Wednesday, February 28, 2018

One Is 10 Too Many

I am talking or about to be talking -of the devastating school shootings.

A study by James Alan Fox, Professor of Criminology, Law and Public Policy, Northeastern University is the source for what follows.  You can see his statistics and charts on this matter at

He wrote that four times the number of children were killed in the early '90s than today.  He claims that there are 20 to 30 mass murders per year with only one being a school incident.

Additionally, In the past 35 years there have been five cases of a shooter aged 18 - 20 using an assault rifle in a mass shooting.

He recommends banning bump stocks, changing gun purchase age from 18 to 20 and upping the number of guidance counselors in all schools.  Today he pointed out that on average there is one counselor for 400 students.  He recommends a great many more mental health resources and with that I agree.  I also think bullying gets you expelled. Deal with it.  Bullies are just cowards in a fur coat.

Monday, February 26, 2018

An Exchange Overheard at Cafe Too Trendy For The Likes of You!

The March issue of Bon Appetit turned it's attentions to Sandwiches this issue.  From A to Z should you like audacity.  Just after I read it, I happened upon this enlightening scene... I was standing outside the railing of the restaurants sidewalk tables and chairs - waiting for a friend.  I had read the menu posted on the entrance.  Meh unless you haven't gotten the word that kale and quinoa are so last year.  With any luck gluten-free will soon be joining them.  When a bottle of vitamin C's label boasts in big letters: Gluten Free! things have gone rather Too Far.  But that's a rant for another time and place.  Remind me.

Said menu offered a sandwich section and the patron at a table to my left said to the server, "O, hold the mayo, hon; I brought my own."  She raised an eyebrow and said, "Better than our Salsa Combo with garlic, cilantro, lime and mayo?"

He smiled deprecatingly (poor thing - she just doesn't know) and then she said, rather patronizingly, "Haven't you ever had our Buffalo Wings mayo?  Cholulu hot sauce -you know,  the wooden ball lid - with crumbled Maytag Blue cheese and mayo?"

He replied, slick as calf slobber on a doorknob, "I was going to bring my garlic, capers and lemon juice mayo, but at the last moment I decided against a tuna salad sandwich."

She interrupted rather icily (maybe her feet hurt?) "We use Green Goddess dressing with our tuna sandwiches."

Sensing that she was less than pleased with him, he said, "Oh - but I must have some of your pickled red onions and pickled radish slices and pickled carrots on my banh mi - (ingratiatingly) they are so good!  Just that right crunch! pop! of flavor!"

Giving him her patented "Yeah, right" face (US Patent Office #58495782) she whirled away to the cashiers desk and came back with a sheet of paper.  "Here's the recipe, sir - you can do some pickling the next time you make your own mayo!" rather snottily even for a waitress with hurting feet.   And flounced away. 

He feared he would have no sandwich at the Café Too Trendy For The Likes of You that day ...

1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1 T sugar
2 teas. kosher salt - I'd use sea salt myself and by no means NOT 2 teas.
1 cup sliced vegetables - red onion, or thin radish slices, cucumber - another reason to cut back on the salt - too much will melt the cucumber slices.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Sidebar to Massacres

Anonymous people who bring balloons, hearts, notes and a great deal more to the sites of mass shootings, want to express their sympathy to the families and loved ones and they don't know what else to do.

This is an immediate response to these tragedies and I doubt that any of the donors wonder what happened to their offering a month later.  Their grief expunged by their offerings, they go on.

But the city does not.  Newton, Conn.  is a small town and they were inundated at the arrival of 50,000 teddy bears from all over the world after Sandy Hook.  Are they picked over and given to a children's charity?  The children's hospital wards?

No, they and all of the other items left at all of the other shooting sites, are curated and stored in the town's own museum or one is created to house these things.

George McDaniel, a curator after the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal  Church event which killed  nine, said, "I think in the future anthropologists will look at the artifacts left behind and see strong communities because of our human condition.  ... But the reason this is so important is because it shows how people want to express themselves just by being there.  There is a deep-seated human need to communicate in these times of grief, and it's natural to want to leave something behind to express that.  We want to honor that."

Things left behind for anthropologists to mull over:

Emanuel African - Bibles, quilts, and "an abundance of origami cranes."
Columbine:  10,000 items that included Beanie Babies, cassette tapes, track shoes
Las Vegas:  flags from Canada, new Zealand and Japan left at the Las Vegas sign
Aurora: cowboy boots, hats, Batman and comic book items
Pulse nightclub:  rainbow flags, Disney items, Our Lady of Guadalupe commemorative candles

Every single recognizable item is photographed, a written description put with it and the photos in a bag and set aside for the museum.  It is no hurried thing.  Cataloging the Columbine shooting items has taken seven years.

Perhaps it would be better to give that teddy bear to a childrens' ward in the hospital or a sanctuary site for battered women and their kids; those rainbow flags to the local LGBTQ.   Instead of going to the site, perhaps a vase of flowers in your front yard or on the porch with a little sign - perhaps "In Memory of the victims at (fill in)."  Post- tragedy curators will bless your name.

Friday, February 23, 2018

What's Online May Not Come To Your Plate

Yesterday was our dear friend "D"s birthday.  He's finally legal, none of these embarrassing situations where he gets carded at the bar and we sit there ignored.  Stings a bit.

The Birthday Person gets to choose the dining venture and we then sally forth.  "D"s choice was Abigaile's, Hermosa Beach.  Once that decision had been announced, I pulled up their menu.  I don't like surprises at the dinner table.  I want a little anticipation time to mentally drool over whatever I picked out on that menu.

Ah hah!  Seared Scallops with Peach Salsa Verde, Curry, Carrot-Ginger Puree, Linguini and Cilantro
My taste buds shifted their weight in anticipation.

A With-Our-Drinks item appealed and that is their Brazilian version of a cheese puff.  It's listed as Pao de Queijo and I had to point at it - whereupon our lovely server trilled something that sounded like "pow d' kaycho."  

The four of us (Mouton rounded out our party) agreed they would be acceptable with our opening gun drinks - two dirty gin martinis, one gin and tonic, one glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

The were a golden brown sphere, bigger than a golf ball, but smaller than a tennis ball.  Crusty exterior and unlike gougiers they had not dried out in the oven to make a hollow shell ready for filling.  Theirs was more of a very chewy, dense sensation.

The menu says spiced honey and butter, but it was spiced butter (something kind of allspice-y or nutmeg-y?) and plain honey.  Any road, they met in our tummies, so (shrug.)

Then having polished those off in fine style (and our drinks) it was time to order.  The scallops I was looking forward to now came with tomato salsa.  Gone were the goodies - peach, curry, ginger, cilantro ...

I mentioned gently my disappointment to our server and remarked that it would be good if their online menu and in-house menus matched.  She agreed energetically remarking that she'd volunteered to do it because, out on the floor, talking to disappointed customers was sometimes difficult(possibly due to the number of pre-dinner drinks consumed by that customer.) 

Instead, I had the P.I.G. Pop Tarts for the novelty of the thing which did look like a PopTart (the eating kind, not Brittany Spears) and were unremarkable in every way.  Pork pot pie perhaps.  But the pastry shell was well done.  (If you can't say anything nice ...)

The Brazilian puffs intrigued me and sure enough I found numerous recipes online along with an incidental hit on what Peach Salsa Verde could be - tomatillos.

Call what you will -
PAO de QUIEJO  (Kachow Puffs?)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil (not olive oil which I consider a vegetable)
2 large eggs
2 cups tapioca flour
1 to 1 1/2 cups Parmesan

Pre-heat the oven at 450
Boil the milk and vegetable oil together until it makes big bubbles.  Certainly subjective and not very helpful ...
Add flour and beat the eggs in, one by one.  Beat in the cheese.  When the mixture is cool enough not to burn your hands, shape into spheres and put on a parchment or SilPat covered baking sheet, turn the oven down to 350 and bake for 15 minutes.  About halfway through turn the front of the cookie sheet to the back.   Bake until they are a lovely golden brown.

Serve with honey on the side and whatever kind of jazzed-up butter you decided upon. Good eating or whatever the expression is in Brazil.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

G'Day, Mate - In Hermosa Beach???

We have passed The Gum Tree, 238 Pier Avenue, Hermos Beach  many times, but never explored it.  Even from street side it looked ... a little twee, if you will.

And then we got sandbagged into lunch there.  Of the eight of us from French class attending, six were all for it.  I clipped my mouth shut and smiled nicely as we got a big table on the patio out front.  The wind was coming in from the sea and menus and napkins had to be weighted down.  I might mention in passing that it was a strong wind.

Just as I thought.  The menu was heavy on "health foods."  Kale Caesar salad.  Quinoa this; vegetarian/vegan that.  One sandwich had a British touch - aged cheddar, Vegemite and tomato.  An attempt had been made to serve French foods such as a chunk of baguette with Brie and apricot jam.  Croissant sandwiches.  The only thing that appealed to me (or was recognizable as something worth eating) was a BLT with chipotle oil and an optional avocado (+ $1)

Richie had prosciutto on a baguette and remarked it was the only time he ate a sandwich and flossed his teeth at the same time.  My BLT - hold the lettuce, use avocado instead - was quite tasty except that the bacon was semi-toasted, not fried and crisp - and had what must have been a half handful of salt.  Salting bacon does not seem healthy to me.  And not crisping it is just begging for a bad cholesterol score that would appall Fatty Arbuckle.

The prices were reasonable (I seem to remember that a lot of presentations were $12 and they all came with an additional disco lettuce salad or a generous serving of chunked mango, white and purple grapes, apple chunks and some blue berries.

The name "gum tree" seemed ... off to me.  I visualized a tall tree with blobs of chewed bright pink Double Bubble gum for flowers.  Come to find out (this morning) the gum tree comes from Australia where the tallest one is 327 feet.  We call gum trees "eucalyptus."

Will and Lori Ford are the proprietors.  He is a native of Australia; she's from Manhattan Beach.

They met in New York when he stopped off to see his brother and wife there on his way to India.  He never got there; he liked NY too well.  She was pursuing a design career there.  They opened a restaurant called Eight Mile Creek which was an instant success.  But when the children started coming, they wanted to return to beach country.

A friend told them that a 1911 beach bungalow was for sale on the main drag and viola!  The Gun Tree which also sells cute stuff and odds and ends.  One of the items is a slate with a raffia ribbon for a cheese board.  Ralph's (supermarket) has them and if I were in the market for a cheese board, I'd price shop.

I would go back with these stipulations ... bacon well-done and no salt on it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Good News! (For Me)

Yesterday I had an appt. with the neuro who sent me for an MRI of my brain to hear the results.  He was barely into the exam room when he said, "Your brain is fine!"  He went on to say that he hadn't expected anything and I concurred with that.

However I forgot to ask and he didn't bring it up, but I am still wondering about whether or not my brain is nicely wrinkled up (said to indicate great intelligence) or as slick as a cue ball.  Despite being the host of this brain, apparently it would be wiser to just leave the whole subject alone.  So be it.

But:  of possible interest to you.  If you suffer leg cramps in your sleep from time to time, the neuro recommended a small glass of DIET tonic water per day.  He said that quinine was an old remedy and some 10 years ago its use for leg cramps was banned, but then the matter got researched thoroughly and now diet tonic is recommended.    Diet tonic has more quinine than non-diet.  And, I would add, fewer calories.

Especially if you add a hefty slug of gin to your drink.  He also recommended a wedge of lime in the naked tonic.  Vitamin C and quinine!  Here's lookin' at'chew good health!   Pass me the gin!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Anderson Cooper's Mommie Is 94 Today

Mommie being the redoubtable Gloria Vanderbilt whose fame started early with a custody case between her mother and her aunt that was headline news.

Her much publicized credits include writer, painter, dress designer and stage appearances.  Let us explore these various occupations in order of their appearance ...

1948 - She began exhibiting her paintings which I would call half Pointillist and half high school art class.

1954 - She starred in a summer theatre number called "The Swan."  Guess who was the swan?

1955 - Wrote a book of poetry cleverly entitled "Love Poems."

1976 - the Gloria Vanderbilt jeans.  The back pocket trim widened a size 0 ass.  Imagine a 10 or 12.

1988 - Son Carter, somewhat disturbed, took a flyer off the 14th floor of their mansion.  She saw him do it which in fairness would be enough to put anyone in a quiet place for a very long time.

1995 - Sold her seven-bedroom Southampton estate and the five story Manhattan townhouse to pay back taxes.

1996 - by then she was ready to capitalize on Carter's death and wrote "A Mother's Story."

2002 - sells her clothing empire for $138 million.

2004 - writes a "romance memoir"

2007 - one-woman show of her paintings in a Vermont gallery.  No offense, Manchester, but you are not the Metropolitan Museum.

2009 - at age 85 she wrote "Obsession:  an Erotic Tale" (porn?  age 85?  Go, Gloria!)

2012 - "The World of Gloria Vanderbilt" which featured dream boxes, collages ... basically cut and paste jobs.  

If nothing else (insert meow here) she deserves credit for at least trying to do something instead of sitting on her fanny counting her money.  On the other hand, it is rather sad that she sold crap on the basis of the Vanderbilt name pretty much alone.

Anyhow, happy birthday!  Maybe a Gloria V candles line?  100 to a box, sold in pink only? 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Where, Where Shall I Spend It?

Occasionally I remember to check the numbers on my book "And the Best Blog Is: Word of Mouth."  Today was one of them.

I now have $19.20 in royalties.

If I chipped in 80 cents, I would have a whole $20.  Which would buy:

a large Valentino's plain cheese pizza and tip.

A round of Stella's at Suzy's Bar and Grill - of note - Sunday afternoons are blues and jazz except for the first Sunday of the month when Gospel is featured.

Five bouquets of flowers at the Redondo or Hermosa Beach Farmer's Markets

A box of See's Sampler chocolates except I wouldn't - it's mostly walnut cream with dark and milk chocolate.  Since it's one-third those chocolates, it's not fair to have named them "sample."  Get even with your billfold and don't buy them.

This is a paltry sample indeed.  Four things?  But then again, $19.20 is a paltry amount of money.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Toughest Guy In Virginia?

He survived WW2 AND the Korean War.
Served as Secretary of the navy from 1972 to 1974
Was a Senator, R, from 1979 to 2009.

So much for war stories.

He was clever enough to marry Catherine Mellon, daughter of famed (and insanely rich) art collector Paul Mellon with whom he had three kids.  Even if he doesn't inherit, the kids are taken care of for the foreseeable future.

He married Jeanne Varder in 2003 and she is his current spouse.  She is a widowed real estate agent.

But this  is where greatness comes in - he was married to Elzabeth Taylor from 1976 to 1982 and was her sixth husband.  This was the period in her life when she fattened up like a shoat and was rarely seen on the political hustings with him without a fried chicken leg in one hand and a drink (alcoholic) in the other.  I don't remember a lot of stories about her generosity to others; conversely I do remember the Burton jewelry, chartered planes to bring her Chasen's chili wherever she happened to be in the world... what would be known in farming circles as "a hard keeper."  But ... look who is 91 and who isn't...

                                          HAPPY 91st BIRTHDAY JOHN WARNER!
                                             February 18, 1927 - February 18, 2018

Friday, February 16, 2018

Collateral Damage or Uber Takes a Hit

I thought it was unfortunate that many of the accounts of the Florida shooter mentioned - in passing, true - that the killer had been driven to the high school via Uber.  This is about the worst kind of PR Uber could get despite what the Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said, and this is a direct quote:  "At this point the driver is not complicit in any way, shape or form.  The driver just simply picked up a fare and dropped a fare at Stoneman Douglas."

This is not the first time though that Uber has been cited because the driver DID do something bad.  There is an interesting site that lists offenses by Uber and Flyte.

Another source reminded us all that crimes against the person in an Uber or a Flyte or a YellowCab are not listed on the police incident report by specific car firm, but by location - "Corner of 180th and Fitzgerald Street" instead.

The next thing to probably emerge will be a report from Uber  to the police of just how many rides were taken, to destinations and how often this criminally insane person used Uber.  Credit card statements will tell the tale.

But poor Uber.  Birds of a feather do NOT nest together.  

Thursday, February 15, 2018

So Much For "If You See Something, Say Smething"

Prior to the Florida school shooting, kids told school officials that the now-shooter was a little off  way back then.  The FBI was notified in September, 2017, that the school had a wrong'un.  Vloggers were notified and spread the word.  The shooter was expelled!  O! no-sies!  What a horrible punishment!

All to no avail, clearly.

There is now no incentive to report the local whack job.  Previously "Good Citizens" had incentive.

Today incentive seems to have flown out the class room window along with the spent bullets.  

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Semi-Interesting Tidbit - Sweethearts' Candies and Necco Wafers Have the Same Parents

Sweetheart Candies are the older of the two.  I think they get around more than their younger sibling, too.  These are the little heart-shaped candies with stuff on them - "Be My Valentine" and when I was a kid, we used to plow through them for the candy and not the sentiment on Valentine's Day.

Today, they are not only available for VALENTINES, BUT the messages have been updated - from "Call Me!" to "E-mail Me."  They are also seen with a custom-phrase at weddings but what we may think of as Oh so cool at a reception is actually not new at all.  Back in the 1900s ... here are two:  Married in pink, he'll take a drink.  Married in White, you've chosen right.

The product itself has been changed.  In 2010, softer hearts with louder colors were introduced.  Originally they were a kind of chalky sweet - remember?  Today's flavors include strawberry and sour apple.

Sweetheart candy manufacture starts in September and the factory pumps out 100,000 lbs. per day.  Which is sold out in six weeks.  These are the standards; of course, custom wedding numbers  would be smaller.

The Kid - Necco wafers were issued to Union soldiers in the Civil War and to Army soldiers in WW2.  When Johnny came marching home again, he had a pocketful of Neccos and boom, they were da bomb back home.  In 2009, the formula was changed to include glycerine and make them softer.  Lime was removed in 2011 from the original eight flavors because the color couldn't be matched to a real lime.

Both candies had two Daddies - Oliver Chase who invented a machine that cut lozenge shapes in the candy in 1847.  Brother Daniel Chase turned the candies in to a vaguely heart shape (can't have sharp edges for shipping reasons - they'd crumble) and put on the sayings.

Now I want some Neccos!  Seven flavors!  Bonus pints:    they have enough flavoring in them that you can easily mutter to yourself, like a mad professor, "Ah-hah.  Cinnamon!"  You can have the Sweethearts and a HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY TO YOU!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

God's Choir Gets New Member

RIP   Vic Damone, 89
  6/12/1928 - 2/11/18

He has joined Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra in ?  The Celestial Singers?

He was forced to drop out of high school when his father, an electrician, suffered a work-related injury.  He got a job as an usher and elevator operator and when Perry Como boarded his elevator, he stopped it between floors and sang to Como who encouraged me.  Years later he would name his only son "Perry" as a thank you.

He changed his own name from Vito Rocco Farinola (birth name) to Vic Damone, Damone being his mother's maiden name.

Apparently he was as bold at marriage as he was at buttonholing Perry Como in an elevator, he married five times.

1.  Pier Angeli who was having a notable affair with James Dean - until she left him for Damone.  1954 to 1958

2.  Judith Rawlins 1963 - 1971  They had three daughters and a son who died age 59 of lymphoma

3.  Becky Ann Jones  1974-1982

4.  Diahann Carroll 1987-1996

5.  Rena Rowan 1998, died in 2016.

He and Rowan lived in Florida; she died there.  Damone was said not to be in the best of healthy in 2002 when he had a stroke, followed by another dip in health in 2008.

Damone as a singer was admired by his heroes Perry Como and Frank Sinatra.  I hope they're all putting together a play list in Heaven.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Diametrically Opposed Holidays - Now What?

Doubtless you have already heard that this Wednesday is Valentine's Day!  We, of course, have learned of this momentous day via the tsunami of ads for chocolates and flower bouquets.  If I were a rose I would be under the (flower) bed.  There is a bounty on them.  It is a day that promotes excess:  lavish boxes of chocolates, lashings of champagne, masses of flowers... all desirable things unless you have floral allergies.

But, hark!  What is this?  Wednesday is also Ash Wednesday, a day of regrets, penance and getting your faced dirtied up to point out to passers-by that you are a good Catholic.  It is the exact opposite of Valentine's indulgences.  In fact, Ash Wednesday heralds six weeks of fasting on Fridays.  Meat, other than seafood, is not allowed on those Fridays.  This is not a hardship in some circles because who doesn't like shrimp, crab and (pause to wipe salivating mouth) lobster with lemon juice and drawn butter?    Few no doubt and certainly not me.

But:  how can a good Catholic and a good sensualist share a holiday?  One Bishop Richard Malone, of Suffolk, NY, has proposed moving Valentine's Day festivities backwards to Mardi Gras and giving the ashes that Wednesday.

Well, the good bishop does make a point in that the best we could do to celebrate is to get off work early to go ash-ing and then just go home and run a load of laundry or do something you don't have time to do on the weekend.   A mid-week blowout quite frequently results in a sick call in to work the next morning.  That is if you celebrate with the proper gusto.  

Valentine's has been covered handily for years.  We learned the hard way not to go out to dinner on Valentine's.  The servers were so stacked up with customers they very nearly cut our food and shoved it down our throats.  Not restful and certainly not celebratory.

Instead we will go out to dinner Thursday as we usually do.  It's never as busy in a restaurant then as it is on a Friday or Saturday.   And certainly not Valentine's!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Curly Hair Easter Soup

When you were a little kid were you encouraged to "Eat your nice carrots, dear, they'll make your hair curly"?  I was.  It isn't true.  Your mother lied.  I know (waving hands defensively) bad idea to diss mothers.  However not true is not true.

The recipe that follows might also be appropriately festive for the big Easter dinner (assuming these are practiced in your home.)  My reasoning - carrots - bunnies - Easter.  Festive color on the table.  Good for you.  And the curly hair thing...

Richie found this recipe and he made it for dinner last night.  Tasty, but I think I'd have doubled the spices.  Use your own judgement.

2 T (1/4 stick) butter
1 cup chopped white onion
1 lb. large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 in. dice or coins  Should come out to about 2 2/3 cups prepared carrots.
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 teas. cumin
1 T honey
1 teas. lemon juice
pinch ground allspice
1/2 cup plain yogurt, stirred to loosen in container.  This would be optional for me, perhaps used for decoration - a creamy swirl in the top of the bowl.

Melt the butter, add the onion then mix in the carrots and add the chicken broth.

Simmer until the carrots are very tender - about 20 minutes.  Add the cumin.  Let the soup cool in it's pot and puree it then whisk in the honey, lemon juice and allspice.

Put the soup in bowls, add a dollop of yogurt and swirl with the blade of a knife.  Serve and grab a hand mirror to watch your hair curl - or not.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

When Your Mouth Writes the Check ...

As I age (don't sneer - you're aging, too, so hah!) I notice that there is a great deal more general sass issuing from my brain, right straight into a somersault off of my tongue.   Things I might have been nervous about saying in the past (any time under age 50) are now just popping out with some regularity.  And I don't care!  There is something about getting older (no fear any longer?  The worst thing that can now happen to you now is to die?) that encourages thought-to-mouth since the Manners app clearly has shut down.

I will give you examples from only the last three days. The mandatory word of warning is that you must have a sincere smile on your face on delivery.  Project that you're kidding.

Thursday:  Richie and I went to Charlie's, a New York Joint for dinner.  We eat there about every month and a half and have since Charlie opened.  We are well-known there (in a positive way!)

We pushed open the door, walked up to the desk where stood a young woman and a young man.  In a ragged chorus, they asked "Two for dinner?" and I said, "We're here to rob and pillage and (mouthed) really fuck you up."  Hoots of laughter!  They were howling like hyenas!   "You're funny" they squealed like shoats.

When we left, once again, they said, "You're funnneee!"  So I handed them my business card that touts "And the Best Blog Is: Word of Mouth" and said, "If you think I'm funny live ..." and handed each of them one.  Two sales.  I know it.

Update:  We had dinner at Charlie's last night and it was the same young man but a different woman.  He couldn't wait to tell her what I'd done last time around.  They laughed.

We ate our dinners - note: the new on the menu shrimp scampi appetizer is very good. Reminded Richie of escargot where the sauce begs to be wiped up with the bread.  And, yeah, shrimp scampi can hold you hostage till you reach for the bread ...

As I walked out, the two looked expectantly at me - "What would she do this time?"  I smiled sweetlyly and said, "You see how well-behaved I can be when I take my meds?" and sashayed out the door to their peals of laughter.  

Friday:  I had a 4 p.m. for an MRI brain scan.  (If I have one, will notify in future column)  The tech was setting it up and I asked her if there would be a view of the brain's exterior because I had read that the more wrinkled your brain cover (dura mater, I think) the smarter you are.  Naturally I want one.

She seemed puzzled, but said she'd keep an eye out.  When it was over, she came bustling out of the control tower and before I could ask, said, "What a lovely shiny brain you have!" and I yelled, "You bitch!" and we cracked up.

Saturday:  We and Dee were wriggling into the bench seating at Eat At Joe's.  In my traipse, my purse accidentally bonked a guy sitting at the table behind us on the back.  A glancing blow, to be sure, but  I apologized profusely and he said, "That'll be $20" so I hefted my purse up and said, "In that case, I want my money's worth" and his party fell about laughing.  "Great come back!" one of them yelled.

I look back at these three events and quietly think to myself, "Bad idea to encourage me - I'm old and we don't care what we say ..."

COMMENT:  I agree with your blog.  I find myself saying exactly what I think.  Texas Bluebonnet

Friday, February 9, 2018

Pizza Popularized in Wichita, Kansas

Few of us would associate Kansas with pizza was my thought when a friend sent urgent notification that today - February 9, 2018 - is National Pizza Day.   I recognize subliminal suggestion just as well as anyone else and I don't doubt that Valentino's will be having a Murphy sighting around noon today.

The beginning of pizza sales in America started in New York far from Kansas when émigré Gennaro Lombardi applied to the City of New York for a license to make and sell it in 1905.  Granted it, he began a booming business among his friends, neighbors and family and by 1912 Joe's Tomato Pies were being sold as far away (joke) as Trenton, New Jersey.  I've always wondered why Richie will tell Valentino's "a large cheese pie."  Pizza is not pie.  Pie is dessert.  Now we all know why he does.

Then on June 15, 1958, brothers and students at Wichita State University Dan and Frank Carney opened the first Pizza Hut in Wichita.  In 2015, the oldest continuously operating Pizza Hut in the U S located in Aggieville, Kansas State University, closed after 57 years.

Today Pizza Hut has 13,728 locations all around the world.  Kudos include opening the first pizza place in Iraq.   Pizza Hut is ranked #24 of 200 Most Influential Brands in the world.

Richie wants to know what time I want to leave for Valentino's.  Right about now would be good ...I likes me some pizza pie.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Movin' On Up

"And the Best Blog Is: Word of Mouth" listed under Humor on has moved up!

The other day it was ranked #7614
This morning it is ranked     #7609


This is needed good news as the computer is not speaking to the printer who is sulking about it and refusing to print without a direct order from the computer.  There are days where I nearly worship electronic devices and yet, others ... where the trash barrel looms large in my thinking and I cast a speculative eye on which ever one it is that is refusing to function.

This, too, shall pass.  Especially as I have a secret weapon - a computer pro.  Go, David!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Eating at the Airport

Generally speaking, I would counsel avoiding it at all costs.  Squashed on a small, hard seat, hemmed in by your bags and the people on one side (Richie on the other, elbows a flyin' even if the rest of him is not) trying to juggle a book and a Mickey D or a fat slice of less than lovely pizza or gnawing on a gigantic pretzel -undesirable.   Taking hot food (aromatic) on board will earn you icy spears of glances that are genuinely hate-filled.

Plan ahead.  If your flight is booked around the usual time for a meal, go to the airport early enough to eat in one of the  restaurants there.  Yes restaurant food is more expensive than fast, but this is your nerves you're dealing with here.  A once-in-awhile splash out is not going to break the bank.  And if it soothes pre-flight nerves, then write it off to mental health and order a flute of champagne.

A research firm has taken it upon itself to rank the various American airport restaurants and then tell us all about it.  With no further ado ...

#1 - Denver
Root Down with breakfast, lunch and dinner gluten free, vegetarian service.

#2 - Phoenix
Chelsea Kitchen, the fourth least expensive overall serving American and Mexican

#3 - Atlanta
One Flew South, a 4 1/2 star recipient said to be not only the best resto at Hartford, but all over Atlanta!

#4 - Philadelphia
The least expensive with 80 different food stops including Geno's Steaks and Chickie's and Pete's which serves a special secret seasoning Crab Fries with a white creamy cheese dipping sauce.  Mussels appear and a Blonde Lobster Pie which appeared to be a white pizza with "baby lobster" as a topping.

#5 - Houston Int'l
Le Grand Comptoir (The Big Agency)
It amazes me to think that there is a French restaurant in a Texas aiport (or anywhere else in Texas for that matter.)

Further Rankings:
Cheapest - Philadelphia

Local restaurant branches at the airport - San Francisco with Napa Farms, Mission Bar and Grill

Gluten-Free - Ft. Worth!  Reason.  There is nothing but bbq to eat at the airport.

Vegetarian - we aren't out of Texas yet - Houston Int'l with a choice of some 90 restaurants

Most Expensive - let's hear it for LAX!  Slapfish Seafood serves lobster as a matter of course (ha ha) as well as caviar, priced from $60 to $394 per ounce.  Why, yes - there IS a champagne bar!  How on earth did you guess?

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Becoming a Writer

I have long said, "If you can talk, you can write."  I believe that.  Many recipients of this sapient piece of advice have openly sneered at me.  Prophets spurned in their own country comes to mind...

As a test, making a small start and using a short story as the vehicle, I will give you a line and you can make up a story.  This is for fun.  No points and no grades.  Ready?

She (or He)  turned down a friends invitation to go do tequila shooters by saying, "I don't drink tequila any more because the last time I did, I had money in my under pants when I got home."

Of note:  Consumption of tequila is not a requirement.

Monday, February 5, 2018

I Won't Make the NY Times Book List Anytime Soon ...

A friend remarked that his book was number so-and-so on the list.

This was news - that this information existed and that I could see it.  So I found out how to do it and did.  It is not heartening news.  On the other hand it could probably be worse.  Most things are when you get all the way down to the nitpicking.

The "all of the books we sell" category puts me at  #4,997,633.  Yes four million, nearly five million away from #1.  Good thing that long lives run in the family, true; but doubtful that Methuselah could live long enough to make the top 5,000.

But!  Help is on the way (sorta.)  In the Humor Books section I am ranked #7,614 - quite possibly out of 7,615 total.

If nothing else the distance between the two numbers above makes me feel like the Homecoming Queen.  The hell with going after the impossible (i.e. nearly five million) I shall do some minor basking down in the caves of the Humor department.  Maybe they store champagne down there, too.

Sunday, February 4, 2018


Which is which depends on your point of view, of course.  These tidbits were gleaned from this morning's LA Times Travel section and the "bad" is not getting carried away by gambling in this instance.  A "bad" example would be this writer's first trip wherein she wanted to sell the plane tickets to keep gambling.  Cooler heads prevailed.

You Decide!  about these particular Goods vs. Bads -

Hot to Trot? Land and then go to McCarran Airport Baggage Claim, Terminal 1 - pick up a marriage license.  This office will be open and dispensing marriage licenses on Friday, February 17th, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Not flying in?  Think you'll save a buck by driving?  Rah ha ha ha ha ha  You are a card!

The hotel casinos are charging parking!  As if they can't turn you "virtually" upside down and collect all of the loose coins, you no longer can whiz in and out of their parking lots in search of the Big Win.

These nine are free for the first hour and then $9+ for the next two hours.
Aria, Bellagio, Vdara, Delano (?) MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, Monte Carlo and New York, New York. 

Circus Circus - self-parking is free, but the valet is $12.

Excalibur and Luxor are free for the first hour and then only $6 hour.

If you are a restless gambler and you brought your wheels ... be warned.

The article didn't say anything about parking Downtown.

Saturday, February 3, 2018


Last night one of the 500 channels that Frontier provides to us at breathtaking cost and very little, if any, value at all decided to dust off the film cans with "Casablanca" in them as well as a cloud of rhetoric the emcee thought necessary to describe said contents.

Exaggeration or not?  You be the judge!  Such shibboleths as Best Film Ever Made!  and then expansion on that dubious theme.

The best I can give it is:  they didn't run commercials during it.

Because I was startled to hear Ingrid Bergman's beauty described in rhapsodic terms, I paid special attention to those scenes in which she was showcased.

                                            Ingrid Bergman has a nose like Pinocchio. 

By film's end I expected to see it dribbling down the front of her gown a little more after every speech.  As Dorothy Parker once remarked about Katherine Hepburn's stage debut:  Her acting covered all of the emotions from A to B.  

If ever there was a film that demanded potential ticket buyers caveat emptor, "Casablanca" is one of the Top 10.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Go Fund Me (imperative command) vs. Come Help Me (gentle suggestion)

A friend has apparently fallen on harder times than accustomed and her daughter put out the command "Go Fund Me" for $7,500 in her behalf.  And then, borrowing Mama's address book, proceeded to blanket everyone on it with the same information.

I was appalled.

I grew up in the Midwest and there the custom is to offer something in return when you ask for something.  Life is not a free ride in a limousine somewhere nice for us Midwesterners.  Doesn't mean we're right and everyone else is wrong.  Not by a long shot.  Just that we get it that there's no free lunch.  After all, our training started as toddlers - we left a plate of cookies and our parents poured the glass of milk for Santa.

What if there was an additional program called, oh, what about?  "Come Help Me?" (with the question mark to soften it.)

The requestor could say, "My health has gotten so bad that I cannot:

Walk the dog
Scrape and stack my dishes
Grocery shop
Change the sheets and towels
Drive to the doctors' offices

Thus the helper could set up a dog walking schedule for three or four people so that no one gets it every day  And they could bring their own dog for a play date which might amuse the captive dog a little bit.

Buy a gross of paper plates, napkins, soup bowls at a restaurant supply place (Smart & Final) and simply toss them after one use - and don't forget someone who takes the trash to the curb on the right day.

Have a friend or relative set up an account with a supermarket that delivers on a charge basis.  Not handing the delivery guy a $100 bill which could be dangerous to your continuing health.

Dial-a-Ride does door-to-door doctor appointments for $1?  Or 50 cents?  It is a minimal price and cabs seem to have a senior fare, too.

Anyhow.  The point of Come Help Me is that no money changes hands.  

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Long-Distance Writers' Workshop

This may well be an idea worth exploring.  Readers here are familiar with stories there -

I'm talking expansion!  Why should this extraordinarily talented group be limited to only the South Bay?  What about "writing it in"?  With today's communications, wanna-be members could submit a chapter via a document on line and the recipient could then print it out, take the material to the every- Thursday noon to 2 p.m. meeting and read it for critique!

The helpful material presenter would be feverishly jotting down the critiques and then, back in his/her own office, alter the writer's document to display the critiques given and everybody's happy!

Wherever  computers can communicate - so can writers and their first drafts!