Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
We started in Hermosa Beach. This view is looking SW. The Redondo Beach/King Harbor area is the dark line. The darker landmass is the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and way off in the distance is Catalina Island. From where I was standing to the PV Peninsula is about 8 miles or so, as the crow flies.
Next we stopped in Redondo Beach and watched the sun set and listened to an episode of Dragnet. Sunsets here are usually cloud-free so it was cool that there were these wispy clouds to make things more dramatic.
Check out Dale's photos--his camera is way more bitchin' than mine!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
What potential! What promise! What an utter disappointment!
Imagine my delight when I spotted this item in the 50% off aisle at Target. Just think of the possibilities!
This would be so cool--finally I would be able to communicate my innermost feelings with my fellow drivers.
What would I like to say to those wonderful people that share the 405 with me?
Hmmm......"hey asshole" comes to mind pretty quickly. "you idiot" would be useful.
"Hang up and drive" would work too, but I'm not sure if the targeted driver could talk, drive AND read at the same time.
Actually, I had an idea for this sort of thing over 20 years ago--one of our engineering interns and I had toyed with this idea, but of course never did anything with it.
Seriously though, I really wanted to use this in the house or at work as a sort of "digital sculpture" that I could have on my desk and display pithy comments. (I saw something like that in a museum once, and I'll give 10 bonus points to anyone that can tell me the artist's name.)
So I started reading the instructions and found out that the device has a "built-in PROFANITY FILTER"!!!! WTF?!?!? I guess the manufacturer wanted to cover his ass in case some idiot programmed in "HEY ASSHOLE, YOU DRIVE LIKE A DICK" and then got capped in some road-rage incident.
The device came with some really lame pre-programmed messages such as:
"If you can read this, I can hit my brakes and sue you."
"Out of my mind, back in ten minutes."
"I brake for no apparent reason."
You get the picture. I don't know about you but those are lame enough to make me want to run that driver off the road just for being such a doofus.
Another problem is that it only has a 12V plug like for a cigarette lighter, so I wouldn't be able to use it at home anyway. I'm going to get a second opinion on if I can modify it to work the way I want.
I wonder if I will see any of these signs in use on the road and what the genius messages will be.
Friday, December 26, 2008
The Meyer lemon tree is full of lemons. In years past, the crop yield has supplied me with enough lemons for baking and vinaigrette making. This year however, I think I am going to have to get creative in order to make use of the abundance. One thing I am planning is to make limoncello, the Italian digestif. But that uses just the zest, so I need to figure out what do do with all the juice. I guess lemonade will be the house beverage at Fartwood Manor for a while.
I also made some devilled eggs.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Fortieth anniversary of Apollo8. Remember listening to that on Christmas Eve?!
Dale grew up in AnnArbor, MI, so we follow the news in that area almost as much as we do our local news. Detroit is in a world of hurt right now, so this story is pretty cool.
Here is a link to another blog with some pretty freaky Christmas song offerings. I've only listened to half of them, so be warned if they turn out crappy!
I hope you have enjoyed my podcasts from the other day--I just came across this song and had to share it too.
Fellow blogger Another Monkey turned me on to this AWESOME "spin" on the dreidel song.
AWWWWW Who is this cute kid?!?!
Dang, Santa looks like he's gonna eat me for lunch!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Old time radio is a favorite at Fartwood Manor. In fact, many of my posts have been written with an OTR show playing in the background. My favorite is Dragnet. Love that sexy Jack Webb. Dale has amassed a large collection of shows and there are also some good sites that have streaming broadcasts.
WGN will be broadcasting a bunch of classic Christmas radio shows on Christmas Eve--on the tee-vee. Apparently they will show an HD image of a flaming fireplace and the audio will be the radio programs. I'm a little unhappy with the scheduled time slot, but hey.....I guess you can TIVO it to watch/listen at a better time. It boggles the mind, doesn't it?
Our Christmas night tradition is to listen to Dylan Thomas' "A Child's Christmas in Wales", while watching the flames in our REAL fireplace. After that, it is time for the police scanner. Always a Christmas treat!
WGN Presents ‘Yule Log’ Set To Classic Radio Shows
Holiday Special Premieres Dec. 24
By Linda Moss -- Multichannel News, 12/3/2008 12:16:00 PM
WGN America will air Yule Log: The Golden Age Of Christmas, nine hours of holiday memories from the Golden Age of Radio, starting Dec. 24, officials said Wednesday.
The network, part of Tribune Broadcasting, will usher in Christmas by offering holiday programming from 9 p.m. Dec. 24 through 6 a.m. Dec. 25 using authentic presentations of classic radio programs set to the visual of the Yule Log hearth.
With new Yule Log footage (shot in HD) using the fireplace in Col. McCormick's (former Tribune president and editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune) office at Tribune Tower in Chicago, WGN America claims it will offer an alternative to the traditional Yule Log. While the flames burn, viewers will be hear timeless shows from the Golden Age of Radio.
Also on Wednesday, iN Demand Networks said it would be offering three Yule Log programs for Comcast, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks to offer to their subscribers on-demand.
Classic programs which will air during WGN America’s Yule Log: The Golden Age Of Christmas include:
-- It’s a Wonderful Life (from the Lux Radio Theater 1947) A staple of Christmas television, an angel helps a compassionate but despondent businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed and stars Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.
-- A Christmas Carol (Campbell Playhouse 1939) A holiday classic featuring miserly Ebenezer Scrooge who learns the error of his ways when visited by ghosts on Christmas Eve in this adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel.
-- Burns & Allen (1942) Featuring the comedy duo of George Burns and Gracie Allen.
-- Fibber McGee & Molly (1949) Fibber McGee and Molly were played by husband and wife team, Jim and Marian Jordan, with Fibber a brash, loudmouth while his ever-suffering wife, Molly, kept the peace with her sense of humor.
-- The Great Gildersleeve (1942) A spin-off from "Fibber McGee and Molly" featuring a pompous bachelor (Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve played by Harold Peary, and later Willard Waterman) who takes domestic charge of his young niece and nephew.
-- Jack Benny Show (1952) Jack Benny stars in this sketch comedy variety show, one of the longest running and most successful comedies in the history of radio.
-- Miracle on 34thStreet (from the Lux Radio Theater 1947) Six year old Susan has doubts about Santa Claus, but after meeting a special department store Santa, Susan is given the most precious gift of all, something to believe in. Maureen O'Hara and Edmund Gwenn star in this heart-warming Christmas classic.
These classic radio programs were provided by radiospirits.com and edited for WGN America by Victor Lisle at WGN Radio. Yule Log: The Golden Age Of Christmas will be presented in 60-minute blocks without commercial interruption.
“Yule Log: The Golden Age Of Christmas allows families to resurrect the innocence of a golden era and offers a nostalgic experience for viewers as they listen to memorable radio programs while opening presents, having dinner, and spending the holiday together,” Sean Compton, Tribune Broadcasting senior vice president of programming and development, said in a prepared statement.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Here's a fun Christmas mix I put together. It contains some old favorites of mine from when I was a kid. Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians are pretty much THE soundtrack to my childhood Christmases. These tracks were recorded from ancient vinyl, so you will hear the tell-tale "hiss and pops" that make vinyl so special. I have also included old songs that are new favorites--I call it "The Dale Influence"--like the selections from The Beach Boys, The Mills Brothers, The Ventures, and The Swingle Singers. The rest are just songs I like...some sweet and some irreverent.
One of my favorites is "Jingle Bells" from Fred Waring. It is so clever how the song keeps repeating with different song styles--hot jazz, glee club, player piano.
Another Fred Waring song, "Trepak", adds lyrics to the classic Tchaikovsky song from "The Nutcracker Suite". One of the lines is "have another vodka, have another vodka..vodka always makes things right". Kind of weird to have on a children's album, dontcha think?
Every time I listen to Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree", I always hear another word in place of "pumpkin" pie. Do you hear it too?
The French tune, "La Tourtiere", sings the praises of the tasty French-Canadian meat pie that is traditionally eaten at Christmas time.
It is only fitting that the children of the University of Michigan's Children's Psychiatric Hospital chose to sing "Do You Hear What I Hear?".
It wouldn't be Christmas without Mr. Garrison from South Park singing the xenophobic ditty "Merry F*cking Christmas", would it? EXPLICIT AND OFFENSIVE LYRICS--you've been warned!
I end the musical part of the show with the.best.Christmas.song.ever: "X-Mess Medley" by Dale's band Lunch--featuring the drummer boy himself singing the unforgettable (what else?!) "Little Drummer Boy". Make sure to listen closely at the end for the flying drumsticks!
At the very end of the podcast are two spoken word entries. The first is from the always festive Esquivel! followed by a audio file of The Beatles, recorded in 1964 for their fan club members. Those boys ain't right.
I hope these selections get you in the mood for a Merry Fartwood Xmas.
Dale picked this one up in Arizona, when he visited the Grand Canyon with his kids in June.
I got a whole pack of these in Wisconsin. Cute, eh?
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I can't remember where I got them, but they've been a part of the Fartwood Xmas decor for a few years now.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Orange Snow (LA Times)
Southern California got more than a little dusting of snow yesterday. My Midwestern readers can stop snickering now. This storm was pretty impressive by all standards. I've seen it snow plenty of times in the mountains and even the high desert, but this time was biggest I've ever seen here. One place in the Antelope Valley got 22 inches of snow!
The three highways that connect SoCal with NoCal were shut down for about 24 hours. Can you imagine I-94 being closed for a day? These highways do get closed periodically during the winter months--they are all mountain passes which are pretty dangerous in inclement weather. Not too good for a big rig to be coming down the snow-covered mountain, not to mention the jack-ass drivers that don't know how to drive in snow.
No snow in Torrance or Huntington Beach, thank goodness--just LOTS of cold rain. I hope my citrus didn't get damaged. I have a bumper crop of lemons on the tree and the oranges are just about ready.
This photo from The Daily Breeze is looking north to the San Gabriel Mountains. I took my camera to work today hoping to get a shot like this myself, but the mountains were still a little hazy when I looked.
Blizzard Joshua (LATimes)
This guy has it all figured out....screw shoveling!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
One of the things that makes me weird is...I like signs. New signs, old signs, hand-painted, neon--I enjoy them all.
Here are a few signs I saw on a recent trip to Los Angeles' Little Tokyo:
Sunday, December 14, 2008
If you ask a Milwaukeean of a certain age about their favorite Christmas memories, chances are you will hear about "Billie the Brownie".
Billie the Brownie was created in the 1920's by Schuster's Department stores to promote their toy department during the holiday season. In 1931, Billie branched out into radio and had a daily show that included updates on Santa's progress as well as a segment where Billie and his pal Larry would read letters to Santa sent in by area children. Boy, were those were different times! I've listened to a few of the shows and not only did Larry and Billie read out the kid's name, but also included their address! "....and here we have a letter from little Bobby Jones of 123 Main Street in Milwaukee...." Geez, talk about making things easy for the local pedophiles! Mostly though, they talked up the benefits of being good kids: More toys from Santa Claus! (read: Parents who will buy the toys at Schuster's!)
The radio show ended in 1955, so I never got to listen to it, but the lore of Billie the Brownie was still a big part of my own Christmas memories due my parents growing up with it. I learned that Billie was Santa's front man--it was Billie who reported back to Santa on who was good and who was naughty. Things would go like this:
Parent: "I think I just saw Billie the Brownie peeking in the window....so maybe you should go clean your room, be nice to your sister", or whatever was the naughty kid crisis of the moment. Billie even knew our phone number and called the house a couple of times! (In retrospect, I think it was really Uncle Bozo--but at the time I was convinced it was Billie.)
If you want to take a trip down memory lane or just hear for yourself the magic of Billie the Brownie, here are some links to audio files: Billie1 Billie2
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Well, guess what? If you didn't buy any of that crap then, you sure as heck ain't getting any of it now!
What? You didn't get enough twinkly lights to cover your eaves? Sorry, Bud--don't go to Target. The shelves where the lights were just LAST WEEK are now filled with wrapping paper.
You put off getting that sweet jingle bell wreath you saw at JoAnn's? Forget about it.......it's VALENTINE'S DAY at JoAnn's now.
Oh, and did you think that you could just wander over to Lowe's on DECEMBER 13th and expect to pick up a nice little tree stand for your 'effin seventy-dollar tree? You DID??
LOSER! What were you thinking?!?!
The only things left at Lowe's today were a few strands of orange lights, spools for storing the lights that all the smart people bought in August, a slightly soiled Jeff Gordon Christmas stocking.....AND......
..... the second-to-last mother of all tree stands. Talk about over-engineering. Hey, at least it was half-price! And next year we can go chop down a redwood because we will have the stand for it!
Friday, December 12, 2008
I haven't had a fast-food burger for about eight years or so, ever since I read "Fast Food Nation". It's probably been longer than that, but reading the book reinforced my thinking that this sort of food is something to be avoided. (Note: In-N-Out burgers are exempt from this ban, because they really are food and they are not fast.)
Let me assure you that I'm not one of those healthy eating freaks, only eating unadulterated foods straight from the farm. Anyone who's been reading this blog for a while knows my love of Tijuana Dogs, In-N-Out, breakfast burritos from the taco truck, and other junky food. Just no big-corporate fast-food.
It was actually pretty tasty. I had some onion rings too. They could have been hotter, but they were OK.
I ate this about noon and by 1:30 I was not feeling good. Not "running-to-the-bathroom" not good, just a general feeling of malaise--sort of anxious and hyper--I kind of felt like I was vibrating. I just felt WEIRD--like being high, just not in a good way. It was awful. The terrible feeling went away after a few hours and I wasn't hungry for the rest of the day.
I don't think I'll be doing that again.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
So, I was doing a little holiday decorating here at Fartwood Manor: a couple of candles, a plush elf, a jingle bell wreath. The plan is to purchase the Christmas tree next Saturday and then decorate it on Sunday.
But now I've got a dilemma--do I use the Brett Favre ornament or not? Is it a piece of history that still deserves a place with the other ornaments or is it bitter reminder of a sad experience? Dale suggested just using a little white paint and change the 4 to a 12.
What do you think I should do?
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
The original location is a combination meat market/mini-grocery/restaurant, tucked away in a bedraggled strip mall on Western Avenue at Torrance Boulevard. On the weekends they have a BBQ grill going in the front--chickens, carne asada and more. For a while, the tacos were a buck apiece, now they are $1.25--still a bargain!
We mostly order the taco plates which come with rice and beans. I usually get carnitas and Dale sticks to carne asada. I really like their beans--more body and flavor than other places. The rice is light and fluffy. The menu has a lot more stuff--caldos, burritos, sopes--which I'm sure are all good. They also offer imported (from Mexico) bottles of Coke and Pepsi, which is great since it doesn't contain HFCS.
My favorite thing is their shrimp ceviche. It contains the usual ceviche ingredients: shrimp, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, citrus juice and chiles, but it has this weird background flavor of allspice. I'm not a big fan of allspice or cinnamon in savory foods, but somehow this is just the right thing--it's awesome.
Recently, Los Paisas opened a second location, on Carson Street east of Normandie. Another strip mall, but this is a brand-new space. The theme here is "tacos y mariscos". We checked it out for the first time last week. The menu seems to be about the same, but with more fish/seafood items. Here is the famous shrimp ceviche tostada--
This is the carnitas plate--
The walls are covered with really cool murals. This one represents the Mexican state of Nayarit.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Yesterday after the Packer game (sniff), Dale and I were getting ready to go out and do a few errands when we heard a loud explosion.
Dale shouted "earthquake!" and turned on the scanner. I was at the moment, let's say, "indisposed" and would have acutely felt any shaking. But there was none. So I said, "hey, maybe it's the Space Shuttle!"
Sure enough, we turned on the NASA channel and watched Endeavour glide into Edwards Air Force Base. Any time the shuttle lands in California, we can hear the sonic boom. Now, that's cool!
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
"Where were you when Kennedy was shot?" is something I have said and have been asked uncounted times since that fateful day. It is a touchstone to a critical point in time.
I remember clearly where I was: I was in the first grade at St. Florian's. It was after lunch time and the whole school went over to the church and we said the Rosary. After that, we were sent home. I came in the house and told my mom that "Sister Isaac says the world is going to end." I don't remember though, being alarmed at such a statement.
The next few days were a little more unsettling: adults crying, watching the funeral on the tee-vee and this immense feeling of grief and sadness was everywhere. On a personal level, I was really sad that Caroline, who was my age, lost her daddy.
A shining light had been extinguished and the promise of a New Frontier just faded away.
As I got older, I became interested in the circumstances of the assassination. I don't believe a thinking person can accept the Warren Commission's explanation of the way things went down. In that spirit, Dale and I took a trip to Dallas in 2005 to see for ourselves.
It was a spiritual experience to say the least. The moment I entered The Sixth Floor Museum, which is housed in the Texas Book Depository, I cried like a baby. It was a surreal experience to be there and also to walk on "The Grassy Knoll". We also went over to Oswald's old neighborhood and actually saw the house where he supposedly posed with the rifle in that famous picture from Life magazine. Some people go to Gettysburg or Philadelphia, I went to Dallas.
Forty-five years....wow. Every day there are fewer and fewer people you can ask the question "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?" It is up to us to keep the memory alive.
Friday, November 21, 2008
I was a little early for the cooking class on Saturday, so I walked around the block and checked out the Los Angeles Public Library. I've never been there. It is like a little oasis in the middle of downtown. I didn't get a big chance to explore much, but I did see this awesome bubbler.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The reason I was in downtown Los Angeles Saturday was to attend a cooking demonstration put on by my two most favorite chefs in the world--Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken of Border Grill and Ciudad. The topic of the demo was "Cooking with Chiles".
I'm really happy with my skill level when it comes to most aspects of cooking--except for chiles. I use chiles of all types often, but somehow I'm never quite secure in the knowledge if something will be too hot or not hot enough. I was hoping to discover the key to chile understanding. Something along the line of when Homer Simpson eats The Merciless Peppers of Quetzlzacatenango.
Participants were offered Mojitos as we waited for the class to begin. Just the thing on a hot day. The seating was assigned, and I totally scored a front row seat. The Mojitos kept on coming.
The chefs began the class talking about their backgrounds and then started with the first recipe: Jamaican Jerk Rum Punch. Rum is infused with a jerk mixture of cinnamon, allspice, peppercorns and habanero peppers, then added to a citrus juice blend. Pretty tasty with a definite kick from the habanero.
As the chefs demonstrated the recipes, they talked about the chiles being used and showed how to prepare them. They also showed us some other interesting ingredients, such as Oaxacan String Cheese. I'm definitely going to get some of that. Another item new to me was bacalao. I'd heard of it but never used it. I pretty much knew all the chile stuff, but there were two types that were new to me: marash chili--a dried, ground chile with a sweet flavor and some Korean chile threads.
We were served each dish as it was being demonstrated. The food we were eating was prepared in the main kitchen, but was the same as what was being demonstrated.
The menu items:
Seared Shishito Peppers with Oaxacan String Cheese
Chile-Rubbed Black Cod with a Spicy Cilantro Sauce and Preserved Lemons
Poblano stuffed with Bacalao Saffron Mashed Potatoes
Mayan Spiced Hot Chocolate
Aji Amarillo Ginger Pot de Creme
Chocolate Cinnamon Churros
The cod was rubbed with the marash chili, then seared and then served over the stuffed poblano. Fish and mashed potatoes....can't get better than that! It was insanely good. The tortilla soup was so smooth and creamy, but didn't have a drop of dairy in it.
Throughout the demonstration, the chefs kept up a lively banter--they were hilarious and kept pitching their various products, like glassware, books and pepper grinders. They obviously love what they do and it shows.
After the class was over Chef Susan happened to stop by my table and said hi to me and my three table-mates. I was pretty excited to finally meet one of my idols and have a chance to tell her how she and MarySue inspired me to move to Maui and try my hand at cooking professionally. I didn't cry or anything, but I don't think I made a really great impression either. When she asked if I was still cooking, I said no...it's not a good job for when you get old. Since we're about the same age, I guess it could be inferred that I was implying that she might be too old for it, too. Which is totally not the case. I started my cooking career at 34, had no formal training, started at the bottom and would probably be still doing prep work when I was 60. She, on the other hand is a super-star chef with many brilliant years ahead. I should just learn to keep my mouth shut.
The class was great and I will definitely attend another.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The fire thing is almost under control. Cooler temps and weaker SantaAnas (the hot, dry wind) are allowing the firefighters to get the upper hand. Today people are being let into the fire areas to see how their homes fared.
For my far-flung readers, here's a map to give a little perspective. From my home north to the Sylmar fire is about 40 miles and almost that far to the Diamond Bar fire to the east.