Saturday, April 29, 2017

Protesters! You're Overlooking "A Cause"

Several days ago, I wrote protesting in my own small way that there are very few male mammogram technicians.  Since never criticize without offering a solution is a necessity to me,  I proposed a gentle start-up with gay men, then gradually segue to heterosexual males.  After all, there are a great many male ob/gyns. 

Yesterday it dawned that there are very few female proctologists and the person giving you a colonoscopy is very likely going to be a man, ladies.  This hardly seems right to "the fairer sex."  Having a hose pipe rammed up your backside is a universal event and if the medical world is going to be sexist about mammograms, why not a colonoscopy? 

This is the kind of mature thinking you might find in grade school.  "Don't let anyone see under your bathing suit."    The patient goes to the doctor to present a problem that the patient wants fixed.  The doctor fixes it or not.  No one is getting a thrill from a glimpse of the problem in a delicate area or flashing it either.   Here's a secret, guys - women always wear their best underwear to the ob/gyn.  And no one sees it because:  the nurse hands you a gown and says, "Take off everything, fasten this in the front and Doctor will be right with you."  Doctor comes in and your sexy lingerie is buried under your cast-off clothes and you are wearing a crinkly paper "dress" - that opens down the front.

And, I would add, if you guys think a vaginal exam is sexy in any way (even for fetishists) you are very sadly mistaken.   A wide, cold instrument in a warm, narrow enclosure is not ... pleasant.

So ... in conclusion, women do have the right to consult a female doctor; men a male.  No one could argue with that.  What I feel should be protested is the lack of acceptance for the opposite sex in a procedure or exam that investigates a "delicate area."    A doctor is a doctor. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Happy 125th, Redondo Beach

Redondo was originally a part of a 1785 Rancho San Pedro land grant. By 1890, there were 603 residents and they incorporated on April 29, 1892.  The Chowigna Indians  were their neighbors and they  lived, largely, off of sea bass, lobster, halibut and the salt trade.  The wetlands around the AES power plant were once a salt lake, unconnected to the ocean.  Just a stand-alone lake.

The estimated population in 2015, 123 years later, was 68,000.  My, my, how you have grown!

The ceremonies planned for tomorrow - Saturday - to celebrate this birthday are rather modest.  Ruby's Diner, down by the water has generously offered a part of their parking lot for a display of old cars.  As the old car society routinely meets there, this is not exactly Midas generosity, but still ... a gesture in the right direction.

Then these old cars will be a sort of  a moving display as they are driven leisurely to be part of the excitement at the Queen Anne House and Morrell House Living Museum, located in Dominguez Park on Flagler, between 190th and Beryl Streets.  Of note, there is also a very nice dog park if you'd like to bring yours. 

What surprised me the most was to discover that Wilderness Park, a 10-acre parcel off Knob Hill, was a Nike missile base from 1956 to 1963!    It is a 10-acre parcel, fenced with a gate, concrete pads (formerly rocket launch pads?)  for the barbecue and outdoor chairs, nice shady trees, sunlight grass and a little stream for the kidlets to splash around in.  Ersatz "campers" can spend the night there for a small fee.  . 

Redondo Union High School graduates include Charles Lindbergh, Demi Moore, Tom and Dick Smothers. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

"Our Visiting Guest Chef Tonight Is My Grandma"

Enoteca Maria is an Italian restaurant in Staten Island where there is a rotating roster of Italian grandmothers doing the cooking - their specialties, family comfort food - all of the dishes that kids grew up loving.  And probably don't have the time or energy to recreate them.

It was the brainstorm of owner  Joe Scaravella who set it all up in 2016 after the place had been open for nine years.  Seeing the success of this program he widened it to include other ethnic grandmothers so that today half of the menu is Italian foods and the other half, which seems to change daily is another culture's cuisine.  Example:  Tuesday - Thai dish ____ prepared by _____.  The restaurant has two kitchens which makes it easier to do. 

This success prompted him to start an online book of recipes from nonnas - contributors are invited to provide:  a short bio of the nonna, three photos and one recipe.   "Meh," you shrug?  Each entry is presented in the native language of the donor.

Meanwhile, not to be outdone, the Murphys have a Maria's, too.  Richie's cousin Ruth Ellen married Gianni Giordano, who was the founder of Maria's Pizza, Cape Coral, Florida, which was just presented the Best of Cape Coral 2017 Readers Choice Awards.   Again.

Maria's began as a one picnic table take-out in 1991 and today seats 75 in a brick and mortar restaurant.  Gianni died, age 81.  By then he had been a grandfather several times over and loved nothing better than to cook for them all. 

And while nonnas (grandmothers) are more frequently thought to be the chefs, a word should be said in favor of nonnos like Gianni.  Richie's brother Charlie commented on a family dinner with awe, "The food just kept coming!  That was the most I ever ate in my entire life!  And Gianni cooked it all!"

Put that in your bonnet, grannie.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Don't Build a Bomb Shelter Yet

Curious about the distance between Korea and America, I looked it up as can you.

From South Korea to the square made of MO, KS,OK and AR is 6,442 miles.  A plane flying 560 mph will take 11.5 hours to get there.

Even if the missile was flying twice as fast, it would still take something like six hours to arrive and surely someone's radar would notice it. 

Don't let the media knot up your knickers.   Remember:  "If it bleeds, it leads."

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Me and Al Pacino Made It Through Another Year - and Lesser News

Both of us were born April 25, 1940.  He arrived in Manhattan; I debuted at Axtel General  Hospital, Harvey County, Newton, KS. and got out of Kansas as soon as it was feasible and possible. 

It is fun to Google your "zodiac twin" and I recommend it for a rainy afternoon's amusement.

He's 5 ft. 7 in., I am (now) 5 ft. 5 In.  He married twice - from 1988 to 1989; and again from 1997 to 2003.  I married in 1983.  He has fathered three children;  happily we never had any.  He began working as an actor in 1965; I started my illustrious career in 1958.  His Social Security payments are no doubt a great deal more than mine.  But I bet his squeeze didn't do what mine did - he handed me my yogurt this morning with a birthday candle stuck in the middle, blazing away.

And we both made it through another year.  Here's lookin' at you in 2018, Al!

Comment:  It wasn't raining this afternoon, but I discovered that my zodiac twin is Jennifer Anniston ... puke.  Matt

A misleading headline
The Daily Mail did it again.  They headlined a story about the double executions yesterday in Arkansas?  Alabama?  to make it look like both were dispatched on the same gurney!  An interesting idea for  prison economics.  Stack'em up!  All they need is an arm sticking out of the pile ... 

In the real world as opposed to the land of journalistic excesses, let's set the record straight.  One's doors were blown off at 7:20 p.m.; the other didn't depart until 10:33 p.m.

Although I must say the gurney looked reasonably roomy; certainly spacious enough with a little crowding  but, hey! who cares? 

The London restaurant that serves only airplane food. 
But briefly - this pop-up was open today and closes tomorrow.  Air New Zealand in an attempt to get ink, put together a space with airline seats and trays for ambience and the menu is from their flight menus. 

From England to New Zealand is a popular route and Air NZ's competition is the excellent Qantas (has never crashed.)  Management was smart enough to cull some interesting data:  one in five passengers say that bad food is the worst thing about flying;  one in four say airplane food is worse than that served in hospitals or schools.  Admittedly, this is a pretty low bar to tackle.

Since only one diner (on the ground) was quoted as to what he'd eaten (lamb with minty peas, braised lettuce with bacon lard-ons and salt-roasted crushed potatoes) I went to their listed menus online.

Premium Steerage (jumped-up coach) where breakfast might be (there is no surety on a plane; you're a prisoner, remember?) the following:  Scrambled eggs with pork apple sausages, creamed spinach and tomato relish, hot cakes with spiced plum compote, yogurt and vanilla syrup. 

Up in Business, the dinner starter was seared venison filet, kumara crisps (kumara is a sweet potato there) red onion, smoked chili and "micro herbs." 

If this is the sort of thing that is meant to entice the pax into spending a great deal of money for a very long flight from almost anywhere to New Zealand ... God bless them for trying.  The rest of us?  Pack a picnic hamper to dine and swill down all of the free wine possible. Get your money's worth somehow.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Table Scraps

Drink and Dinner - In the Same Glass
Ports O Call, San Pedro, is touting their bartender's Bloody Marys.  While I digested yet another plateful of food (caviar on a roll with butter, red onion and lemon juice) and Caesar salad, I jotted these down ...

Cowboy Bloody Marty
bacon-infused steak sauce, chipotle salted rim, garnished with a beef jerky stick, pickle spear, celery stalk and lemon and lime juice.

House mix tomato juice, beer back, garnished with salami, a cheese cube, pepperoncini and a pickled green bean. 

Hudson House, PCH, used to make one with a pair of fat, grilled shrimp skewered across the top. 

"I'd Go Back There Again," Said Richie
Which surprised me as neither one of us is particularly fond of Indian cuisine. 

Friends invited us to join them for lunch at Addi's Tandoor, 800 W. Torrance, Redondo Beach, 310-540-1616

When we walked in the door, we began to be impressed.  The room is a large, calm one in gray with a wall of windows facing the street with decorative curtains.  If left alone, they would hang straight, but midway down their length, they are cinched in with a tie of the same curtain color.   The tables have crisp white linens and are spaced far enough apart to encourage conversation at your table, but no need to listen to other's. 

All of our various orders - chicken tikka, chicken curry, shrimp marsala - came with rice and were served after a crisp salad with dressing in a little pitcher on the side.  Service was excellent; Shukriya took very good care of us.  Chef Gurbachan Singh did a great job with their presentations of Goa style Indian food.

We learned that Addi's (owner Addi Decosta) has been there for 20 years.  They've got a good thing going and we'll be going back.  A very ample lunch was $11.25 (chicken curry) and $14.95 (shrimp marsala) with rice and salad.

The French Have a Word for It, But I Don't Know the Word
So here are the facts as printed in various media.  Remembering always that the media has not always represented the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. 

Leading candidate in the French elections is Macron, nipped at his heels by Marine Le Pen (Go, Marine!) who has been married for 10 years to his former French history teacher.  They met when he was 15 and she was 39, married and had three children.  His parents (a doctor and neurology professor)  asked her to lay off, at least until he was 18, but the happy couple's relationship went on. 

They were married in 2007 when he was 29 and she was 54.  He is 39; she is 64.  Her youngest daughter is the same age as Macron and active in his campaign. 

They are said to be quite devoted, rumors of a rather personal relationship between Macron and a male French official notwithstanding. 

Ah, France - land of love.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Fly At Your Own Risk

One commentator wrote "I used to be afraid to fly in case the plane crashed; ah, the good old days."

He's right.  In rapid succession - United beats and drags a pax off; American uses a stroller to subdue a woman flying with 'way too much stuff - perhaps they thought she was moving in?  That the enormous back pack held a camping tent, pots and pans, butane stove?  And another episode in San Antonio when a black woman got on and started flapping her pie hole belligerently, to the crew and pax.  Using very bad language indeed.

Good old days indeed... I was disappointed not to find hilarious one-liners such as those that followed the United fiasco.  Apparently throwing babies and strollers into the mix strikes a chord with our fellow great Americans.  No funnies at all.  Pity. 

In all of our years of flying, we have never seen behavior like this (let alone acted like this) and to a large extent, I blame it on "social media."  All of the pax seem to be armed with cell phones at the ready, salivating to get The Shot that could be seen around the world.

Andy Warhol and his "15 minutes" has a lot to answer for - but he's dead. 

I just remembered an incident back in the '70s.  It was my first flight to Paris and I was having trouble stowing my hanging bag 'cause it was full.  A flight attendant came along and started to help me until she got a look at the shirt I was wearing, black with big white letters that spelled out "Bionic Lover."  She sniffed, dropped her end of the bag and said, "Well, if you're bionic, you can just hang up your bag yourself."    Hey!  She was right!

Friday, April 21, 2017

At the Annual Mammogram

I had an appt. this morning.  Since it had been awhile, I was asked to fill out forms.  We're all used to this, right?

One question spurred me to genius though ...

#14  Is there any chance you may be pregnant?
Not unless there's a star in the East was my written reply. 

Mammograms have a bad rep that could be lightened considerably if they pointed out to their patients that you don't get weighed (no woman enjoys that) and you don't get the boa constrictor around your arm with the BP cuff. 

Furthermore activist groups are apparently unaware that the mammogram staff is always, 100 per cent female.  The woman may have a male ob/gyn who has already not only seen but palpitated her breasts.  It seems a little forgetful? shall we say to have no male technicians.  They don't have to be 100% hetero to start; hire some qualified gay guys. 

You could have a very pleasant conversation during a very unpleasant exam with a good chat about shoes or Nordstrom Rack half-off sales.  Perhaps a shared love of Judy Garland? Exam ends with a rousing rendition of "Over the Rainbow"? 

Harriet the 950 ton Tunnel Boring Maching and St. Barbara

Once upon a time ... no, wait.  That's the start of a fairy tale and what follows is real. 

Cake will be served today at the terminus to the new Crenshaw/LAX Metro line to the crew that manned  "Harriet" which  is the machine that made this ceremony possible.  Then she will be dismantled and taken away; rumor has it next door to dig a tunnel from Space X offices to the employee parking lot. 

The article said that tunnel digging machines are given a female name before construction begins on them.  It is said that this practice honors St. Barbara, claimed to be the patron saint of architects, miners, mathematicians and the Italian Navy. 

There was some discrepancy in the figures given in the article.  The illustration of a tunnel borer said that she could travel 3 in. a minute, averaged 50 ft. per day of a 5-day work week with three shifts a day and a 75 member crew.  The article said she averaged 60 ft. a day with a 15-man crew. 

Any road, all agreed that she weighed 950 tons and is 400 ft. long.  The tunnel is the equivalent of 30 football fields long. 

Now we get to the fairy tale.  Unless, of course, you are a devout Catholic.  What follows seems unlikely to me but I wasn't around in the mid- 3rd century until the late 3rd century.  Totally missed the boat on that one.

Barbara was the only child of a wealthy pagan.  When her mother died, her father devoted his life to his daughter.  As she grew up, she turned in to a raving beauty.  To protect her virtue, adoring Daddy built a tower and had her ensconced in it.  The writer of this infogram then states that she spent her days marveling at the hillsides, sky and clouds outside her lonely tower window and speculating about who had created them.   How the hell did anyone know what she was thinking?

Anyhow.  She discovered God in this beauty and proclaimed herself Christian which totally annoyed her father.  In what may have been a very bad judgement call, he had her turned loose from the tower to roam freely whereupon she fell in with a band of roving Christians (trouble makers) who formally converted her to Christianity. 

When she announced this to her father, he became unglued and grabbed his sword to behead her.  (This is fatherly devotion?)  She took off running with him hot on her heels.  This hot pursuit ended when a hill appeared, opened and let Barbara in, but closed again and kept Daddy-0 out. 

Next thing I knew is that we were in town and the townsfolk/serfs were thrusting lit torches at the poor woman and an unknown female friend.  Both had been stripped naked and were making a run for it.  But, wait!  an angel came down and covered them with a cloak and, mysteriously, all of the lit torches went out. 

Better still, a lightening bolt flashed and killed both Daddy and his best friend whom he had enlisted in the punishment.

What all of this has to do with a tunnel borer, many of us will never know.  Put me at the top of the list. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

And They Call Themselves "Women"?

For centuries women have been praised for "being strong."  And not just for birthin' babies; you will notice, however, that God, in His wisdom, gave the tough work to women ... Gentlemen, consider birthing a 10 lb. bowling ball from any of the orifices below the belt line.  How does that feel? 

Think back to all you have read and the photos you have seen ... the pioneer women, stuck for months in a wooden wagon as they were transported across state lines that didn't even exist back then.  Look back to WW2 and female plane delivery pilots, Rosie the Riveter - a time when women stepped in and took up the slack when the men went to war.  Now flash forward to the women who are now in combat situations and fought to get to them.

Now look at today's sorry excuses for women.  I am referring to all of the poor little sexually harassed women who jes' din't know  what to do when that mean old man said all them terrible thangs to them!

Women who were traumatized anywhere from three days ago to 13 years and who still haven't figured it out.  Their first reaction is to find some other man to defend them, sue the bastard and get her a batch of money for a situation that could been stopped if the woman had even the remotest scintilla of initiative.

Sexual harassment is one of the easiest matters in the world to deal with.  Some man says something insulting, revolting, disgusting - whatever it is that offends you.  All you have to do as a woman is look the offender in the eye and say, "That's not acceptable.  Don't do it again."  I don't care if it's the janitor or the CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation.  It works. 

If he touches you inappropriately i.e. at all, rear back, look down your nose and say the same thing.

Why am I so sure?  Back in the '70s I worked as an assistant to the CEO of the Antelope Valley Land Company, a man named Gene Girard (later indicted for selling the same land multiple times.)   This was the era of micro minis and we all wore them. 

One fine day, Girard, notorious for liking the ladies, called me in to his office and said, fretfully, "I can't understand this (gesturing at papers on his massive desk) - come around here and show me."

Not thinking anything about it, I walked around the desk corner, bent over and began pointing at various items on the paperwork.  And then I felt a stealthy hand creeping up the back of my left thigh.  I must have jumped at least two feet, whirled, shook my finger in his face and said, "Don't you EVER do that again!"  He shrank in on himself and apologized.  No hard feelings; he'd tried something; I stopped him and he got the message.  It became a joke between us - "Come around this side (wheedling)"  and I would draw myself up and respond, "As if" and we'd both laugh. 

Sexual harassment is a Do It Then event.  Don't sit on your money-grabbing keister for 13 years or longer and then cry the blues.  Women don't do that.  Professional victims do.  And for God's sake, don't wail that "He took advantage of me because I'm a woman."  You're not and most likely never will be.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Show-Offs and Their Money Are Soon Parted

Remember the Fog Martini from San Francisco - made up of dew collected from trees on a mountain, distilled into vodka and used to make a $43 martini?  (Or so they said.)  Tales of $2,500 hamburgers?  (That didn't sound that good anyhow - Kobe beef and fois gras don't come off in my developing tank.  Not a pretty picture.)

I know alcohol costs more than food - have only to look at the tab after dinner.  It's long known that a resto makes more money in the bar than the kitchen.

Now there's a $1,000 drink.  I use "drink" in the sense of a glass with an alcoholic beverage in it.  Just so we're all clear here.  Okay?

Comes now one Antony Sazerac, bartender at the MGM National Harbor Hotel and Casino, Oxon Hill, MD, 10 miles away from the White House. 

This is the drink he's touting:  The Thousand Dollar Cocktail!  Made from Don Julio 1942 Tequila, Grand Marnier Quintessence, agave nectar, fresh lime juice and a bottle of Dom Perignon in a pitcher to refresh the above as the level in your glass falls.   

Always suspicious, I looked up the prices for it.  Don Julio 1942 - $114, $105, $98.99.
Grand Marnier Quintessence $810 which has to be wrong; will check and get back.*  Dom Perignon high $330 down to $98.99 - at Costco!  Trader Joe agave nectar $9.75.  Fresh lime - free if you've got a neighbor with a tree. 

For those of us with more, shall we say, limited finances, the $130 Champagne-arita is offered.

So this Sazerac dude didn't "invent" anything.  He just made a margarita with really expensive ingredients. 
*Grand Marnier Quintessence IS $810 and another place sells it for $1,300. 

Now, if we all pooled our nickels and dimes and bought a bottle of this stuff, we could offer shots for $150 and no doubt make a profit; certainly our investment (the $1,300) back ... God help the person sent to bring it to the bar who drops it.  We will own that person for life.  heh heh

Monday, April 17, 2017

Never laugh Tomorrow When You Could Laugh Right Now

I have a near-criminal inability to amuse/indulge myself today when I should hold off for tomorrow.  Often having filled up much of today with things I like or amuse me.  Patience is a virtue I suppose ... just not for me.

If you work for United Airlines, don't get all pissy or ropable  about what follows - it could have happened to Delta, American ... you name it. 

Not enough seating; so prepare for a beating.

We have redeye and black eye flights available.

We treat you just like we treat your baggage!

Board as a doctor; leave as a patient

Once you're seated, you'll shortly be mistreated

Aisle, window or stretcher?

Rows 1 through 10 are  now waterboarding.

The captain has turned off the no dragging sign.

United - the only airline where you can get a nose bleed while the plane is still on the ground!

We beat the competition, one passenger at a time.

I've heard of "fight or flight" but this is ridiculous!

Life is hard.  Don't beat yourself up.  Let United do it for you!

Drag me to my destination, please.

Hands-on customer service is who we are and what we do.  We'll greet you, seat you and then beat you. 

Roses are red violets are blue. 
So will your face be
When we're done with you. 

Next time my kids refuse to get out of bed, I'm calling United Airlines.

Aren't you glad I didn't wait until tomorrow?   Taking tomorrow off.  My work here is done.

Brown Sugar Ribs

Instead of guests and our traditional meal - ham, pineapple dressing,  candied yams - since we would be alone, I went with what I felt was a radically different dinner.  Pork, yes.  Ham, no. 

We had Brown Sugar Ribs, baked beans and cole slaw.  We met Brown Sugar Ribs at Hudson House (previously admired and reviewed) and it occurred to me to try to duplicate them.  I haven't cooked ribs in years, but I hadn't forgotten how to do it.

1 rack baby back pork ribs
brown sugar - enough to dry rub the number of ribs
2 T cayenne mixed into the brown sugar

Get out the Big Pot and boil the ribs to get rid of some of the fat. 
Drain and let them cool down a little; dry rub them and put them on a cookie sheet or pizza pan and bake at 325 for 2 hours.   They crisped up well and were juicy inside, too.  And they were minimally fatty.   But:  still greasy enough to make a supply of napkins necessary.

Easter's over, but summer hasn't started yet.  If you don't have a barbecue grill, inside the oven works just fine.   Put out a plate for the denuded bones, but never give them to your dog.  These bones splinter (as do chicken bones) and can lodge in the dog's throat.  If the dog's insistent, just rub his nose with the dry rub.  He/she won't be back for more.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

"Go Forth and Multiply"

Yesterday's gerontological world  was saddened at the news of Emma Morano's death.  Lauded as the Oldest Person  In The World, she left us at age 117 from her small village in Italy.  She left no survivors although she did have a son, but he died in infancy.

A commentator on the article about her still has me laughing:  "Oldest person?  Don't think so.  Madonna is still alive."

Emma's successor is a Jamaican woman named Violet Brown, age 117.  Her son is 97 and he is the oldest person with a living parent.   

Nabi Tajima of Japan is 116 and will be 117 August 4, 2017.  She really listened to God (who was somewhat insistent about this "go forth and be fruitful"  thing - Gen. 9:7, Gen. 1:28 and Gen. 1-1:31 all advise it.) 

She had nine children who provided her with:  28 grandchildren; 56 great-grandchildren and 35 great-great grandchildren for a grand total of 128 descendants.   Fruitful indeed.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Vocabulary Expansion

A nearly-unlimited vocabulary is an important tool to writers.  As such, we tend to write it down when we hear something new.   Of the following four words, only one was familiar to me.

Ropable - this comes to us from Australia and indicates great agitation - "You took a two hour lunch and the boss is ropable."

Also in Australia, America's beloved (based on sales) McDonald's is called "makers" presumably pronounced "makkers." 

In France, McDonalds is referred to as  "macdo" pronounced "mack dough"

But here's the one I'd never heard of and it has nothing to do with food.  it's "MCD" which is said to stand for Major Character Death when reading a book and then being disappointed.   

Who knew? 

Friday, April 14, 2017

We Joke About It, But Someone Really Did Steal Her Backyard

The beach cities here get their share and more of fog that can occur at any time of the year.   The balcony that stretches the width of the house faces east.  If there's fog at all, our back yard turns into a thick, grey curtain and the avocado tree disappears from view.  We joke, "Call the police!  Someone stole the back yard!"  (No, it doesn't take much to amuse us.)

Imagine my raised eyebrow at this story in today's Daily Breeze.  Someone stole a San Pedro woman's artificial-turf back yard, leaving the front yard untouched.  There's something "better"?  "More interesting"? about a back yard vs. a front yard?   She speculated that the thieves just rolled it up and took off with it. 

It is believed that the robbery took place sometime overnight Tuesday into Wednesday.  Alicia Cullen, the turf owner, remarked that she had brought the dogs in that night or they would have barked.   The dog next door will bark at a bent blade of grass as it bends, so I think even a dog inside a house would hear something "off" and bark.  We have cats (who would let a thief take the entire house as long as it didn't disturb a nap)  so I don't know this for a fact. 

Anyhow, Cullen's homeowners insurance will cover the estimated $1,500 loss, but the deductible would have to be paid.  Debate on this subject is probably on-going.  Meanwhile, replanting with flowers is an option being considered by Mr. and Mrs. Cullen as the artificial turf came with the house via a previous owner. 

Thieves:  if you are casting lascivious eyes at the front yard, be assured that the dogs will be out.  And if you have never experienced one, know that the pain of the bite followed by at best, cellulitis, is not anything you want Santa (or dogs) to bring you. 

It's probably asking a great deal of you to bring back the lawn.  We, even with heavy fog, are better off.  The sun does come out and the fog does go away.  And in our case, sooner or later, it will come back, unlike your lawn.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Bury Me in a Pineapple or A New Art Form

The Ghana fantasy coffins are the art.  Not only are they used for burials there - soft wood - $700 but as art as well.  Mahogany for the never-to-be occupied, to last in a different climate as in an art museum - $3,000.

"Cheaper than here!" you say.  True enough because American casket makers are unlikely to be able to or want to make specialized jobs like the Ghaniains.  Who, incidentally, have been making them since the mid-40s and as each craftsman ages, his sons and grandsons, who have been apprentices, edge into taking over.

 What makes these coffins special?  It is the uncanny ability of the Ghaniains to duplicate such objects as - a Nokia cell phone, a passenger airplane (for a grandmother who had always wanted to fly, but never got the chance) and make them big enough for the body that will reside within. 

Ghana is said to be a very religious country and ancestors are particularly revered; the dead are believed to have  more power over the living than the living do.  Funerals there are a joint celebration of the deceased as well mourning them.  They are elaborate and thus expensive. Catering, DJ, paid mourners if the crowd is a little scant, etc.  It is customary there to keep the body in a rented space in a mortuary until all of the money necessary for a big send-off can be amassed.  One coffin maker has been hanging on to a customized coffin for two years and so has the potential resident in a mortuary.   

And this is a twist that doesn't make sense to me.  The elaborate casket is ONLY visible on the day of the funeral.  Not before; not after.  Here is a partial list of objects you can buy to be buried in, each customized to your specifications:

A turtle, favorite of lawyers because they move slowly but do get it done.
Fishermen favorites - various fish, crabs, a 7 ft. long lobster
The bon vivants - a pack of Marlboros, a single cigarette, a bottle of a particular brand of rum or beer
Workers - a claw hammer, a wrench
A King James version of the Bible, an Airstream trailer, a Mercedes-Benz
An ear of corn or a chili pepper for a farmer
A Nikon camera with amazing detail.  It looked like the real thing but on steroids.

Pictures would be nice, but I believe it's against the law (intellectual property theft) to lift them from other sites, but to see all of the above - and more - simply Google "Ghana fantasy coffins."   If you're not amazed at their creativity and woodworking skills, I'll be amazed.  They are art and "art" can be found in a lot of unexpected places.  Including at a funeral.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Something of a Disappointment

We didn't leave until 4:15 p.m. on a revised schedule and pulled in to the parking lot at 5:04 p.m.  So hah! to the naysayers and traffic terrorists. 

First impressions gotten on entrance.  The door handle is a bent serving spoon held to the door with a nail through the hole at the top and another through the bowl of the big spoon.  It's a long, narrow room with the kitchen and bar on the left and a long string of four-top wooden booths down the right side.  The walls are pine paneling from the floor to halfway up the wall where gingham-checked wallpaper takes over.   Old license plates and tintype photos of old farms and people dot the paper. 

Should you be the right gender for the Ladies, a sound track plays the contented clucking of hens which segues into bulls roaring.   Richie reported he heard chickens in the Mens.

My Bloody Mary came in a Mason jar with a skewered spear of pickled okra and a sad-looking olive.  I tried to pawn it off on them, but no takers.  No trouble selling the onion rings though because they were just what they should be - crunchy, hot and not greasy at all.  The barbecue dipping sauce was very, very good, too.   Mouton liked them so much he ordered them as a side to his dinner.

The fried green tomatoes, six, were nicely dusted, the bacon was thick-cut, diced and fried but the promised smoky chipotle sauce was 1,000 Island dressing.  At the table, I didn't know the difference and it wasn't until this morning when I re-read yesterday's column that I noticed the substitution.  I would have preferred the chipotle.  The servers were very nice and I'm sure that if I'd known and asked for the additional sauce, they would have happily rushed off to get some.  Very affable young people. 

The burnt ends I had been thinking about all day were burnt all right.  They were charcoal black and fatty.  Back in the day, they were not nearly as "well-cooked" and it was lean meat, not the fat stuff served.  The grits were gummy, the cheese sparse and there was no discernible flavor to them.  It was my first go-around with grits, never having eaten them before, and my last.  Now I know why there are so many jokes about grits. 

We were all too full for dessert, but they do have deep-dish peach pie, pecan pie, Elvis banana-chocolate pie, beignets with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and that's all I can remember. 

Mouton lives in Long Beach, but "D" and we live up here.  On a whim, we decided to pull in to Suzy's "a local tavern" for a beer to be used for medicinal purposes like an Alka-Seltzer. 

At first we were dismayed to learn that Tuesday nights are open mic nights.  But the opening act - a rock'n roll guitarist-singer and the house musicians - two brothers; one on drums, the other on guitar, were so good that our fears were allayed.  The singer was singing about his car:  "She don't care if I'm a little stoned or slightly drunk.." 

All in all, it was a good night out.  Suzy's serves food - there are six different steak sandwiches on the menu - and it's four blocks from home.  If we can teach them to barbecue ...

Suzy's   1141 Aviation   Hermosa Beach

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Anticipation - Followed By Disappointment?

We will see.  Tonight, continuing a new custom of dining together once a month, Mouton, "D" and we are, or will be, dining at Johnny Reb's Smoked Barbecue, 4663 Long Beach Boulevard, Long Beach.

A great fuss has been made about potential traffic from here to there.  We are to pick up "D" at 3 p.m. with an ETA at Mouton's Long Beach mansion of 5:15 p.m.  Frankly, I think this traffic nonsense is exaggeration and fully expect to be there by 4:15 p.m. if not sooner.  We are not talking here about having to be in San Francisco by 5:15.

We'll see.  Anyhow, the important part of dining at any place new to us is a pre-look at the menu.  It is 9:10 a.m. right now and I know exactly what I'm going to order for dinner .

First an order of "crispy" onion rings with barbecue dipping sauce with our drinks.  Never drink on an empty stomach.  And my drink will be a Bloody Mary which goes well with 'que and I doubt they have much of a champagne selection.  Although they should. 

Then fried green tomatoes dredged in seasoned cornmeal with bacon and smoky chipotle sauce.  $7.
I loved Fannie Flagg's book "Fried Green Tomatoes" and have never been ambitious enough to try to make my own or been lucky enough to be a guest of someone who did. 

Then my eye fell upon burnt ends of smoked crown of brisket, sautéed with brown sugar and whiskey over hot pepper cheese grits. $14.95 

 Just the words "burnt ends" took me back to my childhood in Kansas City, MO, when my Dad would occasionally stop off at the barbecue place and bring home a pound of burnt ends for dinner.  I loved them!  And despite having eaten my own weight (none of your business) in bbq since, have never been able to find burnt ends.   

Sometimes dreams do come true. 

Show of Hands - Agree or Disagree?


"I'm kinda glad dinosaurs are extinct because I'm pretty sure I'd try to ride one
after a few drinks." 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Let's Bring Back Spats!

"What are 'spats'?" many of you may well ask.  They became popular in the 17th century and were designed as shoe protectors in those days of running sewage in the streets, horses powering carriages and were cost effective as they were disposable rather than having to buy a new pair of shoes. 

I saw a pair yesterday afternoon at the South Bay New Orleans Jazz Club ('jazz club') on a member of the Wolverine Hotel Jazz Band.  The band uniform was:  dark shoes, black pants, white dress shirt and a necktie.  One member raised the bar for crisp dress with the addition of bright white spats.

Spats is short for "spatterdash" or "spatter guards" and consists of a piece of saddle-shaped material - fabric, leather, suede - that fastens via buttons down the outside edge of them with a strap under the arch of the shoe to hold them in place.  For a quick mental visual, think of Scottish bagpipers - they wear spats to this day.  And they also stick a knife down their socks so it is not a good idea to criticize their music.  Unless you're armed and I could have helped you out Wednesday, but the garbage guys got mine. 

Spats in Britain were largely discarded after King George V opened the Chelsea Flower Show and he was not wearing spats.   So post-ceremony, when everyone had gone home, groundskeepers discovered tons of spats under the bushes!  As lagniappe, morning coats were discarded, too.  Just in not wearing them; not under bushes.

More than a King's fashion sense, the everyday spat was discontinued because they were no longer needed as protection from the trash in the streets.  With automobiles came thoroughfares and paved streets.  Horse droppings were a thing of the past.

Today spats do exist as additions to vintage looks or perhaps costume balls.  The site carries a variety with a price range from $158 to $218 - for slightly more material than your average bikini.  They also have a nifty line of "pocket squares" and bow ties.

Otherwise about the only spats effect you can put on your feet are saddle shoes or golf shoes.  A poor substitute say some. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Flickers of Thought - Or Maybe Not ...

Sundays are lazy days and all the more enjoyable for that.  I'm being Sunday appropriate (lazy)  and here are some quotes I ran across in "Comments" from various sites and humorous stuff sent from friends.

The tails on cats and dogs serve as neckties for their butts.

Don't cry over spilled milk; turn the udder cheek and moo-ve on. 

The tongue has no bones, but is strong enough to break a heart.  So be careful with your words.

The best lesson you'll ever learn is recognizing how much you don't know.

Lip rings make you look like the fish that got away.

Ate a meal without Instagramming it. 

Spoke on the phone to a human being for reasons unrelated to food delivery. 

Radical Muslims are the new postal workers.

A moderate Muslim will not cut your head off, but supports the radical Muslim who will. 

Planning a wedding?  Well, dahling, the tiered wedding cake with the bride and groom on top of it is so yesterday.

Today a "drip" cake is fashionable.  "What the hell is that?  Sounds nasty!"  Think a solid cake, no tiers.  Solid, plain, one-color frosting, smoothed like concrete.  Then take a ladle of chocolate syrup, pour it over the flat top and let it dribble down the cake sides.  Doesn't have to be chocolate syrup. 

Still a little blah?  How about a tier of pizzas?  Giant to medium to 10 in. for the top. 

Morning wedding?  Tiered, frosted doughnuts.   Appetizers?  Mini-waffles with a chunk of white chicken.  Three tiny pancakes, drenched in syrup with a strawberry or blueberry toothpicked into the pancake top.  One could cut squares of French toast, too.   Presumably all of them would be liberally buttered ... or better - a soup bowl of melted butter for dipping.  Do not let kids or Auntie Martini dip their own.  When dry cleaning bills equal the cost of the honeymoon... not a good start.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Saturday Isn't Just for Errands

Back in Olden Times when I had a 9 to 5 job, Saturdays were Designated Errand Days.
Today?  Not at all.  There's all week to git'er done. 

We all get mail with cartoons, mock posters for amusing things, cute animal shots and so forth.  Very often they are genuinely funny and merit an honest laugh out loud. 

But where do they come from?  So I started looking at the small print that identifies the maker and found a couple that you might like to check out -

On a totally different subject, I read an article about a woman named Sandra West who was buried per her explicit instructions in a pink negligee and she was set at the wheel of her Ferrari as if she were on the Highway to Heaven.  A crate was built to hold the car and driver, put in the ground and then the hole was filled with concrete so that no one would dig her up and drive away (assuming the car had gas.)  Presumably the thief would leave her in her pink negligee in the driving position - at the bottom of the vandalized hole.

So much for her.  But it did remind me of a visit to the National Museum of Funeral History, not far from Houston Int'l Airport, we visited once.  Far from being ghoulish, it was quite educational.  I feared "How To Embalm For Fun and Profit" or something, but instead we saw ...

A collection of Ghana Fantasy Caskets. 

A miniature but complete model of Abraham Lincoln's funeral train with tracks, townspeople and all.

A casket built for three - a couple's young daughter died and in their inconsolable grief, they vowed a murder-suicide pact and requested a coffin that would hold them all.  It reminded me of the top of a grand piano.  But the couple evidently got over their grief and never followed through. If memory serves, they divorced at some point and aren't even buried in the same cemetery.  Sic transit murder/suicide pacts.

The all-in-one funeral bus.  It looked like a modified school bus - the driver up front, the mortician riding shotgun, the funeral flowers behind their seats, the coffin at the head of the aisle with seats for the mourners.  Unfortunately this didn't work out because, going up a steep hill, the bus flipped over backwards, tumbling the contents by the side of the road.  Including the occupied coffin.

Back to the drawing board.  But it was a time and money-saving idea.  The service with eulogies would make fine entertainment as the vehicle crept slowly to the cemetery.  At the grave site, off-load everything, a quick prayer by the minister - and boom!  Funeral over.  Everyone remounts the bus and away it goes at a considerably quicker pace.  A real time saver. 

Explore for yourselves - vacation season is coming up and I really do recommend a visit to this extensive exhibition.   NMFH.ORG  Although "funeral museum Houston" will get you there just as quickly. 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Gun Photo!

After wending my way through various files and apps, I got the shot to come up. 

A fellow writer wrote helpfully that:  The shot of the gun explains everything.  Without the shot, the story wouldn't make sense.  Sometimes it's good to have a visual aid.

I appreciate that advice and agree that visuals are tremendously helpful.  Thank you for it, Matt!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Curious Case of the Gun Underneath Our House

Nancy Drew and Ned Nickerson were on it, but too much time had passed.  Now they would never know who planted a gun in the open yellow suitcase in the crawl space under the house.

Two days ago, Ned came upstairs and told Nancy, "There's a gun in your old suitcase under the house."

Nancy's eyes bugged out unflatteringly and she said, "What?"  (beat for consideration) "It couldn't be or have been mine- you know how I feel about guns!"  (Nancy has a well-known pathological horror of firearms.) 

Ned shrugged.  "All I know is that it's down there.  I think I mentioned this to you before ..."

"Well, what did I say?" shrilled Nancy.  "Dunno," Ned said, "Don't remember." 

"You didn't touch it, did you?"  "No, of course not," he responded.  "Let's go see it," and grabbing the phone, she followed him down the stairs and into the back yard.

After some difficulties getting to the open suitcase due to the piled up boxes, bits and pieces, they bent over it.  Using the back of his hand, Ned shoved aside the piles of old letters, memorabilia, etc. aside as much as he could and unveiled The Gun. 

Nancy studied it from a safe distance from the butt end of the gun.  "I've never seen a gun that black," she muttered more to herself than Ned.  "Looks like a .44 long?"  Ned just shook his head.  "You know I don't know anything about guns."

"Well, you were in the Navy; in basic training didn't they teach you about guns? Didn't you carry a gun then?"  He said, "No, the only time we saw a gun was if you had the duty or Shore Patrol and the gun was more for show than anything else.  So, no, I don't know anything about guns."

"Okay, I'll go call the police to come and get it.  We've had quite a few contractors and gardeners who've had access to under the house through the years - perhaps one of them just stashed it here ...good thing we didn't touch it - fingerprints," she said and went upstairs to call the police.  In her brief call, she stressed that since it had been down there maybe 30 years, there was no hurry in sending an officer out to the house.

And Dispatch did take their time.  Ned and Nancy cooled their heels by sitting on the tail gate of the truck and looking up and down the street.   Finally a cop car pulled up, the officer  turned on the blue and yellow lights and came ambling down the driveway to them.   

He and Ned went to the site.  Nancy waited for them to come back which they did rather rapidly.  Nancy looked anxiously at the officer who said, "BB gun."  Nancy mentally whirred through the album of guns she had seen and a BB pistol wasn't one of them. 

"What should we do with it?" she asked.  The officer said, "Put it in the trash," lumbered up the driveway, got in the cop car, turned off the flashing lights and drove away.

Nancy and Ned looked at each other.  "I don't want some trash guy to find it ... we'll put it in a brown paper sack or something."

Ned said, "I'll take care of it - I'll put it in the bag with the used cat litter."  And so he did.

Nancy and Ned were disappointed in the outcome ... visions of solving a 25 year old mystery via fingerprints drifted sadly away.  A BB pistol.  And no idea of who put it there.  And they would never know after Thursday which is trash day for their street.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Royal Favorite

We can't wear a crown (and be taken seriously) and we don't have the access to millions and millions of dollars via homes, art, trappings, etc. that Queen Elizabeth II does, but we can eat a royal treat.

This is said to be a favorite pudding (Brit speak for dessert) of hers and, on down the line, Princes William (who ordered it for his bachelor cake when he married Kate) and Harry. 

Note:  8 ounces equals 1 cup in America  I will attempt to translate but any dealings mathematically on my part should be regarded with deep suspicion and a willingness to trust your own self and not me.

12 oz.   1 1/2 cups sweet butter
8 oz.   1 cup golden syrup - I think this is corn syrup?  Try it with honey?
2 oz  . 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
4 oz.   1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate
1 teas. vanilla
2 oz.   1/8th cup  chopped pistachios
4 oz.   1/2 cup  chopped fresh or softened figs.
16 oz.  1 pound chopped digestive biscuits

Line a pan with cling wrap or parchment paper, melt the chocolates, stir in the nuts, figs and digestive biscuits and pour into pan and let cool.  Cut and serve.

No oven!  Great summertime dessert!

McVities, the most popular digestive biscuit (cookie) in Great Britain, got the "digestives" part of the name due to the immense quantities of baking soda in them.  The Cookie That Makes You Burp?  These were invented in 1830 in Edinburgh.  Today something like 52 biscuits per second are being eaten.   Too late to buy shares; they're already quite successful. 

McVities' brands (there are other cookies) are available at Wal-Mart.  And Wal-Mats are everywhere.  Cheers!

Monday, April 3, 2017


A Disappointing Diagnosis
When yesterday's Gemini horoscope said that the reader might have a touch of "oppositional defiance disorder" my ears went straight up, like a dog's.  "Ah hah!" I thought in triumph.  "I knew I didn't take ... interference... from anyone, but I never knew this was in the DMS 5!" 

Gleefully I looked it up and was bitterly disappointed.  What I thought was believing in yourself and your abilities was not.  To give you an example of what makes me tick, I have been considering for some time what I would name my new yacht when I win a substantial lottery.  I have not shared my name selection (let alone the yacht idea) with Richie because he would laugh so hard he would put himself on the floor in a coma. And he can't cook dinner like that.

I know you, dear reader, will be kinder.  Here are my yacht names; all are in response to the statement:  "You can't do that!" 

Ready?  "Watch me."  "Yes, I Can"  "Oh, yeah?"

But, as often happens, I was doomed to nomenclature failure when I read that Oppositional Defiance Disorder is a behavioral problem to two year olds, when it first presents, and teens.  It is not an exclusive situation or behavior.  Odds are good, given the age group, we've all had it.  Sucks, right?

So much for that.  Onward!

Be the Casserole Star at a Southern Funeral

Richie was rootling around in the "Richie's Room" famed collection of plastic bags, empty boxes, art supplies, piles of books and proudly brought me "A Southern Belle Primer or Why Princess Margaret Will Never Be a Kappa Kappa Gamma."  Well, one very good reason is she's dead, but moving on ...

Among advice (written in the '90s) that I suppose was true then, was a top 10 list of what to bring to the house after a funeral.  Because you always go to the deceased's home after you ground them.

Got a pencil? 

#1 Green Bean Casserole with cream of mushroom soup, canned fried onion rings and Velveeta.
#2  Grits casserole with grits, butter, eggs and garlic and Velveeta.
#3  Chicken casserole with broccoli, rice, cream of mushroom soup and Velveeta.
#4  Broccoli casserole with broccoli, rice, cream of mushroom soup and Velveeta

I'm seeing a trend here ... but let me leave you with a morsel to chew over.  A Dallas girl's first can of hair spray is more momentous an occasion than her first bra.  

Sunday, April 2, 2017


If anyone wants to see Fred the Fat, I added a photo of him at the bottom of the column.  Astute viewers will note that he is lying on a Jacque Pepin cookbook.  Perhaps he didn't hear what the vet said. 

Note to all three cats:  In future, if you have to throw up, could you please move your butts somewhere besides the hall between our bed and the bathroom?  We do not sleep in wellies and cold, wet vomit on warm bare feet is ... disconcerting.  Please work with me on this. 

Add to list of troll insults.  Currently, "Do you wear tie or Velcro-close shoes?"  "What color is your favorite Crayola flavor?"

Discovery:  if you can't make your computer play a photo disc, take the photos out of the album and scan them. 

Don't forget to go to the drugstore and buy dry shampoo.  The water heater went south on us yesterday morning and the plumber can't come until Monday.  We have Conversational French at 10 a.m. and will certainly look as though we spent the night under the Pont Alexander bridge, Paris.  Very "authentic" if you will. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April Fool! The Passive-Aggressive Holiday

The purpose of April Fools' Day is to make another person look ridiculous.  Whether by doing something physical - slapping the cut-out of a fish or a "Kick Me!" sign on another's unsuspecting back or relating faux news.  Some recent examples:

The Smithsonian National Zoo has discovered the first unicorn in the wild.

Virgin Atlantic is debuting their new aircraft, the 1417, which flaps its wings for propulsion.

The London Tube has new signs posted that warn travelers of ghost sightings on or near the tracks.  Passengers are being asked to notify authorities if a ghost is spotted as said ghosts are traveling without valid payment.

Virgin Trains offer a tattoo of the ticket on the passenger's forearm so that they will never loose a ticket again.

The University of Dundee now offers a master's degree in penguins.

Petco is testing drones that will pick up your dog's waste outdoors. 

New Dog Product:  beef broth gummy bears. 

We are not alone in this viciousness.  The following countries join in the merriment of embarrassing another or, better still, making them cry.  United Kingdom, Ireland, Poland, France ( the faux fish stick-ons,) India, Romania, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Belgium.  In the European countries, the jest is to give a sealed envelope to a friend, tell them that it is a very important document and must be taken to so-and-so who, upon receipt, opens it and reads "not mine - take it to another fool." 

"Passive Aggressive" is defined by hostility in using such as "Whatever"  Or procrastinating about performing a chore "Bob, I've asked you THREE times to take out the trash!"

Being bitchy about someone else's fortune - a co-worker shows you her brand-new engagement ring and you say, "Turn it to the light a little, I can't see the diamond." 

"Nice shoes!  I wish I could afford something like them, but my money has to go to the rent."

"Oh so that's the house you're buying - fixer-upper, eh?"

"We looked all over for you at the Champagne Gala - didn't you get my invitation?" (and you deliberately didn't send one.)

I would call all of the above just sheer bitchery as there is no talent involved in being a real pain inna ass and/or rude.  Didn't your mother ever teach you that if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all?  Shame.