Saturday, November 30, 2019

New (?) Fun for the Family

Yesterday my sister sent me a picture of her (and husband's) first grandchild, a not-so-little girl now at eight months.  Seeing her reminded me of an off-hand comment by my sister.  "She looks just like Steve (her Daddy) as a baby!"

When a baby is first born "He/she looks just like (fill in relative)!" is often heard.   Too late now for Thanksgiving and the presumed gathering of the clan, but what if everyone - immediate family - brought a baby picture of themselves and added it to a bulletin board or down the festive table prior to eating there?  Think police mug shot books.  

There will undoubtedly be disagreements "Oh, you never had dimples like so-and-so!" and argumentive tones may be in use.  Better than taking the butter knives to one another yelling about politics!   If there are no new babies at the time of the gathering, borrow someone else's kid!

Newborns aren't exactly at their most photogenic days after birth anyhow.   If you've been lavish with the pre-dinner drinks, no one is going to recognize that it's a stranger's baby anyhow!

Friday, November 29, 2019

Leftover Turkeys

Mistaken - Correction 
It has been wrongly reported that the mild earthquakes that occurred at around 5 p.m. yesterday across the United States were the end of the world.  They were not.  What they were was everyone who had generously served themselves from the Thanksgiving feast all burped/belched at the same time.  

Remembering the Dead and being thankful for their company
Tombstone Division

 Here lies Noah Scape
He always felt trapped

A husband and wife twin tombstones.  His read Stupid; hers, I'm With Stupid

   Here lies John Yeast
Pardon me for not rising

(Somewhat mean-spirited)
Here lies my wife
I bid her goodbye
She rests in peace
And now, so do I

This one has an Irish lilt to it, I think

Uncle Walter loved to spend
He had no money in the end
But with many a Whiskey and many a wife
He really did enjoy his life

Rejoice for lunch today!  A turkey and dressing sandwich on air bread (white Wonder bread or similar) lay on the mayo!  Tragically I didn't make enough dressing.  Turkey and gravy with a slice of raw onion?  Barbecue sauce instead of mayo?  Don't forget the dill pickle to nibble on with your sandwich.

Lastly - Happy 92nd Birthday Vin Scully!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Let's Talk Turkey

Many of us will be seeing one very shortly.  Here its 9:30; thus 12:30 on the East Coast and … the oven door is sliding quietly, quietly shut .  Another excellent meal on the way to our rumbling bellies.

Not however in Japan (God knows what time it is there right now anyhow.)  Thanksgiving is not celebrated there.  In stark contrast, many of the Japanese celebrate Christmas when the big holiday treat has been KFC!  That's right - Kentucky Fried Chicken!  Since 1974 when the good people at KFC tried a new market.  It was a  hit alright, some 3.6 million families buy it every year!  Reservations at your favorite outlet are encouraged.  Reminds me of pre-ordering a honey-baked ham for Easter where if you snooze, you lose.

Who eats more turkey than us?  This surprised me and may well you -  Israel!  They log in with an average of 25.4 lbs. per person!  Here we're a very poor second with 17.5 lbs. per person.

Paltry amount or not, the top turkey-producing US states are Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansa, Missouri and Indiana or 2/3rds of all turkeys produced for US consumption

Perhaps you have heard denigrating expressions such as, "Turkeys are so stupid that they drown in the rain."  They keep their faces turned up to the sky, if you didn't know.   For awhile, people denigrated others in friendly conversation as "You turkey..."

Top speed on a domestic turkey?  20 mph.  A wild turkey?  50-55 mph.  How come?  Domestics are bred for size and weight and they literally are bogged down by their own bodies!

Lastly the heading for this column "Let's talk turkey" does not mean that you and friends don't lift a few and start gobbling, replacing the American language as we know it.  Several meanings; among them - to speak affably or frankly and it was first noted in a newspaper article in 1824 and
 still (sadly)
no one seems to be fluent in talking like a turkey. (Damn you computer)

Sidebar:  This morning Richie brought me up to sped on local weather conditions.  At 6:50 a.m. it was 47 degrees and raining like a bastard.  Now even granted my stupid-as-a-turkey status, even I could see and hear it on the skylight pounding rain.  It was the 47 degrees that startled me.  Now at 5 to 10 a.m. it is soaring!  48 degrees!  Hmmm I bet that if everyone in Redondo Beach who is roasting a turkey and they left the oven and front doors open a sliver we could get it up to 50 by 2 p.m.!  Definitely a "think about."  The hell with the gas bill.  Mass turkey roasting does only happen once  year...Spend a little!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Mandatory Reconnaisance

The South Bay Writers (aka Thurs. Writers) has two social events per year.  Only two? you say in disbelief?   Ahem, I would have you know that we are a Serious Group of writers.  Not a plumed pen amongst us.

These two annual glam events are held to celebrate the Summer Solstice and  Christmas.  Both are luncheons; we're mostly all too old to drive in the dark.

We do this necessary party planning by vote.  The Thursdays available in December come first.  At the moment 12/19 is ahead, but the 12th seems to be inching forward.

Next up is which restaurant.  Suggestions are filed, voted on and the restaurant is chosen.  Rock'n Brew, Riviera Village, has been the choice at least four times so far.

Criteria include free parking, comfortable group seating with  round booths, not long ones, and a relatively quiet noise level.  With anywhere from eight to 14 of us, we can generate our own noise, thank you.  

I found a new one for the vote.  It has ample free parking, several huge crescent-shaped booths, a varied menu, big portions and reasonable prices.  Very nice, but is the food any good?!

To find out, Richie and I had lunch there yesterday.

It used to be the Redondo Beach Café, then ownership passed along and at least two other places have now been replaced by 1511.  The new owners have really spiffed it up and while this is a cliché the interior is absolutely sparkling clean.  (Always reassuring.)  Our server Leo was good waiter-ship personified (Ladies, he is also hot, hot, hot!")

The menu is varied with Greek salad, gyro sandwich and two other dishes.  Quebec is represented by Poutine which is their national dish as escargot are to France.  It's a generous serving of French Fries topped with white cheddar curds and a rich brown gravy.  Back to France, they serve crepes for dessert.  Along with American cheesecake and apple pie. The menu is four pages of various items.  Breakfast is served all day.

So what did we have for lunch?  Richie went for huevos quesadilla which comes with cole slaw $11.59.  I had the Portobello burger which consisted of a possibly mutant-sized Portobello with melted white cheddar, tomato, lettuce, and sliced avocado.  $12.99  Leo had subbed in a small portion of poitine instead of cottage cheese or fruit or whatever.  $4.  A small portion would have been more than ample for four people.  And they would have relished it.  Good food, properly prepared with splashes of exotic.  I will recommend it to my fellow writers.

Pricewise, reasonable.  $28.58 before tax; water only.  Did I mention the ample free parking?

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

French Conversation

This is a Tuesday class at the Hermosa Beach Community Center.  There are usually between 8 to 12 of us and to our collective amazement, one of us is a poet!

And we all liked what follows - his other offerings have been in French and in translation, they are very different.  Ron confided that getting phrases to rhyme in French is a great deal harder than working in English.  Here's one in English.

Cat Got Your Tongue?
    by Ron Percuoco

What's the matter?
Cat got your tongue/
They say youth is
wasted on the young.

Whiskers here - whiskers there
Whiskers flying everywhere
Feline foes fighting fiercely
Folks -- it's aa cat fight.

Drink my milk - purr for my master
A cat's life is hard to master.
But for me there's always hope
I have eight more lives to help me cope

Kitten sitting on a rug
Use my claws to kill a bug
I hope my kitty litter's new
Acting aloof is what I do

Persian, Angora or just a stray
I arch my back to show dismay
I'll lick your hand if you pet me twice
A ball of yarn would sure be nice

I'm cousin to lion and leopard and such
I'm soft and furry to the touch
I don't get out now very much
Trapped like a rabbit in its hutch

Did you like my little ditty?
Won't you tell this pretty kitty?
What's the matter?  Cat got your tongue?

Monday, November 25, 2019

Mad Hatters and the Not So Mad

Watching an episode of "Inspector Morse" last night, one of the characters popped up on-screen wearing a (very) floppy beret.  He didn't look French (but he did look silly) and he did have an English accent.  And I wondered to myself (Richie would not have been particularly interested in the subject of mens' hats)  whether the well-dressed Englishman would be wearing one?  And didn't berets begin with French artists?

Which started me wondering about specialized hats and their beginnings.

Beret - French Chasseurs Alpine began wearing them in 1889.  They drifted into use by the British Royal Tank Regiment  during WW1 when it was discovered that they stayed on when the wearer entered or exited small-doored tanks.

Bowler hat - As famous as a beret in France, the bowler hat is synonymous with fleets of British businessmen charging around The City.   Brothers Thomas and William Bowler created them for the 2nd Earl of Leicester in 1849.  Reason?  The top hat, more normally worn until then was too easily knocked off. And yet I believe that scholars at Eton? Oxford? wear robes and top hats to class every day.  Trying to toughen the lads up by fighting over their hats every day?  Is this how the University teaches "The Art of War"?

Cowboy Hat - Surely any American can tell you why cowboy hats were invented.  Wearable shde trees!  But wait!  in the 13th century, Mongolian horsemen wore them or a very near substitute.  But in nearer times, one John B. Stetson adapted it for American use in 1865.  They've been uni-sexy ever since.

Baseball cap - The first ones were made of straw (!) and the first team to use these then caps, was the New York Knickerbockers on April 24, 1849.  Later circa 1851, they were made of fine merino wool and the visor/bill emerged.

Yellow Sou'wester rain gear hats. - First used in England by fishermen and presumably named for the Southwest prevailing winds around the United Kingdom.  First responders and airline bag busters wear them, too.

Finally (Most gloriously?)  the ladies' Ascot hat.  Glorious concotions made of feathers, plumes, structural steel for all I know and range in price from $499 to $6,000 for custom designer work.  It has developed into a contest among the ladies for most spectacular success.  There are tons of informal assignment of Bests:  Most Spectacular, Most Inventive, Most Amusing, etc., etc.
So popular has this custom costume party become, that fancy hats have traveled to America for the Kentucky Derby.    I've seen some doozies, admittedly, but nothing like what is shown at Ascot.    Where P.S. you can RENT an Ascot hat!  Can't you just see the Duchess of Thisnthat screaming at  another lady, "You bitch!  That's my hat!  I wore that last year!"  And the retort might be, "Shouldn't have sold it to the secondhand shops, darling.  That hard up that you have to cash in your Ascot hat?  Tsk, tsk."  Hairpulling ensues.

Both hats utterly destroyed.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

An Inadvertant Omission

Re:  November 11th's Column "Just Joking Around,"  Jay Not Z gently chided me for omitting his beloved pet - Cat Mandu.  Our apologies.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

TV Tidbits

Sicilian Lemonade
Rick Steves was visiting Sicily (pretty place) and he and "my friend and fellow tour guide" stopped at a street-side café for a glass of lemonade.  It's so simple I could do it thus, it appeals.
Tall glass, lots of ice, amount of pure lemon juice that appeals; fill up with soda water and a pinch of sea salt.  My first thought was, "Do-it-yourself Gatorade?"  Sure sounds like it would be good for body fluid replenishing in the summer.  If you already have your 2020 Calendar, mark July for this version of lemonade.  Going to France?  Same recipe minus the salt and sugar added instead.

Vaping Discourse in White House meeting with manufacturers
 I wonder which seller put in this ad in Vaporous, The Journal of the Perpetually Wreathed 

Tired of your teen age kids?  Endless whining, eternal toilet tongues, refusal to help around the house - and then think of forth-coming university fees for these ungrateful barbarians?  Eliminate all worries and irritations, introduce them to your neighborhood vape dealer!  The oils are not expensive - $2.99 for  10 ml; $6.99 for 30 ml. and for holidays, 480 ml for $59.99

It's habit-forming, very bad for you and comes in seductive sounding flavors.

The Summer Solstice, a combination of ripe oranges, strawberries, pineapple, banana and coconut rum.

The Cowboy Cooler, mixed berries (weren't specified), blueberry cheesecake and menthol

Other popular taste sensations - buttered popcorn, cotton candy, vanilla, strawberry and banana.

Just make sure your health insurance is up to date - the creamy varieties -ice creams, cheesecakes are said to be lethal to the vapor's lungs.

 On the other hand … certainly solves disrespect around the house on a daily basis...when they can't mouth off because they can't breathe...You did your job as a caring parent; you told them it was bad stuff, but did they listen?   You reap what you sow is still a truism.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Just Joking Around

Have a larf as our across the pond friends would say - What did one snowman say to the other?

"Yeah, I smell carrots, too."

What's red and white and falls down chimneys?  Santa Klutz!

The progressive farmer sold fresh tomatoes from his roadside stand.  One potential purchaser asked him suspiciously, "Are those tomatoes," jerk of his chin at them, "Genetically modified?"  "No, not at all," said the tomatoes

Some cat names for your consideration …
Isaac Mewton     Farrah Pawcett     Reese Whiskerspoon     Yoyo Meouw     Obi Wan Catnobi

The Great Catsby     Winston Purrchill     Draco Meowfoy  (? who dat?)

Speaking of animals - don't do this.  "My Mom's furious with me - I let her dogs see their Christmas presents and so now I've ruined their Christmas."

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

March, 1995

Is the date on the copy of Esquire magazine that Richie found lurking in the garage.  There are numerous other treasures on the horizon including ancient French tabloids.  My friend Marcelle used to pass them along to me as an explanation.

As it happens I was surprised to find that if you type:  March 1995 Esquire magazine - up that issue pops!  It has Sharon Stone (then 37) wearing what looks very like a flesh-colored, very snug fitting pair of long johns and some kind of dorky looking work boots.  Three husbands and three adopted sons later, she is now 61.

The writer's interview with her was that kittenish style of writing that I had forgotten all about.  The cover line is  "Are You Man Enough For This Woman?  Sharon Stone gets naked with Bill Zehme."  Spoiler alert it was on twin masseuse tables at her house not in a bed.  Zehme got accidentally naked when the table collapsed underneath him as he was climbing aboard, so to speak..  Stone guffawed and the Asian masseuses giggled.

It was interesting to see in this 1995 issue ads for men's clothing fashionistas who today are gone and probably forgotten.

Much like the beloved Cosmo (at a certain age) always have a test yourself - because we all love us - is not ignored in these pages.  Cover blurb is Getting In Touch with Your Inner Number.  This refers to a new psychological understanding of your inner self with a series of 52 choices; each being an opposite such as Sheltered  or Out there.

Google Enneagram for a free test.  I took the short version because I pretty much know me (hungry at the moment)  but how to figure your score was incomprehensible so am leaving it at that.

See for yourself - git googling

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Dinner at a Very Posh High School Cafeteria

Such as one might find at Beverly Hills High or Friends, Washington DC  White tile galore, plain tables and bare chairs (chair cushions available on request?)

The occasion was our monthly dinner - Dee, Mouton and us.  It was Mouton's choice and it was Pier 76 Fish Grill, 2181 Rosecrans, El Segundo, CA  310-616-3178.  I googled a picture of the place and was surprised to find a one or two story site.  I say that because Rosecrans is largely composed of tall office buildings.   Many of them have very posh restaurants indeed on their ground floors; but Pier76 looks like a perfect lunch take-out place mainly because you peruse the wall-mounted menu board, order, are given a table number and sent off to sit there until your drink and meal are delivered.

Pier 76 was something of a surprise to me as it was a rare thing for us to NOT be sitting in a place with booths, white napery and menus slightly shorter than the New York  phone book with a separate wine list.

However the wall did display some choice items on the menu.  I ordered a glass of rose and it turned out to be a generous pour in one of those bowl-shaped stemless glasses.  $5.75 - of note, all of the wines are house and $5.75 each.    Dee had a chardonnay.  Mouton and Richie had a beer apiece.  Richie's Stone IPA was $6.50.  Dunno if all beers there are priced the same as wine fits dinner a little better (in my mind if nowhere else.  Wanna be sophisticate here.)

The appetizer was killer - popcorn shrimp in a honey sauce (the shrimp carried the flavor) and lashings of grilled Shishido peppers which, frankly, looked like dead seaweed hardly appealing and 'way too many of them. $7.95   For dinner I ordered the Maine Lobster Roll which came on a doorstop of split, broiled bread.  $18.95

Whenever Richie's offered clam chowder, he'll order a cup of it.  Dee and Mouton joined him.  Richie was the only one not to like it - "Too much oatmeal," he said.  $4.95.  His main course was Shrimp Tacos $2.99  The menu should say naked shrimp tacos because the only extra was a cup of black bean soup.

Our tab was $47.09 before tax, $51.57 with it.   I'd go back for those popcorn shrimp in a heartbeat, high school cafeteria style, upscale or not.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Still in the Kitchen; Different Chef

Richie made Seared Scallops with Brown Butter and Lemon Pan Sauce.  It was quite tasty:  Alert:  It is no substitute for roast turkey on a Thursday coming up.  Turkey Thursday Thanksgiving is sacred in many circles.

12 large dry sea scallops
juice of three lemons  or 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
small handful of chopped chives
sea salt and pepper
  2 to 3 T Extra-virgin or vegetable oil to coat skillet - heat till it begins to shimmer
3 T sweet butter cut in chunks
2 teas. drained capers

Season the scallops with salt and pepper to your taste and saute them face down until brown on that side and translucent on the other side and gently flip them over and cook that side.  Set them aside and add the butter, capers, lemon juice in the now-empty pan and stir and swirl.  Plate the scallops and pour the sauce gently over the scallops.

Haven't seen capers for some time and at first glance they looked like 'way overcooked frozen peas.  Next time he makes it, I suggested real lemons as bottled are sourer than an old maid at a cotillion.  

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Saturday Class

 Story after it's happened.  French from 2 to 3:30 p.m. and where we go after it.  And it's NOT ooo-la-la!

No one wanted to go for a beer so Himself and I took ourselves to the Pitcher House and had one.  Saturday afternoons are particularly nice for having a beer.  You put the tools down Friday, ran the errands Saturday morning and Sunday is lie-in day.  Hidden gems in Saturdays, eh?

I'd done the prep work for making chili prior to going to class.  So dinner was an easy job.  While stirring it I had an idea ...  French onion Soup as all of us who've ever eaten it comes in an oven-proof bowl, topped with toasted bread slathered in Swiss cheese which has melted over the bread.

What if you flipped the ingredients over?  Hmmm... then remembering I had those small 4 in. tortillas in the refrigerator, I got out two cereal bowls about 5 in. across with 2 in. sides.  Gave their interiors a good shot of spray Pam, nuked the tortillas and put the in the bowl and then topped them with slices of cheese.  When the chili was done, pour it over this mess and eat.

I could have used a little more of the juicy part of chili and Richie complained that it wasn't flavorful enough, but all in all I'd do it again with those caveats firmly in my mind.

Friday, November 15, 2019

To My Surprise and Petty Theft 101

Yesterday's mail brought me my first ever letter from the wife of a sitting president.  (Melania Trump.)  After I ripped it open, foolishly expecting a desire on her part to be besties, and saw that like so many in politics, she just wanted a donation.  Still after reflecting on getting a letter from her, I began to feel a little miffed that I'd never heard from Nancy Reagan, Betty Ford, Laura Bush.  I probably did from Hilary Clinton - she seems willing always to accept a little cash - but none of the others.  As it is said in French "tant pis" or "too bad."

Now on to this petty theft business.  On a Web site this morning I ran across a featured segment on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that shows celebrities' reactions to mean tweets about themselves..

So, in the interest of witty snipes, may I present?

"I would rather listen to a barn full of baby pigs being vaccinated than (listen to the band or singer of your choice.)

"So and so's audience must be the people who taste the gas before they fill up with it."

"That band (fill in) looks like they travel in a white van with "Free Candy" signs all over it."

Thursday, November 14, 2019

A Recommendation For Those Who Like to Go Backstage

An activity that both Richie and I share.  We both love travel and doing it.  Thus a new show on PBS has been a very pleasant surprise.  It's called "The Travel Detective" and is hosted by one Peter Greenberg.

What appeals are weekly features such as "Hidden Gems" which explored how those enormous cruise ships are designed - how many bars, restaurants, attractions such as a zipline  with on-site building tours, with everyone in sight wearing the mandatory hard hat.  Incidentally, all of the ships covered, every presenter of his ship was a CEO or equal level of the ship being toured.

Another segment pointed out airports with the least amount of layover.

Insurance  and why for air b'n' bs.  Your host has to have it in most states as well as a license for it.  For obtaining all of the various licenses, plan on spending as much as two years.

Greenberg's demeanor is calm, we are not given the usual 45 percent churches, museums, 35 percent tourist attractions and five percent food, and Miscellaneous .  Enjoyable as they are.  Specially the food parts. Most often my reaction BTW is "People eat that dreck?"

We saw it on a Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. on PBS.  Check your local PBS listings, if this interests you.  I look forward to seeing another one and checking our main libraries for season DVDs.  One can learn with this guy.  And every day we can learn something is a bonus day.  Carpe diem!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

What the Murphys Won't Be Having for Thanksgiving

And if you're as appalled as I am at the October edition of Bon Appetite, neither will you.  The cover touts "The Perfect Thanksgiving" and then lists several dishes.  In order of unlikelihood, shall we?

Coconut Creamed Greens - Pistachio-Lime Brussel Sprouts - Chile and Sausage Cornbread Stuffing -
Perfection is clearly in the eye of the beholder.

Coconut Creamed Greens relies on "hardy greens" and suggests Tuscan kale or curly kale or Swiss chard or mustard greens.  Four bunches of whatever you like of these suggestions.  (And here I thought Kale was dead; clearly one of those "reports of my death are premature" situations.)

Additional seasonings:  garlic cloves, onion, red Thai chile thinly sliced, ginger, mustard seeds, coriander, turmeric and - you've waited for it, I know you have!  2 cups unsweetened coconut milk, coconut flakes and last but not least virgin coconut oil.  

Brussels Sprouts with Pistachios and Lime
2 lbs. Brussels Sprouts and I was outta there.

Mashed Potatoes with Crispety Cruncheties.  (Spell Check went nuts.)  Make mashed potatoes in your usual style, put them in a service bowl and top with crushed potato chips.

The only recipe I would consider is Charred Sweet Potatoes with Hot Honey Butter and Lime.
Quarter as many sweet potatoes as will be eaten, face down on an oiled pizza pan or whatever similar.  When they're done (450 degrees) flip them up and fill with butter and honey creamed together with a hot of Tabasco or your favorite.  Put it back in the oven and let the sauce burble.  A teaspoon of coriander is optional in the sauce.  Serve with quartered lime pieces for tableside squeezing.          

If any of these did appeal (who am I to judge others?) simply pay a visit to                                                                                                                        

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Here and There

I thought of my Dad yesterday.  He wasn't a  veteran of any war and every time Veteran's Day rolled around, he pissed and moaned all over again.  "Too young for World War 1; too old for World War 2."  So let us briefly celebrate those that wanted to serve and could not.

When a French mathematician cusses, very often they will say "Merde a la treize puissance!"  Or translated:  Shit to the 13th power!

Signs of the times:

Priorities - from an Irish zoo - Do not stand, sit, climb or lean on zoo fences.  If you fall animals could eat you and that might make them sick.

A very timely ad, that being a big billboard along the freeway  "Text and Drive, XYZ Funeral Home"

Dunno where this came from but it almost had to be Somewhere Else.  Polar bear in the area!  Extreme caution.  If you have to go out, take a slower co-worker with you.

The zoos are really cracking down!
If you throw articles at the crocodiles or snakes, you will be asked to retrieve them.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Everything's Up To Date in Kansas City - They've gone about as far as they can go"

A song in the hit musical "Oklahoma" and extolls the modernization of Kansas City, Missouri.  I mention this because a friend who lives there sent me a compilation of how different today is from yesterday.

For example, Texaco sold six gallons of gas for 99 cents!

For kids - good manners on the rotary phone.  Always be polite, use Mr. and Mrs., ask if you may take a message.  Today's three year old's are installing apps on their cell phones.

Fashion - an ad for the ladies offered Professor Williams Fat-En-U Foods -" plump up and be rosy with honest fleshiness of form."  I don't know how "honest" flesh is if you have to eat God only knows what and, more to the point, how much of it.

 In 1965, a barbershop window admonished, "No Beatles hair cuts!"  Instead they listed the styles that they would do - the Peter Gunn, Ivy League Flat Top, or a Crew Cut.  Do we see a trend here?  Shampoo manufacturers loved the Beatles cut!

In 1898 Bayer began using and advertising HEROIN in their ads and medicines.  It was for colds and coughs.    And, presumably, a life-long drug dependency. Cocaine wasn't far behind to get up on a shelf for purchase.

In 1889 the Halcyon Matrimonial Company ran a price list on their virtual store with various shelves of goods.  East of the Mississippi - $50   Females who wanted to go West - $25 (the Old West needed women!)   Men from west of the Mississippi River - $95!

Requirements were a $10 deposit then and there and the remainder due after the nuptials.   In 1889 that was serious money.

Tobacco was not forgotten.  In the 1960s this product was on the market - Mister Merry's play lighter (looked like a Zippo)  and bubble gum cigarettes.

A 1915 Illinois billboard:  "The use of tobacco in any form is a dirty, filthy, disgusting, degrading habit.  No gentlemen will use tobacco in this city."   (Tell us how you feel about 'baccy, won't you?  Don't be shy.)

So we see, antiquities class, that some things remain the same.  Illinois' warning lives today. With quite a great deal more gusto than is needed.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Some People Never Learn - or Else They Are Damned Optomistic!

Or in some cases (mine) terminally stupid.  I have written and published three books so far - the first did do well.  The second and third have not yet set the rivers on fire.

But, nothing daunted, I am just beginning work on "Resume" which will be my fourth to not sell.  "Funny title for a book," you might think but it's a cool way to do your own biography.  Go to the Social Security office and ask them for a print-out of every dime you made and paid in.

One caution - our office only goes back to 1978.  Mind you from 1958 to 1978, they  list the money, but not the company title.  Instead everyone of the entries for that time period reads:  EARNED/NO  DETAIL AVAILABLE.

Toward creating an intro, I looked up resume quotes and came upon quite the treasures.

"Choose a job you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life."  Confucius  He's dead solid right

"You can't build a reputation on what you're going to do."  Confucius  Listen up all politicians

"It's not what you achieve, it's what you overcome.  That's what defines your career" Carlton Fisk, Boston Red Sox, 376 home runs.

"Work to become, not to acquire"  Elbert Hubbard, American writer and philosopher. He died broke (made that part up)

"Find out what you like to do best and get someone to pay you for it."  Katharine Whitehorn, British wit

"The best way to predict the future is to create it."  Abraham Lincoln  See above politicians

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.  The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time."  Thomas Edison  Several professional boxers might disagree

"Dreams are extremely important.  You can't do it unless you imagine it."  George Lucas

"If you can dream it, you can do it."  Walt Disney  George and Walt - haven't gotten #1 in the NY Times top bestsellers yet.  So hah!

"I cannot do everything, but must not fail to do the something that I can do."  Helen Keller

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything."  Albert Einstein  Eating ice cream in some countries - how did you like some of their ingredients?  Draw the veil. 

Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Hates Us Right Back

We just don't know it.  In fact, they have a secret Face Book site call TSABreakroom with 18,000 members.  Airport by airport, fellow travelers, we're seriously outnumbered.

And remember the part about they don't like us either?

This site has the usual complaints about management (often more hated than hapless travelers) with some special twists that come with the job.

The caption beneath a very big, very fat "child" - looks to be about 8 or 9 years old - reads:  "She's old enough to drive a Kia - get her grown ass outta that stroller."

A pet peeve appears to be "Well, I went through another airport and they didn't say anything."  Many were their thoughts on that!  The best would be:  "Bitch I don't care.  This is my airport and my checkpoint and this is how we do it here."

I must add to this report by saying that all the ones we encountered at LAX are quite affable.  I think we as pax have something of an obligation to make the inevitable beeps and chirps and pat downs pleasant.  Charles de Gaulle, Paris, is hell bent to pat you down and they do not use a wand.  They use a gloved hand which makes the passenger wonder just how far they intend to go.  An evil sign those gloves.

When they were issued new gloves - black and shiny looking, sinister somehow - names for them were solicited.  These made the cut:
The Jack the Ripper Signature Model
The Boston Stranglers
The O.J.s

There is a minor detail that will tell you if you're about to get  a  random full tilt boogie check.  Look at your ticket face, lower right hand side for the give away - SSSS or the LLLL. If you've got one, be nice.  One TSA guy wrote, "Don't even try - you can't be pettier than the TSA."

Don't even try.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Charity Giving From the Grave

Famed chef and adventurer in the world's kitchens, Anthony Bourdain, killed himself age 61 in June 2018.

October 30, 2019, held an auction that drew 3,000 people to bid on some 202 personal items from Bourdain's estate.   This auction gleaned a total of $1,846,575.  Much of the total has been set aside as a donation to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).  What went up on the block?

Bourdain's personal, custom knife - $236.50

A US Navy jacket presented to him by the crew of the Navy ship that rescued him and the rest of the "No Reservations" crew from Lebanon after the 2006 war broke out.  $176,150

 Simpsons cast signed script from his appearance on the show.  $18,750

Three watches -

Rolex Men's Oyster $48,750

Panerai Radiomir  $33,750

Patek Phillipe  $26,250

Post mortem giving means you may be gone but you won't be forgotten!

Visit to window and comparison shop.  Quite amusing in the now-November weather.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Cluck Cluck Cluck - Who Knew Chickens Are So Smart?

According to Christine Nicol, Professor Animal Welfare, Bristol University.  She writes to us via this cheery morning.

Chickens can count to five. Why they would want to count to five was not disclosed.  

They understand that an object that moves away still exists.   This is information that comes much later to human babies.  

Can recognize up to 30 other chickens.  Do they give each other names or is facial recognition all that they need? 

There are 25 billion chickens which is more chickens than humans.  But admittedly with a much shorter life span.  

All chickens today descended from the Red Jungle Fowl found in South Asia.  They are said to be so shy that when picked up, they are so scared that they can have a heart attack and die.  Self-killing dinner?     

Some time ago I wrote about the pet chicken fad in Silicon Valley.  Given the run of the house, wearing little diapers, cuddling with owners - now I understand why Silicon Valley's geniuses like chickens.  They're just as smart!

Monday, November 4, 2019

"Won't You Let Me Take You On A Sea Cruise?"

The boat "The Maiden Factor" is looking for four new crew members for two legs of the around the world cruise.   Requirements:  you must have some sailing experience and you must be a woman.  The Maiden Factor is an aluminum sail boat under the skipper ship of boat owner Tracy Edwards.  She has a fascinating story.

She left home at 16 and began backpacking all over Europe.  Working as a barmaid in a Greek tavern, one of the customers asked her how she would like to be the cook on his yacht?  She would like it!

Her experiences on it gave her a deep love of sailing.  And curiosity as to why sailing was such a Men Only sport.  She is a quick learner and soon wanted to be the navigator.

Her first racing competition was in the Whitbread Round the World in 1989.  Corporate sponsors were sparse as the Powers That Be didn't think a crew made up solely of women could do it.  She did bringing in The Maiden as winner on two legs of the race and second overall for her class.  Hers was the first all-female crew to sail around the world.

Forced for financial reasons, Edwards sold the boat but after help from King Hussein's daughter, the boat was relocated and restored.  King Hussein was a believer and is quoted as saying, "With faith, honor and courage, anything is possible."

Today it is on a three year long world tour, fund-raising for women's charities, aiding more than 1.4 million in 32 countries.  These charities include:
I Am Girl
Just A Drop (sustainable water)
the Orchid Project  (abolishing female genital cutting)
The Girls' Network
Room to Read (building libraries)
and no doubt more.

If this sounds appealing, visit  and read the blogs of current and past sailors.  Read about five days without food ... terrific battles with the sea and bad weather, snapped main masts.  Showers and washing one's hair are strictly rationed even though the ship carries a water distillery machine.  Most of the time, the crew is totally isolated from the rest of the world.  Just the Maiden and a helluva lot of ocean.

Our friend, a member of the LA Yacht Club, invited us to the reception for the crew while the Maiden lingered in the San Pedro/Los Angeles Harbor.  They were 24 to 40 years old, very fit looking and personable.  It was a pleasure to see and hear them.  A documentary of this story is available and information about it on the Website.   Thank you, Jan, for a very pleasant and informative evening.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Of Course I Got It Wrong!

How can you even wonder?  I'm referring to Spring Ahead, Fall Back.  In the bathroom, in the dark of night, I punched on the little travel alarm clock and the luminous numbers said, "6.07 a.m."

Usual getting up time.  So I will!  and slithered upstairs, lit a cigarette and on a whim, looked at the phone for the time, vague thoughts of 'something about time change?'  and discovered it was 5:15 a.m.

Thumped back down the stairs, and into my side of the still-warm bed.  Richie never twitched.  He's smarter than I am, no hands down.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

But Would You Want Your Daughter - or Son For That matter - to Marry One?

Your child's resume reads:  Snake Wrangler services.  Was sent  to find, trap and dispose any one of the four types of rattlesnakes found in Southern California.  ( My method, though somewhat messy, involves a stick of dynamite.  And again, is not suitable as a day job.)

Bo Slyapich, 61, is one such removal expert.  His captives are put in plexiglass bins kept on the back seat of his vehicle (mine would be a Sherman tank) for removal to snake avoidance training programs for dogs.  Otherwise they get transported to uninhabited land (and in my case, if it wasn't it soon would be as my running feet would thunder through the echoing silence.)  He joked to the reporter that he isn't too hasty getting rid of them.  He joked, "I keep them until the check clears" which is  pragmatic businessman to the core.

If you call first responders to a snake sighting, the firemen have shovels and axes and that snake will not trouble anyone any further.  However, if they can't get to the snake, they let it go and both go on about their business.

One woman reported three snakes in two weeks.  "One more snake and I'm selling the house," she is quoted.  Another reported a grand total, over the years, of 100 snakes.  Slypich has a number of repeat customers.  In 50 years of working in this field, he says he has never been bitten.  Good for you, Bo!

Keep on truckin' - if you have a snake alert line for rattlesnake sightings in Redondo Beach I'd be happy to pay a small sum to be on it.  We already have possums, skunks, and the odd coyote, so why not snakes?

Snake deterrent fences work (or there wouldn't be so many snake deterrent snake fencing companies.)  Specifications - made of sturdy mesh, 3 ft. tall and 3 in. deep in the ground.  They cost $7 to $9 linear foot or $400 to $550 on three sides for a 20 ft. x 20 ft. back yard.

Good to know there is something snakes cannot get through, over or under.  Roll out a couple of bales of it and git'er done!

Friday, November 1, 2019

The Halloween Candy Tally

The free subscription site called was of use, I must say.

North Redondo Beach - a Costco 150 count bag of candy plus more

Golden Hills, six large bags of candy

We never get anyone, so I stopped buying candy in mid-Redondo

South Manhattan Beach - I heard people say they are staying in due to the air quality and the fires (To which I say, "huh?"  We have had a steady onshore strong breeze since they began)

Another from Golden Hills wrote, "Halloween is on a Thursday and that's a school night.  And a lot of schools are having their own party."

Jane, our Libertyville, IL correspondents reports that as of 5:30 p.m. there "A few older trick or treaters."  It was snowing here.

Charlie, Huntington, Long Island, reports a grand total of five.

Here?  Nary a one.  We now have two big fat bags of KitKats.  Put them in a dark closet for next year?  Fatten up the Thurs. Writers?  Eh, we'll find a use for them.  "Would you like a KitKat with your glass of pinot grigio?"

Will add to this informal poll as information comes in.  Haven't heard from Kansas City or Texas yet.