I flew Delta from LAX to Minneapolis to Hartford . Red eye special . Good arrival time for my friend to pick me up , except that I got confused on the day . The day I flew in he had a gig and had to pick me up a little later . I waited in an airport bar and had a couple of expensive airport beers ,  local Connecticut stuff .

Now I’m home again . Same flight in reverse , except that this time it wasn’t a red eye .

Three hours in Minneapolis . Coming in from L.A. , I saw snow covering the parking structures outside . On the return trip , two weeks later ,  no snow . The airport is stretched out along endless concourses . Concourses . When do you walk concourses  outside of airports ? Am I missing something ? There are moving sidewalks and a tram .  Endless concourses . Food courts . Shops .  WiFi access .

I had a few mini-bottles of Scotch in my carry-on bag . They’re allowed . My friend Willie told me that last year . He gave me a couple of them to test his statement . No problem .  I showed them to the snoops , thinking that they might confiscate them . No . Willie was right .scotch

To order the same shot of Scotch during the flight would have cost me seven dollars , I think . Drinking one of the bottles during the flight I felt as if I were now out of the red , outsmarting Delta , pushing the envelope . The little bottles cost only 99 cents in Connecticut .  If I had had a few more mini-bottles I’d be sitting pretty , ahead of the game , actually beginning to show a profit . Well , almost   .

I once went from Berlin to London on Ryan Airlines . Ryan , if I remember correctly ,was the airline that seriously considered charging a fee to use the restroom . Nice .I would have gone broke .  I got to the Berlin Airport , Freuninggulingen ……., no Shaeuftshaffen ……. no Sheinifeld ? , Shoenefeld ? , at six in the morning . I had come from Poland by taxi that morning . Got there overly early , as is my way .WWI air ambulance

I was second in line . We were the only two customers to have arrived so early for the flight .  I had one bag to check . There were two conveyor belts moving luggage along : to London  and to  Ankara . I didn’t see the clerk put my lonely bag on the Ankara belt . I should have been watching , I guess . When I got to London I had no clothes . 10 days in England and no  clothes other than what I was wearing . I won’t tell you the whole sad story . My bag met me in London on the 10th day , having , I assume , enjoyed its own vacation in Turkey . We flew back to Berlin together , but we didn’t talk to each other the entire flight .

Another Berlin to London flight on British Airways was exciting after the pilot announced  over the scratchy PA system that he thought the landing gear was stuck . We were going to have to go in on our shiney sleek aluminum belly . The pilot’s voice was almost inaudible and he had a heavy English accent . One of the many . Dorset , maybe . Rs everywhere . Like old movie pirates :  Aarrh , matey ! Wharr yer headin’ ? Shiver me timbers !  Emarrgency vehicles aarrh be preparrhin’ fer arrh landin’  . Aarh.sign el monte airport

The plane was full of Germans . I , a native English speaker , was barely getting what the pilot was saying . I didn’t think that many of the Germans got much of it . But , on the other hand , maybe they had learned English from the English . Good possibility that they understood a lot more than I did , now that I think of it .

When we approached Gatwick , or was it Heathrow ? , the emergency vehicles were lined up along the runway . There were plenty of them : fire trucks , ambulances , police , hearses . Well , maybe not hearses .   I had confidence in the pilot and the plane . I don’t think anyone else in the plane could say the same , judging by their panicked expressions . Those pilots , highly trained ,  could slide it in on its fusilage belly .

Buckle your seat belt ; it’s gonna be a bumpy ride . airplane seat belt

But the landing gear came down and we all rolled to a stop .  Anticlimatic . I’m not complaining .  Billy Bob Thornton said ,” I’m not afraid of flying . I’m afraid of crashing . ”   That about sums it up .

About these English accents :

Ada and I flew from LAX to London once and I had arranged , in advance ,a rental car from the airport . I never sleep on flights and by the time we reached the car rental desk in London I was exhausted . I couldn’t , for the life of me , understand what the English girl at the counter was telling me . It was a Friday . I thought that she was telling me that my car wouldn’t be available until Monday . She wasn’t , of course . She was trying to tell me that my car would be a Mondeo .  I was losing my temper .

” Not Monday !” I said . ” Now “england

Ada had to translate . Mediate . Ada grew up in Poland .

” Tell him…” the English girl would say .

” Tell her ….” I would say .

Oh.  The car is called Mondeo. Nothing about Monday . It’s waiting for us . Oh . O.K. Why didn’t she say so ?mondeo

I don’t mind flying much . Once in awhile . It’s quick once you leave the ground .  Gets you places you might not otherwise go . Somewhat uncomfortable . Never enough leg room . And they always remind you how a seat belt works ; they show you ; give a demonstration . That comes in handy because sometimes , if you haven’t used one in a few hours , you might have forgotten .

Sometimes you should bring along an English-American dictionary , or , at least a phrase book . Several English speakers from various corners of the earth learned English English from the English . Beware .  And consider bringing  some little bottles of booze . If nothing else , it gives you a sense that you’re getting away with something .  Even if you’re not a drinker bring some  —– trade one  for a few more tiny bags of peanuts or pretzels . If you ride Ryan Air , bribe the stewardess to use the head without paying the fee . Endless possibilities . Endless.illustration 3


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Napoleon in California

I was digging around in the dirt near where the apricot tree grew out in the back yard when my shovel hit a small metal object . I was , maybe, fourteen years old at the time . It was a brass coin about the size of a quarter and it had Napoleon III ‘s image on one side . napoleon III

The words were French .  It was dated 1830 .

Well , maybe it was dated later . I just did a quick look and I  find on a Google search that he hadn’t declared himself Nappy the Third until much later than 1830 . Oh  , well ! I should look at the coin to check my facts . I have it somewhere ; but , along with several other prized items of mine , it has  been put away safely at some time in the distant  past deep into some forgotten hideaway . I suspect that my garage , if it could speak , if it would  tell tales , could shed light on many of these mysterious matters .

I first thought  that I’d found a gold coin and that I was suddenly rich . Maybe it was a long lost coin that collectors had been desperately searching for but hadn’t found because it had been a few inched under the ground in my back yard .

Well , I grew up in southern California . My neighborhood had been in the distant past , I’d heard , bean fields . This part of California had , of course ,  been part of Mexico . The French had run Mexico for awhile . I think it was Maximiliano , a buddy of Nap III  , who had tried his best to control the place , having been sent as the foreign occupier . The French  “mariage” music at their weddings in Mexico eventually became  ” mariachi ” music . Mexico got mariachi music .  I don’t know what France got out of the deal .

I took the coin to a collector . What I haven’t told you is that the coin had a hole drilled in it near the edge . Some woman probably wore it on a bracelet , I figured . That’s my guess.  Unfortunately , the hole  made the thing worthless , according to the collector . Otherwise it might have been worth a couple of dollars . My dreams of fortune slipped away , vanished .

I wondered who the woman who wore the bracelet might have been . I pictured a Mexican woman in a colorful embroidered skirt walking a field .

Probably the thing was dropped by the previous owner of the house , though , as she was planting the infant apricot tree . That mundane scenario is a lot less intriguing  than my other fantasies however ,  and I try to disregard  it  .

Someday I will find that coin and look it over again . I know for certain that it might  be hanging out in some dark recess of my garage with a painted but scratched boomerang and a so-called Model T wrench that turned out to be a Maytag washing machine repair wrench . Maybe I’ll sneak up on them , tag one of them , and say : ” You’re it ! ” . Then I’ll  run like hell away and hide . So far , though , they’re winning .


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The Beatles & Bowie agree: The Merseybeats are Fab!

Originally posted on The Immortal Jukebox:

British Beat – Some Other Guys:

The Beatles appearance on the Ed Sullivan show on February 9th 1964, viewed by some 73 million people (!) was an epochal moment in the history of popular music and indeed of global popular culture. The world would never be quite the same again. Additionally, their Sullivan show debut red letter marked a new, wholly unanticipated, chapter in the, ‘Special relationship’ between the peoples of Britain and The United States Of America.

Following in the wake of The Beatles overwhelming chart triumphs and virtual colonisation of the hearts and imaginations of an entire generation of American youth battalions of British Beat groups began packing their bags and stared dreamily at their atlases as they wondered what the fabled cities of New York City, Chicago and San Francisco were really like. Could it true that they were on their way there and that when they…

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I was inspired to write a post about bars after I read a post from a fellow blogger over at No Facilities . I jotted down a few preliminary paragraphs . And then the damn thing published itself . It wasn’t able , evidently , to hang in there and wait until I was done . swan dive sign

This is about the third time that this has happened recently . [ Yeah , Dan , I used “about” , and wonder if that bothers you ] .  The PUBLISH button is a little jumpy ; trigger-happy . I stay clear of it , but that’s no use .

I was writing about how L.A. is a lousy bar city . Portland is much better . A great beer drinker’s town. San Francisco , too . I suspect that  New York is a good place for bars , too ; and Boston . There are thousands of good bar cities in between , too , I’m guessing . But not L.A. L.A.’s not one .

I was writing about McGinty’s Pub , in Santa Monica , back when McGinty was there to run it . His father used to come in on weekends and recite , in a drunken Irish brogue , patriotic Irish ballads until the son would send him home, eventually ,  to sleep it off .

One day McGinty disappeared all of a sudden , just like  that , and a couple of guys from India took over . They expanded the place a bit and served Indian cuisine along with the beer  . The map of Irish surnames disappeared from the wall and all of the Republican ( Irish Republican ) propaganda pamphlets went , too . The dart boards remained , though , even if the old customers didn’t .

But when I spotted the notice that my few paragraphs had already been published , stolen right out from under my nose by an antsy computer , I TRASHED the thing quick as a wink . I could have EDITed it as I went along , and cobbled something together by UPDATEing  . I had done that the last two times ; but this time I wasn’t in the mood . Too far from the end .

And I lost interest in writing about bars , anyway . I was trying to piggyback upon someone else’s theme , after all  .  I’m not all that interested in bars , as it happens . Sure , I met Ada in a bar . That’s a story to be told , ‘cepting that I’d rather keep that unpublished . Sentimental value, I suppose . Ada doesn’t drink anymore , anyway . She decided one day to quit , and did . For good . The old joke’s not even good under those circumstances about Mark Twain saying it’s easy to quit : ” I’ve done it thousands of times “.

How about this one : A priest , a rabbi , and an Imam (updated version !) go into a bar . The bartender says , ‘ Is this a joke ? ‘  ?

No ? Okay, try this on for size  : A termite goes into a bar and asks , ” Is the bar tender here ?”   

I have a funny story about a couple of guys and a girl at McGintys one night in the 1970s. Something about one of the guy’s  hundred dollar bill being ripped to shreds and then plopped down into the dregs of a beer glass by the other guy . They were in competition for the girl . But , my sister disputes my version on a couple of the vital details , so I’ll let the telling of that episode pass for now .

It was funny , though . I’ll just say , however, that it wasn’t my hundred dollar bill , and that I wasn’t the ripper . I was simply an observer ( and the big brother ) . The ripper didn’t get the girl , though , in the long run , even though he would have had my vote had there been one . His kind of instant inspiration and savoir fair is hard to match .  Big shot ( in his own imagination ) , who arrogantly flipped the big bill out over the table to pay our bar tab got it immediately and mercilessly torn to shreds before all of our beer-blurry eyes . Priceless ! ( as they say ) . 
english caricatures

Don’t ask me what happened to the hundred dollars . Was it meticulously pieced together again ( a seemingly impossible task ) later that night  , or what ? I was too busy laughing to have ever pursued that line of inquiry . You might think that I would wonder about that , but I don’t . Sometimes , the joke is enough .

Would you say my attitude is cynical , sarcastic , negative ? Who knows ! If I conclude : Who cares ! , I suppose then that’s cynical for sure .  A close and long-time friend of mine called my blog cynical and sarcastic . I won’t argue , but I might have modified the harserosity of that comment a bit by suggesting that it’s , more often , tongue-in-cheek . Would that assignation fly ? Wait a minute —- assignation isn’t the right word ! Aplomb ? Whatever.


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broach 2….from the British Museum .

chessman scot.

pendant viking


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follow-up on jury duty

The judge sentenced the three robbers who stood trial last month as I sat day after day as an alternate on the jury in downtown Los Angeles .courtroom old

The rapist , the one who rushed into the store first , the one who audaciously tried to explain away his rape , got one hundred and ten years in prison.dante inferno 2

The other two got decades in prison . One got 41 , and one got 37 years .dante inferno 1        An old friend of mine , after I sent him the news , said  “crazy waste”. Crazy , indeed . A waste , too , I suppose .

My pool buddies and I discussed the Boston bomber today , too . Death penalty or not . Each of us had a different take on it. I’m going to keep all of that under my hat , though . I wouldn’t do the complexity of it all justice . vin-de-merde


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What’s the difference between men and women ?

A man can pass a shoe store without stopping . 

————-ancient chauvinist proverb

I have too many shoes . There are reasons for that . One reason is that I can’t bring myself to throw out old beat-up pairs of shoes . Who knows where the next comfortable pair will come from ! I’ll wear the holey old clodhoppers around the house . I’ll have to hear from Ada, of course : ” Why don’t you throw those ratty things out ? ”  I guess I should have written that ” Why don’t you throw those ratty things out ! ”  because it’s not really a question , is it ?

I’ll wear old shoes in the garden , too .  Why not !  I have an old pair of running shoes  that squeek . I wore them along the hallways at school and around campus until the squeek eventually became  so loud that it was near impossible to keep a low profile . Maybe they’re not running shoes . Maybe they’re cross-trainers . I’m pretty sure they’re not Oxfords or hiking boots . Whatever. Now they’re gardening shoes .SHOES 003

I’ve been looking for a good pair of hiking shoes , mainly for those cobble stone streets and stone sidewalks in Poland . One needs thick souls to survive over there . At least , I do . I see others with their flashy tennis shoes zipping along and I wonder how much their feet hurt due to thin soles . But , it’s a passing thought . To each his own , I say . If they don’t mind and their feet don’t bother them , then all power to them . I made the mistake of relying on tennis shoes one time over there and I’ve regretted  it ever since .

I’ve been doing just a little bit of research on hiking shoes . It seems there is a major difference between hiking shoes and hiking boots . There are what they call hiking sandals , too . I should have known that , I suppose . My usual research technique has been to go over to REI every few weeks to check their discount shoes rack . Almost never do they have discount shoes in my size , so most of my efforts are dry runs. But every once in awhile I find something . I have a nice comfortable pair of slippers that I bought there a few years ago for eight bucks. I should toss them out now . My toes have worn deep gullies in them . They were good slippers, though , and they’ll be hard to fling out as if they are garbage . Maybe I should bury them out back .  Maybe I should burn them .SHOES 001

Sometimes I’d like to be able to go on over to Big Five when they have their periodic shoe sales and pick up a couple of pairs . They have cheap hiking boots , sports shoes , and dress shoes . But , although I still check once in awhile as if I’m Charlie Brown trying to kick that football , they never have my size .

When I was in ninth grade my feet stretched out to size 13 . I grew some in height too , but those feet caused me endless embarrassment . Kids would tease me . Adults would comment . I had to try to avoid any flashy shoes . Didn’t need to attract any extra attention to my not-so-dainty dogs . I remember having a pair of Adiddas with stripes on the sides . Those stripes seemed after awhile like neon signs pointing at my huge feet .

When I began teaching , my students used to kid me about my feet , too . For a couple of years there I was affectionately called ” Bigfoot ” . By then I had realized that my feet were , actually , a foot long . I would point that out to the elementary students . ” How many inches in a foot ? ” , I’d ask . Then I’d take off my shoe and hold a ruler up to my foot . Then I’d  tease them all about how their feet were  smaller than a foot . I’m pretty sure they’d go home with tales of that and some of the parents would think the teacher in that class was a nut case .

Then . In my late thirties my feet decided to start a little renovation project . The first phase was to spread out sideways and stretch forward another size . Within a few years of that , phase two stretched the things out another size . Now I need size 15 . Ada still doesn’t believe it , I think . She used to urge me to fit my tootsies into size 14s . Yeah , that would have worked several years ago , but times change .  I have a friend whose shoe size went from 15 to 16 . He’s given me a couple pairs of shoes he bought too late to be able to fit into . He wears only sandals now . He’s given up on shoes altogether . I should ask him if he has any hiking sandals .SHOES 002

I have too many shoes . When I find a comfortable pair of size 15s , I always feel compelled to take advantage of the discovery . Size 15s are few and far between . But , on the other hand , I’m too cheap  frugal to pay much for shoes . I’ve just ordered an expensive pair of waterproof hiking shoes ( not boots ) over the internet , though . My hunting around town for a pair to try on proved fruitless . No fruit . Those shoes should be here in a few days . Free shipping . If they don’t fit I can send them back . I have a few pairs , still , that don’t fit well . I have a pair of hiking boots where my big toes brush up against the front of the boot . Just barely . ” Oh , they’ll stretch out . It’ll be fine , ” the sales guy said . Nope . Not true . Bad decision on my part . Live and learn . I still wear them on short walks and they’re okay for that but that’s all .

If I were size 9 or size12 , perhaps , I’d go into my closet and toss out all those worn out old pairs of feet-sheathers . I’d go over to Big Five , or anywhere , and get a few good pairs . I try them on first and take as much time as I needed to do it . If they were not immediately comfortable I’d leave them alone . I’d ignore the clerk’s encouragements about how much they magically stretch to fit once I wore them a bit .  Maybe I’d splurge and buy hiking shoes and hiking boots and hiking sandals . If I find a good pair of slippers I just might get those , too .


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Dirty wine

Dan Hennessy:

This is rude , so be fore-warned .

Originally posted on Strong Language:

Wine brands, especially in the upstart, insecure New World, used to strain to sound serious and Frenchy-fancy. You had your Domains, your Clos, your Chateaus (“Pure Sonoma”!). Even five-dollar plonk could seem classy if it had a ridge or a mountain or a gate in its name. As James Thurber’s wine snob put it in the famous 1944 New Yorker cartoon, we may have been drinking naïve domestic Burgundy, but at least we could be amused by its presumption.

If Thurber were cartooning today, he’d change that last word to presumptuousness. Because inappropriate language—from vulgarity to suggestiveness to scatology—is the hottest trend in wine branding.

Here’s a survey of rude wine names, in alphabetical rude-word order. (And, since you asked, I know a bunch of rude beer brands, too. I’m sticking to wine this time.)

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