Sunday, December 31, 2017

Exhibitionalists Alert! Naked Gym Classes!

Exhibs, this is a real chance to flaunt it if you got it.  Hanson Fitness, Manhattan, is offering stark-naked  exercise classes three times a week, Monday through Friday (weekends you put your clothes on presumably.)  Classes are male only; female only and mixed.

Given the icy temps there; given the assumption that the gym is perforce overheated to accommodate avoidance of goose pimples, chilblains and The Shivers, I wonder how many clients will shortly be calling in, "I can't come to the gym today - I've got a horrible cold - I'm just nailed to my bed!"

The founder of this movement - naked exercise - cites the reasons and benefits:  "making you look and feel good naked!"  This could backfire, you know, with post-class hegiras onto the streets of New York where the police are very likely not to want to know if you feel better naked than clothed.  There may well be muttered imprecations regarding indecent exposure as the loser cop has to put the handcuffs on.  Betcha that the back of that cop car will be nice and warm!  Don't resist arrest; you will get a cold or the flu.  Or scars where none might be expected.  Gentlemen are especially warned for obvious reasons.  Gentlemen keep "Junk Yard Destruction" in mind and behave accordingly - i.e., docilely.

Mr. Hansen continues, "unrestricted movement!  keeps you cooler as you work out!"  Re this "cooler" thing well, a great big DOH!

Dubious claim:  releases endorphins, implication being "more of them" than clad exercise.  I think a lot of people could release a helluva lot of endorphins just walking into a gym stark naked.

For the extremely shy, flesh-colored underwear is permitted.  Don't get confused about what constitutes underwear and show up in the black lace or scarlet satin thong and nippleless bra get up.

Lest those living in England feel ignored, NaKeD Training takes place in Chiswick Sundays at 4 p.m.  The first session is January 14, 2018. 

The NKD trainer, Paul, also leads classes at "his private gym."  There is a picture of this Trainer Paul and his eyes look quite mad.  Go to him at your own risk, but bring a baseball bat or an axe to defend yourself.  I wouldn't trust him dressed for an Arctic winter.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Author Sue Grafton, 77, Is Now "D Is For Dead"

What particularly interested me is that she was born April 24, 1940.  The day before this humble columnist was born.

Clearly astrology is a big bucket of hooey since she is famous (and rich as a result) and I am not.  Nor even close. 

But it's possible I have had more fun writing because I'm not on deadline to crank out a book every six, eight or 10 months or go on the road pushing the latest volume.   Admittedly, after a certain amount of fame and #1 selling books, that author can flaunt deadlines and stay home because he/she is a proven money maker.

For avid readers, the death of a favorite author is always a very sad thing.  I miss Robert B. Parker despite the fact that Ace Atkins ably filled in for him.  Subconsciously I worry about Stuart Woods, James Lee Burke, John Sandford, Penny Vincenza.

I think of what the Georgia Peach (a fellow barfly - more of whom in my next book "All My Rowdy Friends" )- always used to say on parting.  He'd clasp one of your hands in both of his, look earnestly into your eyes and drawl, "Don't chew nevah die, heah?"

Well, Grafton did and mystery stories with a strong female protagonist as the heroine will be sorely missed by readers all over the world.  RIP Sue Grafton.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Put on Your Industrial-Strength Ear Muffs and Let's Go Out To Dinner

Which would be Blue Salt Fish Grill, 2515 Artesia, Redondo Beach.  Check them out at

There is a second Blue Fish on the southwestern side of the corner of Hawthorne and Lomita which is some distance from the house.  I was thrilled to learn there is a closer one because the chefs at Blue Salt are very, very big on seasonings and spices and so am I.  There are 13 separate sauces or dry rubs on order.  To list only a few -  Moroccan rub, Lime aioli sauce, spicy chipotle and cilantro butter, Italian herbs rub.  .

  There are 12 varieties of fish which include Opakapaka, Fijian opah, Baramundi.  "Today's Freshest" are listed on a board behind the cash register. Other ocean creatures on offer are: grilled Mediterranean octopus salad, carpaccio of salmon, steamed clams, tostada ceviche...

Even the side dishes are exotic (I was born in Kansas so they're exotic to me) - spiced vegetable couscous, arugula and spinach salad w/shaved Parmesan and balsamic dressing, brown rice.

It's one very plain room with the requisite chrome chairs and smallish tables (they push two together to get four tops.)  It is also, noise-wise, reminiscent of a soccer game in Europe.

They certainly were doing a gold rush business and every one of this crowd seemed not to have a volume control.  But then ... they all got served and went away.  We looked at each other in surprise and began talking in normal tones ...until the next wave of customers came surging in.

How to order and what happens.  Walk up and read the board behind a counter, decide what you want, go to the end of the line (which does move quickly) and order it.  The cashier last night was a very pretty Thai lady and, additionally, she was very kind.  I ordered the PeriPeri Prawns, but hold the bed of baby spinach and baby arugula, please.  She clearly was paying attention because she said, "You're having the Caesar salad - would you like the prawns on top of it?"  Having no idea what peri peri sauce was, I didn't want it to mess up the Caesar flavor, which I do know.  And I hate both arugula and spinach.

She still looked worried and said, "Over the Caesar, you get six, but the appetizer that you're having?  Only four."  I reassured her by saying I had a small stomach.  Four giant prawns would do it.

You're given a stick with a number placard and wander off to find a table.  Shortly, a waiter comes and puts a serving of ceviche in a cup on a plate with taco chips and a pair of little flat cups of guacamole and salsa crudo in the middle of the table.  This is to tide you over until your order comes.  The guacamole had a healthy infusion of tomatillo which worked out well.  The salsa was the usual chopped tomato, onion, cilantro with a slightly oily liquid holding it all together.

Richie had a Stella ($4) and I a (generous) glass of pinot grigio ($4)

Richie's clam chowder looked very thick and creamy and he happily ate it all (cup $3.95, bowl $4.95)  My Caesar salad was very crisp, fresh lettuce with shavings of brick Parmesan and a house Caesar dressing.  Enough to serve two people ($5.95.)  Most restaurants charge $10.00 for one.

Richie's crab cakes were huge!  Both of them. They came with a house salad with a side of lime aioli and Chipotle dressing. ($7.95)

The Peri Peri Prawns really are prawn-sized (in Ireland they're billed as prawns, but are the size of bay shrimp to give you an example of shrimp misnomers.)    They had been split through the shell which after being on the grill, unspread flared out making the prawn look like a butterfly.  The sauce was slightly oily but a nice example of gentle heat. Rip off the shell and eat accordingly.

Dinner came to $37.80 (before $3.59 sales tax) and we were quite content.  We will go back - at lunchtime when it's got to be quieter.

Since I was so curious about it, I Googled "peri peri sauce"  Here's the recipe.

2 red onions, chopped
1 head of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 cup of African bird's eye chilies - can use jalapeno instead
2 red bell peppers, chopped
3 ripe tomatoes, skins off, chopped
4 T olive oil
Juice and zest of 3 lemons
1/3 cup red wine vinegar

Run this through a Cuisinart and then simmer until it tastes good.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Manners and Egos

Prince Harry interviewed former President Barack Obama the other day.  The Prince was acting as a guest MC on a Brit radio program  and asked Obama a number of questions.  One was what are some of the differences Obama found today vs. living in the White House?

Obama said, "I didn't used to experience traffic; (genial chuckle) I used to cause traffic."

Current President Donald Trump recently got construction permission from the city to build a helipad on the grounds of Mar-a-Lago for Marine One so as to eliminate traffic-snarling motorcades from the airport to the residence.  Construction is a personal expenditure on Trump's part.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

January 1, 2018 and California Goes Dopey

Many of you may have noticed that as of January 1, 2018, recreational use (translation: getting stoned) is legal.  This is a matter of no interest whatsoever to me as I got royally ripped off the only time I was a dope dealer.  Put down the phone, the cops aren't interested in a then-crime in the late '60s/early 70s.

I was working with Lord Tim Hudson of his Brompton Productions.  Among others, Timmie represented The Seeds whose most notable feat was going to #30 on the Billboard ranking.
("Pushin' Too Hard")

I forget how I ended up with a nickel bag, but I had and the guy who lived upstairs volunteered to buy it.  The band (who probably left it with me because they had to fly somewhere) had authorized me to sell it for $5.  Not a penny more, not a penny less.

The customer argued about the $5 price tag.  I was adamant.  He demanded "a taste" - common in those days due to a shortage of dope and over supply of oregano.  He grumbled, but he paid me and pounded up the stairs to his lair above me.

A day later, he was at my front door, demanding his $5 back.  "That was shit; I want my money back!"  He was so intimidating and I was so scared of the very long arm of the law that I gave him his $5 back.  A first offense carried a $500 fine and one to 10 years in prison.

Of course, he sensed my inexperience.  Of course, he knew I'd fold.   Of course, he had a free nickel bag and a good laugh at me.  And the biggest irony was that I didn't smoke dope; didn't like it and never touched it after the first and only time I ever tried it.  I didn't enjoy lying on the living room floor, losing myself in the 80 megawatt music (dogs were howling as far away as a half block), only stirring get up and to eat something else in the kitchen.

But speaking of eating and marijuana inhalation, this news from Jack in the Box who are promoting their brand new, go with the public's desires, Merry Munchies Meals!

The Merry Munchies Meal consists of:
a half-order of curly fries; a half-order of onion rings, two tacos (beef, chicken or cheese not addressed,) five mini-churros, three chicken strips and a small soft drink.

All of this largesse for $4.20 which is ever-so-cutely the number of the bill that passed to legalize marijuana.

Which,  P.S., was treated like a drug in the mid-'30s in 35 States and was perfectly respectable.  Or so I read in Wikipedia.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

And a Partridge In a Pear Tree

Richie's cousin, John McG, has a puckish sense of humor.  Every year he delights us with his wit.  Doubles, you might say, because he celebrates Halloween - his favorite holiday of the year - and Christmas and always remembers us.

I am thinking of him and it right now since about five minutes ago, Richie brought in a sizeable box, labeled Priority Mail (and $13 worth of postage to make it so.)

I will list the delights said box contained - two Pez dispensers which are, frankly, the prettiest I've ever seen because usually they are homage to Daffy Duck or such.  This time they are clear snow globes with a tastefully-drawn snowman in a red scarf with a black top hat posed in front of four green trees, each with a gold star on top.  The simplicity and sincerity of them are especially attractive.

Next out came a Skiing Snowman."  He's bent over his skis (the base of this statue) poles flying out behind him along with a red plaid scarf .  Seen from the front, a three-quarter view or side view, he is the epitome of grace and skill on a pair of skis.  However ... viewed from the back, it is immediately apparent that the Snowman has been hitting the egg nog with some vigor.  (Big Butt.)

Build Your Own T-Rex!  A pocket-sized puzzle which requires you to break apart day-glo dinosauer bones from each other and reassemble them until you have a recognizable T-Rex.  Bonus points:  the bones glow!  If the power goes out or you haven't paid the electricity bill, fear not!

The IQ Puzzle is composed of two twisted, heavy, curves of metal looped somehow around the other that without opening the box I can't describe exactly HOW they are twined together.  The minute I read the label "IQ Test - ages 8+" I knew we were doomed never to solve it.  But it is a lovely chrome sculpture and will look good on the coffee table.

But, wait:  There's more!  Richie handed me what looked like a huge chocolate roll in a box and as my taste buds fluttered with anticipation (and my brain reminded me that the Snowman isn't the only one with a big butt) I looked more closely and the box label reads "SUPER DOOPER REINDEER POOPER"  Thoughtfully included is a small cellophane bag of small, brown jelly beans.

This is not our first encounter with, for want a better phrase "poopy toys," as we have had the egg-laying chickens for some time.  At Easter, after the table is cleared, we used to have the two chickens race down it and we'd bet on the winning chicken.   The eggs are pastel colors.

Watching a wind-up toy totter forward dispensing jelly beans from its behind end, hearing the clack of the hen's feet or the clop of the reindeer hooves never fails to put me into paroxysms of mirth.  Ordinarily I do not appreciate "bathroom humor" but this is the exception that proves the rule.    I don't think anyone could not laugh.  Thank you, thank you, cousin John McG - you've outdone yourself and we very much appreciate it!

P.S.  Desperately searching the neighborhood for an 8 year old.

Monday, December 25, 2017

It's Not Too Late!

Depending on what part of the country in which you are located that is.   I am referring to a great Ham-Go-With dish.  And if you miss serving it today,  the next Ham Holiday (I am referring to Easter) will be upon us before you can break all of your New Year's resolutions.

1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup sugar creamed together.
Beat in 2 eggs, one by one
Spice to your taste with allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon and bang it all around for awhile, blending
Add 5 or 6 slices of white bread or half a baguette, cut into 1 in. chunks
Beat in one 20 oz. can crushed pineapple - you want the liquid to soak the bread.
   Bake at 350 until the top is browned and bubbling - usually 45 to 60 minutes.


Sunday, December 24, 2017

Just In Time For Caroling!

My younger sister has re-written the lyrics to "Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer"  Hers wittily praises her son's dog, a Doberman Pinscher named "Titan"

She didn't title her masterpiece, other than as a "Christmas poem," so I respectfully suggest the following -
Ode to Titan at Christmas
Honoring our animal friends, Rudolph and Titan

(sung to the tune of "Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer")

Titan, the vocal Dober,
Had a bark you couldn't miss,
And when he saw a squirrel...
It would make us want to hiss.

 All of our other doggies,
Used to bark and then let go;
But only rascal Titan,
Stubbornly did not think so.

Then one dark December eve,
As we went to bed,
Suddenly he arose on point...
How'd he see a squirrel at night?

But no he simply heard it,
Bells and hooves upon the roof.
Ahhh...he was giving warning
Love and Santa come tonight!


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Best of Two Worlds

Longview, TX - 12/21/17

The SWAT team appeared for their annual surprise treat for the sick kids who have to spend Christmas in the Christian Good Shepherd Medical Center.

The SWATs dress as Superman or Spider Man, or Captain America or Batman and rappel from the hospital roof to the ground, making sure to pause at the children's wing windows to wave at the kids.

Once on the ground, they interact with those children and their families in person.

The police chief says it's a great opportunity to practice any future need to rappel down a building.  (Longview has a population of 82,287 and quite possibly no skyscrapers.)

I have to wonder what their back-up plan is if any of the SWATs have an equipment failure and do a full face plant on the lawn below... Room curtains will snap shut in a heartbeat.  Perhaps a nurse is assigned to Strategic Window Treatment?

A very unlikely set of events.  Just smile because it's such a cool thing to do for sick kids.  Go, Longview!  and Superman, Spider Man, Captain America and Batman!  Merry Christmas to yawl!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Broken Ornaments

Sad News
Neighbors and passers-by are mourning the death of Doug Musson, 82, of Burlington Canada, who died in the hospital where he was taken after he fell off of a ladder while checking the electric connections on the massive Christmas lights display on the family home.

Pictures accompanying this sad news showed a house so lit up it wouldn't be surprising to learn that it has been remarked upon by astronauts.  A veritable bath of lights depicting Santa, reindeer, saints, elves even a motorcycle and swagging and draping of varie-colored lights, a display that is 30+ years old.

French Baguettes via South Korea
Southern Redondo Beach is now host to Paris Baguette, a chain of pastry/sandwich/coffee/tea restaurants, founded and headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, in 1988.  These pastry outlets were originally designed to introduce bread to Asian countries where it is not a part of the diet. 

Today there are bakeries here in the U.S., Singapore, Vietnam and 500 are planned for China.   And not only are their baguettes stunning, the restaurant itself is showing Starbucks serious competition in the loitering sweepstakes.  S'Bucks customers spend 'way more time than it takes to drink a cup of coffee.

Paris Baguette Wednesday afternoon - we met our friend Olga there, then noticed Dean, a South Bay Writers Workshop member enjoying a sandwich and poking at a lap top and then in came Bob, another writer, who was getting a cup of coffee to go to a RB Council Meeting.   So, hah! S'Bucks.

Princess Michael of Kent Offends, Again
She is the wife of Prince Mike, Queen Elizabeth's first cousin, so her title is merely a courtesy, automatically extended to a spouse.  She is famous for rude behavior and nasty remarks.  She was named Marie Christine Anna Agnes Hedwig Ida  at her birth but is much better known as "Princess Pushy."

Her most recent gaffe was to wear a "blackamoor" jeweled pin to Queen E's holiday, family only, lunch.  Blackamoors as pieces of jewelry, sidewalk ornaments for restaurants and bars, go back to the days of India and British rule over it.  You could say they are historical oddities. 

What makes this example of wrong pin, wrong event a glaring insult is that Prince Harry's fiancée Meghan Markle is of mixed ancestry comprised of a white father and a black mother.

Princess Pushy is a known bigot and racist.   She proved it again.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Thank Yous

For years, any readers of this column were apparently too shy to leave a comment, but of late, readers have been commenting!

A grateful thanks to -

Matthew Mayfield - Steve Burgess - Adiba Alana - Innocent Saqib - Buon viaggio

I can't stress how important "comments" are to the writer of this or any other column.  We're shooting fish in a barrel as far as how well we're doing; what is of interest to readers - and most assuredly, what is not! and being guided is extremely helpful.  And much appreciated.  

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Test Your Chops as a Chef - Hell, Make It Up!

Last night's British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) "news" finally finished last night.  I really hate them.  Why don't they stick to their own business on their side of "the Pond" as they so winsomely term it.  Instead they have the audacity to criticize our President, all Republicans of any stripe and enthuse about such as the Paris Accord and on and on.  I suggest: "the BBC - pro Dem every day!  Tune in here for the most tasteful in faux nouvelles" to borrow from our friends across the Chunnel.

It is a good nightly exercise for my blood pressure so perhaps I shouldn't complain.

After the "news," Richie switched over to the Food Channel - much, much more to my liking because he often will write down the name of a dish, Google how to make it and - viola!  Dinner!

Last night it was Julia Child hosting Andre Soule, despite both of them being dead.  Andre made this dish and it roused me from my interest in a book.  I came in late, but here's what's in it with some adaptations from me.

Buy a pie crust and do what the directions say or buy a tube of crescent rolls and roll them out as one into a big square.  Cut into a size that will squish down into a muffin cup and bake as directed.  You will wind up with (Julia channeling through here)  "adorable" little pastry cups.  Leave them in the muffin tin.

Blend together 1/2 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup of cottage cheese, add a T of flour and mix.
Pour this into a bowl and set aside. Since small cottage cheese is runnier than large curd, use your own judgement.

Saute several strips of bacon, cut in 1 in. squares and when crisp set aside on paper towels.
Using the bacon fat, saute probably half a medium onion, chopped, until they are borderline translucent.  Drain and dump into the liquid and add the bacon and beat the hell out of it. Pour into the pie shell or muffin tin and bake at 450 for 12 minutes.

Julia raved about them.  The crust that peeks out over the filling top will get very, very brown making the name of the dish "flambe" which does not always mean "set on fire at your table."  It also means a very well done crust.

For a light winter's dinner, serve with a salad and a cheese course after that.  "Bon appetite!" (said in a high, flutely voice.)  Optional.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Push Is Coming To Shove; Let's Have a Laugh

The following author is Anonymous and I wish that credit could be given.  It purports to be correspondence between Santa and a boy named Timmy Jones.  If you know young master Timmy, please give him a thank you from me for his side of said correspondence.  And remind him that Santa's got his jive down in case Timmy was going to try a comeback this year.

Dear Santa -
How are you?  How is Mrs. Claus?  I hope everyone from the reindeer to the elves is fine. 
  I have been a very good boy this year.  I would like an X-Box and an IPhone 10 for Christmas.  I hope you remember that come Christmas Day.
Merry Christmas, Timmy Jones

Dear Timmy -
Thank you for your letter.  Mrs. Claus, the reindeer and the elves are all fine and thank you for asking about them.
  Santa is a little worried about all of the time you spend playing video games and texting.  Santa wouldn't want you to get fat.
  Since you have indeed been a good boy, I think I'll bring you something you can go outside and play with.
Merry Christmas, Santa Claus

Mr. Claus -
Seeing that I have fulfilled the "naughty vs. nice" contract, set by you I might add, I feel confident that you will see your way clear to granting me what I asked for.  I certainly wouldn't want to turn this joyous season into one of litigation.
  Also, don't you think that a jibe at my weight coming from an overweight man who goes out only once a year is a bit ironic?
Respectfully, Timmy Jones

Mr.  Jones -
While I have acknowledged you have met the "nice" criteria, need I remind you that your Christmas list is a request and in no way is it a guarantee of services to be rendered.
  Should you wish to pursue legal action, well that is your right.
  Please know, however, that my attorneys (plural) are on retainer and hungrier than a wolf in a chicken coop to perform for me.  They would be more than happy to take you on in open court.
  Incidentally, the exercise I alluded to will not only improve your health, but also your social skills and potentially help clear up a complexion that looks like a pepperoni and pineapple pizza most days.
 Very truly yours, Santa

Now look here, Fat Man -
I told you what I want and I expect you to bring it.  I was trying to be polite about this, but you brought my looks and my friends into this.
  Now you just be disrespectin' me.  I'ma bout to tweet my boys and we're gonna be waiting for your fat ass.  I'm taking my game console, my game, my phone and whatever else I want.  WHATEVER I WANT, FAT MAN!

Listen, Pizza Face -
Seriously??? You think that a dude that breaks into every house in the world in one night and never gets caught sweats a skinny gang-banger wanna be?
  "He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake"... sound familiar, genius?
  You know what kind of resources I have at my disposal?  I got your shit wired, Jack.
    I go all around the world and see ways to hurt people that if I described them right now, you'd throw up your Cheetos all over the astroturf in your Mom's basement.
  You're not getting what you asked for, but I'm still stopping by your crib to stomp a mudhole in your ass and then walk it dry.  Chew on that, Petunia.
S Clizzy

Dear Santa -
Bring me whatever you see fit.  I'll appreciate anything.

Timmy -
That's what I thought, you little bastard.
And it's Mr. Claus to you.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Roll Over Bethoven and Tell Tchiaowsky the News!

Today, December 16th, is Beethoven's 200th birthday despite the fact that he died age 56.   T-chow (his street name) was only 53 when he died.

Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, we were taught in school, were usually referred to as "The Three Bs."  Amazingly enough, nicknames (which are often slurs on the character, size of the person having one)  were popular back in the days of chivalry and courtesy.

Bach cooled it permanently age 65, Brahms was 63.  People didn't live very long back in those days, but because they didn't one of the things that amazes me was family size then.

Beethoven was one of seven.  Only three of his siblings survived.
Tchaikovsky was #8 of eight.
Brahms amazes at being one of only three, until I read that his mother was 17 years older than his father.  Bless her heart anyhow.
Bach was one of eight, but I couldn't find out his birth number or survivors.

Excessively large numbers of children in any given family were nothing then.  Moving over into literature, Dickens had 10 children.  As each was born, Dickens declared him/her to be his favorite.  You can imagine what that was like around ye old dinner table.  

I do feel a little sorry for Beethoven as his birthday came so close to Christmas.  Whatever he got must have been scant.  Perhaps limited to an orange in the toe of his stocking.  Wait!  I take that back - oranges were extremely scarce due to having to be imported and thus very expensive.  Maybe a walnut instead.

                                       Any road, HAPPY 200th BIRTHDAY BEETHOVEN.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Little Houses, BIG Prices

A ReMax sales person left a newsletter on the porch.  Idly I scanned through it - until I got to Recent Sales and For Sale.   I was glad I was sitting down.  Our neighborhood was y-clept by some idiot real estate salesman as "the Golden Triangle" - what?!  This is NOT a poppy field in some furrin place.  Not by a long shot.  Our area has children and they have placards parents set out on the street - "Children Playing" which is a good idea as our street is sometimes used as a raceway to the bigger streets around us.  Most usually between 7 and 9 a.m. The "Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to work I go" crowd.

About the only time we have a police presence here is to pull Santa in his sleigh through the neighborhood.  Cop car ahead, cop car pulling the sleigh, cop car behind acting as tail lights.  Three sirens going full blast plus "Santa's music" (tinny and L O U D.)

Very well.  You've met the nabe.  Here are the listings that shocked me.

1747 Van Home Lane, 3 bedrooms, two baths, 988 sq. ft. built 1957  $825,000

1635 Wollacott St. 2 bedrooms 1 bath, 909 sq. ft. built 1952  $1,275,000

1701 Speyer Lane, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 925 sq. ft. built 1958   $785,000

1612 Carlson Lane, 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, 948 sq. ft. built 1959 $970,000

I'm not in a good spot to quibble about small house prices.  Ours is 1,999 sq. ft. and I will go to my grave wondering why the builder didn't just round it off to 1,200 sq. ft.  Doesn't that make sense?  Few homeowners run around with a tape measure measuring before buying.  In fact, probably exactly none.  We certainly didn't; that was just me taking the easy way out.  As usual.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Bring A Dish of Whirled Peas

Very often at this holiday season we are gently asked to "Bring a dish!" to a gathering.  Not that they won't let you in without one, but make sure you have small bills on you.

Both of the following dishes can be made the day before, giving you plenty of time for a make-over and outfit picking on The Day.

This recipe comes to us from South Texas where it is apparently a staple.  My cousin Robert insisted on taking us out to lunch at a favorite restaurant of his.  It was a cafeteria-style place quite literally out in the country, located at a crossroads traveled by few, other than livestock and ranchers.    No, no cows in the dining room.  But on plates?  'Whole 'nother question.

a smallish bag of frozen small peas,  defrosted and drained
6 strips cooked and crumbled bacon
1/2 of a red onion, chopped
small blocks of cheddar cheese are optional
Toss together

3 T mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teas. white vinegar
Toss again

Mix and store in the refrigerator until needed.

Years ago, Gale brought her mother's pea salad to a Thurs. Writers gathering.  I fell in love.  Again, it's a do ahead of time with no ill effects.

I use a rectangular ceramic dish with  1 1/2 in. high sides.  This is an extremely attractive dish and presentation should show it off.

1 small head of iceberg lettuce, cored and coarsely chopped
1 10 oz.package of frozen small peas, defrosted and drained
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1 can drained, sliced water chestnuts
5 or strips bacon cut in 1 in. pieces  and  cooked
5 or 6 hardboiled eggs, quartered
Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 T sugar
1/4 cup Parmesan
Beat together

Line the bottom of the serving dish with the lettuce
Drop in the frozen peas and smooth out over the lettuce
Sprinkle the chopped green onions
Add the water chestnut slices
As smoothly as you can, spread the dressing over the whole thing
Garnish with the quartered hardboiled eggs and bacon.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.

And at the event, do not under any circumstances, talk politics.  We are going for whirled peas.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Kitchen Exotica and a Damned Fine Carbonara

At our only social event this season (not that I'm hinting or anything)  there was an interesting device on our hosts' coffee table.  A round base, a round wheel of a pale yellow/cream-colored cheese and a handle attached to a blade that when turned provided thin, thin rosettes of cheese.  They were very decorative and very simple to chew as they were paper thin.

I asked the man I was perched next to who was using it what it was and he told me it's called a "girolle" and originated in Switzerland in 1982.  In addition to being decorative, because it's slices are so thin, it's excellent for toasting on bread, etc.  sells them (so does and there you can see what I'm blathering on about.  Usage calls for specific cheese - Tete de Moine (Monk's Head) at $26.46 lb. if you can find it.  The device itself runs from $30 to $60.  I think any hard cheese that does not crumble would work myself.
But:  there is another device with a similar end result and that is a Japanese spiral slicer.  With one of these, you put a carrot, or potato, a radish, or a hard cheese on the stake in the base (to hold it steady), put the cover on and turn the handle  It will crank out the same paper-thin spiral into the cover as the girolle and in the case of a radish is used for garnishing a plate or a dish.  The spiral cascading over a bowl of potato salad, say,  is very attractive and, bonus points, is edible.  Both are said to work well with blocks of chocolate.

Since I have the spiral slicer, no need to buy a girolle.  Since we don't have company to impress anyhow. Ah well.  Onward.
During this festive season the three beach cities - Redondo, Hermosa and Manhattan - have graciously bagged all of the parking meters.  This is certainly an incentive move for us locals. 

Thus, after the Jazz Club, we went to Casa Vincenzo, 439 Pier Avenue, Hermosa.  Richie was in search of the elusive Chicken Cacciatori and had high hopes that he might have found it.  Alas.

But he consoled himself with their lasagna and very nearly ate the entire portion.  He had a temporary mental lapse about our house rule, "eat half; dinner tomorrow night."  I had to gently remind him (fork tines in the hand and a rabid glare work well.)  I am looking forward to dinner tonight myself and I really shouldn't have chided Richie as I could easily have scraped my bowl clean, too.

There was only one server working, a delightful, beautiful woman, with a slight accent.  I asked her if she spoke Italian and she smiled nicely and said, "No, French." Yeehaw!

Richie loves melon (cantaloupe in this case) with prosciutto so we started with that.  Beautifully displayed - melon crescents, cut in the middle to make an X which was then piled with prosciutto on the cross top and the whole thing lay on a bed of bright green vegetable (unknown to these eyes)  glistening with olive oil.

Seeing this I had high hopes for my quest - the perfect Caesar salad and then the pasta carbonara - but she said, "It's a huge portion of salad, I don't think it's a good idea with the pasta.."  Nodding her head, she added "Enough for a horse!" and I laughed and exaggeratedly looked out the window and we both giggled.

The Carbonara was linguini pasta with pancetta and a creamy Parmigiano sauce.  The balance in the sauce - rich, full, slightly salty due to the pancetta, was insanely good.  I remarked to her that the chef was tres sympa with pasta.  Meaning, he really understood pasta and knew his way around with cooking it.    

Lest you not like going out for dinner or if you miss the unveiling of the parking meters probably at midnight December 25th  - our local governments are greedy if nothing else, consider their weekend brunch.

I spotted two lures ... Eggs Benedict with pancetta, not Canadian bacon.  Vast improvement.  The Pizza Vincenzo contains parmigiana cream topped with black truffles.  For sheer snob appeal (truffles - of the earth and dearer than) I would order it.

Prices are reasonable, too - our tab was $67.00 before (20%) tip and taxes $6.37.
One flute of Prosecco Brut (me) one robust glass of Cabernet Sauvignon Maggio (R)
Melon prosciutto $12 - must have been most of a whole, large cantaloupe
Lasagna - again a generous portion served in a deep, square bowl $17
Spaghetti Carbonara $18.

It's 10:07 a.m. -- not too early for dinner, ya think?

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Caviar Pie

For probably the only social event in our schedule until mid-2018, we gleefully but somewhat sadly went to the party thrown by fellow Thurs. Writer Laura.  Beautiful house, incredible ocean and Catalina Island view ... if all we had done was sit out on the spacious patio and watch the sun go down, it would have been a gala occasion.

Happily, there was food.  I brought Country Pigs in Blankets (Hillshire Farms Lil' Smokies with orange marmalade instead of mustard)  as our contribution.  The degree of labor intensiveness  is a dead tie with making deviled eggs.  But they are very good and were soon gone. 

Few will admit to this, but the person who brought something will periodically cruise past to see how much is left.  If you brought a poor seller, so to speak, you won't bring it again somewhere else.

Another guest brought guacamole which is akin to saying the Pacific Ocean has a lot of water in it.  The bowl was easily as big as a baby's bathtub and it was filled to the 3/4th mark.  Surely it required 30 or 40+ avocados or stripping an entire tree to make it.  And it may be our (Southern California) last look at an avocado for some time.  The massive fires have damaged the avocado trees with fire, ash and smoke.  For Super Bowl you may find yourself prone in shock on the floor of the grocery store fruit and vegetable section, right next to the sign that reads "Avocados - $10 each."    But worry about that when it happens.

I was talking to a lovely woman named Noreen when a third woman came up and in the course of our conversation said that she'd brought her mother's  recipe for Caviar Pie.  Quicker than you could have sneezed, I departed the ladies and hurtled into the dining room to get some.   My love affaire with caviar is well known to long-time readers so will not dwell on it.

Her mother knew what she was doing - the mix had a perfect blend of sour (for sour cream and cream cheese), perky (the onion) and of course the salt of the lumpfish caviar.

Visions of it lingered.  Here is a recipe I found on line. Based on the ingredients, feel free to add or subtract things you don't like and I'm thinking of the red onion.  I love it; others loathe it.

6 hardboiled eggs, chopped and put in a pie pan.

Add 3 T mayonnaise  and 1 cup chopped red onion.  This is your base or "crust" in the pie pan that you've "greased" with mayonaise.  Mix well.

Spread 8 oz. of softened cream cheese mixed with  2/3 cup sour cream over the egg/mayo/onion crust.

Smooth the caviar over this as lavishly as a 4 oz. jar of caviar will go, give the cav a squirt or so of lemon and chill till serving with a variety of crackers.  Bon appetite!

This would make a great hors d'ouevre New Year's Eve.  If not Christmas Eve ...

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Drawing A Cartoon Using Words

We'll see how good I am at "showing" you a cartoon using nothing but words.  Okay ready?

Picture a stately building at the foot of a nice, somewhat winding road.  Arching over this road is a sign, made of wrought-iron, that reads:

The Sexual Harassment Center for Rehabilitation and Revenge, founded by #Me Too, and funded by the Office of House Employment Counsel

Two men are walking slowly up the drive.  One, in a navy suit, white shirt and Yale tie, says to the other clad in Sperry Topsiders, no socks, khaki Docker pants and a navy Ralph Lauren polo shirt -

"What are you in for?"

The other hangs his head in shame and says, "When I was five I played "Doctor" with the little girl across the street."

Friday, December 8, 2017


As I am unfamiliar with "hash tags" ignore the one above.  The point I want to make is that there were 228,000 new jobs in the month of November, 2017, alone.  None of the applicants wanted to replace Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.  

Now Rudolph is 78 years old (!) and Santa Legree still expects him to haul the sled full of presents (to say nothing of Santa himself who clearly hasn't missed any meals) as well as drag any work-shy reindeer along behind him.

This is hardly work for a 78 year old.  Rudolph should have been allowed to retire 16 years ago!  But, no, Santa "depends" on him and Rudolph, not being any smarter than he needs to be, buys it every year.

He's led an active, athletic life, but:  it's also true that he only has to be a jock once a year.  Arguably, few of us have 364 days off.

I propose this - instead of cookies and milk (or Scotch and cashews in the more affluent households) -  that we all put up a sign instead that reads "Let Rudolph Retire!"

You may be worried that  if Santa (the red fatso) doesn't get his treats, he will be very cross with you and, in a fit of pique, could just say to himself, "No presents for these people!"

But:  Mrs. Clause put a lot of time and effort into getting you just what you wanted and she can be quite shrewish from the sheer fatigue of satisfying everyone.  She is not going to go for this At All.

Pithy comments about fat husbands who most certainly do not need additional food supplements are bound to fly until at least mid-January and because Santa is secretly afraid of her, he wouldn't dare bring back a sack of undelivered stuff.  "Nobody home" is not going to fly as an excuse at all. 

Thus, no worries; you'll get all you ordered.  But don't forget to eat/drink the treats yourself while you make a big sign that reads "FREE RUDOLPH!" (Santa doesn't know what a hash tag is either.  Just leave it off.)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

December Fires - Mother Nature and Uncle Sam

Mother Nature
Apparently wherever she is, she likes to keep her tootsies cozy thus all of the fires in Southern California.  Perhaps we could donate from now until next December chipping in for space heaters to dot around her quarters?

This had never occurred to me until I read this morning's Daily Breeze.  The Getty Museum and the Skirball Cultural Center were designed and built to withstand fires, largely because both are located on woodsy land, far from LA concrete.  Both are constructed of stone and steel panels; both have additional smarts to repel fire.  The Getty has a 1 million gallon water tank; the Skirball has drip irrigation that keeps the trees and bushes green on the mountain side of their property.

The Getty has an air filtration system to keep the priceless art work inside it free from smoke and ash.  Planning ahead - and they did.

Uncle Sam
The media and the Liberals are all aflame about President Trump's declaration that Jerusalem is to be the capitol of Israel.  Clearly the liberals have forgotten that he is not the first President to make said declaration.  William Jefferson Clinton said it first, followed in succession by George W. Bush and finally Barack Obama.   Back to the history books, people.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

"Puck, puck, puck" Said the Hen

Richie cooked last night (leftovers tomorrow night) and he made Poulet Cordon Bleu aka Blue Ribbon Chicken.  "Blue Ribbon" refers to the elegance and style of chicken this way, not that the chicken was wearing a blue ribbon.

However, there is a famous breed of chicken in France - the Bresse -  that is so fancy that it has the AOC or Appelation d'Origin Controllee just as certain (very expensive) wines are AOC meaning that production of either one is limited to a particular breeder/vintner and his/her acreage.  Upstart commoners whether chicken or grape need not apply.

Interestingly enough, the Bresse chicken, out of Eastern France, does have slate-blue legs.  Perhaps this blue ribbon stuff started with a Bresse chicken try to scratch it's neck and the blitzed farmer thought they were wearing a neck ribbon?  We'll never know.

CHICKEN CORDON BLEU (as it's usually listed on restaurant menus)
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
4 teas. Dijon mustard
4 slices Swiss cheese
4 slices Black Forest ham
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock + 1 T butter
`1 T flour
1 cup cold milk
1 beaten egg
Panko crumbs

Oven 350 for 35-45 minutes

Butterfly each breast, season with pepper.  Top with a slice of cheese, then a slice of ham and close with toothpicks that you've soaked in water so they won't burn.

Dredge the chicken in flour, then dip it in the beaten egg and finally roll it in panko crumbs. 
Bake on a sheet of parchment on a pizza pan or cookie sheet.

Heat the wine in a sauce pan and reduce by half.  Add the chicken broth, and simmer, then keep warm until ready to use.

In another saucepan make the roux:  melt the butter, whisk in the flour and continue to whisk for 8 to 10 minutes (unnecessary length of time Ed.)

Then whisk in the cold milk and the warm wine sauce and whisk together until hot.  Plate the chicken and drizzle sauce over it.   Richie serves his with noodles.  I eat it with gusto.

Monday, December 4, 2017

"Being Welsh, he was a stickler for time"

The title is a quote from a long article on the 50th anniversary of the Queen Mary arriving in Long Beach as an attraction and later a hotel in Sunday's Daily Breeze.

The "he" is Captain John Treasure Jones.  I knew that the Welsh, as a group, were famous for their singing abilities and subsequently numerous singing choruses, but had never heard that punctuality was also foremost in their lives.  This required examination.  But first I had to get through the singing information.

Various theories are expounded as to why so many of them sing so well - they have a sing-song speaking accent.
Singing is given emphasis as entertainment for both the singers and the audience. 
It took a long time for them to get electricity and thus TV (my own theory.)  

Wales is known in some circles as "The Land of Song" which is a far nicer way to describe your home country than, say "The Land of The Atomic Bomb Whose Leader is Deranged Enough To Use It."

Back to punctuality.  The Arriva Trains Wales are on time - within one minute - 85.4 per cent of the time.  Were he alive today, Mussolini would be eating his heart out with jealousy.  "He makes the trains run on time" was the only semi-nice thing ever said about him.

As an extra = the Scots are the friendliest; the Welsh the shyest' and Londoners the coldest.   Make up something about the Irish on your own.  I rather fancy, "Ireland - where your living room is the pub down the road."

I think the Scots are the friendliest because if you are a man wearing a skirt, the odds are good that another man is going to take umbrage and a lot of women are going to want a peek.  You need to be nice to deflect unwanted attention.

I think Londoners are unfriendly because they have to be wary of people carrying funny-looking back packs "Is that a coil of wire there, over by the zipper?" "Why's he carrying a pressure cooker on the Tube?"  In their case, suspicion and distance are good ideas.  We understand. I wouldn't be friendly either.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Somewhat Unclear On The Concept...

An ad seen on this morning:  "If you own a computer, you must try this game!"

I was reading the ad on a computer!

Philadelphia councilwoman Cindy Bass wants to pass an ordinance banning store owners from protecting their businesses with bullet proof glass and to remove any that they may have up. 

She stated that her constituents "shouldn't have to suffer the indignity of shopping through bulletproof glass."   Apparently she doesn't understand that bulletproof glass is a two-way street - her constituents are protected by it from gun-happy, deranged clerks in said stores.

A potential dozen:  Yer Mamma's so old that in her school, they didn't have books; they had stone tablets.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Tempus Fugit...

Few things could remind us of our advancing ages than this morning's news that Keith Thibidoux is 67 today.

And you quirk a brow and go "?"

Keith Thibodeaux who starred as Little Ricky in "I Love Lucy" celebrates his birthday.   His 67th.  A child actor to begin with, he joined the show when he was five years old.  Big Ricky re-named him "Keith Richards" saying that "Thibodeaux" was too hard to pronounce.

All of the others in the show have died.  Keith is literally the last man standing.  When he was 21, he received $8,000 which was the last payment of the trust set up for his wages as a child.  Reports say that he spent half of it on a sports car (let us all bow our heads and acknowledge that the days when you could get a sports car for $4,000 are far behind us.)  The rest he blew on amps for the band and whatever the hell else he felt like, including drugs.

In any event, he married a ballet dancer/teacher named Kathy in 1976 and they had a daughter they named Tara who also teaches ballet.  She married Bryce Drew, who played basketball for the Chicago Bulls and the Houston Rockets.

Apparently Little Ricky is not yet a grandfather, but doesn't matter.  The initial shock has arrived.  Little Ricky is 67 today.