up their things teaches them responsibility while walking single file teaches them to follow instructions. 

A parent said there is no play time; kindergarten is serious.  Since play time is a wonderful chance for a child to develop imagination, I think this borders on child abuse.  I hope these parents are setting aside a substantial amount for the future - not college, but intensive work with a psychologist.  They'll have been through the equivalent of college anyhow by the time they hit 8th grade. 

Snacks include organic fruit or gummies and aloe water or food brought from home due to allergies.  A teacher said that she'd once seen a kid packing pate. 

An interested parent should have already taught their kid all of the above and a great deal more.  Am sure that in many cases, the au pair picks the kid up and takes it "home" where said kid may or probably not have a brief phone conversation with a parent. 

This is one time that I can say with deeply-felt gratitude, "It wasn't like that in my day!"

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Old Moscow Mule Is New Again

Many of you of responsible drinking age in the '70s probably had a kick or two from the Moscow Mule, served in the classic copper mug.   A perfect cooler in the summer, they are a simple combination of vodka, lime juice and ginger beer.  Since vodka was the main alcoholic boomph carrier, the "Moscow" was presumably from Russia.

But what was old news to old drinkers seems to have found a new audience.  My attention was first brought to mules back in May at Peohe's, Coronado Island, where it was prominently mentioned on the drinks menu and my luncheon companion ("Raffish") decided to have one.  Since he's only 41, it was "new" to him.   He enjoyed it and I thought no more about it until last night ...

Post-Jazz Club, we decided to have a drink and something to nosh on at Hudson House (previously favorably reviewed.)  The mule popped his nose over the stable door with a little card stapled to the bigger drink menu and a choice of four types of mule.

The Hudson - vodka, ginger liqueur, lime and ginger beer

El Rey - tequila, grapefruit juice, lime and ginger beer

La Vida - mescal, creme de cassis, ginger beer

Garden Mule - gin, cucumber, mint and ginger beer

These variations never appeared in the '70s when I knew mules.  But a little research shows that they are much older than that.  In 1941, three men were sitting around the bar of the Chatham Hotel, NY,  trying to come up with drinks that utilized their particular products -  Cock and Bull Products (ginger beer) and two guys from the vodka divisions of Heublins and Smirnoff.  It's heartening to see that a drink can last 75 years.  Bottoms up and clang your copper mug on the bar top with gusto!  The mule is still kickin'!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Not The London Yanks Expect! Beware!

Given the justified popularity of Brit TV programmes (that's how they spell it) it is not unreasonable for us Yanks to have a pretty firm view of Them - crisp accents, good vocabularies and a certain Victorian sensibility about such as proper manners (sipping from the fingerbowl is a guaranteed knee-slapper for them,)  mandatory Wellies (rubber shin-high boots favored by the hunt'n shoot crowd) and, generally speaking, a great desire not to offend others.  This latter even has its own name - British reserve.  Which may go far to explain the tidy queues at bus stops, pub bars, etc.

London has undergone - it seems - a shocking change of decorum with the addition of two new summer attractions. 

The first was recently opened in the heart of the city -  London Naked Sun Terrace, a venue 60 ft. off of the ground sponsored as a promotion by a TV station.  The terrace boasts sun  lounges, a bar with male servers in tightly-wrapped long aprons and for the exercise minded, trampolines and "swinging ball" which here is called T-ball and it's for children, not nude adults (as far as I know.)  Management urges prudence while using the "swinging balls."  dailymail.co.uk can provide discreet photos - books in laps for example - and to be fair, everyone photographed seems to be in a very good mood and quite enjoying themselves in an understated way.  ("Flash" is still not "a British thing.")

The second is the first all-nude restaurant in London, called Bunyadi.  The chefs, servers and customers are all nude except in the case of chefs and servers who wear ivy-draped thongs by order of the health and sanitation departments.  If this is a look you would like to duplicate in your own home, pull on a pair of tighty-whities, roll them down at the waist, up at the butt and stick plastic ivy wherever convenient.. 

Their boast is that the food they serve is "naked," too as all of it is raw.  They add that none of it is cooked with gas, electricity or fire.  Three courses, 39 Euros; 5 courses 60 Euros.  Random dishes for your consideration - Pickled rhubarb-infused steak tartare with wasabi mayonnaise.  A dubious dessert - Fig and dark velvet avocado on a cacao mousse with nutmeg and hazelnut crumble with a drizzle of vanilla salt.  (salt)

Neither the menu nor the prospect of dining in the raw were things I ever considered the Brits would embrace.  Just couldn't picture London men ripping off  their Saville Row suits and frantically toe-ing off their bespoke Lobb shoes.  And what woman would leave  Alexander McQueen bits she'd managed to acquire under the auspices of a check room lady?


Yorkshire Dales - "If the weather doesn't improve, some people are going to get frostbite in some unusual places."

New Zealand - "Expect more trouble out of ISIS if this is the case..."

Saturday, August 13, 2016

And the Nuclear Medicine Tech Said, With an Evil Smile, "Hospital Bondage"

Yesterday I had a nuclear medicine three phase bone scan.  The purpose was to see if somehow the replacement hip had shifted in position.  Since I believe in sharing information, here's what happens (or at least what happened to me.) 

Phase 1 - taken through one of those mysterious doors from the waiting room into the bowels of the hospital itself.  The tech - a lovely woman named Cammie - seated me on a narrow table, near the gaping mouth of a huge machine of some sort.  She asked me to lie down, pulled and tugged to get me lined up to her satisfaction and then chose an arm for the infusion shot.  She said as she began her inspection, "Let's go shopping!"  The left arm was chosen and then rejected in favor of the right.

"So, left was Ralph's and right is Bristol Farms?" I asked.  She grinned.  Cammie has a great sense of humor which is comforting in those circumstances - flat on your back being pumped full of nuclear something-or-other.   I kept taking surreptitious peeks to see if any part of me was glowing. 

I asked her how dangerous I was to others and she said, "Not at all, but it probably wouldn't be a good idea to hold a newborn on your lap and read all of the Harry Potter series to it" which made perfect sense to me.   And easily done - we don't know any newborns.

The machine hummed into life and began a slow trawl down my body toward my feet.  She said this was a full body bone scan and the resulting film would make me look like a Halloween skeleton which amused me.   This cursory scan is done as a baseline before the scan with the bones fully infused with the blood-born nuclear broth.

Every test room I've ever been in must double nights as the place where they hang the beef, used in the cafeteria.  They are damned cold.  Cammie disappeared (from my sight, flat on a table) but quickly reappeared with a heated blanket which she carefully spread over me.   Ahhhhh bliss!  Cammie was so appreciative of my appreciation that she kept'em coming all of the time I was there.  Upon my departure, I looked at the table, piled with blankets and said, "Damn!  That's a week's worth of laundry!" and she just shrugged.  Hospitals (in my limited experience) seem to go through supplies with gay abandon.  Gloves, used syringes, blankets... toss!  Grab a new one, plenty more where that came from.

Phase 2 - a dismissal for 1 1/2 hours to let the drug infuse the blood for Phase 3 and the "real" scan.
Since Elephant Bar is across Torrance, we went over for lunch.  I can't praise their Tofu Banh Mi enough - little "meatballs" of tofu with a chili-ginger crust, the usual carrot strips, raw jalapeno slices, sprigs of cilantro,  spicy mayonnaise dressing.  Richie relished his Marsala chicken with garlic mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy and creamed spinach.     Sated, we waddled back to nuclear medicine.

Phase 3 - When it was my turn, back to the room full of strange and evil-looking machines.  Cammie put me back on the table, then took a couple of blankets and wound them under and over me.  "Now I'm gonna show you 'hospital bondage'" she laughed and grabbing a big roll of adhesive tape, began winding tape around me and the blanket.  She stepped back from my Frankenstein-on-a-pallet set-up, snapped her fingers and got a blue elastic tourniquet band and tied it around my feet.

Trussed tighter than a Thanksgiving turkey, I heard her remark, "There - now you'll stay still," turned and hit some buttons on the machine and then stepped to the wall and dimmed the lights.  And left me.

She is a very kind person with a great sense of humor, so I found myself drifting off to sleep.  She didn't strike me as the axe murderess type.   Belly full of food, comfortably warm, the machine humming quietly away, doing its job ... who wouldn't drift off?  So, I did.

Some undisclosed time later (you can't wear your watch in these machines and I couldn't have moved my arm to look at it anyhow) she flipped the lights back on and I opened my eyes alertly.  I was still, after all,, trussed up.  And vulnerable.

Next came the cheering sounds of her chatter and of tape being torn off of a blanket and I was free again.  After a short wait while she checked the computer monitors to be sure that what was sought was found, she turned me loose.

Cammie shot the accompanying photos of me with enthusiasm and elan.  If you ever need a nuclear scan at Providence - Little Company, inquire beforehand if Cammie is working that day. 

Additional H/T to Matt Mayfield who got the photos from the smart phone to here.  The man's a computer genius. 


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Reader's Digest

This periodical was always something to look forward to when one had to visit a doctor or a dentist.  As an adult, I can see it was perfect for waiting rooms of all stripes - short articles, easily finished before your name was called.  Sort of a monthly "bathroom book," if you will. 

Due to the happy coincidence of discovering that a California dba is ripe for the plucking by what seems to be every periodical in the United States (and "British" magazine as well) the Reader's Digest people added me to their list.  Subscription rates are considerably cheaper for dbas because the magazines figure it will be exposed to three, four and more people in your place of business.  Los Angeles magazine is $6/year, as an example. 

It only comes out 10 times a year, but those 10 months must keep them busy as it is published in Braille, digital, audio and large print in something like 40 countries with 10.5 million subscribers.

Founding honors go to DeWitt and Lila Bell Wallace in 1922.  DeWitt was wounded in WW1 and spent four months recuperating in a French hospital where, to amuse himself, he read American magazines.  It occurred to him to condense various articles and put them out in a shorter, more easily read version.  Upon discharge, he returned to America and spent the next six months mulling over those that he wanted to use.  He was helped in this by Lila Bell.  They married in 1921 and lived happily until DeWitt died in 1981, age 92.  Lila Bell followed him in 1984, age 94.

Like a great many other people, I love the humor columns and would cherry pick them to read first before I got called in to be seen.  I gleaned a few for you from the September edition -

My IQ test results came back.  They were negative.

Snails have a five-day rule for food that has fallen on the ground.

How many (fill-in) does it take to change a lightbulb?
Special snowflakes - only one.  The student holds the bulb and the universe revolves around him.

Chiropractors - only one but it takes six visits.

Apple vice presidents - That's proprietary information.  The answer is available from Apple on  payment  of a license fee.

And back in 1922 they didn't even have special snowflakes or Apple.  Reader's Digest did the seemingly impossible and has stayed au courant.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Jon's Markets Barbecue Section

Granted, am not the most well-travelled grocery shopper, but I've never seen this before - an in-store barbecue counter.  Jon's is labeled "Smoked Meats" and looks like a bigger, deeper deli section. 

Butcher type males in long white aprons rule this area.  Order at one end, pay at the other.  On offer are smoked chicken, beef ribs, tri-tip, sausages and probably more.  And sides.    It's right next to the "regular" deli section (sandwiches to go) and the fresh bread basket.  Which is probably the only reason we came across it - proximity to baguettes!  Once I got my hands wrapped around one of those babies I was ready to check out and go home. 

We'd gone in there specifically for "dinner meat" the foundation for whatever we'd decide to have for dinner.  But:  upon arrival at the bbq counter, we looked at each other and stepped up to order.  Dinner meat was never easier...

We bought the Meat Lover which consists of half of a smoked chicken - "White or dark meat, ma'am?" (white) four very meaty beef ribs and a huge heap of pulled beef brisket - $11.99 for dinner for two twice.

I much prefer pork ribs, but these were well-smoked and as stated, very meaty.  I don't like chicken particularly so turned over critique to Richie who said it was good and who certainly polished it off with some gusto.  The pulled brisket was pick of the litter for me.   The second night, I fluffed it out with chopped red onion, chopped pickled jalapeno slices, a glob of srirachi-garlic bbq sauce and had a nice sandwich.   

Buying barbecue at the supermarket is a lot easier than phoning in an order to your local bbq shop (assuming you're lucky enough to have one - the South Bay is remarkably short of any bbq places) and going over and picking your order up.  Walk in, beeline to the counter, order, finger some merchandise or do other shopping and come back, pay for it and go.   Doesn't get much easier than that. 

Jon's Market, 4848 W. 190th, Torrance

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Finding France on 190th Street

Ever since we got back from our last trip to France (April, 2016) we have been searching for an authentic baguette.  La Brea and Il Fournier disappointed - 'way too dense a texture; we rolled around Culver City for hours looking for the bakery Siri Smartphone lied about - "only a five minute walk away!"   Frankly I had quietly given up.  Different water?  Different flour?  Qui connais? 

And then in the most unexpected place ... luck popped up.  Back story - I'd asked our France-born French teacher where we could find le vrais chose and she nattered something about "John's Inglewood."  Since we haven't lost anything in Inglewood, that was that.

On the way home from an errand, Richie said, "I want to run into that supermarket on 190th for dinner meat."  Fine by me.  I vaguely remembered it from the last supermarket strike.  Richie had flatly refused to cross a picket line. 

As we pulled in I saw the marque "Jon's" - next clue - it's ON 190th but off of Inglewood Avenue.  Could this be ....

Yes!  a big basket holding an array of baguettes vertically!  I gently squeezed one - YES!  Proper texture - slightly crusty exterior and an airy interior that promised the chewy that is more or less the heart and soul of a French baguette!  And - it was still warm from the oven! 

I held it to my body and qvelled.  The loaf is nearly 3 ft. long and sells for $2.69.  Clearly they bake often during the day because as we were heading for checkout, a clerk came out of the back of the deli section carrying a whole basketful more.  This was at about 2:40 p.m. if you want to be there when it's still warm. 

We got home, I cut off the end piece (the best part) buttered it (real butter) and sank down in bliss to devour it.  Richie came upstairs and asked how it was?  I said, "Go ahead and bury me; I've died and gone to heaven."

Today we can have the classic French ham sandwich for lunch - a length of bread, split, buttered with a little bit of Dijon mustard and deli ham.   The bread makes all of the difference.  In fact... (yelling downstairs) "Richie - I'm gonna have lunch now"  "What?  Yeah, I know it's 9:30."

Jon's Market - 4848 W. 190th Street, Torrance   424-282-2034 

Monday, August 8, 2016

How Did We Miss This?

We have company coming in from Israel in September and wishing to entertain them, I've been looking for enlightening amusements.  Two very nice ones are -

Flight Path Museum.com  which is near the south runway at LAX and contains a modest display of old (model) airplanes, china, silverware and glassware from 1st Class, and a variety of flight attendant uniforms all the way back to the '30s.  It's small,, easy to cover and if you are an aviation buff, a very pleasant hour or two. 

Automobile Driving Museum.org   This, too, is not far from LAX, and is a hangar-sized space (was once a car dealership) with a great many "old cars."  What makes this unique is that on weekends, you can sign up for a (free) ride in one of the cars!   They rotate the vehicles around much like you would a stable full of horses.  Inside the museum, you are allowed to take your picture in one.  The docents are all quite knowledgeable and all in all, it's a pleasant hour or so.

And then I smacked my forehead and muttered "Presidential Libraries" and So. Calif. is lucky enough to have two - Richard Nixon, Orange County, and Ronald Reagan, Simi Valley. 

I don't think the party is important faced with a chance to see history.  We've so far been to the Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Dwight Eisenhower, Teddy Roosevelt and the two here. 

I went to look up the pertinent data on admissions, hours, etc. and to my amazement, there's a second Reagan museum in Santa Barbara dedicated to the Summer White House - Rancho Cielo, north of Santa Barbara.

The actual ranch house is off-limits; this museum is located in Santa Barbara and announces its presence with a 5,000 lb. block of the Berlin Wall.  Inside Reagan's blue Jeep Scrambler centers what looked like a huge room with a 28 ft. long timeline, his old saddle, chain saw (how many former presidents can say that?)

There is a virtual tour of the ranch itself and previous visitors include Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth 2 and Mikhail Gorbachov.

Free admission in Santa Barbara, but I think Simi Valley has either a ticket cost or parking fee.  Santa Barbara is 90 miles away, much of it is a beautiful drive along the ocean and there are a lot of very good restaurants there.  The Army isn't the only thing that travels on its stomach ...

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Vagaries of Language

Yesterday afternoon was Spanish class, a free course given the 1st Sat. of each month from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Redondo Beach main library.  The instructor, Olga Stohr is gifted at making learning fun.

Yesterday the class discovered that there's no single word in Spanish for "hide" as in "That's the hide of a buffalo I shot in downtown Calgary."  Instead one must say, "ocultar piel de un animal."  If you are describing the verb "to hide" the word is "esconder."   As in "Yo esconder los pesatas banque de Bahamas."  (Roughly)

The discussion about all of the above prompted the guy next to me to wonder about the use of "heat" as in racing - particularly horse racing.  He wondered where it came from and that prompted my own curiosity.  "Heat" = hot, fervor, ardor -- emotional responses vs. heat/hot ("caliente")  The horse racing application dates back to 1660 England. 

Years ago I was a fan of the writer Robert Ruark, who was sort of a low rent Hemingway.  His book "Something of Value" covered the Mau Mau uprising in Africa and in it, he remarked that there is no word for "love" in Swahili (ergo one couldn't say "I love you.")  Curious to see if the word had ever been added to the vocabulary, I asked and discovered that the phase is one word - "ninakupenda" with "ni" being "I" and all the rest of the word the rest of the sentence.
I have no idea how it's pronounced, but feel free to use it as you will.   And by the way, it's a bad idea to shoot buffalo in downtown Calgary.  Just so you know...

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Put That Acorn Down! Stealing from the Squirrels! Shame!

A new survivalist technique for your tummy - acorn flour to make baked goods or coffee.  Here in California, you will be well fed as our land is prolific with various kinds of oak,  apparently all of which are edible.

Turning acorns into food is not a  new thing - in Korea they have acorn jelly and acorn noodles.  Back in the 17th century (country not specified) a broth was made from acorns and given to the alcoholically challenged as a restorative cure - or as a defense against future binges.

In the American Civil War acorns were boiled to be used as coffee and in WW2 the Germans made a version they simply called "Ersatz" for coffee.

The acorn as a visual marks the Trails in England and Wales and is also popular in the Celtic and Scandanavian arts.

Ah, I see you are panting at the bit to make your own. 

First, get a basket or other suitable container and a big stick (to ward off furious squirrels) and find your hunting ground.  Bring a First Aid kit in the event the squirrels triumph. 

Bring them home and shell them - recommended was slicing them in half and digging out the meat with a smaller knife's point or nut pick.

Use a mortar and pestle (or go modern and use a Cuisinart) and mash them into little bits, like grits.

Get a pot of water boiling and drop them in - this will leech the tannin out of them.  Taste and if necessary drain out the water, get another pot of water boiling and repeat.

Strain the well-cooked nut meats through cheesecloth or clean kitchen towel into a container and dry them - cookie sheet in a low-heat oven until they become "cake-y." 

Turn the meat into flour (rolling pin?) and use as flour.  The final taste is said to be "nutty."

If this sounds labor intensive, it is.  Let alone the risk of having to treat squirrel bites.  Just slip quietly online and buy a pound for $30 at Etsy (whatever that is.)    Caveat emptor though - this product is rich in fat so it spoils/molds quickly.  Have your muffin pan at the ready!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

All Writers Are Thieves

Most of us make no bones about it either.  Plagiarism is stealing someone else's words and pretending that they are yours.  If you cite a source, you're just stealing not misrepresenting for money or street cred.  Every time any of us says "Hello" ...

Today's Weaselzippers.us amused me mightily.  The article mentions that the Boston police in Roxbury have purchased - for $89,000 worth of taxpayer's money - an ice cream truck to roam the streets and give away free "Hoodie Cups" of ice cream to the residents..  In the six years since 2010 when this program began, only 120,000 free cups have been given away.  Winter must cut into the bidness. 

   The article is certainly factual enough, nothing to steal there. 

But the Comments are an entirely different matter!

"First time it rolls into the hood, it'll be hijacked at gun point and cleaned out."

"Meanwhile the guy who makes a living and pays taxes, maintenance, health insurance, maintenance is getting wiped out."

"The icing on the cake would be to hire a pedophile to drive it."

Sign on a van "Free Gun Cleaning and Repair - no questions asked.  To Protect and Mollify"

"Stop off at the station for free re-loading - free ice cream while you wait." 

I would cheerfully thank these people publicly if all of the names weren't screen names and thus un-knowable anyhow. 

Happy Birthdy Anthony Dominick Benedetto and Martha Helen Kostyra!

Tony Bennett is 90 today and Martha Stewart is 75.

Oddities about each:

Bennett founded the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, Astoria Queens.

He was an Army infantryman, who saw the end of WW2.

A very successful painter, he has had numerous prestigious exhibits. 

As well as three wives and four kids.


Stewart's first job was as babysitter, age 10, to the kids of NY Yankees players Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Gil McDougal and other team members.

Age 15, she began modeling. 

Her cooking skills introduced her to her former husband Andrew Stewart whom she married in 1961 and divorced in 1987.  Daughter Alexis, born 1965, is her only issue. 

Other careers have included caterer, magazine editor, stockbroker, and life style guru (staff does the research.) 

***  I hope she baked him an elaborate cake!  He could sing to her in thanks...

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Swimming In a Sea of Stupidity - and Sewage

Gleaned from the Daily Breeze, LA Times, Daily Mail (UK)

The opening ceremonies will include 12,000 various teams marching in to the venue, each with its own little samba band.  Unknown:  if the samba dancers will be not wearing any clothing as is usual.

Giselle Bundchen is to star in a brief movie about avoiding the tunnel between the airport and town.  The 400 ft. tunnel is a favorite hiding space for robbers on motorcycles and apparently she is to be shown being robbed by a group of them.  *

This will be old news to the resident as there were 300 robberies per day reported in 2015. 

Meanwhile, the press is suffering.  They have been issued a media village which features unfinished bathrooms - the "shower" is a hole in a bathroom wall that leaks water as well as flooding toilets.  Media stations are paying $239/night for these accommodations for their stalwart announcers and reporters.

And they - the media - need not think that they can flee to the workplace for succor.  The TV Building on Copacabana Beach was flooded and could have collapsed into the sea when it got a pounding by 15 ft. waves during a freak weather event. 

Lago Stadium currently consists of naked scaffolding and bags and bags of garbage at the entrances.  Great worries about whether it will be finished in time for Friday's gala opening and then, of course, the ongoing concern that it will stay up.   

Runners have been warned not to practice after dark for fear of being robbed, but a motorcycle escort seemingly was not considered.  Usain Bolt and his fellows are holed up in an airport-adjacent motel with their own chef. 

Water competitors have been asked to keep an eye out for the body of a cab driver who attempted to flee robbers by reversing away from them, fell down a rocky shore and into the water.  The cab has been recovered; driver's whereabouts - or body - unknown.

A great number of "somebodies" made quite a bad decision when they picked Rio as an Olympic site.  I wonder how much money changed hands and who - if not all involved - got most of it.

Carry on and good Olympics to all of the competitors.  Survivors will attend a gala post-games.   

*  As of 8/3/ this event featuring Ms. Bundchen has been cancelled and was incorrect to begin with - a small boy runs up to her for a selfie, her bodyguards chase the kid away.  All of the above took place near a taco cart.  Now located on the cutting room floor.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Junkets R Us

A breezy, lighthearted headline in today's LA Times reads "L.A. delegation off to Rio"

The delegates - Mayor Eric Garcetti plus three other dignitaries and a staff of 22 left Sunday for Rio ostensibly to "hear what the Olympic' priorities are for future events."  IN 2024.  The deadline for final proposals is February, 2017, for a final vote in September.

Garcetti said, "I am looking forward to meeting members of the Olympic family, athletes ...and sharing in this wonderful Olympic atmosphere."

Garcetti returns to Los Angeles August 10th; all of the other delegates and support staff will return August 21 and the end of the Olympics. 

It could be a wry god laughing when you consider that Rio is less than sanitary; water sports competitors have been warned not to open their mouths during competitions therein to avoid fecal matter and dead animals in the water.  But the committee members will no doubt be shooting selfies and playing water sports with the beautiful, scanticlad cariocas with jovial abandon. 

And when they return with various versions of the bubonic plague, why whoopee!  We, the taxpayers, get to pay for their medical costs, too! 

God forbid the august staff would Skype or hire someone on-scene to make a disc of everything there and send it here for scrutiny.  And do themselves out of an all-expense trip to Rio?  (Or anywhere else.) God forbid!