Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Chrismukkah!

I hope that all of my readers have a happy holiday, and a safe and prosperous new year. Actually, since there are only about six readers of these little scribblings I'll open that holiday wish out to everybody...

Cheers to you all!

Image: PRWeb

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gordon Ramsay's Cookalong

Well he doesn't yell. He introduces a dish, people to try it out, interviews "people on the street" like Jay Leno about what the dish might contain and the goes to the cooking,

The stage set overwhelms the chef and the guests; they are trapped in a cramped red formica donut surrounded by audience and cameras on booms. They also have skype with random people who are cooking along (cookalong, get it?) including Whoopi Goldberg, who had been showing up in enough advertising I half expect to pass her in line for a soda at the cafeteria...

Despite his direction to appear he's on happy pills. Ramsay looks like he's about three seconds from going nuclear, even as he guides people through slicing the garlic and sauteeing the veg. The whole thing reads like a grind. Fox hasn't gotten the idea that food isn't a race; home cooks don't want to feel like they've run a marathon to make dinner. The brilliance of Rachael Ray is that she's gotten people to look at the kitchen as something that's not an adversary.

Gordon's barely contained fury and multiple cameras will only send most people back to Hot Pockets..

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

What Ever Happened to Cupcake Stud?

Once upon a time, the food network was about food, and not it's manufactured "stars". Back in the day Emeril, Nigella and the rest actually made shows that were aspirational; as much as I enjoy Ina Garten it's not 1986 anymore and frankly the deep-fried cuisine of some of the newer people make me want to live on psyllium husk smoothies forever.

But for about 10 minutes there was a guy that had me and several of my friends all a-twitter. His name is Warren Brown and he makes cakes. He's a lawyer (which caused at least one female friend of mine to pant "he can bake AND litigate?" and one to name him "cupcake Stud") and had his show "Sugar Rush" on Food Network which didn't last nearly long enough. I saw him once at the now defunct Maple Drive restaurant and he was seriously tall. Sorry ladies, he's married.

Photo: Wall Street Journal

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Just is blind

..and terribly inconvenient.

Jury duty is something that we all have to do. I've done it, and lived to whine about it. Well, I got caught again. I received a summons and registered. It was even the same venue at the corner of Depressing and Hopeless in downtown LA that I had served before. But a dump in the hand is worth two in the bush, or something so I considered it to be not so bad. After all, my friend had to go from her place in Pasadena all the way out to San Fernando in the far Northwest San Fernando Valley, where they confiscated her salad fork as a deadly weapon. So it was the same routine: Monday, call in. Don't have to report. Tuesday, ditto. Wednesday, call in. Oh yes you're reporting. To the valley-dwelling fork-snatchers. (I have nothing against the SFV, but there's a courthouse 3 blocks from my house!) I look at the options for transportation: three freeways in my car, or two hours on the dreaded Metro.

I opted for the bus: I can just about face being driven to that back of beyond in the valley first thing in the AM, I can't possibly face driving there. Despite the fact that the Metro website's algorithms are apparently set up to get your destination with as few transfers as possible rather than the most direct route and it took hours, I wasn't sitting in my car grinding my gears and my molars. When I finally got to San Fernando I found it was actually kind of cute, far nicer than the traffic court on Washington. I had an indifferent bagel, Diet Coke, and games and books on my iPhone to pass the time, and possibilities for lunch that unlike Traffic court were unlikely to lead to, say, rabies.

I also made it into the courtroom, this time on a criminal case. I wasn't picked, which was fine. Even if it's my civic duty, I don't need that commute more that once..


Monday, November 23, 2009

Fruitcake: Hellish Loaf of Penance or Delightful Dessert?

Much is made this time of year about fruitcake. While my friend Beth writes about her recipe in all its moist delicious glory, most people think of the leaden desiccated bricks that are the usual holiday fare. Well people, you're usually being served turkey that could be used to sand the paint off steel and mashed potatoes that would be better used as mastic. Open your mind to good fruitcake.

I don't have the recipe, but my mother made a good fruitcake. Back in the dim days of the Seventies, this didn't entail a trip to Whole Foods (yes there's one in my hometown now); this was ordering the dried fruits from California, the nuts from the South and some of the ingredients from, I don't know, Albany, Albania or perhaps Alpha Centauri- whatever place Angelica might naturally occur. After the fruits were soaked in Cognac for about a week or so they were added to the roasted nuts and cake batter and were baked (and how it didn't burn down the place I don't know), then the actual cakes were ritually soaked with more booze to the point that if one didn't wish to consume it one could light it afire and bask in its warmth for quite a few days. I do remember that after some initial resistance of the part of family friends to receiving the dreaded Holiday Loaf (ending perhaps upon sniffing 400 proof) that mothers fruitcake became looked upon as something between a Christmas tradition and an active, unending scrip for Ativan. Serenity in a slice. So much so that after my father died and she decided that perhaps packages from California of dried fruit were too much of a luxury for us in our sadly reduced circumstances needy WASPs showered us with enough packages not only to make the Secret Fruitcake for several seasons, but to keep us all regular well into the Eighties...

Image by the inimitable Edward Gorey from

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's Thanksgiving. So I am giving Thanks.

I'm giving thanks for my health, my continued employment, my varied interests and finally and most importantly for my wonderful friends.

Is is heresy to write that I don't like turkey? I'd be giving much more thanks if the Pilgrims had served Fettuccine Carbonara...

Image: Butterball

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

IFRA regulations, letting go and hope from the House of Chanel..

Not that anyone cares but the powers that be in the EU have declared that your perfume might kill you, and has to be neutered. Evil compounds like Citrus and Oakmoss must be stampted out: if you enjoyed Annick Goutal Eau de Hadrien please rely on your memory of it and walk past what passes for it today at Bloomingdales.

Guerlain hasn't been passed over, the new Spirteuse Double Vanille is a little less Spiriteuse and I don't even want to think what might have happened to some of the Miller Harris scents that I love. I don't think I want to investigate except to stock up..

I can only hope that the French will rise up against the threat of changing Chanel No 5 (if not Mitsouko). Surely the desecration of a shining example of all thing Fwehch will cause them to wake up and pelt the walls of the IFRA offices with orange peels until sense (and scents) are restored?

Because really, what's the next step? A statue of Marianne holding aloft a bottle of Purell?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jack Frost Nipping at Your Nose..

My friends at Perfume Posse wrote about a new Diptyque candle that is scented with "marrons grille". There's something about the scent of roasted chestnuts that is New York at the holidays for me, even though I've not lived there for 25 years. For all I know they might not even do it anymore, and lord knows I've enjoyed these decades of the absence of actual Winter and look forward to it's to be hoped decades more. That, and I actually don't care for chestnuts.

But I do have gilded memories of running around mid-town in an overcoat on errands, scarf and a Tam in place, smelling the roasted chestnuts on the crisp air and smugly cursing the tourists for slowing me momentarily down.

I know, you're all asking yourself, "how does he remain single?"

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

V is for Vacuous, Part Deux.

Well, the new series premiered. They did do a lot more in the first ten minutes introducing the Visitors (which you saw in the previews); cramming into one hour a mention of "universal healthcare" and a reveal of the whole plot that the original took three hours to get to. But the original stuffed the story full with extraneous backstory. Like character development.

But they have done some interesting twists; the spray-painted "V" is now a mark of the Visitors rather than the resistance. The latex is thicker and we've had one major character come out as a lizard. I'll be there to see what happens next time..

Sunday, November 01, 2009

V is for Vacuous..

The remakes continue: ABC is premiering the new version of V, the 80's SciFi allegory of fascism in the form of Aliens who pretend to be benevolent humanoids on a mission of peace who turn out to be big lizards with bigger shoulder-pads whose favorite snack is.. us. The original is being shown on SyFy right now in all it's 80's glory and I am loving it: Jane Badler as baddie alien Diana gives a performance Joan Crawford would have high-fived and Marc Singer loses his shirt with regularity. I do remember the posters for the original series in the NYC subways: somewhat retro prints of the smiling aliens greeting children and the elderly with bland sayings like "The Visitors are our Friends" defaced by a spray-painted red "V". Nobody knew what the heck the ads were about; it's a concept that's been done enough to be cliché now, then it was an attention grabber.

One of the things that will not be in the remake is the Los Angeles lair of the resistance fighters: the site at Glendale and Beverly where the old Red Cars exited the tunnel starting at the Downtown Subway Terminal Building on their way to Glendale and Hollywood. That site, which you can read about here and more fascinatingly here is now the site of an inexplicably expensive new apartment building called Belmont Station. Inexplicable because it's located in a neighborhood that is still fairly gritty on a very busy street that is traversed by both Glendale Blvd at street level and the Beverly Blvd Viaduct, meaning motorists can see into your more-expensive-than-Westwood 5th floor bedroom. I'm still not quite sure how this parcel went from being a proposed park, to affordable housing to overpriced rentals for hipsters willing to pay top-dollar for apartments in a neighborhood they'd better think twice about walking at night...

Photo: ABC

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Grabby? Good..

A friend I met in college in my small hometown in New England was once asked how she felt about the large Lesbian population in the area, if she'd ever been propositioned and how she reacted. I'll always remember her response: "Yes, I have and I politely refused" When pressed about not being annoyed, freaked out or angry at being importuned upon she calmly answered "I take it as a compliment; one day, far sooner than I would like the propositions are going to stop. So I intend to enjoy the fact I'm getting them, no matter how personally inappropriate they might be"

Wise woman..


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Art in the City, and we're up in arms..

Roxy Paine's 2007 piece Erratic has landed in Beverly Hills' Beverly Gardens Park and there has been some predictable reactions: letters to the editor of The Courier excoriating the purchase (some 300k) and the general appearance of the piece.

I can understand. On the one hand, I love it. There's something so otherworldly about the simulacrum of a stone made out of hammered and welded stainless steel. Plunked down into the verdant strip of grass in Beverly Hills makes it more confrontational than it is in the more urban one of New York City's Madison Square Park. I can also see where some would look at it and be appalled. It's disturbingly organic yet machined. In this town, the home of Michael Bey movies it could be construed as a by-product: a Transformer Turd in our park.

As I said, I like it, and I like the artist. I'd have loved to see some of his other pieces chosen for the city, like Conjoined or Inversion, but perhaps there were reasons these ultra-pointy lawsuits-waiting-to-happen weren't in the running. But it's getting people talking about the city, the art here and perhaps getting people to go out and enjoy a nice walk in our beautiful park. In my mind that's priceless.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hooray for Hollywood

NCIS LA premiered this evening, and it's enjoyable: LL Cool J and Chris Connelly have a nice spiky repartee going on, and anything that gives us more and better Linda Hunt is a good thing.

One of the things I noticed is that the "secret" headquarters of the NCIS looks to be one of the Arthur and Nina Zwebell buildings in Los Angeles. I wrote previously about one of them; this one looks like the Andalusia. I love that the filmmakers have a love of classic LA architecture (Buffy did too) but it kind of comes across as silly to have them open up to soundstage sized sets with touch-screen jumbotrons and software that can identify the DNA of the Mongolian Fruit Fly. Oh well, I'll just look at the scenery and hope LL takes his shirt off.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Traveling with friends

This past weekend my BFF Bitsy was in town on business and decided that she needed a long weekend away from her high-powered and high-stressed job. Fortunately for her, her job is also relatively high-paid, so she could afford to take herself to a room at the Ojai Valley Inn, and nice enough to invite me for the ride. I am lucky to have a couple of friends who are perfect traveling companions: Bitsy and I are like 16-year olds together: we called our Garmin "Sally Lou" and delighted in her harrumphing electronic exclamation "Recalclulating" whenever I thwarted her plan to get us onto a traffic clogged artery I knew to avoid. At the resort we sat by the pool and drank Daiquiris and read trashy novels, quoting them to each other and laughing at the abuse of adverbs.

Ojai is a beautiful place with a great bookstore and a lovely downtown. Try not to miss the "Pink Moment", just before sunset when the hills to the East are bathed in the pink light of the sunset. Just the thing to have a Daiquiri to with your BFF..

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling!!

This is a still from the History Channel's gleefully Debbie-Downer series "Life After People". If you'd ever wondered what would happen if one day everyone on earth just vanished, this series is for you. Starting from 5 minutes after we're gone to 50,000 or so, it follows the collapse of our buildings, demolition of our cities and eventual erasure by the forces of nature and time.

I find it strangely entertaining to have it explained exactly the mechanism of our cities demise. As a matter of fact, this show and "Modern Marvels" have made the History Channel my default viewing station of choice..


Thursday, July 16, 2009

RIP Julius Shulman


Julius Shulman was arguably the father of architectural photography and certainly a peerless chronicler of the architecture of Southern California. In this video from The Los Angeles Times he talks about taking one of the most famous pictures of architecture ever taken: Case Study House #22, with the LA basin in the background.


Monday, July 13, 2009

I'm enjoying Lifetimes "Drop Dead Diva"

It's a kind of mash-up of "Pushing Daisies", "Desperate Housewives" and a little soupçon of "Life and Loves of a She-Devil" (the book, not the movie).

My only problem is that were supposed to think that Brooke Elliot is just soooo fat. Ms. Elliot is a beautiful, talented woman who might be a size 12. She looks like Catherine Zeta-Jones younger, slightly plumper sister. Even with unflattering photography you can see that most men would be kissing their elbows for the chance to date her. I mean, if this is the image that women are supposed to take as a hopeless loser, what have they have to look forward to?

The show however is a ball, I can't wait to see what they do with it and Brooke Elliot is a lady to watch.

Photo: Lifetime

Monday, July 06, 2009

Supermarkets, and less than super markets..

Paul at Deliver Rants wrote a funny post about modern shopping. It's pretty hilarious, and like most of his posts, dead on. Maybe if we all ask pretty he'll write more?

Photo credit: The Daily News

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Fourth everyone!

Isn't this a marvelous picture? It's from the New York Times showing the Macy's fireworks over the Hudson. Also, the crown of the Statue of Liberty (thanks, France!) is open to visitors again.

I vividly remember watching the fireworks from the roof of my East Village hovel, the World Trade Center framing them and the ones to celebrate the centennial of the Brooklyn Bridge. The fourth was also the date when I first became close friends (as opposed to casual acquaintance) with my best friend of over thirty years long ago at the Three County Fair, my dear Moo.

So I hope that all of you are having a great holiday weekend with those dear to you eating far too much hot dogs and having far too much fun. You can sleep in tomorrow unless you have church, in which case you'll have something physical to repent in addition to spiritual.

Lastly, I'm taking a moment to think about the 233 year history of this nation. It ain't perfect, but it's pretty darned good.

Photo: NYTimes

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Your World, Boning You

Just got an email breathlessly informing me that I can have a new "Navigator" give me turn-by-turn directions sent to my iPhone for only $9.99 per month!

Why am I not biting?

Well, most of my month is going to work. Here's the directions (when I drive): turn left out of garage. Turn right onto Beverly Blvd. Go straight until you hit Spring St. (10 miles). Turn right, enter garage. Directions home? Exit garage. Turn right on 3rd. Drive 10 miles. Re-enter alley. Park car and get mail.

When you can get me the turn-by-turn directions to find the pen I misplaced in apartment I'll be impressed. Actually, if you can get me service in my apartment I'll be impressed.

Image from the email ATT sent me

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Birthdays, whine and wined

I've had some birthdays that majorly sucked. Well, I should write that they sucked in that some bad but not terrible things happened. None were spent in bed with a life threatening disease, at the end of a gun, in jail or fleeing an attack of giant man-eating clams. But there was the one that I remember as a kid during a thunderstorm, where lightning struck the tree outside the kitchen window at the exact moment that I blew out the candles, shattering said maple, sending shrapnel into the kitchen and ruining the cake. As I remember it ruined a fair bit of the kitchen as well but I am unto this day a boy more inclined to mourn cake than crockery I've gotten bad gifts, heck I've gotten dumped on my birthday (well close enough for Jazz).

So it was very nice to stay in bed very late and then spend some time with one of my dearest friends having a very nice dinner. We went to Gordon Ramsey's place at the London in West Hollywood (formerly the Bel Age) and had a great time- wonderful food (a mushroom and sweetbreads pitivier that I'm going to steal), great service, LA a carpet at our feet and the warmth of a friendship that has lasted more than a quarter century (we met when we were 3). The irony that I was with yet again one of my tight circle of lovely, clever, desirable women who are slashingly witty as they are chic wasn't lost upon me. But heck, if Hugh Jackman was at the other end of the table I wouldn't have dared ordered the panna cotta.

Thank you dear friend for giving me a delightful birthday dinner.

Image: Ken Hvely for the Los Angeles Times. accompanying S. Irene Virbilia's review of the restaurant.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Disposable Husbands, Disposable Lives.

In todays Los Angeles Times, columnist James Rainey writes about Sandra Tsing Loh's article in the Atlantic about her recent divorce, called "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off". Rainey calls Loh out a bit, writing

"I suspect I will not be the only Loh fan dismayed by a piece of work that simultaneously goes too far -- letting the "flaming jet fuselage" of her own wrecked relationship cloud all marriage -- and not far enough -- failing to address any of the specific details that sent her partnership into a tailspin."

I would take it a little further, perhaps pointing out the rich irony of a woman who makes her living as the self-described "Mother on Fire"; exhorting mothers across the State to march on Sacramento this Sunday to fight for their children's rights would toss her marriage aside because marriage is in essence Too Much Work.

I suppose it was inevitable that when a public persona has a personal crisis that said persona will have to come up with a public mea culpa. It's rather interesting in this day when some Californians are fighting for the reinstatement of their right to marry that there's a public figure blaming the wreckage of hers not on the fact that she and her "fellow transgressor" got caught, but on the idea that the institution itself is so fundamentally flawed it should just be dropped as a social construct.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kultcha Klash

None other that the New York Times has taken upon itself to present the homes of Bravo's latest little train wreck "The Real Housewives of New Jersey". The focus of the article, is, as it should be, on outsider "Danielle" who may or may not have a dubious past, and might not even be names (horrors!) Danielle. For this crime she's being stonewalled in joining in friendship with the rarified social circle defined by the intermarried and hopelessly intermingled clan that makes up the rest of the cast: sisters Caroline and Dina and in-laws Teresa and Jacqueline. Danielle is a climber, you see, baldly stating her desire for a wealthy man to take care of her and her two daughters and not afraid to flaunt her sexuality to get one. Which doesn't fly with the socially staid Manzo clan (because being a climber is unforgiveable. Having your Father-in-Law "Tiny" found crammed in the trunk of his Continental stuffed full of lead canape's however is genteel). All except Jacqueline, who wants to be the "nice" one and doesn't want to hurt Danielle's feelings but doesn't want to cross her relatives.

In the mean time in between shopping trips Teresa is building her dream home, so swathed with "marble, granite and onyx" that it resembles the planets most inviting (certainly largest) mausoleum, laying out hundred dollar bills like a licker-tape parade. If there isn't an audit of this entire clan by the time the finale airs, it will only prove that there are no gay IRS agents.

Andy Cohen, drop a dime on them. Do it in time for sweeps. Because "Real Housewives of the Federal Pen" will be must-see TV.

Photo: Bravo

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memories, like the corners that need dusting...

March at PerfumePosse wrote today about her reasons for becoming a perfumista; basically because of the transportative power of scent.

Of course yards of literature by people with far more interesting powers of description that I could hope to enjoy have been written on the subject, whether the taste of Proust's Madeleines or the smell of Shakespeare's roses, Lawrence's chrysanthemums or even Chaucer's famous flatulence.

But really, doesn't everyone have a scent that can instantly transport you into the past, for better or worse? The scent of a former paramours cologne smelled on another? The smell of dry leaves and cut grass taking you back to the autumnal leaf-forts of you (well, my) childhood? The dusty smell of roses on a hot summer day: something that will ever and always make me think of my friend Sue and her "rose alley" or the slightly oily smell of the canyons above Los Angeles, ripe with jasmine, that take me back to the days when I had a convertible and used to waste gas driving about at night, gleefully driving miles out of my way to the grocery store to enjoy the exciting, ozone-pregnant Santa Anas. Or the wet smell of concrete and food and fecund subway grates that is New York?

Even if the memories are ones that you've never had. Maybe that's why I am so seduced by all that is from the house of Lutens; I know that my starch WASP-ness is so ingrained I might as well have a small green crocodile instead of a left nipple, but I can open one of those bell jars and am suddenly in a Souk. Because sometimes you want to be the Sheik, and sometimes you want to be Lady Diana..

Image: Les Salons du Palais Royale

Friday, May 22, 2009

Kindle- an apology

I've always been a big skeptic of the Kindle. For those who have never heard of it. it's Amazon's proprietary book reader doohickey. It holds up to 3500 books, magazines or newspapers and costs about $350 for the smaller model and nearly $500 for the deluxe one with the larger screen. I've been pretty snobbish about the thing, metaphorically clutching my pearls over the whole affair; why, I read books, thanks ever so. Actual books. The ones with pages and stuff. The ones that sit on my shelves and make me look learned, or at least make me look like I don't dust enough. I am still skeptical about paying that much for a book reader then paying for the books on top of it, even if the books are $10 -$15 dollars off the rack price. After all, they're saving on printing and shipping costs and any further nail into the coffin of the actual brick-and-mortar bookstore is I believe no good thing.

What caused a chink in my anti-Kindle armor? Kindle for iPhone. That, and the fact that there are tons of classics out there that are if not free, then almost free at the Kindle store. I downloaded a free copy of one of E. F. Benson's inimitable "Lucia" novels and have been reading it on the bus, and yes Virigina it's clearly legible on even the teensy screen on my iPhone. But the real chink came when I decided to hoist the hardcover omnibus edition onto the sofa to read some more. It was quite frankly as easy and carefree as balancing the Gutenberg Bible on your chest for an evenings reading refreshment. I admit it, I shelved the book and grabbed the iPhone. and while flipping the "pages" I had visions of the luxury of doing this on the big-screen Kindle, having all sorts of boks available to me at my whim in that slim and nearly weightless package. Certainly never having to think about what the cover of my read is communicating to fellow passengers would be nice: the Kindle's blameless wite casing could contain anything from the Bible to Barbara Cartland, from Stephen King to Stephen Hawking,. You could be reading the lastest number of "TLe Monde" or "Love's Lurid Lustbats" and no-one would be the wiser, and I can see that the inverterate traveller would find this a godsend.

$500 is looking somewhat more reasonable..

Photo: Amazon

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fun with the Apocalypse

Those of us who live in earthquake country have this handy-dandy resource to turn to when the ground shakes: we can see if that quiver that went through your house was local and small or large and far away.  It's part parlor game and part reminder to keep bottled water and pull-top tuna cans on hand just in case you have to survive until help can helicopter in from Texas.  (You are keeping water, right?).

I'd still rather have earthquakes than tornadoes or hurricanes.  Or for that matter, winter.  Give me 20 seconds of terror over three months of shoveling white stuff anytime.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Pets are people too..

One of my friends wrote me that one of her cats is ill, while another friend has had a bad scare about the health of his dog. While I don't have a pet (adult allergies, and let's face it, an inability to commit) I feel for them. Back in the day, I had roommates who had cats (Nosh and Swash deserve their own posts) and grew up with both. I understand and wholeheartedly support the idea of pets. While I am aware that there are people who are wholly unable to love an actual human and pour all of that undirected affection into Mr. Dribbles, I'd much rather have to interface with them than with anyone who cannot manage an "Awwww" at the photo of a puppy- even if they are as pragmatic as I am and have no desire to actually have to get up in the AM and walk him. Because at least the ability to love is still there. Because at the opposite end of that spectrum serial killers lie.

Personally I've always preferred cats, since they don't need to be walked, don't do the passive-aggressive barking thing (of course there's the p-a peeing thing, but dogs do that too) and being a starchy New England WASP I rather prefer the stand-offishness. Dogs are easy. Dogs are needy. If I am in a relationship with someone that's that needy I want him to be pulling in 6 figures. So I guess my dream date is a cat with a development deal and endless Albuterol

Photo: Wikipedia

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

It's Pretty Vindy Tahmmy!

We're having the a bit of the "offshore flow" or "Santa Ana's", the roaring, bone, dry winds that Raymond Chandler wrote of as "those hot dry [winds] that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen."

Well, yeah, they wore corsets and hose and had no AC. I kind of like those winds, what with me sitting here in a t-shirt and boxers with iced Perrier. If I had to wear a suit and a hat I'd want to bite people.

Quote is from dear, gone Grandpa Stein, his usual comment when I would pick him up for family dinner when I lived in Milwaukee. No, I wasn't his actual grandchild (he was my BFF Val's Grandfather); he insisted I call him that.

Photo: NASA

Monday, April 27, 2009

And Then There's Maude

I posted this a couple of years ago, but since Bea Arthur died this weekend I thought it was time for a bump.

As it were...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Subway's Coming!  The Subway's Coming!

The Purple Line to be precise.  Metro has come up with several schemes on how it should be done; the one at the right is the one that I favor.  It would combine an extension West from Wilshire/Western along Wilshire with stops at LaBrea, Fairfax, La Cienega and Beverly.  There's some debate about the next two stops- they can't decide whether they should stop at Santa Monica/Avenue of the Stars of closer to the mall.  Personally I always vote mall.  The next question is Westwood/Wilshire of closer to UCLA,  That's a no-brainer to me; I'll never quite understand the decision to can the #21 bus, which went to campus and was wildly popular with students.  This is a perfect chance to make up for that mistake and get a lot of kids to school without a car.  It's also a way to avoid taking some very pricey private property for a subway entrance and getting putative pedestrians out of a very dangerous intersection.  Not to mention it's a way to keep the Metro people using the Purple line to kill off bus service on Wilshire.  Because you know they're thinking of it...

The other stops would be along Wilshire, at Bundy, 26th, 16th and 4th in Santa Monica.  But perhaps the most exciting part of this is the "pink line", which would start at Holywood/Highland along Santa Monica Boulevard with stops at La Brea and Fairfax, either La Cienega or San Vicente (uh, hello?  Metro?  You have property at Larrabee one block away from San Vicente that will allow you a subway entrance with very little Eminent Domaine nastiness), a "Beverly Center area" stop (which the Bev Center should help pay for and offer up the old, unused Hard Rock Cafe as the entrance to.  While they're at it, get the Caddy back to be the canopy) to rejoin the purple line at Beverly/Wilshire.

Now it's not perfect.  It's still not possible to get to the Valley to the beach on one train.  There are no plans to put a subway under the 405 from the Valley busway to the airport, which would seem like a no-brainer to me.  Some of the stops are a bit odd (16th street?), and there are going to be some big-time eminent domain issues that will have to be worked out.  But in general there's going to be the main issue of getting Angelenos to actually use it.  The guiding principle of the people of the City of the Angels is that we love our cars.  It's our little bubble, and while we curse the traffic we are loathe to give up our bubble of AC and our own soundtrack to actually use public transport.  Sure, when the gas rose to nigh unto $5 a gallon I saw more people on the bus, but that didn't last.  I wonder when I hear people talking about getting people on the subway that they aren't talking about getting other people on there so that traffic would be lighter for them.  Those people clogging the streets would be safely underground.  

I never thought I would write this, but I'd take it in heartbeat.  That is, if they can manage not to collapse Wilshire the way they did Hollywood Boulevard, the reason the project met with enough resistance that I'm not taking the subway to work today.


Thursday, April 09, 2009

"MILF Island" Lives!!

You might have thought it was a joke on "30 Rock" and that it never could happen in reality.  Well, never underestimate how goofy reality TV can be.  "The Cougar" is going to be infesting gracing the airwaves on TV Land Prime, courtesy the people who brought you "The Bachelor".  I'm sure someone, somewhere is pitching "The Waggler".  Of course, that would just be any casting office.  Or for that matter (insert mogul name here)'s last few marriages.

Photo: TV Land

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Eating well

My friend Beth Gehring wrote a post a while ago about eating at a properly set table.  I know these days that we tend to (and I include myself in this) just sort of scarf down whatever we can defrost, in front of the TV or the computer.  My dinner tonight indeed was three ounces of to-go tuna salad eaten with a plastic fork and three Carr's Table water crackers eaten on the sofa while simultaneously chatting on the phone with my BFF Bitsy and writing a review of the latest Le Labo scent.  Which would account for the sentence fragment starting the third paragraph.

But really, I kind of miss the idea of formal meals.  Not formal in the idea that one dresses, just formal in the idea that A) there was a time and B) appearance wasn't optional.  I admit that my parents didn't go whole hog; the formal dining room was Sundays and holidays and the odd day that my Mother decided we should eat there, which was more about the fact that she's gotten all Julia Child and felt that it needed a separate room to celebrate.  Otherwise it was at the table in our kitchen that we ate breakfast and lunch (if we were home) at, which my father hewed out of some wood he had brought from Africa or Arizona or Alpha Centauri, because both of them were nuts who should have created both the Food Network and HGTV.

But I digress..

Beth points out that this sort of dining is the ultimate in recycling: linen napkins care re-used until they're used to wash the car (and to the novice: napkin rings are never used at a formal table.  They connote that you're not getting a fresh napkin), and plates can be used for generations.

But the main point is that people forever have looked upon the ideas of knowing what fork to use as being exclusionary and classist.  It's not; it's the most democratic system imaginable.  It's logical, as easy to follow as a DMV test, and as inclusive.  As Beth points out, it also forces you to actually savor your meal.  You might even savor your company.  Your china, the heft and design of your silver, you stemware, your surroundings and the fact that you're lucky enough to have this in your life (or like me aspire to it).  Or silently judge the vulgarity of it and the quality of the conversation and the Claret.

There are a lot of things in our collective past that we need to jettison: bigotry, hatred and nastiness come to mind.  Good manners and dinner I think aren't on that list.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Natasha Richardson


Sadly, Ms. Richardson has succumbed to her injuries.  By all accounts a warm and wonderful person, at least we have her performances to remember her by.  "A Handmaids Tale", "Parent Trap" or "Patty Hearst" would be excellent ones to remind yourself of how talented this lady was.  One of my favorites is the 1993 version of "Suddenly, Last Summer".  Her portrayal of Catharine Holly is suffused with a delicate sensuality that's mesmerizing, and as sublimely Southern-Gothic orchidaceous as Sebastian Venables garden.

While the loss to the world of the Theater is great, I'm sure that our thoughts are with her family and most especially her children at this time.

Photo: Google

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hooray for Hollywood!

I love having people visit and showing them parts of town that they might not otherwise see.  March and Patty from PerfumePosse were in town this weekend and were wonderful company; I showed them Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Beachwood Canyon and Hancock Park.  They were as lovely and fun to be with as you would imagine from reading their blog, and seemed delighted with the parts of LA I showed them.  I even learned something- there's a great Farmer's Market in Larchmont Village I had no idea existed until today: even better than the Beverly Hills one that's a block from my house!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Haunting in Connecticut

I saw a poster for this new movie starring one of my favorite actresses, Virginia Madsen. From the title I did have a few snide thoughts as to what the haunting would be. The ghost of under-ripe brie? The horror of plaid pants worn with pink polo shirts? The specter of watery gin? But no. it's based on a true story you can read about here.

Like most people I love a good ghost story. However I wouldn't want to live one. Finding out your new home used to be a funeral parlor is weird enough. Finding out it's haunted? Less than fun. For people who think the family is doing it for profit, I think being labeled the town kooks make that an undesirable option for monetizing your life.

The original documentary, called "A Haunting in Connecticut" is available from Netflix and Amazon.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day!

Brini Maxwell has posted another of her video podcasts of her old cable-access show.  This time it's a V-Day flower arrangement.  Hilarity ensues.

Available on iTunes or at Brini's website.

Photo: my iPhone and my Macbook

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Toyota Venza is out, as the car that adapts to you.

Okay, does it adapt by being better looking?  By getting better than 20mpg in the city?  Or is it another one of those ham-handed "I have a family but want to project that I am secretly a hipster and willing to pay the freight" bulge-mobiles that are the automotive equivalent of "Just For Men" hair dye and Ed Hardy shirts worn by guys in their 40's?  People, it's minivan time.  Get over it.

Photo: my iPhone

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Faux Greening

I watch a lot of TV.  This means I see a lot of ads.  One of the things I notice is a lot of ads for new "green" products, like some disposable wipe that's biodegradable and guaranteed to kill every germ in a 2 mile radius.

Do I need to point out that kitchen cloths can go in the washer and last for years?  Really, unless you live in a John Waters movie, how many germs do you need to worry about?

I mean. part of the embracing of the green is being aware that it comes from the brown.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Gloomy Sunday

Or, Storm Watch 2009 Part Deux

The rains continue on and off here in Los Angeles.  There is some flooding in Long Beach, but so far nothing more than some inconvenience.  God knows we need it, and in the smallish and intermittent amounts coming it will nourish the soil, clear the air and leave us snow pack that will allow us to flush our toilets come summer.  What's always amusing here is to visit someplace touristy on the weekend like Santa Monica.  Under todays brisk cloudy skies hardy natives braved the mid 60's temps with layers, boots and umbrellas at the ready.  Tourists could be identified by the shorts and flip-flops.  Because when you're here from Minnesota where the wind chill is below zero, 60 is bikini weather.

Photo: my iPhone

Thursday, February 05, 2009


It rained today, just at the point where everyone was trying to get home for the evening commute.  Those of you who are not from Los Angeles will have to filter this information and adapt it to your own commutes.  Rain here would be akin to perhaps Miami getting two feet of snow, Chicago being attacked by giant man-eating clams or New York losing the effects of gravity.  Or getting Giuliani back as Mayor.  It's not pretty.  Streets flood, streets close and the general populace realise that those windshield-wiper things that should have been replaced during the Clinton Administration are sadly inadequate now.  You get people who clearly don't get the idea that the modern automobile is not water-soluble and drives pell-mell at high speed to get home and the other extreme of people in fear of hydroplaning will drive at 3.5 MPH.

I'm just glad to be home, fenders undented, listening to the rain.

Tomorrows commute?  Oy.

Photo credit: my old phone

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Death of the Food Network:

It used to be about Bobby Flay, Mario Battali and Nigella Lawson.  Now it's Guy Fieri getting people to actually compete to put a menu item on something called "TGI Fridays"

I know I am inveterate snob but my aspirations include never eating anyplace that has a sneeze-guard.

What's next?  "design the next cat-food burger"  No doubt with Fieddi and his Camaro.  Oy Vey.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Tyranny of the Dog People

(props to my friend Sue for the title)

Okay, I get it.  You love your furry friends.  They are your children, your companions, the lights of your life.  I don't want to suggest that you do away with them, but is it too much to ask that at 10:30 on a week night that you're at least HOME WITH THEM?  So they might not be howling for you?  Because you aren't paying my rent, and a cat would revenge itself by quietly pissing on your drycleaning.

Which would not keep me awake.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Oooooh look, it's my next car!

Don't count Detroit out yet folks.  They might be reeling but the clearly aren't out of ideas.  On Sunday, Cadillac introduced the Converj Concept, which took styling cues from previous concepts like the Sixteen and the Cien and added them to the Voltec powertrain system from the Chevrolet Volt.  For those of you who haven't heard, the plug in hybrid Voltec system goes beyond merely being a hybrid like the Prius where the engine kicks in to power the wheels above 10 mph or so.  The engine in the Voltec system only kicks in after 40 miles or so when the battery is losing it's charge, and then only to recharge that battery as a safety net.  Someone like me who has a 20 mile roundtrip commute would simply come home at night and plug it in.  The brilliance of the Converj is that all this eco-greenitude is wrapped in sheet metal that's so red-carpet sexy and an interior so throw-down luxe Fiddy could write a song about it.

Lexus HS250H, consider this sand kicked in your face.

Mr. Lutz, build this right now.

Photos: GM

Saturday, January 03, 2009 Sensurround

The American Cinematheque is a great local group devoted to the preservation of American films.  They operate out of the restored Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.  The theater is a gem of early 20's wackiness; there was quite a vogue for all things Egyptian earlier in the last century started by the search and discovery of King Tut's tomb.  Hollywood's decline was far harder on the Egyptian than it was on the more famous of Sid Graumann's theaters, the Chinese, a few blocks West.  The Egyptian's courtyard was covered by a cheap looking and poorly maintained metal facade.  The building itself was badly damaged in the '94 Northridge Earthquake, and the Cinematheque was allowed to buy the property for the sum of $1 with the proviso that it be restored.  As you can see, restore it they did.

Starting this week, they've been showing a series called "The Masters of Disaster", which are showing such big-screen blowouts as "The Hindenberg", "Black Sunday", "The Towering Inferno" and "Earthquake".

"Earthquake" was the one that I went to see tonight. Not that I hadn't seen it before, or for that matter, lived it.  More than once.  But I hadn't seen it in Hollywood, and I'd never seen it in Sensurround.  Sensurround was basically big-ass speakers that emitted low frequency sound that literally rumbled the theater during the big scenes.  It didn't really work in the nascent world of the multiplex, where the shimmying and shaking that thrilled audiences of "Earthquake" in theater 3 really annoyed the people trying to watch "The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams" in theater 2 and "Murder on the Orient Express" in theater 4.  At it's premiere at the Chinese, a nervous management strung nets between the ceiling and the patrons when the system cracked the decorative plaster in the ceiling and in Chicago, the Building and Safety department wanted it turned off.

The movie?  Better than I remember it.  Genevieve Bujold was there and made a charming speech.  Audience members applauded at the appearance of the actors, chuckled fondly at some of the loonier moments (like, what's the point of having a medical triage center in the depths of the underground garage of a clearly damaged skyscraper?) and generally enjoyed the heck out of the whole experience.  Sensurround came through, rocking the house enough to make the experience slightly uncomfortable, what with watching special effects knock down the Capitol Records, Security Pacific and First National Bank buildings blocks outside the theater, and the collapse of the Mulholland Dam right up the street.

"The Towering Inferno" is on Friday.  Who wants to go?

Egyptian Theater Photo Credit: American Cinematheque
Earthquake Photo Credit:

Friday, January 02, 2009

Welcome to 2009!

The New Year opened in Los Angeles with temps in the low 50's and fog- which I kind of love..

I can't believe another year has gone by. seemingly in a blink.  Its been a fairly crazy year, with wild highs and abysmal lows, and that was just the price of gas (bah-dum-pum, he's here all year folks!).

I hope that all my six readers have a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!

Photo credit: my iPhone